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Another Day 28…FINALLY.

15 Sep

12:45 am

Well, friends, here I am, at 4 weeks. AGAIN. And this time around, I definitely feel like I’ve Worked My Ass Off every single day to get here. I think there is a lot of truth to it being harder and requiring more resolve to get back on that horse…or wagon — especially in early (pre-90 days?) sobriety. (What’s up with the metaphors for sobriety anyway? Do I have to drink all that water in the wagon? Is it safe? Is the horse pulling the water wagon? I want to be ON the horse, then. No, I want to BE the horse. NO! I want to be a unicorn! With sparkly teeth! For sure, my wagon is being pulled by a unicorn! Sorry, been feeling a bit cheeky lately.)

I have a LOT to cover in this post, so I’ll start by yanking my mind back to my 4 weeks. Yes, 4 weeks again. Lots of days in the past 4 weeks I’ve had the “Oh, why NOT?” feeling toward breaking down and drinking. I already fell off, what’s the big deal? It’s not like the world is going to end. I fell off twice and got back on. What has helped is that falling off sucked, I didn’t stop after one glass or even one bottle, and I had terrible (read: angry and confused) blackouts both times. So, the incentive to “try it and see” is no longer there. At least for now, and that’s good enough.

It’s also become quite…boring, actually, getting through the days. The first month of my first attempt at sobriety was like, fireworks (and unicorns! With sparkly teeth!) every night — wow, I got through another day sober! Sound the trumpets! Now, I’m practiced, my cravings are significantly less, and I’ve come a long way in discovering how to be sober again and live within sobriety (like, doing things that need to be done sober, and then doing them the next day and the next day and the next, without the “reward” of wine). The incentive to “beat my record” is not there, simply because my record is longer than 14 or 28 or even 30 days. Finally, when I do reach 60 again, and then that elusive 90, I already know that counting days is not going to be cutting it as the sole reason for staying sober — I have to start accomplishing REAL goals; I have to be building my life and not simply repairing the damage that I’ve done. Does that make sense? Who knows.

I’ve been somewhat manic (not just restless, I’ve discovered) the past few days, and I’m trying to remember, was I always manic? Or, do I just have extra, unfocused energy because I’m newly sober? I was literally buzzing yesterday both during and after my acupuncture treatment, my heart was beating faster, I continue to eat like a horse (and become hungry again hours after I eat), and I can’t really focus. Reading all that I need to read feels difficult because I keep getting ahead of myself. I have all these ideas, dreams and schemes — then again, I always have. I think I’m just EXTRA my “old” self, and I’m not quite used to the physical aspects of being that “old” self AND not having booze in my system to maybe depress or calm it down. I mean, I really cannot remember the last time I was more or less sober AND working/writing/dreaming/traveling/doing. Maybe…my early 20s? And, it’s been years, literally, since I haven’t been probably clinically depressed due to my work, my circumstances, and my drinking.

Anyway, lots to write about and I don’t want to make this post too long. Needless to say, I want to drink want to drink want to drink tonight…but, I won’t. I’ll finish this post, drink my extra-large seltzer, do some back stretches (the burning has subsided, but the knife-stuck-into-lower-back feeling persists), and read. And research Hawaii — my latest (expensive) obsession. And plan tomorrow. 😉

Meditation and sobriety: I do not think, therefore I do not drink?

12 Sep

11:12 pm

I went to the Shambhala center tonight for a group meditation event. It was OK. Nothing mind-blowing. I mean, the “instructions” for newbies (there were four of us) were pretty funny in how basic they were (how much instruction does one need to sit down and breathe?): sit up straight; put your hands on your knees/thighs, palms facing down; and close your eyes slightly but not totally while you focus them downward. Then, sit like that for however long you want, and focus on your breathing.

I believe we all meditate at certain points during the day, so it didn’t feel all that unfamiliar to like, not be thinking. Shoot, I think I spend QUITE a few minutes these sober days with NO THOUGHTS whatsoever; now that I seem to be naturally dazed most of the time, I like to just stare out my window and well, think about nothing. For hours sometimes. Tonight was different in that I was sitting (ouch, I definitely might want to think twice about that vipassana retreat where you sit from 4 am to 9 pm every day for 10 days), was “mindfully not thinking” (whatever that means), and it was with a group. At first, I found all the little swallowing noises and slight exhalations irritating, but then when I had to do it, I realized that they sort of get drowned out by your mindlessness after a while.

The basic concept of Shambhala is that we are all good, and have inherent love and integrity within — this is our true, effortless nature. Meditation helps us to remember/realize this.

There was a talk afterward by some dude who’s been doing Shambhala for 20 years about “drala,” which is the same concept as life energy or chi. He talked about internal and external drala, and how it’s all around us if we choose to interact with it. One guy spoke up and said he felt “good energy” here, in [cold west coast city] (he just moved here from the east coast); he said that it felt alive, whereas parts of the east coast felt dead. Ironically, I feel the opposite (maybe I’m projecting, or maybe our experience of drala is interestingly quite personal). I wanted to pipe up and say that my “drala” here was in the absolute zero zone on the Kelvin scale, but I let it go. I don’t need to win ’em all. 😉

He also mentioned a point that I took home: feelings like anger and anxiety are actually forms of aggression toward yourself. Shambhala teaches that we are good and deserve to be treated with dignity and love, and that it’s completely unnecessary — and counterproductive — to be aggressive toward ourselves. I feel like my self-judgment and aggressive behavior toward myself runs rampant, and has for as long as I can remember. Why did I drink myself into a tizzy for a decade, doing things that were the pinnacle of self-hatred? Not to mention, wallowing in anger and fear/anxiety for many years over a failed relationship, or a move to somewhere new, or even a trip to a meditation center where I’d be bound to meet, gasp, NEW PEOPLE?

I felt welcomed by the dude who instructed us on how to meditate (for some reason, I blurted out to him that I was getting sober, which I think helped us connect more quickly because I was so honest), but otherwise, the place felt stiff. I felt that the overall vibe was very [cold west coast city] — stiff, guarded, angry, and sullen. Of course, not everyone in the room was stiff, but the entire feel of the place didn’t do it for me.

BUT, I liked sitting and meditating. After about half an hour, we got up and did some walking meditation (basically just walking and watching your feet and not thinking), which was good because my right foot was falling asleep.

I felt *something* like calmer toward the end, but for the most part, my focusing on my breathing made it feel harder to breathe naturally, so that was uncomfortable. And, the sciatica pain was there, so I was continually moving around on my cushion (I’m sure I was “that annoying chic over there”). My hands were sweating and it was hot in the room, but I didn’t want to take off my sweatshirt.

All in all, no minds were blown. BUT, it piqued my curiosity — especially the group aspect. Even though there might be some angry people (shit, I’m probably one of ’em), when we’re meditating, there is a different quality to my own state of concentration that I can already tell might help me progress more into the process than if I were alone. Kind of like studying in a library instead of at home.

And the best part? You can’t drink — or think about drinkin’ — when you’re meditating! Day 26. Woot woot!

Restless and sober, sober and restless. I want some wine.

12 Sep

5:07 pm

I feel restless. I want to drink.

I used to drink to quell this feeling. Now, I am observing it and letting it run its course, possible side effect of being depressed later be damned. It’s a combination of wanting to do everything all at once and not wanting or having the energy to do anything at all.

Like, I feel like I’ve done everything under the sun IN MY HEAD, yet have only run a few errands today (unsuccessfully connecting with a few possible buyers of my stuff, unsuccessfully hunting for a few pieces of clothing, successfully hitting the PO to get my absentee ballot stuff rolling). In my head I’ve gone to shambhala — heck, I’ve gone twice — AND done yoga. I’ve run around the Park, cooked a feast, finished a book — shoot, I’ve read the entire thing, front to back. I’ve not only planned my trip to LA, but I’ve already gone on it and gotten back. I’m already enjoying Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, and am about to book my flight to Kauai. No, I’m back already — Kauai was awesome!

I’ve applied to a MPH program, painted another picture (well, I used pastels the first time, which I guess I can blog about and show you, but it’s a freaky little creation), and sold the rest of my furniture. I did what I planned to do today on my actual paid editing work.

Man, I could use a glass of wine! YES! A glass of wine (more like two bottles) while watching the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, again. Which, I’ll SO have time for before the gong of midnight pushes today into tomorrow…

THIS is my day, my restlessness, and why I both drank and hated drinking — I felt the need to calm my mind down to do all this shit, and then got frustrated by how little of it I could get done in a day, a week, a month. (Uh, maybe cuz drinking allows you to do absolute JACK?) I hate waiting, and I love dreaming. I’m addicted to dreaming, to staying in proverbial motion, I admit. In my mind, it’s all possible, maybe even practical!

Reign it in. I don’t want to! I want to celebrate the possibilities with wine! YES.

Yet, deep down, I know drinking wine is a way to put them all off. They take courage, and energy, and patience, all three of which are lacking — at least in sufficient quantities — in me right now.

I hate the fact that I can’t burn off this energy by going for a jog, but that’s injury for ya. I somehow managed to strain my right ankle, so in addition to the sciatic and hamstring pain (which is slowly easing up, thank God(dess)), I’ve got one more little thing making me WAIT. I hate waiting. I really do.

I’m going to give meditation a try tonight at the Shambhala center. Let go. Stop trying to control my time and energy to the point that it turns me manic. Thanks, Sober Boots, for your post on realizing that we need to stop trying to be in control all the time.

Thinking more about AA and my “Higher Power”

23 Aug

6:54 pm

I just read more about AA — basic history, beliefs, the steps, historical context, etc. It’s outdated in a way, sure. But mainly, I think it might just “work” for some people and others, not so much.

I mean, let’s check it out:

1. Powerless? Check. Admitting to this? Um…OK, check. (I hesitate, simply because I really do think that you are not powerless, per se; you want to drink and you have your reasons for doing so. You WANT to get shitfaced and black out and let it all hang out, and YOU FUCKING DO. I ran up against this time and time again, whenever my brother would ask me, So, DDD, you can’t stop after what, three or four glasses? When do you feel like you just can’t stop? And I’d always say, Well, three, yes, three. By the third glass, I don’t WANT to stop. I can, I just never want to. This is, of course, if I’m not already blacking out, in which case I’m not in control anymore. So, yes, check.)

2. Power greater than myself can restore me to my sanity? Sure. Check. I mean, not that I believe that my “higher power” has to be a spiritual entity, as it were. In fact, I can see many a thing being my higher power, including:
*a sense of purpose
*self-love, or the opposite of self-loathing, i.e, I’m good enough and smart enough, so why am I doing this shit to myself?
*a desire to consistently succeed in work, relationships, etc. (especially after seeing what drinking does to them)
*a memory of an absence of craving, and the possibility that life can be like that again
*fear of drinking, and what could happen the next time

3. Turn my will over to God, as I understand him/her? Eh… I don’t know. I think many of us struggle with this idea of fate versus individual purpose. I think it better to consider, WHY do I drink? A lack of purpose, self-hatred, loneliness…maybe even specific circumstances? This could be a lack of “God.” I think turning one’s will over to God could be interpreted outside the context of an actual god (i.e., let a spiritual sense of purpose tell you what to do with your life and time on this planet), but I have seen the more traditional notion advanced in the AA meetings I’ve been to. I like to think of it as, finding my sense of purpose/service, and simply doing that all the time. THAT is what makes me feel less like drinking.

4. – 12. Moral inventory, admitting wrongs, trying to help others. Sort of. On my own, which is what many of us do, on a daily basis. I’m tired of strip mining my mental inventory of horrible drinking mistakes; there ain’t nothing left down there. Running away into booze is lame, yes, WE GET THAT. Making us think that *unless we do the program, we’ll always somehow be selfish drunks?* Kind of a turnoff, quite frankly.

Addiction research has shown that all sorts of neurotransmitters are affected by drinking, not least of which is dopamine, which makes you feel GREAT when it’s enhanced by the booze. Until you realize you’re dependent on this exogenous (outside) source when it’s suddenly taken away. You kill your physiologic feedback loops and it can take a long time for you to normally and adequately start producing dopamine on levels that feel good again. Though, maybe your brain never did, you were always in deficit, and that’s why you turned to booze, or whatever, to self-medicate.

At the end of the day, I drink because I want to fix what’s wrong, not because I intentionally want to hurt people. Maybe other drinkers don’t think twice about why and how and when they turn to the bottle. Maybe that’s why AA works for them, because it’s the first time they’ve put it down long enough to take a look at their “moral inventory.” Who knows?

AA is about community, relating, and hope?

20 Aug

1:09 pm

So, I went to an AA meeting down here on Sunday morning (yesterday) at 8 am. Wow. Haven’t been up that early in a long time, actually, and it felt great. Long day, though, of three beaches, a chili cook off, and friends over. 🙂

Anyway, the AA meeting was…good. I mean, I’ve been to meetings before, and my experience has been up and down. The first time it was to women’s meetings in [cold east coast city], the second, to a few meetings in [cold west coast city]. The meetings in [cold east coast city] were awakening and totally refreshing, unless I’m remembering them with rose-colored glasses. At the time, I was an AA virgin. I was a total hot mess, was barely hanging on during my second semester of grad school, and had NEVER gone so far and so bad let alone admitted to or talked about my drinking problem and increasingly horrendous blackouts and hangovers (started to have full-blown, trip-to-the-ER panic attacks). But, I thought the Big Book was ridiculous, and frankly, wasn’t willing to admit that I needed to quit drinking. That was in 2006.

Fast forward to last year, when I tried again to go to AA meetings in [cold west coast city]. They were horrible, just like a lot of social gatherings in that part of the country can be. I’ve lived there for a grand total of 8 years, and I’ve often felt that it is one of the most *superficially* nice places on the planet. When it comes down to it, though, people tend to adopt this holier-than-thou attitude, stay in their cliques, and/or are antisocial. I felt mostly unwelcome — sometimes actively so — at AA meetings there.

Long story short, however, it’s not really about the people or the meeting anymore, it’s about my desire to not drink. The people seemed way nicer at this meeting on Sunday, it really helped to have my boyfriend there with me, and well, most of the ex-drunks were older (like, 50s and 60s and 70s?) so I think the “fresh blood” element worked to my advantage. It’s a small community here, too, so maybe that made the difference in people being less formal and me feeling more welcome. Or, maybe I’ve just grown up a bit and gotten further along on my road toward/of sobriety?

The thing that struck me was not really why or how or whether AA works, or if the 12 steps are beneficial to maintaining long-term sobriety, but how similar these people’s problems with drinking were to mine and how similar the actual progression of the “disease” hit them. It’s the SAME EXACT THING for me, yet I STILL walk around feeling — after over a decade — that I’m the ONLY ONE. The only one feeling this way when I drink, the only one feeling horrible and guilty and *haunted* (one woman used this exact word to describe her feelings of remorse re: her blackout shenanigans) by what I’ve done while blacked out, the only one being reckless and self-destructive and not understanding why but doing it anyway.

I don’t know if I’ll go again, but my desire to quit is as strong as my fear of what will happen if I drink, so…

I had two issues with the meeting:

1. It does seem like every single person in the “room” ended their share (we were supposed to share on “service” and our concept/experience with service — I shared about volunteering in [beautiful island] and my sense of purpose down there practically killing any and all craving to drink) with congratulating AA. Like, they couldn’t stop talking about how great and fantastic and wonderful AA is. I was like, Come on, really? Then again, they talked of their own initial feelings of doubt, arrogance, and self-loathing at the beginning of their participation in AA, so…maybe I, too, just need to “let go and let God.” 😉 NOT!

2. I would not be not drinking if I didn’t want to not drink. I think what is different for me now is the fact that I really don’t want to drink anymore because, frankly, it doesn’t work anymore. It is simply NOT AN OPTION. AA won’t, in my perhaps ill-informed opinion, give you the desire to quit. BUT, what I now see AA as being good if not great at doing is giving you a sense of community, of belonging, of shared experience to help you keep convincing yourself that drinking doesn’t work for you anymore.

In talking with a few people after the meeting, I literally could have been inside their bodies talking about my drinking problem as they were talking about theirs toward the end — that’s how physically, emotionally, and psychologically the same it seems to be for not just us, but everyone who drinks to their end point. The truth is, I am so not alone, so not special, and so…relieved and hopeful to know this. I’m somehow sort of finally convinced that perhaps the confusion, panic/fear, and anger that overtakes me while blacked out is not ME but is, actually, the booze. Perhaps this substance just does the same old thing to everyone? It seems obvious, I’m sure, to nondrinkers, but…well, booze feels intertwined with my personality, my moods, my experiences and therefore, myself. Possibly I can untangle the two and move on with my life? So, yes, I think AA might actually be a good thing when it comes to fighting cravings and “hauntings” that only people who have reached the end of their drinking road can actually particularly relate to.

(We also spent a good amount of time at a chili cook off down here yesterday, and it was hot as a mofo on that beach. Yet, it seemed that quite a few peeps were getting drunk. EVEN IF I COULD DRINK, I can’t even imagine doing so in 100-degree heat…and then having to deal with the hangover and the sunburn? SO NOT WORTH IT.)

Thanks to my readers, I appreciate you guys listening to my ramblings…on day three and finally feeling somewhat not hung over. 🙂

Of dopamine and security blankets…

9 Aug

2:30 am

I bought a bottle of red wine today, the first time in over two months, and got it chillin’ in the fridge… But I hope to God(dess) that I don’t drink it! Do I like to torture myself? Am I really that much of a masochist? Apparently so.

Yup, I broke down and actually purchased a bottle of red wine tonight at Kmart (of all places, and a shitty $7 bottle at that!). OH, NO! Oh, yes. BUT, I made it past the craving or whatever it was today (severe PMS bipolar dip?) that made/allowed me to buy it and cart it home, so that’s good. I got distracted, I guess.

Did it help to get that bottle? What purpose is it serving if in the end, I choose NOT to drink it? Well, for one, it makes me feel excited. I recently watched a doc or something on TV about the neuroscience of addiction, and how people can’t, actually, say no to drugs and booze when they’re addicted. Why? Their dopamine circuits are too fucked up, and that is difficult — and deeply seated — brain chemistry to ignore. The interesting part for me was when the expert said that addicts will get a buzz just anticipating the using and boozing, and that the buzz is real. Yeah? Yeah. In fact, I’ve experienced that! It’s like, a total high from just anticipating, planning, looking forward to drinking.

When I bought the bottle, it wasn’t as huge as it might have been eight weeks ago, but a weight was lifted from my mind and chest (literally, my heart aches for red wine!) — I felt lighter, happier, excited about drinking. I had something to look forward to! Indeed, I might even become funnier, crazier, sexier, younger — or, at least, identify with that old (and DELUSIONAL) emotional self I constructed around drinking red wine. Point being, I’ve felt this anticipation and excitement before, just from having begun the planning process of drinking. My mood was noticeably altered.

I also did it to provide some kind of relief, solace, sense of security. Shit, whatever it takes, right? I know, it’s dangerous, but there’s a lot of booze in this house that I’m house-sitting for, and I haven’t touched a drop. And, the reason is not just cuz I don’t want to break my sober stride, but I also don’t want to have to deal with the fucking drama of replacing booze that may be expensive or have sentimental value for the owner. Been there, fucking done that. So, I’m learning to rationally apply what I’ve learned from my mistakes while drinking to my sober choices…at least up until this afternoon at the checkout in the big K.

It’s just grapes, my bad angel says. Just one glass.

The good angel’s getting better at holding her own, though. Why do it to yourself? Do you really need the buzz when half of it comes from just buying the bottle and bringing it home? Come ON, it’s shit wine, are you really going to go out on cheap red? What if, like last time you drank after being sober for a few weeks, you didn’t even get drunk, you just felt…weird? Will breaking your stride before you hit 90 days be worth it over four glasses of bad red wine? What about everyone who says you can’t do it (yourself included), friends who think you’re a drunk and always will be a drunk and are just waiting for you to slip up and start drinking again? Don’t you want to prove them wrong? What about your 57 days, your self-respect, winning the game?

(Sigh. So many thoughts for just one bottle of red wine…)

Addiction and AA? Hmm…

4 Aug

12:46 pm

Getting closer to 8 weeks sober, and that’s pretty much all that’s keeping me from cracking open a bottle of red and guzzling it these days. I just FEEL like drinking — it’s been taking all my concentration not to drink, actually. Then again, I’m much (yeah, much, I’d say MUCH) better at coping with the cravings using rational thought. As in:

If I drink one glass, I’ll likely finish the bottle, probably move on to two, or three, since I haven’t drunk for a while. Then, I’ll black out and well, who KNOWS what might happen at this point. At the very least, I’ll be hung the fuck over the next day, which will ruin it. And, I haven’t had a bad, ruined hung over day yet here (this time on island), and I’d really like to keep it that way. So, drinking equals hangover, which sucks.

I have to say, it’s amazing to me that I’ve “re-trained” my mind enough to WANT to choose not being hung over to drinking/being drunk. I’ve regained my sense enough to be able to see that while it’d be great — marvelous — to be drunk, it can only lead to bad things. Is three hours of drunkenness (or less) worth 24 to 48 hours of feeling horrible? Nope.

Again, it’s amazing to see just how you can re-train your mind, how you can overcome addiction, which is of the mind, not the body. AA would say otherwise. AA would also say that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. And I would say what I always say, fuck AA. Get over your dogmatic, outdated, and possibly never in-sync-with-addiction-science mentality, will ya?

Maybe I should give AA another shot, though. It is a community and once you’ve gotten over the hump of staying sober, it could simply be nice to have friends that get it. People who know what I’m going through, that could be there for me when I’m feeling sorry for myself and wanting to binge drink.

I dunno. Everyone talks about how helpful AA can be, and I agree that it IS helpful — to some, and as a way to quit. It wasn’t for me, as every time I went to a meeting, I totally felt like drinking after! All that talk of booze and blackouts…! It’s also a semi-load of bullshit: who made up those 12 steps? Not to mention, AA has always felt to me like you’re replacing one addiction — booze, sex, food, whatever — with another, meetings. Instead of looking inward at the circular thoughts of addiction, at your own reasons for using, or drinking, or binge eating, you’re told to look outside? To a “program?” I guess it’s a start, a method that you can use to quit drinking. Sooner or later, though, you’re going to have to STAY SOBER, which has nothing to do with 12 steps, saying you’re sorry, and turning to “god.”

In fact, I think it’s the (fake) religion of AA, like all religions, that serves the purpose of making folks believe that they’re actually managing their addictive tendencies when in fact, it’s the program that’s distanced them from these tendencies. It’s infinitely harder, I think, to take responsibility for managing an addictive personality or addictive thoughts on your own — but it’s the only way to stay sober, mentally and emotionally, and to be glad to be sober physically.

Like I said, the closest I’ve come to a “higher power” was that ONE TIME a few months ago when I felt an absence of craving. Remembering that moment takes me back, again and again, to my late teens, a time of immense…flow. Excitement. Anticipation. Creativity. All without booze. It’s possible, it reminds me, that I once felt that way SANS BOOZE, and that I can, therefore, feel that way again.

What made me start drinking? Where was that fork in the road? Was it a gradual process, a response to my social anxiety that turned into a dysfunction? Of course. Did it get out of control even further, years later, when my mind had come to rely on those circuits being turned on so that others would be turned off? Sure. I could go on, but the point is, I don’t think anyone can tell you whether you’re going to be a drunk for the rest of your life. I don’t think anyone can draw a line in the sand — your sand — and do the work for you by substituting a program with an inner healing process. In that regard, AA is as elusive a fix as some of the drugs and booze we were using!

Island life, part 2

24 Jul

11:01 am

Well, another gorgeous day in the islands. Yup, I could move down here. It’s 10 am (I slept late), my boyfriend’s off to work, and it’s just me — and at LEAST six open, unfinished bottles of red. Sigh. We’re house-sitting at this amazing pad that overlooks several cays over the north side of the island. There are palm trees, all sorts of plants and flowers filling the space around; a hot, humid stank to the air that I love; boats passing on the blue-green water down below; a pool, a hot tub, all sorts of “adult” toys like, cable tv; three cute dogs to keep me company if I go out for walks or do some yoga inside the house (they love getting on the floor with me, they think it’s roll-around-on-the-floor time). It’s a paradise and I can only say, fuck yes, I get to see it at 6 weeks sober!

Yes, today marks 6 weeks. I’m not sure if it feels all that much different, to me anyway. I have lost a few “wine gut” pounds, which is a welcome side effect. However, that could also be due to having been sick — or maybe just in “mini-detox” — for the past, well, 6 weeks, and not being able to keep much food down (TMI, but it’s true; this drinking thing really affected my GI tract, I think). Maybe my insulin mechanics and metabolism are changed, for the better, since stopping drinking. I don’t know, but I like it. Plus, I’ve had a few people tell me that I’m “glowing;” honestly, though, I wonder if that’s (was) just the hot yoga doing the trick.

Overall, I feel calmer. Or, calm. Ha! That’s just…weird, for me. I’m sleeping better, feeling better when I wake, and generally speaking, glad to not be sick and hung in the mornings, able to read and write and get some work done in the afternoons, and up for running and/or walking in the evenings. It’s all rather…spectacularly normal! I guess.

Yet…

I’d love a cocktail right now. A glass of chilled red or white. I’d love to finish off the one or two bottles that look young enough to drink, and then uncork another. When I think about it, it’s not that my body wants it so much as my mind. I could even do without the drunk feeling, you know? I could do without the drunk feeling but would love to like, dunk my entire brain in the booze and activate all those circuits that made me feel, well, BETTER — excited, happy, alive — when I was drunk. The burning feeling in my belly, the drunk part, the blackout part (duh), I could do without. But the essence of wine…ahh…I could definitely pour it all over my body, every pore…

Gah, the cravings never go away, do they? Time to watch me some Intervention, or simply, turn on the news…

Sometimes I think, what wouldn’t I be capable of blacked out? Like, could the Aurora (CO) killer have been simply blacked out drunk? Can you imagine waking up from having done that, and realizing that you DID THAT? Killed a bunch of people in a theater? I’m sort of looking forward to hearing him talk; to finding out exactly what set him off, if he’s messed up in the head, or if, really, he was simply on something. Like booze. He sounds messed up, but still, the shit you are capable of doing while drunk is astounding. Scary as fuck.

How do I continue to resist my cravings, after the sun and sand and ridiculously nice life I get to lead, at least for the next few weeks? I think about — remember very clearly, actually — all the shit I’ve done blacked out.

Which begins my next series of posts: shit I’ve done while blacked out that one, I never ever want to repeat, and two, could actually be harbingers of worse to come, if I drink again. And I shudder to think about this, in a melodramatic sort of way, cuz really, worse COULD happen — my blackouts just kept getting more classic and much worse. Nothing seemed to get me to stop drinking. And what’s worse than sitting in a jail cell, breaking your arm, crashing a car while driving blacked out, getting fired from your job for going batshit on your CEO at your Christmas party? Nearly breaking your face after falling headfirst onto something REALLY hard in an outhouse? Sometimes I wonder, what is my “bottom?” Dying? Killing someone else? At 6 weeks sober, it’s thoughts like these, that while dark and the opposite of the hot, sunny day outside, I NEED to keep up close, in focus, right behind my eyes. It sucks, and sounds slightly ridiculous to dwell so hardcore on what many people have experienced (to some degree), but for me, there really is a fine line between “oh, just one” and a nightmare to relive the next day…

Island life

21 Jul

5:55 pm

Hmm. For some reason, I feel at a loss for words. That never happens! I guess I’m doing well, going on 40 days sober tomorrow, and there’s nothing really that dramatic to complain or comment about. OR, maybe I’m at the point where I need to start moving onto step 2, since step 1 — quitting drinking — is complete. Step 2, you say? Well, what do I want to do/should do/can do with my time, my creativity, and my partnerships now that I’m free? Man, I want a drink just thinking about it sometimes. 😉

In a word, though, things are good. Shit’s coming together. And not just because I’m not drinking, but maybe in a larger sense, that’s the main reason things are working out “as planned,” whatever that means.

I’ve been here a week and I haven’t drunk. I’ve wanted to, but like I’ve said, the cravings have subsided and well, whatever remaining urges I have I’ve grown used to resisting. I’ve grown accustomed to being sober — going to bed sober and waking up sober. And, I like it. I like getting shit done. This morning, I got up at 8 am — 8 fucking am on a Saturday! — and a friend took me to a yoga class. I think back to my 5years in [cold east coast city] and wonder, the shit I could’ve gotten done, the life I could’ve led on the weekends if I hadn’t gone out, gotten drunky drunk, and then spent a good portion of the weekends remorseful and hungover. But, past is past and I’m really learning that to dwell, more than ever, is to waste.

I’ve been a lot more productive, too. Like, I’ve finally nailed down some writing work and am, dare I say, on my way to making one of my goals/dreams happen: a freelance science writing career that allows me to read and write, creatively, in my free time. I’ve decided that while I have a huge bucket list of shit I’d like to do at the moment, I need to pick one and go. So, I’ve picked the writing, cuz I figure, if I have a few more years to live, let’s say, what is the one thing I would regret not having given my all at, or at least explored satisfactorily, and that’s writing. Journalistic, creative, whatever. I’m still young enough, I guess, to bounce around, so why not simply up and move to a cheaper place and live, explore, learn — and write. I’ve spent a good many years investing way too much energy on WHERE I’m living (and the “kind” of life I’m leading). Now, I just want to focus on my goals, my dreams, WHAT I’m doing instead of where I’m doing them. Y’know?

Which leads me to my point, if I even had one, related to not drinking anymore: drinking enables procrastination of life. It lets you avoid dealing not only with your past and your present feelings, but also your future. You don’t have to plan; you don’t GET to plan. Every day somehow revolves around drinking and then getting sober. Today, my day is revolving around getting up, doing yoga, enjoying the sun, and hopefully, getting some good writing and reading time in. How strange, I know. It’s not that I’ve NEVER been sober or have spent every day shitfaced, but…it’s a new concept. It’s scary, in a way. You have all this time, all this possibility to embrace. What to do first?

The James Dean complex

17 Jul

3:02 pm

(And no, I don’t mean a closet case who died before he had the chance to come out!)

I’m pretty sure all addicts, regardless of substance of choice, have a James Dean complex. I’m going to discuss it, of course, as it pertains to the seemingly socially unacceptable habits of smoking, drinking, and/or doing hard drugs.

It’s not something you haven’t thought of: What happens to your persona when you quit drinking, stop smoking, or flush your hard drugs? You’re no longer “hip.” You’ve lost your “cool.” You can no longer identify with what our society has outwardly shunned but inwardly normalized to be “exciting,” (i.e., daring/rebellious). So, who the hell are you now?

James Dean (or, the characters he played, at least) represented the misunderstood outcast. Smoking was a form of self-expression, a persona. And he was a BADASS mothafucka for it! Every man wanted to be him and every woman wanted to fuck him. Why? Cuz he threw caution to the wind, did what he wanted against everyone’s better judgment. While smoking was made to seem cool and sexy in order to sell the smokes back then, though, public health mandates and general common sense have evolved (along with medical studies). Yet, we still seem to idolize or desire to emulate (or become, in our fantasies) the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” lifestyle — despite our “evolved” best judgments! We still think, on some level, that overdosing rock stars and hard-boozing journalists are living more exciting lives than us. Addicts are as much addicted to the drug as to the persona. They cultivate their personas and then they become them. In my case and I know others, we become not only identified with our habit but also emotionally attached to it.

I had a friend from grad school who nearly killed himself the year of our studies. He drank so much booze and did so much coke that he ended up triggering a latent autoimmune disease inside his body. The last time I saw him was a few days before graduation; he looked white as chalk and about to fall over. Next thing I know, he’s in the hospital within a few hours of death. He missed graduation and was ordered to strictly avoid booze and drugs for like, the rest of his life if he wanted to keep it.

I went out for “drinks” with him a few days after graduation. It was in a word, weird. I’d only known this guy as a chain-smoking, beer-guzzling, damn-fine journalist. He may even have been Hunter S. Thompson’s actual reincarnate. How would he live and who would he be without his smokes and booze? Would he even be able to be a good journalist? (Turns out, yes, but I’ve lost touch with him to even know if he’s drinking and/or smoking again.) I know he must have struggled with these questions. (A life-threatening disease probably helped him reach some smart conclusions pretty fast, though.)

I’ve always worried about being too shy and socially awkward — AGAIN — once I quit drinking. So far, that hasn’t really been the case. And, I’m drifting steadily away from actually wanting to be *that person,* wine glass dangling precariously from one hand, the other holding me up on the bar while I laugh too loudly at some stupid, unattractive man’s “jokes.” However, while I may no longer define myself by it, I still feel an emotional attachment to the act of drinking wine. I miss it. I miss drinking at night. I miss drinking while watching movies. I miss drinking and having sex. I wonder if the sex is less exciting…and then I feel a sense of being deflated, of having lost something. I equate wine with feeling and being exciting (because I never thought I was?), and so I suppose that is the persona I used drinking to acquire, hold/wear, live out. What if I’m no longer that “badass?” What if I’m no longer fun, sexy, or sexually attractive? What if people were attracted to that kind of crazy, and now that I can’t and won’t go there, they don’t want to come along for ANY ride with me? Drinking is my island; and, you’re telling me I can never escape to that island again?

It’s confusing, and the only advice I can give myself after a few weeks of being sober is, You just have to wait and see. Live out your days, confront life and being and friendships and sex SOBER, and then get back to me and tell me that it’s either better or worse than when you were doing it drunk. With perspective comes better choices; maybe I will decide that yep, all those things ARE actually better while drinking/drunk. Or, maybe I won’t…

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