Today I am sober 50 days. Everything is starting to fall into place, I’m getting stronger, and I really feel I’ve got a handle on my life. All is good – apart from the fact that I’ve been ghosted (again). I’m trying really hard to not let it get me down, feel disappointed, or even surprised, but it does hurt and it’s one of the emotions that should come with their own warning lights and siren. The ones that I like to swerve, because they’re too painful and raw, and historically I’ve always dealt with them through the medium of wine – then come at them like a raging bull.
So I’ve made coffee, come back to bed, booted up the laptop and started to write.
I started counselling last week at the Women’s Centre. I like to think of these sessions as my “all rounder” counselling, where I can talk about any shit whatsoever, without thinking: hang on, this doesn’t relate to drinking, bereavement, or the attack. It’s a place where I can just open up about anything that’s on my mind that day, and work out where it’s coming from, how it’s affecting my mental health in general, and what can we do to avoid it taking me closer to a relapse.
Bearing in mind Wednesday was my first session, my new therapist summed me up pretty well: ‘so you’re very good at distracting yourself from certain emotions, but not so good at facing up to them’. Spot on, doctor.
Over the last year, I’ve become very adept at articulating my story to therapists – probably as a result of having 7 repeat mental health assessments since last December – and understanding where certain behaviours come from. I’ve even started learning from mistakes and relapses (only taken 33 years, like). But for certain subjects, when there’s the slightest whiff of them being brought up in conversation, or a question directed about how I feel about them, I recoil in panic and get that sickening feeling in my stomach which I now know is cortisol sending me into flight mode. I still can’t do it, mainly because I’m scared about what might happen I face them head on and accept them for what they are.
I’ve realised it’s the same with music. In the last couple of weeks I’ve discovered Melissa and Jade’s Hooked podcast on the BBC. I was listening to the second episode while walking to my volunteer placement at Sue Ryder, yesterday, and they were discussing the power of music throughout addiction and recovery. One of the songs they played was a more acoustic version of ‘Took a Pill in Ibiza’, and by the end of it I was sobbing my way through town like a total nut job. The lyrics ‘you don’t want to be high like me’ had struck a chord, and reinforced that overwhelming feeling of loneliness and despair you get with addiction, when everyone thinks you’re being selfish and indulgent but really all you’re trying to do is drown out the unbearable pain that you feel inside.
I’ve stopped listening to music while in recovery. Completely subconsciously. But I’m starting to wonder whether it’s been a self-inflicted defence mechanism? Music is powerful, and does stir up a huge amount of emotion within me – both good and bad – but like with recovery, you’ve got to be careful of all things good and bad, as either can set you down the path of self-destruction again. Christmas 2017 during one of my most serious and almost successful attempts of drinking myself to death, I went through 6GB of data, just listening to music. Without the drink, I’m missing my protective shield, so find it difficult to listen to anything emotive. It’s like I’m protecting myself with ignorance – or fantasy – so I don’t have to face up to how I’m really feeling or the reality of certain situations. If I can’t see or hear it, I can’t feel it, which therefore means it’s not there. Totally fucked up and deluded – but that’s addiction for you.
So as far as being ghosted. I’m not setting myself back because of it. At least I can say I’ve changed, in that respect.