Pressure (guest post from @suek)

My darling friend @suek is gearing up to move to the other side of the world. I recently asked if she would like to write a post about how she is handling all that is going on for her with the relocation. She said yes then a few days later delivered me this powerful piece of writing….

@suek: Pressure’s mounting. It’s mounting outside and inside. There’s a flood of decisions, bookings, money transfers, deadlines, appointments, papers, signatures raging my way. There’s an old familiar tight hot ball in my solar plexus, pressing down on my gut and up into my heart (which is kind of breaking under the strain). My poor old heart. I’m on the verge of tears quite often. My usually comatose sleep is broken. I’m swearing more, in places I probably should show more restraint. I’m snapping. Bumbly shop assistants and rude bus drivers are disturbing my usually unshakeable peace. There’s a shit-load of very stressful things going on.

In six weeks and six days, we’re leaving New Zealand, moving to the other side of the world to Canada, to a completely new life. We’ve got a house half built there, but the deep snow and -10 (and worse) temperatures are slowing the construction down. It’s costing more than we expected. Our home here is on the market. We’re having open homes, so it needs to be kept ready. We have a big fluffy dog who won’t stop shedding. We’re worried about shipping her to Canada. I love this house, and particularly my garden. I feel like a traitor selling it. I want to go to Canada, but I don’t want to leave here. It’s taken me a long time to feel settled and connected in Wellington, but finally, too late really, I’m happy here. I have good friends, new really lovely friends.

I’ve done this before. Uprooted and moved far away. But this is the first time I’ve done it sober. This is my first Really Big Life Event sober. And the difference is huge. I’m actually experiencing it and feeling it, rather than numbing myself through it. I’m feeling the pressure, the sadness, the fear and the excitement. I’m knowing, in every part of my body and mind, the enormity of this, the disruption, the amazing potential. It’s like some kind of fireworks are happening and I’m right bang in the middle of it, with the heat, the explosions, the noise, the smoke, the danger, the colour, the sparkles and flashes, the incredible wow and beauty of it all. This is a great gift.

Moving to the other side of the world sober is way tougher than boozing through it. But it’s way more real too. I feel more real now. I feel like I have purpose and meaning. I feel solid and worthy somehow, in a way I never have before. Yesterday, I wrote in my journal “I have never felt safe in my whole life, until now.” It’s a huge relief to feel safe. I feel like I can rely on myself, that I’m actually here for myself, and for other people. This move is really bringing home the value of living life un-numbed. If I were still boozing, I would really have ramped it up by now. The reasons to numb are many and relentless.

Do I feel like drinking? Sometimes I’m hit with a knee-jerk habitual thought, “I could kill a wine right now!” It comes out of the blue, surprising, swift and direct. But no. I never seriously consider drinking now. I really want to stay sober, because this whole experience of moving, and upheaval, and pain and sadness and excitement — this whole business of Living Life — is so incredibly interesting when we’re actually here for it. It isn’t easier. It isn’t more comfortable. But it’s more real, and I’m loving that about life at the moment. I get to be real.

I do need to deal with the stress though. That’s also totally real. And I have been doing that in some kind of strange ways – ways I used to escape from stress when I was a kid. I have been devouring books. Reading memoirs and biographies, classics and books about spirituality, genetics. I’m currently on the Dalai Lama’s autobiography. He’s another one who had a strange childhood! And I’m colouring in. I feel a bit weird writing that—I mean who colours in? But I have discovered these amazing things called mindfulness colouring books. Beautiful intricate illustrations and patterns to get lost and absorbed in. I know I would have totally loved these when I was a kid. I’m totally loving them now. I got myself a couple (The Secret Garden and Animal Kingdom, but there are all sorts available) and a 48-pack of coloured pencils… and wow, what a way to tune out and get nice and still, immersed in colour and shape, but without the pressure of having to be “artistic”. Perfect when you need a rest from the insanity, and want to unplug.

I’m also taking baths, napping, and spending lots of time in my pajamas. I am not sucking my thumb, but I am sorely tempted to at times! In short, I have regressed, on purpose, into childhood happy places to help balance this stress. It’s working.

I feel really happy to be reclaiming, recovering (?) some of those simple things I enjoyed as a child. Getting in touch with what we enjoy, what gives us pleasure, is an important part of recovery. Stopping drinking was the first big huge scary step, but I feel like now the fun part is happening – I get to recover my happy places. And I do know, that wherever I live and whatever I do, I take my own energy and attitude with me. I took a break from writing just now, and coloured a few hundred tiny leaves. My solar plexus is feeling cool and calm. My heart is warm and steady, and I’m home and safe.


© 2015

  1. AlexP 9 years ago

    Wow: real raw and living it. Well done on fab ( as usual) post ( do you do your own blog? I must have missed it?? Moving of any sort is right up there on stress scale but different hemispheres and continents is HUGE. Very best of luck and love to you.
    Oh was it an old wives tale but didn’t people dip their child’s dummy in whiskey before giving it to them? Talk about starting young!!

  2. MandyK 9 years ago

    What an amazing post. So real and so inspirational! I definitely need to get my hands on one of those coloring books, sounds like something i’ll enjoy. Good luck with the final prep for the big move. Exciting times ahead…

  3. Ducky 9 years ago

    Will miss you sue. Despite knowing you will continue to be my online friend and inspiration. Nova scotia is my dream destination.. huge anne of green gables fan!. Also wanted to say I have ordered my animal kingdom colouring book from b.depository (you should get commission). My niece has secret garden which I jealously covet. Wishing you a drama free move and a wonderful experience xxx

  4. Anonymous 9 years ago

    Wow @SueK that is an amazing post. Beautifully written, heartfelt and honest.
    I moved to London in 89 and didn’t make it back to NZ for 15 years. Moved back here with a husband and a 3 year old son. The move back was drowned in hundreds of glasses of wine. I left the best friends I’ve ever had behind but I can’t honestly say I paid the proper tribute. Heading off sober will be hard but at least it’s honest. You can honour your feelings and your friends. I’m so very proud of you. Please randomly get up in the middle of the night to say hello to your sober kiwi family. We love you and will miss you terribly x

    • SueK 9 years ago

      I most certainly will be getting up randomly in the middle of the night and checking in! For SURE.

  5. ClearRainbow 9 years ago

    what a wonderful post @sueK! What an adventure – and being sober you will not miss any of it. You are a brave sober warrior and we have your back. From a selfish standpoint I am glad you will be in Nova Scotia as I have a better chance of meeting you for tea or coffee sometime!

  6. Prudence 9 years ago

    What a beautiful description of your feelings @SueK, thank you for writing this. I too am starting to feel safer in my own skin than I ever have before, and I see the endless possilbilites before me. It will be sad leaving your home, your life, and your friends ans family behind, but you will embrace your new life with your great big open heart, and you will love it. And you will be held safe in the hearts of all of us here at LS.
    Power to you for the fabulous adventure of your new life in Nova Scotia xo

    • SueK 9 years ago

      Thanks for the lovely comment @Prudence. I love your image of a “great big open heart”… I’ll be packing that with me!

  7. Seizetheday 9 years ago

    @suek there are so many kindred spirits here right beside you. I too love the feeling safe with myself feeling – it’s completely new in my life and it making me trust myself and my decisions more, it’s calming and gives me a sense of pride in myself.
    Love the colouring in – I’m going to get one of those for my friend who I think would really benefit from those.
    You’re going along fantastically, real and raw and remembering it all. Xo

    • SueK 9 years ago

      You’re so right @Seizetheday about the self trust thing. It was really a shock for me to realize I’d never felt safe before, but I guess now we’re experiencing genuine trust and safety in ourselves, the past comes into much shaper focus. I hope your friend likes the books.

  8. hummingbird 9 years ago

    lovely post, I did a big move like that a few years back

    • SueK 9 years ago

      Thanks @hummingbird — one thing I’m looking forward to is having hummingbirds in the garden. Your name always makes me smile, as hummingbirds are so exotic and gorgeous to me!

  9. morgan 9 years ago

    Amazing description Sue, thank you for taking the time amidst such mayhemish busyness. I will keep this in my heart and mind as I prepare to let go yet another beloved house & my garden at the end of this year. I cannot believe it is going to happen again, and so soon. Your words are already part of my preparation.
    Amazing to be feeling safe in the midst of such change, a lovely thought.
    Thank god we do not lose you entirely XXXX

    • SueK 9 years ago

      @Morgan, this is my escape from the busyness! It really is gutting leaving a garden behind, but I am taking my time saying goodbye and thank you to it — it’s given me so much pleasure and really anchored me in Wellington (I really didn’t want to move here, so I got over myself by gardening!!). We will have a lovely big yard in Nova Scotia — currently covered in snow — so I will have plenty of space to grow.

  10. QuietlyDone 9 years ago

    Wow, it has been 18 years since we last moved and just this week I’ve begun to discuss the possibilities of doing it again. I had just reread Mrs. D’s chapter where she handled a big move and three littles during her first sober year, mind bogglingly difficult. Wonderwomanish really! There is so much emotion attached to a long term dwelling but the thought of a fresh start (and please universe somewhere warmer! ) is very intriguing. Wishing you all the best of love and light in your new home. Your new neighbors have won the jackpot!

    • SueK 9 years ago

      Thank You @QuietlyDone… moving is always a emotional and I’ve been trying very hard to stay present, and not prematurely project my attention into the future place and life… but it’s tough. We just saw photos of our new place and there are piles of snow everywhere! It won’t be warmer overall, but we will have four distinct seasons every year, so that’s something to look forward to.

  11. Jules 9 years ago

    Boy oh boy you’ve told that so well I can feel your emotions. What a brave lady you are. I can identify with the feeling “real” it is such a bonus of sobriety for sure. I wish you all the best for your big move and trust we will still have you here at LS as much if not more. Xx

    • SueK 9 years ago

      Thanks @Jules. I am truly glad to be feeling these emotions for a change. Life un-numbed is so RICH! And thank goodness for the internet to keep us all together.

  12. JustBeginningToLive 9 years ago

    Welcome to Canada! The snow eventually melts! Kindred sober spirits here too. Enjoy the adventure.

    • SueK 9 years ago

      I’m hoping the Nova Scotia snow has melted by the time we get there. But I’m looking forward to having real winters again.

  13. Rosieoutlook 9 years ago

    Good luck Sue. Where can I find the colouring books? Sounds great. Brings back memories. Always love reading what you have written. Xx

    • SueK 9 years ago

      If you look on Book Depository or Fishpond you’ll find them. Search mindfulness colouring. PaperPlus and some of the small independent bookshops have a nice small one called The Mindfulness Colouring book.

  14. behind-the-sofa 9 years ago

    Why am I upset that you’re leaving New Zealand? I guess it’s cause you won’t be in the same time zone so I won’t be able to copy what you’re doing on Friday afternoons. And also I won’t be able to think of you and Mrs D hanging out together in Wellington 🙁 New Zealand’s loss is Canada’s gain though…. all the best…. and I guess it won’t affect your participation on LS that much really. xxx

    • SueK 9 years ago

      oops, lol… @behind-the-sofa, not behind-the-counter!! What was I thinking?

    • SueK 9 years ago

      I was thinking of handing the Friday disc-drive over to you @behind-the-counter. Otherwise I’m going to have to get up and play Natalie Merchant in the middle of the night! Or we could just extend happy hour and make it happy day. Do you know the Indigo Girls? Give them a whirl and let me know what you think.

  15. Hart 9 years ago

    Fabulous post @suek. wow thats big what your doing, god your brave, all the very best with it all. At least you’ll still have the comfort of all of us here at LS & i luv your posts. ps love the colouring-in, i mite try thatXo

    • SueK 9 years ago

      Thanks @Hart, I most certainly will stay part of this amazing community. It’s so much part of my sober life now. Let me know if you get into the colouring — warning: it’s a bit addictive!!

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