The New Normal & Becoming Really Real

Day 19. It's fair to say not all mornings are created equal.

I usually wake up early. Like, really early. 4am, usually.

I like it.

It's quiet and dark and I can put on my electric violin playlist and lose myself in a few hours of silence, waking slowly, caffeinating quickly, and feeling my way through my morning routine.

Coffee. Cigarette. Bathroom. Let the dogs out. Coffee. Cigarette. Let the dogs in. Bathroom. Annie Grace. Journalling. Coffee. Let the dogs out. Bathroom. Cigarette. Let the dogs in.


You get the idea.

It's pretty uneventful but there's something almost mystical and pure about alone time before the sun comes up.

Nothing but darkness, silence, and a puzzle of words that I try and fit together.

I wonder when I'll stop counting days. Adding up the dollars saved, the drinks I haven't had, the days I've spent sober.

Measuring this newfound clarity against the foggy ruler of twenty drunken years; comparing millimeters to miles.

I'm striving for more balance in my life; I lose myself so completely in things. I am unable to moderate, at quite literally, everything. I am absolutely all or nothing, and I see myself inside this recovery bubble as though I've blown it around myself in all it's delicate, soapy iridescence.

It could burst at any second.

New normals are never easy. They feel like you're a stranger in a strange land; a tourist for a time. And at first, it's human nature to want to explore the attractions, to discover the alluring highlights that drew you to the destination in the first place. At what point do you stop being a tourist, and start feeling comfortable? Is it even safe to let your guard down and announce, if only to yourself, "I have arrived."

But, here's the thing: there is no arriving. There is no destination. It's all just a big, messy journey and we'll forever be learning the language of this new land.

There will always be where you came from.

I easily become distracted and obsessed with things (this random segway is a perfect example).

Perhaps it's the passion of the "creative" within me, or perhaps it's a chemical flaw. There's always the dichotomy of within and without; the battle between the physical and the fantastic. Some things are more easily explained because you can prove them with science.

The important, undefinable things are more difficult.

Usually because accurate, appropriate words don't exist to describe the sum of your feelings. You can't add adjectives and verbs together, or divide prose by pronouns and come to a solution that equals the original equation of your emotions.

In math, it's literally called "a problem" that needs, and can, be solved.

Inside me though, where math checked out sometime during the hazy days of high school, there's no solution to the problem of accurately defining how I feel.

Sometimes, things just don't add up.

This morning I'm feeling out of sorts, like an impossible equation without an answer.

I'm tired of being sick, of only getting poor awful sleep, regardless of how well I eat or that I haven't had a drink in 19 days. I'm beginning to grasp at random short straws, now.

Maybe my second chakra is blocked? That'd explain a lot of the physical bullshit going on inside of my body over the last year and a half or more.

Maybe my chemistry is just balancing itself out? Perhaps this becoming vegan thing blended with alcohol withdrawal and my daily handful of medications is messing with my hormone levels? Levels that are already out of check and balance, like a biological budget blown out of the water.

My body has been on a spending spree and now it's time to settle the debt.

Maybe it's the full moon? No, it can't be – there's another week of counting days ahead of me until that happens.

Maybe I'm just missing an integral piece to fitting all this newness together.

What a curse, sometimes – being human and feeling the need to explain the unexplainable. Until we can find a definitive cause to our effect, we feel lost and inadequate, because it's our nature to explain things – including how and why we feel what we are feeling.

"Feeling sad" isn't enough – we need to understand and explain why we are sad. "Feeling confused" isn't enough – we need to be able to list all the pieces that are not making sense to us. Just "feeling happy" isn't enough – we need to justify what's causing our joy.

This morning I'm feeling all over the place, exactly like the words I'm sitting here trying to fit together, as though I'm trying to catch a nest of spiders riding the wind.

Ego is defined as: "the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity."

I wish my ego would just GO.

Maybe I'm not as really real as I think I am, after all.

Maybe I can't accurately define how I'm feeling, because I'm not actually my feelings?

Maybe if I step back and just let myself feel the feelings, they'll be satisfied by being acknowledged and go merrily on their way? Or, do I have to dig deeper and understand where they came from?

Maybe if I give them a name they'll leave me alone.

So many damned maybes.

Maybe I just need to chill the hell out.

I'm feeling as tattered and confused as the Velveteen Rabbit today:

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

Maybe this is just a part of Becoming, and in true Shawn style, I'm overthinking everything.

Maybe the rich new car smell of sobriety is starting to fade and I'm becoming aware that simply being sober doesn't change anything other than my ability to finally see all the things I once ignored and pushed aside more clearly.

Maybe I'm Becoming Really Real.

I feel as though I woke up with growing pains, like something inside me is stretching and in my sleep I lost the rose-coloured glasses that I've been wearing for the last 18 days.

I've been looking for my quiet place alone at 4am, in an empty room full of screaming words and ideas, knowing all the while that it's not where I'm going to find it.

There are quiet places also in the mind...but we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately – to put a stop to the quietness. To pretend at any cost that it isn't there. Ah, but it is; it is there, in spite of everything. At the back of everything. – Aldous Huxley

The closest I can come to explaining how I feel this morning is to compare it to everything I've written above: all over the place, disjointed, a little off-centre, and pursuing something I can't define that is just out of reach.


And that's okay.

I'm still learning the language of this new land, and Becoming Really Real is going to take time.

Sober, alcohol free recovery blogger.

Photographer. Writer. Ex-Blackout Artist.

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