A lot of the time I'm just chugging on in my sober life feeling fair-to-middling. Worrying about my studies, my work, my family, the environment, the world. No great highs or great lows.. just ordinary day-in-day-out stuff.
Everything is normal … I'm happy being sober … I love my online recovery world … I'm striving to be healthy and a good person … I'm just chugging along through the weeks …
Then some shit comes along like I get an upsetting message or someone around me starts being tricky or a loved one gets sick or a few aspects of the daily grind are harder than usual (like the kids get sick or an unexpected bill comes in or I get overwhelmed and exhausted) … and I hit more of a low phase.
I get more glum, everything just feels a bit flat and no fun and it's hard to think positively about anything much. At those times every tiny problem feels huge, almost like the world is against me. I'm just in a funk. My inner fire has dimmed to a faint spark.
In these times I tend to go quieter and more inward. I drag my feet and feel like I'm going through the motions with all the jobs, duties and chores I have to attend to. I try hard to keep doing the things that I know will make me feel better (going to the gym and my yoga class, baking cakes, lying on the sofa eating sugar while watching mindless TV).
I also try to breathe deeply and practice mindfulness. I pay attention to what my hands are doing and listen to the sounds around me (i.e. try to ground myself and stop my brain from racing away with busy, fraught thoughts).
What I don't do is pour a whole lot of alcohol into my body, numbing myself and disconnecting me from my experiences and everyone around me. I did that for years and it never worked. So now I allow myself to feel flat, like my spark has dimmed, despite it being uncomfortable. I keep on keeping on while doing the nourishing things that make a tiny positive difference.
Time passes. I keep moving through the days. More meals get prepared and loads of washing folded and emails answered and phone messages received and Zoom meetings attended and interactions with my family had and Netflix shows finished ... and slowly my spark starts to burn a bit brighter until the sweet spot in my brain is hit and I fire up again.
The more years that I have lived sober (ten now and counting) and been through these up and down phases, the more time I have spent feeling flat and dim, the more I have learned not to panic and jump to try and push the discomfort away.
I understand now that sometimes my fire within feels like a sad little candle that is about to be extinguished.. but it never, ever, ever goes out. All I need to do is keep on keeping on, doing the little things that make me feel a little better, and eventually the spark will reignite. Sooner that it would before (when I was boozing) because I've stayed in the feelings and haven't added a whole bunch of hangovers and guilt on top.
It's always a pleasant relief when things pick up again and life stops feeling so hard. I notice it, I'm grateful for it, I learn from it. This is one of the great benefits of being sober and staying in the raw with my feelings all day every day. You notice, you adjust, you keep going, you progress. The way life should be.
A note - if you your spark is flat and you can't find a way reignite it and no amount of waiting it out is helping - reach out for some proper help. Talk to your GP, phone a helpline, find a counsellor. Do whatever it takes to get yourself feeling good. Just don't drink. Alcohol might position itself as a healing aid, but it's not. Find other support systems and techniques that will work to improve things. It might not be such a 'quick fix', but I promise it will work a whole lot better in the long term.
Love, Mrs D xxx