Darwin was right: we evolve

4 Mar

11:47 am

Not much to report. Aside from realizing that I might be mentally ill after all and that everything–and I mean, everything–in life is disposable. You know, just another day at the sober office.

Seriously, I’ve had all these thoughts lately, some of them related to drinking but more of them related to HOW I lived this past decade and WHY I may have turned to alcohol increasingly to self-soothe, escape, and deny. I was re-reading an old journal I wrote on a trip to Costa Rica back in 2003–I was 29 at the time, going through the seemingly-ludicrous “OMG, 30 equals the END OF MY LIFE” crisis–and man, was I hurting. I was in so much pain. I was mentally unstable, in a way. I mean, really really really up in my head, really paranoid, really all about MOI. I was reliving my teenage years then, so was vain in a way that left me feeling empty–that much I already knew. But, I didn’t realize how my behavior must have turned off those around me…? I don’t know. It just screams, pain, this journal; and frankly, I’m sad that I had to go through that, and a little pissed off, too. It seems like such a waste of time.

Life is such bullshit sometimes for people with mental problems! I envy these happy-go-lucky folks who just don’t seem to care as much–like, they just move on, relate, equate, donate. It’s not a big deal. Life has always been too big of a deal for me, you know? And, I see the obvious now. I am not calling you–or me–mentally “ill” in a bad way; but, when I see how anxious and angry I was back then, I see someone who might have benefited from pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, relationship counseling. Oh, well, 20-20 hindsight, right? You live and learn, right? Life is a journey of the spirit, right?

So much pain. And, interestingly, I was drinking two beers a night back then. It really wasn’t until 2004 that I moved into “raging drunk” (literally) territory–and, that was pretty fast, huh? To go from not really thinking about my two-beers-a-night thing (I remember beer helped me relax, and put me in a sleepy, turn-it-off state) to downing bottles of red wine and blacking out and banging things like my laptops, and phones, and keyboards, and bookshelves? I guess that journal sort of represented the precipice that I stood on: miserable, and about to fall much, MUCH lower.

I’m not sure what to think of all of this. I mean, it’s definitely made me scold myself and my judgments of other “mental cases” (my brother’s girlfriend, my father who is seriously depressed, friends and fellows who are going through the up’s and down’s of life)–I mean, *I* was a fucking mental case back then, and I subtly and craftily denied it for all these years. I KNEW I was hurting, depressed, broken-hearted; I withheld a lot of information, and in my mind, I was raging. However, I was also still me: ambitious, kind, diligent.

I evolved, though. I made it through that year, got into grad school, moved cross-country, began a new life. The booze followed, obviously. And the “thinking problem.” But, I evolved. People evolve. I can look back and say, since 2003–and, I think it really took off with me finally just giving up and getting sober–I’ve learned how to usher out a lot of those extraneous and often overanalytical thoughts. I used to believe I needed to think a LOT about everything all the time. And, as a writer/journalist, that mentality forms the backbone of our profession. However, in sobriety, I learned about letting go–I have to in order to stay sober. I just don’t need to think that much about things–and that is OK.

I think the lesson for me this past week has been, be more aware of where people are coming from. That doesn’t mean let people get away with acting like assholes–there’s a fine line, and if we’ve been sober for a while, we can tell who is worth it and who isn’t. And, if I ever have children, intervene. Butt in! Express my concern. Don’t ignore it or avoid it because it makes me feel uncomfortable. Don’t act out of denial. The long-term repercussions of that are immense.

Today is two weeks away from me turning ONE YEAR SOBER! Woot woot! I’ve thought about drinking again, but I’m quick to wonder, WHY THE FUCK would I do that? So, don’t go throwing up your hands just yet. I mean, the truth is, I don’t know what will happen if I drink again–will I even like it? I can pretty much count on the obsession coming back (It’s 5, can I drink now? What about a little earlier today, maybe 3:30? Can I drink now? What about now?). And, if there’s one thing I’m constantly aware of, it’s this LACK OF OBSESSION. The cravings have dwindled to pretty much being nonexistent. Like, they’re mental cravings now, weak at best; not visceral. And, to live knowing that I can do things–work and run and go out to dinners and attend a wedding–without wanting to drink? Man, that is priceless.

It’s like, I am on even ground now, the Earth is no longer shifting. Even ground means there is no uphill or downhill, just flat. I can walk on flat. I can walk on with my life, on flat ground. I don’t have to run around to find good shoes or a knee brace. My heart rate never goes up, and I never lose my breath. My back doesn’t hurt going up, and my knees don’t hurt going down. I like this, I really, really do. It’s just so much easier now.

Sure, in my mind, I have cravings. Little ones. Sometimes. Then I remember my last drunk and think, But, it wasn’t that good because…I didn’t even get buzzed. I just passed out.

It’s in my heart where I have to be careful. It KNOWS, but it wants, too. What, exactly, it wants (It can’t be wine, it just can’t be, right?), I’m not sure.

And, it’s time to Turn It Off before I write the wrong ending to my story. 🙂

12 Responses to “Darwin was right: we evolve”

  1. mishedup March 4, 2014 at 11:58 am #

    this is awesome.
    for me, i agree that the best part is the lack of the obsession. I sometimes think of it too, of course, i do. but that obsession being gone, that wanting a fucking drink every minute, gone.
    and there is no price i can put on that kind of sanity, and there is nothing i can think of that would be worth going back to that kind if insanity.
    my date is march 21….whoohoo for both of us!

  2. pupfanatic March 4, 2014 at 5:45 pm #

    Hey Drunky Drunk, you don’t want ALL positive feedback, do you? Ha, I’m sort of serious though, no learning that way, right? SO…the fact that you mentioned that you DON’T have the obsession anymore (I’d kill for that day) but then went to the “would I even like it?” means there is still some analysis going on. But that’s ok. I couldn’t follow a blog where the person TRIED to rationalize being content. So, the more honest, the better, for me.

    I’m sure you know this, but I may be saying it for me, folks w/ depression have substance abuse. So, of course, you were depressed! I don’t remember a time I wasn’t depressed but I DO remember NOT using opiates and just dealing w/ depression in other healthier ways.( Hey, there’s a grateful: be glad you haven’t discovered vicodin.)

    Btw, my Dad, had major depression during his life, he is okay now though. But, we still talk about it, and he told me something, that a friend told him 30 years ago when he was in the throws of depression: All those people you see walking around, laughing, driving, seeming like they’re are all fine? That’s what YOU look like. Everybody is going through stuff, you just don’t know it. Also, (this one is my fave) you know those commercials for Zoloft, Abilify etc? Those are made ONLY for you. That’s right, those commercials run 24/7 because YOU are the only one who is depressed! When he told me that, I never forgot it. That damn terminal uniqueness, right?

    Well, I appreciate your thoughts and keep contemplating writing a blog myself. Yet, I’m too depressed to start. (any feedback? Yes, I see the irony:) Very very sad today. Sobriety sucks today, and thanks for letting me vent. And thanks for your DETAILED honesty.

  3. carrieonsober March 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    Learning to let go has been a huge part of the journey for me too. I never knew how to just be. I am accepting me for me, not trying to work out how I can be someone else or force everyone to like me anymore.
    I love how simple (yeah, sometimes boring) everything is now that I am sober and I can just be. I really do want to see what some more of that tastes like, so I’ll stick with this rather than go back to that. Oh even reading your account of the obsessing makes me shudder, it was all just so exhausting, I don’t how I managed to get anything else done!
    One year sober is fucking awesome and we are almost there.
    Lots of love x

  4. themiracleisaroundthecorner March 4, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    Happy 50 weeks of sobriety! It is very, very cool that you have that journal to compare and contrast your life then and now… I would love to know what I was thinking about/fretting over in 2003. And it is also fantastic that you can see how you have evolved. Great post, DDG!

  5. Lilly March 4, 2014 at 7:39 pm #

    Hello my dear,

    Oh goodness yes, I relate to this…. the looking back at your fuckedupedness and thinking what a waste of time it all was. And wishing one didn’t have these mental health issues (in my case that tendency to anxiety and depression) that make life so much harder than it needs to be and make us turn to ways to numb out. I’ve been reading Veronica Valli’s book and she talks a lot about why we drink. I’m not sure I totally buy into the ‘alcoholism as a spiritual malaise’ thing myself but there’s still a lot of good food for thought in all that – why exactly did we need to numb ourselves so much? What were we blocking out or trying to achieve? And, importantly, did booze ever really give us what we wanted or needed? Think about that one closely and the answer is almost certainly no.

    I don’t want to lecture you but as one who’s still struggling to get back on track after drinking after a decent time off I just want to remind you how miraculous those things — knowing you can do all things like weddings and dinners sober and not wrestling with wanting to drink and the lack of cravings. They are not to be taken lightly because they have only come with a lot of time and effort and they can be undone really, really quickly. And, as you say, you didn’t even enjoy the drinking so you probably wouldn’t now but you would be left with all that shit again. And it sucks.

    For me, I did enjoy *some* of the drinking this time and that in itself was dangerous as it was a gradual slide back, predictably, to the really crappy feelings that made me want to quit to begin with. But you know, I didn’t enjoy it *that* much. The enjoyment is actually really fleeting. And here I am. Trying again. Wishing I was where you were.

    So, learn from my mistakes please 😉 Just know that what you have right now is HUGE.

    Love to you,

    Lilly x

  6. Vodka Goggles March 4, 2014 at 7:41 pm #

    I’ve been cheering you on for the last year. I love that you chronicled your ups and downs. I think you may be the most realistic sober blogger I’ve ever read.

    I credit you with helping me along my journey. Your blog is the one that stuck a chord with me. So thank you!

  7. Carrie March 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm #

    Your insight is remarkable. As is 50 weeks! Thanks for sharing so much of yourself.

  8. fern March 4, 2014 at 10:20 pm #

    I completely know where you are coming from. I did the whole 2-beers-a-night thing for quite awhile and didn’t realize where I was headed. It’s hard for us not to look back and wish we had not wasted so much of our time drinking. But, what good does all of this thinking get us?
    You are doing great right now. You have evolved and I’m proud of you. Coming up on one year is awesome!

  9. Hilda March 5, 2014 at 10:33 am #

    You know, facing the strong connection between my depression and drinking was one of the things that helped me quit. I knew I had to deal with the depression, and I wanted to see how much of it was caused by the drinking before I pursued pharmaceuticals. I’m still figuring that out. But this time, if it turns out the depression was the cause and not the result, I’m going to treat it in a much better way than drinking.

    Thanks for writing this blog, and for your honesty.

  10. Mrs D March 5, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    Great gritty stuff as always DDG. You know.. soberversaries are hard. Always when I have a big soberversary looming I go through some hard stuff. It’s strange because we’re celebrating but we’re celebrating the absence of something .. so it’s already a bit in reverse, then add in the fact that the ‘something’ we are celebrating the absence of (alcohol) is really emotionally tricky and complex and the world is awash with it..

    Getting a bit mixed up but my point to you is go gently in these next two weeks and treat yourself very kind. You will feel really great when you get on the other side of this one year mark.. and so you bloody should – one year Woo Hoo!!!

  11. furtheron March 10, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    I’m still obsessed – the fact I have to go to AA meetings on a regular basis and have to say “I’m an alcoholic” daily to help me get through tells me that. However obsession isn’t too bad all the time it is there, understood and dealt with. As long as it doesn’t become compulsion – that I don’t want that back again! But I know it is a fine line between the two – I only have to drop my guard for a moment and I’ll find a drink in my hand

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