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Sunday afternoon ramblings

4 Oct

2:53 pm

As I wrote about recently, over the past few weeks (going on a month now, actually), I’ve had terrible leg pain. I thought I had some terrible disease (of course, I did), so I went to the doctor–a first in that, this doc took me seriously and ran every blood test possible for a complaint like, “my legs hurt”–and, well…nothing is wrong. No Covid, no infectious disease, no autoimmune disease, blood panel good, muscles fine. I also got a blood test done for both my estrogen and progesterone levels, and for where I am at in the process of both menopause and taking estradiol via the patch, those came back normal, too.

SO, I have to conclude that it’s something to do with the estradiol patch (which, btw, is only one method of transdermal application; there are also creams, gels, sprays, probably others). And, that kind of really sucks since, I don’t know if another via-the-skin application will work for me. I am going to keep riding it out and see what happens.

So, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet on my blog, I’m just trying to take care of myself–mentally, it’s really hard for me to accept pain and not being able to work out because of pain. I usually just push through pain, but my muscles seem to take days to recover from even the slightest workout, so I have been obeying my body’s commands. It’s not easy not knowing either; and, I’ll never know unless I take the time to go off everything, let my body readjust, and then, go back on things one at a time. The patch is working for my night heat and insomnia, though, which is glorious!? Still, if I can’t live WITH the medication, then…it’d have to be a dealbreaker.

I am well, and my doctors took me very seriously–so, a huge win. Plus, it appears that I never got Covid, which is a relief as well.

I’ve been working full-time and will start working a new remote contract gig this week, putting me at full-time-plus for the next few months, so…that’s been great! It’s a relief to have work, sure, but even more of a relief to not have to job and gig search for a while.

Another thing that’s been going on is that my dad has gotten himself into some physical trouble (think: crashing cars and breaking bones) due to well, untreated bipolar disorder (in my opinion). Long story short, he’s doing fine but he’s still up to his tricks, so to speak. Lesson learned on my part: he will never change until and unless he takes medication; he will never admit anything is wrong; and, importantly, there is nothing I can do for him. I have thought of telling him, I refuse to talk to you until you get meds, but, I don’t quite get how an “intervention” or “ultimatum” would truly work or be beneficial for a mental health disorder like his. He doesn’t believe–refuses to believe–that there is anything wrong. How can you force him to consider an ultimatum that doesn’t really mesh with his version of reality? I don’t know.

On that note, I am going to exhale–my mantra these days–and go for a walk. I can do that at least; it’s funny how much of an “athlete” I am: I have already acclimated to this new level of pain and have found ways around it. I will never stop working out! (maybe that’s what got me here to begin with? lol)

Thank you, one and all, for still being part of my life. This blog-o-sphere is truly one of my favorite places to be on a Sunday afternoon…

Our girl is gone…

14 Aug

6:21 pm

…and, it feels like the end of an era. It kind of is, the end of an era. She was with us for almost a decade (8.5 years from the time I met her until the day she died, which was on Wednesday)–during that time, she lived her entire life…and we, too, lived a decade of our own lifetime. I think that’s what’s most jarring right now, is that we aged a decade, too; we saw a decade of our life disappear, too. A lifetime, in an instant–that’s how all those years of fun, growth, and love seem to me. Lifetimes are instants; the mind cannot comprehend, truly, the passage of time.

What did it all mean, I can’t help but wonder? Sure, she was my higher power; she was literally my entire (albeit small, I see that now) world, after I moved here and got sober, but before I got the courage to re-enter the “real” world (of work and friends and all that comes with stepping out). She, along with our other dog and my boo and my neighborhood–they were my world, for years; and there was nothing more I wanted, truly.

I feel a bit guilty that I “outgrew” only needing this dog, this world! As she aged, started to hurt, became more subdued in her older years, um, so did I! I mean, I grew up, so to speak, alongside her. When I looked through pictures of myself from back in her younger day, I, too, looked so much younger then, it seems: brighter, happier, more smiling. I was beaming, probably out of love for her, my new life, my newfound sobriety, maybe just the giddy youth that you don’t realize you still very much have in your 30s. My 40s have forced me to grow up and stop shitting (as many) unicorns, as it were; I still loved her with all my heart up until her very last day. I know she knows that, and I know it was her time, yet, I still feel a tad guilty.

But I also feel relieved. Her final night was really hard, and I woke up convinced that neither she nor I ever wanted to see her in so much pain ever again. So, we called the vet out to the house, and, surrounded by our loving arms, looking out at the water in her favorite spot (dating back almost a decade)–our girl passed, very peacefully.

It’s been quiet around here, that’s for sure. I am relieved that after about 1.5 years of tending to her needs 24/7, I don’t have to worry about what she’s doing and if she needs me. The final few weeks were really painful to watch, wondering with every passing second if she was in pain, if she was now deaf, if she was overmedicated or experiencing some kind of dementia or just in distress. Now that I have all my time and energy back, it’s like, what do I do with myself?

I was thinking that, it’d be a shame to not get another dog. You hear people who have gone through this say, Oh, I can’t do that again. Same thing with humans who lose a spouse–there will be no one who can replace him/her. Yet…we are made to love. And, to spend the rest of your life not doing what you were meant to do–I can’t see it.

I mean, what do we have to show for our lifetime together? It’s like, we’re back in the same house, the same place, and I feel like nothing happened; yet, it all did, right here. It all went down here, years and years of love. Is that all there is, really, is the love, the act of loving–and there is nothing tangible (unless you have babies or create art) to show for that, and there shouldn’t be. That’s the nature of love; that’s the nature of life. We come, we love, we go.

So, why do anything then? Are all our pursuits outside of loving each other and our animals simply neuroses, compulsions that propel us to work, strive, achieve, accomplish? Who knows?

Anyway, I’m glad she’s no longer struggling, and, I’m joyful, truly, that she got to live out her fierce, fun-loving life until the very end.

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!

Helping or enabling

1 Jul

11:22 am

I used to think that I knew the difference between helping a person and enabling them–until I was no longer on the receiving end. As someone who drank alcoholically for years, I never had to wonder if I was helping someone or enabling that person. It was their problem, and they had to figure out how to help me without enabling my ill behavior.

These days, I am the one having to decide between helping and enabling during every phone call I make to both parents. I can say, almost without doubt, that both my parents, by choice, are living with untreated mental health disorders that negatively affect their family members.

It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

And there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

What is this called? Transgenerational something–issues, addiction, trauma? I can clearly see my own workaholism in my dad’s behavior; I can clearly see my neurotic thinking and tendency to catastrophize in my mom’s behavior. Yet, both my parents either don’t see it in themselves or choose to not see it. I chose to see it, and I chose to try to fix it, within myself. It’s a work in progress, but I decided that I could no longer live in denial–that was eight years ago.

Let me give a few “for instances”: I recently found out that my dad and his second wife are divorcing; she served him papers, and he seems to be in this state of “I don’t know why on Earth she would want to divorce me” haze that is just, well, utter bullshit. He knows; the problem is, on our calls, he denies knowing and spins a tale of what he believes has happened (versus the reality, which I know, because my step-mom and brother have seen or heard different versions from him, and they’ve told me about those). The question is, do I listen and not say anything, or do I confront him on his denial? I have tried a version of the latter, but he is deep in his denial so it doesn’t work. Yet, allowing him to go on without being questioned just reinforces this behavior–enabling him to keep it up without facing any kind of consequences.

The last time I talked to my mom, she was complaining about her health issues, about she was feeling overwhelmed and alone. I feel bad for her, but, after decades of telling her what she knows she should do, she’s chosen to not expand her social circle to include even one friend! She chooses to obsess about her health issues instead of letting them go/be; I get that it’s hard, and she has a lot of problems. However, no matter how “bad” you’ve got it, at some point, you have to choose to stop the mental looping and try something else–maybe, meditation, or yoga, or staying on medications consistently, or believing that these medications will help (there is power in placebo; she knows this, as a former nurse). Now, I could tell her, again, that she should do this, that, and the other; she can say, yes, I know I should do that, and then, she can not do it–or, I can just listen and then hang up, not really telling her how I feel because it doesn’t seem to change her behavior, which is in essence, a form of enabling as well!

Why do I feel guilty–and somehow responsible–that my parents, both of them well into their 70s, are very seemingly stuck and unhappy? And, even more guilty that I have decided to give up on helping both of them, wishing their choices were different but not trying to engage anymore in a discussion about any of it? What if it does not end well for my dad, who is soon going to discover just how much of the physical, daily burden my step-mom carried? Should I feel like it was my fault, that I didn’t help him enough by literally screaming the truth, as I know it, into his ear? Same with my mom: should I just let her be, grasping but unwilling, or should I continue to force the issue of personal responsibility for one’s own happiness?

I have chosen, after all these years of getting sober–it was a lot of work to extricate myself from these learned behavioral patterns, some of which really affected me and “caused” my drinking problem–to just let it go. Let. It. Go. I can’t care that much about their problems; I can’t keep trying to “reason” with them when they don’t want to change, essentially.

Is this what it feels like to try to help an addict or alcoholic who is not ready to get sober yet? Maybe…

Welcome to the doll house

21 Oct

1:06 am

I like that title, never saw the movie, and it only pertains to this post in that, I’ve been going through my old collection of Barbie dolls and really getting into it again–remembering why I loved them so much as a kid.  I was going to put them all up on eBay, but um, most aren’t worth that much because they are super-used, and, I do NOT have the patience to spend HOURS picking through my dolls and clothes and trying to figure out if this was Dream Date or Loving You or Peaches N Cream Barbie and then, after posting to eBay, having to field collectors’ questions!  I thought I was pedantic (which is what makes me a good collector/historian…!).  Still, THAT was actually fun, going through my dolls; I think I’ll probably keep the special dolls and clothes (I had the dream house and car and camper van, too, back in the day; I kind of want to hold onto something of my collection!).

What wasn’t as much fun was going through the other stuff.  And, I have been avoiding writing about it and I guess I should write about it, is all I have to say.

About what? Well, everything! Haha. Life, getting older, my dog getting older, my mom getting older, um, discovering via all this sorting of old stuff–writings, mainly, and photos–that my life seems to have been not an adventurous, freewheeling trip of courage and coming of age; but more a meandering path of mental illness.  That, all my writings are not a gold mine of material but a testament to mental illness over the years–and how to live with it while also not even acknowledging that it is there.  What an iceberg I feel like this realization might be; no wonder I threw this shit into storage a decade ago, moved to the island to start over, and never, EVER thought about looking back literally, at this stuff.  I didn’t want to confront it, and I couldn’t.

One good thing about getting older is that, for me anyway, I can see my own life and choices and path and behaviors much more objectively (it also helps that I am not drinking and wine is no longer exacerbating my issues or masking them!).  What mental illness am I talking about?  I’m talking about depression and social anxiety, sure; but also, things like being on the autism spectrum, borderline personality disorder, maybe even some form of paranoid delusions of grandeur (schizoaffective disorder, something of that nature).  I am not saying I suffered from these things; but, that, there may have been some element of all of them in my past.

It’s not easy, and it’s a slow unraveling.  I’ve kind of wanted to drink past few weeks, but more out of boredom than avoidance or fear of confronting this stuff.  I mean, I’m OK, no one is going to die, but…it’s a bit scary and daunting to remember just how effed up I felt back then, as a teen and 20-something (and 30-something!).

So much has happened the past few weeks, too.  After my mom’s visit–and seeing in action what I would call pretty obvious mental illness; where do you think I get it from?–I am just a bit burnt on all the self-analysis.

My mom’s visit was hard, to say the least.  I don’t think we’ll be spending anymore time alone (without the buffer of other family members), I hate to say.  Before her visit, I spent what felt like an eternity sorting through photos from 20 years ago and beyond.  I hadn’t looked at the scrapbooks and piles of prints from grade school all the way through my early 30s (about the time digital cameras took over, thank god) for years; I mean, we’re talking, I hadn’t looked at some of these photos but ONCE since I printed them at a Walgreens in 1995!  At this rate, I won’t look at these again until I’m 70 (um, in 25 years–holy CRAP, that sounds terrifying); what’s the point in keeping them?

And, that is where my mom comes into the picture.  In looking through the old photos, I saw who she was then more clearly, and I saw who I was then more clearly.  She is different now, but not that different!  All this time, I’ve been thinking that somewhere along the way, she just BECAME super-irritating to me; but, she’s always been herself.  So, what’s changed?  It must be me!  I have changed, a LOT, and especially around how I view my upbringing and how I let it and my stressors affect my life now.

Without really going in too deep around her and me and our issues, one of my big takeaways from our weekend is that, she does not want to hear the “objective” truth; she’s not ready to truly look at her own role in her unhappiness.  The ONLY reason I can say this is that I’ve lived it; as an alcoholic, as we all know, a HUGE part of our recovery is coming to terms with the following life FACTS:

it’s not all about me

stop taking things personally

it’s none of my business what others think of me

let it go

These basic “tenets” of sobriety seem to be what normies just know, or what other people learn as they mature without having to go through recovery first!  Why, at 73 years old, is my mother still seeming to refuse these universal mantras?  Like, I know that it’s really hard to choose to not take things personally, but I also know that continuing to do so causes me pain and that pain is greater than the effort of practicing new behavior.  I don’t know, it was like talking to a wall.  She knows all this stuff, too, but for some reason, she seems to be clinging more and more to choosing patterns of behavior that are negative and take up all her time.  Who knows?  I sure don’t know it all, and I can’t spend much more time trying to figure another person out (I am enough work!).

After talking a bit more with a few people close to me, I realized, if she’s not ready to try to see her role in relationships that are not working for her, and if she’s not ready to do a little self-analysis, then…I can’t take on the sadness and guilt that I do feel because she seems terribly unhappy (unless she isn’t really all that unhappy and is just being dramatic or passive aggressive–another story for another blog post).  I just have to let it go, and allow myself to do what I can for her but to then be happy, unapologetically and fully.  And I do, and she wholeheartedly wants me to (consciously, at least).

At this point, I’m like, who knows?  I have to let it go, and I will…

On that note, my brain is a bit fried, I am burning up tonight (again, who KNOWS what’s going on with my hormones, why one week or day I’m fine, the next my torso is on fire, and the next, it’s only my legs!  WHO KNOWS?), and I really just need to close up shop and turn the light out (in my brain).  I had a great day taking my dog to the beach–she’s “elderly” now, sweet girl, and that is painful; but, the twinges are counteracted by the fact that she’s still out there, frolicking in the water, and truly loving life.  What more could a girl want for her “daughter?”

We are moving in less than FIVE short weeks, and of course, my pedantic self has sold off quite a bit of our furniture.  I have this strange desire to get rid of EVERYTHING, to have no bleepity bleeping stuff anymore–maybe I’m just tired of carrying the weight of the past, feeling like I owe it something that I don’t; maybe I’m just tired of caring about keeping stuff.  I’ve never been one to be truly obsessive about not having clutter, but lately, I’ve been dreaming of a truly clutter-free existence where no stuff is going to trigger me, where the only thing that surrounds my field of view is white light, an open space of present-future, silence to meditate and dream…

On boundaries and saying ‘no’

7 Apr

12:40 pm

So, this morning, as I was scrolling Facebook, I became frustrated:

Why do I have to care about you?  Ugh, I should have gone to that thing last night–why am I so lazy, why am I so antisocial? 

And, on and on and on.  I saw in the early years of my sobriety just how much I could overthink and overanalyze, and how this contributed to my unhappiness and dependence on wine to escape my thinking.

It got me thinking about something else, too:  here I was, on a beautiful Sunday morning, and what was I doing but berating myself because I had let my Facebook feed intimidate me!

In getting sober and staying sober, I have come to realize that creating boundaries and saying ‘no’ are essential to my peace of mind.  There are a LOT of things that caused me to binge drink and drink alcoholically, and I never made the connection between that reactive behavior and the bullying forces in my life until I got sober.

In fact, there are a lot of bullies in everyone’s life–whether your friends, parents, or coworkers are consciously aware that they are being bullies is up for debate, though.  And, until I started to understand the concepts of boundaries and saying no–that there could be emotional bullying, and that this is far more prevalent than actual, literal bullying–I didn’t get that I could both say, No, I will not do that, and say no to taking on other people’s stress or expectations of me (or themselves).

It still makes me feel angry when I delve into this aspect of long-term sobriety, and I feel like this is something that will never go away completely because almost everyone out there (including myself) is engaging in some form of bullying–whether it’s dumping their emotional baggage on you, manipulating your weaknesses, or just using your reactions to make themselves feel better.  I have to remind myself, almost daily, that it’s ME who is in control of how I perceive and receive people, and how I react and interact with them–that ultimately, bullying is a two-way street.

Some real-world examples:

Facebook/social media–Before I got sober, I would scroll relentlessly, and I would allow everyone’s story to affect me.  I would internalize my feelings of “not good enough” and “guilty” and “should have, could have, would have” without realizing that one, I didn’t need to feel any of that, and two, I had control over who and what I let into my worldview.  These days, when I feel that coming on, I try to remember that social media is not real life; people posting to social media are not trying to offend me, personally; and if I want to not care, I can choose to not care and close the app.  I don’t have to feel guilty about not really interacting with my so-called friends; I have friends in the here and now, and I can interact with them–and this is healthy, and it is good enough.  These days, I would much rather engage people offline, in the real world, and not on social, email, or text.  And, some days, it’s as simple as closing the app and moving on with my day–and not judging myself to be a bad friend, somehow, because I have chosen to be a spectator on social media and not a player.

Parents–You know, before I got sober, I didn’t have as much frustration toward my parents for their mental health issues as I do now.  I knew that my mom’s difficulty setting emotional boundaries and my dad’s bullying behavior definitely contributed to my drinking, but I didn’t know exactly how.  In any case, I internalized my mom’s pain, and I always tried to please my dad–two things that I have to work very hard at today, every time I talk to them, to NOT do!

These days, I don’t know if I’ve figured out exactly how these family relationships have made me who I am, but in getting sober, I have learned that calling my parents less is OK, that not allowing them to control how I feel is OK, that putting up boundaries and saying no to their projections and expectations is OK–I wish it was different because they are in their 70s and “should know better,” but…

My mom has a lot of health problems these days, and so, our calls are always quite long and tedious. I feel like she feels slighted that I don’t call often, and I feel almost unconsciously judged for having become an alcoholic drinker and for not having had kids; but none of this matters when it comes to me needing to say no to taking on her bad mood or her feelings of helplessness.  In part, I think she wants me to share my own health problems, but I refuse to go down that road because it’s almost as if she relishes that; simply put, I DO NOT relish it.

My dad is an entirely different beast in that the family believes he has multiple actual mental health disorders, and his entire way in the world with everyone has always been about manipulating other people to do what he wants them to do for him, and expectation (I am hard on myself and need to prove my worth, so you should be, too).  I have simply come to the frustrating conclusion recently that nothing will ever change in our relationship except the way that I deal with it.  I have decided that while our conversations won’t change, and while I’ll never likely be able to directly say no to him, I can say no to his expectations–I love our life, and I don’t have to let him lead the conversation toward accomplishment as a measure of success.

Job and school stress–It took me getting sober to see that I was putting a TON of unnecessary expectations and pressure on myself for many, many years.  And, that I don’t have to respond to stress the way people around me are either responding to it or worse, telling me how I “should” respond to it.  It’s like, I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses by wanting that house, or that car, or that “bigger” job–likewise, at work, I don’t have to stress out just because my boss or coworkers are stressing out, necessarily or unnecessarily so.  You don’t have to stress out to care, or to prepare; stress will not help you have fun.  You can (and should!) take long showers, eat nice dinners, go to your yoga class, or hey, even hit the beach (man, I miss it!)–AND get your work done, and be a careful, caring employee who is worthy of her paycheck.  This mentality is really hard to push back against, but I have to push back–if not just in defense of my health, but in defense of my sobriety.

Exhale.  We all have to set boundaries and guard them fiercely, no matter if we’re getting or staying sober.  Likewise, we all get to say ‘no’–and that is a beautiful thing.  I think that is the most empowering aspect to my sobriety, and to my evolving life and lifestyle these days.  As recovering binge drinkers or alcoholics, saying no is essential to our happiness, to our joy, to our continued sobriety.

So…just say no (sometimes)!

Recovery…from family time

14 Jul

4:04 pm

I’m back from my 4th of July trip to see my dad and mom, back to back–along with my brother.  And, whoa, Nellie, what a (head) trip, indeed!

See, I’m going to be blunt–and maybe it’s not my place, but I have to talk about it:  both my parents suffer (yes, I know they are in pain, which makes me feel pained) from untreated mental health disorders.  We think my dad has bipolar disorder, I think my mom has anxiety and possibly never-diagnosed OCD, and we know for a fact that they’ve both been treated for depression.  Not a big thang, you know, if everyone involved SEES that they are suffering and makes a CONCERTED EFFORT to get and stay in treatment.  But, you know, they don’t.  They are not.  They try to hide or avoid their issues, and they seem to be too afraid to confront them in order to change.

Of course, I get it!  I could be describing MYSELF when I was in the midst of my drinking disorder!  And, I know it takes what it takes, but…  They are both in their 70s!?  I don’t know what to do most of the time except to practice not reacting the way I want to (in anger) and accept their behavior but try to lead and/or engage them in what I see as “healthier” techniques of relating.  It’s just all very hard when these people are your parents and not some strangers, or even someone else’s parents.  Our shared history and my emotional baggage makes it harder to not react emotionally.

It makes me angry to see both of them not really ever seeming to resolve anything on the inside, but mostly, it is just draining to have to deal with it.  I felt so drained coming home, and it took me days to stop being really angry and reactive and just heavy-hearted and like my brain had been scrambled.  To make matters worse, they had these issues growing up, and they affected me in a big way–it took me years to even realize what bizarre coping mechanisms I had developed let alone start dealing with them so that they stopped negatively impacting all of my own relationships, from personal to professional!

I SO want to just out them sometimes, to yell and scream, to tell them “what is wrong with them.”  But, I don’t.  It just doesn’t seem…worthwhile.  I’ve thought about writing a letter, which would allow me to be more measured and empathetic, but again, it just seems like it might be a waste of time.  Plus, I’m not ready to go there AFTER the letter has been read, as in, I don’t have the desire to be that open right now, as their daughter, and/or the ability to play the role of psychologist.  So, I just leave it–with my mom, I think she is trying to work on some of her problems, and my dad, well, I kind of consider him a lost cause at the moment because he’s manic, and it seems like a hallmark trait of mania is that until the person hits bottom, they honestly don’t believe there is anything wrong with their thoughts and behaviors.

It was great, though, to get caught up on on this stuff, and to be with each other, and to just be real.  And a part of me feels sure that somehow, seeing their kids helps them stabilize a bit, normalizes whatever tangent their emotional or thought disorder has taken them on–I imagine our kid-parent bond as a powerful antidote, at least temporarily, to feeling estranged from themselves; it helps me, in a way, to feel less estranged from life, to reel me back into something bigger than myself, gives me a sense of order again, helps me find “myself” again, at least one that I recognize.  I hope that I’m right, and it makes me realize that I should see them more often (I hadn’t actually seen my mom for two years, and with my dad, it had been a year…but before last year, it was three years!).

You would think that all of this would have made me want to drink, and I admit, there were a few moments when I really did think a glass of wine would make it easier to just escape, to get rid of the bad feelings, to disappear for a while.  Of course, I didn’t; I had plenty of time to think about ALL that I’ve worked for the past six years, and how, really, one drink would lead me back to where I was when I started writing this blog in June, 2012.  I’ve had quite a few moments, too, in the past month or so, when I’ve felt SO FUCKING BORED here, in my new home, that I have wanted to “start drinking again.”  It’s weird how in this case, it’s not a glass of wine I want, but the entire habit, or activity, of “drinking again.”

Not to worry:  they are just thoughts, and I have every reason in the world to NOT start drinking again.  In fact, just this morning, as I was listening to a podcast about a man who lost the use of his lower body from a drinking and driving accident, I just felt so…horrible for him, and disgusted for him, but also grateful for the simple beauty of the GRAND, POWERFUL act of getting sober, of being sober.  It does keep going, and it does get better, and I am still feeling wonder-full about it all–in spite of family pressures, and in spite of the occasional side of boredom that comes with the eggs and toast of life!  (haha)  Have a great Saturday, all!

It’s crazy how things have changed

1 Jul

1:27 am

I am at home (like, home home) now, with my immediate family, and it’s crazy how *I* am the one, it seems, who is the most sober of all!  And by that I mean, irritated by how much other people are drinking, unwilling to really care about fixing them or holding onto what I cannot change, and um, SHOCKED at how late people eat and how LONG they drink into the night!?  What am I, old?

I watched them all pass out in their beds (or on chairs in the kitchen) while I went up to my room to do yoga and meditate.  (They’re kind of one in the same for me these days; and frankly, I have had such back problems that I cannot go a day without doing yoga and most definitely not more than two without working out…  But, it’s also because it’s just how I MUST DO if I am to remain centered, sober, calm and able to let everyone else’s issues and questions and concerns and gossip bounce off of me!)

So, yeah.  It is crazy how things have changed.  I’m also feeling much more willing, like I said, to accept people for who they are–and not try to change them, and not worry about me changing for them.  Like, someone grilled me about not having health insurance at the moment, and at first I felt bad, alarmed, like, oh, yeah, maybe I should get a catastrophic policy.  I had insurance, but let it lapse–and since then, well, I simply don’t worry about it.  This family member worries about stuff like that; yet, here I am, doing yoga and not drinking as preventive health, and here he is, drinking like a fish and then, downing a pot of coffee the next morning.

I am feeling super-weird about keeping this blog anonymous from my family anymore, but…I realized after talking about my sobriety last night with family members that it has to be the right moment for the reveal–and I have to be extremely ready to explain myself–and it’s not, and I’m not.  So, I keep putting it off…even though it’s starting to feel like a huge lie, a big withholding that equates to a lie.  Then again, I GET to get this; I deserve whatever choice I choose when it comes to my privacy and space, and method for getting sober and somewhat spiritually fit.  When the time comes, I’ll know it.

Till then, um, I LOVE who I have become, and I LOVE what the “right now” is for me; even IF there is extreme uncertainty (which I can deal with, and have dealt with for years as a freelance writer), well, I still have me, I have my spiritual center, I have my sobriety–which is frankly fucking invaluable.  I mean, priceless.  I mean, I’d take no job and no health insurance and a small rental in the middle of someplace that I’m not sure I like living (but am content in myself, so it really doesn’t matter where the “where” is anymore) ANY DAY over having things, and a big home, and “security” (which cannot exist without fear).  ANY DAY.

End of rant.  Good night, my sober friends.  Thank you for being here, with me, all these six years–you have no idea how liberating your understanding and support has been!

On anger and forgivness

16 Nov

12:10 am

There is no way around it:  I am angry.  I am just plain angry.  I want to scream into their faces, Who do you think you are?  And, what, exactly, do you think you’re doing?  It’s about being sober, and being able to see those people SO uber-clearly now, 5.5 years later–and seeing that some of these faces are bullies, and the bullies can’t touch me anymore.

I think I have had a lot of bullies in my life, and I NEVER knew what to do about them–out of fear, out of self-loathing (as in, for some reason, I believe I don’t have the right to talk back), out of lack of self-confidence (as in, my idea or path can’t be the right one).  I let people bully me–but I also, of course, participated in the exchanges by not being direct, or being secretive, or taking things too personally, or just plain assuming things that were not or are not true.  That’s part of my alcoholic drinking problem as much as it is a personality “flaw.”  However, not “talking back” led me to bury a lot of anger, and to learn to bury it and be passive-aggressive (which I fully admit that I can be).  Now, I see the bullies and their ways for who and what they are, and I do talk back, and the response is usually one of either reciprocal anger or deeper bullying tactics.  And this, too, I can see, and it makes me angry!

Am I paranoid?  Maybe.  I just feel like, with these handful of old relationships, they’re still running on (over) the “old me” tracks.  Even now, years later into my sobriety.  It’s actually strange to see how these people either try to continue their old ways, or simply detach because they just don’t know how to relate to the new me, or simply don’t want to relate to her.

Can’t we move forward?  Is it my job to school them on the “new me?”  Probably, and eventually.  It’s hard, though.  It takes a lot of trial and error and effort!  And, for people who for some reason refuse to acknowledge my sobriety–my having gotten sober–it just doesn’t seem possible to have a relationship.  And that is the hard truth, because I am the one who has to accept the change and move on with or without their ability or desire to relate to the new me.

Maybe letting go of this anger and paranoia, this is part of that elusive process of “forgiveness?”  I wish I felt some sense of sustained relief, of renewal when I have chosen to forgive, but it’s more of an intellectual pursuit for me–the next day, when I think about that person, I feel angry again.  Nothing has changed, inside or out.  I know that I should continue to try–but, IF these people are in MY PERSPECTIVE (again, that could be skewed) bullying me because they still think of me as sad or poor or drunk; how can I cultivate good will toward them?  It just doesn’t compute…yet.

It could just be a matter of having those hard conversations, where I, um, tell them how I feel and allow them to explain to me how they feel.  Haha.  Oh, me.

On a somewhat different note:  I am not at home (where we get a LOT of sun) right now, and I really notice it (I think your brain gets used to a certain amount of light and can no longer function well in places that are darker).  That is me, now; it’s actually been me for years, and every time I come back to this city, I am a little bit less enamored (I am in the cold city where I became a drunky drunk girl, and where I also started this blog two days after quitting drinking).  I’ve been here before, in this space of being reminded, literally around every turn, of what went down and who I used to be–and, I’m used to the sour feeling in my eyes and belly and brain, that thing I just can’t shake, that time machine effect where suddenly, I am closer to BEING that old me than I am of only just remembering who she was.  And, it is not a good feeling; it’s not as heart-hurtful and soul-sucking as it used to be, but it’s still there.

Am I still there?  Maybe I am; or, maybe I’ve just never dealt with my anger.  I don’t get it.  FIVE years later, after having worked through what I thought was my anger, and now…I see that I’m just scratching the surface?  It kind of scares me, this whirling from past to present and back again; how my emotions can exist in a timeless state, evergreen, able to trip me with the flick of a brain cell back into my past.  Boom, and I’m literally there; and it’s hard to not feel the same way, to not see myself as my past self.  The thing is, I AM that person, as much as I am the one writing this now; I can’t not embrace what happened to me, what I went through, because that has made me the person I am now.

Is this how it’s always going to be, living in a prism-like reality, where it’s never really over?  I guess as long as I have memories (which, hopefully will be until the day I die!), and as long as I choose to confront these deep-seated feelings that caused me to drink in the first place–no, I don’t think it will ever be over.  In fact, for the first time in many, many days, I’ve thought about drinking (more than once while here; not good).  I have even slipped into thinking, ahh, it would take the edge off, it would be such a nice treat, a reward for slogging through..what?  A dark, cold night?  A storage unit that seems to have a life of its own?  Um, NO.  No, no, no.  It would SO not be a relief, or a treat.  Duh, I know this.  God, do I know this!

I have had FIVE damn years of practice, of re-training my brain–am I just feeling extra-sensitive to the triggers here because this is where the worst of it went down?  Probably, and I will remain steadfast, but…I haven’t heard the whiny voice of wolfie-boy (a pup barely in the womb, that’s how small it is) in a very long time, and it’s more confusing and surprising than anything.

On that note, I have to close it up because it’s midnight and I have a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow.  Needless to say, I still love this city, and I am, of course, grateful to be here, now, sober.

Lesson in amends

13 May

10:33 am

Saturday.  I have to say, before I start ranting about anything, I am grateful.  Every morning, of every day, I am grateful–relieved, joyful, content–to wake up sober.  To a life I sort of think I deserve, but probably not.  (haha)  I have my fiance, my dogs, the blaring tropical sun bleating off the blue ocean below; I have a freelance career that I’ve somehow made work for 5 years; I have a past that I don’t have to live anymore, but that I get to consider, and to think about, and to dwell on, only as much as I want or need.  I am here, and not there.  Why?  How did I deserve this?

Because I worked my ASS off.  (There she is!  Good morning, ego.)

All that being said, I still have trouble dealing with people from my past, relationships gone sour or become nonexistent (maybe not directly because of my drinking, but related to it on one level or another).  And, while I’m eager to “forgive and forget,” it’s not easy.  And mostly, I’m still sort of angry, I guess, at people who have written me off!  It’s not that I’m angry all day, every day; it’s that, when I think about attempting to rekindle our friendship, I think, Eh, it’s been too long.  Eh, I have other relationships that I’ve cultivated here, where I live now, that make more sense to put energy into.  Eh, you sort of wrote me off, or didn’t take my “getting sober” that seriously; why would I want to relate now?  The problem with all this thinking is that, you just don’t know if people need an amends, or if they just need a phone call or an email–have you hurt them or has the relationship simply moved on?  I have to say, every relationship is unique, and has a unique past; so it’s hard to generalize what I would or could or should do.

I received a couple emails recently that made me start thinking more about all this again.  One was from a friend, someone I’ve known since undergrad–needless to say, we’ve been through a lot.  I mean, I consider her my sister (or, sistah, as it were).  However, while we were friends, there were a few key things I really hated about her  personality–one was her grudge-holding.  My hatred eventually came out, when I got drunk.  As you can imagine, when my drinking got bad and our friendship dissolved, she wrote me off.  (At least, that’s how I remember it; who knows, maybe she thought I wrote her off?)  When I got sober, I sent her a few emails (this was years ago)–nice emails, reaching-out emails.  I never heard from her, so imagined that I never would.  BAM!  About two months ago, I got an email from her, wanting to reconnect.  It was short and sweet, but in the end, I truly appreciated it.

It took me a few months to reply, though.  I couldn’t believe or want to accept that she had held a grudge for so many years (I believe it’s been 7 years)!?  On the flip, that’s one thing I really disliked about her, and watched her do over the years to many other people, so I’m not sure why it surprised me.  In any case, I just wasn’t sure she “deserved” a reply.  Then, I got another email (see below) and realized that my hesitation to reach back to her was because of my own sore ego.  Let it go, I said to myself.  The real question is not, Should I forgive her and let her back into my life?, it’s, Do I really want a relationship with her, going forward?  I’m pretty sure she’s changed, and grown; and so have I, and I think she probably assumes that about me–yet, I’m scared to find out.  I did eventually reply, so we’ll see where it goes from here.

And then there is the case of my brother’s email.  Yes, that brother.  Yes, the one who has been forgiving and “unforgiving” me for the past 5 years.  Yes, the one with the girlfriend who takes “angry and bitter” to incredible heights.  Inhale, Drunky Drunk Girl.

Exhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale.

I’m not sure I ever really understood making amends–the concept, really, and how to do it right.  I’m not sure I ever really did it right, but, I did it, and sometimes, it backfired.  Frankly, I always had this niggling sense that raking up the past was worse than just letting shit be.  Of course, if I truly wanted that person in my real life, then I would attempt to rekindle a broken relationship; but this almost always did NOT involve apologizing again for my bad behavior while drunk.  In those cases, it was never received well.  I didn’t know how to make up for my bad behavior except to say I was sorry, and to let them know I was sober.  Beyond that, if they refused to accept, then what else could I do?  I just always felt like I left them angrier than if I hadn’t said anything at all!

I think for most of us, we focus on the shit we did wrong, and who has NOT forgiven us, in our amends; instead of focusing on the other person’s perspective, how they feel, how we’ve affected them, and their choice in the matter.  That’s a lesson for the ages, though, and for everyone–how to let go of your ego when you say you’re sorry.  I have to say, the hardest lesson, by far, I’ve had to learn in both sobriety, and be extension, normal life is the one where you tell yourself “it doesn’t matter what they think of me” and actually believe it.  Actually embrace it.  Actually, move on, if you have to.  And do it all in empathy, with nothing but good will and honest compassion for their choice, even if that choice is to stay angry.

Oof, our egos do not like that.  Which is ironic, because most of the time, we’re not fighting for the relationships, we’re fighting for our ego–we want to know that we are loved, that we’ve been given a chance at redemption, that we are worthy of that.  If I’m honest, most of the relationships I tried to amend–make up for my wrongdoing–I actually didn’t want to continue to have, after getting sober.  There were huge flaws, cracks, and those cracks sucked me into them when I got drunk–hence, the raging blackouts directed at people who were, in reality, frenemies.  (My problem was, having so many frenemies in the first place.)

So it goes with my brother.  He’s forgiven me and then taken it back numerous times these past 5 years, and he just did it again.  (And, via an unexpected email, which, by the way, I consider a form of bullying.)  I see things so much more clearly now, and suffice it to say, I know that there is nothing I can or need to do at this point.  The “incident” where I went bat-shit crazy on their asses while blacked out happened over 5 years ago, and in that time, we’ve all gone back and forth with the mean notes and apologies, and more mean notes and more apologies.  This time, I got another email saying he has not forgiven me–and will not consider it–until I apologize to his girlfriend.

Um, OK.  At first I thought maybe he wrote it while blacked out (or she did; she’s drunk to blackout and sent me mean notes–oh, the irony), because it certainly exudes some kind of delusion, some kind of altered reality.  It sounds like HER words written in his hand, which it could very well be.  She’s the one who refused every single attempt at my amends, and viciously so, not him.

I started shaking when I got it, which I hate to admit; so I immediately called my mom.  I didn’t know what else to do.  She gave me some perspective–there is nothing I need to do; this is their drama, don’t get dragged into it again; it’s time for you to move on, because sometimes in life, we don’t get closure–and I’m grateful for that, and for her.  (And, it makes me remember how wise and present and loving my mom has always been, through all of our and her own struggles–I need to see her more!?)

I wanted to reply with a litany of “I did this, see this email; she sent that, see this crazy Facebook message or that bizarro email sent from your email account, btw;” but, I didn’t.  And, I see now that I should not.  Because, there is one thing that I know for sure to be true in this situation:  what they think of me is none of my business.  I cannot change what they choose to believe, and how they choose to feel, and how they choose to behave.  NO email in the world is going to change those things, because those things are theirs.  It’s not my business what other people think of me.  End of story.

Exhale.

It’s not easy seeing the forest through the trees when it comes to amends, and forgiveness–and, what it all means on a practical level.  For me, a true people-pleaser, it’s hard to not be forgiven!  And, as a persistent-as-fuck person, it’s really hard for me to stop trying (remember:  I want to win!).  Once I remove my ego from the equation,  though, I am left asking myself:  Do you actually want a relationship with that person, if they do forgive me?  Often the answer is, no.  I have good relationships now, with people who are real, and honor my sober person.  The thing is, I’ve always tried to maintain friendships over the years, even in spite of the recognition that we’ve both changed…beyond the point of no return, so to speak.  It’ just something I’ve done, been brought up to do.  Maybe it’s time to try something new.

Five years later, and I’m still learning fundamental lessons about sobriety!  Believe me, friends, it gets better, and the work gets harder, but the well never runs dry.  This is our path, as we get sober:  toward truth, toward enlightenment, toward peace.  As my fiance and I were sitting on the beach the other day, and as I was just floating in the water, embracing the big blue; as we drove home over the hill and came into our ridiculous view of rolling green hills and ocean to horizon–it dawned on me that my brother does not have peace.  Whether he’s angry, or jealous, or just unwilling to address negative emotions, he does not have peace.

I have peace.  Some of the time.  I might not have closure, and I might not have HIM in my life, but I have peace.  And, I am grateful for that.  In fact, I have the sense that not only is it the cornerstone of my sobriety, and sober life–it’s probably the most I can hope for…to just be, in peace.

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