People, Places, and Times of Year.
Guest Post Written by Rose Lockinger
This past year I moved back to Virginia after having lived in South Florida for 2 years. I went down to Florida in order to get sober, but the goal was always to move back home to be with my children. People told me that going home would possibly be difficult, what with being away from my initial support group, and having to go back to the reality of the life I left, but besides these difficulties, moving back home has affected me in ways that I wasn’t really expecting. Often stirring up long-lost resentments that I thought had been forgiven in sobriety.
For one, I was not expecting that the fall season would trigger me in the manner that it has. After having not experienced seasons for 2 years, coming back and facing the leaves changing, the temperature dropping, and the long nights has really thrown me off.
If you’ve never lived in South Florida then you don’t really know what it is like to not experience seasons. Each part of the year just seems to melt into the next and the holidays just never really feel like the holidays. You don’t have to layer your clothing for Halloween, Thanksgiving is an afterthought if you don’t go home to be with family, and Christmas is void of lights and snows.
After a period of time you get used to this and almost forget what the cold is like in the Northeast. You assimilate into the sunny weather and palm trees, but now being removed from these things and having to deal with temperatures dropping into the 50s, I have found that this change has really affected my well-being.
Besides getting acclimated to the change of weather, I have also had to deal with the fact that the fall and holiday season always brought up bad memories for me. This was something that I didn’t really have to deal with head on in South Florida because the fall never felt like the fall and the holidays didn’t really feel like the holidays.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were the times in youth when I started to experience a lot of the trauma that would follow me for a good portion of my life. Before I got sober these were times when I would really act out on my drinking and eating disorder, and I always remember just trying to hold on till January. I knew that if I could just make it to January then the holidays would be over and I’d be safe for another year.
October was also the month that I left my ex-husband and began to experience the unraveling of self that lead to my eventual bottom. So being home, surrounded by the same faces that I left 2 years ago, dealing with the weather change and impending holidays, and for the first time in my adult life facing these things sober, has really been a challenge.
So I had to take a step back and see what was going on in my life that was making me feel this way, rather than just let how overwhelmed I’ve felt, consume my thoughts and actions.
Upon reflection I realized a couple of things. I realized that being around people and places where I drank, used drugs, and participated in my eating disorder, even though I have worked the Steps, still affects me. I believe that this is because for a good portion of my sobriety I was away from these things and so I could deal with them in a peripheral manner and then go back to my vacation life in South Florida. This wasn’t really conscious, but having the distance between my old life and my new one allowed me to cope with my past, but never truly face it.
Now that I am home, I have nowhere to go to. I am here and so whenever an emotion comes up, or I have to deal with my ex-husband in some way, it isn’t just a matter of making it through the week and getting on a plane and leaving. No, I have to sit with it and try to work through it. This has been a huge struggle and honestly I now understand why some people relapse after they move home. Luckily, though the people in my life that I trust and who I know have experienced these same things tell me that in time I will make new associations with my surroundings and I will no longer be as overwhelmed by my past.
I guess part of me was expecting that this would occur in a couple of weeks, but one friend told me that when he moved back home, after being sober for 3 years, it took him about a year to fully adjust.
I have also had to learn some coping mechanisms for how to deal with the change in season and the associations that it brings up for me. I have learned that I really have to dig into prayer, especially if I get an urge to drink or do some other harmful behavior. After praying I have to call someone and talk to them about it, because for me to not expose my feelings is a dangerous place to be. I also have had to learn how to accept that this is where I currently am. I have to extend to myself the same grace that I would others, and understand that I am learning how to deal with situations that are completely new and foreign to me. I am not always going to know what to do, but as long as I continue to pray and try to do the best I can, then I know that I will make it through to the other side.
So while I don’t regret my decision to move back home, I do sometimes wish that the transition was easier. I don’t think that anyone could have really prepared me for what it would be like to face the fall again in my old town, with all of my old memories swirling about. It has been tough to say the very least, but the positive in all of this is that I do not have to drink, drug, or engage in my eating disorder over it. I have a choice today and I intend to make good use of it.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.