Archive | April, 2014

Top five things about not drinking on a Friday night

26 Apr

8:30 am

I like to make these lists, from time to time, as you may have noticed. And, there are SO many good things about not drinking at Friday night “happy” hour, that’s it’s going to be tough to pick just five.

I’ll preface this by saying, I am sitting on the couch, feeling and hearing the ocean off my deck, at 8:15 am–sure, I’m a bit tired because I didn’t get enough sleep last night, but it is WAY better than being hung over. And, I must say, I would be hung over even after a couple glasses of wine, I know it.

I also must say, I felt ill enough from sitting all day at a training-type event that I simply could not imagine drinking at the happy hour-thingie that someone in the group was planning (jones’ing) for–even if I was still drinking. A LOT of the times when I was living and working in “the city,” I felt so office-sick after my days, I had to come home, hit the gym to sweat/detox; and ONLY THEN was I able/ready to go out and consume my shit-ton of wine. Maybe that was what helped me do it for so long, I had some preemptive metabolic support (shit, I KNEW what I was doing, but I’ll leave that for another post titled, How to prepare and maintain your body for a high-functioning alcoholic lifestyle).

Another thing: I felt SO calm, and SO not tired in the training session. I was a student my entire life, and a good one, but I was either always anxious or always tired. I thought that was “just me.” It wasn’t, it was what I did to me. In high school and college I didn’t drink, but I would only “allow” myself about six hours sleep a night; in college, it was worse, with me struggling to keep up with my pre-med studies, probably getting no more than four hours a night during most of my first two years! In grad school, I was basically either always hung over or exhausted, or both, from staying up all night drinking.

Yesterday was different, and it changed the story I’ve been telling myself all my life about myself as I relate to school: I am not inherently anxious about my abilities. Either by 40 years old, I’ve changed, or, I was simply always tired or anxious because (at least in grad school) I was always and constantly hung over.

It was a great feeling, to be the one in control, finally. If ONLY I had realized just how fucking hard I was making it on myself in grad school–how would my experience have been different had I not boozed it up every single night? If I had turned to yoga to ease my intense anxiety (the program was brutal), instead of making it WORSE by drinking?

Anyway, top five reasons to NOT drink on a Friday night:

1. No hangover on Saturday morning!

2. Feeling freedom, which is ultimately mega-empowering: I was not jones’ing for a drink at 5 o’clock. I was not “looking forward” to it during lunch, or toward the end of the training session. There was not the least bit of “running in circles” in my mind, trying to figure out where and/or IF I would drink that night, how much, with whom, or worrying about “missing out” on some shit if I didn’t go out. NONE. What a blank, wonderfully calm slate it is, a mind that is not thinking about drinking during the day.

3. Being able to work out and de-stress and detox after a long day–for real, and not for fake with a drink. All I wanted to do after this session was work out, sweat, move my body. And, I did. And, drinking–even ONE drink, even in “moderation”–would have prevented that.

4. Staying on track/maintaining momentum–this has to do with not necessarily feeling “guilty” because I drank (I wouldn’t anyway), but this feeling I have had for a while, and that just KEEPS BUILDING the longer I don’t drink on Friday (or any other) night. It’s like, an integrity, a wholeness, a circle, not a fragmented line. Doing my body good. Counting on myself. Never getting stupid, or oversharing, or being indiscrete, or being a dumb fuck. It feels GOOD to have that…long-term thing going. A sense of personal best, or satisfaction, or something. It’s taken so much mental work, but: a feeling of finally being convinced that even one drink is actually NOT better than continued sobriety. Maybe it’s called, preserving grace?

5. Plans are intact–I guess this relates to being not hung over (but that’s more of a physical thing), or to being able to count on myself (but that’s more of a feeling thing). The weekend is here, and my plans are intact, and I still “don’t need” wine. I have everything I need, and I feel free. I have some writing to do, and my part-time job to do, and packing to do (for our mini-vacay on Monday and Tuesday), and all that will get done.

Top five. The pangs still come and go, and I did still (after almost two years) feel a bit…weird, being the “sober” girl at the “happy” hour last night, but…NOT ENOUGH TO GIVE UP MY SOBRIETY, or my Friday night. Not even close.

Is self-esteem the common denominator?

22 Apr

11:26 am

First, thanks for all the comments to my last post. I want to and will get back to all of you in the comments soon–great discussion, eh? BUT…I didn’t mean to write something polarizing, but that seems to be how many interpreted it. I think I was getting at something more basic: I don’t need or want to be “telling on myself” all the time. I don’t believe I am particularly “fucked up,” and I do believe that poor coping mechanisms besiege every single person on this planet. All that being said, I think there are particular commonalities among people with substance use problems and/or disorders, and those might actually be best ironed out in both individual and group (AA, other recovery groups) settings!

Anyhoo…

I was in the shower the other day–seems to be where most of my ideas pop up–and I thought, man, I have such low self-esteem. It was in reaction to something someone posted on Facebook, a picture of him hugging someone else. I noticed how happy he was, and how loving; but also, how “out there” his happiness and love were. Like, there doesn’t seem to be a hesitant bone in his body.

Whoa. That’s weird. I just segregate those “kind” of people into an entirely separate folder, because I don’t get them. I wish I was like them, but I don’t get them. And, maybe they, too, have had self-esteem issues–doubts, ruminations–but they’ve simply worked (are working) through them.

This person doesn’t seem to approach the day with thoughts like: I wonder what he is thinking of me; I bet she doesn’t like me; he is probably thinking badly of me; she is ahead of me; I don’t deserve to be here; I don’t deserve to be able to stand tall and look her in the eye; is my looking him in the eye going to be perceived as passive or aggressive? It must sound crazy to more outgoing people, or people who don’t think this way; but these are thoughts that I am almost embarrassed to say run through my mind on autopilot, like a subconscious soundtrack. They are literally so embedded in how I see the world that I don’t even hear them anymore.

It seems that there are people who seem to have self-confidence to the point where they almost lack any and all self-consciousness. They don’t wake up dreading the day, deep down. They wake up ready to embrace the day, because they are convinced that they deserve this. They don’t think they’re “better” than others by expecting love and reciprocity from people. They don’t think about this at all, that’s how ingrained it is.

I think this is called self-esteem, and from what I’ve seen, “addicts” and “alcoholics” (myself included) seem to lack this (to varying extent).

There could be so many genetic and environmental reasons why “we” are this way, but what I’m trying to do now is recognize this in myself–down to even the subconscious level–and reverse it. I have no idea sometimes if I’m doing it right, and maybe I can come across as bitchy, or self-righteous. I don’t mean to.

I realize that part of the problem with being so obsessed with seeing my brother’s girlfriend at the wedding in May (she hates me, and when I say hate, I mean hate) is that I feel SO uncomfortable with someone not liking me. It’s going to be a GREAT lesson for me, and I just hope I can distract myself enough while leading up to May and while actually there that I successfully get past it. I will, I’m just not sure how I will feel, and what will transpire between us–and that scares me, and periodically really upsets my inner zen.

However, the bottom line is, it’s not her, it’s me. I feel insecure with someone hating me, and I shouldn’t. I need to be able to love myself no matter what anyone else says, does, thinks, or feels about me. And, that hits hard at the core of my self-esteem “problem.” I’m glad it hits hard, because maybe I would miss the connection–and the possibility of some serious resolution–if it was more subtle.

Anyway, food for thought.

Sobriety does not have to be a religion

19 Apr

11:28 am

So, a few nights ago, I watched two episodes of Cosmos and then watched the blood moon lunar eclipse from my roof. And I realized: none of this really matters. In a good way.

Lately (as in, the past year?), I’ve been mulling over this idea of “Being Sober” as being almost as bad as being an active “alcoholic.” It’s almost as much of a mindfuck, to be blunt. And, while choosing to NOT Be Sober does not have to mean I drink again, I think it might be the best thing I can do for myself right now.

I think there actually does come a point when your recovery ends. When you need to stop ruminating, stop excavating–not everything has to do with wine, or lack thereof. Especially when all this connecting-the-dots starts to subtract from your overall well-being.

Honestly, even though I haven’t been to meetings in a long time, I, too, have been indoctrinated with this false idea that “addiction” is in me, forever. It’s not. I am a completely different person than I was a few years ago–I don’t want to drink. YES, I have my moments, when I get depressed, or frustrated, or angry and want to blot it out. However, I’ve re-learned how to cope (I think we all do learn, at some point in our lives, and then “forget” when we give in to using alcohol for this purpose).

That’s the thing about the 12-step, and the disease-model: they both presume that you still want to drink after all, and they don’t take into account the fact that you’ve healed mind, body, and increasingly, soul. Personally, I have NO desire to blot out with booze–and next-to no desire to “have fun” by drinking. (I mean, I do miss the buzz, but maybe that’s because I have depression, and I haven’t as yet encountered an antidote that worked as well as wine.) I have an inkling that my body and mind have changed so much that drinking would not affect me the way it did before–drinking those first two glasses equals static brain instead of euphoria, in other words.

Wine is an option, but it’s not the best one. But, isn’t that what EVERYONE knows? Maybe it just took me a fuck-lot longer to figure out that life lesson than others.

Is it necessary for me to Be Sober, which has become burdensome? In my opinion, no, not really. In my gut, I know that I don’t have to drink, ever again. And, that simply means, I don’t have to drink. It doesn’t have to mean more. Sobriety does not have to be a religion, with all its confining constructs–constructs that I’ve built, and imprisoned myself within. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that Jesus was rebelling against, simply by preaching, You can contact God and have a relationship with Him without intermediaries. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that inadvertantly sprang up around Jesus’s teachings!

I used to think about a LOT of other interesting, exciting things; now, I find myself focusing on not drinking all the time. It’s sad, in a way. When I say, I miss me, this is what I mean. And, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been blogging on it constantly, and thereby making it more of a Thing? Who knows? Right now, I’m thinking about the cosmos, and the cities I’ve lived in, and science, and volunteering, and the fun I’m going to have in the future. Not the past, not drinking, not being “diseased” or tempted to drink. Not relating my behavior and mood swings and anger to wine, AGAIN.

Anyway, I think it’s just time for me to move on. Get back to living life, and not living recovery.

Happy Easter. May yourSELF be resurrected! 🙂

Bumping along

12 Apr

5:30 pm

Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA this past week. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing, which is when my blogging seems to go by the wayside.

Anyhoo, the past few weeks have been…up and down. I’ve felt like drinking, more for the, Why the hell not? and the, I can’t really do this boring sobriety thing forever, can I? But, the sober habit takes over, and I get all these “god shots,” mainly in the form of alcoholics telling me about their nights out, and me going, Uh huh, that sounds absolutely stupid and not fun. My, how things have changed! 🙂

Really, though, the fact is, when I give myself the option (sometimes I have been lately) of drinking, I wrestle with it for about an hour, and always end up with the same answer: Nah.

Nah, I don’t feel like being bloated. Nah, I don’t feel like going to the store to even buy the stuff–too lazy. Nah, I don’t have the money–too cheap. Nah, it’s not really going to make the people here more interesting–too cynical. Nah, I don’t want to feel blurry-headed during, and like UTTER HELL the next day. Nah, I don’t know how it’s going to affect me now, and I’m too comfortable in my sobriety, wearing my fuzzy sober socks and zoning out to HGTV, that I can’t even be bothered to drink. Nah, it’s just not enough anymore. I don’t know if all this is good, bad, or in between; but I’ve come to embrace it as one more step forward, somehow.

I’ve also had lots of issues coming to the forefront this week, and I can’t not deal. I need to deal, and I know–KNOW–that drinking wine means putting off dealing. I mean, here they are, my core issues, and I am in a right (sober) mind where I simply can no longer NOT think in detail about why and how and what regarding these things.

What’s coming up? Forgiveness and self-love. Or, lack thereof when it comes to both. They’ve been in my pot, boiling, coming up to the surface every so often, showing their faces. Ugly faces, sometimes. How to do both? I guess…I really don’t know. I never learned how.

I’ve been busily bumping along–thankfully, I am busy. However, I’ve also felt near-constant anxiety. Here and there; sometimes big gusts of adrenaline that don’t subside until my interviews are done, or until I’ve once again managed to pitch a story idea or write about a scientific concept/field of study that is seriously mind-numbingly difficult to grasp. (Ugh; first order of business when I get my ducks in a row: finding a way to earn a living that pays my bills AND doesn’t make my brain hurt.)

I’m not one to manifest physical symptoms, but, lately, it’s all I can do to not feel the adrenaline pooling in my belly; a certain restlessness at night (I swear, I haven’t slept more than three or four hours in a row for like, over a year); intermittent brain fog, which, I have to say, sometimes feels like it might break into voices in my head…which obviously would be bad and scares me, so the past two times it’s happened I’ve just gone to sleep, hoping that it will be gone in the morning. And it has been. But…it’s weird.

I am chalking it up to my overreacting to the brother’s girlfriend; some days, I’m fine, ready to tackle the wedding, and don’t really care what she thinks or does when we see each other. Other days, it’s all bad, and I feel sick with nerves, and my preoccupation fills my brain to the point where I can’t work. Those days suck, and I berate myself for letting her get to me, but, honestly, I just don’t know what to do but accept it as a bad day, hope tomorrow is better, and continue to meditate to incense and Tibetan healing bells (yes, I do this).

So, there’s this happening. I have to say, though, this has got to be it, right? Like, if I can make it through learning forgiveness AND self-love…can’t I make it through anything? And, the past few days, I’ve really come to accept that IF someone (ahem, you know who) chooses to hold a grudge, there really is nothing stopping me from not caring, from continuing along my path. I will continue to live, to smile, to laugh, to be happy and free; continue to learn and strive; to be sober, or not, if I choose. In the end, whatever I do, it just doesn’t matter what she does. It doesn’t matter ONE BIT to me what or how she is to me at the wedding. This is good-day thinking, and I simply hope it lasts, and I’m getting somewhere. I’ve realized that she is a small, small person; and these days, I don’t do small people. I don’t have to. As Belle says, Look away.

Lessons in letting go

5 Apr

1:57 am

Well, yet another “lesson” in forgiveness? That is surely the plus-side of this week’s equation. As my mom says, let it go. You’ve apologized once, now let it go. Easier said than done, like many things in sobriety.

I have to say, I’ve been wanting to drink over this; but, I’m glad I haven’t, mainly because getting through the upset, getting over the anxiety around how to deal with an upcoming confrontation (in May), and grappling with what’s really bothering me–how do I accept that someone actually hates me–these are obstacles that have to be surmounted. I wish I could avoid this confrontation, but I know that I will never move on–and grow toward a MUCH stronger me–if I don’t have it.

As many of you know, I offended my brother’s girlfriend two-and-a-half years ago, and there has been an unhealthy (to say the least) back-and-forth between all of us since then: first he forgives me, then he checks back in with his grudge-holding girlfriend, and then he seemingly changes his mind and nothing is forgiven; or, he engages in a passive-aggressive thing, where he says one thing to me, and then when he gets home, he has to hang up the phone and listen to his girlfriend tell him what a bad sister I am. And on and on and on.

Well, I’ve laid low the past year (i.e., haven’t had much contact with my brother except, well, friendly phone chats about once a month), but she got drunk and contacted me the other day with a vicious Facebook mail. Ugh. Just when I thought it was over. I left them a voicemail message a few weeks ago–once again saying I was sorry–and the latest is, I received an angry, nasty “you hurt me/us and I will never forgive you for as long as I live” email from the girlfriend the other day (sent from HIS account no less, which makes me wonder if I should ever send him anything again to that email if she’s checking it, too).

Needless to say, it put me into a tailspin. Why? I don’t know. Why do I give two shits about what some crazy woman thinks of me? Eventually, I’ll come around and be able to make fun of just how ridiculous this has become (trying to explain all the Facebook’ing and emailing to my mother made me realize how fourth-grade it seems). But for now, it’s draining and almost maddening to be somewhat forced to re-visit the horror of that night because the girlfriend decides that she wants to play.

Really, though, why do I care so much? What bothers me to the point where my voice trembles talking about it and my stomach feels bloated from the loads of adrenaline? Mainly, I think I just feel extremely uncomfortable knowing that someone hates me so much, however irrational she may be. And, it makes me feel ill that I have to see her and somehow interact with her when we are forced to hang out at the wedding we’re both going to in May. I have never dreaded an event so much. And that really, really sucks.

But, I’ll get over it. Talking it out with my mom helped me to accept that her email was bullshit; and the way she is treating me is a choice, one that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her, and her reliance on her number-one tool: resentment. THEY might believe that their grudge–their hurt, their anger, their persistent hate–is mine to keep, too; but I know that it is all theirs.

I realize that she has actually given ME a lot of power here–like, could I really have had that much of an influence on her life? Wow, I feel sorry for her that her life is THAT boring. The irony that in her attempt to insult me, she laid ALL her cards on the table is, of course, completely lost on her. She may never forgive me, but at the end of the day, when I see her and my brother, I’ll probably feel nothing but pity.

What I have realized is that I have to let them go. Believe them when they say they don’t want anything to do with me. (For this week, at least.) And, hold them to it. You know, not having anything to do with me means also, not getting to send me drunk hate-mail in the middle of the night.

I wish she’d stay home. There’s the slight possibility, seeing how she’s backed out of engagements before because too many people she “hates” are going to be there. But, in a way, I NEED this confrontation. And, I know that after the first awkward encounter, I will have mastered her, and her hate, and letting go of the entire sordid affair. It’s going to suck, but this will eventually all be over.

And now I am boring myself, because there are SO many good things to think about, like the “key” lime pie I’m going to make tomorrow, for instance. Or the friends I’ve made in my life, and the people I’ve met in my moves and travels–the full array of which is hard to even grasp, there are so many amazing ones. Or my sweet dog, who is my protectress.

(As you can imagine, the girlfriend also tried to disparage my sobriety–as being somehow fake, as alcoholism being a foolish choice and not a disease. I laughed at that, mainly because it’s SO ill-informed and simply not true. BUT, I have to say, it’ll probably get me through the next few months of sobriety. Just to prove her wrong in person will be so very satisfying: I AM sober, I can stay sober, and I am doing better and more awesome each and every day. I can’t WAIT to stand my ground–in my 4-inch heels, and sparkly-unicorn gown, looking fabulous–and say loud and proud, I am a sober fucking alcoholic, and I feel AMAZING. Tell me what’s fake about that…BITCH!)

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