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This is community, not social media

13 Jun

12:44 pm

Hey, all. SO, I have been offline for a few days–it was my birthday yesterday, and it was one of those semi-perfect days that just unfold because you don’t make a bunch of plans and/or don’t put that much pressure on having the “perfect” day. ANYWAY, I ended up going on Facebook for the first time in literally 60 days, and what did I find?

The short answer is, not much! I only got three birthday messages, which might be because at some point, I hid my birthday from my profile (I don’t remember doing that, but apparently I did). I would normally have been bummed about that, because half the fun of Facebook was counting how many happy birthdays or messages you got from your “friends” on your day. I wasn’t bummed, though; I was just sort of like, eh. Aside from that, I really did not miss anything–maybe one event that I would have liked to have gone to, and maybe one or two things that I would have seen if I had been going on regularly these past two months.

What I didn’t miss was the overwhelming amount of not only useless and irrelevant information, but the inability to normally interact with “people” on the platform (normally, as in, what humans have been used to doing and what we are wired to do, which is thoughtfully and intentionally engage in a a social exchange, not a lobbing of comment here, sentiment there).

What I got in return was this realization that I was taking Facebook WAY too seriously–seeing how I never posted regularly, I can’t really imagine (and don’t want to) what it’s like for people who post everything, all the time. For me, it doesn’t mean that much after having been off for 60 days; when I’m on the ‘book, though, it’s like, that, inside there, becomes my world, the platform takes root in me and just sort of owns my mind, forcing me to seek validation from it.

Anyway, last night, I almost immediately found myself scrolling mindlessly again, not really all that interested in the posts, feeling actually more disconnected from people. I liked finding things out, but I didn’t like it enough–or more than I like/love–how clear and calm and FREE I feel when I’m not participating on this platform. It really just reinforced my desire to keep actually living, with intent; reaching out in person; finding out the news from actual people, local news sources, second-hand from my circles of in-real-life friends who are spending hours a day scrolling, mindlessly. I mean, the point here is that, I was mindless in my scrolling, and it was like, I wasn’t even able to engage with my so-called friends (which is maybe the point of social media, is that, you get to do and say whatever you want, in a relative vacuum). It was an exercise in frustration and disappointment.

I do miss “On this day/Memories,” but I have my photos and journal to remind me of my past life/lives, right? I actually miss my groups, but I can always go on every few months to catch up on those. I did miss a few events–someone’s going-away party; a business down here closing–but, eh, in the grand scheme of things, it’s SO worth the sense of clarity in not knowing everything about people in exchange for missing a few parties or events.

I have started blogging more in the past two months, have reconnected with this community, and truly get something out of blogging and reading/commenting on others’ blogs. It is a real exchange, a true sense of community–nourishing and stimulating rather than draining and boring! I am glad to be blogging more as it’s given me a comparison as to how one can connect and build community virtually, in ways that can actually work (for me, anyway). Social media dos not work, and I believe that it’s partly due to the lack of true exchange, a lack of anything but short sound bites (from you) and insincere replies (from others), insincere because no one is all that invested in you, in-real-life, unless you are actually friends (at which point, ya don’t really use Facebook to sustain your friendship, you call and/or hang out!).

Anyhoo, I had a good birthday: we actually went to a restaurant, where the tables were six feet apart, parties were limited to six people, and the servers has to wear masks. I mean, I felt fine, not in any way scared or paranoid. We have only had about 75 positive test cases in our area, which could be because there just haven’t been that many people tested rather than we just didn’t have the community spread that other places had. I will say that my family (living in multiple different US states) are really, truly scared. And, I don’t envy the sense of fear and paranoia that’s sort of infected the mainland alongside the coronavirus. I cannot comment on if that fear has been stoked, but I can say that people here are, in general, used to natural disasters like hurricanes (and the ensuing make-the-best-of-the-chaos-and-keep-living mentality that comes with these events) and therefore, I think, more community-oriented (what’s mine is yours, and vice versa; there were no land-grabbing wars around toilet paper here when the shortage arrived). That being said, it’s just going to take a while for things to go back to normal, but, they will; they very much will, whether we are ready for it or not.

Happy Saturday, all–may it be peace-full…

The deep end

28 May

1:03 pm

I don’t have much time today, so I’m going to dive right in (no pun intended!).

So, as everyone with depression, anxiety, and/or obsessive thought “disorders” knows–at least, intuitively if not consciously–our dark thoughts can intrude on us, control us, and pull us down. They float us toward the deep end, and if we are not careful, they pull us under to a dark, motionless place, a place that is hard to get out of, a place that controls us, a place that traps us. We feel trapped by–and within–our dark thoughts, which may be true (at least for the while that we’re under them, in the deep end).

I don’t know how to explain this any better than with the recent example of the dark place(s) that my picking up trash alone took me; or, talking to both my parents with (relatively) untreated mental health disorders (I have yet to blog about this, but will one day soon). Regarding the former, I just felt pissed off, but almost irrationally so. I mean, yes, there is trash on the side of the road and it sucks that people throw it down, but that does not mean that I necessarily need to get angry about it, think bad things about EVERYONE who lives here, believe that I am defeated and there is no reason to ever go outside again. I don’t need these thoughts, and I don’t need to allow myself to be trapped in this deep end. I can permit myself to let go of, or forget, these thoughts–they are not “real” in the sense that, they are not truth; they are not necessary to think, or to hold onto, in order to find truth in my daily life or to live truthfully.

Same goes for the thoughts I find myself having, uncontrollably, when I talk to either of my parents on the phone. I listen to them, I hear their thought patterns, and I wonder why they have constructed such dark–paranoid, angry, anxious–world views. I think to myself, what you believe, dear parents, how you live your lives, are these really your idea of truth? Yet, I struggle to justify their thoughts and behavior, to try and overlay them on what I would consider a more general construct of reality–most people are not obsessively thinking about doing ONE thing and not doing it for months, years, decades at a time (mom); most people are not setting up businesses on a whim, trying to borrow money against a negative bank balance (dad). I fail to see their realities fitting within the lines of this general construct (which, I admit, is simply based on interacting with many other, different people over the years).

In truth (I believe), I am trying to reason with what is unreasonable–and, that takes my mind to a dark place, a place where thoughts have no doors, no windows, no outlets.

This is a place, I have come to believe, where I do not need to be.

I used to think that I had to think all these thoughts; that these thoughts were supposed to hold court, keep me thinking them until I figured “it” out. I have come to realize that I am either creating an “it” that does not exist (everyone here is a litterbug) or trying to make common sense out of others’ affected or deluded thinking. I do not have to do either! Moreover, I shouldn’t! Not unless I myself can tolerate drowning in the deep end, coming up for air once in a while to glimpse my lighter reality (consciously constructed to be so, over the course of years of getting sober and practicing avoiding the behavioral pitfalls of my own obsessive and/or deluded thinking).

Maybe this post is just crazy-sounding, but honestly, I am beginning to think that all thought might just be a by-product of evolution gone wrong (haha).

I will, one day, write a post about my parents’ mental health; but, I have come to understand that I don’t really know shit (I do know that having a “normal” conversation with either of them is really hard; then again, what is “normal”?). Plus, I never want to talk about other people’s mental health without their express permission and input. Too often, people talk about these things as if they know; mental health “problems” are intricate expressions of the human experience, which comes in infinite forms. Who am I to judge, to talk about someone’s “reality”, especially considering my background and difficulty finding footing in a version of a livable reality of my own?

Anyway, it’s time to go out for a jog since the rain stopped. SO glad we got some rain here, it was getting pretty darn dry!

Our dog is hanging in there; she seems to have had a slight recovery. She can go on walks now, with the help of a sling for her hind end/legs–and most importantly, she WANTS to! I’ve been seeing the puppy in her come out once in a while, which is sweet; she tries to get up and drink water on her own more often than a few weeks ago; and, she regularly wants to go and lay in her spots outside (she loves being outside, always has). I dote on her a LOT, but, I figure, she needs it and um, I need it!

Facebook-free for six weeks and counting. Admittedly, I have kept messenger on my iPad (I do want to receive messages, if people choose to chat via that app versus phone text); and the other day (well, a few times), I clicked on a few Facebook stories and…got sucked in and got annoyed within a matter of a minute or less. SO, for me, it’s better to just stay off it; for reasons that are probably my issue, I just dislike the FOMO and I dislike the feelings that come from FOMO–I am off Facebook because MY mind and heart are much more at peace if I just don’t connect with my “friends” on that platform. I am still considering deactivating after two months, so we’ll see…

You are what you think, or not think

2 May

12:11 pm

I just got done listening to the NPR hourly news broadcast, and it was nothing but reports on death and destruction.

The Morning Edition show is all about coronavirus, each story having its unique, terrible angle.

When I troll through my Apple news feed, the stories bring to life, literally, death, destruction, and in general, a sense of anxiety toward the people, places, and things in this world.

When I go on this blog, I write (and read) posts about life, drinking, sobriety–the underlying constant being struggle, rumination, darkness (albeit, a darkness-turned-light).  I mean, there is this thing called a pandemic, and there is this thing called human nature, the human experience–none of it is easy!  And, there IS light in sobriety (which has been born of dark days, for all of us).  However, I (we?) tend to usually write about the struggle to out-think addiction and mental health disorders so that I (we?) can see and feel and breathe in that light.  One day.

I am just tired of it all, in the best way possible, I guess.  I have spent eight years writing about the darkness–the ruminative thinking that perpetuates the darkness.  WHAT IF…I stopped breeding more darkness by simply stopping the thinking, stopping the writing about it all?  By focusing more on the forest not the trees, on things that are not enveloped in the dark shadows of ego-centric thinking, the twists and turns that bind and trap my mind?

I know this to be true:  while daily journaling helps me process my reality and stay sane (100% true, which is why I can’t quit it), I wonder if I am just giving shape and form to dark thoughts and thought patterns–unnecessarily and to my detriment?  In other words, I am not sure if journaling is healthy–or, if it just makes me more pensive; at the very least, if it just brings to light smoldering pre-thoughts that should really just die there, in the rustling, restless dirt patch of my neurotic mind.

Is writing about it making it worse?  Or, should I continue on, living the whole “the unexamined life is not worth living” thing?

I’d like to somehow move on from this process, but to give it up?  I am not sure how I’d function, for real, without my daily journaling (and, I guess this includes blogging here).  I have been longing for some time for an emptier mind–maybe like a white-walled room, or a beach with no movement on the water–emptier than one that has been purposefully splashed with stark, contrasting colors or toed up to make the water murky with sand.

I don’t know; I have been wondering for years, is this writing about it all the time making it better or worse, and I have to conclude:  only I can make that call, decide to carry on or cancel the show.  And, I have to trust my judgment–and ignore the fear of missing out, or of being forgotten–instead of relying on anyone else’s say in the matter.  No one is going to tell me what to do, so, I have to go with my gut (my gut always comes running back to writing it all down, though).

In the end, this is one of those things that made me drink, made me drink alcoholically; it is, in a way, part of my addiction as much as it is part of who I am and who I have grown up to be.  I have always been overly thoughtful and more than a little self-conscious; it’s good for a writer, but bad for a human.  I guess the answer lies in understanding oneself and finding the balance…

Three weeks off Facebook coming up, and I swear, I do not miss it at all.  I SO do not miss keeping up with my “friends,” which makes me wonder a bit about myself, but mainly, gives me a huge sense of relief and solace that I could so easily just let the whole thing go…  I get my news elsewhere, and eh, I don’t think I necessarily need to reconnect with my professional groups, though, I know I will want to one day soon.  Till then, I am happy in my bubble of not knowing; I think it’s time to focus that energy on myself and my projects and goals (to finally start meditating?  haha).

Ironically, just a post as food for thought (or, shall I say, food for not-thought?)!

Two weeks off social media–do I really exist?

27 Apr

3:55 pm

Well, I’ve been off social media–Facebook specifically–for two whole weeks as of today.  And, I gotta say, I really don’t miss it, at all.  Like, I almost forgot about the entire affair until I ran into someone I knew last night (who I am not FB friends with) and thought, man, I should Facebook friend them.  And, then I thought, oh, wait, I’m NOT ON Facebook!  Haha.

No, for real, I don’t miss it.  Maybe I’ve just gotten lazy in these COVID times, but keeping up with my groups and news feed seems sort of futile–who cares if I miss something, right?  Of course, I am following the news on individual websites, and it’s hard to miss the mainstream news if you turn on your TV, ever.  However, I really couldn’t care less about what I may have missed when it comes to posts in my groups and by my friends.  I meet up with my friends here, of which there are a few–and, that has been totally enough.  I am not craving to know what they’re “doing” on Facebook; I feel like I am literally missing nothing.

That’s a relief!  I thought I would feel like I was missing out–and, frankly, it’s made me wonder about something that was in the back of my mind that this break from Facebook helped to precipitate:  is not sharing about your life on Facebook (or, in real life, too) the same as, not sharing your life?  And, is either necessary to live a good life, however one defines “good”?  Do I truly exist if I don’t share about my life on Facebook, or with anyone in the real world?

I have a roll of photos that only I have seen; I have tons of videos of our dog, but yet, NO ONE but me knows, really, of her life and times.  Is that fair to her, to have no one remember her because I didn’t share?  Am I depriving the world of something (my light, my perspective?) if I never share what I’m doing?  I mean, if I moved to an island and disconnected from everyone, how would my family and friends feel?  And, when I died on that island, would it have been a wasted existence since, except for me, no one else knew anything about it?

Two weeks ago, the thought of stopping sharing posts or photos of my life gave me a bad gut feeling–a feeling of fear, anxiety, dread; of, what will happen TO ME if I stop sharing about my life?  It’s mostly gone now, surprisingly; however, I am 45, an introvert, and sober (as in, I have had years of feeling sort of like, an explorer in the Arctic, totally clear-minded but alone as fuck), so I wonder how strong this fear is for young people, who grew up on social media, whose entire sense of self/personal reality are intertwined with “existing” on social media?

Is the hardest part of leaving Facebook (or Twitter, or Instagram) not really a fear of missing out, but a fear of being forgotten, or, worse, never having existed?  Maybe.  Of course, we can share photos with people in real life, but, this aspect of the entire world being able to know us–a little piece of fame, maybe immortality–is appealing on such a base level.

Anyway, after two weeks, I definitely feel like the noise has stopped.  I am receding into a quiet, perhaps naive, bubble of my small, but real, world; and it’s calming.  I don’t feel overwhelmed by the bumbling thoughts and misperceived slights bouncing around in my head; I don’t feel overdone by the incessant headlines, most of which I can’t read (for lack of time and effort) and can’t do anything about anyway (stories about elephants being abused in Thailand, for instance!).  I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on my actual friends’ lives; we have gotten quickly caught up in person when we have seen each other.

In fact, if I was job searching, writing, or reading (most of which I am doing, but um, not doing all that much of, I have to admit), I would probably be getting a lot done with all the noise gone and focus back!

On another note, our beaches re-opened last week, and this has been a glorious development!  We’ve been a few times; yesterday was a perfect beach day, and it was the first Sunday Funday anyone has had in a long time–it was a good day.

Our dog is hanging in there; the vet told us that there wasn’t much more she could do, however, she thinks our girl still has time.  Every day is a good day with her; every morning is a great morning to see her sweet almond eyes staring up at me, or her skinny back legs running like a horse in her sleep…

We’re just waiting, like everyone, for normalcy to return; and, while I said that as an introvert, I love me some lockdown solitude–even I am longing for things to start their upward swing soon.  It’s getting a little too quiet in here!

Introverts, rejoice (in hiding, of course)

28 Mar

8:53 pm

Well, if no one else is going to say it, I might as well:  as an introvert, I’m kind of loving this social-distancing, sheltering-in-place stuff.  I mean, I haven’t seen any media story cover the COVID-19 pandemic with the angle of, how do introverts feel to “have” to be alone all the time.  It feels like the elephant in the room when I’m talking to people who really know me.  I keep joking about it, like, haha, this is how I usually live, my life hasn’t changed at all, secretly wondering if I was, am, and will be judged for being an introvert (some might say that I am bordering on hermetic these days).

Of course, all the stories zero in on extroverts, or are written from the (more common?) extrovert mindset:  this sucks, to not be able to have human contact, to not be able to get together, to not be able to talk or hug in person.

Um, not if you’re an introvert!  It kind of truly is how I live my life most of the time.  And, a part of me feels slightly scared (is there something terribly wrong with me?) and another part is intrigued (what is it about me, about my own company, that sustains me more than that of others?).  For me, the timing of this pandemic is a relief, considering my days and nights are stressed by work and trying to maintain a sense of sanity and normalcy in the face of my severe perimenopausal night heat.  As an introvert, I find myself thinking, I finally don’t have to make excuses anymore for not wanting to go out or be with other people in a social setting!

I mean, I am used to working from home, but also, spending my time alone and doing a lot of things alone–and preferring it that way!  Even to me, that still sounds bad, but it’s taken me 45 years to not feel the urge to apologize for who I am; it’s probably never going to feel perfectly right, but at least I’m on my way toward being more accepting of myself.

Like, my life is pretty much EXACTLY the same as it was pre-lockdown:  I spend all day home, alone, working, except for the (admittedly relieving–even introverts need connection!) conference calls that I typically almost always conduct via voice (we don’t normally dial in using video); I work out alone; I usually don’t go out to dinner or (gasp!) the bars anymore.  Once in a while, I’ll hang out with a friend or go to the beach with a group, but it’s rare.

Of course, I have my people, those one or two or three people whom I’ve let in, who know me, and with whom I can be myself.  Even still, I need my space and “me” time.  And, by that, I mean, time alone to observe, to process–and, to get the kind of deep, soulful feedback from myself that I need to feel full, whole, good.  I’m not saying I don’t enjoy others’ company; more often than not, though, I prefer my own, maybe because I am overly self-conscious, maybe because I feel like I “get more back” (in terms of what makes me feel grounded and optimistic) from my inner self.

That being said, I totally understand that feeling of being out of control and insane from spending too much time alone!  I’ve been working from home, as a writer, for almost a decade; what I’ve found helps me is this:

  • tracking my time (making to-do lists, writing in a journal);
  • processing the negative thoughts that just start to whir when you’re alone a lot (again, writing in a journal is essential to me getting all that junk down on digital paper, as it were, and letting it go/clearing the way for positive thoughts); and
  • doing things outside my home (and, that could be, doing yoga on the deck instead of in my bedroom, just to see a change of scenery).

It’s not easy, and I feel for people who don’t have significant others, pets–anything to help you feel less up in your head after a long day of being and working alone.  I have hated it at times, but, the alternative is one, not being a writer (I’ve done that, and I’m probably going to do that again–though an introvert, I can swing toward extroversion for extended periods of time as well; a true Gemini!); and two, writing from an office with people around me, which isn’t really different from writing alone at home except there are people around me, talking or distracting me.  I guess the biggest difference is that I don’t have coworkers to chat with, and that can grate on anyone’s nerves, even mine!  Dogs don’t talk back to you (in words, anyway).

And, all that being said, it does suck to not be able to go out and see friends, hug your people, etc. etc. etc.!  But, this, too, shall pass, this, too, shall pass.  (at least we don’t have to worry about keeping stocked with red wine, right?)

Love in the time of…Covid-19

19 Mar

2:31 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cherish the moment

15 Feb

8:18 pm

Lately, I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking, working, analyzing–one day, I keep telling myself, I won’t have to do what I do for a living; one day, I can do something different.  Then, I look at how much it costs to buy a home and think, um, yeah, I better keep my day job, as it were!

Anyway, this morning, I had a really nice moment:

Between the “partly” and “cloudy,” we had a few minutes of sunshine.  It is truly glorious here after a short, light rain:  the water gets caught in all the tropical nooks and crannies, and it makes everything sparkle as the breeze blows.

I took my coffee outside and found a patch of sun and just stood there.  I noticed a HUGEASS spider–we have these crazy-big, black-and-grey, striped spiders down here, and they like to weave their nests in the bush, from branch to branch.  I saw it and just stared.  Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw motion, and it turned out to be this orangey lizard slowly and smoothly swishing its razor-fine tail back and forth in the light.  Next, I fixated on a quiet bee meandering through the air, from one landing spot to a future one, no doubt.  I could hear the near-symphony of sounds, scents, and movement in the air–all enveloped in this quiet calm.  There was no rush, nothing to think about, nothing to analyze.  It is, to me, a heavenly place, the natural world, especially the tropical one.  So much life, and crosstalk, yet complete harmony.

Ahh, I thought.  I’d love to be here one day, a part of this world; no longer analyzing, or trying to remember, or attempting to capture or somehow hold onto this moment.  It’s an illusion, the stress of not holding onto it; there is no need to hold what does not go away, what is constant.  And, in this rare moment this morning, all I wanted to do was have this moment, to observe it, and then, let it go.  And, I did.

It’s been a long year so far, with every day presenting challenges to my motivation and sanity!  However, I am reminded (thankfully, on days like today) of the “real-er” world around me, the one that does not need to be understood or made better or fixed; it never needs to be analyzed; its moments are special, but they are transient and meant to be let go.

I am glad I had a moment like this, this morning, to remember that good things are coming my way; just be here, now.

The power of a sound bath

14 Sep

10:19 pm

I think I mentioned in my last post that I recently spent a week on the west coast of Costa Rica, mainly to do yoga, but also to be alone to process the fact that there are changes and evolutions going on in my life, and there is grief, and I am having a hard time dealing with all that AND keeping everything else in place.  I only spent four days there–two were traveling to get there, and then, the final two days were spent getting home (and, stressing:  I was booked through Miami on the way home, and Hurricane Dorian was just picking up speed that week and it looked like it was going to blow through Florida).  Anyway, my time there was short and I only had four days, but four days was enough to see a transformation.

WhirrWhirrWhirrrrrrrring.  This was the sound of my mind–the sound of my incessant thinking–during the first two days (well, all the time).  I filled those days taking yoga, walking along the beaches (gosh, the Pacific is immense and amazing–and warm!?–down there), eating fish and rice and fruit (my perfect diet, I must say), and going to bed.  Yet, my mind!  Would.  Not.  Stop.  Thinking.  JESUS.  I mean, I could literally hear the whirring sound…like a swarm of mosquitoes, filling my skull to the brim, spinning in one huge loud circle of BUZZ, WHIRR, WHIRRRRRRRRING.

On the evening of the second day, I decided to take a sound bath.  The instructor was fantastic–the resort where I took my classes had some of the best teachers I’ve ever had, actually–and the sound bath was really cool.  I mean, I’ve participated in sound “healing” ceremonies before; and yeah, afterward I do feel calmer and I can remember at least a few interesting visuals that came up during the ceremony; but, I have never felt anything beyond that.  I enjoy them, that’s true, but I’m not sure I would consider them to be healing, per se.

Until I woke up on the third day feeling…quiet.  QUIETED.  Happy.  Calm, clear, optimistic.  Like, the sense of clarity was unmistakably uplifting!  The whirring had stopped.  What the…?  I walked along the beach that morning, noticing that all my confusing, conflicted thoughts and thought tendencies and thought patterns–this mental weight that had been bogging me down for the past two days–had just gone away.  The whirring was gone.  Now, I don’t know if I should credit the sound bath, but…

The following night, my last, I went to my second sound bath–and this time, I listened a bit more closely to what the teacher was saying before he started in on his instruments (I have to admit, during the first class, I was just like, yeah, uh huh, right).  And what he said was:  by utilizing sound waves, sound baths ultimately allow your higher mind to distance itself from your lower mind (the thinking, the judging, the ego mind)–which helps to quiet the lower mind.  I was like, what?  That is literally exactly how I felt; that I had this newfound sense of clarity because the whirring just seemed to have ceased, and my higher mind was now fully present–quiet, not as judgmental, open.  This, in turn, made me feel happier, friendlier to self and others, more willing to have conversations with strangers, more able to take in and enjoy the scenery…

At home now, what this clearer, quieter state of mind has allowed me to do is be more positive, in general, and resist negativity (from my own mind, from others).  I don’t feel like judging people or situations or getting angry; I just want to let it go and continue to vibrate, as it were, at my higher, quieter level.  It’s helped me feel and be more positive toward my relationships, my job, my coworkers; it’s helped me let things roll off my back and maintain a sense of calm happiness.

This feeling was really strong during the first week after I got back; I’m on my second week now, and while I don’t feel as happy and/or quieted, I find myself going back to that place of quiet clarity in my mind.  I mean, even if I no longer presently own that sense of clarity, I can remember I once did and what it felt like–which goes a long way toward cultivating (I guess you could say) that state of mind.

It was definitely worth suspending my disbelief!  Now, I feel like there is hope, there is a place to go, there IS clarity and quiet to be had–it’s just a matter of finding the tools to get there and developing those tools to keep you there.

Being here, and now

23 Jun

10:37 pm

Just a quick post tonight to say, be here, now.

DDG, try to stay in the moment and, be here, in the now.

After a great workout this morning–where I thought of nothing but how nervous my job is making me and that I have GOT to get some Xanax or something to bring along with me to the next team meeting if I’m EVER going to get through the presentation that I’ve been tasked with giving–and a nice evening on the beach; I realized just how hard it has become for me to stay in the moment these days.  If I’m not obsessively checking my work email and making my work to-do lists, I’m checking personal email or scrolling through Facebook and LinkedIn.  I am always thinking about something, or thinking I should be thinking about something; I am forever making plans, or making contingency plans.  It’s starting to feel a bit obsessive.

When I was getting sober, I didn’t feel so wound up.  When I was working at my last job, I didn’t feel so controlling.  I feel like there is a lot riding on me staying focused these days, especially at my new job.  I do have a lot to get done–thing is, I don’t have to do it all perfectly, and I probably could get away with not getting it all done!  I keep telling myself I have nothing to prove, yet, around every corner, I am doing things that scream, Love me!

Lately, I’ve been feeling like if I let one thing go, the entire sweater will come undone, the house will collapse, everyone will find out that I’m really an imposter.  And let’s face it, these days, I’d rather not be writing most of what I have to write as a science writer, sitting on a beach in a meditative state.  I’d MUCH RATHER not be pretending to care about chasing after the rewards of the rat race.  Island life taught me that it’s OK to reject these ideas and it’s even more OK to choose to live a life that does not glorify them.  Yet, I’m in this new life out of choice, so…I had better learn to live in it without having panic attacks!

There MUST be some value in literally refusing to let one’s mind wander.  You know, down that road of distraction via social media, or negative thinking by way of obsessing over events yet to happen.  I’ve been guilty of both of those lately, and I have to believe that forcing myself to think positively–differently, at least, than I have been doing lately–will have some sort of impact on moving my thoughts to a different place and/or new level, to staying in the here and now.

I MISS that me, that girl who somehow, after all her time chasing and competing on the mainland, was able to finally unwind and unplug and learn how to just sit, and breathe, and embrace the rich nothingness of the moment.  These days, I am preoccupied and miss the richness of a lot of my moments.  My goal in the next few weeks is to focus on learning to stay here, now, while also getting my work done; to breathing through my anxiety and thinking beyond it; to remaining at least somewhat of a willing participant in the life I have chosen.

I know it won’t be forever, and I’ll come around to finding a new here and now.  But for now?  Stay in the moment, DDG.  Be here, and now.

The holidays, and my sober advice

23 Dec

10:41 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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