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Mental illness should not be a moral failing

28 Jul

11:24 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where’d DDG go? I’m right here, Elliott

9 Mar

11:44 am

And like Elliott, it’s been so long since I checked in on him, he grew up into a man!

Hi, guys.  WOW, I don’t think I’ve chased around this much in my life since, well, I worked a full-time job back in my cold, big-city days.  And even then, I managed to ALSO live a double life, drinking away four, five, six hours every night.  HOW on EARTH did I work, eat, work out, AND drink five hours every night–and still maintain a handful of friendships, an often-bordering-on-broken romantic relationship, and make phone calls to the family every Sunday night?

In case you haven’t been reading my oh-so-interesting posts about my struggle with what I’m just calling “hot flushes” (as opposed to hot flashes), let me quickly say:  I have been having this “thing” that happens to me pretty much constantly, wherein, my skin feels very hot all over, but I also shiver.  And I don’t sweat.  And this lasts for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months at a time.  I chalked it up to perimenopausal weirdness that I can’t do much about.  However, when I went to a gynecologist, she was like, that doesn’t sound like hot flashes; and then, when I went to an endocrinologist, she was like, the symptoms you’re describing, I’ve only seen in ONE other patient in my entire career, and, your blood tests say that you’re body is hypothyroid but your symptoms are hyperthyroid (figures).  So, there might be more going on here than I originally thought.

Anyway, this is all just to say, the way I’ve been dealing with this is by taking a hot/cold shower at night, which means, over about 20 to 30 minutes in the shower, I change the temperature of the water from hot to cold, eventually ending with cold when my skin can tolerate it; somehow, it like, “resets” my body’s interpretation of its temperature.  SO WEIRD, I know.

As I was methodically going through my nighttime routine last night, I was like, huh, what would my nights be like now, if I was still drinking until 2 or 3 or 4 am?  I mean, would I still be drinking?  I would definitely not be taking care of myself the way I have to each and every night these days, just to be able to get to sleep; like, maybe I would just pass out and avoid feeling the body heat, avoid having to meditate myself down from feeling stressed about it, avoid having to take a series of deep breaths (I have what seems to be related irregular heartbeats, too–doh!)…?  Would I just pass out and avoid it altogether?  Probably not, which means, I’d somehow have to juggle it all.

Which, well, I wouldn’t be juggling it, and my life would be falling down…

And it just made me see how important my sobriety actually is right now, and how grateful I am to be ABLE to care for myself at night (and that doesn’t include forgetting about it all by passing out).

This year, 2019, has just been blowing me over–I will bend, but I will not break, one of my high school teachers used to quip.  And, I guess that could sum up the past three months for me, being bowled over by the seeming-hurricane winds of my neverending to-do list!  It’s all good, though, and I’m glad I’m making it through the days–and the nights.

Since the last time I blogged, I’ve become entrenched in my new job.  I started it about three months ago, and I feel like I haven’t looked up from the page since then.  I have to preface this by saying, it IS a nonprofit, and I DID have some inkling about the workload (large), but, I am constantly reminded that I gave up a job that was pretty cut-and-dry for something that is anything but that.  I will say this:  there are things I like about it, and things I don’t, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

There is one thing that stands out, and that is having to–gasp–speak in public at a work retreat the other week.  If there is anything that causes me anguish, aside from nighttime body heat and insomnia, it’s gearing up to speak in front of a group.  I may have talked about this before on my blog, but when I was in graduate school, I started having panic attacks related to drinking; and then, during one of my seminars, for which we had to give a lot of individual presentations, I suddenly froze up, my heart start hammering in my chest, and I became so anxious that I could barely speak.  One of my generous classmates stared me down, and as we locked eyes, she was able to move me out of that place.  From that point forward–that happened over a decade ago–I have not been able to escape feeling the same intense physical reaction to speaking in front of a group.  Someone recently told me that it sounds like PTSD.

Well, at this work thing, I had to do just that–I have been successful at avoiding it, but really, you can’t avoid it for the rest of your life; there will be times when you have to get up in front of a group of people and talk.  And, of course, all the same things started to happen when my name was called:  yammering heart, whirling mind, the literal inability to breathe such that, I come across as either winded or stuttering when I am actually talking.  But, because I had no choice, I started talking and just went through it.  I apologized a few times, stumbled over my words, was breathless at least twice and had to stop and inhale and apologize again; BUT, I went through it, made it to the end, and by the end of those five minutes, I was at least still talking.  And breathing.

It was good for me to see that I could get through it.  No one is going to die, I thought.  With that new knowledge, I realized, well, if I can get through it by just going through it to the end, sticking it out to the end; then, I should be able to apply that practice to my night heat–I just have to go through my routine, wait to cool down, and wait to fall asleep.  I don’t know why, exactly, but it was just really empowering to see that I COULD get through speaking in public–it was painful, and I will avoid it, but I CAN do it, if I have to–the same way that every night since I started my new routine, I eventually DO cool down, and eventually do fall asleep.

Of course, you can apply this to sobriety!  You CAN get through those nights of horrible cravings, those days of zero-dopamine lack-of-motivation, those months of want and lack and sadness about losing your “everything.”  You can and will get through it if you just keep going.  Just keep not drinking, no matter what and how you feel.  You will make it through to the end.  No one is going to die.  You got this.  (notes to self, literally, in my journal every day, to this day)

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?

Still plugging away

25 Jun

11:35 am

It’s been a while, and some milestones have come and gone:  four years of having this blog, another road trip, an engagement (yup–me!), my mom’s 70th birthday party.

I’m still working my remote full-time job plus my part-time coffee shop job…  I haven’t been doing much personal or journalistic writing, for obvious reasons.  And, to top it off, I am sick again.  (Problem is, I can do all this stuff, but I don’t sleep well, and I can literally go days without getting more than 3 or 4 hours a night–adds up to me catching a chest cold in the middle of summer!)

All that being said, I am still plugging away at sobriety, recovery, and all the thoughts and ruminations that go along with it.  In fact, the other day, my fiance (haha–sounds weird) and I had the same conversation that we’ve been having since I got sober:

Him:  You never go out/be social; you’re a snob.

Me:  No, I’m not, I just [excuse after excuse after excuse].

It’s hard for me to discern WHY I hesitate to go out, and be social; so, I tried it the other day.  And, it reminded me of how effing social I used to be, and how hermetic I tend to be now.  And, it reminded me that I AM still social, but I think a lot more about it now *because I am sober*.

I could go into a long post about intimacy, and why I fear the fuck out of it, and how fear of intimacy and introversion connect–but, honestly, I just don’t get it myself.  I *think* I don’t like people getting to know me (which boils down to, I have low self-esteem), and I don’t have the energy to be gregarious (or, how I still believe some people want me to be) without alcohol.  I’m older now, and the desire to get to know ME above other people continues to drive me, too.

The thing is, it feels GOOD to be out there, to be involved.  Which is why I’m literally making myself sick working the coffee shop job–it really helps to stabilize/normalize me psychologically if I’m out there, seeing what’s up and who’s who (I see people, and most importantly, they see me).  It helps people trust me, which makes me feel better about myself.  I used to have a HUGE mental clusterfuck going on with being “secretive,” and where that ended and my introversion began.  Now, it’s with intimacy–where does a learned fear of letting others get to know my “horrible, flawed” self end and a hard-wired introverted nature begin?

It feels good to be social, this I know.  So, since getting back from our road trip, I’ve decided to stop bitching and start doing.  I’ve been social–gasp–THREE times this week!?!?  One night, I went to see a band play with my neighbors, another night I went to a “sound healing” ceremony at a local temple, and tonight, I’m going to see a Ted talks event.

I’ve come a long way toward sorting out all the confusion that getting sober brings when it comes to figuring out how to be and act in social settings–and how to be you, whoever that is now.  But, it takes effort to create and maintain a social life.  Does that mean I have a bunch of friends?  Well, that’s where intimacy comes in, and whether it’s as simple as me just being me and stopping overthinking shit–le sigh, for a different Saturday morning musing.

All in all, still plugging away.  And hoping to write more when the dust settles!

Is self-esteem the common denominator?

22 Apr

11:26 am

First, thanks for all the comments to my last post. I want to and will get back to all of you in the comments soon–great discussion, eh? BUT…I didn’t mean to write something polarizing, but that seems to be how many interpreted it. I think I was getting at something more basic: I don’t need or want to be “telling on myself” all the time. I don’t believe I am particularly “fucked up,” and I do believe that poor coping mechanisms besiege every single person on this planet. All that being said, I think there are particular commonalities among people with substance use problems and/or disorders, and those might actually be best ironed out in both individual and group (AA, other recovery groups) settings!

Anyhoo…

I was in the shower the other day–seems to be where most of my ideas pop up–and I thought, man, I have such low self-esteem. It was in reaction to something someone posted on Facebook, a picture of him hugging someone else. I noticed how happy he was, and how loving; but also, how “out there” his happiness and love were. Like, there doesn’t seem to be a hesitant bone in his body.

Whoa. That’s weird. I just segregate those “kind” of people into an entirely separate folder, because I don’t get them. I wish I was like them, but I don’t get them. And, maybe they, too, have had self-esteem issues–doubts, ruminations–but they’ve simply worked (are working) through them.

This person doesn’t seem to approach the day with thoughts like: I wonder what he is thinking of me; I bet she doesn’t like me; he is probably thinking badly of me; she is ahead of me; I don’t deserve to be here; I don’t deserve to be able to stand tall and look her in the eye; is my looking him in the eye going to be perceived as passive or aggressive? It must sound crazy to more outgoing people, or people who don’t think this way; but these are thoughts that I am almost embarrassed to say run through my mind on autopilot, like a subconscious soundtrack. They are literally so embedded in how I see the world that I don’t even hear them anymore.

It seems that there are people who seem to have self-confidence to the point where they almost lack any and all self-consciousness. They don’t wake up dreading the day, deep down. They wake up ready to embrace the day, because they are convinced that they deserve this. They don’t think they’re “better” than others by expecting love and reciprocity from people. They don’t think about this at all, that’s how ingrained it is.

I think this is called self-esteem, and from what I’ve seen, “addicts” and “alcoholics” (myself included) seem to lack this (to varying extent).

There could be so many genetic and environmental reasons why “we” are this way, but what I’m trying to do now is recognize this in myself–down to even the subconscious level–and reverse it. I have no idea sometimes if I’m doing it right, and maybe I can come across as bitchy, or self-righteous. I don’t mean to.

I realize that part of the problem with being so obsessed with seeing my brother’s girlfriend at the wedding in May (she hates me, and when I say hate, I mean hate) is that I feel SO uncomfortable with someone not liking me. It’s going to be a GREAT lesson for me, and I just hope I can distract myself enough while leading up to May and while actually there that I successfully get past it. I will, I’m just not sure how I will feel, and what will transpire between us–and that scares me, and periodically really upsets my inner zen.

However, the bottom line is, it’s not her, it’s me. I feel insecure with someone hating me, and I shouldn’t. I need to be able to love myself no matter what anyone else says, does, thinks, or feels about me. And, that hits hard at the core of my self-esteem “problem.” I’m glad it hits hard, because maybe I would miss the connection–and the possibility of some serious resolution–if it was more subtle.

Anyway, food for thought.

Am I a lurker in my sober life?

27 Dec

11:34 pm

What a week, eh? Ah, holidays. Ugh. Even with my 280-some days, I had MAJOR pangs, which was quite unexpected! Again, not necessarily pangs to drink, but pangs to avoid what I really didn’t want to feel, or acknowledge, or confront.

So, quickly, let me set the stage. My boyfriend and I went away for a few nights, and all in all, we had a great time. We’d been to where we went before, and so there was a level of familiarity–and nostalgia–to the place. Which played against me this time, as you’ll see. On Christmas Eve, he sprung something on me that I wasn’t comfortable doing–honestly, I’m not sure I would’ve been comfortable doing it drunk, let alone sober. However, while other people do everything sober and don’t think twice; not me, so cue the whirlwind of “should I/shouldn’t I” thoughts!

I was also feeling surprisingly lonely. I mean, lonely for family in the sense of connection, of belonging, of “protocol.” You know, how it’s nice to sit around once in a while with your big, dysfunctional family because, well, it makes you feel like you’re part of something larger than yourself? That there’s SOME sort of order to the Universe? Now, I’ve been “un”-celebrating holidays for a long time, spending many of them alone, or doing random things around the world, literally–it’s not like I’m all that big into Christianity OR family. Why the HELL I found myself wearing shades en route to the airport, having a hard time holding the tears back, I really don’t understand. I think it was the combination of feeling a sense of loss–my old self, my old way of doing things, the old me who could party and be independent–and a sense of finality–how much I’ve gained, how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown.

It was in this state of mind that my boyfriend sprang “the thing” on me. I sort of moped my way through dinner, feeling inadequate in a way because I couldn’t (wouldn’t) do something just because it would have been easier to do with a “glass” of wine to take the edge off. And then, we went to a salsa club. Neither of us danced, and it was the worst feeling in the world–because I’ve been the one to Not Dance out of feeling awkward and like everyone is staring at me SO MANY TIMES. And, it brings up the worst sort of paranoia in me: that I’m unable to enjoy the way others do, that I’m unable–worse, unwilling–to have fun, to let go, to just be. That I can’t do so many things (that make me feel unsafe and self-conscious) without wine.

And, then, I said, Let’s wander around the bar. And my boyfriend was like, And, do what? If you want to be part of something, go and do it, but stop making not being able to drink an excuse for not having the guts to do it. (I’m paraphrasing.)

Hmm.

Am I, in fact, a lurker in my own life? Have I always been? Duh. YES. I mean, when I was drinking, I was alone and desperate for connection, but I was afraid to go out and get it. I’d watch other people, looking for clues as to how to have a life. How to LIVE a life. Ten years ago, I started to walk around the city I lived in at night, looking into lit-up living rooms, craning my neck to gaze deeper, feeling the chill in the air outside even more strongly because the inside looked so warm. I’d DRIVE the fuck around after midnight, passing clubs and bars that I used to frequent, hoping to find…something I had lost, I guess. I never went into those clubs or bars; I was alone, after all, and way too scared. But, I wanted to know that nothing was going on without me. That I hadn’t really lost anything. Or that, I wasn’t missing out on all that much.

Nothing has really changed, it seems, with me getting sober. For years, I drank and drank and drank, and that gave me the courage–or alternately, the excuse to pass on events–to go to things, bars, events, dates, to initiate conversations, to maintain relationships. I had to drink to do it, I was way too scared to do any of it sober. It wasn’t that I was always drunk, but, toward the end everything and everyone in my life involved wine.

It’s been a struggle, and I’ve been trying to be patient with myself. These days, it’s not that I can’t do it, it’s more that I don’t want to. I gave myself a pass for these past 18 months, but more and more, I’m finding myself craving connection. And I see that my “pass” has become an excuse to lurk, to hide out, to avoid contact, to basically give myself the excuse to not do things, socially and professionally.

And, I can’t come up with one thing other than that horrible four-letter word: fear.

I used to pride myself on being the one who was up for anything, on being fearless, on making shit happen. Maybe that was just another story I told myself, because I’ve always hated dancing in front of strangers, for instance, unless I’m drunk. I’ve had an infinite number of conversations with people in my lifetime, at bars, in cities, in colleges and travels, under blankets and in between sheets; but once I got sober, I didn’t want to anymore. I simply didn’t have it in me anymore. I chalked that up to needing to conserve my energy, to finally focusing on me, to being able to at last say, Fuck it, to the shit that I just didn’t want to do–since that “shit” was making me drink.

I keep telling myself that when the time is right, I’ll get back to doing what I used to do–all of which was WAY easier because I was fueled by “liquid courage.” Won’t I? Or, do I need to push myself?

Have I been hiding myself away from life? I think the answer is yes. It’s a very difficult truth to embrace, but…I think it’s time to cut the cord, dive in, jump off.

It sucked balls to have to confront, on Christmas Eve no less, some of the things that have been fucking STARING me in the face before, during, and now, after getting sober. That while I needed to stash myself away for a while and avoid the “real world” of socializing–meeting people, making friends, forming authentic relationships–I need something else now. Something like friends. Girlfriends. Warmth through conversation. A sense of belonging, even community, with others. What irks me the most is that I know this has always been a sore point with me, and I’ve always been afraid of it. It’s why I drank, to avoid having to do what makes me feel uncomfortable–fearful, basically. To put myself out there, for me, is to confront and embrace human interaction.

I’m glad I didn’t drink on Christmas Eve; even now, I see that it would’ve made things easier, and probably more fun. However, in exchange, I got to confront myself and get a little bit closer to my truth, to the real story, as it were.

On that note, I’ve got a cold, so it’s off to bed (at least it’s a “legitimate” excuse to stay home!).

I’m the one in control–weird

18 Dec

11:26 am

Last night, I went to our annual (well, two years and counting) Christmas party thrown by our “rich” friend–needless to say, there were lots of corks popping.

Firstly, I brought chilled sorrel tea, and it was my lifesaver! (I also had my boyfriend, who doesn’t drink; he smokes weed, but that’s not a big deal to me unless it becomes the focus of the event, which it wasn’t last night.) If anyone has ever tried sorrel tea, it looks just like wine or a mixed drink AND, it’s quite thirst-quenching–I didn’t miss a belly-full of wine, in other words. And, it gave me the opportunity to observe, pretending I was “one of them” without actually being one of them.

Everyone was drinking, of course. “Being festive,” but really, this is a drinking crowd, so the “festive” was more like “pretty damn drunk” for some. No one did or said anything wrong; in fact, everyone was a good drunk. However, I did get to watch it unfold as it usually does: first, you’re chatting, being polite and civil and a little tipsy; then comes what I like to call the shit-talk and secret drinking games. Like, well, talking shit and doing what appears to the sober folks in the room be strange things: having long, whispered conversations about nothing, or topics you’ll regret the next day; two people suddenly racing up the stairs, only to disappear for a half hour and then, tumble back into the room, flushed, giddy. Hilarious, right? So much fun, right?

Right. The biggest thing I noticed–and, it’s not the first time, which is why I’m blogging about it–is just how out of control drinking makes you. How vulnerable. I mean, obviously, I KNOW THIS, from my years of putting myself in ridiculous situations–jail and car crashes and blackout sex are an alcoholic’s version of vulnerable, but there is a gradient, and you become part of it even if you’re a “social drinker.”

Vulnerable in that, you have conversations where you talk too much or say things too loud, for the most part; I don’t have to mention sitting on laps and flirting with people in front of friends. Now, I come from years upon years of overexposing myself emotionally and physically while getting shitfaced; I’ve had enough, and so I LIKE being tight-lipped, controlled, only allowing you to see exactly what I want. Doesn’t mean I’m not aware of this or a dry drunk; it means I like being the one in control, the observer, able to go home knowing exactly what I said and did.

My main question right now is, why on earth would someone make themselves so vulnerable by drinking too much? All you do is make yourself vulnerable–to talking shit, to having conversations that you might regret the next day, wondering what you said because you don’t remember it and then feeling scared and frenetic because you’re not sure what you said and you’re not sure how drunk the other person was and if they’re going to think you’re a complete dumb-ass for rambling and over-sharing. Not to mention, all the other terribly-exposing shit that comes with drinking–flirting uncontrollably, showing too much interest or maybe interest that you’re not ready to share with your friends; telling people about your abusive childhood; revealing just how bitchy you are, or how insecure you are, or how generous and happy of a wobbly drunk you are.

Why would you do this to yourself? At the end of the day, no matter how alone I feel sometimes in sobriety, last night taught me that I SO prefer to feel a little bit on the “outside” than be exposing myself and making myself vulnerable in exchange for being part of the “secret club”–which is what happens between drinks, not because of them.

I’m feeling a bit grumpy lately, mainly because of this freelance life I live, but I’ll move past it and keep working. I have 275 days today–goal is 300, so I’m almost there! My “alcohol-free” beer experience the other day made me go, Hmmmmm: not only did I see that drinking might simply not do it for me anymore, but, it also sparked a curiosity about wine. Maybe just one glass?

I’ll put it on the back burner–no, back in the package in the freezer–for now, where it belongs. I’ve got work and holidays and shit to do, no time for thinking about stupid drinking!

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