8 Aug

12:25 pm

So, I got a full-time job.  After three-and-a-half years.  I should be happy, since this has been in the works for almost a year (yeah, a full year of soul searching, job searching, and networking).  Why do I feel like my sober bubble is about to burst?  Or, like I’m about to jump off my sober cliff–and into what?  Free fall?

Actually, I ventured into the real world of real people and tens of millions of stressful triggers last year, and have continued to branch out in 2014 and 2015.  This year, I’ve decided, is going to be–has been–all about continuing to build off of what I created last year.  I’ve been working nearly non-stop this spring as a barista and freelance journalist, but the writing (no pun intended!) is definitely on the wall:  it’s an unsustainable (and physically exhausting) way to earn a living.  So, I found a full-time gig doing what I was doing (and what, from an outside perspective, drove me to become Drunky Drunk Girl) in the place I was doing it (albeit, much farther south, and therefore, not really in the same place).  And, while I have re-entered the world already, and managed just fine, this is still a huge transition.  I’ve created so much here that is SO different from my old life–and hence, my old drinking self–can I pull it off and continue to build on what I’ve done here, there?  We’ll see, is about all I’ve got.

What no one told me about sobriety is that I would miss the early days of my “sobriety cocoon.”  And that I would sort of live OFF of it, like a spider consuming whatever it’s caught and wrapped up in its silken web.  And that maybe that wasn’t a good idea, to nurse my sobriety cocoon like a bottle, but that’s what I did.  That’s what I did…until it got old, boring, until I saw that I really needed to venture out, to forage again for real sustenance.  It was my pink cloud of endless awesome–a hermetic existence that made it possible for me to exist, almost child-like, in newfound wonder.  It helped that I quit Corporate America, started my own business, and moved somewhere totally exotic.  It helped that I had a sober support network that allowed me to work less and think/ponder/analyze every gory detail of my sober journey.  I needed that.  I really, really needed that.  And, as it turns out, so did many of my readers.

It’s not that I’m no longer grateful to be sober–I am, and more and more every day.  The other morning, someone I worked with showed up to barista with a supreme hangover, complete with the 30 texts sent to the boy she’s currently fixated on, the other 20 calls to him and random friends, and the falling-down, bruises-from-out-of-nowhere drunkenness that lasted until her shift started (with me) at 5:30 am.  Oof, was mostly what I thought.  But also, eh, who cares?  What can I do for her?  And then, probing deeper, a desire on my part to turn away and FORGET that I was there, not too long ago.  A desire so intense to completely just forget, let it go, move on, NOT remember that I was there, not too long ago.

This desire I have to say, Fuck this sobriety bullshit, and move on, is strong right now, has been for a while (hence, the lack of blog posts).  But, another part of me–the one that became a drunk, and the one that had the need to write this blog–can’t help but wonder, is it OK for me to do that?  To let it go?  It’s not that I can’t empathize, it’s been too long; it’s that, I can, and I just don’t want to.

But I have to.  And, I don’t think it has anything to do with wanting to be nice to people or do the right thing–those two things are givens.  It’s that I’m still there.  I’m still there, in a way.

The longer I’m sober, the more I realize that I can’t just shove this “sobriety bullshit” into a box under the bed and wipe my hands of it.  It’s there, this “alcoholism” thing, and it’s not going anywhere.  I’m not “once a drunk, always a drunk,” though–like, the long-term effects of physiological dependence elude me to this day (in other words, who the fuck knows?  Wine no longer works for me, but maybe someone else with three years might have a glass and not feel dizzy, confused, and flat?).  What I am is STILL insecure, and STILL grappling with questions that truly have no answers.  I guess I’m learning to live in and with that insecurity, that instability, that uncertainty, that moving-sands, that lack-of-answers.  Those questions of self, of purpose, of existence–they’re still there, and they’re still somehow related to why I drank copious amounts of wine for a decade.

And, the fact remains that everyone has to cope with what this is, which is LIFE.  And these people did not also become drunks. Hmmm…

The difference between early and later sobriety is this:  ya have to live in the drinking world as a sober person, and you have to embrace the fact that it’s NEVER going to go away.  Your past, that is.  And, it shouldn’t.  The fact that you DID do all that shit, and you DID drink the way you drank.  The fact that your alcoholic drinking unfortunately has NOTHING to do with alcohol (would that it did!?).  Really–very, very little.  Sure, it was fun and you got buzzed and you got addicted because it helped you cope, but, in the end, the bigger motivations hovered dead-center around self-esteem, trauma, perfectionism.  We know this.  You know this.  So, forgetting about your drinking is like forgetting about the present-day issues that still linger.  You can’t, if you want to keep growing and keep healing–and frankly, keep helping others who are still stuck in addictive behavior.

The longer I’m sober, the more I see JUST how long healing takes.  Recovery.  I’m still recovering:  lost income, lost relationships, lost confidence.  I’m catching up, and I’m building.  I’m beyond satisfied that I got to spend most of my initial sobriety in a tropical paradise, literally recovering in isolation.  It was what allowed me to have the patience to dissect my process–and the faith to see a labor-intensive start to a freelance writing business through a nasty 18-month bout of PAWS (no motivation, will I ever WANT to work again?).

Have there have been many times these past 12 months where I just wanted to put the sober thing in a box, shove it under the bed, and say, Ugh, I’m done with this?  YES.  To say, let’s MOVE the fuck ON?  YES.  However, the reality is, I drank alcoholically–for reasons that I’m not quite sure I’ll ever truly pin down, define, or exorcise.  And that alcoholic-ness is what lies at the root of simple behavioral reactions that still trip me up in my day-to-day life!

I’ve made SO much headway this year and the last, in forging ahead, getting back into the workforce, and interacting with “normal” people in the real, non-sober world.  Now, the big test awaits:  can I somewhat seamlessly go back to doing what I was doing (albeit with a strong foothold remaining in the world of freelance journalism)?  I’d say yes, but I’ll also say, I’m nervous.  I’m wondering.  What will be?  What will happen?  Am I leaving my greatest creation behind, this “new me” that I’ve spent three years building?  Or, does she come with me now, wherever I go, and whatever I do?  All I can say to myself is, hold onto your heart, which happens to resemble (or even be) journalism.  It saved me once, twice, and will save me again.  It’s part of my sense of purpose and creative agency (and urgency)–the lack of which are my biggest triggers.  These things I know, so I’m hoping that knowing this, and having practiced this for so long now, will carry me through the next six months…

I’ll keep you posted!

(And, it’s good to be back!  Thanks for reading, friends.)

20 Responses to “Building”

  1. Unconfirmed Bachelorette August 8, 2015 at 3:38 pm #

    What a terrific post. My corporate (BigLaw) job is my biggest trigger, and something I’m working hard to leave. But when I got to this–“the bigger motivations hovered dead-center around self-esteem, trauma, perfectionism”–I exclaimed, out loud, “Jesus.” I’m on month eight of booze-free living, and have a lot of “dissecting” left to do. Oh to have a tropical paradise.

    Welcome back! It sounds to me like “you” have come along for the ride in the next phase of your new life.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 10, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

      Thank you so much for this…and yes, all in due time for the dissecting!

  2. Just Some Woman August 8, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

    Yep, the new you will definitely come with ..but so will the old you. The crazy 16 year old is STILL in my 53 year old head. I just have to shut her up on a regular basis. She’ll get depressed, anxious, bored, etc. etc. and try to whisper in my ear, “Come on, you’re a big girl now, you can do it…you won’t HAVE to have it every day. Just pace yourself!”. Yeah, right. I know better. There is no “pacing” myself. A healthy dose of fear reminds me of what I could become if I allow myself one more turn around the track.
    I’m glad you’re back to your normal world. If it’s meant to be, it will be. If not, fuck it. You will be led to the next right step one day at a time. Either way, you GOT this!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 10, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

      Thanks so much for your words of wisdom and support–I’m glad others have gone before me, so to speak, and can share their experience!

  3. ainsobriety August 9, 2015 at 12:33 am #

    The truth is, you can always resign if it turns out this is not what you want. But you won’t know until you try.
    Life is one big experiment. The trick is to know when it’s not working.
    It’s a hard lesson for most of us!
    I look forward to hearing more!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks, Anne. And, you’re right, I can always change it up if it’s not working. (There it is, that old “black and white” thinking–gah!) Thanks for this…

  4. karymayhickey August 9, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    So glad I went blog shopping today. I, too, have made a nice little cocoon that it is getting harder and harder to imagine leaving. I have wandered back into my old work life a couple of times in the four years of my sobriety and felt like a hairless caterpillar in danger of being being stepped on. Oh, I faked it well and no one saw my trembling-all without the aid of booze-but I felt vulnerable the whole time and if anything it made me even more afraid to venture forth again. I am not saying this to discourage you, I’m say this to warn you that you may feel this way. My problem is I like to feel like the expert, I don’t like being the new kid, I don’t like feeling stupid. My work was temporary contract work and just about the time it was time to leave my contract, I felt was finally at the end of my pupa stage and about to sprout some wings. I was asked to extend both of the contracts and I did stay, so I think it was my own expectations of myself that fell short, not my employers.

    So after all that wind, my advice, don’t scurry back to the cocoon too soon. Let those wings develop. Then if you want to fly, fly.

    I’ll be watching.
    Kary May

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 10, 2015 at 12:46 pm #

      Thanks for this, Kary May! Sound advice… Fly, little bird, fly! 🙂

  5. Kat August 10, 2015 at 12:11 pm #

    Thank you for sharing. As a journalist who covers the music scene, booze is part of the “job,” essentially. And while there ARE sober people–plenty of them–I’m not one of them. Yet. Understand your triggers and job and world. And have faith in you, no matter what happens!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks! I appreciate that… Yeah, when I was in grad school, I could NOT imagine being sober and being a journo. I could never have imagined me doing this now, and wanting to do it, sober. But, here I am, and my work has (I think) seriously benefited from not ever being hungover! Thanks for getting it–and for your comment of encouragement! Onward…!

  6. CH August 10, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    Thanks for a great post DDG.

  7. furtheron August 11, 2015 at 9:29 am #

    Change. I hate it – always have. With jobs I see the headline and think – That would be great for me. Then I read the duties, person qualities and I’m in the pit again thinking, I’ll never match up to that. Often that is it – walk away best not to try then I’ll not be a failure – I know that doesn’t add up but…. Then I might apply. I send it off. I get an interview – well obviously I’m the best candidate clearly. My ego soars and then they offer it to me. As soon as I say “Yes thank you I’ll accept” the brain goes – “You will fail you know. You’re hopeless …. blah di bloody blah” insecurity, lack of self worth and belief these characteristics of me will never go away – I have to learn somehow to bear them without the numbing anaesthetic of alcohol. Good luck to you

  8. Susan August 12, 2015 at 12:56 am #

    Hang in there. I celebrate 13 years on 8/16. I lost my mom 2 months ago. And it was like the last 12 years didn’t even happen. I have to remember that I’m only an arm’s length away from a drink and stay connected. Much luck do you. Stay in touch.

  9. dreamshadow59 August 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

    I have read, and re-read this many times. I LOVED it. How free flowing and open you are about your addiction. I too am an alcoholic and have struggles with this disease for Years. You have made ME a better person THROUGH reading you. God Bless you!!!

  10. Robert Crisp September 11, 2015 at 5:55 am #

    Wow, this is a great post. I need to re-read it and let it sink in. I relate to so much of it. I’m working on nine months of sobriety and, of course, still wrangling with the same questions and issues that prompted me to drink in the first place. I’ll continue to do so, which I’ve mostly accepted. I’ve also tried to adopt a Buddhist perspective to the whole thing (check out Pema Chodron, if you haven’t already, and her notion that being “groundless” is actually quite positive). I hope this note finds you well, and I look forward to reading more.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl September 12, 2015 at 2:43 am #

      I’m glad it struck a chord with you! Wonderful to hear you’re nine months in… I, too, really connected on Buddhism, addiction, and the 12 steps. I wrote about it once, and I think if you Google it or look up Kevin Griffin, it’ll be informative! I look forward to having time to write more very soon!

  11. melissa October 18, 2015 at 12:27 am #

    Just stumbled upon your blog. I am a struggling alcoholic, 44 years old. Recently started taking Vivatrol injections monthly which seem to be helping. I am going through a bit of a mourning period because I can’t get drunk even if I want to (which means the drug is working). So grateful to have hope though because it isn’t fun anymore. I could relate to everything you said. I was once an aspiring journalist but I feel like alcohol has robbed me of all of my creativity. Been drinking since 15 and haven’t had 1 year sober since. Been in rehab 3 times. Reading your blog inspired me that it’s never too late to pursue my dreams of becoming a writer. I am considering starting a blog as an outlet to journal and share my journey of getting sober. I know it will not be easy as I too have suffered so badly from PAWS in the past during brief periods of sobriety that I think it’s part of the reason I gave up so easily and have been a chronic relapser (well that and a WHOLE lot of other things that I didn’t do right to maintain my sobriety). I look forward to reading more of your entries. I feel like I have truly experienced a sort of ‘spiritual awakening’ in coming across your blog and it was not by accident. Thank you.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl October 20, 2015 at 1:04 am #

      Hi, Melissa, Wow that is SO good to hear–and helps me, too. Like, maybe all this writing about my journey wasn’t in vain. I’ve been quiet lately, still sober, but…I really feel like I need to come back to this space and start honoring my sobriety again. I wish you so much best, and no, it is NEVER too late, and YES, PAWS eventually goes away and you come back! You bounce back. You become better than ever, an updated version of yourself, but so much more than that. xx

  12. Susan October 29, 2015 at 5:24 am #

    I’m writing this as I sit in a Sydney rehab. Your words are so real and true for me. I was sober for 12 years and to cut it short I became complacent cocky even and picked up 4 years ago. Wish the wine had gripped my throat and strangled me on the first drink but it didn’t x alcohol is more cunning than that. It slowly worked its way into my whole being and as such I’m here trying to accept my alcoholism once again x and I don’t want to and I feel hardly done by and I am so angry that my friends can do so and I can’t. So I have some work to do – I know what I have to do I just have to do it xx take care everyone x

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