NOT TRUE! Haha. Gotchaaa….. 😉 I haven’t nailed sobriety, it’s not really something that you just do. I haven’t clicked some switch. I didn’t ‘figure it out’ and just stop. It was hard work. But that’s not true really. It isn’t was it is. It IS hard work. But hard in a different kind of way than before.
I don’t have to keep myself away from pubs anymore and live in an alcohol-free home, locked in alone at night teaching myself to sew from youtube to distract myself from the fact that 1000’s of people are out-on-the-town having ‘fun’ and getting wasted and I’m missing out on all of it.
I don’t have bi- weekly meltdowns anymore about my ‘lost life’ and a deep shuddering fear of the unknown abyss, of sober life. Fear is largely about the unknown and because I know exactly what the sober life is like now, I’m no longer afraid (I’m scared of different things).
Sober living is nearly as shit-filled as the drunk life – but with a lot less lost credit cards to replace, people to apologise to and bruises to heal. Pain doesn’t cease when you sober up and stop active drug use; I’m sorry to spoil the dream – the verdict is in – when active addiction is over, suffering isn’t – that remains.
You move past one kind of suffering and dive into a whole new kind. One where you have to confront your demons, your memories, your mind, other people and a world of badly conditioned internal narratives and behaviour patterns. It’s a fucking minefield. In the beginning I really did think maybe I should go crawl back into my K-hole and snort myself into a delirium to forget about all this ‘dealing with shit’ shit.
I did feel like that for the first 12-18 months, like seriously guys – WTF am I doing and why is this so hard. Why the hell am I trying to do this – I had to battle hard, long and hard, to keep in the front of my mind the reasons I wanted this, to keep reminding myself with stories of hope that gave me the impetus to change, in the beginning, along with countless hours spent crying, sitting in NA and AA meetings and hiding in my bed, I had a very simple and beloved list that helped me stay strong. And I called it the Sanity List.
I haven’t really evolved past the sanity list after nearly 4 years being clean. I still have it – the difference is that these days it is a lot longer because after some serious introspection and self-observation it became impossible not to admit and somehow accept that I have more shortcomings than I previously thought….shock shock horror… and so, the list of things I need to remember to think, do, learn and experience is longer now.
In the past it said, remember to take – wallet, keys, phone, packed lunch. Now it says – eat, sleep, be grateful, go for a walk, rest, be kind, dance, draw, enjoy, meditate, be generous, etc etc and it grows and evolves as I learn what I need to do to keep myself afloat.. And then, slowly as the days go by I forget I have a list and my world begins to fall apart and then at some point I realise I’m about to come on my period and that is probably why I feel tornado emotional, then I, at some other point, also remember the list, find it, read it, start doing the things that it tells me to do and slowly start feeling better and finding those pockets of bliss that we seek and also just feel a lot less miserable.
Because most of the things on the list are ‘new’ and things that I accepted only recently as being the key to staying grounded, centred, in some sort of balance and that help create an enjoyable experience of life. I still need reminding – daily. I’m trying to slowly recondition half a lifetime of living like a dick-head with little to no self-respect or ability to look after myself, although I would never have admitted it at the time, and to become a better person and live a life I love or at least respect and want to have.
It has taken a long time to just ‘know’ instinctively what to do and what I need. In the beginning of my ‘clean time’ I felt like a first-time mother alone with a baby that I wasn’t totally sure I wanted or could love. I had no idea what to do and how to survive and I was terrified. Absolutely terrified. How would I live without my vices and without my old patterns. I knew I needed new ones, but I had not idea what they should be. You can ask the internet what to do but it’s a shitpit of bad information and can be trusted almost as much as an addicts internal-narrative-manipulation-mind. People say trust your instinct, but when that’s been shot to shit by years of snorting shit and shooting the shit and your internal compass is completely bent out of shape – what do you do? It’s scary. You have to get brave. You have to try new things, meet new people, explore new places, learn new skills and be honest with yourself about how you feel.
It turns out you have to experiment a lot to find out what works for you – no one can give you the answer – what works for her doesn’t work for him or me or my mother and so, taking people’s advice or copying what they do isn’t really the way to go. You have to become an adventurer and a scientist. Out in the wild, experimenting. But a small-stepping cautious adventurer that takes lots of breaks and rest and sleeps a lot and hopefully has a strong community of people to support you in the process.
You need to take a little bite of something, then sit and try and really really listen to the body and what it’s telling you – not listen to the brain that’s polluted with your past – listen to your gut, your insides and ask – how does this feel?! Is this conducive to the life I want to live – does this support me? Does this respect me and my choices? And if it doesn’t you have to be strong enough to leave it and walk away.
And so, when you do find something you like or that you know works or feels good, or doesn’t feel completely awful – write it DOWN – write it on a fucking post-it and put it on your mirror babes! Or hide the post-it notes if you live with ‘normal’ people who you don’t want to know that you need a post-it note reminder to get you to empty your mooncup – you found that out the hard way doing handstands in the gym didn’t you…mmm hmmm, we know.
Keep a journal – make lists, write this stuff down in a spreadsheet, whatever works for you. I write it down and then hope to god I don’t lose the paper. I take a photo and make copies and write things in books that I also hope I won’t lose. In reality I’ve got reminders everywhere now and that makes life a lot easier. I have buddha pictures here and there to remind me to be kind and compassionate, cook books all around to inspire my food, yoga mats craftily left out on the floor the night before so that when you wake up you know what you must do. I have inspiration quotes written on study cards scattered around the house and funny postcards of cats and weird cartoons that make me laugh in places I can see them – and then before you know it you were about to cry on the kitchen floor with the peanut butter in your lap because you think the rest of the world is having fun on a Friday night and you’re the only one home alone without a cat – and then you see that postcard of a cat in a wig with the brilliant caption and you cannot help but start laughing and then snorting whilst intermittently spooning peanut butter into your happy mouth. And then things are a little better. You might even put the peanut butter away (or take it with you through the house because it’s FriYAY) and find that on your bedside table is a little stack of cards, with quotes from your favourite Buddhist teacher, that pull your head back out of the delusional cloud just long enough for you to remember that things aren’t that bad, you do some gratitude meditation and feel better, phone a friend because the list told you to, you listen to their worries and feel super useful, they listen to how you’re feeling and then a load is lifted from your mind. The world isn’t ending – I have a post-it somewhere that tells me that as well although I need it less regularly these days.
There is no shame in admitting we need help. And we can help ourselves. I finally, some years back, surrendered and admitted I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, I was completely miserable, I didn’t like the way I lived my life and I had no idea what I wanted. I stopped pretending I had it sorted and that life was great. I cut the crap and fell apart and then slowly slowly started shuffling through the pieces and asking for help and putting myself back together in a way that felt good and that I respected and liked.
It’s easier said than done – but it’s possible. It’s totally possible. CHANGE IS POSSIBLE. You can change your thoughts, your actions and the way you experience life. Transformation is possible. For years I didn’t think it was and had relinquished my life to the bits of doom and gloom, but when I finally opened my eyes to the living examples of people who had done it in around me – a friend and a loved one – and really listened to their stories, I was filled with hope that I could do the same. And that hope started to warm me on the inside and lift my eyes up and out and lift me to a place where I could finally start on my journey, because I believed there was a journey, where before I didn’t. With hope rekindled I started to crack and fall apart only to be able to put myself back together again – that is often how the cycle goes. Not always, but often.
And so, this is a little message to anyone that thinks there’s no hope, or that they can’t change, that it’s too late blah blah. It is not too late – it is totally possible- but it’s totally scary and you might turn out to be a peanut butter eating, post-it note splattering, moon-cup jiggling, freaky booty shaker, Buddhist obsessive that ends up quitting the circus and learning German – who ever wanted to learn German?! – and you might realise that you don’t actuallylike pubs, grimey clubs, smoking, binge eating until your sick, being hungover and in debt all the time and pissing people off or whatever it is you do now….
You might have to come to terms with a completely different life – and that is amazingly exciting – I have created a life I love, slowly, patiently and somewhat painfully, and it is the best thing that I’ve ever done. And it’s fucking hard. As I say I haven’t nailed it, not nearly, but I’ve got some golden tips and books to recommend and practices to share. You are not alone! We are not alone. We are all in this together. You can do it!x
Do you want to develop a deeper knowledge of yoga philosophy and an understanding of the 8 limbs of Ashtanga Yoga?
As much as I can read the Yoga Mala and other texts, and do, it helps to have an aural and visual explanation. It helps me so much, to hear someone with an understanding of the theories and practice, to explain it and bring it to life. Also, I love the diagrams and little white board drawings. My brain loves infographics.
If you are interested in what yoga has to offer beyond (and including) the instagram-appealing visual postures, give it a listen. Yoga is a rich and deep philosophy for developing as a human and to ameliorate our body, our mind and our experience of the world and our impact on it!
Also, John Scott is a dude 🙂
Youtube video here
Are there any fitness classes in English in Berlin?
You Me Body Bliss is now running fitness and stretching classes in English through Urban Sports Club.
Yes! Join me on Wednesday afternoons and Friday evenings in Neukölln.
We make fitness fun and we listen to awesome music.
Body Blitz – interval training and body weight strength set to music
Stretch it out – deep stretches for the whole body, no sweat, amazing music
Booty Burner – a fast-paced fitness class set to dancehall music – twerk out
Are you an M or L member of Urban Sports Club?
Then you are welcome to join 4 or 8 of my classes each month respectively.
Not a member of USC?
Not a problem there is a drop-in rate and a monthly membership option available. Contact me to find out more 🙂
Really interesting article about probiotics and reintroduction into the diet.
Read in full here
” Your intestinal tract is a long tube filled with a lining made up of good and bad bacteria. This bacteria alone weighs three pounds, the same weight as a brick. If you spread it out flat, it would cover a tennis court. When the good bacteria is killed off from antibiotics (against life), birth control pills, GMOs, pesticides, and other damaging elements, it must be rebuilt through probiotics (for life).
Probiotic foods, such as fermented coconut water, sauerkraut, kraut juice, kefir, kombucha, yogurt, kim chi, etc. are easy to make. The biggest challenge is your own fear. In his book Wild Fermentation, Sandor Katz says there is no danger in fermenting fruits and vegetables. Most importantly there has never been a reported death to the FDA from fermented fruit and vegetable products. Fermented fish and meats are different and are susceptible to botulism.”
Read in full here
You know the moment when you’ve been lost in the flow of the dance, moving along with the rhythm on autopilot and then the music stops, the beat changes or the lights come on, you stop and feel startled, not totally sure what to do, can’t quite get back into the new beat, try, feel out of it and do the awkward dance for a while or just walk away to get a drink until something else comes on.
That’s this week for me. Nothing bad has happened, but the song has changed and my usual daily pulse is lost and I’ve been thrown off kilter. Can’t leave the dance floor though. I’m in it and I told them I’d dance to this song.
I didn’t realise how systematised my habits and body has become until I came to London to do a new job and yesterday by 7pm I was balling tears into the fridge at my brothers house claiming I wanted to go home; I couldn’t do it. I wanted my bed, my love, my home and all the things I am used to.
I can do it and today I’m fine, but I was startled and overwhelmed – this isn’t what I’m used to anymore and it’s taking me some days to adjust.
I’m getting woken up at 5am for various reasons, I’m sleeping on a sofa next to a main road with police lights flashing at my shut eyes, but I can still see the colourscape in my mind. The cat nibbles my toes. I don’t have my guitar for creative relief; I have none of my home comforts and kitchen condiments. My phone barely works and I’m reliant on over priced inconsistent London transport without the freedom of my Berlin bike. I’m inside all day as opposed to being out and about in the elements. I’m sat at a laptop and standing, watching, not moving, making, stretching and climbing like I’m used to.
This is tough for me, but when I put it down like that I know how small and so minor it is comparatively when you look at all the people in the world who are thrown from their homes for reasons beyond their control, when they didn’t choose to, to new countries, fleeing war, violence etc. I only came to London for a job and I’m struggling. I can’t even begin to imagine the feelings of the Rohingya of whom almost 500,000 have fled their homes since Aug 25th. It puts it into perspective and helps me ‘get over it’ and smile and make the most of what I’ve got, and I’ve got alot, but it’s still tough. It’s relative.
My body and system are confused. My hunger is striking, and my sleep is restless and my mind is anxious. I had sought, for years, for the habitual home-based nature of my current life, the one I’ve been carving for myself since 2015 when I jumped Circus space ship and settled in Berlin. I had never had consistency or healthy patterns. I craved it deeply and as much as I can sometimes complain that my life is too ‘regimented’ I have grown so used to the groove that it has become my foundation and it keeps me in check. I like the rhythm, and I just fit my madness, fun and adventures in between the givens of rest and sleep and food and movement.
But, this little break in pattern and trip to my old home has thrown me. I used to live like this, a nomad, with fewer possessions, in other people’s spaces, in squats, on floors, on couches, caravan floors and studios made in articulated circus lorries. I feel like it’s not for me anymore. Am I too old? I thought I would be OK and I will be, but it takes some readjusting. Luckily I am very conscious of what makes me feel OK and what I need and what I like. So, once my work is done and I’ve done what I’ve promised, I must prioritise those things that keep me ticking and smiling.
The first thing – sleep – can be resolved more easily. Ear plugs and an eye mask. Early to bed and get my full 8 hours.
Food requires some better planning and more regular trips to M&S. I’ve packed double portions today so I’m not left wanting and frantic.
Fun can be simply looking at my brother as he cracks me the fuck up. HA.
I have sent out messages to my clients today to stay close and in communication and will call my mother tonight and see an old friend tomorrow. This will keep me full – I thrive off of people and hate being disconnected from my nearest and dearest.
I will go to another early morning Ashtanga at Triyoga this week, do a yin session tonight and try and move more throughout the day when I can.
I will try and track down a guitar to tinkle on or just go for a long walk and a sing. Something to get my musical mediation time in – feeds my soul.
This is so progressive for me though!! I never used to know what I needed. I was so out of touch. I had NO idea what made me tick, what made me feel good or bad or sad or revived. I was clueless. I couldn’t look after myself and constantly set myself up for unnecessary stress and misery. Years of investigation, challenging my norms and behaviour patterns has paid off and now I have literal lists that clearly state what I need, what I value, what I want and what I enjoy, because I forget and need reminding sometimes.
So, yesterday when I panic-stationed and freaked out, I calmed myself down my talking to someone about how I felt and thankfully they were supportive and listened. I did some deep breathing, let myself feel how I felt for a while but didn’t let it consume me, I just said – I feel like shit, I’m hungry and tired and want to go home – I didn’t ignore it, I had a massive cry until it was gone and then, I looked at my list of what I need to feel OK, sat down and made a plan about how to go about getting all of them. And boom. Things are better. Crisis averted. I didn’t run away like I felt like doing or lash out at someone or go to the pub. My old tactics. I have been building new frame works for dealing with life and they are paying off. So far so good. Today is way better than yesterday. Winning.
The journey continues.