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.

Time to get sober–from caffeine

25 Jul

2:07 pm

Is it just me, or is caffeine (coffee, in particular) sort of like alcohol?  I mean, in the way I fixate on it, drink WAY too much of it, and regret both after the fact?

I know someone who is in recovery who drinks a TON of it, and I can’t help but wonder, is it because his mood is low (drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time leads to dopamine surges leads to, ultimately, the brain being unable to produce this feel-good hormone in regularly sufficient amounts–leaving you feeling depressed, tired, and unmotivated, to name a few), or if he just does EVERYTHING the way an addict does:  too much, constantly, in fear of the comedown/reality.

I mean, I know how much coffee he ingests (I serve him most mornings), and I’m guessing he is buzzed ALL the time, unless he’s sleeping.  I’m not THAT bad, but in my own way, I am.  Starting to feel that bad.

The thing is, I went for a decade not needing–and finally, not wanting–coffee!  I worked, and wrote, and got sober, all without caffeine.  Now?  I can’t–no, don’t want to–go through my work-a-day life without coffee.  And worse?  I FEAR not being able to work my coffee shop shift, let alone start freelancing (successfully, at least) again, without coffee.  I FEAR being utterly unable to write without coffee.  That thought in and of itself scares me.

I’ve got some reconfiguring to do.  It hasn’t been easy, stopping freelancing and working this (boring) job, and all the while, slowly but surely becoming addicted to what I see as a roadblock to my creativity.  Call me a purist, but I don’t LIKE having to rely on a buzz to be able to think with fire and write with passion.  In fact–and, call me a masochist–I think that in order to find true fire and passion, you have to do it sober.  And that means, totally sober.

Sigh.  Shaking my head at how black-and-white I sound.

Still.  I felt proud when I was off coffee.  Pure.  More me.  And, much less afraid.  And, ultimately, if I’m feeling all this, and having all this mental chatter about a cup of bean water?

Needless to say, I have to do what’s right for me–even if it sounds crazy to almost everyone else out there who has gotten sober (I don’t know ANYONE who doesn’t drink coffee after they’ve gotten sober).

I’m tired of it.  I’m going off caffeine because, well, I FEEL like I “do” it addictively.  Not saying it’s bad, or it’s bad to drink it the way I do; I just feel like I felt better, and more positive, and had MORE ideas and energy, without this drug in my system.

I’ll keep y’all posted!

Still plugging away

25 Jun

11:35 am

It’s been a while, and some milestones have come and gone:  four years of having this blog, another road trip, an engagement (yup–me!), my mom’s 70th birthday party.

I’m still working my remote full-time job plus my part-time coffee shop job…  I haven’t been doing much personal or journalistic writing, for obvious reasons.  And, to top it off, I am sick again.  (Problem is, I can do all this stuff, but I don’t sleep well, and I can literally go days without getting more than 3 or 4 hours a night–adds up to me catching a chest cold in the middle of summer!)

All that being said, I am still plugging away at sobriety, recovery, and all the thoughts and ruminations that go along with it.  In fact, the other day, my fiance (haha–sounds weird) and I had the same conversation that we’ve been having since I got sober:

Him:  You never go out/be social; you’re a snob.

Me:  No, I’m not, I just [excuse after excuse after excuse].

It’s hard for me to discern WHY I hesitate to go out, and be social; so, I tried it the other day.  And, it reminded me of how effing social I used to be, and how hermetic I tend to be now.  And, it reminded me that I AM still social, but I think a lot more about it now *because I am sober*.

I could go into a long post about intimacy, and why I fear the fuck out of it, and how fear of intimacy and introversion connect–but, honestly, I just don’t get it myself.  I *think* I don’t like people getting to know me (which boils down to, I have low self-esteem), and I don’t have the energy to be gregarious (or, how I still believe some people want me to be) without alcohol.  I’m older now, and the desire to get to know ME above other people continues to drive me, too.

The thing is, it feels GOOD to be out there, to be involved.  Which is why I’m literally making myself sick working the coffee shop job–it really helps to stabilize/normalize me psychologically if I’m out there, seeing what’s up and who’s who (I see people, and most importantly, they see me).  It helps people trust me, which makes me feel better about myself.  I used to have a HUGE mental clusterfuck going on with being “secretive,” and where that ended and my introversion began.  Now, it’s with intimacy–where does a learned fear of letting others get to know my “horrible, flawed” self end and a hard-wired introverted nature begin?

It feels good to be social, this I know.  So, since getting back from our road trip, I’ve decided to stop bitching and start doing.  I’ve been social–gasp–THREE times this week!?!?  One night, I went to see a band play with my neighbors, another night I went to a “sound healing” ceremony at a local temple, and tonight, I’m going to see a Ted talks event.

I’ve come a long way toward sorting out all the confusion that getting sober brings when it comes to figuring out how to be and act in social settings–and how to be you, whoever that is now.  But, it takes effort to create and maintain a social life.  Does that mean I have a bunch of friends?  Well, that’s where intimacy comes in, and whether it’s as simple as me just being me and stopping overthinking shit–le sigh, for a different Saturday morning musing.

All in all, still plugging away.  And hoping to write more when the dust settles!

Do you still miss drinking?

21 May

10:16 am

Well, that’s a question, isn’t it?  My boyfriend and I were driving to the beach the other day, or back from some boat trip, and he was like, Do you ever miss drinking, or still want to drink?  Or, do you just not talk (complain) about it anymore?

Hmm.  I really had to think about it.  I’ve been thinking about drinking, and sobriety, but I just haven’t been coalescing those thoughts into posts.  And, as you guys know, it’s partly because life has gotten busy, work-wise.  I’m still working remotely for the company I was at, and I’m also working three to four days a week at the same local coffee shop.  And, frankly, it’s still not enough money, considering my ever-present student loan debt, future goals and dreams, and well, life is expensive.  But, it’s comforting to know that I do have spending money (the lattes money), and I don’t feel “guilty” buying trips, new shoes, and expensive food items once in a while.  As Peter Tosh sang, most of us are livin’ small.

The other reason I haven’t been blogging is this irritant factor.  It’s like, I’d rather just not think about not drinking anymore.  But, I DO think about it, all the time.  It’s just changing.  It’s weird.  While I miss getting sober–there is definitely a “high” to achieving and sustaining a longish-term sobriety, and I’d say that lasts up to years–I do have to accept that I’m beyond that.  The pink cloud still rests above my head, it’s just sort of faded.

I mean, yes, when I see people come into the coffee bar at 5:30 (my start time–ouch), STILL FLAMING DRUNK and having incoherent and emotional arguments with each other, I cringe inside; and then, I breathe a sigh of relief.  And that relief doesn’t ever go away; in fact, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I have to admit, in my darker hours, or my agro ones after the caffeine buzz wears off and I get “hangry,” a small part of me feels smug about it–just a little bit.  Mainly, though, this sense of relief, of being FAR, far away from the urge to binge drink/drink alcoholically–it’s a constant, gracious presence.  I feel gratitude all the time.  For not feeling the urge to drink, ever, really.  And for never, ever having to be hungover like that again.

What I don’t feel is the excitement in congratulating myself anymore.  And, I suppose that’s a good thing.  Life is just life, it doesn’t have to revolve around this idea of “me being or getting sober, or being pleased with me being or getting sober.”  You know?

However, then my boyfriend hits me with that question, and it stirs up the fact that I haven’t forgotten about my sobriety at all, and I have to say:  Yes.  Yes, I do still think about drinking.  Yes, I do still want to drink once in a while, when I encounter a very powerful (to me) trigger.  When?  Well, let’s just say, on a boat trip, when I feel jealous (ugh) of all the hot, young girls with their flat bellies (well, I never had a flat belly, even in my 20s).  On that same boat trip, toward the end, when my insecurity about being “old” has been sufficiently compounded by the sense that I’m not only “old,” I’m also boring–that’s when I really start to feel grumpy and want to drink.  I feel sorry for myself.  It’s residual though, like a long lost limb from a faraway ancestor–I can intellectualize it away, and realize that it’s just a feeling.  Still, I do feel tired of being the “narc.”  (In fact, at the last beach bar we stopped at on this “for example” boat trip, I ordered a virgin tropical drink, and the guy goes, “I die a little every time someone orders said tropical drink without the rum.”  And I look up, pissed, and I go, “Well, I die a little every time I drink rum.  So, what do ya got for me?”  He wasn’t displeased, but he was definitely taken aback.  He ended up adding coconut water, and let me tell you, it was pretty damn tasty!)

I have to stress, and this is most important as my sobriety lengthens:  it’s not that I want to get drunk.  It’s just that I want to…not be sober.  When I see a friend of mine, doing it up in the big city we used to live in together, drinking drinking drinking all over the place, every night; I feel…some sort of loss.  I know it comes back to this fear of missing out, or my OLD ideas and notions about how to “have fun” or “have a good life.”  My OLD ideas of me.

I don’t miss getting drunk.  What I, Drunky Drunk Girl, miss is the ability to instantly and effortlessly escape my seriousness.  The world.  Daily, “hum drum” life.  Some might call it a lack of free spiritedness, an “always in my head”-ness, a sobriety of thought, or, an overwhelming thoughtfulness.  Maybe it’s simply neuroticism:  the tendency to overthink negative (and positive?) thoughts.  Maybe I can call it depression, as this lingers.  I don’t know.  But, I do miss being able to “be that fun girl.”  Of course, I know I can be that fun girl in other ways, and that frankly, I WAS NEVER THAT FUN GIRL when I was drinking.  But, the constructs and stories we tell ourselves linger on and on into our sober years–and it really does take a constant checking in to right, correct, re-mold these ideas.  And, yeah, the peer pressure is always going to be there unless you check in and say, Fuck that, I rock.  SO MUCH HARDER NOW THAT I’M SOBER.

So, no, I never want to get drunk.  But, yes, I still do want to “not be me.”  Or, be that fun girl.  Or, escape from my sober life.  And, I guess that’s what we give up in exchange for constancy of mood, deep knowledge of self, and the GIFT of being able to look forward, with relatively laser focus, on our lives–and to make plans that suit us, lift us, and maximize our potential.  That is worth a thousand nights of drinking, and a million mornings of being hungover.

Information diet

27 Apr

4:10 pm

So, I am in “overwhelm” mode at the moment.  That place when your brain implodes from the sheer amount of distracting, and mostly useless, information out there from our 10 million feeds, accounts, and profiles.

God.

Number one biggest trigger:  too much information.

Number two biggest trigger:  missing out on some important information that I’m supposed to know as a freelance journalist.  I know, I know, there is always going to be a huge gap between that millennial who seems to know it all and be able to keep up, and me; but, into that dark night I will not go quietly.  So, I force feed myself–and then, apparently, vomit it all over you, my dear readers.

(That’s why I’m a writer:  I would never be able to say these things in person, to you.  And, I am eternally grateful that you’ll read them, and hopefully not take offense.)

Generally speaking, I think I probably consume more heavy information than other “laypeople.”  That doesn’t mean that we all are not utterly bombarded with a constant stream of shit that we have to not only take in, but process.  I don’t think most of us really understand how our brains are working, but they’re working really effing hard to retain, categorize, and discard the most unimportant information.  But with stories to read, the headlines that constantly ping us; the Beyonce video and all that Buzzfeed bullshit to parse; with emails and notes to self and poems never started, book chapters barely dented, not because you can’t hold your focus beyond a few paragraphs but kind of; and well, all the other in real life stimuli?  Good God.

Today, and recently, I have had to close Facebook down–nope, I’m consciously choosing to miss those stories that might be relevant, or even provide fodder, for my next pitch.  I am fully aware that by NOT having a Twitter account–or, at least not actively participating on Twitter–I may be intentionally doing harm to my chances of not only succeeding in the world of freelance journalism, but in even being taken seriously (at least what I’ve heard and read, which probably doesn’t paint an extremely accurate picture).

Oh, Twitter.  Is it a necessary evil?  (Maybe I can hire someone to do Twitter for me?  Some said millennial who hasn’t had her concentration brain pathways already torn up by red wine–haha.)  Twitter is, for me, some next-level cray when it comes to information overload, and I just can’t.  I don’t have the patience, the gut for it.  It makes my belly clench just thinking about it, trying unsuccessfully to take it all in, process the ever-expanding amount of things and ideas and facts and news headlines and PR points and opinions, all of which each individually ping my brain to think and my heart to feel…just a little bit of something–but, within milliseconds, I can no longer remember what.

We don’t think about it, we just do…  Until we can’t.  I’m at that point today.  I just can’t.

I’ll be OK, though.  Writing this helps.  Writing helps.  Sitting down and getting it out, helps.  I read a little today.  Sitting down and taking a small piece of a much longer narrative in, well, that is an antidote to reading only a headline and moving on to the next one, ceaselessly.  In fact, an information diet doesn’t sound half bad.  Now, if only I can get past the fear of not logging in.

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