school of Leonardo da Vinci, from the Codex Villardi, now in the Louvre

woke up ridiculously early this morning so have the luxury of a couple of hours completely quiet and deserted house before the hordes begin to stir. bliss.

had a conversation with a RL friend recently, one of the two people other than Mr P with whom I have actually gone into any revealing detail about why I got sober. I haven’t talked about it to her for a while – maybe three to six months? and I was telling her that I’d had a hard time on New Year’s Eve.

she is a dear friend and we can tell one another things about which we are vulnerable. I am finding that easier in real life, thinking about it, having had some practice here with all you lovely imaginary friends 😉 so thank you for that!

what I found particularly interesting was that she was asking me questions which I had to think searchingly about answering. and in doing so it gave me new insight into the stage I have reached with my sobriety.

for example, she asked, “Do you think you’ll ever drink alcohol again?” and my immediate response was, “Oh, no.” which I wouldn’t have been so definite about, perhaps six months ago? not deep down, certain sure. and that’s a really precious knowledge to have about myself, so I’m glad she asked it.

we talked quite a bit generally about why I thought it was a bad idea for me, and I think I told her something along the lines of, “I was using alcohol when I wanted to switch off, or to reward myself. And now I’m finding other ways of doing that which work better, so why would I go back to alcohol?”

and then shortly after I read FFF’s wonderful one year sober post in which she tells the way she heard that message from Lisa at SoberIdentity. Lisa said,

‘you don’t want to drink, you just want to change the way you feel’

which just puts that so well and ties in with what I was trying to say in my previous post. so thank you to both FFF and Lisa for that insight!

but I think the biggest thing that surprised me coming out of my mouth was when I told my friend that fundamentally for me now being sober is about being honest with myself. because the period when I was seriously trying and failing to moderate my drinking lasted at least eighteen months, perhaps for two years before I finally stopped.

and certainly in the last six months of that period I knew I couldn’t moderate, but was trying to convince myself otherwise. and now, if I were to drink again, it would be in the full knowledge that I can’t drink moderately. and living in either of those states would be  just plain damn miserable.

at fourteen months sober I am aware it would be very easy for me to become complacent about my recovery. it is an old saw that more relapses happen when things are going well than when they are going badly, although I have been unable to find anything other than anecdotal evidence for this statement.

I think my biggest risk of relapse now would be if I was self-flagellating about something completely different. something that derailed me emotionally, particularly something that is visibly my own fault – eg if I had a major midlife crisis and had an affair which wrecked my marriage (may I say hastily here that this is not something that is any way on the horizon for me at the moment!) and under those circumstances I might use alcohol as another rod to beat myself with. it was a comment from Bea on a previous post which really helped me to see how that was how I used to use alcohol. well, not any more 🙂

so, I hope I am not tempting fate when I say that I think I am at little risk now of thinking, oh, perhaps I can drink moderately again? because I really, really know and acknowledge and accept that I can’t. and that is not a constraint. that is a freedom. because it frees me from false illusions about myself, particularly those last dark days when I was pretending even to my own secret self.

it is a freedom and a place upon upon which I can stand. in Abraham Lincoln’s words:

‘Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.’

standing firm here. firm, happy and at ease with myself, in the early morning quiet. to misquote The Eagles:

‘I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling

I know I won’t let me down

’cause I’m already standing on the ground…’

have a lovely day, sober buddies! Prim xx

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