Tag Archives: thinking problem

Social media–helpful or harmful?

16 Aug

8:46 am

Ahh, social media. Suffice to say, I think we all have love-hate relationships with it.

Lately, I have been quiet: head down, working, job searching, and really, simply trying to enjoy life outside of the computer screen once I actually manage to turn it off. The writing is on the wall (literally, since I’m a writer) that, while I like what I do–and it’s brought me a lot of pride and sense of accomplishment to have made my living for two years as a freelancer–I don’t earn enough money! I mean, I won’t bore you with the deets again, but I simply need to earn more. And, we’re not talking a little bit more; we’re talking, graduate student loans and supplemental income for my mom and buying a vineyard in Greece before I turn 50 more! I have always been driven, and responsible when it comes to earning my keep–I never received help from my parents. However, these past two years have put me nearly in the red (I am past red, let’s face it).

All that aside, I am doing well. Feeling strong. Recovering from my trip (where I acquired a mosquito-borne illness that among other things, I think, has been contributing to me feeling like the bug and not the windshield many days this month). In a weaker moment, I stood in front of the shelves of wine bottles at the grocery store for about 15 minutes one night, I was feeling that desperate to “fix” my depression.

BUT, my practically sole sane thought was the loudest of the bunch: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Like, what happens after that first bottle, practically speaking? Another bottle? Another $10? Another one? Again, another $10? It really is amazing to find myself thinking rationally about this, to be able to be MINDFUL enough to think past the craving and say, Self, this is not a solution; this IS THE PROBLEM.

I started blogging about getting sober over two years ago. I am on Facebook and will remain on Facebook for professional reasons. I have been able to dodge Twitter, mainly, but not at a cost to my professional life–it’s a cost I’m willing to pay, in exchange for my sanity. I don’t do Instagram, but I think it’d be more difficult to resist if I had a data plan on my phone (which I don’t, because I don’t earn enough money as a freelance writer, which I MIGHT, actually, if I was on Twitter–you see where this rabbit hole is going).

I’m not a stranger to social media, and all the benefits it offers. However, lately, social media has had me perplexed. Vexed. It feels inauthentic, and what’s more, empty. I think that participating in an echo chamber like Twitter, or Facebook, or yes, even these blogs–while amazingly helpful–can be part of the problem. This “thinking problem” that seems to be part of the reason we self-soothe with alcohol, or other substances. We are already so much in our heads–afflicted by ruminative, navel-gazing tendencies–is social media making this better, or worse? Even if it’s GOOD navel-gazing, is it ever really, for “people like us?” For people who need to Turn It Off, more or less? I understand there is a fine line between denial and mindfulness, and I’m having a hard time seeing it these days.

I guess this is why I’ve stayed off this blog for almost two weeks now? I just feel like…forever hashing it out–well, it’s just not working for me the way it used to. Maybe I need to collect myself and move onto a new project? We’ll see…

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: after the initial contact–getting sober, seeing your faults, comparing and contrasting everything you do to drinking and then, to abstinence–it’s OK to simply let it go. It really is OK to let it go.

On that note, I’m going to sign off and do just that. 🙂

The “drinking thinking” goes away

11 Mar

11:10 am

Lately, I’ve been reading posts–and remembering my own thinking circles–about the thinking that COMES WITH drinking (to excess).

You know what I’m talking about, and many of you (us) have told and continue to tell ourselves that we’re fucked up, or it’s our fault, or it’s somehow PART OF US.

IT IS NOT. It’s part of drinking; it’s part of addiction. Remove the drinking and you remove the “drinking thinking.” For me, it began to disappear around 15 months (of mostly continuous sobriety).

I mean, the thoughts of guilt, of shame, of remorse. The sheer obsession with how much we drink, drank, or drunk. No matter how much we drink now–could be a glass, a bottle, two–we feel bad about doing so. Like, really bad. Like, telling everyone and their uncle how sorry we are that we drank. NO ONE CARES. Believe me, no one is getting why we are “so upset.” We get it, because we’ve drunk to embarrassing, mind-mutilating excess a million times before. We get it, because we’ve endured hangovers that come with face-erasing (literally, once I could not feel my face for about 15 minutes) panic attacks in the local drug store, in the middle of the street, at our desks at work, on long drives up the coast. They do not get that, but we do.

Is it real, this guilt, this paranoia that the world will “find us out?” Yes. Is it “part of us?” NO!

I mean, the ruminations on how much of a shit we are, a failure, inept, incompetent. That’s the booze talking. That’s the alcohol working its magic on our neurons.

I mean, the obsession with “getting sober,” the idea that EVERYONE gets sober because it’s a life-threatening prospect, to keep drinking. That, too, is the booze wending its way into our circuits, and staying there because we can’t imagine that our brains will ever flush it all out. As if we are damaged for life. I was talking to someone the other day who hasn’t touched a drink in 20 years. I was like, Oh, so…DID YOU GET SOBER? Hushed whisper on my part. A look of confusion, a blank stare on his. No, he said, I just felt better not drinking.

Not everyone gets sober; some people just stop drinking. Not everyone deals with this depressive, anxious, self-berating thinking that evolves as we become alcoholics. YES, BECOME. We are not “born” drunks. We develop a problem; we become alcoholics; we engage with our tendency to feel bad, but the booze makes that tendency come out a million times worse. Not everyone feels guilty about saying crass things while drunk. Not everyone feels bad about picking fights. We not only feel really bad, but we ruminate on this, and continue to pick it apart until, well, we drink again SO THAT WE CAN FORGET.

These thoughts become us, but they are not us. And, as I’ve seen–and I think I’m as good an example as anyone, though there are some out there who would say I’m not a “real alcoholic”–these thoughts go. The circular thinking subsides. The guilt dissipates. You begin to see that what you did, well, you did. But, you can move on. You stop saying you’re sorry because…well, your thinking gets clearer. Less depressive, less anxious, less circular, less ruminative and prone to overanalyzing.

Anyway, I have a bunch of work to do today, but just wanted to check in. I’ve got about a week to go until my one year anniversary, but I’m not really whoop-whooping what to me has simply become about living–not “living sober.” More on that in another post.

Darwin was right: we evolve

4 Mar

11:47 am

Not much to report. Aside from realizing that I might be mentally ill after all and that everything–and I mean, everything–in life is disposable. You know, just another day at the sober office.

Seriously, I’ve had all these thoughts lately, some of them related to drinking but more of them related to HOW I lived this past decade and WHY I may have turned to alcohol increasingly to self-soothe, escape, and deny. I was re-reading an old journal I wrote on a trip to Costa Rica back in 2003–I was 29 at the time, going through the seemingly-ludicrous “OMG, 30 equals the END OF MY LIFE” crisis–and man, was I hurting. I was in so much pain. I was mentally unstable, in a way. I mean, really really really up in my head, really paranoid, really all about MOI. I was reliving my teenage years then, so was vain in a way that left me feeling empty–that much I already knew. But, I didn’t realize how my behavior must have turned off those around me…? I don’t know. It just screams, pain, this journal; and frankly, I’m sad that I had to go through that, and a little pissed off, too. It seems like such a waste of time.

Life is such bullshit sometimes for people with mental problems! I envy these happy-go-lucky folks who just don’t seem to care as much–like, they just move on, relate, equate, donate. It’s not a big deal. Life has always been too big of a deal for me, you know? And, I see the obvious now. I am not calling you–or me–mentally “ill” in a bad way; but, when I see how anxious and angry I was back then, I see someone who might have benefited from pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, relationship counseling. Oh, well, 20-20 hindsight, right? You live and learn, right? Life is a journey of the spirit, right?

So much pain. And, interestingly, I was drinking two beers a night back then. It really wasn’t until 2004 that I moved into “raging drunk” (literally) territory–and, that was pretty fast, huh? To go from not really thinking about my two-beers-a-night thing (I remember beer helped me relax, and put me in a sleepy, turn-it-off state) to downing bottles of red wine and blacking out and banging things like my laptops, and phones, and keyboards, and bookshelves? I guess that journal sort of represented the precipice that I stood on: miserable, and about to fall much, MUCH lower.

I’m not sure what to think of all of this. I mean, it’s definitely made me scold myself and my judgments of other “mental cases” (my brother’s girlfriend, my father who is seriously depressed, friends and fellows who are going through the up’s and down’s of life)–I mean, *I* was a fucking mental case back then, and I subtly and craftily denied it for all these years. I KNEW I was hurting, depressed, broken-hearted; I withheld a lot of information, and in my mind, I was raging. However, I was also still me: ambitious, kind, diligent.

I evolved, though. I made it through that year, got into grad school, moved cross-country, began a new life. The booze followed, obviously. And the “thinking problem.” But, I evolved. People evolve. I can look back and say, since 2003–and, I think it really took off with me finally just giving up and getting sober–I’ve learned how to usher out a lot of those extraneous and often overanalytical thoughts. I used to believe I needed to think a LOT about everything all the time. And, as a writer/journalist, that mentality forms the backbone of our profession. However, in sobriety, I learned about letting go–I have to in order to stay sober. I just don’t need to think that much about things–and that is OK.

I think the lesson for me this past week has been, be more aware of where people are coming from. That doesn’t mean let people get away with acting like assholes–there’s a fine line, and if we’ve been sober for a while, we can tell who is worth it and who isn’t. And, if I ever have children, intervene. Butt in! Express my concern. Don’t ignore it or avoid it because it makes me feel uncomfortable. Don’t act out of denial. The long-term repercussions of that are immense.

Today is two weeks away from me turning ONE YEAR SOBER! Woot woot! I’ve thought about drinking again, but I’m quick to wonder, WHY THE FUCK would I do that? So, don’t go throwing up your hands just yet. I mean, the truth is, I don’t know what will happen if I drink again–will I even like it? I can pretty much count on the obsession coming back (It’s 5, can I drink now? What about a little earlier today, maybe 3:30? Can I drink now? What about now?). And, if there’s one thing I’m constantly aware of, it’s this LACK OF OBSESSION. The cravings have dwindled to pretty much being nonexistent. Like, they’re mental cravings now, weak at best; not visceral. And, to live knowing that I can do things–work and run and go out to dinners and attend a wedding–without wanting to drink? Man, that is priceless.

It’s like, I am on even ground now, the Earth is no longer shifting. Even ground means there is no uphill or downhill, just flat. I can walk on flat. I can walk on with my life, on flat ground. I don’t have to run around to find good shoes or a knee brace. My heart rate never goes up, and I never lose my breath. My back doesn’t hurt going up, and my knees don’t hurt going down. I like this, I really, really do. It’s just so much easier now.

Sure, in my mind, I have cravings. Little ones. Sometimes. Then I remember my last drunk and think, But, it wasn’t that good because…I didn’t even get buzzed. I just passed out.

It’s in my heart where I have to be careful. It KNOWS, but it wants, too. What, exactly, it wants (It can’t be wine, it just can’t be, right?), I’m not sure.

And, it’s time to Turn It Off before I write the wrong ending to my story. 🙂

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