Tag Archives: sober blogging

Eight years as Drunky Drunk Girl

15 Jun

11:33 am

I can’t believe it: yesterday was the anniversary of starting my blog, on June 14, 2012, EIGHT YEARS AGO!? It feels a lot longer than it sounds; like, eight years, sure, but eight years ago, I was a totally different person. Mostly for the better, a little bit for the worse.

Frankly, this blog has not only kept me sober, but it’s become a defining experience in my life; for that, I will be forever grateful.

Back then, I was lost and alone, drinking alcoholically, unsure of what I wanted or, even if I did know what it was (I did), too afraid to make the change to get it. One day, though, I DID make that change–I don’t know why the night of June 12, 2012, (and into the wee hours of June 13) was different from other drunken escapades or hangovers; as I wrote in my first post, and as you hear in the rooms, I had just had it. I was done. I was so tired of avoiding what I needed and not getting what I wanted; I was so exhausted of never being able to drink just one…and the ensuing drama that always came with this “failing.” I was tired of failing–others, sure, but mostly myself. I wanted to never black out again, to never say or do the horrendous things I said and did, ever, ever again. And, so it was born; I was re-born in a small studio apartment in the big city where I did my graduate degree and figured I’d live forever (but that I eventually left, after realizing that big city was part of my old drinking self).

I wrote my first blog post during a hellish, two-day hangover. I had no idea that starting my blog would not only allow me to get and stay sober, create an online sober community, and continue into long-term sobriety; but that I would still be blogging, eight years later!? I turned quite a few of my blog posts into story ideas, actually, for my day job (when I was a freelance science journalist). These days, I am not writing journalistic stories, but I still consider the years of 2013-2015 to be precious in terms of how “on fire” I was re: science journalism. Why did I stop? Well, it paid shit and I was burnt; yep, I have come to simply accept that after two years as a freelance journalist–and by then, close to a decade as a journalist–I was tired of it. And, I’m still kind of there; I mean, I think it would take a change in subject matter (back to something that truly intrigues me, like addiction, maybe other areas) to get me to want to interview, transcribe, write, and edit journalistic “stories” again. We’ll see–I mean, there is still a flicker, so that’s encouraging.

This blog–and my sobriety–have allowed, and continue to allow, SO many things. I have grown as a person, a human; I have grown up. I have come to appreciate and be grateful for every moment, everything that I have and that has come my way–mostly due to quitting drinking. I chose to move to an island, to get into freelance writing, to make it work here; I chose a man, a dog (well, dogs) to share my life with; I chose to live consciously and intentionally, regardless of how crazy or sad or neurotic it made/makes me feel sometimes to be sober, to feel alone in how aware I must be all the time. I am proud and grateful for this blog–and, I am indebted, really, to the community that has supported me and encouraged me, HERE, all these years (when others didn’t, when the in-real-life relationships faded away).

The only thing I regret, somehow, is remaining anonymous; however, I promise that one day (soon?), I will come out.

On the “for worse” side, um, I think I’ve just sort of settled into a not-pink-cloud reality; like, I got sober, it was thrilling, and then, all of the sudden, life got real again. And, maybe that coincided with me taking a corporate job and leaving journalism (I did it because I needed to start earning some real money, putting away some real savings). Anyway, I do feel a bit more jaded, or cynical, or maybe just in touch with the day-to-day rhythm of “real life”–it’s not pink clouds forever. On the other hand, that reality is not something I wish wasn’t so; it just is, so this has become an exercise in how to cultivate joy and excitement and “fire”…even when you’ve seemingly plateau’d in your sobriety.

Anyway, I recently learned that my furlough has been extended, likely forever. SO, I will be job searching (and soul searching) the next few days, likely offline.

Stay safe and well, y’all, and I hope everyone has a great start to a grateful week…

Is sober blogging still trending?

24 Mar

9:29 am

I started this blog back in 2012–at that time, the whole “sober blogging” thing was relatively new, new enough that people seemed to not only truly love it when they stumbled upon a sober blog, but were truly invested in getting their help through the blogosphere.  Instead of let’s say, talking to people who are also alcoholics or drink too much (folks at AA meetings, for example), or scheduling some time with a counselor.  People were (are?) coming to the blogosphere to get help in a more immediate, anonymous way.

I don’t know if that’s really happening as much anymore, or, if folks are just not as into it as they used to be; maybe it’s because I’m not writing as much; maybe what I write about–or how I write it–doesn’t appeal to people anymore.  Maybe “kids these days” aren’t that interested in my bouts of perimenopausal symptoms (haha–of COURSE, they’re not!); maybe no one is as interested in long-term sobriety as the drama of those first few days, months, years of getting sober–your perspective changes, and you can lose touch with the struggle of those early days, that is for certain. However, to me, what happens during your long-term sobriety is the most interesting part of getting and staying sober–and, unfortunately (predictably, though), there seems to be a LOT less out there, resource-wise, than there is about than the initial stages of recovery.

I get it, things trend away from what they used to be.  For example, last summer, I was thinking about going back to this place (another island in the sun where there is a lot of international development work going on) that I went to in the summer of 2014, and I was planning on working at this hostel-turned-community center where I had stayed four years ago.  When I checked in with a friend who has been there constantly since 2014, she was like, Oh, that has passed; there isn’t much need or use for that type of space anymore.  (Well, I actually disagree, but I understood what she meant:  “things” had trended away from this type of space, and the only surprising thing was that I hadn’t kept up with the changes because I wasn’t there during the intervening four years.)

Can things just become…outmoded, dictated by the changing times and the wants and needs of a new, younger generation with different ways of being and socializing?  Um, yes.

Seven years is a LONG time, I have to keep reminding myself.  It doesn’t feel like it to me, but it is.  I mean, a lot has changed for me, personally, for myself and my partner and my family and the world!  It just…doesn’t feel like it, and sometimes, I return to this blog and think of it as an island itself, surrounded by the flux of water and time but by itself, isolated from the outside world of changing times.  It, too, though, has changed; and even though it was and is my rock and center, it has changed.

This morning, I am thinking about all that has changed, and feeling grateful for what we’ve made it through (sobriety, hurricanes, a new job that is kicking my ass!), as well as both irritated that I can’t move on and desperate to hold onto what I thought I had.  SO much has changed in our lives, for my partner and myself.

What is the same is that I am still sober–thank Goddess!  What is different is that I no longer have many cravings, and few things truly trigger me–again, thank Goddess, and something that I try to be continually grateful for, even though as you enter the long-term, you tend to forget about those dreadful early years.  I sometimes think about drinking again, like getting into the habit of it again (maybe a glass at night to go with my cooling showers?), but after the fleeting thought, I don’t have much time to drag out the fantasy.  There is work and plans and family responsibilities and FUN to be had; drinking takes a far backseat to all the important stuff to think about, to do.

What also hasn’t changed is my relationship to my brother, who wrote me off years ago after one drunken night at his place, screaming at his girlfriend.  After much back and forth, he finally decided that he would officially NOT forgive me, and I had to accept that (which I did; we haven’t spoken in almost two years) and move on.  I don’t plan on reconciling with him, and it is a sore point; I feel angry and bitter every time I think about it, but I quickly let it go so those feelings don’t fester.  It is what it is, and there is nothing I can–or frankly, want/have the energy–to do about it.  That hasn’t changed.

What has changed is my confidence in my feelings of expression–dare I talk about what’s really going on in my head?  I have become a bit tentative.  Long-term sobriety is strange in that, after you get sober, you still have a bunch of garbage to deal with…and lot of it isn’t interesting to a lot of people–because it tends toward specific, and personal.  Lately, I have been talking about perimenopause on this blog–to me, that IS related to my sobriety.  I don’t know if they know if there is any connection between going into perimenopause early because you were an alcoholic (or binge drank), but I do believe–and, I think studies have shown this–that my drinking made me less fertile (that could be a whole “correlation does not equal causation” thing, though).

Point is, what has changed for me is that I don’t feel like sharing certain nitty-gritty deets as much as I used to do.  I don’t know what the kids are doing these days, but I do sense that talking about, um, menopause is still taboo.  (Haha.  Of COURSE, it is.)

In any case, some things have changed, others haven’t.  And, while some days I might not “feel” like being revealing, especially about particular subjects, I know that I must, and I will.  I can’t and won’t stop doing so–and I will probably hold onto this blog and not let it go and not move on, for reasons that lift me up and make me feel better about myself and my sobriety and my path.  Of course, I can (and probably will) transition to writing about things that are not, on the face of it, drinking- or sobriety-related; but, honestly, to me, EVERYTHING seems to somehow come back to this “drinking thing,” this “sobriety thing.”

Stay tuned…

Anger, Buddhism, and the 12 steps, oh my!

6 Jul

1:11 pm

As I posted yesterday, The Fix published a piece I wrote about blogging myself sober. Obviously, it’s not the ONLY thing I’ve done to “get and stay sober,” but that’s beside the point. I think connecting with others who share your problem, and who can help you DEFINE its gray areas, is the key. So, thanks to all of you out there who continue to help me stay the course.

There were some negative comments posted in response to the piece, which I found, for the most part, to be instructive (thankfully!).

Why are some people so angry about a seemingly-successful recovery that either does not involve meetings or the 12 steps, or does not involve “as much work as someone else” or “the way that they did the work?”

What can I glean from the 12 steps, and why do I keep coming back to them, feeling like I’ve got some unfinished business? Maybe I AM a dry drunk?

If it wasn’t the personalities in AA, or the sharing, or the group therapy aspect that bothered me all that much, it must have been the steps, right? What am I afraid of? What about the steps hangs me up?

It’s those words: powerlessness, God, higher power. To me, the 12 steps are not rocket science; in fact, in order to get sober, EVERYONE has to do some version of these “steps,” I’ve come to believe. You might not KNOW you’re doing the steps, but you are. We admit we can’t drink anymore; we accept this fact. We feel remorse and say we’re sorry. We work on our relationships, we question our sense of purpose–why are we using booze to avoid or hide from what we know, deep down, we should and could be doing? I used wine for YEARS to avoid writing; yet, it’s the one thing I knew that if I just fucking DID it, I’d be free. Free of both the urge to drink away my fear and sensitivities surrounding “putting it out there” and possibly failing, and free from the self-loathing brought on by not doing it!

I wondered, how do atheists approach the steps? Do Muslims go to AA? What do people who come from non-Judeo-Christian backgrounds and worldviews think of AA? I mean, people all over the world have drinking problems–how do they approach the steps if they don’t, actually, believe in “God,” per se? What–or who–IS God? A quick Google search made me realize that the concept of God is extremely broad, and can range from an overlord or all-knowing being to, well, “being” or “existence” itself. Huh. As a scientist, I am not a theist, but neither am I convinced that “being” or “existence” does not hold a higher order. The whole is, most of the time in the biological sciences anyway, greater than the sum of its parts. Systems biology takes advantage of the FACT that studying systems of genes, or proteins, or cells can lead to surprising insights into how things actually work when we’re not reducing them to their parts.

At the beach yesterday, I felt the need (and this is usually accompanied by a lot of gesturing and loud talking to myself, so my apologies to the boyfriend–LOL) to tease out my “official” definition of these words. And, here’s what I came up with:

Powerlessness: To me, this is simply my desire (key word) to drink more than just one. I can never drink one. Why? Because I don’t WANT to. And this, I think, is where the neurochemistry of addiction comes in: my brain is wired–at the moment, at least, because I’ve abused wine for so long–to want more than one. It’s an urge that is VERY strong. And, already after one, my “rational brain” is starting to become overpowered by my “irrational brain.”

This is actually the opposite of the general idea that most people, including myself, have of powerlessness. I have a choice, yes I do; and that choice is to drink a second. Whether or not that choice is a good choice, well, morals aside, the powerlessness lies in my reward system being fucked up.

God: Well, since I do not believe in a deity or any sort of omniscient creator being, I would say that “God” is the order of the universe, being, life itself.

Higher power: I’ve always thought that this is simply my higher self, a literal higher consciousness. In fact, I now believe that when we “bottom out,” or hit our lows, we’re actually becoming our most self-aware. Our wake-up calls are just that: we snap out of it, we awaken, we’re fully conscious of just how bad it is. We’re at the top of our game then, not the bottom. This higher consciousness is our most aware selves–the self that knows better, wants the best for us, sees our potential, follows that “order” of the universe, or at least, of being human, which is to protect our bodies and minds from harm, to sleep when it’s dark, to wake when it’s light.

Defects of character: This was a hard one, but I figured it out on the ride home, with the help of my boyfriend. My biggest problem in this whole nightmare has been learning how to forgive myself. I realized that IF, in fact, I viewed my higher power as myself–the best version of myself, the mindful, awakened version–then, couldn’t asking myself for forgiveness be the same thing as asking “God” to remove my “defects of character?” YES, it really could.

In my research last in night, I came across Kevin Griffin, who founded the Buddhist Recovery Network, who has written some excellent pieces for HuffPo on the Buddhist approach to recovery, and whose work I can’t wait to read more of. It sort of helped to confirm some of my new ideas, which, apparently, I’m not the first person to have. 😉

I guess maybe a step meeting could’ve helped me wade through the murky semantics of the steps, or a Google search earlier in my recovery, but so it goes. If I look at the steps with my new definitions in mind, they might read as such:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
(I am powerless to not want that second drink…and then, it’s all downhill because my rational brain turns off the warning and my irrational brain turns on the “It’ll be different this time, it won’t hurt you, you can drink as much as you want, forget about last time, there is no last time…”)

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
(That power is myself–my aware, awakened, mindful self; the one who’s looking at me when I’m jogging in the hot sun thinking, Good job, and, You deserve to be awesome.)

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
(Wonderfully explained by Kevin here.)

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
(Among a lot of other things, this would include shit I did that I still haven’t forgiven myself for…because I have offended others and hurt myself.)

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
(Admitting to ourselves, really, the things that we haven’t forgiven ourselves for having done. I have a few select people who know EVERYTHING, and I’m grateful that it’s been easy, in a way, to “unburden” myself to these friends.)

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
(Ready to forgive ourselves, to stop caring if others have or will forgive us, to really let it all go, and to start moving forward in our emotional lives. Self-actualizing?)

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
(Asked ourselves for forgiveness, and the power to let it go.)

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
(Being aware of our thoughts and feelings, of our actions and especially, REACTIONS, to these thoughts and feelings. To live in the world without taking anything personally.)

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
(Staying aware, practicing mindfulness.)

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
(This one, I’m not sure about. Maybe just helping others see their problem is not necessarily about moral flaws, it’s about fear of living and fear of self-discovery–and, the truth (your personal truth) will set you free…?)

What do you think?

Published at ‘The Fix’ magazine!

5 Jul

10:27 am

I’ve been thinking so much about the power of blogging–and how unicorn-parade and glitter-balls awesome you all are to be a part of my world–that I wrote a story (well, essay) about you!

It’s been published today at The Fix, an online magazine for addiction and recovery. My piece, Blogging Myself Sober, is about how helpful online forums can be for sobriety.

Otherwise, we’ve just been hanging out. Beach, dogs, some reading, and thinking a LOT lately about the passing of time, how I miss the 90s (I even went so far as to create both a ‘The Cure’ and ‘James’ Pandora stations the other night=Who’s James?), and well, how sobriety fits into all this. Am I sad because I am sad about the fact that it was, yes, 20 years ago that I had the “whole world” ahead of me? Please, even I can see through that. What I’m sad about is that I had such a clear head back then, an unblemished slate–not state–of mind. Sure, I had the “whole world,” but I have more of that world now. What I had then that I don’t have now is…a lack of experience? A lack of cynicism? A lack of knowledge of what I know now about how bad things would get?

A friend of mine posted an interesting status update to his Facebook page yesterday: If you could call yourself from 5 years ago–and had 30 seconds to talk–what would you say? Hmm. Probably, ‘Quit drinking NOW’? Yet, would I have never learned what I was “supposed to” have learned, “needed” to learn, if I had quit before it got really bad?

Anyway, I wanted to keep it short, so more for later. Hope everyone is having a liberating Fourth of July weekend!

(Yes, there were pangs yesterday, but even I’m getting bored writing about them. Needless to say, I pouted, told my boyfriend to “pick me up a bottle of red at the store on his way out,” (to which he replied his usual, “uh huh”) and then, waited to forget why I wanted to drink in the first place. Wash, rinse, repeat, every six hours or so yesterday–not a great day for cravings, but I managed and they’re over and now we’re moving on to an entirely NEW day. SEE ya, wolife-boy, voice of cravings! Your tricks are so old, so TIRED. Yawns.)

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