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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…

Another day picking up trash

26 May

7:47 pm

Another afternoon of picking up trash–I filled three more 13-gallon bags. UGH. I just do not get it; I mean, this place is kind of known for being “dirty,” but I had NO IDEA just how true that is until I spent time picking up trash!?

I was so angry after my 2.5 hours today, and I still am. Kind of feeling defeated. It makes me want to leave; to move. (Then, I think of the bush, the animals who live there, and my obligation is to them; they care for me, help me maintain my sanity; I really owe it to them.) It makes me NOT want to go to the beaches just because, ugh, who KNOWS what people have let leach into the water! I wonder, why is it OK for some people to “shit where they eat?” Why? How?

I have to let it go, but it is hard to do; every single person who drove by me today–save for two cars; one of them offered to take the two bags I had collected to the compactor for me–well, they just drove by. Just drive on by, maybe this plastic will decompose 6,000 years from now, I mumbled; I swore up at someone’s house; I glared at the dude on the side of the hill who always eats there and then, throws his trash down (I had JUST finished picking up after him–granted, I think he has some sort of mental illness). Not good, not good; not very gracious. Probably shouldn’t do this if I am not in a happier mood, right?

(I also walked down to a local beach, where we used to take our dogs, and saw a fresh pile of trash, right next to the water, from over the holiday weekend–SURE, people, it’s definitely OK to just leave your garbage on the beach after a day of partying; especially since people and dogs like to go to this beach because it is hidden and usually pretty clean!)

As cars sped past me, one after another, I was starting to feel like a character in a dystopian future, deserted, fending for myself after some sort of natural disaster that has ruined Earth, dust covering my face and mouth, collecting whatever odd bits of detritus there remains, maybe to eat, maybe to make things I need. Well, if I ever end up here after a nuclear fallout, I will definitely have a lot of garbage to sustain me for a while. Ugh!?

It’s just so…in opposition to the beauty of this place; then again, it has always been this way here–I think I’m just seeing it with open eyes, an open mind. I am seeing it for what it is, a beautiful dump that is abused and used by people who live here, people who visit, people. I don’t know why I feel so disgusted; I have been living here for five years and managed to walk on by the trash for all that time myself. Maybe it’s just gotten worse since we went away for those two years and came back? Maybe, actually.

Anyhoo, I am going to let it go and move on. I guess I’m glad that it still matters to me, that I still care; I could just be like, eh, whatever. That, along with the 12 bags of trash off the side of the road, is a definite positive outcome to all this! (hoping I don’t have nasty dreams of playing with trash tonight, though…)

Quarantine things/doing nothing

22 Apr

3:55 pm

Well, I’m not necessarily in quarantine, but, I am still social distancing to the point of feeling like I’m self-isolating.

Our dog continues to have trouble walking at all; she hasn’t gone on a walk since Saturday, so, that is not good.  After re-reading my journal (I keep a pretty detailed one), I remembered that she had a hard time on her walks last week, more difficult than usual.  She was sort of stiffening up to the point of being unable to move forward or turn on her heel, and she didn’t want to go as far as she has been going lately.

On Sunday, she had her big crisis–panting like crazy, her front and back legs seemingly seizing up as she tried to walk from doorframe to bed–and since then, she’s been basically sleeping all day.  She’s managed to get up and down, and stumble a bit outside to pee, but otherwise, she seems a bit worn out, defeated, frustrated, done.  I made an appointment with the vet for Friday; I have no intention of putting her to sleep on Friday–I guess she still has time, albeit, painful time–but, what will be, will be.  I am angry, is all:  I hate seeing her in this much pain.  She has always been such a happy, grateful dog, and to see her so tired and defeated is heartbreaking.

On a different note, I trolled Indeed this morning, and I actually found two jobs that I “should” apply for, in that, I have a good chance of being at least flagged (they are both jobs with friends–one would be working with an OLD friend from college, the other would be working with a former boss).  Most often, though, by the time they are listed on sites like Indeed, an internal candidate has already been selected and the company is just posting for due diligence reasons.  You never know, though.

The thing is, while I AM grateful for the nonprofit job I’ve had for the past oh, year-plus, things are SO uncertain right now that I don’t actually believe I’ll get my job back after furlough.  And, to be perfectly honest, I am OK with that.  I just have to get on the job search sooner rather than later–money doesn’t grow on (palm) trees, and even though I have savings, those were HARD-won after paying off my graduate school loans and spending years making peanuts as a freelance science writer and journalist.  As it stands, I’m going to be extremely grateful to not burn through my savings by the time this COVID-19 stuff is over.

I don’t know, I am just chillin’ today.  My social media aversion is still going strong; I haven’t logged into Facebook for an entire week, but, I quickly jumped on LinkedIn this morning out of necessity.  Today, I want to go for a walk and bake a cake (I found this yellow cake recipe that makes something actually edible in the yellow-cake-from-scratch department!); we were supposed to hit the beach today, but, it’s getting late, soooo…I think I might just sit here for a few minutes and do nothing.

Feels good.  It really does just feel…better than good to just.  Do.  Nothing.

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.

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.

Who said you can’t go home again?

23 Nov

3:47 pm

I am not sure where my brain is, but it didn’t seem to make it from the check-in counter to the airplane.  Wow, can someone say, brain dead?  Brain fog?  I have literally gone home again, and it’s like, I’ve gone through a wormhole and don’t know if I’m eight years younger or 800 years in the future, talking back to my present-day self in an alien tongue (or maybe through code, like in one of my fave movies, Interstellar).

(Just a brief recap:  I moved to, we’ll just call it ‘the island’, in 2012, after a few months-long visits; during those visits, I fell in love, decided to get sober, and then spent the next five years, until the end of 2017, living and working and loving and being sober in this magical place.  We decided it was time to leave around the end of 2017, early 2018, and since then, lived in two places on the mainland.  We never felt at home after we left, so, when the stars aligned–our jobs worked out, our old house came back up for rent–we decided to move back.  That happened this week, two days ago, actually!)

Wow.

So, I turned off all my computers on Tuesday afternoon after my work day, and I haven’t turned one on until right now.  Yes, I have had my phone, and yes, I do “take notes on the day,” but in terms of processing my journey, nada.  And, y’all know that if I haven’t written about it, it didn’t happen (haha).  And, it’s been brewing to the point where, I was just angry last night–at the gods for making my dog have osteoarthritis, at myself for not being able to snap the eff out of it–so, here I am, starting to process the journey.  And, wow, it’s sort of been a trip.  Hopefully, the lessons I’ve been trying to practice over and over these past two years–living in the moment and letting go of the past–will serve me well.

To sum it up, we packed up our apartment and loaded a bunch of stuff into plastic containers, which my boo drove to a warehouse to be shipped (on the ocean!) on a palette; then, we cleared out, drove our car with luggage and dog to a port, where we dropped the car to be shipped (on the ocean!) via a car container (I think the cars are put into containers), then drove to our hotel, where we stayed the night so we could get up early for our flight the next day.  While our dog lived to tell the tale, I don’t think we’ll ever fly her again.  She is somewhere around 12 years old and seems to have gone from bad to worse in terms of mobility just in the past week.  It has become so painful to watch her try to walk, to struggle at night panting, to seem to be utterly exhausted.  She made the trip and the flight (we had to carry her through the airport), but by the time she stepped back into her old home, I’m not sure if she was glad to be home or just glad to be still, on a bed, not moving anymore.

Which is fine, because I have been a bit blown away.  Like, this house is literally the house we lived in for five/six years here; this is the only place I’ve lived on island.  And, it’s the house where it ALL began and happened and transpired:  I got sober here, I fell in love here, I acquired dogs to love and care for again here, I committed to a freelance blogging and writing career here (all the early DDG posts, I wrote right here); I recovered here, in this house, in this ‘hood.  Oh, and don’t forget, we survived and recovered from the twin cat-5 hurricanes, Irma and Maria, right here, in this very ‘hood.

I don’t quite know yet what to think or feel except, the view is still amazing, the people are still amazing, the island bush (an assortment of green shrubbery that protects the island, secures privacy, creates that magical sense of being hidden/tucked away on an island) is still amazing.  It’s all still here, almost exactly like we left it, in fact–our furniture (we sold our entire household to our landlady, who rented it furnished in our absence), our neighbors/family (they even kept our spices for us for these past 22 months), the water and sun and plants and trees and rocks and jungle critters that nourished us for all those years.

What isn’t here is a young dog.  What isn’t here is the younger version of me, the one who was BLOWN away by the newness of it all, as a newbie eight years ago.  I mean, it’s all so emotionally charged for me because I moved here and let go of EVERYTHING I was doing and embraced a brand new life and lifestyle–I got sober, I fell in love, I got to have a house and dogs to take care of, I got nature and ocean and this place that was SO the opposite of the competitive urban jungles I had been dwelling in for almost 20 years.  I was 37, so my time here then was also a time of great transition–my friends from those years, we went through the big choices of your late 30s:  getting sober, committing to your partner, having a baby.

I’m 45 now, and much improved–I am recovered (mostly), so don’t need to spend hours, days, weeks, months, YEARS inside my pink cloud/sober bubble.  I can go out and help others get sober, hey!  Back then, it was an unnatural feat to leave the house, let alone do something huge, like write a story and get paid for it, or get a part-time job as a barista.  Now, I’ve gotten my old self back–I have grown and I can’t ungrow, even if that means not necessarily feeling that same sense of excitement and achievement I once felt.  I know I have to let that entire past go–the plus is that I get to cherish, appreciate, mine my past and make something of it…without having to relive the weird and awkward of my early sobriety (even though I miss that time, I really do).

Our dog is probably not here for much longer–I didn’t want to admit it this past year, but, at this point, seeing her struggle to even lift her body up on her back legs…  It’s going to be really painful to let her go, too.  The thing is, our dogs meant SO much to both my boo and myself; they weren’t just strays to rescue, just dogs to care for and walk and have fun beach days with–though, we did all that and more.  We’ll both say, they saved our lives.  And that is not an exaggeration.  Both our dogs were my higher power; they both went through sobriety and recovery with me; they made me the person I am now.

With our other dog, it was too late by the time we got him to America–he was too sick to really enjoy the new place, the “world” off his little island rock that we wanted to show him.  The entire nearly-two years we’ve been away, we’ve kept telling our other dog, you’ll go home again soon, girl, you’ll be home soon.  Now, she is home, but…I think it might be a little bit too late for her, too (we can’t really take her on any of the walks that she knows and loves–or, at least knew and loved, as I’m not sure how dogs’ memories really work).

And then there’s me.  And my boo.  We’re not the same, and we have had our ups and downs these past two years.  The truth is, we’ve both become bigger and better humans–and that is how it should be.  I don’t want to roll back our evolution as people, of course not; what I miss is the naivity of even just a few years ago.  We had no idea what to expect; I feel like I’ve aged a decade at least in these past two years.

I also have to admit that I am probably never going to recover that sense of awe, of newness, here; and, I have to admit that I sort of mourn for that; I grieve, still, for the girl I once was…while also feeling relieved that I am no longer in that place of extreme sensitivity and vulnerability.  So weird, and so conflicted.

I’m not sure how I’m going to fare here, socially–I am hoping for the best, or at least, better than my first whirl.  When I lived here before, I came as an active alcoholic, so, not only did it takes years to become social, but I felt like my experience had become defined by who I was before and while getting sober.  At least now, I can leave all that angst and struggle and baggage behind, and approach my life here as a “normal” person…  I mean, I do feel a LOT more confident and social and able to be social and to form and nurture relationships now than I did then.  The question is, will I want to or will I fall back into old habits?

Eh, it’s all good, really.  Aside from our dog, things are already going to be smoother (we both have friends already, we both have secure jobs that pay well, um, I am already sober!).  So, what I say to my overactive mind is, let it work out, let it transpire, and think the thoughts but let them go.  Let them ooze out like pus so your brain can heal and start working again.  🙂

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!)

Getting all Marie Kondo on this isht

17 Feb

1:03 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do what you want, and do it now

24 Sep

10:53 pm

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted–per usual; I have never been so busy in my entire life, it seems, with work!  BUT, I wanted to get this quick one in because well, it can’t wait:

Someone in my family unexpectedly, and rather unceremoniously, DIED this morning, and it was quite shocking!?  It IS quite shocking.  I mean, one minute you’re doing something in the back yard, the next minute, you’re dead.

Your big, huge, amazing life–the one that you spent countless hours trying to live, to not live, to outsmart, to hack, to tweak, to overhaul, to fill and fill and fill–is gone.  In an instant.  And no one really cares that much; no one outside the people who knew him, or you, or her.  (I mentioned it on a work call, because I was a bit blown away, and my colleagues were like, Ohhh, I’m sorry; and by the next split second, they were laughing about something, and we had all moved on.  The momentous event–the most important event of your life, I might say–of his death was left behind, dissolved in memory even as my mouth was still hot from breathing it.)

What did I conclude, then, today, as I felt alternately sad, angry, and well, selfishly pained for my own self, imagining a similar loss that will one day happen to me, and how it might rip me to shreds?  Well, one, don’t waste time on bad people.  You and only you get to make the call as to what that means, but to me, it means toxic people, or people who don’t want to help themselves.  Two, do what you want, and do it now.  It’s as simple as that.

Do what you want, and do it now!

I had an interview today that put me further than ever on what I think I want to be my new path–a career change into the nonprofit world.  Pretty happy about that, actually.  And, we done gave our notice weeks ago, so we’re definitely packing up a trailer of stuff and towing it to our next home in November–a place that we have yet to determine, but will probably have things like water, and trees, blue and green…and humidity, sweet Jesus, humidity!?

Can we go home again?

2 Sep

4:24 pm

It’s strange to feel emotional, like I do right now.  I haven’t really had powerful ups and downs since I quit drinking–over 6 years ago, it was wonderful to realize that it was the wine that was messing with my mood swings, not necessarily an underlying mood disorder (which I probably have, too!).  I’ve had even LESS emotions, in general, since going on the pill a few years ago (to “treat” my first bout of perimenopausal symptoms at the ripe old age of 41).  I’ve gone off it recently (oh, joy; who told me that you’d lose your hair?), and I can tell when things are just weird, as they are today.  Yet…

I’m bothered today, and I feel sad.  I was looking at pictures from just a few years ago, and noticed that I look younger then, and happier!  Is that because I was, or is the dry desert air messing with me?

We have decided to end our short (10 months) tenure in this city that we both can’t really stand–I have to say, I will never live in a place that is this dry ever again; if going off the pill wasn’t enough to kill my curls, spending 10 months in the desert definitely did in what was left of my hair AND my spirit!  Just kidding–sort of!  When it comes to this decision, it’s all good, but we don’t know where we’re going to move to yet!  While that doesn’t stress me out that much–we have some ideas, and I have a job that I can take with me anywhere–moving back to where we came from, which is one of our ideas, sort of does.

If looking at pictures of my old self sends me into my first crying jag in months, if not years; what will moving back to where it all started do?  By “all,” I mean all:  a new place, a new me, a new relationship, a new world view.  Can I move back and be able to appreciate the past while living in the present, and not be overwhelmed by a nostalgic longing for what was?

In recent pics, I look kind of sad, worn.  I have to ask myself, isn’t this a great case for us to go back to where we came from, if all I see now in our pictures is a certain lack of joy?  Yes!  At the same time, if we do move back, will I be able to stop pining for some nostalgic idea I have of what we were?  It’s not that we don’t have what we had then (we do); it’s not that I long to be young again (I don’t consider myself old), or to be in that place, personally (I can’t imagine feeling worse than I did in my early years of sobriety, in a way).  It’s this:  I want the newness of the joy, the fresh sense of a restart.  I mean, of course, I can get that again, but I will always know that in this place lives my past–a past that means a LOT to me, and that evokes a lot of feeling.

I have to remember, though, that I’m different, we’re different, and we’re on much more solid ground than back when we first started living together.  And, frankly, I do want to go back–that lifestyle was and is magical.  It’s just this pesky fear…of…something that I can’t quite name.

To add to that, I’ve also been wrestling with taking a job that I did 15 years ago–yes, crazy as it sounds, if I go back to this job, I will be doing what I was doing 15 years ago, and for the same boss!?  Most of me is an automatic ‘No,’ but the practical side of me says, why would you pass up a job offer like this, especially when you can do it remotely?  I have to decide by Tuesday.

Just a few months ago, it seems the entire world was waiting for us, for our adventure to begin.  Now?  I don’t know if I feel less optimistic or just tired of weighing the pros and cons of big life changes; if it doesn’t work out, nothing’s forever, right?

Still inhaling and exhaling over here; this is a hard time, one of much seeking–maybe even harder than getting sober, since at least then, all I had to do was one thing, not drink!  As I always told myself, and like to tell my closest friends:  the world rewards those who SEEK.  The world rewards those who put in that work, who LOOK for what they might need or want.  I am relying on this bit to get me through what appears to be another few months, maybe longer, of being patient with no decisions made, of being open to going with the flow.

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