Tag Archives: change

Writing and cold cities

27 Nov

11:45 am

Hey, folks, Well, I’m here, back at it, and ready to be fierce.  NOT!  Happy Thanksgiving to all, and a kickoff of the holiday season!  For some, that means painful memories, for others, it means an uber-busy next few months.  For me, it means both, and cookies, and cakes, and just continuing to be grateful–5-plus years later–that I am here, and not there.  Here, having this life, with its ups and downs; and not there, drinking my everything away, and all the possible everything’s, too.

I realized recently that part of what is causing me to feel less than whole is that I’ve stopped writing.  Even writing this makes me feel a bit sick in the pit of my belly–anxious, actually.  Must must must start writing again!  I think  my depression, and self-loathing (to be blunt, I hate myself more than a little when I don’t write or create), is caused by this.  There is no magic in my world if I’m not writing, or, in general, being creative.  I look at this blog and think, what happened to that girl?  She is still here, she’s just not writing.  And therefore, not feeling quite whole.

The hurricanes have turned our world upside down, and rearranged our lives.  I miss going to the beach; I miss running on said beach road.  I miss knowing that while I’m in the middle of the ocean, things are FINE here–things are NOT fine here, and things won’t be fine for a while.  There are uncertainties that won’t–can’t–be ironed out.  There are things and faces and places that are never coming back.  And, while I want to ignore this reality, it’s there, the new “normal,” as everyone down here keeps repeating.

I refuse to give up, though, on figuring out what, exactly, I need and want right now.  It’s not wine, it might be hormones, it could be a move (while we have made our exit plan, which is both saddening and enlivening to me, I know changing locations is not going to change what’s going on inside my head and heart, fundamentally), and it most definitely is to start writing/being creative more.  I won’t give up!  And, I won’t stop choosing to be happy, content, grateful, and empowered by that choice.

I flew home last week after about 3 weeks away.  I am glad to be home, with my loves, in the light (literally; cities just might not be in my cards anymore because they are so dark, so angular); and one main thing I realized when I was there, in the big city, is that if I’m honest, I don’t really want that lifestyle anymore.  And, that it is OK to be angry and that instead of fighting the anger, the sadness, the whatever negativity I’m feeling, I should just accept it.  Huh?  The thought sort of bowled me over:  accept and don’t judge your negative feelings instead of exhausting yourself trying to outrun them.  I’m going to try the former and see what happens.

And, so, yeah, cities.  Drinking and going out in cities, which is what I did and how I defined myself for so long.  Not anymore.  I mean, YAH, it really is a bit more heartening to go out for a pink twilit walk with the dogs than to be walking into a pub, ready to temporarily and artificially enhance my mood!  It really is better this way, soooo much better.  Even when I feel quite lonely here–alone as we all do now and then on our solo paths and journeys–I know that I have this world within that is never-changing, that is always bathed in that pink moonlight, that is there to hold me, to embrace me, and to tell me that It Will Be OK.

It Will Be OK.

That is default setting when you’re sober.  When you’re not, default setting is, The World Sucks and Nothing Will (Ever) Be OK.

Walking into a cold bar to drink among cold non-friends?  Eh, no thanks anymore.  I choose light, and happiness, and maybe even accepting the darkness so I can move through it without fear.  Huh, maybe cold cities have more to teach me than I thought?

Building

8 Aug

12:25 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll keep you posted!

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

Happy 2015!

10 Jan

11:29 am

I just wanted to check in quickly and say, happy new year to all!

Lately, I haven’t been blogging much, mainly because I’m really busy with my freelance writing business. I have to say, 2014 was a fantastic year, and I’m almost a little apprehensive: will 2015 live up to it? My “word” of the year is BUILD. Just continuing to build, and work, and reap the rewards of continued sobriety. There have been so many, and from the talks I’ve had with self and others, this year is looking to be pretty fruitful as well.

Last year I took something like five or six trips–it was a very active, confrontational year. Meaning, I went toward, and worked on, my demons, or, the things that I had to go back to. This year, that doesn’t have to be the case; I’ve circled the wagon and seen inside–not much going on that’s relevant to my present, daily life anymore.

This year, my boyfriend and I are already planning a handful of awesome trips, one of which will be another road trip through the southern part of the US–to see where we want to move to. The freelance writing, after much, much work, has finally started to pay off: not only am I writing almost constantly (because I work almost constantly), but I’m landing better-paying gigs. Hope that keeps up this year. It will keep up if I keep putting the work in, is one thing I’ve always known. You work, and it pays off. Eventually, somehow, somewhere.

Full steam ahead, continuation of the hard work that I put in last year–that’s all I can come up with for 2015. Sobriety is my cornerstone, but…not drinking doesn’t mean all that much, in the end, without accompanying work toward making my life what I want it to be. Meaning, I have a bottle of white in the fridge–haven’t even looked at it beyond using it to make risotto a couple times. BUT, have I felt tired and frustrated and unsure–and happy and joyful, and frankly, free? All the time, yes, yes, yes. Both, and neither, and in between. That’s life. It has nothing to do anymore, for me, with wine, white or red. Life is life; liquid that you put into your body is just that. I pick life to think about and do these days, not “sobriety.” Sobriety, thankfully, is done. It’s there. It’s my building block. But, that doesn’t mean I believe I have to be afraid of returning to the person who was guzzling bottles on a daily basis.

Which is a little bit why I haven’t blogged. But, mainly, it’s because I’ve been busy working and dreaming and planning for what’s to come, not what WAS. And, what isn’t. I guess I can open up some time, one day soon, to ruminate on what isn’t. Not today, though: I have writing to do (ugh), a beach to visit, some kind of kickass meal to make (I really like cooking now), dogs to walk, and “The Killing” to watch. 🙂

Here’s to a productive–and TRULY “happy, joyful, and free” new year. Happy, and joyful, and free is HOW YOU DEFINE IT. And, if you’re at that point, of being able to use those words, and set even just a little meaning to them; you’re well on your way to full, lasting recovery.

No labels

23 Nov

10:56 am

Just a quick post to say hi, and to let you know that all is well. Sober, and loving it. So sober that I don’t really even label myself as such anymore. I’ve stopped counting days, mainly because I had a life-affirming slip about a month ago–which helped to clarify, once again, why drinking is no longer for me. At least for right now in my hectic life of trying to earn a living as a freelance writer.

I keep coming back to this freelance thing in this blog, and it’s mainly because a lot of my drinking–avoidance, when it comes right down to it–was related to my sense of creativity and agency. I have found my agency; the next step is truly exploring my creativity (fiction, instead of journalism–which, while one form of creative expression, is more the work of a technician).

I have a busy day ahead (yup, Sunday is a work day like all others): three stories to finish, dogs to walk, Christmas lights to put up, prepping for tomorrow’s work day at the coffee bar (I am working as a quarter-time barista as well–of course, my perfectionism is shining through as I berate myself every time I mess up on my microfoaming technique), and then, getting ready for our Thanksgiving jaunt to a neighboring rock (in the middle of the ocean). I love my life these days, even though it’s taken quite a lot of effort to get here.

I really do love what I’m doing and how I’m living. There is so much less distraction, but yet, my life feels fuller. I grew up on a farm, but I guess 20 years of living in big cities stole my appreciation for nature. These days, I live close to water surrounded by a tropical forest–and I cannot express how nurturing this is. It’s like, all the scents, sounds, activity–it’s food for my soul. I had no idea how incomplete I was, how fractured, by the lack of nature in my life before. I used to feel like it was boring, or not enough stimulation. Now? I see just how much is going on, feel it, hear it, smell it. It’s JUST ENOUGH. It’s exactly enough.

I love hearing the sounds of the birds outside, in the trees off our deck, which hangs less than 100 feet (I guess) from the ocean. I have no idea what I did to deserve this, but I try to express gratitude within every cell of my body every second of every day (unless I’m bitching about freelancing, which is pretty much also every second of every day).

What was I going to say? Oh, labels. YEAH. So…in my writing work, I get to interview a LOT of scientists and clinicians, and sometimes around the topic of addiction and mental health. You know what I see over and over and over again? A HUGE divide between how we, as addicts, have internalized–been taught to view–our addictive behaviors, and how they, as medical professionals, actually view what’s going on. I won’t get TOO much into it here, but: enough with the labels.

You are not bad. You are not an “addict.” You are not “slipping” or “relapsing.” You are not evil. You have a substance use problem. It’s a disorder. And, however you want to define that for yourself, it makes it a lot easier when you necessarily take morality out of it. Of course, there are roots–causes; but these mainly boil down to you trying to cope with trauma, or things you’re afraid of, or lots of other bad shit. You are doing what you should be doing–coping–it’s just not working anymore.

And, there are MANY routes to healing. Many. Many many many. And, unless the epidemiological literature is lying, MOST PEOPLE with substance use problems–and, the fact is, these exist on a spectrum of severity, and no one’s problem should be diminished because it’s not “severe enough”–stop using on their own. They find incentives to stop using, and ways to recover and heal. For good.

Think about it.

And remember: that kid inside, smelling the flowers at 5 or 10 or 21 or now, 40 years old? She is still there; she is still there. THAT is being sober. THAT is you. All the rest is junk, or maybe worth saving, or maybe just layers.

Every sober day counts. Every sober day is a good day. And that means that if you made it through today, it was a good day and you are stepping toward healing. ALL–AND I MEAN ALL–YOU HAVE TO DO RIGHT NOW IS NOT DRINK, OR NOT USE, TODAY. That is it.

Happy Sunday, and I’m off to work!

No one else has to care about my sobriety

9 Nov

11:14 am

That’s pretty much the lesson I learned on my trip. And, I’m trying to basically ignore the nagging feeling that most if not all of my old friends–people who saw me at my worst, who drank with me and around me–acted as if either my problem wasn’t one/wasn’t that bad, or that even if it was, I didn’t deserve praise.

I don’t know. I don’t get it.

I am back, and having a great Sunday–I finally get to enjoy some down-time. Ahh…sweet breezes, warm weather, the sounds and scents all around. It feels wonderful to realize just how different my values and priorities are now. And, I have to say, it’s what helped me move forward–being forced to live outside my comfort zone, on multiple levels, and try something NEW–and the lack thereof that’s allowed some of my friends to remain stuck.

But, I digress. I don’t want to dwell too hardcore on the whole “my friends don’t seem to give a shit about my sobriety” thing. Which may or may not be a figment of my imagination. First of all, I haven’t been in great touch with any of them since swearing off the wine, and frankly, I don’t think they knew all that much about this whole journey because I didn’t divulge that much (though, to several I did, so…).

I just had this niggling feeling that they were either shocked that I was still sober/am sober at all. I just didn’t get it. They know me, and know my past, and each and every one of them knows specifically that I am, indeed, sober, and not just “not drinking.” None of them really congratulated me, which is OK, I’m used to that. They don’t need to. However, on two occasions, I had to basically interject about my sobriety because no one was asking anything. It’s a huge part of my life, the fulcrum on which everything else rests these days. So, I thought I needed to at least address it–in the context of how it’s made my life much, MUCH better. To one friend, I said, “Everything I have right now is because I am sober.” She was stunned, but got it. Melodramatic? I don’t think so.

I went out to a piano bar with one group of friends, and when the waiter came around, I ordered a San Pellegrino with lime (so delicious). My friends literally went quiet, staring at me in disbelief, as if to say, Well, I didn’t think you were SOBER sober. At a restaurant with another friend, we got to talking about not drinking because she was pregnant, and she goes, “So, you don’t drink AT ALL?”

It’s like, how many times do I have to tell you that I’m sober? And, these are close friends, people who know how bad things got. It’s why I felt like they were purposefully trying to bring me back to the ground…because of envy, because of fear, who knows.

After my trip, I honestly don’t know how much more I can interact with these three friends. It’s sad, in a way, because if they only knew the work and thought that I’ve put into my sobriety, maybe the two who seem stuck could learn from my experience! I felt like they were saying, I “hate” (not hate, but you know) you because you’re well and I’m not. It’s the exact same thing I get from my brother and his girlfriend. I refuse to forgive you: not only did you “get away” with being a drunk, but you get to be sober and happy and productive, too. It’s not fair.

Sometimes, it’s confusing to go “home again,” in terms of old friendships. I think I’ve come into my own to where, I don’t attract dysfunctional ones anymore? I must say, however, that my circle of friends where I live now is awesome: I can’t even count the number of times they’ve gone out of their way to welcome me in spite of the fact that I wasn’t drinking at parties; to offer me nonalcoholic beverages; to respect my choice to not imbibe and make me feel respected and proud, even.

I did wonder if my one friend was turned off by my being sober because she, as a doctor of psychology, is all about harm reduction. I have some new thoughts on harm reduction, and I’ll get to that later. For me, and I think for most of us who have crossed that line, ONE sip is too much. ONE sip activates Wolfie. And what we’re trying to accomplish in the end, is shut Wolfie up, not stop drinking per se.

Anyhoo, la la la. I am great, doing well, rocking the stories and hopefully, starting work as a part-time barista this week. All in all, though, I don’t need the barista work (at least for this month’s income)–but it could be fun. I got to think a lot about my three years in exile here–and how I could have done it differently (for another blog post). My trip back to the city allowed me to both connect with my old self AND let her go. And, though it was exhausting, it’s allowed me to go even further, to expand and grow even more. Oh, and that slip, or whatever it was? Totally allowed me to fully conceptualize never drinking again–drinking just doesn’t do anything but ruin the next day, it’s not how I roll anymore, and the benefits of sobriety are so mind-blowing in terms of moving forward in my life that…there is no place for wine, and that is OK. I can keep on being free. Sobriety is liberation from the old way you did shit; and it allows you a blank slate of mind, to finally try doing shit a NEW WAY.

Sobriety is banishing the “Wolfie thinking” and doing shit a NEW, DIFFERENT WAY. Because you’re free, you really are. And because you can–you are able.

Lots to do today, so I’ll sign off. More soon!

Old news

5 Oct

9:42 am

Hi, everyone! It’s been too long. I’m not even sure if my fingers can type, let alone my head compose words. BUT, here I am–in the city, tired, and feeling a bit whirlwinded.

It’s the city where I started this blog, where I got sober, basically.

It’s dark in the apartment that I’m renting for a month, and I’m just not used to it. I’m not used to being so divorced from my natural surroundings. Weirdddd…

So, yeah. Tired. Tired of lugging shit. Tired because I am sleeping on his couch and haven’t yet inflated my air mattresses. Tired because I walked (wandered aimlessly?) around the city all day yesterday, and did no work. And, I wondered, as I wandered: has this been my life to date? I mean, I have done so much aimless wandering around cities. And, while I guess it’s part of growing up and getting tired of that; it still fills me with a little bit of dread, like, maybe this wandering is supposed to have an expiration date for a reason, and that reason would be to put down roots?

I also did it alone yesterday, and while I used to absolutely love being alone–especially when wandering as a tourist–I didn’t like it yesterday. I felt bored, and lonely. I felt less than alive, as in, if I had had someone with me, he or she would have made the day’s observations more real. That sort of startled me, because it goes to show how much I’ve changed.

I have to admit: I drank about 6 ounces (is that “a glass” in the normal world?) of red wine the other night. I think it was last Saturday. It was relatively uneventful, actually. However, I HAD A HANGOVER THE NEXT DAY. AFTER A GLASS. No kidding! And, it sucked, like every single one of my hangovers: it was an entire day of symptoms (albeit milder ones than if I had had a whole bottle or two) that included feeling tired, fuzzy, and extremely neurotic (anxious and weepy and full of negative, circular thoughts).

I guess what prompted me was a variety of the same things that I usually–these days, as a sober person–let pass, and DON’T drink wine to solve anymore: feeling trapped in my emotional world, feeling alone to have to deal with “it,” restlessness/boredom/ennui. I think, for me, it was necessary to try and see that nope, not only does it figuratively not work, it literally DOES NOT WORK.

(Does this make me want to try white wine? Kind of, yes. Or, maybe that red was bad and I had a bad reaction? Hmm… I see where this is going, Wolfie. You stupid dog, you exhaust me.)

I drove around in circles, and ended up having an “emotional hangover” before I even made it to the store. I already felt headache-y and out of breath. I bought it, though–a shitty, $9 bottle of like, Jacob’s Creek or something–and headed home. I drank two sips in the car, and then, poured myself a tiny glass–my boyfriend said it wasn’t even 6 ounces, which is a regular pour at his bar–and drank it about as slowly as I’ve ever drunk anything!

I did NOT want to be hung over, and I was actually just scared of that prospect. I simply cannot deal with one more hangover, period. I don’t know about you, but my hangovers were like being transported to Dante’s Inferno for 12 hours. I think I’ve detailed it already on this blog, somewhere BACK IN TIME.

Yes, I went back in time as I drank that glass. Essentially, it was a flop. I felt woozy. Drowsy. I tried to read, but couldn’t. I already felt down, emotionally, and it just made it worse. There was no buzz. And, I was so freaked out about having a hangover that I thought, I might as well fold my hand while I’m still ahead. I had no desire to drink more. I corked it and sat there, wondering how I got here.

The main thing I kept thinking was, THIS IS NOT HOW I DO ANYMORE. This is not how I solve my problems. It wasn’t so much that I felt disappointed in myself than it was that I was choosing to go back to the old me–and, I was confused as to what old me I was referring to. There is no old me. THIS IS ME, now. How I solve problems is to actually deal with them, confront the emotional pain head on. Work around it. Find a way to deal such that it doesn’t linger. Anyway, it just felt like I was going back in time, and I had no business being there.

It’s a little bit how I feel now, in the city.

I went to my storage unit the day after I flew in (Friday), and surprised myself. I thought it’d be hard to sort through my stuff and say goodbye, but really, I just dove in and ended up throwing out three huge (13-gallon?) garbage bags and four boxes, as well as sorted out the electronic and paper recyclables. It felt great. I was so sure I would keep my clothes and books, at least, but now I’m wondering…why bother? They remind me of the old me anyway! It all reminds me of the past, the old me, and well…while I do want to cherish how I ended up here, I don’t want to dwell in the past anymore. Which, I think, is what the old “pack rat” me is used to doing.

I wonder if this desire to be “free” is simply a symptom of my desire to wander–I have been a wanderer all my life, maybe afraid to put down roots, maybe just a compulsion that’s in my genes–or if it’s the more positive desire to “let go” and “move on?” I have the overwhelming feeling it’s the latter.

See, I’ve been holding onto this storage unit for over four years, with the idea that I’d move back to the city. Yesterday, I remembered just how much time I spent walking around alone here. And, that’s lonely, especially if you’re single (i.e., have no one really to go home to). I’m no longer single so would be moving back as part of a couple–thankfully, I must admit–but it seems that because I’ve so hardcore done this place in ONE WAY, those memories might always be there, influencing the now, the new, the present.

I went into Trader Joe’s Wine Shop last night, and feeling hugely ambivalent, decided to “just see.” Before I knew it, I turned a corner and inhaled a whiff of wine–someone had dropped a bottle and a clerk was mopping it up. THAT, I told myself as I clenched my gut, is how you’re going to feel, taste, see, and hear if you drink tonight. That red wine stench. No, thank you.

And so, I left the store and got on the train and made my way to a local grocery where I bought delicious staples for dinners for the month. Red wine at night in my apartment in the city–it’s not me anymore. It’s not my life. It CAN’T BE.

It’s old news.

And, so, we go forward. Onward. Keep plugging toward our new reality, which is profoundly more fulfilling and profitable than staying stuck in the wine store-drinking-hangover loop. Drunk and aimless no more.

Sober and feeling…”life”ly

1 Sep

8:15 pm

I could write a book here, but I won’t. Lately, I haven’t had much patience for media, in general; social media, in particular. That’s mainly because I do it all day long as a journalist–and when I’m not doing it, I’m thinking about how rejuvenating it would be to not have to check email and Facebook and my phone (and the news) ever again. BUT…as a writer, it’s a must, so I’ve learned to do it in moderation and put it away when it starts to make me want to hyperventilate. Too Much Information–time to Turn It Off.

So, I’ve been minimally blogging. Not that stuff hasn’t been going down: job interviews (’nuff said), and my interviews of people for stories that I’ve been working on, and in general, stressing about my income. What else is news? 😉

There has also been lots of dog walks, and runs, and beach swims, and snorkels…and, sort of continuing work on changing my diet (I had help in revising my tastes when I was on my volun-tour vacation, but I digress). I like my new diet, and frankly, I like having lost almost 15 pounds of “sugar” weight. The hard part of keeping it off in the face of mood swings and stress is there, and always will be; but I learned one thing: get out of the sugar-as-treat mentality as soon as you can after getting sober.

I think I’ve managed to get out of my depression after six long weeks of it. Bizarre. I’ve worked and lived as usual, but…it’s been hard. Maybe it wasn’t exactly depression, maybe it was just post-vacation blues. Or, maybe it was realizing that now, I really have to Work. Like, move-and-find-a-real-job work. It may also be related to coming back to a place that simply does not serve some big parts of myself. Or, it could be linked to the chronic pain I still have from the mosquito-borne illness I got while abroad–I read some studies matching this chronic pain to depression. It has been a very weird up-and-down ride since getting home (and I’m used to depression). I’m hoping once I’m working full-time again, and settled into a new “thing”–getting past the hump of just pulling the trigger on one possibility–things will look up.

I’ve wanted to drink a LOT these past few weeks–more than ever, or at least more than I’ve wanted to drink in the past year. I just feel like I have no reward–especially after parsing so much information on a daily basis. I need a break. A real treat, you know? But, I don’t drink. I can’t. I can’t be sure that I won’t immediately again start associating wine with reward, or wine with fixing my state of mind; and I know how simply exhausting this is. So, status quo, just don’t drink, it’s all good.

On that note, apparently my Labor Day weekend is over–I have some reporting and writing to do now!

Hope everyone is plugging away–it is worth it, it so very much is. Sometimes, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. And how much less I think, in general, about things that don’t matter. More on that in another post!

Milestones…and fatigue

15 Jun

11:21 am

Wow, I can’t believe how fast time is flying. Which, I suppose, was my goal: keep my mind dial on “future focus” so that I don’t dwell on The Girlfriend, or, so I don’t give her the time (my life) that she doesn’t deserve. And, now that that’s behind me, the future is here, and I have a lot more important things to think about.

Aside from stressing on how I’m going to earn money, though, life has been pretty fantastic–things are unfolding. Moving right along, as a friend recently commented. And, you know, honestly, it’s been so few and far between, the number of times through all of this that I’ve thought, This would be better with a glass of wine. The longer we go in our period of sobriety, it just happens, this letting go of the Myth of Alcohol–we don’t need it.

To summarize the past month or so, many a milestone has come and gone and I’ve just been trying to keep up (on the outside world, let alone on my blog): my brother’s wedding, the “confrontation,” which turned out to be not much of one, with The Girlfriend; our 2-week trip; planning my “voluntouring” vacation (for which I leave this Thursday); my 40th birthday this week (for which I had a surprise party thrown by my brother’s new husband, during their wedding weekend no doubt!); a beach party for my birthday yesterday (for which my boyfriend and I made a bunch of pretty tasty eats); and in between all that, my 450 day-milestone on June 11th and my 2-years-blogging anniversary on June 14th (I started this blog two years ago on June 14th, and have been sober–more or less–ever since).

Throw in a flu last week and, unfortunately, a UTI (ladies, you know the urgency of getting antibiotics started, especially when you have to wait through the weekend for a pharmacy to open up)–well, this girl is feeling like she’s on the inside of a tornado!

Alas, I think that’s how I planned it, y’all. Far, far better to be busy and occupied than to be dwelling, and drinking.

On that note, I have to run. Sorry I’ve been so MIA. I have the feeling that things might get even crazier in the next few weeks, but I will definitely try to keep you up to date with more frequent posts. (Come to think of it, the next one is going to be on unmet needs and a sense of purpose as antidotes to addictive behavior–it’s been on my mind lately.)

I’m back–quick update

5 Jun

11:12 am

Well, I’m back. And, what a trip! We covered 3,000 flight miles each way, and 2,500 in the car! Needless to say, I haven’t had much time to blog, but I’ve been thinking about everyone and wanted to write a quick update.

The wedding went GRAND. The girlfriend ignored me–literally, pretended I didn’t exist/wasn’t in the room (how someone does that for an entire 48-hour period is interesting, I suppose). And, I returned the favor! 🙂

And that was that. I realized almost immediately my error in resenting her and giving her all this power all these years–she is literally powerless, which makes her irrelevant to my life. I have–and always had–the power over my reality. Beyond that, I tried to enjoy me, and my brother, and the family, and my boyfriend meeting the family, and all the amazing food, sites, and sounds!

The ceremony was magical, and I felt amazing–calm, happy, calmer and happier than I have in years. I/we were just…present. Not caring about what she was doing or saying (which was ridiculous, and I’ll blog about it later, but right now, the main word that comes to mind for her is “mentally ill”).

We then went on a week-long road trip through “the West” (of the US), hitting four states, four national parks, and two major cities. Whew. Now, it’s back to work…for two weeks. Because two weeks from today, I leave for a 6-week “voluntouring” trip to another country! If I told you which one, it might blow the anonymity of this blog, but suffice it to say, it’s a neighboring place that’s been in the news lately! I am really excited, having planned where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing, embraced a certain level of emotional and physical uncertainty, and determined my immediate next steps upon return.

I have to say, and this has happened before, when you reveal yourself to the world–your dreams, let’s say–the world responds! I was a bit nervous calling my boss here and being like, Hey, can I ghost on you for the next six weeks to go and volunteer in a developing country, and then, uh, maybe come back to my job? He was not only cool with it, he gave me his “blessing” (his word, which I appreciated so much I am quoting him!). Turns out, before becoming a real estate agent, his thesis work was on similar stuff in the South Sudan. Click. When will I learn? Stop being afraid, DDG! The world rewards–craves–our bravery of spirit and humility of soul.

Back to work. Like I said, I will dish much further on “the girlfriend” later. I must end with this: at the end of the event, I realized one thing, and that is that it is not about her, or him, or them, it’s about ME. I can’t quite explain, but I realized just how much energy I wasted putting any of MYSELF into thinking about the girlfriend’s thoughts of me, or anyone else for that matter. It’s my world, my path, my mind; no one else’s. It doesn’t matter at all what or whether she thinks of me.

Thank you, friends! You were there with me every step of the way this past two weeks.

Day 500–coming up on July 31. No thoughts or desires to drink, btw. Maybe I’ve outgrown it? Maybe, as Belle said, it just takes a longer, continuous period of sobriety to reach greater levels of freedom from the want to drink? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Epilogue; prologue–ONE YEAR SOBER!

19 Mar

11:44 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The prologue is this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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