Archive | September, 2012

Shamanic journeying through acupuncture? Yes, yes, YES!

18 Sep

11:43 am

Wow. Another KUH-RAZY experience during my acupuncture session yesterday!

(Warning: Psychobabble ahead.)

So, I’ve been to acupuncture three times now (with a new, and highly trained, it seems, therapist). Each time, I noticed an near-instantaneous buzzing feeling all over my body, and an immediate “delving” into self — the physiologic calm that acupuncture provides turns on my brain and makes me able to think deeper, more profound thoughts. Thoughts I’ve been putting off — or dreading, and therefore, TURNING OFF.

Yesterday, I realized that I’m a trauma survivor. I know, I know. WHATchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis? Come ON, DDG, give me a buh-reak! Seriously. I grew up within a very volatile, ugly marriage. My parents would yell and scream and sometimes even wield knives (true story). Everyone knew. They’d often tell us to go outside and “play,” which was code for, We’re going to shut the windows and scream at each other now. It was usually my mom screaming at my dad, and it usually happened when we were in bed, “sleeping.” It usually ended with her thrusting our living room doors closed with a loud BANG, and going to bed alone while my dad slept on the couch.

This went on for as long as I can remember (from about 5 to when they finally separated at 14). It was ugly. I would often and regularly hear things like, “Go fuck yourself if you even know how.” When they’d fight at night, I would weep in my bed. Silently. I learned how to cry really hard without making a sound. I was afraid, and I was also ashamed — my brothers slept in the same room (we had no doors on our two-bedroom upstairs), and I never heard them make a sound, so how horrible would it be if I did? Repression was the name of the game.

(I often wonder why kids blame themselves, or at least, internalize their parents’ anger and guilt and sadness when it comes to divorce? Here’s what I now think (thanks to my acupuncture “meditation”): kids KNOW that they represent the connection between their biological (and perhaps even nonbiological) parents. They know that they somehow make up each, and are (or were, LOL) the union between them. Thus, if there is a schism between the two, it’s somehow their fault. Somehow, it comes back to them, and they feel/take on the responsibility to “fix it.” It’s hard to explain, but I definitely KNOW that this is true, on an emotional level, even though intellectually — even as a kid, when we were told again and again that it wasn’t our fault — I might not believe it.)

As you can imagine, this kind of environment came with a lot of not-talking-about-the-elephant-in-the-room, tiptoeing around landmines, and (guessed at) battle lines not being crossed. I spent a good part of my teens feeling VERY ashamed and full of self-loathing (I had entire notebooks of hate poems to myself), and I wonder if that isn’t related to other, deeper trauma, but anyway… The trauma was never properly dealt with, I now believe. It was never confronted, handled, resolved, on the level that I needed it to be. So, I think I’ve spent my entire life putting up that early-learned stance, the one of me crouched, gut clenched, breath held, arms covering my face — ready for the punch. I was never physically abused, but I think emotional and psychological abuse — however inadvertant — can be just as bad. I know it was for me.

As I lay on the table, I realized that perhaps I have been hiding from this trauma my whole life, as a way to “make it” or “live my life,” never realizing that I hadn’t fully embraced it. And, without having fully accepted what happened to me, I was never able to let it go. Like, it now seems that ALL of my jobs, ALL of my romantic relationships have been situations that have helped SERVE my denial, my hiding from the trauma. (Hiding from being overly sensitive? Find a partner who doesn’t seem to notice anything! Not wanting to deal with feeling unloved? Become an overachiever and work yourself to the bone!) And, drinking has not only been a way of hiding from it when it bubbled up too close to the surface, but also a way to *experience* it. Too bad I was digging in the wrong hole.

Digging in the wrong hole? There came a point toward the end (last two or three years) of my blackouts where I was wanting the release, the unguarded expression of what I thought were authentic feelings. I wanted to express my trauma, but I was using booze to do it and that only served to hide myself from it further. On the table, I saw how traumatized I was as little girl. I saw myself on the table, and I saw the little girl (almost as a dream, but more real). I wanted to go and hug her and tell her she had nothing to be afraid of, that she was protected. I felt sorry for her. Which made me see clearly that, for some reason, as a little girl I think I just never felt protected. And I never realized this could have trickled down into every corner of the rest of my life. Yet, it has. Hence, the panic stance that I’ve been carrying myself in my entire life.

It was then that I realized that the “soul retrieval” aspect to shamanic journeying is not such the load of bullshit that I thought it was! Like, I honestly felt that I had been living in two “pieces” my whole life, one being myself, the person who works and lives and loves and tries to make it through life; and the other, the little girl self, the one who has been stuck back there, living in that trauma day in and day out for the past 33 years! In journeying, they say that soul retrieval is about picking up a part of your lost self and fusing/fixing the splintered whole, or schism, within. I need to subsume that girl and make us whole again, I thought. (Have you ever seen “Insidious?” Astral travel? Along those lines.) By doing so, I realized that yes, my trauma can be ended, that it IS over, that I don’t have to keep trying to find it OR hide from it via booze and blacking out.

I felt really sad, very emotional (cried all afternoon), and well, tired. I went to bed at 9 pm and finally dragged myself out 12 hours later. I woke up with a huge headache (that may be a caffeine headache, though). In essence, I felt hung over. BUT, I felt like I really did have a powerful experience of healing that has MADE ME WANT TO DRINK TO BLACKOUT LESS.

This is profound, to me. It makes me see that rehabilitation surrounding booze IS real and CAN work. It flies in the face of “rational recovery,” which basically says that there is nothing behind your drinking besides your selfish, overindulgent hand. NOT THE CASE. I honestly believe, at this moment, that drinking to excess would NOT be preferable to me now, mainly because I no longer need to dig deep to bring out that trauma; I’ve recognized it, and now, I can let it go. Wishful thinking?

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to drink — or even want to — but it does mean that I’ve finally begun feeling the real, authentic shit behind my desire to black out, which in essence, means that I won’t be striving — secretly wanting to simultaneously fill AND empty the void — to black out when I drink. Which means, this desire may have nothing to do with the substance itself. Which may mean that in a few months, or years, from now, I WILL be able to pick up a glass of wine and put it down. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Maybe not.

The science (and art…lessness) of the Blackout

16 Sep

6:29 pm

I was in H&M the other day and overheard this early 20s kid say he’d never had a blackout. His friend saved my day by quickly snapping back, Well, your time is coming.

What are blackouts? And, why are they generally speaking so horrible for everyone? It’s like, almost everyone I’ve known or read about who’s had a blackout has experienced some kind of insane, irrational anger. Rage, is more like it. Coupled with confusion, paranoia, anxiety, and fear, in no particular order. I get that all these latter things come with deep-seated parts of the brain literally being put to bed with extreme amounts of ethanol. BUT, why does the anger come out? Why do normally happy people not only let down their guard and get pissy, they typically become raging, sometimes violent, while blacked out?

Ahem. I’m one of those ragers. I literally turn into one big angry cunt. Who has no rational brain cells working. Why is this? And, am I the angry bird, or is it the booze making me angry? Or, does the booze simply open up the spout that’s always turned off, in a way that makes it rush too much and distorts it? Or, does the booze exacerbate the anger, and make it irrational? Is my fear and anger over many big and small things being amplified by the booze? Or, is that level of anger inside me all the time, just waiting to come out?

I think the booze exacerbates and makes irrational what resides within. Sometimes. Other times, I really don’t know where that level of vitriol, that extreme hatred even, comes from.

I need to find some clinical readings on this topic. It’s been driving me insane for years. Is it me, am I that fucked up? Or, is it the booze? And, WHY does booze do this? Where did that illustrious “all-knowing” being who created humans go wrong? How could he/she/it NOT make sure to put in some fail-safe to avoid me becoming a wino (or depressed and obsessive in the first place, for that matter)? And, once that was breached, how could it possibly have created beings who are capable of such horrific, and irrational, emotions — anger being one — when overloaded on booze? One BIG hit against the god theory and in favor of evolution (which, in case you haven’t noticed, I am) — we were NOT “created” without flaws. Maybe, over time, once the human race has gotten used to consuming alcohol, we’ll become immune to blackouts. But, what about the anger? Why will the “angry drunk” just not die?

And, most interesting to me, WHY IS IT ALWAYS ANGER that is stimulated to come out when we’re blacked out? Is that our primal shutting-down state of mind: confusion, fear, anxiety, and anger? Why is this?

Unfinished business…

16 Sep

5: 26 pm

It’s always going to be unfinished business with certain people.

I have to call my brother tonight; we’ve had very little contact since “the incident” over New Year’s. I totally let out my rage on and against his girlfriend (gf) — unfortunately, it was mostly true. They hold grudges and are in, what I would call, an emotionally co-dependent and (on her part) psychologically abusive relationship. Getting her to forgive and forget is not an option. The last time I called him — or, did he call me? Yes, he called me back — he called me from OUTSIDE a store, in the parking lot. Once his gf got back into the truck and closed the door (yes, he told me that she was sitting in the truck with the door closed), he had to go.

I have to keep calling him, but I honestly don’t want to. Tonight, I will get up the courage to confront him and say, What do you want me to do? I can send a card. I have no idea what to say, how to keep saying, I’m sorry for calling your gf all those things, and I’m doubly sorry I did because both you and I know they’re the truth. I HAVE said I’m sorry, egregiously, to him; I was afraid to make direct contact with her because the way we left it. She refused to see me the morning I left, so it was just my brother and I who talked. THAT was a hard, horrible talk. The whole nightmarish weekend will go down as probably my worst, most insane, most confusing — do I really hate his gf that much? I didn’t think so — blackout on record.

Still. THEY have to learn to forgive, forget, stop holding grudges, and move on, too. They also have a long way to go in terms of HER getting help for her mental problems and personality disorder and HIM learning how to say no, stand up for himself and those he cares about, think for himself, and stop the abuse. I can’t do that, and I definitely don’t want to. BUT, even still, I feel like it’s my fault that she triggered me so horribly, and she’s definitely put the full weight of the blame on me. That is unfair, but that’s why she’s the psychologically abusive partner in that relationship. She acts like a 14-year-old girl, and while yes, I get that she’s the victim of years of abuse and trama on her end, there comes a point — 42 years old, is she? — where one has to say, OK, I choose to engage on a mature, rational level with others and acknowledge what’s going on WITH ME, and not what the world is DOING TO ME. Hard to explain this woman, but let’s just say, no one in my family can really deal with her without booze, let alone with.

It all just makes for sucky Sunday, which is the day I usually reserve for calling family. Ugh. And no, I don’t want to drink. I just want to be able to go along with my days, staying sober, feeling good about that, and not have to feel guilty every single time — still guilty, guilty forever — I think about calling my brother.

I wonder, how much does unfinished business affect us on a subconscious level?

Day 29: Oh, how I do not long to be that drunk kid who fell onto his face

15 Sep

1:30 am

Ode to Day 29: Oh, how I do not long to be that drunk kid who fell onto his face in the subway. DUDE. Thank God(dess) he wasn’t near the tracks. He was at the bottom of the escalator and literally tripped and went SPLAT onto his chest and face. Ouch. Of course, I laughed after I got past him (two other people helped his drunk ass up), mainly because it was one of those falls so utterly lacking in grace that you can’t perform it unless you’re totally shitfaced and your limbs are approximately 95% out of your conscious control.

How often have I done — and not remembered doing — something like that? I cringed and immediately took a reality check: I could have been him and could have done that, and something really bad (breaking my neck comes to mind — I know someone who did) could have happened. I suck in my breath a little at the thought of the absolute possibility.

I remember walking around [cold east coast city] a few years ago, pretty soon before I left (man, that sounds so sad; must get back). I was still drinking and blacking out, but it was taking its toll and I was moving into my serious-problem phase. (That makes me smile — which was what, pray tell? Rage-dialing a recent ex AND banging your laptop to death in the same night?). Anyway, it was dark and as I was crossing the street with the hoards of mainly 20s kids, I saw this 20s kid stumbling, lit as fuck. He could barely stand up, and kept weaving in and out of this wide swath of land that he considered his “dotted line.” He looked like he was in a trance and had no idea where he was or what he was doing. He’d move toward people, nearly fall on them, and they’d back away. Or, just pretend not to notice him at all.

It stands out because I remember wanting to go over to him and like, HELP HIM. I was worried that he might walk into traffic or trip over an open manhole. Or worse, fall into one of those storefront openings in the sidewalk that lead to the shop’s basement level. That could have been/probably was at some point ME. Did anyone help me? Did anyone care? Would strangers just let ME stumble about through the streets of [cold east coast city]? What makes him different than me?

I guess I must never have stumbled THAT badly around strangers in the bar, or outside on my own after my friends took off, or trying to find a cab… I doubt it, though, as I have more than one memory of “coming to” somewhere totally foreign and not in my ‘hood (sometimes not even in my borough). I know it’s happened here…when I got arrested and spent the night in a sobering cell in [cold west coast city], or when I blacked out for hours and ended up getting mugged and losing my glasses somewhere that felt like the Mission but to this day I have no idea where I was in the city, or when…the list goes on.

The point is, it gets worse. Kind of like the opposite of the Dan Savage anti-bullying campaign. It Gets Worse. Hopefully, though, that kid in [cold east coast city] didn’t turn up dead or seriously injured, and hopefully he’s not relying on the “kindness” of strangers anymore after he’s had too much to drink. If you think about it, HOW MANY times have we gone home shitfaced after a night out drinkin’? How many times have I walked, taken the subway, hailed a cab, climbed up seven flights of stairs or taken the elevator to my apartment COMPLETELY blacked out, or at least in severe brownout? Innumerable. Literally. I might as well count backward from 365. Now? Today? Today I don’t even think I’d trust myself in the shower drunk. IT GETS WORSE.

This post is all just to say, I’m consciously glad — finally — that I’m not falling onto my face at the bottom of a subway station’s escalator (which wasn’t even turned ON). Dude is going to hurt tomorrow.

Another Day 28…FINALLY.

15 Sep

12:45 am

Well, friends, here I am, at 4 weeks. AGAIN. And this time around, I definitely feel like I’ve Worked My Ass Off every single day to get here. I think there is a lot of truth to it being harder and requiring more resolve to get back on that horse…or wagon — especially in early (pre-90 days?) sobriety. (What’s up with the metaphors for sobriety anyway? Do I have to drink all that water in the wagon? Is it safe? Is the horse pulling the water wagon? I want to be ON the horse, then. No, I want to BE the horse. NO! I want to be a unicorn! With sparkly teeth! For sure, my wagon is being pulled by a unicorn! Sorry, been feeling a bit cheeky lately.)

I have a LOT to cover in this post, so I’ll start by yanking my mind back to my 4 weeks. Yes, 4 weeks again. Lots of days in the past 4 weeks I’ve had the “Oh, why NOT?” feeling toward breaking down and drinking. I already fell off, what’s the big deal? It’s not like the world is going to end. I fell off twice and got back on. What has helped is that falling off sucked, I didn’t stop after one glass or even one bottle, and I had terrible (read: angry and confused) blackouts both times. So, the incentive to “try it and see” is no longer there. At least for now, and that’s good enough.

It’s also become quite…boring, actually, getting through the days. The first month of my first attempt at sobriety was like, fireworks (and unicorns! With sparkly teeth!) every night — wow, I got through another day sober! Sound the trumpets! Now, I’m practiced, my cravings are significantly less, and I’ve come a long way in discovering how to be sober again and live within sobriety (like, doing things that need to be done sober, and then doing them the next day and the next day and the next, without the “reward” of wine). The incentive to “beat my record” is not there, simply because my record is longer than 14 or 28 or even 30 days. Finally, when I do reach 60 again, and then that elusive 90, I already know that counting days is not going to be cutting it as the sole reason for staying sober — I have to start accomplishing REAL goals; I have to be building my life and not simply repairing the damage that I’ve done. Does that make sense? Who knows.

I’ve been somewhat manic (not just restless, I’ve discovered) the past few days, and I’m trying to remember, was I always manic? Or, do I just have extra, unfocused energy because I’m newly sober? I was literally buzzing yesterday both during and after my acupuncture treatment, my heart was beating faster, I continue to eat like a horse (and become hungry again hours after I eat), and I can’t really focus. Reading all that I need to read feels difficult because I keep getting ahead of myself. I have all these ideas, dreams and schemes — then again, I always have. I think I’m just EXTRA my “old” self, and I’m not quite used to the physical aspects of being that “old” self AND not having booze in my system to maybe depress or calm it down. I mean, I really cannot remember the last time I was more or less sober AND working/writing/dreaming/traveling/doing. Maybe…my early 20s? And, it’s been years, literally, since I haven’t been probably clinically depressed due to my work, my circumstances, and my drinking.

Anyway, lots to write about and I don’t want to make this post too long. Needless to say, I want to drink want to drink want to drink tonight…but, I won’t. I’ll finish this post, drink my extra-large seltzer, do some back stretches (the burning has subsided, but the knife-stuck-into-lower-back feeling persists), and read. And research Hawaii — my latest (expensive) obsession. And plan tomorrow. 😉

Meditation and sobriety: I do not think, therefore I do not drink?

12 Sep

11:12 pm

I went to the Shambhala center tonight for a group meditation event. It was OK. Nothing mind-blowing. I mean, the “instructions” for newbies (there were four of us) were pretty funny in how basic they were (how much instruction does one need to sit down and breathe?): sit up straight; put your hands on your knees/thighs, palms facing down; and close your eyes slightly but not totally while you focus them downward. Then, sit like that for however long you want, and focus on your breathing.

I believe we all meditate at certain points during the day, so it didn’t feel all that unfamiliar to like, not be thinking. Shoot, I think I spend QUITE a few minutes these sober days with NO THOUGHTS whatsoever; now that I seem to be naturally dazed most of the time, I like to just stare out my window and well, think about nothing. For hours sometimes. Tonight was different in that I was sitting (ouch, I definitely might want to think twice about that vipassana retreat where you sit from 4 am to 9 pm every day for 10 days), was “mindfully not thinking” (whatever that means), and it was with a group. At first, I found all the little swallowing noises and slight exhalations irritating, but then when I had to do it, I realized that they sort of get drowned out by your mindlessness after a while.

The basic concept of Shambhala is that we are all good, and have inherent love and integrity within — this is our true, effortless nature. Meditation helps us to remember/realize this.

There was a talk afterward by some dude who’s been doing Shambhala for 20 years about “drala,” which is the same concept as life energy or chi. He talked about internal and external drala, and how it’s all around us if we choose to interact with it. One guy spoke up and said he felt “good energy” here, in [cold west coast city] (he just moved here from the east coast); he said that it felt alive, whereas parts of the east coast felt dead. Ironically, I feel the opposite (maybe I’m projecting, or maybe our experience of drala is interestingly quite personal). I wanted to pipe up and say that my “drala” here was in the absolute zero zone on the Kelvin scale, but I let it go. I don’t need to win ’em all. 😉

He also mentioned a point that I took home: feelings like anger and anxiety are actually forms of aggression toward yourself. Shambhala teaches that we are good and deserve to be treated with dignity and love, and that it’s completely unnecessary — and counterproductive — to be aggressive toward ourselves. I feel like my self-judgment and aggressive behavior toward myself runs rampant, and has for as long as I can remember. Why did I drink myself into a tizzy for a decade, doing things that were the pinnacle of self-hatred? Not to mention, wallowing in anger and fear/anxiety for many years over a failed relationship, or a move to somewhere new, or even a trip to a meditation center where I’d be bound to meet, gasp, NEW PEOPLE?

I felt welcomed by the dude who instructed us on how to meditate (for some reason, I blurted out to him that I was getting sober, which I think helped us connect more quickly because I was so honest), but otherwise, the place felt stiff. I felt that the overall vibe was very [cold west coast city] — stiff, guarded, angry, and sullen. Of course, not everyone in the room was stiff, but the entire feel of the place didn’t do it for me.

BUT, I liked sitting and meditating. After about half an hour, we got up and did some walking meditation (basically just walking and watching your feet and not thinking), which was good because my right foot was falling asleep.

I felt *something* like calmer toward the end, but for the most part, my focusing on my breathing made it feel harder to breathe naturally, so that was uncomfortable. And, the sciatica pain was there, so I was continually moving around on my cushion (I’m sure I was “that annoying chic over there”). My hands were sweating and it was hot in the room, but I didn’t want to take off my sweatshirt.

All in all, no minds were blown. BUT, it piqued my curiosity — especially the group aspect. Even though there might be some angry people (shit, I’m probably one of ’em), when we’re meditating, there is a different quality to my own state of concentration that I can already tell might help me progress more into the process than if I were alone. Kind of like studying in a library instead of at home.

And the best part? You can’t drink — or think about drinkin’ — when you’re meditating! Day 26. Woot woot!

Restless and sober, sober and restless. I want some wine.

12 Sep

5:07 pm

I feel restless. I want to drink.

I used to drink to quell this feeling. Now, I am observing it and letting it run its course, possible side effect of being depressed later be damned. It’s a combination of wanting to do everything all at once and not wanting or having the energy to do anything at all.

Like, I feel like I’ve done everything under the sun IN MY HEAD, yet have only run a few errands today (unsuccessfully connecting with a few possible buyers of my stuff, unsuccessfully hunting for a few pieces of clothing, successfully hitting the PO to get my absentee ballot stuff rolling). In my head I’ve gone to shambhala — heck, I’ve gone twice — AND done yoga. I’ve run around the Park, cooked a feast, finished a book — shoot, I’ve read the entire thing, front to back. I’ve not only planned my trip to LA, but I’ve already gone on it and gotten back. I’m already enjoying Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, and am about to book my flight to Kauai. No, I’m back already — Kauai was awesome!

I’ve applied to a MPH program, painted another picture (well, I used pastels the first time, which I guess I can blog about and show you, but it’s a freaky little creation), and sold the rest of my furniture. I did what I planned to do today on my actual paid editing work.

Man, I could use a glass of wine! YES! A glass of wine (more like two bottles) while watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, again. Which, I’ll SO have time for before the gong of midnight pushes today into tomorrow…

THIS is my day, my restlessness, and why I both drank and hated drinking — I felt the need to calm my mind down to do all this shit, and then got frustrated by how little of it I could get done in a day, a week, a month. (Uh, maybe cuz drinking allows you to do absolute JACK?) I hate waiting, and I love dreaming. I’m addicted to dreaming, to staying in proverbial motion, I admit. In my mind, it’s all possible, maybe even practical!

Reign it in. I don’t want to! I want to celebrate the possibilities with wine! YES.

Yet, deep down, I know drinking wine is a way to put them all off. They take courage, and energy, and patience, all three of which are lacking — at least in sufficient quantities — in me right now.

I hate the fact that I can’t burn off this energy by going for a jog, but that’s injury for ya. I somehow managed to strain my right ankle, so in addition to the sciatic and hamstring pain (which is slowly easing up, thank God(dess)), I’ve got one more little thing making me WAIT. I hate waiting. I really do.

I’m going to give meditation a try tonight at the Shambhala center. Let go. Stop trying to control my time and energy to the point that it turns me manic. Thanks, Sober Boots, for your post on realizing that we need to stop trying to be in control all the time.

Drinking Diaries blog launches book!

11 Sep

3:05 pm

And I can’t wait to read it, cover to cover!

It’s called Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Up Straight, and you can grab it here.

In case you don’t know, Drinking Diaries is a blog written for and by women to share their stories about drinkin’. It resonates with me, being that I’m, uh, a woman and a drinker. Well, a sober drinker. I think. For now. Whatever. 😉

Here’s an excerpt from a contribution by Laurie Lindeen (former singer of the early ’90s band Zuzu’s Petals — anyone remember them?), and it’s damn good. (Thanks, HuffPo!) She’s a great writer, and I look forward to reading more of her stuff and more of the entries from the new DD book.

Emotional healing through acupuncture? Yes, yes, YES.

10 Sep

3:47 pm

Wow, is all I can say. I just got back from an acupuncture (and tui na) session with a well-regarded therapist here, and I’m… Drained? Changed? Blown away? Scolding myself for not having done it sooner along in my recovery (I’m on day 24 the second time around; it would have been day 90 today if I hadn’t drunk a couple times in August), AND for not having kept up with my health — mental and emotional — while drinkin’ that I let it get this bad.

The first thing he did, that all acupuncturists do, is “feel your pulse” (along your wrists) to take a read on you — your physical, emotional, and mental health. Mind is body, body is mind, and fixing one without the other doesn’t make sense to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine. My back pain started 10 years ago, and I knew pretty early on that it was connected to my other problems: former bulimia, self-esteem issues, childhood trauma. (I store my reaction to stress and/or LIFE, considering the amount of pain I feel, almost entirely in my left shoulder). Today’s session told me that it is almost 100% related, as far as how severe it gets and how constant it is.

I told him all about my separate pains (sciatica, iliotibial band syndrome, and generalized pain along my left spine/left shoulder). He mentioned that the pain I was feeling running along my groin and down my hamstring is associated with the liver (energy) channel. HUH. SHIT, I thought. Better tell him. I gulped and admitted it out loud: I’m getting sober, it’s been almost 90 days (minus 2) and well, yeah, it’s been bad. How bad? Oh, I was blacking out about 5 nights of every 7 on a regular basis. Oh, for about 2 years. I’ve been drinking to excess for the past 5-10, I said. That makes a huge difference, thanks for telling me, he said. Not a big deal on his part, but a huge one on mine (I’m sure he sees a LOT of people with mood problems and substance issues. Although, I hope that what he was secretly thinking wasn’t, Wow, she’s seriously fucked UP.).

We then went to work. First, he performed tui na. THAT was awesome. Tui na is a push/pull massage technique; the main goal is to release energy, not so much to massage muscle tension out. Whew, his hands felt like STEEL! He knows his stuff, I thought, grimacing a few times as he dug in and “wrung” out the areas that were in near-splitting pain.

Then, I turned over (I was clothed the entire time; tui na is performed through the clothes) and he stuck two needles in me. That’s it. After my reaction to the first, he said he didn’t want to traumatize me. WHOA. I’ve had acupuncture before, and I’ve cried before from the emotional release it provides, but this was some next-level, out-of-my-world shit. He did some tweaking around both my lower left and right arms — of course, they hurt from typing all the time — and that somehow triggered me. I feel helpless against this pain, and it reminds me of work and stress and my job(s) over the years that helped drill it into me. Then, when he put the needle into my lower right arm and twisted it a bit, he hit a nerve. Literally and figuratively.

I felt a particular sensation of release, of warmth, immediately traveling throughout my right arm and creeping over my entire upper body. It literally felt like warm liquid, and — paradoxically, in this case — both calming and agitating. The twisting of the needle hit a nerve; and along with that raw, shooting pain, I felt emotionally unblocked. It was as if he had also opened up my “emotions” channel, and that started to flow. Boy, did it flow.

I just started bawling. Weeping, actually. I covered my eyes, as I never cry in front of people and in this case, I just COULD NOT STOP. It wasn’t sadness that I was feeling, it was pure GRIEF. Deep and raw and very personal. He told me to let it out, and I did. I told him that I felt so much pain, and croaked out how I felt so much guilt over what I had done while drunk — I feel like a failure, I said.

I continued to shake and cry when he left the room, for about the first 15 minutes of my 25-minute session. When it finally subsided, I felt deeply calm, quite heavy, and ready to sleep. When I got up to leave, I felt dizzy. I stumbled to the front desk, paid him, and looked sheepishly into his unflinching eyes and said, Thank you.

What were the biggest lessons I learned? One, that mind and body are so interrelated it’s sad that it takes us all so damn long to open up to this reality. Yes, reality.

Two, as I was lying on the table, I thought, The day will come when I will be able to shed this body and this brain, and man, I am actually looking forward to that day! Fucking pain in the ass, this life shit! Which, ironically, put me at ease: for the first time, I grasped the concept of three’s, one and two being my body and brian, three being something/someone over or outside each and both. Could it be that there IS something — tangible, present, real — beyond the body and brain?

Three, it became apparent to me that — at least toward the last 2 years, and possibly throughout at times — I drank not to numb myself, but to actually FEEL. I hold a lot of feelings in, repress them. Drinking was my way of expressing the sadness and anger that I wouldn’t and often, couldn’t let out. Sure, it was artificial — why am I crying my eyes out after two glasses of red wine? — and exaggerated — why am I screaming bloody murder at a complete stranger? — but it allowed me to express some version of the real sadness and anger that I felt.

I’m still recovering, and feel sadder than ever today. But, it’s a good sadness, a grief that isn’t artificial. I felt the real thing today. As my mom so eloquently pointed out to me after the one and only time I blacked out in front of her (Christmas, 2011) and dissolved into a teary, confused, sociopathic mess: I truly hope that you can start bringing out some of these feelings when you’re sober. Duh. I didn’t quite get what she meant, but it’s clear to me now.

Packing and moving and a cold…iced tea

8 Sep

9:04 pm

Or, in my case, DC (Diet Coke).

I had a much better day today, and thought MUCH less about drinking than yesterday. Staying strong, kids, no matter what. If I can get through nights like last night, where the only thing between me and wine is sheer willpower, then I feel like the worst is behind me. I can do it, no matter how listless I feel.

Btw, does anyone else have a sense of “whew, that’s done” with the passing of every sober day? I hate to see days go, but I do feel like every day makes the next easier — overall. So, bring ’em fast, and bring ’em hard, cuz I want this shit to get easier!

Anyway, I sold a few big pieces of furniture today, prepared a few more things for sale tomorrow, and ran errands. I also received a few important pieces of mail — still not sure how long I have to stay here in order to fulfill my UI obligations, but it sounds like I can pay a prorated daily rate on my studio if I have to change my move-out date. What a relief. Oh, and my super fixed my toilet. All in all, lookin’ good on the domestic front.

Tonight, I’m not thinkin’ about drinkin’. I’m not letting myself. I’m thinking about future writing projects, new goals, things I’d like to try (visual/physical art — I’ve had a few ideas for some “installation” art and would love to try my hand at basic painting)… I’ll probably do laundry (I’m selling a rug tomorrow and I have to at least try and wash the wine stains from earlier this year out), bake cookies, and read. Kuh-razy Saturday night, eh?

Tomorrow, I’m showing a few more items for sale and going to see my eye doctor to get fit for contacts — all before noon. And, I KNOW I won’t be late or miss these appointments. Why? This right here, my friends.

It’s good to be sober!


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