800 Days!!!!

Today we celebrate our patron Saint of Ireland St.Patrick!
However we are still under a level 5 lockdown so will be no actual parades, no drinking in pubs and so on.
Not drinking in a pandemic is hard. So today is just another day for me. It is hard because as is the same for most people all the normal things in life do not exist right now like work, travelling to see family, seeing friends, going to the gym or swim. All the supports that had been put in place. So other supports have had to be found to stay sober.
Breaking up has also been so so hard. Still feeling and going through the pain of that right now. And what I’ve found I can do about it is nothing. Like everything else just have to go through it. What I have had to remind myself is my feelings are valid. I tend to sometimes lessen my feelings because in this situation it was my choice. But it doesn’t matter, the pain and the hurt is no greater or less. It cannot be measured. I have to forgive myself and feel all the feelings surrounding this loss and not pick up a drink.
I have thought about alcohol more than ever. It is the numbing effect I crave. I have had to choose daily to stay sober. Remind me of all the hard work that I have done to get here. Here being to know me this much, to know myself in this body and not to hate it. I read recently “your body is your ally build it up don’t knock it down and treat it with kindness”

I have now had 800 days in a row of no drink, drugs or nicotine. Even if I do sometimes think about drinking this really is the best life. My best life. I really love being sober and present. The feelings might be tough at times but the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

I’ve been doing a lot of work in therapy recently with my inner child. Letting them know they are safe now. Taking their hand walking, sometimes carrying them through past trauma. I never realised how vital this work is until now. I guess it is mothering my inner child maybe befriending them too. It maybe sounds cliched to some and that’s okay. But for me its work I need to do to stay sober, to feel safe, to live fully in my body. I have now been going to somatic therapy for two years. Probably over 100 sessions! That’s dedication! Mostly I want to go, although last week I did not. Sometimes showing up to do the work is exhausting and I feel a bit resentful. So I show up and tell my therapist this and cry and get it out. And I don’t always feel better afterwards but I always feel like I’ve worked on something that has needed time. And in therapy, it is the time its the one hour a week I can be so so vulnerable and safe. I’m thankful to have found a great therapist that I can safely do the work with. How precious.

Taking my child by the hand..

I’m meditating daily and I do still try to do a 5km a day walk. Both help me so so much to stay grounded, mindful, thankful for all I have, healthy and to breathe more easily. I have also done a lot of nothing in the past week. I have had to be still and just feel it all. Sometimes this is the hardest thing and sometimes I’m self-critical and tell myself to get up and get out and stop crying!! However, we can NOT pick and chose when we feel grief and for what(it could be really old like intergenerational for example) It’s so important to be gentle with ourselves… Grief comes like waves. It does not care about how much time has passed…
I hope as you read this YOU are well and thank you for reading.

Keep Shining🙏🌈💚

Learning to swim

Walking Amidst the Trees

The Struggle Is Real.

Getting sober is one thing but staying sober is another.

And staying sober during a pandemic is another

Right now I’m finding it tough.
I have had many urges to get wasted recently.
I have cried myself to sleep with the pain of grief and letting go.
I am healing and its hard and vulnerable.
Part of me does want to run away and numb it all you know?

When the majority of people think someone is so hero-like, but to you they where someone who hurt you, that is so tough.
My truth is not reflected back to me.


This requires so much self-love and care. To NOT take it on board and NOT feel shame and blame around it.
And in those times I do feel shame and blame around it to just feel it, allow it and process it.

In therapy, it feels like going over the same stuff sometimes. The same trauma. However, it is different because of its different layers and each time I am trusting my body more and more. It knows what to do and what it needs to do. Somatic work is huge and I continue to learn what it means each time I show up.
So much letting go recently in my life and its challenging and feels raw.

I just checked on my app and today its 780 days of not drinking or smoking anything. It is a huge achievement. And one I needed to read just now.
I can’t go to a real AA meeting in person but I know I need to go to an online one. Pull in on all the resources that I still have available.
I’m writing this for those struggling today. I am too.
And I see you and all I can say is just hold on for today because that is what I’m going to do.
My truth and my voice(just like yours) are just as important now as then when I couldn’t speak up and out.
I am learning and growing in my power amid all the tears and pain, healing is happening.

I am thankful to have the Fairy Woods close.
Today.

Thanks for reading

*Keep Shining* 🙏🌈💖

Two Years Free!!

My sober 45 year old self!

So today its two years now since I quit alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana too!
When I read other people days,months and years I’m always so amazed and like WOW that’s a lot of days together. But when I see mine in my app I’m not so amazed and in awe! I’m not sure why but I have some ideas. Us Irish and maybe not just the Irish are not good at celebrating their achievements and taking praise or compliments. For example when someone comments on an item of clothing we brush it off and say “ah sure it was only cheap from such and such a shop”!!
I feel like Catholic Ireland has always taught me and us that pride is a sin!! So maybe that’s why I find it difficult to feel pride in myself.
But what does feeling proud of oneself feel like? What is the sensation in the body?
A month into my recovery like I’ve written before I found myself a therapist to work with. Not a talk therapist but a somatic one. So I try describe sensations in the body..So for me, pride feels like light. Its a feeling of being relaxed in my body,warm and spacious. Being sober also gives me these feelings. Drinking made me heavy inside and a feeling of being suffocated. So did smoking but I think that’s more to do with the fact I was suffocating my lungs. Today I can certainly say I am breathing more easily.

Two years in one day at a time I have not found it all easy going no. I’ve had to get real and dig deep into all the stuff I numbed with my addictions..This is an ongoing process and necessary one. Layers exist. Sometimes layers exist around the same issue and when I think I have dealt with something enough, another layer will become clear. This is the showing up. This is the driving weekly to therapy a 90 min round trip. I am thankful for this journey. It has given me so so much, some of which I will share now.

I have a 12 step programme. One that’s tried tested and works if it’s worked at! I find this extremely beneficial as the way the 12 Steps are structured gives me a purpose. Also means I now have a sponsor whom I can ask to help me with the programme. Step 8 is “made a list of all persons we had harmed,and became willing to make ammends. This is important to me. To my recovery and peace of mind. As are all 12 steps…

I have a hangover free body and mind every single morning I wake up. I am not sick with drink anymore ever. This is one of my favourite things about being sober. I was sick of feeling sick. Now I’m free in myself..its the biggest reward.

I have and am attempting to pay my debt. It feels wonderful to be able to pay bills on time. It feels wonderful to be able to treat myself and my loved ones. Before I would always have a choice to make, pay the bill or part of it and fund my addiction. That does not happen now.

I’m not running away anymore. Before I ran away alot. Now I try my best to face everything. Not all at once but little by little step by step… being vulnerable is a strength. Not a weakness.

At the start of therapy, it was suggested i gather things together that i like to do that are beneficial. I draw on these resources when i need them which is daily.
They have kept me sober and sane.
Swimming is one of them and now with the pool closed for Level 5, I will have to use other resources. Unless i want to swim in the very cold lake!!!
That’s life in pandemic times. We don’t know what will happen next but I know I have many resources to draw upon. This writing being another one. Which I don’t need anything for really. A pen and paper I guess and a laptop and internet if I want to share via my blog.

Walking is another one and thankfully can still do that. Sadly without my beloved Star who I miss every day still. She was a joy giver, especially on walks with her stick carrying antics! Walking can be so boring now!! So I’ve got myself a pair of Bluetooth headphones and started listening to podcasts or music. This helps me. Star is still with us always in our hearts never to be forgotten. So lucky to have had a dog so perfect!!

Reading would be another resource I use daily. I do like to read other peoples stories on how they got and stayed sober. Some of my favourites are: The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Grey, Recovery by Russell Brand and Glorious Rock Bottom by Bryony Gordon.
I also read The Big Book from AA and The Twelve Steps and 12 Traditions.
I will read whatever I find hopeful and helpful so it’s varied and wide!!
And of course, I read other stuff too that is not about not drinking!! Untamed By Glennon Doyle was a recent favourite and I highly reccomend it.

Another resource I want to write about is meditation.
This one helps me the most. It takes me back to the here and now. It takes me to my breath to the oneness of stillness. Quiets the mind and makes me feel still and full of calmness throughout my whole body.
I use a free app called Insight Timer and would highly recommend it. So much goodness contained in one app!! I need to meditate daily. Some days I don’t but when I do it daily,it only adds to my day. It is true for meditation what they also say about swimming “you never regret it”!!

Finally seeing and hearing other peoples journeys is so encouraging to me. Without other people sharing their own story I’m not sure I would be getting through mine. So for those on their journeys and casting out their light, I thank you so so much. You are an inspiration to me and I see you!!

This is one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite authors Brene Brown which feels appropriate here.

“If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion, I am not interested in or open to your feedback. There are a million cheap seats in the world today filled with people who will never be brave with their own lives, but will spend every ounce of energy they have hurling advice and judgement at those of us trying to dare greatly. Their only contributions are criticism, cynicism, and fear-mongering. If you’re criticizing from a place where you’re not also putting yourself on the line, I’m not interested in your feedback”

One day at a time. They will and do all add up.

Keep shining.🙏🌈💖

Walking in the Jauary sunshine!
My favourite prayer

Finding my light…

When I was in my twenties I did find a way to not drink for some time. I was introduced to AA by a friend who saw my drinking as a problem.
I got involved with all aspects of its active service and so on. I loved the community aspect of it that it felt like having a family. I do not remember ever having a real connection to my body at that time. In a lot of ways, it felt like someone else’s life, to be honest, and that I was going through the motions. I wanted to fit in, to be a better Mum, person, friend and so on. It was very little to do with myself.
I’m not sure how long I lasted I think it was maybe 18 months. It is 20 years ago now! I can’t recall exactly what happened but I can say for certain that I picked up the first drink.

That one drink led to drinking on and off for another 20 years. When I write that down it amazes me because I see how very little control I had over it.
All of my drinking after that was in the full knowledge that I had a problem and yet I couldn’t seem to stop or I didn’t have enough willpower too. So I tried different ways to control it. Only drinking at weekends, drinking stout, drinking beer or wine or cider. Only drinking from a certain time in the evening. Which drink can I feel less sick with sore with function better on? Which drink can I present myself to the world on… I believe its called a functioning alcoholic.


It did not get any better the more time went on. I had many rock bottoms and continued to drink. I drove on drink, tried to shoplift alcohol and was caught. I lost many jobs because of my inability to keep good time. One job I drank the night before I started a brand new job. I went to the pub for two pints to unwind the nerves(the stories we tell ourselves!) and be home early. Of course, I could not stop after two. I was way too hungover and sick to go to the job and so I lost it. I remember I attended a funeral where whiskey was served. I mostly managed to stay away from spirits but not that evening. I drank some and then some more. Eventually, I blacked out. I woke up on my sofa half-naked and with a black eye not remembering what had happened. Nobody had hurt me only myself that time.


I need to remember these times. This is what one drink led to and this is only what I’m comfortable sharing here. . Alcohol enabled me to function but never live. I was only living for the next drink and that’s the sad truth. With the drink came nicotine and marijuana when I could get it. I loved being comfortably numb…I was consumed. And it allowed me to shut off from any trauma I was still feeling or not wanting to feel in my body. I did not know that at the time but I have learned and now understand it better. For the last couple of years of my drinking Id had enough.

My body had had enough. I had turned 40. No matter what I drank it almost always refused to stay in my body. Such a waste of alcohol I thought then.My liver hurt. Everything hurt. I would be out of breath waking up my stairs to bed. I had a persistent cough and even took an asthmatic inhaler at times to help me breath. As much as I tried to ignore my body as it was screaming out I was sick of feeling sick. Things got in the way for a while…A wedding, a birthday party a Christmas! How could I ever get sober before any of these occasions?


I began to notice certain people. The sober people I hadn’t noticed before. I saw them even on social media and I saw their light and I wanted that. They shone and they didn’t hide the fact that they didn’t drink. For so long I thought there was shame in the not drinking that it had to keep a secret. The shame was all caught up in the drinking, not in the stopping drinking!!
Christmas 2018 I tried to drink a little as possible. I failed. I drank at some stage and it carried over for a few days.

But on January 5th 2019 something happened. The easiest way to describe it is this.
Step One: Admitted we were powerless over alcohol that our lives had become unmanageable. When I did this step I believed in it so I also included nicotine and the green stuff. Why would I want to hold onto either addiction? So I admitted I was powerless of all of it.
Step Two: Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step Three: Decided to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him
.
I always believed in the existence of a God so step two and three from the 12 steps were workable for me. Whatever it is about turning my life over to the care of a higher power it has worked for me as I have not picked up a drink since that day. Recently I have started praying again more. For different people mainly and myself. Sometimes well often it is the only thing I can do. And I find solace in the that. A lot has been taken away during this pandemic but prayer remains and I find it hopeful. I also find it hopeful that it feels like I got another chance. The chance I didn’t fully take that I was not ready for in my twenties came around again. In between I managed to not die,not kill anyone or end up in prison and so on. Sure I have amends to make I made mistakes that cost. I wish I’d done better and so on. But I was suffering and only able to do what I could at that time.

Forgiveness is a big part of recovery going forward. Feeling into that not being consumed by guilt and forgiving myself. Recognising Allow Investigate and Nurture is a great resource I’ve been using by Tara Brach an amazing author and meditation teacher.
I’m greatly encouraged still by people I’ve grown closer to in recovery those who continue to shine there light and live there best lives too.
I like the idea of shining my light out now that I’m finding it.
Hoping as you read this your light is glowing.
Shine on

Shine On

650 Days Free!!!

The light coming in….

Today i feel more free and light then i ever have before.

I feel like I am coming home to myself and that is not an easy thing for me to say without a part of me wanting to laugh at how ridiculous it sounds. That part is only protecting me and only recently did I realise that.

For so long I numbed my pain and with that my joy and my light. Feeling my pain,dealing with my past has allowed me to let the light in too!!!

I have continued to see my somatic therapist weekly to work through a lot of issues. My issues are mostly around shame and blame. I have held onto them in my body for way to long and found unhealthy ways to not cope!! This is the hardest work. Sometimes I want to run away. Sometimes during the sessions i feel physically ill. This is the work that allows the cracks to appear to let the light in. And let the light out.

Last month i celebrated my 45th Birthday. It was my 2nd Birthday completely sober. I do not remember having been able to do anything last year. I was like a new born baby having to wrap myself up in a soft cotton blanket and really really mind myself. This year was a small window of opportunity right around the time of my birthday to do something in between what has now become level 3 lock down and no leaving the county again!!

I booked my first ever hand poked tattoo by an amazing artist in Dublin and planned to maybe go to old home town,see family and see as many friends as possible..The thing about sobriety is you can do whatever you want. You are never too hungover to do it!! I felt brave enough to drive into Dublin City centre for the first time.Usually i would get the bus or train.Mostly so i could have a drink on the way. I felt really proud of myself for doing this new thing.For sitting in traffic by the river liffey and not freaking out and for knowing yeah i got this!!

Having a hand poked tattoo on my birthday eve was an amazing experience. I have something on my skin that feels like its always been there and its to represent Star. It felt like my skin was being embroidered!! It is a lot less painful and the healing time is so quick!!

Birthday Ink!

After i had my ink i went to my favourite doughnut shop and bought vegan doughnuts for me and my friend who i would see later. I walked around for a while…ate a burrito probably the best one id ever tasted. I bought myself a beautiful bottle of perfume that smells like oak and the sea and aliveness. Smelled exactly how i felt.

I did exactly what i wanted and went exactly where i needed to go. I felt uneasy about going into certain environments so I didnt. My choices may have caused some disappointment but that is okay. I have realised in sobriety that your sobriety has to come first. Dont risk it to please others and do as they want. The outcome may make them happy but how will you be after.

On the actual day of my birthday i went out for lunch with 3 friends. Two of them id usually see over the summer camping but because of covid we couldnt have that particular camp. One of them has been sober for almost 25 years!! She is a legend to me!! I find such inspiration in her.She is a light that shines and says hey i done it so can you. Our lunch was amazing the food too. Laughter. Belly aching laughter you know. Real deep down to the core joy. It was one of my favourite days. I received cards and gifts too which added more special!! One was a book signed by one of my favourite authors Jeanette Winterson how very lucky I am!!!

I share all this because in a short enough time of 650 days i do believe now anything is possible.

My heart is open to the endless possibilities 🙂

Yes we are in a pandemic and things are not normal. But if you are sober or trying to get sober just mind that the rest will follow. I was supposed to start a college course this year on Development and Global Human Rights Studies but due to the lack of numbers the cancelled it. I am dissapointed sure but i have the tools to deal with it. This is still my best life. I cannot control most things only how i react. 650 days in its still the same “Dont pick up the first drink” or drug. Still “one day at a time” Still “Let Go and Let God” and “Keep It Simple”!!!!

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

I wish you well on your journey.

Keep Shining

Jo

45 years old me!!
Some special cards!
Balloons from my son Luke!!
Mmmm doughnuts!!!