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I’m useless when I don’t sleep

30 Oct

4:41 pm

Ugh.  Are you as useless and mentally scrambled as I am when I don’t sleep the night before?

I’ve been having insomnia on and off this year–it was pretty bad when we first moved to our new home in January, and I attributed it to shifting hormones.  At that point, I had never had insomnia, really, and my experience was that I kept waking (the fuck) up every hour on the hour.  It was maddening.  And it made me very angry!  Seriously, it often felt worse than being hungover.

It went away when I got off the (nasty) pill I was on (I am new to that as well, and had no idea that one tiny contraceptive pill could eff up my entire reality).   It’s started up a little bit again recently, but is more like, I can’t fall asleep until 6 am, at which point, I feel like lead and there is NO POSITION that would hurt me if I fell asleep in it–that’s how tired I am after staring at the ceiling from midnight to 6 am!

I can point to anxiety, I guess, as the culprit, and (hopefully) not hormonal crap (yes, it’s crappy; this shifting hormones shit sucks, and I am going to have to learn grace and patience if I am to make it to old woman-who-wears-purple status).  At the moment, we are planning another move, haven’t yet ironed out all the details, and are sort of doing it because we must (like, we just cannot stay here; it’s not our gig).  We don’t have to be anywhere–I can take my job with me (oh, and I got a new remote job–I start the week after we move!).  That lack of parameter in and of itself can either be liberating or incarcerating, but both freedom and confinement cause me stress, so…  That might be why I’ve been up at night lately.

It’s crazy how crazy I feel when I don’t sleep!?  I mean, it’s interesting to observe myself at night:  the second I feel like I’m going into that mode of being alert and restless (albeit sometimes really tired), I start getting anxious about not sleeping and about the next day being ruined; I start feeling really effing angry, irrationally so; and I start to feel a feverish frustration, like, there is nothing I can do about this except wait, in the freaking dark, alone with my lack of thoughts and my only desire to be unconscious!!!  It is maddening.

But, I am here, today, getting through the day.  I know that I am definitely a control freak, and it’s true that I hate not being able to control this situation and will myself to sleep.  I really don’t do well on lack of sleep–and worse, being ill-rested has all the same hues and tones in my mind as being hungover.  I think it might actually be worse than being hung because at least when you pass out, you do sleep for a few hours in a row; when you’re up at night sober, you might only sleep for an hour in a row, maybe two or three.

I know I’m probably just anxious about all the change happening–new job, a move coming up in a few weeks–but I don’t want to admit it.  If you ask me what I was thinking about last night, I wasn’t.  I wasn’t thinking, or worrying; I was just feeling really angry that my day was going to suck, and that I had no control over that happening.  And, while I have gotten through today, I wish I hadn’t had to drink three coffees just to slog through my work; I wish I had gotten to the gym; I wish I had had more energy to breeze through my work faster so I could get to some personal writing and projects (like, finding an apartment in our new locale!).  BUT, that’s not how it turned out, and I think I need to learn to accept when that happens, to let it go if it doesn’t go the way I want, expect, or plan.  Maybe I need to re-learn the basics of sobriety!

I think my tolerance for lack of sleep, for feeling like I’m hungover (and all the associated anxiety, anger, and frustration that goes with hangovers) is WAY LOW…because I’ve had to endure so many wasted hungover days.  I’ve had to endure so much worse, I keep thinking, why is a day after a night of not sleeping so hard?  It should be really easy, I keep thinking, compared to, let’s just say, sobering up in a jail cell while also having my period and not being able to do anything about that situation for the next 48 hours; or let’s just say, coming out of a blackout and realizing that I have to pack my bags and grab a cab for a 60-minute ride to the airport for an international flight…and I only have an hour to do this?

Being blackout drunk and then, horrifically hungover, are, in fact, MUCH WORSE than not being able to sleep in my warm bed under my sober mind–it’s only painful because I’m used to the good life, to sleeping and waking and feeling high on a restful night’s sleep, and getting my shit done because I am sober and rested!  I’m used to how it should be, how it can be, once you’re sober.

After all, I am grateful that insomnia is all I have to endure now.  This concept alone is what propels me through insomniac nights and the days after:  no matter how hard it feels or seems, it’s really a piece of cake compared to how bad it truly used to be.  And I know that with grace and patience, we will find our way, and handle our situation, and transition to our next locale and phase–all without wine, or hangovers, or regrets (except eating way too many Ritz crackers at 5:30 in the morning).

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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!

Our bear passed on…

21 Mar

10:58 am

On Saturday, March 17th, our “son” (beagle mix, almost 10 years old) passed on to the next realm, or whatever you believe exists after our brain turns off and we take our last breath.  We were beside him on the bed as the house-call vet (who happened to have gone to vet school in the islands, which was actually quite comforting–we just moved here, and it still feels quite foreign) stabbed some “feel good” drugs into his heaving frame, and then followed that with barbiturate.  I have had people and pets die, of course, but I have never been in the room as the creature took its last breath.

I almost took my last breath as, a moment later, our dog stopped breathing and his eyes went glassy and still.  It was heart-wrenching, and it was seared into my brain.

As I’ve written, he was such an intimate part of my island life, and was everything to me for the 6 years that I knew him:  coworker (I work from home), confidant, best friend, higher power.  Once, when I was still drinking and had just arrived on island to visit the man who is now my fiance, I drank and blacked out and yelled; and our boy was so scared he hid outside under the truck.  That was before I knew what a gentle, sweet soul he was, apt to cower at even the slightest expression of frustration, the smallest rise in voice.  I vowed never again to scare him like that, and it was that memory, along with so many nights of love, comfort, and simply his presence that kept me from uncorking a bottle of red wine.

As my mind, however, begins to do what I could not imagine a few days ago–accept the unacceptable, normalize the horrific, move on from death–all I’m left with is a sense of awe and anger:  the mind is an amazing, if not entirely effed up, place.  Haha.

As we moved through the first hours without our little man, I couldn’t help but recognize in my actions the similarities between coping with death and dealing with a hangover!  I spent the day clinging to “micro-goals,” like, breathing, like thinking about my next breath without having a panic attack; putting some food down my throat; paying my bill; rearranging the pillows on the couch; forcing a smile just to know that my face was still there.

And I gasped when I suddenly realized that EVERY one of my hangovers was a small death–a little death, but a death all the same.  And, of all the horrific events of the last few days, that realization was kind of the most horrifying–that we, as alcoholics, put ourselves through a death every single day, for months, years, decades.  How cruel are we to ourselves!  Our bodies, minds, and souls deserve so much more; we deserve to be sober, we deserve to live.

I have wanted to smoke a cigarette the past few days, when my heart has felt so tight I could barely think; but not drink.  I can’t imagine going through this trauma and being drunk or hungover.  I still think about my old drinking buddies, some of whom are still using booze to coat, soothe, forget; and I wonder, how is it that I got here, that I GET to be free, to actually live through this pain alcohol-free–such that I can, again, transform it to something else, something positive, something light?

It was interesting to watch our other dog sniff at death and then immediately move away; it was saddening but also interesting to watch myself caress my boy’s corpse right after he stopped breathing, check his eyes (I was like, Is he definitely gone?) a couple times, and then…move away.  We instinctively move away from death.  Likewise, eventually, we instinctively move away from drinking alcoholically; drinking alcoholically is death, and we move away from it to life, to light, to clarity, to actually processing our reality.

I miss him, but I know I have to be grateful for all the life he gave me, the love he allowed me to see in myself, the thing that we conjured together by loving each other–that lives on, I have a strong sense.  And for that I am grateful.

Back from another long journey

11 Aug

11:30 am

This summer (well, the past few years, actually) has been all about searching.  Searching for that next place to call home, that next job, that next big adventure, that next challenge.  Frankly, I do think it’s a part of getting sober, it’s a part of my “plateau’ing”, and it’s a part of my struggle right now with feeling stuck, staid, depressed, angry, whatever.

I am so tired.  I am a writer, and realized long ago that I simply need (more) time and space to just methodically ponder shit.  It’s just who I am, and how I function in the world.  Yet, when you travel, I think you have to become a bit more spontaneous, let go of your routines, and embrace the lack of control that comes from this act.  Which can be hard on people who are normally introverted (inside themselves rather than outside, in the big, bad world).

I spent oh, 2 or 3 weeks on my international volun-touring trip in June (What did I learn?  That I am not young and that I could do what I did locally–something I have already learned, years ago when I took my first volun-touring trip); and then, my fiance and I just spent about 2 weeks literally driving from one end of the country to the other, I guess looking for our next home.  For me, home is not necessarily anymore about place, so that makes it really, well, to use my fave expression right now, EFFING tiring.  I am effing tired of looking.  I know what I like, and where I feel good; those places, however, don’t work for me anymore because they’re too expensive, they don’t offer the quality of life that we’re used to here in the tropics (let me tell ya, everywhere on this planet feels dry as shit to me now if the humidity is under 70%), and they don’t afford a girl proximity to the natural world (which I’ve realized I NEED more than I want, as a soul seeker and a writer).  Exhale, I keep telling myself.  It will come.

We’re back now, and I’m back to writing and working.  We’ll see where the road takes us, but at this very moment, I am happy for the stillness.

Anyway, just a short post to say that I’m back online, and really appreciated all your comments re: whether or not to come out.  I think I will, eventually and soon, but not today.

And, do I feel like drinking?  Never.  Did the thought of “becoming a wine drinker again” come up on this trip or in the past few months?  Yes.  I don’t know what I would get out of it, and cannot even imagine having energy to get out of bed these days AND be a drinker again (let alone give up my hard-won sobriety and all that has come with it)–yet, I have thought about it when I’ve also thought about how bored, or staid, or frustrated I feel in my daily life sometimes.  Like, I want to feel excited again about my daily work/life–and, what do you know, even after all this time, my brain still considers or equates wine with excitement.  It’s a trick, I know, and it’s Wolfie, I know.  But, it’s scary; about 10% scary.

How do I stop that type of thinking?  Well, I’m really used to forcefully pulling my brain back onto the neutral track, if not the positive one, after 5 years of sobriety.  But, I know I also have to work on finding joy again in the day-to-day, and exercising my right to just enjoy life.  It doesn’t have to be hard or stressful; people are not out to get me, to put obstacles in my path.  That is my default neural mode, and until I fully unpack these neuroses, my trick is to just accept and deflect–all the while remaining conscious of the fact that this is how the stress of life transitions makes itself known.  This is that stress, and this is what it does to my brain.  (Maybe it makes others eat more, or run more, or drink more; all those things, too, were and are my self expression of stress.)

I have to say, it REALLY helps to have a home in the tropics, where I get to work alone all day, though–haha.  So, yeah, big changes ahead if we do finally leave this place as a couple (I left 2 years ago on my own for about 9 months).

Sorry for the brain dump, and glad to have you all in my court!  HUGS.

Old news

5 Oct

9:42 am

Hi, everyone! It’s been too long. I’m not even sure if my fingers can type, let alone my head compose words. BUT, here I am–in the city, tired, and feeling a bit whirlwinded.

It’s the city where I started this blog, where I got sober, basically.

It’s dark in the apartment that I’m renting for a month, and I’m just not used to it. I’m not used to being so divorced from my natural surroundings. Weirdddd…

So, yeah. Tired. Tired of lugging shit. Tired because I am sleeping on his couch and haven’t yet inflated my air mattresses. Tired because I walked (wandered aimlessly?) around the city all day yesterday, and did no work. And, I wondered, as I wandered: has this been my life to date? I mean, I have done so much aimless wandering around cities. And, while I guess it’s part of growing up and getting tired of that; it still fills me with a little bit of dread, like, maybe this wandering is supposed to have an expiration date for a reason, and that reason would be to put down roots?

I also did it alone yesterday, and while I used to absolutely love being alone–especially when wandering as a tourist–I didn’t like it yesterday. I felt bored, and lonely. I felt less than alive, as in, if I had had someone with me, he or she would have made the day’s observations more real. That sort of startled me, because it goes to show how much I’ve changed.

I have to admit: I drank about 6 ounces (is that “a glass” in the normal world?) of red wine the other night. I think it was last Saturday. It was relatively uneventful, actually. However, I HAD A HANGOVER THE NEXT DAY. AFTER A GLASS. No kidding! And, it sucked, like every single one of my hangovers: it was an entire day of symptoms (albeit milder ones than if I had had a whole bottle or two) that included feeling tired, fuzzy, and extremely neurotic (anxious and weepy and full of negative, circular thoughts).

I guess what prompted me was a variety of the same things that I usually–these days, as a sober person–let pass, and DON’T drink wine to solve anymore: feeling trapped in my emotional world, feeling alone to have to deal with “it,” restlessness/boredom/ennui. I think, for me, it was necessary to try and see that nope, not only does it figuratively not work, it literally DOES NOT WORK.

(Does this make me want to try white wine? Kind of, yes. Or, maybe that red was bad and I had a bad reaction? Hmm… I see where this is going, Wolfie. You stupid dog, you exhaust me.)

I drove around in circles, and ended up having an “emotional hangover” before I even made it to the store. I already felt headache-y and out of breath. I bought it, though–a shitty, $9 bottle of like, Jacob’s Creek or something–and headed home. I drank two sips in the car, and then, poured myself a tiny glass–my boyfriend said it wasn’t even 6 ounces, which is a regular pour at his bar–and drank it about as slowly as I’ve ever drunk anything!

I did NOT want to be hung over, and I was actually just scared of that prospect. I simply cannot deal with one more hangover, period. I don’t know about you, but my hangovers were like being transported to Dante’s Inferno for 12 hours. I think I’ve detailed it already on this blog, somewhere BACK IN TIME.

Yes, I went back in time as I drank that glass. Essentially, it was a flop. I felt woozy. Drowsy. I tried to read, but couldn’t. I already felt down, emotionally, and it just made it worse. There was no buzz. And, I was so freaked out about having a hangover that I thought, I might as well fold my hand while I’m still ahead. I had no desire to drink more. I corked it and sat there, wondering how I got here.

The main thing I kept thinking was, THIS IS NOT HOW I DO ANYMORE. This is not how I solve my problems. It wasn’t so much that I felt disappointed in myself than it was that I was choosing to go back to the old me–and, I was confused as to what old me I was referring to. There is no old me. THIS IS ME, now. How I solve problems is to actually deal with them, confront the emotional pain head on. Work around it. Find a way to deal such that it doesn’t linger. Anyway, it just felt like I was going back in time, and I had no business being there.

It’s a little bit how I feel now, in the city.

I went to my storage unit the day after I flew in (Friday), and surprised myself. I thought it’d be hard to sort through my stuff and say goodbye, but really, I just dove in and ended up throwing out three huge (13-gallon?) garbage bags and four boxes, as well as sorted out the electronic and paper recyclables. It felt great. I was so sure I would keep my clothes and books, at least, but now I’m wondering…why bother? They remind me of the old me anyway! It all reminds me of the past, the old me, and well…while I do want to cherish how I ended up here, I don’t want to dwell in the past anymore. Which, I think, is what the old “pack rat” me is used to doing.

I wonder if this desire to be “free” is simply a symptom of my desire to wander–I have been a wanderer all my life, maybe afraid to put down roots, maybe just a compulsion that’s in my genes–or if it’s the more positive desire to “let go” and “move on?” I have the overwhelming feeling it’s the latter.

See, I’ve been holding onto this storage unit for over four years, with the idea that I’d move back to the city. Yesterday, I remembered just how much time I spent walking around alone here. And, that’s lonely, especially if you’re single (i.e., have no one really to go home to). I’m no longer single so would be moving back as part of a couple–thankfully, I must admit–but it seems that because I’ve so hardcore done this place in ONE WAY, those memories might always be there, influencing the now, the new, the present.

I went into Trader Joe’s Wine Shop last night, and feeling hugely ambivalent, decided to “just see.” Before I knew it, I turned a corner and inhaled a whiff of wine–someone had dropped a bottle and a clerk was mopping it up. THAT, I told myself as I clenched my gut, is how you’re going to feel, taste, see, and hear if you drink tonight. That red wine stench. No, thank you.

And so, I left the store and got on the train and made my way to a local grocery where I bought delicious staples for dinners for the month. Red wine at night in my apartment in the city–it’s not me anymore. It’s not my life. It CAN’T BE.

It’s old news.

And, so, we go forward. Onward. Keep plugging toward our new reality, which is profoundly more fulfilling and profitable than staying stuck in the wine store-drinking-hangover loop. Drunk and aimless no more.

This, too, shall pass

11 May

1:04 pm

My mom used to and probably still does say this all the time. Such a simple expression, but in action, so majorly effective.

I had to withstand one of those bored-agitated moods last night, and I ended up relying on “this, too, shall pass.” It was the only tool I had left. That and, well, habit of not drinking, ever. Most of the time, I feel too much inertia to get up and go out for a bottle–can you believe that? Last night, I was all, This is too hard now, This isn’t worth it, Who’s going to know?, Who even cares?, What’s one glass?… Mostly, I notice myself gearing up for the wedding–the confrontation with you-know-who, the fact that this will be the first time my manz is meeting the family–and this causes anxiety. I can feel it, and it makes me uncomfortable and preoccupied, but…I know that it is NOT WORTH DRINKING OVER. Plus, I trust that I can muster the calm to endure it for the next two weeks.

Honestly, I’m just worried–I guess is the best word for how I’m feeling–about having to meet and greet and live through an entire weekend with the brother’s girlfriend. I mean, I don’t know what to expect, and I can’t plan for anything but how I will (hopefully) react, which is to do and say nothing. I don’t like not knowing; she’s a wild card. I guess this is a good lesson in letting go, and not trying to orchestrate the universe, and taking care of MY reaction to others and not the other way around. I am not in control of anything but my own insides, which is hard to accept.

On the other (better) hand, I’m not so far gone that I don’t realize that this weekend will be the only time I’ll get to see my family, en masse, for a long while; and, it will be a superb ceremony; and, it will go fast–so, enjoy, and don’t fret the small stuff. And she is frankly, VERY small stuff.

I know this, but I’m still anxious, friends! Arg. This, too, shall pass. (And, once it does, it’ll be pretty much the only other “loose end” to tie off from my drinking days, not counting the people who either have written me off or are hiding their hurt but would like to confront me on something I said or did. Sigh. I’ve tried making amends, and it was a disaster; so, I have to trust that whoever is engaging with me now is not doing so in a passive aggressive way. Btw, I have not been in touch with my brother, and can I tell you how GOOD it feels to not be engaging in/buying into a passive aggressive relationship with him? Very empowering, actually; and, a relief. Sorry to say, but sometimes you just have to let them go, them being even family members.)

Anyway, last night, this did pass. I told myself, Self, you KNOW that this agitated mood will not be around in a few hours, so just sit here, suck it up, and try to distract yourself. Almost like ignoring the pain of a headache (which, actually, I also had), or the twinge of a bad sunburn. Why is it so hard to convince ourselves that this mental and/or emotional pain will pass? I mean, it DID pass, just like a wave. Just like it has been for the past two years! Just like the sunburn or the headache goes away after a predictable amount of time. My mood swing, or whatever this is–simple ennui, feeling unaccomplished, it was raining?–passed, like it always does, within a few hours.

And, am I glad I didn’t drink? Of course.

Remember: this, too, shall pass.

(On that note, I have to run! I promise to post more, and soon.)

Why we binge

29 Mar

1:16 pm

So, it’s been almost two whole weeks since my sober “birthday,” and while I felt (feel) proud and capable and free, the usual stuff continues to come up: worrying about my motivation levels crapping out on me and then, not being able to earn a living; worrying about the wedding in May, where I’m going to have to see my brother and his girlfriend; wanting to drink, surprisingly, out of boredom, out of a general sense of, OK, Now what? The usual stuff is still there, and while I feel much more balanced and able to deal with it, I still do want to drink. More like, I want to have ONE glass of red wine after a hot shower–like, a bubble bath for my insides. But then I remember the million reasons not to, and I let the fantasy go.

Maybe I simply need to set a new goal. Another year? Le sigh. I’ll say it: this “sobriety” thing is getting boring. In quotes because, sometimes, I just don’t think I NEED to be sober. I don’t think I “am an alcoholic.” I used to binge, but…that was out of hand, circumstances sucked, it was a bad time in my life, right? The problem is, I know in my heart that a sacrifice will have to be made on my part if I decide to start drinking again: if I start USING (yes, using) alcohol as reward, as fix, as “bubble bath for my insides,” eventually it will morph into needing it–or at least, feeling disappointed when I can’t have it. And, that’s a prison of the mind. One which I never want to be sentenced to again.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately–more clearly, indeed–about why we binge.

Most of us understand what we mean when we say, “a case of the fuck-it’s.” Fuck it. FUCK IT! I can’t hold back; I can’t hold on; I can’t hold up; I can’t repress, restrict, be good, be appropriate, care. I DON’T WANT TO.

I don’t want to…ANYMORE.

We drink because of this self-imposed “anymore.” We need a break from all that…holding in, holding on, holding above; out; away.

All this time, I’ve been telling myself the story of me: I can’t control myself, I am a binge eater, a binge drinker. I have no self-control.

What was really happening was the opposite. I was CONSTANTLY controlling myself, holding myself back, doing what I hated, not saying or doing or feeling what I believed was “too much,” or “too revealing.” I was repressing feelings, restricting emotions. I was, literally, not allowing myself to eat during the day–of course, I binged when it got too exhausting, or irritating, or I got just plain hungry. I was dabbling in that by the time I was in middle school; it ramped up to full-on bulimia by the time I went to college. I fixed that…only to have it come back in the form of binge drinking.

I think when we binge drink, we feel that particular remorse of “letting go” when we “really should have kept our drinking in order” more intensely than others. And that serves to feed the mentality that makes us want to binge in the first place–oh, hey, I’m flawed, I fucked up again, I can’t control myself, I suck. It seems that there are a lot of drinkers who never berate themselves for “over-drinking.” I think we feel such deep remorse not because we are overindulgent, but because our ideas of indulgence are off. Yes, we are “over-indulging.” However, why is that, in and of itself, such a terrible thing?

It’s a bad thing if you’re always monitoring yourself, and worrying about what others are thinking.

Why would loving someone–or being loved by someone–be a form of self-indulgence? Why would having sex with whomever I want be indulgent? Why would working a job that doesn’t make my brain hurt, eating enough food, walking instead of running–why is that considered by me to be indulgent? We restrict, and we repress–I was afraid to be expressive and therefore, I had to hold myself in all day. Of course it feels good to finally say, I’m just going to fucking DRINK now and not stop until I feel like it!

I think this is learned behavior that can, fortunately, be un-learned. It’s like, we act like children and throw tantrums. The problem is, there is no adult in the room, let alone a parent. Most of the time, we are very lucky when anyone helps us out of our drunken mess.

Back when I first got sober, my counselor hit that nail on the head during one of our sessions when she asked me, What do you like about your day? Uh, nothing. And, could it be that you are rebelling at night, when you drink? Uh, yeah. Maybe. Duh. Of course. And, going a little deeper, I saw that I am not an overindulgent, selfish slug, but someone who is the opposite in her daily life–to a fault, exhausting my resources trying to “carry the weight of the world” when no one asked me to, when no one wanted to be forced to feel grateful. I know that my behavior was learned, and dysfunctional. But, it wasn’t because I lacked self-control. What I lacked was self-respect, and, well, balance. And treats. And love.

During a food or drink binge, my most basic goals seem to be this: releasing (of emotion, of personality that I have been holding in); soothing (the irritability of having to “keep it sucked in all day”); erasing (zoning out, not having to pay attention, not having to “be on,” not having to work or parse information or create). I’ve said it before, but I used to drink so that I couldn’t work–write in my free time, basically. I was afraid of not only failing, but also, having to confront that maybe I didn’t want to write in my free time, that maybe I wasn’t good enough, that maybe I would have to accept that taking a break was necessary, not a waste of time.

So, why we binge? It’s complicated. And, the more we do binge, the more we compromise our innate capacity to put it into perspective. In other words, don’t get down on yourself, and, find other ways to narrow in on that much-needed releasing, self-soothing, and zoning out. Easier said than done.

Happy Saturday, all!

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