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Who am I now?, or, the art of no longer living in denial

18 Jun

12:10 pm

(I wasn’t going to post this, but I’m deciding to do so because, well, remaining sober means necessarily embracing it. And, Wolfie-boy and his ugly mange-y paw, Denial, can ruin the best of intentions. So, in an effort to embrace sobriety–and hang onto it in spite of Wolfie breathing down my neck (Oh, come ON, you’ve gone far enough, you can drink on this trip)–I’m reminding me (and you) of how I got here.)

I have to admit, I thought I was “different.” All these drunks at meetings, saying stuff like, “I had no idea who I was when I first got sober.” Pfft, please. That’s not me. *I* knew who I was, didn’t I? Don’t I? I know who I am, right? In FACT, I was the same person back then…except I drank. I still am that person, I just don’t drink.

Right? Riiiiight.

Anyway, I have accomplished some shit in my life, but one day last year, with my issues coming into crystal clear focus, I realized that it might have all been pretty much fueled by wine. And that hit me in the gut like a punching bag. Oof. Really? Have all my successes and achievements–and failures, even missteps–been a direct result of my drinking? Not in the, I needed wine to do this, kind of way, but in the, Wine was always in the picture, kind of way. And it did, indeed, allow me to do certain things. My sense of motivation–maybe a frenetic one, looking back–CAME FROM THE WINE. Sure, my brain is wired to accomplish, to want to achieve; but, in the later years, especially from about 2004 until now, was it the “wine brain” that was propelling me to do all the crazy, caution-to-the-wind shit that I did? Or, was that me?

Wait, who am I?

As I prepare for this volunteer trip (for which I, gulp, leave on Thursday), I have to admit: I have NO IDEA how to do this sober. I’ve never done it sober. I’ve gone to the country where I’m going three times already, but I’ve never seen the place through the lens of a sober person. That is to say, the past three times I’ve gone to where I’m going, I drank–like, drinky-drank-DRUNK drank!

The third time (four years ago), though, not so much. And, here’s what’s “hilarious” about that: for the past few years, I’ve been telling myself that I didn’t drink *as much* on the third trip because I “wasn’t really an alcoholic” and that I just needed to find something purposeful to fill my hole.

What really happened, I’m remembering more clearly now, is that I was AFRAID OF KILLING MYSELF based on how ridiculously I drank the first two times.

Just to semi-recap: on the first trip (over five years ago), I drank every night, till the end (3 am), and then had to get up every morning at 7 am for work (manual labor–somehow the hangovers weren’t so bad when you were sweating them out). I drank WHILE ON malaria meds, and then WHILE HAVING A BAD REACTION to said meds, such that I was in a state of acute panic/anxiety for a period of 36 hours at one point. It was a nightmare; literally, a waking nightmare. I completely blamed this reaction on the chloroquine as being an older anti-malarial that I shouldn’t have taken based on my medical history of depression and anxiety. Now, however, I have to ask myself, Could it have been the probably-dangerous combination of a shit-ton of booze plus the meds? (tilts heads in mock wonder)

On the second trip, a year later, it only got worse! I got SO drunk one night at a party (thrown by and for my host mother’s family), that I kissed an old guy, got SUPER-emotional and crazy and was yelling at people, then, managed to pass out on the outhouse seat. I fell forward onto something hard and flat with the full weight of my noggin, bashing my forehead so hard that I not only had a huge welt up there, but gave myself a black eye (days later, after the blood drained down). The host mother was chagrined, to say the least, and there was at least one person who bid me an official farewell the next morning (even though I was there for another several days).

I mean, these are just a FEW stories of how I drank there. No, I wasn’t the only alcoholic, and no, others experienced a lot worse consequences (one guy fell off a roof and died), BUT…

It never seemed to click, how exhausting and dangerous all this was–year after year after year. Once the hangover wore off and the bad behavior, forgotten, I simply moved on and pretended that nothing needed to change. Or, at least nothing needed to change *that* much.

This is stuff that makes my (bobble)head spin, like someone threw a brick at my face–how could I have lived in such denial? Not only of what I was doing–and how I was using alcohol–but of how I was lying to myself about what I was doing?! Something must have stuck (was it the outhouse incident?) because, fully realizing that it would be dangerous to binge drink like that again, I managed to control my drinking on the third trip (the dehydration factor also helped).

Fast forward to now, and I seem to have forgotten about all of this! Like, I’ve been telling myself that I didn’t drink heavily the last time because I didn’t need to, didn’t feel like it, realized that this work filled my unmet needs–no, I wasn’t really an alcoholic at home, I was just empty with want and my unmet needs.

Yes, unfortunately, I was an alcoholic at home. I drank and bad shit happened, but I kept drinking. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

All this being said, this time around, I am not going to drink because, well, I’m sober. Right? I’ve thought about it, of course: would it really be that bad to do the two-beers-a-night thing again? I’m sure I could do it, and might even want to. BUT…a part of me really wants to see this world, have this experience, live out this dream…through the prism of a sober mind. And this, somehow, seems much more important and real than all my doubts and fears (of which I have many, namely: Will this place have lost its romantic appeal now that I’m sober? Will this idealized reality–which I could maintain as a drinker–simply become mundane? Will my supposed “dream job,” which I’ll be doing there (as a volunteer), turn out to be something I really don’t like, find to be an actual pain-in-the-ass without the nightly reward and reinforcement of wine/beer?).

You know, I am no different from all those “people in AA meetings who don’t know themselves.” And, that actually makes me feel hopeful. I am living this thing now, for real, and that must mean…progress? I sure hope so!

Well, I might sneak in one more post before I take off, but if not, travel well, my sober friends, and I’ll see you in a little bit (will post from there, but it might be random and/or sporadic).

Top five things about not drinking on a Friday night

26 Apr

8:30 am

I like to make these lists, from time to time, as you may have noticed. And, there are SO many good things about not drinking at Friday night “happy” hour, that’s it’s going to be tough to pick just five.

I’ll preface this by saying, I am sitting on the couch, feeling and hearing the ocean off my deck, at 8:15 am–sure, I’m a bit tired because I didn’t get enough sleep last night, but it is WAY better than being hung over. And, I must say, I would be hung over even after a couple glasses of wine, I know it.

I also must say, I felt ill enough from sitting all day at a training-type event that I simply could not imagine drinking at the happy hour-thingie that someone in the group was planning (jones’ing) for–even if I was still drinking. A LOT of the times when I was living and working in “the city,” I felt so office-sick after my days, I had to come home, hit the gym to sweat/detox; and ONLY THEN was I able/ready to go out and consume my shit-ton of wine. Maybe that was what helped me do it for so long, I had some preemptive metabolic support (shit, I KNEW what I was doing, but I’ll leave that for another post titled, How to prepare and maintain your body for a high-functioning alcoholic lifestyle).

Another thing: I felt SO calm, and SO not tired in the training session. I was a student my entire life, and a good one, but I was either always anxious or always tired. I thought that was “just me.” It wasn’t, it was what I did to me. In high school and college I didn’t drink, but I would only “allow” myself about six hours sleep a night; in college, it was worse, with me struggling to keep up with my pre-med studies, probably getting no more than four hours a night during most of my first two years! In grad school, I was basically either always hung over or exhausted, or both, from staying up all night drinking.

Yesterday was different, and it changed the story I’ve been telling myself all my life about myself as I relate to school: I am not inherently anxious about my abilities. Either by 40 years old, I’ve changed, or, I was simply always tired or anxious because (at least in grad school) I was always and constantly hung over.

It was a great feeling, to be the one in control, finally. If ONLY I had realized just how fucking hard I was making it on myself in grad school–how would my experience have been different had I not boozed it up every single night? If I had turned to yoga to ease my intense anxiety (the program was brutal), instead of making it WORSE by drinking?

Anyway, top five reasons to NOT drink on a Friday night:

1. No hangover on Saturday morning!

2. Feeling freedom, which is ultimately mega-empowering: I was not jones’ing for a drink at 5 o’clock. I was not “looking forward” to it during lunch, or toward the end of the training session. There was not the least bit of “running in circles” in my mind, trying to figure out where and/or IF I would drink that night, how much, with whom, or worrying about “missing out” on some shit if I didn’t go out. NONE. What a blank, wonderfully calm slate it is, a mind that is not thinking about drinking during the day.

3. Being able to work out and de-stress and detox after a long day–for real, and not for fake with a drink. All I wanted to do after this session was work out, sweat, move my body. And, I did. And, drinking–even ONE drink, even in “moderation”–would have prevented that.

4. Staying on track/maintaining momentum–this has to do with not necessarily feeling “guilty” because I drank (I wouldn’t anyway), but this feeling I have had for a while, and that just KEEPS BUILDING the longer I don’t drink on Friday (or any other) night. It’s like, an integrity, a wholeness, a circle, not a fragmented line. Doing my body good. Counting on myself. Never getting stupid, or oversharing, or being indiscrete, or being a dumb fuck. It feels GOOD to have that…long-term thing going. A sense of personal best, or satisfaction, or something. It’s taken so much mental work, but: a feeling of finally being convinced that even one drink is actually NOT better than continued sobriety. Maybe it’s called, preserving grace?

5. Plans are intact–I guess this relates to being not hung over (but that’s more of a physical thing), or to being able to count on myself (but that’s more of a feeling thing). The weekend is here, and my plans are intact, and I still “don’t need” wine. I have everything I need, and I feel free. I have some writing to do, and my part-time job to do, and packing to do (for our mini-vacay on Monday and Tuesday), and all that will get done.

Top five. The pangs still come and go, and I did still (after almost two years) feel a bit…weird, being the “sober” girl at the “happy” hour last night, but…NOT ENOUGH TO GIVE UP MY SOBRIETY, or my Friday night. Not even close.

Sobriety does not have to be a religion

19 Apr

11:28 am

So, a few nights ago, I watched two episodes of Cosmos and then watched the blood moon lunar eclipse from my roof. And I realized: none of this really matters. In a good way.

Lately (as in, the past year?), I’ve been mulling over this idea of “Being Sober” as being almost as bad as being an active “alcoholic.” It’s almost as much of a mindfuck, to be blunt. And, while choosing to NOT Be Sober does not have to mean I drink again, I think it might be the best thing I can do for myself right now.

I think there actually does come a point when your recovery ends. When you need to stop ruminating, stop excavating–not everything has to do with wine, or lack thereof. Especially when all this connecting-the-dots starts to subtract from your overall well-being.

Honestly, even though I haven’t been to meetings in a long time, I, too, have been indoctrinated with this false idea that “addiction” is in me, forever. It’s not. I am a completely different person than I was a few years ago–I don’t want to drink. YES, I have my moments, when I get depressed, or frustrated, or angry and want to blot it out. However, I’ve re-learned how to cope (I think we all do learn, at some point in our lives, and then “forget” when we give in to using alcohol for this purpose).

That’s the thing about the 12-step, and the disease-model: they both presume that you still want to drink after all, and they don’t take into account the fact that you’ve healed mind, body, and increasingly, soul. Personally, I have NO desire to blot out with booze–and next-to no desire to “have fun” by drinking. (I mean, I do miss the buzz, but maybe that’s because I have depression, and I haven’t as yet encountered an antidote that worked as well as wine.) I have an inkling that my body and mind have changed so much that drinking would not affect me the way it did before–drinking those first two glasses equals static brain instead of euphoria, in other words.

Wine is an option, but it’s not the best one. But, isn’t that what EVERYONE knows? Maybe it just took me a fuck-lot longer to figure out that life lesson than others.

Is it necessary for me to Be Sober, which has become burdensome? In my opinion, no, not really. In my gut, I know that I don’t have to drink, ever again. And, that simply means, I don’t have to drink. It doesn’t have to mean more. Sobriety does not have to be a religion, with all its confining constructs–constructs that I’ve built, and imprisoned myself within. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that Jesus was rebelling against, simply by preaching, You can contact God and have a relationship with Him without intermediaries. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that inadvertantly sprang up around Jesus’s teachings!

I used to think about a LOT of other interesting, exciting things; now, I find myself focusing on not drinking all the time. It’s sad, in a way. When I say, I miss me, this is what I mean. And, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been blogging on it constantly, and thereby making it more of a Thing? Who knows? Right now, I’m thinking about the cosmos, and the cities I’ve lived in, and science, and volunteering, and the fun I’m going to have in the future. Not the past, not drinking, not being “diseased” or tempted to drink. Not relating my behavior and mood swings and anger to wine, AGAIN.

Anyway, I think it’s just time for me to move on. Get back to living life, and not living recovery.

Happy Easter. May yourSELF be resurrected! 🙂

Lessons in letting go

5 Apr

1:57 am

Well, yet another “lesson” in forgiveness? That is surely the plus-side of this week’s equation. As my mom says, let it go. You’ve apologized once, now let it go. Easier said than done, like many things in sobriety.

I have to say, I’ve been wanting to drink over this; but, I’m glad I haven’t, mainly because getting through the upset, getting over the anxiety around how to deal with an upcoming confrontation (in May), and grappling with what’s really bothering me–how do I accept that someone actually hates me–these are obstacles that have to be surmounted. I wish I could avoid this confrontation, but I know that I will never move on–and grow toward a MUCH stronger me–if I don’t have it.

As many of you know, I offended my brother’s girlfriend two-and-a-half years ago, and there has been an unhealthy (to say the least) back-and-forth between all of us since then: first he forgives me, then he checks back in with his grudge-holding girlfriend, and then he seemingly changes his mind and nothing is forgiven; or, he engages in a passive-aggressive thing, where he says one thing to me, and then when he gets home, he has to hang up the phone and listen to his girlfriend tell him what a bad sister I am. And on and on and on.

Well, I’ve laid low the past year (i.e., haven’t had much contact with my brother except, well, friendly phone chats about once a month), but she got drunk and contacted me the other day with a vicious Facebook mail. Ugh. Just when I thought it was over. I left them a voicemail message a few weeks ago–once again saying I was sorry–and the latest is, I received an angry, nasty “you hurt me/us and I will never forgive you for as long as I live” email from the girlfriend the other day (sent from HIS account no less, which makes me wonder if I should ever send him anything again to that email if she’s checking it, too).

Needless to say, it put me into a tailspin. Why? I don’t know. Why do I give two shits about what some crazy woman thinks of me? Eventually, I’ll come around and be able to make fun of just how ridiculous this has become (trying to explain all the Facebook’ing and emailing to my mother made me realize how fourth-grade it seems). But for now, it’s draining and almost maddening to be somewhat forced to re-visit the horror of that night because the girlfriend decides that she wants to play.

Really, though, why do I care so much? What bothers me to the point where my voice trembles talking about it and my stomach feels bloated from the loads of adrenaline? Mainly, I think I just feel extremely uncomfortable knowing that someone hates me so much, however irrational she may be. And, it makes me feel ill that I have to see her and somehow interact with her when we are forced to hang out at the wedding we’re both going to in May. I have never dreaded an event so much. And that really, really sucks.

But, I’ll get over it. Talking it out with my mom helped me to accept that her email was bullshit; and the way she is treating me is a choice, one that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her, and her reliance on her number-one tool: resentment. THEY might believe that their grudge–their hurt, their anger, their persistent hate–is mine to keep, too; but I know that it is all theirs.

I realize that she has actually given ME a lot of power here–like, could I really have had that much of an influence on her life? Wow, I feel sorry for her that her life is THAT boring. The irony that in her attempt to insult me, she laid ALL her cards on the table is, of course, completely lost on her. She may never forgive me, but at the end of the day, when I see her and my brother, I’ll probably feel nothing but pity.

What I have realized is that I have to let them go. Believe them when they say they don’t want anything to do with me. (For this week, at least.) And, hold them to it. You know, not having anything to do with me means also, not getting to send me drunk hate-mail in the middle of the night.

I wish she’d stay home. There’s the slight possibility, seeing how she’s backed out of engagements before because too many people she “hates” are going to be there. But, in a way, I NEED this confrontation. And, I know that after the first awkward encounter, I will have mastered her, and her hate, and letting go of the entire sordid affair. It’s going to suck, but this will eventually all be over.

And now I am boring myself, because there are SO many good things to think about, like the “key” lime pie I’m going to make tomorrow, for instance. Or the friends I’ve made in my life, and the people I’ve met in my moves and travels–the full array of which is hard to even grasp, there are so many amazing ones. Or my sweet dog, who is my protectress.

(As you can imagine, the girlfriend also tried to disparage my sobriety–as being somehow fake, as alcoholism being a foolish choice and not a disease. I laughed at that, mainly because it’s SO ill-informed and simply not true. BUT, I have to say, it’ll probably get me through the next few months of sobriety. Just to prove her wrong in person will be so very satisfying: I AM sober, I can stay sober, and I am doing better and more awesome each and every day. I can’t WAIT to stand my ground–in my 4-inch heels, and sparkly-unicorn gown, looking fabulous–and say loud and proud, I am a sober fucking alcoholic, and I feel AMAZING. Tell me what’s fake about that…BITCH!)

Epilogue; prologue–ONE YEAR SOBER!

19 Mar

11:44 am

Some of you were like, Hey, how come you saved the best for last? Well, of course, I wasn’t going to gloss over my ONE YEAR SOBER “BIRTHDAY” today!

First of all, WOWIE, thank you ALL for your awesome, supportive comments. Second, I must clarify: I have two brothers; the one with the girlfriend is NOT the same as the one who is getting married in May. So, I am not the photog at her wedding…

Anyway, the epilogue to yesterday’s “drama in my club” is this:

When midnight came, I admit, I was still exorcising my anger and bitterness by journaling. I did actually get to some good points–great points–about how I feel now and what I get from being sober. I re-read an entry I wrote last year, on this very day, when I was sitting on my couch, passed-out-ish, throwing up onto the towel strategically placed (by my boyfriend) on my chest, before stumbling into bed in a blackout. That day last March, I had nearly six months of continuous sobriety. I have not drunk since then–a full, continuous year. It took me almost two years of trying, but I got here. (Mind you, and this is important, I started trying to control my drinking all the way back in, oh, 2004! I was blacking out then, things got really bad in grad school–I even tried AA in 2006–and I began consciously trying to go for days in a row without drinking starting in 2007–I made it 30 days once, back in the summer of 2008, but more often, I’d only go for 3 to 5 days before going back to my bottle.)

What triggered me?, I wondered, which is why I went back to re-read. Well, it was stuff that would probably not trigger me today, stuff that would not carry as much emotional weight: feeling isolated, feeling attacked for being a “hermit,” which I admit I had become (like, hey, does ANYONE think outside their own asses these days; my landlady literally physically jumped me when I got home that day, scolding me about how I ignore her and I can’t get away this time–needless to say, that woman has CODA issues, and I have rightfully decided to keep my distance), feeling stressed (I was running every day, almost 6 miles one day, 3 miles the next–too much). I had to baby myself then, which makes sense–in early sobriety, everything hurts your raw nerves; nothing makes sense. While my mind is still a buzz of thoughts, back then, everything triggered me to anxious and obsessive thinking.

But, we get through this shit, our minds calm down, and the obsession to drink leaves. Not entirely, but there was this shift that happened for me around 15 or 16 months (I started my journey, a first attempt at getting sober, in June 2012, so this was August of last summer), where I just stopped wanting to drink around every turn. Stopped automatically always assuming/believing that drinking equals relief, escape, fun. Now? Well, that has died down even more, and I see that it’s a real improvement; the thinking goes away. You learn how to live without the reward of alcohol. In short, your mind bounces back. And from what I’m seeing now, your mind not only bounces back, but it keeps going higher and higher!

The epilogue to yesterday’s message from the one brother’s girlfriend is this:

I DID call him, and we DID talk. I was nervous, and upset, but I got through it. And, it left me feeling VERY ambivalent. He basically insinuated I was lying about any message having been sent–she denied it (she probably forgot because she was blacked out when she sent it), and he believed/defended her–which pissed me off to no end. We are NOT that kind of family; there has never been this kind of “he said/she said” drama. That comes from her. Anyway, it bummed me out, and I expressed my frustration, that I cannot do more than I’ve done. And, he continued to keep his list, you know, the one with all the reasons on it to hate me, to hold up his (her?) grudge. And I was like, Dude, I’m not saying you can’t hate me, what I’m saying is, your girlfriend can’t bully me. I get to choose that. Period. (Plus, no one needs a reason to hate someone; hate is irrational, and no matter how many lists you make, hate is a choice, not a must, or a rationalized “to do.”)

On the one hand, he was like, I don’t know why it took you so long to call; on the other, he was like, Well, why do you have to go dredging up the past? I was confused, obviously, mostly at his utter lack of self-observation–you do realize, I wanted to say, that you’re saying two different and opposite things and that both allow you to maintain your grudge, no matter what I say or do, right? He said something about, Well, there’s nothing we can do then. And I was like, YES, brother, there IS something we can do here, and it’s what we do, as humans: we can work together toward forgiving one another, and we can work together toward reconciliation. (I actually said that; I felt proud!)

Honestly, I realize the elephant in the room is his toxic, 15-year-old relationship with cray-cray. And, I see how messed up she is, and how IF he wants to change the situation, he’s going to have to confront her, call her out on her act, and stand up for himself. One, he’s never done that in 15 years; and two, I assume that he knows that IF he does that, he’s going to unleash her beast (she’s threatened to kill herself if he leaves her; which, in my opinion, is part of her act, but which I don’t think my brother is so sure).

GAH. Talk about Relationships 101. And, I realize now that it’s none of my business anymore; I don’t need and never did need to keep this shit live. That’s my problem, wanting and expecting people to align with how I see the world, to forgive and/or like me. Lesson learned: What other people think of me is none of my business; and let it go, let it go, let it go.

However, I was proud of myself! Once I got over my fear and pounding heart, I was pretty good at explaining myself. I know I did wrong, and MY crazy while blacked out can put off anyone for good. But, what more can I do? If they want to continue to buttress their grudge just to hide from reality, well, at least I don’t have to live in that place. I did send him the email she sent, and then we “chatted” about life, and then I hung up. And then, I called my other brother–we’re much closer–and he basically talked me down for the next hour and a half. All in all, it was cathartic, if not healing. I’m still not looking forward to the wedding, but at least now I KNOW I can stand up for myself–I won’t fall down and die.

The prologue is this:

THIS is just the beginning, this sober thing here. I feel like now, (my) sobriety is taking on a shape of its own, starting to live outside myself, direct me when I’m lost, prop me up when I’m weak and scared. I know it’s me, doing this, but it’s somehow more than me. Maybe it’s simply an accumulation of this constancy of self–I can rely on myself. I can rely not only on remaining sober but also on…this Truth inside to guide me, to steer me, to fill me up, to make me righteous when I need to be, to help me–allow me–to make the right choices, and not just the superficial ones that I “should” make.

It’s growing, and building, and I’m becoming more and more sure of myself, of this path as being the right one, of sobriety as being the right choice, and not just the good choice. It’s right because it’s allowed me so much growth this year, emotional and professional. It’s right because it helps me to really see my relationships in action, and to identify problems on my end. It’s right because, I don’t know, I’ve talked about this nebulous idea before, but protecting The Body is so much bigger than just not trashing my own temple. It’s about this connection to heaven, as it were, which is here on Earth–the body, this body that I’m in, this mind and body, is a holy ground. It is where I stand; it is the only place I can be, which means, feel safe, be connected to…the Truth. A calm. Something that says, it will all be OK. There is nothing too big or scary; nothing is big or scary, actually. It’s all good, baby.

Even more, I don’t have to rely on anything outside myself to connect to this truth anymore; it is right here, and it is growing. Sure, I want to drink sometimes, but I know I can do well without. And this truth, it gets bigger now with every day sober. I can’t tell you what a strange thing this is to say, because up until about a few weeks ago, I was still struggling with Not Drinking. Sobriety is about me not drinking, big deal, no one cares, it’s just alcohol anyway. Somehow, that has morphed. Maybe it’s as simple as momentum: my sober car is rolling, still picking up speed, and I’m finally able to look back and see just how far it’s come!

So, one year is a prologue, it seems. The best is yet to come. Sounds SO preachy and AA-y, but…it’s real. I think it helps to confront your shit–I am learning to do that as it happens, and not wait (um, two years). But hey, the things I’ve learned and what’s helped me become more empathetic toward myself and others is this: we all make mistakes in our lives, but we all evolve (if we try). And strangely, as you’re fighting to evolve, sometimes it’s YOU who has to help someone else learn this about themselves. Like, to tell them, You can change, you can evolve, you are bigger than you know.

Another one is, I forgive you. I mean, getting sober has taught me that I must (not should) be prepping to forgive all the time, because I DO want to be that person who is READY to forgive when someone who’s hurt me comes with a sincere apology. Forgiveness is hard, and you really do have to be prepared to offer it to someone; I don’t want to not be able to give that. People deserve it. I deserve it. So, in addition to not being hung over all the time, I’ve been able to learn the value of cultivating forgiveness in myself–for others’ health, for my own. DEEP THOUGHTS, people. 😉

Tonight is the wine bar event–well, we’re gathering at a wine bar/resto. On the one hand, it’s just another day sober. On the other, I feel better and more hopeful and less burdened than I have ever felt. And, I feel like I am more confident and settled–this isn’t going to go away with a mood swing because this is real, I made this. I built this. And, I think the struggle is what makes it worthwhile, because without that constant fighting against the wolfie in your head, there would be no…reference point. The whole process of building your new statue–becoming sober–is what helps it stick.

Thank you, friends. I would NEVER have gotten this far without your support here. Thank you from the bottom of my heart–your comments were touching and some brought tears to my eyes.

Now, another 90 days? Another 100-day challenge? Onward for this “user bitch cunt!” (I hate to tell her, but it’s no secret I can be a cunt; and, I still love me. So, GOTCHA, bitch! Of course, I’m not above resentment yet, my friends. LOL)

(Btw, I think my present to myself for a year sober might be a trip back to Mexico–I loved Mexico City when I went a few years ago, so…I don’t know why, but it sounds like a good idea!)

Deep breath, I can deal with this

18 Mar

12:40 pm

I HATE CONFRONTATION. I mean, it sends my heart rate to the moon, and turns my stomach to knots. It has always been a problem for me. I mean, I can’t really convey to you how much I hate confrontation; some people thrive on it, whereas I avoid it like…death. It made being a “beat reporter” really hard, which is why I am not doing that job (duh). If I could, I’d never piss anyone off, never rock anyone’s boat. But, sometimes–a LOT of times–it has GOT to be done. People’s boats need to be rocked. That, I know, will be a lifelong learning process for me, but I’m up for it. I have to be.

I received yet another nasty Facebook message from my brother’s girlfriend–a whole two years after the incident (long story very short: I blacked out and yelled some really nasty things at her, probably threatened her with physical violence, rolled around on the floor and came to in a heap of tears). Deep breath, I can deal with this. I am sober, and even though I am shaking right now, I know this much to be true (for me, to MY story): she will not bully me anymore.

Her message was mean, hateful, and took me totally by surprise. I do not like emotional surprises–I’ve had enough of them to last my poor little heart a lifetime. And, I do not like being bullied–I can see this now. I think I’ve been bullied a lot in my life, but never really accepted it and dealt with it. It sucks that I have to deal with this, because I really dislike standing up for myself. It’s like, I wish the world just stood up FOR me, you know? I can see that now. I can totally see that now.

Anyway, I wrote her back, told her that if she wanted to engage in meaningful conversation about this, she has my cell phone number. I told her that I will not let her bully me with random, hateful messages on Facebook, and I told her that I think we should at least attempt to resolve this. Then, I texted and left a voicemail for my brother–apparently, he didn’t know about the message. I will follow through and call him later–it’s been six weeks since I left him/her my “I’m sorry” voicemail, and the only peep I heard from my brother OR her about that was a text from my brother, a week later no doubt, thanking me for being thoughtful.

I feel good about telling her that I refuse to be bullied, for the most part. I know that could (will) be twisted into a “confrontational” remark, but it’s just HOW it has to be, in my mind. I will no longer be bullied by anyone. That is what she is trying to do. I am not afraid of her (yes, I am, but I’m not going to let anyone but you guys know that). I figured, if I don’t do anything, this will just keep going on and on. So, the best approach is to draw my line, confront both of them (well, be aggressive and not passive aggressive), and at least try to resolve this before the wedding in May. I will call my brother until he and I actually talk–if she wants in on the conversation, all the better. It will suck talking to her, but I welcome the confrontation now, and not at the wedding.

I am shaking right now. I hate confrontation. My voice shakes, my stomach lurches, and my heart rate literally goes up to like, 150 beats a minute. But, it has got to be done, and I am going to do it. My brother is getting married at a relatively grand ceremony in May, and I simply refuse to go into that situation with blinders on. I am his photographer, for fuck’s sake–I can’t be tiptoe’ing around the guests, looking over my shoulder, wondering when my brother’s girlfriend is going to get too drunk and lash out verbally or God forbid, physically. I know I WILL be wondering that the whole time, but at least I can dissipate the dread a little beforehand.

THIS is why I don’t want to relate to them after this wedding. How can you have a relationship with people who act this way? YES, I hurt her feelings; but, it’s been two years, and she’s getting drunk (I could tell she was drunk) and sending me Facebook messages telling me that I’m a lying bitch, my life is fake, and that I am a “user bitch cunt?” Who does this? Who holds onto this brand of anger–without EVER having acknowledged my letters, emails, and phone call saying I was sorry? A crazy person, that’s who. A person with a personality disorder, that’s who. A person who is so crippled by mental problems, so fixated on fueling her life with hate and resentment, that she literally can’t move.

I am proud of the life I’ve lived so far; it is not fake, it is real. My sobriety is real. My relationship is real. My attempt to make a freelance career is really fucking real. My travels and volunteer work abroad, that’s real. My friends–you guys, my real-life ones–are real. Yet…I am letting this one person make me doubt all this? Ugh.

It is not easy to stand your ground, but you must. And, I’m simply glad at the moment that I have my sober buttress to lean against here. I can’t really explain it except, it is my rock-solid wall, and I am gripping it with all my might right now. It’s strong, unbending, and both cool and warm at the same time.

Deep breath. I can deal with this.

Now, time to celebrate today–not me, just today–which is Day 365! Go, me. Go, us. Go, all of us, struggling with things, big and small. Just stay sober; if for no other reason than, you will need that sober wall to lean against one day, and it will be there for you.

“Happily ever after”

23 Feb

12:46 pm

And, it’s been a week since I last posted–gah!

First, the good news: I am sober. And, we all know that that three-word sentence holds SO much good. Enough said.

Second, I have my life, and my working limbs, and no cavities, and relatively awesome health. I am calmer and happier than I’ve been in, like, ever. I am sitting at my part-time job right now, which is at the ferry terminal; and while others are too proud to beg, I sure ain’t. (I get paid $10/hour, but all I “have” to do, at this point, is exist and be friendly to strangers who come up and talk to me–done and done!)

All that being said, Jesus Fuck, I wanted to drink last night. I was agitated, and foggy-brained. Not sure which comes first, or if I can actually DO something to prevent this deadly state-of-mind. But, I got through it–thank God(dess). I wrote (pounded; I have no markings left on my “n” and “m” keys, which is curious because there aren’t many swear words that start with these letters) out all my bad feelings into my journal, and about an hour later, I was feeling better. And, this morning? SUPER-glad I didn’t drink. I would have gotten even more foggy-brained, and today, I would have been hungover and I would probably still be wondering who let Satan invent fermented grapes.

I do, however, see a 9-to-5 in my future. I mean, ultimately I can’t seem to grasp exactly how writers can keep up the freelance thing without a full-time (or at least, 3/4-time) job “on the side.” I don’t think many do, for practicality’s sake, but also, for sanity. Stay calm, I tell myself in the morning, and in the evening: you will somehow find the money for next month’s bills, you will somehow muster the energy for yet another pitch…for which story, if assigned, you will make a tenth of what you’re worth–but hey, who’s counting pennies? Yes, I’d be remiss not to admit that this makes my stomach boil, in a way. Two Ivy League degrees–one in the life sciences, no doubt–and I’m working a part-time job for $10 an hour so that I can be able to afford to do journalism? As one colleague of mine put it: journalism, the last “luxury” profession. It’s just…maddening…and, yes, it REALLY makes me want to drink. Like, every second of every day. It’s just another thing, I guess, that I fight against, along with the normal mood swings/cravings that come and go.

But, I can change things, and I have to remember that. And, all these things I’m worrying about, eh, they probably won’t add up to much anyway when the time comes to do the adding. Like, OK, I spent a year of my life not making that much money, living in the middle of the ocean. So? And? All this is to say, tomorrow–in the form of next week or next month or next year–will come, and I likely won’t even remember what I was worried about not having, or losing.

I’ve been feeling somewhat down lately, so forgive if this post screams dragging, or tired, or bothered. Or just UNDERPAID. I also haven’t been feeling well; and, it bothers me, like it would anyone. I mean, Google is the devil digital-incarnate when it comes to figuring out what’s wrong with you. I’ve determined I’m either dying of cervical cancer, or have lupus. Right. Dr. Drunky Drunk Girl and her assistant, Nurse Google. Maybe it’s nothing? The most frustrating thing is not knowing; a close second might be, not having any control either way–to the extent that you can take care of your health, you do, and beyond that, you don’t have that much say in the matter.

Yes, I really wanted to drink last night. I just felt…sad, or something. Sad about it all. Sad that I don’t feel well. Sad that I am pushing a boulder uphill. Like Sisyphus.

Which brings my wandering mind to my brother’s wedding in May. But, of course! You know how people get married and then, for some reason, expect their lives to be radically different somehow because they have a piece of paper that says “married?” Yeah, I never got it either. “Happily ever after”…what? It seems the same with sobriety: there is no happily ever after. You just keep doing life, albeit sober instead of drunk. YES, I handle things better–probably a lot better than I’m giving myself credit for today–but I still get agitated, I still ruminate, I still don’t want to socialize and then end up feeling alone. I still get stressed about work, and I still drag my feet when it comes to making decisions about pretty much everything important. I still feel depressed, or, slightly down a lot of the time. (Thinking of myself as Sisyphus is probably something I should stop doing if I want to not feel slightly down a lot of time, methinks.)

As my year approaches (in three weeks), I am definitely wondering about all this navel-gazing that Getting Sober brings (instead of simply quitting drinking, or cutting back). Do NOT get me wrong: I SO don’t miss being hung over, and doing and saying horrible things while drunk. Duh. However, I have to admit, I do miss the “fun” me; and, honestly, the sober me is well, sobering. And, she’s beginning to be quite a downer. I think back longingly to my late 20s-self–where is she? I miss that girl.

I know what I have now, though–who I am–is stronger, and more settled, and more emotionally adept at handling life. I know that I’m a much improved version of myself. Yet, I miss something…and I’m not sure if it’s related to me getting older, me getting sober, me not really feeling stimulated in my life down here, or what. Puzzles; it’s a good thing I have the patience for them.

Anyway, signing off for now. Chittering insects (my mind, reference to the closed captioning on ‘The Walking Dead,” anyone?). Hope everyone is doing OK. I, for one, have about 10 blog posts that I started and have yet to share. This week!

Oh, and thank you for letting me vent! I feel so much better. Smiling. You guys rock. And I don’t care who says what, even IF I don’t know what you look like and have never heard your voices (except for Belle), I can’t imagine having come this far without you. 🙂

HALT–Hungry, Angry, Lack of control, Tired

12 Feb

8:09 pm

HALT. Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I am hearing that phrase ringing truer and truer the longer I maintain my sobriety. For me, that’d be, Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lack of control, or Tired.

My biggest triggers are indeed hunger and anger–both make me feel like I might want to drink. However, even bigger ones are feeling like I don’t have control and feeling fatigued (sick, or ill, comes in here, too, and maybe that should be put into “lack of control”). I realized this today, as I was interpreting my life as being super-out of my control. A few tears welled up in my eyes as I checked off all the shit that I simply DO NOT have control over:

work
the energy to attain said paycheck
my constant back pain
my ongoing sleep disturbances/insomnia
my water quality (we have cistern water)
my REACTIONS to all this lack of control
etc. (this would include, for example, my greying hair–haha)

In writing this, I realize now that I do, in fact, have control–or the ability to control–all these things! I just have to consider different options.

Obviously, I don’t have control of the world, of the way things happen. BUT, I realized today that there are some things that I NEED control over, to a certain extent, in order to remain sober, basically. And, that what I CAN do is construct a life that feels safe, in that certain elements are there/controlled for.

When it comes to work, I know I need to keep it challenging, but I’ve learned to take breaks, turn it off when need be (well, learning how not to exhaust myself before it’s too late and I hear wolfie breathing down my neck), and set only attainable goals. Once upon a time, I used to believe that “Make your goals unattainable” was a perfect motto to live by. Now? No. Just, no. Not if you’re someone like me, who goes crazy trying. I mean, of course, we all have to work, and we might not like that; but, I can choose to let’s say, write freelance instead of going into an offices every day and doing marketing copy. I can control for the amount I earn, and the amount of time I put in (unless, of course, I’m a new freelance writer, which I am!). Plus, for me, going into an offices adds a dimension of “pain” that is hard for my younger self–and sacral spine–to imagine.

So, OK, I have control over my choice of work. And a relative degree of control over the amount of incidental pain I have to endure every day. Yet…with that tradeoff comes the uncertainty of the freelance paycheck–will I or won’t I either have enough work or have enough energy to find enough work? That, I’d say, is my number one item in the “I feel like I have no control” column. Right under this is my reaction to this kind of stress, which is negative. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t have control over my reactions, and I react, and I feel angry and frustrated–just like I did when I was drinking, and man, it is the exact same feeling and it makes me want to drink. Of course, I calm myself down better now, and talk myself off the edge fairly efficiently, but, I wish I didn’t let myself get there in the first place.

Sometimes a lack of initiative on my part is really just a lack of stamina. I can’t go as hard as I used to; or, I simply don’t want to. Or, I don’t have wine to fuel me. I get tired faster, and what with being so PAWS-y for so long, I am just now recovering my powers of concentration. The past month this has been waning, and it worries me. Being tired–or sick, I guess–hasn’t helped, and that just makes me angry. Very mature, I know.

So, I don’t know what this post is about except, if you need more control, take it. There are some things that need to be there, and that are OK to hold an iron fist above–especially if the stress of not having that control is going to make you wander aimlessly back to the wine aisle in the grocery store. If you need a break, take it. It’s not worth drinking over. If you get extra hungry, or extra tired, or extra angry–hello, PMS!–sleep on it. Manage it, but let some things slide (it’s OK to binge on ice cream for dinner, says Dr. Drunky Drunk Girl; it’s more than OK to sleep for 10 hours if you have the time). It’s not worth drinking over. If you feel like you have no control, maybe you just don’t have enough control? Getting sober is hard and takes a lot of focus and concentration–you are basically re-wiring your brain–you need some things to be taken care of, and not flying around, willy nilly, you know? Maybe you need to construct a tighter household, so to speak; pull some things off the burners; cut the last 14 items off your to-do list–they probably aren’t that important anyway.

Sometimes still, it’s hard to figure out if I’m tired for real, or if I’m burnt out (I see my energy to pitch stories coming in daily, weekly, and monthly waves), or if I’m just being PAWS-y and need a break because my sober brain isn’t ready yet for the big leagues. It’s hard to figure out how, exactly, to react differently, and to gain more control over my reactions. But, I know if I try to change the course of my reactions, even when it feels like I’ve gone too far in, I can do it.

What helped me today to curb my emotional reaction (to the stress of the pressures of freelance, of feeling nostalgic for my grad school years as I contemplate my hourly wage at my new job)? Shutting myself in the office for the first hour or so, and then, taking a little walk later morning. And then, remembering that I am a new me, and I am no longer the girl who reacts violently and carries it with her to the end of the day and the end of three wine bottles. I am a new me, and I do things differently. And, this is how I do it now. And then, realizing that right then and there, I am re-learning how to do things, and how to do things better than I used to. I am practicing this and I am turning the tables. It’s weird, and painful, but good.

Sometimes I feel like a child. With navel-gazing powers that rival a superhero’s. Yes, I’m ready for a change of scenery!

Into every life a little PAWS will fall

5 Jan

12:29 pm

I was going to post on something that I mentioned to Lilly the other day–how we have to remember that we’re addicted not just to booze, but to the “idea” of what booze gives us, does for us, makes us; and how we have to grieve the person we “lost”–but instead, I’d just like to keep it simple: PAWS sucks.

According to the “illustrious” Wikipedia, the symptoms of PAWS–post-acute-withdrawal syndrome–include mood swings resembling an affective disorder, anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure from anything beyond use of the drug), insomnia, extreme drug craving and obsession, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, suicidal ideation and suicide and general cognitive impairment. These can last from a year to several decades, or indefinitely. YIKES.

I highlighted the ones that have affected me the most, and I think we can all agree: once we stop drinking, it doesn’t necessarily do jack shit for us. In fact, for me it meant seeing myself succumb to a lack of motivation that I blamed on my inherent nature, when really, it was just me coming off booze. That goes for my ongoing mood swings and depression, too.

I felt frustrated A LOT. Up until about a few months ago, actually. I mean, we stop drinking, and we’re supposed to feel great and happy and lovely, right? And yet…we feel WORSE sometimes (most of the time). We not only feel the depression or anxiety that we’ve been self-medicating away, but PAWS brings its own special form of hell. And, until we have medications to help us out with PAWS symptoms, we simply have to go through it in order to be able to look back and say, Ahh, so that’s what they were talking about. FUCK.

My main symptom has been lack of motivation. A feeling of “meh,” or “blah,” or “why bother?” surrounding basically everything–eating, reading, watching movies; working, hiking; going to bars and picnics and barbeques. It wasn’t that I didn’t have fun doing these things, or that they were so bad to do sober; it’s just that I totally noticed how much I MISSED wine and how most things just didn’t offer much reward for doing them without it. Wine was a serious motivating factor; it was also my main reward.

In learning more about how our reward circuitry gets fucked up when we come to depend on booze, it’s not hard to see how nothing but wine would motivate me. Our brains become sensitized to alcohol. What does this mean? It means that, other rewards–incentives, like eating good food or having an orgasm; or higher-level rewards, like a future job done well, or a big professional goal accomplished–other rewards lose meaning. They hold no weight, in fact. It’s like, the ONLY thing that’s going to do it for me, and by that I mean, instill in my brain a DESIRE to do something, is wine. Forget that it may or may not give me pleasure. What’s happened is that your dopamine circuits (among others that make wine the “high” that it is) have become attuned to this one stimulus–your only motivating factor becomes wine. Otherwise, there literally is no reason, in your mind, to do it.

Now, I’ve blogged about this before, but I’ve seen a lot of people on here lately complaining that they’re feeling depressed, or unmotivated, that they’re just going through the motions and really, wasn’t quitting drinking supposed to have the opposite effect? And, all I can say is, it takes time. YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT TIME. You have to live through the “blah” period. For me, that lasted for a good 1.5 years. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. My innate motivation–you know, how I used to “get pumped” to work out, to job search, to plan a trip to Greece…because these things are inherently worthy of doing–took some time to return.

I journaled a lot. I felt sorry for myself a lot. But, I also just went through the motions, and there’s a LOT to be said for just doing what needs to be done. I made a lot of to-do lists, and then, finally stopped berating myself for not getting to much of what was on my list. I just didn’t drink. Sometimes I’d go to bed early; a lot of times I did only what needed to be done in terms of work (I didn’t make very much money last year–haha); I bitched to my boyfriend; I took long walks with my dogs (they are my “higher power,” I swear); I ate a lot of sweets; I drank a shit-ton of Diet Coke. There were treats in the form of trips and hikes and lazy days on the beach–which were sometimes (often) clouded by me feeling bad or guilty about taking time off to heal, or not being capable of enjoying the moment. It just takes time, and constant effort. But, mostly, it just takes doing it, and going through the motions. Believe me, you will NOT be going through the motions forever, even though you’re convinced that things will never feel good again and you might as well drink because there is NO WAY you’re not drinking and putting up with this shit forever.

It’s like a really bad breakup: one day, you’ll just move on. One day, you’ll wake up and the gut-ache will have dissipated, poof, gone. One day, you’ll be like, Oh, well, he was a fucking asshole anyway. One day, you’ll say, Huh, I think I’m gonna wear some lipstick today, and maybe even some short shorts. HA.

Your motivation–spark, enthusiasm, desire to do, and to go, and to achieve–will come back. But it’s going to take time, healing time. It wasn’t until I gave myself a SOLID 7, 8, 9 months (and this was AFTER a solid 2, and then, 6 months first-tries at getting sober) that I started to see my thinking change. To feel butterflies again. YES, I’d actually feel butterflies once in a while (when was the last time I felt butterflies, in the ’90s?) thinking about the trip I was going to take, the book I was going to write, the new job I was going to apply for and work.

I’m still just starting to come back, but I am coming back. I have found myself having more random man-on-street conversations, being open to socializing; applying for jobs and not feeling like I can’t do them (that was scary, having so little self-confidence when it came to work, which was always “my thing”); in general, feeling at ease in my own skin again. Thinking back, I wonder, why did I make it so hard? Why was I just so…weird all the time? Not “myself?” Literally beside myself? Because getting sober–and PAWS–sucks, that’s why. But, it’s not going to suck all the time, and it’s definitely not going to suck forever. And, you will get through this. You have to. If you keep not drinking!

Consider this: what IF you healed your mind, and you could drink again? What IF you healed your mind and you simply did not WANT to drink again? These are very real possibilities. And, you can even use them as motivation to not drink–IT’S OK. Don’t let other people’s personal experiences in getting sober bog you down: your path is your own, and what you CHOOSE to do after a period of abstinence WHICH ALLOWS YOU TO FULLY HEAL, MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY, is up to you. But first you have to heal. And you have to see how this might work, the longer you go without your “go-to” (wine, in my case).

I’ve got a story/essay to outline, and job to apply to, and then, “me” time! And that always involves trees, sun, water, and exercise! Happy Sunday, all. (And, I’m inching toward 300 days come next Sunday–woo hoo, I guess.)

My life doesn’t have to center around alcohol anymore

5 Dec

11:17 am

Lots of folks–LOTS–talk about booze-ism as a perpetual disease. What, is it like a flower that comes up every spring that you planted 10 years ago?

The BEST part about this journey, for me, has been seeing my mind heal. Witnessing the change. My actions are different, my reactions are different. WAY different. WAY better. And, maybe even back to normal.

By normal I mean, well, what do I mean? I can see now that I wasn’t “normal” back in let’s say, 2007. I know I’m a better version of myself. However, there was a sanity to my drinking, a certain “normalcy” to it before my several-years’ descent into out-of-control drinking. I’m not saying I could, or would want to, drink again, but…isn’t that the fucking point? You learn from your mistakes; now you can move on. You tried bungee jumping and decided it gave you whiplash and almost killed you. While you could do it again, you’d prefer not to, right? Same with a lot of things in my life: psychologically abusive boyfriends, poor academic choices (the expensive school over the cheaper one), “mom” jeans.

I don’t want to trivialize people’s experiences, but, they are just that.

At this point, I might choose NOT to drink even if I could, it’s that unappealing. (Well, I also know that I couldn’t “take it or leave it”–that I probably wouldn’t want to have “just one.”) I mean, there’s the short-lived buzz, but if the rest is boring or bullshit, why bother? Honestly, I’d rather not get high in order to avoid the low.

And, this is not rocket science. This is not big recovery stuff. This is not ME having a unicorns-shitting-glitter revelation. This is what most people have experienced, whether “addict” or not–some, it only took one try, others, it took a lifetime of tries.

Granted, I think addicts might feel a “higher” high than non-addicts. I don’t believe that my buzz from wine was significantly, qualitatively better than that of the annoying simpleton sitting next to me who had every hair in place, but I do assume that the relief it provided was something she had never–could never–imagine.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, you can stop dwelling on your sobriety long enough to look around to appreciate that alcohol has lost its hold on you. Sometimes, I do have the desire to drink, but it is a reaction, similar to other feelings and thoughts that would not be a good idea to react to. Drinking was a way to solve our problems, but it was a bad one. Now we are solving our problems in GOOD ways. Why? Because we know better. Consider your booze-ism as the school of hard knocks–we really did learn the hard way. But, now we know better, and we do better.

Why can’t that be enough? For recovery, I mean? I’m not saying I’m going to drink in moderation tomorrow, but I feel…healed, to a large extent. I feel better. I feel…normal, even? Maybe I hit a high bottom (maybe not); it doesn’t matter. The only thing that ever mattered to me was the fact that one, I drank alcoholically, and two, I could heal from this skewed mental state.

These days, about 18 months into sobriety, I don’t walk around constantly examining the horrible things I did, the anniversary of such and such drama. Why? Because everyone’s got a past, this is mine, moving on. These days, I walk around thinking of things worth thinking about, like friends, work, the trees, the ocean, whether or not I’m going to have kids, why that even matters. My life does not center around booze anymore. Most importantly, my life doesn’t HAVE to center around alcohol anymore, whether I’m sober or drinking.

I’m going to say this, and it might not be cool: I feel like there is such a culture of self-indulgence surrounding both drinking and getting sober. (And, for drinking, I might even substitute “using,” in general). In recovery, they hammer in the “it’s not all about you!” thing so hard, but yet…the entire recovery process IS all about you–catering to the addict’s well-being, finding the best medication to reduce the amount of pain the addict is in and the long-term cravings the addict will feel, delving into all the messed up shit that the addict went through in her life that caused her so much pain she had to use. I mean, even I saw the truth of the matter when I was binging on two bottles of wine a night: I did it because I could AFFORD to. I had the money, I had the time, and I had all the safety nets that our society provides. I was willing to spend my emotional energy, and to take physical and psychological risks. I could afford to, one way or the other.

I know there are addicts everywhere, and we share one thing in common: the urge to use to fix a pain. Addicts use as solution, even IF they think they’re just getting high. Why is it that AA works so well? It teaches you how to deal with the perceived pain of living, whether that pain comes in the form of egomania or other people’s bullshit. It seems that everyone, even the folks who say they drank for fun or “just because,” benefits from this program in that it works by giving you tools to both recognize the pain and then, transmute it into SOMETHING ELSE. That something else is life, silver not gold.

Take away the pain, and everyone can heal. Everyone can heal. And, an alcoholic past can be like a bad memory, or a faded photograph–not something you need to hold on to in order to stay sober, in order to not want to drink. I would say, hold on to the present, the desire to seek out productive solutions to this thing called life, not counterproductive ones. It becomes that simple, it really, really does. Everyone can heal. EVERYONE CAN HEAL!

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