Not too long ago I scrolled through my Facebook pictures to look for a photo to add to a Birthday collage for a great aunt. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but I couldn’t believe how I was drunk in the majority of my pictures. It probably would have been something I would have made a huge joke about before, but there was a deep darkness in seeing my dead eyes behind my make-up and fake smiles. When I was deep in my addiction I didn’t see how bad it was. It was like seeing an alien inhabiting a body that looked like mine, in clothes I wouldn’t wear anymore. I went to my phone and pulled up a recent picture of myself, the one to the left in today’s picture. I compared and contrasted – weeping for relief. I could see the light in my eyes. I could see the calmness in my posture. I could see an outfit I choose for myself based on the weather and what my needs were that day. I kept this comparison close, because eventually in recovery your light turns on – and we don’t always see it at first. But if we have an example, a concrete piece of evidence of the hell we were in next to the hope we are experiencing, it is among the most precious things we can keep on hand.
I was so sceptical of comparison pictures, thinking I wasn’t that bad before, or that it was a self-indulgent flex. But seeing it as reality I surprised myself, and it might surprise you too.
My phone background was always a lovely little visual check in for me in early sobriety. Sometimes it was a picture of my brother and sister, my favourite people on earth. Then I changed it to a Bojack Horseman quote (“It gets easier. You have to do it every day, that’s the hard part. But it does get easier”). Sometimes it was a powerful whale, my animal of choice. Whatever it was, it was something I unavoidably had to see every day, so I utilised it to feel soothed, powerful, and comforted. It’s a small thing, but it made a big difference on the bad days and when those little urges crept in when I least expected them.
What are images and sights that comfort and calm you, even please you? Where can you introduce them into your life as a little reassurance?
Two tiny things:
- Make an album on your phone of pictures that either offer perspective or make you happy. Look at it as much as needed.
- Buy a magazine and slice it up, taking out colours, shapes, textures, décor that you like. You don’t have to do anything with it, just see what you gravitate towards. Maybe get something for your living space that is in the spirit of any patterns you find.