I know that the tone of my last few posts has not been my normal, positive, self reflective, encouraging, faith based self. Last night I discovered why!
I thought it was the life stresses and storm clouds building, that was bringing me down. I thought it was the disruption of my schedule that the end of school brings with it that was causing me distress. I thought it was the dark stories on the news that was making me sad. Yes, all those things contribute to my current state, but something else is going on that has made me unable to rise above these little valleys in a normal healthy way.
Let me explain…
In recent weeks I have felt down. I have been grumpy with my family. One evening I even had a complete ‘crying in my pillow’ meltdown. I have not wanted to get out of my pjs. I have not had the energy to cook or do the dishes. I have not wanted to put myself in groups of people where I have to make conversation and be cheerful. Put it this way, I have not been myself.
Last night, reading The Sober Diaries by British mom and writer Clare Pooley, I discovered that what I have been feeling the last two weeks or so, as I greet Day 100, is totally and completely normal, AND it even has a name – Post Acute Withdrawl Syndrome (PAWS).
I am once again amazed at God’s timing in my life, providing me answers and understanding at the moment, last night, when I am best able to receive His wisdom.
I began reading Sober Diaries at the start of this “dark time” and had put it down for the last few days. Yesterday, I reconnected, with a friend who is also journeying on this path of sobriety. During a long walk we shared stories of our time apart and promised to support one another moving forward. As we hugged goodbye, I realized how very much I’ve missed her gentle spirit and light in my life.
Last night as I fell into bed, legs aching from the afternoon power walk, I decided to pick up Sober Diaries to read again. The chapter titled Day 088: PAWS begins with a reflection on how, unlike many alcoholics, she had a wonderful childhood. Me, too! While visiting her beloved childhood home, she wrote: “But despite being at the haven of my parents’ house, these last few days I’ve felt despondent and tetchy. And I’m tired. Physically tired and emotionally drained.”
YES sister! I hear you! I know what you mean!
So she, in her wisdom, did a little research on “fatigue after quitting alcohol” and discovered PAWS. As I read her words on the page, I felt the same emotions as she did when she read the words on her computer screen. What a relief and a feeling of validation to know I am not going crazy. This is a real thing. It’s not my imagination. This is normal.
So, my friends, I feel today, for the first time in a long time, more like myself. Understanding what has been happening in my body and mind, and will likely happen again, allows me to deal with it and not dwell in it. This morning I read several articles about PAWS and pulled out these suggestions:
Be patient with yourself
Talk about your feelings with someone
Realize this will pass
So, with knowledge and tools in hand, I close this Post feeling brighter and more optimistic than I have in weeks. Thank you for sticking with me as I walked through the valley…. I know there will be more valleys in the future but for now, I can see the horizon and the view beyond and I’m feeling much better.