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Course correction

15 Aug

3:47

Course correction? Um, that would mean, me not worrying anymore about whether I post (regularly) to this blog. I thought quite a bit about this over the past few months, and I’ve concluded: this blog is more for me than for my readers, so I don’t have to “please” anyone per se (with the quantity or quality of my posts).

That being said, at this point in my life–and this blog’s life–it’s still nice to reconnect, to stop by the old ‘hood once in a while and say hi to friends and strangers. Hi, friends. Hi, strangers. How’s life?

My life has been a lot of work. Ongoing work. I feel fortunate that I work in one of those professions that was enhanced/improved by the pandemic–in fact, in my professional world, the rest of my coworkers have finally caught up to my reality of working from home (for the past near-decade)! But, yeah, I have a job and I just took another one; I don’t mind, as I know it’s not forever and it’s a means to a financial end. It’s a grind, though, and I’ve suffered from pretty bad RSI in my right wrist these past few weeks to a month, so it’s been hard to do any writing outside of weekday work.

On a different note, after almost a full year since all the craziness with my dad began–it was last August that my brothers and I started to notice just how off-the-wall my dad’s behavior had become; one night, at about dusk, he called me from a field…where, um, he ended up wandering around until 4 the next morning because he essentially got lost–we got him placed into a community-based residential facility, and he moves in tomorrow. It’s like a dorm for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. We shall see how he handles it.

I don’t expect his trying to leave 24/7 to stop, but I hope it dies down a little bit. He’s actually successfully managed to almost “escape” (as he calls it) the nursing home a few times, getting as far as the highway and trying to hitchhike home. The other weekend, a couple of his farmer friends (who are clueless as to what dementia entails) took him out to some sort of event, and that ended up riling him up for days afterward, which culminated in my dad trying to leave the nursing home by stealing an ambulance! All I know is that, the cops were called and my dad didn’t even remember the incident days later.

Of course, nothing is wrong with him and he plans to get a car and commute back and forth to our/his farm. This past Friday night, after my brother had spent the entire day making his dorm room a home, we talked to Dad, and he was like, yeah, when your step-mom comes to pick me up on Monday to take me to the new place, I’m not going, I’ll have her drop me off at home instead–yup, OK, sure.

This has all been quite the trip. I’m just glad it’s over, to the extent that, we did what we needed to do to get him somewhere permanent, safe, and that can actually help his state of mind. Looking at the pictures that my brother sent of his new “home,” I couldn’t help but feel dread more than sadness: so, THIS is where a man of his intellect (he went to one of the military academies) ends up, a small room with a twin bed and a few pictures of the highlights of his life (which he can’t remember anyway), hanging on the walls. GREAT.

It’s hard not to take his deterioration to heart. It’s really brought home the question, what is the point? Literally. Like, if you can’t remember any of it anyway, WHY live a life in which you don’t like your job, you don’t like your moments? It’s been rattling around in my head as I work all these jobs that leave me going, wow, I really did not have ANY fun today except that one hour walking the dogs, or those two hours of jogging along the beach. Sure, I know I am fortunate and have privilege; at the same time, this question bounces along like a tumbleweed being blown down the center line.

Anyway, I hope all are well. We’ve got a tropical storm passing over our island today, which means a lot of rain (nothing more serious; it’s just a storm, not a hurricane). I’m taking advantage of a rare day of downtime–to write, to take stock, to zone out…

Mid-year check-in!

20 May

11:02 am

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of May!? This year, man; I thought 2020 was hard…

I literally only have a few minutes to post, but I wanted to check in and say hi to everyone. I think I’ve got company when I say, life has just been going way too fast and feeling way too busy this year to stop and post about the roses, as it were, on my blog!

In short, I’ve been working a ton of long days, taking care of the dad situation (he has dementia, which seems to be progressing fairly quickly), and um, looking for a new place to live. I am still doing a couple of jobs and have just lined up a possible third–it’s not easy or cheap to live where we live as well as to save quickly to get out of renters’ hell, which we’re actually in right now, to be honest.

My two brothers and I are all vaccinated, so we’re planning to make a trip home next month to see our dad in the nursing home (where he’s been for, wow, six months now) and start the transition into a new facility. We were worried about this process since he’s been so “oppositional” to the entire affair, but these days, his attitude resembles more of a person with depression, so he’ll be more easily swayed to do, well, whatever he’s told. I don’t know if it’s his meds (he’s on two right now) or the dementia, but, he’s just very…out of it. He used to get riled up, call us every day to “get him out of jail,” but these days, it’s like he’s a combination of resigned to his fate and, well, out of it. Like, in a daze. Like, unable to get out of his head. Or, as my brother put it, like his brain is shutting down. One thing I have also noticed is an increasing lack of affection. It’s like, he’s not necessarily forgetting who we are yet, but he seems to be forgetting the emotional connection, as in, he’s not remembering WHY we are who we are to him. So strange. Frankly, having lived through SO many drunken blackouts myself–and spent time wondering about the nature of the blackout–it’s a bit easier for me (than the average “normie,” I guess) to grasp what my dad’s brain is doing now. Like, some of his behavior resembles drunken blackout mode. Anyway, it’s getting easier as we come to accept his state of mind, and, well, as he comes to accept his state of mind (whether that’s because he’s medicated, I don’t know).

Finding a new rental has NOT BEEN EASY, mainly because we’ve been investigating all kinds of options (buying here or elsewhere, buying land and building here, buying a condo versus buying a house). Our landlord wants her house back (slash, drove us out with her ridiculous behavior, but that’s for another post; le sigh)–so, we’ve been busy trying to make our plan, which at this point necessarily includes renting for a while longer. There are so few rentals where we live anymore–post-hurricane and post-pandemic realities that no one is going to get around unless the community chooses ethics over money–and even fewer that take pets (which is why our “pound” is constantly overflowing with stray dogs and cats), so…yeah, it’s been a trip!

All that being said, we’re making our way through it, having a bit of fun in the sun, and well, staying sane. And, I’m happy with that! Haha.

Again, my minutes are up and I now have to run out (literally) and then come home and read journal articles so I can write about them! Hope all are well, and we’ll see you very soon in a longer post…

Oh, and YES, I have wanted to pick up the white wine (there’s a bottle for cooking in our fridge) quite a few times these past few months, but…yeah, no, not gonna happen. I know it’s only a short-term fix, but I also know from experience slipping that, the booze is not going to make my brain or body feel good (it’s going to make my brain feel like radio on static and it’s going to make my peri/menopausal night heat worse).

In with a bang?

21 Feb

12:20 pm

Is that an expression? I think it’s actually, out with a bang, but considering how much of a whirlwind the first seven weeks of 2021 have been, I don’t think it really matters…

I’ll dive right in, how’s that? I have to say, while this year has had a lot of good stuff, which I’ll get to later, it’s been sort of a shit show on one end. I feel less in control of life than I have ever felt–mainly due to my dad having dementia, believing he is being “held hostage” by us, his three kids, in the skilled nursing facility (aka, nursing home) where he is at right now. I think I have a newfound understanding of anxiety! I mean, I have always reacted to certain things or thoughts with anxious behavior, but I have never felt what I guess some people describe as “anxiety,” which is, I wake up every morning with this feeling of uncertainty, like an elevator is dropping in my belly, like there is no solution to how to stop the rock that is going to be careening downhill at me that day.

I have missed writing, and I’m sorry that I have not this year; I just feel like all I’ve been doing, all year long so far, is triaging the dad situation on the weeknights and weekends with my brothers: getting him to a nursing home, getting him to stay there, getting him on much-overdue meds; delving into his crumbling life, which is, managing his assets to get him through his divorce in order to apply for Medicaid in order to find him a “home” for after he is (soon to be) discharged from the nursing home. (He’s there for hip rehab from a hip reconstruction surgery that he had to have because he drove at night without breaks, crashing his car into a tree and crushing his hip; he refused to stay at the first rehab back in September, and ultimately, he was in and out of ERs until early December–it was a mess!)

Um, I have felt mostly guilt and anxiety over this, but, past few weeks, as we talk more with him and the staff–well, I am starting to feel less guilty. It really is what it is, and there is nothing we can do to change or fix it for him. His short-term memory issue does not seem to be getting better, in that, he does not remember from one minute or block of time to the next; practically, that means he doesn’t remember the conversation that we had with him yesterday, let alone yelling at us for telling him that we are moving ahead with the divorce in spite of his objections. Where his mind is at is, I was served papers and OK, I am in agreement with getting divorced. In reality, our step-mom filed in May 2020; he was unable and/or unwilling, mentally, to respond by the deadline last July; so, we have managed the work of organizing his assets, hiring an attorney to represent “him,” negotiating the settlement proposal with all parties excluding him, and finally, beginning to list his assets for sale as part of the fulfillment of his end of the deal. It’s just one example of the loops we’ve found ourselves to be stuck in when trying to reason with him.

In fact, there is no “reasoning” with him anymore, even though he is quite lucid. Which means, when the time comes to “put him somewhere,” he is going to go kicking and screaming, literally. And, just getting to the point where we are all somehow OK with that–that’s caused and causing me anxiety. However, the facts don’t lie: he has dementia-thinking (which, goes FAR BEYOND memory loss and goes way back, before his accident). Like everything, it’s a process, and, well, many others have been down this road. This, too, shall pass.

Anyhoo… Other than that, life is pretty OK! Working a ton–my new job continues to kick my butt; but, at least I am down to only one gig–and spending a lot of time training our two new foster dogs. The second one, a girl, is a handful, but she is getting better and better at being someone’s dog. We had to sort of housetrain her when she got here; we’re working on getting her to not bark at our landlady; soon, I hope she can just chill inside, not in her crate, when I leave the house.

This weekend, I started on new glaucoma drops (yeah, man, wtf? I am 46 years old, and the doc said that I have mild in one eye, mild to moderate in the other!), and they suck. They give me anxiety! It is strange and I thought I was imagining it, but no, turns out, thanks to good old Google, that timolol is notorious for its systemic side effects. I am sensitive, sure, but these drops make me feel really out of sorts. We’ll see; I mean, there are other options, so, of course, I am gonna have to advocate for myself.

And, I have to say, the menopause stuff (yeah, man, am I just a fast ager? Haha) is finally seeming to iron itself out. My hormone therapy still does need some tweaking, but, after, um, almost a full year, at least I am beginning to see what might be ME and not a side effect (or vice versa); and, importantly, what works for ME and not what every article on the Internet says “should” be the right dose or effect! All this said, my night heat is much better (not gone, but better), my insomnia has much improved (knock wood!?), and the “other stuff” is super-slowly getting better. Thank GAWDess. The worst thing about this has been, ya don’t know what to expect so everything feels permanent and catastrophic. I would tell my early 40s self, and anyone out there who would listen, this is NOT true; it will change, and it will get better.

Whew.

In any case, I remain ever-grateful, still, for my sobriety, for the lessons learned. No matter how many ups and downs the days take me on, I still have that overwhelmingly sense of, I am one of the lucky ones, I got out. No matter how “bad” things seem, I am still sober–and that is everything good. That is literally everything. That is glitter and unicorns and an endless Mardi Gras parade.

Sunday afternoon ramblings

4 Oct

2:53 pm

As I wrote about recently, over the past few weeks (going on a month now, actually), I’ve had terrible leg pain. I thought I had some terrible disease (of course, I did), so I went to the doctor–a first in that, this doc took me seriously and ran every blood test possible for a complaint like, “my legs hurt”–and, well…nothing is wrong. No Covid, no infectious disease, no autoimmune disease, blood panel good, muscles fine. I also got a blood test done for both my estrogen and progesterone levels, and for where I am at in the process of both menopause and taking estradiol via the patch, those came back normal, too.

SO, I have to conclude that it’s something to do with the estradiol patch (which, btw, is only one method of transdermal application; there are also creams, gels, sprays, probably others). And, that kind of really sucks since, I don’t know if another via-the-skin application will work for me. I am going to keep riding it out and see what happens.

So, that’s one reason I’ve been quiet on my blog, I’m just trying to take care of myself–mentally, it’s really hard for me to accept pain and not being able to work out because of pain. I usually just push through pain, but my muscles seem to take days to recover from even the slightest workout, so I have been obeying my body’s commands. It’s not easy not knowing either; and, I’ll never know unless I take the time to go off everything, let my body readjust, and then, go back on things one at a time. The patch is working for my night heat and insomnia, though, which is glorious!? Still, if I can’t live WITH the medication, then…it’d have to be a dealbreaker.

I am well, and my doctors took me very seriously–so, a huge win. Plus, it appears that I never got Covid, which is a relief as well.

I’ve been working full-time and will start working a new remote contract gig this week, putting me at full-time-plus for the next few months, so…that’s been great! It’s a relief to have work, sure, but even more of a relief to not have to job and gig search for a while.

Another thing that’s been going on is that my dad has gotten himself into some physical trouble (think: crashing cars and breaking bones) due to well, untreated bipolar disorder (in my opinion). Long story short, he’s doing fine but he’s still up to his tricks, so to speak. Lesson learned on my part: he will never change until and unless he takes medication; he will never admit anything is wrong; and, importantly, there is nothing I can do for him. I have thought of telling him, I refuse to talk to you until you get meds, but, I don’t quite get how an “intervention” or “ultimatum” would truly work or be beneficial for a mental health disorder like his. He doesn’t believe–refuses to believe–that there is anything wrong. How can you force him to consider an ultimatum that doesn’t really mesh with his version of reality? I don’t know.

On that note, I am going to exhale–my mantra these days–and go for a walk. I can do that at least; it’s funny how much of an “athlete” I am: I have already acclimated to this new level of pain and have found ways around it. I will never stop working out! (maybe that’s what got me here to begin with? lol)

Thank you, one and all, for still being part of my life. This blog-o-sphere is truly one of my favorite places to be on a Sunday afternoon…

Exhale, and believe

7 Sep

3:01 pm

That’s my mantra these days. Exhale, and believe.

Exhale, sure. Calm down. But, believe? In what? Well, that things will change. That, um, I will change. That I will have the courage to just let things be if they’re not working for me anymore. That I will have the courage to just let my thoughts go if they’re causing me more harm than good.

This past week turned out better that I imagined it would, considering that I landed two contract jobs, which means I’ll have at least part-time work through the end of the year. (My “dream job” got back to me, too, requesting an interview, but…I am not sure what’s going to transpire with that, so, I’m just waiting and seeing.) All the work I am doing now came from networking with my existing contacts, not cold calls, as it were. So, that’s a big lesson right there, which is, eff Indeed! (haha)

I am slowly getting over putting our sweet girl down coming up on a month this Wednesday. We’ve thought about fostering a dog (or two) since we’ve now got the time *and* have to be in the same place (now that I am working again, I need to be settled; plus, the only place we would want to travel would be the West, in an RV, and um, it’s kind of literally Hell there right now). It’d be a shame, in my opinion, to not give love when you are able to give love; there are plenty of dogs in need at the local shelter–just like our girl and our boy needed our love, those many years ago. We’ll see…

I’ve sort of been on autopilot the past few weeks, sometimes wanting to give up this blog, sometimes wanting to write more on it; just plugging, getting back into work mode (man, my brain is slow after five months on furlough–haha). It’s been great, though, to redirect my attention to something else, anything else, but trying to work on my book (hashtag fail) and staring at my belly button.

I don’t know if my new hormone therapy is working or not, really; there aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to “what is supposed to happen in menopause” and I am not sure if I can expect 100% “back to normal.” However, I know what I want, and I don’t feel what I want yet. Unfortunately, even though I’ve been going through this crap for three years, I probably won’t see the light at the end of the very hot tunnel until the end of this year, considering how long you have to take your regimen to see if it’s working (three months) before you can request a change or upgrade (if that’s even possible, I don’t know). The wait is not as much of a problem as the fact that this has been going on for three years, and it has been really trying, and I just want to feel like myself again. The uncertainty factor has been the most irritating part of this process–you just don’t know how you’re going to feel or when it’s going to feel better.

Today marks three years plus one day that Hurricane Irma hit. Our lives were forever changed. A part of me really misses that time; amidst the chaos there was excitement, and promise–of something new. We lived that “new” and are now back to where we started. Except, there’s a pandemic now and no one can do anything–which, actually, kind of sucks more than the aftermath of a hurricane, mostly because, the aftermath and rebuilding had/has a finite end! Anyway, I wonder, what’s next? What’s going to be new? I am so jones’ing for something new again, aren’t you?

So, I come back to my mantra: exhale–what will be, will be; let the planning go for now–and believe–things will change, they will not be this way forever. Exhale, and believe.

Staying on track

13 May

3:21 pm

Like (probably) a lot (or at least some) of us, I am starting to feel the pressure of time to myself.  I am grateful for people who are working the front lines of this pandemic; and sometimes, I feel sort of guilty that I have free time that I could, if I wanted, use to do something to improve things.  But, I’ve only been furloughed for five weeks, and I am just trying to enjoy my free time…for now.

Speaking of time, I have a lot of “now that I have time, I should do this”-type of projects that have been on my radar for years; and, partly because these are pulling me in different directions, and partly because I am struggling to stay focused these days, I am starting to feel mentally overwhelmed.  How do I spend my time?  I know this not-working thing is not going to last–and, it’s a good opportunity to start planning for the future, in case I don’t get my job back in July–am I spending my free time well?

Out of necessity, I try to maintain a sense of structure to my days, which is a habit of having worked for myself for almost a decade.  What I’ve been practicing over the past eight years of working remotely–as in, alone all day, just me and my to-do list and my work–is staying on track.  What does that mean?  To me, it means, focusing only on what needs to be done, no matter how “small” it seems.

Getting what needs to be done, done, is easier if I make a to-do list.  It is especially important now, during this very freeform pandemic, where, if you’re not working or you’re working from home and not used to it, it SEEMS like you have no structure and all the time in the world–which can cause you to go crazy with panic, unable to focus on anything; before you know it, the day has passed, you’ve done laundry and snacked way too much, and, you are beating yourself up…giving you more anxiety.  And, if you’re someone like me, who has issues with control and perfectionism and anxiety and depression–well, it can start to feel VERY overwhelming when you want to get 15 things done, have gotten nothing done, and, should probably have expected to get only one or two things done in the first place!

I am here to tell you, staying on track is not a mandate to “get shit done.”  It’s more, for me anyway, stay focused and in the moment by getting only what needs to be done, done.  If you do the most important things today, what more can you ask for?  Honestly, some days, I don’t get anything done…but, I manage to journal and feel grateful (for, well, my sobriety, my “family” here, and then, my health).  On the days when my mind starts to wander to, let’s say, my long-form writing project(s), which take commitment that I may or may not have, EVER; or my passion projects/areas of career focus, which I’ve been neglecting for a long time (due to one, having had to prioritize earning a living and two, just being tired or burnt or lazy or just evolving away from said passions); when my head goes to the edge of the cliff and looks down and sees a huge, gaping hole of canyon needing to be filled with water…?  Well, I stay on track.  I take myself out of my head, stop thinking about all those other things I “should” or “need” to do, and focus on the task at hand.

These days, I don’t have a lot that I have to do–but, I have a lot of pre-projects; like, I am only just sort of thinking about a lot of things, and while I want to put them into project form, I can’t.  I mean, I am struggling with what to write about next, and how much time to further devote to this blog.  I am thinking about what to do next, as in, returning to a few passion areas of my life that I haven’t revisited since 2014–and, at the same time, feeling a sense of guilt, of dread over how much time I’ve been away from these things, that I let them go in the first place.  Why?  Can I catch up?  Do I want to?  What does it all mean?  And, then, of course, I’ll need to log some time looking into them to figure out where they might fit into my future, in a real sense (a job?  a volunteer assignment?  just read books about these things?).

On a different note, our dog took a turn for the worse last Friday.  One of her back legs gave out, and she can barely stand on her own anymore, let alone walk.  She keeps trying, though, and can still get up and down and go for short, stumbling jaunts; she even went on a walk yesterday, which overjoyed me!  Of course, we have to use a sling to help her hold herself up, which is awkward and kind of trips her up more than her lameness.  We wonder if she has “doggie ALS,” since she is part German Shepherd (that’s one of the breeds that is more genetically predisposed to a degenerative muscle disorder in dogs similar to some cases of ALS).  I think it could just be a break, maybe a joint that’s finally given out–she has a very bony protrusion on this leg around her knee area, and a part of me hopes that if we took her to the vet and got it set or whatever…?  Sigh.  Even if they could fix it, the rest of her spine and limbs will just keep getting worse.  So, we are at a new normal again.  We’re just taking it day by day.

And, of course, an update on Facebook:  it’s been a whole 30 days since I’ve been on Facebook!  Woo hoo!  Actually, I logged in for the first time in four weeks on Monday, with the sole intention of deactivating my account…but I just couldn’t do it.  I did end up starting to scroll/troll (is there a difference anymore these days?), and quickly realized that I needed to get off before I got swept back in.  It was a “slip,” let’s say; however, I had to log in to (try to) deactivate my account.  I’ll try again to extricate myself in another month, if I manage to not log in for 30 more days (which I intend to do)…

Introverts, rejoice (in hiding, of course)

28 Mar

8:53 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six months later…

24 Jul

6:01 pm

Well, tomorrow marks six months since our move, and uh, I am not sure how to describe our life here.  It’s definitely DIFFERENT from our life back “home.”  I mean, I work from my home office, so my life is relatively similar.  Yet, despite going out to see a lot of shows and things on our own, we don’t really have a social life, per se (as in, we have no friends!).

It seemed (key word) so much easier everywhere else–then again, I worked at an office in the actual outside world, everywhere else; OR, I had a social network in place before I moved there.  Here, we really didn’t know anyone; that really hit home when our sweet boy (our “bear,” our beagle-boxer mix) passed away in March.  Not having any friends or family around who knew him, who could comfort us because they knew us–that just sucked.  For the first time, I could see clearly how important it is to have family around when death (or suffering or tragedy) strikes.  I was able to glimpse how our modern ways–our lives of leaving, of moving around, of moving away–work against the benefits of age-old structures like family, and community.  I miss having a community who knows me, but I’m not sure what to do about it here.  A part of me just wants to go somewhere familiar–whether it’s where I used to live, or where I have family that now lives.

Truthfully, though, I have been feeling increasingly isolated simply because I don’t get out.  Nothing new here, and it’s been something I’ve been trying to work on or “fix” since I realized it was a big factor in my alcoholic drinking behavior.  I actually googled AA meetings in my new area, thinking that I’d probably be guaranteed to meet people there.  It’s been six months, and I haven’t really made any new friends; it is SO hard, for some reason, to make friends beyond acquaintances–is it me, this place, being in my 40s?  I don’t know, and I’m starting to sort of simply not care.  I want to let it go–if it happens, great, but if not, eh, I just don’t care–but I know I should make it happen.

I’ve also been sort of bugging out about WHAT’S NEXT?  I have been obsessively scanning job sites, looking for something, anything that I want to do–like, really, truly DO; really, truly invest myself in–and nothing has been popping out.  Nothing.  It’s like, I feel a combination of resignation to the work I do now (and the fact that it pays well and I can do it from home, for better and/or for worse) and laziness–I’m 44, and I’ve done this job/life search grind before, and I’m tired!  Still, I know I need new experiences, and I need to get out and meet people–hence, the obsessive searching.

I have been thinking of starting drinking again lately, but I know it won’t help or fix–and, I’m too lazy to actually do it (what work it would be to actually pick up again, no?) as well as I KNOW that there are SO many other more positive outlets for my boredom and/or frustration.  So, I come back to feeling grateful–for my background, for my privilege, and, yes, even for my obsessive nature (which has brought me to the point of being able to BITCH about staying home all day, writing, and earning a good paycheck).

What am I needing instead?  More interaction with people, for sure.  I (we) have sort of neglected or almost refused to get out there and get involved in this community (I used that word loosely, because it just doesn’t FEEL like a community to us…yet?).  That has to change, even IF we’re only here for a few more months.  YES, I was working from home the first three months here; YES, I then spent the next three months holed up in my office, working on this albatross of a writing project that I’ve been saying I was going to do for YEARS and finally actually did–so, there is that.  (The thing is, we both don’t really feel the desire to make it happen here, and I’m not quite sure why; will this “lack of desire” follow us, if we move to other cities on the mainland–or is it just something about this place that bugs?  The only way to find out is to actually move to another city on the mainland–or, move back to where we came from, which may or may not turn out how we envision.)

I don’t know, but being sober, and 44, and in a new place–and having the ability to totally work from home?  It makes making friends hard.  Not whining, just expressing what has been on my mind for a long time now.  Make it happen, I guess?

Building

8 Aug

12:25 pm

So, I got a full-time job.  After three-and-a-half years.  I should be happy, since this has been in the works for almost a year (yeah, a full year of soul searching, job searching, and networking).  Why do I feel like my sober bubble is about to burst?  Or, like I’m about to jump off my sober cliff–and into what?  Free fall?

Actually, I ventured into the real world of real people and tens of millions of stressful triggers last year, and have continued to branch out in 2014 and 2015.  This year, I’ve decided, is going to be–has been–all about continuing to build off of what I created last year.  I’ve been working nearly non-stop this spring as a barista and freelance journalist, but the writing (no pun intended!) is definitely on the wall:  it’s an unsustainable (and physically exhausting) way to earn a living.  So, I found a full-time gig doing what I was doing (and what, from an outside perspective, drove me to become Drunky Drunk Girl) in the place I was doing it (albeit, much farther south, and therefore, not really in the same place).  And, while I have re-entered the world already, and managed just fine, this is still a huge transition.  I’ve created so much here that is SO different from my old life–and hence, my old drinking self–can I pull it off and continue to build on what I’ve done here, there?  We’ll see, is about all I’ve got.

What no one told me about sobriety is that I would miss the early days of my “sobriety cocoon.”  And that I would sort of live OFF of it, like a spider consuming whatever it’s caught and wrapped up in its silken web.  And that maybe that wasn’t a good idea, to nurse my sobriety cocoon like a bottle, but that’s what I did.  That’s what I did…until it got old, boring, until I saw that I really needed to venture out, to forage again for real sustenance.  It was my pink cloud of endless awesome–a hermetic existence that made it possible for me to exist, almost child-like, in newfound wonder.  It helped that I quit Corporate America, started my own business, and moved somewhere totally exotic.  It helped that I had a sober support network that allowed me to work less and think/ponder/analyze every gory detail of my sober journey.  I needed that.  I really, really needed that.  And, as it turns out, so did many of my readers.

It’s not that I’m no longer grateful to be sober–I am, and more and more every day.  The other morning, someone I worked with showed up to barista with a supreme hangover, complete with the 30 texts sent to the boy she’s currently fixated on, the other 20 calls to him and random friends, and the falling-down, bruises-from-out-of-nowhere drunkenness that lasted until her shift started (with me) at 5:30 am.  Oof, was mostly what I thought.  But also, eh, who cares?  What can I do for her?  And then, probing deeper, a desire on my part to turn away and FORGET that I was there, not too long ago.  A desire so intense to completely just forget, let it go, move on, NOT remember that I was there, not too long ago.

This desire I have to say, Fuck this sobriety bullshit, and move on, is strong right now, has been for a while (hence, the lack of blog posts).  But, another part of me–the one that became a drunk, and the one that had the need to write this blog–can’t help but wonder, is it OK for me to do that?  To let it go?  It’s not that I can’t empathize, it’s been too long; it’s that, I can, and I just don’t want to.

But I have to.  And, I don’t think it has anything to do with wanting to be nice to people or do the right thing–those two things are givens.  It’s that I’m still there.  I’m still there, in a way.

The longer I’m sober, the more I realize that I can’t just shove this “sobriety bullshit” into a box under the bed and wipe my hands of it.  It’s there, this “alcoholism” thing, and it’s not going anywhere.  I’m not “once a drunk, always a drunk,” though–like, the long-term effects of physiological dependence elude me to this day (in other words, who the fuck knows?  Wine no longer works for me, but maybe someone else with three years might have a glass and not feel dizzy, confused, and flat?).  What I am is STILL insecure, and STILL grappling with questions that truly have no answers.  I guess I’m learning to live in and with that insecurity, that instability, that uncertainty, that moving-sands, that lack-of-answers.  Those questions of self, of purpose, of existence–they’re still there, and they’re still somehow related to why I drank copious amounts of wine for a decade.

And, the fact remains that everyone has to cope with what this is, which is LIFE.  And these people did not also become drunks. Hmmm…

The difference between early and later sobriety is this:  ya have to live in the drinking world as a sober person, and you have to embrace the fact that it’s NEVER going to go away.  Your past, that is.  And, it shouldn’t.  The fact that you DID do all that shit, and you DID drink the way you drank.  The fact that your alcoholic drinking unfortunately has NOTHING to do with alcohol (would that it did!?).  Really–very, very little.  Sure, it was fun and you got buzzed and you got addicted because it helped you cope, but, in the end, the bigger motivations hovered dead-center around self-esteem, trauma, perfectionism.  We know this.  You know this.  So, forgetting about your drinking is like forgetting about the present-day issues that still linger.  You can’t, if you want to keep growing and keep healing–and frankly, keep helping others who are still stuck in addictive behavior.

The longer I’m sober, the more I see JUST how long healing takes.  Recovery.  I’m still recovering:  lost income, lost relationships, lost confidence.  I’m catching up, and I’m building.  I’m beyond satisfied that I got to spend most of my initial sobriety in a tropical paradise, literally recovering in isolation.  It was what allowed me to have the patience to dissect my process–and the faith to see a labor-intensive start to a freelance writing business through a nasty 18-month bout of PAWS (no motivation, will I ever WANT to work again?).

Have there have been many times these past 12 months where I just wanted to put the sober thing in a box, shove it under the bed, and say, Ugh, I’m done with this?  YES.  To say, let’s MOVE the fuck ON?  YES.  However, the reality is, I drank alcoholically–for reasons that I’m not quite sure I’ll ever truly pin down, define, or exorcise.  And that alcoholic-ness is what lies at the root of simple behavioral reactions that still trip me up in my day-to-day life!

I’ve made SO much headway this year and the last, in forging ahead, getting back into the workforce, and interacting with “normal” people in the real, non-sober world.  Now, the big test awaits:  can I somewhat seamlessly go back to doing what I was doing (albeit with a strong foothold remaining in the world of freelance journalism)?  I’d say yes, but I’ll also say, I’m nervous.  I’m wondering.  What will be?  What will happen?  Am I leaving my greatest creation behind, this “new me” that I’ve spent three years building?  Or, does she come with me now, wherever I go, and whatever I do?  All I can say to myself is, hold onto your heart, which happens to resemble (or even be) journalism.  It saved me once, twice, and will save me again.  It’s part of my sense of purpose and creative agency (and urgency)–the lack of which are my biggest triggers.  These things I know, so I’m hoping that knowing this, and having practiced this for so long now, will carry me through the next six months…

I’ll keep you posted!

(And, it’s good to be back!  Thanks for reading, friends.)

Just working

2 Mar

10:49 am

Hi, all! I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sorry for being MIA on here. I just can’t seem to “find” the time to blog, and maybe, just maybe, I don’t enjoy ruminating about drinking and the desire or lack thereof. It’s just not a part of my life anymore.

What IS a big part of my life is working; or rather, making ends meet as a writer. Holy cow, is it stressful. I thought by now, three years in, it’d be different, but it isn’t: I still spend most days either worried, slightly anxious, or at least thinking about “how am I going to make money this month?” Granted, I have some magazines that I write for regularly now, which I’m proud to say, but frankly, it’s only as good as the ability and desire and gumption to keep up and pitch story ideas. (And the fact of the magazine’s existence: they come and go.) Everything I write comes from my own head, or the research I do, and lately, I’ve been like, Uh. I can only work so fast, and the pay is so little that even IF I work my little butt off (which I have been doing for the past about seven months, ever since I got back from my volunteer writing trip), it still doesn’t fully cover my bills. Forget about dinners out, vacations, and new running shoes. (Now that I write that, it doesn’t seem like this can be defined as a “success,” this freelance thing; le sigh.)

Hence, I’ve learned how to barista (which I’m also proud of) and am now employed by at least one coffee shop, maybe two (I’m heading over there today to train).

So, that’s what’s up here. Just working, and working, and working–and wondering, does it have to be this hard?

The answer, obviously, is no. But, saying no is different than doing no; doing no takes ramping up for a job search and a move, which we are, but slowly. Since freelancing feels like a continual job search, it’s become hard for me to stomach a literal one. I’ve begun again, though, and am targeting, oh, I don’t know, a few months down the road. (This year is going by SO fast, isn’t it? I can’t believe it’s March already!?)

Otherwise, all is well. Still running, still truly enjoying the warm breezes and glorious amounts of sun (I swear, sun has become my new alcohol–except it’s a good medicine that actually works). Dogs are great, and my boyfriend and I are still going strong. I have all this because, and only because, I am sober.

I still seem to have friends who either chose not to get it, choose not to get it, or somehow dislike the fact that I’ve gotten sober, picked myself up, and am rocking the freelance thing. Including my brother. The brother-his girlfriend situation has died down to the point that neither he nor I make the effort to relate. I’ve just given up, and for the better; I can’t be in a relationship like that. For me, continuing to try to have a relationship with someone who very much still seems pissed at me, or lies about being pissed, or just acts in a passive-aggressive manner by not calling me–eh, I’ve been there, done that, and the longer I’m sober, the longer I don’t want to try with people like that. There are so many people, and when you get sober, you get to see them for who they really are–and that’s a GOOD thing.

Socializing is still a bit strange as a sober person, mainly because I’ve found myself to be, well, guarded. I don’t know how much to give, and I tend to hold back. And, frankly, I want to. I want to remain guarded. Something about not really having the desire to get involved with other people’s drama? It’s still too tiring and too distracting for me right now, and so while I’ll engage with people and socialize once in a while, it gets really hard for me when they start to complain or gossip. I’m not sure, I used to love to complain and gossip, but now it just seems like…a huge waste of space! Like head space, heart space, sober space. I’m working on it, and I’m definitely getting out more and feeling more and more like my “old self” these days–not so overly sensitive and “I’m sober! I’m sober!” I think it might be that I haven’t found “my people” where I’m living, and while my boyfriend would argue that it’s for my lack of trying, the past seven months have proved to me one thing: there IS a certain type of person who moves to a place like this. So, yeah, that part is not a piece of cake yet. All in due time.

My slip last October totally re-solidified my desire to stay sober: drinking literally does not work on my brain anymore. Next? It’s become as simple as that. I’ve wanted to drink a few times the past six or seven months, and I’ve sipped white wine once or twice, but each time, I immediately felt dehydrated, confused, and well, was terrified of being hung over the next day. Call it what you will, but for me, this has been an essential ingredient in re-training my brain toward not simply sobriety, but healthy coping skills.

I’m learning to much more quickly let go–literally, stop thinking, or stop acknowledging negative thinking loops–of thoughts that don’t serve me. Are these thoughts moving me forward? No? Stop thinking them. I don’t have time right now to let negative thoughts slow me down, is all. I just can’t afford it, literally.

And, I’m working on embracing the ups and downs of my emotional life. I used to run, terrified, from sadness, or boredom, or existential crises. Now? I am realizing that it’s OK to feel sad, bored, or terribly bored (ennui?). It’s OK, I don’t have to NEVER feel these things. I think I spent a lot of years always trying to live the best life, and “party on” through all the muck, but really, the muck is there, and it’s probably there for a reason…? I don’t know, maybe I just need precision medicine, like, antidepressants or something external to re-balance my neurochemistry. It’s an ongoing conversation with self, and one that I’ll probably write about in the future.

So, on that note, I gotta run! Love to all, and I promise, more posts to come more frequently!

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