Hello all! Day 444 here!
I’m shamefully aware of how long it’s been since I posted an update on here. But truthfully I’ve not had any BIG FEELINGS or WAVES OF REALISATIONS or any of the shizz that normally tugs at the writing strings. This is not to say that I haven’t been feeling my feelings and exercising the tools in my sobriety toolbox on a daily basis. Cos I have for sure!
Since I last sat down to write for my blog I have been super busy in both good and bad ways.
Good ways include lots of treks with the bearded one and the kids. Completing an Easter fun run with my sister on a beautiful sunny day. Visiting family and friends that I’ve rebuilt relationships with over the last year, relishing the feeling of strengthening the bonds between us. And revisiting the recovery retreat in Turkey that I went to in September. What a wonderful week of relaxation, quiet contemplation, bonding with fellow ‘problem drinkers’, and giggly adventures squished into the back of a taxi flying along the busy roads of Bodrum. Exhilarating stuff!
Bad ways include the constant battle against the housework, and ripping everything out of the upstairs level of the house in a mad spring clean declutter, resulting in about 20 trips to the charity shop and skip. It’s wonderful now that it’s done but it was a real challenge for my hoarder brain (thanks mum!).
A couple of weeks ago my mum broke her arm which has resulted in a lot of my time being prioritised to helping her out, something that my other 3 siblings don’t need to concern themselves with due to the fact they live further away/couldn’t give a shit.
Admittedly I did inwardly groan when the doctor at the fracture clinic informed us (a tad too cheery in my opinion) that it will be at least 6 months before mum will be able to drive again, but with a big reassuring cuddle, I gave mum a big and mostly genuine smile and let her know I’ve got her back.
I’m lucky that I don’t work at the moment and that the kids aren’t having any major issues at school etc. I have the time to spare to give my mum the love and support she needs right now, and that makes me feel good so it’s not true altruism I suppose, but then again, what is?
After yesterday’s shopping trip however, I returned home with a gnawing sensation in my belly that the next 6 months may take its toll on my inner calm that I’ve worked so hard to achieve. My mum is blissfully unaware that she literally seeps negative energy. Whilst I do feel sorry for her bad luck, I can actually feel my mood lowering as she talks. The complaints, the woe is me, the consistent undercurrent of negative emotion in every sentence, little by little, it pricks its way under my skin and poisons my bloodstream.
I hope she never reads this as this would make her feel awful and it is not my intention. She doesn’t realise she does it. She has had untreated mental health problems her entire adult life, for completely understandable reasons. I do find myself having to take deep breaths and remind myself of that every half an hour or so that I’m with her in fear of losing my temper. But I wish with all my heart she would seek help for the pain I know she feels.
My past resistance to ever asking for help was fed by mums total rejection of therapy as a pointless task that could only ever result in judgement and shame. Maybe once upon a time she was right. Now I gently try to explain how her view is misguided by telling her about my own experiences of therapy, and of those people I know who have had positive outcomes from talking to an objective professional.
I can’t force her to get help. But I’m hopeful that in time she will want to for herself. It saddens me that she hurts every day for things she has the power to change if she had the right guidance. And in the same instance I’m relieved I found the power to change what was hurting me for so long, and resolve the thought patterns that were keeping me in misery and the perpetual cycle of alcohol abuse.
I still remember how I used to feel when my brain was tied in a knot and I couldn’t undo it to straighten out my thoughts. This still happens but not very often at all, and when it does I know now how to self sooth and take the time to unpick the knot instead of pouring a depressant drug over it and hoping it’ll sort itself out.
It was a hard process figuring out how to deal with anxiety and life struggles without turning to a chemical to do it for me, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat because it’s brought me to the state of mind I have today. I’m far from ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’ or whatever, but I’m steady, and I’m happy, and that’s how I know that the work I put in to strengthen my sobriety and my mental health every day is working. This was what I wished for myself 15 months ago. That makes me smile. I did it. I sorted my shit out and made the world feel good and bright and warm properly for the first time since I was a kid. There isn’t a glass of wine good enough to make me give up what I’ve worked so hard for.
Bad days are inevitable. I accept we all have them. And I know that they’re temporary as everything is. Life is fluid and ever changing and I like that. Subtle changes from one day to the next shift moods and reassure me that aslong as I keep going then good days are on their way. And so far the universe hasn’t let me down. The bad days fade as better days begin and I feel proud that I worked my way through emotional challenges without succumbing to the anaesthetic blanket of booze.
Some days I feel so in love with life I feel like my chest could actually burst. The old me would have read this cringing with her face in her palm. I really do come out with some hippy sentiments these days and I’m unapologetic for them. I’m too busy feeling all the feelings to worry myself about sounding soft 🤸♀️😂
I am aware that there is a definite chance I have an undiagnosed psychological ‘problem’ due to the euphoric highs often accompanied by high energy bouts of mania and quite often followed by crippling low moods and anxiety attacks. As most people with an undiagnosed mental health problem do, I self medicated with booze and diazepam for years rather than seek any real help and address the cause of the chemical dependency.
A lot of people urged me to seek a diagnosis from a professional but my brain was so saturated by my mums distrust of mental health professionals that I resisted. As my sobriety grew I also realised how unhelpful labels can often be. Yes, I realise that for many people labels are reassuring and can be helpful, but for me a label feels to definitive and generalised.
I also didn’t want to take any form of medication for the first year of sobriety to give my body and brain the best chance at recallibrating unaided by chemicals. Instead I worked hard at opening the trauma boxes in my head that had been locked and gathering dust for years. I surprised myself by how quickly I managed to sort through the boxes, ticking off each pinnacle point in time, realising that the shame and guilt I’d harboured for all these years wasn’t mine, and accepting the world as it is now in order to let go of resentment and anger.
The boxes are back on the shelf now, well dusted and unlocked, easily accessible and within reach for when I need to understand a hostile reaction to a seemingly innocent conversation, or unanticipated flood of tears. Opening the boxes helped me get to know myself better, and so much about how I react to things makes sense in relation to past trauma. Understanding this has helped me to step back and look at my reactions from a healthier viewpoint. It’s given me choice. I can keep my emotions in check enough to be able to make rational decisions instead of merely reacting to feelings.
I’m in control right now which feels great, but I won’t allow myself to become complacent in case I lose the control. It’s good to know that I am able to ask for help should I need it, now that the shame barrier has been dismantled. But for now, I’m doing pretty good, and that’s all I ever wanted for myself ♡