Train Landscape by Eric Ravilious, 1939

when I first got sober I loved Belle’s metaphor of her sober car. it’s one of my most frequently read posts of hers and has helped me immensely. in fact I even have a mental image of my own sober car, which I blogged about here. my sober car is a blue 2CV, with no room in the back for emotional baggage!

at eighteen months sober the effort of steering and navigating the basic fact of my not-drinking is vastly, hugely less. (if you are reading this at an earlier point on the sober path I most sincerely hope that you find that reassuring, and not discouraging. time is my secret weapon – I am in no way stronger or more able than anyone else!)

so now I do not feel as if I am in a sober car, but riding my sober train, which continues on its path without so much direct input from me.

the image above (from Eric Ravilious, one of my favourite artists) encapsulates the rattling train carriages of my teenaged years. I used my early freedom to travel to a nearby city, an escape into a world where I felt there were more possibilities, more chances to be me. which mostly involved visits to Boots for the huge array of beautification products considered vital for any ‘proper’ young woman, and also to second hand bookshops.

I still have the array of tattered paperbacks by Georgette Heyer that I collected voraciously in those days, escaping into a Georgian wonderland of wit and warmth, and handsome hooknosed Marquises who locked conversational swords with the mettlesome heroines and locked rapiers with one another. eg from the blurb on ‘Venetia’:

‘Lord Damerel found Venetia to be the most truly engaging and witty female he had encountered in all his thirty-eight years. Venetia knew her neighbour for a gamester, a shocking rake, and a man of sadly low character. It was, therefore, particularly provoking to find that given occasion, Damerel could make up his mind to be quite idiotically noble…’

sigh. yes, totally still in love with Lord Damerel 😉

the train carriages I rode in those days were the type with individual compartments, and a separate corridor along which one walked, peering into each one, seeking for an empty  compartment or one occupied by a safe but non-chatty looking woman. I can feel in memory the scratch of the threadbare seat fabric through a summer skirt, see the mirror above each seat in which I too-frequently checked my appearance. the doors to each compartment slid to and fro, and if a latch was faulty or the door improperly closed you could hear a door sliding lazily backwards and forwards, along the corridor, until some civic minded individual rose to their feet to shut it or it crashed closed around a particularly tight bend in the track.

I have an emotionally demanding couple of weeks. much of this has been due to the impact of a particular set of Headspace meditation sessions I have been undertaking, in the Acceptance pack. the principle of them is very simple, and having thought hard about it I’m not going to give exact details here, precisely because it has been so triggery for me. but let’s just say that the principle of the sessions is that after going through the basic groundwork of entering a meditative state, one is required to ask oneself a specific question, to do with acceptance, and then to open oneself up to the feelings that arise in response to that question.

this is one of the most incredibly powerful and painful exercises I have ever carried out. it has elicited from me both feelings that I would have expected, if you had described such an exercise to me, and ones that I would never have thought would arise – all this when one is, by choice, open and vulnerable.

it resembles nothing so much, for me, as voluntarily chaining myself to a rock, as in the punishment of Prometheus, and having my liver pecked out by ravening eagles – and then doing the same thing again, the next day. 

Prometheus Bound, Rubens.

and that probably makes me Prim-etheus… 🙂

the harrowing of it is that I don’t know where to go with this new knowledge, these feelings. I’ve been searching, as previously mentioned, for inspiration, for new directions. Bea did a great post yesterday on this topic, and that, and the comments on it, have been really helpful to me too, so thank you all.

it feels very much as if I am seeking desperately up and down the corridor of the train, looking for the right compartment, the perfect one (I know, I know) to take me forward into the future. so yes, I am going back to basics, checking my mooring ropes. nowadays those ropes are:

  • checking in with the soberverse – thank you ALL
  • taking my HRT meds every day, not 5 out of 7
  • decent food, not too much sugar
  • regular running (two weeks now of running  4 x a week is working well for me)
  • plus a new one I’ll come back to later…

and it was when I was out for a run yesterday and thinking over this post that it came to me – perhaps it doesn’t matter which compartment I am in. because all the carriages on the sober train are going to the same place. 

and focusing on the compartment, the decision of what I need to fix next in my life, stops me either being able to immerse myself enjoyably in my book – the pleasure of being where I am – or of being able to see the view out of the window – the pleasure of enjoying the journey. and if I do either of those things, then in the long run I am more at risk of the sudden, unthinkable decision to open the always-there side door and leap into nothingness down the embankment, perhaps never to find my seat again.

I am so profoundly grateful to be on my sober train, and do not take it for granted for one moment.

the additional daily practice I mentioned above is one that I saw recommended somewhere (apologies, no idea where) of making the first action of the day, before you even get out of bed, a prayer of gratitude. and I’m not as sure as I once was of my precise beliefs, but with this prayer (or any prayer?), I don’t think it even matters to whom they are addressed. I’ve slightly adapted a prayer by Brigitte Kouba to read as follows:

‘Dearest Mother Father God, Creator of All Things,

Thank you for all of the love, goodness, service and growth opportunities you provide in my life.

Please allow me to have faith, to be patient and to be in your grace.

I know that I am Divinely guided and protected. Allow your light to overflow from within me. May I have integrity in my thoughts, words and my deeds.

I trust all things are in your hands for the highest good of all. I surrender to your Divine plan and trust myself as a channel for your love.

Thank you.

Amen.’

wishing you joy, peace and a safe journey today. Prim xx

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