Against the wind

Self reflection and self improvement naturally follow after becoming sober. The thing I need to realise is to stop trying to do it all at once. To stop trying so hard. The process is a lifetime commitment. The mission does not finish on Tuesday next week. There is no endgame. It is not a race for perfection. It is not a race at all. If I try running for the rest of my life I will end up with stitch in my side and collapsed in a heap unable to breathe. I need to walk. I need to rest. I need to reflect. And then repeat in no particular order. It won’t be a straight path so there is no point in rushing ahead quickly. It might be the wrong path. If I were to compare anyone else with me it would only be with my former self and my current self and wonder about my future self. No one else needs to enter into the sphere and that is why it’s called self improvement.

I set myself a task for this month of June: To walk every day. I wasn’t very specific with the terms. I didn’t say how far I needed to walk. I didn’t say that it had to be outside but I implied that. The walk was to be outside, to get myself into fresh air and have a moment in nature. Again the nature part was implied. If I were to write the task now it would read as follows: To walk my Buddy every day outside to a park or a Pokestop. Who is Buddy and what is a Pokestop? Well my motivation to walk is the app PokemonGo and become Level 40. To do that I need to collect Pokemon, battle and evolve Pokemon. The entire game is designed around encouraging introverts to get outside and walk. It’s working. I don’t think the designer had fifty year olds in mind when he made the game. It was for youngsters. I’m still young at heart.

I missed a day walking because I was exhausted. The last day of May I walked a ridiculously long way and completely knackered myself. I didn’t give myself a rest. My body decided for me. I felt guilty for taking a day off after only a few days into the challenge. I felt like I had let myself down. For most of the day I kept wondering if I could go and do it and then deciding no. I wasted a lot of mind time on a decision that I didn’t take lightly. I gave myself a hard time because I had given myself a task and I had already broken my streak so soon. I was disappointed in myself.

Disappointment came because I was striving for the wrong thing. Disappointment came because I focused on the perfection of the perfectly crossed off days in a row. What I should have been focused on was the simple act of getting outside and walking. I missed a day. So what. Big deal. It happens. Get back out there and do it the next day. Keep trying. I am learning not to beat myself up with a gap in my habit tracker. It happened. I keep going.

My method up till now in life has been full speed ahead, a snail’s pace or stop. I haven’t managed to figure out that continuous regular pace or effort. Consistency. That’s the word I’m looking for, yes, consistency. To achieve this I must face boredom.

Before long with my walking challenge the walking route that I have chosen will become easy and I will become restless to change it up. If I continue with the route that becomes too easy I will become bored with it and that might cause me to stop walking completely. In order for the walking challenge to work I need to keep changing the route or location to relieve my boredom. For now I happy to continue the same route because i am getting my body used to this new shock of a routine, movement out in the fresh air. It is still a novelty for me. The boredom of the route hasn’t set in yet but I am almost there. After a few more days and I know I need to change it up. I know myself.

I used to make every excuse under the sun not to exercise. It’s too windy. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. It’s too early. I can’t be bothered. I had associated the wind with excuses so much that I began to dislike the wind. Today I can say that I enjoy the wind on my face. I am embracing the wind. The wind doesn’t hold any excuse now for me not to go outside. I put on a hat, cover my ears and close the door behind me. I have a new relationship with the wind, a good one.

Back to boredom. Not every day that I walk will be wonderful. Some days I imagine it will be very ordinary, boring most likely. The role of the walk is as regular exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The long game is my good health. The walk is one part of it. I will find some parts of walking boring. I know I will. I need to be ready for that. I need to make walking more desirable or the reward more desirable. I don’t have all the answers yet but I am working on that. Exploring new places will make walking more desirable. What do I do when the weather turns nasty? What makes for a good reward when the end of June rolls around? No idea yet. I will ponder this on my next walk.

Sober as a double knotted shoelace.

Day 51

Being sober is the easy part. The decision to become sober was difficult. Finding what to do next and how to do it is the struggle. More the “how” really.

I am sober but the habits that surrounded the alcohol are still with me. Tidying and cleaning, basically housework in general is not something I excel at. Our home looks lived in. It is not a show home. It has books and comfortable couches and day beds. It has things scattered on the floor. It is not ready for visitors or guests. That’s okay for now.

I used to strive for perfection. Then I realised that it was ridiculous. I still try but not to the extent I used to do. I overdo things and need a gentle nudge to stop trying to do everything at once. I am finding more peace with dropping perfection, guilt, paranoia and regret. These things I dropped before becoming sober. Anxiety is still with me but in a much weaker form. Depression is with me too but I recognise it, accept it and have learnt to live with it better. Fear is still with me. Fear is holding me back. I know this. I recognise this. I aim to challenge myself and make the fear smaller or contained. First though comes care. I need better care before I can face fear.

The past two years I chose to face things. Facing something is scary. It is easier to postpone, to look elsewhere. It is difficult to face something but once faced it removes a brick in the wall that surrounds yourself. It allows you to find lightness, makes it easier to breathe.

Facing something allows you to move on.

Insomnia is taking a hint and edging towards her packed bags at the door. I am managing to get to sleep by about 2am. Huge improvements for me. I took a bath with Epsom salts, 2 cups worth and soaked while reading a book with tea and a nice candle. It was relaxing. I had forgotten the magnesium in Epsom salts. Magnesium sulphate, of course. One source of increasing my magnesium.

Accidentally kicked my Epsom salts glass jar in the bathroom a few weeks ago. Sober. Glass and salt everywhere. Yikes. That stopped my habit dead. I want a replacement jar for it but something unbreakable. Zip lock bag will have to suffice for now. The jar was in the corner out of the way I thought but my foot found it regardless. Clumsiness is still with me.

I made it to the gym once this week. I did mini habits twice. I am eating better. I am enjoying homemade toasted muesli and adding more fruit and vegetables to my life. My weight is going down. The scales are showing me numbers that I haven’t seen in months. A healthier me is beginning to show.

Reading is my rock. Non fiction, fiction, doesn’t really matter. My list of books to read is getting longer and my tangents are dividing as I explore further. Learning and leisure is for everyone.

Progress made. Half way through this week I got lost but I found my way back again. Onwards.

4pm Uneasiness

Today I feel uneasy. Why? I upset someone with my own stupid words. If I could take it back I would but I can’t. It is too late. The words escaped. They are gone. They are not forgotten.

Perfection is not who I am. I don’t claim to be or aim to be perfect. I would like to feel a little less stupid today. All I can do is forgive myself. Get over it and try to be better next time. Dwelling on it will not improve the situation or my mood. Dwelling on it makes everything worse.

Moving on. I am trying with an uneasiness in my stomach. Or my big toe. Where ever my feelings are supposed to be. I don’t know.

Living sober is a challenge. Today I feel it heavier than other days. I gobbled chocolate yesterday like it was a feast. Did I need so many? Does anyone need chocolate? Of course not. I wanted one, then two then one of each kind, then another. Written down on paper it looks gluttonous. Because it was!

Moderation. Remember. That is why we are writing this. Because I cannot moderate myself. I do not want to substitute chocolate for alcohol. That’s like ripping a bandage off and wrapping a marshmallow over the wound with plastic wrap as a replacement. Not that I’ve ever tried doing that ever.

Being kind to oneself is for everyday not just special occasions. The little things count. A cup of tea. A bath. A book. A film. A time to write thoughts. A log fire. A walk. Time spent with a loved one. Time spent with a pet. A song. A smile. A laugh. A nap. Breathe.