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.

I’m home..and kind of tired

23 Apr

12:37 pm

I’ve been “home” for a few weeks now.  And, well, admittedly, I’ve been feeling tired, and sort of alone; and realized (again) today that despite all that “sober” work, I’m still me:  I have trouble reaching out to people.  And that I really need to do that.  And that it’s the only thing that leads to feeling a part of things, of life, of community.  Duh.  Well, not duh to people “like us,” who, for whatever reasons (natural hermits, fear, self-consciousness, “drinking thinking”), find it really hard.  It’s hard.  But, once you get over that hump–I did it once and I am going to do it again, get over that hump–life greatly improves on SO MANY LEVELS.

So, yeah, I’m home (from where I was for a work contract for that past 7.5 months).  And, it’s kind of cool that I consider this place my “home” now, if not a little scary–I don’t really love familiarity.  Anyway, I flew home about 3.5 weeks ago–and have been struggling ever since to figure out my new, well, everything.  New (old) home, new (old, well, current because they are letting me work remotely right now) job, new (old) schedule, new (old) climate (I have to say, going from 20% humidity on the regular to 80% when it’s not raining hasn’t been that easy).  It’s been a lot of things, but tiring and confusing come to mind.  Life is tiring and confusing, and I think I’m just extra tired and confused right now.  Haha.

Tiring.  It’s all happening at once, and I want to do it all at once.  That means, writing a book (!  just gotta try), writing stories, writing a business plan (!  just gotta try) so I can open a coffee shop of my own, all amidst trying to figure out the rhythm of life here, again.  It’s kind of maddening in that, I put SO much effort into leaving, and I left, and now, I’m back, and it feels like I didn’t leave.

(The one thing I learned that I’m blindly, almost, clinging to right now is this:  what you FEEL and what you BELIEVE or THINK you know, is usually wrong, or at best, doesn’t align with what actually IS, or with what actually WILL BE.  Haha.  So, I’m just going to put all this thinking into a box on the shelf and come back to it later.)

Depressing.  Well, maybe I’m finally coming out of my depression?  I don’t even know exactly how I feel.  I will say that my depressive symptoms have eased now that I’m not chasing around constantly, stressing continuously, and well, now that I’m actually eating normally again.  My diet was horrible there–I was literally starving myself for the past 7.5 months.  Like, 80% consciously aware of it, the other 20% a combination of denial and depression, I think.  (Eating disorders are definitely deeply ingrained behaviors, and for me, even more buried and hard to discern and examine and change than binge drinking behaviors.  At least with drinking, you know that it’s fucking you up; with bulimia, or restrictive eating, it’s the opposite effect in that you THINK it’s improving your life, somehow–and then you come to depend on how it makes you think and feel about yourself, and not just your life.  So weird.)

Enlivening.  Well, it’s great to be home, in a (almost too) familiar place, with my boo, my dogs, and job prospects that I left…and that I just have to plug myself back into.  I have to rev up to do it, is all.  Why?

The ever-looming conflict for me is this:  do you just plug back in when you know that moving on might be the more challenging thing to do?  The thing that makes you grow, change, learn, expand?

More later.  That’s about all the time I have (I have to do something for work, and then, do errands–the never-ending to-do list of coming home…).  Miss you all.  (Oh, and no thoughts of drinking since being home; none.  I’ve been tossing around the idea of just forgetting about the entire “getting sober” thing of the past FOUR years, but, how?  And, why would I?  Should I?  I can’t let it go.  I can’t, and that’s OK.)

Better than “pause”

9 Mar

11:23 pm

I just want to check in and say hi.  This year, man.  It’s kind of kicking my butt.  I haven’t been sick in years, and this year I got it.  All of it.  I have literally been sick with progressively worse “this, that, and the other” for over a month, culminating with a sinus infection that morphed into a “flu” on Saturday night…and is continuing to wreak havoc on my simple goal of “not hot mess” at work these days.  Ugh!

Which is why I came straight home from work tonight, and took a bath, and am now about to crash.  Can I just say:  HOW THE FUCK did I manage to drink until 2 and 3 and 4 am on a school night, let alone when I was sick?  I saw some of my “on this day” Facebook posts recently (strangely, I was sick on the same days, in more than one year), and I know that I did not stop the red wine while sick.  I guess I’m older and maybe push myself harder during the week anyway, or maybe I just PREFER taking a bath and giving myself a facial and just chilling with an episode of “House of Cards” these days to the bad old days of dancing around in the dark while having fake conversations, and beating the eff out of my body?  Maybe.

I’m baaaaaaack (cue the curse words).

So, I wanted to share something meaningful at some point, so I figured I’d finally just post a draft that I wrote a few weeks into January, when I was feeling pretty depressed.  It happened, and insights were had, so I figured, why not share it now, when I don’t have much energy to write anything tonight?  So, here goes:

…The other day, I tried drinking.  I’ve done it once, maybe twice since that night in October 2014 (I know, it feels like yesterday to me, too!), when I got shitfaced on a whole bottle of red wine after a long, long many days of not drinking, and had the worst hangover EVER the next day.  Anyway, since I moved here (6 months ago, to a new locale where I’m working a contract gig), I have tested (or, tasted?) the waters only once before the other day.  I made it through about 5 ounces of a red wine buzz before I turned it off.  It felt bad.  I dumped the rest of the bottle down the drain, just in case.

The next time I got the bug in my head to “try it” was a few nights ago.  I ended up drinking about two 5-ounce glasses.  (They were very small pours, because I remember my hangover from a year ago and am scared my body just doesn’t compute alcohol anymore–which has been a great lesson for me, but I will save that for another post).  AND GUESS WHAT?  I was hungover the next day–for the whole day.  I did stuff, even went hiking, but I felt depressed, sandy, and unable to think clearly.  It sucked.

What sucked more was the buzz.  I was observing it, of course, very closely, just to see, you know–what exactly about this appealed to me?  And, how can I completely rid myself of the residual obsession with red wine as cure-all?  Aside from feeling truly unable to think clearly while drinking, the main thing I felt was stuck.  Paused.  Pulled back into a vortex of stale history–stale feelings, events, people long gone; ideas that NO LONGER FUCKING MATTER because I’ve had SUCH MOVEMENT FORWARD in my sobriety.

Sobriety=movement, a dance, water.  Drinking=pause, stillness, stale air.

Of course, drinking made me feel like I was going back in time because, well, when I drank, all I did was focus on my issues, and on the people who weren’t giving me what I needed, or wanted.  I’ve come far in terms of all the things I’ve been able to do, and all the feelings and ideas I’ve been able to unlock.  I’ve realized that drinking doesn’t really serve any purpose because I don’t have unlocked things to claw at.  (That’s coming from someone who drank primarily when she felt bad, or unable to reach what was inside, whether sadness or joy).

Now, all that stuff that was stuck inside?  It’s all right here, in front of me, on the surface, visible.  It’s like sea glass on the beach, sparkling below my line of sight, waiting for my calm gaze to spot its gleam.

That is what sobriety enables.  It allows me to uncover things–discover things–in a perpetual state of motion.  Drinking, on the other hand, especially without anything to focus a relative lack of angst on–it feels more like pressing the “pause” button on my brain.

These days, when I get that brainworm that says I cannot move forward without drinking, I just don’t react to it.  However, I’m glad I did the past two times here.  It’s just one more tool in my box.  I can remember this experience when I start to fantasize that drinking will make my boring job less boring, will make my hormonally-induced mood swings go away.  In fact, drinking has nothing to do with either of these things.  Which is kind of obvious, right?

I’m buzzing around these days (no pun intended), working hard and playing hard, trying to see as much of the area as possible so that I can decide my next move.  I like it here, but I don’t necessarily love it, and I don’t necessarily feel attached to what I’m doing (which continues to be a driving force behind my moods).

In fact, with all the recent celebrity deaths in the news, the point has hit home hard:  life is short.  To me, at 41, that means:  do what you want.  Really, do what you like.  You’ll get paid, you will.  Do what you want!  LIVE YOUR DREAMS, don’t just dream them.  Do you want to own a coffee shop?  Take out a loan and buy one.  START.  Do you feel like where you’re living and what you’re doing is a huge step back?  MOVE.  FORWARD.

Sobriety, still, is my key to moving forward.  And, I think starting up this blog again will help me to truly see not only how far I’ve come, but how much farther there is to go–living sober, not just getting sober.

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