OK, so it didn't quite go like that. But we did talk about all those things, and I felt much better afterward. She reminded me that, while I do feel lost, I do also know quite a lot about what I need, and what works for me. Just to remind myself, I decided to write down what I know so far. Next time I'm feeling lost, I can refer to this. So here goes.
- I know drinking is no good for me. I've accepted that. I just can't do it anymore, and for the most part I don't want to.
- It's mostly not hard to not drink. But that's because I am doing a whole lot of background work to keep myself going in the right direction. It's not one big task, just a whole lot of little things that I have to keep on doing. And I am doing them.
- I know I can't work flat out all the time. I need to spend a fair bit of time taking care of myself. I need more sleep than anyone I've ever met (except for some of you, my fellow former boozers, who all seem to be big sleepers, too!) And I need to eat well, and go outdoors lots, and hang out with my partner, and read fiction and poetry as well as school stuff. And write this online thing, which seems to help me a lot, and read a whole bunch of other people's writing about the big ongoing heave-over-the-drink project. All this stuff takes time, and there really are no short-cuts. So there's a limit to how much else I can do.
- I have to work at figuring out what's important to me. But I have a start on it. Despite my sometimes iffy emotional understanding--I don't always know what I feel, or what to make of what I feel--I have some pretty strong reactions to being shifted too far away from what I want to work on. I'm interested in the psychology of real people, in actual lived experience and practices, not research that purports to abstract into some non-existent theoretical every-person. I don't quite know how to find this, sometimes, but when I do, that stuff is golden! Following my nose in those directions will help me figure out the long term. For now, short term might be as far ahead as I need to think.
See? That's not so bad, is it? I really had been feeling lost and overwhelmed, and it was good to be reminded that, while I don't quite know where I'm going with all this, I'm not as lost as I feel.
One really practical recommendation my counsellor offered was to write down, actually write on a small card, an answer to each of those tormenting inner voices that have been plaguing me. So when I hear a niggling, "You don't know what you're doing here," I can pull out and read to myself a card that says, "I don't have to know everything all at once, but I know enough about what I'm doing to keep going for now." When a voice says, "You will never finish this enormous project," I can pull out a card that says, "I have already done lots of work and I am well able to finish the project. I just need to keep going but I'm getting there." And so on. I won't write them all out here, but that's the idea. Her thinking is, when those unhelpful inner voices start in--and man, are they unhelpful!--it's really difficult to think past them. It's just plain easier to read my own more rational, supportive thoughts if I've already written them out. I'm starting to get the idea that doing sometimes has to lead the thinking, so I'm going to try this.
So that's where I am today. It's been 43 days since I quit the drink this time around, and I really am starting to feel a lot better. It's both easier and harder than it was the first time around. Easier, because, having done it already, I know what to do and I know I can do it. But harder because, having done it before, there is no big euphoria of accomplishment, no big, "Wow, I can't believe it's been 43 days!" It's just life, and I'm living it, and you know what? It's worth living. At this point, even though I'm still a bit underneath the dregs of all that depression and confusion, I can honestly say that life without booze is way better. So there's a big hooray for me, after all!
As always, thanks for reading. Peace and joy to you.