Today was a good day.
I just had to type that, because I can’t remember the last time I did – and actually meant it. Despite *still* being sleepless, the highlights of the day outweighed the exhaustion. I’m fully aware we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. The poor counsellors are on a search and rescue mission in my mind, and I’m pretty sure one barely made it out alive today.
For the first time since I arrived, I felt some semblance of myself returning today. Not the old, sober me (who I don’t remember at all, though I do remember the countless stupid things he still did, but not the man himself.) Or the passed out drunk me either (thank god). But I feel much more myself than I have the last 4 days. I have blacked out countless times from drinking, and it never dawned on me I’d black out from not drinking, too.
Detox is a freaking trip.
It’s a bit of a haze, and re-reading some of my posts are like reading something someone else wrote.
Which is exactly why I’m trying to do this every day.
Because I never want to forget.
I’m not naive enough to think I can simply (ha!) stop drinking and everything will fall into place. I’m eager to move forward, to be honest, and to embrace this journey and eventually feel the real me (whoever he is or will be) emerging. I’m not expecting miracles or an easy ride – in the near or distant future.
The recovery centre I chose to come to is different, in the most wonderful way. Today I was able to move to my real room, an absolute relief because I could unpack. The transient feeling of living out of my suitcase was making me feel even more lost and lonely – and wanting a drink. I’m literally in the middle of paradise – on a tropical island with sun and sand – a far cry from the dreary dead grey of icy winter in Canada.
I cannot put enough emphasis on how the sun and fresh air is the worlds most effective medicine.
This morning, our psychiatrist took us on an outing to the beach to watch the sunrise, and we had an hour to just sit and think. After the last 4 days (read: 15 years) it was the most cathartic experience in recent memory. Some people took long walks. Others sat and just watched the sunrise.
I walked out into the ocean, waves barrelling towards me and just braced myself, letting each one crash past me. I imagined every wave was a challenge, or a failure. Some were regrets and some were goals. Some brushed past me like unspoken apologies, and others smacked me in the face like unreceived punishments. I must have stood there for 20 minutes, wave after wave crashing into me, refusing to let them push me back or knock me down. I haven’t felt that sort of strength or liberation in years.
And, because it’s me, of course I cried.
Now, don’t get me wrong – half the time I wanted to barf because I’m still not feeling 100% and the vertigo has latched onto me like a leech. But I tolerated it, and took in the absolute wonder of the vastness of the ocean and what caused that wave to travel across the globe and end up finding me.
I know. Pretty deep for a Friday evening. But I think coming out of the last 4 days of feeling like the world was crashing down, those crashing waves brought me back to life a little.
We returned back to the centre for a couple group meetings – then more interestingly, the completion of my Bio-Psycho-Social evaluation. I cried again.
I told one of my counsellors things I have never told another human being. Ever. And he thanked me for my honesty, and I thanked him for making me comfortable enough to do so. 3 hours later I had dished more about my life than I even knew I knew about my life.
With only 28 days here, I do not plan on wasting even one of them (though it’s looking as though I’m going to run out of tears before it’s my time to go home).
We drudged up childhood trauma – adolescent trauma – adult trauma. So much heavy stuff, I’m reserving that for another post on another day when I’ve had more time to digest and talk about it on this end. He asked how long I was staying here – I said 28 days, and he replied, “Good, you’re going to need it.”
This man is not only a counsellor, he’s an absolute mentor to me already. 30 years sober (with bumps along the road) and a track record so long the internet would have a problem holding it all. He’s been there. I won’t go into his qualifications beyond his life experience, but I have absolute confidence in him. And, in speaking with some (new) friends that are leaving tomorrow, they’ve assured me the short time they’ve spent with him has literally changed their lives, and they’re heading home with a sense of confidence and a solid plan.
He took us to downtown Cabarete this evening, to an AA meeting – my first ever.
And I spoke. I shared. I scared the hell out of myself.
I had no intention of saying a word – I just wanted to take it in and experience the experience. But with 5 minutes left to the meeting, something rose up out of me and it just started flowing.
“Hi, I’m Shawn, and I’m an alcoholic.”
All the words I wanted to say had been spinning in the pit of my stomach as I listened to everyone else sharing, like they’d been floating in a pool and the drain was pulled – bumping into each other, some disappearing and others rising to the top, all of them in a whirlpool of chaos with only minutes to spare.
I plugged the drain. I opened my mouth.
Honesty and self love.
I kept it brief, but the topic tonight was “self love” – and I identified how it took me so long to realize (read: admit) that my self-destructive behaviour was ruining everything I do love. My marriage, my friendships, my business, my reputation, my finances and my health (to name just a few).
The total absence of self love.
And my first step towards achieving it was being honest with myself – for the very first time – that I needed help, admitting myself into rehab, and accepting that I am worthy of the love and self care.
Because without it, I am no good to anyone, especially myself.
Whether it is correct or not, or whether I made a fool of myself or not – I explained how I believe/just discovered that the first step towards self love is honesty…and alcohol is the most dishonest thief you’ll ever meet. It has lied to me for years and I’ve believed it. It’s tried to convince me that I need it, that it makes me better, more eloquent, more courageous, more immune.
And in being honest with myself that it is none of those things was my first step towards real, true self love, for the first time I can remember in my life.
So, today was a good day.
(PS: 3 days, 18 hours and 39 minutes sober. Money saved: $161.87 CDN. And I still haven’t killed anyone).