Today was my birthday. Today I turned 45. Today is the first birthday since 1985 that I have not drank alcohol. I am fast approaching a year of sobriety and with every day it gets easier and the thoughts of drinking lessen that is of course until I hit an event that I associate with drinking and being drunk. I had a little low mood feeling as I began my walk down to meet friends for a birthday meal and it was a feeling a recognised. It was the feeling of ‘ shit I can’t drink and it’ll be rubbish’. I bumped into one of my friends that I was meeting in the street and as we chatted and headed down to meet the others the low feeling slowly lifted until it wasn’t there anymore. I stepped inside and felt just happy to be there. New neural pathways is what I am forging and I like walking them.
This week has been monumental in that I saw myself in my first ever TV role which was both exciting and nerve racking but I think I did ok in the end. There were two things I was looking for in my performance. Firstly, if I closed my eyes and listened to what my character was saying did it sound believable and secondly, did my character look like they were listening to others? To me it has to be about authenticity, believability and truth. Whether it be drama, comedy, farce, fantasy or whatever you have to believe in who you are and make them a real, living person not someone who stops being when each line finishes. Sometimes it’s not what you say that matters but what you don’t. Human responses are not just verbal they are eye contact, facial expression, body language, vocalisation which are all elements of listening, understanding – hell it’s all communicating. When communication breaks down that’s when we humans crawls under our rocks or pull up our drawbridges or fight the world and his dog or turn into jelly or defend ourselves or look for oblivion in substances. I have done all of those things individually many times and all too often all those things together. It’s so interesting that by removing one of those elements the others kind of start to diminish too. Take my stopping eating bread. I decided that I would give up bread for as long as I could as I felt I ate far too much of the stuff and it was giving me no nutritional benefits but in doing so I have stopped eating peanut butter, Nutella, jam and halved my butter intake. By removing the food item that underpinned ( and was quite literally underneath) all those other food stuffs I have changed eating habits in many ways. Opting for cereals, porridge or fruit in the morning, soup with oatcakes at lunch and not having the dreaded bread and butter alongside my main meal. Just changing one thing has in turn changed so much more. I have to think of other things to eat which brings new choices and breaks old habits.
Bread underpinned most of my day to day eating habits and drinking underpinned my emotions whether they be good, bad or indifferent. There was always an excuse to drink. By removing that linchpin it has over time changed the other behaviours or at least help me understand what it is I am reacting to and why I have the need to do what I am doing. Getting angry sometimes is a necessary emotion to help work through what you are feeling but only by keeping my head clear of the thing that alters my understanding of the facts can I begin to reflect on the five wh’s and how.
Drink didn’t encourage me to move on from stuff and create new pathways. It made me forget what the bloody issue was and then locked in a cycle of it cropping up again and again and again and drinking more and more and more to numb it the pathway became very dense, dark and impenetrable.
When I was drunk I wasn’t being truthful, present, authentic. I was covering myself up, hiding away, lying to others and myself. My self communication had broken down. I no longer believed what I was saying because deep down I knew I was lying to myself and I couldn’t listen to truth inside me because I was in denial. Yes I still can crawl under my rock, yes I still defend on principle, yes I still pull up my drawbridge and yes I still can turn into jelly but with every new pathway forged the road is so much better lit.
Nighty night x
Ps 318 days