Thursday, 13 August 2015

Let Me Not Die While I am Still Alive

In her extraordinarily powerful eulogy to her dead husband, Sheryl Sandberg quoted a Jewish prayer: let me not die while I am still alive.

That's what drinking does to us. We kill ourselves slowly, drop by drop, glass by glass, bottle by bottle, when we should be living. We drown ourselves in booze, and bury ourselves under layers of flab.

In most of the drinking memoirs I've read the authors describe how drinking stopped them growing.

To move forward as a human being we have to properly experience life, to deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. We have to learn to meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.

When we drink, we don't do that; we just hide.

Rather than our horizons expanding, our world shrinks. If we don't stop, it gets smaller and smaller until we've lost everything except the bottle.

At the moment I'm reading Blackout by Sarah Hepola. She writes about hitting her bottom. She'd consoled herself with lists of the things she'd not yet lost, like her apartment and her job. But...

....it occurred to me for the first time that perhaps no real consequences would ever come to me. I would not end up in a hospital. I would not wind up in jail. Perhaps no-one and nothing would ever stop me. Instead, I would carry on like this, a helpless little lush in a space getting smaller each year. I had held onto many things. But not myself.

That's just how I felt. Despite hanging onto the important things (so far) - my family and my home, my world was getting tinier and tinier, and I'd lost myself. I was slowly dying while still alive.

But now, after nearly half a year of introspection and building myself back up, brick by brick, I feel like I'm standing on the edge of something. Now I can see the horizon and I have - for the first time in years - a sense of possibility, instead of hearing the clang of doors closing ringing in my ears.

I don't know what's going to happen next, but something is.

So yesterday we took a boat trip along the Cornish coast. Bear in mind that this was not the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, it was the Atlantic. We were dressed in head to toe oilskins and life jackets.

We were a way out from shore, crashing through the waves, and I did something I haven't done since I was about ten years old. I asked the Universe for a sign (yes, really). I said:

If my life is about to change in miraculous ways then send me a dolphin.

Five minutes later and there's an effing dolphin swimming alongside our boat. I kid you not. Flipping Flipper!

So watch this space, my friends, because I've wasted an awful lot of time, and it's my turn now....

....and yours.

Sending you Dolphins.

SM x


23 comments:

  1. I know exactly what you mean. The same feeling of great possibility is dawning in me - there is no limit to what I can do with all this clarity. Not a lot of energy, yet, though :-) I'm 30 days sober today, and it's the longest stretch ever, I think. I feel so peaceful compared to other tries. This is it. Now I only need to ward off any thought of being changed for good.

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  2. I could do with a dolphin today. x

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  3. I think I'm just going to link my blog to yours as you can put what I'm going through right now so much more succinctly and beautifully..

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  4. I cannot tell you how many times I have asked for signs and they appeared. I didn't go find them, they just appeared. For years we have had a fox up here at our cabin in the woods, he'd show up around dinner time and wait on the porch until we fed him. A couple of years ago, our visits from the fox ended ( I don't think it could have been the same fox every year, but every summer we had a dinner guest). Last year, I knew I was going to be staying up here by myself most of the summer, it's rather remote and I was a little nervous. I asked God to send me a fox as a sign that things would be okay (I realize that this sounds weird, Why would I ask for a fox as sign? But I swear I did.) That night at 2 am I woke up, I'm not sure why, but I looked down over the railing of our loft where we sleep and there was a fox sitting outside the french doors to our deck. I swear to God. I never saw him again, but he was there the night after I asked for him.

    I think drinking peels away the scales of skepticism from our eyes, we can see the beautiful, miraculous world that is out there with all of its possibilities when we walk out from behind that curtain of self-cynicism that booze draws in front of us.

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    1. Wow Kary Mary. Thanks so much for that x

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  5. I love the smell of possibility in the morning! Beautiful post SM xx

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  6. Today marks 100 days for me. This blog is one of the things that has kept me motivated on the daily. I did not realize that I was not the only one who drank to drink the anxiety away, to drown out the noise of life, only to truly and literally and actually be slowly killing myself and my spirit in the process.

    3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months and exactly 100 days later, I would like to say, WOOP and where be my dolphin! I'm ready. Thank you to you all for sharing your truths so honestly so that others may learn.

    You are all, scattering joy.

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    1. Hello TOYF, and Huge Congrats! You deserve a whole POD of dolphins (that is the correct collective noun btw)! Awesome work. That's the hard bit done, now you can sit back and enjoy....

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  7. Absolutely amazingly inspiring post.
    I signed up in my local library to get Blackout. Imagine my surprise when I found out that there is a huge line if people waiting for it. Somehow I narcisistically imagined that I am the only one with drinking problem in our town.

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  8. Hi I have been following your blog for a few months now and this really hit home. I agree with all posts it is an amazing inspiring post - thank you! I have been living a lie for so long and even been in prison for my drinking (in my youth btw not recently!) I have a family now and only my partner really knows the truth about my drinking and agrees I must stop soon. To the outside world it is not as obvious as i think it is and most days feel i am living a lie. As we all know our body is where we live each and every day of our lives and we must be kind to ourselves. I hope to be able to celebrate with you all when I achieve my own milestones in the AF life I hope to live. Good luck to you all, i have only ever achieved 36 day AF (other than pregnancy) but know I have to do it before I destroy all the good. If anyone can share ideas how to deal with a social life that has only revolved around wine o clock pls share. Lots of love to you all AB x

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    1. 36 days sounds very impressive to me. I recommend reading Jason Vale and isn't there a book called "How to party sober?" - it might help? Good Luck x

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    2. Plus Becks Blue is pretty good once you get into it ...

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    3. Thanks for the recommendations...have read Jason's book will look up how to party sober too x

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    4. Hi Abbablondie (two of my favourite bands!) Thanks so much for posting! Don't panic - we've all been where you are. It seems like such a big hurdle initially, and then 3 months down the line you think "why did I wait so long?" I agree with TFC - definitely read Jason Vale first. Don't worry about your social life initially - just concentrate on yourself. I would suggest not telling your friends to start with - it puts too much focus on the whole thing - just do the driving/antibiotics/diet excuses until you're ready for the inquisition! You'll be surprised at how little most other people actually drink, and how boring drunk people are! The only friends you might lose are the ones with their own drinking issues, and they'll come back when they eventually have to confront their demons.

      Stay in touch - we're all rooting for you!!

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    5. Hi there I can really empathise with you, I'm in exactly the same position much of my socialising consists around wine o clock. I don't have tips as I'm finding out the answer to your question myself. I do have a blog though ... exploringsomethingelse@wordpress.com maybe reading my difficulties and how I try to overcome them might help you xx

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    6. Hi AB! I set myself a challenge of '100 Happy and Sober Days'. It helped me to have a focus. By the time I reached 100 days I felt so much better that I carried on. I stopped counting days once I'd got to 100 and am now approaching 6 months. I'm still not sure I can do this 'for life' but for now, it feels right. SM keeps reminding me it takes 'baby steps' which helps, as does this blog. Good luck on your journey. LNM x

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    7. Thanks for all the comments, suggestions etc will check out the other blog too... Have a great weekend everyone xx p.s so glad i posted feel in better already

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  9. its a great book isn't it? I totally agree about how we let our world shrink, and it happens without us realising.
    And that is really amazing about the dolphin! X

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  10. Aw that was a lovely blog ! Am coming up to 100 days soon and it just keeps getting better and easier. Lots of ups and downs (and tears) but so worth it. I have a little amber stone I hold a lot and I thank god every day for keeping me strong and gor the gift of sobriety.The future now has real possibilities. I'm only 46 but was just waiting for thr kids to grow up and life to happen. Now I feel ready to grab life with both hands. Well maybe not quite yet but I'm getting there. Thank you x

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  11. Your dolphin came. How utterly fantastic.
    I spent the weekend with 29 women living their lives. They are all in recovery. Not one of them was willing to stay on that path of death.
    I so felt like I was hiding my time, waiting to die. It makes me sad now, to think I was so unhappy. But my current u contained joy for living and sharing and being me makes up for that.

    I am living every moment.

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  12. That's simply amazing. When I first stopped I wondered how I would fill all those hours when I used to be drinking. Now I am doing so many beautiful things I need more hours. It is a miracle. The best miracle.

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