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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…

Making assumptions

9 Jun

12:20 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onward, toward clarity and optimism, I hope.

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

Where’d DDG go? I’m right here, Elliott

9 Mar

11:44 am

And like Elliott, it’s been so long since I checked in on him, he grew up into a man!

Hi, guys.  WOW, I don’t think I’ve chased around this much in my life since, well, I worked a full-time job back in my cold, big-city days.  And even then, I managed to ALSO live a double life, drinking away four, five, six hours every night.  HOW on EARTH did I work, eat, work out, AND drink five hours every night–and still maintain a handful of friendships, an often-bordering-on-broken romantic relationship, and make phone calls to the family every Sunday night?

In case you haven’t been reading my oh-so-interesting posts about my struggle with what I’m just calling “hot flushes” (as opposed to hot flashes), let me quickly say:  I have been having this “thing” that happens to me pretty much constantly, wherein, my skin feels very hot all over, but I also shiver.  And I don’t sweat.  And this lasts for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months at a time.  I chalked it up to perimenopausal weirdness that I can’t do much about.  However, when I went to a gynecologist, she was like, that doesn’t sound like hot flashes; and then, when I went to an endocrinologist, she was like, the symptoms you’re describing, I’ve only seen in ONE other patient in my entire career, and, your blood tests say that you’re body is hypothyroid but your symptoms are hyperthyroid (figures).  So, there might be more going on here than I originally thought.

Anyway, this is all just to say, the way I’ve been dealing with this is by taking a hot/cold shower at night, which means, over about 20 to 30 minutes in the shower, I change the temperature of the water from hot to cold, eventually ending with cold when my skin can tolerate it; somehow, it like, “resets” my body’s interpretation of its temperature.  SO WEIRD, I know.

As I was methodically going through my nighttime routine last night, I was like, huh, what would my nights be like now, if I was still drinking until 2 or 3 or 4 am?  I mean, would I still be drinking?  I would definitely not be taking care of myself the way I have to each and every night these days, just to be able to get to sleep; like, maybe I would just pass out and avoid feeling the body heat, avoid having to meditate myself down from feeling stressed about it, avoid having to take a series of deep breaths (I have what seems to be related irregular heartbeats, too–doh!)…?  Would I just pass out and avoid it altogether?  Probably not, which means, I’d somehow have to juggle it all.

Which, well, I wouldn’t be juggling it, and my life would be falling down…

And it just made me see how important my sobriety actually is right now, and how grateful I am to be ABLE to care for myself at night (and that doesn’t include forgetting about it all by passing out).

This year, 2019, has just been blowing me over–I will bend, but I will not break, one of my high school teachers used to quip.  And, I guess that could sum up the past three months for me, being bowled over by the seeming-hurricane winds of my neverending to-do list!  It’s all good, though, and I’m glad I’m making it through the days–and the nights.

Since the last time I blogged, I’ve become entrenched in my new job.  I started it about three months ago, and I feel like I haven’t looked up from the page since then.  I have to preface this by saying, it IS a nonprofit, and I DID have some inkling about the workload (large), but, I am constantly reminded that I gave up a job that was pretty cut-and-dry for something that is anything but that.  I will say this:  there are things I like about it, and things I don’t, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

There is one thing that stands out, and that is having to–gasp–speak in public at a work retreat the other week.  If there is anything that causes me anguish, aside from nighttime body heat and insomnia, it’s gearing up to speak in front of a group.  I may have talked about this before on my blog, but when I was in graduate school, I started having panic attacks related to drinking; and then, during one of my seminars, for which we had to give a lot of individual presentations, I suddenly froze up, my heart start hammering in my chest, and I became so anxious that I could barely speak.  One of my generous classmates stared me down, and as we locked eyes, she was able to move me out of that place.  From that point forward–that happened over a decade ago–I have not been able to escape feeling the same intense physical reaction to speaking in front of a group.  Someone recently told me that it sounds like PTSD.

Well, at this work thing, I had to do just that–I have been successful at avoiding it, but really, you can’t avoid it for the rest of your life; there will be times when you have to get up in front of a group of people and talk.  And, of course, all the same things started to happen when my name was called:  yammering heart, whirling mind, the literal inability to breathe such that, I come across as either winded or stuttering when I am actually talking.  But, because I had no choice, I started talking and just went through it.  I apologized a few times, stumbled over my words, was breathless at least twice and had to stop and inhale and apologize again; BUT, I went through it, made it to the end, and by the end of those five minutes, I was at least still talking.  And breathing.

It was good for me to see that I could get through it.  No one is going to die, I thought.  With that new knowledge, I realized, well, if I can get through it by just going through it to the end, sticking it out to the end; then, I should be able to apply that practice to my night heat–I just have to go through my routine, wait to cool down, and wait to fall asleep.  I don’t know why, exactly, but it was just really empowering to see that I COULD get through speaking in public–it was painful, and I will avoid it, but I CAN do it, if I have to–the same way that every night since I started my new routine, I eventually DO cool down, and eventually do fall asleep.

Of course, you can apply this to sobriety!  You CAN get through those nights of horrible cravings, those days of zero-dopamine lack-of-motivation, those months of want and lack and sadness about losing your “everything.”  You can and will get through it if you just keep going.  Just keep not drinking, no matter what and how you feel.  You will make it through to the end.  No one is going to die.  You got this.  (notes to self, literally, in my journal every day, to this day)

Happy 2015!

10 Jan

11:29 am

I just wanted to check in quickly and say, happy new year to all!

Lately, I haven’t been blogging much, mainly because I’m really busy with my freelance writing business. I have to say, 2014 was a fantastic year, and I’m almost a little apprehensive: will 2015 live up to it? My “word” of the year is BUILD. Just continuing to build, and work, and reap the rewards of continued sobriety. There have been so many, and from the talks I’ve had with self and others, this year is looking to be pretty fruitful as well.

Last year I took something like five or six trips–it was a very active, confrontational year. Meaning, I went toward, and worked on, my demons, or, the things that I had to go back to. This year, that doesn’t have to be the case; I’ve circled the wagon and seen inside–not much going on that’s relevant to my present, daily life anymore.

This year, my boyfriend and I are already planning a handful of awesome trips, one of which will be another road trip through the southern part of the US–to see where we want to move to. The freelance writing, after much, much work, has finally started to pay off: not only am I writing almost constantly (because I work almost constantly), but I’m landing better-paying gigs. Hope that keeps up this year. It will keep up if I keep putting the work in, is one thing I’ve always known. You work, and it pays off. Eventually, somehow, somewhere.

Full steam ahead, continuation of the hard work that I put in last year–that’s all I can come up with for 2015. Sobriety is my cornerstone, but…not drinking doesn’t mean all that much, in the end, without accompanying work toward making my life what I want it to be. Meaning, I have a bottle of white in the fridge–haven’t even looked at it beyond using it to make risotto a couple times. BUT, have I felt tired and frustrated and unsure–and happy and joyful, and frankly, free? All the time, yes, yes, yes. Both, and neither, and in between. That’s life. It has nothing to do anymore, for me, with wine, white or red. Life is life; liquid that you put into your body is just that. I pick life to think about and do these days, not “sobriety.” Sobriety, thankfully, is done. It’s there. It’s my building block. But, that doesn’t mean I believe I have to be afraid of returning to the person who was guzzling bottles on a daily basis.

Which is a little bit why I haven’t blogged. But, mainly, it’s because I’ve been busy working and dreaming and planning for what’s to come, not what WAS. And, what isn’t. I guess I can open up some time, one day soon, to ruminate on what isn’t. Not today, though: I have writing to do (ugh), a beach to visit, some kind of kickass meal to make (I really like cooking now), dogs to walk, and “The Killing” to watch. 🙂

Here’s to a productive–and TRULY “happy, joyful, and free” new year. Happy, and joyful, and free is HOW YOU DEFINE IT. And, if you’re at that point, of being able to use those words, and set even just a little meaning to them; you’re well on your way to full, lasting recovery.

Sober and feeling…”life”ly

1 Sep

8:15 pm

I could write a book here, but I won’t. Lately, I haven’t had much patience for media, in general; social media, in particular. That’s mainly because I do it all day long as a journalist–and when I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about how rejuvenating it would be to not have to check email and Facebook and my phone (and the news) ever again. BUT…as a writer, it’s a must, so I’ve learned to do it in moderation and put it away when it starts to make me want to hyperventilate. Too Much Information–time to Turn It Off.

So, I’ve been minimally blogging. Not that stuff hasn’t been going down: job interviews (’nuff said), and my interviews of people for stories that I’ve been working on, and in general, stressing about my income. What else is news? 😉

There has also been lots of dog walks, and runs, and beach swims, and snorkels…and, sort of continuing work on changing my diet (I had help in revising my tastes when I was on my volun-tour vacation, but I digress). I like my new diet, and frankly, I like having lost almost 15 pounds of “sugar” weight. The hard part of keeping it off in the face of mood swings and stress is there, and always will be; but I learned one thing: get out of the sugar-as-treat mentality as soon as you can after getting sober.

I think I’ve managed to get out of my depression after six long weeks of it. Bizarre. I’ve worked and lived as usual, but…it’s been hard. Maybe it wasn’t exactly depression, maybe it was just post-vacation blues. Or, maybe it was realizing that now, I really have to Work. Like, move-and-find-a-real-job work. It may also be related to coming back to a place that simply does not serve some big parts of myself. Or, it could be linked to the chronic pain I still have from the mosquito-borne illness I got while abroad–I read some studies matching this chronic pain to depression. It has been a very weird up-and-down ride since getting home (and I’m used to depression). I’m hoping once I’m working full-time again, and settled into a new “thing”–getting past the hump of just pulling the trigger on one possibility–things will look up.

I’ve wanted to drink a LOT these past few weeks–more than ever, or at least more than I’ve wanted to drink in the past year. I just feel like I have no reward–especially after parsing so much information on a daily basis. I need a break. A real treat, you know? But, I don’t drink. I can’t. I can’t be sure that I won’t immediately again start associating wine with reward, or wine with fixing my state of mind; and I know how simply exhausting this is. So, status quo, just don’t drink, it’s all good.

On that note, apparently my Labor Day weekend is over–I have some reporting and writing to do now!

Hope everyone is plugging away–it is worth it, it so very much is. Sometimes, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. And how much less I think, in general, about things that don’t matter. More on that in another post!

Fuck you, and, I’d rather have ice cream

3 May

8:48 pm

Those were the two thoughts, in that order, that helped me STEP AWAY from the bottles of wine lining the shelves in the “wine aisle” last night, as I gazed at them, pretty much ready to buy.

Fuck you (sort of), to my brother and his girlfriend–who continue to disparage my sobriety. I’ll show you!

I’d rather have ice cream, chocolate chip to be precise. And, honestly, I did. Whenever I think about buying a bottle of wine these days (it’s happened a handful of times; I probably should simply take the option 100 percent off the table, otherwise it’s just going to start fucking with my head), I find that I am somewhat overwhelmed. WHICH one? God, there are so many. White, or red? Cork, or screw top? And, then, this almost-feeling of “wine tired.” You know, that feeling of drinking being more utterly exhausting than fun. Like, I actually almost start to dread it–I feel anxious in my belly–the second I start to truly imagine me drinking a glass, then another, then a third: flushed face (my face turned red a lot when I drank red wine, maybe I was literally allergic?), sour stomach, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a general sense of confusion. Exhausting keeping my thoughts straight, keeping my piss in, keeping my fake interest in the people around me. Exhausting! Hence, I’d just rather have ice cream. Ice cream is better.

I know the first thing is not good, because it just shows how hard it is for me to LET IT FUCKING GO, this resentment. Deep breath, I keep telling myself, imagine them in a good light. Yet, when I know that they are not only still hating on me, but ACTIVELY doing so (I have since blocked BOTH of them on Facebook and email–sad), it makes it hard for me not to go to my unhappy place when I think of them in their unhappy place.

In any case, that was that. And it helped me. I didn’t buy a bottle, and I’m still on track. I know I won’t drink until my 40th, which is in June. And, then…well, I guess I’ve sort of made 500 days my new goal, which happens to fall conveniently (easy to remember) on July 31.

I had a great day. LOTS of physical activity. It’s carnival season down here, and I went to the parade with a friend. The first time I went to the parade (two years ago), I drank three beers really fast and got “beer drunk grumpy.” It was no fun. This year? God, SO happy to be bright-eyed; SO happy to wear my new sundress and be comfortable in my skin; SO happy to feel calm and not dizzy and not tired on the inside and not confused. So happy, period. I know I said that I’m sort of getting sick of relating everything to being sober, but it’s hard not to compare and contrast how I was then, and how I am now. And that, it really is because I am not drinking anymore. Period.

(PS: Last night, I had a dream that I was looking for a bottle of wine. I felt frantic–where the fuck is the wine around here?–and ended up in big store, like Kmart or something. The lights were half off, they were getting ready to close. There was literally NO wine on the shelves, maybe three bottles or so. I felt embarrassed, like, I can’t buy the LAST bottle, that would look desperate! But, I felt desperate. So, I was debating it, and the lights were going out, and then…my DOG shows up, sniffing around my feet, patrolling me. Don’t do it, the universe was saying. Wait, since my dog is here, was my boyfriend in the parking lot? Was he, too, looking for me, trying to prevent me from buying a bottle? Don’t do it. I woke up and was like, Jeez, Universe! OK, I got the memo.)

Top five things about not drinking on a Friday night

26 Apr

8:30 am

I like to make these lists, from time to time, as you may have noticed. And, there are SO many good things about not drinking at Friday night “happy” hour, that’s it’s going to be tough to pick just five.

I’ll preface this by saying, I am sitting on the couch, feeling and hearing the ocean off my deck, at 8:15 am–sure, I’m a bit tired because I didn’t get enough sleep last night, but it is WAY better than being hung over. And, I must say, I would be hung over even after a couple glasses of wine, I know it.

I also must say, I felt ill enough from sitting all day at a training-type event that I simply could not imagine drinking at the happy hour-thingie that someone in the group was planning (jones’ing) for–even if I was still drinking. A LOT of the times when I was living and working in “the city,” I felt so office-sick after my days, I had to come home, hit the gym to sweat/detox; and ONLY THEN was I able/ready to go out and consume my shit-ton of wine. Maybe that was what helped me do it for so long, I had some preemptive metabolic support (shit, I KNEW what I was doing, but I’ll leave that for another post titled, How to prepare and maintain your body for a high-functioning alcoholic lifestyle).

Another thing: I felt SO calm, and SO not tired in the training session. I was a student my entire life, and a good one, but I was either always anxious or always tired. I thought that was “just me.” It wasn’t, it was what I did to me. In high school and college I didn’t drink, but I would only “allow” myself about six hours sleep a night; in college, it was worse, with me struggling to keep up with my pre-med studies, probably getting no more than four hours a night during most of my first two years! In grad school, I was basically either always hung over or exhausted, or both, from staying up all night drinking.

Yesterday was different, and it changed the story I’ve been telling myself all my life about myself as I relate to school: I am not inherently anxious about my abilities. Either by 40 years old, I’ve changed, or, I was simply always tired or anxious because (at least in grad school) I was always and constantly hung over.

It was a great feeling, to be the one in control, finally. If ONLY I had realized just how fucking hard I was making it on myself in grad school–how would my experience have been different had I not boozed it up every single night? If I had turned to yoga to ease my intense anxiety (the program was brutal), instead of making it WORSE by drinking?

Anyway, top five reasons to NOT drink on a Friday night:

1. No hangover on Saturday morning!

2. Feeling freedom, which is ultimately mega-empowering: I was not jones’ing for a drink at 5 o’clock. I was not “looking forward” to it during lunch, or toward the end of the training session. There was not the least bit of “running in circles” in my mind, trying to figure out where and/or IF I would drink that night, how much, with whom, or worrying about “missing out” on some shit if I didn’t go out. NONE. What a blank, wonderfully calm slate it is, a mind that is not thinking about drinking during the day.

3. Being able to work out and de-stress and detox after a long day–for real, and not for fake with a drink. All I wanted to do after this session was work out, sweat, move my body. And, I did. And, drinking–even ONE drink, even in “moderation”–would have prevented that.

4. Staying on track/maintaining momentum–this has to do with not necessarily feeling “guilty” because I drank (I wouldn’t anyway), but this feeling I have had for a while, and that just KEEPS BUILDING the longer I don’t drink on Friday (or any other) night. It’s like, an integrity, a wholeness, a circle, not a fragmented line. Doing my body good. Counting on myself. Never getting stupid, or oversharing, or being indiscrete, or being a dumb fuck. It feels GOOD to have that…long-term thing going. A sense of personal best, or satisfaction, or something. It’s taken so much mental work, but: a feeling of finally being convinced that even one drink is actually NOT better than continued sobriety. Maybe it’s called, preserving grace?

5. Plans are intact–I guess this relates to being not hung over (but that’s more of a physical thing), or to being able to count on myself (but that’s more of a feeling thing). The weekend is here, and my plans are intact, and I still “don’t need” wine. I have everything I need, and I feel free. I have some writing to do, and my part-time job to do, and packing to do (for our mini-vacay on Monday and Tuesday), and all that will get done.

Top five. The pangs still come and go, and I did still (after almost two years) feel a bit…weird, being the “sober” girl at the “happy” hour last night, but…NOT ENOUGH TO GIVE UP MY SOBRIETY, or my Friday night. Not even close.

“Happily ever after”

23 Feb

12:46 pm

And, it’s been a week since I last posted–gah!

First, the good news: I am sober. And, we all know that that three-word sentence holds SO much good. Enough said.

Second, I have my life, and my working limbs, and no cavities, and relatively awesome health. I am calmer and happier than I’ve been in, like, ever. I am sitting at my part-time job right now, which is at the ferry terminal; and while others are too proud to beg, I sure ain’t. (I get paid $10/hour, but all I “have” to do, at this point, is exist and be friendly to strangers who come up and talk to me–done and done!)

All that being said, Jesus Fuck, I wanted to drink last night. I was agitated, and foggy-brained. Not sure which comes first, or if I can actually DO something to prevent this deadly state-of-mind. But, I got through it–thank God(dess). I wrote (pounded; I have no markings left on my “n” and “m” keys, which is curious because there aren’t many swear words that start with these letters) out all my bad feelings into my journal, and about an hour later, I was feeling better. And, this morning? SUPER-glad I didn’t drink. I would have gotten even more foggy-brained, and today, I would have been hungover and I would probably still be wondering who let Satan invent fermented grapes.

I do, however, see a 9-to-5 in my future. I mean, ultimately I can’t seem to grasp exactly how writers can keep up the freelance thing without a full-time (or at least, 3/4-time) job “on the side.” I don’t think many do, for practicality’s sake, but also, for sanity. Stay calm, I tell myself in the morning, and in the evening: you will somehow find the money for next month’s bills, you will somehow muster the energy for yet another pitch…for which story, if assigned, you will make a tenth of what you’re worth–but hey, who’s counting pennies? Yes, I’d be remiss not to admit that this makes my stomach boil, in a way. Two Ivy League degrees–one in the life sciences, no doubt–and I’m working a part-time job for $10 an hour so that I can be able to afford to do journalism? As one colleague of mine put it: journalism, the last “luxury” profession. It’s just…maddening…and, yes, it REALLY makes me want to drink. Like, every second of every day. It’s just another thing, I guess, that I fight against, along with the normal mood swings/cravings that come and go.

But, I can change things, and I have to remember that. And, all these things I’m worrying about, eh, they probably won’t add up to much anyway when the time comes to do the adding. Like, OK, I spent a year of my life not making that much money, living in the middle of the ocean. So? And? All this is to say, tomorrow–in the form of next week or next month or next year–will come, and I likely won’t even remember what I was worried about not having, or losing.

I’ve been feeling somewhat down lately, so forgive if this post screams dragging, or tired, or bothered. Or just UNDERPAID. I also haven’t been feeling well; and, it bothers me, like it would anyone. I mean, Google is the devil digital-incarnate when it comes to figuring out what’s wrong with you. I’ve determined I’m either dying of cervical cancer, or have lupus. Right. Dr. Drunky Drunk Girl and her assistant, Nurse Google. Maybe it’s nothing? The most frustrating thing is not knowing; a close second might be, not having any control either way–to the extent that you can take care of your health, you do, and beyond that, you don’t have that much say in the matter.

Yes, I really wanted to drink last night. I just felt…sad, or something. Sad about it all. Sad that I don’t feel well. Sad that I am pushing a boulder uphill. Like Sisyphus.

Which brings my wandering mind to my brother’s wedding in May. But, of course! You know how people get married and then, for some reason, expect their lives to be radically different somehow because they have a piece of paper that says “married?” Yeah, I never got it either. “Happily ever after”…what? It seems the same with sobriety: there is no happily ever after. You just keep doing life, albeit sober instead of drunk. YES, I handle things better–probably a lot better than I’m giving myself credit for today–but I still get agitated, I still ruminate, I still don’t want to socialize and then end up feeling alone. I still get stressed about work, and I still drag my feet when it comes to making decisions about pretty much everything important. I still feel depressed, or, slightly down a lot of the time. (Thinking of myself as Sisyphus is probably something I should stop doing if I want to not feel slightly down a lot of time, methinks.)

As my year approaches (in three weeks), I am definitely wondering about all this navel-gazing that Getting Sober brings (instead of simply quitting drinking, or cutting back). Do NOT get me wrong: I SO don’t miss being hung over, and doing and saying horrible things while drunk. Duh. However, I have to admit, I do miss the “fun” me; and, honestly, the sober me is well, sobering. And, she’s beginning to be quite a downer. I think back longingly to my late 20s-self–where is she? I miss that girl.

I know what I have now, though–who I am–is stronger, and more settled, and more emotionally adept at handling life. I know that I’m a much improved version of myself. Yet, I miss something…and I’m not sure if it’s related to me getting older, me getting sober, me not really feeling stimulated in my life down here, or what. Puzzles; it’s a good thing I have the patience for them.

Anyway, signing off for now. Chittering insects (my mind, reference to the closed captioning on ‘The Walking Dead,” anyone?). Hope everyone is doing OK. I, for one, have about 10 blog posts that I started and have yet to share. This week!

Oh, and thank you for letting me vent! I feel so much better. Smiling. You guys rock. And I don’t care who says what, even IF I don’t know what you look like and have never heard your voices (except for Belle), I can’t imagine having come this far without you. 🙂

Sunday, blarg-y Sunday

9 Feb

1:39 pm

Remember the days when white wine was your “cure” for being sick? Hahaha. Um, I DO. And, truth be told, the acid in white wine can work as an antimicrobial–the problem for me always became, one glass turned into the whole box, and then the sugars (not to mention my immune system being completely compromised by the alcohol) would go to work making me feel much, much worse “down there.”

Anyway, I think of this today as I continue to battle some “flu thing” I’ve had for about two weeks, going on three. I get minor “stomach things” fairly regularly (I blame it on all those years fucking with my gut microbes as a binge eater, and then, a binge drinker), but I just roll with it. However, this bugger has been around for almost three weeks. The usual: nausea, bloating, stomach cramps, headache, sometimes fever, and a few times, hot flashes. (No, I’m not going through menopause…at least I don’t think so!)

The more online research I do, the more I think I might have something from our water. We drink cistern water down here, and I can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t have all sorts of possible infectious agents, especially water-borne parasites. I should probably go and get tested.

I just downed a glass of juice with 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, per something I found on the good old interwebs about ACV being good for a lot of shit. I’ve used it on warts, actually, and that stuff BURNS your skin right off! Leaves scars, too. Yet…I’ll try anything once, and what harm could it do? An alternative is eating crushed garlic (which is supposed to be a natural anti-bug remedy), but raw garlic by itself makes my stomach burn, so that’s out.

Which brings me back to my use of white wine back in the day. And how, I actually heard myself think (rationalize) a minute before I drank the ACV juice, Damn it, I can’t even use white wine the fix my stomach–fucking sobriety, what bullshit. And then, as I took one swig of the ACV mixture and felt it tingle on the way down–that shit is strong, and a DEFINITE alternative to let’s just say, alcohol–I was like, Um, there are alternatives to drinking. There are ALWAYS alternatives to drinking. There are so many other ways to solve your problems than drinking that it’s almost funny (in a not “ha ha” way) that we get stuck, when we’re active, in this thought pattern that alcohol is the only way. It is not. We just have trouble learning how to do things differently, how to actually sit back and consider other possible solutions to our problems. This comes in time, and is coming in time for me. My brain is re-learning how to learn, how to learn how to do things differently.

I’ll keep you posted on how the ACV, etc. pans out. I should probably get tested for the two common water parasites, but…eh, it costs money, which I don’t have, and it’s a hassle, and, I read that the cures for those bugs don’t necessarily work, and also, that these things if not severe (is three weeks severe?) resolve on their own.

Sunday, blarg-y Sunday.

Tonight I won’t drink because…

28 Oct

8:49 pm

I don’t want to feel drunk, or sick to my stomach. Or dizzy. I don’t want to feel dizzy, like my head is coming unglued, my brain unzipped, my thoughts not forming or falling apart as they form.

I don’t want to feel hung over tomorrow and ruin the day. Or the next two days. Or the rest of the week. I could really do without feeling like death, having a panic attack, and being barely able to function mentally and emotionally for the next several days, yes. I don’t want to be hung over, ever, EVER again.

I don’t have the money, if I’m honest, to waste on wine.

I will piss out the wine almost as fast as I drink it, along with all my nutrients (because I am, actually, eating now). But not before the wine soaks every organ in my body, metabolizes into a carcinogenic chemical, and turns my urinary tract into an acidic hell. No, no. I don’t have much say over the miracle of my physiology, but at least I can put gas in gas, and oil in oil, and make sure to not mix the two. Yes, I get the magnitude of this simple choice now, this choice of GOOD fuel over, well, dirty oil.

I don’t want to cry, or weep. About old things. Sad things. Things I’ve done. Things that are not what I’ve got going on now, what I’m doing now, who I am now, what I’m working toward now.

I have work to do. And I will have work to do tomorrow. And, I actually want to work instead of avoiding it by drinking and making it impossible to even try.

I don’t want to call people, like an ex, or my brother who hasn’t forgiven me for freaking out on him two years ago, and say things that they don’t deserve to hear.

I don’t want to be emotional. I want to be cold, precise, and sharp. Empty, even.

I don’t want to yell at people, for no reason, or every reason. I don’t have the energy to waste, and even if I did, I wouldn’t want to spend it on this.

I want what I have now, which is a certain calm, a deep well that doesn’t move at night, that keeps me in its grasp–finally.

I want to be responsible, boring even. I don’t need the drama, the attention, the diversion; I have a goal, a purpose, which is, well, being sober and then, working on allowing everything else to happen.

I like wearing my “mom” jeans, OK?

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