Or, to put it simply, things I’ve learnt since being sober.
So, I have to admit I started writing this on my sobriety birthday (24.5) and am only just getting round to finishing it so the title might be a teeny bit out of date but I’m not going to recalculate. Soz.
I recently celebrated 2 years of sobriety, in that time I’ve learnt a lot of stuff (not just how not to drink) so I thought I would share some of my thoughts, learnings and errr wisdom? I’ve limited myself to 10 (there are so many more – but I know attention spans are short in this day and age).
- Quitting the booze when you’re addicted isn’t simply about not drinking and willpower. Living in recovery is so much more than just quitting the substance you’re addicted to, its about learning who you are, learning how to love yourself and learning how to love and help others. It a journey I think everyone could benefit from, really, the people I know that live in recovery are some of the most self aware and loving I have ever met.
- Feeling all the feelings. I drank to numb, I drank so I didn’t have to feel. When I put down the drink I no longer had my numbing potion so starting to feel again was pretty scary. In the first few months I was happy/sad/angry all within a few minutes. Learning to sit with those feelings, not mask them, but recognise and allow them is something I still have to practice. Being sad is OK, it’s a natural human emotion, being happy is OK, and I do deserve to feel happy sometimes – just like everyone else. What I have learnt, is not to allow my feelings to consume me. I recognise them and move on, it’s OK to feel but it’s not OK to dwell, that could lead me down a dangerous path.
- Burn that expensive smelly candle. I love a smelly candle, I had a drawer of Yankees (not the baseball team) and Diptyques and never wanted to ‘waste them on me’, I always wanted to save them for a special occasion. Well that special occasion is now – burn that candle. #treatyoself
- Laughing. In rehab I found my laugh again at the age of 32. A laugh I honestly didn’t know existed; it comes from my belly and when I start I often can’t stop. I love it. I remember people saying ‘well this is new’ when they first heard it, and it was. Laughing really is the best medicine. If I need a bit of a pick me up I’ll go onto YouTube and watch some of my fave comedians (I love Katherine Ryan at the mo) or watch a Bad Lip Reading video (if you haven’t seen one yet – Google it – you will not be disappointed I promise). Everyone deserves to find their laugh.
- Self – love is important. This is a new one for me. I used to think self-love was egotistical and greedy, a bad thing. I was very wrong. Self-love and self-respect are one of the biggest learnings for me in the last 2 years. This doesn’t mean being over confident, or up your own backside, it means knowing what is good for you, mentally and physically and allowing yourself the time and energy to do whats right for you, without hurting others. Boundaries are a huge part of self-love. I used to let people treat me how they wanted, not wanting to cause offense or upset anyone, but this only ended up with me hurting myself. It’s taken me a while but I am learning to do whats right for me, how I want to be treated and what I will and will not tolerate – all of this whilst not harming anyone else. It’s not selfish. Its self-love which will allow you to love others in turn – probably the biggest lesson I’ve learnt so far.
- Fashion is fun! I used to love fashion as a teenager, I didn’t have the confidence to experiment and didn’t think I deserved the nice clothes I saw other people wearing, but now I wear whatever I want and have fun with it. Don’t worry about if other people will like it. Your wardrobe is YOUR wardrobe. What you wear should make YOU happy.
- Other people are nice. They really are. More often than not everyone just wants to help each other, even in Central London in rush hour people can be nice (occasionally). It’s good to trust people.
- My anxiety was pretty self obsessive. I had crippling anxiety in addiction. I would get heart palpitations and sweaty just thinking about getting up in a restaurant/bar to use the ladies, because everyone would look and stare at me…. erm no hun. No one was actually looking, I don’t even know when I became self absorbed enough to even think that. I used to worry for days about a new situation or public speaking event, I would have to take diarrhoea tablets before a presentation because I would pretty much lose control of all my muscles, (better safe than sorry eh?) I put way too much emphasis on myself. Such an odd contradiction because I hated myself, but was also self absorbed in my thoughts. Now I control my anxiety, I still get it from time to time, but I manage it, I also take medication for it and although I don’t know if its the medication or living in recovery that’s helping the most, the combination for me works. So I am going to keep on doing it. I don’t get nervous meeting new people or going to new places now, I love it. No ones looking at me or thinking about me, they all have far better things to think about, and I don’t have to take diarrhoea tablets anymore. Big whoop!
- Be true to yourself. Be your real self, don’t wear a mask – its the easiest and most rewarding way to live. I used to change depending on who I was with, trying to please others, thinking I was just being a social chameleon. In fact I was just being insincere, not on purpose, I just didn’t know who I was or what I was doing. The last 2 years have helped me learn who I am and I am true to myself every day. This make my life easier in so many ways.
- The serenity prayer. This bad boy is a life saver, on the tube, when biting your tongue to a rude colleague. Generally when things are not going your way repeat this mantra in your head (or out loud – which I have done many-a time in work toilets) and you will soon feel better. “God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”. Makes sense right?
I have learnt so much more than these 10 things in the last 2 years, but this is a good starting point. I will be sharing the experiences I have had during my recovery too at some point – I’ve managed to cram a lot in!
I hope this posts helps someone who needs it today, I hope it helps open your eyes to how great life can be. Living a life in recovery is a life-changing, life-saving move.
Love Katie xxx