Tag Archives: work

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.)

That “hole in the middle of my stomach” feeling

23 Apr

2:06 pm

Hey, guys.  It’s been so long, and in a nutshell, I’ve been working.  Trying to earn a living.  I have been both freelancing and working part-time as a barista, and I hosted a friend and then my mom two weeks back to back this month.  It’s been tiring.  Today was a shitty day at work, and I can’t help but blame myself (of course):  I’m too quiet, I’m too thoughtful, I don’t smile enough, I work too slow, I make stupid mistakes.  Le sigh.  I’m usually able to bounce back emotionally–as in, I don’t let the thoughts make feelings make ruminations and a bad day–but for some reason, I just feel tired of it all today.

My mom is getting older.  What happened to her 50s and 60s, I ask?  I feel like I missed the transition, and only now do I see that I can’t go back.  I can’t get her younger self back, and I can’t get my younger self back, and I can’t get all that time back that I spent pushing her away.  I think a lot of people must feel this way, but I didn’t know that it would be a literal feeling, one resembling grief, I suppose.

Anyway, my mom will be 69 this year. She has developed what seems to be some profound anxiety and insomnia, and she has some physical ailments that just keep filling in the lines as the years go on.  While all this is troubling in that I can’t quite seem to relate to her, what is most troubling is that I have a continued lack of ability to communicate with her about my drinking past.  I sort of try, but mainly I just feel awkward telling her the gory details (and, with her anxiety in mind, I shy away from giving her anything else to worry about or ruminate on–that’s the way I see it, I’m sure she has a different perception). Of course, she witnessed it. However, aside from her, there was only one other family member who confronted me.  I’m still baffled by that.

What’s also news to me:  THEIR view of me, as the drunk, as the person who was trashing her body, as someone who couldn’t necessarily be relied upon, as the one making poor choices–this view is not going to go away JUST BECAUSE I AM NOW (three years!) SOBER.  And, for some reason, I guess I thought it would.  I thought it would sort of disappear, like my drinking habit.  Granted, there has been no, “Hey, look at me, I’m sober now!” on my part.  There also hasn’t been, “Hey, I’m sorry for all that shit that you might have been bothered by or that might have pissed you off or alienated you, but that you never said to my face” either.  From an outsider’s perspective, and that includes MOST of my close friends and family, I got sober very quietly. Except, I wrote about it and talked about it and reported on it–with everyone BUT my immediate family. This seems to be the pattern, and I don’t know why: it’s really hard for me to share my life and feelings with my family! It’s been this way forever, and I guess it comforts me to know that many people find a tribe or “family” outside their genetic one, the one they were born into.

My family is fractured, but not in the sense that I don’t have a relationship with both my mom and dad.  I’m just not sure they’ve ever been easy, or even good, relationships.  And that bothers me.  It’s always been a struggle to relate, to navigate, to extract.  I don’t know.  Maybe if I felt more comfortable, then my perspective would be different.  But, it’s always been hard and I have the feeling it always will be–no matter how far along I think I’ve come in my sobriety. The problem has become, I’m sober for three years now–err, I have very little desire to rehash all the crap I went through.  All the blog stuff I wrote about, all the craving bullshit, all the psychic back and forth.  It’s done, it’s over, I’ve shrunk my brain to the point where I feel “normal” again.  Or, at least focused on the present, the real, the emotions that need to be felt and dealt with in order to conduct a life.  I don’t want to talk about it now with my parents.  That leaves a HUGE gap–what to fill it with, then?

I’m tired, as you can tell.  Nothing inspirational today.  I was up at 4:30 to make my shift, which was a rough one because of a bad coworker.  What I should be doing it job searching, but frankly, all I want to do is nap.  I feel like I have a hole in the middle of my stomach.  BUT… I’m sober, so sober that I don’t even think about being sober!  My boss came in hung over and had to take a nap mid-morning (on the floor of a neighboring shop).  Most of the regulars at my coffee bar participate in this place’s “drink hard, drink-and-work harder” culture, so…I also saw quite a few peeps with pained expressions on their faces.  NO desire.  It’s cast me as a goody-goody at work, the quiet one; but I’ll take that ANY day over being hung over and not remembering what I did the night before.

Onward.  All in due time.  Grateful.  Breathe.  Joyful entitlement.  These are my daily affirmations, and they keep me on the track that I have come to cherish, and which I get to share with all of you!

Just working

2 Mar

10:49 am

Hi, all! I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sorry for being MIA on here. I just can’t seem to “find” the time to blog, and maybe, just maybe, I don’t enjoy ruminating about drinking and the desire or lack thereof. It’s just not a part of my life anymore.

What IS a big part of my life is working; or rather, making ends meet as a writer. Holy cow, is it stressful. I thought by now, three years in, it’d be different, but it isn’t: I still spend most days either worried, slightly anxious, or at least thinking about “how am I going to make money this month?” Granted, I have some magazines that I write for regularly now, which I’m proud to say, but frankly, it’s only as good as the ability and desire and gumption to keep up and pitch story ideas. (And the fact of the magazine’s existence: they come and go.) Everything I write comes from my own head, or the research I do, and lately, I’ve been like, Uh. I can only work so fast, and the pay is so little that even IF I work my little butt off (which I have been doing for the past about seven months, ever since I got back from my volunteer writing trip), it still doesn’t fully cover my bills. Forget about dinners out, vacations, and new running shoes. (Now that I write that, it doesn’t seem like this can be defined as a “success,” this freelance thing; le sigh.)

Hence, I’ve learned how to barista (which I’m also proud of) and am now employed by at least one coffee shop, maybe two (I’m heading over there today to train).

So, that’s what’s up here. Just working, and working, and working–and wondering, does it have to be this hard?

The answer, obviously, is no. But, saying no is different than doing no; doing no takes ramping up for a job search and a move, which we are, but slowly. Since freelancing feels like a continual job search, it’s become hard for me to stomach a literal one. I’ve begun again, though, and am targeting, oh, I don’t know, a few months down the road. (This year is going by SO fast, isn’t it? I can’t believe it’s March already!?)

Otherwise, all is well. Still running, still truly enjoying the warm breezes and glorious amounts of sun (I swear, sun has become my new alcohol–except it’s a good medicine that actually works). Dogs are great, and my boyfriend and I are still going strong. I have all this because, and only because, I am sober.

I still seem to have friends who either chose not to get it, choose not to get it, or somehow dislike the fact that I’ve gotten sober, picked myself up, and am rocking the freelance thing. Including my brother. The brother-his girlfriend situation has died down to the point that neither he nor I make the effort to relate. I’ve just given up, and for the better; I can’t be in a relationship like that. For me, continuing to try to have a relationship with someone who very much still seems pissed at me, or lies about being pissed, or just acts in a passive-aggressive manner by not calling me–eh, I’ve been there, done that, and the longer I’m sober, the longer I don’t want to try with people like that. There are so many people, and when you get sober, you get to see them for who they really are–and that’s a GOOD thing.

Socializing is still a bit strange as a sober person, mainly because I’ve found myself to be, well, guarded. I don’t know how much to give, and I tend to hold back. And, frankly, I want to. I want to remain guarded. Something about not really having the desire to get involved with other people’s drama? It’s still too tiring and too distracting for me right now, and so while I’ll engage with people and socialize once in a while, it gets really hard for me when they start to complain or gossip. I’m not sure, I used to love to complain and gossip, but now it just seems like…a huge waste of space! Like head space, heart space, sober space. I’m working on it, and I’m definitely getting out more and feeling more and more like my “old self” these days–not so overly sensitive and “I’m sober! I’m sober!” I think it might be that I haven’t found “my people” where I’m living, and while my boyfriend would argue that it’s for my lack of trying, the past seven months have proved to me one thing: there IS a certain type of person who moves to a place like this. So, yeah, that part is not a piece of cake yet. All in due time.

My slip last October totally re-solidified my desire to stay sober: drinking literally does not work on my brain anymore. Next? It’s become as simple as that. I’ve wanted to drink a few times the past six or seven months, and I’ve sipped white wine once or twice, but each time, I immediately felt dehydrated, confused, and well, was terrified of being hung over the next day. Call it what you will, but for me, this has been an essential ingredient in re-training my brain toward not simply sobriety, but healthy coping skills.

I’m learning to much more quickly let go–literally, stop thinking, or stop acknowledging negative thinking loops–of thoughts that don’t serve me. Are these thoughts moving me forward? No? Stop thinking them. I don’t have time right now to let negative thoughts slow me down, is all. I just can’t afford it, literally.

And, I’m working on embracing the ups and downs of my emotional life. I used to run, terrified, from sadness, or boredom, or existential crises. Now? I am realizing that it’s OK to feel sad, bored, or terribly bored (ennui?). It’s OK, I don’t have to NEVER feel these things. I think I spent a lot of years always trying to live the best life, and “party on” through all the muck, but really, the muck is there, and it’s probably there for a reason…? I don’t know, maybe I just need precision medicine, like, antidepressants or something external to re-balance my neurochemistry. It’s an ongoing conversation with self, and one that I’ll probably write about in the future.

So, on that note, I gotta run! Love to all, and I promise, more posts to come more frequently!

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.

Too busy to think about drinking or being sober

6 Nov

9:43 am

Hi! I just wanted to check in and say, Yes, I’m still here, and Yes, I’ve been busy trying to earn a living. It doesn’t have to be this hard, and I am hoping to remedy that in the the next six months–I’ve realized that job change doesn’t happen overnight/in a few months, so I’m going to give it a lot longer; meantime, continue to grind out the freelance life.

I think about being sober these days, only in the context of it being my anchor to sanity–I’d be one big ball of uncontrollable worry about finances if I let myself lag on my to-do lists by procrastinating with wine. I rarely think about drinking–it wouldn’t be nice, and it wouldn’t solve anything. I was down last night, but I shed a few tears, forced myself to “get happy,” and made a pie. It totally took me out of the moment, which I knew if I just felt it, would pass. There is literally no place in my life right now for alcohol.

Well, I gotta get to work, but I promise to check in again very soon and start blogging more. Miss you all!

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. 🙂

Mom, I’m bored!

2 Aug

8:33 am

Yes, it is 8:30 in the morning, and I’ve already been up for an hour.

Since I’ve gotten home, I’ve felt, I guess, somewhat manic–and for the most part, I’ve totally welcomed it! I don’t need a lot of sleep, but, I’m also more agitated than usual. I credit my volunteer trip as having “re-wired” me, but, is that all that’s going on?

As you can imagine, the mania/extra energy dissipates and by the afternoon, the agitation, brain fog, and general feeling of listlessness and/or hopelessness sets in. I think I just feel let down by the afternoon and evening–what the fuck have I done with my day?, I wonder, in spite of everything I’ve checked off my to-do list. Even though I have been “busting a move” on a lot of projects and items…I still feel, generally speaking, depressed in the afternoons. I think I always have, as long as I can remember being self-conscious enough to actually examine my life. The day is over, I mourn. And, while I know I am often too hard on myself, maybe I could be doing so much more?

Where art thou, dopamine?

I wonder about this “boredom” thing. WHAT IS IT? It’s not that I am bored, like, I-have-nothing-to-do-bored. Sometimes it’s that I have too many options, but they all take work. Usually, it’s a visceral agitation–my gut feels clenched and my head feels foggy. Like, EVERYTHING feels irritating, and even though I know I have to push through my cerebral work, it’s hard. So, I just get ‘er done. Go through the motions. Focus through the pain. It sometimes feels like my brain is broken, this brain fog stuff.

I want to fix it with wine. I have been REALLY wanting to drink since I got back, and I think it’s a combination of my “natural high” from the trip wearing off, and well, my “brain fog” days. Maybe I just have too much to do, too much catching up, and I feel like I want it all done, NOW (you know, without having to actually do it). Maybe I am bored, as in, what I’m doing has become somewhat…staid? I often want to say, Fuck it, and Good enough, to my writing; but, I just can’t do that. I can’t let it be bad. I have more stories and assignments than ever, and, even though my writing would not win any awards, I’m still plugging away. And that’s all I ask for! It’s just that sometimes, I really do have to go through the motions to get stuff written (reporting is fine, it’s the organizing and writing that hurts).

I wonder about boredom. Fear of working. Agitation. If your goal is simply to “get ‘er done,” are you really in the right profession? Some days I have no spark. I tried to quit Diet Coke, but honestly, I simply could not work without it yesterday. I had a horribly annoying morning at the “free clinic,” and then, I came home to have to push out a piece. It was like giving birth. I did it, of course I did it. But, after crashing out on the bed for about an hour, and then wandering around the apartment, feeling agitated and simply UNWILLING to make my brain work; I broke my measly ONE-DAY STREAK of no Diet Coke and downed like, two glasses. It helped. I “got into it” and finished my piece. Thank GOD, is all I could think.

I used caffeine a LOT in my 20s and early 30s, and this reminds me that I used it to actually be able to get hyped up enough to perform at what was then, something new to me: an office job, typically involving some sort of marketing communications-oriented stuff. I was a biology major, hello? I wasn’t used to talking to people during the day.

I used to use wine to fix this “boredom.” I know I can’t anymore. Mainly, it just doesn’t work. I mean, I have tried it while in this state of mind, and it actually makes my head feel worse. Still, the “but it’ll make you feel high, better, actually happy” rings so loudly that I can barely ignore it.

It’s interesting that only now am I seeing the simple fact that I used wine primarily as an antidepressant. Does that make me less of an “alcoholic?” No, probably not. But, it was rare that I truly sought out wine when I was feeling good. What is the point of drinking if you already feel good? I didn’t drink to get drunk; I drank to feel better. It just so happened that I also didn’t know how to make myself feel better on my own, or even more, PREVENT this slide into my depressed/agitated state.

I am learning, though. Simple things like, unless I need it to activate my brain to finish a story, caffeine is not good for me. I crash, and I crash hard. I have been getting up early, and that helps: I hate spending the hours of 10 – 12 checking email and Facebook; if that shit isn’t done by the start of my workday, which hopefully is before 9 these days, then I feel behind. And, that makes me feel scared. And, that makes me want to procrastinate, or avoid, feeling even worse.

I’m all over the place these days, but I can’t worry about that. The important thing right now is that I am getting my work done. Sorry, depression, but I’m going to have to give you a time-out. You sit over there for a while and Mommy will get her work done, mmkay?

The thing about self-employment (in the creative arts?) is that you can’t just show up. Showing up is meaningless. You have to produce. It doesn’t matter if it takes you two hours or ten, you have to deliver. And some days, it doesn’t come. And that is freaky. Scary. And those days, you worry about your income–bills, food, future bills and future food. You worry about your capability–am I a fraud? You feel the knot in your belly and you think, Fuck, just do it. So, you do, and you go through the motions, and you get ‘er done.

Through it all, I keep thinking, where/what is my reward? Sure, I earn money. That’s a big one. Sure, I move forward in my “career,” so that’s good, too. Lately, though, I want more. I want a “real” reward. I want to feel something else. I want a vacation from this sobriety bullshit! I get SO tired of feeling sober, you know?

I run through the tricks and offer myself alternatives. Take a run; if you don’t feel better, you can get that bottle; but if you do, then promise yourself you won’t (I always feel better). You know you’ll feel ten times worse tomorrow with God-knows-what-kind-of-hangover than you do now, so just push through. Embrace the pain and disappointment–what’s next? What about a trip? What about another coffee? (Actually, I’ve been trying to get away from any food-related rewards, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Sometimes I think I need to mess up my life. Like, I don’t ever let go anymore. I don’t go out, mainly because it’s not fun. It’s not fun to go out and be the sober narc; it’s not bad, but it’s not something I would choose to do over spending time alone, getting my shit done. And that’s the thing: who am I now? I used to be so much fun. I used to be a hot mess. I used to be curious, at the very least, to just have a random night out, exploring bars and just wasting time with my friends. I don’t have any friends, to be frank, let alone a group that I can let my hair down with and simply waste time. You know how much I learned by wasting time and being silly with my friends?

And honestly, I’ve been thinking this: is “the unexamined life” really not worth living? Or, is it the messy life that adds texture, not the one that has been examined to the point of sterility? That is how (my) life feels sometimes: overexamined and sterile. I feel like I need to make a mess!

On that note, I think I am going to stop. Sorry if this is a rambling whine-fest (wine-fest?). Happy Saturday to all!

(Btw, July 31st would have been 500 days, had I not drunk that beer six weeks ago–and wow, that was six weeks ago? I really have not even seriously considered drinking again since then, so that’s pretty great. And, my, how fast time passes!)

I’m back…I think

20 Jul

12:05 pm

Hi!

Just a very quick post to say, I finally came home from my month-long “volun-tour” adventure. I didn’t have much time to do any blogging, let alone drinking. And, there was, of course, a lot of drinking–but not on my part!

For many reasons, it was easy to not imbibe when it was a full-time party for some. One, I have lost my taste for it. I did “taste test” someone’s drink (always rum) three times, and all three times, I felt ill just smelling the fumes. Like, ZERO desire to go down that road. I also was never a hard booze type; I’ve mentioned before how I was strictly a wine girl (loved wine, in fact), but even when someone sat down next to me one night, slugging down her cup of wine, I could literally smell the fumes like a hound dog–and they made me cringe, from the pit of my stomach to the top of my head. It was white wine, to boot. I would drink white, but never in preference to red. I can feel my stomach getting sour just remembering an entire weekend I spent downing boxed white, never leaving my apartment except for once, on Sunday, at 3 pm, to get more wine. UGH.

Two, I surrounded myself with a group of non-drinkers, or light drinkers, and I felt like my old, dorky self. They know intuitively that drinking to get tanked is just not something one does, if one wants to get any shit done.

I’ve come so far, I realized. So very far.

Yes, I drank that beer–to end the obsession, as it were, which was becoming REALLY unhealthy (kind of also the reason I have been slow to check back in here–uber-focus on Sobriety with a capital “s” can be almost counterproductive to staying sober). YES, I taste-tested someone’s drink three times–once was because I was really quite curious how a pina colada made by a blender rigged to the back of a bicycle (it was a developing country, and there were a lot of “sustainable” types experimenting with alternative materials!) would taste; the other times were because I was taken off guard when someone shoved a drink up my nose, and because I had never tasted this somewhat-local drink everyone was talking about.

Even still, I wonder why I taste-tested. But, I let it go. I had zero desire to continue drinking because I really just have no taste for booze, especially hard stuff. But mainly, I had zero desire to be drunk–which comes with a huge price to pay, physically (hangover) and psychologically (depression, falling off my cloud, denting my force field of sober awesome). Probably mostly, I had NO TIME to be hungover. I literally had NO TIME to waste there, I was that busy with my volunteer writing and then, my trips, my own work here (gotta pay the bills!), and my general sense of, Wow, this place is different, but equally interesting, without the nonsense of drinking.

I am curious about wine, but, not enough to go trying it right now. I have an almost-irritating amount to do, and I also feel like drinking is Just Not The Answer to anything. Especially to continuing to move forward.

For me, IF I continue to make goals and set deadlines for my personal and professional lives, there is NEVER time for alcohol anymore. And, I’ve finally realized what a good thing this is. Am I doing it consciously? Almost. However, a large part of it is my heart, which keeps reining me in when I think about “trying wine again.” I don’t want this amazing sober ride to end, is all!

I can pretty much say that I would NEVER have gone back to where I went if I had not gotten sober. I found–I created, actually–my volunteer position of my own effort. I would never have had the follow-through, the long-term grit, to make it happen if I had not gotten sober. I am able to make much more long-term plans, but I’m also able to stare them down and see them through. (I had to get my picture taken at customs on the way back into the country, and really, my entire face has changed: my stare is so much more direct, cut-the-crap, kind, open, and calm–bring it on, Life. I know that the “sneaky, giggly” expression of my drunken yester-years is officially gone from my face now–once in a while, nostalgia has me wondering if this “new sober me” is TOO sober/serious, but the majority of the time, I marvel at how much more direct and at peace I look.)

I also know that if I “try wine again,” this energy, or commitment, to follow through on things might go away. And I literally can’t afford that to happen.

And, well, I just don’t want this amazing sober ride to end!

Drinking is boring. What is not boring is everything that YOU GET TO MAKE HAPPEN now that you’re sober.

So, that’s a quick update. I’m still sort of between there and here, and not quite sure why, but feeling anxious. I have a ton of work to do here–and some work to do there, that I didn’t finish before I left. And, this horrible flight crash–and all the other horrendous news that I managed to duck out on while abroad, in my bubble of developing-country-world–well, it’s got me feeling a tad bit overwhelmed. Time to process, and appreciate, and then, plan for the next adventure.

Thanks everyone for checking in, and onward we go!

(And, btw, day count busted at over two years counting? The pedantic in me was like, Oh, shit, now I have to start over, after 460 days, AGAIN. And, you know what? The pedantic in me is what made me drink. I think I’m far enough into sobriety where days, while important, aren’t that important. What is important is maintaining my resolve to not drink because…it’s the right choice. Habit and a long stint of continuous sobriety has pounded it into my brain–do not drink, EVER–but now, the training wheels are coming off. Yes, I drank, but…I’m not not drinking to reach a day count or some other cake-and-candles goal; I’m not drinking because I want–and need–to remain sober.)

Who am I now?, or, the art of no longer living in denial

18 Jun

12:10 pm

(I wasn’t going to post this, but I’m deciding to do so because, well, remaining sober means necessarily embracing it. And, Wolfie-boy and his ugly mange-y paw, Denial, can ruin the best of intentions. So, in an effort to embrace sobriety–and hang onto it in spite of Wolfie breathing down my neck (Oh, come ON, you’ve gone far enough, you can drink on this trip)–I’m reminding me (and you) of how I got here.)

I have to admit, I thought I was “different.” All these drunks at meetings, saying stuff like, “I had no idea who I was when I first got sober.” Pfft, please. That’s not me. *I* knew who I was, didn’t I? Don’t I? I know who I am, right? In FACT, I was the same person back then…except I drank. I still am that person, I just don’t drink.

Right? Riiiiight.

Anyway, I have accomplished some shit in my life, but one day last year, with my issues coming into crystal clear focus, I realized that it might have all been pretty much fueled by wine. And that hit me in the gut like a punching bag. Oof. Really? Have all my successes and achievements–and failures, even missteps–been a direct result of my drinking? Not in the, I needed wine to do this, kind of way, but in the, Wine was always in the picture, kind of way. And it did, indeed, allow me to do certain things. My sense of motivation–maybe a frenetic one, looking back–CAME FROM THE WINE. Sure, my brain is wired to accomplish, to want to achieve; but, in the later years, especially from about 2004 until now, was it the “wine brain” that was propelling me to do all the crazy, caution-to-the-wind shit that I did? Or, was that me?

Wait, who am I?

As I prepare for this volunteer trip (for which I, gulp, leave on Thursday), I have to admit: I have NO IDEA how to do this sober. I’ve never done it sober. I’ve gone to the country where I’m going three times already, but I’ve never seen the place through the lens of a sober person. That is to say, the past three times I’ve gone to where I’m going, I drank–like, drinky-drank-DRUNK drank!

The third time (four years ago), though, not so much. And, here’s what’s “hilarious” about that: for the past few years, I’ve been telling myself that I didn’t drink *as much* on the third trip because I “wasn’t really an alcoholic” and that I just needed to find something purposeful to fill my hole.

What really happened, I’m remembering more clearly now, is that I was AFRAID OF KILLING MYSELF based on how ridiculously I drank the first two times.

Just to semi-recap: on the first trip (over five years ago), I drank every night, till the end (3 am), and then had to get up every morning at 7 am for work (manual labor–somehow the hangovers weren’t so bad when you were sweating them out). I drank WHILE ON malaria meds, and then WHILE HAVING A BAD REACTION to said meds, such that I was in a state of acute panic/anxiety for a period of 36 hours at one point. It was a nightmare; literally, a waking nightmare. I completely blamed this reaction on the chloroquine as being an older anti-malarial that I shouldn’t have taken based on my medical history of depression and anxiety. Now, however, I have to ask myself, Could it have been the probably-dangerous combination of a shit-ton of booze plus the meds? (tilts heads in mock wonder)

On the second trip, a year later, it only got worse! I got SO drunk one night at a party (thrown by and for my host mother’s family), that I kissed an old guy, got SUPER-emotional and crazy and was yelling at people, then, managed to pass out on the outhouse seat. I fell forward onto something hard and flat with the full weight of my noggin, bashing my forehead so hard that I not only had a huge welt up there, but gave myself a black eye (days later, after the blood drained down). The host mother was chagrined, to say the least, and there was at least one person who bid me an official farewell the next morning (even though I was there for another several days).

I mean, these are just a FEW stories of how I drank there. No, I wasn’t the only alcoholic, and no, others experienced a lot worse consequences (one guy fell off a roof and died), BUT…

It never seemed to click, how exhausting and dangerous all this was–year after year after year. Once the hangover wore off and the bad behavior, forgotten, I simply moved on and pretended that nothing needed to change. Or, at least nothing needed to change *that* much.

This is stuff that makes my (bobble)head spin, like someone threw a brick at my face–how could I have lived in such denial? Not only of what I was doing–and how I was using alcohol–but of how I was lying to myself about what I was doing?! Something must have stuck (was it the outhouse incident?) because, fully realizing that it would be dangerous to binge drink like that again, I managed to control my drinking on the third trip (the dehydration factor also helped).

Fast forward to now, and I seem to have forgotten about all of this! Like, I’ve been telling myself that I didn’t drink heavily the last time because I didn’t need to, didn’t feel like it, realized that this work filled my unmet needs–no, I wasn’t really an alcoholic at home, I was just empty with want and my unmet needs.

Yes, unfortunately, I was an alcoholic at home. I drank and bad shit happened, but I kept drinking. It’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

All this being said, this time around, I am not going to drink because, well, I’m sober. Right? I’ve thought about it, of course: would it really be that bad to do the two-beers-a-night thing again? I’m sure I could do it, and might even want to. BUT…a part of me really wants to see this world, have this experience, live out this dream…through the prism of a sober mind. And this, somehow, seems much more important and real than all my doubts and fears (of which I have many, namely: Will this place have lost its romantic appeal now that I’m sober? Will this idealized reality–which I could maintain as a drinker–simply become mundane? Will my supposed “dream job,” which I’ll be doing there (as a volunteer), turn out to be something I really don’t like, find to be an actual pain-in-the-ass without the nightly reward and reinforcement of wine/beer?).

You know, I am no different from all those “people in AA meetings who don’t know themselves.” And, that actually makes me feel hopeful. I am living this thing now, for real, and that must mean…progress? I sure hope so!

Well, I might sneak in one more post before I take off, but if not, travel well, my sober friends, and I’ll see you in a little bit (will post from there, but it might be random and/or sporadic).

Bumping along

12 Apr

5:30 pm

Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA this past week. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing, which is when my blogging seems to go by the wayside.

Anyhoo, the past few weeks have been…up and down. I’ve felt like drinking, more for the, Why the hell not? and the, I can’t really do this boring sobriety thing forever, can I? But, the sober habit takes over, and I get all these “god shots,” mainly in the form of alcoholics telling me about their nights out, and me going, Uh huh, that sounds absolutely stupid and not fun. My, how things have changed! 🙂

Really, though, the fact is, when I give myself the option (sometimes I have been lately) of drinking, I wrestle with it for about an hour, and always end up with the same answer: Nah.

Nah, I don’t feel like being bloated. Nah, I don’t feel like going to the store to even buy the stuff–too lazy. Nah, I don’t have the money–too cheap. Nah, it’s not really going to make the people here more interesting–too cynical. Nah, I don’t want to feel blurry-headed during, and like UTTER HELL the next day. Nah, I don’t know how it’s going to affect me now, and I’m too comfortable in my sobriety, wearing my fuzzy sober socks and zoning out to HGTV, that I can’t even be bothered to drink. Nah, it’s just not enough anymore. I don’t know if all this is good, bad, or in between; but I’ve come to embrace it as one more step forward, somehow.

I’ve also had lots of issues coming to the forefront this week, and I can’t not deal. I need to deal, and I know–KNOW–that drinking wine means putting off dealing. I mean, here they are, my core issues, and I am in a right (sober) mind where I simply can no longer NOT think in detail about why and how and what regarding these things.

What’s coming up? Forgiveness and self-love. Or, lack thereof when it comes to both. They’ve been in my pot, boiling, coming up to the surface every so often, showing their faces. Ugly faces, sometimes. How to do both? I guess…I really don’t know. I never learned how.

I’ve been busily bumping along–thankfully, I am busy. However, I’ve also felt near-constant anxiety. Here and there; sometimes big gusts of adrenaline that don’t subside until my interviews are done, or until I’ve once again managed to pitch a story idea or write about a scientific concept/field of study that is seriously mind-numbingly difficult to grasp. (Ugh; first order of business when I get my ducks in a row: finding a way to earn a living that pays my bills AND doesn’t make my brain hurt.)

I’m not one to manifest physical symptoms, but, lately, it’s all I can do to not feel the adrenaline pooling in my belly; a certain restlessness at night (I swear, I haven’t slept more than three or four hours in a row for like, over a year); intermittent brain fog, which, I have to say, sometimes feels like it might break into voices in my head…which obviously would be bad and scares me, so the past two times it’s happened I’ve just gone to sleep, hoping that it will be gone in the morning. And it has been. But…it’s weird.

I am chalking it up to my overreacting to the brother’s girlfriend; some days, I’m fine, ready to tackle the wedding, and don’t really care what she thinks or does when we see each other. Other days, it’s all bad, and I feel sick with nerves, and my preoccupation fills my brain to the point where I can’t work. Those days suck, and I berate myself for letting her get to me, but, honestly, I just don’t know what to do but accept it as a bad day, hope tomorrow is better, and continue to meditate to incense and Tibetan healing bells (yes, I do this).

So, there’s this happening. I have to say, though, this has got to be it, right? Like, if I can make it through learning forgiveness AND self-love…can’t I make it through anything? And, the past few days, I’ve really come to accept that IF someone (ahem, you know who) chooses to hold a grudge, there really is nothing stopping me from not caring, from continuing along my path. I will continue to live, to smile, to laugh, to be happy and free; continue to learn and strive; to be sober, or not, if I choose. In the end, whatever I do, it just doesn’t matter what she does. It doesn’t matter ONE BIT to me what or how she is to me at the wedding. This is good-day thinking, and I simply hope it lasts, and I’m getting somewhere. I’ve realized that she is a small, small person; and these days, I don’t do small people. I don’t have to. As Belle says, Look away.

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