My Story

It is an absolutely beautiful day today, and I am happy.  This is something I wrote on the Tube, feeling thoughtful.

***

Recovery

1) a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.
2) the action or process of regaining possession or control of something stolen or lost.

Without

Days are lighter now.  It’s the only way I can describe it.  I’ve lost the weight that kept me anchored, all the things that stopped me dreaming.  That may not sound like a bad thing, starting to dream, but as I sip my lime-and-soda, I wonder if the nightmares mightn’t come back…

Today

I don’t go to meetings any more.  Each meeting is a promise I can’t keep, or a lie that I tell.  The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.  It’s a desire I no longer possess.  For a while I had that drive, I held on to that hope, because drinking was wrecking my life.  Moments after I “fell” from that window, I wondered, briefly, if I might not survive the impact.  I felt the back of my head and, in my heightened state of drama, I felt blood on my fingers.  There was no blood, no life-threatening damage ensued.  The ankle snapped.  I didn’t hear it.  I was too busy listening to the rush of the breeze in my ears as I sailed- yes, I sailed- to the ground.  (To anyone else’s eyes, it must have looked like a plummet).  Through the haze of medication and alcohol, through the whispers and the shadows, I could feel only the darkness of unreality, closing me in yet leaving me lighter: falling, flying.

A week and a half later, after sliding up to my bedroom on my bum (crutches in one hand), I found the wine gone mouldy on my desk.  I felt intense desire; I felt intense hatred.  I felt, finally, that plummet, the plunge, that others had heard and seen but I not experienced.

I felt depth.

 I hobbled in to my first meeting filled with doubt and despair and hope, and found hope there.  In the dim candle-lit church hall, I found what they call identification.  Recognition of oneself in another, their stories all partially mine.  Heart at the base of my throat, I spoke, choked, imagining my tears lit up poetic by the tiny flames, yet hoping that that wasn’t the case.

Weeks later, in the same place, I met my future sponsor.  And over the course if the months that followed, I found humour, and friendship, and a lightness I hadn’t experienced in years.  Sometimes exhilarating, sometimes frightening.  Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, I found my way.

And now?

Well, I moved back to London.  I found similar support there and embraced it with what strength I could.  Tried hard to stay afloat where I felt myself sinking, to stay dedicated where I felt myself falter… but slowly, quickly, I lost my drive.  Circumstances got in the way; life got in the way.  And I experienced what “they” would call relapse and I?  Simply a change, not a darkness or a brightness but a subtle move from one form of living to another.

For months, I assumed I’d go back.

But as months passed, I began to re-learn myself.  I lacked one type of strength- the strength that allows others to stay stopped.  Yet I possessed another: that which allowed me to move through my life liberated from the vice-like (pun intended) grip that alcohol once held over my life.  I don’t believe anyone can call themselves “recovered”.  But I cope, and somehow, somewhere along the line, alcohol has lost its power to destroy, and I have developed the ability to enjoy.

It isn’t easy.  Isn’t.  Easy.  There are moments and will always be, where I feel I have made a wrong move, that it will hold me in checkmate (chess not my strong point) until I surrender to the madness or return to meetings through those ever-open swinging doors.  I would not be ashamed to turn back the way I came, if consequences became too dangerous, too dark.  But for now I’m not unhappy, not unsafe.

So why this fear, when I think about stopping- just for a month?  I’m in training for a half marathon.  It’s something- if alcohol is no longer a problem for me- that I should be able to do.  But I doubt, and I fear, and I waver.  I dread the lightness I referred to at the start, leaving the hope of dreams and the terror of nightmares wide open.  I fear for the strength that I lacked.  I fear the revelation that I can’t, I can’t, I can’t- and what that would mean.

But what can I do but try? “Where can we live but days?” (Philip Larkin).  A month is made up of weeks, are made up of days, are made up of hours and the challenge, such as it is, is a minute-by-minute thing.  I learned that in meetings.  I learned that as part of a new way to live.

Recovered?  No.

But empowered?
Equipped?
Hopeful?

Well, hopeful.

I hope so.

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3 thoughts on “My Story

  1. Pingback: A-Z Blog Challenge: A | Only See Your Good Side

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