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 Cherie (@rise2015) who lives in Auckland.
Mrs D: How are you feeling about what's going on with this Covid-19 virus?
Cherie: I am really up and down and my emotions are going a bit berserk. Some days I just feel like it can’t possibly true that something you can’t see has this much power to devastate so much. The world keeps spinning, but it’s like it’s a sign to tell us all to slow down and get real. That makes me sound a bit whacko – but there are parts of me that feels that nature and science just likes to let us know that it is bigger than ‘us humans’ and that we should respect that.
Mrs D: How have your emotions shifted and changed since the crisis began?
Cherie: At the beginning, I had a pretty typical Generation X reaction – thinking it was all ‘over-reaction’ and not giving it too much headspace. But a few days before the NZ Lockdown, my feelings started to change and I took my son out of school as his health is severely compromised and should he get infected it would be unlikely that he would survive this.
Mrs D: How long have you been sober for?
Cherie: As at 9 April 2020, I have been sober for 689 days. I joined Living Sober in May 2015, and got a little over 6 months of alcohol free days, before thinking I could moderate. I couldn’t. This time it’s different for me and I have done a lot more ‘inner work’ on my thoughts around drinking and finally acknowledged that I would never be happy with one glass of wine.
Mrs D: How is being sober helping you at this crazy time?
Cherie: Being sober means that I am kinder to myself. When drinking I was always pushing myself to get everything done, so that no-one would realize how crap I was feeling. If I am tired now, it’s because I am genuinely tired, not as a result of my drinking. Some days I am getting some extra things done, but it’s important to me that I don’t pressure myself to do more in this time. I did not get sober to get more done. By being sober my emotions are real, and while that is tough too, there is less histrionics late at night.
Mrs D: Have you had any pangs to drink since the lockdown began?
Cherie: Yes, weirdly. The last few months I have not really thought about drinking/not drinking that much but I have of late. I’m not sure if it is because I am coming up to two years or because of the Pandemic. I had planned and booked a trip as a reward (with the money I don’t use on wine) and was going to Italy and Greece with my 16 year old daughter in July and August and now that this is not going to happen. I was feeling a lot of anger and resentment about not going. There is also the allure of numbing out feelings – but I know I would regret picking up a glass.
Mrs D: Any particular self-care actions that are helping you in these gritty times?
Cherie: I have to have variety. I am journaling a lot, doing a little bit of yoga at home, daily walks, burning essential oils, playing music loudly, drinking nice teas and coffee, reading and resting when I can. I’m also writing more frequently on my blog.
Mrs D: What are you doing to fill in the days?
Cherie: My days are still busy – even though I am not going out to work at my regular job, I still have a very full on home life. My 16 year old son requires 24/7 stay awake care and always has. We normally have a team of 7 people coming and going to supervise him, help with his self cares, therapy and give his medications. We are down to 3 employees who still come from their bubble to ours. My husband is still working from home, my daughter is still doing online school lessons and that leaves me to pick up the day or night time cares that are usually done by others. So, I have a 40 plus hour week to do, before I have to ‘fill in the days’. For me, I know that doing this long term is really unhealthy for my own wellbeing, I normally go out to work to have social time as much as I go out to get paid. My DH and DD are being awesome and doing more than usual, and trying to make gaps for me to follow my pursuits. We are watching movies together (preferably comedy, but not always), and I seem to be doing a lot of cooking and baking.
Mrs D: What would you say to people who are struggling with alcohol while they're in lockdown?
Cherie: Remember why you started this journey and look out for your triggers. There are lots of additional pressures on people while we are staying home. It could be financial stress, trying to juggle work while you are looking after kids, boredom, or getting in your housemates space. Now, is an especially important time to practice self-care. Alcohol is not a solution to any of our problems.
Mrs D: What's in this photo you've shared with us?
Cherie: These are a collection of some pages out of my visual journals. I find it therapeutic to write about what is happening and my emotions. When I started not drinking I realised there were so many emotions that I was feeling that I could not name. My journals don’t have to be masterpieces, they are just for me and I enjoy looking back over them. I have several journals on the go, one for emotions (train wreck days), a self care one, a gratitude one and plain notebooks that I write in.
Mrs D: Anything else you'd like to add?
Cherie: It took me a long time to find a pink cloud, but life really is better alcohol free.