Thorny Wings


It swirls and whirls and settles for a while before taking flight again like a terrified nocturnal creature. My mind is a tricky thing. I know I am not alone, but I was talking to a journalist yesterday about rehab and could see that over time I have learned to express myself in a way that is not normal.

What is Normal? Good question. It depends largely on who is asking, but normal seems to be a big cover up. Recovery speak, based on years of peeling by therapists and much time spent opening one’s heart in 12 step meetings, means that the honesty can be somewhat startling if speaking to a “normal” person.

Time has been kind, it has. I am lucky that the ravages of alcoholism are not obvious upon my person. My mind is another matter. Was it always like this and I had not really met it? Or is this awareness part of the joys of long-term sobriety? Hard to tell, but the tips, tricks and techniques learned over the last 17 years are really coming into their own now. My quiver of tools is fully loaded and I use all that I can remember, all the time. Especially in the middle of the night, when the beats take flight and pound their thorny wings around my deepest fears, stirring them to screaming spirals down into the depths of my worst nightmares. This, I do not like.

I have spent years perfecting the “I refuse to think about this” routine and it works, most of the time. Strangely empowering, the words No, I refuse to think about this now. But they are potent. I turn over and begin the slow climb to hundreds of repetitions of the chosen mantra for the present fear and finally fall asleep again, waking refreshed and able to deal with the beast in the cold light of day.

I say cold because I refuse to put the heating on until November. How mean is that? Is it mean? It is not actually that cold, and we have loads of blankets to wrap up in, so I think and feel ecological and empowered. Long may it last.