It’s the school holidays. My youngest daughter has just completed her first year at secondary school and just recently I have become really conscious of how much she has blossomed in the last year. Last September she was quite shy, her self confidence was a bit wobbly and she was prone to bouts of grumpiness which she could keep up for several hours at a time.
Now she is much more outgoing. She has lots of new friends and is generally more self assured. She is bright and funny (although she does still get the grumps!) Last year she seemed so small, especially as she is one of the youngest in her year. Now she is taller and stronger. She is a young woman, no longer a little girl.
I am wondering whether the first year of sobriety is a bit like a school year. There are three terms in the school year so ignoring school holidays; each is 3-4 months long. That means that I am just starting out on term 2.
The first term of the school year, which runs from September to December is always a bit of a mixed bag. It starts out with a mix apprehensiveness and nervousness on one hand and excitement and anticipation on the other. New book, new shoes, new teachers, new friends. When I finally made the decision to stop drinking my emotions were really muddled. I was relieved I had actually made the decision but completely overwhelmed by how hard it was. Physically and psychologically I felt awful for the first three weeks. I thought constantly about how I had ended up in such a mess. I felt guilty and ashamed – I have written about that a lot.
As my sleep settled and I got through the first two or three Friday nights I felt more settled. As I approached what would probably correlate with Half Term, I was doing OK. I was plodding on, head down, teeth gritted. It was tough but I was still sober.
The second half of the first term as autumn slips into winter can be hard. The weather tends to be cold and often wet, the days are short. At the same time there is the excitement of Christmas and all the things which go along with it. Sometimes there are sharp frosts and the early mornings feel crisp and clean. The cold catches your breath. It is uplifting and invigorating. At this stage, I was on the sober rollercoaster. Good days, bad days. Really good days, really bad days. I was bored – the novelty of sobriety was wearing off and thought of forever seemed overwhelming. I hit 100 days and felt a huge sense of anti-climax – similar to the way I usually feel when after all the anticipation, Christmas finally arrives and is just another day.
The second school term, which runs from January to March is the term when I think there is most rapid change. In terms of the weather it starts cold, the short days continue and there is not much to look forward to. At school nothing is new – lessons continue, the teachers are the same, the routine is fixed. But by the end of the term, the days are brighter, new life is all around and spring is well and truly sprung.
I am hoping this second four months of my sober journey will be like the second school term. I certainly have more energy and optimism. The future has possibilities which were never there before. In my last post I wrote about looking for something to challenge and stretch me now my sobriety is less fragile. I hope that by the time I get to 8 months I will have done something about that and have more direction and purpose.
Then it will be the third term, summer term. When I was at school it was always my favourite term. It will come soon enough. At the moment though I am going to continue to focus on now and on making the most of every single sober day.