I knew this sober thing was going to be a ride but no one told me it was going to go so fast. I can hardly keep up with the warp-like speed every day has taken on. Maybe it’s because I’m conscious for most of it? As in, I’m not drunk or hung over.
The other day I was wrestling with the millions of thoughts running through my head, which were mostly about how much I had to do and when I was going to be able to fit it all in. My mental diary was juggling and doing a crazy dance in my anxious brain, and I was getting pretty stressed. As I pondered a commitment for the next day I concluded I would probably be able to manage it as I wouldn’t be drinking that night and so wouldn’t be a hungover wreck. Then I caught myself and remembered that I don’t drink at nights – any night – and I don’t have hangovers. Every day.
It still gives me a kick. Then I got to thinking about how much more time I have and how much more productive I can be. Instead of about two or three days a week where I could drag myself to make a half-hearted effort to perform, I am ON every day. The floodgates have opened and life is rolling in like a tidal wave. It’s relentless.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am seriously liking this living a sober life thing. But I often feel like a child who’s been over-stimulated and needs to be put to bed before I hit meltdown. Everything is vivid, loud, garish and overwhelming. How do I fit it all in? Recovery, kids, work, relationships – trying to juggle it and make sense of it all is like trying to herd cats. I want to do this, I really want to, but the truth is I am so faking it until I make it. As I write this, a visual of new-born foal wearing high heels flashes by.
So yes, I’m ecstatic to be present, thrilled to be functioning and fascinated that I am apparently productive and useful. But it’s fast and furious and going to take some time to learn how to keep up. It’s a big wide world out there and there’s suddenly a lot to do and learn. It’s bloody exciting but terrifyingly fast.
Of course, the speed wobbles is a term often spoken of in recovery circles. I am on high alert because I know high velocity can cause fatal crashes. And signs are there: my anxiety is running high, my perfectionism is having a field day screaming at me to achieve, achieve, achieve, go, go, go, get it down now, now, now! It’s hard not to indulge that ego-based drive when essentially, I’ve been lying around in a fog for years going backwards. I mean, why wouldn’t I want to feel good about myself and fly a little? Can’t I have a moment or two of glory?
The trouble is with wanting it all now is the falling on your arse bit. That happens about every four or five days at the moment. The pattern goes like this: feel good, plan heaps, expect loads, press go. I know I have to pace myself, I know there’s too much on the to-do list but it feels good to be busy and productive. Surely I can keep going? Why would I need to rest? I’ve spent years wasting time! Then comes exhaustion, exasperation and collapse. Tears, naps and shitty moods follow. Those closest to me wear it. I feel like crap. Sigh. It’s the old two steps forward, one step back thing recovery dance. It’s certainly keeping me humble.
Slowly, I’m getting it. Ideally, I will keep a realistic schedule, be balanced in my approach and flexible with my expectations. Realistically? I don’t know. I hope my anxiety and wildly vacillating energy levels will even out as I get used to the pace of ‘real life’. Maybe my ego will calm the hell down once the novelty of ticking boxes on a to-do list wears off and instead becomes the daily grind? My hope? Is that I stay sober and stick around to find out.