Archive | November, 2014

No labels

23 Nov

10:56 am

Just a quick post to say hi, and to let you know that all is well. Sober, and loving it. So sober that I don’t really even label myself as such anymore. I’ve stopped counting days, mainly because I had a life-affirming slip about a month ago–which helped to clarify, once again, why drinking is no longer for me. At least for right now in my hectic life of trying to earn a living as a freelance writer.

I keep coming back to this freelance thing in this blog, and it’s mainly because a lot of my drinking–avoidance, when it comes right down to it–was related to my sense of creativity and agency. I have found my agency; the next step is truly exploring my creativity (fiction, instead of journalism–which, while one form of creative expression, is more the work of a technician).

I have a busy day ahead (yup, Sunday is a work day like all others): three stories to finish, dogs to walk, Christmas lights to put up, prepping for tomorrow’s work day at the coffee bar (I am working as a quarter-time barista as well–of course, my perfectionism is shining through as I berate myself every time I mess up on my microfoaming technique), and then, getting ready for our Thanksgiving jaunt to a neighboring rock (in the middle of the ocean). I love my life these days, even though it’s taken quite a lot of effort to get here.

I really do love what I’m doing and how I’m living. There is so much less distraction, but yet, my life feels fuller. I grew up on a farm, but I guess 20 years of living in big cities stole my appreciation for nature. These days, I live close to water surrounded by a tropical forest–and I cannot express how nurturing this is. It’s like, all the scents, sounds, activity–it’s food for my soul. I had no idea how incomplete I was, how fractured, by the lack of nature in my life before. I used to feel like it was boring, or not enough stimulation. Now? I see just how much is going on, feel it, hear it, smell it. It’s JUST ENOUGH. It’s exactly enough.

I love hearing the sounds of the birds outside, in the trees off our deck, which hangs less than 100 feet (I guess) from the ocean. I have no idea what I did to deserve this, but I try to express gratitude within every cell of my body every second of every day (unless I’m bitching about freelancing, which is pretty much also every second of every day).

What was I going to say? Oh, labels. YEAH. So…in my writing work, I get to interview a LOT of scientists and clinicians, and sometimes around the topic of addiction and mental health. You know what I see over and over and over again? A HUGE divide between how we, as addicts, have internalized–been taught to view–our addictive behaviors, and how they, as medical professionals, actually view what’s going on. I won’t get TOO much into it here, but: enough with the labels.

You are not bad. You are not an “addict.” You are not “slipping” or “relapsing.” You are not evil. You have a substance use problem. It’s a disorder. And, however you want to define that for yourself, it makes it a lot easier when you necessarily take morality out of it. Of course, there are roots–causes; but these mainly boil down to you trying to cope with trauma, or things you’re afraid of, or lots of other bad shit. You are doing what you should be doing–coping–it’s just not working anymore.

And, there are MANY routes to healing. Many. Many many many. And, unless the epidemiological literature is lying, MOST PEOPLE with substance use problems–and, the fact is, these exist on a spectrum of severity, and no one’s problem should be diminished because it’s not “severe enough”–stop using on their own. They find incentives to stop using, and ways to recover and heal. For good.

Think about it.

And remember: that kid inside, smelling the flowers at 5 or 10 or 21 or now, 40 years old? She is still there; she is still there. THAT is being sober. THAT is you. All the rest is junk, or maybe worth saving, or maybe just layers.

Every sober day counts. Every sober day is a good day. And that means that if you made it through today, it was a good day and you are stepping toward healing. ALL–AND I MEAN ALL–YOU HAVE TO DO RIGHT NOW IS NOT DRINK, OR NOT USE, TODAY. That is it.

Happy Sunday, and I’m off to work!

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No one else has to care about my sobriety

9 Nov

11:14 am

That’s pretty much the lesson I learned on my trip. And, I’m trying to basically ignore the nagging feeling that most if not all of my old friends–people who saw me at my worst, who drank with me and around me–acted as if either my problem wasn’t one/wasn’t that bad, or that even if it was, I didn’t deserve praise.

I don’t know. I don’t get it.

I am back, and having a great Sunday–I finally get to enjoy some down-time. Ahh…sweet breezes, warm weather, the sounds and scents all around. It feels wonderful to realize just how different my values and priorities are now. And, I have to say, it’s what helped me move forward–being forced to live outside my comfort zone, on multiple levels, and try something NEW–and the lack thereof that’s allowed some of my friends to remain stuck.

But, I digress. I don’t want to dwell too hardcore on the whole “my friends don’t seem to give a shit about my sobriety” thing. Which may or may not be a figment of my imagination. First of all, I haven’t been in great touch with any of them since swearing off the wine, and frankly, I don’t think they knew all that much about this whole journey because I didn’t divulge that much (though, to several I did, so…).

I just had this niggling feeling that they were either shocked that I was still sober/am sober at all. I just didn’t get it. They know me, and know my past, and each and every one of them knows specifically that I am, indeed, sober, and not just “not drinking.” None of them really congratulated me, which is OK, I’m used to that. They don’t need to. However, on two occasions, I had to basically interject about my sobriety because no one was asking anything. It’s a huge part of my life, the fulcrum on which everything else rests these days. So, I thought I needed to at least address it–in the context of how it’s made my life much, MUCH better. To one friend, I said, “Everything I have right now is because I am sober.” She was stunned, but got it. Melodramatic? I don’t think so.

I went out to a piano bar with one group of friends, and when the waiter came around, I ordered a San Pellegrino with lime (so delicious). My friends literally went quiet, staring at me in disbelief, as if to say, Well, I didn’t think you were SOBER sober. At a restaurant with another friend, we got to talking about not drinking because she was pregnant, and she goes, “So, you don’t drink AT ALL?”

It’s like, how many times do I have to tell you that I’m sober? And, these are close friends, people who know how bad things got. It’s why I felt like they were purposefully trying to bring me back to the ground…because of envy, because of fear, who knows.

After my trip, I honestly don’t know how much more I can interact with these three friends. It’s sad, in a way, because if they only knew the work and thought that I’ve put into my sobriety, maybe the two who seem stuck could learn from my experience! I felt like they were saying, I “hate” (not hate, but you know) you because you’re well and I’m not. It’s the exact same thing I get from my brother and his girlfriend. I refuse to forgive you: not only did you “get away” with being a drunk, but you get to be sober and happy and productive, too. It’s not fair.

Sometimes, it’s confusing to go “home again,” in terms of old friendships. I think I’ve come into my own to where, I don’t attract dysfunctional ones anymore? I must say, however, that my circle of friends where I live now is awesome: I can’t even count the number of times they’ve gone out of their way to welcome me in spite of the fact that I wasn’t drinking at parties; to offer me nonalcoholic beverages; to respect my choice to not imbibe and make me feel respected and proud, even.

I did wonder if my one friend was turned off by my being sober because she, as a doctor of psychology, is all about harm reduction. I have some new thoughts on harm reduction, and I’ll get to that later. For me, and I think for most of us who have crossed that line, ONE sip is too much. ONE sip activates Wolfie. And what we’re trying to accomplish in the end, is shut Wolfie up, not stop drinking per se.

Anyhoo, la la la. I am great, doing well, rocking the stories and hopefully, starting work as a part-time barista this week. All in all, though, I don’t need the barista work (at least for this month’s income)–but it could be fun. I got to think a lot about my three years in exile here–and how I could have done it differently (for another blog post). My trip back to the city allowed me to both connect with my old self AND let her go. And, though it was exhausting, it’s allowed me to go even further, to expand and grow even more. Oh, and that slip, or whatever it was? Totally allowed me to fully conceptualize never drinking again–drinking just doesn’t do anything but ruin the next day, it’s not how I roll anymore, and the benefits of sobriety are so mind-blowing in terms of moving forward in my life that…there is no place for wine, and that is OK. I can keep on being free. Sobriety is liberation from the old way you did shit; and it allows you a blank slate of mind, to finally try doing shit a NEW WAY.

Sobriety is banishing the “Wolfie thinking” and doing shit a NEW, DIFFERENT WAY. Because you’re free, you really are. And because you can–you are able.

Lots to do today, so I’ll sign off. More soon!

Too busy to think about drinking or being sober

6 Nov

9:43 am

Hi! I just wanted to check in and say, Yes, I’m still here, and Yes, I’ve been busy trying to earn a living. It doesn’t have to be this hard, and I am hoping to remedy that in the the next six months–I’ve realized that job change doesn’t happen overnight/in a few months, so I’m going to give it a lot longer; meantime, continue to grind out the freelance life.

I think about being sober these days, only in the context of it being my anchor to sanity–I’d be one big ball of uncontrollable worry about finances if I let myself lag on my to-do lists by procrastinating with wine. I rarely think about drinking–it wouldn’t be nice, and it wouldn’t solve anything. I was down last night, but I shed a few tears, forced myself to “get happy,” and made a pie. It totally took me out of the moment, which I knew if I just felt it, would pass. There is literally no place in my life right now for alcohol.

Well, I gotta get to work, but I promise to check in again very soon and start blogging more. Miss you all!

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