Archive | April, 2020

Two weeks off social media–do I really exist?

27 Apr

3:55 pm

Well, I’ve been off social media–Facebook specifically–for two whole weeks as of today.  And, I gotta say, I really don’t miss it, at all.  Like, I almost forgot about the entire affair until I ran into someone I knew last night (who I am not FB friends with) and thought, man, I should Facebook friend them.  And, then I thought, oh, wait, I’m NOT ON Facebook!  Haha.

No, for real, I don’t miss it.  Maybe I’ve just gotten lazy in these COVID times, but keeping up with my groups and news feed seems sort of futile–who cares if I miss something, right?  Of course, I am following the news on individual websites, and it’s hard to miss the mainstream news if you turn on your TV, ever.  However, I really couldn’t care less about what I may have missed when it comes to posts in my groups and by my friends.  I meet up with my friends here, of which there are a few–and, that has been totally enough.  I am not craving to know what they’re “doing” on Facebook; I feel like I am literally missing nothing.

That’s a relief!  I thought I would feel like I was missing out–and, frankly, it’s made me wonder about something that was in the back of my mind that this break from Facebook helped to precipitate:  is not sharing about your life on Facebook (or, in real life, too) the same as, not sharing your life?  And, is either necessary to live a good life, however one defines “good”?  Do I truly exist if I don’t share about my life on Facebook, or with anyone in the real world?

I have a roll of photos that only I have seen; I have tons of videos of our dog, but yet, NO ONE but me knows, really, of her life and times.  Is that fair to her, to have no one remember her because I didn’t share?  Am I depriving the world of something (my light, my perspective?) if I never share what I’m doing?  I mean, if I moved to an island and disconnected from everyone, how would my family and friends feel?  And, when I died on that island, would it have been a wasted existence since, except for me, no one else knew anything about it?

Two weeks ago, the thought of stopping sharing posts or photos of my life gave me a bad gut feeling–a feeling of fear, anxiety, dread; of, what will happen TO ME if I stop sharing about my life?  It’s mostly gone now, surprisingly; however, I am 45, an introvert, and sober (as in, I have had years of feeling sort of like, an explorer in the Arctic, totally clear-minded but alone as fuck), so I wonder how strong this fear is for young people, who grew up on social media, whose entire sense of self/personal reality are intertwined with “existing” on social media?

Is the hardest part of leaving Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram) not really a fear of missing out, but a fear of being forgotten, or, worse, never having existed?  Maybe.  Of course, we can share photos with people in real life, but, this aspect of the entire world being able to know us–a little piece of fame, maybe immortality–is appealing on such a base level.

Anyway, after two weeks, I definitely feel like the noise has stopped.  I am receding into a quiet, perhaps naive, bubble of my small, but real, world; and it’s calming.  I don’t feel overwhelmed by the bumbling thoughts and misperceived slights bouncing around in my head; I don’t feel overdone by the incessant headlines, most of which I can’t read (for lack of time and effort) and can’t do anything about anyway (stories about elephants being abused in Thailand, for instance!).  I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on my actual friends’ lives; we have gotten quickly caught up in person when we have seen each other.

In fact, if I was job searching, writing, or reading (most of which I am doing, but um, not doing all that much of, I have to admit), I would probably be getting a lot done with all the noise gone and focus back!

On another note, our beaches re-opened last week, and this has been a glorious development!  We’ve been a few times; yesterday was a perfect beach day, and it was the first Sunday Funday anyone has had in a long time–it was a good day.

Our dog is hanging in there; the vet told us that there wasn’t much more she could do, however, she thinks our girl still has time.  Every day is a good day with her; every morning is a great morning to see her sweet almond eyes staring up at me, or her skinny back legs running like a horse in her sleep…

We’re just waiting, like everyone, for normalcy to return; and, while I said that as an introvert, I love me some lockdown solitude–even I am longing for things to start their upward swing soon.  It’s getting a little too quiet in here!

Quarantine things/doing nothing

22 Apr

3:55 pm

Well, I’m not necessarily in quarantine, but, I am still social distancing to the point of feeling like I’m self-isolating.

Our dog continues to have trouble walking at all; she hasn’t gone on a walk since Saturday, so, that is not good.  After re-reading my journal (I keep a pretty detailed one), I remembered that she had a hard time on her walks last week, more difficult than usual.  She was sort of stiffening up to the point of being unable to move forward or turn on her heel, and she didn’t want to go as far as she has been going lately.

On Sunday, she had her big crisis–panting like crazy, her front and back legs seemingly seizing up as she tried to walk from doorframe to bed–and since then, she’s been basically sleeping all day.  She’s managed to get up and down, and stumble a bit outside to pee, but otherwise, she seems a bit worn out, defeated, frustrated, done.  I made an appointment with the vet for Friday; I have no intention of putting her to sleep on Friday–I guess she still has time, albeit, painful time–but, what will be, will be.  I am angry, is all:  I hate seeing her in this much pain.  She has always been such a happy, grateful dog, and to see her so tired and defeated is heartbreaking.

On a different note, I trolled Indeed this morning, and I actually found two jobs that I “should” apply for, in that, I have a good chance of being at least flagged (they are both jobs with friends–one would be working with an OLD friend from college, the other would be working with a former boss).  Most often, though, by the time they are listed on sites like Indeed, an internal candidate has already been selected and the company is just posting for due diligence reasons.  You never know, though.

The thing is, while I AM grateful for the nonprofit job I’ve had for the past oh, year-plus, things are SO uncertain right now that I don’t actually believe I’ll get my job back after furlough.  And, to be perfectly honest, I am OK with that.  I just have to get on the job search sooner rather than later–money doesn’t grow on (palm) trees, and even though I have savings, those were HARD-won after paying off my graduate school loans and spending years making peanuts as a freelance science writer and journalist.  As it stands, I’m going to be extremely grateful to not burn through my savings by the time this COVID-19 stuff is over.

I don’t know, I am just chillin’ today.  My social media aversion is still going strong; I haven’t logged into Facebook for an entire week, but, I quickly jumped on LinkedIn this morning out of necessity.  Today, I want to go for a walk and bake a cake (I found this yellow cake recipe that makes something actually edible in the yellow-cake-from-scratch department!); we were supposed to hit the beach today, but, it’s getting late, soooo…I think I might just sit here for a few minutes and do nothing.

Feels good.  It really does just feel…better than good to just.  Do.  Nothing.

Almost a week off social media…

19 Apr

4:26 pm

…and it’s better than good-ish!  I mean, I am starting to see how hugely beneficial this “break” from Facebook might actually be in terms of my relationships, including with myself.

At first, I felt a sense of relief; as in, ahhh, I don’t have to follow all the news/information; ahhh, I don’t have to “care” about this random person’s feelings or thing they did.  I felt like there was much less noise in my head, and that made way for more space to think about *my* life, this blog, my future employment prospects, i.e., what I want to be when I grow up (after lockdown ends and we all are supposed to go back to normal).

Then, I had a sense of clarity around relationships, accompanied by some sort of resentment and ultimately, mild disappointment.  As it turns out, some of my “friends” on social media are just that–friends only on Facebook.  In real life, I guess we don’t have that much to talk about, and frankly, we probably kind of annoy each other.  I just can’t anymore with passive-aggressive behavior, so I might just let them go–it’s probably for the better if I feel this good!

Past two days, I seem to have “remembered” that I have, um, really old, really good relationships with some people–cousins, old friends from growing up, my family–so, why the HECK have I been chasing the comings and goings of people I barely know?  It’s just crazy-making, and I see it now as such:  I mean, why not focus on your actual, tried-and-true relationships, the ones that have already given back and will continue to do so?  That’s what I’m going to focus on this week when I get bored or restless wondering where all my “friends” have gone–reach out to those friends that I have, to those that have already proven to be worthwhile, to be relevant (as in, we have a real history together).

On another note, my furlough is going well; I mean, I have a ton of things I want to do (read my last post), and have just started to get back into reading.  I am supposed to be reading 50 pages a day in this book (it’s over 1,000 pages long, and I just want to get it done!), but I’m already behind on that!  I love taking walks, and of course, I go running outside and do yoga (and sometimes lift weights) indoors.  I mean, life on an island is pretty glorious as far as “lockdown” goes; we’ve got space here, and no one is enforcing any strict orders (except for the beaches; they have been closed the past two weeks, supposedly reopening tomorrow).  We have all this beautiful outside world to explore, and I love it–more than ever, since now it’s truly empty of humanity and I get it all to myself!  (as an introvert, I am dreading when things open back up…and the pressure of having to socialize is put back on us)

On a different note, we woke up this morning to our sweet dog–a chow-shepherd mix–in what I have come to call an “osteoarthritic crisis.”  She’s had a few of these crises, which seem to come on at night, usually around dawn (um, thanks to perimenopause, I am up most of the night with her, to witness when all this takes place–haha).  She pants really, really hard, and kind of paces around, obviously in a lot of pain based on the way her limbs have stiffened even more than they usually have by the end of the day.

This morning, however, she was in a state that I have never seen:  not just panting, but panting SO VERY hard that her tongue was extended to breaking point and was almost purple; she was like, almost seizing/having a seizure, her legs and arms would not move her around no matter how hard she tried.  She finally got to one of her beds and eased herself down to a half-sitting/half-standing posture; and she kept panting, her body shaking with the force of her panting (I thought she was going to have a heart attack, I really did), for like, an hour.

We gave her her morning meds–gabapentin and rimadyl–and on top of that, some old pills that we never give her, save for when she’s in a lot of pain, both a tramadol (a pain reliever) and a trazadone (a sedative that the vet gave us for the flight down, which we never used).  Finally, after much panting, watering, and just sitting next to her with my hand on her side, she settled down, eased down onto the bed, and went to sleep.

I think it’s getting really close to time…  I mean, other dog owners would probably shame us for letting it go on this long–she started to limp badly almost 1.5 years ago–but, it is what it is.  I have never had a dog go through this, and most of the time, she is fine in her mind.  Lately, though, and especially this morning, which scared me, her body is just showing severe signs of “I can’t do this for much longer.”

At least I have time to spend with her now, not having to work.  Today was like a hangover day for her:  those days that were 100% wasted, sleeping off the sobering up, and then, waking up at 5 pm to realize that it was almost dusk, you still felt like shit, and you had just wasted another day (and night before; none of my nights of drinking were ever memorable, if remembered at all).  That’s a dark comparison, but one that I can’t help but make.

It’s almost sunset time here, which means, time to go onto the deck and watch the colors fade from the sky, sinking into the horizon until everything turns to ink, then black.  The stars will appear, first Venus, then the Big Dipper; then, the night will fill out as the evening plods on, and the black will become peppered with a spray of pinpoints of light.  I wonder, how many of those are stars and how many, satellites?  I can never tell which points of light are planets, and I can never pick out but a few constellations.  Every night, though, I go out onto the deck, and look up, and gaze in awe, and in gratitude–most nights, I am burning up and feeling awful along every inch of my skin, BUT, I can still muster gratitude…and hope.  I hope that our girl knows that she is up there, already, one star and many–she is my shining star, my Higher Power; she will light up my night sky forever.  I hope she knows that, or at least knows that mommy is thinking about her when she steps out into the night and looks up.

Fourth day off social media…

16 Apr

5:57 pm

…and it still feels good-ish.  In short, I feel freer, mentally, like there is just less noise; but, I am finding myself sort of feeling like–poof!–some of my friends have just disappeared from my life.  Of course, they haven’t just disappeared–they just rely heavily on social media to relate to me.  It’s weird.  (Nothing is rational about this process, about why we feel the way we feel on social media–if anything, it’s a form of talking to ourselves, a monologue, not representative of a dialogue with another person, which, in my opinion, is the definition of a relationship.)

Sure, I feel a bit out of it when it comes to current events.  However, all I have to do is put in a little bit more time to intentionally go to news sites—especially those that cover the local news, for instance the government’s updates on the COVID-19 situation.  And, the idea of being intentional about this appeals to me:  instead of just consuming this, that, and the other that pops up in my Facebook feed, I’m choosing to see all the stories at one publication’s website, choosing to read all the headlines and then, choosing to read the entirety of some of these stories.

I know I’m not missing much in that regard since I’ve got a world of news right at my fingertips.  As for my groups, eh, those will be there; the important ones, I’ll be able to catch up on.  For my grad school groups, I can catch up quickly on those, since new posts don’t appear that often and the content remains evergreen, relevant for quite a while.  For this perimenopause/menopause group that I follow–um, I think I have enough information to tell me, there isn’t really a fix, let alone a quick one, so…I can let it go for a while.  For this one, a hiking group, people post super-cool pics all the time, but, I’ve done a lot of the hikes that folks are posting about, and, what do you know, I can go back to my own photo library and re-live these hikes by looking at some of my own, awesome pictures!

What I haven’t been able to shake yet is this feeling of resentment toward some of my friends.  Maybe just disappointment.  It’s true, we are in a pandemic and everyone seems to be hunkering down.  I know that some of my in-real-life (IRL) friends spend a LOT of energy living via their Facebook pages; I also know that, in the past, whenever a friend of mine deactivated or deleted his or her account, I felt personally affronted–it was like, really, you’re just ghosting on me and everyone else like that?  I wonder if the friends who have gone silent the past week, are they feeling like I’ve been “ignoring” them, or have ghosted them?  No texts, no messages, no calls–I can’t help but feel slighted, but the benefit of not having that noise in my life right now simply outweighs all the rest.  Distance will help, I know; hopefully, whatever real or virtual tiff will have dissipated by the time we interact again, on the ‘book or IRL.

Mainly, I have felt bored, but also this sweet sense of quiet–a feeling of peace, focus, less noise in my head.  Very little of others’ lives and feelings are bumping around in my brain, taking up my time and energy–and that is glorious, really.  A relief.

It’s a bit tedious being in my own head and world all the time, especially under lockdown, but, going off Facebook and other social sites has been instructive as to how much I rely on virtual, almost-pseudo-connection to feel connected.

So, onward.  Time to finally read a book–haha.

First day off social media…

13 Apr

6:20 pm

…and, it feels good-ish.  I have decided to not go on as much, and today, so far, I haven’t logged in to either Facebook or LinkedIn at all.  It feels good, for the most part:  I like having more free space in my head (and heart), but I don’t like feeling as if I’m intentionally disconnecting/ed from friends, the news, information, reality.  Sure, I guess I could just turn on the TV news, but…it’s not quite the same.

I’ll get used to it.  Once, a few years ago, I went for ONE WHOLE MONTH–gasp!–without logging in to Facebook.  Back then, I had some things that I really wanted to figure out in my life, some choices to make, and I didn’t want the distraction of Facebook to get in my way.  I can’t remember if I felt all that antsy not being on it every day; I did feel like I was missing out on “what’s happening” in my friends’ “lives,” but, that was three years ago, when friends actually posted about their lives and I actually saw their posts.

Now, it just seems that all I see are news, sponsored ads (gah, I HATE sponsored ads), and, um, the odd post that is both genuine and interesting to regular old people, aka, your “friends.”  I still see the odd “photos from our family trip” once in a while, quite a few baby pics (I don’t get why people are still posting baby pics to Facebook; if I were a parent, I would never do that–maybe I’m just paranoid); I still see “this is what I made for dinner” posts, and I do see interesting shared news here or there.  However, these days, most posts seem highly curated–people don’t share off the cuff, and they are aware that what they share can and will be used (for or) against them.

For me, it’s taking up too much space in my head; just thinking about going on Facebook makes my head spin and gives me a bit of anxiety:  WHAT am I going to encounter today that is going to make me angry or emotionally unstable?  Haha.  Seriously.  It’s like, after I’m done scrolling, I have this feeling of void; like, my ability to think creatively and positively (about what I, myself, am going to do that day) seems subtracted.  And, especially during this COVID-19 quarantine/lockdown period, where days and goals and projects have been sort of turned around, when we really need to cultivate a sense of structure, if we are that kind of person (I am!)–I guess I just need all my time and space to myself, to figure out how to best live my life right now.

I hope everyone is hanging in there.  I am on week 2 of my furlough, and last week was great as I got a lot done.  This week?  Well, I think I’m going to continue to work on my writing, but, that includes starting some new projects–which I have yet to create for myself.  Now that I don’t have to write about my work stuff, I am free to…explore, I guess.  I was talking to my brother last night, and he reminded me that I don’t have to be productive during a pandemic.  I get that; I mean, I would like to figure out what is going to excite me, as a writer, in the next few months or years; but, I’m not going to get crazy about it.

I’d love to um, learn a few languages (haha–not just one, but two) and start on the whole Ancestry.com thing.  Mainly, I’d love to read; guys, I am THE WORST reader.  When I set my mind to it, I can skim-read books in hours.  BUT, I am not one to pick up a book anymore in my free time and read for pleasure–last few years, at least, I’ve just felt that I can’t afford the time to do that, I have all this other stuff to do.  Well, now that I don’t feel that other stuff breathing down my neck, I do want to give myself permission to read more books.  Finally, as we all probably know, there is SO MUCH TELEVISION to watch, it’s unfathomable!

There is one thing that hasn’t changed during this time:  I just don’t drink.  And, I am still utterly grateful for that fact of my life, every hour of every day.  It’s strange how it can be that way, but, every day, almost, I wake up grateful to not be hungover, grateful that I get to do all this stuff that I just rambled on about, grateful that I am here, present, able to see the trees, the forest, and everything in between.  And, I haven’t forgotten that it was my readers who helped me get through all the hard places and dark nights (the night, indeed, can be dark and full of terrors).  And that, I am still in recovery, I will probably never be able to drink again, and I am grateful for those things, too.

Face value

6 Apr

11:13 am

Take it at face valueTake what he or she says at face value.

I am so used to hearing expressions like these, but not really understanding them.  Lately, I am coming to grasp the meaning–and the value–of face value.  Maybe it’s the COVID-19 situation bringing it into better focus.

What is face value when you no longer see anyone’s real face?  I mean, in the age of text and social media, is there really any face value?  Sure, we have video–and, truth be told, I’d rather Zoom than not see people (I was SO excited to see my boss’s face the other day, after literally about nine months of just hearing her voice on the phone).  However, the majority of our relationships, for the most part, exist on text and social media–at the very least, I would say, NOT face to face, or, as they say, in real life (IRL).  Is anyone else getting simply tired of it?  Or, if not tired of it, wondering why you are feeling like an outlier because you don’t really want to count it anymore as real interaction?

I feel like so many of my relationships consider text communications to be sufficient–and, to be fair, sometimes they can be–to be the brunt of our total interactions!  To that, I am increasingly saying, it’s not enough.  It really does require more than that (for me, for where I am right now in my life and in my recovery).  To add, my not responding (or not responding fully) does not mean that I don’t like you, or that I am angry or pissed or whatever; it just means that I just don’t consider it “real” face to face–and I refuse to give it that value.

Even my mom sends emails a LOT more regularly these days; she used to get annoyed when I emailed her instead of calling.  Now, I can’t be bothered to go into depth over email, so she’s the one who’s like, why didn’t you reply, it’s been days!  The irony!

I know my tendency as an introvert is to not interact with people; but since getting sober, I have tried really hard to go around that tendency and force myself to talk to people, to try and see people (versus other ways of staying in touch).  We are, so many of us, introverts; however, being an introvert is not the same as using text to avoid someone because you are insecure; or, using text as a means to replace an actual “IRL” relationship because, for some reason, you don’t want to commit to a relationship.

The thing is, a lot can get crossed over the wires when you’re only–or mainly–texting or using social media; a lot can be misinterpreted or misunderstood.  Which can lead to, well, relationships gone bad.  And, these are never made better unless you see each other face to face–you can never really truly take things at face value unless you’re face to face, body to body (in my opinion, anyway).  This might be a rather traditional, luddite approach (favored by my grandparents, no doubt!  damn, has perimenopause aged me four decades instead of two these past several years?), but one whose value I am only now beginning to truly appreciate, in the midst of a pandemic that has forced us all to re-consider how we’ve been interacting lately.

On a personal note, I was furloughed from my (normally remote) nonprofit job–90 days, no pay.  I am going to try to collect UI, but we’ll see (I am not 100% sure I can get it considering how hairy things have gotten pretty much everywhere with everyone applying for unemployment benefits).  The silver lining is actually gold:  I get to step away from this job for a while, which has sucked up a lot of my mental and emotional time this past 16 months, and invest it in this blog, in my own personal writing, in well, my recovery.  Lately, I feel like I need to address my reactions to other people–maybe it’s as simple as, I see some of my acquaintances’ behavior differently now that I am more sober and older, and it probably was never cool to begin with.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am increasingly like, bye, gurl, when it comes to confusing/indirect/passive aggressive behavior–I don’t have the willpower or desire anymore to dig deep and speculate; I choose to take things at face value.

In any case, I suggest everyone step back and give yourself a pat on the back and a big hug–you are doing great.  Amazing, actually.  And, I mean that–you can take that at face value.  YOU ARE AMAZING.

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