Loose ends

12 Apr

10:23 pm

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.

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6 Responses to “Loose ends”

  1. carrythemessage April 13, 2013 at 5:01 am #

    I love, love, love this. And I will tell you why (and why wouldn’t I tell you why? lol). I love this because you are describing exactly what almost every single alcoholic in recovery goes through, or has gone through…to varying degrees. What you just so wonderfully described in your post is stuff that I have gone through oh so many times. I used to get tons of those bad days, and I used to get a few of those great days. Now, it’s flipped. Now and then I get a bad day, where I jump into the pool of self-pity (“the water’s fine, come in!”) and don’t get out for a bit. I used to sit in that pool for a week, DDG…or more. I can’t stand more than an hour or so these days. So it gets better. But again, talk to any alcoholic and they will agree wholeheartedly with your show-and-tell there.

    The idea of just letting things go where they need to…letting those feelings pass…that is what we do. We let them pass, we deal with them, or we let them float past. For me, I have certain things I do that I learned in AA that help me with those feelings, when things like resentment crop up, etc. But you don’t have to be in AA per se to use some of the tools – we talk to others about what is going on, we make an amend if needed, we turn our thoughts to others, we ask our HP to remove what it is that is driving us batty…so again, you don’t have to be an AA to do that kind of thing. But everyone has their way – you run, others write more, some cook or bake, others play the banjo…but it’s a way of expressing or dealing with an emotion we usually drank or isolated away.

    You seem to be turning some corner…I can see your posts are different this round compared to last round. There is a deeper understanding, but not only understanding, a deeper sense of what is going on…and what you need to get around it. You seem to be letting go a bit more, holding less to resentment a bit more…I don’t know. i could be wrong. But there is certainly a difference.

    Great to read. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Paul

  2. risingwoman April 13, 2013 at 5:07 am #

    I just finished reading Portia de Rossi’s book ‘Unbearable Lightness’, about her long battle against anorexia and bulimia. It took her years and years to finally accept herself for who she is, flaws and all; to love herself inside and out.

    Near the end of the book, she quotes Wayne Dwyer: ‘True nobility isn’t about being better than anyone else; it’s about being better than you used to be.’ I responded so strongly to this quotation, and I love it.

    All we can do, any of us, is to get up every day and try to be better than we used to be. We try to make healthier choices, and to be honest, and to not drink, and to let ourselves feel bad things instead of numbing them. One step, then another. One choice, then another. Each one designed to make us a bit better than we were before the choice.

    I’ve come to see that’s all I can do; I’ve come to see that it’s enough.

  3. risingwoman April 13, 2013 at 5:17 am #

    Ooops. I meant Wayne DYER.

    I think I need a second cup of coffee 😉

  4. Lisa Neumann April 13, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    There is so much I want to say and at the same time I think, “no I can’t say that.” (Paul and RW seemed to have captured and responded beautifully to your thoughts.) I see so much of me in your posts. All I can think to say is that we possess our own answers. We might not like the answer, but nonetheless, it is the answer. There is no doubt in my mind you are closer than you realize.

  5. Belle (Tired2012) April 14, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    this one step IS worth it, and is enough. i love your idea of thought loops. and about identifying them before they drag you down (i first typed “drank you down” … freudian?). there are so many interesting problems to be solved once sober – starting with “who am i now?” and while rome wasn’t built in a day, we’re all (me too, me too!) impatient. Like, let’s get on with it already. and yet, you’re getting on with it. you’re living sober. and that’s it. you’re doing it. you’re right that no one else has any (better) magical answers. they’re just feeling their way along. you’re at least feeling yours, now, versus numbing. i think it’s easy to get overwhelmed — but it’s also easier, sober, to do minute course corrections that we just could NOT do while drinking. do i like this versus this? what if i work for half an hour then procrastinate for half an hour, and i set the timer. what if i set a goal of a 10K run and my reward is one full day of lounging and procrastinating. what if i schedule my procrastinating so that i can be achieving a goal today! well, you know what i mean 🙂 hugs from me.

  6. flbb April 14, 2013 at 6:47 pm #

    Many times when I’m out among society, I wonder how ALL of these people are getting along in life so easily?? Why aren’t they analyzing why we’re here, trying to find some serenity, fighting anxiety, questioning (pretty much) everything in life like I am?? Why do I have it so much harder – am I the only real deep thinker/real intellectual here? Why aren’t you all really thinking? Life is so perplexing – come on people, aren’t you using your brains in order to see how crazy life/the universe is?? So I totally relate to the what is wrong with me thinking! And, for me at times (probably to make me feel better), it’s more like what is wrong with all of you (the rest of the human race)?! Haha. Your post brought up for me — maybe you’ve got so much time of your hands – freelance writing (I’m guessing at home, NOT saying you aren’t working) but I have a corporate job so busy during the week BUT I’m single, and have a LOT of time alone as well (which I admit I love) but also I have a lot of time to introspect on myself/life/everything. So maybe part of the problem (along with the drinking) is we have so much time to THINK/analyze, which I’m sure why running/writing (anything besides just thinking) helps. But just wanted to post that you’re not alone (which I know you know with all the blogger feedback :)). (I’m ten months sober BTW).

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