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60 days of calm, smooth, grateful waters

10 Dec

2:05 am

60 days sober as of today. AGAIN. YAYs, though, to me, for getting here again, living real life along the way, and not really struggling with the cravings as much as I did (they were horrendous, I cannot lie) the first time around this summer. And, yays in that I’ve never gone longer than 60 days and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s lying in wait on the flipside!

And, this time around, there’s nothing that’s going to turn my car back down Drinking Drive. I feel strong, and easy in my sober skin–still hard for me to grasp let alone believe (I’m waiting any day now to feel crawl-y again, but that seems to have disappeared). I don’t want to drink, really; I guess I am healing. Much more than that, though, I don’t want the nonsense, the illness, the weight gain, the remorse and guilt and sense of defeat that comes with drinking. Fuck that! All for a pretty bottle of grape water? Silliness. (Yeah, you should have talked to me when I was walking around [cold west coast city] at midnight in the fog-rain, feeling like the only thing between me and a bottle of wine was time (when the wine stores closed) and staying in literal motion.)

These next few weeks will be busy with work, friends, new friends (I’m trying to reach out more; it’s not easy to want to do that, especially anticipating being sober in social situations), AA meetings, and hopefully, a Christmas tree! I don’t think I’ll have time to drink, thankfully, so no time to think about drinking either.

A random thought: As I was reading the Big Book the other night, I came across a part that was talking about the 5th step, admitting your “drinking shit” to another human being. For all this time, I thought that you had to admit your shit to your sponsor, and to your sponsor ONLY. Um, no! The Big Book says you can do this to/with “another human being.” That could be anyone, right? Yes! And, I’ve done that. I have, to more than one person, actually; which is why AA bothers me so much, because I think, Wait, what? Do I have to go through this again? Really? AGAIN? Maybe that’s why I don’t feel that taken with or beholden to the steps or AA.

Another thought: Is grateful the opposite of envious? As I was walking home from a run/walk the other day, I was thinking about drinking–when the chance comes up at parties or gatherings, and how that makes me feel NOW versus how that made me feel before I quit. Before, my entire experience would have been clouded by “I want what I don’t have” or “I want what they’re having.” Now, I can look at peeps getting drunk on the beach, at a party, and I can see the progression from fake hilarity to fake grandiosity to fake dejection, and I am able to think, “I don’t want what they have” and know it–feel it–to be true. I am content with what I have, which is calmness, a clear head, a genuine sense of time and place, a real (albeit, not as gregarious) smile or laugh. I am, in fact, not envious; I am grateful. I am grateful for WHAT I HAVE, in my head and heart and hand (soda, water, iced tea). I am grateful for this change of mentality, most of all. I really was sort of living in a prison of the mind; a prison of envy, of wanting what I didn’t have, which was to be drunk.

Am I grateful that I can see the clouds and the blue sky but not understand them? Hmm… No. Not yet anyway. ๐Ÿ˜‰

8 weeks came and went and…no time for drinkin’!

7 Dec

2:33 pm

Of course, the thought has crossed my mind more than a few times–I have a friend in town who used to be a crazy-ass drinkin’ buddy (we got into a LOT of trouble/troubles together)–but do I have to acknowledge it as anything more than an errant bug in my program? NOPE.

I’m keeping busy and truly enjoying my work (for once), my free time (swimming is a FUN way to exercise, and what do you know, the more fun it is the more I want to do it), and planning my future work and free time. I can go to bed and look forward to waking up and just continuing where I left off. I can plan my days and the work I will do, and know that there won’t be any snags, physical or mental or emotional–alcohol is no longer in my way!

I hate to say this, but I will anyway: I almost feel in control of this thing called “my drinking problem.” Does that mean I’m going to drink? No. Does that mean I have to be extra-vigilant? Not really. All I have to do is not drink. And, the best part is, the sense of control comes from my continued work at thinking myself out of drinking, which seems to have changed things up there because it really is getting easier not only to say no, but also to not want to drink in the first place. I feel like I can (much?) more easily resist my cravings because I know (from experience) that drinking will be exhausting, likely not that much fun, and will ruin the next day. The consequences don’t necessarily have to be major; even minor ones seem to me NOW to be majorly sucky, so why disrupt my flow?

I’ve been to only one meeting this week, and let me tell you, it feels GREAT. Great to be away from AA, to be away from AA people, to be away from the AA mentality. I dislike the “once a drunk, always a drunk” mentality; it bogs me down and seems to me to detract, actually, from my success/progress. Too much AA is well, too much AA. In fact, I find AA depressing; I almost feel LESS empowered, worse about myself, and like, I’ll always have this problem. I don’t know about you, but my question has always and will always be: don’t you want to SOLVE the problem and move on? Can’t you? Can’t you leave it behind, officially stop dwelling? (Maybe once I do the steps and get to #12, it’ll all make sense…) I think it’s AA’s trick to keep you there, which purposely contributes to your fear of drinking and therefore, to your sustained sobriety. For me, there’s something about fearing drinking and fearing my “drinking problem,” not to mention having a perpetual problem that just feels…wrong–eh, two or three meetings a week is enough AA for now.

Anyway, happy Friday to all!

Am I punishing myself by staying sober?

6 Dec

1:21 am

Uh, talk about a heavy question. Then again, AA is heavy, and that’s where I heard someone pose this question recently in response to a death in her immediate circle.

Hmm…

Yes, in a sense, you are punishing yourself. You don’t get to obliviate, and that sucks. It’s a choice to live through the pain, or at least not circumvent it at will. However, in the grand scheme of things, you and us both know that you aren’t. Learning to cope with death–with pain and with grief–is necessary to live. Avoiding moving through it to the other side is escapism, not reward. Sobriety is the reward, as without it, you just keep going back to square one; you keep yourself in the pain, instead of moving past it. You cry, you drink, you cry because you drank. You wake up and wonder why the pain is still there. That sounds like punishment to me! (Easier said than done, especially when I’m not the one grieving a death, *especially* while sober.)

My first experience with grief came after the [beautiful island] [natural disaster]. I had times there–amazing, life-changing times. I had friends there, and some of those friends were crushed to death. After the [natural disaster], I had horrible sadness, confusion, and bouts of frantic anxiety–usually at night, in my bed. What would happen to me when I died? Would I float off into endless black nothingness? How could life be considered so precious when it was made of such a frail mold? If it could be taken so easily, how could (can) it really be so valuable? I couldn’t fall asleep at night, and would sometimes wake with feelings of being smothered.

I got through it, and for better or for worse, I don’t really think of death as bad anymore. Sure, it freaks me out, but death is. Death just is. I will die; the question is, will I accept this and then, how will I live my life? As a friend told me years ago, when I was in my early 20s and feeling bogged down by my first-world choices to the point of being depressed about life: Good thing it’s short, eh? Right, thanks.

In other words, drinking stalls your process and wastes your time. And, considering how few moments we have here, and how difficult it can be to learn to grasp and cherish them while sober…even if you want to drink, can you really, truly afford to? Life is short, and learning its lessons takes time. Why not start now, end quicker, and get out of class while the sun is still shining?

Going on 8 weeks tomorrow, and then (my second time around) 60 days this coming Monday! And, I’m NOT stopping this train. Drinking is simply not in my cards these days; sure, I’d like to, but when I re-think it, I don’t want to waste the hours drinking and being hung over. I have better things to do, things that provide me with much longer-term and substantial buzz than wine. Plus, I know that drinking wine after this long of being sober–I fell off ye olde wagon, remember?–will not feel good; the buzz’ll feel weird, and I likely won’t have a good time, mentally (static brain) and emotionally (downs for the first two glasses, blunted ups for however long it’ll take me to black out, which won’t be more than 2-4 more glasses). It’s not worth my valuable time anymore. Go, me.

(Still, wouldn’t it be nice…NO! Down, wolf, down.) ๐Ÿ˜‰

Oh, AA… Don’t make me hurt you!

2 Dec

11:04 pm

The past few days have been great. My “desire” to drink is subsiding, and I have to say, I’ve either pushed it WAY out of my mind, or I’m actually realizing that No, drinking does not change anything and is simply not that much fun. It does not work anymore. It really doesn’t.

In fact, these days, I feel safe. Early days, back in June, I did not feel safe — best word I can think of. I felt unsafe in my day-to-day world. Around every corner was an unknown: would I be able to resist the craving, and would I be able to sweat it out without, I don’t know, breaking my teeth or exploding into a thousand pieces? That’s how…existentially challenged I felt. I think they call it, *crawling out of your skin.*

Today, almost six months later (not six months sober, but counting all the days since June 13th, pretty close), I feel safer in the world, with the world, with passing time. Somehow, I’ve created this room of my own inside myself where I can now go and sit and wait and just chill, instead of drinking, when I feel existential anxiety (like, What to do? When will I die? What is all this?). I’ve been eating better (trying to, at least), swimming in the mornings (trying to, at least); my sciatica is mending, which is a HUGE relief. I’ve been getting my work done, hitting the beach with my boyfriend, and in general, settling in and feeling significantly more at home in my skin here.

YET…

AA has been a dark spot. It agitates me. The worst part is, it doesn’t have to. Why do I think that AA is the only way? Hmm. It’s also like a challenge that’s been presented…and now I HAVE to go for it, beat it, win and not lose. That’s ME; maybe it’s precisely the wrong program for someone whose reasons for drinking include an overly competitive nature?

Anyway, while it helped at first, it’s now become a sort of thorn in my side. I’ve felt judged — I was harassed the other night by someone I would call a “Big Book thumper” and had to hold my tongue (I ranted to my boyfriend for hours after I came home, though) — and like, I’m doing it wrong. The egos, the neuroses; the cliques, the male peacocking and female…who knows what! It’s overwhelming sometimes, mainly because I don’t want to deal with 50 other drinking problems! I HAVE MY OWN, thank you very much.

And — I stand my ground on this –I don’t have to. Neither does anyone! I have a friend who relapsed, who seems to be trying, and her sponsor told her that if she’s unwilling to commit 100 percent, she’s wasting her (the sponsor’s) time. Jesus. Fuck off, is what I’d say.

So, I’ve decided that yes, I like the meetings, but no, I don’t like everything about them or the program. And, I don’t have to. I don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water, in other words. I don’t have to share. I don’t have to like everyone in the room. I don’t have to get a sponsor, take this Big Book nonsense all that seriously, or do the steps. All I have to do is stick to my sobriety and my ideas of how to not drink, which to be perfectly frank, I don’t believe to be all that unenlightened.

Hmm…

It’s a shame, really. BUT, I don’t have to drink over it! I don’t have to let it push my buttons, which include a perfectionist bent. I can NOT CARE — and make up my own mind — and this is a good thing. I’m taking it as a form of additional therapy: practicing NOT caring when I tell myself I SHOULD; practicing letting go of the “have to be a good student or I’m worthless” mentality, which has gotten me a lot of degrees and high-paying jobs but which came at a huge psychological cost!

(On the bright side, I’ve discovered that a/my “higher power” does not have to be a deity, or deity-related. This higher power, I’ve concluded, could very well be a literal HIGHER thinking — like, ABOVE both rational and irrational thought. This, then, I can understand, and it means that I can also grasp the meditation step (#11) as a way to commune with it — *I* am it. I am of the divine, I am the one who I can access, I am the god-voice within. Of course, a very Buddhist mentality, but I’ve connected with this in the past a lot more than deity-based religions anyhow.)

I’ll keep plugging; I’m not giving up. I’d like to finish the Big Book — and keep going to meetings — so that I have some ammunition to throw at these people! I do feel like I NEED to distance myself a bit, though (maybe attend less meetings, maybe try some non-AA recovery programs); it’s not worth drinking over because I feel agitated at meetings. It’s not. And, I won’t. There is NO WAY I’m drinking before 90 days. One 90 days at a time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

AA: it’s not just about me! Say what?

29 Nov

9:06 pm

Yup. You heard me. Who IS this person, and where did you stash Drunky Drunk Girl? (Btw, I just cleaned my trunk, so no blood stains, please…)

I know, I know; I can be VERY self-oriented. I’m introverted, I’m a writer by passion and by trade, and I’m very analytical. I tend to be in my head a LOT, thinking my thoughts and thinking how awesome they are. Ahem. They are, aren’t they? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Today, I went “back” to AA after about a week wondering and ruminating about what purpose it was serving in my sobriety (of 7 weeks today!). Why? Well, after all your comments — which I SO appreciated — I realized that one, I have some great, grounding friends online and that impressed me a heck of a lot more than a few douchebags in AA making it seem like they’re the only game in town; and two, well, as I told L. tonight, as she and myself and two other women were walking up the steps of the church downtown after the meeting, “I missed you guys.”

Yes, I missed my AA peeps! I missed hearing about their lives, what they were up to, whether they were still sober for crying out loud! I missed checking in with them; so far, they’re all wholeheartedly sincere in their desire to help little old me who, up until a few weeks ago, was a complete stranger to them.

Most importantly, one of my favorite women, C. (L.’s sponsee), fell off the wagon yesterday and ended up going to the hospital last night (I think she was seeking anti-anxiety meds and they hesitated and gave her something for her blood pressure. Which is bizarre, imho.). Anyway, she and I met about a month ago at the Tuesday night women’s meeting. We’re originally from the same part of the country, and we bonded over the fact that we were both new to the island, both at our first meeting (relatively speaking), AND, both had about the same length of sobriety when we met.

This afternoon at the beach (rough life, I know), I heard that *someone* had fallen off the wagon via a text from E., another lady friend who has about 17 years and is VERY cool in how practical she is toward AA and sobriety. She gets it, as far as I’m concerned. Anyway, it ended up being C., and it sounded bad. This woman does “John, Jack, and Jose,” and based on a short conversation with her, I could tell that many drinks were drank. Many, MANY drinks.

When she came into the meeting late tonight — we were all expecting her, but I didn’t text her out of respect, I suppose — my heart lurched! She looked awful; haggard, tweaked, and frail. Tired. Hungry. Lost. I actually felt a lump rise in my throat and had to look down, to hide the tears that briefly welled in my eyes. This IS a disease, I thought. It really struck me then: C. is not trying, at least consciously, to do this to herself.

I know that I have been quite childish when it comes to ranting and raving about AA. (Of course, I have; I needed to be.) I realized a while ago that meetings help everyone, and only everyone, if EVERYONE shows up! It was, however, a theoretical concept until today, when I heard about C., and then tonight, when I saw her. I can’t promise to come to meetings for her, but I can promise to come as often as I can. I can text her, call her, respond even if she sounds “OK.” I can make myself more available. I realize that part of my problem is isolating myself; it’s partly my nature as an introvert, partly habitual due to years of doing just that out of feeling insecure and worthless, to a certain degree.

At the beach today, as I was thinking about C. and about my own role in “not getting AA,” I actually picked up the Big Book and started reading it. NO, my friends, I have never even read the damn thing! And you know what? Some of what I read is not unreasonable! Especially holding onto anger/resentments, and drinking over them. I’ve done that. I lived in that, for a long time, even though I thought I wasn’t. I still live in that, even though I’m not drinking anymore.

I could even tolerate the God stuff, mainly because the God stuff seems to fully address the fact that most of us aren’t born with a concept of God, and are sort of freaked out by it. (Jesus freaks need not apply. JUST KIDDING.) However, the Big Book directly addresses the fact that we are humans, on a planet, in the middle of the cosmos, trying to perceive a reality that may or may not exist! There is a creative force, whatever that might be; even if there isn’t, who are we to fully grasp this? Anyway, it’s all sort of written like that in the Big Book. Huh, I thought. Maybe I can dig this? Some of this is precisely why I drank…

I think AA appears outdated; it’s why a lot of people, including myself, shun it. What a horrible thing we’ve been taught, really, which is to disregard the past, our elders, our ancestors. Their knowledge, their having gone before, their practiced living — why do we toss it away? It’s a problem in American society, especially among “white people.” I won’t go too far into that, but it’s a toxic byproduct of our culture, and it manifests in ways big and small, conscious or not.

But, I digress. I hope C. realizes that drinking just fucks EVERYTHING up, and that it is no longer working for her. Unfortunately, I can’t make her not drink. I can’t solve her anxiety problems. What I can do, though, is be there for her if she calls, and show up, even when she doesn’t.

If AA was a class, would I be failing it?

28 Nov

2:20 am

Gosh, it’s late. I have so much to blog about, but right now, all I can think about is how I’m failing AA.

I went to about 20 meetings in 20 days, and then took a week off. It felt GREAT. To take a week off, that is. I felt like I was skipping class! I see how AA has helped me, as well as the good it can do — is doing — for my fellow alcoholics (these people are my friends now, so I’m not dissing them here), BUT, every time I hit a meeting, I feel like a failure.

It’s like, I’m pretty sure I’m getting something like a “C-” in AA. Worse, I think I’m heading for an “F” if I don’t get my act together.

No one is explicitly saying that I should do this, or do that. In a way, though, they are. And, every time I go to a meeting and don’t embrace the program like “they” do, I feel like an outsider. I sort of dread meetings; not because I don’t enjoy sharing, and not because the sharing hasn’t helped me to vent what otherwise has, actually, made me feel ashamed and eaten away at me, but…AA seems so much less about not drinking than it is about everything else. I don’t want the everything else. And so, I feel like a fraud, like I’m “using AA,” like I’m letting my AA buddies in the rooms down when I keep coming back but refuse to share and/or get a sponsor and/or rah rah about the 12 steps, let alone actually start on them.

I’ve tried to want what they have, but all I want is to not drink. And, I feel like, damn it, I’ve done pretty good at that for the past nearly 7 weeks! Yet, after every meeting, I just don’t feel like I want to become more a part of that clique — it’s a clique, and I simply don’t feel the need, desire, or willingness to dive in and “drink the Kool-Aid.”

No, I don’t want a sponsor. I don’t want to talk about my drinking, I’ve done that ENOUGH. Really. And, I have nothing to really complain about except the program, which in essence, is not necessary to remain sober — meetings do NOT keep me sober; I keep me sober. There is no other way I can understand the concept of a “higher power” except that it’s simply ME doing what I should have done a long time ago.

No, I don’t want to share during meetings. I just don’t. No offense.

No, I don’t want to “work” the 12 steps. In fact, I feel like I HAVE worked quite a few of them. And, there are a few (like all of them that include “God” having a hand in my not drinking) that I simply Just Don’t Get.

I don’t believe in this “god shot” stuff; I really don’t. I believe in something along the lines of embracing the random goodness of the Universe, but attaching significance to events and/or personifying nature just doesn’t seem helpful, in the long run, to a mature understanding of reality. Whatever.

I don’t want to rant about AA anymore, and that’s why I’m thinking of just stopping going to meetings. I really want to keep going, but I feel like if I keep going and keep refusing, in a way, to participate, resentments are going to start building up. There was a woman who admitted during a share how she resented people who just used AA, and didn’t do anything to give back to the organization, like sharing, or chairing, or whatever. Whatever.

(I’m using my newfound “power” to simply not care. Let it go. Yeah, the meeting bugged me — and bogged me down — tonight, but you know what, I don’t have to hold onto my ideas of any of this OR my ambivalence OR the program, even. It’s my choice, and I’ve thrown my “should-ing” and “shouldn’t-ing” out the window with my drinking shoes!)

Off to bed, and can’t wait to swim tomorrow, work on my writing, and just enjoy the passing moments — getting office furniture tomorrow and hoping to start on my juice fast (yeah, we’ll see about that). It’s a full moon tomorrow night, and it should be astounding! I’ll definitely post a picture of the view from our deck of the moon rising over the water, reflecting the sun almost as strongly as the sunlight itself! We are all made up of *star*light, people. Imagine! (Why, hello, Unicorn with Sparkly Teeth! It’s been a while, shy girl…)

Stay strong, soberites!

(For some reason, I have NO problem talking to you all, on a nightly basis. Maybe all this is just an excuse for not wanting to commit, truly, to being sober; to clinging to being a dry drunk. AA makes it seem like if you don’t do the steps, you’re not really sober. I hate that. AA also says that you’re never recovered; I believe in not only solving my problem, but rehabilitating my relationship to booze. I have to.)

Depression, purging at AA meetings, and cosmic consciousness — oh, my!

20 Nov

12:51 pm

That’s pretty much all I have to say!

NOT!

Things are still drama-free (in my head), and life (and death) are still presenting themselves at face value, with no hidden meanings and/or tricks up their sleeves. Which is nice. For once in a long time, I feel…a monotony to this sense of peace and calm about being alive and being human. Kind of like I used to feel. Secure in my choices, personal and professional.

Which makes me think, maybe booze DID have a serious effect on my state of mind? Duh. It made me depressed, and what a strange feeling to come out of that, look back, and notice it. It’s subtle, but at the same time, it’s everything. It’s hard to articulate, and it makes me think of my dad, who is struggling with a serious bout of depression — going on 5 years or something. I wish he’d take meds again. Oh, well, not mine to worry about.

Many a thing I’ve been learning in AA, just from listening and identifying:

1. I don’t have to believe — internalize — other people’s anger and/or accusations. I don’t even have to acknowledge them besides letting them go in one ear and out the other. I know me, and I know what I’ve done wrong. I’ve tried making amends with certain crazy-bitch “sister-in-law”-type people, and well, I don’t need to worry anymore about it. Does it/she still piss me off when I think about it? Yup. Do I need to hold onto that? No.

2. AA meetings are place to vent! To purge, as it were. I think I’m beginning to understand the group therapy aspect to it: if you vent your anger, frustrations, difficulties with drinking, remorse, etc. to others who care and identify, you don’t need to bottle it up; which inevitably will lead to drinking, exploding on someone in a drunken tirade, or any other self-destructive behavior. Here’s a spot-on excerpt from a post at October O Nine, with credit to Running On Sober for featuring it in reference to purging at meetings, holidays, and staying sober during them:

We now celebrate everyday and we purge our fears, anger and sadness daily to our sober sisters and live happy, joyous and free. Most Earth People donโ€™t; they swallow their anger, bury their fears and suppress their sadness, telling themselves that soon it will be the holiday, they will have their food, family and drinks around them for the day and everything will be alright in the world. But todayโ€™s expectations are tomorrowโ€™s resentments and they will be into the drinks and that anger, fear and sadness will start to bubble to the surface and whoever is present is going to bear the brunt.

3. I can’t overreact to, control, or fix other people’s problems. I don’t have to care. The last part I wonder about, but I’m feeling like, no, it is NOT my responsibility to care. I WANT to care, most of the time, and I do. I’ve made an effort to be more in touch with my family, to call more, to simply make myself available. However, I don’t have to care if they don’t respond or reciprocate.

4. Meditate. It doesn’t matter if you sit and don’t think, or sit and think; just try. I don’t even like trying to “not think” anymore; I just like to Sit and Be, thoughtlessness be damned. Try anything that takes you out of your head. For me, that’s physical activity; or, working (researching and writing).

5. I think there are a LOT of people in AA who have serious difficulty conceptualizing “God” and “how to meditate,” just like me! After almost 20 meetings in a row (I will miss one tonight; too bad), I’ve realized: there is no one way. There is no one way to understand it. Maybe I’m totally close-minded for NOT believing that a benevolent god oversees our daily activities, but that matters less to me now. I do believe in something — cosmic consciousness is as close to it as I can explain. That is acceptable, as far as I can tell, by AA! What a relief! The thought that everyone in the room simply accepts “God” as a being or some sort of benevolent force — a Biblical God — is now a bit absurd to me. Of course everyone in the room has struggled like I have. It is a process, a seeking, an increasing understanding — present tense, not past. And, totally changing all the time, for everyone.

My boyfriend and I are heading to Puerto Rico today for the holiday. After last year’s major fiascos (Thanksgiving at my brother’s, being sober and feeling VERY self-conscious about it — they asked me not to drink, yet they drank throughout the entire four or five days I was there; Christmas Eve in [cold west coast sity] — another shameful story for another post; New Year’s at my older brother’s, getting shitfaced, blacking out, and screaming bloody murder at my brother and his girlfriend, who is still hating me for it), I SWORE I was NOT doing holidays with the family this year. It’s my gift to myself. And, you know what? I deserve it. I don’t need to put myself through it again.

So…there ya have it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

As for drinking? Eh, I don’t really feel like it, and it’s a consistent lack of desire. WHEW. I never EVER thought I’d feel a reprieve, and here it is. I don’t know if I don’t want to (75%) or I’ve convinced myself that the effects of drinking are shite (25%), but it’s enough to keep me away. I have noticed that the time lapse between romanticizing a drink and thinking about the nonsense that will ensue if I choose to have it has definitely decreased. I don’t have to endure the craving for long, if I apply my mental trick of “avoidance therapy” (my version of shock therapy, I guess). I really hope/pray (ha!) that it’s a mental trick that I can consistently rely on going forward. I also have begun to mentally associate feeling drunk with feeling hung over; my mind is putting a negative spin even on the “high” of the first drink or two. I never believed that my thought patterns could change like this; maybe a re-wiring is happening, but it doesn’t seem to be a conscious effort on my part. AWESOME, big old brain! You ain’t so bad after all. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Coming up on 6 weeks sober this Thursday! Woot woot!

Life is meaningless! Nothing really matters! I don’t have to drink over it, though.

17 Nov

2:30 pm

First up, I’m happy to report an absolutely drama-free morning. A full morning — swam, meditated, made cornbread muffins, washed my bikinis, pet the dog. Believe me, pre-sobriety, I NEVER would have been able boast about doing any of this, certainly not on a Saturday morning!

I’ve been swimming for exercise, and it’s been helping my sciatica, which has been flaring the past few months. (I think hormonal fluctuations play a huge role, so I’ll have to figure out if there’s anything I can do about that.)

Anyway, the past three days I got up around 7 and was at the local beach and in the water by 8 — YES, PIGS DO FLY. It’s been great for my back and leg pain, great for my arms, great for my spirit, great for my sense of accomplishment and therefore, work, and great for my calm. Each time, I’ve swum for about an hour or more — or, have tried to (the crawl was never my forte, and the salt water is a bit rough).

A lot of peeps in AA talk about how they feel good here, in the water. Floating, or swimming, or just being in it. Or, they talk about how their sobriety is enhanced and/or supported by being outdoors. It doesn’t hurt that we’re in an amazing location — and for me, as I’ve blogged before, the heat and humidity activate my sensual body, which makes me feel much more excited about being alive.

I, too, feel good in the water. Better than good. I feel so small, yet so big, in the water. I feel a PART of the ocean, like I could wrap my arms around it. I feel like it wants me, too; or at least, doesn’t shy away. There is no big old brain — mine or someone else’s — making things weird and awkward. I can Just Relax.

In AA, they say that anything can be your higher power, and mine is shaping up to be the HUNCH (in my scientific and nature-loving mind) that the aliveness — everything alive — on this planet is physically, literally OF ME. We are one. We are wired together, from eons of evolving together, to act and live and “think,” as it were, together. As one. So, no wonder I feel more complete, more whole, more alive — and more at peace, at home — in nature. And, especially in the water! Our ancestors lived in the water; we share, literally, the DNA in their cells. Could it be that those cells, which make up our body and brains, which eventually allow us to think and reason and feel and understand through their cellular activity — those cells remember? That the expression of those snippets of DNA is literally the same, across species and across millions of years? I feel it; we all feel it. What that “it” is, I don’t know.

Last night, my boyfriend and I toured the Etelman Observatory, a previously privately-owned dome on the top of the island that was donated to UVI in the ’60s. Anyway, it was Friday night, and what better way to spend the evening than to hear a lecture and then look through a telescope (yes, through a real lens and not a computer attached to the scope — apparently, a big deal and a real treat for astronomers). We saw Jupiter and four of its moons! Very cool. Very cool also to listen to the professor’s talk about asteroids and comets and meteors, and then see pictures of Earth and our solar system bathed, literally, in debris. Like, we are surrounded by rocks and shit flying around us in space.

What struck me was how very, very, very small we are. And how very, very, very either unlikely or likely that this kind of life — bacteria, dinosaurs, humans, rabbits, whales, ferns, lilies, to name a few — could develop and evolve on a planet other than Earth. Either we ARE unique, which is statistically extremely unlikely, or the right conditions developed and persisted on this planet. Those same conditions could develop and persist and lead to an entirely different range of life forms on some other planet, somewhere, in the Universe. No biggie. I mean, the Universe could give less than a rat’s ass; it is absolutely indifferent. Does this comfort me, or confuse me? Both. BUT, I came away from that lecture and viewing feeling more OPEN to accepting life — and evolution — more at face value.

I think I have always held out hope that Earth is particular, and that we, as humans, have been positioned here for a reason. Ironically, all this talk of a directly-intervening god has helped me to understand “Him” better — that I don’t believe in this at all.

There is no God, per se. There is, however, an “order” to things, a way of life, literally, on this planet. Could it be that all life on our planet is, like I said, wired together? Like all the bacteria in a culture, or, all the fish in a school? Is this why we feel more connected to a larger sense of Being, of Self, I guess, when we’re in an ocean or near a forest, places teeming with life?

This is important to my drinking how? Well, for me, the seeking of a sense of purpose, a sense of self, a sense of fitting into this world, this solar system, this galaxy, this Universe — I need to know where I fit; and when I don’t, I feel lost and empty. Does it matter? Should it? I drink over this. I feel helpless and hopeless about it all sometimes. Why not drink? It takes these thoughts (and feelings) away and swaps in grandiose ideas, emotional waves of goodness, a complete lack of caring about the bigger picture. I need to know that it’s OK for it not to matter — in a good way. I mean, if you’re looking at Earth from another galaxy, does anything here really matter; and if it does, what does THAT matter anyway? ๐Ÿ˜‰

After my swim, I sat there and meditated. I enjoy meditating now; it brings me such relief to be ABLE to sit there and enjoy just sitting there. (Believe me, I’m not perfect, and most of the time, I do think. But, I call it meditating because it is an attempt to just sit there and absorb life without thinking about it.) It’s taken me close to a full year to be able to just Sit and Be. And, I consider that a large step in my recovery from addiction to outside substances for my “happiness.” If you think about how much we, as humans, value our thinking brains relative to how much damage they do to us, to how much thoughts simply get in our way? I would even posit that less thinking, less caring, less wondering is serving me better these days! I don’t have to DO anything — I can, and I want to, but I don’t have to care or feel guilty about not caring about the outcome. That is liberating to me, and it partially explains why I can sit — in relative peace and comfort — and watch the water for hours and NOT want to escape this “not doing anything.”

I am taking someone to a meeting tonight, so I guess I have to go. It’s a beginner’s meeting and I have no other plans, so, why the heck not? ๐Ÿ˜‰ (AA, I love you.)

Buh-bye, wine. (‘We are never ever ever getting back together’)

15 Nov

9:23 pm

So, first up, THANK YOU, friends, for talking me down from the ledge. This afternoon, I got over myself and poured it out. The bottle of red that I hurriedly picked up on my way home from a frustrating AA meeting last night, that is.

I poured it down the kitchen sink, but I was going to do it over the toilet. However, I don’t hold grudges (Yellow Tail didn’t intentionally hurt me, so I have to show her (it’s a her) some respect.).

The funny thing is, I video recorded it on my phone! Haha. Me. I was going to post it here for all to see and laugh at, but I can’t seem to upload it via WordPress’s media library. Oh, well. In short, it was of me, tipping the bottle over the sink and saying, “Buh-bye.” Twice. “Buh-bye.” Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out!

Whew. I’m over it. Like many people said in their comments to my post last night, getting drunk is simply not worth it. I’ve got 5 weeks as of today, and damn it, it just doesn’t help to drink. It doesn’t work. And, it’s not going to change anything — except to make it worse, because one glass leads to one bottle leads to two bottles leads to…you get the gist. Most importantly, in order to get past this obsession, I need to learn to sit with it. “It” being my bad feelings, my frustration, my cravings/desire to drink. My want. That is what I’m working on simply accepting. And, like I shared in a meeting tonight, paradoxically, when I accept my wanting to drink, it’s easier to deal with it.

Work the muscle. Practice makes perfect.

A strange concept hit me when I was pouring the wine down the drain, strange in that it was the first time I actually conceptualized the fact that wine is not what I want! It is a substance, like any other. And, that it is ONLY that, a substance — external and separate. As I watched my hand through the camera, I realized just how separate wine is from me. How impersonal. It holds my projections, but alone, it means nothing. It could have been red paint, or red gasoline, or red hydrochloric acid.

At that moment, having dramatically separated myself from the bottle, I realized that I didn’t want to DRINK the wine, I wanted to INGEST it. Like, I wanted to bring it toward my heart, cradle it on the inside. It’s interesting to me that our physical hunger and our emotions are tied up in the same neurons in our brain, the same place. Ancient structures control basic needs and essential feelings. So, does my heart hurt, or does my stomach feel empty? It’s quite hard to tell, and maybe it’s both. Do I drink wine, especially, because it fills my empty stomach or my aching heart — or, my aching stomach and my empty heart?

I have known this emotional hunger; Caroline Knapp wrote a must-read book that floored me when I first read it. Drinking: A Love Story hits the nail on the head — and is written with so much eloquence. Booze is a friend, a lover to some. The attachment to your substance of choice is not simply physical, it is emotional. I think what makes it even harder to detach — cut the cord, as one of my friends used to say — from booze is that you’re consuming it. You’re drinking wine and swallowing beer. You’re not inhaling it, or putting it into your veins.

So, anyway, I dumped the wine. A split second moment of sadness and then, relief. Moving on…

I had a great day today, which started at 7 with a swim at the beach! My boyfriend gave me flowers, and I got assigned a bunch of work, which is a direct result of me proactively seeking it out (from my current editors and “co-workers”). Which makes me realize, again, how I need to be more proactive in a LOT of areas in my life.

So, it’s obviously not all bad. I can breathe, and I have four limbs and a healthy fear of aliens. Duh, life is pretty amazing. Still, I can get caught up in my own head and lose perspective. I’ll leave you with one big reason I have to be grateful: my location. I have to keep reminding myself that yes, I deserve this…

Does anyone ever say anything bad about AA? Or, how I despise the peacocks in the room

14 Nov

9:37 pm

Yes, I’m annoyed.

I mean, WHY, oh why, does it feel like I can’t express my quickly declining interest in the steps, the thinkin’, the analyzing, the “learn to live” aspect of AA? Oh, right, because NO ONE in the room seems to allow it. I guess it might just be a matter of get on board or drown, but… That’s just not how it’s supposed to be! Quitting drinking is a process, and AA is simply not the only way.

Tonight’s meeting was the usual: five long-term sober males spouting off their “words of wisdom” and nearly getting off hearing themselves talk (to each other, basically) while the rest of us just sat there. Sure, I could’ve spoke up, but… It doesn’t feel right. I can hardly stand it anymore. Time to find a new meeting, methinks.

I’ve told my women friends that I’d LOVE to share my current thoughts about the program, which are: I don’t want to think about drinking even more than I have been doing. I don’t want to replace one set of “should’s” with another (I drank to escape self-imposed “should’s” and now I SHOULD follow the steps?). I don’t want a sponsor (well, not really, except to answer my questions and let me complain). I don’t want to look at my “denial,” my “horrible character defects,” my “lack of spirituality,” which is, of course, a result of not living AA (cough cough). I don’t want any of this, and I don’t want to feel guilty — or worse, like a wallflower, or like someone who is simply refusing to engage because she’s being a prick — about not wanting it. I just want to not drink.

I just want to not drink. Isn’t it OK to Just Not Drink?

Sigh.

This whole AA thing is fucking with my head. Maybe because I’ve done some of this work, maybe because I do analyze my drinking and the reasons behind it — a LOT. I mean, every single one of the old men rambling on about their drinking tonight talked about how selfish they were and how they never knew it, or how they never even considered that they had character defects.

Huh? The reason I drank — drink — is because of my “defects.”

I bought a bottle of wine on the way home — the first purchase of booze on the island this time around, 34 days later. As I was getting ready to walk the dog (which includes rubbing an inordinate amount of tiger balm all over my left leg, buttock, and hip = frustration nation, but I have faith that this sciatica flare-up has got to subside soon), I realized that today is day 34, which means tomorrow is 5 weeks.

I caved after 5 weeks the last time.

NOT AGAIN.

Still. Sometimes I can’t help but think, Come ON, DDG, isn’t this all a bit much? I mean, the abstinence, the black and white, the “never drinking again EVER?” It’s just a bottle of wine! It’s just grapes! And, then I have to remind myself that I don’t have to demonize the substance; I need to analyze my relationship to it and how I USE it. (I also have to remind myself that if I drink it, it’s my choice. Just like going to meetings. It’s all my choice, and none of this, including the rambling old white men, are meant to make things worse.)

I GOT THIS. 34 days sober and 13 out of 90 meetings in 90 days. NO STOPPING ME. (As I think about that cheap bottle of red in my bag…)

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