Alive and Well

Day 17. Already. How did that happen.

My friend here described anything bookended with dates, like travelling, studying, or relationships that it's always about the first 2 days and the final 3.

Everything in between is white noise.

In most cases, I'd agree. Being in rehab, though – despite time speeding up and slowing down, the blurry days of detox lending way to the early realizations, the a-ha moments, the slow rebirth – that white noise is the most precious thing I've ever experienced.

I'm so effing lucky to be having this (not particularly easy) opportunity. It's not an experience. It's an opportunity – a gift. A gift I haven't just given to myself, but to everyone who knows me, and everyone I'll ever meet. I'm trying so hard to be present in the moment, not living in the past or the future – but I still struggle with the time wasted, literally.

Recovery is a gift to my body (my Psychotherapist makes me do an exercise where I sit and go through my body, apologizing to all the hurts I've caused it, out loud – it's as ridiculously cathartic as the level of ridiculous I felt the first time doing it).

It's a gift to my mind. Being here is that golden paste that is piecing all my broken bits back together. Kintsugi-ing me, so to speak. I am finding myself more beautiful for being broken – no longer ashamed of how un-whole I was all the time. Every therapy session, every accomplishment however small, I'm slowly putting myself back to together again.

For myself, meditation along with the practice and study of Buddhism has been my saving grace.

I look forward to those quiet moments, getting to know myself, again, for the first time.

The same self I couldn't stand being in the same room with, much less share a body with, for what feels like forever.

Everyone has to find their "Higher Power" while going through this and working the 12 Steps. For me, the accountability of knowing that what I do to myself affects everyone else, forever, now and in the future – is a gentle reminder to be compassionate. Always. To myself, and all things. We are all connected.

Interesting story: before I left for rehab, our four dogs would always be yapping and fighting, or barking at me. Irritating, really. I arrive at rehab and get an update from home that they're all little angels. Peaceful. Quiet. Minding their own. It's no coincidence they were reacting to my energy. Agitated, angry, and all over the place.

Chaos, on 16 legs. 

Our energy affects everyone around us.

Another tattoo I have (this one is on my inner right forearm. It's a quote from The Dalai Lama):

"Today, I am fortunate. I have a precious human life. I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to expand my heart out to others to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings."

I've always had good intentions. Unfortunately, though, the alcohol had it's own, too.

What an amazing reminder – had I taken it every day I've looked at it for the last 7 years since I got it! It looks so different now, through sober eyes. It means something, again. What a hypocrite I've been, walking around so long with those words permanently staring back at me, yet wasting my "precious human life" more and more as each day passed. Instead of expanding my heart, alcoholism made me retract and isolate – crawling in, instead of looking in, so I could then reach out. 

I once thought meditation was a means of escaping the world. A way to transcend society and find that quiet place, where you can meet yourself - your true self - again. Don't get me wrong – it absolutely is that. But the reason for meditation is to prepare yourself to reintegrate into society. To make you stronger. To hold together the mind, body and soul, so you can be a whole person and better contribute back to society. Not to escape it. To learn how to control how you react to your feelings. When you're at peace, it is impossible to be hurtful, or do hurtful things.

Meditation teaches you how to become, and remain, compassionate.

Being belligerently drunk every single day for 15 years does not.

I'm currently working on preparing myself to 'reintegrate' back into the 'real world' in 11 days. I've made lists of every AA meeting, type, time and location for every day of the week within 50km of my home. I already have a temporary sponsor lined up, and have found both a yoga studio and meditation studio I can't wait to join. I'm working at finding a sober companion to support me in the many work commitments I have this year that require me to be around lots, and lots, of really, really drunk people. And, free booze. Awesome. I'm coordinating having Antabuse available for me when I land back home in 11 days, as it isn't available in Ontario, apparently (says my doctor?).

I'm just trying to set myself up for success, so I can just keep going.

I made amends with my former personal trainer, who I actively avoided back in November (unfortunately likely affecting his income and well-being) by coming clean that I'm an alcoholic and that I've been in rehab.

His reply was remarkable, thoughtful, and on point: "No stress at all. You'll be a better person for having gone through all of this. Tough times make for tough people."

From a Buddhist perspective, I don't particularly want to be a "tough person" - but at the gym I don't mind kicking a little ass again. I haven't been motivated for so long – depression, avoidance, drunkenness, isolation. He asked me what time would work best for my sessions – I said it didn't matter, and admitted I only asked for 10am or 11am sessions in the past because it was early enough to not significantly cut into my drinking time.

How sad. But, sadly true.

It'll be amazing to experience what working out feels like not totally hungover. 

So, I am alive, and I am well. With so much work left to do – I know – and I'm looking forward to all of it. This is just the very beginning. I've been having some PAWS already – words are escaping me and yesterday I stood on the beach for 5 minutes staring at my phone trying to find the word "convert" in my mind so I could google a currency exchange. It was gone. Literally, from my entire vocabulary, despite having typed it about 5 times a day for the last two weeks.

My mood has been steady for the most part, and I've been blessed with understanding and compassion from Hubs back home. My little Buddha. He's growing as much through this as I am, and that is the greatest gift. I can learn more from him than from any book or meditation. He's saved my life as much as this program has.

My heart is healing, and Hubs gave me the best bandaid.


I am alive, and I am well.

I haven't been able to say either of those things for many, many, many years.

xo Shawn

Sober, alcohol free recovery blogger.

Photographer. Writer. Ex-Blackout Artist.

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