Back again to where it all began

5 Feb

10:32 pm

Tonight, I am remembering last August, when I paid a visit to the city where I first got sober in the summer of 2012 (and started this blog!).  My fiance is there now, getting his stuff and hopefully, my stuff out of storage so that we can finally consolidate it all under one roof.  I’ve had my stuff in a storage unit for a ridiculous number of years (I’m too embarrassed to reveal how many; suffice it to say, *I* am that person they write stories about when they want to feature the amount of money people waste on storing stuff that eventually becomes the equivalent of a big, fat ZERO), so this is good.  What is also good is that I am not there with him, having pangs of doubt and longing as I consider cutting my last remaining tie to the city that stole my heart and then, stole my sanity!

I spent 5 years there, and I went back many times since moving away almost 9 years ago, always with the plan that I would move back one day.  Before I left, I put my stuff into storage, and over the course of these many years, have consolidated and moved to a smaller unit, but I never got rid of it.  Of course, I am moving back here, I kept telling myself:  this is where I went to grad school, had amazingly new experiences, became a drunk, had my heart broken and mind burnt with every crushing hangover.  Of course, I have to live out the rest of my days here.  These are my people, this is where I belong.

Not being there to finally say goodbye might be a good thing–to just let it go, finally and forever, from afar.

Anyway, it’s got me thinking about the week I spent in the city this past summer–I tend to go back once a year, to “visit friends” (I literally have no friends anymore in that town except my brother, who has recently moved there part-time), “reconnect with the city/see my old haunts” (I have wasted countless days, walking past old apartments, old bars, old university buildings, being reminded that I am simply chasing a drunken ghost), and, I guess, plan my move back.  Yet, every time I go back, I become slightly less enamored with the place; sure, I will always love it–I went to graduate school there, I became a drunk, I had many life-altering experiences; it’s the place where I spent the first month of my sobriety holed up in a studio, starting this blog in an attempt to finally get sober.  I remember during my last stay this August, I walked by the studio where I got sober and started this blog, and took a picture of the place–again.  I have more than one picture of that place, and of all the other apartments and sublets I lived in in that town.  I can’t let go, and I don’t want to.  Why?

I haven’t lived there in many years–that must tell me something, right, even amidst my rationalizations of why I can’t let it go (because I am still in love with it/that life/that lifestyle/my dreams of that era).  Thing is, I never did come back, and I’m not precisely sure why, except, I couldn’t financially, and I didn’t really want to anyway.  It’s cold, and dark, and my dreams are all intact, inside my mind; I can be anything from anywhere; I can write from anywhere, not just a cold, dark city where I also lost my mind to wine.  The more times I return, the more I see that it is and always will be part of my past–the past is the past, and searching for it is just, well, like I said, chasing your own ghost.  When I look at it that way, I have to wonder, why not just let it go?

These days, I am starting to sort of feel being in my mid-40s:  the whole perimenopausal thing has something to do with it, but I have to say, it comes and goes and right now, I feel totally normal (plus, my blood work came back at almost all normal levels, so that leads me to believe that nope, at the ripe old age of 44, I am definitely not in menopause yet!).  It’s just, when I wander around that city (in particular, but not just that city alone), I am very much aware of the difference between me–and my life, and my state of mind and being, and my sobriety, and all the amazing experiences I have had AFTER leaving that town–and all the 20- and 30-somethings around me.  I have to accept not that I’m not young or that I’m old, but that I’m just not THERE anymore.  My being is telling me to just let it go; it’s too much work holding onto it, and there are so many other things to do, and dreams to be had!  I can–and will–let go of holding onto that past, that idea of who I was in that past.  I am still her, she still is me; but, we are here, now, and we are plugging away, moving and building.  I do not belong to that time, to that past; I belong to me, here and now.

Speaking of which, yes, I continue to build–every day is like laying one lone brick, and hoping it doesn’t fall down or get knocked off by an unexpected wind that came up in the night.  My new job is sort of a lot of work–and YES, YES, I am grateful (it’s good work, and my coworkers are probably the nicest, most fun people on the planet to work with), but…  I miss my old life!  Haha.  I have to admit, I miss the freedom of being, of time, of mind, of dreams that island life granted.  There is just no other way to say this:  I am back in the real world (well, I work from home, but I work every day from 9 to 5, and my day is fairly regimented), but I long to be on that physical and metaphorical island, soaking up the nothingness of the moment, and the magical possibility of the future.  I miss being/feeling “young” (um, I moved there the year I turned 38), which I guess entails a bit of saying “fuck it” and just doing what I want, not caring anymore about achieving and doing “important work,” or participating in the consumer culture of the mainland–I mean, who wouldn’t?  I miss the sense of fullness of soul that comes with no material possessions.  Sure, life here is easier, and I need this “real-world” job so that I can continue to build something that sort of broke down after years as a freelance writer, but…I miss being a freelancer, too!  And, most of all, I miss being a barista–ahh, the simplicity of it, the satisfaction, the sense of ownership of doing something a little bit unique to my story and my past.

I have hope that soon come, after the bricks have been laid, we will move forward, or back to, the place that stirs magic in our hearts.

As for that old city where I got sober and that I might not have any remaining connection to once my manz clears out my storage unit in a few days for me–well, there is nothing left to do but let it go.  Accept what happened, and what has passed; and let holding on, and longing, and the old idea of my younger self–let it go.  I am here now, wherever that may be; I belong to this story, to this place, to this here and now.  And, thank Goddess for that.

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The angry insomniac

20 Jan

9:33 pm

Perimenopause is ruining my life.

I actually Googled that the other night–as I was sitting up once again until 5 am, getting more and more, uh, agitated might be the best way of describing it.  Agitated, angry, raging, whatever.

Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve EVER felt as angry as I did last night–like, an out of control, desperate anger that not only lingered into the next morning and afternoon, but persisted and felt just as strong upon waking as it did at 5 am!?  I am trying to move on from it, and not hold onto it, but…guys, this feels a little bit WAY too much like a hangover, and I do not like it!

I’ve mentioned that I started experiencing symptoms of perimenopause all the way back in 2013 (when I was 39), but they never really affected my life until the fall of 2015.  It took me until the fall of 2016 to start taking the birth control pill (to even things out–it was amazing and I had no side effects), and not until well, this past year, to really start having “night heat” and insomnia.  Now–and this is what is so damn maddening, especially for someone like myself, an alcoholic control freak–I have no clue if it’s the pill that’s giving me night heat and insomnia, or if it’s the peri.  One thing I do know is that the pill I have just gotten back on in the past few weeks seems to be exacerbating my mental health issues–crying jags, dark thoughts, anger anger anger.  I know I should get off it, but…maybe one more night (I am afraid of that intense body heat at this point, even more than I am of the sleeplessness)…?

So, last night, right on time, my body started to heat up at about 10 pm–it has been doing this for a while, maybe a year on and off; and I’ve fixed it by both going ON and OFF the pill (go figure).  I recently had about two months of continuous heat–it’s like having a fever and the chills, at the same time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; I don’t have hot flashes yet, so these are more like heat flushes that just don’t stop and that seem to come only at night, except for this two-month period where it just didn’t go away.  For some relief, I decided to get on the pill again, and while it has helped some, I have nights where it seems like the pill causes me to both burn up and wake up.  Last night, I was up till 5, and in between all the huffing and puffing, I just got SO ANGRY.  Angrier than I can even define, or have ever felt.

Mind you, I think I HAVE been this desperately, painfully, crazily angry before, but I was blacked on on wine and never actually had to deal with it.  Last night, I just could NOT calm down; I was almost heaving, I felt so angry.  I paced around, cried, heaved silently so my boo couldn’t hear me (he was sleeping); I slammed my fists into my quads, but not hard enough like I did last time to leave marks.  It’s like, I wanted to break things.  I finally fell asleep for a few hours at about 5, and woke to a relatively cooler body.

Though, like when you wake up after a bender, I was still feeling angry.  I went to the gym and pounded out a few miles on the treadmill, which helped but not completely.  By the time we went to see a movie, I felt anxious, and struggled to not have a panic attack throughout the entire length of the film.

Man, it just feels SO much like a hangover–the lack of sleep, the anxiety from the lack of sleep, the fuzzy brain…

I am feeling better now, but, I don’t think, outside from being drunk, I have ever felt more out of control as I did last night and this morning.  Maybe it’s just the lack of sleep, and my reaction to it is anger.  If only it were that simple…

I just want myself back!  I haven’t felt like myself in quite a while, I have to admit.  I am trying to not think about it and hope it just gets better, but I don’t think I can stay on this pill and also have it get better.  I thought I could deal with a few side effects for the relief of not burning up all night, but maybe it’s better to burn up all night?  I am trying to have patience here, but why does it feel like perimenopause is ruining my life (and I don’t even have true hot flashes yet)?  I am going to see my doctor next week, but until then, I guess I’ll really have to work on cultivating a positive space in my mind, reserved for my old self, whenever she happens to come home.  🙂

The holidays, and my sober advice

23 Dec

10:41 pm

This holiday has been stressful to me, I have to admit.  We’re in a different place and time, and a different space, within ourselves.  All this change, combined with all this self-imposed people pleasing–well, it grates, especially since it’s one of the reasons I drank in the first place.  If only I didn’t have to do this, if only I could just say no, I wouldn’t have to drink…is how it used to go down in my mind.  Still sort of does, on some level, I guess.

I remember feeling so unappreciated (kind of how I’ve been feeling lately, but I see it for what it is–partly of my own creation), and drinking at that feeling.  I remember drinking at people, if they pissed me off; or at bad situations, if they didn’t go my way; or at being let down, if my expectations weren’t met.  It sounds hard to believe to people who don’t use alcohol, but it’s how we keep rationalizing our compulsive and binge drinking, even when it screws up our heads and lives:  before we’re able to think it through, pick it apart, and realize what we can change and what we’ve created in our own minds–we drink.  Bam!  We’re drunk and shit sucks, and we’re down the same hole.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve wanted to say “Fuck it” the past few weeks, months, seasons.  It’s a feeling that builds and builds, a little “fuck it” here, a little more “fuck it” there, and…you know how it ends.  Rest assured, I am not going to drink, but I don’t think I’ve felt so close to wanting to say, fuck it, and go and get what’s MINE.

I miss having something of my own to take the edge off; I miss being able to just say, fuck it, I’m done, I’m drinking wine now.  Is what I’m really wanting and needing, though, some time for myself, to nurture and heal and appreciate what I’ve accomplished and who I am?  Is what I’m really needing some simple self-care?  Because, in that caring of self, as a sober person, I can totally see my role (my expectations and reactions) in creating a bad situation.  It’s also a way to reinforce self-respecting behavior (like, I feel this way and so, in respect for my legitimate feelings, I say no, or I don’t do this).

And I told you to be patient, and I told you to be kind

When you’re actively drinking, there is no self-reflection; it feels SO good to drink at it–whether it’s your anger at what someone did to you, or your feeling of frustration at not having handled the situation differently, or your belief that you are helpless to change it anyway–and then, to hold onto it until the bottle’s gone and you’ve blasted off, not to return until you come back the next morning (or afternoon) and realize that you’ve so lost.  Whatever there was to win, you definitely did not win that.

Letting go is the hardest part, it really is; it’s all about a higher self, and higher behavior; and sometimes it feels like your brain is pulling itself apart.

What I’m increasingly tired of is, I never get to escape…to the magic realm.  You know???  To the romantic place.  To the sensual world.  To the realm of ridiculous fantasy…which is what wine and drugs do, is they help you CREATE the ridiculous fantasy, and it feels so damn good to be there for a while!?  The ancient Greeks knew how important wine was to their conversational gatherings, right?  God, if only I came of age in archaic Greece!?

Regular life just gets so monotonous!  I miss wine…enhancing music, the present, the past, the holidays, my relationships, my dreams.  I miss the old me, and I have missed that crazy, romantic bitch ever since I got sober and had to let a large part of her go!?  I know, this way is so much better–I can actually hear music, have a present that is worth living, have a past that doesn’t haunt me, experience holidays that go off without a hitch, cultivate relationships that don’t crumble or blow up, and, um actually make real some of those dreams.  I just have to wonder, will I ever truly be able to smile easily, and without some part of my mind thinking, God, it would be SO much easier to find this entertaining if I had some wine?

I guess I’m feeling uninspired lately, a bit cynical, and just sort of a combination of tired and under-appreciated; I know I can remedy all of this with self-care, which includes just making some other choices.  And, it’s a blessing of being sober to not only have choices, but know that I have choices.

Anyway, my two cents is this:  whenever you feel like drinking this holiday, just remind yourself that IF you’re drinking AT someone, or something, it’s SO only going to fuck you up.  That someone or something does not know, and does not care; and worse, it won’t solve or change anything.  Remember, drinking AT yourself, or your problems, or your letdowns is not going to change you, or your problems, or your letdowns.  And, while all this advice sucks and stings, this, too, shall pass.  Give it a minute, three, a few hours–hang in there–because this, too, shall pass.  Your higher self will come back to the fore, and you’ll be able to agree with me/you, and say, right, OK, I got this.  I don’t have to drink now.  I don’t have to drink.  Exhale, this sucks, I still hurt, but I don’t have to drink.

Thank you, friends; I am sort of tearing up because I know I am talking to myself now, and I know that you’ve been listening and hearing me for the past six holiday seasons before this one.

Merry Christmas, all, and to all a good, sober night.

Keeping my head above water–barely

16 Dec

8:12 pm

But, at least there IS water in these parts!  Haha.  SO glad to be out of the desert.

Anyway…  Hi!  Hello!  I am feeling a bit sad–frustrated, mostly–that I haven’t blogged much recently.  It’s been sort of crazy the past few months, moving across the country AND starting a new job, and traveling for work this past week to meet my team, get trained, etc.  SO, I just wanted to stop by and say hi, and let you know that I’m still here–albeit, sometimes I wonder where my brain has gone lately.

Whew.  We moved.  Across the country.  And, I started a new job.  In the big, cold city that I left years ago (though, I normally work from home, which is not there!).  Literally on the same day!  When it rains, it pours, I suppose.  Exhale.  It couldn’t have gone smoother, really, this whole business; and we are finally relatively settled in our new place.  Our apartment complex has four lakes and a bunch of walking paths, all of which is surrounded by conserved marshland and trees overgrown by Spanish moss; compared to the city I was in this week, this place is so nourishing and peaceful that I cannot appreciate it more!  Damn, I am not who I once was–and it is glorious to finally be able to admit that, frankly.

I have been at the new job for almost three weeks, and so far, so good.  I unpacked my suitcases and a few boxes, and within a few days, flew out on a business trip to meet my team, get trained, blah blah blah.  While the new gig has been eye opening–I haven’t felt this welcomed to a new job in years, maybe decades; and, being in the same room with your coworkers truly does motivate you to new heights when it comes to a shared sense of purpose–I can’t believe how tiring I found it going into an office every day.  (I like having full control over my time, and my creativity; I like not being entrenched in a team–that is not how this is going to be.  As a freelancer, and contractor, I’m used to an empty room, and a blank page, as it were.  Still, it’s nice to feel the safety net at the moment.)

I mean, it was physically tiring, of course; I couldn’t get over what a (freezing cold) hassle it felt like to get myself from bed to office; and then, to sit in said office, being productive and keeping my game face on through what was (is) for me, and excruciatingly painful 8 hours.  I cannot IMAGINE that it doesn’t affect most people, sitting on one’s ass all day; but, I really couldn’t see any sign of discomfort on anybody’s face.  Just me, being spoiled or old or a wimp; but in the usual pain.  (I normally stand all day at my standing/raisable desk, and for good reason.)

It was also mentally challenging in that, I had to maintain my sober zen, if you will, in the face of intense “microaggressions.”  I love that word, and it SO defines life in big cities, especially this one.  From the cold wind to having no space, to bad food and unfriendly strangers; it’s all about trying to keep your inner wall up and intact.  Those stressors are what cause people in early sobriety to relapse; that shit is what gave me many more reasons to drink, at least in my mind, for most of the years I lived there.

Anyway,  I just can’t imagine going back to that life–especially after the one I’ve built, and have been living, since I left the “real world” in 2012!  Moreso, I can’t imagine wanting it–and that is new, and something that I’m starting to more fully embrace.  So, I am super-grateful that I can do this job remotely, and in any setting I like, save for one day a week at a regional office.

I’m back home now, and feeling warm, relieved, and like my zen is back.  I have to say, while I like it here so much more than the desert–precisely because it reminds me of our old island life is making me long for that life more and more.  I’ve written about this before, but I have spent most of the past two decades doing what (probably) many people of my generation have done:  striving to achieve.  You know what?  I’m tired of it.  I’m grateful, indeed, at having had so many opportunities to strive to achieve, but frankly, it was only after I left the mainland in exchange for a slower, less achievement and consumerism-focused lifestyle that I realized, this is me.  This is me.  Ironically, I spent my entire time on that island trying to convince myself that it wasn’t me; only now, years later, am I finally starting to accepting that maybe this really is me!

I am glad I’ve taken this new job, which is exposing me to all that I left–albeit, at a much kinder pace (nonprofit and journalism are distantly related, but I would say that they’re much different beasts).  However, I can see more change coming in the near future…

Wine?  Yes, admittedly, there were a few times these past few weeks when I fantasized about drinking at some point in the near future (what that means to my fantasizing brain, I don’t know, honestly); BUT, at no point did I have the urge to drink.  Never the urge, only the fantasy–which is always crushed when I remember the reality of my red wine drinking days.  I know better; thank God, I know, and I know better.  In this one thing, I know better, and so I do better.  Exhale.

Moving…houses and jobs!

11 Nov

7:17 pm

Some great news:  we are (finally, after 10 long months) leaving the desert!?  Ahhhh…  And, none too soon, as we’re both about to dissolve from dehydration.  I mean, we’ve gotten used to being here (it’s not a bad place; I have always liked it for what it is), but being constantly dried up–well, it’s a grind, and I can’t help but wonder with incredulity how those who choose to live in this part of the country deal with it!  My mom has lived in this part of the country for years, and she seems to appreciate the lack of humidity.  All I can say is, we didn’t even make it a year, and we’re pretty much over it.

Inhale, exhale.

In less than a week, we will head east–close to where we moved here from–we will see palm trees (where they should be growing) and actual clouds; feel mosquitoes buzzing around our ankles and sweat dripping under our armpits; inhale the sweet odor of naturally humid air…  INHALE.

Some more great news:  I got a new job!  After a long summer of soul searching and job searching–and interviewing; so much interviewing–I can finally EXHALE…into a new career.  It was a hard decision to leave my current gig, because it’s…well, it’s uber-easy–and I can do it remotely and it pays well.  BUT…I need to move on.  I need to actually use my brain.  I need a higher purpose, essentially.  I need to invest my passion and my talents into a job that I actually respect myself for doing.  It’s not that I don’t respect others for choosing the corporate path–God knows I’ve had to work in many jobs that weren’t personally fulfilling–I just know that I need more.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t have been able to accept this job if the offer wasn’t financially viable, so, I’m not above it coming back to money, because it does.  Still, it’s a plus that I am finally moving into nonprofit and able to keep making about the same amount I’ve gotten used to making at my current job.

It’s been years since I’ve worked as a full-time employee–my last full-time gig ended in 2009!  I’ve been freelancing and contracting since then, so the adjustment to full-time status might be a bit weird.  BUT, I will be able to do this job remotely, so, working from home (which I’ve been doing since 2012, in various shapes and forms) won’t change–thank goodness!  I am WAY too used to being able to work and write in peace, and not have to commute, or be distracted by coworkers.  It has its ups and downs, but I really do prefer working remotely–I love not having the stress that going to an office every day brings, and I absolutely love being in complete control of my time.  There really is nothing I’ve found that motivates me more than having absolute ownership of my time.

Anyway, it’s been a busy few months, and that’s sort of why I’ve been offline-ish.  I want to thank everyone for all the caring and careful comments  to my recent posts–I appreciate them more than you know.  My insomnia has passed, thankfully, and now it’s back to…not being as grateful for restful sleep as I was irate at not getting sleep.  But, isn’t that how it always goes?  You never call IT to thank them for their service; it’s only when something goes wrong with your computer, and then you only call to bitch at them!

I was wondering how I could tie my sobriety into all this (yes, I am still sober!), and well, I guess it’s that I’m not sure I would have had the long-term perseverance to turn these dreams, step by step, into reality.  I know I would have second-guessed everything by now, might have just run out of gas so to speak out of fatigue, or fear, or just letting myself talk myself out of it, taking my eye off the prize to look back at Wolfie.  And for this, I am definitely grateful to be sober, or maybe just more mature–to be able to get a glimmer of how it actually works, seeing the long haul through.

Here’s hoping things move smoothly this week into a whole new life; if not, we’ve survived worse, right, guys?  And, taking one second at time makes every second OK.  It will be OK; it will always be OK.

Huh:  this is really the first time I’ve believed that it will all be OK.  I never considered that it just being it, makes it OK; that things not working out the way I had imagined or predicted would still be OK.  Alas, a small discovery, but one that might change my world!?

I’m useless when I don’t sleep

30 Oct

4:41 pm

Ugh.  Are you as useless and mentally scrambled as I am when I don’t sleep the night before?

I’ve been having insomnia on and off this year–it was pretty bad when we first moved to our new home in January, and I attributed it to shifting hormones.  At that point, I had never had insomnia, really, and my experience was that I kept waking (the fuck) up every hour on the hour.  It was maddening.  And it made me very angry!  Seriously, it often felt worse than being hungover.

It went away when I got off the (nasty) pill I was on (I am new to that as well, and had no idea that one tiny contraceptive pill could eff up my entire reality).   It’s started up a little bit again recently, but is more like, I can’t fall asleep until 6 am, at which point, I feel like lead and there is NO POSITION that would hurt me if I fell asleep in it–that’s how tired I am after staring at the ceiling from midnight to 6 am!

I can point to anxiety, I guess, as the culprit, and (hopefully) not hormonal crap (yes, it’s crappy; this shifting hormones shit sucks, and I am going to have to learn grace and patience if I am to make it to old woman-who-wears-purple status).  At the moment, we are planning another move, haven’t yet ironed out all the details, and are sort of doing it because we must (like, we just cannot stay here; it’s not our gig).  We don’t have to be anywhere–I can take my job with me (oh, and I got a new remote job–I start the week after we move!).  That lack of parameter in and of itself can either be liberating or incarcerating, but both freedom and confinement cause me stress, so…  That might be why I’ve been up at night lately.

It’s crazy how crazy I feel when I don’t sleep!?  I mean, it’s interesting to observe myself at night:  the second I feel like I’m going into that mode of being alert and restless (albeit sometimes really tired), I start getting anxious about not sleeping and about the next day being ruined; I start feeling really effing angry, irrationally so; and I start to feel a feverish frustration, like, there is nothing I can do about this except wait, in the freaking dark, alone with my lack of thoughts and my only desire to be unconscious!!!  It is maddening.

But, I am here, today, getting through the day.  I know that I am definitely a control freak, and it’s true that I hate not being able to control this situation and will myself to sleep.  I really don’t do well on lack of sleep–and worse, being ill-rested has all the same hues and tones in my mind as being hungover.  I think it might actually be worse than being hung because at least when you pass out, you do sleep for a few hours in a row; when you’re up at night sober, you might only sleep for an hour in a row, maybe two or three.

I know I’m probably just anxious about all the change happening–new job, a move coming up in a few weeks–but I don’t want to admit it.  If you ask me what I was thinking about last night, I wasn’t.  I wasn’t thinking, or worrying; I was just feeling really angry that my day was going to suck, and that I had no control over that happening.  And, while I have gotten through today, I wish I hadn’t had to drink three coffees just to slog through my work; I wish I had gotten to the gym; I wish I had had more energy to breeze through my work faster so I could get to some personal writing and projects (like, finding an apartment in our new locale!).  BUT, that’s not how it turned out, and I think I need to learn to accept when that happens, to let it go if it doesn’t go the way I want, expect, or plan.  Maybe I need to re-learn the basics of sobriety!

I think my tolerance for lack of sleep, for feeling like I’m hungover (and all the associated anxiety, anger, and frustration that goes with hangovers) is WAY LOW…because I’ve had to endure so many wasted hungover days.  I’ve had to endure so much worse, I keep thinking, why is a day after a night of not sleeping so hard?  It should be really easy, I keep thinking, compared to, let’s just say, sobering up in a jail cell while also having my period and not being able to do anything about that situation for the next 48 hours; or let’s just say, coming out of a blackout and realizing that I have to pack my bags and grab a cab for a 60-minute ride to the airport for an international flight…and I only have an hour to do this?

Being blackout drunk and then, horrifically hungover, are, in fact, MUCH WORSE than not being able to sleep in my warm bed under my sober mind–it’s only painful because I’m used to the good life, to sleeping and waking and feeling high on a restful night’s sleep, and getting my shit done because I am sober and rested!  I’m used to how it should be, how it can be, once you’re sober.

After all, I am grateful that insomnia is all I have to endure now.  This concept alone is what propels me through insomniac nights and the days after:  no matter how hard it feels or seems, it’s really a piece of cake compared to how bad it truly used to be.  And I know that with grace and patience, we will find our way, and handle our situation, and transition to our next locale and phase–all without wine, or hangovers, or regrets (except eating way too many Ritz crackers at 5:30 in the morning).

Oh, what a night

8 Oct

11:27 pm

I have been thinking on and off all day about whether I should write about this night again–the Sunday before Columbus Day, 2009.  I mean, I think about it every single day because my arm hurts every single day, doing yoga or working out, or fully extending it; it is shorter than the other one, as a result of the way it healed beneath the shoulder cap, which literally took weeks to unfreeze after I stopped wearing the sling!  I wrote about it years ago on this blog, when I was, I guess, processing how traumatic it was years after it happened.

The thing is, I feel like I must recap, and commemorate, if I’ve been thinking all day about it.  And, I will write about it because, well, it’s amazing how things have changed, and I’m grateful that I didn’t let it define me.  Yes, I think about it, and it does haunt me; but not in a way that I still feel like a victim, or was somehow unable to move on emotionally.

In brief, I got shitfaced that night, got into a verbal fight with the dude I had just slept with–or attempted to mess around with; I will never know because most of the night is lost to the blackout–we physically fought somewhere outside his apartment, on a sidewalk; he pushed me hard, and I fell down and broke my arm.  I was in one of my blackouts, which happened almost every night I drank by that point; but this was one of those severe ones, black hole-type memory blanks where not just hours are missing, but the entire night is gone.  (If you’ve never blacked out, let me say:  if you have any memories of that period of time, they’re like shards of glass on the floor, each one reflecting a glimmer of light for a moment before it turns dark again.)

It was right about now, getting on toward midnight (on a Sunday; granted, I had Columbus Day off the following day, but YIKES to me routinely starting my nights at midnight, weekend night or not), and I went out to–let’s face it–hook up with this guy whom I really despised but could pretend was someone else while I was uber-drunk.

Isn’t that what we do?  That is exactly what I did.  I mean, MOST times I got into bed with someone I had been flirting with all night, fueled and numbed by wine or beer, it was not because I wanted him, or her; it was because they filled the role of the fantasy I had created while drunk.  I’ve written about this before, but really, when I drank, and flirted (during the years when I was drinking to excess to escape and numb), I drank and flirted with my own mind, with what I was creating or had created in my mind that night.  It was all delusion, made even more delusional by the booze.

Anyway, what I think happened was this:  we drank; and after drinking, which I don’t remember the details of, we were somewhere outside his apartment, in some shack, or cottage, or garage-type building, and he was telling me that we had to go out there because his daughter (who was like, in her 20s) was inside, staying over that night.  The last thing I remember was him putting a blanket down, and me feeling like, WTF, what am I, a dog?  Of course (of course!), this man was super-gross, and he treated me grossly every other time we hooked up; but, that was what I was willing to accept because I had my needs, too.

Yes, I had my needs.  I needed to flirt and feel wanted–even if it was in a delusional state; at least he wanted me, right, is what I must have told my drunk self?  (Nine years ago, I was in no way “unfuckable” or “unloveable,” but at that time in my life, I think I sort of believed that was true.  I was also terrified of relating to men as my sober self, for fear of rejection, or the effort it would take to be myself, to be a partner when all I wanted was to drink, really.)  I needed to get shitfaced to be able to pretend that he was someone else, maybe an ex that I hadn’t really yet gotten over.  I needed the release from always listening to the voice in my head that said, You shouldn’t do it, You shouldn’t be like that.  I needed to get drunk, physically and psychologically.  Devolving into some other horrible version of myself was the price I was willing to pay.  Until…it wasn’t.

Until, the booze wore off enough for me to come to, for the writer and professional and good Midwestern farm girl to come back online and be like, WTF, what am I, a dog?

I remember fighting, screaming, being belligerent at him; I remember walking on the sidewalk–it was cold outside–storming off somewhere, maybe?  I don’t know if he was following me or I was chasing him, but…I remember him pushing me down in the cold night, falling and bouncing off the cement on my right shoulder, realizing with some momentary lucidity that something “really bad” had probably just happened.  He said that I attacked him, and maybe that is true.  He fought back, and hard; that is also true.  After all was said and done, he didn’t really care what had happened to me.

It was like a dream sequence, and I wasn’t sure if it was real.  I remember nothing from that point until I woke up at about 1 pm in his bed–and the pain.  OMG, the pain.  Not to mention the pain and anxiety of being hungover/still drunk, after a night like that; and then having to stumble out of bed, put my clothes on with one arm, and wander to not just one, but TWO emergency rooms in the city,  both being full, before giving up, getting into a cab, and going home to sleep it off so that I could actually think straight to figure out my plan as to what the EFF I was going to do about this shit now.

Long story short, I had help from my friends and roommates–the select few people I ever told what really happened–and the arm eventually healed.  I have to say, that night was probably the most traumatic of my drinking life, but it wasn’t by far the worst thing that happened to me.  It’s been the hardest to let go of, for some reason.

I gave my consent, but all the reasons behind it were convoluted and very personal–and, influenced by alcohol-induced delusion.  I gave my consent, but it was SO not what I wanted.  So, did I deserve what I got?  Sigh.  Most of the time, I say, yes and no.  I don’t believe anyone deserves to be in accidentally disastrous situations–I don’t remember picking a fight with him, he didn’t really mean to literally throw me down onto the sidewalk.  I also don’t think most people CHOOSE to try to understand what happens to people when some of us drink.  They will never know, which is why any and all of this is so hard to talk about, to explain, to reveal.  But, he didn’t force me to do anything.

I think this relates to Me, Too, but I am never sure how to talk about nights when you choose to drink and choose to flirt but then…find yourself in a situation that does not feel right, that you don’t want to let happen.  It’s so hard to talk about it without someone feeling either blamed or unheard.

I would not say that I was raped that night.  There are other nights where what happened was much closer to rape, but…there was ALWAYS alcohol involved, and always an element of consent on my part.  I was never ambushed at night, or assaulted at a party; I always played a role in getting myself into these types of situations.  I can say, though, that I didn’t hold onto these events the way some people do; and maybe that speaks to the difference between “some consent” and “no consent”?  I don’t know.

SO, today?  Today, I spent the day cleaning the apartment, walking my dog, and lifting weights  at the gym.  I have started doing more of that, and I love how it makes me feel:  strong inside and out.  I think it makes me feel a bit like, look at me now, Loser Who Pushed Me Down.  I will NEVER let anyone push me down again!

Seriously, my life nine years later has so moved on, and for that and so much more, I am  grateful.  I can’t forget that night, but I am glad to be able to feel continuous relief and gratitude that not only will that never happen again, but that I survived AND thrived in the years since–I didn’t let it get me down, or make me believe that that girl was forever me; that I was broken, that I couldn’t change.  Fact is, I rocked on, and I changed.  People can change.

On that note, off to bed because another full week.  Just super-glad, still, to be here, and not there.

 

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