Today is my sober-anniversary! Unreal. Writing this today is a "sobering" (no pun intended. I did actually mean to do that!!) reflection of what I have been through. It's a reminder that I do not want to go back there.
When you feel so good, it's easy to become complacent, but that can be dangerous in recovery. I appreciate everything and everyone who has helped me and supported me to get to where I am today.
I really am amazed I survived. I say thank you every day.
Exactly this time last year I was in detox, the first day without a drink, with a massive head injury due to a seizure. I hadn't a clue what was going on, and I hadn't even started full withdrawal. It was so scary.
This is also a reminder that recovery takes time. I've been sober a year, and 5 days ago I was really in need of a drink. Thankfully, I'm still taking Antabuse, which I chose to go on.
I would like to think I'm strong enough now to have not picked up a drink if I wasn't taking them, but I don't really want to think about what could have happened. That is even after a year, which proves recovery is long and challenging, but totally possible and worth it, stick with it
So, what put me in the position of needing a drink, I hear you ask!?
The lovely game known as online dating. I never realised there were so many liars out there. Long story short, everything was going really well with a guy, and we had started "seeing" each other, so almost official. It was a bonus he was also nice to look at.
Then his ex rocked up one day and was not very happy, shall we say. He had warned me she didn't like seeing him happy and because she had Bi-Polar, her moods were quite unpredictable (please don't think I'm saying anything negative towards her and her issues, I don't judge anyone).
Here I was faced with a rather heated discussion. However, I used to be a custody officer, so my interpersonal skills came in handy to diffuse the situation. I've experienced a lot worse!
He apologised profusely, but then I heard nothing from him. I'm quite proud of myself for not taking it personally, but I was genuinely sad about it. Quite gutted in fact as it was going so well.
That would have been a perfect excuse to drink to numb those feelings. Even when my drinking was normal, that's how I would have dealt with it, as would the majority of people. So, with no instant relief/escape from the feelings and emotions, I had to "ride it out". I kept telling myself they are just emotions, and they will pass.
I acknowledged and processed the emotions, and sent them on their merry little way. I even asked my friend "what do 'normal' people do when they experience this feeling"… her answer "we drink"!! (how we chuckled).
So, what am I really supposed to do! I was hoping that I would wake up feeling different the next day. This didn't really make me feel any better at the time. Still, this is a life experience, and it's utterly alien to me, coping with situations without my alcohol crutch.
I tried to distract myself, which I know isn't ideal as I know it won't go away until I faced up to it and dealt with it, but I knew I'd be talking with Walking With My Bear in 3 days. Jonathan would make everything better. He always said if I need to speak; just call.
I decided to call Jonathan, and he did make me feel better. I was reminded that I am bravely exposing myself to new experiences that have the potential to weaken my inner strength. And that unconsciously the lead up to my "sober-anniversary" would be playing on my mind too.
Relationships are a roller-coaster, as is life. Feelings are inevitable, and the more you deal with them and accept them for what they are (just feelings), the easier they become to diffuse.
Distraction techniques may seem to work on impulse, but you need to be aware you will have to face the situation and accept it at some point.
Otherwise, you may refer back to your old unhelpful coping strategies, i.e. potential relapse as the situation will still be there.
It's about learning to close those doors to your old ways of thoughts, actions and feelings. Walking With My Bear opened my eyes and mind to make me realise I defeated a relapse. I am therefore fully capable of defeating potential relapses.
I suppose this was quite an achievement, and I should be proud of myself. I, therefore, need to work at reflecting on the progress I have made as it is so easy to let your achievements go unrecognised and take them for granted. The lack of self-praise can be quite dangerous in recovery. So please keep that in mind.
After speaking with Jonathan after the incident and reflecting back on the session, I realised there were still some issues from my past that were subconsciously bothering me. Therefore, holding me back from letting go of my unhealthy coping strategies, that don't serve me anymore.
We used the Spider Web theory, and this time I understood it a lot more. I was amazed at how even a small situation in your life can open or be linked to so many other experiences or programmed behavioural patterns later down the line.
However, the main things I opened up about were sadly not small issues, and I never speak about them. The two "doorways" that opened up were linked to past relationships and had maybe been affecting more recent ones. I decided I need to do some homework and investigate if there are any other previous issues I finally need to address.
I advise that before dealing with bigger issues tackle the smaller ones first. It will enable you to face the heavier challenges more effectively, as you will have gained confidence and strength regarding challenging your past.
There is hope out there. Reach out, it's not something you'll regret.