Post-hurricane life

25 Sep

4:23 pm

I’m here, just three weeks into surviving two Category 5 hurricanes in two weeks. Yep, Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit my part of the world, and it was bad.

I don’t even know what to say except, I’m grateful we had no damage, I’m grateful for my boo who has been busting ass getting us needed supplies, and I’m grateful for my own patience for waiting out our cell towers being marginally restored (thank you, diesel generators) while we wait patiently for our electricity to get turned back on (months in the making, no doubt).

The entire part of the world where I live has been decimated, but that’s not to say that every home is ruined, and every person is beaten down. We are here, surviving, and even thriving–I’ve rediscovered life without Facebook, in-real-life life, staring up at the stars at night from the hammock and truly, yes, truly being able to notice them without the mental and emotional distractions that come with electricity (tv shows, social media posts). I’ve started reading books again. And, I’ve finally started on some long overdue writing projects.

Not once have I thought about drinking; it’s just not what I do anymore. Sure, I’ve felt down and helpless (and even angry at myself for being in a daze and kind of not feeling as “intrepid” a disaster survivor as I guess I had imagined myself to be), but that has never translated into, wine will help or make it feel better. Yes, there are people getting high and drunk around me, and I have to admit, it sort of aggravates me; but I let it go so quickly that I don’t even have time–or want to invest time–to figure out why. It’s not important, and emotions are strong these days. Anyway, as I re-read some of my old blog posts, I realize just how grateful I should be that I don’t think about drinking in my darkest (literally) hour. I did SO much of that during my first year–but, that was 5 years ago, a long time ago. I’ve moved on, but maybe it’s going to take a hurricane (or two) to help me embody that reality by actually, forcing me to physically move (on)!

With military planes, three weeks later, still buzzing back and forth over the water outside, and relief helicopters transporting people to and fro; living out of coolers and dealing with an inordinate amount of mosquitoes; working from my deck off a hotspot connection in the gusting winds–a week after Maria, and the winds, man, the freaking winds!–it’s all taking time, focus, patience, diligence, and perseverance. I have those, though, and I’m grateful for that, too.

I promise to write more when things start to settle down…  Huge hugs to all just starting to get sober. Keep NOT drinking when you really, really want to drink, and that’s half the battle.

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Redefining yourself sober

30 Aug

11:40 am

I know, I know, it’s been a while.  Seems that once we finally do make it through that whirlwind of sh*& called getting sober, and actually ARE sober, and actually have a ton of amazing and good and interesting things going on, to write about–we stop writing about it!  I, for one, have always tended to write, to express myself, in general, only when I’m experiencing negative emotions.  I always used to drink when I felt bad, to self-soothe, not necessarily to party or celebrate (sure, on the surface it was to party, but really it was to pass time, to avoid committing to spending time, to soothe my social anxiety in group settings, etc.).  Anyway, I’m still here, and still have a lot to write about–being sober is challenging enough, but writing about daily life challenges without whining about being or getting sober is, well, one of the hardest things I’ve had to try to do!

Another thing that I’ve found a LOT harder than I would have thought before getting sober (I know who I am, pfft) is redefining myself.  Man, this is hard.  Everything from how I feel and how I express how I feel, to managing my emotions, to figuring out not only what I want to do, but if it’s OK to actually do what I want to do–all this stuff relates to figuring out how to be sober, how to LIVE sober.  And, it’s a process.  It’s been about 5 years since I got sober, and most of the time I’ve spent getting there.  Now, I’m definitely here (sure, I have a twinge now and then of wanting my old self back, my old life, but it never lasts long and it almost doesn’t make sense to my brain anymore to feel this way), and I’m like, now what?

Of course, I’ve figured it out along the way, but it hasn’t been without angst.  And, every day, I wake up wondering, now what?  Not in the sense of, what am I going to do today?  I have my freelance career (as it stands, I don’t write as much as I work for one place, doing one thing, getting paid once every week–woop!), and my life here, which I try to live to the fullest (walking dogs, meeting friends–err, investing in a social life is still a huge problem area for me–doing yoga, working out, eating out, traveling here and there, etc.).  It’s just…there are all these other things that sort of don’t come naturally that I have to work on–and I often sincerely wonder if “normies” have to “work” on them, or if they just live them, and move on?

Some of these things include wondering what to do next, and how to make it happen; wondering if I should invest in a home, a piece of land, a business, or…a new career; learning how to not feel, in general, that the world is an abrasive, combative place toward me; managing my moods (which have been SERIOUSLY controlled for the better simply by going on the pill last year) such that I don’t let the negative feelings and thoughts set my course for the day and disturb not only my experience of the events but also my productivity…  So many daily things that, well, maybe are new because you grow and change and that is life; or, maybe are new to me because while I was drinking, I was able to avoid dealing with them.  I did what I “had” to do, or thought I should be doing, and then I downed myself in wine every night in order to not have to deal with the stress, or manage the pain, or confront the why and how of the stress and pain in the first place.

Exhale–it’s still my mantra these days.  I realize that there is a higher brain, a higher power, and maybe I’ve sort of neglected the “getting sober” lessons that were so animated in my early sober days/years?  I don’t think about getting or being sober, and I’m kind of starting to think that I need–not want–to put myself back there.  Not to avoid picking up again–that’s unfortunately over, over–but to…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, MOVE FORWARD IN MY SOBRIETY.  I feel stuck, and it’s because I’m not dealing, or confronting.  I’m being, and to be is great.  However, I think I need more.

I think we’re definitely going to move this fall–it’s a big deal, a big change, one that I know we need to do and want to do, but that will bring a lot of bittersweetness (I know what mainland life is about, and I know what this life is about, and I think my soul likes this life better, but my spirit needs out of this place–you know?).  I bring it up because I think once we do hit the road, I’m going to look into finding a counselor to work through some of this…confusion, I guess is the best word to describe it.  I saw someone a few months into getting sober, and it helped, so maybe this will help me iron out some of those big folds in the landscape?

Hope all are well, and here’s to blogging more often!  (Jeez!)

Back from another long journey

11 Aug

11:30 am

This summer (well, the past few years, actually) has been all about searching.  Searching for that next place to call home, that next job, that next big adventure, that next challenge.  Frankly, I do think it’s a part of getting sober, it’s a part of my “plateau’ing”, and it’s a part of my struggle right now with feeling stuck, staid, depressed, angry, whatever.

I am so tired.  I am a writer, and realized long ago that I simply need (more) time and space to just methodically ponder shit.  It’s just who I am, and how I function in the world.  Yet, when you travel, I think you have to become a bit more spontaneous, let go of your routines, and embrace the lack of control that comes from this act.  Which can be hard on people who are normally introverted (inside themselves rather than outside, in the big, bad world).

I spent oh, 2 or 3 weeks on my international volun-touring trip in June (What did I learn?  That I am not young and that I could do what I did locally–something I have already learned, years ago when I took my first volun-touring trip); and then, my fiance and I just spent about 2 weeks literally driving from one end of the country to the other, I guess looking for our next home.  For me, home is not necessarily anymore about place, so that makes it really, well, to use my fave expression right now, EFFING tiring.  I am effing tired of looking.  I know what I like, and where I feel good; those places, however, don’t work for me anymore because they’re too expensive, they don’t offer the quality of life that we’re used to here in the tropics (let me tell ya, everywhere on this planet feels dry as shit to me now if the humidity is under 70%), and they don’t afford a girl proximity to the natural world (which I’ve realized I NEED more than I want, as a soul seeker and a writer).  Exhale, I keep telling myself.  It will come.

We’re back now, and I’m back to writing and working.  We’ll see where the road takes us, but at this very moment, I am happy for the stillness.

Anyway, just a short post to say that I’m back online, and really appreciated all your comments re: whether or not to come out.  I think I will, eventually and soon, but not today.

And, do I feel like drinking?  Never.  Did the thought of “becoming a wine drinker again” come up on this trip or in the past few months?  Yes.  I don’t know what I would get out of it, and cannot even imagine having energy to get out of bed these days AND be a drinker again (let alone give up my hard-won sobriety and all that has come with it)–yet, I have thought about it when I’ve also thought about how bored, or staid, or frustrated I feel in my daily life sometimes.  Like, I want to feel excited again about my daily work/life–and, what do you know, even after all this time, my brain still considers or equates wine with excitement.  It’s a trick, I know, and it’s Wolfie, I know.  But, it’s scary; about 10% scary.

How do I stop that type of thinking?  Well, I’m really used to forcefully pulling my brain back onto the neutral track, if not the positive one, after 5 years of sobriety.  But, I know I also have to work on finding joy again in the day-to-day, and exercising my right to just enjoy life.  It doesn’t have to be hard or stressful; people are not out to get me, to put obstacles in my path.  That is my default neural mode, and until I fully unpack these neuroses, my trick is to just accept and deflect–all the while remaining conscious of the fact that this is how the stress of life transitions makes itself known.  This is that stress, and this is what it does to my brain.  (Maybe it makes others eat more, or run more, or drink more; all those things, too, were and are my self expression of stress.)

I have to say, it REALLY helps to have a home in the tropics, where I get to work alone all day, though–haha.  So, yeah, big changes ahead if we do finally leave this place as a couple (I left 2 years ago on my own for about 9 months).

Sorry for the brain dump, and glad to have you all in my court!  HUGS.

Is it enough to remain anonymous?

23 Jul

3:00 pm

I have been thinking a lot lately about this blog, my anonymity, and the truth of my sobriety:  is it built on “lies” because I have remained for so long in the closet?  Do I need to come out to be “fully” sober?

For me, the answer is moving toward:

I need to come out FOR my sobriety.  I feel stalled, somehow.  Stuck.  I need to come out so that I can move forward in my sobriety.  Here’s the thing (something I discovered after a stressful morning, and then, sort of weeping out of frustration, face-down on my yoga mat–I give up!, I wanted to scream):  I “feel” like a fraud in most things.  I feel like a fraud in that, I tell myself, I’m not “really” a writer, I’m not “really” a good person, I’m not “really” sober.  I’m just pretending until I don’t have to anymore, until I can let my guard down and be my “true” self.  I think we all can relate to this feeling, and maybe it’ll take me the course of my entire life to “fix,” or at least comes to terms with, whatever it is that made me this way.

However, this desire to come out is based more on a desire to…move forward.  To fully commit to being sober.  To be able to say, This is me, and these are the things I’ve gone through–take it or leave it.  To be able to truly help others by, you know, being loud and proud.  Part of the biggest threat to an individual’s sobriety is the shame and stigma surrounding the addiction and addictive behavior.  Am I not perpetuating this stigma by refusing to put myself out there–primarily out of fear?

The answer, I believe in my heart (no offense to all the other anonymous sober bloggers out there), is yes.  I mean, I am sort of terrified of revealing myself because I worry that not only might I lose people, I will lose jobs, respect in the workplace, my entire career. Is that necessarily a bad thing?  I doubt it, but I’m not sure how it will all pan out.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I need to get other people’s PERMISSION to come out–to reveal my identity to my fellow bloggers, and well, the rest of the world (i.e., all those friends, loved ones, family members, and coworkers who know bits and pieces about my sober story, but none, the full ordeal).  In a fit of self-judgment the other day, I realized that, NO, I don’t need anyone’s permission to come out, to take my seat at the table, so to speak.  I don’t need anyone to tell me how to do it.  I just need to take a deep breath, realize that my fears of losing people are unfounded (i.e., either I’ve already lost them, or they weren’t worth keeping in the first place), and embrace the truth.  My truth.  To shine a light on my truth so that…I can fully let it go and move forward in my sobriety and sober life!

I feel like my sobriety has only partial integrity by remaining in the closet.  I feel like I can’t keep being sober, fully, if I remain an anonymous blogger.

But, I’m not going to do it today.  Today, I just wanted to let you know that I’m still here, still working away, still being grateful for both the ups and downs, and still coming to terms with this period of plateau.  It’s all good.  It really is.

Will coming out be liberating and not that big of a deal?  Probably.  Can I do it on my own time?  Absolutely.

Five years…and counting

15 Jun

3:37 pm

Five years ago yesterday, I got sober.  And, I started this blog.  And, my, I’ve come damn far from this first post (this is how I started the post):

I woke up today hung over.  And it’s going on oh, about 48 hours or so since I had my “last” drink and I still feel like ass.  My belly is swollen and my liver hurts, which, this morning makes it hard to fit into my interview clothes.  My pants are too tight and my underwire bra is pressed so tightly against my aching liver that it makes me cry.  So now I am crying and I’ve got less than 10 minutes to pull it together and all I can think is, Fuck, I wish to Jesus on the Cross that I hadn’t poured out the last third of that “last” bottle of red that I had stored in the fridge two nights ago when I binge drank.

And, five years later, my life has changed drastically.  I can’t even begin to write about how different my life is–how different *I* am–it’s that different.  And, I’ve written five years of blog posts covering all that awesome progress!  Suffice it to say, I am never hungover, I have paid off my student loan debt, I have gotten engaged, I have become a “successful” freelance journalist; I have gone on trips, volunteered abroad, become a barista.  All that, however, is the cosmetic byproduct of a deep, unwavering peace.

Yes, I feel negative emotions, and get confused about what direction to go in; but beyond and untouched by all that surface stuff is this, well, peace.  The big stuff stays in place.  I can think and plan and act coherently; I continue to work steadfastly toward my goals, even if I can only intuit what they might be in the long-term.  I sometimes focus on the negative (especially lately), but beneath that external chatter is a universe-sized body of water called *possibility*–into which I can deep dive because I am sober.  Only because and precisely because I am sober.  I can even see a life–a world, actually–beyond me, and my past, and my sobriety; and boy, is it endless with possibility.

Exhale, is my mantra these days.

All that being said, I haven’t been blogging much, and I haven’t been feeling that excited by my sobriety these days.  I’ve been re-reading my posts from years ago, and I’m left wondering, where have I gone?  Where has that girl gone?  That getting sober girl who was on freaking FIRE to be getting sober?  I guess it’s simply that we all grow, change, evolve, move on.  And, I can accept that, and I do.  It’s just…  I want some of that fire, and I want to know why it’s no longer infusing me!

Not to say that life isn’t full, and complicated, and grand–because and only because I  got sober, and wrote this blog, and made a new way of living for myself.  Life has become full, almost always a race to the finish.  My partner and I are in a transitional phase, meaning, we want to move but we’re just not sure where–where to go, what will it lead to, how we’ll fare in a new place and a different life.  We’ve been talking about it for years; I think we’re at the point that if we don’t make a change soon, we’re going to implode.  Pull the trigger, I say!

I’m tired of waiting, of wanting another life!  Yet, I also want to know what, exactly, I’m looking for, and why, exactly, this amazing life I’ve created here seems no longer enough.  Maybe I’ve just outgrown it?  Been there, done that.  I mean, it’s possible!  I’ve been living here for five years now.  While I want to continue to write about sobriety–there’s so much to mine–most of the time I just want to forge ahead on my work, and keep getting shit done.  And I do.  I just wonder where all the excitement has gone.

Frankly, I think it might be related to taking the pill.  I have never taken meds, and since I’ve been on these, I just feel…flat.  I feel nothing.  To the point where, I feel no “looking forward to” feeling, no “I can’t wait to do this” feeling.  I don’t dream–like, literally, I have no dreams.  It’s like, I can’t “see” my emotions, I can’t “see” my desire; it’s like, that part of my brain is off.  I can’t see it; it’s dark in there.  It makes it easy, I guess, to live on a day-to-day basis, because I have ZERO emotional ups and downs.  Except, the only feeling I seem to have, that I can touch, taste, smell; is anger.  And, that sucks.

Exhale.  Maybe all this angst is circumstantial:  maybe my corporate job has driven me insane because it feels SO irrelevant to me now, having been a journalist, having done freelance writing.  I wouldn’t mind leaving the corporate work for good, and becoming a barista full-time again, you know?  I can’t, though; after all this time, at 43 years old, I’m finally gaining some ground, financially.  I can’t let this go.

I don’t know what the next step is, which is a good thing, in a way.  Why?  Because ANY next step is the right next step!  So, I have decided to take a few weeks off and travel to a country I’ve never been, on a volunteer project I’ve never been a part of, alone.  I am hoping it’ll jump-start me–take me out of myself, and my situation; help me to figure out what’s going on.  Or, what the next steps might be.  I leave next week and come back after the holiday in July.

My life is awesome, I have to say; which is why all this internal angst is confusing.  How can I intellectually see how good I have it while also feel so…frustrated?  In any case, I am sober, and that is 99% of my life, and that 99% is simply awesome.  I would not trade the past five years of learning, and even this period of struggle, for anything.  I wouldn’t trade it for the brother who has written me off, the friends I no longer feel connected to, the big city career that I probably won’t (and don’t want to) regain.  I feel so blessed to have made it out alive!  I feel so blessed to have been given the gift of having to work on  myself, of being forced to change and grow and evolve.

Five years…and counting.  I can’t wait to see what the next five will bring.

Lesson in amends

13 May

10:33 am

Saturday.  I have to say, before I start ranting about anything, I am grateful.  Every morning, of every day, I am grateful–relieved, joyful, content–to wake up sober.  To a life I sort of think I deserve, but probably not.  (haha)  I have my fiance, my dogs, the blaring tropical sun bleating off the blue ocean below; I have a freelance career that I’ve somehow made work for 5 years; I have a past that I don’t have to live anymore, but that I get to consider, and to think about, and to dwell on, only as much as I want or need.  I am here, and not there.  Why?  How did I deserve this?

Because I worked my ASS off.  (There she is!  Good morning, ego.)

All that being said, I still have trouble dealing with people from my past, relationships gone sour or become nonexistent (maybe not directly because of my drinking, but related to it on one level or another).  And, while I’m eager to “forgive and forget,” it’s not easy.  And mostly, I’m still sort of angry, I guess, at people who have written me off!  It’s not that I’m angry all day, every day; it’s that, when I think about attempting to rekindle our friendship, I think, Eh, it’s been too long.  Eh, I have other relationships that I’ve cultivated here, where I live now, that make more sense to put energy into.  Eh, you sort of wrote me off, or didn’t take my “getting sober” that seriously; why would I want to relate now?  The problem with all this thinking is that, you just don’t know if people need an amends, or if they just need a phone call or an email–have you hurt them or has the relationship simply moved on?  I have to say, every relationship is unique, and has a unique past; so it’s hard to generalize what I would or could or should do.

I received a couple emails recently that made me start thinking more about all this again.  One was from a friend, someone I’ve known since undergrad–needless to say, we’ve been through a lot.  I mean, I consider her my sister (or, sistah, as it were).  However, while we were friends, there were a few key things I really hated about her  personality–one was her grudge-holding.  My hatred eventually came out, when I got drunk.  As you can imagine, when my drinking got bad and our friendship dissolved, she wrote me off.  (At least, that’s how I remember it; who knows, maybe she thought I wrote her off?)  When I got sober, I sent her a few emails (this was years ago)–nice emails, reaching-out emails.  I never heard from her, so imagined that I never would.  BAM!  About two months ago, I got an email from her, wanting to reconnect.  It was short and sweet, but in the end, I truly appreciated it.

It took me a few months to reply, though.  I couldn’t believe or want to accept that she had held a grudge for so many years (I believe it’s been 7 years)!?  On the flip, that’s one thing I really disliked about her, and watched her do over the years to many other people, so I’m not sure why it surprised me.  In any case, I just wasn’t sure she “deserved” a reply.  Then, I got another email (see below) and realized that my hesitation to reach back to her was because of my own sore ego.  Let it go, I said to myself.  The real question is not, Should I forgive her and let her back into my life?, it’s, Do I really want a relationship with her, going forward?  I’m pretty sure she’s changed, and grown; and so have I, and I think she probably assumes that about me–yet, I’m scared to find out.  I did eventually reply, so we’ll see where it goes from here.

And then there is the case of my brother’s email.  Yes, that brother.  Yes, the one who has been forgiving and “unforgiving” me for the past 5 years.  Yes, the one with the girlfriend who takes “angry and bitter” to incredible heights.  Inhale, Drunky Drunk Girl.

Exhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale.

I’m not sure I ever really understood making amends–the concept, really, and how to do it right.  I’m not sure I ever really did it right, but, I did it, and sometimes, it backfired.  Frankly, I always had this niggling sense that raking up the past was worse than just letting shit be.  Of course, if I truly wanted that person in my real life, then I would attempt to rekindle a broken relationship; but this almost always did NOT involve apologizing again for my bad behavior while drunk.  In those cases, it was never received well.  I didn’t know how to make up for my bad behavior except to say I was sorry, and to let them know I was sober.  Beyond that, if they refused to accept, then what else could I do?  I just always felt like I left them angrier than if I hadn’t said anything at all!

I think for most of us, we focus on the shit we did wrong, and who has NOT forgiven us, in our amends; instead of focusing on the other person’s perspective, how they feel, how we’ve affected them, and their choice in the matter.  That’s a lesson for the ages, though, and for everyone–how to let go of your ego when you say you’re sorry.  I have to say, the hardest lesson, by far, I’ve had to learn in both sobriety, and be extension, normal life is the one where you tell yourself “it doesn’t matter what they think of me” and actually believe it.  Actually embrace it.  Actually, move on, if you have to.  And do it all in empathy, with nothing but good will and honest compassion for their choice, even if that choice is to stay angry.

Oof, our egos do not like that.  Which is ironic, because most of the time, we’re not fighting for the relationships, we’re fighting for our ego–we want to know that we are loved, that we’ve been given a chance at redemption, that we are worthy of that.  If I’m honest, most of the relationships I tried to amend–make up for my wrongdoing–I actually didn’t want to continue to have, after getting sober.  There were huge flaws, cracks, and those cracks sucked me into them when I got drunk–hence, the raging blackouts directed at people who were, in reality, frenemies.  (My problem was, having so many frenemies in the first place.)

So it goes with my brother.  He’s forgiven me and then taken it back numerous times these past 5 years, and he just did it again.  (And, via an unexpected email, which, by the way, I consider a form of bullying.)  I see things so much more clearly now, and suffice it to say, I know that there is nothing I can or need to do at this point.  The “incident” where I went bat-shit crazy on their asses while blacked out happened over 5 years ago, and in that time, we’ve all gone back and forth with the mean notes and apologies, and more mean notes and more apologies.  This time, I got another email saying he has not forgiven me–and will not consider it–until I apologize to his girlfriend.

Um, OK.  At first I thought maybe he wrote it while blacked out (or she did; she’s drunk to blackout and sent me mean notes–oh, the irony), because it certainly exudes some kind of delusion, some kind of altered reality.  It sounds like HER words written in his hand, which it could very well be.  She’s the one who refused every single attempt at my amends, and viciously so, not him.

I started shaking when I got it, which I hate to admit; so I immediately called my mom.  I didn’t know what else to do.  She gave me some perspective–there is nothing I need to do; this is their drama, don’t get dragged into it again; it’s time for you to move on, because sometimes in life, we don’t get closure–and I’m grateful for that, and for her.  (And, it makes me remember how wise and present and loving my mom has always been, through all of our and her own struggles–I need to see her more!?)

I wanted to reply with a litany of “I did this, see this email; she sent that, see this crazy Facebook message or that bizarro email sent from your email account, btw;” but, I didn’t.  And, I see now that I should not.  Because, there is one thing that I know for sure to be true in this situation:  what they think of me is none of my business.  I cannot change what they choose to believe, and how they choose to feel, and how they choose to behave.  NO email in the world is going to change those things, because those things are theirs.  It’s not my business what other people think of me.  End of story.

Exhale.

It’s not easy seeing the forest through the trees when it comes to amends, and forgiveness–and, what it all means on a practical level.  For me, a true people-pleaser, it’s hard to not be forgiven!  And, as a persistent-as-fuck person, it’s really hard for me to stop trying (remember:  I want to win!).  Once I remove my ego from the equation,  though, I am left asking myself:  Do you actually want a relationship with that person, if they do forgive me?  Often the answer is, no.  I have good relationships now, with people who are real, and honor my sober person.  The thing is, I’ve always tried to maintain friendships over the years, even in spite of the recognition that we’ve both changed…beyond the point of no return, so to speak.  It’ just something I’ve done, been brought up to do.  Maybe it’s time to try something new.

Five years later, and I’m still learning fundamental lessons about sobriety!  Believe me, friends, it gets better, and the work gets harder, but the well never runs dry.  This is our path, as we get sober:  toward truth, toward enlightenment, toward peace.  As my fiance and I were sitting on the beach the other day, and as I was just floating in the water, embracing the big blue; as we drove home over the hill and came into our ridiculous view of rolling green hills and ocean to horizon–it dawned on me that my brother does not have peace.  Whether he’s angry, or jealous, or just unwilling to address negative emotions, he does not have peace.

I have peace.  Some of the time.  I might not have closure, and I might not have HIM in my life, but I have peace.  And, I am grateful for that.  In fact, I have the sense that not only is it the cornerstone of my sobriety, and sober life–it’s probably the most I can hope for…to just be, in peace.

Dealing with negative emotions

22 Apr

2:02 pm

Even today, I get angry.  Depressed.  Sad.  And, I think about drinking.  I do.  I don’t want to, and know that I never will–I’ve been there, done that–but, it’s still there, this DESIRE to soothe.  It’s more like a whine, faint, in the distance, reminding me of the hot mess I was when I first got sober:

But THEY get to get away, to escape, to use their substance of choice–why can’t I?

I was thinking on my run today:  it’s not that I am UNHAPPY–happiness is most certainly a choice.  And, after years of forcing myself to find happiness in the corners of my early sober life; and more years of learning how to cultivate happiness as a choice, 100% of the time–well, I’ve realized that I can be happy without being content.  I am not content, and frankly, I am not sure I ever will be.  At 42 years old, I think I’m just beginning to try things that might actually make me feel contentment, which I suppose might be the opposite of things like accomplished, or having won the prize, of having earned the medal.

It reminds me of where I am right now in my job search:  I have been contracting with the same company for almost two years, but they still haven’t hired me.  Not only that, but I’ve interviewed for more than one full-time job with them, and each time, the interview process has consisted of meeting/being interviewed by 7, 8, 9 people!  I’m wondering, are they simply trying to make me second-guess my abilities?  Cuz, you know, of COURSE, I can do these jobs.  It’s not rocket science.  The drinker in me, though, craves their approval; wants to do it “right;” wants to win!  In reality, for the most part, I so don’t WANT the job.  What I want is them to want me, like me, hire me.  I want to win.  Even if that means that both during the interview process AND while I’m doing a job that I don’t really want to do; I am totally freaking DISCONTENT.

Ahh, life.  Sobriety has allowed me to recognize the nuances to all this “character flaw” stuff, and well, the difference (in my mind, anyway) of being unhappy and being discontent.  And, while I’ve wanted to drink lately trying to figure out just what is going to alleviate this lack of contentment (as a writer, I wonder if I am always going to feel like I haven’t done anything, or need to do something more, or different, or else), the five years of sobriety under my belt–and feeling this way so often back in the early days–has given me the tools to realize that drinking won’t solve anything.  Won’t alleviate anything.  Is not an escape, and is not a reward.  No matter how many people I see drinking to reward or alleviate the stress of transition, or decision-making processes, it still reeks of bullshit.  Drinking is bullshit.  Do I want a thing, somewhere that I can go?  Yes.  Is it up to me to figure out where that so-called place is, that place of acceptance and happiness in the moment, for the moment, and of the moment?  Yes.

We whine, we do.  I do.  Yet, that is allowed.  And then, depending on how practiced you have gotten, you move on.  You place those negative ideas and feelings into the “perspective” box, and you move on.  I feel happy most of the time, and that’s what matters and what I try to continue to focus on.  That and remembering how AWESOME-SAUCE it still is to be here, and not there (hungover on a Saturday afternoon)–being grateful, and cultivating happiness, in spite of this so-called discontentment, which is fleeting, and fickle.

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