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More like my dog

8 Jul

1:14 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On dust clouds and mid-life

24 Jun

12:29 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy week, all! Thanks for reading this post…

Insomnia is a mental illness

8 Jun

11:40 am

And, actually, it IS! According to Medscape:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

Craving carbs!

1 Feb

6:21 pm

All I want is bread.  And cake.  Chips, bread, cake, all the carbs!?  All.  The.  Carbs.

Yet, I know I can’t do that.  And, I know I’ve been working WAY too hard these past years, literally, to lose a few pounds around my waist–way too hard to let it slip away with a few untimely carb binges.  But, I want.  I want, I want, I want!  Gah!

It’s been about five months since I started on a low-carb diet–well, let’s be honest, a “less carb” diet; an ATTEMPT to eat LESS carbs than I have been eating (at least since I got sober!).  And, by carbs, I mean specifically bread (I’ll allow wheat bread once in a while, but it’s an arbitrary distinction), white pasta, and well, sweets, like actual sweets (cookies, cake, etc.) but also “sweets,” like anything that is a high-carb bomb (juice, fruit, um, pretty much everything that is not a vegetable and/or comes in packaging, it seems).

UGH.  It is making me cray cray, this CRAVING for bread, carbs, all the carbs!?  Bread and butter–YUM.  And, it seems, the more I try not to eat carbs–and it’s been five months of intentional cutting back–the deeper the craving gets.  Last night, I gave in and ate pita bread and white rice and like, four freaking oatmeal raisin cookies (and, of course, the topping to the rice, which was homemade chana masala–good stuff).  Only to feel like a wobbling, dizzy baloon before going to bed and well, the same after waking!  And, today, it’s happening again:  I cannot stop eating all the things, especially chips.  I got the yeast out and was trying to decide between making naan or regular white bread when I was like, gurl, what are you doing?

The reason I started on this whole low-carb thing was because, last year, I went away on a trip for about 10 days, during which time I was sort of forced to drastically change my diet–and my perimenopausal night heat (burning up, dry chills, no sweating) went away!  I mean, I stopped the bread, the pasta, the snacking, and the sweets; I only had one small cup of hot coffee in the morning with my breakfast (which consisted of eggs and rice and fruit)–and, no night heat!  For the first time in like, years.  SO, I tried to keep that up when I got back to the States, and I thought the craving would get less as time went on, but…it seems to be getting worse.  Like I’m in a carb deficit and the sinkhole just keeps getting bigger and bigger, pulling me under…!  Haha.

I gained weight years ago after quitting drinking–um, I started eating instead of drinking–and it’s been a struggle to not dive into every sweet, carb, or boredom-filling whatever since then.  So, it was a great feeling when I went away last September for a week or so, to not only feel better but lose weight.  Now, it seems, the cravings for carbs are stronger than ever–it’s almost painful, actually, like my belly is a yawning chasm, like my mind is in a constant state of semi-anxiety over not having carbs in me.  I mean, I do have carbs once in a while, but really, the pasta is out since it makes me feel bloated now, and the bread and cookies and cakes and juice, and all that–I am trying to minimize it.  UNTIL…I just cannot and I binge.

I’m convinced that the severity of my perimenopausal night heat is made better by not eating carbs (which cause inflammation and other stuff, I have to assume, related to hormonal fluctuations).  And, well, not eating after a certain hour.  Like, if I eat dinner late, or eat in the middle of the night (out of anger or anxiety that I can’t sleep!), I feel horrible the next morning, like that food has not budged!  I try not to eat late anymore, but that doesn’t always work out.  I TRY not to eat carbs, but as you can tell, that isn’t always easy.

Anyway, feeling pretty good today aside from that.  Any other ladies experience the same (or different) off carbs?

Quiet on the outside…

19 Jan

6:36 pm

…but raging on the inside!  Haha.  Not really.  Though, I thought this year was going to be it:  the year of easy days, no mood swings, no overthinking, no dreading my work or sweating the process of it all.  I can’t believe we’re 19 days into the new year!  I usually feel pretty good, and motivated; past few days, not so much.  Such is life.

Our dog is still going strong, though, her back legs and hind area are definitely weaker than they were a few months ago.  For now, she’s managing, maybe even thriving a bit more (we are tapering her off the high dose of gabapentin she was on, and I think it’s helping her to feel stronger and more alert, more like her old self).  She peed in her sleep last night, though, and that sucks; we’re used to her not being able to control where or when she poops (she just can’t move that well or that fast anymore), but not this.  We’ll see; I hope it was a one-time thing…

Past few days, I’ve been angry, and feeling sensory deprived.  I am pretty sure my anger is simply related to the progesterone supplement I take–I feel angry after I take it a few days in a row (and, well, um, the fact that I have this night heat, and I am in this state of flux/confusion/not knowing who I am or who I am going to be, and I just don’t appreciate it).  I think that is the number one reason why perimenopause is not talked about:  society won’t let women age, but also, for me, I don’t WANT to let people (even other women) know that I am aging, that I can’t take the heat (literally), that I am anything BUT who I used to be, which is young, sexual, productive, I guess.  I don’t want to let it stop me from being me, to change me that much.  And, the further along I go, the more I see just how little attention it gets (even my supposed menopause-specialty gynecologist was kind of like, gurl, it happens, as she ushered me out–two years later, and three meds later, I am still burning up every night).  I don’t know what I want or expect from others, but I do know that this night heat is no joke.

I have to admit, the burning-up-at-night thing is getting better.  And, I’m rarely brought to my knees anymore over it–haha.  I just accept, and exhale, and move on, shivering and feeling oh, so pained!  It’s getting better, though; I mean, it’s not as intense as it was two years ago, or a year ago, so that is something to be extremely grateful for.  It still lasts from 8 pm to 3 am, or longer–I burn all night, I don’t sweat, and it is not a “flash”–but it’s not that bad.  Maybe I’ve just gotten used to it; I have definitely learned to curtail my reaction to it, to embrace it as somehow normal–that goes a long way toward making it seem better.  It’s all relative, I guess.

Anyway, I could go on and on about that, but it really is just a passing phase.  I get the sense that my symptoms are WAY better than some women’s; then again, I don’t know if I had or have brain fog, or had or have abnormal mood swings–I lived through at least a decade of mind-bending wine hangovers, so, my “normal” was brain dead; my “normal” was like, psychotic-break-level mood swings.  When I stopped drinking, I was like, omg, maybe I’m not bipolar.  And, when I started taking the pill for my perimenopausal symptoms at the end of 2016, I was like, omg, maybe I didn’t have to suffer through 30 years of crazy PMS mood swings (I got my first period when I was 12; I never took the pill until I was 42).  How I feel now is always going to be 1000 times better than how I felt the past decade of alcoholic drinking!

Anyway, that’s that.  Anger from the meds or just general impatience (I am still working on that, believe it or not–haha).  I feel agitated toward my “calling,” which is writing.  I like having written, let’s put it that way!  The blank page does not bother me as much as it does others, and for me, editing small quantities of writing is not bad.  It’s planning, structuring, implementing long documents that gets horrendous–there are writers of books, I guess, and then there is everyone else. Writing is also extremely analytical, and, you’re doing it in a state of sensory deprivation most of the time (I love nature, the sights, sounds, smells of the world around me; writing is not that!).

And, so, it’s for these mundane reasons that I have been thinking of drinking:  I want to feel something; I am bored; my mind hunts for new terrain.  And, that’s when drinking-thinking comes in, to fill that desperate void:  Well, why are you doing this to yourself?  No one cares if you drink; everyone ELSE gets to have fun, to relax, to refresh their minds with wine (or drugs)!  But, for me, I know it would not be just one glass–still, after all these years, I know this–and, I think having a hangover and being unproductive the next day would just boggle my mind and make me feel worse than I can even imagine.

So, onward we go, plugging toward the goal, the light, the future perfect (that’s a tense!).  But, nothing is ever going to be perfect, or in place, or without struggle; so…finding the joy along the way, and the ability to let go of what does not serve you, which is anger and perfectionism and the desire or need to control the bad feelings; I guess that’s what the real lesson is, for me anyway, this year (this life).  I guess.

You mean, it’s OK to not care what they think of me?

22 Dec

7:20 pm

I started this post a week ago–it’s been busy, to say the least.  BUT, it’s good to be home.  It’s starting to feel like home now, not some weird in-between world where mostly dead things were floating and roaming.  My memories have gone from sepia to color.  I can walk around and plan the current me’s day, not cry and think about the “old” me of eight years ago.

It’s good to be home again, it really is.  The re-entry was a bit rough, I have to say, but I feel like I’m settling into a new normal:  the feeling that this is too familiar has been replaced by, I’m grateful to feel at home; the feeling that I have outgrown my old life has been replaced by, I’m grateful that I’m in a different place, both personally and professionally (wow, that is an understatement:  I have a full-time job this time, whereas when I came down eight years ago, I was embarking on a freelance writing “career”…oof, it makes me tired and stressed just remembering just how much work, and uncertainty, and being poor that whole thing brought with it).

Mostly, I’ve come to accept that it is not the same, and it never will be.  BUT, it is still a place where I can live fully (with a different sense of self and empowerment, since I am sober and not getting-sober) and fully enjoy all the things, those that are familiar and those that are new; I get to rediscover the things that I loved most about living here.  It is what it is, right now, at this time–we are who were are, and there is no living in the past.  To live in the past would be…to turn into people who have never left, and that is not who we are.

So, it’s been a little over a month since we moved back to our island in the sun, and a lot has happened.  We’ve received our shipped stuff and our car; we’ve had a holiday (Thanksgiving) and a birthday (my boo’s); we’ve been on two boat trips (which is a record; normally, we didn’t go on a boat trip to neighboring islands but maybe once every three to six months!); I’ve somehow managed to make my brain work through the past four weeks of my job (hello, fog brain; I will fight you to the death) and survive yet another month of some crazy nighttime burning-up shit (I have stopped my Googling and just accepted that there is nothing more I can do right now except what I am doing and wait until I am further along; but, things have gotten better re: the night heat, I think, since last year, since two years ago, so there IS that).

What else?  I’ve walked countless times through our old ‘hood, along all the old trails; we’ve come to realize that our dog is never going to be able to walk much around here, but we can take her to the “dog beach,” which we’ve done a few times, and which she loves.  She loves being in her old childhood home; she’s finally remembered and is loving all her old spots, all her old things (she likes to guard her territory; she loves to sit on the deck, surveying the world, making sure it’s in order–I am so glad she can do that now because she’s not cooped up in a second-floor apartment).  We’ve been to quite a few restos again, and a few different beaches (kind of slacking on that, but we’ve both been cranking at work).  I’ve actually reached out–on my own–to several friends here, and we’ve done dinners, lunches, beach meetups.

And, I’ve actually joined a gym and gone a few times!  See, when I lived here before (for the entire five-plus years), I was always afraid to go to a gym for fear I would, I don’t know, have to be social, meet new people, work out in front of others.  It was one of the many sober ticks I had that held me back; it also served to further isolate me, as I only and always worked out alone (which meant slogging up and down the hills in the blazing heat, alone).  Anyway, this time, I just couldn’t slog it out anymore, hot and alone; and, running around our ‘hood today reminds me way too much of my sober walks with our now-gone son (our boxer-beagle) and our younger girl (the one who can’t walk much these days)–it was a wonder-full time, full of thinking, and wondering, and ruminating on getting sober, celebrating being sober, living in my pink bubble, but…

Been there, done that.  I still love my walks in the sun, surrounded by lush green hillsides and crystalline blue vistas–but, I am sober, and all that is done.  I mean, I am still and always will be in recovery–lately, I’ve realized that I still have a lot of work to do on my anger and resentment–but, those years spent getting sober are gone.  It’s time to fully embrace the present, here, and live in the real world, here, which I sort of didn’t do the last time around.  I mean, maybe not–can I just write fiction instead?  Anyway, if this makes any sense, going to the gym here is one step forward.

Another is not caring what other people think about me, or what I’m doing!  And, who KNEW that um, like almost every other alcoholic drinker, I, too, care/cared A LOT about what others thought of me (or, what I thought they thought of me, of my behavior, of my actions, etc.).

I have to say, I just don’t care that much anymore what other people are doing and what they think of what I’m doing (or, more accurately, what I think they think of what I’m doing).  It is subtle, but not really: before, when I was here getting sober, it was almost all I thought about.  What do they think of me, of me getting and being sober?  What do they think of what I’m doing?  I used to fret all the time about whether people thought I was antisocial; if they judged me for choosing to stay at home and work for a company on the mainland.  Granted, I never thought twice about not being able to actually earn a living working at a low-paying job down here, and so intentionally never cutting my ties with my professional world; but, I always thought that people might have judged me as snooty, or somehow too good for this place.  It was weird.

This time around, I simply cannot and do not care about any of the above.  I am doing my do, and glad–no, super-grateful–for the fact that I CAN work remotely and that I had the vision to go for it so that I could pay off my student loan debt and start working on other financial goals.  Honestly, I don’t even have the time to care about what others are actually thinking and going through right now, let alone what I think they think of me!

Leaving helped.  Being away helped.  We were alone, without a familiar set of people and places; we had to had to sit down and figure out what we wanted–that was hard, and it took work, and it’s paid off.  I feel like I have a much broader idea of this world as it fits into the outside world, and our possibilities.  Frankly, I don’t feel intimidated anymore by people here, by MOST people (well, except my big boss at my current job–she is just too much fire for one five-foot woman).  Maybe it’s because people never WERE that intimidating, especially here; this place feels way more relaxed and inviting/welcoming than I ever remember it!?  Maybe we’ve just evolved and this is how it feels to be in your mid-40s (and, for that, I love being in my 40s).

Whatever, it’s just been liberating:  I feel allowed (by myself) to finally just do my thang and live.  To make my gorgeous plans, and to live them.  I don’t have to waste any more of my time wondering about what others are thinking, or doing; not that I don’t care, but that I have boundaries now such that I am able to live most fully and most happily.

Anyway, it’s good to be home, to be here.  Finally.

Let go of carrying the past around

7 Oct

12:02 am

I grant myself permission to let go of the past.  Drunky Drunk Girl:  You can let go of carrying around your past.  Literally.

So, I think I mentioned to you that my boo and I have decided to move back to our island home, and in preparation (because it’s really impractical to ship a lot of shit down there), I have been slogging through my boxes and bags of SCHTUFF, and it is not fun.

Did I tell you that I stored my stuff for uh, almost a decade?  Yeah, I stored it, had my drunken breakdown, moved to our island home, and simply forgot about it while I got sober and started a new, much lighter and more wonder-full life (I needed to; it’s how I got sober, finally letting go of some of what I had been carrying around, physically and emotionally, for years).

Well, now that I’ve got it all in my office (I finally cleared out the unit a few months ago), I have been forced to pare it down, drip by drop.  Paper by paper.  Photo by photo.  I could just toss it all, but, eh, I can’t do that–I wonder if this is how people on Storage Wars feel?  The constant pull of your STUFF…

I’ve been doing it on the weeknights and sometimes, entire weekends.  I mean, it should have been done years ago, along the way.  I feel like a “normal” person would have done it years ago.  But, I just wasn’t ready.  Maybe I’m a hoarder?  I do totally have some tendencies, and can kind of relate to that mentality!

Anyway, over the past decade, I built up more and more courage every time I went back to my storage unit to throw out, give away, or donate just a bit more stuff, including furniture and clothes and blankets and blah blah blah–all of which, ALL OF WHICH, tugged at me emotionally to give up.  (Oh, that’s the faux-velvet “cat suit” I wore going out to my first gay club in 1995; Aww, that’s my studded belt I bought in LA when I thought I was a rocker-chic with only one piece of rocker-chic clothing to my name then and now; Wow, my ballet slippers from that ONE class I took at 23, cuz, yeah, I was going to become a ballet dancer taking my first class since grade school at 23…)  In paring down that kind of stuff, it was hard; I had to go through each and every piece of clothing, and like, relive those moments, years, eras of my coming of age.  And, like, let them go.  It was hard…until it was dark in the storage facility and I was fondling ratty clothing that I hadn’t worn or even looked at for years.  Buh-bye became a lot easier to say every year I went back to “check” on my unit.

As you can imagine, it was tiring and of course, obsessive.  Yet, I feel the same way toward the daunting task of going through my writings, and photos, and all the “historical” stuff that tells the story of my life.  Moreso, even.  Now, I am working through the hard stuff:  mounds of CDs, tons of photo prints, entire plastic containers full of saved cards over the years; even bigger containers of endless letters from my year abroad, not to mention–let’s not forget–all my “brilliant” writings from over the years, stashed in a seemingly infinite amount of notebooks, looseleaf pages, planners, diaries, and everything else that one might have been able to write on.  Luckily, a lot of stuff after about 2003 starts to show up solely on CDs, which is great–easy to transfer to USB or the cloud.

What have I learned today?  Haha.  Well, for one, I am too fecking exhausted to carry the past around anymore.  I just cannot.  I am ready to let it go, mainly because, god, my life sucked then.  I mean, I am who I am because of what came before, but, what came before was not all that pretty or something I want to relive.  I was lonely, searching, and very easy to intimidate back then; it affected me, my choices, and my friendships.  Again, I can cherish the past, but I don’t have to want to relive it, right?  Right.

I looked at every picture, from grade school to high school, college, early 20s, late-20s, grad school, wondering, who and what made me a drunk?  I mean, every picture:  Did how I was then contribute to me becoming a drunk?  Did he do it?  Did she make me the way I was–pained and increasingly vexed and sad and unsure?  I saw a LOT of photos of a sad girl; I read a LOT of chats and journal entries of someone who was seriously searching for herself.  (Thank fucking GOD I found her, but I wish it had started, me finding myself, before my early 30s; I feel like I was SUCH a late bloomer, that life really did literally start for me at 40, just five years ago!)

I am playing this blame game the ENTIRE time I’m going through all my old shit; and, I can never let go of the conviction, in my mind, that somehow it was ALL MY FAULT.  Yet, someone had to have done something to make me the way I was, the way I would be, years later, right?  Was it my parents?  Was it my personality?  Both, and everything else that came into my life?  I don’t know.  And, what if I find out?  Will it change anything about how things progressed?

My life now, ME now, is way, way better than it was back then; and, while I can appreciate the past and cherish it, simply put, I don’t feel like I have to carry it around anymore to memorialize what is gone.  Granted, I will hold onto most of the old photos, and of course, all of my old writings, but one day, I can actually imagine throwing it all onto a heap and setting it ablaze.  And that is an insane thought for a writer who has defined herself all these years by what she has written.

Which brings me to learning number two:  If I don’t identify anymore with the product of my efforts, what is my life worth?  What and who am I without all my papers and books and notes that actually show, hey, I did this, and hey, I accomplished that?  What have I done anyway, if it doesn’t seem to matter if I burn it all at this point?  It’s like, if a tree falls and no one hears it, right?  If I have no proof of my existence, did I live?  Does my life even matter?  I am 45, and I am actually thinking that most of what I’ve written and produced, is nothing; worthless, in the grand scheme of things; prologue, at most, to my best work…which is yet to come.  So, what does that mean for my life’s work and value, if I am already halfway through it?  I don’t know yet.

And, finally, number three:  I was nicer back then.  I wanted and needed and cultivated and prioritized friendships, close ones, back then.  I can see it in all the letters and cards and notes that friends sent.  Now?  I don’t really get a lot of those cards because I don’t have a lot of close friendships.  Again, who’s to blame?  Do most people just grow apart over the years?  And, if not, was it me who pulled away when I became a drunk, angry, paranoid; when I came into my own and realized what I wanted and went for it (journalism kind of became a single-minded pursuit for me for a while there)?  Was it them?  Is there anyone to blame?  Should I try to fix it?  I have thought about reaching out to all these people from my past, yet…it feels like it wouldn’t be worth the effort of finding out that what I’m looking for no longer exists.

So, that was my weekend!  Like I said, it had to be done; it has to be done.  Yet, I am looking forward to it being done, to it being pared down, to a lighter load, to a new start, and…to just burning the remaining lot of it, sooner or later!  Haha…

(My mom is coming for a visit this week, which I will probably end up telling you about. And, my job continues to kick my ass; why did I think that nonprofit would be less work than a corporate gig?  Oh, and next time, remind me to tell you about my progress in perimenopause (haha):  things are getting better, I have to admit.  My burning up/dry chills cycles are getting shorter, less severe, and, I am having them less often (some nights, while I am hot, I am not burning up).  I have continued my “Costa Rica” diet, or have tried really hard to cut out breads and all sweets.  Now, I mainly have rice for my carb, if I want one, and have been eating a LOT less snacks and sweets.  I really, really, really think eliminating wheat and oat-based flours has helped with the night heat…  More to come in another post.)

Making assumptions

9 Jun

12:20 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Onward, toward clarity and optimism, I hope.

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

Take a break, and celebrate yourself…

12 May

8:37 pm

Because, I hate to say this as it belies a certain degree of cynicism, no one else is going to do it for you!

I have had a really busy past six months, and a lot of the time, I’ve felt like I’ve been totally making it up as I go/feeling my way forward.  My new job has been a total trip–new type of job, new amount of workload, new people and personalities to deal with, and on top if it all, a whole new realm of science and health to learn.  Let’s also not forget that I’ve been sort of relearning how to write journalistically–since, well, honestly, I haven’t done so in years.

I have been dealing with the ups and downs of perimenopause, and frankly, I think if this is it, then I’m pretty lucky.  I finally got through a bunch of tests that showed what I knew all along:  my hormones are changing and I have one of two choices, either treat them with birth control or naturally, or don’t treat them and wait for them to ebb and flow (and they do, and they have; right now, while I am still experiencing my night heat/dry chills, it’s totally eased up/almost disappeared).  I am taking the pill, and that comes with a host of side effects if your hormones are going up and down, which I’ve recently discovered (headaches, nausea, a slight feeling of being crazy/anxious thoughts).  BUT, it sure beats the night heat, which, even if that comes and goes, I’d rather not experience at all.  I will be 45 this year, and my earliest symptoms of perimenopause started when I was 39, so…hopefully I’ll be done soon!  Haha.  Bring it on!

You know, at my last appointment with my gynecologist, she was like, well, your eggs are old, you are definitely in perimenopause, and um, if you’re trying to use your own eggs to have kids, it’s not going to work; you’ll have to use an egg donor.  And, I felt nothing.  I felt no sadness, nothing.  And, it was kind of glorious.  I remember when I started this blog, in 2012, I was freaking OUT about should I/shouldn’t I have kids…  And, to have it come and go, and to have my doctor straight up tell me, you are past the age, gurl; and to NOT feel anything negative?  It just goes to show that everyone is different, and I’m glad I just trusted myself, who was telling me for years and years, it’s not you.  It’s not your story, to have kids.

So, there you go.  Those are the two things that have just been burning me out, in a way, as I’ve been trying to keep up with both.  This weekend was the first time in six months that I actually felt relief, like I could take a break and rest.  REST.  And, I remembered how important I made taking a break, turning it off, taking a REST when I was getting sober–it was my key to staying sober for a longer term.

Rest–essential.  Take a break–essential.  Turn it off.  Let it go.  All essential.

And, while you’re finally resting, you are able to clearly see just how much work you’ve put in, and how much you’ve accomplished; and you can finally step back and say, wow, good job.  You did it.  You are DOING IT.

So, to all the mamas out there who are getting sober, and all the non-mamas out there who are getting sober:  Rest, and know that you did it.  You’re doing it.  And you’re awesome.  (No one is going to tell you that, especially as you forge your path of long-term sobriety; so it’s up to you to honor and congratulate yourself with love, treats, and rest–whenever and wherever and however often you need them.)

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