When I first began to accept that alcohol and I weren’t really friends and never would be again, I wasn’t in a position to do the work to cut it out of my life. I tried taking it easy, limiting myself to only one or two, staying away from people who often drank with me/as much as me, consistently reminding myself of my mother in her worst days… I tried everything except actually stopping. Now that I have no more excuses left in me, and no more room for booze in my life, I have to cope with sobriety and my depression somehow. It’s daunting, it’s uncomfortable, and frankly it can be pretty awkward. But I took a look at the things I liked to do before drinking took over my free time, and I went from there. So here is a list for some of you that may be a little like me:
READING: I am a bibliophile. I always have been. That’s my true addiction. I have a book problem. I’m a librarian’s daughter, to boot. I’ve actually had serious arguments with partners about the stacks I come home with. “Where are we going to put them?! We just bought a new bookshelf, how is it already full?!” “How much did you spend on them today?!” That kind of thing. But for real, pick up a damn book! Make it about whatever you’re feelin’ that day. It could be your favourite book for the 50th time, or something new and daring. Just make sure it’s distracting and/or encouraging/reaffirming. Be kind to your brain, especially while your emotions are fucking about and your vice is still screaming at you from the next room. Pick your book, make a coffee/tea and remember how much you don’t miss having a fucking hangover. Soon I will have a list of sobriety/addiction related books to recommend, but until then do your own research! It’s time-consuming, yes, but that’s something I hope for, it keeps me occupied. I spent hours on the internet looking for resources in my first week. If you don’t want to deal with actual paper books, read this blog, this blog, and this blog. Those are the ones that had some of the most inspiring (and brutally honest) words for me in my first days, although not all of their belief systems align with my own, they have some good shit to say.
WRITING: I have always spent time writing how I feel. I went through phases of quiet with it, mostly because I was too shitfaced to form coherent sentences, but eventually it became something I had to do. Hemingway (a fuck of a drunk himself) said “write hard and clear about what hurts”, and while I’m currently trying to stop taking advice from addicts (ahem), I think this one is a safe and relevant bit of truth. You don’t have to start a blog, you don’t have to show anybody your words, you don’t even have to form complete thoughts. But write it the fuck down. All of it. Yes, the ugly things too. I promise you there will be a few moments in your early recovery, where you remember an event that makes your entire body cringe, and the only way to get rid of it is to WRITE IT OUT. So then get one last shudder out, laugh about it, and forgive yourself. Be thankful that you are no longer there/that person. Writing helps us move on. So be honest and let it do its job.
LISTENING/SLEEPING/MEDITATING: This is a three for one, cause they all blend together in a way. I’m a foul-mouthed, science-minded atheist, who likes to believe she’s open to new things, a ‘free thinker’ of sorts. I intrinsically have a dislike of the hokey, often laughable, spiritual realm. Things like astrology, numerology, superstitions, ‘naturopathic/alternative’ medicine, the anti-vaccine movement and so on, make me want to scream in frustration and run in the opposite direction. They also make me want to wholeheartedly punch David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe in the throat. So knowing that, people are wary to recommend things to me. Nobody has pushed for me to try out AA, which is something I wrote off long ago…(I have a few problems with the 12 steps that I don’t think I could get over, even if I were to gloss over the big G part of it ).***I know the whole program/steps thing works for a lot of people, I’m probably in the minority by not wanting anything to do with it. I am not shitting on any of you/AA itself. I’m merely saying it ain’t my bag- but I’m stoked if it’s yours!*** Thankfully nobody has dared tell me to surrender myself to a higher power. However, my rational and unforgiving head space clearly didn’t do me any favours while I was drinking, so I figured I’d try something outside of my comfort zone. A hippy-dippy (and lovely) friend of mine told me about guided meditation. She’s a hella in-touch-with-herself type. A yoga teacher/cult leader (just kidding about that last part). I said I’d try it as long there was no chanting, to which she laughed and told me that would come in later sessions. This one in particular was for “deep sleep”. I eye-rolled my way through the intro, did what was asked of me and much to my surprise, I slept like the fucking dead. The reason that this is surprising is because I’m an insomniac. When I do sleep it is poor quality, very light and usually only in 45 minute intervals. I did this meditation every night, for 7 days straight. And it bloody worked. 7-8+ hours of rest, nightly. While this miraculous sorcery somehow did it for me, it doesn’t mean I will give in to the rest of the crap that often follows the statement “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual”. It does mean is that I can no longer write off the power of having a clear mind and a good fucking sleep. Us drunks so rarely have that privilege, and if we do it generally comes at cost- our dignity. So many thanks to my patient spiritual friend, who has taught me to faithfully shut my huge mouth for 20 minutes before bed to relax every muscle in my body and clear my mind to let sleep take over. Moral of the story: listen to your friends, partners, parents, people on podcasts, whomever is trying to get through to you, and try some new shit! Whatever you have to do to be kind to your body and brain, to rest. Even if it sounds dumb as fuck and you don’t think you have the time for it- I know you do, don’t even try that on me. You’ll never know if the lock is going to open until you try all the keys, y’know? Perhaps that’s too cheesy or poetic for you… how about this- what the fuck else do you have to lose?
SHOUT OUTS/HONOURABLE MENTIONS:
- Unconditionally loving Roomie
- Sigur ros/music in general
- Hot showers