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Guilty or grateful–or both?

31 May

1:20 pm

I feel guilty today. I am only just watching the news on TV, only just reading about all the protests (in the US; I think everyone knows what’s going on, so I won’t get into explaining it here) on social media (Twitter). I am not there, and I feel guilty for not being engaged, for seemingly not caring. Even if I was there–I am not on the mainland–I am not sure I would be at a protest, and I feel guilty about that. I am even feeling a twinge of guilt about not being active on social media (I have been off Facebook for about 1.5 months and I haven’t been on Twitter, as a user, for like, a decade)–I got off for my mental health’s sake, and I don’t see it helping me to go back on right now.

(Actually, I went on Twitter yesterday and this morning, for the first time in years, after having realized that that’s where a lot of people are getting their news these days; and I have to say, it’s been really helpful to see all the user-generated video content of the protests. However, I don’t want to log into my account and start scrolling endlessly through a feed that is so tailored toward my specific, and illusory, reality.)

Anyway, I also feel this restless anxiety toward…I don’t know, the uncertainty of all this, how it’s going to end, how it’s going to affect the COVID situation (so much for the easy re-openings!). In my opinion, this will never be fixed unless we stop telling ourselves, collectively, that “it’s a few bad apples” and “99.9% of cops are good guys.” If that were the case, why the EFF is our entire country, across cities, coast to coast, totally enraged? Why are these so-called “good apples” teargassing everyone, from peaceful protestors to journalists (who are doing their jobs!?). It’s akin to the “hearts and prayers” crap that has been on repeat in this county for decades, which does nothing to fix the problem of gun violence in America.

Like most Americans, I see these “bad apple” incidents happening over and over and over again; I see these “good cops” suit up in their wartime garb, for situations that are NOT riot scenes; I watch them commit murder again and again and again, and they never get charged. I was wondering the other day, what kind of treatment would I have gotten when I was picked up, stumbling drunk and ridiculously belligerent (a few times, years ago), if I were a person of color? I definitely don’t think I would have sobered up in peace in the slammer as the “good apple” (sincerely, there must be some!) cop just turned his or her head to my angry insults.

I don’t know what this country should do, but it’s obvious that police culture and training needs to change. Accountability somehow needs to happen–for me that means, cop-killers should not get life in prison while killer-cops don’t even get arrested or charged. It’s not as simple as that, but that’s one thing it boils down to, for me anyway.

I feel grateful today, on the other hand. Grateful that I am here, safe, and that I don’t have anything huge to do today. I mean, I feel scattered, sort of angry, so, not sure what I’ll get done; but I am willing to pull it together, to stop the black-and-white thinking, to have a day. And, I have the time and space–and safety, and privilege–to do that.

Guilty, and grateful, that’s for sure. And, there is no way around feeling both, at the same time, today; so, all I can do is feel and move on with my day, feeling what I feel.

Almost a week off social media…

19 Apr

4:26 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fourth day off social media…

16 Apr

5:57 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First day off social media…

13 Apr

6:20 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let go of carrying the past around

7 Oct

12:02 am

I grant myself permission to let go of the past.  Drunky Drunk Girl:  You can let go of carrying around your past.  Literally.

So, I think I mentioned to you that my boo and I have decided to move back to our island home, and in preparation (because it’s really impractical to ship a lot of shit down there), I have been slogging through my boxes and bags of SCHTUFF, and it is not fun.

Did I tell you that I stored my stuff for uh, almost a decade?  Yeah, I stored it, had my drunken breakdown, moved to our island home, and simply forgot about it while I got sober and started a new, much lighter and more wonder-full life (I needed to; it’s how I got sober, finally letting go of some of what I had been carrying around, physically and emotionally, for years).

Well, now that I’ve got it all in my office (I finally cleared out the unit a few months ago), I have been forced to pare it down, drip by drop.  Paper by paper.  Photo by photo.  I could just toss it all, but, eh, I can’t do that–I wonder if this is how people on Storage Wars feel?  The constant pull of your STUFF…

I’ve been doing it on the weeknights and sometimes, entire weekends.  I mean, it should have been done years ago, along the way.  I feel like a “normal” person would have done it years ago.  But, I just wasn’t ready.  Maybe I’m a hoarder?  I do totally have some tendencies, and can kind of relate to that mentality!

Anyway, over the past decade, I built up more and more courage every time I went back to my storage unit to throw out, give away, or donate just a bit more stuff, including furniture and clothes and blankets and blah blah blah–all of which, ALL OF WHICH, tugged at me emotionally to give up.  (Oh, that’s the faux-velvet “cat suit” I wore going out to my first gay club in 1995; Aww, that’s my studded belt I bought in LA when I thought I was a rocker-chic with only one piece of rocker-chic clothing to my name then and now; Wow, my ballet slippers from that ONE class I took at 23, cuz, yeah, I was going to become a ballet dancer taking my first class since grade school at 23…)  In paring down that kind of stuff, it was hard; I had to go through each and every piece of clothing, and like, relive those moments, years, eras of my coming of age.  And, like, let them go.  It was hard…until it was dark in the storage facility and I was fondling ratty clothing that I hadn’t worn or even looked at for years.  Buh-bye became a lot easier to say every year I went back to “check” on my unit.

As you can imagine, it was tiring and of course, obsessive.  Yet, I feel the same way toward the daunting task of going through my writings, and photos, and all the “historical” stuff that tells the story of my life.  Moreso, even.  Now, I am working through the hard stuff:  mounds of CDs, tons of photo prints, entire plastic containers full of saved cards over the years; even bigger containers of endless letters from my year abroad, not to mention–let’s not forget–all my “brilliant” writings from over the years, stashed in a seemingly infinite amount of notebooks, looseleaf pages, planners, diaries, and everything else that one might have been able to write on.  Luckily, a lot of stuff after about 2003 starts to show up solely on CDs, which is great–easy to transfer to USB or the cloud.

What have I learned today?  Haha.  Well, for one, I am too fecking exhausted to carry the past around anymore.  I just cannot.  I am ready to let it go, mainly because, god, my life sucked then.  I mean, I am who I am because of what came before, but, what came before was not all that pretty or something I want to relive.  I was lonely, searching, and very easy to intimidate back then; it affected me, my choices, and my friendships.  Again, I can cherish the past, but I don’t have to want to relive it, right?  Right.

I looked at every picture, from grade school to high school, college, early 20s, late-20s, grad school, wondering, who and what made me a drunk?  I mean, every picture:  Did how I was then contribute to me becoming a drunk?  Did he do it?  Did she make me the way I was–pained and increasingly vexed and sad and unsure?  I saw a LOT of photos of a sad girl; I read a LOT of chats and journal entries of someone who was seriously searching for herself.  (Thank fucking GOD I found her, but I wish it had started, me finding myself, before my early 30s; I feel like I was SUCH a late bloomer, that life really did literally start for me at 40, just five years ago!)

I am playing this blame game the ENTIRE time I’m going through all my old shit; and, I can never let go of the conviction, in my mind, that somehow it was ALL MY FAULT.  Yet, someone had to have done something to make me the way I was, the way I would be, years later, right?  Was it my parents?  Was it my personality?  Both, and everything else that came into my life?  I don’t know.  And, what if I find out?  Will it change anything about how things progressed?

My life now, ME now, is way, way better than it was back then; and, while I can appreciate the past and cherish it, simply put, I don’t feel like I have to carry it around anymore to memorialize what is gone.  Granted, I will hold onto most of the old photos, and of course, all of my old writings, but one day, I can actually imagine throwing it all onto a heap and setting it ablaze.  And that is an insane thought for a writer who has defined herself all these years by what she has written.

Which brings me to learning number two:  If I don’t identify anymore with the product of my efforts, what is my life worth?  What and who am I without all my papers and books and notes that actually show, hey, I did this, and hey, I accomplished that?  What have I done anyway, if it doesn’t seem to matter if I burn it all at this point?  It’s like, if a tree falls and no one hears it, right?  If I have no proof of my existence, did I live?  Does my life even matter?  I am 45, and I am actually thinking that most of what I’ve written and produced, is nothing; worthless, in the grand scheme of things; prologue, at most, to my best work…which is yet to come.  So, what does that mean for my life’s work and value, if I am already halfway through it?  I don’t know yet.

And, finally, number three:  I was nicer back then.  I wanted and needed and cultivated and prioritized friendships, close ones, back then.  I can see it in all the letters and cards and notes that friends sent.  Now?  I don’t really get a lot of those cards because I don’t have a lot of close friendships.  Again, who’s to blame?  Do most people just grow apart over the years?  And, if not, was it me who pulled away when I became a drunk, angry, paranoid; when I came into my own and realized what I wanted and went for it (journalism kind of became a single-minded pursuit for me for a while there)?  Was it them?  Is there anyone to blame?  Should I try to fix it?  I have thought about reaching out to all these people from my past, yet…it feels like it wouldn’t be worth the effort of finding out that what I’m looking for no longer exists.

So, that was my weekend!  Like I said, it had to be done; it has to be done.  Yet, I am looking forward to it being done, to it being pared down, to a lighter load, to a new start, and…to just burning the remaining lot of it, sooner or later!  Haha…

(My mom is coming for a visit this week, which I will probably end up telling you about. And, my job continues to kick my ass; why did I think that nonprofit would be less work than a corporate gig?  Oh, and next time, remind me to tell you about my progress in perimenopause (haha):  things are getting better, I have to admit.  My burning up/dry chills cycles are getting shorter, less severe, and, I am having them less often (some nights, while I am hot, I am not burning up).  I have continued my “Costa Rica” diet, or have tried really hard to cut out breads and all sweets.  Now, I mainly have rice for my carb, if I want one, and have been eating a LOT less snacks and sweets.  I really, really, really think eliminating wheat and oat-based flours has helped with the night heat…  More to come in another post.)

No pangs for parades

16 Mar

11:54 am

It’s St. Patty’s Day weekend, and we all know what that means:  beer, green, parades, fun.

In reality, it means:  beer, brown (vomit), blurred memories of taking off your shirt or falling down or crumbling into a heap of tears inside a bar or on the curb outside the bar while the dude you met is looking at you with mock concern; or calling your ex and begging that you get back together while realizing, somewhere in the back of your mind, you knew you were never really together in the first place; a pounding headache the next day as you come to and realize what went down.  Oh, the fun.

I know how these holidays can trigger cravings for going out and getting shitfaced with the gang–the fear of missing out is intense, and intensely ingrained in our memory.  My neurons still pulse with those memories, I have to admit.

These days, there is none of that intense craving; there is only the whisper of a pang–if only I could have fun this St. Patty’s day–only the brief momentary life and death of a craving for what was.  And what was, we all know, was always a lie.

These days, there is only getting up on a Saturday, after a LONG work week, realizing that I made it happen, I made money, we are working toward our collective professional and personal goals (getting back to our island in the sun!); looking out at the grasses draped in fallen drops of rain, wondering only, should we go hiking through the marshland today or tomorrow?  (I love the marshland here, the white egrets and the blue herons; so gentle, so tentative, yet still so graceful, admirable, strong; I wish the world loved appreciated herons as much as I think it should.)  These days, there are no pangs for what was, because what was never was anything but pain, and fear, and avoidance.

On a side note, this weekend marks ONE whole year since our beloved beagle-boxer mix “crossed the rainbow bridge,” and that’s also something that I thought about this morning, as I was doing the obligatory check for events going on in my ‘hood on Facebook (I try to steer away from scrolling/trolling my news feed, but I usually give in, at least for a few minutes).  Our sweet son–I still feel almost as sad as I did that day; I still cry when I think about him and his role in my sobriety, and my life, and our days and years of shared love.  The good news?  I am not drunk or hungover thinking about it, and I’ve processed it (as much as anyone can process the event of a death).  The good news is that I won’t be falling down into a pile of tears on a curb outside a vomitous Irish pub because I am also drinking 10 beers while thinking about it.

These days, it’s just moving through the mornings, afternoons, and nights, without much of any pangs–I have so much more to look forward to, like watching a sunset from a tower overlooking marshland to the sea.  And, while this life is a million times better than getting shitfaced in an Irish pub on St. Patty’s Day, entertaining the potential to flirt and hook up (all at the same time totally NOT wanting to flirt with just anyone, or hookup at all; all the while longing for love, a special person, a life together–all of which I have now), there are still remnants of those old longings.  I push them away, as a matter of practice–I am sober, and getting sober is about practice.  Getting sober is about the process of practicing being sober–which includes recognizing the whisper, the faint memory of a pang, and releasing it into the space above.

There is no need anymore for pangs, for cravings.  I can let them go, again and again and again, until they are, truly, no more.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend, all my fellow sober friends.  May your weekend be filled with everything you want–and maybe even some things you don’t–in service to your sobriety.  Ever growing, ever strong.  You got this.

The holidays, and my sober advice

23 Dec

10:41 pm

This holiday has been stressful to me, I have to admit.  We’re in a different place and time, and a different space, within ourselves.  All this change, combined with all this self-imposed people pleasing–well, it grates, especially since it’s one of the reasons I drank in the first place.  If only I didn’t have to do this, if only I could just say no, I wouldn’t have to drink…is how it used to go down in my mind.  Still sort of does, on some level, I guess.

I remember feeling so unappreciated (kind of how I’ve been feeling lately, but I see it for what it is–partly of my own creation), and drinking at that feeling.  I remember drinking at people, if they pissed me off; or at bad situations, if they didn’t go my way; or at being let down, if my expectations weren’t met.  It sounds hard to believe to people who don’t use alcohol, but it’s how we keep rationalizing our compulsive and binge drinking, even when it screws up our heads and lives:  before we’re able to think it through, pick it apart, and realize what we can change and what we’ve created in our own minds–we drink.  Bam!  We’re drunk and shit sucks, and we’re down the same hole.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to say “Fuck it” the past few weeks, months, seasons.  It’s a feeling that builds and builds, a little “fuck it” here, a little more “fuck it” there, and…you know how it ends.  Rest assured, I am not going to drink, but I don’t think I’ve felt so close to wanting to say, fuck it, and go and get what’s MINE.

I miss having something of my own to take the edge off; I miss being able to just say, fuck it, I’m done, I’m drinking wine now.  Is what I’m really wanting and needing, though, some time for myself, to nurture and heal and appreciate what I’ve accomplished and who I am?  Is what I’m really needing some simple self-care?  Because, in that caring of self, as a sober person, I can totally see my role (my expectations and reactions) in creating a bad situation.  It’s also a way to reinforce self-respecting behavior (like, I feel this way and so, in respect for my legitimate feelings, I say no, or I don’t do this).

And I told you to be patient, and I told you to be kind

When you’re actively drinking, there is no self-reflection; it feels SO good to drink at it–whether it’s your anger at what someone did to you, or your feeling of frustration at not having handled the situation differently, or your belief that you are helpless to change it anyway–and then, to hold onto it until the bottle’s gone and you’ve blasted off, not to return until you come back the next morning (or afternoon) and realize that you’ve so lost.  Whatever there was to win, you definitely did not win that.

Letting go is the hardest part, it really is; it’s all about a higher self, and higher behavior; and sometimes it feels like your brain is pulling itself apart.

What I’m increasingly tired of is, I never get to escape…to the magic realm.  You know???  To the romantic place.  To the sensual world.  To the realm of ridiculous fantasy…which is what wine and drugs do, is they help you CREATE the ridiculous fantasy, and it feels so damn good to be there for a while!?  The ancient Greeks knew how important wine was to their conversational gatherings, right?  God, if only I came of age in archaic Greece!?

Regular life just gets so monotonous!  I miss wine…enhancing music, the present, the past, the holidays, my relationships, my dreams.  I miss the old me, and I have missed that crazy, romantic bitch ever since I got sober and had to let a large part of her go!?  I know, this way is so much better–I can actually hear music, have a present that is worth living, have a past that doesn’t haunt me, experience holidays that go off without a hitch, cultivate relationships that don’t crumble or blow up, and, um actually make real some of those dreams.  I just have to wonder, will I ever truly be able to smile easily, and without some part of my mind thinking, God, it would be SO much easier to find this entertaining if I had some wine?

I guess I’m feeling uninspired lately, a bit cynical, and just sort of a combination of tired and under-appreciated; I know I can remedy all of this with self-care, which includes just making some other choices.  And, it’s a blessing of being sober to not only have choices, but know that I have choices.

Anyway, my two cents is this:  whenever you feel like drinking this holiday, just remind yourself that IF you’re drinking AT someone, or something, it’s SO only going to fuck you up.  That someone or something does not know, and does not care; and worse, it won’t solve or change anything.  Remember, drinking AT yourself, or your problems, or your letdowns is not going to change you, or your problems, or your letdowns.  And, while all this advice sucks and stings, this, too, shall pass.  Give it a minute, three, a few hours–hang in there–because this, too, shall pass.  Your higher self will come back to the fore, and you’ll be able to agree with me/you, and say, right, OK, I got this.  I don’t have to drink now.  I don’t have to drink.  Exhale, this sucks, I still hurt, but I don’t have to drink.

Thank you, friends; I am sort of tearing up because I know I am talking to myself now, and I know that you’ve been listening and hearing me for the past six holiday seasons before this one.

Merry Christmas, all, and to all a good, sober night.

On anger and forgivness

16 Nov

12:10 am

There is no way around it:  I am angry.  I am just plain angry.  I want to scream into their faces, Who do you think you are?  And, what, exactly, do you think you’re doing?  It’s about being sober, and being able to see those people SO uber-clearly now, 5.5 years later–and seeing that some of these faces are bullies, and the bullies can’t touch me anymore.

I think I have had a lot of bullies in my life, and I NEVER knew what to do about them–out of fear, out of self-loathing (as in, for some reason, I believe I don’t have the right to talk back), out of lack of self-confidence (as in, my idea or path can’t be the right one).  I let people bully me–but I also, of course, participated in the exchanges by not being direct, or being secretive, or taking things too personally, or just plain assuming things that were not or are not true.  That’s part of my alcoholic drinking problem as much as it is a personality “flaw.”  However, not “talking back” led me to bury a lot of anger, and to learn to bury it and be passive-aggressive (which I fully admit that I can be).  Now, I see the bullies and their ways for who and what they are, and I do talk back, and the response is usually one of either reciprocal anger or deeper bullying tactics.  And this, too, I can see, and it makes me angry!

Am I paranoid?  Maybe.  I just feel like, with these handful of old relationships, they’re still running on (over) the “old me” tracks.  Even now, years later into my sobriety.  It’s actually strange to see how these people either try to continue their old ways, or simply detach because they just don’t know how to relate to the new me, or simply don’t want to relate to her.

Can’t we move forward?  Is it my job to school them on the “new me?”  Probably, and eventually.  It’s hard, though.  It takes a lot of trial and error and effort!  And, for people who for some reason refuse to acknowledge my sobriety–my having gotten sober–it just doesn’t seem possible to have a relationship.  And that is the hard truth, because I am the one who has to accept the change and move on with or without their ability or desire to relate to the new me.

Maybe letting go of this anger and paranoia, this is part of that elusive process of “forgiveness?”  I wish I felt some sense of sustained relief, of renewal when I have chosen to forgive, but it’s more of an intellectual pursuit for me–the next day, when I think about that person, I feel angry again.  Nothing has changed, inside or out.  I know that I should continue to try–but, IF these people are in MY PERSPECTIVE (again, that could be skewed) bullying me because they still think of me as sad or poor or drunk; how can I cultivate good will toward them?  It just doesn’t compute…yet.

It could just be a matter of having those hard conversations, where I, um, tell them how I feel and allow them to explain to me how they feel.  Haha.  Oh, me.

On a somewhat different note:  I am not at home (where we get a LOT of sun) right now, and I really notice it (I think your brain gets used to a certain amount of light and can no longer function well in places that are darker).  That is me, now; it’s actually been me for years, and every time I come back to this city, I am a little bit less enamored (I am in the cold city where I became a drunky drunk girl, and where I also started this blog two days after quitting drinking).  I’ve been here before, in this space of being reminded, literally around every turn, of what went down and who I used to be–and, I’m used to the sour feeling in my eyes and belly and brain, that thing I just can’t shake, that time machine effect where suddenly, I am closer to BEING that old me than I am of only just remembering who she was.  And, it is not a good feeling; it’s not as heart-hurtful and soul-sucking as it used to be, but it’s still there.

Am I still there?  Maybe I am; or, maybe I’ve just never dealt with my anger.  I don’t get it.  FIVE years later, after having worked through what I thought was my anger, and now…I see that I’m just scratching the surface?  It kind of scares me, this whirling from past to present and back again; how my emotions can exist in a timeless state, evergreen, able to trip me with the flick of a brain cell back into my past.  Boom, and I’m literally there; and it’s hard to not feel the same way, to not see myself as my past self.  The thing is, I AM that person, as much as I am the one writing this now; I can’t not embrace what happened to me, what I went through, because that has made me the person I am now.

Is this how it’s always going to be, living in a prism-like reality, where it’s never really over?  I guess as long as I have memories (which, hopefully will be until the day I die!), and as long as I choose to confront these deep-seated feelings that caused me to drink in the first place–no, I don’t think it will ever be over.  In fact, for the first time in many, many days, I’ve thought about drinking (more than once while here; not good).  I have even slipped into thinking, ahh, it would take the edge off, it would be such a nice treat, a reward for slogging through..what?  A dark, cold night?  A storage unit that seems to have a life of its own?  Um, NO.  No, no, no.  It would SO not be a relief, or a treat.  Duh, I know this.  God, do I know this!

I have had FIVE damn years of practice, of re-training my brain–am I just feeling extra-sensitive to the triggers here because this is where the worst of it went down?  Probably, and I will remain steadfast, but…I haven’t heard the whiny voice of wolfie-boy (a pup barely in the womb, that’s how small it is) in a very long time, and it’s more confusing and surprising than anything.

On that note, I have to close it up because it’s midnight and I have a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow.  Needless to say, I still love this city, and I am, of course, grateful to be here, now, sober.

Phrase of the year

2 Jan

11:24 am

I’ve seen many posts re: word of the year.  I used to do that, too, and in a way, I guess “phrase” is akin to “word”.

Move the earth.  Or, move the earth, beyotches.  This is my phrase of the year.

2017.  It does have an ominous, heavy feel to it.  Maybe because it’s closer to “20” than “15” or even “10”.  Maybe it’s because I know what lies ahead:  digging in, pushing out, molding form out of lumps of wet clay.  Focus, and effort.  And:  sweet, sweet smells of dirt, of salty earth, of pepper and fire and flint–steely eyes, steeled tongue.  I do not give any fucks anymore–in a good way.  😉

I’ve spent 18 months at a nearly-intolerable job in order to make money, essentially.  I feel like I’ve been PREPARING and PLANNING for a long time, and that includes, thinking about and writing about getting sober.  I won’t stop doing that–it seems, IS, as much a part of staying sober as any of my well-worn coping mechanisms.  BUT, I can officially say that I want something more.  Else.  Different.  New.

(Mind you, I also made my science journalism about writing about addiction, too, for a while, so maybe I’m just burnt out.  Sometimes I think, if I never have to write one more fucking word in my life, I will be the happiest girl alive.  And then I come back to reality:  I am a writer, I am compelled to write.  And I miss it terribly when I don’t write; I can’t even live my life when I don’t process it via the written word!  So, I let that thought go and try to embrace the grey area, so to speak–something that becomes more challenging the more I want to make real change instead of waiting, wanting, working toward something that is coming, in due time, if I just keep plugging.)

Last year at this time, I was in a world of hurt.  Glad that hell is over.  Yes, I made good money and have since continued working (remotely) for that company, but man, was I depressed last year.  No more.  Done.  I made it through.  Happy to NOT be there, and to be here.  Much has transpired between then and now that has helped me get happy again:  I moved home (I am much more myself in a tropical than desert climate); I worked as a barista, which I really loved; we got engaged in May; we traveled a lot this year (New Orleans was my favorite!); I paid off my graduate student loans; I got into running more (I have somehow managed to keep off those 15 pounds for 2.5 years).

One big thing I want to mention is that I started taking hormones by way of the pill!  Imagine:  at 42, I am taking the pill for the first time.  Haha.  It’s worth mentioning because, I have ZERO PMS craziness anymore.  It’s awesome.  MANY of my worst drinking binges happened around or because of my fluctuating hormones–many women who drink can probably say that, they, too, drank when they were PMSing.  No one talks about that, of course, but look, it can be as simple as taking birth control, or, I guess if you’re older, actual hormone replacement therapy–to feel way better, to NOT feel crazy, to not feel angry, or depressed, or like you want to down oceans of wine for two weeks out of the month. Not to mention, the hangovers are from SATAN when your body is not really processing booze well, which (ironically) is what’s happening around this time o’ the month.  (More on this for another post, methinks.)

Anyway, I feel stronger now, and I think I’m simply ready to start thinking about other stuff more of the time.  I mean, I will always blog here, that’s a given.  That I can’t let go.  I would love to wake up, however, and not have this feeling of, I have to think about sobriety.  I have to relate things I do now, in my present life, with my having gotten sober.  I DO, constantly, because it is all intertwined; I just wish there was a way I could both appreciate the past without having to think at all about it.  I’m grateful, though, and it’s just a matter of perspective when it comes to “ruminating” on getting sober, and being sober.

I need to get out more, too.  I quit the coffee shop job back in September, and it has been rough.  I am SO tired of these four walls, you know?  And, I’m getting kind of irritable.  Maybe, mean.  Like, cynical.  I need connection, we all do.  I’m on day 5 of a Facebook fast, and I feel like I like people more–what I get now from interactions is real, it’s authentic.

I admit:  I have felt lonely since not logging into Facebook.  Like, there’s no reason to go on my phone!  Haha.  BUT, I’m slowing down and opening up to the people and places around me; and I’m gaining a little bit of mental patience.  I can take things in that used to annoy me because they were too slow, not enough, immediately boring.  I felt…controlled by Facebook, and that felt very much like being addicted to binge drinking.  Now, I feel better, freer.  It’s good.  Despite feeling truly out of it, and lonely, I’m going to keep going.  (I really miss “on this day”, though…)

As for wanting to drink?  Well, I have to admit that on New Year’s Eve, as I was remembering other NYEs–when I was single, granted, and was going on all these crazy, “life experience”-type trips to far-flung places for the holidays–I felt staid.  Boring.  Not lacking in contentment, but sort of unhappy.  Vexed.  Fear of missing out was an actual, I am missing out.  I am not learning, or growing, or expanding my horizons!

Drinking won’t bring back the “life-changing” experiences that were INVARIABLY RUINED anyway by the time New Year’s Day rolled around in said far-flung places.  I know that drinking isn’t the answer, and cannot be:  it doesn’t work and hasn’t for years.  I know that what’s simmering in the pot will come together into a lump of…something good to eat, soon.  Yes, it still comes and goes, this desire to drink to fix, or transfer, or be reborn.  None of that happens, and never did, and never will.  It was fun, looking back–but, I’m here now, and pretty content, actually.

This year will still be about plugging away, and working, but also, finally starting to do stuff, you know?  After all this obligatory preparatory work–laying the groundwork-work, doing this before moving on-work–it will pay off.  Move the earth, beyotches!  🙂

Do you still miss drinking?

21 May

10:16 am

Well, that’s a question, isn’t it?  My boyfriend and I were driving to the beach the other day, or back from some boat trip, and he was like, Do you ever miss drinking, or still want to drink?  Or, do you just not talk (complain) about it anymore?

Hmm.  I really had to think about it.  I’ve been thinking about drinking, and sobriety, but I just haven’t been coalescing those thoughts into posts.  And, as you guys know, it’s partly because life has gotten busy, work-wise.  I’m still working remotely for the company I was at, and I’m also working three to four days a week at the same local coffee shop.  And, frankly, it’s still not enough money, considering my ever-present student loan debt, future goals and dreams, and well, life is expensive.  But, it’s comforting to know that I do have spending money (the lattes money), and I don’t feel “guilty” buying trips, new shoes, and expensive food items once in a while.  As Peter Tosh sang, most of us are livin’ small.

The other reason I haven’t been blogging is this irritant factor.  It’s like, I’d rather just not think about not drinking anymore.  But, I DO think about it, all the time.  It’s just changing.  It’s weird.  While I miss getting sober–there is definitely a “high” to achieving and sustaining a longish-term sobriety, and I’d say that lasts up to years–I do have to accept that I’m beyond that.  The pink cloud still rests above my head, it’s just sort of faded.

I mean, yes, when I see people come into the coffee bar at 5:30 (my start time–ouch), STILL FLAMING DRUNK and having incoherent and emotional arguments with each other, I cringe inside; and then, I breathe a sigh of relief.  And that relief doesn’t ever go away; in fact, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I have to admit, in my darker hours, or my agro ones after the caffeine buzz wears off and I get “hangry,” a small part of me feels smug about it–just a little bit.  Mainly, though, this sense of relief, of being FAR, far away from the urge to binge drink/drink alcoholically–it’s a constant, gracious presence.  I feel gratitude all the time.  For not feeling the urge to drink, ever, really.  And for never, ever having to be hungover like that again.

What I don’t feel is the excitement in congratulating myself anymore.  And, I suppose that’s a good thing.  Life is just life, it doesn’t have to revolve around this idea of “me being or getting sober, or being pleased with me being or getting sober.”  You know?

However, then my boyfriend hits me with that question, and it stirs up the fact that I haven’t forgotten about my sobriety at all, and I have to say:  Yes.  Yes, I do still think about drinking.  Yes, I do still want to drink once in a while, when I encounter a very powerful (to me) trigger.  When?  Well, let’s just say, on a boat trip, when I feel jealous (ugh) of all the hot, young girls with their flat bellies (well, I never had a flat belly, even in my 20s).  On that same boat trip, toward the end, when my insecurity about being “old” has been sufficiently compounded by the sense that I’m not only “old,” I’m also boring–that’s when I really start to feel grumpy and want to drink.  I feel sorry for myself.  It’s residual though, like a long lost limb from a faraway ancestor–I can intellectualize it away, and realize that it’s just a feeling.  Still, I do feel tired of being the “narc.”  (In fact, at the last beach bar we stopped at on this “for example” boat trip, I ordered a virgin tropical drink, and the guy goes, “I die a little every time someone orders said tropical drink without the rum.”  And I look up, pissed, and I go, “Well, I die a little every time I drink rum.  So, what do ya got for me?”  He wasn’t displeased, but he was definitely taken aback.  He ended up adding coconut water, and let me tell you, it was pretty damn tasty!)

I have to stress, and this is most important as my sobriety lengthens:  it’s not that I want to get drunk.  It’s just that I want to…not be sober.  When I see a friend of mine, doing it up in the big city we used to live in together, drinking drinking drinking all over the place, every night; I feel…some sort of loss.  I know it comes back to this fear of missing out, or my OLD ideas and notions about how to “have fun” or “have a good life.”  My OLD ideas of me.

I don’t miss getting drunk.  What I, Drunky Drunk Girl, miss is the ability to instantly and effortlessly escape my seriousness.  The world.  Daily, “hum drum” life.  Some might call it a lack of free spiritedness, an “always in my head”-ness, a sobriety of thought, or, an overwhelming thoughtfulness.  Maybe it’s simply neuroticism:  the tendency to overthink negative (and positive?) thoughts.  Maybe I can call it depression, as this lingers.  I don’t know.  But, I do miss being able to “be that fun girl.”  Of course, I know I can be that fun girl in other ways, and that frankly, I WAS NEVER THAT FUN GIRL when I was drinking.  But, the constructs and stories we tell ourselves linger on and on into our sober years–and it really does take a constant checking in to right, correct, re-mold these ideas.  And, yeah, the peer pressure is always going to be there unless you check in and say, Fuck that, I rock.  SO MUCH HARDER NOW THAT I’M SOBER.

So, no, I never want to get drunk.  But, yes, I still do want to “not be me.”  Or, be that fun girl.  Or, escape from my sober life.  And, I guess that’s what we give up in exchange for constancy of mood, deep knowledge of self, and the GIFT of being able to look forward, with relatively laser focus, on our lives–and to make plans that suit us, lift us, and maximize our potential.  That is worth a thousand nights of drinking, and a million mornings of being hungover.

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