Thursday, 26 March 2015

The sober garden

I set myself on this sober path last autumn. And co-incidentally, I started an overhaul in the garden around the same time. It was scheduled to start around then, but the timing with becoming sober couldn't have been better. Its now, in my head, my 'sober garden'.  Now I should qualify this by saying, I like gardening. In fact, I don't just like it, I'm obsessive about it. Its also what I do for a part of my work. So its not a chore, its a joy. But, as my drinking got worse and worse, I began to loathe my garden. It stopped me drinking. Each blade of grass needing cut, each chore kept me away from my drinking time. Eventually I despised my garden. I even did those tests to see if I had a problem with drink, which said, have you given up your hobbies. I answered no to those. By the stage I stopped drinking I hated my garden and my life. I had no passion left for anything but wine.

So when I finally got sober and got myself out of bed after that first month, I thought it was time to try and reconnect with my favourite pastime, my passion, that I'd neglected through drinking. I'd like to tell you its been an idyllic, calm and peaceful process. Serenity at its heart. But, I'd be lying. Its been a hair pulling, painful, slow process, with some bits that I've no idea still how to make work together. Its frustrating, hard work, slow, painful and rewarding all at the same time. Its real and its messy and its not pretty.

Sounds like getting sober to me. 

Its not that the garden didn't work perfectly well before. It did. Just like me or so I thought. So, I've basically taken a perfectly practical garden and ripped it apart to make it my own and work for me. I've carved it up into spaces to be productive and grow food, to be quiet, to move in, to work in and to be peaceful in. But, in order to do that its been ripped apart, redesigned and like my sober self, its been a slow process. In some cases, taking the bricks away, putting them to 'rest' and wait whilst I redesign and nurture an area into the new shape/space I want. And, then, I've put the bricks back, almost in the same place, more solidly and better aligned this time.

Then I've started the slow process of laying foundations, making sure the new bits are properly supported, not cutting corners. Trying to figure out what it is that I want, before diving in. Trying to figure out what I need, before compromising for others. I've also been waiting for the right things to appear rather than just make do.

For the first time in my life, I've stood back and thought to myself, what do I want. Whilst my life was always about compromise (not a martyr, just a normal girl), I've had to think, in this sober space, what do I want. Me, what do I want. Just me.

This sober garden isn't about making other people happy. Its about making me happy. So where I've felt like it, I've been bold. Where I've felt like quiet, I'm creating quiet. Where I'm feeling like splashes of colour and vibrancy, I'm creating it. Where I want more practical elements, I'm creating them too. Its for me. Its my garden. My sober space to recharge in. My sober garden, no one else's.

Probably sounds a bit selfish doesn't it? Creating a whole space, a whole ambiance of sober-ness (not a real word I know). Well, I don't think it is, and here's why.

As I've slowly got sober, I've experienced many emotions. A lot of them anger. I'm not proud of that, but its there. I've been very angry and had such rage.

It was at this stage, I thought, wouldn't it be good to create some rather large raised beds with huge railway sleepers. So I dug (in a temper) and I hauled (in a mood) and I placed (in the wrong place) and that made me mad too. So I started again and moved everything to the 'right' place. It was exhausting and challenging and it was just what I needed. My anger at being sober, at having to be sober, at not being able to moderate has been taken out on my garden. I've found the sheer exhausting physical work of it, something I needed at the time, in fits and bursts.

On more contemplative days, I've sat [I never sit] and listened to the birds, looked at the shapes and spaces in my sober garden and slowly seen the lines and form of each bed appear. I've thought about the plants I want and the shapes I want to create. I've bought plants with 'sober treat money' and I've told myself quite firmly, this is MY sober space. Others can visit, but its been created from my sober time, a lot of thinking happens when I'm gardening and a lot of reflection. Its nice to see something evolving from this part of my sober journey.

Whilst I've a 'sort of' plan in my head, I've no fixed design ideas and I'm working largely fluidly to see where it takes me.  As its my garden, I have given myself the luxury of free flowing thinking, rather than berate myself for not having fixed ideas and firm plans.  [This is new for me, I always have a firm plan, always.]

So the sober garden is evolving, like the living entity that it is. Just like me, in my sober journey.  

I've also no real idea where its going to end up, but that's OK for both of us. 

I have to say, I'm enjoying the process of working slowly and methodically, in my own time frame, as life allows. Its not frantic on the whole, its not a quick fix job and make it pretty for the summer, its a real journey.

Now, making a sober garden I know isn't for everyone. Its just been where I am in my life right now too and its nicely slotted in with my sober journey. But, even the process of allowing myself to choose plants I like, thinking about where I'd like things, has been really rewarding for me. Watching the form of the garden developing at its own pace and evolving has been very cathartic. I'm normally so matter of fact, million miles an hour, just get the job done and move on in the garden. 

So as I sat on my hands and knees, last week, thinking about finishing the bed with the bricks. Thinking about how to properly lay them to let me cut the grass to a neat finish. I caught myself thinking about how different this experience is sober. Previously they were hastily laid on top of the soil, quickly mid hangover, to just 'make do', meaning the lawn was never nicely finished and it always irked me. So this time, its done slowly, carefully and its right. Its taken a long time, I've left it as I've not felt like finishing it and then slowly worked away at it. Finally its taking shape. The lines aren't rigid, its quite fluid and shaped, and its beautiful.

Well as beautiful as a line of bricks can be right?

So my sober garden has taught me a thing or two. Its taught me about patience and taking time to make sure things are right. Change them or relook at them when they're wrong. Its helped me to vent my anger and work through those feelings. Its allowing me to think about one part of my life where I can indulge me, please myself and follow it through. My garden is teaching me patience to take time to work through my thoughts and feelings and putting ideas into action. 

As I pick the plants I want for the newly shaped beds, I'm thinking of how they'll work together. I'm thinking of the insects and butterflies they'll also bring to our lives. I'm listening to the bird song and stopping to watch their happy chatter as they flit about the trees. And as I do all of this I'm planning benches and wee nooks to sit. [This is very new.] I'm actually planning how I might enjoy the garden once its growing. Not just rushing around hastily doing chores. I'm planning how I can make the most of the sober space I'm creating to nurture me.

Where will I sit? Where will I lie and read my book, or just lay and nap listening to the chatter of the world around me. Where will I recharge my sober self. Where will I just sit and think.

So whilst I'm creating something beautiful from the turmoil of my early sober days, each moment, I'm learning and building on these experiences.

But, like me, its still a work in progress. The structure and bones of it all are beginning to take form. Just like my new sober life.

And, its a happy, strong place, when once it was angry and messy ruled by chaos, now its calmer and has the potential to be breathtaking.

The sober garden, I'm looking forward to being in it. Maybe it will never be finished, but that's also OK. I'm good with that. After all, we're all a work in process aren't we? Sometimes knowing that its OK to be unfinished, is the permission we need to just live.

As for the garden, you'd like to see some photos? Yes well, once it stops looking like a glorious mud bath, with bricks planted in its guts, I might just do that.

One day at a time people!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Day 165 - In the now

So hello again, from a very remiss sober girl. Working suits me, but it leaves little time for much else in life. I do wonder how I worked so hard and drank so much, these days it takes me all my time to do much after I've come home except flop, eat, bath, sleep. Imagine doing this with a hangover. Erm, no thanks. Truth is though whilst I'm enjoying work, I'm missing posting and some real sober time. So I try and get my 'sober fix' throughout the day even if I can't touch base in cyber-sober-land as much as I'd like. The only email address I have registered to my phone is my sober one, so I can take time to read posts (although not comment) in the ground of where I work. Under this particular tree. So each day I take my 15 minutes over lunch and sit and catch up on sober land. Silent sober stalker if you like, unable to comment but to read and I feel like I've recharged my sober batteries. So I reach out in my own sober silent way. 

Slow and steady seems to be winning the race big time at the moment. That's new. Patience and knowing that I've only got a certain amount to give. And I'm grateful I've found patience and realise there's only so much of me I can give before I feel overwhelmed. So that's a kind of progress, the realisation that I have limits in order to keep me steady and sober.

I got some news this week (sorry I can't share just yet) which sent me into full panic/turmoil/crazy head mode. You know the kind where you head feels like a washing machine and you toss around every single combination of good/bad/crazy/amazing/scary/brilliant stuff in your head. What if its good, what if its bad. It was overwhelming. It didnt' make me want to drink, but I know overwhelm is a big trigger for many of us.




Its exhausting. Mid panic  I emailed a sober chum, not to say, help.  I don't really have any urges right now, not today, not this week. But - eek, I have news, what if I can't cope with this whatever the outcome. Her response. 

Live in the now. Stay in today. Wise words. {Thank you lovely}

And then of course I read Prim's brilliant post this week. Just you arguing with life very timely.

So whilst I'm stressing about this that and the other, I know a few things to be true. Sober friends are solid and they tell you what's best for you, always. I'm grateful for that, so grateful.

So I'm staying in today. Because really I can't do much else. So I'll turn the negative 'What if's' around and think to myself, stay here and now and if I do catch myself thinking........maybe I should do it positively. Positive and Sober, what would be possible.

I do waffle on, so thank you for getting this far! If you've something kind or helpful to add or just want to say hello. Please drop a line below. I'd appreciate that. Thank you.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Change and cross roads

You'll excuse me from being lax at posting, having a new job means I'm settling into a routine which involved no access to communication for at least three days a week and then a kind of catching up of life which seems to inevitably happen. I'm sober and I'm happy. I've had the odd urge but nothing significant at all. This I think is progress surely. I'm happily sober. I'm available and I'm actually doing OK.

Its been a pretty normal, if chaotic week going from working one day to four each week. But, I am enjoying it and my days are settling down at work so I can plan. But, its left me at a crossroads with my counselling. I'm now working on my allocated addiction counselling day, so I either change days with someone new, or give it up. I can't decide what to do. In some ways starting again with someone is a positive thing, whilst I liked the lady I've been seeing, we didn't really gel. On the other hand, now I'm faced with either giving up my SMART meeting and seeing someone that day, or trying to find another time to see someone. Or just stopping. I just can't decide. Part of me thinks that the digging into things is too early, part of me thinks going over old rope from childhood isn't helpful. Then again I've always been avoid emotional pain at all costs, haven't I. Which is where the numbing and the drinking came in handy. So I'm at a bit of a cross roads with that particular brand of help. I realise its useful but just not sure what to do next. Ponder time here.

Something shifted in me at the weekend. I'm not sure what it was, but we had visitors which, whilst is not unusual, they brought wine for dinner. I'd mentioned previously not to bring any, but there you are. Something I have gotten from my counselling is that sometimes I feel I'm not seen. Or heard. Sometimes I actually think I'm the invisible sober girl.

But here's the thing. I didn't get mad. Well maybe a wee bit mad, for about a nano-second. And, due to careful sober planning I had loads of lovely juices and alcohol free fizz/wine/beer in the house so I just thought, stuff it. If you can't see or hear me, that's more to do with you that it is about me. You didn't listen. Or if you listened you thought I was mistaken. No, I really meant, please don't bring wine for dinner, we're having some sober time.
But, it seems I'm the invisible sober girl, here cooking your dinner, as you didn't listen. And, I will open your wine and even pour it for you with my invisible sober hands. Because you know what, I don't want it. Poison yourself why don't ya. I'm happy not drinking, in fact, and here's the shift. I know for a fact I'm not missing out. Not in the slightest.

Like I said, something has shifted. Happily sober. And that's a change I'm grateful for. I'm not whining (excuse the pun) about not having wine. I'm not missing out. Maybe I'm in pink cloud land, but right now, alcohol is not something I want. It doesn't enhance my life.

I'm also happy for my husband who noticed the wine and asked if I wanted him to say anything and move it away, or ask them to put it back in their car. 

No, lovely man. I'm good. You know what, I'm not missing that shit. And thanks for seeing me. The sober me. I'm truly grateful for being seen, sober. Dinner ended nicely enough, Mr Me loudly enthused about not missing drinking at all, he's thinking of going tee-total he told them (to aghast open mouths). Fabulous chap that he is.

Week ended with a SMART meeting where we talked about life balance. Unsurprisingly we all need to work on having more fun in our fabulous sober lives.

So with that in mind I've given myself today totally off from work and everything and I'm working in my garden. I might go for a drive and a walk. Today is for me. Now that I'm working over weekends, I need to remember that time off at home, alone or otherwise, is essential. And my week days aren't solely for chores. 

This statement seems totally luxurious and outrageous. There is tonnes to do. But, it will wait. Time for me. Scary as that is I know that taking care of me, is important. Taking care of others is important too, but today, they can wait. Just for a while.

Have a great sober day folks. 

Day 159 nothing to see here aside a happy sober girl.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

My sober week

So I've been a bit poorly and a bit quiet this week. I'm not very unwell, just a cold, but its remarkable how I'd use it normally as an excuse to treat myself to both cold medicine and wine to make me feel better. But, not this time. This time I just gave in to the tiredness and went with it. I cancelled plans and I took care of me.  Now none of this is rocket science, but taking care of me is a pretty big deal and its new to me too. I seem to be thinking more and more this week, and in general, how do I feel about that. What does that mean if I commit to something, do I want to do it? The feeling of resentfulness and overwhelm for me I think were big triggers to boozing. So I'm avoiding them like the plague. And, this week despite being ill, I've found myself to be a bit more contented than normal. Lets not focus on that and scare it away.

I did enjoy the kids being home for a brief while, all four of us out and about just doing 'normal' stuff. I'm stressing less about my daughter and our relationship, something seems to have moved a bit there. So that's progress too, if its me, of if its her, or if its both of us, I'm just so grateful that its shifting and our new 'normal' is beginning. So as weeks go, its pretty unexciting, I've not really done much this week aside sleep and work. No therapy, no SMART, nothing. Its not been a bad week, but I've just felt like I've had too much on to do more than just work and sleep. And working and sleeping is grand, colds however, are now getting a bit dull.

I remind myself, I'm too sober for things like getting ill. 
So a week of limited drama's and crisis, funny how those go when you're sober for long. And I celebrated 150 days sober with gusto and a permanent job offer.  I sat in the garden at work, during lunch, just sitting in the sun (sniffing and coughing) thinking, if this is a sober life, this isn't bad. Was called into the office before I left, offered a permanent job, seemingly I have a 'sunny cheerful disposition'. Who knew. But, I'm well chuffed a p/t job with likeminded folks, ticks one of my how to be happy boxes.

We celebrated big style. Well they do say feed a cold don't they? Happy sober week folks.