Change

“change…usually begins with a door closing, an ending, a completion, a loss, a death. Then we enter an uncomfortable period, mourning this completion and living in the uncertainty of what is next. This period is hard.

But just when we feel we can’t take it anymore, something new emerges: a reintegration, a reinvestment, a new beginning. A door opens. If you fight change, you will be fighting your whole life. That’s why we need to find a way to embrace change, or at least to accept it.

Through aspiring to accept life on life’s terms we begin to move from feeling like a victim and blaming the world around us.”

Elisabeth Kubler Ross.

I am struggling a bit right now. I managed the physical symptoms of the first two weeks, and I survived the draining insomnia. I coped with the first few social encounters, smiled and explained away my unusual abstemious behaviour. I went on a weekend break – normally a huge excuse to drink heavily. And I did not drink.

Now the intense cravings have largely passed, I’ve settled into NOT opening the wine when I get home, I’m sleeping better… Importantly to me, my blood pressure has reduced significantly. And I’m a bit bored. I’m aware of a creeping ennui, and a vague feeling of dissatisfaction; a feeling of being short changed.

I have not lost any weight, my life is not magically transformed, I still have problems. In fact the blunt reality of those problems seems more present, real and intrusive than they were when I drank to forget. I’m not running, although I have taken up Pilates and Yoga;Ā  I’m still overwhelmed and over stressed. What’s the point?

When I read the above quote, from a psychiatrist I greatly respect, I remember that choosing sobriety also involves loss and grief. Sure, much of the loss is positive, but there is also loss that deserves recognition. The loss of myself as a ‘normal drinker’, the grief at the time I have wasted, the acceptance of the foolish, selfish and at times dangerous things I have done. These things need acknowledgement; they need emotional space so that they can be processed, accepted and I can move on.

I have read a large number of “sober bibles”; at the time I read avidly and absorbed every word as though it were gospel. Now, as I reflect on some of what I read, I chose to reject the relentlessly positive message that comes from some self help books. There is loss, grief and sadness in accepting change, I suggest there needs to be.

But ultimately I expect there will be acceptance, and peace. This picture, taken in one of my favourite places feels peaceful to me.

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9 comments

  1. A failure to acknowledge the loss and grief is the road to relapse in my opinion and the ‘messy middle’ as Brene Brown (Rising Strong) calls it is an important part of the process. Keep going šŸ™‚ xx

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  2. A beautiful, peaceful photo šŸ™‚ I completely agree with what you’re saying here, it truly is a grieving process. And it is truly worth the struggle. xx

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  3. I gree that it’s important to acknowledge that giving up drinking alcohol is a loss, even if it is also a much bigger gain. If you pretend it’s not a loss at all, sooner or later it starts to really feel like one anyway and then the “you are not losing anything” story seems like a lie. Acknowledging the sadness helps. Also, after the first few months, being sober doesn’t feel like a big shining daily accomplishment anymore (even though it is always that!) and then everyone seems to lose enthusiasm for the project for a while. I really like that you are staying with your feelings here even as you commit to staying sober. Really nice to read this post! xo

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    • Thank you for your thought. I feel kind of guilty thinking that I miss something that has done me harm. And of course there are many things that I do not miss …

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  4. What a beautiful picture and a beautiful post. I think you are spot on. I am grieving the loss of my drinking life which sounds completely nonsensical when I feel so much better sober. But drinking was part of me for a very long time and although it was destructive, was also a constant in my life which was perversely comforting.

    You sound as if you are going great. As you say processing those feelings is so important and that’s what you are doing. X

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  5. I love the photo.

    I spent an awfully long time being comfortable with a life that was so damaging to me. Alcohol abuse that was ruining all parts of my life but I stayed with it because it was what I knew. I resisted the change, and stayed in the shitty uncomfortable place.

    Getting past that bit is incredibly freeing.

    You already sound like a very wise woman. xx

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