I never knew the direction I was headed in when I decided to quit drinking. There was the inner me, screaming for peace and there was the even deeper me wanting to be set free from all the drama and people’s demands.
As a kind, empathic person, I attracted ALL the “woe is me” people in the world. Wherever I went. It was hard, as their energies were so conflicted and weighed a thousand tonnes; mostly dark and swirling.
So, I set sail for sobriety, determined to find a way out of this dark mess. In 2015, it was such a delight to discover hellosundaymorning.org, based in Oz, but with members from all over the world. All good, sound people determined to defeat the drink demon.
But 3 months after I put down the glass, I discovered the inner and the deepest me were still screaming and twisted, so I took myself off to Ethiopia for 2 months – where I had many friends – to look after a good friend’s gorgeous dog, Bobby. The anger I’d squashed down for so many decades began to re-emerge, and it was bloody frightening. There were lots of tears. I could have drunk in Ethiopia, but stuck to sickly Coke or mineral water, and felt so much better. I was proud of myself for ignoring the cravings and making new friends wherever I went!
Then I found the right mental health therapy – after I’d been AF for 6 months. I was lucky enough to be assigned the lead consultant in “Open Dialogue”, a man very well known in mental health circles both in the UK and Europe, and author of three books. He understands that breakdowns are our bodies’ attempts to release deeply embedded trauma. And I was even luckier, because this treatment was FREE, thanks to the NHS.
And I did the work with them, as I did the work with HSMers: a daily journal, commenting, supporting, and letting the ragged, shivering, real me emerge. After a year, I said goodbye to friends I no longer had anything in common with – these were people for whom life was pretty much gilded, and all they were focused on were holidays, shiny things and new restaurants. There was nothing of substance there, like talking to a body made from buttercream icing, which would gradually wilt and disintegrate should problems ever come their way. Some of those friendships had been for 40+ years, so it took courage.
And I never looked back. instead, over time, I met people who lived with daily pain, either mental or physical, but who were determined to never, ever, ever let it defeat them. And I discovered that I was one of them, too.
Still, my inner wisdom re-emerged and my therapy team were in sync with all the feelings that I’d ignored. My hurt and trauma were righteous, it turned out, and then – 2 months ago – I decided it was time to lock up the Past once more, and leave it behind.
Times look deeply depressing to many: politics, alt-right, poverty, the huge levels of anger now apparent in almost all societies. Now, I observe it and don’t take the pain deep into my heart any more. Instead, I focus on being kind and releasing the pain I feel from them, the moment I leave them.
I listen, encourage, read, exercise and treat myself the way I did as a 16 year old (also living in a dysfunctional family) with total respect and love.
I see my suffering for what it is: the fire to burn all the unneeded flesh off me, to put the ego in its proper place: subservient to my heart, so I can listen to and help others enduring similar things. Gently and patiently.
Today, I am serene and that is the best part. I can observe the myriad feelings clinging to the fence, wanting to play in my mind’s sandpit, and I let them in, but not for too long. The pendulum of emotions has a smaller arc these days, because I did, and will always do, the work: DAILY. And today, I find angels wherever I go, no longer the hurting people I once attracted, because my energy has shifted.
So, write down the direction you want to head in, trust your heart that it will lead you to the right people, events, books and podcasts. Rediscover forgotten hobbies, unleash and release the wild you: dancing, mountaineering, wild swimming and just enjoy it. Fall back in love with Life again, as you fall back in love with you.
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It’s never too late.