on the flight home from canada, i had my usual truly-agitated moments. to be fair, flying sober is WAY better than it used to be. before i’d be sick with worry before, during and after, EVEN WHEN things were calm (anticipatory anxiety). now when i fly, i’m temporarily jiggled, ONLY to do with something that is specifically currently happening in the present, and then i reset back to zero as soon as it’s over.
but during, i have some routine things i say to myself. one is Stay Here. and then that has over time morphed into Calm Within.
the cool thing about ‘calm within’ is the double meaning. it’s ‘let’s feel calm on the inside, shall we?’ but it’s also about finding some calm within the agitation. so i count to 10 and then i force myself to be calm for a few seconds. then i jitter and wiggle for a count of 10, then i force myself to stop. of course, it can be done. the calmness isn’t my natural state but i can do it.
so while mr.B sat eating his steamed chicken and frozen vegetables, i was counting. and untensing.
the other thing about ‘calm within’ is finding the calm patches and relaxing when they happen. it’s not 24/7 tense. it’s tense, then oh look it’s smooth for a second, so then you can relax. then it starts up and then it stops again. the goal being to find the calm within the event.
this sort of reminds me of the experience of being in the palliative care ward when Mr. Cinnamon Toast was there. It was shitty. obviously. and there were moments of real sunshine, of laughter, of lobster dinner, of poop jokes.
the other mantra i have is about under-promising. but this is long so i’ll save that one for later today maybe? or tomorrow. Depends on how this hurricane thing goes. calm within. within you. within the event itself. find the tiny breaks.
some notes from my inbox:
leener (day 382): “I’m not an ‘art person.’ but i have *some* art in my house. Stuff i see that i like. usually colorful things that speak to me. i don’t know squat about skill or technique or meaning or whatever. so my (not very) snooty assessment of Mr. B’s art is this: i like it. i like to look at it. i like the colors. i like that it means something to me. i like that sometimes, the Exit is hard to find. But it’s there, you just have to keep looking. that’s some deep sober shit. but its also just a pretty thing to look at, and that’s cool too.”
amazon sister (day 82): “I had a great day yesterday, met with lovely friends, felt positive about so much. I’m back to feeling some uncertainty today and that may be due to how many life ups and downs I’ve had over the last few years, lots of uncertainty and financial insecurity, etc. and I covered the fear with almost nightly drinks. I’m getting better at feeling these things even though I don’t know what to do about them. I do hold a lot in, maybe checking in more and writing about me feelings will help. I put your duck pond photo on my bathroom mirror tonight and I have 2 of the cards in my current journal that is ready for me to write in. I so appreciate the services you offer, it is truly a special and a wonderful gift, creating better sober lives all over the planet. And what a great compliment Mr. B’s art is to the work! I also really appreciate your email updates, reading how you have everyday struggles is helpful in seeing my own. I hope you are rested and settled back in to being home!”
emsyface (day 260): “… I was at the centre, and one of the girls was talking about putting things on the walls to encourage. I imagined one of these paintings — a message to say ‘there is a way through somehow — an exit does exist’ Sometimes it’s about holding that belief for someone when they can’t themselves? Can you tell your hubby how much I like his art ?! xx”
W (day 123): “So, shitty news, cancer is growing again. I’m tired of fighting it. Wolfie says cancer is going to kill you anyways, why are you sober? I say I don’t know. Wolfie says why would you go on this epic family vacation with your aunts and uncles to Ireland and not drink with them? I say I don’t know. Wolfie says what’s the point of being alcohol-free? Especially when you know that wine will take the edge off the pain? I say I don’t know.
Sitting in my car crying. I just don’t know anymore. about anything, what’s the freaking point?
i guess when I get too busy and don’t appreciate the life I have the Lord, or the universe, or whoever or whatever’s out there slaps me down to make me appreciate what I have.
and when I tell people in my family that my cancer is growing again, I have to f****** comfort them. Because I’m the caretaker, I’m the mama, I’m the matriarch. Who comforts me? Wolfie? Wine? F*** that.
I actually feel a little better having emailed you because generally I can’t say things like that to people. Thank you for listening, or (as the case may be) reading.”
[What do you think I replied to W? Add your ideas below, and then tomorrow I’ll pick the comment that seems closest to what I said (in tone, in content) and that person will get a $20 podcast bundle.]
the artist: Mr. Belle
Acrylic & Ink on paper, unframed, mailed flat
30 x 42 cm (11.75″ x 16.75″)
if booze is an elevator that only goes down,
you can step off now. find the exit.
get off and stay off