Went off to bed early with a large mug of Horlicks, fell asleep and woke at midnight with a raging temperature, shivering and my stomach very upset. Lay awake and convinced myself that I was going through a bout of malaria. Got up and sponged myself down, went back to bed and slept dreamlessly for hours. The fever seems to have broken.
It is really just unseasonal flu and because I can’t take antibiotics, it is taking a while to work through my system. Reminds me a little of those early weeks of jittery sleeplessness and emotionally oscillating like a yoyo that I went through when I first sobered up. The impact of alcohol on the body is devastating and when that alcohol is removed the body goes a little crazy, as does the mind and the emotions. I remember that I couldn’t think straight or concentrate and was amazed at AA members advising me to read the BB when I could not take anything much in. I needed the support of meetings and phone calls and just to sit it out until the withdrawal symptoms stopped.
When I was in the UK I would often see a grey-faced and wobbly newcomer being given a great big indigestible copy of the Big Book by some well-intentioned member with 16 years sobriety and grin to myself, thinking, ‘It will be a while before you get to that!’ Some recovering alcoholics have shockingly bad memories and many cannot really recall what early sobriety felt like. They want to discuss the intricacies of Step 9 with somebody who can scarcely keep down a glass of juice in the morning and is addled by withdrawal. A friend emailed me yesterday and told me in a postscript that while in rehab she did all Twelve Steps in her first three weeks, being coached and guided by a gung-ho counsellor at the rehab centre. ‘When I got out of there,’ she wrote ‘I realised I couldn’t remember any of them except something about having my sanity restored and that made me indignant because I didn’t think I was insane.’
Getting sober and moving on from our drawn-out alcoholic adolescence takes time. I realise that more and more as I learn to live from day to day without being intoxicated or self-medicating or numbing myself out. Just staying conscious and aware, letting the moods come and go, learning from whatever the day has to teach me
There is a beautiful misty dawn coming up over the fields and it looks as if this will be a hot spring day, leaning into summer. A rooster’s cry in the distance (many villagers on smallholdings keep poultry). I feel grateful to be awake and able to appreciate the sweet dawn air. It could all be so much worse.
The heartache will heal in time. The writers’ block will ease up. There will be better days and harder days. Right here and now I am just drinking my lukewarm coffee and looking at the sun burning mist off wet grass.