I am having some building work done at home. The builders have boarded up the door leading down from my kitchen into the laundry room. The door itself is still in place but when you open it, it’s blocked. In the laundry room there is a door out to the garden. In the door is a cat flap.
I have two cats. They like to come and go. The only problem is that now they can’t get into the laundry room to access the cat flap.
For the first few days they sat by the door to the laundry room meowing and looking confused and bewildered. I showed them that the door was boarded up and even explained why and that it would be OK in the end – perhaps I am a mad cat lady after all.
Eventually they found they could access the garden via a window or if they ask nicely (!) someone will let them out and back in again. They seem happier and more settled now they know what’s what.
For me, the change has also taken a bit of getting used to. I always seem to be bundling piles of dirty washing into the laundry room and I do it on auto pilot, usually thinking about the next thing I need to do. Consequently, there were a number of times when I opened the door to the laundry, poised to offload the washing, only to run slap bang into the boarding. On more than one occasion this prompted what I will call some “flowery” language on my part !
But now, like my cats, I am used to the new arrangements and all is well on the washing front once more.
Although very different scenarios, I think the way the cats have adjusted to the change in access to their cat flap and I have adapted to the relocation of laundry, is similar to the way I have dealt with stopping drinking.
In the early stages, like my cats, I felt confused and bewildered. I had all kinds of mixed emotions churning around in my head, accompanied by a vast array of unpleasant physical symptoms which would constantly change. I would go to the fridge and look at where the wine should be, feeling deprived and cross and fed up and sad. But in the same way as my cats have discovered that there are alternative ways of getting into the garden, I have found that there are alternative ways of dealing with all the things I thought alcohol was helping me to cope with. Sleep, exercise, reading, time to myself and time with those I love. Here and there a piece of cake might help too !
The only difference is that when the building work is over, the cats will get their cat flap back and things will go back to how they were before. I am still building my sobriety. I have strong foundations in place. Now I am working on the walls and later I will build a roof. My sobriety needs to withstand earthquakes, lightning, floods and fire. I am not going back to how things were before.