Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I'm Listening


My old friend Hilda once described to me the day she relapsed after 6 years.

"It was just another day, I got off work and decided I wanted to drink, so I did," she said.

Followed by, "I've never been able to stay quit so long since then."

I couldn't understand how someone could give up 6 years of sobriety that easily, but then there was last week.

Just like Hilda's "just another day," last week was "just another week." Before I get you too worried, I did not drink. But I wanted to worse than I have since the early days of my sobriety. And there was no good reason, which makes me think, What if there had been a good reason?

Instead it was a week of the usual insecurities, those moments of feeling like an outsider, those moments of feeling I've not done as well as so-and-so or as much, those moments when my best will never be as good as someone else's and, really, why would I even try? Do I really want to set myself up for failure. For ridicule? What if I let everyone down?

I whined about it all week on the message boards and during chat, causing some alarm amongst those that see me as the Pollyanna of the non-drinking world, because that's usually my take on sobriety. I even whined to the cap'n.

"Sometimes I don't think you realize how hard it is. Sometimes, like right this very minute, I really, really miss drinking!"

He just told me that he "got it' which of course he doesn't since he still drinks. But he also told me how proud he is of me which helped a little.

Then Sunday morning rolled around. I've been making myself go to mass every Sunday lately, I'm not sure why, seems like I've done pretty well without it all these years. But just like when I started this blog, and just like when I decided to write the never-finished book, that inner voice-it's really not all that still, Eckhart, old buddy-has been urging me to go. Last Sunday was no different but I was steadfastly ignoring it and not feeling bad at all about it. Then, at the last minute, I decided to go.

See, I've learned that my inner voice usually knows something I don't.

The Gospel was a familiar one, the one where Jesus tells his apostles that they have to give up all their earthly goods to follow him.  The priest expounded on it by saying that it doesn't really mean that we have to drain our bank accounts and donate our houses to the homeless to do His will, it just means that we have to recognize what it is we're supposed to do and be willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary to do that one thing.

Because it is the right thing for us.

Lightbulb!

I knew the one thing I had to do and I knew that I had to give up all my earthly insecurities to do it. Because it is what I'm supposed to do.  The tides turned and all the missing of drinking and feeling sorry for myself disappeared. I've been riding a cloud of "rightness" every since.

It was the same when I finally quit drinking, when I finally listened to the "right" voice and did what I knew I was supposed to be doing all along. Once I accepted that, the urges and the doubts disappeared. Because it was the right thing for me.

In the last 24 hours, I have seen four people return to the sobersphere, to their blog or to their online support community, after being gone for a while. They may not know it, but they are following that inner voice, they are doing the right thing.  Whether we believe in a Higher Power or not, we recognize what is right for us, we just need to learn to embrace it.

Even more, to revel in it.

16 comments:

  1. funnily enough I've had an usual wave of low grade 'pangs' recently too.. don't feel seriously tempted to drink but annoyed that there's still a deep down part of me that feels tired of always being the sober person in the room and understands the attraction of sweet inebriation. But the positives of being sober are so so good I will never go back, still it helps to acknowledge there is still some deep grief to be done with that 'former' boozy life... hugs to you my fellow traveller in sobriety. xxx

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    1. Exactly. Not once did I actually consider having a drink because I know that my life, even with the occasional pang, is so much better than it ever was when I was drinking. The pluses still outnumber the minuses about 100-1.

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  2. Terrifying that after 6 years you can still fall out of sober :-( It is hard to read that but good to know you found your peace and return to what is true for you. When I stopped this time after the first 3-4 days when the cravings started up again I remember thinking 'what if you just choose right now to not drink' and it was a different thought to 'I can't drink' or 'I mustn't drink'. It sounds so simple but that and changing my thoughts to today only not the big forever never made a big difference.

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    1. My friend, Hilda, never did get sober again. She died a couple of years ago from colon cancer but before they found the cancer they thought her symptoms were a result of cirrhosis and possibly even wet brain. It is stories like Hilda's that keep me from drinking again, because I know how bad she wanted sobriety again. It's almost as though we are penalized for risking the gift we've been given. You'd think it would be easier to return to the safe haven of sobriety once you've experienced it and know that there is nothing to fear, but apparently that is not so in many cases.

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  3. sorry should read 'unusual wave of low grade pangs'.. unusual because I haven't felt them for a long time xxx

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    1. I'm glad they're "unusual" but, as always, I appreciate your chiming in and saying, "Me, too."

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  4. This was a great post for me to read today. Thank you for sharing and also your comment following up on your friend. Sad. Good reinforcement though.

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  5. For me, a big part of getting sober has been learning to listen to that inner voice. (Mine's not so still either!) It's so interesting to see how being open to listening to that voice helps us find our way. I think I've found that I'm most inclined to want to drink again when I ignore my own voice and get swallowed up by the world, or by my own insecure version of what the world wants from me. It's great to read your post and see how that's played out for you. I really rely on some of you long-term sober folk to show the way, so it's important to know that wanting to drink can still bite you, and how finding your own way is the answer to that. Kudos for listening and not drinking. And thanks for being here! xo

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  6. I returned to blogging and trying to stay sober because drinking makes me very very unhappy. I don't want to be miserable and helpless and desperate. I NEED to be sober. Inner voice or not but there was a huge void in me that I drowned in wine. Hilda's story is very sad. Thank you for listening and sharing and accepting and supporting.

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  7. Kary, you know how I like to run (and I use the word "run" loosely). I've been running for about 2.5 years now. And every single time I go out, after about 1 or 2 minutes, my body gets so tired it's like I'm moving through jello. I have learned to anticipate it, recognize it, and just wait for it to be over. It always passes. Always. Now, I almost welcome it, because I know when it passes, I'll get my second wind back and my run will start being fun. And yeah, there are still days when I think, ugh, why do I have to go through this jello phase? But then, as long as I keep running, even slowly, it passes. All this to say, I get it. I have my jello days with drinking too. Glad you kept running and didn't get stuck.

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  8. I get those pangs too, and it does help to know I'm not alone. Our husbands sound similar too in how they respond (support us) even though they're still drinkers. But I'd still have these pangs if he were also sober, I know it. I like the quote and nod to old Eckhart here. I'm going out for a walk at lunch today and hope to tap in a little. Great piece, so glad you got yourself to that mass.

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  9. It was a little hard to read about your friend. It's always there years on. It's always work but there are so many benefits. I'm glad that you found what you needed to stay with it.

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  10. Hi everyone. Today is my first day sober. I'm grateful for the blog. I usually can go 10 days and then my medical issues ( and there are MANY of them) convince me that the only way I can cope is with wine. I'm sorry for Hilga. I will say a prayer for her afyer I finish this note. I am utterly EXHAUSTED trying to deal with life and drinking and I'm CONVINCED that life WILL be better without shutting out all my fees in booze. Thank you all for being here !!!! Mary Anne

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  11. I meant fears not fees.sorry.

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  12. Hey Mary Anne (My favorite Aunt's name is Mary Anne)! Welcome and Congratulations on Day 1! I am sorry about your medical issues, I hope, like me, you'll find quitting drinking lessens them or makes them disappear. I remember the exhaustion well, in fact, I just wrote a passage about it in the never-ending book. I hope it gives you encouragement to keep going on this hard but amazing journey. Here's the passage about early sobriety: " The sun came up in the east in the morning and went down in the west in the evening. My sleep patterns evened out. I woke easily in the morning and fell asleep gracefully at night. I marveled at the simplicity of mundane tasks uncomplicated by hangovers or drunkeness. I’d never not felt tired. I’d never not been dogged incessantly by thoughts about alcohol. I reveled in the freedom out from under the dictatorship alcohol had enforced and the worship it demanded. I recovered pieces of myself day after day and built myself back up until I was whole. Then I started on my life and for the first time could see all that could be."

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