Before the meditation, you’re told to bring pillows, blankets & be comfortable. And that minimum effort is required. This sounded like the perfect extracurricular activity to me. Me, my brain & my blanket. Beautiful.
When we arrived, the place was packed. The smell of incense was in the air and you couldn’t miss the two ginormous gongs as the focal point in the room. We found a spare space and made ourselves comfortable. It felt like a big adult sleepover. With gongs. Once everyone was comfortable and laying down, the meditation began with deep breathing exercises & repetitive mantras. As someone who’d always believed this kind of thing to be a load of gobbledegook, I could feel the resistance begin but fought against it, breathing deeply and letting myself relax.
When the gongs started, they were loud. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting. Your brain is kind of all over the place with all the different sounds and sometimes you have to snap your eyes open to ground yourself and then go back to where you were.
At some points, I wanted to scream ‘shut up’. The gongs went on for so long and were sometimes unforgiving. The feeling I likened it to was when you’ve been on a plane for many hours and you feel claustrophobic and wish the constant drone would end. But then again, there were times that the gongs were beautiful & melodic.
I can’t tell if I went to sleep or not. I feel that I went into some kind of state but can’t put it into words. At one point, I thought ‘I’m never doing this again’ but since coming home, I’ve booked again.
I wanted to find something that took me away from myself & from the monotony of every day life & this satisfies that urge. And that’s why I want to do it again. It was good to get away from my little phone screen, from the tv, from humans (although I was surrounded by loads of corpse-like ones) and have an hour ‘off’.
Life is about trying new things & I’m glad I tried this. If you have gong baths near you, why not give it a go! If nothing else, it’s great to be a big kid and lie around wrapped in a blanket for a while with a whole load of strangers .. one for the bucket list!
** Warning ** I may say some things you don’t agree with & for that I’m truly sorry but this is my opinion & my opinion only & not against any individual in any way **
I’m going to be honest. Personally, I’ve never understood ‘blipping’. I know it happens & that not everyone gives up alcohol on Day 1 forever. I also get that you can climb back on that horse/wagon/bus & carry straight on & not discount the sober days behind you & that’s absolutely fine.
But I’ve never understood the actual process of blipping. The actual conscious decision to undo all of your hard work in a moment of madness by going to the shop/pub, buying/pouring yourself a drink, taking a sip and cracking on.
Now, I’m starting to understand that the process of ‘blipping’ is not so much about the drink hitting your lips, the ritual of weekend pleasure, the desire to satisfy that craving. I’m understanding that it is also about the escape route, the desire to break up the utter monotony of daily life, to satisfy the rebel inside.
Soberdom makes me think. Too much. I’m at a point where I’m thinking what is the point. Not in a suicidal, woe is me kind of a way but in a ‘there must be more to life than this’ way. My pattern of life before Soberdom was broken up by craziness. The opportunity to get out of my own overthinking head. But now that option is gone, my life is beyond regimented & I can barely see space for fun & spontaneity.
I know this sounds very doom & gloom. In some ways, it is. I guess I just need to find out where to get my dopamine high from & it’s no longer coming from a Magnum or a Russell Brand podcast.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not close to ‘blipping’. For me, it is just not an option. I have promised myself that my status/blog will never read ‘back on day 1’ & that is enough for me to stay strong. I don’t get tempted in the booze aisle or in a pub .. the consequences of me taking a sip are far too great to contemplate.
I need something. Something needs to perk/pick me up. My mood is teetering on utterly fucked off / bored /rebellious / regimented / unable to see the Sober light of day. I want something that stops my brain thinking, just for a little while. Yes, walking is good for a few hours, plugged into someone else’s tale of woe. But soon it’s back to my own. A Boo A Hoo.
So this week the quest commences .. How to stick a smile on the miserable Sober Fish face. I am going to a meditation gong bath & have my first proper counselling session. I’ve also got a few days off work & my first sober birthday. If mocktails, cake & steak can’t do it, I’m not sure what will!
Following my emotional episodes this week, several people have compared my sobriety to an onion, peeling away the external layers to reveal forgotten buried layers beneath. Isn’t it ironic that onions also make you cry?!
If you’d told me a year ago, when I was chucking copious amounts of anything down my neck, that in a years time, I would be booking to go to a Gong Bath or meeting random strangers for coffee or writing about sobriety being an onion, I thought you were insane. But here I am.
I guess it’s hard to anticipate how you’re going to feel on any journey you haven’t been on before but the way I’ve felt this week came as a bit of a surprise. I’ve battled to get my 3 stone weight loss certificate for at least 3 months now but upon obtaining it, I just felt a bit flat. I cried watching people do a marathon. I cried when I saw my friends at the marathon. I cried when I saw my friend doing a beauty treatment for me. I cried at 5.30am listening to Russell Brand for f**ks sake.
I just don’t feel how I thought I would feel this close to the finish line.
The problem with putting down a drink for the last time is that you’re not just putting down a drink for the last time. You’re changing everything. You’re changing relationships, interests, weekends, week nights, food choices, bedtimes, get up times. You’re changing your world. And you’re also cutting off your escape route.
This week it has hit me that I will never be able to escape again. This is it. I am me and this is it forever. Deal with it. No more ‘f**k it, let’s get wasted’ moments. EVER. No more opportunities to just forget it all, for even the smallest moment in time. I have to deal with EVERYTHING whether I want to or not. And that is ENORMOUS.
As I approach the completion of my first year of sobriety & what I thought was the end of my journey, I realise that, in some ways, this is just the beginning. The real challenge of peeling away layer by smelly layer of my sobriety onion and dealing with what lies beneath (without an escape route) could potentially be more difficult than dealing with abstaining from alcohol itself. Wish me luck!
My mate Russell Brand has got my brain fizzing with stuff. I really enjoyed what I listened to today, particularly around linking food addiction to other addictions.
Because I’ve got the audio book, I can’t refer to his exact words but Russell said something along the lines of trying to solve the problem that was him, by using food (chocolate) at an early age which then morphed itself into drugs, sex & alcohol addiction. This really resonated with me. At a young age, I remember stealing sweets & chocolate from the kitchen & eating in secret. Later, when I got pocket money, all I would buy would be sweets & chocolate, like I was starved at home.
So maybe the problem that was me, was a problem for far longer than I ever realised before I became sober. Maybe I was always destined to be a binge drinker & smoker because the notion to binge was already there.
All of these thoughts have got me thinking ‘what exactly was wrong with me?’. I had a good childhood, wanted for nothing, was in a nuclear family with lots of love.
Then, I remembered the battleground that was school.
I was definitely not one of the pretty girls & definitely not a minger, but somewhere in between. I was loud & funny so got to hang out with the cool kids but the equilibrium would change regularly, swinging from being massively popular to massively picked on. As they picked at me for wearing glasses or having fat ankles (yep, still paranoid about that) or being overweight (I wasn’t actually) or being loud, they were quietly crushing my self esteem. And so I ate, mostly in secret, to make myself feel better.
As I’m writing this, I’m realising that the reason I drank was partly due to low self esteem too. I was fat & in a relationshit that was making me feel like shit & in a workplace where I was made to feel inadequate. Not too dissimilar to those childhood days huh?
Soberdom can’t change the past but it can change my future. Actually, I am one of the pretty girls & I’m doing something about my weight & unlucky for some, I’m loud & I’m proud. I’ve spent too long eating & drinking myself (un) happy. Now is the time for me to shine & I bloody well will, cankles and all.
I have just read the most awful article on Sober For October. It was so shit, I’m not promoting it by telling you what is it but it riled me so much, I thought I’d write my own.
Some people think a month off the booze is a gimmick. I’m guessing those people have never tried it. Yes, there’s an element of truth that a month off might not change the world but it’s a start right?
Personally, I believe that, if you get to the stage you feel like you need a month off, there is some kind of issue, however small. But does it really matter why? YOU want to do it and that’s the most important thing.
I must admit that I was a Dry Januaryer (is that even a word?), mainly because I was horrendously drunk for the whole of December & thought I was doing myself some good by abstaining in January. But I also made sure I got hammered in style on 1 February. False economy? Perhaps.
I believe a month off the booze is not just about a month off the booze. It is about rejuvenating yourself, thinking about how & why you drink, seeing things clearer, enjoying life without a hangover. It’s like a taster session of Soberdom, a glimpse into how life could be.
A month off is hard. Your body & your brain are at war. Your body wants its fix, your brain has other ideas. You will be emotional, moody, tired .. but you will also be proud, clear thinking & sober.
I am proud of anyone who tries to change their drinking habits. I know how difficult it is but I also know that it’s far better on the other side. Whether you give up for just this month or for longer, you are a warrior winning the battle against yourself. Let people have their opinions. They don’t matter, you do.
The key to success is meticulous planning. Personally I avoided situations where there was going to be copious amounts of alcohol. If you were on a diet, you wouldn’t hang out in McDonald’s would you?
Download podcasts .. I particularly enjoyed the Recovery Elevator (I’m interviewed on episode 125) or The Alcohol & Addiction podcast. It really helped me to listen to other people’s stories.
Buy treats. We just lurve rewarding ourselves! Giving up one thing will mean replacing it with something else. That’s the way we are made. My vices have swung between Elderflower cordial to Curly Wurlies to Magnums. Yes, I know they’re full of sugar but I gave up drinking & smoking at the same time & I’m still losing weight so WHATEVS.
Join online groups such as Club Soda Together or Team Sober UK. These have been my lifelines. Lots of people just like YOU with a common goal in mind. Brilliant!
Buy your favourite alcohol free tipple. Drink it in a wine glass if it makes you feel better. If you have to drink alcohol free wine & beer, do that. If that triggers you, don’t do that. Do what is good for YOU! Get some books. There’s hundreds out there to help you. Flood your mind with sober thoughts.
Recognise your trigger times and arrange to do something. If your trigger time is Friday night, go to the cinema & eat popcorn. If it’s Sunday evening, go out for a walk. You have to fill trigger time with something else or the nagging thought will win.
You cannot do the same things & expect different results. If you expect sit in front of the tv night after night & not crave a drink, you will be disappointed. Soberdom is not just about not drinking. It is about changing your lifestyle, breaking a habit, doing something different. Try writing down how you feel, or calling a friend and talking about it or join online discussions. You have to change YOU if you want to succeed.
Wishing you all the luck in the world! YOU CAN DO THIS XX
RE 125: Focus on the Action and Not the Results
One of the most powerful episodes I listened to http://www.needyhelper.com/the-alcohol-addiction-podcast-episode-52-kim-sandhu-on-his-addiction-mental-illness-and-recovery
Team Sober UK -https://m.facebook.com/groups/1622901908009979
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