Feb 03: Gifts of Sobriety

Gifts of Sobriety

Hello to all in this fantastic group and thank you for helping to keep us connected in sober cyber space.

I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts of sobriety as I approach my 7 year anniversary on Monday this week.

Partly this is because the further away from the beginning I stay sober, it can be easy to take things for granted and lose gratitude which has been me recently.

Over winter, I’ve been in the doldrums. In the summer last year I got myself into a fantastic routine of getting up early before the rest of my family, and my work and starting the day with silence prayers, meditation and yoga. I was motoring along great feeling a little complacent and smug perhaps thinking this would last for ever…

But further into a busy academic year, I overdid the yoga, and in a fit of resentment towards someone who was messing around at the gym not using the machines ( didn’t she know I had a busy job , kids to feed at home, me me me stuff) when I rushed and injured my shoulder. My impatience and self importance rearing it’s ugly head.

Roll on December and busy busy work as a musician and teacher whilst still in severe pain I got a nasty chest infection very physically and mentally run down . Upshot was by January ,3 months in, and a stone heavier, I was swerving way way off routine and feeling pretty sorry for myself. (I have a tendency to over do it and pay for it later!!)

Needless to say although I think I know my programme ,and usually think I know when I’m off balance, it’s incredibly easy to veer off in the wrong direction. Thankfully in late Jan early Feb I’m slowly slowly finding my way back to health and mental sobriety but it’s taken a while.

The important reminder for me is that in the dark days of “poor me ” I completely lost sight of ” but you’re still sober” and any gratitude to the tools I’ve been given.

Now I’m back to a daily morning and evening routine and recording my gratitude. And it’s so true that gratitude changes attitude. But I’m trying to remember my perfection- ism and say easy does it and what I can fit in is good enough.

So this essentially is a long way round to saying I’m really keen to recalibrate and reflect on the gifts of sobriety which I’d somehow forgotten having overdone it big time.

What are the immediate gifts of sobriety that spring to mind? Here are mine.

The biggest is peace of mind – losing the daily angst, self flagellation and hatred, and knowing if that inner dialogue starts I’m off kilter and need to re-set.

Another gift is self awareness around my “isms”. Perfectionism and being impatient with myself and others still loom large but generally I have a strategy and if I don’t I have a front row set of friends who can tell me.

I love that old pleasures and interests have returned. The things I loved before the drinking years. A renewed interest in theatre and my music. I’ve now joined a stunning choir here in Oxford UK, which just brings me huge amounts of joy.

I love reading and I’m back to enjoying historical novels. All these things were lost to me in the years of drink. I couldn’t sit through a play if I’d had a drink without being restless irritable and discontent and I used to read and re read chapters in books as I’d not be focussed and forget what I’d read the night before. I’d decided all my drinking friends who were musicians just made it worse and I had so many drunken nights with them I’d kind of lost connection to music.

New pastimes also have been gifts – namely Mindfulness and Pilates/ yoga . A different gift of desperation – a rock bottom of a different type in 2014 opened me up to the huge benefits of these practices to keep in my sobriety tool kit.

Enjoying what is is another big gift- simple things such as smelling the grass as the seasons change, just being attuned and alert to the world around me. Not having smoked so many cigarettes or drunk so many wines it didn’t make any difference weather it was October or February.

Another gift is a better – generally lol – way of dealing with being acutely sensitive, having a quick temper and and needing now to reflect not react. Mostly!!!

Twice this week someone has said something to me where I’ve felt hurt and instantly stung. But that all too quick surge of rising anger in my stomach was replaced by pause, hand it over, detach, ” it’s not about you” , writing it out – which I’ve discovered helps loads- and getting the adult part of my head to talk down the fearful child reactive bit.

The gift of 24 hours helps me daily. Being able to start again the next or even same day better again having not dealt with things well. Reflecting re- sizing and re addressing things and being in better mental shape to be around others – be it my children, my students or family, friends in and out of the fellowship.

omeone once told me another brilliant gift from A.A. is you can bring your children up with the twelve steps. It’s a way of living for everyone in the family. As loving and kind as my own parents were and still are I don’t think they or I knew many strategies for dealing with life and other people when things go ” not according to plan”. I’m so aware that I can help me and my kids ( one of whom has all the isms that I do) cope better.

I’m also aware how fortunate I am that my kids can’t remember me as a drunk mum.

There’s so much else I could say about gifts I have received in this last seven years, amazing women I’ve met in the fellowship, and so so much more, but genuinely I’m really keen to hear from others in this amazing group –

What had sobriety given you in terms of gifts? and which things still trip you up or do you need reminding of?

My blessings to all of you for a wonderful 24 hours and thank you for all your wonderful guidance as part of my sobriety tool kit.