4 months into recovery, I feel a strange mix of comfortable familiarity and exhilarating newness. I no longer feel hyper-aware of every moment without alcohol, yet I still encounter many “firsts” – the first trip to the lake since I quit drinking, first performance since I quit, first time I went over to my sister’s for a late night chat that didn’t involve wine. Soon we’ll enjoy our first anniversary since I’ve quit – our twenty-second and yet our first.
A new pair of jeans start to get really comfortable around this time, even thought they still look nice and new. After 4 months or so a new romance starts to blossom into a “relationship” – where self-consciousness gives way to showing your true selves and passion becomes intimacy. Around 4 month a new pregnancy starts to show. It’s enough time to build a house or grow a garden or lose 50 lbs.
I see parallels in all of these things to my new life of recovery, but the most curious analogy of all is to new life itself.
The new me is 4 months old.
At 44 years of age, it’s been a long time since I had to admit I didn’t have all the answers. As my sons become independent young men, I’ve taught them to drive, do laundry, fill out their own taxes, and wipe the gunge out of the microwave – all the essentials for independent living.
It’s easy to start believing I know it all when I constantly have the pleasure of imparting my great worldly wisdom on the less established.
Yet when it comes to my sobriety journey, every day brings something new.
A quick internet search of what to expect from a 4-month-old baby shows startling equivalencies to my current experiences:
A 4-MONTH-OLD BABY IS…..
“FEEDING LESS FREQUENTLY” (I’ve given up “Dibbs” altogether although they certainly got me through detox. I still allow myself snacks to help with occasional cravings but there are actual pauses between all the eating)
“REACHING OUT” (I’ve become less introspective and started to notice the world again. I’m taking an interest in things!)
“ABLE TO PLAY ALONE” (I can stand myself. I enjoy myself. I am not trying to escape from myself!)
“BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND LANGUAGE” (I have a whole new toolbox of ideas that are new to me)
“SEEING COLOURS” (The world has become more beautiful and alive – I stop to see and feel the beauty around me and give thanks on a regular basis)
“GETTING MORE SELECTIVE ABOUT PEOPLE” (Wow, that’s a big one. I’m getting to know myself, starting to understand my own motives and see things more clearly. This means I am rethinking my inner circle and carefully choosing who I draw in close and trust.)
“LAUGHING AND SOCIAL INTERACTION” (After weeks of dealing with the demands of a newborn, it is such a treat when that little one starts to smile at you and reward you for all that hard work! I feel like I am there with myself – I am loosening up and catch myself having fun and laughing without guarding it all.)
Let’s not draw the parallels too much further or you know I’ll be tempted to throw in a diaper joke and well, then I’ll have gone too far.
Suffice to say, at 4 months I am in a very good place.
If you are drinking more than you’d like and are thinking about quitting, 4 months can sound like an impossible amount of time. It’s flown by for me. The beginning was the hardest and once I got through it time seemed to speed up.
If you are in recovery yourself, perhaps you know this feeling of hitting your stride and feeling strong. Either way, I think we all agree that the beginning is the hardest.
There have been many challenges and difficulties, especially this past week when I was feeling the pressure of the “sandwich generation”. However, my recovery seems to be giving me added strength to get through things, and I am keeping on carrying on.