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It’s been too long

20 Jun

11:04 pm

And things have happened since the last time I posted!

For one, my father passed away on March 20. I guess I just didn’t have the words–let alone the heart or mind–to write about it then. I mean, it’s been three months now and I still feel a bit, well, confused by the new reality of, he’s not here. His long, horrifying struggle with dementia ended pretty quickly for him–unceremoniously, as it were, but I suppose that’s how it ends for everyone with dementia. One day, you’re up and about, talking, even if no one can understand what you’re saying, and the next day, you’re slurring your words and your bladder and swallowing functions start to deteriorate to the point of no return.

It really was as if–and “as if” is the key phrase, because dementia was slowly but very surely taking my dad down over the past 18 months–Dad was talking “normally” on a Friday and slurring his words and talking nonsense on Saturday. I’d say it took about two months for him to go from being somewhat coherent and able to at least engage in a relatively one-sided conversation, to getting a UTI, having his bladder function turn on him, and then, watching his ability to swallow both hard and soft foods, then finally liquids, disappear. TWO months, and he was gone.

My twin brother and I were able to fly to his bedside on the Wednesday before the Sunday he died; we spent three days with him, sitting vigil. By the time we got there, he wasn’t conversant; even still, we were able to be with him, watch him, and begin to process his death, which, um, wasn’t pretty… By Saturday afternoon, Dad was breathing very hard, trying futilely to cough up this green-colored Phlegm From Hell, which was filling his lungs beyond our control to fix or stop or clear from his airway. My brother lost it, and I barely held on. We decided to not come back that evening, and he passed the next morning. I don’t even remember now if our step-mom stayed all night or went home in the wee hours. In any case, I think it was meant to be–he didn’t want us around when he passed, I am pretty sure of it.

Even now, I think back to those few nights, checking under the sheet to see if his legs had started to show mottling, and remember being more shocked at how frail and thin his legs had become than the fact that the splotches meant imminent death. This was my DAD, big and strong and frankly, really quite overweight toward the final years of his life. How could it happen?

After the service, we had him buried at a local cemetery, next to his grandfather, whom he really loved and probably considered more of a father figure than any other man in his life. Gramps, as we called him, was a good 20 years older than Dad when he died. My dad was only 75; I can’t help but zone out once in a while these days, wondering, how did he get this dementia? Why did it take him down so fast? What could he, we, anyone have done to prevent or stop it? It’s just really hard to believe that at 48–just turned a few days ago; I feel tired, not old–my dad is already gone…?

I wish I had more to say about my dad’s passing, but I’m sure it will come. It was and is a lot to process; the whole thing was so draining over the past almost 2 years, and the whole downturn from bad to worse happened even faster, over 2 months, that it’s just hard to accept. One shocking surprise to seeing him the way we saw him on his death bed was, the forgiveness came hard and fast. I mean, 48 years of anger was just whiffed away, like the breath knocked out of me; it went easily, quietly, with no resistance. I had no idea that it would happen that way, and my brother felt it, too; for that, I am so grateful. The other good thing is, while friends who have had parents die talk about the profound shock and grief–I can say that, with dementia, there isn’t that. What I felt was profound relief when Dad finally passed; we had already lost him, as it were, 2 years ago, and we had that entire time to grieve (and writhe, and be angry) as he entered a new fresh level of dementia Hell every few months, as he descended deeper into realms that NO ONE deserves to know. We already lost him, and his death was a letting go, a release; FINALLY, he is at peace. Or, if he isn’t actually at peace, wherever he is now has GOT to be better than where he was, living inside dementia’s walls.

Fast forward three months, and we just got back from a 10-day vacation, where we hit Seattle for a few days and then went on a week-long Alaskan cruise! Wowie, SO gorgeous, quiet, and profoundly pristine up there! Of course, I had a plethora of SHIT go on, everything from a sciatica flare to severe insomnia (more severe than normal; I only got 2 hours sleep every night for 4 nights in a row! Might as well have drunk, if I’m going to feel hungover, right? Haha…not), seasickness, a stye (taking a second glaucoma–yeah, did I mention I have glaucoma?–eye drop, this one with BAK, and predictably, it gave me a stye), and, whoops, COVID! Must have gotten it maybe Tuesday (about a week ago now), but I guess it’s a “light” version because my main symptoms–nasal congestion, bodyache, and dizziness/fog brain–well, I was able to trek around Alaska while having them. Anyway, all that stuff is over and we have a lot of great memories and great pics from this adventure.

As these past few years seem to be going, things just keep piling on: We got home yesterday and this morning, we received a text from our landlord that they want to list our place, so…we have to move again!? ARGH. We’ve only been in this rental for a year! I mean, we are ready to buy, but there isn’t much of anything on the market down here (slash, anywhere). A real estate friend in Vegas told me that the market is about to crash, which would be great news if it hurried up and did so before we are forced to spend money on a place that we only half want! Anyway, I know it will work out for the best, I’m just feeling COVID-wiped and still getting my land legs back, so it all feels a bit overwhelming.

OH, and I almost forgot–as I’m sure you did, too, since I don’t write that much anymore–it was my TEN-YEAR blog anniversary on June 14! Wow; well, all I can say is, this blog has meant the world to me, more than any other writing project I’ve ever done or taken on; AND, I just want it to go on! So, thanks, everyone, for reading these past DECADE of years, for helping me get and stay sober, and for sticking with me even when I only post a few times a year! I really do promise to post more this coming year…

Mid-year check-in!

20 May

11:02 am

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of May!? This year, man; I thought 2020 was hard…

I literally only have a few minutes to post, but I wanted to check in and say hi to everyone. I think I’ve got company when I say, life has just been going way too fast and feeling way too busy this year to stop and post about the roses, as it were, on my blog!

In short, I’ve been working a ton of long days, taking care of the dad situation (he has dementia, which seems to be progressing fairly quickly), and um, looking for a new place to live. I am still doing a couple of jobs and have just lined up a possible third–it’s not easy or cheap to live where we live as well as to save quickly to get out of renters’ hell, which we’re actually in right now, to be honest.

My two brothers and I are all vaccinated, so we’re planning to make a trip home next month to see our dad in the nursing home (where he’s been for, wow, six months now) and start the transition into a new facility. We were worried about this process since he’s been so “oppositional” to the entire affair, but these days, his attitude resembles more of a person with depression, so he’ll be more easily swayed to do, well, whatever he’s told. I don’t know if it’s his meds (he’s on two right now) or the dementia, but, he’s just very…out of it. He used to get riled up, call us every day to “get him out of jail,” but these days, it’s like he’s a combination of resigned to his fate and, well, out of it. Like, in a daze. Like, unable to get out of his head. Or, as my brother put it, like his brain is shutting down. One thing I have also noticed is an increasing lack of affection. It’s like, he’s not necessarily forgetting who we are yet, but he seems to be forgetting the emotional connection, as in, he’s not remembering WHY we are who we are to him. So strange. Frankly, having lived through SO many drunken blackouts myself–and spent time wondering about the nature of the blackout–it’s a bit easier for me (than the average “normie,” I guess) to grasp what my dad’s brain is doing now. Like, some of his behavior resembles drunken blackout mode. Anyway, it’s getting easier as we come to accept his state of mind, and, well, as he comes to accept his state of mind (whether that’s because he’s medicated, I don’t know).

Finding a new rental has NOT BEEN EASY, mainly because we’ve been investigating all kinds of options (buying here or elsewhere, buying land and building here, buying a condo versus buying a house). Our landlord wants her house back (slash, drove us out with her ridiculous behavior, but that’s for another post; le sigh)–so, we’ve been busy trying to make our plan, which at this point necessarily includes renting for a while longer. There are so few rentals where we live anymore–post-hurricane and post-pandemic realities that no one is going to get around unless the community chooses ethics over money–and even fewer that take pets (which is why our “pound” is constantly overflowing with stray dogs and cats), so…yeah, it’s been a trip!

All that being said, we’re making our way through it, having a bit of fun in the sun, and well, staying sane. And, I’m happy with that! Haha.

Again, my minutes are up and I now have to run out (literally) and then come home and read journal articles so I can write about them! Hope all are well, and we’ll see you very soon in a longer post…

Oh, and YES, I have wanted to pick up the white wine (there’s a bottle for cooking in our fridge) quite a few times these past few months, but…yeah, no, not gonna happen. I know it’s only a short-term fix, but I also know from experience slipping that, the booze is not going to make my brain or body feel good (it’s going to make my brain feel like radio on static and it’s going to make my peri/menopausal night heat worse).

And…2021? What?

2 Jan

11:59 am

I remember when it was Y2K! Haha. Remember that? Y2K. Remember when that was a thing–I mean, almost as “big” of a thing as Covid? Ahh, to think that we were worried about that, when THIS was what was in store for us, 21 years later.

Jesus, 21 years?

Um, 21 years is sounding like a LONG time to me, at this very moment. Of course, lately, since my dad has been having dementia-related memory problems–and as we (meaning, my brothers and myself) learn how to talk to him in a way that is helpful and constructive–it’s got me thinking a lot about time, aging, and the reliability and (d)evolution of our memories as we get older. Sometimes I wonder if I have some form of early-onset dementia–organizing and cataloguing my thoughts just makes me feel irritated, and I definitely have had moments lately where I’m like, wait, why don’t I remember every gory detail anymore of what happened when?

It’s been saddening, shocking, and angering–yup; this feels like grief, as in, all of the sudden, you’re angry at the thing before you melt into tears (on the inside)–to watch my dad’s mind stop working. And, as a life scientist, I do wonder what is happening up there, with all those neurons. His thought patterns remind me a lot of someone in a blackout; he does not remember minute to minute, sometimes second to second, yet, he is present, conversing, and remembering other things. I noticed that his sense of sequential time is all mixed up, too; sometimes, he’ll recycle the same words or conversations that we have had more than once, months ago, as if he is still there, in that moment. Maybe he is? The other night–he was tired, and I’ve read that people with dementia “sun down” and get looser and more confused at nighttime–he kept saying the same thing, in response to anything I asked him; and, it was totally unrelated to anything. He has been fixated on a couple of things–getting out, and getting to the cordless phone at the nursing station so that he can call strangers to get him out–since Thanksgiving, when he was in the first ER/hospital. He was uber-combative then. Now, he seems to just have accepted what is, or, he has more awareness and/memory around why he is inside to begin with (I guess?).

It’s all really, really hard to understand, what’s going on in his brain. We are doing our best, trying to get him from point a to b to c–some days, I feel really deflated, like someone stunned me (the same feeling I had after the hurricanes ripped through our area and tore many a house down). Some days, like tonight, I rally, do what I am supposed to, and stay on track (tonight, I had to start looking at community-based residential facilities, which is just SO, so sad; with my dad, it’s definitely going to be like putting a rare creature who is used to running on the African savannah into a cage in a zoo). Fortunately, I have my brothers to lean on…

Otherwise, yeah, 2021 feels…a bit quiet so far. It was a busy holiday season, actually, since we did almost everything we usually do as well as I had this whole Dad situation to think about. We had a nice dinner at a friend’s place, went sailing on a catamaran (well, the captain motored us around!), and managed to get to three beaches (it’s been like, hurricane-windy here for the past week, which does not make for great beach days). Many days last week, I vowed to give up writing; most nights, I remembered how grateful I am to have a (writing) job to go back to come Monday (my contract was extended). I watched a movie and started watching “Long Strange Trip”–I can’t believe how young Jerry Garcia was when he died!

I managed to patch up a rough spot with a friend of mine, love more on our neighbor dog–we have a special connection since she was my Best Girl’s “angel”–and just lounge around with our new pup on my lap (he is quite the needy boy!). I’ve been running, too, but the hills are not easy on the knees and uh, I have some residual joint pain from the estrogen patch (sure of this; I have no clue why estrogen replacement therapy would cause your body to react as if its joints were arthritic, and I have honestly stopped wondering–see, is this dementia? I am just too tired to care anymore; I am not dying, so all is well, right?).

We actually masked up and went out for sushi on New Year’s Eve; it was quiet around town, and we were home and in our jammies by 10:30. LOL. I really Could Not Even with this year’s New Year’s Eve; I mean, everything was messed up, tossed around, twisted into a new shape during 2020, so, “celebrating” NYE took on a different meaning for me this year, as in, who really cares? Haha.

I haven’t felt much like dwelling on the literal lately, as I said–and so, it’s been hard to come up with some sort of “yearly word.” At first, I was like, God, I’m too tired to care. However, the more I journaled today, the more I felt something brewing…

This year might just be about finally letting go of my expectations, my past projects and goals and dreams–and setting new ones that I want to do, that fit, that feel right. And, if they stop feeling right, move on. It’s like, I don’t have the energy to hang onto my old self and old dreams anymore, you know? Maybe because my heart feels crushed by watching my dad lose his mind?

One of my fondest memories of my dad keeps coming back to this (and, it makes me want to cry every night, because I look up at the sky every night): because he was a trained merchant marine (a sailor), he knew the night sky very well. He knew a lot of things very well, and he could entertain people endlessly with his facts and figures. Anyway, whenever we’d be outside on a summer night on the farm, looking up at the stars–so many, so bright–he’d point and say, Look, that’s Sirius. There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad, Merak, Dubhe–all the stars in the Big Dipper. It was ridiculous because, well, most people never even heard of these stars let alone could point them out in the night sky.

Maybe that’s why I go out now, and look up; I want to remember him.

And, I want him to remember, too. I want him to look up, to see the night sky, to remember pointing up, There, that’s Benetnash and Mizar; there’s Alioth, Megrez, Phad

Happy holidaze

27 Dec

12:58 am

I do sort of feel like I’ve been in a daze this season, mainly because of everything that’s been going on. The other day, I posted something and then deleted it, worried that it was too revealing about my father. And, I’m glad I did; this isn’t a blog about him.

I haven’t felt much like blogging recently; not sure why, it just feels like overexposure. I’ve also been working a ton and going-going-going with my brothers, getting my dad situated in a nursing facility–simply put, we think he has dementia, and it is *probably* not going to get better. I mean, we can hope it’s related to a transient, post-operative effect (he recently had surgery; the reason he had surgery, though, was because of his “dementia” thinking, which I see so clearly now)–but, he’s been in decline for like, at least three years, it just wasn’t presenting itself as memory loss, per se. Anyway, it’s been draining; there is no rule book, which is bizarre since so many people go through this!

In light of everything that’s come to a head this year–started menopause, put my dog to sleep, watched my dad literally go from, ‘Oh, Dad’s just being Dad’ in August, to, ‘Holy shit, there is something really very wrong here’ in November–I do feel grateful. I mean, I’m still here, for one. I’m still sane, still working (uber-grateful for this), still breathing, still loving, still content with most everything that comes my way.

Everything that has happened this year that could have definitely been given a strictly negative spin has actually led to something better. I lost my job–but I needed to leave anyway, and ended up finding something better, for the most part. I had to put my dog down–but she needed to Rest, and we were just holding onto a creature who was in unbearable pain. I went into menopause–but I feel SO much better, overall, than I did in perimenopause, and, I’m no longer on the birth control pill, which, I would say is much worse than hormone therapy (today’s bioidentical versions). What else? Oh, so yeah, my dad sort of “went into” dementia–but, considering that these past three years have been a long, crazy lead-up to what we’ve all just realized is actually cognitive decline, at least my dad is safe now. Even Covid has had many silver linings–one could say that Covid allowed nature to come back, people to take stock and be more mindful, mRNA vaccines to have their day probably faster than they would have had.

Anyway, it’s been a long few months. I had a GREAT Christmas, though; yes, we got together, and no, I don’t feel guilty about it (though, there are some people in places where Covid is still raging who would blame me and my friends for spreading the virus)–we are not a hot spot, and the people I hang out with are like me in that, no one really socializes! I am not worried that anyone in the group last night had Covid or has been exposed recently; there were three younger people (someone’s kids in their 20s) who had flown in, but, only two were recent arrivals and everyone has to take a Covid test before being allowed to enter the airport.

Tomorrow, we’re going on a boat trip–a big, twin-hulled catamaran, which should be awesome! I have never stepped foot on a boat like that, so I am looking forward to the experience. Speaking of which, I’ve had some down time to actually remember and cherish some old trips and friends lately–to mind come volunteer trips to Haiti, to Ecuador; a self-styled yoga retreat to Nosara, Costa Rica; years ago, a solo trip to Turkey; years before that, one to Greece; a year abroad in Paris; many exploratory trips all over the mainland through recent years. Ahh, the memories; I am proud of the trips I’ve taken of late, and really, truly can’t wait to be able to travel again…

I hope my dad can entertain himself with his own memories; it’s painful, wondering what he is thinking about right now, you know? I know he has some great memories, so…that’s a small consolation.

Oh, and we got another doggay! He is the most ridiculous dog ever–his cuddle factor is so high, he’s almost TOO cuddly! I do miss my girl so very much–and our boy–but…life goes on. It’s nice to have a little buddy to care about, to walk, to have sleep all over you (we are not letting him on the bed; he will never, ever leave if we do…).

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…

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