Sue Cox

Sue Cox

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Joys of Sobriety

Many years ago, when I first got sober, I went to a meeting of other addicts who were about the business of saving my miserable life! 
On the wall there was a bright yellow and red and white poster advertising a convention for addicts in New Orleans  that year. 
It had wonderful images of jazz musicians and It shouted from the wall "
"Come and celebrate the joys of sobriety"!
It was so uplifting, but a little unrealistic! 
I had six kids, no money,no husband, no family and was in the early traumas of realising that I was  a dyed in the wool addict and would die if I didn't grab this chance with all I had. 
That poster stayed on that wall for years, and it inspired me!  I can still see it vividly now, although in reality it faded and got tattered and ultimately was taken down.
It stayed on the wall as I stayed on that  path trying to make sense of life and sobriety. And it gave me hope, despite the fact that I had nothing. I was grateful for  each day, let alone a trip to New Orleans! 
And  it's message has always stayed with me, and is one that I try and conjure up as often as I can. It is one we utilise in Survivors Voice Europe, when we gather together and celebrate the joy our survival.
Because it is no use surviving to be miserable, in the same way that it is pointless getting sober to feel deprived or depressed .
I am not at my best in January! I have a very unpleasant tax bill, a wealth of other practical things to deal with, a worry about my daughter in law who has a big fight on her hands, and my son who is so frightened, the bloody awful grey English weather,which upsets my asthma, but more importantly and painfully, a very difficult anniversary of the death of my son Nick who was only nineteen when he died. 
For years everyone used to call me on the anniversary of his death,18th January,  and although I was grateful that he (and I)  was being remembered, I dreaded the day coming, because it was full of shared grief. After a while I dreaded Christmas coming, because January would be there straight after it, and then I dreaded December, because Christmas would come and then January! When I started to dread November, because December would follow and then I  would have January I realised that something was pretty wrong.
I realised that Nick was no more dead on that day than he was every other day of the year, that each day I could remember him, and indeed can't not, I asked everyone to not make a "day" of it and gradually I could restore my balance and not rule out October too! 
That was a while ago, and now I find myself grateful that even after 25 years people still send me messages, I am grateful for that "day", when I go to his grave I see someone has been there before me and left flowers or even an unsmoked cigarette! His friends still include us in their lives,  There is a shared knowlege of what each one of us is feeling, and for me now, that  is comforting.
In the night I woke in a panic, I always have "clergy"  dreams at this time of year( It infuriates me that the bastards can still even get into my dreams! ) I started to do all the things i know I should do to stop the depression form coming on, I did some deep breathing, I read something inspirational,I tried to meditate,  and then I got up!
I am English, and there is only one thing that will cure all ills! A cup of tea!
And  the memory a very vivid picture of some jazz musicians in New Orleans 36 years ago encouraging me to "Come celebrate the joys of sobriety" 
I need all of your good thoughts right now.

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