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Facing my fear of public speaking

6 Jul

10:22 pm

And, it’s about time, eh?  It’s only been 13 years!

Seriously.  I’ve had what some call fear, what others call performance anxiety or a social phobia around speaking in front of groups for 13 years–ever since that fateful day in one of my graduate school seminars where I literally lost control of myself and shut down during a group presentation.  I am sure I must have drunk the night before, so there was some element of alcohol involved, which probably served to heighten the feelings of panic.  A few months prior, I had also had my first literal panic attack in another class, so my nerves had already been rewired/primed for panic by the time this incident happened.

What actually happened was what happens now, every time I speak in front of any group, whether comprised of strangers or friends:  my heart starts to beat UNCONTROLLABLY hard; I can’t breathe; I can’t speak; and I feel SO nervous and amped up by all this stuff going on inside my body that I feel like I’m about to pass out.

Before these past few months, I’ve been able to straight up avoid EVER talking in front of groups.  Of course, I’ve had to endure these occasions once in a while–saying goodbye to a group of fellow volunteers on a volunteer project; saying my name and what I do in front of a group of my coworkers–and they have felt utterly horrific.  My heart pounds, my entire body starts shaking, my voice starts wavering, or, I just can’t breathe and start to dart around in place, wishing with my entire being that I could just GET THE EFF out of that room.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I found out that I have to give a (short, probably not a big deal) presentation for my job in front of my (small, only about 20 folks) team at a group meeting in July.  UGH.  I’ve literally been obsessing about it since I found out a few weeks ago–like, extremely nervous at even the thought of standing up, talking, trying to figure out how the heck I’m going to remain standing.  I haven’t even been able to imagine past the first few seconds of my talk.

So, I decided two weeks ago that I just need to resolve this–if not solve my problem, then somehow resolve it.  I made an appointment with a psychiatrist, hoping/thinking that he’d prescribe me either Xanax or some other benzo used for panic attacks.  Come to find out, there are tons of people just like me, and they are all using beta blockers!?  The doc gave me a prescription for a beta blocker; long story short, I went to a public speaking group the other night to “try it out,” and uh, I actually stood in front of a group of strangers willingly and talked my head off–no nerves, no aversion, no shaking voice, no sign that I wasn’t “a natural,” as several people who congratulated me after I came down told me.  (what a fraud, I laughed on the inside; hey, whatever it takes, the other me shot back)

Either the drug worked, or I just didn’t feel that much anxiety in this particular situation.  The people I was speaking in front of were warm and welcoming; strangers; no one related to my job, I thought.  Hmm.  There was no sense of, I have to perform my JOB AS A WRITER, which is connected to this talk, PERFECTLY, or someone somewhere is going to find out what a fraud I am, what an imposter!

I am fairly sure that this drug will help me–it’s already sort of stopped that creeping sense of anxiety I had even just a few days ago, thinking about my work event–to “retrain” my brain, at least a little.  I’ve witnessed that I can get up there and actually talk in front of people without that horrifying sense of fear and panic, and that has somehow already rewired me to feel less nervous about the upcoming work thing.

Still.  What if I was just not nervous enough because these people have nothing to do with work?  Because I don’t care what they think?  Because I felt safe there, and not judged?  It’s interesting to me that this sort of PTSD surrounding talking in front of groups revolves not necessarily around all groups, only groups where I am performing and that performance is based on something that I feel insecure about (apparently, writing).

What surprised me more than this discovery–I kind of knew that this is a form of PTSD; what I didn’t know what how intertwined it is with my sense of imposter syndrome related to writing and journalism–was how empowering and relieving it was to dredge up my drinking past, my panic attack past (related to my drinking past) with an actual psychotherapist!  I haven’t really talked about it in years; I stopped going to AA years ago, too.  It was nice to just get it out there again, in the open.

I am so tired of this old story about my fear of public speaking; I wasn’t always like this, and I have to believe that nothing is impossible, that this story I have told myself for 13 years is not forever truth.  I have to believe that I can tell a new story about myself when it comes to public speaking–and frankly, I AM starting to believe that it could be as simple as some medication and exposure therapy to at least allow myself to survive these public speaking situations.

It just feels good to have finally stopped running from what has obviously affected both my professional and personal life for almost a decade and a half.

Now, we’ll have to wait and see how things pan out at my work even in a few weeks.  Sure, I am dreading it, but with this medication and a few more practice runs at the public speaking group and other events (maybe speaking at an AA meeting?), I might just survive.  (I am not looking to THRIVE as a public speaker at this point, just survive; and that’s good enough for me right now.)

Making assumptions

9 Jun

12:20 pm

You know how everything in years past came back to drinking and getting sober?  Well, these days, everything seems to be coming back to perimenopause–and you know what?  I am no longer going to be afraid or apologetic writing about it on this blog.  It’s a HUGE reality for me, for women in general, I have to think; and that means it occupies a lot of headspace and takes its toll in many areas of one’s life!?

Perimenopause.  Menopause.  Getting older.  Women’s bodies.  HORMONES.  Of course, I GET it, I get why people are afraid to talk about it!  Women’s issues are taboo, women’s bodies are not our own; we’re not supposed to talk about them lest we start asking questions and become, oh, I don’t know, advocates for our own health!  Really, I get why everyone, women included, are afraid to broach the subject in public forums.

What I don’t get is why they won’t talk about it even in private!?  I mean, do women have THAT far to go that even women themselves won’t talk about it, as if it’s something to loathe, be afraid of, be ashamed by?  You know, it’s not just my own gynecologists, who have brushed me off or implied that I should just get over it, get on with it; it’s my women friends who have gone through it or are going through it, and they either don’t want to talk about it with me/at all, or they try to pass it off as something that isn’t, well, kind of, sort of horrible.

I mean, you are fucking breaking out into a cold sweat before my eyes, and you’re still smiling as if it doesn’t bother you?  I get being positive and all that, but what about being real?

Beyond the physical changes, it means you’re getting old–and, I refuse to believe that I am the only woman who primarily associates this (at least at first, until I get a grip on getting older), with losing my sexuality and losing my youth and all that that entails in our culture!?  I really wish that were the case, actually; I am used to my own paranoia, and it’d be great to know that I am, indeed, the only one who feels this way.  BUT, I really, truly doubt it.

See, I refuse to hide the fact that this is driving me a bit crazy and angry and mad and frustrated and sad; that I’ve wondered if this night heat is THE THING that is worth starting drinking again over (it would be much easier to pass through the three to five hours of night heat if I was drunk); that I’ve always known that the pill offers relief but that it’s SO FAR from matching what is usually happening in a woman’s body that it might well be partly causing my lack of optimism and sometimes-paranoia.

Lately, I feel like I have become a bit paranoid.  For example, I wonder if my coworkers don’t like me, or are annoyed by me.  I am chalking it up to things beyond my control, and to politics–I don’t truly believe that my work is not good.  At home, I have been wondering if my love no longer likes me as a person–again, or course, I truly don’t believe that, and I know that he’s going through some tough transitions now, as am I…

I don’t want to make assumptions anymore, though, about what people want to hear about or talk about–if you’re still reading, that means you do want to hear about this and I’m glad!  I partly attribute this sometimes-paranoia to my hermetic lifestyle–making assumptions involves getting inside your head and not coming out for reality checks, which is usually helped by interacting with friends who normalize your tendency toward outlier (extreme, probably unhealthy) thinking and behavior.  I need more friends.  I need, in a word, to get out more!

I won’t assume that you, my awesome readers, don’t want to hear about my thoughts on perimenopause.  I won’t assume that my man doesn’t like or love me because he told me not to step in horseshit yesterday on our hike (haha–it sounds funny now).  I won’t assume that my coworkers don’t like me because one or two of them have personal issues and are using my writing to play politics in the workplace.

Onward, toward clarity and optimism, I hope.

(I have to say, my burning up at night has gotten a lot better after starting a new pill, with higher dose estrogen, and after making it through the first 10 hellish days on the pack.  I hope that it just keeps getting better from here on out.  I do turn 45 this week–a part of me realizes how young I am, while another part just wants this phase to be over with!)

Take a break, and celebrate yourself…

12 May

8:37 pm

Because, I hate to say this as it belies a certain degree of cynicism, no one else is going to do it for you!

I have had a really busy past six months, and a lot of the time, I’ve felt like I’ve been totally making it up as I go/feeling my way forward.  My new job has been a total trip–new type of job, new amount of workload, new people and personalities to deal with, and on top if it all, a whole new realm of science and health to learn.  Let’s also not forget that I’ve been sort of relearning how to write journalistically–since, well, honestly, I haven’t done so in years.

I have been dealing with the ups and downs of perimenopause, and frankly, I think if this is it, then I’m pretty lucky.  I finally got through a bunch of tests that showed what I knew all along:  my hormones are changing and I have one of two choices, either treat them with birth control or naturally, or don’t treat them and wait for them to ebb and flow (and they do, and they have; right now, while I am still experiencing my night heat/dry chills, it’s totally eased up/almost disappeared).  I am taking the pill, and that comes with a host of side effects if your hormones are going up and down, which I’ve recently discovered (headaches, nausea, a slight feeling of being crazy/anxious thoughts).  BUT, it sure beats the night heat, which, even if that comes and goes, I’d rather not experience at all.  I will be 45 this year, and my earliest symptoms of perimenopause started when I was 39, so…hopefully I’ll be done soon!  Haha.  Bring it on!

You know, at my last appointment with my gynecologist, she was like, well, your eggs are old, you are definitely in perimenopause, and um, if you’re trying to use your own eggs to have kids, it’s not going to work; you’ll have to use an egg donor.  And, I felt nothing.  I felt no sadness, nothing.  And, it was kind of glorious.  I remember when I started this blog, in 2012, I was freaking OUT about should I/shouldn’t I have kids…  And, to have it come and go, and to have my doctor straight up tell me, you are past the age, gurl; and to NOT feel anything negative?  It just goes to show that everyone is different, and I’m glad I just trusted myself, who was telling me for years and years, it’s not you.  It’s not your story, to have kids.

So, there you go.  Those are the two things that have just been burning me out, in a way, as I’ve been trying to keep up with both.  This weekend was the first time in six months that I actually felt relief, like I could take a break and rest.  REST.  And, I remembered how important I made taking a break, turning it off, taking a REST when I was getting sober–it was my key to staying sober for a longer term.

Rest–essential.  Take a break–essential.  Turn it off.  Let it go.  All essential.

And, while you’re finally resting, you are able to clearly see just how much work you’ve put in, and how much you’ve accomplished; and you can finally step back and say, wow, good job.  You did it.  You are DOING IT.

So, to all the mamas out there who are getting sober, and all the non-mamas out there who are getting sober:  Rest, and know that you did it.  You’re doing it.  And you’re awesome.  (No one is going to tell you that, especially as you forge your path of long-term sobriety; so it’s up to you to honor and congratulate yourself with love, treats, and rest–whenever and wherever and however often you need them.)

Is sober blogging still trending?

24 Mar

9:29 am

I started this blog back in 2012–at that time, the whole “sober blogging” thing was relatively new, new enough that people seemed to not only truly love it when they stumbled upon a sober blog, but were truly invested in getting their help through the blogosphere.  Instead of let’s say, talking to people who are also alcoholics or drink too much (folks at AA meetings, for example), or scheduling some time with a counselor.  People were (are?) coming to the blogosphere to get help in a more immediate, anonymous way.

I don’t know if that’s really happening as much anymore, or, if folks are just not as into it as they used to be; maybe it’s because I’m not writing as much; maybe what I write about–or how I write it–doesn’t appeal to people anymore.  Maybe “kids these days” aren’t that interested in my bouts of perimenopausal symptoms (haha–of COURSE, they’re not!); maybe no one is as interested in long-term sobriety as the drama of those first few days, months, years of getting sober–your perspective changes, and you can lose touch with the struggle of those early days, that is for certain. However, to me, what happens during your long-term sobriety is the most interesting part of getting and staying sober–and, unfortunately (predictably, though), there seems to be a LOT less out there, resource-wise, than there is about than the initial stages of recovery.

I get it, things trend away from what they used to be.  For example, last summer, I was thinking about going back to this place (another island in the sun where there is a lot of international development work going on) that I went to in the summer of 2014, and I was planning on working at this hostel-turned-community center where I had stayed four years ago.  When I checked in with a friend who has been there constantly since 2014, she was like, Oh, that has passed; there isn’t much need or use for that type of space anymore.  (Well, I actually disagree, but I understood what she meant:  “things” had trended away from this type of space, and the only surprising thing was that I hadn’t kept up with the changes because I wasn’t there during the intervening four years.)

Can things just become…outmoded, dictated by the changing times and the wants and needs of a new, younger generation with different ways of being and socializing?  Um, yes.

Seven years is a LONG time, I have to keep reminding myself.  It doesn’t feel like it to me, but it is.  I mean, a lot has changed for me, personally, for myself and my partner and my family and the world!  It just…doesn’t feel like it, and sometimes, I return to this blog and think of it as an island itself, surrounded by the flux of water and time but by itself, isolated from the outside world of changing times.  It, too, though, has changed; and even though it was and is my rock and center, it has changed.

This morning, I am thinking about all that has changed, and feeling grateful for what we’ve made it through (sobriety, hurricanes, a new job that is kicking my ass!), as well as both irritated that I can’t move on and desperate to hold onto what I thought I had.  SO much has changed in our lives, for my partner and myself.

What is the same is that I am still sober–thank Goddess!  What is different is that I no longer have many cravings, and few things truly trigger me–again, thank Goddess, and something that I try to be continually grateful for, even though as you enter the long-term, you tend to forget about those dreadful early years.  I sometimes think about drinking again, like getting into the habit of it again (maybe a glass at night to go with my cooling showers?), but after the fleeting thought, I don’t have much time to drag out the fantasy.  There is work and plans and family responsibilities and FUN to be had; drinking takes a far backseat to all the important stuff to think about, to do.

What also hasn’t changed is my relationship to my brother, who wrote me off years ago after one drunken night at his place, screaming at his girlfriend.  After much back and forth, he finally decided that he would officially NOT forgive me, and I had to accept that (which I did; we haven’t spoken in almost two years) and move on.  I don’t plan on reconciling with him, and it is a sore point; I feel angry and bitter every time I think about it, but I quickly let it go so those feelings don’t fester.  It is what it is, and there is nothing I can–or frankly, want/have the energy–to do about it.  That hasn’t changed.

What has changed is my confidence in my feelings of expression–dare I talk about what’s really going on in my head?  I have become a bit tentative.  Long-term sobriety is strange in that, after you get sober, you still have a bunch of garbage to deal with…and lot of it isn’t interesting to a lot of people–because it tends toward specific, and personal.  Lately, I have been talking about perimenopause on this blog–to me, that IS related to my sobriety.  I don’t know if they know if there is any connection between going into perimenopause early because you were an alcoholic (or binge drank), but I do believe–and, I think studies have shown this–that my drinking made me less fertile (that could be a whole “correlation does not equal causation” thing, though).

Point is, what has changed for me is that I don’t feel like sharing certain nitty-gritty deets as much as I used to do.  I don’t know what the kids are doing these days, but I do sense that talking about, um, menopause is still taboo.  (Haha.  Of COURSE, it is.)

In any case, some things have changed, others haven’t.  And, while some days I might not “feel” like being revealing, especially about particular subjects, I know that I must, and I will.  I can’t and won’t stop doing so–and I will probably hold onto this blog and not let it go and not move on, for reasons that lift me up and make me feel better about myself and my sobriety and my path.  Of course, I can (and probably will) transition to writing about things that are not, on the face of it, drinking- or sobriety-related; but, honestly, to me, EVERYTHING seems to somehow come back to this “drinking thing,” this “sobriety thing.”

Stay tuned…

Getting all Marie Kondo on this isht

17 Feb

1:03 pm

Just a quick post to say, we got our isht out of storage, the both of us.  And just like that, my “life in Storage Wars” is over.  After 9 ridiculous years, I finally and quite unceremoniously (my love actually cleared out my unit, and I closed out online, so I wasn’t even there) vacated my near-decade old room away from room.  And, the past few weeks, I’ve been going through yet more boxes and bags of clothes, books, pictures, paperwork–tons of CDs, a “Let’s Go: Europe” book from 1993, an MCAT prep guide…all of which are about as valuable to me now as, well, a glass of red wine!

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling pretty damn happy and proud of all the things I’ve done (lived through), and excited about the future.  I mostly let go of this past a long time ago, the one that was weighing me down with should’s and must-do’s, careers that I tried but was never meant for, relationships that ended up YES, teaching me things but also leaving deep psychic scars.  But, I clang to it in some way; hence, a storage unit for 9 years of stuff dating back to 1993 (and earlier!).

It just feels great–mainly, I see now just how HAPPY and GRATEFUL I am to have the life I have now, to have the man I have now, to have the dog and the job I have now (I would not trade schlepping to an office every day for anything anymore, though, I sure had some cool clothes to do it in; I am perfectly content with the low-stress version of what I used to do, and honestly, secretly, I want to make it even MORE low-stress); super-grateful for the memories of 6 years on the island, a move without having made I would probably still in many ways be in that dark place that I was in for decades.  Kind of like a few of my old friends, who still drink, who still do the same jobs, who still cling to that big city as “home”…when there is a whole, colorful (warm) world out there to explore.

I mean, I know our 20s and 30s are not easy, but the searching is of course, necessary; searching for what fits, and doing all sorts of things that just don’t make you happy.  Some people move on quickly, or start doing what they really want almost immediately–others, like me, take years to stop trying to please people who are not ourselves; and frankly, we ALL take years to pay off that student loan debt that is holding us back.

Anyway, it just feels great.  I cannot emphasize enough how ready I am to move on, to move forward, to simply clear out the past.  To really, truly let it go so I can make room in my mind for, well, everything else, maybe even blank space.  In this round of boxes, I’ve found so many items that I clung to for years, that I simply happily and gratefully acknowledged the person or experience’s role in my life, and then threw out.  I think my other boxes, the ones from high school and college, were more difficult to pare down since a lot of that stuff is just stuff that you don’t want to get rid of!  And you shouldn’t.  But these boxes, the stuff from my recent past, well…

Don’t get me wrong, there were and are a lot of things that I want to keep–things like framed pictures of recent trips (well, dating back to the 2000s) that “spark joy” in that they remind me of my growth:  who I was then, and who I became because of those times.  And, they remind me less of the failed relationship or job of that era and more of the actual place, and the experience, and my particular love of the Getty in LA, or the Rodin in Paris–and so, I cherish the now-framed black-and-white photos that hang on my walls here, now, because I still love those places and they still remind me of me.

I don’t know if I believe in purging necessarily; but for some reason, right now, at this time in my life, I am SO ready to retire it all; to retire, in a way.  I have been grinding away for years, and it’s not been all bad, and I wanted a lot of the writing gigs; but right now, I’m ready to put some of it behind me, and start on a new path–truly, one that redefines me, maybe away from writer, science writer, journalist, maybe just more toward creative writer.  I didn’t dream of this as a kid; I dreamt of being a poet, a vet, and later, an anthropologist in Africa.  I’ve dreamt of opening a coffee shop for decades, long before I actually started working as a barista.  I have so many other dreams that have nothing to do with writing, and especially science writing, is what I’m saying; I drank for years to cope with the stress of this work, and with the stress of “should’ing” myself into it.

Lately, and this might sound weird (perimenopause is weird, and no one told me about that mid-40s awesomeness either), but at almost 45, I kind of feel ready to die.  Haha.  It sounds ridiculous, and I mean, ready to die to my old self, and be reborn into a new version of me, the one who I’ve been building and cultivating for years…but who still hasn’t been allowed her long day in the sun.  As I went through my boxes, I found this tube of pink lipstick that dates back to 1994, when I was 20 and studying abroad in Paris.  Yes, a 25-year-old tube of lipstick can be harder to trash than a drinking problem–this is long-term sobriety to me, this eventual letting go and evolution of self, of how we choose to see ourselves in our lives, of who we choose to be.

Sobriety continually gives us choices to be–the same, different, old, new, evolving.  It’s up to us to do what is a scary and constant paring, cleansing, purging…with that elusive goal of sparking joy in our present moment.

The pictures I have hung DO spark joy, and I am relieved and so very happy about this.  I was afraid they wouldn’t, that they would remind me of those times and make me feel nostalgic for my old self, my younger years, the people associated with those times who are no longer here, or in my life (What a waste, one might lament; what’s the point of any and all relationships?); yet, they didn’t.  They don’t.  They spark joy.  I was afraid of my reaction, but you know what, I, too, have changed; I have evolved to prioritize joy over nostalgia and sadness.  Maybe it’s just that so much time has passed, and I can only now appreciate the joy of those moments, the simple beauty of the imagery that made me snap the pictures in the first place.  Only now can I relive the past and feel joy–not because I have forgotten the past, or gotten too old to remember; but because I can see it clearly now, and can find a healthy balance between past and present feeling.  Maybe I am just ready to move on, to retire in a way, to let go of that past in order to make way for a wonderful most-recent past, a present for which I am grateful, and a future that I increasingly believe holds the best yet to come?

Back again to where it all began

5 Feb

10:32 pm

Tonight, I am remembering last August, when I paid a visit to the city where I first got sober in the summer of 2012 (and started this blog!).  My fiance is there now, getting his stuff and hopefully, my stuff out of storage so that we can finally consolidate it all under one roof.  I’ve had my stuff in a storage unit for a ridiculous number of years (I’m too embarrassed to reveal how many; suffice it to say, *I* am that person they write stories about when they want to feature the amount of money people waste on storing stuff that eventually becomes the equivalent of a big, fat ZERO), so this is good.  What is also good is that I am not there with him, having pangs of doubt and longing as I consider cutting my last remaining tie to the city that stole my heart and then, stole my sanity!

I spent 5 years there, and I went back many times since moving away almost 9 years ago, always with the plan that I would move back one day.  Before I left, I put my stuff into storage, and over the course of these many years, have consolidated and moved to a smaller unit, but I never got rid of it.  Of course, I am moving back here, I kept telling myself:  this is where I went to grad school, had amazingly new experiences, became a drunk, had my heart broken and mind burnt with every crushing hangover.  Of course, I have to live out the rest of my days here.  These are my people, this is where I belong.

Not being there to finally say goodbye might be a good thing–to just let it go, finally and forever, from afar.

Anyway, it’s got me thinking about the week I spent in the city this past summer–I tend to go back once a year, to “visit friends” (I literally have no friends anymore in that town except my brother, who has recently moved there part-time), “reconnect with the city/see my old haunts” (I have wasted countless days, walking past old apartments, old bars, old university buildings, being reminded that I am simply chasing a drunken ghost), and, I guess, plan my move back.  Yet, every time I go back, I become slightly less enamored with the place; sure, I will always love it–I went to graduate school there, I became a drunk, I had many life-altering experiences; it’s the place where I spent the first month of my sobriety holed up in a studio, starting this blog in an attempt to finally get sober.  I remember during my last stay this August, I walked by the studio where I got sober and started this blog, and took a picture of the place–again.  I have more than one picture of that place, and of all the other apartments and sublets I lived in in that town.  I can’t let go, and I don’t want to.  Why?

I haven’t lived there in many years–that must tell me something, right, even amidst my rationalizations of why I can’t let it go (because I am still in love with it/that life/that lifestyle/my dreams of that era).  Thing is, I never did come back, and I’m not precisely sure why, except, I couldn’t financially, and I didn’t really want to anyway.  It’s cold, and dark, and my dreams are all intact, inside my mind; I can be anything from anywhere; I can write from anywhere, not just a cold, dark city where I also lost my mind to wine.  The more times I return, the more I see that it is and always will be part of my past–the past is the past, and searching for it is just, well, like I said, chasing your own ghost.  When I look at it that way, I have to wonder, why not just let it go?

These days, I am starting to sort of feel being in my mid-40s:  the whole perimenopausal thing has something to do with it, but I have to say, it comes and goes and right now, I feel totally normal (plus, my blood work came back at almost all normal levels, so that leads me to believe that nope, at the ripe old age of 44, I am definitely not in menopause yet!).  It’s just, when I wander around that city (in particular, but not just that city alone), I am very much aware of the difference between me–and my life, and my state of mind and being, and my sobriety, and all the amazing experiences I have had AFTER leaving that town–and all the 20- and 30-somethings around me.  I have to accept not that I’m not young or that I’m old, but that I’m just not THERE anymore.  My being is telling me to just let it go; it’s too much work holding onto it, and there are so many other things to do, and dreams to be had!  I can–and will–let go of holding onto that past, that idea of who I was in that past.  I am still her, she still is me; but, we are here, now, and we are plugging away, moving and building.  I do not belong to that time, to that past; I belong to me, here and now.

Speaking of which, yes, I continue to build–every day is like laying one lone brick, and hoping it doesn’t fall down or get knocked off by an unexpected wind that came up in the night.  My new job is sort of a lot of work–and YES, YES, I am grateful (it’s good work, and my coworkers are probably the nicest, most fun people on the planet to work with), but…  I miss my old life!  Haha.  I have to admit, I miss the freedom of being, of time, of mind, of dreams that island life granted.  There is just no other way to say this:  I am back in the real world (well, I work from home, but I work every day from 9 to 5, and my day is fairly regimented), but I long to be on that physical and metaphorical island, soaking up the nothingness of the moment, and the magical possibility of the future.  I miss being/feeling “young” (um, I moved there the year I turned 38), which I guess entails a bit of saying “fuck it” and just doing what I want, not caring anymore about achieving and doing “important work,” or participating in the consumer culture of the mainland–I mean, who wouldn’t?  I miss the sense of fullness of soul that comes with no material possessions.  Sure, life here is easier, and I need this “real-world” job so that I can continue to build something that sort of broke down after years as a freelance writer, but…I miss being a freelancer, too!  And, most of all, I miss being a barista–ahh, the simplicity of it, the satisfaction, the sense of ownership of doing something a little bit unique to my story and my past.

I have hope that soon come, after the bricks have been laid, we will move forward, or back to, the place that stirs magic in our hearts.

As for that old city where I got sober and that I might not have any remaining connection to once my manz clears out my storage unit in a few days for me–well, there is nothing left to do but let it go.  Accept what happened, and what has passed; and let holding on, and longing, and the old idea of my younger self–let it go.  I am here now, wherever that may be; I belong to this story, to this place, to this here and now.  And, thank Goddess for that.

The holidays, and my sober advice

23 Dec

10:41 pm

This holiday has been stressful to me, I have to admit.  We’re in a different place and time, and a different space, within ourselves.  All this change, combined with all this self-imposed people pleasing–well, it grates, especially since it’s one of the reasons I drank in the first place.  If only I didn’t have to do this, if only I could just say no, I wouldn’t have to drink…is how it used to go down in my mind.  Still sort of does, on some level, I guess.

I remember feeling so unappreciated (kind of how I’ve been feeling lately, but I see it for what it is–partly of my own creation), and drinking at that feeling.  I remember drinking at people, if they pissed me off; or at bad situations, if they didn’t go my way; or at being let down, if my expectations weren’t met.  It sounds hard to believe to people who don’t use alcohol, but it’s how we keep rationalizing our compulsive and binge drinking, even when it screws up our heads and lives:  before we’re able to think it through, pick it apart, and realize what we can change and what we’ve created in our own minds–we drink.  Bam!  We’re drunk and shit sucks, and we’re down the same hole.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to say “Fuck it” the past few weeks, months, seasons.  It’s a feeling that builds and builds, a little “fuck it” here, a little more “fuck it” there, and…you know how it ends.  Rest assured, I am not going to drink, but I don’t think I’ve felt so close to wanting to say, fuck it, and go and get what’s MINE.

I miss having something of my own to take the edge off; I miss being able to just say, fuck it, I’m done, I’m drinking wine now.  Is what I’m really wanting and needing, though, some time for myself, to nurture and heal and appreciate what I’ve accomplished and who I am?  Is what I’m really needing some simple self-care?  Because, in that caring of self, as a sober person, I can totally see my role (my expectations and reactions) in creating a bad situation.  It’s also a way to reinforce self-respecting behavior (like, I feel this way and so, in respect for my legitimate feelings, I say no, or I don’t do this).

And I told you to be patient, and I told you to be kind

When you’re actively drinking, there is no self-reflection; it feels SO good to drink at it–whether it’s your anger at what someone did to you, or your feeling of frustration at not having handled the situation differently, or your belief that you are helpless to change it anyway–and then, to hold onto it until the bottle’s gone and you’ve blasted off, not to return until you come back the next morning (or afternoon) and realize that you’ve so lost.  Whatever there was to win, you definitely did not win that.

Letting go is the hardest part, it really is; it’s all about a higher self, and higher behavior; and sometimes it feels like your brain is pulling itself apart.

What I’m increasingly tired of is, I never get to escape…to the magic realm.  You know???  To the romantic place.  To the sensual world.  To the realm of ridiculous fantasy…which is what wine and drugs do, is they help you CREATE the ridiculous fantasy, and it feels so damn good to be there for a while!?  The ancient Greeks knew how important wine was to their conversational gatherings, right?  God, if only I came of age in archaic Greece!?

Regular life just gets so monotonous!  I miss wine…enhancing music, the present, the past, the holidays, my relationships, my dreams.  I miss the old me, and I have missed that crazy, romantic bitch ever since I got sober and had to let a large part of her go!?  I know, this way is so much better–I can actually hear music, have a present that is worth living, have a past that doesn’t haunt me, experience holidays that go off without a hitch, cultivate relationships that don’t crumble or blow up, and, um actually make real some of those dreams.  I just have to wonder, will I ever truly be able to smile easily, and without some part of my mind thinking, God, it would be SO much easier to find this entertaining if I had some wine?

I guess I’m feeling uninspired lately, a bit cynical, and just sort of a combination of tired and under-appreciated; I know I can remedy all of this with self-care, which includes just making some other choices.  And, it’s a blessing of being sober to not only have choices, but know that I have choices.

Anyway, my two cents is this:  whenever you feel like drinking this holiday, just remind yourself that IF you’re drinking AT someone, or something, it’s SO only going to fuck you up.  That someone or something does not know, and does not care; and worse, it won’t solve or change anything.  Remember, drinking AT yourself, or your problems, or your letdowns is not going to change you, or your problems, or your letdowns.  And, while all this advice sucks and stings, this, too, shall pass.  Give it a minute, three, a few hours–hang in there–because this, too, shall pass.  Your higher self will come back to the fore, and you’ll be able to agree with me/you, and say, right, OK, I got this.  I don’t have to drink now.  I don’t have to drink.  Exhale, this sucks, I still hurt, but I don’t have to drink.

Thank you, friends; I am sort of tearing up because I know I am talking to myself now, and I know that you’ve been listening and hearing me for the past six holiday seasons before this one.

Merry Christmas, all, and to all a good, sober night.

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