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Being grateful and staying present

31 Dec

3:33 pm

So, as you know, we are about to embark on a new year, a new decade, a…blah blah blah.  For some reason, I just can’t this year.  I can’t try that hard to have a “memorable” New Year’s Eve this year.  Granted, just being sober will make it 100 percent more memorable than a lot of my past New Year’s Eves.  Kidding aside, I’m just kind of burnt this year, and tired of trying to coordinate and make it happen–in spite of my own resistance, fatigue, and other people’s inability to commit.  Frankly, I kind of want to spend it alone, with my dog, watching TV (my boo has to work).  I have never wanted to watch television on NYE, but this year, it sounds perfectly acceptable!

What I want for myself for this new year is to stop taking people–their actions, my thoughts about their actions–personally.  I think that will go a LONG way toward being grateful and staying present.  Lately, I’ve found myself spiraling down my mental rabbit hole by forgetting to be grateful for the BAZILLION things that are important–my sobriety and all the past and present struggles that have come with it; our moves and moving around, which have taught us some serious lessons about who we are and what we want; my relationship; the handful of meaningful friendships that I do have in my life; my sweet dog, who is ailing and probably won’t see another holiday season, but for which I have to be grateful, and for whom I have to stay present.

Today, my big outing was taking my girl down to our local “dog beach,” which isn’t an actual public beach so it makes for a quiet setting.  There is an inlet protected from the swell where she can go swimming.  It was sad watching her, and I cried.  I mean, I cry a little inside every time I have to carry her up the stairs, help her get up, pick up her poop on the carpet inside because she can’t control her muscles back there that well; but I don’t “cry” cry.  This felt good, and I needed it; I need to start letting go.

I am not sure what is worse:  having a dog that gets cancer and goes fast, or a dog who has this horrible, progressive arthritis that gradually transforms her into one that barely resembles the pup you once knew.  I know, I know, she’s a dog; but, it’d be the same emotional rollercoaster with a person (it IS the same, watching my mom), only the progression would take 20 years, not two.

I was angry for a bit, like, I am never getting another dog, why bother, I don’t/can’t go through this again.  But, it got me thinking, well, that is so depressing and cynical–if I lost my partner, would I choose to spend the rest of my life alone, choose to be angry and antisocial because…life?  This is life, the coming and going.  This is life, and it hurts, and it sucks, but…the anger and frustration is life, too.  And it all passes, sooner rather than later.  What can you do but choose to accept, embrace, process?  What can you do but decide that you will NOT fall into the self-defeating trap of black-and-white thinking?

This year, I want to start getting past my anger and frustration regarding this general aging shit–myself, my dog, my mom and my dad, both of whom are struggling immensely with physical and mental decline.  To not let perimenopausal night heat and insomnia (though, lack of sleep is its own mental health disorder) overturn my world; to not let my mom or dad’s decline influence my emotional state so much; to just love my dog and try to let it be, accept it for what it is, let it go, let HER go…  I can’t live in this state of resistance all the time, but, I also don’t want to lay down and let the world run me over, like a huge ocean wave; that might lead to me giving up.  I don’t ever want to give up; I don’t ever want to stop listening to the radio (Walking Dead reference, folks…!).

Sometimes, I want to drink; most times, I think, why bother?  I know it won’t change anything–it’s not going to stop time, and it’s not going to change how I deal with the passing of time and aging.  So, I won’t, and I’ll keep plugging:  be grateful, stay present.  Cry.  Whisper-scream (oh, all right, just scream, but no banging on the thighs in the middle of the night as you whisper-scream).

How hard can it be?  Hahaha…

Inhale, exhale, and remember:  drinking only makes it better for a split second, and then it makes it much, much worse.  I tell myself that every time I have recently thought, eh, maybe this is the year I start drinking in moderation, I’m ready, why not?  Um, because, it won’t make anything that is good better, and it won’t fix anything that is bad–it will just make it more bad.  That is logic that Wolfie-boy, drinking-brain does not like because it makes drinking seem illogical and irrational–which is what it is and why it’s so cunning and baffling; and small and ridiculous and empty.

Aight, off my box.  I wish everyone a wonderful eve, spent here, there, everywhere, and nowhere–it’s all good.  Be grateful and stay present.  The stars keep shining, and if you let it, your head does keep wanting to look up to see them (though, we might not see Betelgeuse soon!).

Happy 2020, friends, and we’ll see you on the flip!

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.

Who said you can’t go home again?

23 Nov

3:47 pm

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

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

Wow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why was I so angry?

9 Nov

10:05 pm

As you know, I’ve been rather methodically going through my “stuff,” the stuff that I threw into storage a decade ago and haven’t really looked at since.  All these seven years, while getting sober, I have speculated but never really “corroborated” the conclusions I came to regarding why I drank; I never really looked at all those writings and notes and pictures, just to see, was that really how it went down?  Was that really who I was back then?

Anyway, the question keeps coming to mind, Why was I so angry?  And, after all these years and all that wine–and now, all these weeks spent purposefully going over my “boxes of the past,” so to speak–I don’t really know.  It’s really a tough concept to wrap my head around:  I was SO angry back then, and it defined my life and relationships during that time as well as impacted them for years to come, but I cannot for the life of me really remember what I was fuming about.  It’s crazy-making, albeit I’m grateful to not be anywhere near that angry anymore–and, have had, dare I say, years of feeling relatively stable and joyful.

I have to say, this process of sorting through my stuff (as we prepare for our move back to the island) has been tedious by my own making, and it’s been more a process of reminiscing as well as letting go (of the past, of my youth, I am not even sure).  I mean, I was perfectly fine not remembering all this stuff, and then here come the boxes and I’m all reflective and sad and kind of reliving that horrible past that “caused” me to drink in the first place (caused in quotes because I know that no one or no thing made me drink–I loved drinking until I didn’t and couldn’t).

After going over some stuff, looking for clues as to what made me so angry that I ramped up my drinking, this is what I do know:  I seemed to be my “old” self, bruised and battered like everyone else, but still happy and smiling, confident and well, resilient, up until about 2000 or 2001 (I turned 27 in 2001).  I had already gone through many things prior to then that might have broken me but didn’t–fighting parents; a binge eating disorder in my late teens and early 20s; college itself, which was difficult and maybe a key to my drinking.  I majored in biology/pre-med, something that I wasn’t even really good at (Does a love for animals necessarily equate to studying biology?) because I told myself that “I should”–instead of something that I loved and was good at and DREAMT of doing, writing, specifically writing poetry.  I was too afraid, so I pushed my dreams out of mind and did what I told myself I should do.  I negated my dreams, discarded my self.  It hurts to even write that, to read it out loud, but it’s true.  Pain is behind anger, and maybe this is where it all began?

All this is to say, there wasn’t this one big thing that made me angry.  Did I just feel erased, exhausted by my refusal to express the real me?  Maybe.  I mean, looking back at pictures of myself from around 2000, 2001, 2002–that was when I became uber-angry and started drinking; or, started drinking and became uber-angry–I can’t come up with any one thing that happened that should have made me as angry as I looked and felt.

I hate to admit it, but I think my drinking ramped up with an increasing disappointment over my romantic relationships.  Like, it sucks to admit that my life could have been derailed by a man (haha), but I think that most of the depression and rage that came to a head during my late 20s came from feeling slighted and not good enough and then, finally, unloved and unloveable, or so I told myself.  Of course, I had a role in all these failed romances (I was that crazy drunk bitch), but it was still painful and frustrating–and made me angry.

Another thing that might have made me angry, over time, was the fact that by my late 20s, I was starting to get ground down by always doing what I was supposed to be doing, and hating every minute of it (I mean, I still do the same kind of work, but I have a longer-term plan, and I’ve spent years finding my voice as a freelancer).  I never allowed myself to freely express myself, to not be agreeable, to be loud and ugly and well, angry!  By the time I turned 30, I finally decided to go back to school for one of two things (writing was one), two things that I had determined I liked.  Before then, I felt like I had not lived a determined life, that I had let this people-pleasing mentality go on for far too long.  I was desperate to break free–to fucking break things!  And, break things I did, while blackout drunk.

I think one key aspect to blackout drinking is saying, fuck it, I give in/up, let me just smash the fuck out of it all.  Let me drop the ball.  The only way perfectionists and people-pleasers, the always-agreeable ones, are going to let it go is to not be aware of the fact that they are letting it go.  For me, drinking to the point of not remembering what I was doing not only let me do things that I would never normally allow myself to do, but it also allowed me to not have to account for dropping the ball, you know?  If you can’t remember, it didn’t happen (in your mind, at least).

At the end of the day, I can’t say what ONE thing made me angry.  What I can say is, I cannot blame anyone else for doing anything to me that caused me to be angry, and to drink.  No parent, no man, no biology text book made me drink.  I chose to drink–the way I wanted to drink, which was to erase the anger, the hurt; to erase the self who was stuck inside, trying to get out.

Drinking soothed my angst (I was scared to be a poet, so I told myself that someone was telling me I “should” not do it), my loneliness (I wasn’t able or ready to relate, which is why I picked the wrong men), and my social anxiety (I am by nature an introvert, so drinking made meeting new people actually somewhat fun).

SO, do I have any more answers than I did before I got my stuff out of storage and started rummaging through said past for clues as to why I drank?  Eh, sure, I guess, but like all things related to alcoholism, nothing is cut and dry, and everything is everything.  It’s not like I can close my boxes and computer and say, I know why I veered off track (the scarier question is, was I ever on one?), I know what made me drink.  It won’t ever be resolved, but…there’s good news.

The good news is, I’ve realized with almost certainty that you don’t have to live in the past; you can remember your mistakes and learn from them, and you can process your experiences in order to be a better person or live a lighter, truer life–but, you can take the good bits of the past, and relive those, and leave the bad bits behind.  You don’t have to relive any of it.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve lived LIFETIMES since that time, which was almost 20 years ago.  And, really, does it even matter anymore what made me so angry if I’ve moved so far beyond who I was then?

Let it go, let it go, let it go.  Learn from your past, cherish it; but don’t hold onto it.  Such a simply worded mantra for one of life’s hardest exercises.

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.

Stillness, checking in, and…grief?

29 Aug

12:04 am

I hate that my posts are OH-so-heavy seemingly all the time, but lately, I’ve been away.  Disconnected, really.  It’s why I am here, on the west coast of Costa Rica, doing yoga and being alone and trying to get myself back.  Or, get back to myself.  Or, both!

Before coming here, though, I spent a few days in the city where I started this blog, where I got sober–and, where my drinking became alcoholic.  It was another pilgrimage, I suppose; since storing my stuff nine years ago (I’ve since cleared that unit out–a big deal after nine years!), I’ve clung to this idea that I would move back.  For sure, I would.  This is (was) where I belonged, where I am (was) my most “me,” where I feel (felt) at home.  This was my dream, for nine years.  Well, over the past nine years, I’ve gone from definitely moving back to probably moving back to most likely not moving back…to probably NEVER moving back because I don’t belong there and I don’t want to live there!  It’s been a long, gradual process of letting go–and frankly, I don’t know if I’ve actually fully let go yet.

It’s like, I can barely articulate it to myself, so I’m going to try and write it out and see if by writing it out, I can somehow locate this neurotic loop that my brain has been running for weeks, months, and years.  It could be as simple as admitting, I can’t let go of the past.  What does that mean, though?  Is it that I want to relive that past?  A part of me has a certain obsessive, stalker-esque fondness for that period of time when I started this blog:  it was all new, and I had a LOT to look forward to.  I had a new love, I was finally getting sober and starting to write about it (on this blog), and, I had finally made it back to the city of my dreams!  I realized this, as I was freakishly standing (once again) in front of the apartment that I sublet that summer (in 2012):  my nostalgia for these early years might be so strong because it includes finally moving back to the city of my dreams.  Now, do I want to relive this past?  No, I don’t think I want to relive any past–I do want to live in the here and now.  I think I just miss feeling the way I felt then.  And, every time I go back to this city, I want to feel how I felt then.

Every time I go back to said city, I am looking for this…sense of looking-forward-to, or anticipation.  I don’t know, maybe I equate this feeling of, let’s call it anticipatory glee with being young?  I was only seven years younger then!  It’s like, I want that feeling yet I know that I don’t want to relive the past, and I know that what I have now is like, the culmination of all that so-called dreaming/anticipating/looking-foward-to.  If I have what I was yearning for then, why am I sad that I am no longer in a place where I don’t have it?

Sounds neurotic, maybe even a bit crazy, doesn’t it?

What has changed in the past seven years for me is hard to deny:  I don’t want to live in this city anymore, and moreover, I don’t want to cling to my dream of living in this city anymore.  Yet, I WANT to want to!  I feel like I’m giving up, and that scares me.  What is there for me, after I finally do let go of this dream that I no longer want?  Who am I?  How do I define myself now?

Every time I go back, I become less and less enamored with the city; this time, it just exhausted me, it triggered me, and I saw all the warts.  I have almost fully embraced the fact that I need green space, nature; I need it to rejuvenate and inspire me!  I also have come to depend on a much less stimulating environment in order to write/be creative; if I know there is something new to consume (a new restaurant, a new bar–at least when I was drinking, which I’m not–a new museum), it’s like, I cannot BUT consume it out of some obsessive need to know it all or do it all or just a fear of missing out.  Yet, it’s distracting, and I don’t get anything done.  And, that triggers me to feel confused, sad, depressed, wound up, whatever it is that writers (or creatives) feel that makes us go insane if we don’t write or create.

So, it was a tiring, vexing visit; and, after all my walking, stalking, and incessant thinking, I had a night where I just melted down.  It was brought on by me looking at The Dodo videos, which made me start thinking of our sweet boy who we had to put down last year, which just snowballed into a general sense of grief–for our “son,” for myself, for my dreams, for my youth.  GAH.  JESUS.  (It’s funny now, but only because it sounds so freaking neurotic!)  It felt like my mind was dissolving that night; I felt like I had some sort of “dementia” episode, if there even is such a thing.  OH, WAIT, there is such thing, and it’s called a night of binge drinking and a hangover the next day–which I totally felt like I had.  I had an emotional hangover, and the ONLY place I’ve ever had these types of hangovers is this city!  Make the connection, Drunky Drunk Girl:  this city triggers you for all sorts of reasons, why keep coming back?  

These days, I have to admit that I’ve moved on, thankfully; I’ve formed new plans and conjured new dreams.  I am here now, in Costa Rica, and it is super-refreshing, a huge mental reprieve, to be here and now with my present-day self.  A part of me feels like I am grieving, though (which hit me clearly during a sound bath class that I took)–and I think I just needed to sit still for a little while to actually acknowledge that the grief is there, and that it is real, and that it’s legitimate to feel this way.

Turn and face the strange ch-ch-changes…

Mental illness should not be a moral failing

28 Jul

11:24 am

So, because I’m either a cynic/pessimist, or because I’ve been around the sobriety block and tend to see deeper into things or events than the average “normie” and apply my perceptions differently as they relate to my long-term sobriety–YES, my presentation went off successfully, but I did learn a few things.  I learned that PTSD is real, the brain connections made to enable such a state are powerful, and using drugs to help yourself recover is not only not a bad thing, but a professional method toward recovery.  I learned that my real voice needed to be “let out of prison,” that some/maybe a lot of people relate success to willfulness only and not to a variety of factors (some of which, like mental illness, you are not always in control of), and of my own strong desire for approval from others.

In short, I mentioned the other day that I had been alerted about a month ago by my direct boss that I had to participate in giving a team presentation to our larger group/team at our group meeting that happened just this past week.  Upon hearing the news, and for the next month, I worried and obsessed–and prepared.  I have had a major fear of public speaking and stage fright surrounding this for about 13 years (since an incident in graduate school), and I simply HAD to deliver this time around.  I knew that if I didn’t get help, I would not be able to get up there, I would disappoint my big boss (my boss’s boss) and team yet again (I’ve had, as it goes with stage fright, major issues even introducing myself to the team at past events), and I might even jeopardize my job!

So, I freaking made it happen.  I booked an appointment with a psychiatrist, got a prescription, then used said drug at various public speaking “test” events around my ‘hood all throughout the month of July to see if it worked, and how much of it I needed to take for it to work.  Fast forward to the day of my talk–effing FINALLY–on Thursday of this past week, and WOW/HOLY EFF, I rocked it!  I got up in front of the crowd, and all of the sudden, this deep sense of calm came over me; I just stood there, folded my hands in front of my legs, and began speaking, interacting, and generally, performing at a level I never thought possible for me.  On the flight home, I came up with this as to how it made me feel:  the real me was released from my jail cell, and not only that, set free into the grass, where I danced, literally, to celebrate being free.  It was like, the real me was finally able to come out and perform–I was finally able to show my team who I was, how prepared I usually am, how committed and invested I am in this job, and how well I am doing the job, or at the very least, trying to do it.

It didn’t go unnoticed:  everyone, including my big boss, complimented me; she even took me aside and told me that not only did I do a great job, but that I had improved very much over the past three months (we last saw each other in April at another conference).  Which brings me to my first point:  how come I was now considered competent and successful, just because I was somehow (um, thanks pharmacology) able to “overcome” my stage fright and perform like a “normal” human being?  I mean, I am always competent, whether I have mental illness or not; it’s not my fault I have this type of stage fright/mental illness; and, it’s not something I can control.  BUT, having it does not preclude me from also being competent and succeeding at my job.

Another thing I realized was how much I was simply craving not just her approval, but the entire team’s.  I mean, I was SO wanting her to say, I approve of you–and she did, more or less, for the first time since I started this job. I felt SO relieved and reassured when, after complimenting me, she actually talked to me as a person (we had never had a real conversation before); and, later throughout the day, I felt somehow more or less included in the upper tier/managerial team (I am not really part of that team, but at my age and with my title and experience, I SHOULD embrace that type of role, if offered).  UGH–I mean, I cannot deny that that was exactly what I was craving, but it sort of startles me that I need approval that badly.

In any case, I am not only flying high, I am super-relieved.  Of course, there will be other conferences and meetings, and of course, I’ll have to decide if and how I will use the medication (there aren’t many side effects, but there are some; also, if I was a masochist, which I kind of am, I might want to keep attending my public speaking group events here at home to practice speaking without the medication–I don’t foresee myself EVER being able to be as calm and “competent-sounding” as I was on Thursday without that medication, but, you never know/stranger things have happened).  For now, though, I am flying high, grateful, and SO ready to put that behind me and move on.

Moving on, indeed!  In other news, we’ve decided to move back to our island!  I won’t say too much about that–it’s been a long 1.5 years here, struggling to learn, evolve, grow, and rediscover ourselves; and, we’ve both sort of found what we were looking for (for him, he doesn’t want what the mainland has to offer, and for me, I can take the parts of it that I know I want–I can work this nonprofit job remotely from there–and leave the rest, which I discovered in the past 18 months I actually don’t miss, want, or need).

Anyway, I just wanted to share the happy news that while I did succeed at my speaking event, it wasn’t without a few major personally-vexing revelations–welcome to long-term sobriety.  (oh, and of course, there was one night where I was SO burnt on the interacting with other people that I craved a glass of wine–but, no can do, folks/le effing sigh)

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