I guess this is kind of a follow-up to my last post. Keeping with the “punishment” and “victim” theme.
Yes! RECOVERY! That means, to me, getting over something. Picking up a fumble. Regaining possession. Regaining possession of your Self!
As I see it, we always have choices of how we look at things or deal with certain situations. So, we can look at something from a negative perspective-the glass half empty. Or, we can look at it from a positive perspective, the glass half full.
I prefer the latter. Recovering from anything can be difficult and take time. Why would this be any different? Fear would be my guess. Fear of the unknown. Fear of finding out something about myself that I’ve been hiding from in a bottle of wine. Fear of not knowing how to deal with this thing called Life.
BUT, if you don’t take that first step, and then the next and so on, you’ll never know, will you? As this is YOUR journey and YOUR recovery, you can structure it anyway you want. Like anything, it’s about finding out what works for YOU!! I remember as a kid I always wanted to do all these things-ballet, tap, guitar lessons. I also remember my mother telling me, “You never finish anything.” Aside from the psychological scarring that phrase left-my thought was, “well, I don’t like it”! But if I hadn’t tried it, how would I know that I didn’t like it? A lot about life seems to be learning about what we like and discarding what we don’t. Learning how to do something in a way that works for ME.
So my advice is to just take a step. Try something and see if it fits-or if a part of it fits-or if none of it fits. For example, part of the AA thing is that one never really recovers. They are always a recovering alcoholic. While I realize that works for millions of people, including one of my oldest friends who has been sober for 35 years, it doesn’t work for me. BUT! I did go to a couple of meetings years ago so I can at least say that I checked it out. What I didn’t know then was that there are lots of different meetings that cater to different people. For example, there are all women’s meetings. I have another friend that attends a Buddhist based meeting. So for anyone reading this, it may be about finding the right niche in AA that works for you.
There’s also on-line meetings and all kinds of on-line help. That way you can stay fairly anonymous if that’s your comfort zone. You can lurk on blogs or start your own. As with so many things in life, there is no one way to do this. In fact, it may be that you take parts of things a create your own healing experience. That’s powerful in itself. Because you are taking control, figuring out what works for YOU.
So, I’m just going to put some things out there that either worked for me or that I’ve experienced in these past 2 years.
It’s not selfish to think of yourself first or at all for that matter. I know if you’ve got kids and a partner and a job-obviously those things all need to be attended to. But don’t do it at your expense. Or use those things as an excuse to ignore your needs and self care. I think what’s hard for so many of us, women especially but men too, is to really feel like we are deserving of something nice. Feeling like it’s okay too treat ourselves. To take care of ourselves. To love ourselves. So one thing I would suggest is to take yourself out of your comfort zone a bit -hey you’re trying to stop drinking so you’re already out of that comfort zone! Do something different for yourself, that you would normally feel like you’re not deserving. This could be getting a manicure or a massage. Treating yourself to a nice lunch out. Do something different and nice for yourself! You deserve it! This is also about re-defining what “treating” ourselves means. It no longer means Champagne for Saturday Brunch. Or a better bottle of wine-which in reality is really not doing anything positive for you.
Something else you might do is to join a gym or some kind of a club where you don’t know anyone. I know this can be kind of scary, but at the same time, no one knows you. Anyone you meet will only know you as you are now. So, when they ask you to go out for a drink and you either say you don’t drink or you do go and order a Virgin Mojito, that’s how they’ll know you. You can re-create yourself at any time, in any way. You are both the artist and the canvas.
Look, I get what it’s like to tell people you don’t drink anymore. The last time we were in London, we had my SO’s ex and his daughter for dinner. (we all get along-very civilized!) Anyway, we had bought some Prosecco to offer before dinner-and I had some sparkly non alcoholic beverage. The Ex was so sweet. She brought a beautiful box of chocolates and a Grand Cru Chablis! Well, well, well! So I offered either the Prosecco or the wine and mentioned that I didn’t drink anymore. They were shocked! “Why?” Jeez! you thought I’d said that I ate puppies from the Bar B Q! I just kept it brief and said that I just decided that I wanted to quit-didn’t like it anymore. And then you know what I did??? As they were leaving, I apologized and said that this was something that I would normally not do, but asked them to take their wine back. I knew that it was expensive and that we were leaving in the next few days and wouldn’t take it with us. If it’d been a cheaper bottle of wine, I would have just left it in the flat for the next person, but I couldn’t do that! And, it was all good! I think maybe people in the UK have a stronger reaction to people saying they no longer drink-but hey, that’s their problem! For the most part, I’ve found that while people may have a weird reaction at first-and many don’t-they usually ask questions that make me think that mayyyybee they’re having issues about their alcohol intake. What I did find was that as my time without alcohol increased the discomfort that came with saying the words,” I quit” or “I don’t” slowly ebbed away. First I started branching out in the friends I would confide in. That went to me realizing that I had just screamed across a parking lot to a neighbor, “I stopped drinking.” That’s when I knew that I had reached a turning point in my acceptance and ownership of the whole thing. I no longer felt the weight of the internalized, self imposed stigma that I had been carrying.
I found that in the first months of my “recovery” being outside was a tremendous help. I have a dog that needs walking and that forced me to go outside. Now I’ll admit that at times I felt so weird and shitty, I just walked him to the nearest spot where I could sit down and let him sniff around, but I was outside. Oftentimes those outings turned into great walks and really helped to clear my head. So, my advice is whether you feel like it or not, MOVE! Get some kind of physical activity-go to the gym or whatever it is. Tell yourself that you’ll give yourself 15-20 minutes and if you can’t get into it, you’ll leave. But at least, MAKE THE EFFORT!
Of course when I quit drinking, as bereft as I felt, I was keenly aware that the silver lining would be that I would lose all this weight. I mean I just cut out about 600 plus calories from my daily intake. I don’t think I really increased or went over that with my newfound non-alcoholic concoctions so I wasn’t adding calories. I didn’t lose weight. I didn’t gain weight, but lose it? Nope. But! You know what? That was okay with me. Because for some reason, for the first time in my life, I didn’t put pressure on myself to do everything at one time. Maybe because I was really and truly, deep down ready to stop drinking-I don’t know -but I allowed myself to just BE. I allowed myself the freedom of not putting pressure on myself to do it all at once. I just focused on not drinking. Period. Well, I still had my day-to-day stuff, but I didn’t wildly change my eating habits or anything like that. What I have found is that in these past two years, my body has kind of adjusted itself. I’ll be honest here- I eat pretty clean anyway-Pescatarian, lots of fruit and veg-drink a TON of water. And this was before I stopped. But I didn’t really lose any weight until recently. I got the workout bug a few months ago and went at it 100% for a few months-until we went to London and I had those M&S Victoria Sponge readily accessible. I never ate a whole cake at one sitting-only half:) I haven’t really worked out in a couple of months-the holidays, etc. but I’ve noticed that my weight has stayed at a good place, my clothes feel good. So, I just kind of “organically” let the process happen.
That process is still happening and will continue to happen. I guess I can say I’m still “recovering” in the sense that I am still learning about myself. I’m sure that both physically and psychologically things are still shifting. Which is a good thing. I think drinking retards that. I will also say that while there have been many things in my life I walked away from because I no longer liked them anymore-say relationships, jobs, cocaine-there are many things I have chosen not to do anymore for other reasons. I didn’t give up eating lamb because I didn’t like it. I LOVED IT! But, I guess I evolved to a place of consciousness to where eating meat or fowl didn’t align with who I was anymore. Do I ever get hungry for Lamb Chops glazed with Balsamic Vinegar and topped with a Gorgonzola Creme Fraiche? Hell yes! But then I remember all of the reasons I gave it up-and know that if I ate those lamb chops or that rib eye, not only would I feel physically sick-as my system hasn’t dealt with that for years, but I would also regret it on a whole other level. And it’s just not worth it.