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Exhale, and believe

7 Sep

3:01 pm

That’s my mantra these days. Exhale, and believe.

Exhale, sure. Calm down. But, believe? In what? Well, that things will change. That, um, I will change. That I will have the courage to just let things be if they’re not working for me anymore. That I will have the courage to just let my thoughts go if they’re causing me more harm than good.

This past week turned out better that I imagined it would, considering that I landed two contract jobs, which means I’ll have at least part-time work through the end of the year. (My “dream job” got back to me, too, requesting an interview, but…I am not sure what’s going to transpire with that, so, I’m just waiting and seeing.) All the work I am doing now came from networking with my existing contacts, not cold calls, as it were. So, that’s a big lesson right there, which is, eff Indeed! (haha)

I am slowly getting over putting our sweet girl down coming up on a month this Wednesday. We’ve thought about fostering a dog (or two) since we’ve now got the time *and* have to be in the same place (now that I am working again, I need to be settled; plus, the only place we would want to travel would be the West, in an RV, and um, it’s kind of literally Hell there right now). It’d be a shame, in my opinion, to not give love when you are able to give love; there are plenty of dogs in need at the local shelter–just like our girl and our boy needed our love, those many years ago. We’ll see…

I’ve sort of been on autopilot the past few weeks, sometimes wanting to give up this blog, sometimes wanting to write more on it; just plugging, getting back into work mode (man, my brain is slow after five months on furlough–haha). It’s been great, though, to redirect my attention to something else, anything else, but trying to work on my book (hashtag fail) and staring at my belly button.

I don’t know if my new hormone therapy is working or not, really; there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to “what is supposed to happen in menopause” and I am not sure if I can expect 100% “back to normal.” However, I know what I want, and I don’t feel what I want yet. Unfortunately, even though I’ve been going through this crap for three years, I probably won’t see the light at the end of the very hot tunnel until the end of this year, considering how long you have to take your regimen to see if it’s working (three months) before you can request a change or upgrade (if that’s even possible, I don’t know). The wait is not as much of a problem as the fact that this has been going on for three years, and it has been really trying, and I just want to feel like myself again. The uncertainty factor has been the most irritating part of this process–you just don’t know how you’re going to feel or when it’s going to feel better.

Today marks three years plus one day that Hurricane Irma hit. Our lives were forever changed. A part of me really misses that time; amidst the chaos there was excitement, and promise–of something new. We lived that “new” and are now back to where we started. Except, there’s a pandemic now and no one can do anything–which, actually, kind of sucks more than the aftermath of a hurricane, mostly because, the aftermath and rebuilding had/has a finite end! Anyway, I wonder, what’s next? What’s going to be new? I am so jones’ing for something new again, aren’t you?

So, I come back to my mantra: exhale–what will be, will be; let the planning go for now–and believe–things will change, they will not be this way forever. Exhale, and believe.

A prisoner in her body

10 Aug

2:59 pm

I wrote this yesterday, but, last night was the same and this morning, it’s been the same, so, it still applies. I guess the only difference is that, while our dog is still alive, she’s struggling hard–and, I realize that we’ll probably have to put her to sleep within the next few days.

From yesterday:

Well, that wasn’t a fun night. I went to bed around the usual time, 2:30 am, and was woken at 3, then at 4:30, then probably around dawn, then finally at 9–by our dog, trying to get comfortable in a body that has seemingly become a prison overnight. I mean, over the past few days, she’s gotten much worse: she can’t get up, she can’t walk, she can’t get comfy in any position (as in, no position seems to take her pain away). Granted, we just started her on two more meds, both antibiotics, and I sort of want to “blame” those for messing her up, but…I haven’t found anything linking lameness and back legs crossing and giving out to a sulfa drug and doxycycline!

It just sucks. We had our neighbor over–she’s like family, and silly as it sounds, if our dogs were our kids, then she would have been our dogs’ aunt–and, as a longtime owner of many different dogs and other animals, she was urging us to just get it done. Take her in, she’s suffering.

It sucks.

What’s more? Not that it bothers me, but it sort of makes me chuckle, ironically (we’ve spent so much on this dog over the years, from endless pain meds to laser therapy!): it’s going to cost us about $700 to euthanize her and then, have a private cremation here. Everything is more expensive on an island, I suppose.

Writing about it, talking about it–I guess it makes it more real.

I was thinking, would I get more dogs after this? I moved here about eight years ago, and our two dogs were such a huge part of our early life together, as a couple; of my own early island life; of my sobriety. The one died a painful (horrific, actually) death from lymphoma over two years ago, and this one has been a bit lame all her life (she has had hip dysplasia since she was young, as long as I’ve known her), but has been getting progressively worse for the past 1.5 years.

Anyway, these dogs were the loves of my life. I’m not sure there are any other dogs out there that I could love as much, that would compare to these dogs. We gave them everything, and they gave us their all. What more could you ask for? Is the pain of their long, horrible deaths worth the joy that we exchanged over the years, the nonstop love? Probably. Doesn’t feel like it right now. Would I be able to love other dogs the way I loved these two? And, would I even want to try? I guess we’ll have to get through this and see…

I wonder, do others consider their dogs more like humans? This is my third dog, and each one suffered a drawn-out, painful end; I mean, maybe the end is always painful, no matter what species, if you’re experiencing old age or an age-related disease.

I don’t even know if words will cut it, but I will miss my best girl, my fiercest friend; a found (discarded) object, beyond precious.

On that note, yeah, not a great morning, but, it’s still sunny and I should get outside to absorb some of the light. Good news is that my hormones are settling down (going away, drop by drop–haha), so the night heat and insomnia have improved (not the heart palpitations, though). Bad news is that our area has seen a significant increase in positive COVID cases, so we’re probably going to see some sort of enhanced lockdown again soon. Fingers crossed a few job leads pan out and/or I can keep collecting a bit of unemployment–this week is going to be a wash if we have to put our dog down. I’ll need at least a day or two to zone out and collect what’s left of my shattered heart.

Through all of this, the great news is that I haven’t even thought about drinking. I haven’t once even considered it. I made a cake last night, kind of in preparation for filling myself up with, well, something, when she’s gone; but, eh, my binge eating days are long gone, and I most likely won’t feel like eating at all when we finally do make the call to our vet.

More soon. Thanks for listening, friends.

Whose mental health are we talking about?

4 Aug

1:58 pm

Lately, I’ve been sort of offline; I just haven’t had the time or ability to wrestle with my thoughts too much these past few days…

A quick life update is that, no, I didn’t get the job I applied for–after a long series of interviews (gah!)–but, that’s OK since there are other jobs out there. I’ve been on the hunt in one way or another since mid-June, and um, I am at the point where I feel like it’s OK (slash, necessary for my mental health) to sit back and let it be for a while. Let it percolate. Enjoy the fact that I was fortunate enough to collect a bit of unemployment, remember that this is just a phase and the economy will rebound, and put some faith in my network. I have worked with a lot of great people over the years, many of whom are still looking out for me, I have no doubt.

Anyway, I’ve got some time to re-focus on this blog and my “e-book project,” which is simply, to compile my posts and self-publish a version of this blog. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it’s a way for me to sort of close one chapter, as it were. A lot of what I post these days–and will continue to post–isn’t really related to getting sober, and I want to re-read some of my past posts in order to get more of a grip on who I was then and who I am now. It’s a process–and there are probably a LOT more “important” things I could be doing right now and/or thinking about–so I will keep you posted!

What else has been going on? Well, as I think you all remember, I have posted about my parents’ mental health a few times. And, I remain committed to not writing that much about it and them on this blog since it’s not my mental health I’m talking about. However, not writing about it does not mean I don’t think about it a lot–especially as I watch my father devolve, as it were, into what seems to be a worsening mental health “situation.” I mean, if I knew nothing about his past and his personality, and was confronted with only his behavior today–I’d probably avoid him, and then I’d forget about it.

I know from my own experience with alcoholism that MOST people don’t want to know (or admit that they know) about your mental health disorder, or they oversimplify it because they can’t (and don’t want to) delve deep. I like to wonder, I like to ask questions, I like to look for patterns; MANY folks do not.

That being said, I just don’t know what to do about or for my dad–and, if I should do anything? He’s a grown man–in his 70s–yet…from what I can tell, he’s just getting worse. I have to assume that untreated mental health disorders only get worse as you get older. I fear that it’ll all come crashing down, sooner rather than later. Yet, you can’t convince him that there is anything about his behavior he should change–and, a lot does need to change. Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t anything I can do at this point; he won’t hear reason, he won’t hear truth, and even if he acknowledges that things need to change, he won’t choose to change. Yet…there is this feeling of, If something happens to him, well, it’s my fault, I should have done more.

It’s probably the feeling one has trying to get an addict into recovery before they’re ready to get sober–and then, who dies from an overdose or suicide. It’s my fault for not forcing them into recovery. I should have done more.

All I can do is let it go, let him go, let his mental health be HIS mental health. What more can one do? I probably think more about his mental health–and how he’s hurt me and others–than he ever will, which is sad, but probably true.

On that note, it’s time to get outside and enjoy some of this sun!

Days go by

25 Jul

5:05 pm

Days go by, and I keep plugging away.

There’s my job search, which is going well. I’ve got a great lead on a great company/gig, and I have what I believe might be my final round of interviews on Monday. I am trying to not overthink it, as in, wonder all sorts of things about the industry, full-time vs. freelance, my own emotional and/or mental investment… However, here and now, in the midst of a pandemic where over half of my own organization was furloughed; where jobs in THAT space are few and far between; where a TON of people are without work and I should be thrilled that this job even exists, let alone that I have the potential opportunity to be offered said job–I am trying to not overthink it, keep an open mind, and focus on the task at hand.

Which is definitely being helped by me being off Facebook! I actually went on last night–and, of course, I got sucked in for a whole hour, from 2 to 3 am! The good news is, I didn’t really obsess about anything or anyone’s posts; I didn’t let much affect me–that felt good; it felt good because I was able to check my groups (which I miss), read a few people’s updates (I miss keeping up with some friends’ lives, more regularly that I would in person), and then…log off. I will probably continue to go on periodically, but I don’t have a desire to get hooked in on a daily basis.

Speaking of my 3 am bed time, um…yeah. I am trying, but it’s hard for me to get to sleep before 3–especially when I don’t have to go to work the next day. I mean, I have always been a night owl, but I actually want to see if I am waking up after three hours (so, 6 am) every night because I went to bed too late and it’s sunny as shit by then or because, well, menopause.

I started on the estrogen patch this week, so, I’ve been off the birth control pill for two weeks. I have to admit, I think I’m actually having daytime hot flashes/flushes now, and I never had those before on the pill. Hmm…maybe it’ll just take a while for the patch to start working? Or, maybe I’m just hot (it is really hot here right now; 90 degrees in the shade, lawd knows how humid)? Maybe I need a higher dose? Who knows? (I’ve stopped trying to figure it out…because, well, menopause! WHO KNOWS what’s going on? I don’t, and I majored in physiology!?)

Maybe I’m hot because I am taking care of our dog all day long? It’s like a crossfit workout, taking care of her! My girl hasn’t been able to walk for oh, three days now. Her hind legs are just so tired–atrophied , crossing each other (it’s like, her left hind has lost all tension). She’s struggling. We spend a lot of time helping her get up, walk across the room and outside, go for walks on the harness. I say, it’s a crossfit workout, taking care of her, what with the bending and kneeling and lifting. She’s been pooping on her bed for months now, but recently started losing control of her bladder, SO…lots of wiping and washing and drying, spraying and folding and moving and tucking in… I love her, but we’re all getting tired.

I was thinking of how much of a higher power she was to me when I was getting sober. I’ve written about it on my blog before, how she and our other dog (RIP, sweet boy) were my higher powers. He taught a newly sober me how to love others; she taught me how to love myself. That’s all I can say. They were such a huge part of my early years here, on island; such a huge part of my sobriety–I know, I know, they’re “just dogs,” but, to me, for me, they were so much more than that; they helped me more than most humans could have helped me. I just can’t imagine life without her, her not having life–it’s too hard to contemplate. She wants to live, and until she lets me know otherwise…?

What else? I swear, my chikungunya is back. It usually resurfaces to a degree when either I am infected with another virus (the flu, for example) or my immunity is low (when I work out too hard, for instance). Past few days, I’ve felt achey all over, especially in my ankles and wrists and fingers, and like, have had this familiar internal burning feeling in these areas; just blah–“chikungunya-y.” I hate to say it, but, maybe I’ve contracted the COVID? Hopefully not. I’ve been reading about the chronic nature of COVID for some patients, and it reminds me of the way chikungunya virus can hide out for a long time in some people (apparently, me; I got it in 2014, and I still have symptoms once in a while). Yipes. No, thanks!

On that note, I’ll sign off.

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down/into the blue again, after the money’s gone/once in a lifetime…

More like my dog

8 Jul

1:14 pm

During these dogs days of summer–I can’t believe we’re well into July; it’s been a steamy one here, too–I’ve been watching my dog a lot. And, man, I wish I could be more like my dog. She is fierce, endlessly patient with herself and her limitations; she is never mean, always loving, and keeps trying and trying, adjusting to every new normal as if it’s no big thang. If it’s sunny, she’s resting peacefully in her spot outside in front of the door; if it’s raining, she wants to be out there, too, getting wet and inhaling the breezes, more alive than ever as she stands guard against enemy dogs who might try to take advantage of the dark wet night’s cover. She never, ever complains; when she is unhappy or depressed about her condition, she gives a nod that she wants to be left alone, and then sleeps it off. Oh, boy, I wish I could be more like my best girl!

Me, on the other hand, I am not patient; I try to take my transitions in stride, but, usually, I let them get the better of me. This past week has been hard, with my hormones not quite right–major heat, constant heart palpitations, anger. The other night, my night heat got the better of me: after about 1.5 hours of sleep, I was jolted awake by some freaking intense heat, burning up head to toe. I turned the a/c down, cranked the fan up, and decreased the temperature setting on my chiliPAD (it’s been a lifesaver these past few years; Google it!). I rushed out to the kitchen, literally gave myself a bath at the kitchen sink, and overheard myself whisper-screaming, This is a living hell; this is truly a living hell. (One more week, then an off-week, and then I start the estrogen patch–we’ll see if it helps.)

My dog just rolls with it at night, which is her worst time, too (panting like crazy, hurting from the day). When I get up at night, she just looks at me like, what? I pet her, smell her ears and feel her fur, and it all just makes me feel better. She helps me get through the nights, which are “dark, and full of terrors”–she’s my best friend, mainly in that she knows more about my nights than anyone can or would want to know. And, still, she loves me!

I am trying to just embrace the days and live free. I’m still off Facebook–and it feels great. I got off in April, didn’t go back on until June, and then went on two more times last night and this morning…which was an excellent reminder that I’m so much better off without it, at least right now in my life. I can’t speak to Twitter or the ‘gram or any other social sties, as I have never been a big user of these platforms.

I do miss certain things about Facebook–I miss my “on this day” feed, which is kind of like a journal that reminds me of the cool things I’ve done on this day in years past; I miss my groups; and I miss certain people, mainly those people with whom I don’t have typical friendships (like, folks I met while volunteering abroad, locals who live in those communities). Most of the other posts fill me with a sense of, this virtual reality is not only not real, but it is designed to keep people stuck in it, wasting time, wasting their actual, in-real-life energy! Increasingly, I see it as a tool to remind me of MY life, but not as a way to actually interact with others. Only took me a decade to figure this out!

I had a job interview yesterday, and I think it went well. The huge plus of job searching as a remote employee looking for remote work is that…everyone is now open to it, if not at least initially. I have been working remote for a long time, years and years; every time I interview for a job, though, it feels like a piece that requires explanation and justification. Not now! And that’s a wonderful relief–it’ll allow everyone to finally focus on the job, not the logistics or politics, you know? We’ll see; it’s one of those jobs that will require a long interview process (at least two more people and then a panel video interview with, I’m guessing, three to six more people), but, it will be worth it if I do land the gig!

It’s a beautiful day here, so I am trying to embrace the wonder; the past few days, I was just angry all day (thanks, hormones), and I took it with me–on my walk, around my boo, maybe even toward my best girl. Today, I’m just trying to be more like my dog: patient, taking it as it comes, and accepting all of things, good, bad, and in between.

Eight years as Drunky Drunk Girl

15 Jun

11:33 am

I can’t believe it: yesterday was the anniversary of starting my blog, on June 14, 2012, EIGHT YEARS AGO!? It feels a lot longer than it sounds; like, eight years, sure, but eight years ago, I was a totally different person. Mostly for the better, a little bit for the worse.

Frankly, this blog has not only kept me sober, but it’s become a defining experience in my life; for that, I will be forever grateful.

Back then, I was lost and alone, drinking alcoholically, unsure of what I wanted or, even if I did know what it was (I did), too afraid to make the change to get it. One day, though, I DID make that change–I don’t know why the night of June 12, 2012, (and into the wee hours of June 13) was different from other drunken escapades or hangovers; as I wrote in my first post, and as you hear in the rooms, I had just had it. I was done. I was so tired of avoiding what I needed and not getting what I wanted; I was so exhausted of never being able to drink just one…and the ensuing drama that always came with this “failing.” I was tired of failing–others, sure, but mostly myself. I wanted to never black out again, to never say or do the horrendous things I said and did, ever, ever again. And, so it was born; I was re-born in a small studio apartment in the big city where I did my graduate degree and figured I’d live forever (but that I eventually left, after realizing that big city was part of my old drinking self).

I wrote my first blog post during a hellish, two-day hangover. I had no idea that starting my blog would not only allow me to get and stay sober, create an online sober community, and continue into long-term sobriety; but that I would still be blogging, eight years later!? I turned quite a few of my blog posts into story ideas, actually, for my day job (when I was a freelance science journalist). These days, I am not writing journalistic stories, but I still consider the years of 2013-2015 to be precious in terms of how “on fire” I was re: science journalism. Why did I stop? Well, it paid shit and I was burnt; yep, I have come to simply accept that after two years as a freelance journalist–and by then, close to a decade as a journalist–I was tired of it. And, I’m still kind of there; I mean, I think it would take a change in subject matter (back to something that truly intrigues me, like addiction, maybe other areas) to get me to want to interview, transcribe, write, and edit journalistic “stories” again. We’ll see–I mean, there is still a flicker, so that’s encouraging.

This blog–and my sobriety–have allowed, and continue to allow, SO many things. I have grown as a person, a human; I have grown up. I have come to appreciate and be grateful for every moment, everything that I have and that has come my way–mostly due to quitting drinking. I chose to move to an island, to get into freelance writing, to make it work here; I chose a man, a dog (well, dogs) to share my life with; I chose to live consciously and intentionally, regardless of how crazy or sad or neurotic it made/makes me feel sometimes to be sober, to feel alone in how aware I must be all the time. I am proud and grateful for this blog–and, I am indebted, really, to the community that has supported me and encouraged me, HERE, all these years (when others didn’t, when the in-real-life relationships faded away).

The only thing I regret, somehow, is remaining anonymous; however, I promise that one day (soon?), I will come out.

On the “for worse” side, um, I think I’ve just sort of settled into a not-pink-cloud reality; like, I got sober, it was thrilling, and then, all of the sudden, life got real again. And, maybe that coincided with me taking a corporate job and leaving journalism (I did it because I needed to start earning some real money, putting away some real savings). Anyway, I do feel a bit more jaded, or cynical, or maybe just in touch with the day-to-day rhythm of “real life”–it’s not pink clouds forever. On the other hand, that reality is not something I wish wasn’t so; it just is, so this has become an exercise in how to cultivate joy and excitement and “fire”…even when you’ve seemingly plateau’d in your sobriety.

Anyway, I recently learned that my furlough has been extended, likely forever. SO, I will be job searching (and soul searching) the next few days, likely offline.

Stay safe and well, y’all, and I hope everyone has a great start to a grateful week…

Another day picking up trash

26 May

7:47 pm

Another afternoon of picking up trash–I filled three more 13-gallon bags. UGH. I just do not get it; I mean, this place is kind of known for being “dirty,” but I had NO IDEA just how true that is until I spent time picking up trash!?

I was so angry after my 2.5 hours today, and I still am. Kind of feeling defeated. It makes me want to leave; to move. (Then, I think of the bush, the animals who live there, and my obligation is to them; they care for me, help me maintain my sanity; I really owe it to them.) It makes me NOT want to go to the beaches just because, ugh, who KNOWS what people have let leach into the water! I wonder, why is it OK for some people to “shit where they eat?” Why? How?

I have to let it go, but it is hard to do; every single person who drove by me today–save for two cars; one of them offered to take the two bags I had collected to the compactor for me–well, they just drove by. Just drive on by, maybe this plastic will decompose 6,000 years from now, I mumbled; I swore up at someone’s house; I glared at the dude on the side of the hill who always eats there and then, throws his trash down (I had JUST finished picking up after him–granted, I think he has some sort of mental illness). Not good, not good; not very gracious. Probably shouldn’t do this if I am not in a happier mood, right?

(I also walked down to a local beach, where we used to take our dogs, and saw a fresh pile of trash, right next to the water, from over the holiday weekend–SURE, people, it’s definitely OK to just leave your garbage on the beach after a day of partying; especially since people and dogs like to go to this beach because it is hidden and usually pretty clean!)

As cars sped past me, one after another, I was starting to feel like a character in a dystopian future, deserted, fending for myself after some sort of natural disaster that has ruined Earth, dust covering my face and mouth, collecting whatever odd bits of detritus there remains, maybe to eat, maybe to make things I need. Well, if I ever end up here after a nuclear fallout, I will definitely have a lot of garbage to sustain me for a while. Ugh!?

It’s just so…in opposition to the beauty of this place; then again, it has always been this way here–I think I’m just seeing it with open eyes, an open mind. I am seeing it for what it is, a beautiful dump that is abused and used by people who live here, people who visit, people. I don’t know why I feel so disgusted; I have been living here for five years and managed to walk on by the trash for all that time myself. Maybe it’s just gotten worse since we went away for those two years and came back? Maybe, actually.

Anyhoo, I am going to let it go and move on. I guess I’m glad that it still matters to me, that I still care; I could just be like, eh, whatever. That, along with the 12 bags of trash off the side of the road, is a definite positive outcome to all this! (hoping I don’t have nasty dreams of playing with trash tonight, though…)

Yesterday I picked up garbage

23 May

2:04 pm

Yep. Instead of doing anything else, I got so sick of seeing trash in our neighborhood, I went out (for the second time in a few weeks) and picked it up. From about 1 to 3:30 or 4, I picked up trash along the side of the road and in the bush (our loving expression for all the trees and green stuff that fills our hillsides and makes this place so green and tropical…in the wet season; right now, it’s really dry, quite ugly), and I filled five 13-gallon bags. Last time, I filled four bags!

It makes me so angry–what the eff is wrong with people here?, I think. Then, I have to admit to myself that it is like this everywhere in the world, more or less. Maybe not so much in less populated areas, or, “unicorn areas,” where everyone cares about the environment enough to not throw their trash out the car window in the first place; but, littering happens in the first world, it happens in the second world (where I live, I would call us second or maybe 2.5-world–haha), and it happens in the third world. (When I volunteered for a few months in a developing country a few years ago, we went to the beach one weekend and I saw, as I dunked my head under the water, a full LINE of trash floating along the sandy bottom, lapping against the shore).

It had to be done; I mean, sure, I felt dirty, disgusting, gross, and angry. Still, I had to do it–I walk these roads every day for pleasure, for exercise; if no one else is going to do it, I have to do it because I want to at least believe that I am living in a clean place (granted, there is still so much OTHER trash buried along the hillsides in the bush, I just can’t see it)! I feel like going to our Home Depot and buying a sign that says, No Dumping; I want to make my own sign that says, This is Not a Dump, Assholes–People Live Here, but, I have the feeling that’s probably not what I should do (haha).

I don’t know why people here litter; I can GUESS that it’s because they have not been taught not to litter. I think it really comes down to example: if your parents throw trash around, you will, too. If you aren’t taught to care for your environment, you won’t. Sometimes I think it’s an unconscious expression of self-loathing, as in, no one cares about us, so why should we care about them/the natural world? Partly it’s because there are, actually, a lack of garbage cans; an infrequent spread of dumpsters and compactors along the roads; and, frankly, I am not even sure if there are things like fines or citations if you’re caught being a litterbug here.

I don’t know; what I DO know is that, I just had to pick it up. And, once done, I wondered, was it even worth it? You can’t really tell that any trash has been picked up as you’re driving by; plus, people are just going to throw more trash around, and I’ll have to go out again in a week or month and pick up the endless plastic cups, Heineken bottles (rolls eyes; people here LOVE them some Heineken–haha), car parts (don’t even get me started on how irritated I get seeing random car parts, entire cars, um, household appliances…just thrown off the hillside into the bush!?)…

I do think it’s worth it, as is any attempt at improvement. I mean, it’s sort of like getting sober–no one notices the changes that are happening inside of you as much as you do. Maybe no one pays attention at all. But you know. And, it changes you, knowing that you are finally acting to change your life, that your actions are finally changing your life.

Anyway, I am glad I did it. There are regular beach cleanups here, but I haven’t done one in a long time. I figured, doing my ‘hood two times (for a total of nine bags) might make up for that…

Today will be a good day; it’s sunny, I am not hungover (ever-grateful), and in addition to going for a jog and doing a few tedious “paperwork”-type things, I am going to try to make pad thai from scratch for dinner. I just heard that restaurants here are opening to limited numbers of patrons next week, after the holiday, which is good news on multiple counts (my boo works in the industry, so it’ll be good to have things back up and running again, if only partially; and, while we love cooking at home, it’s getting old!). No playing with trash today, friends!

Our dog is resting peacefully in her spot in the bedroom. Every time I walk by her, I check to see if she’s still breathing–sad, but true. She’s hanging in there, but, she is definitely no longer living her best life; I had to force her to go outside to pee last night, but she could barely walk out there to do it. As usual, she had pooped on her bed this morning; so far, she’s been too tired to go outside today so that I can wash her off. Poor friend; there truly is no dignity in aging, as my boo said the other day.

This is starting to be a rambler of a post, so I will sign off. Have a wonder-full Saturday, all…

Being grateful and staying present

31 Dec

3:33 pm

So, as you know, we are about to embark on a new year, a new decade, a…blah blah blah.  For some reason, I just can’t this year.  I can’t try that hard to have a “memorable” New Year’s Eve this year.  Granted, just being sober will make it 100 percent more memorable than a lot of my past New Year’s Eves.  Kidding aside, I’m just kind of burnt this year, and tired of trying to coordinate and make it happen–in spite of my own resistance, fatigue, and other people’s inability to commit.  Frankly, I kind of want to spend it alone, with my dog, watching TV (my boo has to work).  I have never wanted to watch television on NYE, but this year, it sounds perfectly acceptable!

What I want for myself for this new year is to stop taking people–their actions, my thoughts about their actions–personally.  I think that will go a LONG way toward being grateful and staying present.  Lately, I’ve found myself spiraling down my mental rabbit hole by forgetting to be grateful for the BAZILLION things that are important–my sobriety and all the past and present struggles that have come with it; our moves and moving around, which have taught us some serious lessons about who we are and what we want; my relationship; the handful of meaningful friendships that I do have in my life; my sweet dog, who is ailing and probably won’t see another holiday season, but for which I have to be grateful, and for whom I have to stay present.

Today, my big outing was taking my girl down to our local “dog beach,” which isn’t an actual public beach so it makes for a quiet setting.  There is an inlet protected from the swell where she can go swimming.  It was sad watching her, and I cried.  I mean, I cry a little inside every time I have to carry her up the stairs, help her get up, pick up her poop on the carpet inside because she can’t control her muscles back there that well; but I don’t “cry” cry.  This felt good, and I needed it; I need to start letting go.

I am not sure what is worse:  having a dog that gets cancer and goes fast, or a dog who has this horrible, progressive arthritis that gradually transforms her into one that barely resembles the pup you once knew.  I know, I know, she’s a dog; but, it’d be the same emotional rollercoaster with a person (it IS the same, watching my mom), only the progression would take 20 years, not two.

I was angry for a bit, like, I am never getting another dog, why bother, I don’t/can’t go through this again.  But, it got me thinking, well, that is so depressing and cynical–if I lost my partner, would I choose to spend the rest of my life alone, choose to be angry and antisocial because…life?  This is life, the coming and going.  This is life, and it hurts, and it sucks, but…the anger and frustration is life, too.  And it all passes, sooner rather than later.  What can you do but choose to accept, embrace, process?  What can you do but decide that you will NOT fall into the self-defeating trap of black-and-white thinking?

This year, I want to start getting past my anger and frustration regarding this general aging shit–myself, my dog, my mom and my dad, both of whom are struggling immensely with physical and mental decline.  To not let perimenopausal night heat and insomnia (though, lack of sleep is its own mental health disorder) overturn my world; to not let my mom or dad’s decline influence my emotional state so much; to just love my dog and try to let it be, accept it for what it is, let it go, let HER go…  I can’t live in this state of resistance all the time, but, I also don’t want to lay down and let the world run me over, like a huge ocean wave; that might lead to me giving up.  I don’t ever want to give up; I don’t ever want to stop listening to the radio (Walking Dead reference, folks…!).

Sometimes, I want to drink; most times, I think, why bother?  I know it won’t change anything–it’s not going to stop time, and it’s not going to change how I deal with the passing of time and aging.  So, I won’t, and I’ll keep plugging:  be grateful, stay present.  Cry.  Whisper-scream (oh, all right, just scream, but no banging on the thighs in the middle of the night as you whisper-scream).

How hard can it be?  Hahaha…

Inhale, exhale, and remember:  drinking only makes it better for a split second, and then it makes it much, much worse.  I tell myself that every time I have recently thought, eh, maybe this is the year I start drinking in moderation, I’m ready, why not?  Um, because, it won’t make anything that is good better, and it won’t fix anything that is bad–it will just make it more bad.  That is logic that Wolfie-boy, drinking-brain does not like because it makes drinking seem illogical and irrational–which is what it is and why it’s so cunning and baffling; and small and ridiculous and empty.

Aight, off my box.  I wish everyone a wonderful eve, spent here, there, everywhere, and nowhere–it’s all good.  Be grateful and stay present.  The stars keep shining, and if you let it, your head does keep wanting to look up to see them (though, we might not see Betelgeuse soon!).

Happy 2020, friends, and we’ll see you on the flip!

You mean, it’s OK to not care what they think of me?

22 Dec

7:20 pm

I started this post a week ago–it’s been busy, to say the least.  BUT, it’s good to be home.  It’s starting to feel like home now, not some weird in-between world where mostly dead things were floating and roaming.  My memories have gone from sepia to color.  I can walk around and plan the current me’s day, not cry and think about the “old” me of eight years ago.

It’s good to be home again, it really is.  The re-entry was a bit rough, I have to say, but I feel like I’m settling into a new normal:  the feeling that this is too familiar has been replaced by, I’m grateful to feel at home; the feeling that I have outgrown my old life has been replaced by, I’m grateful that I’m in a different place, both personally and professionally (wow, that is an understatement:  I have a full-time job this time, whereas when I came down eight years ago, I was embarking on a freelance writing “career”…oof, it makes me tired and stressed just remembering just how much work, and uncertainty, and being poor that whole thing brought with it).

Mostly, I’ve come to accept that it is not the same, and it never will be.  BUT, it is still a place where I can live fully (with a different sense of self and empowerment, since I am sober and not getting-sober) and fully enjoy all the things, those that are familiar and those that are new; I get to rediscover the things that I loved most about living here.  It is what it is, right now, at this time–we are who were are, and there is no living in the past.  To live in the past would be…to turn into people who have never left, and that is not who we are.

So, it’s been a little over a month since we moved back to our island in the sun, and a lot has happened.  We’ve received our shipped stuff and our car; we’ve had a holiday (Thanksgiving) and a birthday (my boo’s); we’ve been on two boat trips (which is a record; normally, we didn’t go on a boat trip to neighboring islands but maybe once every three to six months!); I’ve somehow managed to make my brain work through the past four weeks of my job (hello, fog brain; I will fight you to the death) and survive yet another month of some crazy nighttime burning-up shit (I have stopped my Googling and just accepted that there is nothing more I can do right now except what I am doing and wait until I am further along; but, things have gotten better re: the night heat, I think, since last year, since two years ago, so there IS that).

What else?  I’ve walked countless times through our old ‘hood, along all the old trails; we’ve come to realize that our dog is never going to be able to walk much around here, but we can take her to the “dog beach,” which we’ve done a few times, and which she loves.  She loves being in her old childhood home; she’s finally remembered and is loving all her old spots, all her old things (she likes to guard her territory; she loves to sit on the deck, surveying the world, making sure it’s in order–I am so glad she can do that now because she’s not cooped up in a second-floor apartment).  We’ve been to quite a few restos again, and a few different beaches (kind of slacking on that, but we’ve both been cranking at work).  I’ve actually reached out–on my own–to several friends here, and we’ve done dinners, lunches, beach meetups.

And, I’ve actually joined a gym and gone a few times!  See, when I lived here before (for the entire five-plus years), I was always afraid to go to a gym for fear I would, I don’t know, have to be social, meet new people, work out in front of others.  It was one of the many sober ticks I had that held me back; it also served to further isolate me, as I only and always worked out alone (which meant slogging up and down the hills in the blazing heat, alone).  Anyway, this time, I just couldn’t slog it out anymore, hot and alone; and, running around our ‘hood today reminds me way too much of my sober walks with our now-gone son (our boxer-beagle) and our younger girl (the one who can’t walk much these days)–it was a wonder-full time, full of thinking, and wondering, and ruminating on getting sober, celebrating being sober, living in my pink bubble, but…

Been there, done that.  I still love my walks in the sun, surrounded by lush green hillsides and crystalline blue vistas–but, I am sober, and all that is done.  I mean, I am still and always will be in recovery–lately, I’ve realized that I still have a lot of work to do on my anger and resentment–but, those years spent getting sober are gone.  It’s time to fully embrace the present, here, and live in the real world, here, which I sort of didn’t do the last time around.  I mean, maybe not–can I just write fiction instead?  Anyway, if this makes any sense, going to the gym here is one step forward.

Another is not caring what other people think about me, or what I’m doing!  And, who KNEW that um, like almost every other alcoholic drinker, I, too, care/cared A LOT about what others thought of me (or, what I thought they thought of me, of my behavior, of my actions, etc.).

I have to say, I just don’t care that much anymore what other people are doing and what they think of what I’m doing (or, more accurately, what I think they think of what I’m doing).  It is subtle, but not really: before, when I was here getting sober, it was almost all I thought about.  What do they think of me, of me getting and being sober?  What do they think of what I’m doing?  I used to fret all the time about whether people thought I was antisocial; if they judged me for choosing to stay at home and work for a company on the mainland.  Granted, I never thought twice about not being able to actually earn a living working at a low-paying job down here, and so intentionally never cutting my ties with my professional world; but, I always thought that people might have judged me as snooty, or somehow too good for this place.  It was weird.

This time around, I simply cannot and do not care about any of the above.  I am doing my do, and glad–no, super-grateful–for the fact that I CAN work remotely and that I had the vision to go for it so that I could pay off my student loan debt and start working on other financial goals.  Honestly, I don’t even have the time to care about what others are actually thinking and going through right now, let alone what I think they think of me!

Leaving helped.  Being away helped.  We were alone, without a familiar set of people and places; we had to had to sit down and figure out what we wanted–that was hard, and it took work, and it’s paid off.  I feel like I have a much broader idea of this world as it fits into the outside world, and our possibilities.  Frankly, I don’t feel intimidated anymore by people here, by MOST people (well, except my big boss at my current job–she is just too much fire for one five-foot woman).  Maybe it’s because people never WERE that intimidating, especially here; this place feels way more relaxed and inviting/welcoming than I ever remember it!?  Maybe we’ve just evolved and this is how it feels to be in your mid-40s (and, for that, I love being in my 40s).

Whatever, it’s just been liberating:  I feel allowed (by myself) to finally just do my thang and live.  To make my gorgeous plans, and to live them.  I don’t have to waste any more of my time wondering about what others are thinking, or doing; not that I don’t care, but that I have boundaries now such that I am able to live most fully and most happily.

Anyway, it’s good to be home, to be here.  Finally.

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