I feel like my life is a bunch of loose ends right now–or, maybe one big loose end. And I can’t rush tying any of the knots.
I know, I know: healing takes time. However, it’s taken–taking?–me a good many, MANY months to, let’s just say, begin to embrace the downtime. The waiting. Sometimes it’s of my own accord, and sometimes it’s against my will.
What do I mean by this? Well, as a freelance writer, I’m either doing one of three things, I’ve found: working, procrastinating, or looking for work. None of these are fun, I have to admit, and it’s hard to embrace spending my time like this–and being acutely aware of it ALL THE TIME because I’m sober. (In fact–and don’t get me wrong, I’m usually really glad to be sober these days–it gets tiring being sober all the time; like, WHEN do I get a break?) I spend a LOT of time wondering what’s wrong with me in that my “oomph” seems to have disappeared. The rest of the time, it seems, I’m thinking about the “then what.”
I’ve been trying to figure out the “then what,” and sometimes I feel like it’s all too much and doesn’t matter anyway. No, I don’t necessarily want to drink, but that almost makes me feel worse: I must have completely given up on “making things better” if I don’t even believe for a second (OK, a minute) that wine will help! At least when I was drinkin’, I somehow equated drinking with at least TRYING to make things better. It’s a fucked up mentality, but it still sort of makes sense to me.
I know all these thoughts are just thoughts–or, better yet, thought loops–and that if I simply wait, or ignore them, they’ll go away. Or, I can watch them and think, Man, no wonder I drank, these thoughts are bullies of the first degree! Negative thoughts. They’re not any different from other people’s, I’ve realized; I’m not unique, and that’s a good thing. Yet, I still have good days and bad days when it comes to DEALING with the thoughts. On good days, I collect them all into one big folder and hit delete. Buh-bye. On bad days, well, I let them control how I feel. Which usually turns out to be bad.
I’m learning how to use better coping mechanisms, though, which is a direct result of HAVING to, due to not using wine anymore as my blanket and crutch. Crying works, but only if I allow myself to cry and then turn it off (Do I REALLY have to cry about not having published a book yet? No.). Taking a few deep breaths, putting on my shoes, and going for a run helps a LOT (actually, doing any kind of forward-moving activity helps). Drinking way too much caffeine makes it worse (duh), and well, catching myself beFORE I turn into a self-pitying mess of angst is best. Talking it out, writing it out, these help, too. Getting shit done helps, of course, but also, realizing that Rome wasn’t built in a day; sometimes, the (excruciatingly?) slow plodding is necessary, even though we don’t feel it to be satisfactory. I’d be the first to admit that I’m addicted to “doing” and to accomplishment; these are deep-seated habits, let’s just say, born out of years of being socialized to believe that achievement equals success.
Some of my coping mechanisms are better than others, of course, but the main thing I’m learning as I continue to have to confront myself and stay sober is: just sit and wait–and feel it–and the shit passes. Night turns into day, a mood turns up instead of down, and I feel one step closer to being able to actually tie up some of these loose ends. And that one step HAS to be enough. And, it is. It didn’t use to be, and I thank God(dess) for the brain’s ability to learn, and grow.
The “problem”–and this applies directly to the process of getting sober, too–is that implementing change is a step-by-step process. Sort of like a science experiment. Imagine being a researcher who spends years, a lifetime even, trying to figure something out? It’s all about incremental steps forward. And, often, that is the BEST we can hope for.