Summer Sadness and Sobriety.
TW - Alcoholism, Self-Harm.
Also includes an embarrassing selection of photos from my past.
On this day, Monday 13 April 2020, I am 3 months 2 days sober from alcohol and 2 months 1 day free from self-harm. I should be proud, I know I should, but all that runs through my mind is the itch I feel in my skin, that longing to block out the world with drink and that release that comes with hurting myself.
Isolation has intensified every emotion and feeling I am having - every.single.one.
I lived in Australia for a few years when I was a child and I loved it. I loved swimming in the sea, feeling the sand between my toes and being in the sun. It was truly amazing.
As I was growing up I started to take a disliking to summer. It seemed to go through this narrative:
I wasn't skinny enough - the heat made me angry - I had scars to hide - I then had tattoos to hide - I still wasn't skinny enough - the heat REALLY made me angry...etc.
After leaving college this seemed to subside a little. However, now I was far too skinny (unwell) and alcohol helped to make me not care about a thing. This continued for years, but then the Psoriasis diagnosis happened and again I was hiding away as much as possible and again HATING THE HEAT!!
Through all this though, I didn't dislike summer time. It was hard, but I still loved the feeling on warm summer evenings, seeing how happy and carefree people were, spending evenings having BBQs and drinks with friends.
I realised when I started to hate summer was September 2011. From this point on summer time for me has been filled with pain, anger, grief, anxiety and sadness. This year in particular I am absolutely dreading it, lockdown or no lockdown.
Despite not loving summer for many years now, the past four have been the best I've had since 2011 and now I mourn them. The smell in the air in the morning makes me think of festivals and I start to cry, the late bright, warm evenings make me think of weddings and gatherings and I start to cry. I've returned to grieving, to feeling anxious and to no longer having a loving relationship with summer.
Summer time brings me sadness. This summer especially.
What makes this harder is being sober. The irony being that nearly all of my bad memories and problems have come from my terrible relationship with alcohol.
For many, many years I felt that alcohol was my best friend, when in fact it was my biggest enemy. I'd relied on it from a very young age as a coping mechanism and it got me in to seriously dangerous situations, even life threatening ones.
I didn't particularly want to go sober, but I knew I had to; due to health issues, the medication I'm on and a stern warning from a close friend who saw me spiralling once again. It's not been easy at all, but my new job gave me a focus and routine which helped me to curve the cravings. However, these past few weeks at home have been extremely hard and I'm finding the cravings to be unbearable at times - especially with so many people making jokes about becoming alcoholics during isolation. I don't want a drink to relax, I want a drink to forget, to escape.
I want to escape this grief and sadness which has hit me like a tonne of bricks, I want to forget about summer, I want to forget and to stop thinking.
And, do you know what? Despite there being a pandemic happening, alcohol is one of the easiest things to get delivered due to Deliveroo. It's available; right there at my fingertips.
But...I won't and here's why.
I have lost years by drinking through pain, trying to suppress feelings, but now I can't do that and as much as it hurts, part of me appreciates the pain because I'm remembering what it's like to feel, to really feel everything. I can wake each day with a (somewhat) focused mind and not worry about what happened the night before, who I offended, what possessions I lost, how much money I spent, or just feeling so ridiculously repulsive that I can't move.
I ruined the greatest relationship I've ever had (and others along the way) and for that I will never forgive myself - well, hopefully I will one day. And this is where the vicious cycle needed to end and has ended - I felt bad so I drank, I messed up when drunk and felt guilty so to forget the shame and guilt I drank, and so on and so forth.
I've read many times that the best way to apologise is through changing your attitude and actions. I've said sorry more times than I'll ever be able to count, and whilst I always mean it when I say it I would still continue to revert back to the same behaviours - just constant empty apologies and broken promises.
So, here I am 3 months sober, 2 months self-harm free FINALLY trying to make up for all those apologies. Not just for the ones I hurt, the ones I pushed away, but also for myself.
As always I'm available to talk if anyone needs to - information can be found on my Contact page.
Below are also some support pages for those who may need it.
Stay Home, Stay Safe, Stay Awesome.