I am not a turtle without a shell, anymore. The first few weeks after I quit drinking I felt naked, exposed, hyper-sensitized to every emotion. My shell was alcohol and now I was lacking all of the protection and assurance that shell had given me. The hand of wine patting my head and stroking my hair while saying ‘See, I told you, it would all be ok. Everything is fine now’. I was missing the warm cuddle at the end of the night that allowed me to ‘sleep’.
As the weeks went on, the cravings decreased, the feeling of being constantly hungover dissipated but I still felt like I was on the verge of tears most evenings. Slowly, I started to make a mental list of all the things I had wanted to accomplish but never could when I was drinking.
Baking bread at 11pm, taking a class at night for fun, reading a book and remembering it enough the next day to talk about it, getting into bed after having a shower and doing a face mask, trying as many different teas as possible, and on and on. I hadn’t realized it but I had been compiling that list for more than 10 years. The sense of accomplishment I felt when I completed these activities was so rewarding that I started to truly see a sober future for myself. Drinking got me to that feeling of reward faster, but these personal accomplishments lasted longer and did not involve feeling sick all the time. I unknowingly was building a tool kit for long lasting sobriety.
Now, many years later, I am still making that list and doing these things on a daily basis. The things have changed and evolved and now include going to recovery meeting calls, meditating, and journaling. Now I am a turtle with a shell made of self compassion, confidence and pride and when I feel sad, scared or need a cuddle I can go into my shell and feel protected from anything.