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Do what you want, and do it now

24 Sep

10:53 pm

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted–per usual; I have never been so busy in my entire life, it seems, with work!  BUT, I wanted to get this quick one in because well, it can’t wait:

Someone in my family unexpectedly, and rather unceremoniously, DIED this morning, and it was quite shocking!?  It IS quite shocking.  I mean, one minute you’re doing something in the back yard, the next minute, you’re dead.

Your big, huge, amazing life–the one that you spent countless hours trying to live, to not live, to outsmart, to hack, to tweak, to overhaul, to fill and fill and fill–is gone.  In an instant.  And no one really cares that much; no one outside the people who knew him, or you, or her.  (I mentioned it on a work call, because I was a bit blown away, and my colleagues were like, Ohhh, I’m sorry; and by the next split second, they were laughing about something, and we had all moved on.  The momentous event–the most important event of your life, I might say–of his death was left behind, dissolved in memory even as my mouth was still hot from breathing it.)

What did I conclude, then, today, as I felt alternately sad, angry, and well, selfishly pained for my own self, imagining a similar loss that will one day happen to me, and how it might rip me to shreds?  Well, one, don’t waste time on bad people.  You and only you get to make the call as to what that means, but to me, it means toxic people, or people who don’t want to help themselves.  Two, do what you want, and do it now.  It’s as simple as that.

Do what you want, and do it now!

I had an interview today that put me further than ever on what I think I want to be my new path–a career change into the nonprofit world.  Pretty happy about that, actually.  And, we done gave our notice weeks ago, so we’re definitely packing up a trailer of stuff and towing it to our next home in November–a place that we have yet to determine, but will probably have things like water, and trees, blue and green…and humidity, sweet Jesus, humidity!?

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Can we go home again?

2 Sep

4:24 pm

It’s strange to feel emotional, like I do right now.  I haven’t really had powerful ups and downs since I quit drinking–over 6 years ago, it was wonderful to realize that it was the wine that was messing with my mood swings, not necessarily an underlying mood disorder (which I probably have, too!).  I’ve had even LESS emotions, in general, since going on the pill a few years ago (to “treat” my first bout of perimenopausal symptoms at the ripe old age of 41).  I’ve gone off it recently (oh, joy; who told me that you’d lose your hair?), and I can tell when things are just weird, as they are today.  Yet…

I’m bothered today, and I feel sad.  I was looking at pictures from just a few years ago, and noticed that I look younger then, and happier!  Is that because I was, or is the dry desert air messing with me?

We have decided to end our short (10 months) tenure in this city that we both can’t really stand–I have to say, I will never live in a place that is this dry ever again; if going off the pill wasn’t enough to kill my curls, spending 10 months in the desert definitely did in what was left of my hair AND my spirit!  Just kidding–sort of!  When it comes to this decision, it’s all good, but we don’t know where we’re going to move to yet!  While that doesn’t stress me out that much–we have some ideas, and I have a job that I can take with me anywhere–moving back to where we came from, which is one of our ideas, sort of does.

If looking at pictures of my old self sends me into my first crying jag in months, if not years; what will moving back to where it all started do?  By “all,” I mean all:  a new place, a new me, a new relationship, a new world view.  Can I move back and be able to appreciate the past while living in the present, and not be overwhelmed by a nostalgic longing for what was?

In recent pics, I look kind of sad, worn.  I have to ask myself, isn’t this a great case for us to go back to where we came from, if all I see now in our pictures is a certain lack of joy?  Yes!  At the same time, if we do move back, will I be able to stop pining for some nostalgic idea I have of what we were?  It’s not that we don’t have what we had then (we do); it’s not that I long to be young again (I don’t consider myself old), or to be in that place, personally (I can’t imagine feeling worse than I did in my early years of sobriety, in a way).  It’s this:  I want the newness of the joy, the fresh sense of a restart.  I mean, of course, I can get that again, but I will always know that in this place lives my past–a past that means a LOT to me, and that evokes a lot of feeling.

I have to remember, though, that I’m different, we’re different, and we’re on much more solid ground than back when we first started living together.  And, frankly, I do want to go back–that lifestyle was and is magical.  It’s just this pesky fear…of…something that I can’t quite name.

To add to that, I’ve also been wrestling with taking a job that I did 15 years ago–yes, crazy as it sounds, if I go back to this job, I will be doing what I was doing 15 years ago, and for the same boss!?  Most of me is an automatic ‘No,’ but the practical side of me says, why would you pass up a job offer like this, especially when you can do it remotely?  I have to decide by Tuesday.

Just a few months ago, it seems the entire world was waiting for us, for our adventure to begin.  Now?  I don’t know if I feel less optimistic or just tired of weighing the pros and cons of big life changes; if it doesn’t work out, nothing’s forever, right?

Still inhaling and exhaling over here; this is a hard time, one of much seeking–maybe even harder than getting sober, since at least then, all I had to do was one thing, not drink!  As I always told myself, and like to tell my closest friends:  the world rewards those who SEEK.  The world rewards those who put in that work, who LOOK for what they might need or want.  I am relying on this bit to get me through what appears to be another few months, maybe longer, of being patient with no decisions made, of being open to going with the flow.

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!

It’s crazy how things have changed

1 Jul

1:27 am

I am at home (like, home home) now, with my immediate family, and it’s crazy how *I* am the one, it seems, who is the most sober of all!  And by that I mean, irritated by how much other people are drinking, unwilling to really care about fixing them or holding onto what I cannot change, and um, SHOCKED at how late people eat and how LONG they drink into the night!?  What am I, old?

I watched them all pass out in their beds (or on chairs in the kitchen) while I went up to my room to do yoga and meditate.  (They’re kind of one in the same for me these days; and frankly, I have had such back problems that I cannot go a day without doing yoga and most definitely not more than two without working out…  But, it’s also because it’s just how I MUST DO if I am to remain centered, sober, calm and able to let everyone else’s issues and questions and concerns and gossip bounce off of me!)

So, yeah.  It is crazy how things have changed.  I’m also feeling much more willing, like I said, to accept people for who they are–and not try to change them, and not worry about me changing for them.  Like, someone grilled me about not having health insurance at the moment, and at first I felt bad, alarmed, like, oh, yeah, maybe I should get a catastrophic policy.  I had insurance, but let it lapse–and since then, well, I simply don’t worry about it.  This family member worries about stuff like that; yet, here I am, doing yoga and not drinking as preventive health, and here he is, drinking like a fish and then, downing a pot of coffee the next morning.

I am feeling super-weird about keeping this blog anonymous from my family anymore, but…I realized after talking about my sobriety last night with family members that it has to be the right moment for the reveal–and I have to be extremely ready to explain myself–and it’s not, and I’m not.  So, I keep putting it off…even though it’s starting to feel like a huge lie, a big withholding that equates to a lie.  Then again, I GET to get this; I deserve whatever choice I choose when it comes to my privacy and space, and method for getting sober and somewhat spiritually fit.  When the time comes, I’ll know it.

Till then, um, I LOVE who I have become, and I LOVE what the “right now” is for me; even IF there is extreme uncertainty (which I can deal with, and have dealt with for years as a freelance writer), well, I still have me, I have my spiritual center, I have my sobriety–which is frankly fucking invaluable.  I mean, priceless.  I mean, I’d take no job and no health insurance and a small rental in the middle of someplace that I’m not sure I like living (but am content in myself, so it really doesn’t matter where the “where” is anymore) ANY DAY over having things, and a big home, and “security” (which cannot exist without fear).  ANY DAY.

End of rant.  Good night, my sober friends.  Thank you for being here, with me, all these six years–you have no idea how liberating your understanding and support has been!

You don’t have to be awesome, or win

25 May

4:16 pm

Yes, that’s right, folks!  At 43, soon to be 44 next month, I have at last made the realization that, nope, you don’t have to be awesome, and you don’t have to win.

You don’t have to do anything amazing, or challenging even; you don’t have to do it perfectly, or better than someone else; you don’t have to win any prizes.

Life goes on; life will go on, whether you publish a book, or open a business, or make millions as a lawyer or doctor.  NONE of that really matters; what matters, I say, is the fact that you got to fall in love with a dog, and walk him–he laughing into your tears with his tongue–until you stopped crying and starting laughing with him.  Our boy is gone now, but he lives on in my mind; and most days, that’s the only thing that feels like it matters to me.  And, I’m not sure if I am supposed to feel liberated by that or straight up SCARED to death that I am getting closer and closer to just not giving any fucks anymore!

There is so much consumerism here–buying and selling of things, of work, of jobs, of people, of relationships, of experiences–in America.  Maybe it really is everywhere, but, man, does there seem to be a desire here, almost a frenzied one, to acquire experiences.  I’m in on it, too, of course, and as frenzied as the next person–and enthusiastically so most days!  Yet, I try to remind myself of the existence of my higher power, the higher things, the lessening and loosening and lessons of sobriety.  Life is about the wind, the breath being taken away; the letting go.  Sometimes I do feel…estranged, I guess, in a “land of plenty” where there is never enough, and in some cases, feels like nothing.

I am trying to write these days, and all the usual bullshit comes up; somehow, though, I had this thought the other day that it just doesn’t matter–for real.  It’s a thought that I’ve tried believing before, and I got to a certain level and then you know, went back to being my normal competitive, hard-on-myself self.  Yet, the other day, I just thought, you know, you’re going on 44, you don’t have to win anymore.  You don’t have to get into a good school (did it, twice), be the best in that school (failed at that, but I’m sure I tried and tried), do this and that and the other (did it all, in search of “growth” and “challenge”); you don’t have to get another degree and even if you do, you don’t have to do well in the program!  You don’t have to DO anything or BE anyone except…yourself.  A person who will maybe be loved and maybe be forgotten; that is life, and that is what we fight for, and against, it seems, every single day.

At this, I drank.  I drank so much trying to be and do and achieve and win–and also, to NOT be and do and achieve and win.  Now, I don’t want to drink at this; I have accepted that this is how I feel sometimes, and what I think, and well, maybe the reality that we all have to face now and again in this lifetime.

It’s so hard not being hard on myself; it’s so hard for all of us, I assume, to not be hard on ourselves.  And, I would venture to say that, even IF someone tells you, Oh, DDG, don’t be so hard on yourself; in the back of their mind, they’re thinking and plotting and planning because there seems to be so very little example here (I’ll just call this world USA, Inc.) of actually choosing to not do, to not achieve, to not regard the world and your place in it as part of a game whose very existence hinges on your winning.

I’m not sure I know anyone who has completely said, fuck it, and decided to do away with the need for validation, by self or others.  I am not there yet, but there is a voice inside me that is screaming, quietly, DDG, it does not matter what you do, just be.  Just breathe.  You can try stuff, and do stuff; and trying it is good enough; doing it is good enough.  There are no prizes, and there is no winning, and when you die, your name and your achievements will not really be remembered as much as who you were, and what your presence meant to people.  So, just be.

Ahh–if ONLY I could practice this now-ness all the time, and not for about three minutes a day!

Who you are vs. who you want to be

14 May

6:14 pm

So, as you all know, we moved to a new place about three months ago, and we’re managing to stay sane, I suppose!  Being in a new place, my contract job having ended, and neither of us really all that extroverted or desiring to be so–it just sort of sucks!  It is NOT EASY moving somewhere new in your 40s!  Haha.  You sort of just don’t feel like any of it anymore, you know?  I knew that I would feel more comfortable in one of the many places that I have already lived, but I thought, take a chance, go outside your comfort zone (again), yada yada yada.  I think we have both realized that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to aging and trying certain new things, like, moving to a new place.  I don’t know.

And, this has all made me start thinking about this whole, “go outside your comfort zone” thing, which I’ve been trying to do my whole life, to varying degrees of success.  Like, what IS a comfort zone, and why do we have this idea of it being a bad thing?  Are you supposed to be doing something that makes you feel comfortable, most like yourself; or are you supposed to be challenging yourself and doing things that are hard or scary or too big to chew?  I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I just can’t stand writing anymore, and I want to do something else; but, when I boil it down and observe myself in action–you know, being who I am, or who I have always gravitated toward being–I realize that I AM simply a writerly type (quiet, thoughtful, introverted, so at ease in my thoughts) and then, can’t seem to conclude that I should do something else.

Yet, what IF I didn’t want to be that thing anymore?  Can I just go and be someone else entirely, throwing off the “callings” and character traits that I always seem to relax into, and instead do something that I think would make me the person I want to be (less in my head, more active, more intrepid, as it were)?  I have thought about this a lot in getting sober, in moving through it all, in relocating, in losing yet another job that I didn’t really want in the first place but that I was “good” at and that I made money doing.  Are you supposed to be who you are, or work at being who you want to be?

I am SO fully on board right now with trying to be who I want to be–with putting in that work–because I am so tired of who I am.  I am so tired of being the neurotic writer, the science geek.  It’s like, I wasn’t that good at science and wanted to major in freaking poetry in college (yeah, the fear started way back then, and it is one of my life’s regrets)!?  Um, when as a child did I say, Mommy, I really want to be a…technical writer when I grow up?  Time is running out, y’all.  And not only that, but I am sort of becoming desperate to NOT be in my head all day–even IF it means taking a huge pay cut…at a time in my life when I need all the money I can get.

The other day, as I was contemplating who I am (a writer) versus who I want to be (maybe a public health professional, maybe someone who works for an international development nonprofit or NGO), I was struck by how confusing it is to decide who to be:  which person (the one you are, the one you want to be) is more authentic, more truthful, more along the lines of fulfilling a personal destiny?

It’s a dilemma.  As a writer, I am always looking for work, selling myself, and moving from contract to contract, subject to subject.  I mean, it would almost be easier to be a lawyer, or anything with a well-formed trajectory, and then at a certain point be like, it’s too late to change course.  As a writer, part of your job is changing course, so you are constantly also thinking about courses outside of your own realm (well, at least some of us are).

I am trying to sort of end this chapter in my life, but I have only ideas, and not enough savings, and a heavy dose of fear.  I hate that.  I hate feeling afraid at this late stage–I am 43 years old, and it’s only been in the past several years or so that I wouldn’t have just up and left a well-paying job to pursue a shitty paying passion.  And, I am grateful for that newfound level-headedness (it has enabled a lot of financial progress and big changes, like this move), but I’m also still learning how to balance my need to earn a big check with my equally large need to feel stimulated, excited, fulfilled, wanting to get out of bed in the morning.  I know there are many an alternate career I can pursue, and I just need to sit down and chart a course of action beyond the next few months.  All in due time, I say.

I gave up freelance writing because it did not pay the bills; and, I think it might have just tired me out and made me believe that I didn’t like writing when in fact, it was the stress of never making enough money.  I WANT to be like, eh, I don’t need the savings, the retirement account; I should just Go For It and become a barista (again), or a teacher, or a poorly paid writer for an international NGO.  Yet, can I expect to feel safe, or, the way I want to feel, on that kind of income anymore?  In an ideal world, we would have a thriving business, which would allow me to pursue a more “passionate” career again; in THIS world, maybe we would both feel equal parts comfortable and challenged; in this world, maybe I would love being a writer again.

Exhale.  It will all be OK, I keep telling myself.  You got this.  It’s all about balance, right?

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To Be Aware

It's all about disbelieving your thoughts

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