Last week, back into reality, was a real, real one. I lived out an inspirational comedy Thursday afternoon that I am still laughing a bit about. Our division did a big service project building planter boxes, planting veggies, making blankets and moving furniture. It was a long, hot, fulfilling afternoon that I was grateful to be part of. After we finished, my bosses boss announced, ‘First round’s on me!’ at a local bar. All I could do was laugh. Where was this generous offer of free liquor 4 months ago? I thought about just heading home and skipping it. There has been a big part of me that’s been afraid of not being able to hang out with the people I love anymore, just because they are drinking and I am not. Most of that fear is me not being sure if I’m much fun sober. None of this fear is rational, I know that. It is me, making up stories. Stories of other people, thinking I am a dull, uninteresting weenie. I decided that I didn’t want to miss out because of this fear, so I went. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. In all honesty, if nobody knew what has been happening, I would have ordered a drink in a heartbeat. Just reiterates to me the importance of being open, not hiding anymore. It is my safety net of sorts right now, and may be for quite a long time. I had a fun time and didn’t feel dull, uninteresting or weenie-ish at all, so, success. As I drove away from the bar though, I had an overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness. I cried the whole drive home, thinking of how I’ll never again be able to just go grab a drink with friends. It was strange to me, feeling that level of loss, again, over not drinking. I decided that instead of shutting myself up, telling myself it’s stupid to feel that way, I would allow the feeling to move through me. I shared this with my therapist the next day, questioning my feelings a bit. She told me that she had taken a class once about loss that she assumed would be focused on losing a loved one. It was actually more about the loss of coping mechanisms such as alcohol. How it can feel like the loss of an old friend. It made me feel less ridiculous about crying. She always helps me see that my feelings aren’t wrong or stupid. That they are ok to have and that they are ok to acknowledge without feeling ashamed. I am very grateful for her.
To continue the rocky, but fulfilling Thursday, we headed up to a concert we were invited to in Park City. Strange the things that trigger my anxiety now. But, it turns out, I can actually enjoy live music sober. Go figure. I can even keep a beat. Madness. This was one of those re-discovery days for me. It’s amazing how many of those days I have had so far, and will no doubt, continue to have. Re-learning how to live.
Friday, as I mentioned, I went to therapy, which was needed. I always walk out of there much better off than when I walked in. She reminded me to take a breath. Not to push my limits all at once. Allow myself to absorb the experiences of Thursday and wait for a bit before I rush into risky situation after risky situation. It made me think of the family night we had at group. There will always be sharks in the water, that’s why you have to constantly keep an eye out for them, stay vigilant, aware and smart. Don’t jump off the front of the boat into shark infested water. Learn to swim safely around them, don’t provoke them, and don’t get too close. If you can keep the sharks at bay, you’ll keep the waters open for the mermaids. I was my own mermaid this past week. I found humor in a difficult situation, allowed sadness to just be there for a bit without shaming myself feeling it and was able to see a bit more of who I truly am. I dare say I’m a bit proud of myself, but I whole-heartedly know that I couldn’t be doing any of this without the support, love and strength I get from my family, my friend family, my work family and my recovery family. What an amazing group of people, that have given so much to me. I am, and forever will be, truly grateful.