I’m happy to report that I’m feeling much better than I did when I sat down to write the previous diary entry. PMDD has left the building, and so has my mother-in-law, though I must say that the symptoms of the former eased considerably the moment that the latter left. I still struggled with the usual symptoms through the start of the week, but thankfully these had all cleared by Friday, just in time for my eldest son’s birthday, which was a beautiful day.
Accentuate the positive
Ah, positivity. That old chestnut. I wanted to talk a bit about it today: specifically, my experiences regarding it. Even though I experienced tragedy early on in my life, I always tried to focus on the positive as I was growing up. I used to think I was the luckiest kid in the world, to have the Lake District on my doorstep, and to spend the weekends wandering around the hills, composing songs and poetry, completely happy with my own company.
Then a few things changed: I started drinking. I started having relationships. These two things can throw a mighty spanner in the works of your positivity plan. Not relationships per se, but the kind you form when you are drinking heavily. What was the main result of this change? I lost faith in myself, and then I lost faith, full stop. The only thing I wrote were emails (they were pretty epic emails for a humble Council worker, but emails nonetheless.) I thought getting married and having children would ‘fix’ me – but it didn’t. I suffered more losses and became more and more negative. No one around me would call me a positive person. Only the very best of friends stood by me. I felt completely alone. Until a few things happened to get me back on the right track.
Angels in disguise
I met a friend who reminded me what it felt like to be me, back in the good old days, when I loved being me. What a rare and beautiful gift it is, to find that kind of friend. Eventually, this friendship caused me to stop drinking. Not because my friend told me to. Because I knew I had to. Because my life was spiralling out of control. No one else can ‘fix’ you: you have to fix yourself, but you don’t have to go it alone. In fact, if you try to go it alone, you will most likely fail.
So I got the support I needed to stop drinking, and this was a true revelation for me, just how wonderful life can be on the other side of the bottle. Not everyone who drinks has a drink problem. I am not trying to preach or tell anyone to stop drinking. I am just describing how it has worked for me. I started to see myself the same way I did all those years ago when I used to write poetry on mountainsides. I started to genuinely like myself again. And, perhaps most wonderful of all, I started to write again, which has further aided my recovery.
Wasn’t this post supposed to be about lockdown?
Well, yes it was, and so here it is: my recovery from alcoholism has taught me how to deal with situations that I would have found extremely difficult when I was drinking. For example, a worldwide pandemic and a locally enforced lockdown. I wouldn’t have dreamed of regarding this as an opportunity: to connect with my family; to connect with myself spiritually, to get to know each tree, rock and flower in my local area.
My recovery has taught me gratitude for every single bright thing in my life, even in dark times. Before sitting down to write this, I took a look out on the balcony at the night sky and I was lucky as it’s a remarkably clear night. So many stars twinkling and Venus like a jewel in the sky. There’s always brightness if we’re choose to look for it. It’s even closer than we think: it is within us.