This is a new series of 'Sober Lockdown Stories' featuring people with any length of sobriety sharing how they're keeping themselves well during the global pandemic crisis.
Today's sober hero is Amy (@newstart100) who lives in Minnesota, USA.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what is going on with this COVID-19 crisis?
Amy: Every day I am feeling something different on the surface but I think the main emotion that I am feeling deep down is fear. Throughout my sobriety I have learned that most of my emotions stem from fear. Whether it be anxiety, anger, frustration, sadness, etc. When I look deeply into why I am feeling those emotions it turns out that they mostly lead back to fear. During this crisis I am fearful of sickness, loss (of lives, money, stability, freedom, control), and discomfort. The other emotion that I am feeling strongly is love. In sobriety I make most of my decisions based on the love I have for my family. I do my best to bring gratefulness into my days and in those times where I am successful at doing that I allow myself to sit with the love that I feel. I tell myself I can do hard things and the reason I can do hard things is because of the love I have for my family and the love they have for me. I have not hugged my parents, aunts and uncles, sister and brother in law, nieces and nephews, and in-laws in months. It is starting to get to me but I know that we are doing all of this out of love.
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since this crisis began?
Amy: In the beginning I didn’t realize how long this was going to last. I was ok with it because I thought it would be a few weeks. Now we are talking months and months, into June/July/August, and possibly even into the Christmas season next year with waves of it making it’s way through our population. These news stories have given me a lot more fear and anxiousness. At the start I laid out a foundation schedule for the family, I am so glad I did that. Because of this foundation schedule my kids at least feel some sense of regularity to their days. This schedule has also allowed me to stay on track as well. From an emotional standpoint it is helpful because I can just keep sticking to the schedule and not have to overthink each day.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Amy: I began my journey in 2017. I have relapsed a few times and am currently on day 103 after my second relapse. Before I relapsed I was sober for two years.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you during this crazy time?
Amy: I have learned so much during my sober journey. I have learned how my past connects to my present. I have learned that emotions can present themselves physically. I have learned that everything is better in the morning. I have learned that I can do hard things. I have learned that the voice that tells me I want alcohol is a clue that I need to give myself time and space to focus on myself rather than focusing so much on others. I have learned that it doesn’t matter what other people think so long as I am making the right choice for me and my family. All of these sobriety lessons are helping me during this crazy time. I have more patience and grace for my emotions. I don’t try to hide from them but rather I name them and recognize that I am human and being human means having emotions. I also have learned that I can’t always ‘figure out’ my emotions intellectually and that has helped during this crazy time as well. Sometimes my body feels emotions that I can’t figure out and they come out physically and I don’t know why. In these instances I just trust that they will pass in time and keep to my schedule.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since this lockdown began?
Amy: Yes – throughout my sober journey my pangs to drink have not gone away. They have gotten much much less and I don’t get the pangs on a daily basis but I would say at least once a week a voice in my head try’s to convince me that having a drink would be a good idea. These pangs often come when I am in an environment where alcohol is being drunk by others. During this lock down period they have come during zoom happy hours that I have attended. I see others drinking their beverages and this brings about nostalgia and a romanticized idea of drinking. In these instances I play it forward and that helps a lot. I can see that the night and morning won’t play out like the fantasy in my head. I am also feeling some pangs because I feel a loss of control. I have asthma and don’t feel comfortable going to the grocery store for my family. My husband has taken over this duty for me and I am so grateful to him for that, but every time I can’t do it I feel a loss of control and get that pang to drink. I’m not good at letting other people help me.
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Amy: When I feel like I need time alone I will go for a long walk/run or take a long bath. These are times when I know I won’t be interrupted. I am a swimmer so I am very much missing my pool time, but keeping up on exercise is very important to my mental well being so I am doing the elliptical machine in my basement, yoga online, and walking/running. I am also a very spiritual person so I am watching online church services that my church is posting weekly and I am doing a bible study on my own. I have purchased a few self care items from Amazon that I am very much looking forward to getting – new slippers, a new fuzzy blanket, a few new books, some new spa type items.
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Amy: My kids are 11 and 13 so they are my main focus. I’m up at 7 to have breakfast, empty the dishwasher, make coffee, get the kids going, all the morning stuff. From 8 – 12 they are doing their school work while I am working. I have always worked from home so this is not a change for me. It is a change to have other people at home with me while I am working though. Having people around me ALL THE TIME has been new. From 12 – 4 they have free time, chore time and their exercise time while I have lunch, prep dinner, do some cleaning chores around the house, answer any school questions they have, and hopefully get a workout in. From 4 – 6 I shower up from my workout and cook dinner. Then after dinner we play a family game or watch some TV together. I tuck the kids in between 8 – 9 where they have quiet time in their rooms and lights out by 9:00. I then have some free time to watch a show or two or read with my husband and then lights out at 11.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Amy: I completely understand why turning to alcohol during this time might sound like a good idea. Our society puts alcohol on a pedestal and sells it as the thing that can fix everything. For me though, I found alcohol to be a liar. What alcohol promises is actually what sobriety gives me. Every morning I would wake up after drinking and regret it. But in sobriety, I wake up every morning so glad I didn’t drink the night before. Even if everything else around me feels shit, at least I can know that I am sober and I stuck to it and I did a very hard thing. Every day in sobriety I get to carry that around with me and it feels wonderful.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Amy: I have collected the items that are giving me comfort right now – games, essential oils that I put in my baths, walks outside, my bible, making comfort food, sitting outside at our backyard fire, and I am especially missing my fancy mocha coffee’s so I have learned how to make a fancy mocha coffee at home.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Amy: Being close to the Living Sober community, reading other’s stories, and posting my own feelings is a big part of what keeps me sober. There is no way I could do it alone. Knowing that there are others out there that are doing this hard and gritty thing too is so comforting. Don’t do it by yourself xoxo