I have had a mixed couple of days. with moments of great joy, of contentment and peace, but also of distress and conflict.
the good bits, for example, of a Saturday morning park-run. do you have this near you? if you don’t know the premise, here’s the website. the brilliant concept is that you register once and can then turn up and attend free weekly timed 5k runs at loads of locations around the UK. (quite a few in Australia, too, and several in New Zealand: for other countries see here). I am quite evangelical about it as it removes so many of the perceived barriers to entry to competitive running. you don’t have to join a club. you don’t have to commit weeks in advance. it doesn’t cost anything. you just twiddle about on a website for a bit, then turn up at your local park and join in. and bingo. you’re a runner 🙂
I know that many exboozers are already runners – it seems to hit the same buttons in a better way. as Lucy very astutely said, it may be that my starting running a few years back opened my eyes to the possibility of changing, preparing me for the big leap into sobriety.
and if you aren’t a runner already, I can’t recommend it highly enough. and don’t tell me ‘you’ve never been good at running’ because neither was I and now it is such an enormous life enhancing pleasure, I can’t tell you. top tip (top tit?!) – buy a new sports bra. they are amazing now 🙂 second top tip: the Couch Potato to 5k running plan, which is what I used. when I started almost exactly three years ago I couldn’t run for more than a minute. now I can run a half marathon. you could, too. sorry, put away soapbox. just in case it lights one running spark somewhere! and I do think if you’re reading sober blogs and you’re not already a runner there is a danger of thinking, hmph, it’s all right for them, I could never do that. but yes, you could…
ok back to me me me and my lovely Saturday morning parkrun. thundering around a local National Trust property with a few hundred others in the spring sunshine, like a herd of zebras in fluorescent Lycra. actually more like a mixed herd: some gazelles, some zebras, some rhinos 😉 I had forgotten my Garmin and wasn’t too bothered about time or pace, so only know it was roughly at the 3k mark when that runner’s joy descended: all the planets aligned, nothing in my head except the act itself of running and where to put my feet and how my breathing was fast but easy and I was perfectly in the moment and it was good to be alive. and lying on my back on wet grass after finishing, all effort spent, looking up at a gentian blue sky with a few white clouds, released from all chains, and knowing knowing knowing that that feeling is not to be found in any glass or bottle.
then a few hours later finding myself in a confrontational situation not of my making. dealing with the fallout from that situation. trying to pick up the pieces. feeling emotionally battered and bruised for the rest of the day. which is okay. because conflict and confrontation are part of life, however much I wish they weren’t. and I dealt with it so much better because I was sober and have been for a pretty long time now. I was more stable in an unstable situation. I protected myself better. I minimised the fallout.
Post edited to add: and at 5pm to 6pm after this happened I did have a few drinking impulses. the first real urge in weeks. “I wish I could just have a drink to make this all go away.” and I didn’t. I had not one not two but three cranberry and tonics in swift succession, went and hid in my room and read sober blogs. and I had forgotten those urges when writing this post this morning. which shows how important they are in the scheme of things. ie. not at all. but I wanted to record them here for completeness. because those feelings do still come up.
the day before I visited an elderly relative in a dementia care home. the relative is becoming less and less coherent and more and more distressed. the visits are distressing for me but I hope give my relative some comfort. I go because I feel I should. because it feels like the right thing to do. I don’t have an answer for this one. it sucks. it is what it is.
this ebb and flow of good and bad is something I did not permit myself to experience when I was drinking. there was a constant air raid siren of booze drowning out everything else. good? celebrate. bad? drown it. everything submerged, flattened, seen in black and white not in technicolor.
I am thinking now of how I can build my emotional energy levels, which have been drawn on significantly recently. I was reading this article by Gretchen Rubin on building what she calls foundation habits. she says that
- getting enough sleep
- getting some exercise
- creating external order
- and managing eating and drinking
are key foundations to any other habits we are trying to build. apart from the fact that the fourth category IS ACTUALLY TWO HABITS, GRETCHEN! I think this is good thinking. and there are some good additional thoughts in the comments, too.
and of course these factors also very much work to our favour in promoting our emotional energy. but what direct equivalents could you suggest for emotional energy?
some I think I am already working on are:
- writing gratitude lists
- making time alone
- talking to family and friends
- ummm….. that’s it! I need some ideas, folks!
oh, and happy Easter! it is chocolate o’clock in my house now 🙂 Green & Black’s Butterscotch – the only Scotch now permitted to cross my lips 🙂