Hi, friends! It’s been a week and that seems too long. And, I’ve had such a BUSY week–labor-intensive, I should say– that it’s been rough keeping my head in the sobriety game.
I must admit, I’ve been having the “fuck it’s” a little too often for my own comfort lately.
I just feel pulled. I mean, for one thing, I don’t have a secure income. Hello, that would drive anyone a bit mad. Second, I don’t have this burning desire to do, as I once had. It’s persistent. I thought it would be gone by now, almost a year since I had my last drink, but “the blahs” are hanging on.
I mean, it’s been almost a year, but I’ll admit, I still go through most of my day just doing things because I have to. Maybe I did that before, maybe we all do it to survive. I don’t know, I’m confused and having a hard time figuring out where “sober me” ends and “me me” begins. Like, the other day, I did a shit-ton of stuff–a job interview, wrote a piece for publication, and went to a party and chatted everyone up while sober. And I came home with barely a memory of any of it. It was like I was in a mini-blackout. Now, with all my science-y reading, I’ve come to understand that forming memories that stick requires feeling–like, you form much stronger memories if your emotional brain is involved, which is why, heya, our emotions are so wrapped up in our addictions, and vice versa. I don’t know if I’m burnt out (freelancing takes so many things out of your control) or simply dealing with a lack of dopamine due to getting sober. I feel like I could take or leave most everything–work, eating, play. It’s all the same to me. It’s weird to try to explain it, but it’s like, I feel very little/numb/nothing, so I have to rationally engage my brain to make me want to do things. And I do them, and I like it, but… It’s weird. It’s sort of scaring me a bit, because I do realize that I’m operating on will and I know how testy will can be.
All that aside, I feel OK, fine, whatever, I’m not complaining about having sun, and water, and work, and basically, a lot of free time to construct any kind of life I want (as long as I make my rent, that is). I’ve realized that taking breaks–like, totally shutting down the information flow–is absolutely essential to me being able to breathe and say, OK, drinking would NOT help here. That means, no email, no Facebook, no news, no music, and most certainly, minimizing other people because other people means me having to take in their stories, and their feelings, and their problems–and it’s not that I don’t want to, I just can’t right now. I feel like I might implode. And, this all makes me feel desperate inside, and like I want/need to drink to shut it off. As Jen so well put it in a blog post:
Drinking is a way of controlling reality when everything else feels out of control. That’s where the ‘fuck it’s’ come in. Fuck it, everything is hard, might as well drink. Fuck it, I can’t change anything, might as well drink. Fuck it, I am not happy, might as well drink.
This past week, it’s hit home again: I use a LOT of black-and-white thinking. Black-and-white thinking is so tricky, and you don’t realize you’re doing it, but it raises your anxiety to the point where you want to say, Fuck it, and let yourself drink, whether it’s at your problem or because of your problem. For instance: I find a story idea, I pitch it, and an editor rejects it. I could either think, Well, that publication didn’t want it so the story’s dead…and, also, I suck at this and I should probably find another line of work; and then, Shit, how am I going to pay my bills if I suck; and while I’m at it, I also seem to suck at x, y, and z, too, and so, Why am I even here, why bother being alive? You see how it goes. Alternately, I could think (like “normal” people do?), Well, that publication didn’t want it, so, let’s see if another one does. I think the story idea is good, I’m sticking to my guns, and I just have to have patience, dampen the anxiety over money with simple trust in my own talents, and ramp up the aggressive side that says, Go get ’em, tiger.
This all leads me to the second big “thing” I’ve realized this week: I am performing all the time, mainly because I don’t think what I have is what people want. In work, in play, at parties, in relationships, I can see now that the common theme throughout my life has been trying hard to be something for others that I thought they wanted. I never once considered that it didn’t matter what they were thinking or wanting. Now, I’m trying to undo that, and getting sober has allowed me to see, for the first time in some cases, that it Just Doesn’t Matter. And, that I Just Don’t Care. And, that this is essential to staying sober, to healing, for me anyway. Going to parties sober is so much easier now because I can see how drinking is, for many people, a way to please others. It shows me that other people are struggling with this desire to please, which is a desire to hide your “real” self, I guess. It’s a way to perform your way out of being authentic; and being authentic requires something along the lines of not giving a rat’s ass–in a good way. I’m working on that, and it’s supremely liberating, even more than the absence of craving, which for the most part I have these days.
However, I have been having the “fuck it’s” lately, and sometimes I want to smoke a cigarette. I don’t like smoking, but lately, I’ve almost lit up a few times out of desperation! To cast order, to soothe, to activate my mind–I don’t even know what I’m looking for in these moments. I wonder if an SSRI might be good for me; I often feel a palpable absence of motivation. But, where does “sober me” end and “me me” begin? Should I just keep waiting to recalibrate? I’ve always felt a fire in my head, and now I wonder, was it fueled by wine this whole time, and a continuing surge of dopamine? I’d have to say no, because I do remember how passionate and driven I was in my teens and college years, before I started drinking. Yet, that was 20 years ago–could it be an age-driven sense of “meh, been there, done that”?
So, I wait. I’m waiting. Which I can do. And, this is sobriety. I can tell you this, though: I have ZERO desire to go back there, to be those drinking people at the party, some beholden to the bottle, others pulled by it, a few enslaved to it. But all–ALL–trapped into performing their lives, their selves, instead of simply being and doing. I might be feeling flat, but I definitely am feeling FREEer than ever when it comes to not having to perform in my own life anymore. Sure, I might come across as disinterested or even bitchy or uncaring, but you know what, maybe I am. I’ve come to accept that YES, it’s OK to displease others; it’s OK if other people don’t like or get or get off on you–it’s not your responsibility. And isn’t that great? In the sense that, if I am disinterested and I don’t hide that from myself–or from you–I’m on the fast track to finding what really interests me, what I’m really passionate about, what I feel safe expressing my excitement for. I’m being me, and that’s a gift, to you. Getting sober has taught me that this is a good thing, and I am using this as a kind of mini-life raft right now, until a solid shoreline comes into focus.
I hope everyone is doing well, and taking breaks, and having treats. And turning it off when you must, and not giving a rat’s ass! 🙂