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The power of positive thinking

12 Aug

1:31 pm

I wish I had this power!

Seriously, I have been thinking a lot lately about why some people ruminate and others don’t.  I have spent my entire life thinking a certain way, and it’s not easy to change that.  In fact, it’s not really that easy to see it, to understand it, and to embrace the fact that NO, I don’t have to think this way.  It feels good, and safe, and scratches some itch to keep doing things the same way–and some part of this ruminative thinking is healthy and is what’s helped me process my reality and life–but I guess at some point, you just get miserable and tired enough to TRY SOMETHING ELSE.

I keep a journal, and that’s where I dump all my negative thoughts–but, when I think about those thoughts from an above-myself view, I see that I, me, this person, this alcoholic, doesn’t actually see them as negative.  To me, they’re just thoughts–my thoughts, the ones I always have, the type of thinking I’ve always done.  From the ground, I am this, that; she and he is this, that; I am feeling down and it’s because of this, that; I don’t believe that this is going to work because of this, that.  You get the picture.  If only I could see that most of my conclusions are based on no facts; they are of my brain, inside my head, not informed by any fact or stimulus coming at me from the real, outside world.

It’s not that simple, though, to decipher negative patterns from legitimately angry or sad or even happy or joyful thoughts–these are thoughts that help guide you on your path, and inform your decisions!  It’s not easy to realize when let’s say, PMS, is changing your thought patterns, and for no apparent reason, you just feel irritated, angry, heavy, negative.

What I have been trying in small increments to do is to think above or around the negative thoughts.  To ignore them, to bypass them and like, go to yoga instead.  There is this part of my brain–maybe it’s Wolfie, the alcoholic drinking voice; maybe it’s his cousin–who says, YOU HAVE TO consider these thoughts, you have to legitimize them by taking them seriously; at the very least, you have to acknowledge them.  And, I might be wrong here, and I might be feeling around in the dark, but I’ve come to realize that NO, you don’t have to do any of those things.  You can just move on with your day, trashing thoughts and feelings that are ruminative–you can just keep moving, it’s OK.  Don’t confuse moving forward with running away.  (And, my favorite aunt once said, It’s OK to run away sometimes, too.)

So, yeah, I’ve been in my head lately.  I got a job contract renewal, so that is GREAT news–nine more months of staring at my computer for eight hours a day, in my office, alone.  Getting paid well, though, which is a relief because…I have expenses, and I have dreams that need major coin (I want to buy a house soon, I think).  I am grateful, even though it’s not a “dream job.”  And frankly, I don’t have the time, money, or energy to do a “job I love” (an oxymoron?) for a lot less money but one that is out in the “real world,” with actual other human beings.  (Btw, A LOT of people work remotely these days; it’s a great thing, so why am I even EVER complaining about it!?)  Actually, I’ve been on a quest to find that perfect new job, that perfect new career–which means, I’ve basically turned job searching, trolling the job boards, teasing out job descriptions into a hobby (sad, I know).  And what have I learned?  Well, that most writing, content, or communications-related jobs are just the same job.  Really.  So many jobs, so much of the same thing.  I can see myself doing something along the lines of international development or public health, but that will have to be a future focus.

We are doing “aight” here in our new home, but it’s very likely we’ll move back to where we came from (the tropics–ahh) when our lease is up.  I don’t want to be negative here, because I have major issues, it seems, with meeting and making friends, but:  I have never lived in a place that is so seemingly averse to community engagement.  A major complaint among people here is that there is no sense of “community,” and everyone asks why.  I think I’ve figured it out:  people here don’t want it.  If they did,  they’d work toward it.  Like, it’s a chore for people to say hello, to make small talk here; I have never lived anywhere like it, honestly.  I’m from the Midwest, and um, we talk to each other there.  I lived for many years in San Francisco and then, SoCal; even if they can come across as superficial, Californians are super-duper friendly.  I think New Yorkers are some of the most genuine people I’ve ever met.  And, we moved here from a place where two Cat 5 hurricanes ripped through the landscape; if people hadn’t come together, no one would have eaten, had ice, showered, or been able to read a freaking book for six months!?  I think sometimes I forget that younger people are JUST NOT USED TO COMMUNICATING IN REAL LIFE; I think growing up always online has created people who are oblivious to their surroundings, which, um, include other human beings.  Just my two cents.

On that note, I am going to exhale, and try to have a GREAT day.  Thanks for listening to my brain on static, and now I am going to turn off the radio for a while.

(Wine?  Yep, I’ve been thinking about it a bit more than usual–more than I have in the past few years–but I won’t drink.  “Boredom” is a symptom of something else, and I know it should not be treated with booze.)

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Six months later…

24 Jul

6:01 pm

Well, tomorrow marks six months since our move, and uh, I am not sure how to describe our life here.  It’s definitely DIFFERENT from our life back “home.”  I mean, I work from my home office, so my life is relatively similar.  Yet, despite going out to see a lot of shows and things on our own, we don’t really have a social life, per se (as in, we have no friends!).

It seemed (key word) so much easier everywhere else–then again, I worked at an office in the actual outside world, everywhere else; OR, I had a social network in place before I moved there.  Here, we really didn’t know anyone; that really hit home when our sweet boy (our “bear,” our beagle-boxer mix) passed away in March.  Not having any friends or family around who knew him, who could comfort us because they knew us–that just sucked.  For the first time, I could see clearly how important it is to have family around when death (or suffering or tragedy) strikes.  I was able to glimpse how our modern ways–our lives of leaving, of moving around, of moving away–work against the benefits of age-old structures like family, and community.  I miss having a community who knows me, but I’m not sure what to do about it here.  A part of me just wants to go somewhere familiar–whether it’s where I used to live, or where I have family that now lives.

Truthfully, though, I have been feeling increasingly isolated simply because I don’t get out.  Nothing new here, and it’s been something I’ve been trying to work on or “fix” since I realized it was a big factor in my alcoholic drinking behavior.  I actually googled AA meetings in my new area, thinking that I’d probably be guaranteed to meet people there.  It’s been six months, and I haven’t really made any new friends; it is SO hard, for some reason, to make friends beyond acquaintances–is it me, this place, being in my 40s?  I don’t know, and I’m starting to sort of simply not care.  I want to let it go–if it happens, great, but if not, eh, I just don’t care–but I know I should make it happen.

I’ve also been sort of bugging out about WHAT’S NEXT?  I have been obsessively scanning job sites, looking for something, anything that I want to do–like, really, truly DO; really, truly invest myself in–and nothing has been popping out.  Nothing.  It’s like, I feel a combination of resignation to the work I do now (and the fact that it pays well and I can do it from home, for better and/or for worse) and laziness–I’m 44, and I’ve done this job/life search grind before, and I’m tired!  Still, I know I need new experiences, and I need to get out and meet people–hence, the obsessive searching.

I have been thinking of starting drinking again lately, but I know it won’t help or fix–and, I’m too lazy to actually do it (what work it would be to actually pick up again, no?) as well as I KNOW that there are SO many other more positive outlets for my boredom and/or frustration.  So, I come back to feeling grateful–for my background, for my privilege, and, yes, even for my obsessive nature (which has brought me to the point of being able to BITCH about staying home all day, writing, and earning a good paycheck).

What am I needing instead?  More interaction with people, for sure.  I (we) have sort of neglected or almost refused to get out there and get involved in this community (I used that word loosely, because it just doesn’t FEEL like a community to us…yet?).  That has to change, even IF we’re only here for a few more months.  YES, I was working from home the first three months here; YES, I then spent the next three months holed up in my office, working on this albatross of a writing project that I’ve been saying I was going to do for YEARS and finally actually did–so, there is that.  (The thing is, we both don’t really feel the desire to make it happen here, and I’m not quite sure why; will this “lack of desire” follow us, if we move to other cities on the mainland–or is it just something about this place that bugs?  The only way to find out is to actually move to another city on the mainland–or, move back to where we came from, which may or may not turn out how we envision.)

I don’t know, but being sober, and 44, and in a new place–and having the ability to totally work from home?  It makes making friends hard.  Not whining, just expressing what has been on my mind for a long time now.  Make it happen, I guess?

Recovery…from family time

14 Jul

4:04 pm

I’m back from my 4th of July trip to see my dad and mom, back to back–along with my brother.  And, whoa, Nellie, what a (head) trip, indeed!

See, I’m going to be blunt–and maybe it’s not my place, but I have to talk about it:  both my parents suffer (yes, I know they are in pain, which makes me feel pained) from untreated mental health disorders.  We think my dad has bipolar disorder, I think my mom has anxiety and possibly never-diagnosed OCD, and we know for a fact that they’ve both been treated for depression.  Not a big thang, you know, if everyone involved SEES that they are suffering and makes a CONCERTED EFFORT to get and stay in treatment.  But, you know, they don’t.  They are not.  They try to hide or avoid their issues, and they seem to be too afraid to confront them in order to change.

Of course, I get it!  I could be describing MYSELF when I was in the midst of my drinking disorder!  And, I know it takes what it takes, but…  They are both in their 70s!?  I don’t know what to do most of the time except to practice not reacting the way I want to (in anger) and accept their behavior but try to lead and/or engage them in what I see as “healthier” techniques of relating.  It’s just all very hard when these people are your parents and not some strangers, or even someone else’s parents.  Our shared history and my emotional baggage makes it harder to not react emotionally.

It makes me angry to see both of them not really ever seeming to resolve anything on the inside, but mostly, it is just draining to have to deal with it.  I felt so drained coming home, and it took me days to stop being really angry and reactive and just heavy-hearted and like my brain had been scrambled.  To make matters worse, they had these issues growing up, and they affected me in a big way–it took me years to even realize what bizarre coping mechanisms I had developed let alone start dealing with them so that they stopped negatively impacting all of my own relationships, from personal to professional!

I SO want to just out them sometimes, to yell and scream, to tell them “what is wrong with them.”  But, I don’t.  It just doesn’t seem…worthwhile.  I’ve thought about writing a letter, which would allow me to be more measured and empathetic, but again, it just seems like it might be a waste of time.  Plus, I’m not ready to go there AFTER the letter has been read, as in, I don’t have the desire to be that open right now, as their daughter, and/or the ability to play the role of psychologist.  So, I just leave it–with my mom, I think she is trying to work on some of her problems, and my dad, well, I kind of consider him a lost cause at the moment because he’s manic, and it seems like a hallmark trait of mania is that until the person hits bottom, they honestly don’t believe there is anything wrong with their thoughts and behaviors.

It was great, though, to get caught up on on this stuff, and to be with each other, and to just be real.  And a part of me feels sure that somehow, seeing their kids helps them stabilize a bit, normalizes whatever tangent their emotional or thought disorder has taken them on–I imagine our kid-parent bond as a powerful antidote, at least temporarily, to feeling estranged from themselves; it helps me, in a way, to feel less estranged from life, to reel me back into something bigger than myself, gives me a sense of order again, helps me find “myself” again, at least one that I recognize.  I hope that I’m right, and it makes me realize that I should see them more often (I hadn’t actually seen my mom for two years, and with my dad, it had been a year…but before last year, it was three years!).

You would think that all of this would have made me want to drink, and I admit, there were a few moments when I really did think a glass of wine would make it easier to just escape, to get rid of the bad feelings, to disappear for a while.  Of course, I didn’t; I had plenty of time to think about ALL that I’ve worked for the past six years, and how, really, one drink would lead me back to where I was when I started writing this blog in June, 2012.  I’ve had quite a few moments, too, in the past month or so, when I’ve felt SO FUCKING BORED here, in my new home, that I have wanted to “start drinking again.”  It’s weird how in this case, it’s not a glass of wine I want, but the entire habit, or activity, of “drinking again.”

Not to worry:  they are just thoughts, and I have every reason in the world to NOT start drinking again.  In fact, just this morning, as I was listening to a podcast about a man who lost the use of his lower body from a drinking and driving accident, I just felt so…horrible for him, and disgusted for him, but also grateful for the simple beauty of the GRAND, POWERFUL act of getting sober, of being sober.  It does keep going, and it does get better, and I am still feeling wonder-full about it all–in spite of family pressures, and in spite of the occasional side of boredom that comes with the eggs and toast of life!  (haha)  Have a great Saturday, all!

Perchance to dream

16 Apr

4:26 pm

I had to look up this quote from Hamlet to make sure I wasn’t using it totally out of context–no, I have no intention of ending my own life, but the phrase conjures this idea of dreaming, of an uncertainty toward the future precisely because you have one.  I like this.  That is what I mean, perchance to dream…

I haven’t been writing much lately mainly due to the fact that life just feels busy–has felt busy, for going on years now.  I average one post a month here, and sometimes I feel like I have more to say, and sometimes I feel like I have nothing more to say.  So it goes with writing, I guess.

Anyway,  my brain has felt overloaded for the past too many months, with doing what needs to be done:  all the little details of work, earning a living, making life happen.  Two weeks ago, my contract job ended, and I don’t know if it will come back to me as a full-time role, and I know I don’t necessarily need to work for a few months–well, it’s the first chance I’ve had to breathe, to clear my head, to DREAM in a good long several years now.  Shit!  It’s been years since I pitched a journalistic story!?  It’s been years in the making, my to-do list of personal projects and ideas!  YEARS, friends, not months!  And, how GREAT does it feel to finally, at last, have some real time off in my new city (well, it’s suburbia, but it’s been home for three months now).

I feel like I can finally take that much needed step away from the daily grind, enjoy a slower pace, see what there is to see in this new home, and really look at what I’ve been spending my mind time doing–finally use this time to DREAM.

I need time to figure out what’s next.  We’ve been living states-side for about three months, and frankly, we don’t like it.  Well, no:  we LIKE the conveniences and cleanliness very much; what we don’t love is, well, the TOO much convenience, and the TOO much cleanliness!?  I know this feeling, as I felt it when I came back to America a couple years ago for a while after having lived in the islands for a few years.  It felt sterile, and the consumerism was just too much–cars and malls, malls and cars.

Now, that sense of “buy buy buy” is acutely intense–everything is about buying and selling here, and nothing feels to be about community, or “culture,” as it were.  I sort of hated the “culture” when we were in the islands, as I never felt all that welcome; now, all I see here is a lack of character, and a lack of history in some parts, which kind of lends a certain soullessness to the place.  On the other hand, I am grateful to be here, to have been able to finish out my contract in a new apartment with easy access to green space and with reliable, always-on utilities!  So, it’s not all bad.

So, yes, perchance to dream?  It’s a luxury that many people don’t often get.  In this mental space, though, I’ve noticed that a LOT of self-judgment is coming up, and I guess I should see this as a chance to work on simply accepting how I feel, and going with my gut, and not judging it as bad, or wrong.  We all have gut feelings about people, places, and things.  I am not sure why, but for most of my life, I did what I “should,” and not necessarily what I wanted–partly, it was and continues to be about deciphering calling from job; and discarding things that I simply don’t like or don’t suit me, that don’t make my brain hurt or scare me to death but that challenge me just enough to feel fulfilled.

These things change, and I am pretty sure that they will keep on changing–what fulfilled me in my teens and 20s is no longer what I want or need to do now!  So, instead of judging the way I feel about being here, in this new place; instead of punishing myself because I “should” like it–why not honor those feelings, and embrace them for what they are, which is guiding lights?  I need all the guiding light I can get right now, and so, embracing how I feel, actually honoring my feelings instead of hating on myself for having them, well that seems KEY to future happiness.

Perchance to dream–I will let you know what I come up with!  For now, it includes finally working on finishing the start of a big writing project; checking out the barista scene here; taking some camping trips (one reason we moved out here was to be able to camp and see all the great natural wonders of the West; we didn’t realize that a desert climate has all sorts of variables that might slow us down, like wind, and lack of humidity, and dangerously high temperatures); looking into finally moving from corporate work to nonprofit or NGO or disaster response (I once dreamed of getting a degree in public health, and maybe that’s something, too)…the list goes on, and I am super-duper grateful for days like today, when I feel “up” enough to not be overwhelmed, when I feel energized and clear-brained and well-rested enough to WANT to do all these things.  NOT always the case, folks; there have been quite a few days here when I haven’t felt like doing anything, where I’ve been wondering, will I ever feel excited the way I used to, about doing all these things on my “bucket list?”

It brings me ’round to mentioning that yup, over the past few weeks into months, I have wanted to start drinking red wine again, mainly for the “anticipation celebration” effect.  When I was getting sober, I wrote a lot about how drinking seemed to fuel a long many years in my life of achievement-oriented work, play, goals.  I drank in order to get excited to do things–and it worked, as wine drops dopamine, and your entire system just feels excited, and MOTIVATED–and I drank while I was striving for “excellence” and “achievement” in order to reward myself for all this freaking brain-crushing, soul-sucking “excellence” and “achievement.”  It was as if–and maybe it was actually so–my entire life of striving was built on the anticipation and then, reward of wine after a “job” well done.

So, when I quit drinking, and even now, of course, I struggle with feeling excited to do stuff!  Like, at night, I often feel I’ve done nothing, or not enough, with my day; I felt that way before I quit drinking, and I would mask it by downing wine.  I can’t hide from these feelings anymore, and I still have them, and I struggle at night when it’s time for bed and I’m like, I feel SO GOD DAMNED BORED but yet of all the MILLION things I could be doing, I don’t want to do any of them.  So, I go to bed, moping, feeling defeated, depressed, wondering, what’s the point here?  I am SO squandering my talents, my time, my LIFE.

Wow.  I know, I am neurotic, and it’s helped and hurt me.  What I am saying is, lately, I have been wanting to drink out of a sense of frustration at night (I am so not sexy anymore, here, this wine will make me feel young and hot again–NOT…haha) and a sense of existential panic (I feel so bored and so maybe I should read or write, but I SO don’t feel like doing that, and I can’t escape both feelings so here, let me have this wine to just erase the fuck out of all of this nonsense–NOT…haha).  Of course, I have no intention of drinking again, I stay firm, but, it’s not to say that this wispy idea hasn’t been coming back to me over and over again, sneaking its way into my “Oh, that sounds like a good idea” thought patterns…  I know I could benefit from meditation, and it’s something that has helped me in the past.

It’s a process, but I stand firm because I KNOW that drinking is not going to change ANYTHING but the cosmetic appearance (to myself) of my life; that I will wake up with the same face, black eyeliner smeared into bruise-like patterns where rouge and lipstick should be, wondering why I just spent $50 on wine and wasted another night?

Anyway, perchance to dream, and inhale, and exhale, all while sober–how lucky am I!

Is self-love radical?

5 Mar

11:12 pm

We’re finally settling in here, coming up on 6 weeks after our big move.  And, while we’re getting used to the new normal–stores, working electricity, no bugs (and therefore, an almost-vacuum of sound at night), a sense of being definitively bounded by four walls (not the sky as one, the ocean as the other three)–I’m still feeling a bit disoriented.  But, I just plugging away, and doing what needs to be done; sort of the same thing over and over, day in and day out.  That’s how I’m coping with all this change.  Kind of sounds just like getting sober, eh?

This move has been challenging, to say the least.  Who am I here?  Who are we?  And, am I still sober or do I just not drink?  I guess I’m sort of  on autopilot at the moment, and with that, some of my old “character defects”–feeling restless and irritable, desperately not wanting to “miss out”–crop up.  I don’t feel like I can relax, or let go of the reins, and therefore, my dreams, and my sense of humor, and my romanticism are sort of dwindling.

I know it’s all got to come back once we find our way, but I must say, once in a while, out of boredom and restlessness (I feel so boring sometimes, especially if I don’t write or dissolve into a slightly more magical reality), I do wonder if I can drink again?  Like, it’s been so long, can’t I…improve this mood, make me funny, and young, and sexy again?  NOT!  I know it’s just a fleeting thought, but I still have it and others like it once in a while–especially under stress, or while I’m PMSing.

Lately, I’ve been stuck in the past–and, angry about it as well as confused as to how I actually have a past (haha)!   First up, I’ve been ruminating on friends who I feel just don’t get the new me–I know it’s been years since I got up, got sober, and went my own way, but I wonder, WHAT do they think happened to me?  Like, these were good friends, but friends who never bothered to ask me, so, you quit drinking, moved to an island, and…what happened?  Why did you do that?  How did you fare?  What’s your life been like?  Who ARE you now?  And, now that I’ve moved to a totally wacky-choice place (it’s a place I never would’ve imagined I would live)–not ONE of these so-called friends has inquired at all.  Maybe they never cared, or maybe we just fell out of touch as our lives moved on.  Maybe probably I was bad keeping in touch; yet, they KNEW of my drinking problem, and how much emotional trauma I had put myself (and them) through–so, I get tired of making excuses for them.  The street goes both ways, it really does, and after a while, I think you just have to truly, finally let old “friends” go and make new ones.

Second, I finally got ahold of a set of old boxes full of old stuff–like, my life in pictures and scrapbooks, journals, jewelry, and stuffed animals–stuff spanning my childhood through teenage, college, and early 20s years.  And, I went through it today.  And, uh, I felt nothing but sadness, and confusion:  sad that years have passed, we’ve all aged, and yeah, I’m definitely, I guess, “not young” anymore; confused in that, I don’t know what to do with all the memories, all the powerful experiences and people who have shaped who I’ve become, or, more pointedly, who I became up until I quit drinking.  I am angry at that person (my younger self), and all those people and places and things that “happened to me” before I got sober.  Why?  It’s my life, it’s what made me, me!  I guess I’m just at a loss as to what the point of all those experiences are, when, today, I have nothing really to do with those old friends, exes, people who left such a mark on my path; all the experiences and diplomas and takeaways.  Since getting sober, I have practiced so much living in the present, and maybe forgetting about a painful past, that I literally forgot about it; erased a lot of times that have made me, me.  It’s strange:  what’s the point of all the living that we do, when in the end, all it amounts to is a few boxes of fading, illegible memorabilia?

I wish I could have hung onto all that, but I had to let it go in getting sober.  At least so it SEEMS to me now.  And, I think the hardest work in sobriety is after you make the break, the split with your old self and life and you finally do get sober–what do you go back for, reconcile, keep?  How do I love my younger self, when I SO didn’t love her then?

I see my story, how things turned out, what was happening THEN so much clearer now; and the biggest question I have is, why did I hate myself so much?  I was so sweet, clear, beautiful, harmless–at least from the outside.  I was such a pleaser.  Yet, I felt NO ONE loved me, and I definitely hated on myself.  Maybe it’s just common to teenagers, or common to people affected with depression and anxiety, which I had growing up.  I don’t know, but I did kick and scream against my self-hatred for a long time, and it wasn’t until I got sober and started practicing what I now see as an almost-defiant act–self-love–that I have come to realize how DIFFICULT it is to push against that hate, pressure, disapproval, discrimination put on you as a kid or teenager.  The more I come into my own and STRUGGLE to love myself every day, the more I see not only what a DEFIANT act it is to practice self-love, but how RADICAL an act it is.  To consciously love yourself is a radical act of defiance.  And I don’t think I’m the only one who understands this!  I think we all struggle with this determination that no matter what has happened, or happened to you, you must push up and into the sky, and love yourself.

The boxes are too much, so I’m putting them in the closet.  The past will always be there, but right now, I need to live in the present, and somehow begin to again honor and love the girl who got me here.

Are you afraid to leave the place where you got sober?

12 Dec

1:15 pm

I’ve been wondering this lately, in a tangential sort of way.  Like, I think about other stuff, and my thoughts end up at this question.  Usually I’m thinking about how I feel bored with sobriety, in a general sense.  Like, it’s just not pink clouds anymore, ever.  *I’m* no longer a pink cloud–and I wonder, where have I gone?  Sometimes, I do long for the “old” “just getting sober” me.  The truth is, not only is being sober no longer enough, but I expect a lot LOT more from myself now.  So, it all just feels like work–normal life, I guess.

I miss walking the hills, passing the tropical flowering brush, feeling literally buzzed by the fact that I am sober, that I get this–this life.  These days, I still do very much appreciate all of it–maybe more so now, more fully–but I don’t feel that same rush of getting sober and all the feeling of newness and accomplishment and being newly, well, in love with myself again.  I just feel…bored.  Been here, done this.  Time to move on.

And, move on, I have.  I did.  I went to the west coast last year, for oh, 8 months, and worked a “big girl” job again.  (which, as you can probably guess, was pretty easy, and pretty low-key compared to freelancing)  And, I survived everything I was afraid of, namely, will I not only be able to stay sober in a new place, in a new job, in a new lifestyle, but will I thrive?

I have to say, I guess I did both survive and thrive, even though I felt depressed most of the time.  When I got home, I felt changed, much stronger, much more confident, able to interact with the “real world”–things that never would have been nurtured if I had stayed here, in my old, pink-cloud life.  SO, that was good.  And, it’s had me wondering ever since, how many people don’t leave where they got sober because they’re afraid they’ll lost their sobriety in exchange for possible big personal growth?

Are you afraid that leaving the sober life, patterns, and habits that you’ve developed where you are will put you at risk for relapse?  Do you want to leave, but fear you can’t because you’re not sure how or if you can establish similar new, healthy coping skills somewhere else?  I think I know quite a few people down here who stay for YEARS…and I wonder if it’s for that very reason.

I wasn’t particularly worried about relapsing when I went away, but I did fear that I would be more stressed, and more triggered, and have more cravings.  I did at first, but I was NEVER, EVER at risk of a relapse.  (And, these days,  I don’t think I would even choose to spend money, drink liquid sugar, and feel like total ass the next day, if given the no-strings choice.)  In fact, after the initial freakout (yup, there was one night–week, let’s say), things went back to where they were before I got sober, which is to say, I’m good at work.  I always have been really (pathologically) good at doing well at work while living a (secretly) disastrous personal life.

Still, I had quite a bit of apprehension.  I’m glad I got over it because I came back feeling very much motivated, strong, and confident.  Not that I feel that way every day these days (I’ve been home for 8 months), but more or less, I really do.  And, I wonder, how would it be if I lived out my fear, and stayed “stuck” here–I’m trying not to judge the folks here who have gotten sober and decided to just go with what works, mind you.  For me–and we all know who I am–I have to experiment, and cannot live in fear, as fear is my biggest trigger to use, whether emotionally or actually physically.  And, that leads me to ask another, even more general question about long-term sobriety:  how much fear is acceptable to live with and in, in exchange for security in your sobriety?  Do you–should you–work through your fears, all of them, gradually as the years wear on?

Do you still miss drinking?

21 May

10:16 am

Well, that’s a question, isn’t it?  My boyfriend and I were driving to the beach the other day, or back from some boat trip, and he was like, Do you ever miss drinking, or still want to drink?  Or, do you just not talk (complain) about it anymore?

Hmm.  I really had to think about it.  I’ve been thinking about drinking, and sobriety, but I just haven’t been coalescing those thoughts into posts.  And, as you guys know, it’s partly because life has gotten busy, work-wise.  I’m still working remotely for the company I was at, and I’m also working three to four days a week at the same local coffee shop.  And, frankly, it’s still not enough money, considering my ever-present student loan debt, future goals and dreams, and well, life is expensive.  But, it’s comforting to know that I do have spending money (the lattes money), and I don’t feel “guilty” buying trips, new shoes, and expensive food items once in a while.  As Peter Tosh sang, most of us are livin’ small.

The other reason I haven’t been blogging is this irritant factor.  It’s like, I’d rather just not think about not drinking anymore.  But, I DO think about it, all the time.  It’s just changing.  It’s weird.  While I miss getting sober–there is definitely a “high” to achieving and sustaining a longish-term sobriety, and I’d say that lasts up to years–I do have to accept that I’m beyond that.  The pink cloud still rests above my head, it’s just sort of faded.

I mean, yes, when I see people come into the coffee bar at 5:30 (my start time–ouch), STILL FLAMING DRUNK and having incoherent and emotional arguments with each other, I cringe inside; and then, I breathe a sigh of relief.  And that relief doesn’t ever go away; in fact, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I have to admit, in my darker hours, or my agro ones after the caffeine buzz wears off and I get “hangry,” a small part of me feels smug about it–just a little bit.  Mainly, though, this sense of relief, of being FAR, far away from the urge to binge drink/drink alcoholically–it’s a constant, gracious presence.  I feel gratitude all the time.  For not feeling the urge to drink, ever, really.  And for never, ever having to be hungover like that again.

What I don’t feel is the excitement in congratulating myself anymore.  And, I suppose that’s a good thing.  Life is just life, it doesn’t have to revolve around this idea of “me being or getting sober, or being pleased with me being or getting sober.”  You know?

However, then my boyfriend hits me with that question, and it stirs up the fact that I haven’t forgotten about my sobriety at all, and I have to say:  Yes.  Yes, I do still think about drinking.  Yes, I do still want to drink once in a while, when I encounter a very powerful (to me) trigger.  When?  Well, let’s just say, on a boat trip, when I feel jealous (ugh) of all the hot, young girls with their flat bellies (well, I never had a flat belly, even in my 20s).  On that same boat trip, toward the end, when my insecurity about being “old” has been sufficiently compounded by the sense that I’m not only “old,” I’m also boring–that’s when I really start to feel grumpy and want to drink.  I feel sorry for myself.  It’s residual though, like a long lost limb from a faraway ancestor–I can intellectualize it away, and realize that it’s just a feeling.  Still, I do feel tired of being the “narc.”  (In fact, at the last beach bar we stopped at on this “for example” boat trip, I ordered a virgin tropical drink, and the guy goes, “I die a little every time someone orders said tropical drink without the rum.”  And I look up, pissed, and I go, “Well, I die a little every time I drink rum.  So, what do ya got for me?”  He wasn’t displeased, but he was definitely taken aback.  He ended up adding coconut water, and let me tell you, it was pretty damn tasty!)

I have to stress, and this is most important as my sobriety lengthens:  it’s not that I want to get drunk.  It’s just that I want to…not be sober.  When I see a friend of mine, doing it up in the big city we used to live in together, drinking drinking drinking all over the place, every night; I feel…some sort of loss.  I know it comes back to this fear of missing out, or my OLD ideas and notions about how to “have fun” or “have a good life.”  My OLD ideas of me.

I don’t miss getting drunk.  What I, Drunky Drunk Girl, miss is the ability to instantly and effortlessly escape my seriousness.  The world.  Daily, “hum drum” life.  Some might call it a lack of free spiritedness, an “always in my head”-ness, a sobriety of thought, or, an overwhelming thoughtfulness.  Maybe it’s simply neuroticism:  the tendency to overthink negative (and positive?) thoughts.  Maybe I can call it depression, as this lingers.  I don’t know.  But, I do miss being able to “be that fun girl.”  Of course, I know I can be that fun girl in other ways, and that frankly, I WAS NEVER THAT FUN GIRL when I was drinking.  But, the constructs and stories we tell ourselves linger on and on into our sober years–and it really does take a constant checking in to right, correct, re-mold these ideas.  And, yeah, the peer pressure is always going to be there unless you check in and say, Fuck that, I rock.  SO MUCH HARDER NOW THAT I’M SOBER.

So, no, I never want to get drunk.  But, yes, I still do want to “not be me.”  Or, be that fun girl.  Or, escape from my sober life.  And, I guess that’s what we give up in exchange for constancy of mood, deep knowledge of self, and the GIFT of being able to look forward, with relatively laser focus, on our lives–and to make plans that suit us, lift us, and maximize our potential.  That is worth a thousand nights of drinking, and a million mornings of being hungover.

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