Yesterday I had one of those days.
Well, let me rephrase that.
Yesterday I had a few of those hours.
The ones where I see no reason to do anything, no hope in living. The ones that make me feel I would be better off dead. Better off dead really translates into how much easier that would be than to do what I need to do, what I have to do to move forward.
In those hours I judge myself, hate myself, tear up every few seconds, worry about everything, get so far ahead of myself that the awfulization of the future makes perfect sense to me.
Here’s the thing about being sober. Before, I would have started drinking and fueling those feelings. The more I drank the worse I would feel about myself, spiraling down into more shame and self-hatred and more assurance that only bleakness and despair lay ahead for me. Adding fuel to my self-loathing fire, stoking it and believing those things I would tell myself. It was an insane little game I played with myself, insane and deadly. Because the truth is that, by the end, I did want to die. I saw no other way around the feelings that were making me feel insane. My solution, to drink away the feelings, had stopped working….now I had to die.
Being sober changes everything. First and foremost I have learned that feelings are not facts, they are only feelings. Since I drank at the slightest hint of a feeling this was a lesson I did not learn quickly, nor believe totally. I do believe it now though, and I do still have feelings, lots of them. But my solution is not to drink them away but to experience them. It’s why I changed my opening sentence. I did not have a DAY…I had a few hours. Even in those hours I was out and working and doing things, those feelings did not stop me from living life, just living it happily, in the moment. By the time I got home I had my last cry and was ready to change things. I can’t stay that down and uncomfortable for long anymore. I used to thrive in it, now I hate it. So I meditated a bit and started cleaning my office. Action. And as my desk came clear once again, my mood lifted and more got done. The cycle of fueling the fire continued, but in a new and healthy way…I fueled the fire of self-esteem and worthiness. As I shredded papers I thanked the universe for the experience those things provided me, versus cursing it for what I don’t have. The attitude adjustment when I get into gratitude vs. regret is instantaneous. I learned that in sobriety. I learned that by fully believing that today is all we have and we might as well make the best of it. I don’t practice it every single day, but I try, god I try! And in the practicing I get better at it.
The real truth is that I am in the midst of a crazy time…selling the house, divesting thing after thing with no idea how to do it. I need garage sales and estate help, I need contracter’s and painters and plumbers . My life has to be disturbed and entered in ways I’m not crazy about. But I am not sitting in my office (the dirty one), pouring Jack Daniels out of a bottle I keep in the file drawer. Instead I am moving ahead, albeit slowly. I am inviting help and change into my life. I am staying current with the duties I have and managing the stuff I have to do. I am dealing clearly with my son and my expectations of him. He will not live up to them, and I am dealing with that too, by having a back up for every plan I have with him.
I am operating in the world differently. Not perfectly, not always the way I think I should be, but differently, better. So when I have those days/ hours/minutes I feel the difference and hate it, and that gets me out of them sooner. I let those feelings pass through me now instead of holding on to them for dear life, they no longer ground me, they suck me under and I cannot afford that, do not WANT that any longer.
I told a story the other day about my wedding day. the happiest day of my life, and , until I was handed a glass of champagne for a picture and toast at the time of cake-cutting, I had not one drop to drink. I never finished the champagne either. I was so happy, so fulfilled, so high on just being alive and in love that alcohol meant nothing. That certainly was not the case in later years, but the memory sparked something in me, a new hope, new determination that each day, as I stay sober, I move forward into those moments of deep joy and fulfillment that I never thought would ever be possible for me again.