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Whose mental health are we talking about?

4 Aug

1:58 pm

Lately, I’ve been sort of offline; I just haven’t had the time or ability to wrestle with my thoughts too much these past few days…

A quick life update is that, no, I didn’t get the job I applied for–after a long series of interviews (gah!)–but, that’s OK since there are other jobs out there. I’ve been on the hunt in one way or another since mid-June, and um, I am at the point where I feel like it’s OK (slash, necessary for my mental health) to sit back and let it be for a while. Let it percolate. Enjoy the fact that I was fortunate enough to collect a bit of unemployment, remember that this is just a phase and the economy will rebound, and put some faith in my network. I have worked with a lot of great people over the years, many of whom are still looking out for me, I have no doubt.

Anyway, I’ve got some time to re-focus on this blog and my “e-book project,” which is simply, to compile my posts and self-publish a version of this blog. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it’s a way for me to sort of close one chapter, as it were. A lot of what I post these days–and will continue to post–isn’t really related to getting sober, and I want to re-read some of my past posts in order to get more of a grip on who I was then and who I am now. It’s a process–and there are probably a LOT more “important” things I could be doing right now and/or thinking about–so I will keep you posted!

What else has been going on? Well, as I think you all remember, I have posted about my parents’ mental health a few times. And, I remain committed to not writing that much about it and them on this blog since it’s not my mental health I’m talking about. However, not writing about it does not mean I don’t think about it a lot–especially as I watch my father devolve, as it were, into what seems to be a worsening mental health “situation.” I mean, if I knew nothing about his past and his personality, and was confronted with only his behavior today–I’d probably avoid him, and then I’d forget about it.

I know from my own experience with alcoholism that MOST people don’t want to know (or admit that they know) about your mental health disorder, or they oversimplify it because they can’t (and don’t want to) delve deep. I like to wonder, I like to ask questions, I like to look for patterns; MANY folks do not.

That being said, I just don’t know what to do about or for my dad–and, if I should do anything? He’s a grown man–in his 70s–yet…from what I can tell, he’s just getting worse. I have to assume that untreated mental health disorders only get worse as you get older. I fear that it’ll all come crashing down, sooner rather than later. Yet, you can’t convince him that there is anything about his behavior he should change–and, a lot does need to change. Lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that there isn’t anything I can do at this point; he won’t hear reason, he won’t hear truth, and even if he acknowledges that things need to change, he won’t choose to change. Yet…there is this feeling of, If something happens to him, well, it’s my fault, I should have done more.

It’s probably the feeling one has trying to get an addict into recovery before they’re ready to get sober–and then, who dies from an overdose or suicide. It’s my fault for not forcing them into recovery. I should have done more.

All I can do is let it go, let him go, let his mental health be HIS mental health. What more can one do? I probably think more about his mental health–and how he’s hurt me and others–than he ever will, which is sad, but probably true.

On that note, it’s time to get outside and enjoy some of this sun!

Staying healthy in the time of COVID

29 Jul

1:09 pm

Do I have COVID? Did I have it? What if I tested negative–can I still have had it? How will I even know that what I have is/was COVID and not something else? What if I get all the scary long-term symptoms?

I think we’re ALL fixating on these questions now, as we zero in on every little ache, pain, cough, or twinge. I know I have been sort of hilariously worried, so to speak, whenever anything feels off: a whisper of a cough one morning, and, I’ve got The Corona! A slight pressure behind my eyes, a passing shower, really, of a headache, and, OMG, I’ve got The COVID!

While I don’t think I’ve had coronavirus (yet!), lately, I have felt unwell–and that’s making me go, hmm. I have been feeling achey, feverish, fatigued. I mentioned in my last post that I think my chikungunya virus infection is back, and I’m still sort of convinced that this is the case. Chik-v, as I like to call it, is a mosquito-borne illness, similar to Dengue fever and malaria in the way it’s transmitted (through mosquitoes) and in some of the symptoms. For some people, it can go dormant after the initial infection and clearance, and then keep coming and going. I got it in 2014, and I’ve had it come and go once in a while; I haven’t had it for a long time, though, and I haven’t had it come back this bad.

When I got it, I had severe pain in joints that were already lame or weakened. For instance, my left knee cap has been straying off course for years, and it usually hurts when I jog or walk down hills. When I got chik-v, it was like, the virus made a beeline for this joint and moved in; it really hurt, moreso than other body parts or joints.

When the chik-v flares, I feel achey and a burning sensation in some joints, feverish, and just kind of blah. The aches I have today are quite reminiscent of when I was first infected, so I’m pretty sure it’s that. The feverishness? Well, hi, menopause. Who knows–I am hot like, 99% of the day and night now, so…LOL, I have stopped wondering if a fever means anything anymore. (Sometimes, I am worried that when they temp-check you, like at a local grocery store here, before you walk inside, they’re going to find that I have a fever and be like, you can’t come in, you have corona…and I’ll have to say, nope, just menopause.)

Not to go on and on about this, but I think it might be worth sharing. Past few years of bloodwork, my white blood cell count has come back high. Nothing to worry about, and the doc didn’t really say much about it. But, I have been wondering why. Is is the latent chik-v, resting in my cells, that’s causing my body to be on immune alert, so to speak? I often wonder, am I working out too hard? That’s really the only other thing that seems plausible to me since, sometimes, after a hard workout in the sun, climbing hills, probably in 95-degree heat and 80-percent humidity (I don’t even want to know what the “feels like” temperature is)–I feel under the weather.

I have the feeling it’s chik-v, and it’s been riled up because I’ve been taxing myself too much working out. Yet…I can’t help but wonder, could I have another infection, and if so, could it be corona?

I’ve been staying relatively well, otherwise, during this pandemic. I am not prone to the anxiety, I guess, that others (my mom) are feeling, in terms of not being able to socialize. It’s true that I do have a significant other, and I am grateful and fortunate to have that–others, like my mom, don’t. I don’t need a lot of friends, I guess, to be happy and feel safe; I need to socialize from time to time, but a lot of the deep thinking and emotional work, well, (in getting sober) I learned to keep to myself. When I was in my 20s and early 30s, I needed WAY more close friendships; I depended on my “tribe” for survival. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped needing–or wanting–to be that open and vulnerable about my inner world. In this pandemic time, it’s probably helped that I’ve sort of always been able to be happy and imaginative in a bubble of only a few close people and pets.

For some reason, I haven’t wanted to cook more, or experiment more with random ingredients. I don’t know if I’m bored or lazy in the kitchen these days, but I would love to do more cooking (of things I’ve never made). I have truly sucked at reading more books–I am literally hanging my head in shame that I haven’t finished one book (yet!). Um, speaking of book–haha; I have a book idea (a few), and it’s in project stage, and said project is on my to-do list EVERY day, and EVERY day, I find something else to do instead of that! Haha. I’ll get there.

My workouts are strong, my job search has been going well–I made it through my video interview on Monday, now it’s a matter of waiting. There are good things, too, and we have to congratulate ourselves on doing the good things, on simply staying sane.

We are expecting our first storm of the season down here–it’s the ninth storm to form, the first to touch down, this year. I cannot believe how EARLY we’re getting our first tropical storm this year. By comparison, in 2017, when we were struck by TWO category-5 hurricanes within two weeks’ time (cat-5 is as high as it goes, so, a very bad season), Hurricane Irma was the ninth storm that year–that was in early September; we aren’t even out of July yet!

Anyway, the water is churning, the wind is rumbling the hurricane shutters, and we’re getting ready to just close up and sit tight for the next day, if not several days. Stay well, everyone, and I’ll see you soon.

Helping or enabling

1 Jul

11:22 am

I used to think that I knew the difference between helping a person and enabling them–until I was no longer on the receiving end. As someone who drank alcoholically for years, I never had to wonder if I was helping someone or enabling that person. It was their problem, and they had to figure out how to help me without enabling my ill behavior.

These days, I am the one having to decide between helping and enabling during every phone call I make to both parents. I can say, almost without doubt, that both my parents, by choice, are living with untreated mental health disorders that negatively affect their family members.

It’s sad, but it’s the truth.

And there is not a damn thing I can do about it.

What is this called? Transgenerational something–issues, addiction, trauma? I can clearly see my own workaholism in my dad’s behavior; I can clearly see my neurotic thinking and tendency to catastrophize in my mom’s behavior. Yet, both my parents either don’t see it in themselves or choose to not see it. I chose to see it, and I chose to try to fix it, within myself. It’s a work in progress, but I decided that I could no longer live in denial–that was eight years ago.

Let me give a few “for instances”: I recently found out that my dad and his second wife are divorcing; she served him papers, and he seems to be in this state of “I don’t know why on Earth she would want to divorce me” haze that is just, well, utter bullshit. He knows; the problem is, on our calls, he denies knowing and spins a tale of what he believes has happened (versus the reality, which I know, because my step-mom and brother have seen or heard different versions from him, and they’ve told me about those). The question is, do I listen and not say anything, or do I confront him on his denial? I have tried a version of the latter, but he is deep in his denial so it doesn’t work. Yet, allowing him to go on without being questioned just reinforces this behavior–enabling him to keep it up without facing any kind of consequences.

The last time I talked to my mom, she was complaining about her health issues, about she was feeling overwhelmed and alone. I feel bad for her, but, after decades of telling her what she knows she should do, she’s chosen to not expand her social circle to include even one friend! She chooses to obsess about her health issues instead of letting them go/be; I get that it’s hard, and she has a lot of problems. However, no matter how “bad” you’ve got it, at some point, you have to choose to stop the mental looping and try something else–maybe, meditation, or yoga, or staying on medications consistently, or believing that these medications will help (there is power in placebo; she knows this, as a former nurse). Now, I could tell her, again, that she should do this, that, and the other; she can say, yes, I know I should do that, and then, she can not do it–or, I can just listen and then hang up, not really telling her how I feel because it doesn’t seem to change her behavior, which is in essence, a form of enabling as well!

Why do I feel guilty–and somehow responsible–that my parents, both of them well into their 70s, are very seemingly stuck and unhappy? And, even more guilty that I have decided to give up on helping both of them, wishing their choices were different but not trying to engage anymore in a discussion about any of it? What if it does not end well for my dad, who is soon going to discover just how much of the physical, daily burden my step-mom carried? Should I feel like it was my fault, that I didn’t help him enough by literally screaming the truth, as I know it, into his ear? Same with my mom: should I just let her be, grasping but unwilling, or should I continue to force the issue of personal responsibility for one’s own happiness?

I have chosen, after all these years of getting sober–it was a lot of work to extricate myself from these learned behavioral patterns, some of which really affected me and “caused” my drinking problem–to just let it go. Let. It. Go. I can’t care that much about their problems; I can’t keep trying to “reason” with them when they don’t want to change, essentially.

Is this what it feels like to try to help an addict or alcoholic who is not ready to get sober yet? Maybe…

This is community, not social media

13 Jun

12:44 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two weeks off social media–do I really exist?

27 Apr

3:55 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost a week off social media…

19 Apr

4:26 pm

…and it’s better than good-ish!  I mean, I am starting to see how hugely beneficial this “break” from Facebook might actually be in terms of my relationships, including with myself.

At first, I felt a sense of relief; as in, ahhh, I don’t have to follow all the news/information; ahhh, I don’t have to “care” about this random person’s feelings or thing they did.  I felt like there was much less noise in my head, and that made way for more space to think about *my* life, this blog, my future employment prospects, i.e., what I want to be when I grow up (after lockdown ends and we all are supposed to go back to normal).

Then, I had a sense of clarity around relationships, accompanied by some sort of resentment and ultimately, mild disappointment.  As it turns out, some of my “friends” on social media are just that–friends only on Facebook.  In real life, I guess we don’t have that much to talk about, and frankly, we probably kind of annoy each other.  I just can’t anymore with passive-aggressive behavior, so I might just let them go–it’s probably for the better if I feel this good!

Past two days, I seem to have “remembered” that I have, um, really old, really good relationships with some people–cousins, old friends from growing up, my family–so, why the HECK have I been chasing the comings and goings of people I barely know?  It’s just crazy-making, and I see it now as such:  I mean, why not focus on your actual, tried-and-true relationships, the ones that have already given back and will continue to do so?  That’s what I’m going to focus on this week when I get bored or restless wondering where all my “friends” have gone–reach out to those friends that I have, to those that have already proven to be worthwhile, to be relevant (as in, we have a real history together).

On another note, my furlough is going well; I mean, I have a ton of things I want to do (read my last post), and have just started to get back into reading.  I am supposed to be reading 50 pages a day in this book (it’s over 1,000 pages long, and I just want to get it done!), but I’m already behind on that!  I love taking walks, and of course, I go running outside and do yoga (and sometimes lift weights) indoors.  I mean, life on an island is pretty glorious as far as “lockdown” goes; we’ve got space here, and no one is enforcing any strict orders (except for the beaches; they have been closed the past two weeks, supposedly reopening tomorrow).  We have all this beautiful outside world to explore, and I love it–more than ever, since now it’s truly empty of humanity and I get it all to myself!  (as an introvert, I am dreading when things open back up…and the pressure of having to socialize is put back on us)

On a different note, we woke up this morning to our sweet dog–a chow-shepherd mix–in what I have come to call an “osteoarthritic crisis.”  She’s had a few of these crises, which seem to come on at night, usually around dawn (um, thanks to perimenopause, I am up most of the night with her, to witness when all this takes place–haha).  She pants really, really hard, and kind of paces around, obviously in a lot of pain based on the way her limbs have stiffened even more than they usually have by the end of the day.

This morning, however, she was in a state that I have never seen:  not just panting, but panting SO VERY hard that her tongue was extended to breaking point and was almost purple; she was like, almost seizing/having a seizure, her legs and arms would not move her around no matter how hard she tried.  She finally got to one of her beds and eased herself down to a half-sitting/half-standing posture; and she kept panting, her body shaking with the force of her panting (I thought she was going to have a heart attack, I really did), for like, an hour.

We gave her her morning meds–gabapentin and rimadyl–and on top of that, some old pills that we never give her, save for when she’s in a lot of pain, both a tramadol (a pain reliever) and a trazadone (a sedative that the vet gave us for the flight down, which we never used).  Finally, after much panting, watering, and just sitting next to her with my hand on her side, she settled down, eased down onto the bed, and went to sleep.

I think it’s getting really close to time…  I mean, other dog owners would probably shame us for letting it go on this long–she started to limp badly almost 1.5 years ago–but, it is what it is.  I have never had a dog go through this, and most of the time, she is fine in her mind.  Lately, though, and especially this morning, which scared me, her body is just showing severe signs of “I can’t do this for much longer.”

At least I have time to spend with her now, not having to work.  Today was like a hangover day for her:  those days that were 100% wasted, sleeping off the sobering up, and then, waking up at 5 pm to realize that it was almost dusk, you still felt like shit, and you had just wasted another day (and night before; none of my nights of drinking were ever memorable, if remembered at all).  That’s a dark comparison, but one that I can’t help but make.

It’s almost sunset time here, which means, time to go onto the deck and watch the colors fade from the sky, sinking into the horizon until everything turns to ink, then black.  The stars will appear, first Venus, then the Big Dipper; then, the night will fill out as the evening plods on, and the black will become peppered with a spray of pinpoints of light.  I wonder, how many of those are stars and how many, satellites?  I can never tell which points of light are planets, and I can never pick out but a few constellations.  Every night, though, I go out onto the deck, and look up, and gaze in awe, and in gratitude–most nights, I am burning up and feeling awful along every inch of my skin, BUT, I can still muster gratitude…and hope.  I hope that our girl knows that she is up there, already, one star and many–she is my shining star, my Higher Power; she will light up my night sky forever.  I hope she knows that, or at least knows that mommy is thinking about her when she steps out into the night and looks up.

Fourth day off social media…

16 Apr

5:57 pm

…and it still feels good-ish.  In short, I feel freer, mentally, like there is just less noise; but, I am finding myself sort of feeling like–poof!–some of my friends have just disappeared from my life.  Of course, they haven’t just disappeared–they just rely heavily on social media to relate to me.  It’s weird.  (Nothing is rational about this process, about why we feel the way we feel on social media–if anything, it’s a form of talking to ourselves, a monologue, not representative of a dialogue with another person, which, in my opinion, is the definition of a relationship.)

Sure, I feel a bit out of it when it comes to current events.  However, all I have to do is put in a little bit more time to intentionally go to news sites—especially those that cover the local news, for instance the government’s updates on the COVID-19 situation.  And, the idea of being intentional about this appeals to me:  instead of just consuming this, that, and the other that pops up in my Facebook feed, I’m choosing to see all the stories at one publication’s website, choosing to read all the headlines and then, choosing to read the entirety of some of these stories.

I know I’m not missing much in that regard since I’ve got a world of news right at my fingertips.  As for my groups, eh, those will be there; the important ones, I’ll be able to catch up on.  For my grad school groups, I can catch up quickly on those, since new posts don’t appear that often and the content remains evergreen, relevant for quite a while.  For this perimenopause/menopause group that I follow–um, I think I have enough information to tell me, there isn’t really a fix, let alone a quick one, so…I can let it go for a while.  For this one, a hiking group, people post super-cool pics all the time, but, I’ve done a lot of the hikes that folks are posting about, and, what do you know, I can go back to my own photo library and re-live these hikes by looking at some of my own, awesome pictures!

What I haven’t been able to shake yet is this feeling of resentment toward some of my friends.  Maybe just disappointment.  It’s true, we are in a pandemic and everyone seems to be hunkering down.  I know that some of my in-real-life (IRL) friends spend a LOT of energy living via their Facebook pages; I also know that, in the past, whenever a friend of mine deactivated or deleted his or her account, I felt personally affronted–it was like, really, you’re just ghosting on me and everyone else like that?  I wonder if the friends who have gone silent the past week, are they feeling like I’ve been “ignoring” them, or have ghosted them?  No texts, no messages, no calls–I can’t help but feel slighted, but the benefit of not having that noise in my life right now simply outweighs all the rest.  Distance will help, I know; hopefully, whatever real or virtual tiff will have dissipated by the time we interact again, on the ‘book or IRL.

Mainly, I have felt bored, but also this sweet sense of quiet–a feeling of peace, focus, less noise in my head.  Very little of others’ lives and feelings are bumping around in my brain, taking up my time and energy–and that is glorious, really.  A relief.

It’s a bit tedious being in my own head and world all the time, especially under lockdown, but, going off Facebook and other social sites has been instructive as to how much I rely on virtual, almost-pseudo-connection to feel connected.

So, onward.  Time to finally read a book–haha.

First day off social media…

13 Apr

6:20 pm

…and, it feels good-ish.  I have decided to not go on as much, and today, so far, I haven’t logged in to either Facebook or LinkedIn at all.  It feels good, for the most part:  I like having more free space in my head (and heart), but I don’t like feeling as if I’m intentionally disconnecting/ed from friends, the news, information, reality.  Sure, I guess I could just turn on the TV news, but…it’s not quite the same.

I’ll get used to it.  Once, a few years ago, I went for ONE WHOLE MONTH–gasp!–without logging in to Facebook.  Back then, I had some things that I really wanted to figure out in my life, some choices to make, and I didn’t want the distraction of Facebook to get in my way.  I can’t remember if I felt all that antsy not being on it every day; I did feel like I was missing out on “what’s happening” in my friends’ “lives,” but, that was three years ago, when friends actually posted about their lives and I actually saw their posts.

Now, it just seems that all I see are news, sponsored ads (gah, I HATE sponsored ads), and, um, the odd post that is both genuine and interesting to regular old people, aka, your “friends.”  I still see the odd “photos from our family trip” once in a while, quite a few baby pics (I don’t get why people are still posting baby pics to Facebook; if I were a parent, I would never do that–maybe I’m just paranoid); I still see “this is what I made for dinner” posts, and I do see interesting shared news here or there.  However, these days, most posts seem highly curated–people don’t share off the cuff, and they are aware that what they share can and will be used (for or) against them.

For me, it’s taking up too much space in my head; just thinking about going on Facebook makes my head spin and gives me a bit of anxiety:  WHAT am I going to encounter today that is going to make me angry or emotionally unstable?  Haha.  Seriously.  It’s like, after I’m done scrolling, I have this feeling of void; like, my ability to think creatively and positively (about what I, myself, am going to do that day) seems subtracted.  And, especially during this COVID-19 quarantine/lockdown period, where days and goals and projects have been sort of turned around, when we really need to cultivate a sense of structure, if we are that kind of person (I am!)–I guess I just need all my time and space to myself, to figure out how to best live my life right now.

I hope everyone is hanging in there.  I am on week 2 of my furlough, and last week was great as I got a lot done.  This week?  Well, I think I’m going to continue to work on my writing, but, that includes starting some new projects–which I have yet to create for myself.  Now that I don’t have to write about my work stuff, I am free to…explore, I guess.  I was talking to my brother last night, and he reminded me that I don’t have to be productive during a pandemic.  I get that; I mean, I would like to figure out what is going to excite me, as a writer, in the next few months or years; but, I’m not going to get crazy about it.

I’d love to um, learn a few languages (haha–not just one, but two) and start on the whole Ancestry.com thing.  Mainly, I’d love to read; guys, I am THE WORST reader.  When I set my mind to it, I can skim-read books in hours.  BUT, I am not one to pick up a book anymore in my free time and read for pleasure–last few years, at least, I’ve just felt that I can’t afford the time to do that, I have all this other stuff to do.  Well, now that I don’t feel that other stuff breathing down my neck, I do want to give myself permission to read more books.  Finally, as we all probably know, there is SO MUCH TELEVISION to watch, it’s unfathomable!

There is one thing that hasn’t changed during this time:  I just don’t drink.  And, I am still utterly grateful for that fact of my life, every hour of every day.  It’s strange how it can be that way, but, every day, almost, I wake up grateful to not be hungover, grateful that I get to do all this stuff that I just rambled on about, grateful that I am here, present, able to see the trees, the forest, and everything in between.  And, I haven’t forgotten that it was my readers who helped me get through all the hard places and dark nights (the night, indeed, can be dark and full of terrors).  And that, I am still in recovery, I will probably never be able to drink again, and I am grateful for those things, too.

Face value

6 Apr

11:13 am

Take it at face valueTake what he or she says at face value.

I am so used to hearing expressions like these, but not really understanding them.  Lately, I am coming to grasp the meaning–and the value–of face value.  Maybe it’s the COVID-19 situation bringing it into better focus.

What is face value when you no longer see anyone’s real face?  I mean, in the age of text and social media, is there really any face value?  Sure, we have video–and, truth be told, I’d rather Zoom than not see people (I was SO excited to see my boss’s face the other day, after literally about nine months of just hearing her voice on the phone).  However, the majority of our relationships, for the most part, exist on text and social media–at the very least, I would say, NOT face to face, or, as they say, in real life (IRL).  Is anyone else getting simply tired of it?  Or, if not tired of it, wondering why you are feeling like an outlier because you don’t really want to count it anymore as real interaction?

I feel like so many of my relationships consider text communications to be sufficient–and, to be fair, sometimes they can be–to be the brunt of our total interactions!  To that, I am increasingly saying, it’s not enough.  It really does require more than that (for me, for where I am right now in my life and in my recovery).  To add, my not responding (or not responding fully) does not mean that I don’t like you, or that I am angry or pissed or whatever; it just means that I just don’t consider it “real” face to face–and I refuse to give it that value.

Even my mom sends emails a LOT more regularly these days; she used to get annoyed when I emailed her instead of calling.  Now, I can’t be bothered to go into depth over email, so she’s the one who’s like, why didn’t you reply, it’s been days!  The irony!

I know my tendency as an introvert is to not interact with people; but since getting sober, I have tried really hard to go around that tendency and force myself to talk to people, to try and see people (versus other ways of staying in touch).  We are, so many of us, introverts; however, being an introvert is not the same as using text to avoid someone because you are insecure; or, using text as a means to replace an actual “IRL” relationship because, for some reason, you don’t want to commit to a relationship.

The thing is, a lot can get crossed over the wires when you’re only–or mainly–texting or using social media; a lot can be misinterpreted or misunderstood.  Which can lead to, well, relationships gone bad.  And, these are never made better unless you see each other face to face–you can never really truly take things at face value unless you’re face to face, body to body (in my opinion, anyway).  This might be a rather traditional, luddite approach (favored by my grandparents, no doubt!  damn, has perimenopause aged me four decades instead of two these past several years?), but one whose value I am only now beginning to truly appreciate, in the midst of a pandemic that has forced us all to re-consider how we’ve been interacting lately.

On a personal note, I was furloughed from my (normally remote) nonprofit job–90 days, no pay.  I am going to try to collect UI, but we’ll see (I am not 100% sure I can get it considering how hairy things have gotten pretty much everywhere with everyone applying for unemployment benefits).  The silver lining is actually gold:  I get to step away from this job for a while, which has sucked up a lot of my mental and emotional time this past 16 months, and invest it in this blog, in my own personal writing, in well, my recovery.  Lately, I feel like I need to address my reactions to other people–maybe it’s as simple as, I see some of my acquaintances’ behavior differently now that I am more sober and older, and it probably was never cool to begin with.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I am increasingly like, bye, gurl, when it comes to confusing/indirect/passive aggressive behavior–I don’t have the willpower or desire anymore to dig deep and speculate; I choose to take things at face value.

In any case, I suggest everyone step back and give yourself a pat on the back and a big hug–you are doing great.  Amazing, actually.  And, I mean that–you can take that at face value.  YOU ARE AMAZING.

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…

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