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Check your normal

My stepfather has acute dementia. When he was still living at home I’d often have tense conversations with my mother about the mayhem that was going on around her. Worried, I’d say, “You need to remember this is not a normal way to be living.” Of course, none of it was easy; dementia is far crueller than many realise.

It’s important to step outside your day-to-day whirlwind and check your normal.

When my drinking became a problem, it didn’t happen overnight. Things slide if you take your eye off them. Gently, gently, ever so quietly, they shift. You drift.

When you look back you find yourself trying to remember when the ground fell away from you and the bizarre became the norm.

In the past, when I’ve been in hideously dark, toxic relationships, I’ve taken my eye off the norm ball too. You have a strange, nagging sense that the way you’re being treated isn’t right but you don’t quite grab it.

It slips away from you like soap, and before you know it, your daily life is a dark shadow of something that used to shimmer brightly.

You’ve fallen off a cliff without realising you were near the edge. You stop talking to friends because deep inside you know, at some point, your life became a parallel universe. The rules are different and the air is weird.

Remember: no one else is responsible for your life but you. You are entirely responsible for creating and ensuring your own happiness.

If you haven’t checked your normal in a while, today is as good a day as any. Are you on a downward path?

Check – and if you find your norm has shifted, it’s time to take action to start shifting it back.

* For more from Corrine, follow her on Facebook here.

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Keep passing light bulbs

Every time I write about my new sober life I get a flurry of messages. Strangers get in touch and friends quietly put their hands up to say they’re struggling.

It always makes my heart hurt to think people are drowning alone. And yet, I know it happens because I did it too.

Trying to help someone who’s leaning on booze too much is a very tricky tightrope to walk. On one hand you love them and want them to be full of all the happiness and contentment you believe they deserve.

On the other, you can’t do the internal re-wiring work for them. You can’t put the bottle down on their behalf, wipe away haunting memories, read with an open mind, or have conversations with sober people that start switching on the necessary series of light bulbs.

This week, Nicole Kidman gave a rare interview talking about how she helped her husband of ten years, Keith Urban, in his battle for sobriety. Speaking on The Jess Cagle Interview, she offered advice to anyone who’s trying desperately to support their partner.

“Get help, put your hand up, reach out… there is absolutely help out there,” she said. “It’s a very big thing for people like me, who go, ‘I can take care of you, I can do it’. As much as I thought I could do all the work for him and said ‘I can help’, at some point you just have to say, ‘I love you, and I’m here when you decide to do the work and if you don’t, then that’s it.”

She adds, “You cannot save a human being, they have to save themselves. But you can love them and give them enormous support.”

It reminds me of a brilliant quote, “The worst thing is watching someone drown and not being able to convince them that they can save themselves by just standing up.”

I was still drowning when I first read that. It was a light bulb moment – but it wasn’t the only one it took. A long series of light bulbs needed to switch on for me to realise it was time to stand up. Some came from books, others from friends.

Let me say this: life really does keep getting better and better every day you’re sober.

So, yes, it’s certainly true that someone has to stand up, re-wire and ultimately save themselves. But, if you know someone who’s struggling try to keep giving them light bulbs.

P.s. I’ve got plenty if you need some!

For more from Corrine, follow her on Facebook here.

Empowerment isn’t blowing out someone else’s candle

Some people are allergic to inspirational quotes. Personally, it always makes me smile when I read something that connects with my state of mind at that moment. Yesterday, this one greeted me:

“Blowing out someone else’s candle won’t make yours shine brighter…”

It couldn’t have summed up my current train of thought any better.

I’ve been avoiding social media recently because there’s so much hatred being flung around. Someone says something and fury is swiftly unleashed by those who don’t agree. People are being encouraged to fight back as if it’s empowering. It’s not. There are no brownie or good karma points in making others feel small.

I often wonder what goes through people’s mind in that moment. Does it make them feel better? A quick rush of gratification before a slump of guilt, perhaps. Making others feel bad doesn’t make you happy. You will never build yourself up by tearing someone else down and two wrongs certainly don’t make a right.

If someone has an opinion that differs from yours, you don’t have to tear them down. They are not stealing your ‘right’ by what you see as ‘wrong’. Walk on by and get on with your own day.

It’s like FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Just because someone else is having fun, doesn’t mean they’ve stolen it from you. You don’t need to feel wronged or that you’ve missed out.

Equally, there is no maximum amount of success or happiness to be shared around. When someone gets a win in life, it doesn’t mean you’ve lost. Learn to say ‘Well done’ – and genuinely mean it.

Real empowerment is standing on your own two feet and taking true responsibility for yourself. You don’t need to trample on others to feel your own power – even if they hurt you.

Trampling on others is easy. Lashing out is quick and simple. But it’s weak.

When you’re really empowered, you’re very aware that you stand alone as a human being. You don’t need to take to become stronger. You don’t need to bring anyone else down to lift yourself up.

Blowing out someone else’s candle will never make yours shine brighter; you’ve only taken from them. There can be no happiness in that.

You know you’ve cracked it when you feel the urge to take someone else’s hand and help them succeed. After all, a candle can light plenty of other candles and lose nothing.

That’s real empowerment.

  • For more from Corrine, follow her on Facebook