Sunday, 8 January 2017

232-1/365 Stepping back into real life

Sunday morning and I am in bed with a coffee enjoying my last morning of "freedom" so to speak. Tomorrow I go back to work a ft er being signed off sick for THREE MONTHS! I just felt my blood pressure leap as thoughts of some of you shaking your head and thinking I am weak, lazy, cheating, skiving, layabout, disgraceful etc. I could go on but I have to remind myself that your thoughts shouldn't affect me as much as they do, you don't know my circumstances, maybe you aren't thinking these things, maybe all those negative words are my thoughts projected out onto you. Some of you most certainly will be thinking those things and that is ok too. All I know is that for me these last 3 months have been a complex mixed bag of feelings, emotions, dreadful sickness, anxiety, understanding, compassion, self doubt, depression, elation, more sickness, and on and on I could go.

I have guilt about taking care of my own needs and part of that has led me to this extended time off work when my body just collapsed and flat out refused to cooperate until it had recuperated sufficiently. I realise here I am still trying to appease the people who think it is wrong I have had so much time off. However, I feel like a whole different person, I feel like the me of about 11 years ago, the me that had ups and downs but was still able to get on with life. The me before I started drinking and hating myself and torturing my soul with day to day verbal attacks. The me that is vitally important in my life and those around me who rely on me. I feel "normal" again, or as normal as I want or allow myself to be. I never want to be too vanilla although I can now appreciate that vanilla isn't just sad plain and boring but simple, unpretentious and actually enjoyable. No one needs to be a tutti-fruity mocha chocolate fizz bomb mango passion chilli all the time. Vanilla sometimes is good.

It has taken me this long to pick apart the tangle of webs I have spun around myself and for years I have felt trapped in this web but helpless to get out of it. Previous attempts to get out haven't got down to the reason that I got tangled in the first place and so have only ever been a short term fix. What I needed was to slow down or in my case STOP completely and thread by thread unravel and the reconnect in the right order.

Imagine the back of you modern tv, with the cable, the Internet, the phone, the DVD player, the stereo, the surround sound etc. Now all of these have been added over the years as they have been introduced to the TV so basically you have a tangle (well if it looks like the back of my TV anyway). All these cables are important to you and are needed to allow your TV to function as you want it to but the problem comes when you keep adding, first a Wii box, then Apple TV, the X-box. Pretty soon you have a huge tangle of cables and it is in no way clear which one connects to what and should you need to isolate one lead, it's going to take some time to unravel it. Unravel being the key word here. Some people believe it or not (I struggle to) have as the years have gone on taken time to make small adjustments as they have added new cables so the tangle has been avoided in a systematic and orderly fashion. Others have reached a certain point of cable chaos and paused to take the time to sort them out to avoid impending disaster. Rarer still ( I think but maybe I am wrong) is the person who with each additional cable has taken the time to label it and attach it in a logical tidy way. Who are you, you organised freak? Ha ha joking. My cables were so out of control I had taken to not even turning on the TV cos something had gone wrong a while back and I couldn't be bothered to deal with that tangle to allow me to watch one show. Basically, stretching this analogy to the extreme, one day you go to vacuum and you pull out the TV stand to get behind to the actual cobwebs and dust bunnies and in doing so dislodge ALL the leads from the TV. DISASTER OF EPIC PROPORTION!!!   THAT my friends is where I ended up in October and it has taken me this long to connect everything back in the right order but also culling some dead leads like the VHS player and the dial up modem (I'm running out of metaphorical equipment I know the modem never went into the TV) ok I'm done now.

This time has literally been a reboot from the last 20 years. Whilst I have had some glorious years, really enjoyed raising my daughter and essentially been my own free agent when it comes to making decisions, I have had to cope with all the outcomes, disasters, life changing directions alone and that has been hard. I have had some good friends along the way but no family support or partner to take the reigns for a while. I have had my daughter every weekend bar one or two sleepovers for 18 years. No grandparents to babysit, or have her for the weekend, no partner or even ex-partner to just give me a break. Can you hear the sad violins playing ha ha. It is my lot and I did choose it I know but it has been a hard road and I have struggled to keep my head above water sometimes both financially and emotionally. Oh I'm getting a little teary now. This is not an exercise in self pity but an acknowledgement that it hasn't been easy and I am not just a weak whiny loser who can't hold her shit together. Ultimately I do believe everything happens for a reason and out of even the worse situations some good will come. What I do know for sure is that this would never ever have been possible if I had been drinking, I would have sunk further into the abyss and self pity/hatred and felt like a victim of circumstance rather than an independent woman temporarily weighed down by her baggage.

As I sit here today, things seem clearer, I have a direction I am headed and my mind feels freed up to make considered decisions. I am able to see the good and the bad and not make too harsh judgement on myself and know that I always tried my best even if that best looked pretty shitty to the outside world. Alcohol did act as a life ring in some way even if it was the very thing weighing me down in the end. Every decision even the poor ones have lead me to this point today even the years of drinking heavily have made me into the person I am right now. It was a blessing and a curse and one I can't change or rewrite to suit my needs. I am seven months sober and life just gets more interesting and deliberate each day. I still have a long way to go and still have some negative behaviours to tackle but I continue to be a work in progress and I am liking the progress and the person that is emerging. I even don't hate myself anymore, I can't say I am all the way to love but I definitely like myself, flabby belly, grey hairs, a few wrinkles (surprisingly few all things considered) and all. When I look in the mirror now I am much more likely to say "Ah bless you Ginger, you have done so well" than the old words "look at you, you disgusting wreck of a woman, how have you let it get this bad?"
Self-acceptance, self-love, healing the inner child are all very high on my agenda now and I have made huge strides in these areas and intend to do lots more but for now "Good job Ginger, well done!"

25 comments:

  1. I love your analogy Ginger. My life felt like the back of the cable box when drinking as well. I think the big ah-ha moment is when you discover your own part in it. It was so easy to be a victim when drinking but not so much as you sober up and think through how to solve the mess.

    Good luck back at work. I am just going back to work as well and find I am moving slowly but I am moving forward. You will get into the routine again and find it easier and more manageable well rested I am sure.

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    1. Here's to all us folk tidying up our cables. I still need to keep working on not being a victim, it's years and years on entrenched thinking but it is getting so much better. Hope your work went ok, slow and steady wins the race.

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  2. You know what? It is necessary to bring out the violins and feel sorry for ourselves-it is healthy! Especially, when no one else is feeling sorry for us. Gawdamn, girl! Do you realize how brave you were to take these three months and start fixing that F'd up wiring?
    Like you, I can look back and say, "Holy Hell, look at the mess I made of my life and, even, my kids's lives, but...it got me here and here is where I was supposed to end up. I am so grateful for that. Take one moment, either a hard one or an easy one, away from that mixed up mess, and I just might still be drinking. Every second, every heartache, every eeked out sober moment, every relapse was necessary.
    I am so proud of you and me and everyone who decides they have to do whatever it takes to get those wires straight. Kary May

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    1. Hear hear! I second Kary May. You're both awesome ❤️

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    2. My best friend was the one who pointed out sometimes a pity party is needed when there is no one else to soothe you.
      It's true for me that every relapse was necessary. What's hard is watching someone else go through it over and over wanting them to get it right each time. Thanks for sticking with me on this journey.

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  3. You are a very strong woman Ginger! Raising a child on your own is tough. My mom was a single parent and I think she's the strongest damn woman I know. It’s amazing how that voice can change from self hatred to even semi-self acceptance when aren’t guzzling wine anymore. Don’t you dare feel guilty for one minute about taking care of yourself. You needed these three months well done for taking the time. xxx

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    1. It's sad but true, I don't know if I would have made it to the same level/desire of self acceptance if I hadn't struggled with alcohol. It's like I needed to be poisoned to realise how good life is without poison.
      I am strong but I lose sight of it, there is something about being strongest in your broken places but I can't remember quite how it goes.
      I love how you describe your mum.

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  4. Amen. Once we find that self love the world is a different place.

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    1. Yes it is and now I finally realise you guys have been telling the truth all along. So hard to hear it in the beginning. Thanks Anne

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  5. I take my hat off to you Ginger, raising your daughter alone with no time off, and no practical support (ie grandparents around/partner etc) - that's bloody hard. I can't imagine how hard! And I completely salute you for taking the time off to start healing and work out the tangles. Jeez woman, you've had multiple chest infections over the last 6 months, it sounds pretty essential that you've been off work, not something to be feeling guilty about! I hope your colleagues look after you tomorrow on your first day back. Cake is surely required! Red xx

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    1. Aww thanks Red, being a single parent means you get ALL the grief but you also get ALL the glory. She's a good kid but I do wish she'd have had a bit more balance in her life.
      I did need the time to heal and felt different in work today than before, it was the right decision in the end.
      Colleagues were delighted to see me which made it feel so much nicer going back in.

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  6. Beautiful, and told with such warmth and compassion. I CELEBRATE that you were able to get time off to heal yourself. If I had been smarter, I would have done the same thing years ago instead of worrying what people might think. I am not working right now, and after years of single parenting, I am thrilled and entitled to take this time for myself.
    You're my hero, Ginger. ; )
    xoxo

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    1. Oh that is such a lovely thing to say. Thank you.
      I think this time I was so broken down I had to rebuild from the bottom up, it was needed and I think I am the 2.0 version of myself, upgrades included ha ha.
      I love that you now have this time to yourself and that you do feel entitled to it, I 100% feel certain that you should.

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  7. This is all really good stuff. Agree with all the previous comments. It is great that you are doing self care and self love and sorting out all the cables. :)

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    1. Thank you lovely SamKD. Likewise I admire you for going to work even with your foot and how much pain you were in. Glad you getting some rest now.

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  8. This just made me smile...I LOVE that you did what you needed to do to take care of YOU! I am excited to see what lies ahead for you GG! xo

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    1. Thanks S@53. I just read you new post and you have had a heck of a time recently. Well done on coping with so much and really achieving so many things in the process.
      I too am excited to see what is next. I hope you are ok and feeling all the feelings.

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  9. There is no way I would think ou are lazy. When I read you were signed off for 3 months my first thought was...crap she must have been really unwell. Im glad you are going back to work, because it means you are better or almost better. You really are making some huge changes in your life, all for the better too xx

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    1. Yes PDTG I am well on the way to recovery ha ha both physically and not drinking. It has been a bad year for sickness but I am starting to think it was all necessary. Yes and hopefully more changes to come.

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  10. Buy a new TV, one of those integrated jobs? No, only kidding. I have read your words now. We are complex people all with a back story that often never gets told. One thing I see now more clearly is the different pathways that we all take. Looking at the the Blogs in these sites shows the depth of feeling and the challenges that all of the authors and readers have to face. Above all it shows that we are not alone. When I started on this journey I was often faced with the terrible thought that no one else has had to face this but all of you lovely people prove me wrong time and time again. And, you all have complex problems that have to be dragged along the path - work, children, partners, friends and colleagues, houses, health. Each of these must be dealt with along with the root problem, alcohol. Its a hard journey. It needs commitment, will power, self belief (one thing we all lack). If we fail, we need to get back up and have another go but Ginger shows us how the end justifies the means. I'm just coming to terms with myself so I still avoid mirrors but now is better than before if that makes sense.

    Justonemore

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    1. Yes we are all complex beings and so similar yet different in the way our struggles present. I think we all start off thinking we are alone and no one will ever understand but the more you read the more you learn. I think that is why I always wanted you to start a blog, I wanted to know more about your backstory, how are you the same? how are you different? what was the starting point etc. All things that I can read about you but then apply to myself and see if it fits. Your comments always seem to hit home with me so I felt I could relate to your story.
      I avoided mirrors for years but even though I have only lost 21lbs, I still look in the mirror and now am starting to accept myself. Keep trying Justonemore, you are worth the self love and self acceptance even if it feels uncomfortable at the moment.
      I went back to read some old posts of mine and saw your comments there and it made me smile.

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  11. I am just very happy reading this post and all the comments, Ginger!
    You have been such a supportive person to me, and I thank you so much!
    I sure thought you were strong, too!
    Raising a child by yourself is not easy.
    I wish you a happy week back at work!
    xoxo
    Wendy

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  12. You are an inspiration. An amazing, strong woman who knows that to fix some things takes time, time out and patience. What a beautiful post. I think more of us need to stop, get off the tread mill and have a look around at ourselves and others. Kudous to you. xxx

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  13. I loved reading this. Your reference to the TV cables made me nod and smile. I've spent years with my blinkers on just plugging each cable in as they came along and ended in a massive mess. Your description of untangling each cable one at a time is EXACTLY how I have felt about what I have been doing over the past 9 months. Slowly unravelling each strand/wire of my life and making sense of it all. I have become more understanding of myself and those around me. I hope your return to work has gone well and that you continue to have your 'me' time x

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