How would you describe your first tentative steps into recovery? How did you make it through? How fragile were you?
It is hard to clearly recall much of my first few months in recovery as I spent most of my time in a groggy haze and a whirlwind of emotions. Dizzy mood swings took me through fear, extreme change, exhilarating gratitude, guilt, self loathing, pride, loneliness, depression and self doubt all at the same time. I felt vulnerable for the first time since my schooldays. “I can't go on” was an almost daily mountain in my way. Sweaty night terrors disturbed my fragile sleep, I was losing weight, appetite and strength, but I was desperate for change, I had no choice, so total was my downfall that this was my only hope.
I had expected some kind of withdrawal symptoms and a need to detoxify, but I had no idea that the residual effects would go on for so long. Physically my body could not be relied on to perform the tasks I asked. I was irritatingly clumsy and simple actions were unpredictable, mentally I was only semi conscious, logical thought became arduous, and spiritually I was nursing the tiny glint that had survived the catastrophe.
Foolishly, I thought that all I had to do was stop the drinking, the drugs, the ‘me’, ‘me’, ‘me’, then all would be fine again. I thought I could be selective in numbing my feelings, my fears. The truth was that I had numbed everything and in moments of clarity it all came rushing back, I was totally unprepared for all of that. I wanted rewards for my efforts, trumpets and cheering crowds, instead I got mercilessly beaten up by guilt, regret and shame.
I contacted the local self help group who gladly took me under their wings. My first meeting was terrifying, I questioned everything and vowed never to go back. I did however go back. In time I realized that if I side-stepped the dogma, then the fellowship of kindred spirits, with a genuine desire to help, provided me with some welcomed comfort. They accepted me, as unconventional as I was, and roared with laughter when I told them I thought my destiny was to be a rock god, but I had ended up in the Salvation Army Band.
Through these individuals I learnt that, although our paths may be different, we walk together during certain stretches, helping each other along the way, all bound to our individual destinies.
I got through my first few months, by grace more than effort, because somehow I felt ‘held’ in those moments of despair. This feeling of ‘being held’ brought with it the realization that my ‘illness’, with all its facets, was an ‘illness’ of the soul that abstinence alone would not heal. True recovery for me would only be possible by nurturing and nourishing the glint that had survived, to build up enough strength to address the hidden wounds.
Listening to my inner voice and redefining my life’s purpose reignited the flame that was completely wiped out by abuse.
At that point I felt that I wasn't just recovering from drunkenness but I had at last started to heal my wounded soul.
***If you feel that you would like to share your own experiences, I would love to hear from you.***