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.