The Fuck it Bucket : Two Years Later
Two years ago I wrote an article called ‘The fuck it bucket’, which seems to have been doing the rounds ever since.
I wrote it from the perspective of someone who had been sober for a couple of years. And whereas much of it holds true, in the past two years I have learnt more that I would like to share which may add an extra dimension to the task of getting sober and staying that way if that is the choice you have made.
As you grow in sobriety, you grow in knowledge and understanding. This, I feel, is not unlike moving through school. When you’re new, you stand on the sidelines feeling lost, searching for friends, looking admiringly at the antics of the older pupils, feeling blessed if one of the sixth form even looks in your direction. That is what it was like when I first started blogging. I jumped around like a puppy trying to make friends with and gain the approval of people who had been sober for 3 months, six months. Being sober for a year was so outside my understanding that those celebrating that anniversary had my pure and unadulterated admiration. I did not dare approach those who had hit the heady heights of two years sober. They, in my view, were Gods. I rarely post now because I dislike being held up as one of the ‘prefects’. I am not legend. I’m just a woman trying to live her life in the best way she can, finding that being sober is tough, not because I long for a drink, I don’t. But because of the social and emotional effects that nobody speaks of in much the same way that nobody ever really tells you how much giving birth actually hurts.
The longer you are sober, the lonelier it gets.
I’m sure many of you have experienced this as one of the first things to go is our old drinking buddies. What I am referring to is the loss of friends that we started the sober journey with. The more confident people become, the greater the need to move away from sobriety communities. Some fall off the edge of the cliff and attempt time and time again the scale back up to the top. Some decide that they can make it on their own with the support of family and friends, others drift back into alcoholism. It’s my sad truth that out of the hundreds of people that I met in my online community at the beginning of my journey, less than five remain. Some of those are still struggling to main sobriety/moderation.
The emotional thing gets tougher
At about five months, I experienced the pink cloud. For the first time in years, I felt ‘at peace’. That feeling grew, until one day, I woke up knowing that it would take a massive shift to send me back to the bottle. This is because the anxiety caused by drinking, which was followed by the anxiety and fear of maybe drinking again disappeared. Pouf, gone!
The unexpected thing was that new anxieties have surfaced and taken root. These I think are the fears were at the root of my drinking career. This is where I am now, and this is why I am suffering.
During my drinking years, lots of shit happened. I lost three of my closest relatives, I was forced out of a job. I lost a business, I lived in an abusive marriage and I nearly lost my career in the worse way possible. Yes, I wailed and shouted a lot about all of these losses and injustices, cried many tears, dipped into the most horrendous depression, picked myself up, brushed myself down and started all over again, but I never ever processed the emotions that I felt: I had alcohol to deaden them.
At the time, I think that I was probably at the emotional level of a 3-year-old. I could be mad, I could be sad, but I didn’t grow. I couldn’t, I wasn’t able to. I was a victim. Alcohol made it all go away, then come back: again and again and again. Once I stopped drinking, I decided that I would never be that arrogant, self-destructive person again. I let the better side of me rise to the top and became the MrsP that most of you know and some of you love.
What I didn’t realise was that I was simply learning that emotions could be experienced without killing you. It took until now to understand that I need the full range of emotions the light and the dark to be the me that I was meant to be.
Going into my third year without alcohol, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. I was safe. My job was going well, I had made new sober friends, I had lost some old friends, and discovered, much to my amazement, that I was much more fun sober than drunk, in fact, I was genuinely interested, interesting and funny. I had discovered music and writing: the passion that I longed for in those dark drunken days not only emerged but took root, grew stems and started to bloom. The thing that I feared most, the loss of my creativity had not come to pass. By kicking the booze into the long grass, I found a part of me that I believed had fled and was lost forever. But life was dull and flat. I had lost my edge as I actively chose security and ‘kindness’ above all else. I felt stuck in a place from which I desired escape but did not know how to effect that change.
Then, a miracle happened. I fell in love. All of a sudden my life flowered; the things I craved became possible. Until that love was torn away. It was my own personal road traffic accident. The love that had been offered lay dead in the morgue whilst I lay in emotional intensive care fighting for my life. I have never felt such excruciating mental pain. The sun that shone brightly the previous day was savagely punched out of my sky.
Looking back, I can see that that fateful Wednesday night was the beginning of my true recovery. For the first time since I started to over drink, I experienced the full effects of grief. Shock, depression, bargaining over and over again, until one day, I felt strong enough to give life another go, and I stepped tentatively into the watery sunlight. I began to understand that more was going on than the loss of a relationship, but I did not understand what.
A few months later, it started to dawn on me that I was kidding myself. Behind all of my sweetness and light was a hard, black core of darkness that I refused to acknowledge. Cracks were appearing in the shell of kindness that I had surrounded myself with, from whence, in times of stress, the bile of blame, resentment, and anger would seep. Under the guise of good-hearted concern, I punished and tortured the man that I purported to love. And worse, I hid my true emotions behind mealy-mouthed well-intentioned sentiment and untruth. I tried to change myself into someone I was not, then crashed and burnt when my loyalty and understanding was tested.
Now, in my fourth year of sobriety, I am still walking into the same old lamp-posts, but this time I am really feeling the pain.
It has dawned on me that in my sobriety, I have simply exchanged one type of fear and anxiety for another. I am like a woman with her hand placed on a lit electric hot plate refusing to remove it knowing that pulling it away would immediately stop the pain.
The balance of light and dark in me has shifted, but they remain in un-equal measures due to my efforts to eradicate the dark.
The true need is, therefore, to draw those aspects of myself together and search to establish equilibrium.
So now that I accept that I still have in me the seeds of my own destruction, it is time to find more creative ways of becoming harmonious me, starting with learning to articulate my needs and providing myself with my wants. In doing this, I will draw from the lessons that I learnt in early sobriety: I was afraid to stop drinking because I feared who I would become. I discovered that I am a much better person than I ever suspected.
I am afraid to give up my feelings of lack of worth because I am afraid of the person that I will become. But what if I experience the rejection I fear? Is it not possible that I will then be able to walk through doors that have remained firmly shut in my face because I was afraid of knocking on them?
My fear has been my fuck it bucket. Time to kick it into touch.
If you’re drinking too much too often and are feeling trapped come talk to us. Rewrite your story one day at a time. Sobriety is Clarity, Creativity, Freedom
Rethink the Drink BOOM
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