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We’ve arrived

8 Feb

6:32 pm

And, in more ways than one!

We made the leap to the mainland two weeks ago today, and I have to say, it not only went much more smoothly than I thought it would, but we are settling in much more easily than I thought we would.  I mean, we have everything we need, and it’s so damn convenient, and clean, and new, and affordable in America!  I didn’t appreciate this the last time I moved back; this time, I honestly could not be happier.  And, man, is that a crazy-new feeling for me.

Needless to say, there will be no drinking in this apartment.  Ever.  And, I think this actually might be a first for me–I have never in my adult life lived in a place that will have been, in the end, an absolutely alcohol-free (well, for me, anyway) home.  Sha-zam!

It’s good to have begun the moving-on process, admittedly.  And, it’s such a relief to have some normalcy, which for people who have lived in the “rest of the world” (i.e., not America) actually equates to luxury.  We have electricity all the time that is also affordable; with that comes always-on high-speed Internet; with all that comes new and clean and abundant STUFF–stores and food and furniture, manicured shrubbery and planned communities and stewarded (by laws!) natural recreation areas (the best of them in this part of the country, I would say).  Gasp!  It’s all too much.  And I fucking LOVE IT.  The abundance here is overwhelming, yes, but frankly, I was exhausted of island life–the endless inconveniences, the sort of dirty living, the hostility of locals toward “Americans” and vice versa–yah,  I don’t think I’ll be able to inhale the abundance fast enough.  Not to say that I don’t miss aspects to living in the islands; but, when I return, it’ll probably be to a different island, or maybe the mainland Caribbean.

So, now what we’re working on is settling into a new rhythm, which can be frustrating.  Like, I still haven’t found much time to write; my days consist of keeping up with my “real job” and figuring out a new daily routine that works for me and for us.  (Our “bear” with canine lymphoma is slowly making his exit; but, I’m grateful that he made it here, and has already been able to see snow, and will probably hang on long enough for us to let him go).  And, I have to remember, it will take time.  Settling into a new normal takes time, and patience, and self-care.  Just like sobriety!

Looking forward to actually writing more this year.  I just wanted to check in and say howdy, folks, and hope all are doing great.  No wine here; no whine here.

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Oh, hello, 2018!

4 Jan

4:26 pm

Does it feel to others like 2018 has come in so quietly it’s almost snuck in?

This year is going to be all about transitions, crossings, and changes–and, of letting go of the reins, or at least, loosening the grip.

Welp, without much fanfare–and with some anxiety–2018 has arrived.  2017 went fast, flew by, sort of took my breath away; and, I had a feeling it would, when by the beginning of February, I had already flown across the country for work, and was embarking on the first of  several (months-long) job interviews (none of which I was offered, but that’s OK).  In fact, last year was all about searching–pushing and planning and striving and trying SO hard to see…the future.  I took a lot of trips, my favorite, of course, being a solo journey to South America (man, I can’t even believe that happened, what with how the hurricanes have changed the course of our lives)…  All this is to say that, last year was so much about trying to move the Earth, and sort of succeeding, but mostly just laying cable and putting up with all the frustrations that come with trying so hard.

Last year, I think my “phrase” of the year was, move the Earth, or something like that.  I guess I moved it a little bit (I started on a big writing project, and that is the one thing, aside from moving, that I want to get done this year).  I moved around it a lot, that’s for sure.

This year?  Shit.  Let the damn Earth move itself.  Let it happen.  Let it go…

Gratefully, I am bouncing back after a few weeks of pretty intense sadness:  our dog WAS diagnosed with canine lymphoma, and…yup, major tears all around.  Wailing tears, to be exact, for a few days in a row, and then…acceptance.  This is happening, and there is no cure.  He’s only 9, and far too young to be looking like an old dog now, but…this is happening.  We aren’t going to treat him in favor of making his last months somewhat bearable with prednisone (though, that stuff is making him really, really groggy).  I have started him on this weird diet thingie I found online, so I’m hopeful (yay, hope!) that this might turn it around and land us a miracle.  There’s always the possibility of a miracle, I have to believe.

So, there’s that that’s been literally keeping me up at night.  Oh, and we’re moving, too!  In a few weeks!  Like, a big move, across the continent!  This, too, is happening.  We’ve sold my car, arranged for our landlady to buy our household full of stuff (so she can rent our place furnished), and are in the process of getting flights, flight letters for our precious babes (dogs), and all the other stuff that comes with moving.  My job is aight (but, another thing!  it’s ending in March!), and the only thing that sucks about it is that we don’t have anything resembling a good cell service connection at home anymore (thanks for nothing, AT&T), so I have to go out looking for Internet in order to work (and write this blog post).

Mostly, I feel excited, sad about the endings that are coming up, and on edge.  Like, I have been waking up almost every night at 4 am–after only about 4 hours sleep, which is exhausting and maddening–and it’s usually accompanied by anxiety.  Like, dark terre thoughts.  And, the next day, I feel anxious and depressed.  And, it’s made me realize that I have NEVER truly experienced this before, but now I can totally see the connection between insomnia and anxiety and depression!  Like, there is something about waking up at 4 am that makes me crazy–angry, panicky, and depressed the next day.  I cannot control my negative thinking the way I can when I am fully rested.

And, this just makes me remember how I used to get wrapped up in drinking thinking–negative thoughts and thinking patterns that are caused by alcohol, and not a part of me.  I used to think that all my complicated depressive thoughts were of me, but really, they were a part of the drinking.  It’s so hard to see that when you’re not sober; it’s very easy to see when you’re separate from alcoholic drinking.  Anyway, I guess it’s a reminder to be cool, and remember that it will get better.

Just a quick update to say, happy new year and that I’m looking very much forward to watching the Earth move itself in 2018.  How about you?

Emotional support animals for alcoholism

15 Dec

3:21 pm

This past week has been rough, and Monday, especially.  I think it’s all just hitting me now.  And by all, I mean the two hurricanes and the aftermath that has changed entire lives, some in the forever sense.  We are recovering, and things are starting to settle back down…

And then…a few weeks ago, we discovered a couple swollen lymph glands on one of our dogs, took him to the vet, and the vet was like, Oh, Wow, and scheduled him for a biopsy.  Our little man had his biopsy yesterday, is wearing a cone, and is still sort of out of it.  (While the vet did prescribe him the usual course of antibiotics, which I think covers a number of different infections, they haven’t seemed to significantly lessen the swelling.  I am more optimistic than I was on Monday, and I am not sure why–he could have swollen lymph nodes for many reasons, but of course, we can’t help but jump to the worst possible conclusion.)

My sweet bear.  He has been with me these past 5 years through it all:  love, addiction, aging, hurricanes.  I honestly cannot imagine a life without him!

I have written (with my science journalist’s cap on) about emotional support animals (ESAs) for recovery from alcoholism and substance use disorders, in general.  There is no doubt in my mind that my recovery was helped by my two dogs–having them to care for and love helped to negate the triggers, lessen the cravings, and simply kept me from drinking when I really wanted to drink.  Did they understand my mental health crises far better than I, in terms of how to manage them?  Probably.

Walking the dogs–in the morning sun, through the heat, with the gleaming blue water reflected off every green leaf, decaffeinated coffee in hand–was something I LOVED doing when I first got sober.  It was something I relied on to start another day, sober; something that served as a touchpoint to both staying sober and then, growing emotionally and psychologically; to becoming a loving human being again.  I loved all of it–that I could get up and feel so good in the morning, that I had “someone” to care for, to not let down (dogs don’t understand hangovers).  These two dogs were my higher power, my pink cloud.

Both my dogs were my emotional support during my PAWS period, too–a post-acute withdrawal that lasted 18 months.  They quelled my fear of “what now?,” eased my anxiety, helped to block the triggers and numb the cravings with their physical (soft fur, dog scent, warm presence) and psychological support–unconditional love.  My boy was strong for me when I could not be, and did not want to be–if I drank, I would yell, and he would hide under the car, and I NEVER EVER wanted to scare him like that again.  So I did not drink when I really, really, really wanted to.  He was there for me when work frustrated me, or I was (am) beyond frustrated at the pace of my writing life/career–one whiff of his odor was like a hit, one touch of his soft ear like a balm; a belly rub, a roll, and his dog laugh and furious shaking it all out before jumping up on my knees for more.  I adore him so much, and I love what he has meant to me, through my recovery–what he means to me, present tense.  No one knows this but me; even he might not know it, but I truly believe he does.

Now, to imagine the possibility of my boy going down is just…very saddening.  When I watch him struggle a little bit on the walk route he used to BOUND along, tears come; when I obsessively feel his lymph nodes, hard and nodular and big under his neck and behind his legs, and notice they aren’t any different than yesterday, I tremble a little inside; when I kneel on the floor in front of him sitting on the bed, and tears rush down my face, and he licks them away–there are no words for this growing fear.

GAH!

I cried all day Monday, which is not something I want to repeat–too draining, and not helpful to anyone.  I have since started to feel better, optimistic, even.  He’s had his biopsy and all we can do is wait for the results, and then go from there.

One step in front of the other, that is how this is done.  What will be, will be.  I want to accept the things I cannot change, but sometimes I feel so very helpless amidst all this “breaking down,” all this ending, aging, dying–in essence, renewal, but I can’t see it like that through my self-conscious ego.

Maybe I am overreacting–I think I’m just bracing for the worst so that I’m not floored when the worst happens.  Life goes on and things will get better, but why does it feel like we’ve lost SO much of our lives here over the course of a few hours of hurricane activity?  The storms took so many of our physical landmarks and mental and emotional  signposts, all of which are now only memories; why do they have to take my boy, too?  And, at the very moment that we are planning to move on, start over someplace new?  I want to show him the world…  We have SO many more walks to go on…

 

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?

Is it enough to remain anonymous?

23 Jul

3:00 pm

I have been thinking a lot lately about this blog, my anonymity, and the truth of my sobriety:  is it built on “lies” because I have remained for so long in the closet?  Do I need to come out to be “fully” sober?

For me, the answer is moving toward:

I need to come out FOR my sobriety.  I feel stalled, somehow.  Stuck.  I need to come out so that I can move forward in my sobriety.  Here’s the thing (something I discovered after a stressful morning, and then, sort of weeping out of frustration, face-down on my yoga mat–I give up!, I wanted to scream):  I “feel” like a fraud in most things.  I feel like a fraud in that, I tell myself, I’m not “really” a writer, I’m not “really” a good person, I’m not “really” sober.  I’m just pretending until I don’t have to anymore, until I can let my guard down and be my “true” self.  I think we all can relate to this feeling, and maybe it’ll take me the course of my entire life to “fix,” or at least comes to terms with, whatever it is that made me this way.

However, this desire to come out is based more on a desire to…move forward.  To fully commit to being sober.  To be able to say, This is me, and these are the things I’ve gone through–take it or leave it.  To be able to truly help others by, you know, being loud and proud.  Part of the biggest threat to an individual’s sobriety is the shame and stigma surrounding the addiction and addictive behavior.  Am I not perpetuating this stigma by refusing to put myself out there–primarily out of fear?

The answer, I believe in my heart (no offense to all the other anonymous sober bloggers out there), is yes.  I mean, I am sort of terrified of revealing myself because I worry that not only might I lose people, I will lose jobs, respect in the workplace, my entire career. Is that necessarily a bad thing?  I doubt it, but I’m not sure how it will all pan out.

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I need to get other people’s PERMISSION to come out–to reveal my identity to my fellow bloggers, and well, the rest of the world (i.e., all those friends, loved ones, family members, and coworkers who know bits and pieces about my sober story, but none, the full ordeal).  In a fit of self-judgment the other day, I realized that, NO, I don’t need anyone’s permission to come out, to take my seat at the table, so to speak.  I don’t need anyone to tell me how to do it.  I just need to take a deep breath, realize that my fears of losing people are unfounded (i.e., either I’ve already lost them, or they weren’t worth keeping in the first place), and embrace the truth.  My truth.  To shine a light on my truth so that…I can fully let it go and move forward in my sobriety and sober life!

I feel like my sobriety has only partial integrity by remaining in the closet.  I feel like I can’t keep being sober, fully, if I remain an anonymous blogger.

But, I’m not going to do it today.  Today, I just wanted to let you know that I’m still here, still working away, still being grateful for both the ups and downs, and still coming to terms with this period of plateau.  It’s all good.  It really is.

Will coming out be liberating and not that big of a deal?  Probably.  Can I do it on my own time?  Absolutely.

Five years…and counting

15 Jun

3:37 pm

Five years ago yesterday, I got sober.  And, I started this blog.  And, my, I’ve come damn far from this first post (this is how I started the post):

I woke up today hung over.  And it’s going on oh, about 48 hours or so since I had my “last” drink and I still feel like ass.  My belly is swollen and my liver hurts, which, this morning makes it hard to fit into my interview clothes.  My pants are too tight and my underwire bra is pressed so tightly against my aching liver that it makes me cry.  So now I am crying and I’ve got less than 10 minutes to pull it together and all I can think is, Fuck, I wish to Jesus on the Cross that I hadn’t poured out the last third of that “last” bottle of red that I had stored in the fridge two nights ago when I binge drank.

And, five years later, my life has changed drastically.  I can’t even begin to write about how different my life is–how different *I* am–it’s that different.  And, I’ve written five years of blog posts covering all that awesome progress!  Suffice it to say, I am never hungover, I have paid off my student loan debt, I have gotten engaged, I have become a “successful” freelance journalist; I have gone on trips, volunteered abroad, become a barista.  All that, however, is the cosmetic byproduct of a deep, unwavering peace.

Yes, I feel negative emotions, and get confused about what direction to go in; but beyond and untouched by all that surface stuff is this, well, peace.  The big stuff stays in place.  I can think and plan and act coherently; I continue to work steadfastly toward my goals, even if I can only intuit what they might be in the long-term.  I sometimes focus on the negative (especially lately), but beneath that external chatter is a universe-sized body of water called *possibility*–into which I can deep dive because I am sober.  Only because and precisely because I am sober.  I can even see a life–a world, actually–beyond me, and my past, and my sobriety; and boy, is it endless with possibility.

Exhale, is my mantra these days.

All that being said, I haven’t been blogging much, and I haven’t been feeling that excited by my sobriety these days.  I’ve been re-reading my posts from years ago, and I’m left wondering, where have I gone?  Where has that girl gone?  That getting sober girl who was on freaking FIRE to be getting sober?  I guess it’s simply that we all grow, change, evolve, move on.  And, I can accept that, and I do.  It’s just…  I want some of that fire, and I want to know why it’s no longer infusing me!

Not to say that life isn’t full, and complicated, and grand–because and only because I  got sober, and wrote this blog, and made a new way of living for myself.  Life has become full, almost always a race to the finish.  My partner and I are in a transitional phase, meaning, we want to move but we’re just not sure where–where to go, what will it lead to, how we’ll fare in a new place and a different life.  We’ve been talking about it for years; I think we’re at the point that if we don’t make a change soon, we’re going to implode.  Pull the trigger, I say!

I’m tired of waiting, of wanting another life!  Yet, I also want to know what, exactly, I’m looking for, and why, exactly, this amazing life I’ve created here seems no longer enough.  Maybe I’ve just outgrown it?  Been there, done that.  I mean, it’s possible!  I’ve been living here for five years now.  While I want to continue to write about sobriety–there’s so much to mine–most of the time I just want to forge ahead on my work, and keep getting shit done.  And I do.  I just wonder where all the excitement has gone.

Frankly, I think it might be related to taking the pill.  I have never taken meds, and since I’ve been on these, I just feel…flat.  I feel nothing.  To the point where, I feel no “looking forward to” feeling, no “I can’t wait to do this” feeling.  I don’t dream–like, literally, I have no dreams.  It’s like, I can’t “see” my emotions, I can’t “see” my desire; it’s like, that part of my brain is off.  I can’t see it; it’s dark in there.  It makes it easy, I guess, to live on a day-to-day basis, because I have ZERO emotional ups and downs.  Except, the only feeling I seem to have, that I can touch, taste, smell; is anger.  And, that sucks.

Exhale.  Maybe all this angst is circumstantial:  maybe my corporate job has driven me insane because it feels SO irrelevant to me now, having been a journalist, having done freelance writing.  I wouldn’t mind leaving the corporate work for good, and becoming a barista full-time again, you know?  I can’t, though; after all this time, at 43 years old, I’m finally gaining some ground, financially.  I can’t let this go.

I don’t know what the next step is, which is a good thing, in a way.  Why?  Because ANY next step is the right next step!  So, I have decided to take a few weeks off and travel to a country I’ve never been, on a volunteer project I’ve never been a part of, alone.  I am hoping it’ll jump-start me–take me out of myself, and my situation; help me to figure out what’s going on.  Or, what the next steps might be.  I leave next week and come back after the holiday in July.

My life is awesome, I have to say; which is why all this internal angst is confusing.  How can I intellectually see how good I have it while also feel so…frustrated?  In any case, I am sober, and that is 99% of my life, and that 99% is simply awesome.  I would not trade the past five years of learning, and even this period of struggle, for anything.  I wouldn’t trade it for the brother who has written me off, the friends I no longer feel connected to, the big city career that I probably won’t (and don’t want to) regain.  I feel so blessed to have made it out alive!  I feel so blessed to have been given the gift of having to work on  myself, of being forced to change and grow and evolve.

Five years…and counting.  I can’t wait to see what the next five will bring.

Lesson in amends

13 May

10:33 am

Saturday.  I have to say, before I start ranting about anything, I am grateful.  Every morning, of every day, I am grateful–relieved, joyful, content–to wake up sober.  To a life I sort of think I deserve, but probably not.  (haha)  I have my fiance, my dogs, the blaring tropical sun bleating off the blue ocean below; I have a freelance career that I’ve somehow made work for 5 years; I have a past that I don’t have to live anymore, but that I get to consider, and to think about, and to dwell on, only as much as I want or need.  I am here, and not there.  Why?  How did I deserve this?

Because I worked my ASS off.  (There she is!  Good morning, ego.)

All that being said, I still have trouble dealing with people from my past, relationships gone sour or become nonexistent (maybe not directly because of my drinking, but related to it on one level or another).  And, while I’m eager to “forgive and forget,” it’s not easy.  And mostly, I’m still sort of angry, I guess, at people who have written me off!  It’s not that I’m angry all day, every day; it’s that, when I think about attempting to rekindle our friendship, I think, Eh, it’s been too long.  Eh, I have other relationships that I’ve cultivated here, where I live now, that make more sense to put energy into.  Eh, you sort of wrote me off, or didn’t take my “getting sober” that seriously; why would I want to relate now?  The problem with all this thinking is that, you just don’t know if people need an amends, or if they just need a phone call or an email–have you hurt them or has the relationship simply moved on?  I have to say, every relationship is unique, and has a unique past; so it’s hard to generalize what I would or could or should do.

I received a couple emails recently that made me start thinking more about all this again.  One was from a friend, someone I’ve known since undergrad–needless to say, we’ve been through a lot.  I mean, I consider her my sister (or, sistah, as it were).  However, while we were friends, there were a few key things I really hated about her  personality–one was her grudge-holding.  My hatred eventually came out, when I got drunk.  As you can imagine, when my drinking got bad and our friendship dissolved, she wrote me off.  (At least, that’s how I remember it; who knows, maybe she thought I wrote her off?)  When I got sober, I sent her a few emails (this was years ago)–nice emails, reaching-out emails.  I never heard from her, so imagined that I never would.  BAM!  About two months ago, I got an email from her, wanting to reconnect.  It was short and sweet, but in the end, I truly appreciated it.

It took me a few months to reply, though.  I couldn’t believe or want to accept that she had held a grudge for so many years (I believe it’s been 7 years)!?  On the flip, that’s one thing I really disliked about her, and watched her do over the years to many other people, so I’m not sure why it surprised me.  In any case, I just wasn’t sure she “deserved” a reply.  Then, I got another email (see below) and realized that my hesitation to reach back to her was because of my own sore ego.  Let it go, I said to myself.  The real question is not, Should I forgive her and let her back into my life?, it’s, Do I really want a relationship with her, going forward?  I’m pretty sure she’s changed, and grown; and so have I, and I think she probably assumes that about me–yet, I’m scared to find out.  I did eventually reply, so we’ll see where it goes from here.

And then there is the case of my brother’s email.  Yes, that brother.  Yes, the one who has been forgiving and “unforgiving” me for the past 5 years.  Yes, the one with the girlfriend who takes “angry and bitter” to incredible heights.  Inhale, Drunky Drunk Girl.

Exhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaale.

I’m not sure I ever really understood making amends–the concept, really, and how to do it right.  I’m not sure I ever really did it right, but, I did it, and sometimes, it backfired.  Frankly, I always had this niggling sense that raking up the past was worse than just letting shit be.  Of course, if I truly wanted that person in my real life, then I would attempt to rekindle a broken relationship; but this almost always did NOT involve apologizing again for my bad behavior while drunk.  In those cases, it was never received well.  I didn’t know how to make up for my bad behavior except to say I was sorry, and to let them know I was sober.  Beyond that, if they refused to accept, then what else could I do?  I just always felt like I left them angrier than if I hadn’t said anything at all!

I think for most of us, we focus on the shit we did wrong, and who has NOT forgiven us, in our amends; instead of focusing on the other person’s perspective, how they feel, how we’ve affected them, and their choice in the matter.  That’s a lesson for the ages, though, and for everyone–how to let go of your ego when you say you’re sorry.  I have to say, the hardest lesson, by far, I’ve had to learn in both sobriety, and be extension, normal life is the one where you tell yourself “it doesn’t matter what they think of me” and actually believe it.  Actually embrace it.  Actually, move on, if you have to.  And do it all in empathy, with nothing but good will and honest compassion for their choice, even if that choice is to stay angry.

Oof, our egos do not like that.  Which is ironic, because most of the time, we’re not fighting for the relationships, we’re fighting for our ego–we want to know that we are loved, that we’ve been given a chance at redemption, that we are worthy of that.  If I’m honest, most of the relationships I tried to amend–make up for my wrongdoing–I actually didn’t want to continue to have, after getting sober.  There were huge flaws, cracks, and those cracks sucked me into them when I got drunk–hence, the raging blackouts directed at people who were, in reality, frenemies.  (My problem was, having so many frenemies in the first place.)

So it goes with my brother.  He’s forgiven me and then taken it back numerous times these past 5 years, and he just did it again.  (And, via an unexpected email, which, by the way, I consider a form of bullying.)  I see things so much more clearly now, and suffice it to say, I know that there is nothing I can or need to do at this point.  The “incident” where I went bat-shit crazy on their asses while blacked out happened over 5 years ago, and in that time, we’ve all gone back and forth with the mean notes and apologies, and more mean notes and more apologies.  This time, I got another email saying he has not forgiven me–and will not consider it–until I apologize to his girlfriend.

Um, OK.  At first I thought maybe he wrote it while blacked out (or she did; she’s drunk to blackout and sent me mean notes–oh, the irony), because it certainly exudes some kind of delusion, some kind of altered reality.  It sounds like HER words written in his hand, which it could very well be.  She’s the one who refused every single attempt at my amends, and viciously so, not him.

I started shaking when I got it, which I hate to admit; so I immediately called my mom.  I didn’t know what else to do.  She gave me some perspective–there is nothing I need to do; this is their drama, don’t get dragged into it again; it’s time for you to move on, because sometimes in life, we don’t get closure–and I’m grateful for that, and for her.  (And, it makes me remember how wise and present and loving my mom has always been, through all of our and her own struggles–I need to see her more!?)

I wanted to reply with a litany of “I did this, see this email; she sent that, see this crazy Facebook message or that bizarro email sent from your email account, btw;” but, I didn’t.  And, I see now that I should not.  Because, there is one thing that I know for sure to be true in this situation:  what they think of me is none of my business.  I cannot change what they choose to believe, and how they choose to feel, and how they choose to behave.  NO email in the world is going to change those things, because those things are theirs.  It’s not my business what other people think of me.  End of story.

Exhale.

It’s not easy seeing the forest through the trees when it comes to amends, and forgiveness–and, what it all means on a practical level.  For me, a true people-pleaser, it’s hard to not be forgiven!  And, as a persistent-as-fuck person, it’s really hard for me to stop trying (remember:  I want to win!).  Once I remove my ego from the equation,  though, I am left asking myself:  Do you actually want a relationship with that person, if they do forgive me?  Often the answer is, no.  I have good relationships now, with people who are real, and honor my sober person.  The thing is, I’ve always tried to maintain friendships over the years, even in spite of the recognition that we’ve both changed…beyond the point of no return, so to speak.  It’ just something I’ve done, been brought up to do.  Maybe it’s time to try something new.

Five years later, and I’m still learning fundamental lessons about sobriety!  Believe me, friends, it gets better, and the work gets harder, but the well never runs dry.  This is our path, as we get sober:  toward truth, toward enlightenment, toward peace.  As my fiance and I were sitting on the beach the other day, and as I was just floating in the water, embracing the big blue; as we drove home over the hill and came into our ridiculous view of rolling green hills and ocean to horizon–it dawned on me that my brother does not have peace.  Whether he’s angry, or jealous, or just unwilling to address negative emotions, he does not have peace.

I have peace.  Some of the time.  I might not have closure, and I might not have HIM in my life, but I have peace.  And, I am grateful for that.  In fact, I have the sense that not only is it the cornerstone of my sobriety, and sober life–it’s probably the most I can hope for…to just be, in peace.

Laura Parrott Perry

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