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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.

Dealing with negative emotions

22 Apr

2:02 pm

Even today, I get angry.  Depressed.  Sad.  And, I think about drinking.  I do.  I don’t want to, and know that I never will–I’ve been there, done that–but, it’s still there, this DESIRE to soothe.  It’s more like a whine, faint, in the distance, reminding me of the hot mess I was when I first got sober:

But THEY get to get away, to escape, to use their substance of choice–why can’t I?

I was thinking on my run today:  it’s not that I am UNHAPPY–happiness is most certainly a choice.  And, after years of forcing myself to find happiness in the corners of my early sober life; and more years of learning how to cultivate happiness as a choice, 100% of the time–well, I’ve realized that I can be happy without being content.  I am not content, and frankly, I am not sure I ever will be.  At 42 years old, I think I’m just beginning to try things that might actually make me feel contentment, which I suppose might be the opposite of things like accomplished, or having won the prize, of having earned the medal.

It reminds me of where I am right now in my job search:  I have been contracting with the same company for almost two years, but they still haven’t hired me.  Not only that, but I’ve interviewed for more than one full-time job with them, and each time, the interview process has consisted of meeting/being interviewed by 7, 8, 9 people!  I’m wondering, are they simply trying to make me second-guess my abilities?  Cuz, you know, of COURSE, I can do these jobs.  It’s not rocket science.  The drinker in me, though, craves their approval; wants to do it “right;” wants to win!  In reality, for the most part, I so don’t WANT the job.  What I want is them to want me, like me, hire me.  I want to win.  Even if that means that both during the interview process AND while I’m doing a job that I don’t really want to do; I am totally freaking DISCONTENT.

Ahh, life.  Sobriety has allowed me to recognize the nuances to all this “character flaw” stuff, and well, the difference (in my mind, anyway) of being unhappy and being discontent.  And, while I’ve wanted to drink lately trying to figure out just what is going to alleviate this lack of contentment (as a writer, I wonder if I am always going to feel like I haven’t done anything, or need to do something more, or different, or else), the five years of sobriety under my belt–and feeling this way so often back in the early days–has given me the tools to realize that drinking won’t solve anything.  Won’t alleviate anything.  Is not an escape, and is not a reward.  No matter how many people I see drinking to reward or alleviate the stress of transition, or decision-making processes, it still reeks of bullshit.  Drinking is bullshit.  Do I want a thing, somewhere that I can go?  Yes.  Is it up to me to figure out where that so-called place is, that place of acceptance and happiness in the moment, for the moment, and of the moment?  Yes.

We whine, we do.  I do.  Yet, that is allowed.  And then, depending on how practiced you have gotten, you move on.  You place those negative ideas and feelings into the “perspective” box, and you move on.  I feel happy most of the time, and that’s what matters and what I try to continue to focus on.  That and remembering how AWESOME-SAUCE it still is to be here, and not there (hungover on a Saturday afternoon)–being grateful, and cultivating happiness, in spite of this so-called discontentment, which is fleeting, and fickle.

I don’t think I’ll ever drink again, but…

28 Mar

10:23 pm

That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel angry, lost, overwhelmed.  Bitter, resentful.  Joyful, too; much joyful.  And content.  Though, I am realizing daily, almost on an hourly basis some days, that I have to cultivate contentment.  I have to make sure I see that there is SO much to be grateful for; that my brain does not have my permission to hijack my mood, my peace, my sense of belonging in this strange sober world that I discovered/created for myself.

I was thinking about my slips here and there over the past 4+ years of continuous sobriety.  I basically got sober in October 2012, drank once the following March (2013), then went over a year until the summer of 2014, when I think I had a beer one day in June, and then a few sips of wine and/or alcohol (maybe an accident, maybe to “test” my waters) at some point that summer; I had a horrendous drunk one night in October 2014, then…didn’t drink again until the following fall, of 2015, when I was away in my new location, working a big-girl job, and pining for “what was.”  I think I drank a couple glasses a couple times, with the final, third attempt in January of 2016.  That was really a dud–sandy and uneventful and sad.  I had two small glasses (I think, something like that, very minor) and was TOTES hungover for the next day.  LOL.

The point is, I haven’t looked back since January 2016.  Not at all.  I’ve realized that I have no interest to try, to test, to wonder.  I think it’s because I did all those things–I tried, I tested, I wondered–and wine didn’t work.  It never worked again.  But, it’s not like I gave up trying, or, believing somehow someday wine would work again.

This time was different:  I think (now that I’m actually taking some time to revisit how I felt in January of 2016 and the fact that I haven’t felt like that since) I just surrendered.  Or, was taken up–like, lifted up.  Like, my higher power–I actually like to think of my higher power as a higher me, a higher self, my best self, some evolved sense of myself as this great and good creature hovering over the pathetic, wimpering “real me” below, living out her day-to day–said, No.  Let it go.  There is no reason.

And, really, I haven’t thought about drinking since then.  The past few months, even, I haven’t considered that drinking would help–and, the past few months have found me feeling quite angry.  Like, all the bad feelings and habitual ego stuff is still right there, very much at the surface, as if I never did any work!  Angry.  So angry.  So angry.  At whom?  It’s like, I don’t recognize myself some days.  Except, I do; I see through the personality bugs and character flaws and negative thought loops to the real me, the me I liked best a few years ago, the one dancing on her self-styled pink cloud/bubble.

I’m not in a bubble anymore, and I admit, I do/can have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings these days.  But, I’m working through them, and realizing that getting sober–close to five years ago–is just the beginning of this strange trip called sobriety.  It doesn’t just keep getting better…without work and self reflection.  However, the desire to drink, in all its entirety, does go away.  No matter how angry or frustrated or trapped I feel these days–and, admittedly, I do a lot–I don’t even consider drinking as a solution.  As something I would even want to do, regardless of its (in)ability to solve my problem or resolve my conflict.

And, holy eff, is that startling to realize.  Like, I don’t think I’ll ever drink again.  And, it’s not like this big revelation that I thought it would be.  It’s more like, a foregone conclusion, one that I’ve been too busy and productive and angry and frustrated and in flux to notice!

Yet, sobriety, and all its work and progress and lessons and maddening ins and outs, continues.  Is it just life?  Um…I don’t know.  I think those who have gotten sober have a newfound perspective on all this life stuff, I really do.  Yes, this is life, and yes, I’m bitching about it here, on my long, but hopefully not lost blog.  But…there’s so much nuance; life is reflected through the prism of sobriety and getting sober, such that we see all these different colors, maybe more colors than people who have never had to deal with all their shit (yet).

Random thoughts on a Tuesday night.  Miss you all, and hope to start catching you up once I remember how to form this whirl of thoughts into words!

Still (relatively) Facebook-free

18 Feb

And it feels good.

I’ve been back and forth lately about posting–I know I should, but life gets in the way.

Sometimes (my) sobriety feels like the Blob, just a mass of heavy, hot water hanging around the Pacific, hugging me as if I’m the west coast.  Sometimes I don’t even think about it anymore.  And some days, like when I was out running a few mornings ago, I just stopped, stared out at the water, let the hot sun draw the sad sigh out of me, and admitted:  I will never be free of this sobriety thing, and I don’t know what to DO with it.  I feel like I have to do something with it, my past and my struggle to get sober; but I just don’t know what.  I can’t get rid of it, and I can’t let it go.  What should I do with it?  I have no idea, so I keep plugging, hoping that one day, I’ll wake up and know what to do about it.

So, yeah, I’ve stayed off Facebook for the most part (went on a few times and got sucked into my feed, but mainly, if I do log on, I just check “on this day” and my individual pings and user groups), and it feels really…peaceful.  My daily life is just easier not having all those other people/places/things in it–they are merely distractions, and since I need all the focus I can get to make the transition that’s coming up, it’s helpful to not have to worry about all that other stuff.  I do wonder if this is just another symptom of my increasing tendency to accept being a hermit; though, not being a part of Facebook has…given me back to me.  Maybe when I ramp up my science writing again (freelance journalism), it’ll be worth it to get back onto social media (Twitter, mainly), but until then, I’ve realized that I’m not missing out on anything but my OWN life when I log onto “the ‘book.”

My contract was extended, and all I felt when I woke up at sunrise (yep, I continue to wake up at the hour I used to when I was working morning barista shifts) is trapped.  WHAT ON EARTH IS THERE LEFT TO DO HERE?  I have these moods at very specific times:  around 11 pm, I crash and the world sucks and I have done nothing in it; and around 5 or 6 am, I am raring to go, but…there is nowhere to go and nothing to do, and I feel utterly trapped.  And, it’s funny because these moods are consistent in content, and occur at the same time of day.  Of course, when I wake up, all is well, I feel good, and I tackle the day–and along the way, try to appreciate the outstanding geographical beauty that has become so familiar that it’s easy to let it go unnoticed.  It’s just funny, to have these swings of thought, to notice them, and to know that while they’re emotionally (and psychologically) powerful, they’re relatively meaningless.

I need a change; we both do.  In fact, my fiance and I have been having serious conversations about moving, and I have been applying for new jobs in different places.  Soon come, a change.  You can’t rush it.  You just cannot.  I have a couple of friends who have decided to just move to a city in the Midwest, and, uh, I wish them the best but I feel like they’re doing it out of this desperate need that is so familiar to me–to just CALL THE FUCKING SHOT because you are so sick of weighing your options and feeling stuck.  It’s so tempting to just say, OK, we’re leaving this place, we’re moving here, and we’ll figure it out when we get there.  I did that in my early 20s, and even my 30s, and, well, look who JUST paid off her student loan debt–at 42 years old.  It’s time to be patient, to plot and plan and plod through the tough conversations with spouse–where makes him happy, what are my dealbreakers, and what, really, do we envision for our lives?

It’s so hard, it really is.  But, I don’t want to drink in the face of it.  I do have the tendency to shut down when the options become too many, but I know that I have to do better, and stick the process out.  And, I will.  We will.  And we’ll be better off for it.

Facebook-free is helping me figure out my life if only because I’m forced to focus solely on it.  And, it’s wonderful to see that I don’t need Facebook, that I can live happily without it, and that I am (for the most part) not really missing out on anything.  Sound familiar?

Phrase of the year

2 Jan

11:24 am

I’ve seen many posts re: word of the year.  I used to do that, too, and in a way, I guess “phrase” is akin to “word”.

Move the earth.  Or, move the earth, beyotches.  This is my phrase of the year.

2017.  It does have an ominous, heavy feel to it.  Maybe because it’s closer to “20” than “15” or even “10”.  Maybe it’s because I know what lies ahead:  digging in, pushing out, molding form out of lumps of wet clay.  Focus, and effort.  And:  sweet, sweet smells of dirt, of salty earth, of pepper and fire and flint–steely eyes, steeled tongue.  I do not give any fucks anymore–in a good way.  😉

I’ve spent 18 months at a nearly-intolerable job in order to make money, essentially.  I feel like I’ve been PREPARING and PLANNING for a long time, and that includes, thinking about and writing about getting sober.  I won’t stop doing that–it seems, IS, as much a part of staying sober as any of my well-worn coping mechanisms.  BUT, I can officially say that I want something more.  Else.  Different.  New.

(Mind you, I also made my science journalism about writing about addiction, too, for a while, so maybe I’m just burnt out.  Sometimes I think, if I never have to write one more fucking word in my life, I will be the happiest girl alive.  And then I come back to reality:  I am a writer, I am compelled to write.  And I miss it terribly when I don’t write; I can’t even live my life when I don’t process it via the written word!  So, I let that thought go and try to embrace the grey area, so to speak–something that becomes more challenging the more I want to make real change instead of waiting, wanting, working toward something that is coming, in due time, if I just keep plugging.)

Last year at this time, I was in a world of hurt.  Glad that hell is over.  Yes, I made good money and have since continued working (remotely) for that company, but man, was I depressed last year.  No more.  Done.  I made it through.  Happy to NOT be there, and to be here.  Much has transpired between then and now that has helped me get happy again:  I moved home (I am much more myself in a tropical than desert climate); I worked as a barista, which I really loved; we got engaged in May; we traveled a lot this year (New Orleans was my favorite!); I paid off my graduate student loans; I got into running more (I have somehow managed to keep off those 15 pounds for 2.5 years).

One big thing I want to mention is that I started taking hormones by way of the pill!  Imagine:  at 42, I am taking the pill for the first time.  Haha.  It’s worth mentioning because, I have ZERO PMS craziness anymore.  It’s awesome.  MANY of my worst drinking binges happened around or because of my fluctuating hormones–many women who drink can probably say that, they, too, drank when they were PMSing.  No one talks about that, of course, but look, it can be as simple as taking birth control, or, I guess if you’re older, actual hormone replacement therapy–to feel way better, to NOT feel crazy, to not feel angry, or depressed, or like you want to down oceans of wine for two weeks out of the month. Not to mention, the hangovers are from SATAN when your body is not really processing booze well, which (ironically) is what’s happening around this time o’ the month.  (More on this for another post, methinks.)

Anyway, I feel stronger now, and I think I’m simply ready to start thinking about other stuff more of the time.  I mean, I will always blog here, that’s a given.  That I can’t let go.  I would love to wake up, however, and not have this feeling of, I have to think about sobriety.  I have to relate things I do now, in my present life, with my having gotten sober.  I DO, constantly, because it is all intertwined; I just wish there was a way I could both appreciate the past without having to think at all about it.  I’m grateful, though, and it’s just a matter of perspective when it comes to “ruminating” on getting sober, and being sober.

I need to get out more, too.  I quit the coffee shop job back in September, and it has been rough.  I am SO tired of these four walls, you know?  And, I’m getting kind of irritable.  Maybe, mean.  Like, cynical.  I need connection, we all do.  I’m on day 5 of a Facebook fast, and I feel like I like people more–what I get now from interactions is real, it’s authentic.

I admit:  I have felt lonely since not logging into Facebook.  Like, there’s no reason to go on my phone!  Haha.  BUT, I’m slowing down and opening up to the people and places around me; and I’m gaining a little bit of mental patience.  I can take things in that used to annoy me because they were too slow, not enough, immediately boring.  I felt…controlled by Facebook, and that felt very much like being addicted to binge drinking.  Now, I feel better, freer.  It’s good.  Despite feeling truly out of it, and lonely, I’m going to keep going.  (I really miss “on this day”, though…)

As for wanting to drink?  Well, I have to admit that on New Year’s Eve, as I was remembering other NYEs–when I was single, granted, and was going on all these crazy, “life experience”-type trips to far-flung places for the holidays–I felt staid.  Boring.  Not lacking in contentment, but sort of unhappy.  Vexed.  Fear of missing out was an actual, I am missing out.  I am not learning, or growing, or expanding my horizons!

Drinking won’t bring back the “life-changing” experiences that were INVARIABLY RUINED anyway by the time New Year’s Day rolled around in said far-flung places.  I know that drinking isn’t the answer, and cannot be:  it doesn’t work and hasn’t for years.  I know that what’s simmering in the pot will come together into a lump of…something good to eat, soon.  Yes, it still comes and goes, this desire to drink to fix, or transfer, or be reborn.  None of that happens, and never did, and never will.  It was fun, looking back–but, I’m here now, and pretty content, actually.

This year will still be about plugging away, and working, but also, finally starting to do stuff, you know?  After all this obligatory preparatory work–laying the groundwork-work, doing this before moving on-work–it will pay off.  Move the earth, beyotches!  🙂

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?

How do we let go without forgetting?

1 Oct

11:11 am

I am totally grateful for what I have and where I am, but I have to say:  life is a fast, fast blur right now.  I am trying–and succeeding, I think?–in keeping up, but what I long for is a retreat of sorts.  Ten days of no working, no doing, no thinking, really.  God knows, no news skimming, no Facebook scrolling, no remembering, no creating new memories.  Just time to turn it off for a while.

I am in the place–the city–where I started this blog, over four years ago, and I’m feeling…at a loss for adequate time and head space to collect my thoughts about it all into a post.  What I can say is this:  I’ve realized that it is OK to let some of it go.  It is OK to change.  To do things differently.  I have, for many years, been inside my head–and by that, I mean, have clung to the idea that thinking and analyzing all my thoughts is of utmost importance.  More so, that storing all these thoughts, analyzed, in my brain is worth EVERYTHING, is something I cannot give up or stop doing.  I am at the point where I’m starting to ease up on that idea.  I am starting to think that allowing myself to just let some of it go is actually the only thing that is going to restore my sanity, and move me forward.  What is that “it”, though?

That “it” is comprised of many things:  my old self, my old notion of self, the things that made up my old self, I guess.  It is true, I am “me”, here, now, much improved.  Yet, how did I get here?  Is it OK, after the whirring stops and I look around, to let that go?  Because, to me, letting go equates to forgetting.  And, I don’t want to forget all that.  I’m also incredibly nostalgic–I suppose, a vestige of the old poet in me, which I adored and long to reconnect with, at some point in my life.  How do I balance the sober me, the one who had, out of necessity, to put away all that ruminating in order to recover–and the “old” “drunk” me, the one who is me, who thinks and feels?  I guess, at four years sober, I am simply at a loss as to how to live in both skins.  Because, completely “letting go” of the “old” “drunk” me is not working anymore.

That’s it.  That’s what I’ve been struggling with for a few years now.  It’s not that I am not living my life anymore, stalled, trying to figure this out.  It’s just that now that I’m having a little more time to reflect on what I’ve been doing, how I’ve been working, who I’ve been seeing and relating to–it’s always hard, I guess, to come home.  It’s just hard.  I think it’s doubly hard for people in recovery, because so much of our recent past selves are tangled up in our “addict” selves.  While one does not equal the other, they were and are all part of you, you know?

Ack!  So hard.  So, at this point, which I’ve been doing for those few years now, I have to turn this off–this problem that I cannot seem to grasp or solve–and move on to my day.  I have to work today, and then, enjoy this great, big, beautiful city that I’ve spent TWO YEARS waiting and working toward visiting again for 12 glorious days.  And, I’ve got a rock solid foundation of sobriety, which keeps opening up new doors of understanding, and I’m more “me” than ever.  So, I will do this and live in the moment–because we all have to work, and live, in our sobriety, even if it still feels new, four years later–and come back to the rest later.

On a more present note:  I just finished dying my roots.  Um, yeah.  My roots are grey.  I am too young to be grey, and I don’t really like seeing what truly looks like someone who is 20 years older than I am right now (I’m 42, not 62).  It’s all good; I’ve always looked young, and continue to feel young at heart, so, why not?  I think it’s great that I get to pick what color my hair is now (I choose a reddish-blonde–haha).  BUT, it’s a reminder of something that connects, for me, with recovery and all that I’ve been dwelling on recently:  how do we age?  I mean, literally, I’m asking, how are we to do this?  How do we move through life balancing all our past experiences–in our heads (memories on overload as we keep acquiring them), in our hearts (feelings that we’ve pushed down or out, but never really go away)–with our present, active days?  And, how do the “moons” of this world reconcile life having to be lived, out of necessity on many levels, as “suns”?

Haha.  Sorry, guys, I’m still me.  😉

It is cold and rainy here–a welcome reprieve from incessant 90-degree, 90-percent-humidity days, I have to say.  I gotta run now.  More soon, she said a million times.  No, seriously, I miss you guys.  Happy fall!

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