Tag Archives: choices

Happiness is a choice

24 Sep

10:47 am

Good morning. Or, is it?

I woke up to some fierce lower back pain and immediately took 4 Advil. It’s a bummer, knowing that at 39, all I can do is work with the pain and not–maybe never–remove it. It’s weird; I feel handicapped. It makes me sad, angry, and worn out. It is constant, and I feel like I’ve tried everything to fix it. I have, for the most part, given up.

And, this is all before I commence to sit right back down on my ass, spine crunching nerves, and get to work. THIS is what I do; I can’t seem to figure out another way.

Yet, the day is bright, and I have my plans, and I’m not thinking of drinking, and, well: happiness is a choice. I’m not sure why it’s a hard one to make sometimes, and why is should take effort (as in, maybe I’m doing it wrong), but, happiness is a constantly-being-made choice, isn’t it? Happiness is a choice. And, I can do this. If there is one thing I can do now, it’s this. I can usher the bad thoughts out, or sequester them, or filter them out gradually through some deep breaths. I’m still left with the pain, yes, but I can see my choice, facing me, and it is simple: happy or not?

I choose happy. But, mostly, I know now that I GET to choose. How black is that? (SNL reference!)

Slogans and quick fixes, sobriety is not

19 Aug

12:09 pm

No Motivation, The Right to Refuse to Say I’m Sorry, Turning It Off–these are titles of posts I never sent (posted) this weekend. GAH. Obvs, I haven’t been feeling that well.

But you know what? I don’t have to feel great, or feel “more like myself,” (because I feel less like myself than ever before), or be bouncing off the walls. All I have to be is sober! I can spend entire days drinking Coke Zero and weeping and holding on to my sobriety with a death grip–it all means something, and it’s all teaching me something about myself. Which is, drinking most likely simply exacerbated existing mental and emotional (are they different?) problems, not caused them. I hold a lot of rigid ideas about what I “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing, which exacerbates my stuck-ness. The best I’ve ever felt is when I said, Fuck it, and went and volunteered for a few months doing manual labor in a foreign country. All these things relate to work, which for me, relates strongly to both self-validation and creativity, which ultimately relates to mortality. Maybe I think too much and do too little?

On Saturday night, I felt the same way–out of control and volatile, emotionally–sober as I have often felt drunk. The EXACT SAME WAY. And, it scared me. It was eye-opening, too, in that, like I said, I thought that booze caused this in me; I never could have imagined let alone believed that it already existed, in a certain form. Obviously, it wasn’t as severe, but the feelings, the go-to reactions were of someone deeply not at peace. Thankfully, it’s over, and I feel better today. (I even had to “save to draft” a few emails and such because they were SO out-of-control angry.)

I tried to write (fail), I tried to read (fail), I watched “Sex and the City” the movie and “Devil Wears Prada.” I tried to go running and realized that due to PMS, my sciatica flaring was making that impossible. I cried over the fact that I am no longer…of the era, as it were; that I may have expired. My time in cold East Coast city–my ERA there–is over. “Kids” in their late 20s and early 30s now rule the roost. This is a hard fact (misinformed opinion?) to acknowledge. I downloaded some sample books to my Kindle, which made me feel a bit better, put the Coke Zero away, and somewhat successfully pressed some of those written words through the meat processor that was my brain. And then, the curtain came down, and I simply quit and went to bed.

“Quitting and going to bed” is not my style, but maybe, just maybe, it HAS to be from now on. Just like opening myself up to new career paths. A few years ago, the counselor I was seeing told me that I didn’t have to continue the pattern of workaholism in my family, which my dad, grandfather, and great-grandfather passed down to me and my brothers (I see it in all three of us now). That I could change the course of my “destiny.” She saw the pattern, of my drinking being one tool I use to protect myself from the fact that I was simply repeating what my dad had done his whole life: working himself to the bone as a way to scratch an itch, sure, but also and mostly, as a way to please and/or impress his father, and grandfather. Now, I have a choice whether to live out that same sort of life/lifestyle. I have a choice, which I can make. Do I feel ambivalent, and guilty, and afraid? Sure as fuck I do! Can I also choose to feel all these things, not drink, not work (sometimes), and go to bed anyway? Sure as fuck I can!

On that note, I am going to sign off. I’ll get to all those posts soon, although sometimes in this forum I start to feel like the wet blanket. Sobriety isn’t easy, though, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I hope everyone is having a great day and believe me, if you want to drink, like really really really want to? Don’t. Don’t give in! You can do this, just like little old hurting me. (If *I* can do this, anyone can!)

Life is too sweet to be bitter

25 Jul

4:52 pm

I came across a story today that about Kris Carr, and it totally inspired me. Here’s her final quote of the piece:

I think that life is just too sweet to be bitter. Once I was able to change my focus, desperation led to inspiration. I made so many changes, and I thought: This is an awesome life. I mean, honestly, I don’t think anyone has a better life than me. How can you live with the knowledge of cancer? I might not ever be able to get rid of it, but I can’t let that ruin my life. . . . I think: Just go for it. Life is a terminal condition. We’re all going to die. Cancer patients just have more information, but we all, in some ways, wait for permission to live.

For many reasons, this struck me as relevant to sobriety. It strikes at the core of what we avoid as drinkers: we wait for permission to live, we live in fear, we don’t just Go For It. Once we change our focus, we can go from desperate to not drink to inspired to live life.

Today, I’m reconfirming my commitment to running more, embracing the challenge of developing balance in my life, and giving up (trying to) the Diet Coke. If there are small things I can do (juicing might come soon, why not?), then let’s DO THIS.

Not wanting kids, or, the one thing you’re not supposed to talk about?

24 Jul

11:34 am

(I wrote this last night, and I’m posting it for illustrative purpose: I’ve discovered that as the day goes on, I just get depressed. Not to say that this piece isn’t accurate in representing how I feel right now, but I’m just saying that maybe it’s darker than it “should” be because I was feeling low. When I was drinking, I used to force myself to stay up, of course, and live through it. 2 and 3 am were my usual bedtimes (with the alarm still set for 7 or 8 am). I almost always also drank wine. Could it be the two were connected? Cue the “not exactly rocket science” horns.)

I went to the beach this morning, and it was glorious: crisp white sun, shockingly blue sky, clear water reflecting both. These days, I’m pretty damn grateful all the time. Content. Maybe even happy?

Yet… I’m 39, and some days all I can think about is, why did it take so fucking long? I mean, Jesus. Just NOW I’m starting to feel OK about being a human? What the fuck?

And then, because I’m 39 and I think about having a baby constantly (whether I want one, whether I should want one), how on EARTH could I willingly bring another human being into this world knowing what I know about how difficult this life thing is? I mean, from about 14 until present, life’s been pretty difficult. Exhaustingly so, I might add. I mean, are we really supposed to spend the first 40 years learning how to live, and the next 40 learning how to die? Is that it?

I’ve been reading blogs and watching a lot of “addiction TV” lately, and man, no fucking wonder we all drank. Trauma, lots of it. Big, small, sideways, and in between. Some of it unearthed, a lot of it still buried in unconscious thoughts, unexplained feelings, and reactive behavior. And, imagine how it’s going for the rest of the world, who haven’t gotten sober and started looking at things with a magnifying glass? No wonder there are mass shootings.

I know this is heavy for a blog post, but admit it: we feel LUCKY to be alive. Can we really expect things to go opposite for our kids? Life is hard, and confusing, to say the least. Surreal might be a better word. Finding a sense of purpose, a creative outlet, a way to identify and manage your feelings? Hard as shit. Why do we view procreation through rose-colored glasses? It was hard as shit for you; it’s probably going to be hard as shit for your kids.

I, for one, already feel bad for my unborn child entering her teenage years, feeling as dark, depressed, and overwhelmed as I did. I folded in on myself, spending hours–years–writing in my room, dancing alone, binge eating, and having fits of anger in which I’d alternately weep and slap myself. This was just the beginning. I wish I had had the courage to seek help, as it were, but I didn’t. And I blame myself–as a human, of course, I do!–for all of it. Sigh. How could I do this to little Susie, knowingly?

It’s been a huge part of my recovery process, coming to terms with these convictions–I’ve had to think back on my own tumultuous journey and realize that actually, if I’m dead-fucking honest with myself, the joy might not outweigh the pain. I mean, we live and we love and we appreciate both, but, dude, it was a long-ass haul from 16 to 39 years old. Can I truly expect that my child, who has my genes, won’t experience the same difficulties?

At this point in my thought process, if I was still drinking, I’d probably crack open a bottle of red wine. I’m starting to sense that wind tunnel feeling in my belly, like I’m being sucked into a black hole. THERE ARE NO ANSWERS. THERE ARE NO SALVES. These are truths, no matter how difficult to ponder.

I am grateful, and bemused, and astounded by life. I am also selfish, and I admit to not wanting to pass my youth over to a newborn. Evolution and industrialization have allowed this, for our generations; we don’t have to have kids, and we get to ponder the reality of doing so well into our waning years of fertility! Sometimes I think, being sober now and knowing how exhausted I am of always having been the overachiever, the do-gooder, the people-pleaser–I’d rather let “them” have the kids, let “them” raise the children. I’d rather sit this one out, let others take on that work. Is this bad? Am I a bad person? I don’t know, but it’s the truth (right now, anyway), and it keeps coming up A LOT these days. It seems directly tied to my getting sober, this attitude.

I think for people who have bad kidhoods–like, with serious physical or emotional trauma–they either grow up into people who want to have kids so that they can improve upon their own childhoods, or, like me, don’t ever want to have to relive it! Kids remind me of being a kid, and I didn’t like being a kid! I had a lot of trauma being a kid. I had a lot of joy, sure, but all in all, more pain than joy. I just don’t want a re-do, no matter in what form.

Then, of course, there are days when I DO want kids, and, realizing that that ship has probably already sailed? That’s an even harder truth to face.

Maybe I need to “let go and let God” in the sense that, I don’t know everything and maybe this entire rant was simply my ego talking, my personality, my fear–underneath it all, I value life, I want children, and I do believe that the joy and wonder definitely outweighs the pain and hardship?

Hmm…

Where’s my Broadway musical? Hello?

Everything scares me…a little bit

10 Jul

12:57 pm

Well, we all know that I spend a good part of my day inside my head. Does that mean I, myself, am oblivious to this? No! Does that mean that I don’t believe it serves my recovery? Hell’s no! Which is why, I beg of you, to bear with me on this post; I promise, there IS a point.

Everything scares me…a little bit.

Just what I said. I have a friend coming to town this weekend, and instead of being excited (which I am), I’m nervous. She and I have never really hung out, sans booze, in any kind of “domestic” capacity. We never went over to each other’s apartments, we went to the bar! In fact, our entire friendship was based on nights out, mutual commiserating. It scares me a little bit to socialize, in general, but it also scares me to anticipate what I’m dreading might be a lot of awkward moments, pregnant pauses, and maybe even some insistence on “what the fuck happened, your life is WAY different now, WAY better!” Maybe I’m scared of holding my own in the face of my successful recovery–I’m so used to being down, I guess, that it’ll be weird to “show off” my new life. (Maybe success makes me feel uncomfortable?)

I’ve got some decisions to make soon, one of which involves biting the bullet and likely getting back into the full-time workforce, maybe going to school part-time on the side. Which will involve a LOT of people, and places, and things I’ve been avoiding as triggers since I got sober last summer.

Deep breath. I’m sure I’ll rally, and take this as it comes. One of the things that getting sober has allowed me to see about myself is that, I want to drink when I’m confronted with something that scares me. And, quite frankly, everything scares me…a little bit.

I don’t know if it’s FEAR per se; it’s more like doubt (uncertainty): Can I do this sober? Will the stress be too much?

I have to re-learn how to learn new things, I think.

Sobriety is not just about avoiding the “people, places, and things” that made you want to drink; it’s about crafting a new life, and one that includes new people, places, and things–that don’t make you want to drink. And what, pray tell, ARE these things that don’t make me want to drink? Discovering what those are is, in a nutshell, LIFE.

I mean, I used to be (am?) a science reporter, and I think aspects of that career drove me to drink. Yet, I am used to the sense of accomplishment I got from this career, and I am used to knowing how to apply this to my framework of the world. I know, though, that if I am truly committed to a “new” way of life, I have to confront the possibility that this career might be more harmful, painful, and addictive than anything else (it involves a lot of competition, a lot of ego, a lot of outside validation).

On the other hand, do I have it in me to switch careers? Do I really want to? How accurate are my projections of having the money, the time, and the focus, at 39 years old, to earn another degree? I don’t know myself that well right now, is what I’m saying. I know how “old me” would have tripped through these decisions, what framework of the universe I was working with. Now, I’m not sure what I hold most dear, what my universal laws of personal physics are! It’s like, I am learning not just new ways of coping, but new ways of learning how to cope.

Journalism is exhausting, but it’s the ultimate high. Can–and should–I relinquish this for something “less” rewarding? I could, for instance, teach, or do grant writing, or write fiction (yes!). A part of my mind–that part that is the source of some of my avoidance/addictive behavior-cries out, Nooooo, DDG! You can only do this one thing, because this one thing is what you’ve always done!

Ugh. “Alcoholism” is SUCH a mental game; I’m beginning to realize it has nothing to do with wine and everything to do with long-held “life philosophies.” Trying something new is often what caused me to drink–not because I don’t like it or I’m afraid of it, but because I believe that I’m wasting time NOT doing what I “should” be doing, what became “too hard,” what I KNOW I can win at, if “just keep trying.” Life philosophies like this are hard to even articulate let alone begin the process of overhauling.

A simpler–and more positive–way to approach this is: My work might not be healthy for me; a relationship might not be healthy for me–do I have the courage to try (to learn) something new, something different?

I had a friend whose literal life refrain was, It’s a process. And, if I can keep that in mind over the next few weeks and months, I’ll consider myself “successful.”

On a final note, you know what’s crazy? I’ve been so busy thinking about other stuff that I haven’t even checked my day count in at least a week! September 9th will be 25 weeks, so that makes today…114 days! Woot! Rock on, me, and fuck you, wolfie!

Choosing not to drink…because my life depends on it

26 Jan

4:01 pm

Literally. Having a life depends on me staying sober right now.

I’ve been seriously thinking about drinking the past few days/weeks. I mean, why not? The other night in bed, I got a text from a friend, who is 40, I guess will be 41 this year, who just popped out her second kid. As usual, I felt the wind-tunnel-in-my-gut feeling, and then, the curtain of sadness. It’s brief, and irrational–I’ve done some awesome shit in my life, right?–but…it got me thinking: I have to make some decisions.

Moreover, I have less than a year and a half; said another way, I have 16 periods left in which to get preggers.

It’s not so much that the possibility of not having kids of my own makes me sad, it’s the fact that I LET so much time pass, so many opportunities. Did I let life roll me over? Did I stay with men who were noncommittal, like me, out of fear…or was that just the way it went, was supposed to go? I mean, I am definitely of the pre-online dating generation, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t have gotten on the bandwagon in 2005 or 2006 and like some of my friends, made a list of “to do” and “to have,” and got on with it. Like picking a career, or a place to live, or a job, should I have prioritized having kids in this way? Instead, I wasted a lot of time bouncing around in my 20s, and didn’t really pick a career (one that, of course, I’m no longer happy with!) and start on it until my 30s. How could I have both invested most of my 30s making a career for myself in journalism AND finding a man and having kids? It just seems that no matter what decisions you’ve made, you’re going to end up regretting your choices in some way(s).

I think I’ve spent the past decade, at least, drowning out the inevitable, NOT making a choice and then drinking to avoid the entire affair (not choosing, feeling bad about myself for not wanting to deal with not choosing). Now, with less than a year and a half until I turn 40, I wonder: is it really too late? Could I have made any one of the shitty relationships I was in work, back then, if I had chosen to have kids? Would I have picked different men, or more importantly, would I have stood up for myself and forced us to decide? It’s hard to tell, but one thing I do know: drinking played a major role in where I am today. It’s not that I’m unhappy to be here by any stretch, but I think if I had gotten sober earlier and stopped using wine to basically avoid these so-called “hard” and “scary” decisions… I don’t know.

I’m a biologist; I know that I’m not unique, reproductively-speaking. Every year counts, once a woman gets past 35. Past 37, every month. I don’t think I want to be childless at 50, I really don’t. I don’t know why, and I’m not sure I can even stomach the thought of giving up all the dreams I still have in order to raise kids, but… I don’t know.

What I do know is, these things can’t wait to be examined, just shy of 90 days sober or not. At 20, I remember having All These Options. In a way, I still think of myself as 20, or 25, or 30…not pushing 40! How do I reconcile the sadness of realizing that my options are vastly different now, if not limited, and the necessary acceptance of this truth? I have to accept it in order to move on, but more immediately, in order to not freak out and start drinking alcoholically again.

Happy weekend?

Wake up!

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