The Lessons

This is a post that has been stewing in my mind since I realised that I have changed, even in the last 3 weeks, and just hugely since the day 889 days ago that I woke up and realised that I HAD to stop drinking. Or is it since the day, 2 years ago on Sunday, that I called a halt to my destructive, abusive relationship?

Of course the two are inextricably linked, but I can see now the fruits of the therapy. At times I have felt mired in the fallout and the personal recrimination, and the restless ennui of the recovery process, struggling with self confidence in almost every area, paralysed by indecision and fear of more failure. Insecure in the love of my children, afraid to set boundaries, beset with worry about not being a good mother, daughter, friend, sister, doctor, person ..

I feel differently today.

It’s been coming, in my peripheral vision, for a little while. I’ve been subtly aware of a shift in my self perception for probably 6 months now. Little shoots of fledgling confidence, shafts of positive thinking, a growing awareness that I have nothing to be ashamed about.

And in another one of those ‘big jumps’ of enlightenment I have experienced before, I suddenly feel, in my bones, that “I am enough”.

Imperfect certainly, (human) but good enough.

And with that feeling, that conviction, comes a new surge of energy and a sense of purpose. No more putting off till tomorrow, no more drifting and aimlessly hoping that things will turn out ok, it’s time for planning and building the future that I want for myself. The internal locus of control is returning, and I feel that I am in control of what happens to me, not external people, forces or circumstances. That I cannot predict everything, but I can plan, build and live with purpose in mind.

This feeling has also come from a recognition of mortality. That time is not endless, and that we none of us know how long we have. The best life is what we need to aim for now, not at some undefined point in the future, and if I have say 25 good years in front of me ((God willing) then I had better make the best of them!

Shoes

Bloody shoes.

Son one wants me to buy him shoes. Not just any shoes but shoes that cost 2500 Rand. That’s about $200 or £160.

I’m not willing to do this. Despite the fact that he says these shoes are cheaper in SA than the U.K.

if (and it is still if) he goes to college in September (full time) I am willing to support him for the basics… but if he wants shoes for that price he can get a blinking job and pay for them himself.

And that is final.

He is most seriously displeased.

But… I don’t care. And this is huge progress. I no longer feel afraid that I will lose him if I don’t do what he wants, instead I feel free to act as I think best. And he is 19, full of talk about earning …. but it is just talk. So tough love, no shoes until he can pay for them himself …

A review

I’m sitting on the balcony of our room in a small guest house, overlooking a beautiful bay (as seen in photo) about 2 hours drive from Cape Town. This is a whale watching Town, and as the waves quieten I’m looking forward to some whale viewing from the deck.

This is also an opportunity for reflection as our time in Africa draws to a close, we have been here nearly 3 weeks now, and fly home on Saturday evening.

To say this has been an ‘experience’ fails to give weight to each of very different and important, educational and recreational things we have done. From white water rafting to visiting Robben Island, from learning about the persistence of witchcraft in Botswana to tracking wild dogs, each and every day has brought something precious and valuable to remember, digest and learn from.

I have no idea what the kids make of it all, we have talked about a lot of it, but like me I think they are too overwhelmed with new sights, sounds, smells and cultural differences to begin to absorb what they have seen and done, I think, for us all, it will take some time to digest and consider the impact of our immersion in Africa.

The holiday has been in several parts, and as each chapter closed there has always been something else to look forward to. We have spent time at most destinations, sufficient to scratch below the surface and get some insight into the real life of indigenous people and the animals we saw. The great beauty of a 6 night mobile safari was the opportunity to spend one whole evening drive watching a leopard; just prowling, looking and then resting. Rather than rush to try and see the ‘Big 5’ in 2 or 3 days, we had time to observe the animals behaviour and habits.

I general we have all managed well living in close proximity to one another 24 hours a day. There have been a few arguments, but nothing serious, and we have had some practice at resolving disputes! I have been super calm 95% of the time, and have only really been ruffled by pointless squabbles between the boys. Only once have I seriously felt I wanted to drink, and in the beautiful sunny climate of the Cape Wine-lands where every second driveway promises ‘free wine tasting’ of cheap (and no doubt delicious) wines, I am quite proud of that.

Here IS hard though. We drove here this morning, along an astonishingly beautiful coastal path and now I’m sitting in the sun on the coast … the sea is crashing against the rocks and there is temptation to help myself to the FREE white wine From the well stocked fridge. I don’t have to drive anywhere else today …. but… I won’t. I can’t and I won’t… I’m not going to sabotage 887 days continuous sobriety. So I’m writing this, having a Diet Coke, and then I will go and watch the kids in the pool.

It’s hasn’t all been easy. I realise how much time to myself I actually need …. with 3 kids relying on me for every decision there is very little opportunity for silence. I have been sharing a room for the past 3 weeks … I have craved solitude and peace, my daily gratitude list is overflowing, but I have had too many distractions to properly reflect, to pray and to find peace with unresolved questions in my heart.

It’s been a wonderful wonderful trip, and I hope will have generated many positive memories, some new friends and a deeper compassion for others. I hope also we have become closer as a family and more tolerant of each other’s foibles …

time will tell

Holiday

This will be short as there is only very very slow internet here.

I love it. I’m happy 😃 boys are happy. Everything is just fine. I’m sober.