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Making assumptions

9 Jun

12:20 pm

You know how everything in years past came back to drinking and getting sober?  Well, these days, everything seems to be coming back to perimenopause–and you know what?  I am no longer going to be afraid or apologetic writing about it on this blog.  It’s a HUGE reality for me, for women in general, I have to think; and that means it occupies a lot of headspace and takes its toll in many areas of one’s life!?

Perimenopause.  Menopause.  Getting older.  Women’s bodies.  HORMONES.  Of course, I GET it, I get why people are afraid to talk about it!  Women’s issues are taboo, women’s bodies are not our own; we’re not supposed to talk about them lest we start asking questions and become, oh, I don’t know, advocates for our own health!  Really, I get why everyone, women included, are afraid to broach the subject in public forums.

What I don’t get is why they won’t talk about it even in private!?  I mean, do women have THAT far to go that even women themselves won’t talk about it, as if it’s something to loathe, be afraid of, be ashamed by?  You know, it’s not just my own gynecologists, who have brushed me off or implied that I should just get over it, get on with it; it’s my women friends who have gone through it or are going through it, and they either don’t want to talk about it with me/at all, or they try to pass it off as something that isn’t, well, kind of, sort of horrible.

I mean, you are fucking breaking out into a cold sweat before my eyes, and you’re still smiling as if it doesn’t bother you?  I get being positive and all that, but what about being real?

Beyond the physical changes, it means you’re getting old–and, I refuse to believe that I am the only woman who primarily associates this (at least at first, until I get a grip on getting older), with losing my sexuality and losing my youth and all that that entails in our culture!?  I really wish that were the case, actually; I am used to my own paranoia, and it’d be great to know that I am, indeed, the only one who feels this way.  BUT, I really, truly doubt it.

See, I refuse to hide the fact that this is driving me a bit crazy and angry and mad and frustrated and sad; that I’ve wondered if this night heat is THE THING that is worth starting drinking again over (it would be much easier to pass through the three to five hours of night heat if I was drunk); that I’ve always known that the pill offers relief but that it’s SO FAR from matching what is usually happening in a woman’s body that it might well be partly causing my lack of optimism and sometimes-paranoia.

Lately, I feel like I have become a bit paranoid.  For example, I wonder if my coworkers don’t like me, or are annoyed by me.  I am chalking it up to things beyond my control, and to politics–I don’t truly believe that my work is not good.  At home, I have been wondering if my love no longer likes me as a person–again, or course, I truly don’t believe that, and I know that he’s going through some tough transitions now, as am I…

I don’t want to make assumptions anymore, though, about what people want to hear about or talk about–if you’re still reading, that means you do want to hear about this and I’m glad!  I partly attribute this sometimes-paranoia to my hermetic lifestyle–making assumptions involves getting inside your head and not coming out for reality checks, which is usually helped by interacting with friends who normalize your tendency toward outlier (extreme, probably unhealthy) thinking and behavior.  I need more friends.  I need, in a word, to get out more!

I won’t assume that you, my awesome readers, don’t want to hear about my thoughts on perimenopause.  I won’t assume that my man doesn’t like or love me because he told me not to step in horseshit yesterday on our hike (haha–it sounds funny now).  I won’t assume that my coworkers don’t like me because one or two of them have personal issues and are using my writing to play politics in the workplace.

Onward, toward clarity and optimism, I hope.

(I have to say, my burning up at night has gotten a lot better after starting a new pill, with higher dose estrogen, and after making it through the first 10 hellish days on the pack.  I hope that it just keeps getting better from here on out.  I do turn 45 this week–a part of me realizes how young I am, while another part just wants this phase to be over with!)

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Information–I used to love you, but I want to kill you

27 Mar

11:05 am

I am not sure if anyone understands just how much Too Much Information triggers me. Maybe it’s a legitimate pressure–if I can’t keep up, then I should bow out of this profession. Maybe I’m simply addicted to information? I should go online and search for a support group: Information-aholics Anonymous?

Today, I’m supposed to be Taking The Day Off: that means, for ONCE, no working. And, by no working, I mean, not just no story pitching, writing, or “job searching” (which, I admit, is part of the freelance game; I’ve had several job applications turn into freelance work); but also no sorting through scientific press releases; no stressing out about finding an outlet for a story that I wrote but that was subsequently rejected by the magazine that I thought I had it matched with; no checking journals, blogs, and the other quintillion sources of science news. And, it means, no other news, which I tend to do AFTER I “breeze” through the science and health news–radio stations that I like, talk shows, mainstream news, magazines here, there, and everywhere.

You get the picture. Information is endless these days, and if you’re not careful, it could blow your mind.

And then there’s social media. Dun dun dun. I was just commenting on someone’s blog about how back when I first started blacking out and getting angry, I would always take it out on my phones and my laptops–I am embarrassed to say that I have thrown oh, about 10 to 15 phones to the ground in drunken rages, and banged the shit out of at least three or four laptops (yes, my drinking was a lot more expensive than just the cost of the wine). And, I knew back then that I was missing real connection, and I was sick to death of the fake stuff: connecting to people through phones and through computers (via chat, email, and Facebook).

I’m learning balance these days, but it’s hard. If your profession is literally, dealing with information, then you can’t quite say, Fuck it, I’m quitting Facebook and never reading the news. If you want to be in this profession, I’m finding, you have got to find balance, which means, learning how and when to get just enough information to “keep up,” but not enough to drive yourself to drink.

Sigh. It’s my day off, and I’m already feeling that feeling I get–tight chest, upset stomach, a feeling of defeat washing over my brain. And I haven’t even gotten my social media fix yet! You know, I hate Facebook these days, not so much because of the rather “ill” interactions it encourages–I don’t really post anymore–but because I Just Can’t Keep Up. With all the information. And, it stresses me out. It doesn’t necessarily make me want to drink, but…it does something. Let’s not even talk about Twitter (which I use sparingly, mainly because I basically think it’s nonessential to my career at this point, and for lack of a better word, masturbatory–like, the same people re-tweet and post about each other, and then, they all convince themselves that that news piece or idea or meme is “important” or “hot”).

Yet, before I even got out of bed this morning, I was on my phone, checking the science news press releases. And then, after popping out of bed, and making it (ahh, diversion!)…I was on my laptop, checking work email, reminding myself to go to one of the big science journal’s web sites to see what came out today, and, then, to my blog to check on all y’all–which, I have to say, is NOT part of the cycle and is something I really enjoy and don’t consider stressful!

Oh, well. It’s all part of my story, right? We all have different triggers, things that bug us to our cores and make us want to numb out; mine happens to be this information thing, getting older and not being able to parse it all as enthusiastically as before, and not really giving a shit as much as I care about other stuff (inner knowledge, silence, listening to the birds and wind draw patterns on the inside of my brain, for example).

Most of the time, I don’t allow myself to consider this a real stressor–I mean, it’s not like I’m chasing kids, or commuting three hours one way (I did that once, for 18 months, remember?), or taking pictures in a war zone, or triaging AIDS patients in some poor African country? But sometimes, I think all of that would be preferable to playing with information all day.

At least I have the day “off,” right?

“People need to be nurtured out of addiction”

25 Feb

11:17 am

Great piece on a heroin addict’s addiction through his own eyes in NY Mag today. So many spot-on points about what addiction does to the mind, and to our sense of pride. Please read!

Do you ever worry that you’ll relapse?
No, I don’t. I mean, I think the reality is that there’s a slight chance everybody could relapse, but I don’t worry about it. It doesn’t even cross my mind. It was such a deep, dark destructive journey for me, and recovery — the whole process of being where I am now — has been so enlightening that I can’t even think what would push me back down that line.

That’s me in the spotlight, losin’ my religion

24 Nov

1:56 pm

It’s weird how a length of sobriety just kind of makes you grow the fuck up.

Sort of, anyway. 🙂

I was breezing through “the past” last night, and that past included sometimes torturing myself by checking out web sites like Last Night’s Party. I mean, let’s face it, it IS tortuous–if you’re the kind of person I am–to see other people who are “cooler” and “more in the know” getting their party on. The kind of person I am (was) was too shy to wear anything like that, go anywhere like that, hang out with people like that. When I lived in the big city, I definitely tried, though–tried my hardest, if my drinking to excess had anything to show for it.

Someone, somewhere along the way told me that that’s what “the cool kids” do, is go out and have fun. And that, having fun means getting shitfaced and dragging your hair in someone’s (your own?) vomit during a dance move that exposes your ass and thong underwear to everyone in the house, and then, taking off your clothes and making out with/letting someone feel you up/having sex with a stranger.

Now, I’ve been to my fair share of parties, and done my fair share of nonsense, including all of the above. But, there is something about this site that always made me feel…less than. Envious, in a way. Like, not only was I not partying with “famous” people, but I also wasn’t partying THAT hard. Or, hard enough. Or, hard enough to be “young.” And to this day, going on that site reminds me that I’m “old,” or getting there–the days of being young and silly and drunk, hooking up with strangers are over. And, my biggest question to myself is, why the FUCK is this a bad thing?

What I’ve noticed lately–it’s hard not to; just look at some of the ways the half-naked drunk women are rolling around with their glasses of wine teetering in one hand (posed shots, or not?)–is just how glorified drunken promiscuity is. Maybe it’s just our rape culture–we don’t just use women as objects, men are plugged into their role, too (why on Earth would so many college boys think that it’s in any way OK to rape-while-drunk?). Now, I’m not religious, and I’m not that much of a prude. But, I just wonder, why are women being told that this is not only acceptable behavior, but that it doesn’t come at a price? NONE of these shots show the reality of getting drunk, naked, and promiscuous: the risk of assault, or catching an STD, or…losing your soul one hookup at a time.

Every time–and I mean EVERY time–I hooked up with a stranger while drunk or blacked out, I lost a little bit more of my soul. When I met the man who was my friend and is now my lover, I wasn’t even sure if I could have sex sober. What I also realized, once I confronted it, was how shattered my soul was. I had to collect the pieces off my astral floor (haha, just had to throw that in there!), day by day, week by week, month by month–I had to process the reality of all that promiscuity. Of how it drained me. Of how it distanced me from myself, which during the drunkest times in 2009, was becoming darker and darker–if soul acts like a full moon reflecting the sun, then mine was a patch of night sky, a hole of dark ink.

While I grapple with putting my “youth” behind me, which has been so heavily marketed and branded as something you can only have if you’re drinking in dark bars, doing “dangerous” nighttime things (that, let’s be honest, WERE fun in the act); I also grapple with continuing to put my soul back together. And, I wonder, WHO is going to stop using women (and men) with glasses of wine sitting on their raised asses, posing for doggie-style sex, as selling points for a life that is truly not worth living? WHEN are we going to represent that “dark” and “dangerous” lifestyle realistically, with its morning-after regret and decades-later soul loss?

I might just be speaking for myself, as I’m sure there are plenty of people who like having sex with strangers, drunk or sober; who love the excitement they find in it. I wanted excitement, too, but I also more simply wanted to feel loved, to fit in. I drank to blackout for the excitement, for the “opposite-of-bored”; the promiscuous sex was almost an unwanted byproduct of that desperation–I didn’t like it, and I didn’t want to remember it. I liked getting buzzed, and flirting, and letting go…but, it didn’t matter who I was doing the buzzing, flirting, and letting go with, you know? When I drank, it was for me. It just so happened that sex (or something like it) was usually how it ended, and it was better if I didn’t know about that.

(There were also bigger things, like self-loathing, a certain darkness inside–I mean, we all love Depeche Mode and wonder about dungeons, don’t we?–and really, this idea that I somehow didn’t deserve anything better than sex on a cement floor with someone who was at best, an asshole, at worst, abusive.)

On this Sunday, I am in a somber mood, thinking about all this. But, it’s part of getting sober. And, it’s part of solving–or at least pondering–a larger problem here that I can’t begin to get into but that I know affected me and my drinking LONG before I even picked up that first glass of wine.

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