We crave a different kind of buzz...
Day 89 Sober
This is the danger time for me. I know my alcoholic self well enough by now - I can work through the early stages of sobriety. I can roll with the cruel self hatred and cold claminess of detox and waking up with the real, full world there each morning. I can go to the meetings early on whilst the shame of drunkeness is there with me in recent memory. I can do it and go through it - have done it a few cycles now. But then I get around 100 days and I start slipping....
Since Christmas I have been going to Yoga for pre dawn salutes to the sun at 530am-7am. It is barefaced reality waking up and dressing and then walking into the studio and sitting down for the Yogi to toy with our bodies and minds. For me it is a revelation - the frustration and pent up anger and hurt justs melts out of my body with each twist and lunge and as I slip back into my Birkenstocks at the end of the class - I feel clean and clear.
I've done seventeen classes in around sixty days - I'm going three mornings a week - and never felt as supple and open in the last decade as I do now. Plus, I am falling asleep by eight o'clock most nights, not watching TV so much and feeling very in touch with my body. It is right for me - it is my new religion. I am yogi.
I go to an outpatient group meeting most weeks, where I get a chance to talk openly and without shame about living in recovery. There are twenty or so others, most (not so)fresh from detox, but a quarter or so are long term sober and we are getting to know each other. It is calm and deliberate and the psychologists run the ship with a steady but firm hand.
Each week there is a new cohort of fresh drunks - mostly from the mental health unit but also with legal shit getting them recommended to the program. And we listen to each other. It is also working for me.
I listen to Royals - it has a calm, metronomic certainty and shows her bold confidence beyond her years. I love the imagery behind "tigers on a gold leash" - the decadent wastefulness and utter recklessness of that uber lifestyle reminds me of how I used to see myself as a high stepping drunk. Faking that it was alright, fingernail-biting daylight waiting for the next time to drink, the burden of being drunk all the time - or chasing away the anxiety.
Now I am appreciating with my Yoga how sustained practice leads to a different level of awareness - and how my self-knowledge at Day 89 is completely different to day one, or day 21. To build on that number and let go enough to feel who I really am is terrifying but basically where I have to go.
I have a new project underway and there is no scope in the business plan for me to be a fumbling drunk not answering the phone. I know it is all coming together and I am feeling face-to-the-floor humble but also confident that this is where my life goes at this stage. The time for fooling myself and letting everyone down is over and I am declaring it.
I always keep alcoholic self help books by my bed so I can go to sleep with some little nuggets of sober wisdom. And there are some really sobering truths out there - I was sharing it with the group about how alcoholism is a relapse based thing - that in the vast majority of cases there is relapse and the patient sort of leaves the situation only to turn up somewhere else drunk again at some point. I shared that our goal is not to look at it as though we will never drink again - the literature says I probably will at some stage - but instead look at it as delaying that drink for as long as possible - like years.
The counsellor said with a solemn face that most graduates of the group do not ever come back and the counsellors don't ever really get a firm sense of closure in the sense "Well, there's one we cured" if you know what I mean. It's like putting little fish back into the ocean and just hoping that they will not be eaten - no too soon anyway. It was really empowering to know that each of us drunks has that power right there in our hands every single day from here on - whether to allow ourselves to be eaten - or to swim on and live a little longer.