Monday, December 14, 2015

Fighting to Stay at ' 5 '

This time of year sees many of us looking back over the last 12 months and celebrating and/or lamenting our gains and losses. Most of my year was a struggle physically and emotionally. I have been low and I have been high. There have been many things that I am grateful for but somehow these things managed to be book-ended by injury and depression. Most of this year has felt like a balancing act. Slowly I have made my way, one foot in front of the other with arms lifted straight out at my sides to keep from falling over the edge. The motto this year has been 'no sudden movements'. I knew if I didn't make any abrupt or spontaneous decisions that I could avoid causing too much damage.
At STWM 2015 photo Edison Yao

If I seemed different or unlike myself this year, I was...I am. I have felt like a shadow of myself, dark and hollow. I tried to go through the motions, to 'act' like myself and some days it worked and others it didn't. I am inside myself and I find it hard to get out of me. It takes a lot of effort to stay right where I am and not get any lower. If the best version of me is a '10' then most of this year I have been a '5' at best and a '3' at worst. I am fighting to be a '5'.

There is good news though...
I am still sober.
I know that if I soothed any of this with alcohol it would be worse than bad. It's not my answer anymore.

One month from now I will celebrate 5 sober years and I know I will get there.
I thought I would post and re-post some writing I have done over the years to remind myself about where I have been over the past 5 years.

April 13, 2013
Finding Myself at the Bottom of an Empty Bottle

 Two and a half years ago I was an overweight, out of shape alcoholic. I had an emotionally demanding job and home was not a place of respite. My daughter had social and behavioral issues that took a lot of energy and my son had anger issues related to all the attention she required. My husband was unhappy because he carried the family load while I was busy drinking. I missed practices, games, music lessons and even a parent-teacher interview because I had been into the sauce. This being the catalyst for my husband to suggest I might have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

With support from my husband and concern from my Doctor I agreed to quit drinking and went to an in-patient rehab facility. I dropped out of rehab on day three because I was homesick. As I was leaving, the Doctor told me that the likelihood of remaining sober without their program was low. I accepted that challenge as I walked away.

My own Doctor was disappointed, perhaps even annoyed that I had left rehab. I assured him that my commitment to sobriety was unchanged, but I was going to do it my way. The threatening words of failure offered by the rehab Physician, rang loudly in my head but I would be damned if they came true.

It was up to me to find out who I was without a wineglass in my hand. I was lost and felt like I had no identity without alcohol. My circle of friends shrank and my social calendar was empty. I had been the “life of the party” and was left feeling like I had no life at all. I didn’t believe it would get easier. I was so attached to the person I was, I found it hard to embrace the possibility of a new life with new interests.

After 6-8 weeks off the booze, I started to run. As days turned to weeks I began to find myself. I replaced drinking with running, and just as a true addict does, I substituted one fixation for another. I became dependent on running as therapy. Emotionally, I could work out my problems while pounding the pavement. Physically, I was feeling great. I was losing weight and my love affair with Alexander Keith was taking a back seat. What was developing was hope and even a little bit of faith that I could be part of the world without a blood alcohol level.

I built new habits linked to running; like-minded friends, plant based nutrition and physical activity helped me forge a new way of being. Finding my legs gave me confidence, so I committed to training for the Goodlife Fitness Toronto half marathon. The day I ran that race, I celebrated four months of sobriety, which was everything and nothing all at the same time. The enormity of staying ‘dry’ for the rest of my life and the potential for failure was not lost on me. This reality weighed heavier on me as I crossed the finish line and was directed to where I could claim my free 6 pack of Molson 67 beer. I glanced in the direction of the FREE beer and then carried on. If I was going to blow it, it wouldn’t be on calorie reduced beer.

I am happy those early days are behind me. I am still running and I am still sober. I am building a new life, with running community connections. Being a finalist in a running magazine blog contest has been a highlight. I have been doing some blogging and tweeting as a “digital champion” for Canada Running Series. Each day I am excited to see what happens.

I am a healthier person, which translates into being a better wife and mother and for that, I thank my addiction to running. I wish that rehab doctor could see me now. 

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