Archive | July, 2013

Getting off The Sugar

31 Jul

11:43 am

It’s only been less than a week, but totally minimizing my Diet Coke intake and for the most part, cutting out “fake sweets” (i.e., candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, pudding, etc.) in favor of either granola bars (sure, they’ve got sugar, too, but it’s “good” sugar=LOL) or yogurt (pectin-free, but sometimes the cane sugar-laden stuff) has kind of totally reset me.

I feel better, overall. I feel… Well, let’s itemize the Awesome:

1. I’m no longer jones’ing for a Diet Coke (DC, from here on out). That was fast, I have to admit. I mean, quitting drinkin’ was SUCH a fucking drawn-out process, mentally and emotionally, that I thought that cutting out the DC was going to be the same. NOPE. See, I fasted once, for five days, and at the end of those five days I had absolutely lost any and all craving for Coke. Of course, I “picked up” again, but I remember that reset happening with practically no effort on my part, simply falling back on my physiology–the body is an amazing machine! This time, I think my body was just like, OK, bitch, stop this nonsense. I had reached my fake liquid sugar limit. The first couple of days, I had to wean myself after experiencing noticeable lethargy and moodiness, but after the third day, I suddenly started craving “real” sweets over liquid ones. Now, about a week later, I waited until 5 pm yesterday to have my first sip of DC, and I almost immediately felt dizzy. I don’t know what’s going on with that, but at least now I know I can possibly link the two…

2. I feel like my inner “satiety meter” has been fine-tuned back to normal. It’s hard to explain this, but when I started drinking and eating too much sugar, I felt like my hunger sense was off: not only did I not know what I wanted to eat (like, did I want a burrito, or did I want tofu?), but I couldn’t seem to control my sweet tooth. Now, I prefer to have a real sweet OVER a can of DC, mainly because if I really want to shed a few pounds, I can’t have both. And, how great is that? Who doesn’t want a real sweet over a can of DC, if you have to choose? And, I guess I’m forcing the choice, but it’s left me actually looking forward to eating sweets again–because I can.

3. I feel like I’m doing myself a favor, and that positive mental health affects my mood.

4. I hated feeling enslaved by yet another fucking craving. Oooh, is there going to be Diet Coke at the party? OMG, what if there is no Diet Coke? How many cans do we have left? Ugh. I mean, OK, on a scale of 1 to 10, with wine being at 10, my DC addiction feels like it is at about a 0.1, but still; it’s the same voice. Baby wolf, wolf puppy. It’s cute, but don’t be fooled, it’s STILL A WOLF.

So, there you have it. By no means am I not eating or drinking sweets, but I’d say that I’ve actually got it a bit under control now. Which feels good. I can finally start using food to my advantage instead of having it use me.

LOTS of great posts out there today; I’m so proud of you all! As for me, tomorrow I’ll be heading down the slope: 1.5 months to go to reach my 6-month mark. I have never gone longer than 23 weeks…and this past Monday was 19 weeks! 25 weeks is September 9th, and 180 days is September 14th. And, I’m not even thinking about drinking anymore. Sure, I get a craving here and there, but I realized last night a gradual process of letting go is happening. Like a scab that’s slow to come off, I’m slowly but surely letting go of the idea that drinking at night would be fun, or a good idea, or somehow an improvement or “fix.” I just don’t think that way anymore, and it makes this sobriety thing start to ring a bit truer for me. I actually don’t think about drinking anymore. (And when I do, there are the hundred and one stories of drinking and drinking-gone-wrong to remind me of why it sucks. I’d link to them all, but all you have to do is read the news and see just how many of the tragedies out there are somehow drinking-related…)

Unicorns and glitter balls all around! Because…why the fuck not? 🙂

Cutting back on…sugar, and old habits

28 Jul

10:55 am

The past two days, I’ve tried to ix-nay sugar completely from my diet. Um, YEAH. Gotcha.

I’ve realized that cutting out sugar entirely, immediately–instead of weaning myself off–will lead to sugar withdrawal, which I guess I had a bit of yesterday: I was sad and lethargic, and felt like my brain was hovering around “off” for most of the day. Sigh. No more extremes. (And, with sugar, I don’t think it’s prudent to be so black-and-white about it.) So, I think I’m going to start by cutting BACK on Diet Coke–maybe one a day, if I need it, or two if I’m indulging. I’ve been drinking at least a liter a day regularly for about nine months?, several cans a day since I quit drinking, and at least a 20-ounce of regular Coke every day since about 2007. I’m sure I drank soda before then, but it was mainly coffee (in the day) and wine (at night).

I noticed I drink Diet Coke like I drink wine, fast and furious. However, there’s something more dangerous about drinking liquid sugar; you can drink and drink and drink, until you get sick, but you won’t black out or pass out. Which means, you can keep drinking more. PERFECT.

It was interesting to watch my mood swings yesterday, and me push through them. It was like I was on autopilot, and my sober mind had taken over. I DID have a craving to drink–a pretty big one. I haven’t really seriously thought of drinking for a while, and this was minor, but big enough to have to turn on the virtual “this is the shit that will go down if you drink tonight” movie in my mind. I counted the number of weeks I have left to get to 22, which was close to my last sober record of 158 days. But then, I took a magnifying glass to what, exactly, I wanted, and HOW, exactly, I was planning to effect that change. The “how” part was new: I’ve gotten myself to reflexively look at what is tripping my drinking switch, but never how to turn it off.

I could very clearly see that my sadness wasn’t necessarily brought on by a sugar low, though that was part of it. I was, and am, lonely. I don’t have many (any?) friends here. I don’t go out. EVER. I could admit to myself last night, on my run, that no, I still haven’t accepted let alone embraced socializing sober. It’s not as strong as it used to be, but I’m still convinced that “there is no point” to going out and not drinkin’. (By go out, I mean to bars and clubs.)

Then I thought, well, you have two neighbors who are free tonight, why not ask them to do something with you? Granted, I had planned to work yesterday, which means that Saturday night or no Saturday night, I am trolling the journals and (for a new project) slogging through complicated stories on the latest in cancer research and treatment–that’s just how I do. However, I didn’t ask, or invite. I think I might have felt better if I had forced myself to socialize instead of doing the usual, which is running alone on the beach and/or working on a Saturday night.

At one point in the run, I simply concluded that I am still living, in a way, like my “old drunk self,” simply without the booze. By that I mean, I still isolate (prefer to be alone), I just don’t do it with wine. It takes a LONG time to change our ingrained habits and defense mechanisms, doesn’t it?

It’s not easy for me to socialize, mainly because I FEEL like I don’t want to, but also because it’s just not in my nature (habit) to engage instead of isolate. “Make yourself available,” is what one of my old roommates used to tell me. That was over a decade ago. I was isolating then, I am isolating now. I guess maybe drinking gave me a way to isolate and not feel bad (or anything!) about it.

Sure, it’s nice to be alone sometimes, have a weekend by myself. What I do, though, hasn’t changed since I hung up my drinking shoes: NOT inviting people over, out, or IN to my life. I wanted to drink to avoid this realization, but that was pointless; there it was. I ran more. I wanted to drink to not feel slightly angry at myself, defeated, and sad. Within about a minute, or less, I had worked out that no, drinking would not fix any of this, and no, actually, I didn’t want a drink. What I wanted–needed–was real change. To feel better. And, how can I feel better? Change my habit of isolating.

The point is, the craving came and went, but I was able to see through it. What was making me want to drink, and what I could do–besides drink–to fix the problem. I was looking for solutions to the real problem, and not just a way to dodge the craving for wine. Wolfie has no clothes, as it were. I can see right through to your scrawny, starved frame, your salivating, dried-up tongue…FUCKING FUCK YOU, WOLFIE!

I am on Day…? 132. 19 weeks tomorrow. I suppose 22 weeks plus 4 days will be my immediate goal, but I’m truly curious to see what comes after six months. Will there be glitter? Balls of it? Will there be unicorns with sparkly teeth, smiling at me from a chorus line on the beach? Or, will it be more like a Broadway musical? Maybe a Broadway musical with glitter and a unicorn parade?

Diet Coke is more addictive than wine!

27 Jul

3:40 pm

I held out as long as I could, but after two whole days without Diet Coke–and almost both days of being as sugar-free as possible–I just cracked open a can. I’m already feeling a bit better after a few sips, and *finally* starting my day: typing this, then going for a run, then working on other stuff (I took yesterday off, so today is a “work day”). I mean, there was no way I could ingest the large amounts of science news and information I need to the way I was feeling.

Over the past few hours, my symptoms peaked: foggy-brained and really lethargic, with this sensation that I’m at the bottom of a hill on my bike. I also feel dizzy and a bit nervous, but I think that’s psychosomatic (i.e., what’s going to happen next?). Ugh. Way worse than the supposed alcohol withdrawal symptoms I had, which mainly consisted of mental urges to drink accompanied by benign symptoms like insomnia and a low-grade “flu.” Maybe it’s something else, this seemingly-recurring dizziness, and unrelated to whether or not I drink DC. I’m not sure, but I do feel better, even just marginally. Which is all I needed, I guess.

This, my friends, sucks. Sugar addiction is serious and should NOT be taken lightly. This whole eat-a-cookie-when-you-want-to-drink mentality? NOT! I hate to say it, but addiction treatment and recovery REALLY, TRULY needs to become more evidence-based (as in, evidence-based medicine). No more wives’ tales, please.

Life is too sweet to be bitter

25 Jul

4:52 pm

I came across a story today that about Kris Carr, and it totally inspired me. Here’s her final quote of the piece:

I think that life is just too sweet to be bitter. Once I was able to change my focus, desperation led to inspiration. I made so many changes, and I thought: This is an awesome life. I mean, honestly, I don’t think anyone has a better life than me. How can you live with the knowledge of cancer? I might not ever be able to get rid of it, but I can’t let that ruin my life. . . . I think: Just go for it. Life is a terminal condition. We’re all going to die. Cancer patients just have more information, but we all, in some ways, wait for permission to live.

For many reasons, this struck me as relevant to sobriety. It strikes at the core of what we avoid as drinkers: we wait for permission to live, we live in fear, we don’t just Go For It. Once we change our focus, we can go from desperate to not drink to inspired to live life.

Today, I’m reconfirming my commitment to running more, embracing the challenge of developing balance in my life, and giving up (trying to) the Diet Coke. If there are small things I can do (juicing might come soon, why not?), then let’s DO THIS.

Not wanting kids, or, the one thing you’re not supposed to talk about?

24 Jul

11:34 am

(I wrote this last night, and I’m posting it for illustrative purpose: I’ve discovered that as the day goes on, I just get depressed. Not to say that this piece isn’t accurate in representing how I feel right now, but I’m just saying that maybe it’s darker than it “should” be because I was feeling low. When I was drinking, I used to force myself to stay up, of course, and live through it. 2 and 3 am were my usual bedtimes (with the alarm still set for 7 or 8 am). I almost always also drank wine. Could it be the two were connected? Cue the “not exactly rocket science” horns.)

I went to the beach this morning, and it was glorious: crisp white sun, shockingly blue sky, clear water reflecting both. These days, I’m pretty damn grateful all the time. Content. Maybe even happy?

Yet… I’m 39, and some days all I can think about is, why did it take so fucking long? I mean, Jesus. Just NOW I’m starting to feel OK about being a human? What the fuck?

And then, because I’m 39 and I think about having a baby constantly (whether I want one, whether I should want one), how on EARTH could I willingly bring another human being into this world knowing what I know about how difficult this life thing is? I mean, from about 14 until present, life’s been pretty difficult. Exhaustingly so, I might add. I mean, are we really supposed to spend the first 40 years learning how to live, and the next 40 learning how to die? Is that it?

I’ve been reading blogs and watching a lot of “addiction TV” lately, and man, no fucking wonder we all drank. Trauma, lots of it. Big, small, sideways, and in between. Some of it unearthed, a lot of it still buried in unconscious thoughts, unexplained feelings, and reactive behavior. And, imagine how it’s going for the rest of the world, who haven’t gotten sober and started looking at things with a magnifying glass? No wonder there are mass shootings.

I know this is heavy for a blog post, but admit it: we feel LUCKY to be alive. Can we really expect things to go opposite for our kids? Life is hard, and confusing, to say the least. Surreal might be a better word. Finding a sense of purpose, a creative outlet, a way to identify and manage your feelings? Hard as shit. Why do we view procreation through rose-colored glasses? It was hard as shit for you; it’s probably going to be hard as shit for your kids.

I, for one, already feel bad for my unborn child entering her teenage years, feeling as dark, depressed, and overwhelmed as I did. I folded in on myself, spending hours–years–writing in my room, dancing alone, binge eating, and having fits of anger in which I’d alternately weep and slap myself. This was just the beginning. I wish I had had the courage to seek help, as it were, but I didn’t. And I blame myself–as a human, of course, I do!–for all of it. Sigh. How could I do this to little Susie, knowingly?

It’s been a huge part of my recovery process, coming to terms with these convictions–I’ve had to think back on my own tumultuous journey and realize that actually, if I’m dead-fucking honest with myself, the joy might not outweigh the pain. I mean, we live and we love and we appreciate both, but, dude, it was a long-ass haul from 16 to 39 years old. Can I truly expect that my child, who has my genes, won’t experience the same difficulties?

At this point in my thought process, if I was still drinking, I’d probably crack open a bottle of red wine. I’m starting to sense that wind tunnel feeling in my belly, like I’m being sucked into a black hole. THERE ARE NO ANSWERS. THERE ARE NO SALVES. These are truths, no matter how difficult to ponder.

I am grateful, and bemused, and astounded by life. I am also selfish, and I admit to not wanting to pass my youth over to a newborn. Evolution and industrialization have allowed this, for our generations; we don’t have to have kids, and we get to ponder the reality of doing so well into our waning years of fertility! Sometimes I think, being sober now and knowing how exhausted I am of always having been the overachiever, the do-gooder, the people-pleaser–I’d rather let “them” have the kids, let “them” raise the children. I’d rather sit this one out, let others take on that work. Is this bad? Am I a bad person? I don’t know, but it’s the truth (right now, anyway), and it keeps coming up A LOT these days. It seems directly tied to my getting sober, this attitude.

I think for people who have bad kidhoods–like, with serious physical or emotional trauma–they either grow up into people who want to have kids so that they can improve upon their own childhoods, or, like me, don’t ever want to have to relive it! Kids remind me of being a kid, and I didn’t like being a kid! I had a lot of trauma being a kid. I had a lot of joy, sure, but all in all, more pain than joy. I just don’t want a re-do, no matter in what form.

Then, of course, there are days when I DO want kids, and, realizing that that ship has probably already sailed? That’s an even harder truth to face.

Maybe I need to “let go and let God” in the sense that, I don’t know everything and maybe this entire rant was simply my ego talking, my personality, my fear–underneath it all, I value life, I want children, and I do believe that the joy and wonder definitely outweighs the pain and hardship?

Hmm…

Where’s my Broadway musical? Hello?

God in my garden

21 Jul

3:47 pm

I am growing things. I have what some urbanites might call an “urban farm,” but what this farmer’s daughter (yes, I grew up on a dairy farm) calls a garden.

Actually, all my plants and herbs are in pots, and I’ve now got about ten going! Three of them are massive Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-sized tomato plants that I’ve had to re-pot three times already! I staked rods in them this time so that they have something to lean into as they continue to shoot up. I cannot WAIT to see some actual tomatoes on the vines, too–the produce down here leaves a lot to be desired.

I’ve felt very quiet of mind lately. Well, this morning. For a few hours. LOL. It was nice to be alone, in the sun, gardening. It’s cool to see my plants actually coming along; I don’t even care, really, if the tomato plants bear fruit.

I think I’ve had enough time and space to “recover” from my friend’s visit to have come to a few hard conclusions: she and I likely won’t continue in the same kind of friendship we’ve been having, and, I need to actively speak in a more positive way.

Our relationship was a co-dependent one. In a nutshell, she needed me to be a drunk in order to diss on me to make herself, who is very insecure, feel better; and I needed her to diss on me because I felt afraid, I guess, of shining. There’s a long trail of “hiding your light under a bushel” behavior in my life, but with this friend, it’s clearly a defense mechanism for me. I couldn’t confront her feeling jealous and expressing it by hating on me; I wanted to assuage her feelings of self-loathing by bringing myself down to her level. We commiserated a lot together, but deep down (and this came out in my blackouts), I hated myself for participating and I hated her for trying to bring me down to make herself feel better. I wish this didn’t sound so harsh because underneath it all, she’s a good person–aren’t we all?

Fast forward to now. Cut the bullshit, basically. The weekend was me being strong, present, direct, and apparently invested in an actual life here. A life that you all know about, but that she could only imagine until she got here…and saw it for herself. It threw her for a loop, to put it mildly. And, I have to say, I don’t think either of us knew how to interact with one another in these new “roles.” It seemed like she noticed that I had not only changed, but grown up, taken hold of my life, and moved forward–not to make her feel bad, but because this is me now and this is what I do now. It was apparent to me just how insecure she feels about herself–her job, her relationship status, and especially her looks (which may never change, and which I simply don’t play into). We performed a balancing act the whole weekend, and while it was nice to see her and get caught up, I was relieved when she left.

As for me, I noticed that when unsure what to talk about, I would often hear a stream of negativities come tumbling out of my mouth. Literally, it was like I was listening to someone else. These were not so much direct complaints, but rambling monologues that tended toward why this doesn’t work, and why that’s not for me, and why I don’t like this or that. YUCK. I couldn’t wait to get home sometimes and lapse into the fun–and for lack of a better word, “ego-relieving”–“cartoon” voice I use with the dogs.

I don’t know why, but it kept happening/I kept doing it! Maybe I’m still trying to downplay my happiness (or at least, contentedness) because I’m afraid of success, or because I still care too much about what others think, striving for their approval, i.e., I better talk badly about my cooking or my car or my apartment before SHE does, just in case she doesn’t approve. UGH. DOUBLE-YUCK. The point is, I want to change this as much as possible and immediately; it affects everything, and not in a good way. Sometimes I wouldn’t mind going back to the uber-quiet girl I was growing up–maybe there was a lot to be gained from being “too quiet” all the time?

Again, it was nice to be alone this morning, without my thoughts, in the “garden.” A lovely morning, literally. Maybe love is transcending all the bullshit and just being quiet, aware, and absorbed in growing things? Maybe that’s a metaphor for life? If I believed, I would say, possibly that’s even one for God…

What day is it? I’ve got my eyes set on 180 days, which is September 14th. No point in even thinking about drinking until that day comes. (In fact, is that my Unicorn with Sparkly Teeth over there, kicking the grass? Isn’t that where the remains of wolfie-boy are decomposing? Get it, GIRL.)

Not a Broadway show, but maybe off-off-off Broadway?

19 Jul

10:55 am

Drip, drop. Drip, Drop.

It’s the sound of the change going on in my life. At least the way I hear it. Drops. Falling. Out. Of. The. Sky. One by one.

Wait: I think I saw one go back UP. Oh, me.

I’m trying to be patient, and I don’t want to drink, but I feel like I need to do more, work more, pitch more, blah blah blah. The thing about getting sober is, you embrace a much bigger picture of who you can be, what you could do. Your to-do list gets really big, your bucket list, humongous. Which is amazing, right? To be able to dream like that is probably a distant memory for a lot of us, isn’t it?

Yet, you’re still you and things still happen and you still have to work and go running and make dinner, walk the dogs, visit family, and do all these things that you used to do and that are mundane and that seem to have nothing to do with that Big, Sparkly Unicorn Sober Life that “everyone” keeps saying they’ve been leading and you will be, too, once you…? I’m not sure what, but my sobriety has been pretty much drip, drop, drip, drop.

Another thing about being sober–and this has been my experience only–is that just because you’re not drinking doesn’t mean that your life is going to resemble a Broadway musical. (I have a twin brother who’s actually written a musical, so there ARE some people who literally strive for this, but they, too, have day jobs.) No, no musical going up in this house. There are no built gay men breaking out in song and dance here. No lights, no orchestra, no costumes. Just me. Just life. Just not drinking. Thank God(dess) the pangs have subsided–it only took a year–but beyond that, life is still just life.

Drip drop, drip drop. I want to see more and bigger and way different, but I just see…me, now. I see what I WANT to do more clearly, and that makes the stretch look even longer: How am I going to get THERE? All the way over there? Dude, I’m tired. I want a glass of wine, shit maybe I’ll drink at Day 180 (nah, yeah, maybe, nah, yeah, maybe)… Oh, wait, what? Right. Weren’t we talking about big changes and Broadway costumes? Sorry, got distracted there–AGAIN.

For now, until the show ends up at my doorstep, I’m going to keep getting up before 9 (yes, I’ve still got time to lounge, but will be applying for full-time jobs today, actually), processing my graduate school application/decision, banging my head against what fees like a brick wall to get some freelance science writing gigs, continue to blog and explore some of my personal writing projects (ugh!). Running, losing weight then gaining it back when I make a LOT of pudding and cake and cookies. Walking the dogs, petting the dogs, getting bit by one of the dogs. Maybe planning a trip home to see my mom before her hip replacement surgery in the fall.

Nope, no mid-air splits here. Just life, and dripping and dropping. Progress comes in tiny increments, which is probably for the best–I, for one, am not ready to belt out a Patti LuPone-style solo just yet.

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