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Writing and cold cities

27 Nov

11:45 am

Hey, folks, Well, I’m here, back at it, and ready to be fierce.  NOT!  Happy Thanksgiving to all, and a kickoff of the holiday season!  For some, that means painful memories, for others, it means an uber-busy next few months.  For me, it means both, and cookies, and cakes, and just continuing to be grateful–5-plus years later–that I am here, and not there.  Here, having this life, with its ups and downs; and not there, drinking my everything away, and all the possible everything’s, too.

I realized recently that part of what is causing me to feel less than whole is that I’ve stopped writing.  Even writing this makes me feel a bit sick in the pit of my belly–anxious, actually.  Must must must start writing again!  I think  my depression, and self-loathing (to be blunt, I hate myself more than a little when I don’t write or create), is caused by this.  There is no magic in my world if I’m not writing, or, in general, being creative.  I look at this blog and think, what happened to that girl?  She is still here, she’s just not writing.  And therefore, not feeling quite whole.

The hurricanes have turned our world upside down, and rearranged our lives.  I miss going to the beach; I miss running on said beach road.  I miss knowing that while I’m in the middle of the ocean, things are FINE here–things are NOT fine here, and things won’t be fine for a while.  There are uncertainties that won’t–can’t–be ironed out.  There are things and faces and places that are never coming back.  And, while I want to ignore this reality, it’s there, the new “normal,” as everyone down here keeps repeating.

I refuse to give up, though, on figuring out what, exactly, I need and want right now.  It’s not wine, it might be hormones, it could be a move (while we have made our exit plan, which is both saddening and enlivening to me, I know changing locations is not going to change what’s going on inside my head and heart, fundamentally), and it most definitely is to start writing/being creative more.  I won’t give up!  And, I won’t stop choosing to be happy, content, grateful, and empowered by that choice.

I flew home last week after about 3 weeks away.  I am glad to be home, with my loves, in the light (literally; cities just might not be in my cards anymore because they are so dark, so angular); and one main thing I realized when I was there, in the big city, is that if I’m honest, I don’t really want that lifestyle anymore.  And, that it is OK to be angry and that instead of fighting the anger, the sadness, the whatever negativity I’m feeling, I should just accept it.  Huh?  The thought sort of bowled me over:  accept and don’t judge your negative feelings instead of exhausting yourself trying to outrun them.  I’m going to try the former and see what happens.

And, so, yeah, cities.  Drinking and going out in cities, which is what I did and how I defined myself for so long.  Not anymore.  I mean, YAH, it really is a bit more heartening to go out for a pink twilit walk with the dogs than to be walking into a pub, ready to temporarily and artificially enhance my mood!  It really is better this way, soooo much better.  Even when I feel quite lonely here–alone as we all do now and then on our solo paths and journeys–I know that I have this world within that is never-changing, that is always bathed in that pink moonlight, that is there to hold me, to embrace me, and to tell me that It Will Be OK.

It Will Be OK.

That is default setting when you’re sober.  When you’re not, default setting is, The World Sucks and Nothing Will (Ever) Be OK.

Walking into a cold bar to drink among cold non-friends?  Eh, no thanks anymore.  I choose light, and happiness, and maybe even accepting the darkness so I can move through it without fear.  Huh, maybe cold cities have more to teach me than I thought?

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Nostalgia, not cravings

1 Nov

11:12 pm

I wanted to drink last night. Why? I have this thing that says, I can’t go out and not drink. I can’t hang sober. And, most importantly, I can’t get my “sexy cop” or “sexy nurse” or “sexy unicorn” on WITHOUT WINE. I just can’t do it yet.

I felt sad last night, too. I felt sad that I wasn’t in the big city I used to live in, that I wasn’t dressing up like I used to, that I wasn’t going out to marvel at the bazillion costumes on the streets; that I was here, at home, not able to care, unwilling to even try to pull a costume together.

It wasn’t Wolfie, though, because I didn’t actually want to drink. (OK, maybe I did, but it wasn’t a huge craving.) I just wanted what I used to have, which always happened to include wine! The number of things that I no longer do that coincide with me no longer drinking–well, that’s the rub. I changed a LOT in getting sober, including my job, my location, my friends, and my relationship status. And, in getting sober itself, well, you guys know, you change everything within all those sub-categories! So, sometimes I can’t quite parse out what, exactly, I feel and need to focus on from the mess of thoughts.

No, it wasn’t Wolfie-boy. It was nostalgia. For what I had, and for what I now don’t have.

So, I spent the night feeling sad, and then pouted, and then just went to bed. But, you know what? I got a pumpkin today. And, I wasn’t hung over. And, it’s been a hugely productive past few weeks as a freelance writer. I feel like my renewed focus and enthusiasm to work has been building–and, the past week or so, it just sort of popped! For instance, it seems that all of the sudden, I am pitching, not caring what editors think about me (they don’t), have started having days when the story ideas just keep coming (or, rather, I’ve stopped killing them before they have the chance to bloom in my head).

In fact, Belle was right on about something changing around 8 to 10 months–it happened to me, too. Somewhere around 9 months, things just changed.

I guess I sort of stopped automatically linking wine with relief. Stopped wanting it whenever my energy flagged, or my mood swung, or an editor rejected me, or someone was following me too close in my car, or the sun went behind the clouds. I mean, I still do have thoughts of wine–especially when I am feeling nostalgic and I want what “was” and not what “is”–but I don’t really feel the pull anymore to drink when shit hits the fan. As I wrote on Lilly’s blog the other day, it’s almost like “drinking is not fun” has become a fact, one that is simply impossible to deny. Drinking is not fun–fact. I have other options, like going to bed, or sitting there with a grimace, or watching tv and sighing, or petting the dogs, or going for a 15-minute run and then coming back to my desk and NOT GIVING UP. This idea that drinking is the answer, this emotional pull–it’s gone. And I never thought it would happen, honestly. I thought I would have to battle this pull forever, however niggling. I still do have cravings, but the urge to drink as reaction seems to have disappeared. Bigger fish to fry, Wolfie-fuckhead. SEE YA!

On that note, I am going to go and carve my pumpkin now. Maybe I should give it a wolf’s face? Happy All Saints’ Day, friends!

I don’t trust people who don’t drink!

3 Jul

1:11 pm

Picture it: it’s beer o’clock and I’m trying to get the office to go out for drinks. Some people still have work to do, so will join later. OK. Some people would prefer to stay on and finish work that could be done tomorrow. UM…All right. And, some people…don’t want to go. WHAT? You don’t drink? Huh? Wait, WHAT? You don’t WANT to drink?

This was back in my early 20s. It started back then, this distrust and dislike, really, of nondrinkers. And, year after year, like chapters in a book without end, this, MY STORY, kept growing. My early 30s, graduate school, journalists who should have known that drinking was as much a part of the curriculum as First Amendment law cases: What, you’re not sticking around to drink for another three hours? It’s only midnight, bars are open until 4, dudes. And now, mid-30s: What, you have to go and grab food? What, you don’t drink at all? You have kids and a husband to go home to? Wait…What the FUCK are you doing here? Oh, it’s the company Christmas party, I suppose you were invited.

I remember being baffled, really, when coworkers, fellow students, roommates, and friends didn’t want to go out drinking. (Now I realize that maybe *I* was that annoying drunk who, even back in the day when I didn’t black out and go batshit nuts on their asses, was stupid flirtatious, ridiculous repetitive, and simply Not That Interesting.) Baffled, yes. Annoyed, too: how could they rain on MY Parade? And distrustful: don’t they realize how much FUN they’re missing? Don’t they understand that THIS is where the deals, so to speak, are made?

And, I won’t deny it: I had MUCH different relationships with coworkers, let’s say, with whom I drank after work. Of course, we became actual friends. More than that, we were able to let our hair down, get to know each other outside the cubicle. And, a lot of the time, drinking after work led to positive things, like interoffice romances (where else did you meet men if you were in your 20s in the ’90s?), business partnerships, and if anything, a lot of hilarious–and good–memories.

Would I take back all the experiences that were brought by drinkin’? Not those of my 20s, that’s for sure. My early 30s, though, at least a good portion of them. I think I did myself more harm than good by staying at the bar from 5 pm to closing at 4 am–with my fellow grad school classmates, who were, actually, judging me because every turn was really a test, not a game of who could drink the most. I lost out, for sure, when my drinking after work at one job led to me being fired for missing two entire work days because I was, um, being held in a cell with 20 other women waiting to sit before the judge on public intoxication, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest charges (and worse, I’m sure; I never asked the lawyer).

A part of me now totally gets my old boss, who simply never touched alcohol. I hated her for that, but I can actually appreciate her choices now. I GET those people who declined going out in favor of going home to cook dinner and get ready for another day of work. I GET those others who came, had three beers, and left…because, um, they were drunk and it was a school night.

What I don’t get is why I feel like THEY won, and I LOST. I’m bitter, I guess, and in a way, I’m bitter a little bit toward them for NOT TELLING ME TO GET MY ASS HOME. You’re a smart girl, why are you doing this to yourself?, I wish I had heard more and louder. There must have been friends who said this to me, but for the most part, in my 20s and 30s, when I was getting worse and worse, everyone else seemed to not really care. Or, maybe they were just thinking, “I’m glad it’s her and not me.”

In any case, it’s pretty clear that I’ve lost my distrust of teetotalers now, and know the answer to the question, Why don’t you drink? What I don’t know the answer to is, What took me so long to figure it out?

Top 10 reasons not to drink, or how I stopped worrying and learned to love Weird and Awkward

1 Feb

5:40 pm

I went out last night. Since getting sober, I haven’t actually been “out out,” as in, out to a bar where other people were drinking and I had to fend for my poor, little, 38-year-old self. I mean, I’ve been to dinner parties, brunches, beach outings, and even bars, but it wasn’t to “go out” (we went to see a band last night).

And, well… I felt so insecure! So uncomfortable! So awkward! Dare I say, Weird and Awkward! And, without booze to hold onto, I felt vulnerable. I felt like I was in college again. GAH. NO!?!? And, I was so far up in my own head that at times, it was really hard to fake that I was having fun.

BUT, I learned something about myself. I’ve known it for a long time–my whole life. Sometimes–like when I was learning calculus–you just need to see it from a different angle to actually GET IT. I got it last night: I create entire realities in my head when it comes to what others are thinking of and about me, and one, probably none of it is true, and two, who gives a shit if it is?

I have to imagine that we all feel insecure sometimes, introverts moreso than extroverts. A mere sampling of my thought “process” during these times:

I wonder if they think I’m boring/I bet they do, I bet they think I’m boring/OH, GOD, why am I being so awkward, what with all these pauses and looking away/I have to look away, but now, oh, fuck, now I bet they think I’m being rude or disinterested when really/you’re standing too close to me and I really don’t know what to say and for some reason, I feel like I’m 18 again and not 38/it hurts I want out it hurts I want out/I want to curl up in a ball and roll on OUT OF HERE

Yup. That’s me. ME. That’s what’s going on inside MY HEAD. However, being sober and having to simply deal with it, I had the opportunity last night to observe these thoughts–not only look at these thoughts, but look at them from a different perspective, namely, not my own.

I glanced at the person I was talking to and told myself, Y’know, he’s probably faking it, too, has no idea what to say, might even be feeling more awkward and shy than I am! I had a quick conversation with a former, let’s just say, drinking buddy in front of the restroom; he got sober last year and we chatted very briefly about how he’s drinking again (and having no luck moderating) and how I’m not. “I feel really good where I’m at right now,” I said, breezily (it’s not like I’m falling apart on the outside, just in one corner of my brain). He was noticeably impressed, and congratulated me. Someone else did, too, when I told him that I had 16 weeks. What I’m saying is, other people are not just NOT thinking I’m weird and awkward in my sobriety, but they’re happy for me, even maybe envious! People are rooting for me. And what am I doing? Creating an entire universe in my head that does not exist, based upon my own self-conscious insecurities.

Almost more importantly, I realized that 85 percent of the peeps in the room were in their own, drunken worlds. Who’s going to even remember me, let alone remember that I was sober?

Hence, my sparkling (the glitter rained down, too, I swear) revelation: I don’t need to drink. In fact, I prefer to be sober. IN SPITE OF HOW AWKWARD I felt, and even in spite of the pangs. The pangs were just my body saying, I want to get the fuck out of here because *I feel uncomfortable.* Somehow, my higher brain pulled through and was like, You need to do this to learn/grow, and honey, you know you really don’t want to drink, right? I wanted to use wine to momentarily allow me to feel protected from my raging thoughts. How sadly ironic, seeing how the point of going out and socializing is to be with others, right?

YET, I didn’t drink. Why?

1. I would be sick the next day. (Do I even have to go into 2-10? Who wants to feel sick the next day?)
2. I would get fuck all done the next day, and then I would hate on myself.
3. I would have a horrible hangover, complete with anxiety/panic, depression/suicidal ideation, and general existential angst. (Shit’s not 19 anymore, peeps! It happens.)
4. I would have stupid conversations that I don’t remember, instead of attempts–give yourself a high five for trying–at meaningful ones that I do!
5. I would act like a fucking idiot, dancing and singing and swaying and in general, being WAY too out there. I’ve been out there; I want to coil myself back in. I’m MINE, not yours.
6. I would say shit I don’t mean, or might regret.
7. I would spend too much money.
8. I would consume too many calories. (Hey, y’all, that belly weight is tough to shed; I’m tired of one step forward, two steps back!)
9. I would fuck up my training body and schedule. (I’m finally getting my running legs (and core strength) back, and I’m on a workout schedule now.)
10. I won’t find out what happens AFTER 16 weeks.

I’d say that number 10 is playing a huge role in keeping me from giving in to my pangs. My “fuck it” moments seem to last not moments, but days–I have time to ruminate over the consequences, and they ultimately end up pointing my face toward the door that says, “Don’t Even THINK About Knocking.” More and more, I see how far I’ve come and I think, Well, if you stop now, you’ll probably NEVER get to 17 weeks, or 6 months, or a year. Could things be monumentally different than they were at day 1, than they are now? Maybe… I’ll just have to keep going to find out.

Hello, islands! Too bad I can’t drink any of your booze…

17 Jul

1:38 pm

And, let me tell you (though, I probably don’t need to), there’s a shit-ton of it here! 😦

Again: 😦

Mental tantrum, deep breath, moving on. That’s all I can do. I’m here visiting a friend and fortunately, the hard part is over: I’ve already spent a few months down here before, drinking and not drinking; the point is, I know what the culture is like and I’m neither expecting to drink nor expecting it to be easy not to. AND, I’ve had FIVE WEEKS as of today to practice not drinking when I feel like I want to, with more than once hanging out at bars and not drinking. Sure, it sucks, and it takes focus, but it can be as much or more fun. Plus, you don’t get drunk and stupid, you don’t get drunk and sick, and you don’t have to deal with a hangover the next day.

Is it hard to not drink at bars, or on [beautiful island where I now live] (which, in essence, can feel like one island-sized bar)? Sure. I’ve wanted to drink since I got here two days ago. I mean, I feel the pull, the association of “vacation” with drinking, and then of “relaxation” or “break” (from daily grind) with drinking. However, I’m constantly rationalizing myself out of a drink anyway, so add a bar or an island-sized bar, and eh, it’s not that much different, is it? I’m always thinking about it, so here, it’s just a next-level challenge to which I have to apply that practice. Or rather, to which I have the opportunity to apply that practice. :/

Do I want a chilled glass of red wine right now? Hells yeah. Will the short-lived “buzz” (and now, I’m wondering, will the buzz be pleasurable or irritating? I’ve quit before, but not for this long, and even then, the buzz was sort of weird, I guess, after having not drunk for a few weeks…) be worth it? Nah. Not before, not during, not after. Sigh.

Still, it’s easy to get caught up focusing on the craving and not on the life around me, the astounding beauty of the island, the relative seclusion, the amazing view from my deck. The craving is so temporary, so fleeting, so…uninteresting, really, compared to the reality around me. And, quite frankly, the calm of being able to watch it stone-cold sober, remember it, and process the experience without it being tainted by booze or a hangover is seeming somewhat…the opposite of temporary. Timeless?

Drunky Drunk Girl says, It’s time for some new friends!

9 Jul

1:06 am

Hmm.  I’m happy — starting to feel content, I guess — to be going on a record number of days sober (today is 27!), but I feel sad.  For the second time in a week, I’ve hung out with a friend who just doesn’t seem to dig my sobriety — even my attempt at it is perceived as threatening.  Time for some new friends!

At the wedding, the guy friend I was sharing a hotel room with was none too happy, I felt, about me not drinking.  In the past (how it’s “always been”), me getting shitfaced made it easier for him to get shitfaced, and justify getting shitfaced.  Me getting shitfaced made it easier for him to hit on me and me to somehow convince myself that I wanted him to do so.  Take away the booze on my part, and the whole game seems sort of pathetic.  AND, it was clear to me how this person chose to be irritated over happy for me about quitting — he spent the entire time either one, refusing to acknowledge my sober attempt (not one comment or question re: why I wasn’t drinking, and that’s ODD, considering that it’s ME!) or two, seemingly rubbing it in my face by ordering a fucking drink EVERY time we sat down long enough for him to do so (I’m surprised he didn’t suggest buying a few six packs for the room!).

It’s not a big deal to me as we’re not that close and really, we don’t have much in common.  Yet, I can’t help but dwell on my own clarity:  it’s ME who’s approaching the situation differently, not them, and that makes a big difference.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious to others that when drunks stop drinking, they stop hanging out with their drunk friends.  Similar here in that, with the payoff gone (getting drunk due to having someone to drink with), I clearly see no reason to cultivate a deeper relationship with my friend.  I also saw his behavior as a reaction to feeling threatened, whether because he felt he was drinking too much or that he realized that I was rejecting him, or both.

My other friend is the one whom I sensed was trying to “undermine” my sobriety the other night.  Turns out, it’s more like, undermine my success and happiness!  A clear case of hating on me to make herself feel better.  Age-old scenario, but the question I have to ask is, why?  What purpose does it serve her? Going back many years, no doubt we shared a LOT of times, good and bad.  However, what kept us together was being drinking buddies.  I was the one she could call, she has told me, and count on to join her at a moment’s notice for a beer or ten.  AND, after many drunken blackouts and rages, she kept me because I was valuable to her self-esteem:  me, a deeply “flawed,” fucked up friend who, despite her many awesome qualities, would never show my friend up.  She feels better about herself due to my drunken retardedness. Minus the booze?  Well, I don’t think she knows what to think or how to react, so she falls back on putting me down, or making me feel not that awesome.

Without the booze, I just can’t fall for it anymore.  Plus, I’m a good 3 or 4 years distanced from our intense friendship, and I see much more clearly how deeply she misses the point:  my volunteer friends admire and “see” me; my family and other family friends see my deeper side.  I hide it from this person, and I think that I always have because I sensed her gaping insecurities — this is a powerful me, one that has a lot to offer, isn’t cynical, doesn’t drink.  That sucks, especially when the best of friendships are really about that person always being on your side, seeing your best traits, and making those come out every time you hang out!

Again, my approach has changed, I’ve matured, and I’m ready to simply move the fuck on.  I spend so much time dealing with my negativities and my cravings these days that I just can’t get into longwinded melodramas.  Like, this friend will go on and on about some guy she thinks might have said or did this or that, possibly with the intent of lying but who knows?  Blah blah blah.  I really can’t care.  I really can’t.  It’s too easy to get sucked into this misery-loves-company play for my attention, but really, I don’t love misery!  Not anymore!  I want out of the cave, not deeper in!

Moving on is sad, especially when you’ve realized that no matter how many GREAT drinking times you’ve had, hilarious and sometimes poignant stories and encounters and dramas, drinking buddies start and end as just that.  There are so many other, BETTER connections to be made, ones that yield real stories, real dramas.

(Yet…I cherish this person’s friendship, and it wasn’t just built on drinking.  Evolving then, this friendship, and not ending…)

Question answered

16 Jun

10:36 pm

Aaaaaaand I won’t be going out tonight.  Neither of us felt up to it, is the short answer.  The long is that I’m pretty sure my friend either still associates me with LATE nights or she wants to make me feel bad so that it undermines my efforts at real sobriety.  I can’t tell.

In any case, I’m bummed/slightly pissed off.  NOW WHAT?  Even though I had convinced myself that I for sure wasn’t going to drink, a part of me was hoping for the chance to have that just one.  Ugh.  See?  THIS is how my fucked up brain works!  And, I probably would have drunk tonight, despite expressly stating in my text back to my friend that I wasn’t going to!  Not to mention, didn’t I just get through telling myself, rationalizing my thought process OUT of the whole, I can have just one and it’ll be fine, mentality that makes me a drunk in the first place?

I’m anxious, though, and would love to take the edge off.  I’ve got a big day tomorrow of editing (for a possible job, which really puts the pressure on), reading, doing yoga, and having dinner with a friend in the evening, for which I DEFINITELY do not want to be hung ovah.  I have to call my Dad.  I also have to research some shit.  Is that trip to S. America actually going to happen next month?  Where will I be working?  Where, pray tell, will I be living?  (My sublease is through the end of June.)  It all just makes me want to drink!

Oh, well.  Deal, I must.  Wait for it to pass, I shall.

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