Archive | December, 2012

Happy sober New Year! Or, I do not want what I haven’t got

31 Dec

8:53 pm

(WHAT? Oops! I meant to have this post on New Year’s Eve, but alas, my procrastinating self hasn’t figured out how to set the “self-timer” thingie on WordPress, and I still go in and manually enter the publish time (which I accidentally set for December 31, 2013). Anyhoo, here’s my rant from a few nights ago, and to be perfectly honest, I’m so over it: the event, the thoughts re: the event, and my annoying self. Done. Still…have a read and then let’s all move on, shall we?)

I haven’t been sober for New Year’s Eve in like, a decade or more. And, let me tell you, it’s GOT to be better than last year’s.

I’ve been ruminating a lot lately about my “drinking past,” and frankly, I’m over it! However, some people aren’t, and that hurts.

I called my brother last night; we haven’t spoken for almost three months (not for lack of trying), since his girlfriend’s vicious response to my amends letter–a very heartfelt, honest apology and attempt to make things right (even though, months had gone by before my brother changed his mind and told me that no, things weren’t OK, that his girlfriend was still “very angry” with me).

I’ve told the story before, but in a nutshell, last year I got really, REALLY drunk at their house on New Year’s Eve. Deerunky drunk drunk. Drunker than I think I’ve ever been, EVER. It was the culmination of a long year of basically hitting bottom over and over and over–I felt like the skipping stone that just wouldn’t stop!

Anyway, I ended up blacking out (the flip just SWITCHED) and screaming at my brother and his girlfriend, calling her names; ranting about what a crazy bitch she is (which she is, literally–victim of incest, rape, and severe psychological abuse; but has chosen to hate her way through it), how my brother doesn’t care about me, how they’ve isolated themselves in rural America, how his girlfriend has ruined his life. Blah blah blah. Yelling, crying, rolling on the floor–you get the picture. (There was also a rant about how much I hate Coldplay, which is sort of awesome and I really wish someone had filmed that part.)

The problem is, IT WAS ALL TRUE, what I said. Doh! Sigh. The worst part about getting blackout drunk is that quite often, there is truth to what you say to other people and about other people in your blackout. If you’re me, anyway. In fact, it’s like, I allow someone a completely unobstructed view of my mind, of what’s really inside my head. YIKES. And, not cool, because there are many things that people just DON’T NEED TO KNOW.

I woke up the next day as if from a nightmare. I had NO idea–it was a total blackout, with practically no flashbacks and no ability to even conjure a feeling of what went down, especially the parts related to me yelling at the girlfriend, who actually ran and hid, according to my brother. When I woke up, I remember feeling extremely pissed off, fuming, confused, and utterly unable to remember WHAT was making me feel so sick in my head, so sick to my stomach. Did I have a nightmare? Something happened, I’m sure of it. Was it a dream?

It wasn’t a dream. My brother and I had a painful talk on the stoop after I got up, and then I left. Drove the fucking 6 or 8 hours to DC with the WORST hangover on record (I’m surprised I didn’t hallucinate and drive into the ditch in the middle of West Virginia), and then spent the next, well, 12 months saying I was/am sorry. I finally wrote a letter to the girlfriend, and I got the most vicious reply in return (she wrote me a Facebook mail while drunk; does the word “irony” mean anything?).

Anyway, I’ve tried, kept calling, and I get little to nothing in return. At this point, I’m the one who’s pissed that they’re not budging–they’re continuing to hold a mighty grudge, and not ONCE have they asked me about my drinking, my getting sober, how it’s going, how I’m doing with all this. Not one question. In August, I told my brother on the phone that I had 60 days sobriety, and his reply was an awkward grunt. Oh-kay, then, guess I won’t be bringing that up with you EVER again.

I haven’t brought it up, and I doubt we can truly mend this. I’m pissed at them for not only not forgiving OR forgetting, but for lying about the fact that they did! I know I shouldn’t feel this way, because I was the one who messed up, but come on. When I write a heartfelt letter to the woman and she responds by getting drunk and telling me that I’m a “cunt who will never be loved by any man and that I should die”? And my brother, not even admitting that she sent it, let alone apologizing on her behalf, even just a little?

(To be sure, I’ve talked it out with my mother and uncle, who know the girlfriend, and they’re both on MY side. Just sayin’. I’m not sure why I keep bothering myself about someone who simply isn’t capable of having a normal relationship.)

So, this has turned into a rant, but I’m sorry, I needed to vent it in hopes of setting it free, finally, this year. I have to move on. I don’t want to be there anymore. That place was dark. I want light. I want clear thinking, healthy relating, progress.

Tonight, I’m grateful for all I have, all I’ve accomplished, and all the people in my life who have supported me through a very progressive year! I’m sober, and I’m living in [beautiful island where I now live]. I’m freelance writing/editing, and I’m doing it from wherever I want–this was a big goal of mine, one that I didn’t think I could accomplish even this year, let alone WHILE I was getting sober. I got back to [cold east coast city] for a month or so and re-discovered a possible future life there. I checked the fuck out of [cold west coast city referred to as hotel named in famous song] and have not looked back. There, I was living alone in the Tenderloin, drinking every night, and being miserable. Now, I get to care for dogs, another person, myself. I get to work and live. I have the sun every day, the ocean (one that you can swim in without a wet suit, that is) by my side. I get to dream about the future. I get to appreciate the present. I have choices, and I get to make them every single moment of every single day.

Happy new year, friends. I would not be here, in this place, without the support of my sober blogging community. You guys rock, and have taught me that whatever path you take to get to Sober Land, as long as you get there is what matters.

2013…and 90 days, coming up!

You have to go through it to get through it

30 Dec

9:39 pm

I REALLY wanted to drink last night. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY. Frustration, disappointment in self, ennui, fear of the past and future, sadness… I spent the day on the couch, feeling ill, too, which only contributed to this pent-up bad juju.

A fog of desire, that’s what it was. A fog of desire to drink. To drown it out, drown it away.

I used to drink when I felt the way I felt last night. OH, YES, I did. NO WAY IN HELL was I going to let that pimple come to a head. What I mean is, I would shut down the emerging thoughts before they fully formed, effectively transfiguring them into something other, something nebulous–something drunken. I would drink, then weep, yet, I never understood exactly what I was crying about; I knew I felt bad, but I never let myself think the real thoughts, only the drunken, fake ones.

I really wanted to drink the past two days, actually. I’ve just felt low energy, depressed, frustrated. Numerous points, but always the same theme: I’m not doing enough with my talents, I’m wasting valuable time. What’s it all mean? Why create, produce, leave behind, anyway? I’ve forgotten most of my life (I mean, I don’t specifically remember a lot of the hours I’ve been alive, y’know?), what’s the point of creating new memories? (LOL–SUCH a negative thought!) And, of course, the next thought had to come: In fact, what a SHITE thing to do, to have a kid and subject him/her to what I’m feeling and thinking right now, which HAS to cross most people’s minds now and then, right? RIGHT? And on and on. We rented “Ted,” and that was pretty funny, so the night wasn’t ALL BAD, of course! Yet, the whirring continued until my boyfriend went to bed and I was left on the couch (still), wishing I had bought myself a treadmill for Christmas. Or a sledge hammer!

I’ve always felt pressured to accomplish, achieve, create. It’s become an addiction, I know, perceiving my reality this way and reacting to it, usually negatively. However, being sober–getting sober, the process of, actually–has allowed me to begin to see that NO, I don’t have to keep doing what I’ve always done! I have a choice in how I see the world and how I let it make me feel. I mean, I can choose not only WHAT I think about but also HOW I choose to think about certain things, especially my own ideas of productivity, purpose, and achievement. I get to choose how I relate to my thoughts, my feelings, and my gut reactions.

It’s a process, though, so one step forward, two steps back. Last night, I did the usual: I let my brain go there, and pretty soon, I was clenching my gut, nearly wanting to break my teeth because… I…I…What am I doing? What am I doing with my time? Am I simply not a good writer? Have I become a has-been? And then, the thought of thoughts, the rotten core of the apple:

Have I lost myself in being sober? Which, of course, almost instantaneously morphed into, Sobriety has taken myself away from me!

Evil-doer, DEVIL sobriety.

Today, I’m not sure what to think about this melodramatic conclusion except, it’s sort of true. I am no longer my old self. I no longer have wine to boost my mood, to encourage me to want to do what I thought I wanted to do. Without wine, I don’t do this and I don’t do that, so did I ever really LIKE doing this and that? Was I even good at it?

Moreover, I just feel–feel is the key word; feelings are tricky, remember?–like I’m no longer myself! Sure, I’m a new self, and probably a better one. But, I MISS the old me. The “fun” me. I realized I haven’t danced alone in my room since June! That saddens me. And, I have to say, not drinking has left me feeling more content but less happy. I don’t get to get giddy, to let off steam. Sure, I could do this sober, but…why haven’t I?

So, that thought of “I’ve lost myself in getting sober” was what sent me on a crying jag. No wine, though, to initiate it for no apparent reason…and to instantly turn it off when the wine wears off. You know how that goes: you get drunk, you turn on a song (fuck you, Damien Rice), and you start bawling. It feels good, mainly because you DO have something to bawl about but it’s deep down and you simply don’t want to bring it up, or you CAN’T, or you can’t without the wine; and then, the song ends, you abruptly stop crying, and you refill your glass…likely now laughing. At something equally ethereal and, well, NOT REAL.

Last night, the opposite. Real pain, real tears. A staring-me-in-the-face realization that YES, maybe I will never be the same person, maybe I will no longer be able to identify with that self, which I’ve been living with for a long time. Yes, I am getting older; yes, I might not have children; yes, I might be a has-been, as far as the science writing community in [cold east coast city] goes. Yes, yes, yes. And, it hurts.

But you know what? This, too, shall pass. Cry, sit there and sulk in the dark, and then realize, who the FUCK cares anyway aside from little old you? LOL. Like, if John Doe over there doesn’t even KNOW what I’m going through let alone can even identify with it, is it really worth fussing over? Let it go. CHOOSE how you react to your own Never Never Land of thoughts, Drunky Drunk Girl. It’s not real…

A funny thing happened, then, which is pretty simple: I felt better. When I woke up this morning, I felt like I had made some sort of progress. Moved forward, or at least moved beyond a certain point. If I had drunk to drown out my thoughts and feelings, I never would have processed them. I might have had a fake catharsis (cry, hit someone, pass out exhausted), but I would have woken up in the same place–still sad, still semi-baffled and unclear, and worse, HUNG OVAH.

So, the title of my post: you have to go through it to get through it. For me, desiring to drink these days is much less about wanting to get drunk and happy as it is avoiding confronting my “issues.” Which is a good thing to know, really. Simple, but it takes what it takes, right? Oh, AA, I must thank you for your funny little expressions that I’ve sort of come to adore.

(I’ve decided that the Big Book is a bunch of malarkey, but we’ll blog about that another night.)

AND, thank you, Sobersphere, you’ve kept me once again from ruining my streak with one false move–coming up on 90 days in about a week and a half!

Perspective…and post-hoilday pangs

27 Dec

10:10 pm

Oy. I got ’em. Well, I got pangs, but I don’t got (ouch, sorry, Mom) perspective.

The past few days I’ve felt like a mack truck hit me. I just can’t. Do. Anymore. Taking care of shit. AND, it’s not like I had THAT much to do!? What is wrong with me? All I know is, I’m way too hard on myself AND, drinkin’ won’t fix these (post-)holiday blues…

Anyway, I’m tired. Overwhelmed by…what, exactly? The holidays are kind of bullshit. I mean, stressful, running, spending, expecting, performing, judging…no fucking wonder people go crazy. Someone in my AA circle hanged herself a few days before Christmas. It’s one of those things that just sticks in the back of your mind, rests there like a benign tumor. I had met and talked to her a few times, and she seemed to be, well, on something. Talk about my little first-world problems meaning nothing. Annnnnd, now I’m feeling guilty for having any feelings at all about my life. ARG.

I really wanted to drink today. Feeling somewhat exhausted from the constant telling myself that I really didn’t want to partake in the “fun” at multiple Christmas get-togethers; remaining cheerful even when I felt a little bit like stomping my feet and throwing a tantrum inside; looking on Facebook to see multiple people/friends, OF COURSE, publishing articles, and books, and yada fucking yada. Me? STILL stalling. No pitching, no reporting, no writing. I could do it, I could be competitive. I’m wasting my talents, I often think. Have I simply chosen not to participate, at least for now? Am I just lazy, or still burnt out? Or, maybe I, um, had a mental/nervous breakdown the past three years (since I was fired from my job after a disastrously drunken Christmas party shenanigan–I yelled at my CEO and then missed two days work because I, um, went to jail for disorderly conduct…). In any case, it’s time, isn’t it? Shouldn’t I be busting a move? What is wrong with me?

All these thoughts were circling in my head as I woke this morning. And, I woke from a dream in which I woke up to find that I had gotten shitfaced and texted mean things to like, 20 people while sleeping. Let me repeat: I dreamt that I drank while I was asleep and did a bunch of mean things. So, there is now something called “drunkwalking” in my world, which is made even more meta because I dreamt about it. Jesus.

Today, I tried, but it was hard to really appreciate any of it. The water, the beach with my boyfriend, the sunshine, my new bikini and wrap… So, I decided to come home, take a deep breath, walk the dogs, gaze at the marvelous moonrise through a set of pink clouds, and eat cake. My boyfriend invited me out to the bar where he works, but I just don’t feel like sitting around watching people drink and then trying to have a conversation with someone who won’t remember it and who keeps repeating him/herself anyway…

So, what’s the point of this? Oh, perspective. Wavering at the moment. And I do have pangs, as in “I really want to drink when I hit 90 days”-type pangs, but I’m hoping they’ll pass once I get a handle on my next moves, professionally. This was a problem that nearly floored me when I was drinking, and I would drink and drink and drink over it. Now, I realize that it simply needs to be addressed. I can do it, if I put my mind to it. Drinking will not solve anything, and will only keep me in this place, for longer.

Onward and upward. Or, maybe, let it go and go to bed early. Or, better yet, watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy in preparation for The Hobbit in the theater tomorrow night? YES.

Mostly merry, all sober Christmas Day!

25 Dec

10:59 pm

What? Yes. Still sober. Sugared out, but still sober. I think I gained about five pounds in two days, but I’m still sober. 75 days and counting. Go, me!

And, the only sad things about today and yesterday were the somewhat minor but honestly, incessant, pangs to imbibe; and the memories of how horrible things were last Christmas due to my drinking. The memories don’t fade, which is extremely helpful to me: as they say in AA, remembering–feeling it, even–how bad it was keeps the incentive to stay sober evergreen.

I had a great few days. Lots of cooking, eating, talking, hanging, petting of dogs, hitting of beaches (well, I ran and hit the beach yesterday before our evening dinner party), etc. I mean, I felt, for the most part, GREAT not drinking. However, the longer I stay sober–and especially through days like today, where I actually felt a little left out, like I was the narc, the mother, the den leader, the dance’s chaperone–the more I see just how bad it was back then. The more I see just how bad *I* was. I was in serious denial for a long time! It’s only staying sober through it all, like holidays and times when it would be SO VERY NICE to have a glass of red wine, that I am allowed the view, y’know? Afforded the opportunity to see the subtle (in my mind) difference between “not that bad” and well, reality.

I mean, last Christmas? I spent it alone in [cold west coast city]. Alone in my studio, hung over from a ridiculous night out–also alone–which I barely have any recollection of except that I went to a Couchsurfing event almost blacked out; and eventually (after maybe going to a club, I don’t remember) brought home some dude who was thankfully NOT at my place when I woke up, completely clothed (including boots on) with a near-full bottle of Southern Comfort on my kitchen counter. (Was my blackout state not enough to clue him in that I really didn’t need anymore to drink? Maybe it was I who thought it was a good idea to buy it en route home that night because OF COURSE, it would be! I don’t even LIKE Southern Comfort! Ugh.) I spent most of Christmas Day in bed, and then forced myself to walk around, alone, in the cold, horrible [cold west coast city] fog, painfully pulling myself down hills and hoping to God(dess) that I didn’t have a panic attack in the middle of Chinatown.

This year? Worlds away. Entire galaxies. And, it makes me realize just how hurting I was.

Anyhoo, not to wallow, I just wanted to check in and say I MADE IT THROUGH another holiday of dinners and brunches SANS the grape! And, even though there were pangs, I am happy, calm, and proud to have just let them go. And, as always, they came and went and I’m still here, with my memory, pride, and self/spirit/soul intact! (I also probably saved myself thousands of calories; really, I am SO fucking full, I cannot imagine also having drunk red wine!)

I look forward to what the next 15 days, New Year’s Eve, and POST-90 looks like sober… 🙂 Merry Christmas, all!

Happy (sober) Christmas Eve…

24 Dec

10:54 am

Christmas Eve. It used to be one of my favorite days. The past few years, it’s been alternately marred by shameful drunken escapades (usually alone, usually involving sketchy people and scenarios–it’s too bright a day to go into them right now; maybe later, to convince you, if need be, that when it comes to people like us, “Oh, I’ll have just one” means grievous damage to body and soul) and life-changing volunteer trips to [beautiful island]. I went for the first time over the Christmas holiday, the second time immediately after.

Sigh. I miss [said beautiful island]. I miss [cold east coast city]. I miss my mom–oof, now there’s another crazy drunken story (remind me to tell you about last year’s Christmas Eve and the year before, blacking out in front of my mother and uncle and effectively RUINING both their evenings).

But…wait. Wait a minute…

Ahaha. Hahahah. Oh, mind, you’re SO easy. Is that what I’m really missing? When I take a look around and see just how much I have here, and how much things are different for me, emotionally? No. Because if I stop there, thinking I’m missing those things and a hundred others that take me back to my immediate past, I could let my mind trick me into thinking I miss the “life” I had. If I dig just slightly deeper, past those superficial thoughts (the kind that might have led me to that first glass of red a few years ago), I find that I’m not really missing those things, that “life.”

Sure, I miss some elements of my old life; of course, I might be waxing nostalgic; it’s possible that I’m feeling uncertain (Have I given up my independence to my detriment? Will I ever get back to [said beautiful island]?), but I’m definitely not MISSING anything. I have so much more than I’ve ever had, and that’s in addition to this cosmetic life of blue ocean, dogs, coffee and morning walks, perpetual sun (well, unless it rains), new friends, a “new” relationship where I feel safe and at home, familial and friendly ties that have either been cut, more or less, or strengthened–this is the absolute opposite of uncertainty. Tricky, feelings.

So, what’s going on? I think I simply miss the drama. I have both certainty and uncertainty now; I’ve achieved those in my time here on island (maybe it’s been my “rehab”), in my seeking out change, in my plotting a semi-freelance business, in my continual consideration of applying for another master’s (in public health) degree, in my deciding what ties to further bind and which to let go. I have those. What I don’t have is drama, and I guess if you get used to something, good or bad, for SO freaking long, you actually miss it. Not in a heartbroken sort of way, but along the same lines; you don’t know what to do without it! So, your emotional reaction is to feel longing which may be misinterpreted–it is by me, often, if I’m lazy about it–as uncertainty, missing something.

It’s a trick of the mind, though. My solution? Move forward. Do it now! Make your coffee, wash your dishes, go for that run or swim or whatever gets your energy up, make your to-do list and start doing it. Embrace the moment, the new, the now, the whatever HUGE, SOLID rock (i.e., YOUR SOBER SELF) is staring you in the face. I think it’s helpful to feel nostalgic…for a minute. Don’t let it trick you, though, and don’t let it make you think that your “life” was better; it wasn’t. You might not laugh as loud (or even want to laugh) or have sparkly conversations; your creativity might be (temporarily) compromised, and you might find yourself feeling staid or stuck. However, based on my short experience, all these things are actually going to end up serving you better–a hundred times over–than continuing to drink or use or depend on an outside substance to “make life OK.”

Sure, you can look back in your life, but I think sobriety allows you the certainty–even though you may be feeling otherwise–of KNOWING that you’re on the right path, that you’ve made the right moves, and that there is nothing to fear, regret, or want to do over! There’s something about living while sober that allows you freedom from doubt. Sure, you can change the road you’re on–you might want or need to–but, you never have to look back and wonder if you missed a turn, crashed into another car, or left skid marks on someone’s driveway.

On that note, I’m going to get myself outside to enjoy some of this pre-noon sun with a run and/or swim. Later, I think we’re heading to a friend’s get-together, then I have to come home and file a re-do on the “practice” quiche I made last night. Tomorrow, we’re going to meet some friends for brunch and then hit the beach–where else? 😉

Merry Christmas to all my sober friends out there–you’re amazing!

Being sober and being drunk have one thing in common

21 Dec

2:03 am

Life.

Lately I’ve been getting the sense that life isn’t that much different sober. I mean, I don’t have to deal with being ill and all the remorse and self-loathing and nonsense that comes with drinking and hangovers, sure. That’s definitely different. But, now that I’m passed the withdrawal stage(s), now that I’m moving beyond–over, I’d say–the cravings; I feel like Life (with a capital L) is still the same.

It’s hard to put my finger on it, but I don’t feel all that much different sober, personally. I’m still a hard worker, when I want to be. I’m still goal-oriented. I still like running, and animals, and music, and writing, and traveling…and all the other million things in this world that make me “me.” I’m just not obsessed with drinking at the end of my days! I’m happier, in general, sure, but it’s not like life is SO much better, or SO much different. I can see more clearly, yes, and my moods have improved. I can rely on my plans, mainly because I know that I’ll wake up in the morning and be able to follow through–yet, I would try to follow through anyway, it was just a billion times harder with a raging hangover. Maybe I’m just used to not drinking now, and all that comes with it.

I’m coasting. YIKES. Me? I keep waiting for the wolf to pounce, for the desire to drink to roar up out of the hole I buried it in; for the blood-sucking vampire to emerge, in full form, from the grave. I keep waiting, checking over my shoulder every few days to see if it’s following me, the wolf or the vampire. (Where art thou, Sparkle-toothed Unicorn?) I’m not sure I’m out of the woods. Truth be told, I know I’m not.

See, if I let my guard down and open a bottle of red, I’d down the whole thing, I’m sure. And then, I’d head off in search of another, I know. Sigh. How can I seem so confident and then realize, by the same token, that I’m still beholden to this compulsion? In other words, I can say all I want about how “good” I feel being sober, but I’d probably get drunk if I could. And, even more maddening, it wasn’t ALWAYS like this. There were days, let’s say when I was 28, 29, 30 years old (just 8 years ago), when I NEVER could have imagined that this obsession–this desire to down oceans of wine instead of one or two glasses–would have such a hold on me. I don’t remember thinking about drinking back then, outside of when I was actually drinking.

Anyway… Today marks 10 WEEKS, or 70 days! Wow. It’s the longest I’ve gone. I never tried to not drink, and over the past 10 years, I should have–I really should have. (It takes what it takes, as they say in AA.) The closest I came was 60 days in August, and now I’ve gone past that by 10. I’m looking ahead toward 90, but I’m not expecting it to drop a pot of gold on my head or anything; life is life, death is death, by turns glorious and surreal.

(I do wonder, though, what I’d be like if I was holding down a “real” job (read: office, deadlines, bitchy editor), or if I was living alone in [cold east coast city]. I’ve constructed a life here that’s pretty temptation-less, and so far, somewhat contained. When the time comes, I’ll deal, right? Right. Let go and let God. ;))

Cruising along toward 10 weeks…

18 Dec

8:44 pm

And, all is well. No real cravings. My only romantic thoughts of drinking have been fleeting, lasting only long enough for me to remember my LAST SHITE DRUNK. Y’know, I feel like the further I get from that day, the MORE I remember how horrible it was, how horrible I felt; the more vivid the details of that day become. Healthy fear, indeed.

I’ve cut my AA meetings down a LOT, maybe about once a week. It’s all I can stomach. I just don’t get it, I suppose. I mean, the longer I remain sober, the more I start to see how emotionally invasive I was being with people (as in, there are a lot of things most people don’t have a right to know about me and I gave it away while drunk, even–and especially–when they didn’t want or appreciate it), how unreliable and inaccessible I was. Sure, I was “selfish, egotistical, and self-righteous,” to quote what some angry woman used at last night’s meeting to describe herself, as an alcoholic. I guess the difference between me and her is, I don’t believe I have to continue to believe that I am selfish, egotistical, and self-righteous. I can improve. I can solve my problem. And, I can MOVE ON.

In fact, what I’m coming to see more clearly the longer I’m sober is that it was the drink that was digging me deeper into these negative character traits. Like, let’s say I’m a 3 out of 10 on the selfish scale when I’m my normal, sober self. When I started my drinking career, it put me at a 4. The more I drank–and became addicted to using–the more selfish I became, eventually probably putting me at a 9 or 10. I don’t think my selfishness necessarily led me to drink; however, I KNOW FOR A FACT that my drinking caused me to become more selfish, among other gross flaws.

What I’m trying to say is, I believe in rehabilitation. I really do. I see it happening; I see the nature of my relationship to wine changing. Does that mean I want to drink? No. The opposite. Does that mean I’m going to go out and get drunk at the first sign of feeling down, or angry, or frustrated? Of course, not. I don’t believe anything external to myself has somehow given me my new and improved coping mechanisms; I’ve labored for them! I’ve trained my mind to react differently–by quitting drinking and living through wanting to drink and not drinking, day in and day out–and somehow, my behavioral changes are reinforcing my mind/feelings/gut reactions. It’s been a lot of work, but I feel like I can finally begin to rely on my mind/self to automatically make the right choice, by going down that path and visualizing the repercussions of getting drunk.

Can I take it or leave it? Honestly, no. I KNOW that if I drink one glass of red, I’ll want another. And I’ll have it. Or, at the very least, I’ll WANT a second, and I don’t want to want anymore! I don’t want the buzz anymore either. The same actually goes for caffeine–I find being too “high” irritating, tiring. I mean, I’d MUCH rather feel flat all day, get some good work done, and skip feeling both high and low. I just want smooth road, consistent mood, predictable output. I LIKE “life on life’s terms,” AA people; it’s not that “hard out there.” I get down, everyone does. I think of death day in and day out. Who doesn’t? I trip and hurt and get lost. We all do. I lie;I don’t call people back; I plan and scheme and hope that I can get what I think might make me content. Does that make me a bad person, or simply a person?

Anyway, I like where I’m at. I feel like I’m separating from my obsession, like the skin is being shed. I’m getting my strength back. I’m healing. I’ll go to meetings when it suits me, and I’ll read the Big Book (I identify with what Bill W. and Dr. Bob were trying to say), and I’ll try to reach out to the few friends I’ve made at meetings, but, really, all I HAVE to do is not drink.

Another mass shooting. What is wrong with this picture?

15 Dec

12:15 pm

Yeah, it’s a little fuzzy, n’est-ce pas?

I won’t ramble for long, but here’s my take.

Here, in “USA, Inc.”, we have issues. We glorify violence, and honor competition. We promote rampant consumerism. This leads to alienation and isolation, anxiety and depression, to name JUST A FEW. It sort of makes you want to drink. Or, shoot people. I’m not being in any way ironic.

I have NO idea (mainly because the mainstream media chooses not to delve into the mental health issue since it makes a less compelling story than, let’s say, “evil-doings,” but I digress) what was going on inside the head of the shooter, but let me tell you something: there was a point–more than one, honestly–during my middle and high school years that were, actually, low enough to make me contemplate killing of beings, namely myself. The self-loathing and anger that resulted from my feeling ostracized/ridiculed at school for being a good student; for being from a family who weren’t, to be frank, hicks; for simply being creative/artistic (let’s not even go into sexual preferences and/or orientation)–it led me to binge eat and then, binge drink. I couldn’t deal, and most of the time, I didn’t know HOW to deal aside from writing and dancing my emotions out. Unfortunately, I was too inhibited to dance in front of others. Fortunately, I clung to my belief in my grades as my ticket out, as well as my writing–my life raft.

I don’t know what’s going on, really, with today’s kids, but by the time I got to my junior year of college, I had already gone through several major episodes of depression, been through the emotional mindfuck that is bulimia, and likely harbored some serious sociopathic leanings that never materialized, due to simply internalizing my hatred for the people who hated me (or so I thought). I was SO overwhelmed by a sense of “there is something seriously wrong with this place” that I HAD to escape. And I did, to France. Anything to get me away from the billboards, the commercials, the emptiness I felt at having everything and having nothing (and I came from a lower middle class family!). I felt suffocated by what I still see to be the ills of our society, which have NOTHING, really, to do with the “freedom” to own guns (there’s a great article in The New Yorker on the history of the first amendment’s “right to bear arms” clause):

1. Consumerism. The idea that things, instead of experiences, people, and places, will make you happy and/or content; that happiness and contentment, like EVERYTHING worth having, can be had by anything but hard work–attained over a period of years, if not an entire lifetime.
2. Glorification of violence. We can see it in everything from our movies to our wars, this “we’re-gonna-kick-your-head-in-cuz-we-can” mentality. (When I volunteered clearing rubble in [beautiful island] after the [natural disaster], the Brits and Aussies nicknamed the heaviest sledgehammer “‘Merica” because it could “smash a lot of shit and leave a mess behind.”)
3. Glorification of competition, egotism, greed, etc. Why aren’t more “feminine” ideologies instilled in us throughout our lives, like cooperation, conciliation, nonviolent conflict resolution? I guess I’m generalizing here, but how many of you would argue against the fact that most (all?) of these mass shootings have been perpetrated my men, and wars are declared mainly (exclusively?) by male leaders?

I wish it was different, but when I left “USA, Inc.” in 1994 for Tours and then Paris, France, I figuratively never looked back. Now, I’m living in [beautiful island], which I might consider a second-world country but would certainly agree that it’s NOT the mainland–and I feel like I can breathe, like I might never return to “that place.”

Anyhoo…how does this pertain to drinking? Well, all I can say is, I’ve never experienced this kind of grief, so I have no idea what I would do. BUT, I hope that I would not pick up. I mean, drinking almost seems pointless in situations like this; which, in a sense, is a testament to its futility in the face of confronting the things life throws our way.

I wish peace to all the families involved in this shiteous crime. That is all.

On homemade icing, lunch dates, and avocado trees

13 Dec

11:40 pm

What do any of these have to do with drinking, say you?

NOTHING! And, finally. FI-NA-LLY.

Yup, I’ve been thinking about drinking for so damn long, and thinking about not drinking for even longer–and then subjecting y’all to it for almost as long–that it feels like such a reprieve to finally be moving along. Getting on with things. Having nothing more to say about it, at least at this very moment. (Oh, sure, I have plenty more to say about drinking, but today, at 9 weeks sober, I’m going to let it go for the night!)

Homemade icing, lunch date, avocado tree. Also, fostering a dog (well, she used to belong to our neighbor, but she left island and decided to ditch her dog; we picked her up today and brought her home). And, getting a call-back on a possible job down here, in a field that I’ve been trying/dying to get into for many years (not journalism-related, and I’ll go into deets/keep you posted if anything transpires). Yeah, all these things have happened in my life recently. And, while it’s not directly due to my having quit drinking, all of what is transpiring is definitely a result of that choice. It’s like, as the road continues after the fork, I’m coming up on an oasis. I get to see the awesome trees and cool clouds and interesting shrubs along the side as I pass. I get to notice these things, appreciate them, make them a part of my life and my memory. I choose to. Instead of putting all my energy into living life to drink, I’m now free up to live my life to…live.

Homemade icing: I made buttercream frosting for two cakes I recently baked. OMG yum. How have I never made frosting from scratch before? There’s really nothing quite as exciting (the word “gleeful” comes to mind) as a big old electric mixer. AND, butter plus powered sugar = hello, what’s not to like? My raging sweet tooth continues to have me hoovering up every sweet and carb in sight, but at least I’ve got my swimming to burn off the calories, if I, um, actually get up and go in the mornings. (Tap, tap, tap, WHEN is my boyfriend getting home? There’s a freshly frosted cake in the fridge, waiting to be ceremoniously cut and devoured! Hmm… Would it be so bad if I just sliced into it and snarfed down a corner piece?)

Lunch date: I finally took the initiative and made a lunch date with a new AA friend for tomorrow. It’s not that I haven’t gone out, or shared a meal, or invited people to do stuff with me since I’ve been here–wait, haven’t I? I don’t think I’ve gone out in search of my own friends and then actually invited one or all of them out, actually, since I’ve been here. Sigh. It’s hard starting over, but even harder (I’m finding) as a sober person who, until quite recently, didn’t really see the point of hanging out without wine involved. Sad, but true. Since getting sober, I can count on ONE hand the number of times I’ve gone out at night. Why bother? Like, I’d rather stay home than go out sober. In fact, I’ve often wondered if I’ll EVER go out again. I mean, what, exactly, is the point of going out if you can’t drink? That mentality is changing, mainly out of necessity. I can’t not go out forever!? I NEED and want a social life. And, hello? There are many reasons to go out and meet people that have nothing to do with my selfish desire to get shitfaced!

The incentive to “have fun” is gone, in a way. Interactions have to be sober, and based on a genuine desire to get to know someone. I mean, I like this woman, but let’s face it, I think we’d both LOVE to grab a glass of wine at some beach bar instead of guzzling coffee at high noon. Plus, lately, I’ve been digging hanging out with myself–getting to know Drunky Drunk Girl–a lot more than with others. Anyway, I’m meeting my friend tomorrow for lunch, and well, that’s a big step for me, I suppose.

Avocado tree: The other day, I finally scooped out the flesh of a HUGE, overripe avocado straight from an island tree (it was a gift from our landlady)! Then I was like, I wonder if I can plant this and grow a tree? I was going to simply plop it into a big potter and cover it with dirt, but alas, I smartly Google’d “how to grow an avocado tree” and lo and behold, there’s a method to getting the pit to sprout BEFORE you put it into soil! So, outside on a table sits what looks like an alien implement, or a weapon: three kabob skewer sticks are jutting out of the sides of the pit, and being used to balance the thing on the rim of a glass. The bottom half of the pit has to remain submerged until it sprouts (3-6 weeks!). It looks sort of grotesque–all in the name of immortality.

Yes, immortality. Three to six weeks from now, I’ll be well on my way to immortality, people. Maybe this tired sack of sober bones won’t live on, but someone will know I was here by the wonderful avocado tree growing in the backyard!

What comes after 60? 61.

12 Dec

1:42 am

Yup. 61. And, there’ve been the usual ups and downs the past few days, the past few hours. I cannot lie: it is frustrating to me to still be dealing with sugar cravings and moodiness. Gritting teeth and ignoring it.

I’m tired–and irritable–tonight, but I just wanted to say that my 60-day “soberversary” came and went with me hitting an AA meeting and then meeting up for dinner (and wine, for her) with an old roommate and friend from [cold east coast city]. We used to drink a LOT of wine together, but looking back, I know I always drank harder than she did.

It was great to catch up, OK to be drinking Diet Coke while she was doing wine. I mean, I could see myself feeling more deprived than usual if I had the opportunity to hang out with her more frequently. I could see myself wanting to drink more. At dinner last night, I had very little desire to imbibe. Tonight, however, after a day of working in front of my computer, no exercise, and rainy weather (read: cooped up and feeling restless), I wanted to drink at our dinner party. Oh, well, the sheer amazeballs-ness of the place where she’s staying–a four-bedroom, post-colonial mansion on [beautiful island]–made up for it with welcome distraction!

I feel down right now, and I’m not sure why: every morning, and every evening, I feel more down than up. I feel grumpy, frustrated with my progress on work/writing/?; just down. Even though I had a GREAT time with my friend, and felt fine in my skin, having good sober conversations and even better food. I don’t know, I don’t get it. Time to Turn It Off and sleep.

Did someone say it gets easier after 60 days?

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