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 šŸ™‚

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!!!

Loss During Lockdown

I wrote the following having seen a post on social media looking for artist of all kinds to contribute to a newspaper(which tunred into a Zine)called The Stange Times

I knew i wanted to write something but i wasent sure what i would write about. Within a couple of days our beloved Star passed away and so naturally i wrote about her.

STAR
Star was no ordinary dog.

She was Star in name and Star by nature.
When my son and I made the move over 13 years ago from Drogheda to Co.Clare we knew we had to have a dog in our lives.
After seeing an advert in the local health food store: “Good homes wanted for puppies” we called the number!!
We met about 7 puppies in a barn with the mum and a donkey!! We will never forget the moment all the beautiful Ā pups ran to us and said hello. But one in particular was the friendliest and jumped and played with my son the most out of all the pups. Any preconceived notions about having a boy pup gone!!Because this one was a girl!!
When theĀ timeĀ was right we collected her, when she was old enough to leave her mum!!
We noticed around the heart area she had white star shaped fur and so thats what we called her.
And so our journey began together.

She traveled on Luke’s lap in a box filled with straw! And from the moment we got her she traveled and moved everywhere with us!
One of those journeys was up to meet other family members.On one of those visits we visited with my sister and her son. Star was out in the garden and when she came back in the door we noticed she had something in her mouth! We realized she had found a dummy(soother) in the garden and it was in her mouth the proper way round!!!!


She was always making us laugh with her ways. Always wanting a stick on a walk and going for the biggest one in the woods so taking our legs out as she ran by us. Recently these sticks became treasure and she would bring the sticks all the way on her walk until got to car then try take it into foot well of car with her!!No matter how big or small the stick was she insited it come with her!!

She equally loved a ball with passion. Leaping and bounding and catching them from the sky. During her lifetime a lot of tennis balls was had!! I found 6 while cutting the grass in garden recently!!
She loved her food too of course. She would follow anyone into the kitchen in her own home or others. If cooking was happening she lay on the floor observing and waiting to be given something or waiting for something to fall on the floor so she could hoover it up!!
Once during a family barbecue she stole a piece of chicken on a stick straight from the hand of my nephew while he was busy chatting!!


Everyone who met Star loved her. And she loved them. She taught us how to open our hearts. To love unconditionally. And to be loved unconditionally.
To be excited over the little things like putting shoes on,picking up a collar,saying the word “sausages!” or “stick”or “ball”…that life was to be lived and loved and shared. She gave her stick or ball to all she met she was unselfish in the most wonderful wonderful ways.


As i sit and write this in theseĀ strangeĀ times,tears flow freely down my face.
Our beloved Star passed away on Saturday 25/4/20
StrangeĀ timesĀ have turned into strangerĀ times.
Her bed is empty. Her water bowl empty. Our home is empty of her. A bone,a ball, many sticks remain in the garden untouched sinceĀ Saturday.

The imprints she made in our hearts remains.
In the felt sense that we knew her, we loved her,and she loved us.So much.

Cherish every moment.

Love fiercely because one day it will all change.

This we know to be true now more than ever.

As a pup and in old age!!
That time she found a dummy in the garden!!

One Day At a Time.. Especially Now!!

Been an age since i last wrote here and felt inspired with everything going on right now. Well mainly with this pandemic. Every thing feels different,unsure, uncertain, unknown right?

Right now im glad i have 14 months sobriety and mostly i feel strong in myself emotionally, mentally and physically. If i began to think about all the unknowns around this pandemic than sure my head will spin out of control and go down an unhealthy rabbit hole.That does not mean i dont give myself the space to fell what im feeling i just try to do so in my body and not my mind. For example am i fearful of not being able to work for a while due to the cafes and so on all being closed? Yes i feel fear around it and so i allow it. Recognize. Then i investigate where its coming from? Well i like to work i like to go to work get out of the house, keep busy, make some money and so on. But its temporary. Maybe another job will come up during this time doing something else or maybe i will create one. But i know i dont need to worry and fret about it. Im thankful i get government support when unemployed so financially can keep going.

While i wasent much for socializing in the way others maybe do there was some things that i had started to enjoy.Going to one AA meeting a week had become something of a routine and something i found solace in. I find it comforting to find other people did and behaved in similar ways with no control over it..I have tried an AA online just once but i didnt enjoy it so clicked out of the meeting.I feel socially awkward even online it seems. However i tried it once and and maybe the meeting just wasent for me and so i will try one again and maybe it will work out fine.

Every Monday for the past 13 months ive been gong to somatic therapy. This has helped me stay sober and to love and respect myself at a whole new level. Its been the most hard work but the most worthwhile. Its been body changing and life affirming. I no longer see or feel myself in the same light. So last week i was meant to have my first session online but i was sick so didn’t feel i had the energy for it. This week il try again.Sure i have fear around it working.Around being able to be fully present in my body online but if i dont try then i will lose out and the flow that was worked so hard for may be lost until who knows when.

Life has never been more so about adjusting and even more so about accepting. For the past 14 months during sobriety i have tried so much to live life only in the day.To be sober and not take a drink or drug just for today. And now i feel everyone is having a lesson in this. Sure routines and work and more are all spun on there heads. And we dont know for how long. But its collective. Now some may chose to turn to drink or drugs at this time but for me that choice would be detrimental. When all this eases i want to still be sober.I want to have not picked up a drink.

So i have added some new routines. I make sure i write in diary everyday for a t least 10 mins free flow. I’ve started online QIQong and i love it. The ease and flow of it really suits me and if you have not heard of it or tried it please do. A friend of mine does meditation online every eve at 7pm and i join that when i can… I dont do these things for doing something. Because i firmly believe in doing nothing also and i dont believe that doing nothing is lazy. WE all must look after our mental health in whatever way works for us. I do them because i can. I have a home thats safe. Electricity and internet that allows me too. I have so much to be thankful for.

Its important for me to make some things during theses times that are not different that are sure,certain and known. Daily.

Thanks for reading and stay well.

11 months into it…!

My Favorite quote right now

This quote is whats happening in my life right now.

When i read this quote before i didn’t really get it to be honest. But now i get it.

I feel like to remain small and silent and quiet is the more painful option and its the option i have been choosing most of my adult life. The tight in a bud was safe and i could drink and get high and not really deal with the trauma in my body at all.

Im not even sure i was aware of the trauma still in my body maybe i just thought it was my mind that was affected.

Ive being seeing a somatic therapist now for almost 10 months. One month into my recovery i sought about finding a therapist and thankfully i found someone willing to work with me. Having the space of an hour per week is so important to my recovery.More important than i could have ever imagined.

Somatic therapy is so difficult and so healing all at the same time. Its for me about holding the space for my body to feel what its feeling and not run away from it and not escape in anyway. It is truly trans-formative.

No its not easy.But no one ever told me it would be. And im not saying that either.

It will be a long process. I have a lot stored up needing release.Its the most difficult work i have ever done. I am hopeful it will continue to be the most rewarding also.

I live in a country where the norm is to drink, sometimes daily.That was my routine too.

So when hard stuff is happening now in my life a part of me automatically wants to reach for a drink a joint or a cigarette. That was the norm. To drink alone or with others socially.So yes its hard and the past 11 months have been a process of healing and a huge process of not turning back to habits and not giving in.

Apart from therapy i love being out in nature and i feel really blessed that i live in Ireland for all the wonderful nature that surrounds me. The lakes and woods and sea and more.Sure its cold now and rain a lot but i still get out in it.Its so refreshing to be in it and just be.Not be on the way to any place or wanting to be done so i can come home or go someplace for a drink!

Christmas is just around the corner and its going to be new to be sober! Im excited and a bit weary at the same time. I havent figured out what im doing yet.I know this much:whatever i do it will be to look after my sobriety first and foremost.That’s not being selfish its being real and true.

Its what it takes for me to blossom.

Yesterday i shaved all my hair off. Its feels like a fuck you to a struggle that’s been going on inside of myself. It feels like reclaiming a part of my power that i needed to and coming out of bud! I love how new it feels!

Keep shining all of you and thanks for reading!

One day at a time..

The light is shining

…its now been 10 months or 304 days since i gave up alcohol,marijuana and nicotine.I make a conscious decision everyday that i wont drink or get high today. Some days its really difficult and i have to draw on all the things i know to be true.Which goes something like this:

By myself i am powerless over my addiction.Many times i tried by my own will to stop and each time i failed.Admitting that to myself was the first step and it is the first step every single day 10 months on.

Other peoples opinions on my addiction do not matter to me.Those who consider this a lifestyle choice and a whatever makes you happy choice do not understand.And thats ok with me. I will continue to share my journey how i chose too,privately publicly or other. There is no shame in sharing my story and by sharing it maybe someone else will admit to themselves they have a problem and are powerless to control it.

10 months ago i had 4 jobs. All part time and none of which i truly loved.One of them was cleaning a pub on a Monday morning. I emptied ashtrays and mopped beer stained floors.I did this because it paid me 30euro and one month after getting sober i started therapy and it paid for some of it. Today i have one job.Its work but i do love it. Im proud to be a chef,to send out soft poached eggs every single time. To know that the cheese is proper melted on the sandwich.!!!To serve food that i would happily pay for!!!

Everything is real now that im not escaping/numbing.Sure sometimes that is overwhelming but sometimes the overwhelm is because of the most wonderful laughter with another person.Or looking across a lake when the rain clears and a beautiful rainbow fills the sky. Feeling that joy is new to me. Before i was so caught up in getting home to have a glass a wine or a joint. I was consumed with consuming and not being present in the moment. Now i get to be present and its wonderful more times than not.

Therapy has saved me from relapsing and i recommend it to everyone.A month into my sobriety i found myself a somatic therapist. This kind of therapy differs from talk therapy in that it focuses on releasing any trauma we may have held onto from the body. Its been life changing in so many ways. No its not easy. Yes sometimes i want to leave and go drink to numb what has come up to numb the ugly feeling in myself. But so far i have not.This way of life is for me and i do not ever want to go back.

What i have found in people and in this way of life far outweighs anything i have lost. When i drank i always told myself tomorrow i will stop and tomorrow was always another excuse.When i go to AA meeting i hear other peoples stories and its exactly the same.When i went to a meeting 10 months ago all i could do was cry because i heard myself in everyone and i was glad to be there. Yes it was so hard to walk through the doors alone but once i went inside i was not alone anymore.And thats how it is now to this day.Sure friendships have changed and some have gone away because alcohol was the only thing we had in common!! But thats ok. Ive realsied that my sobriety has to be the most important thing in my life..not the 2nd or 3rd the 1st.Everyday.

“To thine own self be true”

I have my own higher power that is personal to me. And everyday i ask for help to stay sober to stay true and kind. I say the serenity prayer daily because its simple and stays with me. …To Accept the things i cannot change, the courage to change the things i can…

So i hope reading this, whatever journey your own you own it and claim it as yours..and if its not for you than change it..its only one day and that’s today. That’s all we have so make it count!!

Let the light in and shine it back out!

Sober Socializing!!

Its been 260 days since ive had a drink containing alcohol, a joint or a cigarette. I am feeling the benefits in so many ways physically and mentally.

One of the most challenging aspects of sobriety for me personally is socializing especially in a pub/club venue where the majority of people will be partaking in the consumption of alcohol. Do not get me wrong its not about them partaking its my heightened state that im feeling.Aware of everything fully.In some ways yes its glorious and in some yes its scary as anything. I have to feel really strong in myself and really want to show up in the pub/club.

Last night I ventured out with a friend to a nearby city to see a band that i really love. Ive seen them numerous times always under the influence of alcohol or marijuana or both. I have also seen them in this place a little over a year ago under the influence of both. Two very different experiences!!

When i was drinking i really cared about my next drink so much or my next cigarette. So that took away a lot of my concentration on the sounds and people around me. Whereas last night i was fully present. Fully present to everything good and bad. To the people at the front who where rowdy and singing and talking through a lot of the songs..to the beautiful people id seen before at a vegan eatery in the city.. But mostly i was fully aware and present to the music.Which is why i chose to go out and be sociable. The music and the incredible voices a few feet away. My heart open my eyes closed i fell into it and enjoyed it with every breath. I did not want for anything or anyone. Fully present. Fully alive.

This is what my sobriety had brought me. And everyday im thankful.

Anything is possible…

So in the past week i have gone through a transformation of sorts.

It all started at therapy a week ago on Monday. I was asked if id like to be a man and then if i felt like a woman? I said NO to both! Have never been asked those questions but often thought about them. It was really liberating and it brought a sense of easy in my body an openness i did not feel before. And the ease continued….

The followng day i had a concert(P!nk)to go to with friends and was nervous about being the only one not drinking!How I would fit in.Was no pressure at all to have a drink. And i felt a real sense of fun and power not needing or wanting any alcohol.Looking at strangers fall about the place and buying the limit of 6 drinks per person at the concert did not make me want to start drinking again thats for sure.

One of the most enjoyable parts was having my make up done by one of my best friends. It didn’t feel like i was having makeup done as a woman. It felt different from other times. And by others reactions I looked different too. Glowing was used on a few occasions.

Make-up or no make up I feel better in my own skin.The most ok i have ever felt. Ive learned that am in this body for such a short time we all are!The fact that i do not feel like any gender and that i realize i never ever did, sits really well with me. I always thought i had to do something about not feeling like either gender but really all i had to do was recognize it. Hold it. And love that part of myself.

This Time Its Different!

Decided to start writing down my experiences of this sober journey..So in the past I have attempted to quit alcohol but always for other people and never for myself. On January 5th of this year i quit again with a great sense of “sick of feeling sick” On that day I also quit nicotine and weed!

My body was breathless upon walking up my own stairs. Morning was received with no joy only dread about how hungover i felt. No matter how much i drank i always wanted to drink more. And if i could then i would.

I decided early on against labeling myself and to use whatever resources i find helpful to me on this journey. I can say today wholeheartedly I never want to drink again. I truly believe that alcohol not only numbed my body and mind from feelings of suppressed pain but also of joy and light. Its been 143 days today. Im never going back. Its not easy to be Irish living in Ireland and not drink! A lot has changed in my life since i stopped.A lot has changed for the better.

If your reading this and on a similar journey i hope we can exchange stories and share the light of soberness. If your reading this and wondering about not drinking for a while id really encourage you to try it.

Its truly life changing.