I thought that giving up drinking would be like an overnight transformation. I wasn't expecting it to be easy, but nor was I expecting the journey to be such an evolving and all encompassing one.
For me, it's felt a bit like moving house. And, in fact, many people try what AA call the 'geographical cure' when they decide to cut down or quit drinking.
The geographical cure involves leaving everything behind and trying a clean sheet of paper in a brand new place with brand new people. It usually doesn't work. The reason it doesn't work, apparently, is that the issues are internal, not external. When you move, you take them all with you.
Instead of clearing everything out and rearranging all your external stuff, you have to do the same thing with all your internal stuff. That, say the experts, is the only route to proper recovery.
And that's just what it's felt like to me.
Initially you bag up all the junk - the stuff you've always hated - and you chuck it out. Hurrah! You think. This is really easy. It's therapeutic. I should have done this years ago. What was I thinking?
That's the early stage of sobriety. The 'pink cloud' phase (see The SoberCoaster for more on pink clouds and 'the wall').
Overnight the hangovers have gone. You feel exhausted but positive. You've finally made a decision and started to do something about it. You are strong! Amazing! Unshakeable!
But then you have to start saying goodbye to all your favourite things. You lose all your routines, your comfort blankets, your oldest, most familiar friends.
Suddenly you find yourself sitting on an uncomfortable chair in a totally empty room feeling completely naked, alone and vulnerable.
(This was how I felt when I started weeping over the ironing a few weeks back (see Weeping). It's the phase known as 'The Wall').
But then, slowly, slowly the cold, empty room starts to fill up. You find some stuff that you haven't seen since childhood. You buy some lovely new things. And you discover that you don't miss the belongings you've left behind half as much as you thought you would.
Some of the things I've found creeping quietly into my empty room are courage (see Anxiety and Courage), compassion (see People in Glasshouses), energy and creativity. And I know there's more coming, so long as I leave the door open.
I'm looking around my new house and thinking "Ok, I'm not quite at home here yet, there's stuff that I still yearn for, but it's looking okay. It's still a bit sparse, but everything here feels like it's here for a reason, and not just because I've got used to it."
If I get really nostalgic, I can drive by my old house and have a good look at it. But it's not my home any more and I can't go back there. And, eventually, I won't want to, because my new home will be so amazing that it won't even cross my mind....
Does that ring any bells for you, fellow travellers? Or am I just going quietly crazy?
Love SM x