Woke from a nightmare I can’t recall and just lay in the dark with my eyes closed and praying to get through another day.
And as if by swift grace or a sprinkling of magic, the mood shifted and I could get up and drink coffee, standing at the living room window watching the wind tear across the fields, hearing my housemate sing tunelessly in the shower, seeing the little feral cat grooming herself on a low sunny wall. I hope she is not going to attack all the new baby birds, sparrows and house martins, that learn to fly in the front garden, hopping from verandah eaves to the wall to the ground.
So difficult to feel this churlish within, a mix of irritability and dull misery. So ungracious. It isn’t as serious as depression, but rather like trying to row a heavy boat upstream, working oars against the current or incoming tide.
The answer, of course, is to go out and do something for others, something simple and practical and useful. And not to make much ado about it, just to do it. So I shall help out with the homebased carers and cook a large split-pea soup and then sit with those who might need some help being fed. It isn’t much and I am not good company but I won’t be self-stuck in my unhappiness all day.
Then I shall make an Asian supper with pork, grind up coriander seeds and star anise and fenugreek, chop lemongrass and garlic, play around with fish sauce and soy and sesame oil, squeeze fresh lemons, mince root ginger. Heat up the big electric wok. When I was in the UK, so much was readymade and prepackaged that almost nobody made their own food from scratch and that was very offputting. Sitting on the kitchen step and pounding spices and herbs in a mortar with a heavy granite pestle is the most heartening therapy imaginable.
What I really need of course is AA offline; to be able to sit face-to-face with others in recovery who are telling my story and reminding me why I need to stay sober and how they managed to do it. How I miss those draughty meeting rooms with old latticed windows that creaked and stuck, the dingy halls and circle of uncomfortable chairs, the nicotine-stained gurus, those palely loitering and despondent newcomers, the smiles and hugs and heart-rending confessions! No real-life nittygritty AA here and I am lost without it. But at least I have online AA and I am more grateful than I can say for the supportive emails and comments.
So I settle back onto my seat in the boat and take up the oars in their rusty fetlocks, resume what alcoholic poet Anne Sexton called ‘the awful rowing towards God’. The ‘awful’ is about us, the hope is all to do with God and coming home. At least I’m struggling in the right direction.