Archive | October, 2013

Without this, I wouldn’t have that

29 Oct

10:30 am

Without this:

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I wouldn’t have that:

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Or that:

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Tonight I won’t drink because…

28 Oct

8:49 pm

I don’t want to feel drunk, or sick to my stomach. Or dizzy. I don’t want to feel dizzy, like my head is coming unglued, my brain unzipped, my thoughts not forming or falling apart as they form.

I don’t want to feel hung over tomorrow and ruin the day. Or the next two days. Or the rest of the week. I could really do without feeling like death, having a panic attack, and being barely able to function mentally and emotionally for the next several days, yes. I don’t want to be hung over, ever, EVER again.

I don’t have the money, if I’m honest, to waste on wine.

I will piss out the wine almost as fast as I drink it, along with all my nutrients (because I am, actually, eating now). But not before the wine soaks every organ in my body, metabolizes into a carcinogenic chemical, and turns my urinary tract into an acidic hell. No, no. I don’t have much say over the miracle of my physiology, but at least I can put gas in gas, and oil in oil, and make sure to not mix the two. Yes, I get the magnitude of this simple choice now, this choice of GOOD fuel over, well, dirty oil.

I don’t want to cry, or weep. About old things. Sad things. Things I’ve done. Things that are not what I’ve got going on now, what I’m doing now, who I am now, what I’m working toward now.

I have work to do. And I will have work to do tomorrow. And, I actually want to work instead of avoiding it by drinking and making it impossible to even try.

I don’t want to call people, like an ex, or my brother who hasn’t forgiven me for freaking out on him two years ago, and say things that they don’t deserve to hear.

I don’t want to be emotional. I want to be cold, precise, and sharp. Empty, even.

I don’t want to yell at people, for no reason, or every reason. I don’t have the energy to waste, and even if I did, I wouldn’t want to spend it on this.

I want what I have now, which is a certain calm, a deep well that doesn’t move at night, that keeps me in its grasp–finally.

I want to be responsible, boring even. I don’t need the drama, the attention, the diversion; I have a goal, a purpose, which is, well, being sober and then, working on allowing everything else to happen.

I like wearing my “mom” jeans, OK?

The hauntings of Santa Muerte

26 Oct

3:09 pm

Hmm. Nothing all that profound about today. Just another day in “paradise.” Correction: just another SOBER day in paradise, which begins with me waking up not hung over! I swear, it never fucking gets old. EVER. I am grateful every morning for not having a hangover. EVERY morning. And, the longer I’m sober, the more accessible the memory of my last drunk (or one of my later hangovers) becomes; I seem to be able to remember it more clearly, breathe in every moment of that wretched feeling as if it were yesterday.

Today, though, I want to talk about hauntings. Of things past, things done. I have many, and of all the days of my life, all the events–these drunken shenanigans only make up a very small percent.  A miniscule amount. Yet. YET. Man, do they take up SO MUCH space in my brain.

And, I can’t seem to let them go. Forget about them. Relegate them to the back burner, so that all the awesome memories of amazing things I’ve done in my life can take the front, can actually be remembered and serve as springboards in the present moment. That’s the sad irony of all this navel-gazing, I suppose, or maybe it’s simply the nature of the beast: we ruminate on all the stupid, shitty, god-awful things we did drunk, and they make up our mental landscape, affecting who we are NOW and how we behave HERE. I am, for some reason, focused on the miniscule 1 percent, which obscures just how bright and amazing the other 99 percent is. Hmm.

I have a red boa draped over my desk, as decoration and distraction. Or…is it to remind myself of what I did, to keep it within reach so that I NEVER FORGET JUST HOW BAD I WAS? It was two years ago, the last Halloween I “celebrated,” and let me tell you what happened. I was to fly to LA to meet a long-time friend for the weekend. It was supposed to be relaxed, fun, an escape. Too bad I started off the trip with a HUGE night drinking alone in my apartment–per fucking usual. When dawn came and the wine was gone, I was screaming drunk; and the utter dread and sickness of withdrawal–coming down SUCKS–was threatening to set in. NO, somewhere deep inside said. I am not done yet. I am not ready to stop. And, I didn’t.

To avoid the “night ending”–losing the buzz, dealing with what was surely going to be a suicidal hangover–I drank more. I opened another bottle and proceeded to down the whole thing, both while I was getting ready and en route to the airport in the cab. Once there, my mood picked up, I got my second wind, and though I was THIS close to being drunky-drunk, everything seemed clearer. I got to my terminal and downed a few beers–beer couldn’t hurt, right? It would hydrate me, I lied.

The plane took off and I had an “amazing” seat-mate, some married asshole who was flirting with me and drinking with me (wine for breakfast anyone?). We had the most “marvelous” conversation, and by the time our flight touched down about an hour later, I had definitely gone from drunker to drunkest. Of course, I was STILL hanging on, desperate for the party not to end, so I convinced this guy to have one more drink with me–another bar, another airport.

Then (finally?), I blacked out. DUH. Piecing together the texts and my shoddy memory of how this scenario was resolved, I concluded the following: I must have been stumbling around LAX for at least two hours blacked out; my friend had texted numerous times that he was waiting for me and would be leaving VERY soon if my ass didn’t show itself; I remember my friend heaving me into the passenger seat of his car and driving home; I was slouched next to him, and it was only then that I registered that my jeans were soaked from top to bottom–my entire pants were drenched in urine. I had pissed myself, and I had been walking around LAX like this for two fucking hours, and people must have noticed, including my friend. OH, GOD. Oh god oh god oh god.

Cue the remorse that haunts me to this day, that prods at my soul, begging to come in; that ends up saturating my gut with its daily drip-drip-dripping.

I slept at his place until about 5 that afternoon–the whole day, gone–while he went out and did some errands. What must he have been thinking? Fortunately, he is one of the forgivers. While he was quite upset (for a long time after that weekend, I imagine), we made the best of the night. I will never forget his stare, wary, as we swayed together in our costumes at some bar in LA and I drank again–this time, three small glasses of wine just to take the edge off and make me feel somewhat normal again. That’s where the boa comes in: I went as the Mexican goddess of death, or Santa Muerte, and the boa was to give it a festive, flowery feel.

Now? That fucking boa above my desk HAUNTS me. While I definitely felt like death that night (I was still mightily hung over, shaking even), I was riding on utter gratitude for my friend–and, that “lovey dovey” feeling that you get when you are coming off the booze, grateful to be alive, thankful beyond recognition to have made it through yet another hangover. Now? I look up and see that boa, and it makes my entire inner body shudder slightly every time I do.

So, why not take it down? I can’t. That day still haunts me. And, I’m actually OK with that. I think I actually NEED the constant reminder of both how bad it got–I feel somewhat ill just remembering it again in such detail–and how far I’ve come. I’ve long since made amends with my friend, who never held it against me anyway. I’ve been getting sober for over 16 months, and I’ve been sober for a continuous 221 days. I was sober last Halloween. I was sober last Christmas, and New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day, and Easter, and my birthday, and the Fourth of July, and Labor Day. I will be sober this Halloween, too.

Yet, I have ghosts. That incident haunts me, one of a seeming-eternity of nights (and days) blacked out and left for dead. And, the least scary thing about it was my costume. Santa Muerte is a “personification of death…associated with healing, protection, and safe delivery to the afterlife.” Is it not worth noting that it was I who chose to dress up as a goddess of death? Or, that this very same goddess also embodies the afterlife? Maybe Santa Muerte was simply looking out for me that night, and all the others, too, waiting for the old me to finally die so that she could transport the new me to a better place?

Learning to let go, or, how to take out the trash

25 Oct

10:55 pm

I wanted to write a “thoughtful” post, but really, I’m just tired and glad to see the end of another tough week of job and life and story searching.

Anyway, I’ve noticed that over the past few weeks, I’m beginning to get the hang of getting rid of what I don’t need–or, how to take out the trash. For instance, if I wake up in a bad mood, sure, I’m in a bad mood but I also see the futility of hanging onto it pretty much beyond like, an hour after getting up. I let it go and embrace what I do have: a full day, the decision-making ability to choose to be, if not unicorns-shitting-glitter happy, then at least not in a bad mood.

Or, learning to let the sometimes ignorant behavior of locals down here roll off my back. Driving the other day, someone was either tailing me (there is no concept of courtesy distance) or making gestures when I didn’t know I was supposed to go around the makeshift construction zone, and I drove past and wanted to flip him off. But, I didn’t. Instead, I let myself feel about three seconds of uncontrollable fury and then…exhaled loudly, telling myself that it doesn’t matter, these people don’t matter, think about all the good people that you are going to help today and tomorrow and in the future. Bam, gone. Take what you need and trash the rest. It’s all the rest.

I can see why so many things made me want to drink–mainly because I didn’t know how to ignore what I didn’t need, or simply get rid of what wasn’t serving me. That goes deep, too, from how to react to story pitching, to how to field negativity from friends, to something as simple as how not to want to smash my scanner into bits and pieces because some stupid company thinks it’s OK to put the burden of scanning a PDF on the applicant (pet peeve of mine–not everyone has access to a home scanner or a FedEx where they can have it done!).

Now, I NEED to monitor the trash and take it out constantly in order to stay sober–and sane. If I reacted negatively and carried that reaction with me to every thing that bothered or irritated or vexed or hurt me, like I used to do, I just don’t think I could continue to remain sober.

I’ve still got work to do, though. As I said, I went on a job interview yesterday, and after I left the building and nearly stumbled down the hill to my car in my heels (heels and sidewalks built into volcanic hillsides don’t mix, btw), sweating in the already 85-degree heat at 10 am; I realized that I hadn’t really took a breath since I got up that morning. Nice one. Way to hold it all in! It was interesting (dismaying?) to see how much my sciatica flared just from that hour of tension–self-imposed, but still real–but I can live with a little pain. For now.

What I can’t live with, however, is not knowing how to make it different. I want to learn how to be totally relaxed on the inside but also ready on the outside–muscles and mind contracted in order to move and compete in the world, but to not care about the outcome (that much). My goal? How to toss the bag in the trash…as I exit a full pirouette. 🙂

The view outside my sober healing bubble

24 Oct

3:56 pm

Tired, but hanging in there…

…not unlike the one car that YOU happen to be on that gets stuck, dangling in mid-air on the roller coaster ride called sobriety. Or life. Or living sober. Or just living.

I had a job interview today, and I only got about three hours sleep last night due to waking up at about 3 am and then tossing and turning for the next four hours. I had the worst recurring “nightmare,” too: I was literally buried under mounds and mounds of possible interview clothes, and I had like, 45 minutes to pick an outfit. I was running out of time, and I had no idea what pieces I wanted to put together, and I needed help, so I frantically called in…an old boss of mine? What? Anyway, it was SO stressful. When I finally shook the sleep out of me, I realized with sweet relief that real life is actually better than my dreams–kind of like when you dream you’re drinking, or drunk, and then you wake up to the fact of your sobriety. Sweet, sweet relief.

Someone emailed me the other day, and she reminded me of what I’ve heard before, that the first year is about getting sober and learning how to stay sober; while the second year is about learning how to live sober. I think I’m finally simply understanding this shift, from “healing” to “living;” and that I can’t stay inside my sober healing bubble forever. Unless I want to either stagnate and/or drink again.

As you’ve seen, I’ve been sort of getting my mojo back when it comes to socializing and work. Today, I took a BIG peek–maybe even a step!–outside my sober healing bubble and went on a job interview. Now, I have gone on a couple in-person interviews in the past two years (when I left my last full-time job to begin freelancing), but my last one was last June, and last June seems like FOREVER ago. In fact, I believe I was stupid hung over on that day–big surprise.

Anyway, today I interviewed sober and not hung over, and I felt good. Good to start to put myself back out there, in all ways, not just pitching and talking on the phone in the comfort of my own sober living room. Good to have to stress myself out a bit, whether that was finding an outfit (I’m picky, so I reluctantly spent more than I could afford), or driving myself downtown, or finding parking (I’m pretty sure I fucked that one up and parked where I shouldn’t have), or introducing myself to a new person and having to talk about myself for half an hour.

I don’t know if I want this job, but it would be SO nice to have some reliable income–a 9-to-5 job is manna from heaven to this girl right about now. In any case, over the past few weeks I’ve managed to land a few other freelance gigs that could turn into more substantial income, so that’s definitely good news. The name of this game is persistence and/or how bad you want it. Fortunately, I have at least one (persistence), which I might be confusing with banging my head against a brick wall, but so it goes.

So, that was what happened this morning. And now, back to my regularly scheduled program of looking to see SO many other science writers being published, especially in two new-ish magazines. Le sigh. One day…one day.

“If I feel this way tomorrow, I’m going to drink”

20 Oct

10:29 am

And, I woke up feeling the same way I felt last night, and the night before, and the night before. Am I glad I wasn’t also hung over? YES. Will I drink tonight? I don’t know.

I feel like a lot of the time, I’m waiting for my “break.” I never get to escape, turn it off. It’s maddening. No amount of “wholesome” fun, like yoga, running, swimming, socializing sober, even JOB FUCKING SEARCHING ON A SATURDAY NIGHT (welcome to the reality of freelance writing) can fully mask the feeling that all these things are just placeholders for the real deal.

Yet, I have to ask myself, is drinking the real deal? Even as I whine about having no escape, no down time, and thinking that wine will fix this agitation, this irritated hole; I’m not at all sure that it WILL. And, I know from waking up this morning, and feeling an emotional hangover, it would have been SO much worse had I drunk (copious amounts, I’m sure) out of desperation last night and added a physical one on top of it.

So, I move ahead today. With my aching heart and burning, twisted stomach, forcing a smile and doing what needs to be done. Check, check, check. I know eventually it’ll lift, and at some point today, I’ll be doing things more out of “yay” and less out of “have to do this, here, I’ve done it.” I guess.

Strange days, indeed.

No, Oreos are not as addictive as cocaine

19 Oct

As a science writer, I have come to despise how reductionist scientists (well, maybe this is a prime example of how faulty the mainstream media is) can be! Addiction affects and influences EVERY part of the brain, and many neurotransmitters working in conjunction, not just one area and one chemical. Not to mention, I’ve always found drawing conclusions about humans from a rodent’s behavior around a lever or a maze to be…astounding. It’s like, REALLY? It is nice to see a bit of perspective!

Addiction & Recovery News

Thank you, Stephanie Pappas from LiveScience!

“The study performed cannot determine whether Oreos are as addictive as cocaine,” said Edythe London, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who uses brain imaging to study the neural basis of drug cravings. “That question is best addressed in a comparison of how hard a rat will work for Oreos versus cocaine — how many times a rat will press a lever to get one or the other.”

The students also measured the expression of a protein called c-Fos, which indicates brain cell activity, in the nucleus accumbens of rats exposed to Oreos or cocaine. This brain region is important for pleasure and positive reinforcement and is involved in addiction because of the pleasurable feelings brought on by drugs.

The rats’ nucleus accumbens activated more strongly with the stimulus of Oreos than the stimulus of cocaine, but those findings don’t…

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