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Hi, loves <3
I didn’t want to post this picture. I wanted to look like my skin is better, like my hair is better, like I have fewer chins. Like I’m the picture of Sober Health. I want to look the way people think people should look when they've not drunk alcohol for over a year. Lovely people comment that my skin is looking SO wonderful thanks to being AF, but it’s also thanks to tinted moisturiser and charcoal soap. It’s ALSO not always wonderful – I haven’t had a pizza or ice cream in a whole frickin week (MORE ON THAT IN ANOTHER POST) but I’ve still got a billion zits growing out of my face. Annoying? Yes. Completely inexplicable? No. I increased my hormones dosage last week, I’ve eaten more cheese than France can replace this week, and I’ve not slept for more than 6 hours a night for a while (the wonderful thing is that I need SO much less sleep!), for various reasons. So here I am, in all my monstrous glory.
I am ALL about trying to deconstruct the narrative that a sober life is only for either AA-attending “proper” alcoholics or for middle class standard-sized white people who have a penchant for running and yoga. Click on any #sobrietyhashtag on the Instagrams, and you’ll be blinded by abs and perfect hair and perfect skin and perfect thigh holes and #hashtagblessed and yes, we should ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY CELEBRATE OUR ACHIEVEMENTS AND HARD WORK BUT. But. Butt. Quitting alcohol hasn’t made me lose much weight (it has made me less puffy, and it has kept me relatively stable despite the onslaught of pizza and ice cream and flapjacks I have thrown at my body over the last 377 days, particularly since I ended a 20 year heavy smoking habit). And yet, if I get frustrated about the vast majority of sober journeys referencing weight loss, surely I can talk about how I’m learning to love my body where it is, as well as working to get it to where I want to be. I’ve worked really fucking hard to get to where I am. My “after” may be someone else’s “before”, but I know where I’ve come from. Quitting alcohol has improved my skin, for the most part, but it’s not perfect. I’ve still got rosacea, I’ve still got spots (thanks, ancestors), I’ve still got hair that goes from fluffy to greasy in 15 minutes flat. There are so many things about my body that can – and do – make me unhappy, feeling frustrated that things aren’t going the way I want them to go fast enough … but do you know what HAS changed since I gave up the booze? Let. Me. Tell. You.
I know myself better. I can tell when I’m getting cranky due to fatigue, when I’m getting hangry, when I’m getting overly whelmed. I can make the difference between what makes me unhappy about my body because it stops me comfortably doing or wearing something, and what makes me unhappy because of the fucking patriarchy and media and advertisements and shite and the people who buy into it and repeat it (myself included). I can catch myself in the negative habit loops and change shit up, stopping myself before I fall too far down a rabbit hole. I practise gratitude regularly, as much as the idea of it made me want to gag when I first started it. I “check in with myself” frequently – it does not come naturally to me, but it is a VERY effective defence mechanism against cumulative overwhelm or stress or burnout or rundown. I set alarms, I have people who call me out and call me in. I have more patience. I am more zen (I am not always zen. I still sometimes want to take a screwdriver to those who annoy me, but I don’t). I preach love and gentle strength for and towards all, and yet I still sometimes find myself holding onto resentment for those who live on such a different political plain to me that I can’t fully see them as humanE (that e is important). But I can see myself and my inconsistencies and insecurities, and I have enough clarity, humility and patience with myself to do the work. I have to constantly remind myself to come back to self, to come back to light and to breathe through it, but I do. I have to remember what is mine to hold, and what is not, and I don’t always remember in time, but I’m getting better at it. And I’m allowing myself to get better at it because I have proven to myself the things that I can do. I can do hard things. I can breathe through it and/or hold my breath til I get to the other side. I can ask for help when and where I need it. I can change my life in a thousand amazing ways in just over a year – I can do this, too.
So as much as I am not comfortable being the poster person for spotty chubby sobriety, for not always getting it right despite doing more and more work in the field, it’s time to put my mouth where my money is (wait what?). Here I am. Now sitting with a buggered back, digesting FAR too much mushroomy pasta and wondering whether I have the energy to make breakfast (tonight really, you know what’s what) biscuits or if I should go to a bakery in the morning instead and just live with a little pang for sugar tonight. We’ll see! You are loved. Hold onto your little monsters - both internal and external – they are deserving of all the love, gentleness and hand holding we can provide.
If you were looking for a sign to recommit to not drinking alcohol, at least for November – let this be it. Do not drink booze in November. Do not booze through the new locking down. Do not drink booze to get you through the election or the confinement or the aftermath or the worry, it will not help. Do not drink booze to ‘celebrate’ Thanksgiving or get over a loss or a fear or a celebration. Do not make yourself weak so other people can feel strong. Find your strength, whether it is in your arms or your legs or your words or your heart or your convictions or your voice or your attitude – find it, hold onto it, and use it to make and be the change you want, and we need, to see in the world. Don’t have the first one, it’s never enough, so it’s always too many.
I love you all. <3