Still (relatively) Facebook-free

18 Feb

And it feels good.

I’ve been back and forth lately about posting–I know I should, but life gets in the way.

Sometimes (my) sobriety feels like the Blob, just a mass of heavy, hot water hanging around the Pacific, hugging me as if I’m the west coast.  Sometimes I don’t even think about it anymore.  And some days, like when I was out running a few mornings ago, I just stopped, stared out at the water, let the hot sun draw the sad sigh out of me, and admitted:  I will never be free of this sobriety thing, and I don’t know what to DO with it.  I feel like I have to do something with it, my past and my struggle to get sober; but I just don’t know what.  I can’t get rid of it, and I can’t let it go.  What should I do with it?  I have no idea, so I keep plugging, hoping that one day, I’ll wake up and know what to do about it.

So, yeah, I’ve stayed off Facebook for the most part (went on a few times and got sucked into my feed, but mainly, if I do log on, I just check “on this day” and my individual pings and user groups), and it feels really…peaceful.  My daily life is just easier not having all those other people/places/things in it–they are merely distractions, and since I need all the focus I can get to make the transition that’s coming up, it’s helpful to not have to worry about all that other stuff.  I do wonder if this is just another symptom of my increasing tendency to accept being a hermit; though, not being a part of Facebook has…given me back to me.  Maybe when I ramp up my science writing again (freelance journalism), it’ll be worth it to get back onto social media (Twitter, mainly), but until then, I’ve realized that I’m not missing out on anything but my OWN life when I log onto “the ‘book.”

My contract was extended, and all I felt when I woke up at sunrise (yep, I continue to wake up at the hour I used to when I was working morning barista shifts) is trapped.  WHAT ON EARTH IS THERE LEFT TO DO HERE?  I have these moods at very specific times:  around 11 pm, I crash and the world sucks and I have done nothing in it; and around 5 or 6 am, I am raring to go, but…there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, and I feel utterly trapped.  And, it’s funny because these moods are consistent in content, and occur at the same time of day.  Of course, when I wake up, all is well, I feel good, and I tackle the day–and along the way, try to appreciate the outstanding geographical beauty that has become so familiar that it’s easy to let it go unnoticed.  It’s just funny, to have these swings of thought, to notice them, and to know that while they’re emotionally (and psychologically) powerful, they’re relatively meaningless.

I need a change; we both do.  In fact, my fiance and I have been having serious conversations about moving, and I have been applying for new jobs in different places.  Soon come, a change.  You can’t rush it.  You just cannot.  I have a couple of friends who have decided to just move to a city in the Midwest, and, uh, I wish them the best but I feel like they’re doing it out of this desperate need that is so familiar to me–to just CALL THE FUCKING SHOT because you are so sick of weighing your options and feeling stuck.  It’s so tempting to just say, OK, we’re leaving this place, we’re moving here, and we’ll figure it out when we get there.  I did that in my early 20s, and even my 30s, and, well, look who JUST paid off her student loan debt–at 42 years old.  It’s time to be patient, to plot and plan and plod through the tough conversations with spouse–where makes him happy, what are my dealbreakers, and what, really, do we envision for our lives?

It’s so hard, it really is.  But, I don’t want to drink in the face of it.  I do have the tendency to shut down when the options become too many, but I know that I have to do better, and stick the process out.  And, I will.  We will.  And we’ll be better off for it.

Facebook-free is helping me figure out my life if only because I’m forced to focus solely on it.  And, it’s wonderful to see that I don’t need Facebook, that I can live happily without it, and that I am (for the most part) not really missing out on anything.  Sound familiar?

Facebook-free 2017

8 Jan

11:23 am

Well, I’m doin’ it.  Finally.  It’s been 1 week and almost 4 days since I logged onto Facebook.  Like, I literally have not logged in.  I decided that “deactivating” was not the route I wanted to take (in quotes because one, do you really disappear on the back end, and two, all you have to do to “reactivate” your account is log back in!).

And you know what?  I feel good.  Like, really good.

Yes, I feel out of it; and, I’m not sure I can maintain such a distance from my professional sphere for THAT long–personal and professional are intricately intertwined in journalism, and probably other metiers, too.  I don’t mean or want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  I don’t want to disappear–I still want a career, and to be present in said career.  And to be present in the world of information is to have it, and to dish it out.

That all being acknowledged (obsessively, over and over), I’m learning to let all these fearful thoughts go because, well, I feel better.

I must admit, I feel that sort of righteous self-satisfaction that is similar to how you feel when you get sober.  I also have this sense of a load having been taken off; I am no longer burdened with YOUR LIVES.  Other people’s lives.  So many other lives to ping me, enrage me, give me joy–I guess it was just too much, and I took it home with me.  Now, I just have this sense of relief, this screaming cheer in my head that keeps saying, I don’t have to take my friends home with me!  Haha.  I get to focus on MY life.  Sure, it’s boring as shit sometimes, but… it’s my life.  Isn’t it worth as much appreciation–time and effort–as I’ve been putting into other people’s lives?  (And, now I really do see how this is related to drinking to drown out:  you tend to put yourself second, then you feel un- or under-appreciated; not to mention, you have ZERO actual connection, and reciprocity, in your relationships if they are primarily virtual ones…all stuff that drives us to drink to soothe, fix, drown out, douse, hide from!  I say, No shit, sherlock, now, but back then, how everything was connected and impacted my drinking seemed so…inaccessible.)

I also think it’s given me the head space, literally, to start digging in on some personal writing projects.  And that digging in entails a lot of things that you forget, as a writer, are necessities to the creative process–one being the time and well, empty-headedness to actually think.  Or not think, as it were.  To conjure memories.  To dream up random plots, or have deeper thoughts that may have been buried, drowned out by all the incessant noise.  The chitter-chatter is gone, and it’s a relief.  The endless drone of increasingly source-less information (i.e., why the eff is THIS in my feed, and is it even real news?), over.

I decided NOT to deactivate because to me, that’s like giving the bird to your friends.  I mean, it’s rude.  It’s like, NO ONE keeps in touch via phone or email anymore, we all know this; so if you’re going to ghost but don’t mean to, at least have the courtesy to give people your “off Facebook” contact info.  Otherwise, you’re just ghosting.  That’s not what I want to gain from this–as it is, I feel guilty just “abandoning” some of my friends, i.e., not keeping up…  I just can’t anymore, is all.  And, it feels good, albeit a little scary, to let go.

I don’t know for how long this will be; maybe long enough to clear the cobwebs from my head, maybe longer.  I’m just going to keep going, and see where it takes me.  (Kind of like getting sober, no?)

Phrase of the year

2 Jan

11:24 am

I’ve seen many posts re: word of the year.  I used to do that, too, and in a way, I guess “phrase” is akin to “word”.

Move the earth.  Or, move the earth, beyotches.  This is my phrase of the year.

2017.  It does have an ominous, heavy feel to it.  Maybe because it’s closer to “20” than “15” or even “10”.  Maybe it’s because I know what lies ahead:  digging in, pushing out, molding form out of lumps of wet clay.  Focus, and effort.  And:  sweet, sweet smells of dirt, of salty earth, of pepper and fire and flint–steely eyes, steeled tongue.  I do not give any fucks anymore–in a good way.  😉

I’ve spent 18 months at a nearly-intolerable job in order to make money, essentially.  I feel like I’ve been PREPARING and PLANNING for a long time, and that includes, thinking about and writing about getting sober.  I won’t stop doing that–it seems, IS, as much a part of staying sober as any of my well-worn coping mechanisms.  BUT, I can officially say that I want something more.  Else.  Different.  New.

(Mind you, I also made my science journalism about writing about addiction, too, for a while, so maybe I’m just burnt out.  Sometimes I think, if I never have to write one more fucking word in my life, I will be the happiest girl alive.  And then I come back to reality:  I am a writer, I am compelled to write.  And I miss it terribly when I don’t write; I can’t even live my life when I don’t process it via the written word!  So, I let that thought go and try to embrace the grey area, so to speak–something that becomes more challenging the more I want to make real change instead of waiting, wanting, working toward something that is coming, in due time, if I just keep plugging.)

Last year at this time, I was in a world of hurt.  Glad that hell is over.  Yes, I made good money and have since continued working (remotely) for that company, but man, was I depressed last year.  No more.  Done.  I made it through.  Happy to NOT be there, and to be here.  Much has transpired between then and now that has helped me get happy again:  I moved home (I am much more myself in a tropical than desert climate); I worked as a barista, which I really loved; we got engaged in May; we traveled a lot this year (New Orleans was my favorite!); I paid off my graduate student loans; I got into running more (I have somehow managed to keep off those 15 pounds for 2.5 years).

One big thing I want to mention is that I started taking hormones by way of the pill!  Imagine:  at 42, I am taking the pill for the first time.  Haha.  It’s worth mentioning because, I have ZERO PMS craziness anymore.  It’s awesome.  MANY of my worst drinking binges happened around or because of my fluctuating hormones–many women who drink can probably say that, they, too, drank when they were PMSing.  No one talks about that, of course, but look, it can be as simple as taking birth control, or, I guess if you’re older, actual hormone replacement therapy–to feel way better, to NOT feel crazy, to not feel angry, or depressed, or like you want to down oceans of wine for two weeks out of the month. Not to mention, the hangovers are from SATAN when your body is not really processing booze well, which (ironically) is what’s happening around this time o’ the month.  (More on this for another post, methinks.)

Anyway, I feel stronger now, and I think I’m simply ready to start thinking about other stuff more of the time.  I mean, I will always blog here, that’s a given.  That I can’t let go.  I would love to wake up, however, and not have this feeling of, I have to think about sobriety.  I have to relate things I do now, in my present life, with my having gotten sober.  I DO, constantly, because it is all intertwined; I just wish there was a way I could both appreciate the past without having to think at all about it.  I’m grateful, though, and it’s just a matter of perspective when it comes to “ruminating” on getting sober, and being sober.

I need to get out more, too.  I quit the coffee shop job back in September, and it has been rough.  I am SO tired of these four walls, you know?  And, I’m getting kind of irritable.  Maybe, mean.  Like, cynical.  I need connection, we all do.  I’m on day 5 of a Facebook fast, and I feel like I like people more–what I get now from interactions is real, it’s authentic.

I admit:  I have felt lonely since not logging into Facebook.  Like, there’s no reason to go on my phone!  Haha.  BUT, I’m slowing down and opening up to the people and places around me; and I’m gaining a little bit of mental patience.  I can take things in that used to annoy me because they were too slow, not enough, immediately boring.  I felt…controlled by Facebook, and that felt very much like being addicted to binge drinking.  Now, I feel better, freer.  It’s good.  Despite feeling truly out of it, and lonely, I’m going to keep going.  (I really miss “on this day”, though…)

As for wanting to drink?  Well, I have to admit that on New Year’s Eve, as I was remembering other NYEs–when I was single, granted, and was going on all these crazy, “life experience”-type trips to far-flung places for the holidays–I felt staid.  Boring.  Not lacking in contentment, but sort of unhappy.  Vexed.  Fear of missing out was an actual, I am missing out.  I am not learning, or growing, or expanding my horizons!

Drinking won’t bring back the “life-changing” experiences that were INVARIABLY RUINED anyway by the time New Year’s Day rolled around in said far-flung places.  I know that drinking isn’t the answer, and cannot be:  it doesn’t work and hasn’t for years.  I know that what’s simmering in the pot will come together into a lump of…something good to eat, soon.  Yes, it still comes and goes, this desire to drink to fix, or transfer, or be reborn.  None of that happens, and never did, and never will.  It was fun, looking back–but, I’m here now, and pretty content, actually.

This year will still be about plugging away, and working, but also, finally starting to do stuff, you know?  After all this obligatory preparatory work–laying the groundwork-work, doing this before moving on-work–it will pay off.  Move the earth, beyotches!  🙂

Are you afraid to leave the place where you got sober?

12 Dec

1:15 pm

I’ve been wondering this lately, in a tangential sort of way.  Like, I think about other stuff, and my thoughts end up at this question.  Usually I’m thinking about how I feel bored with sobriety, in a general sense.  Like, it’s just not pink clouds anymore, ever.  *I’m* no longer a pink cloud–and I wonder, where have I gone?  Sometimes, I do long for the “old” “just getting sober” me.  The truth is, not only is being sober no longer enough, but I expect a lot LOT more from myself now.  So, it all just feels like work–normal life, I guess.

I miss walking the hills, passing the tropical flowering brush, feeling literally buzzed by the fact that I am sober, that I get this–this life.  These days, I still do very much appreciate all of it–maybe more so now, more fully–but I don’t feel that same rush of getting sober and all the feeling of newness and accomplishment and being newly, well, in love with myself again.  I just feel…bored.  Been here, done this.  Time to move on.

And, move on, I have.  I did.  I went to the west coast last year, for oh, 8 months, and worked a “big girl” job again.  (which, as you can probably guess, was pretty easy, and pretty low-key compared to freelancing)  And, I survived everything I was afraid of, namely, will I not only be able to stay sober in a new place, in a new job, in a new lifestyle, but will I thrive?

I have to say, I guess I did both survive and thrive, even though I felt depressed most of the time.  When I got home, I felt changed, much stronger, much more confident, able to interact with the “real world”–things that never would have been nurtured if I had stayed here, in my old, pink-cloud life.  SO, that was good.  And, it’s had me wondering ever since, how many people don’t leave where they got sober because they’re afraid they’ll lost their sobriety in exchange for possible big personal growth?

Are you afraid that leaving the sober life, patterns, and habits that you’ve developed where you are will put you at risk for relapse?  Do you want to leave, but fear you can’t because you’re not sure how or if you can establish similar new, healthy coping skills somewhere else?  I think I know quite a few people down here who stay for YEARS…and I wonder if it’s for that very reason.

I wasn’t particularly worried about relapsing when I went away, but I did fear that I would be more stressed, and more triggered, and have more cravings.  I did at first, but I was NEVER, EVER at risk of a relapse.  (And, these days,  I don’t think I would even choose to spend money, drink liquid sugar, and feel like total ass the next day, if given the no-strings choice.)  In fact, after the initial freakout (yup, there was one night–week, let’s say), things went back to where they were before I got sober, which is to say, I’m good at work.  I always have been really (pathologically) good at doing well at work while living a (secretly) disastrous personal life.

Still, I had quite a bit of apprehension.  I’m glad I got over it because I came back feeling very much motivated, strong, and confident.  Not that I feel that way every day these days (I’ve been home for 8 months), but more or less, I really do.  And, I wonder, how would it be if I lived out my fear, and stayed “stuck” here–I’m trying not to judge the folks here who have gotten sober and decided to just go with what works, mind you.  For me–and we all know who I am–I have to experiment, and cannot live in fear, as fear is my biggest trigger to use, whether emotionally or actually physically.  And, that leads me to ask another, even more general question about long-term sobriety:  how much fear is acceptable to live with and in, in exchange for security in your sobriety?  Do you–should you–work through your fears, all of them, gradually as the years wear on?

There are lulls, but never lows

5 Nov

2:02 pm

In sobriety, there are lulls–such as the rather lengthy one I’m going through now–but never lows.  I mean, not the kind of lows I had while drinking.  In fact, I’d say sobriety is really one (life)long high, with lulls.

Right now, I’m trying to regain some energy or focus or something that I feel I’ve lost.  Or, lost within.  I’m not off caffeine yet, and I’m still running around (figuratively), doing work to make money and not doing writing to make myself fulfilled.

All in due time.  I’m not too worried–it’s always there, and it’ll always come back, if it’s not there right now, the desire or essential nature that drives me to write.  Mostly, it requires stillness of mind, of heart, and of body.  That is lacking, and in part, it is lacking because I’ve chosen to create a space of constant activity–because writers can be sort of effed up, I’m doing that in order to not HAVE to write.  Sad, but true.  Still, I want to want to write, if that makes sense.

I just spent most of October traveling, and now, I’m back to my “old” life here and it feels…like it did six months ago.  I’m trying not to go there, and to remember that I can change it by staying active.  However, at some point, I have to figure out how to balance staying insanely active/busy with sufficient “still” time for reflection and writing.  It seems so either/or to me right now, and I’m struggling, I guess, to figure this out.

One thing that I’ve noticed throughout this lull (maybe even depression) is that you CAN, with practice, re-frame your thoughts and thereby, divert your mood.  Distractions help, but I’m finding that simply narrowing in on the rogue thoughts and literally thinking myself out of them helps me more than a reward here, a distracting treat there.  I need to work and stay on track; I can’t stay on track if I’m thinking things that are making me feel negative (doubting myself, wondering about the future, feeling vexed that I am not writing or creating).  So, I try to catch myself and think other things, other outcomes, other possibilities.

I am not on that pink cloud anymore, but I think that’s because I re-entered the world of the living a few years ago, and increasingly, it’s made my life feel normal.  Normal is good, though.  I’d rather feel normal and be out and about, able to deal with the world; than on a pink cloud, in my imagined bubble.

So, I keep working, and trying to write, through it all.  And I hope (believe) that it is or will somehow, some day, be enough.  I would never call this a low, though.  And I would never want to distract myself from the struggle–which in itself is enlivening because it is an active one, now that I see how I need to use my mind to control its tendencies toward the complicated or negative–with a drink.  And, frankly, I look at my old friends and think, how on EARTH could you still be doing that?  And, doubly frankly, I wonder, how does it even work on your brain anymore, after all these years (almost 10 years, and definitely 7 or 8, for most of my drinking buddies from the time right before I got sober)???

Time to turn it off and get back to my day.  Much love to all.  Thanks for reading…!  🙂

How do we let go without forgetting?

1 Oct

11:11 am

I am totally grateful for what I have and where I am, but I have to say:  life is a fast, fast blur right now.  I am trying–and succeeding, I think?–in keeping up, but what I long for is a retreat of sorts.  Ten days of no working, no doing, no thinking, really.  God knows, no news skimming, no Facebook scrolling, no remembering, no creating new memories.  Just time to turn it off for a while.

I am in the place–the city–where I started this blog, over four years ago, and I’m feeling…at a loss for adequate time and head space to collect my thoughts about it all into a post.  What I can say is this:  I’ve realized that it is OK to let some of it go.  It is OK to change.  To do things differently.  I have, for many years, been inside my head–and by that, I mean, have clung to the idea that thinking and analyzing all my thoughts is of utmost importance.  More so, that storing all these thoughts, analyzed, in my brain is worth EVERYTHING, is something I cannot give up or stop doing.  I am at the point where I’m starting to ease up on that idea.  I am starting to think that allowing myself to just let some of it go is actually the only thing that is going to restore my sanity, and move me forward.  What is that “it”, though?

That “it” is comprised of many things:  my old self, my old notion of self, the things that made up my old self, I guess.  It is true, I am “me”, here, now, much improved.  Yet, how did I get here?  Is it OK, after the whirring stops and I look around, to let that go?  Because, to me, letting go equates to forgetting.  And, I don’t want to forget all that.  I’m also incredibly nostalgic–I suppose, a vestige of the old poet in me, which I adored and long to reconnect with, at some point in my life.  How do I balance the sober me, the one who had, out of necessity, to put away all that ruminating in order to recover–and the “old” “drunk” me, the one who is me, who thinks and feels?  I guess, at four years sober, I am simply at a loss as to how to live in both skins.  Because, completely “letting go” of the “old” “drunk” me is not working anymore.

That’s it.  That’s what I’ve been struggling with for a few years now.  It’s not that I am not living my life anymore, stalled, trying to figure this out.  It’s just that now that I’m having a little more time to reflect on what I’ve been doing, how I’ve been working, who I’ve been seeing and relating to–it’s always hard, I guess, to come home.  It’s just hard.  I think it’s doubly hard for people in recovery, because so much of our recent past selves are tangled up in our “addict” selves.  While one does not equal the other, they were and are all part of you, you know?

Ack!  So hard.  So, at this point, which I’ve been doing for those few years now, I have to turn this off–this problem that I cannot seem to grasp or solve–and move on to my day.  I have to work today, and then, enjoy this great, big, beautiful city that I’ve spent TWO YEARS waiting and working toward visiting again for 12 glorious days.  And, I’ve got a rock solid foundation of sobriety, which keeps opening up new doors of understanding, and I’m more “me” than ever.  So, I will do this and live in the moment–because we all have to work, and live, in our sobriety, even if it still feels new, four years later–and come back to the rest later.

On a more present note:  I just finished dying my roots.  Um, yeah.  My roots are grey.  I am too young to be grey, and I don’t really like seeing what truly looks like someone who is 20 years older than I am right now (I’m 42, not 62).  It’s all good; I’ve always looked young, and continue to feel young at heart, so, why not?  I think it’s great that I get to pick what color my hair is now (I choose a reddish-blonde–haha).  BUT, it’s a reminder of something that connects, for me, with recovery and all that I’ve been dwelling on recently:  how do we age?  I mean, literally, I’m asking, how are we to do this?  How do we move through life balancing all our past experiences–in our heads (memories on overload as we keep acquiring them), in our hearts (feelings that we’ve pushed down or out, but never really go away)–with our present, active days?  And, how do the “moons” of this world reconcile life having to be lived, out of necessity on many levels, as “suns”?

Haha.  Sorry, guys, I’m still me.  😉

It is cold and rainy here–a welcome reprieve from incessant 90-degree, 90-percent-humidity days, I have to say.  I gotta run now.  More soon, she said a million times.  No, seriously, I miss you guys.  Happy fall!

Still here, still catching my breath

20 Sep

9:03 pm

I’m still here, and still feeling swamped.  I’ve cut back from 60-hour work weeks to 40–but, now I’ve got a few trips coming up that I need to prepare for.

I have literally done ZERO blogging or writing, really, since this spring.  Alas, all in due time, right?

I think about this blog, and my sobriety, a lot.  As often as I used to, but in different ways.  I almost never crave a drink–it helped to work through the slips, my last one being last year.  Since then, I have been too tired, focused, or busy to contemplate drinking; but I never really do anyway, or at least haven’t since last year.  Drinking is…something that I once did, but don’t have any reason, desire, or need to do again.

It’s been four years; it feels ingrained, and it should feel ingrained, after all the work I put into ingraining it, right?!  Plus, thanks to my slips–which, and I’ve said this already, were some of the most educational aspects to my journey toward sobriety/recovery–I know that alcohol no longer works on my brain.  I’ve accepted that.  I haven’t tested those waters for a long time (a year), so maybe I’ve just forgotten to wonder, could I drink again?  It’s all so meta, and I’ve been so busy lately, that it’s easier to just say, You don’t drink anymore and you never will again, and be done with it.

Plus, not drinking has made being a part-time barista actually doable!  And for that, I am (was–I just quit for a while) grateful every morning I have to get up and go to the shop.  In fact, I relish that I CAN do it.  I don’t want to sometimes, and it pays shit, but…  I do it because I can–and I so couldn’t do something like get up at 4:30, and be happy about it, and never once be late in two years, when I was drinking!?  It’s that ability to do things because you can that’s become a huge part of my sobriety, and which continues to open up and bloom.  I love it.  I love being sober, four years-plus on.

So, I’m off to do yoga and hit the hay so I can make it through yet another long four days before I can take a break.  Hoping all are well, and staying strong and positive.  You can do this–no matter what anyone else thinks, does, or says!  Just focus on YOU.

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Soberbia

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The Sober Journalist

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Message in a Bottle

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Arash Recovery

My journey to get back on my feet

Mished-up

Mixed-up, Mashed-up, Mished-up.

The Party Doesn't Leave the Girl

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a little of everything.

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The Red Sox Saved My Life

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The Existential Addict

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Al K Hall-ic Anonymous

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