Hola Sober OCTOBER

My favorite of all four seasons is Autumn, hands down! Full disclosure, I’ve been a California resident for 38 years, 34 of them in SoCal. But before then I grew up in Pennsylvania, back when the traditional September through June school year was the norm. So Autumn marked the end of summer and signaled the start of school, cooler weather, football season, and the turning of leaves for me. I associate shorter days, crisp air, and fresh beginnings with this time of year. I love wearing scarves, hats, Ugg boots, hoodies, and jeans or leggings. Which is why I live in a part of SoCal that is inland and closer to the mountains. A region atypical to SoCal’s year-round warm weather. One that gives me cooler temperatures in Autumn where the leaves do turn and freezing weather in Winter where I get to dress in the aforementioned scarves, hoodies, boots and jeans. I get so caught up in the joy and excitement of the weather that I forget about what else this time means for me. It means a shift in my energy and focus. As in, my energy level slows from the Summer exciting buzz of go go go, to feeling like no no no- I don’t want to do that thing I committed to earlier this year! I suddenly realize I am working my full-time insurance job, showing up for my part-time sober community host job, being in a committed book club that involves blogging our thoughts on a weekly basis, participating in an advanced 300 hour yoga teacher training, writing for an online sober magazine every other month, and expecting to fly across the country to go visit family in Pennsylvania. Plus somewhere in there I need to cook, clean, take care of myself and my sobriety! I become tired, overwhelmed, and unable to focus on things that really deserve it because I committed to them. Did I forget to mention I have a chronic autoimmune condition that can flare up with too much stress? I honestly don’t know why this catches me off guard every year, but it does. In addition to feeling tired, overwhelmed, and unfocused, I envelop myself in shame and self-blame because I can’t do it all. I don’t sleep or eat well and in an effort to avoid dealing with things I start to withdraw and isolate. I started rewatching Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix (always my go-to comfort watch!), re-reading favorite romance books, and generally feeling like a slug. This goes on for weeks.

I hold it all inside like a crapstorm of inadequacy and self- recrimination until eventually I confess my angst and avoidance to my inner circle. I usually tell my sponsor and a couple of close friends first. Almost as if I have to sound it out to others before taking it to my kickass therapist who I meet with every other week. By the time I bring it to her, I am feeling like the worst, incapable human on the planet and she helps me pull the whole thing apart so we can look at it with clarity and compassion. We take each of the commitments I struggle to show up for and discuss the reasons for it. What were my expectations when I committed to this and what’s changed? Was it something I could have foreseen? Is it realistic to expect more from myself than I have to give? Where can I honestly find ways to remove the commitment or postpone it? Most important of all is remembering it is okay to take stock, reassess, and rethink something that isn’t working. So what have I done? I’ve postponed the yoga teacher training until next year when I will be better prepared and have more time to devote to it. I backed out of the trip back East to see family because that is a long way to go for what amounts to a long weekend. Not to mention the rise in Covid-19 variants and numbers of breakthrough cases given my chronic autoimmune disease. I got clarification about the writing commitment with the book club and I am still in it because I am loving the material and interaction. Of course, I kept my commitment to write here every other month because it’s important service work to my sobriety. Now I get to honor what the rhythm of nature and my body is asking of me. For what is the turning of leaves and their shedding but letting go of what we no longer need? It doesn’t mean I am inadequate nor is there shame in being human. This time of year is about slowing down and gathering myself for the coming season of shorter, darker days- to conserve energy and develop better focus. It’s crucial that we are aware of our own personal energetic rhythms and to honor them as best we can. As you can see I’m still a work in progress but I haven’t given up hope!

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