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It starts with forgiving yourself

13 Jul

1:35 pm

So, as I was powering–yes, I believe I can use that word today!–up and down the hills here on a HOT and HUMID (af) jog, I started to think about how I got here, to being sober and being able to go jogging after a night of 3.5 hours horrible perimenopause sleep (there was some rage, too).

How did I get here? Simple: I forgave myself. Of course, it wasn’t simple or easy, and I am still working at it, but, that’s the gist of it!

In order for me to be here, now, jogging through this heat–giving myself this gift, not as punishment, but as reward–I had to forgive myself for last night, for my belief that somehow, I caused my insomnia; for getting angry; for all the negative feelings that insomnia leaves you grappling with, the next day. In order for me to be doing this good thing for my body, I had to respect myself, like myself, love myself enough to say, I forgive you and you deserve to be treated kindly.

I truly believe that getting sober–shit, getting through every single hangover–required first and foremost that I forgave myself; I forgave myself not only in spite of hating myself and feeling guilty because I didn’t believe I deserved to be forgiven and to have a better life, but also in spite of almost everyone else not forgiving me, too.

Self-forgiveness, forgiving oneself–it is an act of radical self-love. Getting sober starts with deciding to forgive yourself for the night before, the two or three weeks before, the months, years before. It is necessary, EVEN IF everyone else in your life believes that you don’t deserve forgiveness, thereby reinforcing your doubt and your guilt.

You are allowed to forgive yourself in order to move forward; you HAVE to forgive yourself in order to move forward. Moving forward involves the practical step of quitting drinking–of practicing not drinking when you really want to, because shit WILL go down and you are so tired of shit going down. Moving forward also requires something less tangible, which is the active step of loving yourself enough to say, It’s OK, I still believe in you, to say, I forgive you, and you get to try again today–you got this, and no one, not even YOU, can convince me that you don’t deserve it.

As I was running, I kept thinking that, so many people wouldn’t have forgiven me for the many nights, weeks, months, and years of my drinking; many still haven’t. But, *I* did, and I am glad I did–I believed, in spite of what my mind told (and tells) me, that I deserved it. It is right to forgive yourself, and it is right to love yourself! I wouldn’t be running up and down these hills, doing pretty good at it, I must say, if I didn’t believe I deserved to offer this exercise to my body, mind, and spirit (all of which really needed it today!).

On that note, I continue to prepare for my next interview, which is tomorrow. I had one last week, and I am now moving into what will hopefully be a series of interviews over next few weeks. A friend of mine is worried about finding a job in the time of Covid, and I have to admit, I could let it make me feel anxious, if I let it. I choose to not let it; what will be, will be.

One more thing: we took our doggie swimming the other day, and it totally helped her walking the next day. So, time to incorporate some water therapy into her regimen. Love my girl WAY TOO MUCH! Haha…

More like my dog

8 Jul

1:14 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On dust clouds and mid-life

24 Jun

12:29 pm

So, we live in the vicinity of the Godzilla dust cloud from the Sahara, and um, it is making things almost hilariously apocalyptic. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with, considering the pandemic, the BLM protests/riots, and now, one of the worst dust seasons (it is a seasonal thing) in history! I tried jogging the other day and felt like I just had to stop after two miles, I was so…heavy all over. Yesterday, we went to the beach and I almost fell asleep in my chair; this dust makes me tired, which seems like a really strange reaction to me. Sure, I can feel it in my lungs, a tight burning when I breathe; in my eyes, which burn; it gives me a headache; but, falling-asleep-tired? Stranger things have happened, and at this point, I have become sort of used to taking things as they come, in stride, and moving along.

I thought about whether I wanted to write this post, about my mid-life transition, and I am posting a truncated version of what I wrote yesterday. Yes, I want to share, but eh, not in THAT much detail.

Suffice it to say, I was finally able to follow up with my gynecologist and get all that woman stuff taken care of, including blood work to test my hormone levels. As I suspected–things changed this year, and I sort of knew, somehow, in my body/mind that things had changed–I am now menopausal (versus perimenopausal). At the ripe old age of just-turned-46. Haha. It’s all good, and I knew it was coming early for me. Actually, I feel better than I have in almost two years. My night heat (I guess my version of hot flashes will have been this intense burning up at night along with dry chills) has improved and I don’t have insomnia nearly as often as I used to.

The past two or three months, as the night heat has gotten better, I’ve found myself letting go of caring about making it better or controlling it or just worrying about it. It sucks, but I have found ways to cope (cooling showers, deep breathing–yeah, that really does work). Maybe it’s partly a sense of relief and hope–this shit actually DOES get better. When you’re going through it, and can’t find a damn thing online that matches what you’re experiencing, there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel.

In general, I feel like I care less about everything, am more willing to just let things go, to stop trying to control everything. Maybe it’s the series of events this year that has made me go, you know, you just cannot control everything/anything, and your reaction–and chain reaction to your reaction–is key to staying sane, at least for me (I don’t have clinical depression or anxiety, so I am not talking about people for whom it’s not as easy as “think positive”). I mean, maybe it’s what our move back to the island taught me recently–there is only so much you have control of here, and so much you can care about or try to change. Maybe it’s the changing nature of our friendships; when you “go home again,” they have changed, and you have to change your expectations (otherwise, you’re just going to be irritated all the time by expectations being not met!).

Mabye it’s the coronavirus, these protests, the fact that I was furloughed from my job. I don’t know, but I am holding on less and less to the idea that I have control or even should care–and that has done wonders for my mood! I am focusing more on the life in front of me, on the “now,” mostly because I don’t have a clear view of the past or the future anymore–I am forgetting/letting go of the past, and the future is way too uncertain to make any predictions.

On the “menopause” (in quotes, because there is no rule book) front, I think I’m relieved to have finally gotten some “answers” (my hormone tests came back showing much different readouts than last year). I am no longer in this limbo, in a way, searching for information, for some kind of absolute truth–it does not exist, and frankly, most of the information out there is conflicting. I chose a gynecologist who seems current in her knowledge and is very pro-treatment/hormone therapy. Others might choose to not take hormones. Both are OK.

The maddening search has ended, mainly because I am through the worst of it (I guess?) but also because I just gave up trying to find what I was looking for, which was my experience! I literally found zero information on my version of “hot flashes,” which are that I burn up at night, have dry chills, but as far as I know, have never had the kind of hot flash that you think of when you think of menopause (drenched in sweat, red, panicky) during the day; I have never had that kind of hot flash, actually…unless it was so slight that I didn’t distinguish it from just being hot.

Anyway, the point is that, it’s gotten better, and as it’s gotten better, I’ve started to care less and hold onto EVERYTHING less, to let things roll off me more–in all aspects of my life, it seems.

I went through a period of mourning, years ago, actually, for my fertility, for my youth; I came to the, gasp, “shocking” realization that I am going to age and die, like everyone else! (Actually, I am glad I had to confront this early on, and not wait until my 50s.) The thing that still makes me a bit sad is that I never shared this experience with anyone. For the most part, I kept it to myself. Sure, my boo knows every detail–thank Goddess, he is cool about it all and offered as much advice and support as he could. However, I’ve never told my mom (a different post, but she would just make it worse), rarely talked about it with close girlfriends, never revealed the emotional aspects to my gynecologist (she was too busy and not interested in that angle). No one seemed to care–moreso, I didn’t want to talk about it myself, actually. I just wanted it to pass so that I could move on with my life.

Yet, it was a HUGE part of the past few years and in some ways, all-consuming: What is happening to my body, why am I burning up every night, will I ever feel normal again?

I’m just glad I’m through it, knock wood. Glad my only symptoms are/were mild, relatively speaking. If there is more to come, I can keep on keepin’ on; no one is going to die, as a hilarious coworker of mine used to say in the face of the extreme–and ridiculous–concern over the building of the company’s website pages. Haha.

I have to say, being an active alcoholic for at least a decade has definitely made my tolerance for pain much higher than the average woman’s! I mean, pfft, a little burning up at night, chills, and waking up after four hours is NOTHING compared to being blackout drunk for 12 hours and then hungover for another 48 (and all the mental anguish, the suicidal thinking, that ensues). NOTHING can be worse than that except maybe paranoid delusions or drug-induced psychosis, in my opinion. So, another silver lining to having been a drunk!

On a different note: I am still off social media–since mid-April–and it feels great. It’s really working for me; literally, it’s doing wonders for my sense of calm, peace of mind, ability to focus on what I need to do, which is stay focused on a job search. And, as for our pup, she is still fighting; she doesn’t have much control anymore over her hind legs, but she is a fighter and has a strong will to live. She has always been a happy dog, a dog who loves life; so, when she lets me know that her pain (so to speak; I think she is more numb back there than in pain) is greater than her will to live, then we’ll think about next steps.

Happy week, all! Thanks for reading this post…

Eight years as Drunky Drunk Girl

15 Jun

11:33 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insomnia is a mental illness

8 Jun

11:40 am

And, actually, it IS! According to Medscape:

The DSM-5 defines insomnia as dissatisfaction with sleep quantity or quality, associated with one (or more) of the following symptoms: Difficulty initiating sleep. Difficulty maintaining sleep, characterized by frequent awakenings or problems returning to sleep after awakenings. Early-morning awakening with inability to return to sleep.

What I mean, however, is that insomnia causes mental illness (and that is part of its definition, too, in the DSM). For me, personally, that means anxiety, depression, and relatively speaking, “suicidal” thinking (i.e., what’s the point, everything sucks). I had one of my nights the night before last, and it took almost the entire day for me to rebound, to feel like myself again–to come out of the depths and to be able to think positively.

Honestly, it feels WAY too much like a night of blackout drinking and the next-day hangover from blackout drinking: you’re in and out of sleep, you’re having nightmares, you’re angry–oh, boy, does insomnia make me irrationally angry–and you’re delusional. It truly is horrifying, doubly so because it is like a replay of one of the MILLIONS of blackout-drunk/next-day hangovers I’ve had over the course of my drinking career (which gratefully ended when I started this blog eight years ago). It really does feel like I’m hungover the next day, too: intense anxiety, forcing myself to get out of bed, depression, this sense of darkness around my world and goals, the inability to think clearly, the list goes on and on.

Usually, I experience nights of insomnia caused by perimenopause–sometimes, I can’t fall asleep because I am burning up or otherwise wired wide awake; usually, I wake up after three or four hours sleep and can’t fall back to sleep. This time, however, it was because my stomach was cramping all night long (I have been toying with going on the keto diet; however, I am definitely crossing eggroll-in-a-bowl off my list of things that I can eat–LOL). I had some crazy nightmares, too: one was, the brother who wrote me off (after a bad blackout verbal assault!) was attacked by Trump supporters; the other was, our house, with floor-to ceiling windows looking out onto the ocean, was being flooded by HUGE waves that we could see come crashing down on our roof…and inside was a friend who ghosted me in 2017 (she just stopped emailing and texting, after 11 years of friendship, and I have never learned why). God, it was a dark night!

The next day, yesterday, I gave myself what turned out to be a gift: I went to our local Humane Society and spent the morning walking dogs! It felt really good to get out of my head, outside myself, and just help others, even if those others were fur-balls! Later in the evening, I went alone to our closest beach and took a sunset soak. It gave me the chance to remember how many times volunteering my time, helping others, actually saved me from myself. Getting outside myself has been what has saved me more than once from depression, anxiety, and everything that comes with too much self-focus.

It’s Monday, and while the protests are still going on and the COVID is still going on, I have to get on with my life. Which means, rebooting my (professional) writing portfolio and starting to send out ye olde resume. I don’t necessarily believe I won’t get my job back, but…it’s good to consider the possibility that I won’t.

I am eight weeks Facebook-free today, and I feel pretty much great about that. I do miss my actual friends’ posts, and I know that I am missing out on some events and “in the know” activities; however, for the most part, I believe I am not missing anything and I feel better about myself, calmer about the pace and progress of my days. I keep thinking of a few friends especially, wondering how they’re doing; otherwise, most people are simply not on my radar in that way (and, I would venture that most of anyone’s friends on Facebook are not really their friends, per se, people whose lives they’re actually interested in keeping up with). Anyway, I will keep going with it; I might not deactivate as I said I would, but I’ll probably stay off for a while longer, at least. The benefits are just too good!

Our dog is hanging in there; it was a bit sad to walk such fiesty pups at the Humane yesterday and come home to our “old” girl, barely able to hobble around for a few minutes outside. On the bright side, she IS still able to get herself up and down, and she IS still able to walk outside to pee–all good, right? I have come to accept her aging, the process of her aging, a wee bit more with every passing day. It’s part of life; I just wish it wasn’t part of HER life–haha.

Blessings, all, for a good week. Stay strong (or not); either way, you got this.

Yesterday I picked up garbage

23 May

2:04 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost a week off social media…

19 Apr

4:26 pm

…and it’s better than good-ish!  I mean, I am starting to see how hugely beneficial this “break” from Facebook might actually be in terms of my relationships, including with myself.

At first, I felt a sense of relief; as in, ahhh, I don’t have to follow all the news/information; ahhh, I don’t have to “care” about this random person’s feelings or thing they did.  I felt like there was much less noise in my head, and that made way for more space to think about *my* life, this blog, my future employment prospects, i.e., what I want to be when I grow up (after lockdown ends and we all are supposed to go back to normal).

Then, I had a sense of clarity around relationships, accompanied by some sort of resentment and ultimately, mild disappointment.  As it turns out, some of my “friends” on social media are just that–friends only on Facebook.  In real life, I guess we don’t have that much to talk about, and frankly, we probably kind of annoy each other.  I just can’t anymore with passive-aggressive behavior, so I might just let them go–it’s probably for the better if I feel this good!

Past two days, I seem to have “remembered” that I have, um, really old, really good relationships with some people–cousins, old friends from growing up, my family–so, why the HECK have I been chasing the comings and goings of people I barely know?  It’s just crazy-making, and I see it now as such:  I mean, why not focus on your actual, tried-and-true relationships, the ones that have already given back and will continue to do so?  That’s what I’m going to focus on this week when I get bored or restless wondering where all my “friends” have gone–reach out to those friends that I have, to those that have already proven to be worthwhile, to be relevant (as in, we have a real history together).

On another note, my furlough is going well; I mean, I have a ton of things I want to do (read my last post), and have just started to get back into reading.  I am supposed to be reading 50 pages a day in this book (it’s over 1,000 pages long, and I just want to get it done!), but I’m already behind on that!  I love taking walks, and of course, I go running outside and do yoga (and sometimes lift weights) indoors.  I mean, life on an island is pretty glorious as far as “lockdown” goes; we’ve got space here, and no one is enforcing any strict orders (except for the beaches; they have been closed the past two weeks, supposedly reopening tomorrow).  We have all this beautiful outside world to explore, and I love it–more than ever, since now it’s truly empty of humanity and I get it all to myself!  (as an introvert, I am dreading when things open back up…and the pressure of having to socialize is put back on us)

On a different note, we woke up this morning to our sweet dog–a chow-shepherd mix–in what I have come to call an “osteoarthritic crisis.”  She’s had a few of these crises, which seem to come on at night, usually around dawn (um, thanks to perimenopause, I am up most of the night with her, to witness when all this takes place–haha).  She pants really, really hard, and kind of paces around, obviously in a lot of pain based on the way her limbs have stiffened even more than they usually have by the end of the day.

This morning, however, she was in a state that I have never seen:  not just panting, but panting SO VERY hard that her tongue was extended to breaking point and was almost purple; she was like, almost seizing/having a seizure, her legs and arms would not move her around no matter how hard she tried.  She finally got to one of her beds and eased herself down to a half-sitting/half-standing posture; and she kept panting, her body shaking with the force of her panting (I thought she was going to have a heart attack, I really did), for like, an hour.

We gave her her morning meds–gabapentin and rimadyl–and on top of that, some old pills that we never give her, save for when she’s in a lot of pain, both a tramadol (a pain reliever) and a trazadone (a sedative that the vet gave us for the flight down, which we never used).  Finally, after much panting, watering, and just sitting next to her with my hand on her side, she settled down, eased down onto the bed, and went to sleep.

I think it’s getting really close to time…  I mean, other dog owners would probably shame us for letting it go on this long–she started to limp badly almost 1.5 years ago–but, it is what it is.  I have never had a dog go through this, and most of the time, she is fine in her mind.  Lately, though, and especially this morning, which scared me, her body is just showing severe signs of “I can’t do this for much longer.”

At least I have time to spend with her now, not having to work.  Today was like a hangover day for her:  those days that were 100% wasted, sleeping off the sobering up, and then, waking up at 5 pm to realize that it was almost dusk, you still felt like shit, and you had just wasted another day (and night before; none of my nights of drinking were ever memorable, if remembered at all).  That’s a dark comparison, but one that I can’t help but make.

It’s almost sunset time here, which means, time to go onto the deck and watch the colors fade from the sky, sinking into the horizon until everything turns to ink, then black.  The stars will appear, first Venus, then the Big Dipper; then, the night will fill out as the evening plods on, and the black will become peppered with a spray of pinpoints of light.  I wonder, how many of those are stars and how many, satellites?  I can never tell which points of light are planets, and I can never pick out but a few constellations.  Every night, though, I go out onto the deck, and look up, and gaze in awe, and in gratitude–most nights, I am burning up and feeling awful along every inch of my skin, BUT, I can still muster gratitude…and hope.  I hope that our girl knows that she is up there, already, one star and many–she is my shining star, my Higher Power; she will light up my night sky forever.  I hope she knows that, or at least knows that mommy is thinking about her when she steps out into the night and looks up.

First day off social media…

13 Apr

6:20 pm

…and, it feels good-ish.  I have decided to not go on as much, and today, so far, I haven’t logged in to either Facebook or LinkedIn at all.  It feels good, for the most part:  I like having more free space in my head (and heart), but I don’t like feeling as if I’m intentionally disconnecting/ed from friends, the news, information, reality.  Sure, I guess I could just turn on the TV news, but…it’s not quite the same.

I’ll get used to it.  Once, a few years ago, I went for ONE WHOLE MONTH–gasp!–without logging in to Facebook.  Back then, I had some things that I really wanted to figure out in my life, some choices to make, and I didn’t want the distraction of Facebook to get in my way.  I can’t remember if I felt all that antsy not being on it every day; I did feel like I was missing out on “what’s happening” in my friends’ “lives,” but, that was three years ago, when friends actually posted about their lives and I actually saw their posts.

Now, it just seems that all I see are news, sponsored ads (gah, I HATE sponsored ads), and, um, the odd post that is both genuine and interesting to regular old people, aka, your “friends.”  I still see the odd “photos from our family trip” once in a while, quite a few baby pics (I don’t get why people are still posting baby pics to Facebook; if I were a parent, I would never do that–maybe I’m just paranoid); I still see “this is what I made for dinner” posts, and I do see interesting shared news here or there.  However, these days, most posts seem highly curated–people don’t share off the cuff, and they are aware that what they share can and will be used (for or) against them.

For me, it’s taking up too much space in my head; just thinking about going on Facebook makes my head spin and gives me a bit of anxiety:  WHAT am I going to encounter today that is going to make me angry or emotionally unstable?  Haha.  Seriously.  It’s like, after I’m done scrolling, I have this feeling of void; like, my ability to think creatively and positively (about what I, myself, am going to do that day) seems subtracted.  And, especially during this COVID-19 quarantine/lockdown period, where days and goals and projects have been sort of turned around, when we really need to cultivate a sense of structure, if we are that kind of person (I am!)–I guess I just need all my time and space to myself, to figure out how to best live my life right now.

I hope everyone is hanging in there.  I am on week 2 of my furlough, and last week was great as I got a lot done.  This week?  Well, I think I’m going to continue to work on my writing, but, that includes starting some new projects–which I have yet to create for myself.  Now that I don’t have to write about my work stuff, I am free to…explore, I guess.  I was talking to my brother last night, and he reminded me that I don’t have to be productive during a pandemic.  I get that; I mean, I would like to figure out what is going to excite me, as a writer, in the next few months or years; but, I’m not going to get crazy about it.

I’d love to um, learn a few languages (haha–not just one, but two) and start on the whole Ancestry.com thing.  Mainly, I’d love to read; guys, I am THE WORST reader.  When I set my mind to it, I can skim-read books in hours.  BUT, I am not one to pick up a book anymore in my free time and read for pleasure–last few years, at least, I’ve just felt that I can’t afford the time to do that, I have all this other stuff to do.  Well, now that I don’t feel that other stuff breathing down my neck, I do want to give myself permission to read more books.  Finally, as we all probably know, there is SO MUCH TELEVISION to watch, it’s unfathomable!

There is one thing that hasn’t changed during this time:  I just don’t drink.  And, I am still utterly grateful for that fact of my life, every hour of every day.  It’s strange how it can be that way, but, every day, almost, I wake up grateful to not be hungover, grateful that I get to do all this stuff that I just rambled on about, grateful that I am here, present, able to see the trees, the forest, and everything in between.  And, I haven’t forgotten that it was my readers who helped me get through all the hard places and dark nights (the night, indeed, can be dark and full of terrors).  And that, I am still in recovery, I will probably never be able to drink again, and I am grateful for those things, too.

Love in the time of…Covid-19

19 Mar

2:31 pm

I had this long post drafted, but, as it goes, I trashed it, held off for a few days, and am starting over.

What I really want to say is, I hope everyone is hanging in there, not letting the fear and paranoia overwhelm, and well, just being OK with being isolated.  See, my preferred way of life is social distancing and sheltering in place, and I’ve been practicing it for years, so…I got it down (haha).  However, for those who don’t, my advice is, take it as it comes, try to connect in virtual ways (this blog was my lifeline when I was first getting sober), and don’t let your bad feelings and thoughts about it all get you down or make you feel less than you are, which is strong and capable and worthy.  You are doing your best; you’re not going to do it right or perfect the first time around (as a perfectionist, it’s a lesson I learn over and over again with every day, every written piece, every trashed blog post…).

I have gone insane more than once over the years, working from home from an island.  On thing I have learned is, you do need a change of scenery, a feeling of having gotten out into the world.  I have learned to go outside when I start feeling trapped and angsty about being cooped up–get out, in any way or form; whether than involves actually meeting up with people or just seeing them in action, both are helpful.  You don’t have to go far either; just far enough out of your home orbit to feel like you’ve tasted the world a bit.  Again, if you get angry or frustrated or start to feel trapped–don’t get down on yourself.  This way of life is not easy, especially for people who actually like human interaction (haha).

So, lately, I’ve been mulling/ruminating on the nature of evolving friendships as you get sober and move into long-term sobriety, and as you age.  Frankly, I feel like I’ve aged two decades over the past two years–we moved off island for those two years, and I entered the symptomatic phase of perimenopause.  GURL, I cannot tell you how the latter has made me re-evaluate my relationships.  If I was questioning the basis of my friendships immediately after getting sober–do I really like this person, or did I connect with him/her mainly because I needed a semblance of friendship or a potential drinking buddy?–I started to really dig deeper years down the line.  NOW?  I am really finding it difficult to have any patience for phony or passive aggressive behavior.  And, I seem to keep running up against that here, with friends that I had and that I am coming home to, literally or figuratively.

Granted, friendships change when you leave home; you can’t go home again is right, but one can hope–especially when it comes to deeper friendships.  I don’t know if it’s paranoia from the Covid, paranoia/anger from the pill depleting my feel-good hormones (or general hormonal imbalance), or if I am just seeing things clearly now, but….I just can’t tolerate phoniness anymore.  Maybe I’m just not willing to buy into it anymore.

That being said, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.  In fact, the bad apples are few and far between in the grand scheme of a lifetime of relationships.  There are good people out there, a lot of them (all of you!).  I like to think of it in terms of “holistic” healthcare practitioners:  There are good yoga teachers and not so good, right?  Good reiki practitioners and the frauds.  Good acupuncturists and the ones who make your limbs tremble.  It’s all a matter of perspective, too–black-and-white thinking never got me anywhere.  And, I can do things to immediately change my state of mind:  Get off Facebook (gah–for real!), practice deep breathing, go outside, and um, just go to bed; remember what I have right now, to be grateful for; remember that it will not last, whatever it is that I am experiencing physically, emotionally, and/or mentally.

I promise to write more, I’ve just been feeling very challenged emotionally and physically lately.  Still, I promise to share more of those challenges, in more frequent posts.

I’m so grateful for this community–keeping me sane for almost eight years and counting…

Practice makes patience

1 Mar

12:55 pm

I know, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted!  I don’t know why, but this year has felt so full, so busy, almost overwhelming.  Good and bad things, both, I guess.

And, well, the challenges continue, is all I can say!  From social anxiety surrounding “you can’t go home again” relationships–ones that seem to have fractured in our absence–to my night heat and insomnia–I see my doctor in a few weeks, so maybe she’ll have a “magic pill”…haha–to our sweet girlfriend goin’ down–our dog of 12 years or so, who has so magestically endured intense osteoarthritic pain, is starting to really show signs of hitting bottom–le sigh.  Sure, I’ve wanted to drink, but it never goes beyond those pangs of desperation.  Not yet, anyway.

I am trying to cultivate more patience this year, but this week has really tested my resolve!  I have had conflicts, let’s just say, with some of my relationships, and I’ve been mulling over just what to do about them in order to somehow resolve that conflict.  It’s been bugging me, just hanging in limbo.  After much thought, I guess I’ve concluded that, in sum, relationships that require too much work just need to be put to the side–maybe not forever, but for now.

It does not take work with my mom, or my boo, or those friends who don’t want anything from you and who are, in a word, OK with being vulnerable.  There are a LOT of people, it seems, who are not OK with being vulnerable, and who are, um, so up in their heads that it’s simply difficult to relate.

I get it, I was there, both before and while I was getting sober; and I wasn’t easy to relate to.  Maybe that’s why I see some of my fractured relationships with such clarity:  I am trying to relate to someone who either does not want to, actually, relate (manipulative or narcissistic people); or to people who are not ready to relate (insecure people).

In any case, I put in some “work” this past week–a few trying phone calls, some dinners where I felt uncomfortable social anxiety–and have come to a few resolutions about some of the trickier ones.  One of those is with this one person who, I feel, has not only led me on, but led a LOT of people on in terms of who she is and her intentions.  I don’t know what either is, her or her intentions, but they are not what I thought (years of sweet, friendly texts, only to be responded to with a cold shoulder in real life, again and again and again).  At first, I took offense; but now, I look outside and see the quiet green hills and soothing blue water; look down at my sweet girl; look at my life and how grateful I am to be here, witnessing it–and I say, let it go, she’s not ready; and, frankly, it’s neither my problem nor worth spending time trying to figure it out.  Essentially, you can’t relate to someone who either simply isn’t into you or, for whatever reason, cannot relate.  And, I can resolve this conflict now by stopping texting her back.  And, I believe with someone as inscrutable as this woman, that’s the best thing to do.

My dad is another story, and the short of it is, he is a bipolar narcissist–who, I’ve noticed, lies a lot (maybe he did before and I just refused to see it). Anyway, we had a conversation last week that once again left me feeling confused, upset, and essentially, used–he is using his kids for a few things these days, for one as sounding boards for said lies, half-truths, and flights of fancy.  If he refuses to get help, then, at a certain point, I get to say, I refuse to engage in this relationship.  I talked to my mom, and she said, be prepared to emotionally block it out when you talk to him; my step-mom says, don’t feel guilty about not calling him back.  Me, I just want to not relate at all.  It’s one of those niggling things that makes me want to drink sometimes.

Another niggler is um, being catcalled by men stopping on the road alongside me as I’m running, and saying, need a ride?  That, along with feeling like, I have no control over my body these days (night heat, insomnia!), sooooo maybe I don’t deserve control, as these men are implying as they drive by, assuming ownership?

ONE more niggler–waaaaaa, I don’t get to drink or smoke weed on the boat trip or at dinners with our friends, but everyone else gets their break; it’s just not fair!–and I just about almost inhaled the shitty white cooking wine that I was staring down in our fridge last night.

On a positive note, the night heat subsided the past 10 days–what a fucking reprieve–and, I am plugging away at my job, heading off on a trip at the end of this week (a fun one–a yoga retreat partly led by an old friend), and going away again in a few more weeks on another trip (a pseudo-fun one–a conference for work).

(On a less positive one, the day is approaching when we are actually going to have to say goodbye to our dog–my best friend; one of the anchors to our first years on island, our past; one of my sober higher powers; the one who taught me how to love myself, how to be fierce, and strong, and steadfast.  My best, best girl.  I know it’s probably not humane to let her shit and piss herself, but…aside from that, she’s fine, she’s fine.  Ugh.  I love her so much, but I will have to let her go, too.)

Most days, I cultivate a LOT of patience; some days (and nights), it gets away from me…  BUT, I will not drink.  Promise.  I cannot drink.  I deserve much more than to drink, no matter if I somehow think that it will make some of this stuff easier.

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