Carly Gets the Blahs
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
I already have a white surrender chip and today I’ve just earned my 35-day green chip. That’s huge progress. I’m amazed and proud of myself for getting this far. It’s a big deal and I didn’t think I could actually make it. I did experience the sense of accomplishment and that gave me confidence and a new found hope. I couldn’t have gone forward without that. But in all honesty, I was also feeling downright miserable.
I felt that my ‘joy level’ had peaked at an all-time low.
It was a challenge to get through each hour of the day. I kept my mind busy by constantly directing it toward some mindless activity (By the way, adult coloring books are a real Godsend). I’d take the dogs to the park for a walk; go to the store whether I needed anything or not. Then I’d go to a meeting, straighten my closet, call my sponsor and eat a bowl of ice cream. I wasn’t well enough to work yet, but I had to keep myself busy. When all else failed, I’d go to an extra meeting that day.
I presumed I’d be going back to the way things were in the good old days before I was a drinker. It didn’t work that way for me. This new sober life was entirely different. Before my drinking days, my daily life ‘just happened’. There was an effortless flow I never had to think about. I didn’t need to plan to take a shower or think to brush my teeth or schedule to eat a meal. Now I needed great effort to direct myself to do such simple things. My mom would sometimes laugh at the absurdity of forgetting to take a shower – but in a way that made me laugh, too.
The most important goal at this point became learning how to put my sobriety first – above all else. Because without sobriety, there is nothing else.
To that end, my mom and I moved into an apartment that allowed my dogs and was just down the street from my AA home group meeting. This is the first conscious priority I made in order to restructure my new life in sobriety. If my clunker of a car couldn’t make it to a meeting, I would still be able to get there. Next, I planned my dog walks and meals around my meetings.
My meetings became the prime focus of every day. Everything else was secondary.
Since I couldn’t work or handle social activities yet, this was the key to restructuring my life. This was my way out of the old life and into the new, one baby step at a time. Every thought, choice, decision, change or consideration now began with: Put My Sobriety First.
I felt myself clinging to my daily structure. It became my strength. I’d call my sponsor every day and never miss a meeting. I’d walk my dogs frequently, shower every morning, clean my room, grocery shop and prepare some simple meals so I could get back to eating again. Blah, blah, blah. I established a very boring life, but at least it was a sober one.
I’d go early to every meeting so I could sit and chat with Charlene, my newbie best friend. This got me connected to others and that made all the difference. I began to feel half-human. I started wearing make-up and styling my hair again. When sharing at meetings, I would open up a part of myself and people began to know me. To my amazement, they didn’t act repulsed or judgmental. They were all so genuinely kind and caring. They asked me how I was doing and gave me encouraging words. Somehow this gave me a new inner strength.
By the time I picked up my six-month chip, I could see how a few simple habits created a whole new life for me. It isn’t the drama-driven excuse for excitement like my old life, but it does have its perks. It did eventually lead me into a peaceful and purpose-driven life, but that comes a bit later – and I’ll be so glad to share that with you another time.
Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important.”