Archive | Happiness RSS feed for this section

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!  🙂

Happy 2015!

10 Jan

11:29 am

I just wanted to check in quickly and say, happy new year to all!

Lately, I haven’t been blogging much, mainly because I’m really busy with my freelance writing business. I have to say, 2014 was a fantastic year, and I’m almost a little apprehensive: will 2015 live up to it? My “word” of the year is BUILD. Just continuing to build, and work, and reap the rewards of continued sobriety. There have been so many, and from the talks I’ve had with self and others, this year is looking to be pretty fruitful as well.

Last year I took something like five or six trips–it was a very active, confrontational year. Meaning, I went toward, and worked on, my demons, or, the things that I had to go back to. This year, that doesn’t have to be the case; I’ve circled the wagon and seen inside–not much going on that’s relevant to my present, daily life anymore.

This year, my boyfriend and I are already planning a handful of awesome trips, one of which will be another road trip through the southern part of the US–to see where we want to move to. The freelance writing, after much, much work, has finally started to pay off: not only am I writing almost constantly (because I work almost constantly), but I’m landing better-paying gigs. Hope that keeps up this year. It will keep up if I keep putting the work in, is one thing I’ve always known. You work, and it pays off. Eventually, somehow, somewhere.

Full steam ahead, continuation of the hard work that I put in last year–that’s all I can come up with for 2015. Sobriety is my cornerstone, but…not drinking doesn’t mean all that much, in the end, without accompanying work toward making my life what I want it to be. Meaning, I have a bottle of white in the fridge–haven’t even looked at it beyond using it to make risotto a couple times. BUT, have I felt tired and frustrated and unsure–and happy and joyful, and frankly, free? All the time, yes, yes, yes. Both, and neither, and in between. That’s life. It has nothing to do anymore, for me, with wine, white or red. Life is life; liquid that you put into your body is just that. I pick life to think about and do these days, not “sobriety.” Sobriety, thankfully, is done. It’s there. It’s my building block. But, that doesn’t mean I believe I have to be afraid of returning to the person who was guzzling bottles on a daily basis.

Which is a little bit why I haven’t blogged. But, mainly, it’s because I’ve been busy working and dreaming and planning for what’s to come, not what WAS. And, what isn’t. I guess I can open up some time, one day soon, to ruminate on what isn’t. Not today, though: I have writing to do (ugh), a beach to visit, some kind of kickass meal to make (I really like cooking now), dogs to walk, and “The Killing” to watch. 🙂

Here’s to a productive–and TRULY “happy, joyful, and free” new year. Happy, and joyful, and free is HOW YOU DEFINE IT. And, if you’re at that point, of being able to use those words, and set even just a little meaning to them; you’re well on your way to full, lasting recovery.

No one else has to care about my sobriety

9 Nov

11:14 am

That’s pretty much the lesson I learned on my trip. And, I’m trying to basically ignore the nagging feeling that most if not all of my old friends–people who saw me at my worst, who drank with me and around me–acted as if either my problem wasn’t one/wasn’t that bad, or that even if it was, I didn’t deserve praise.

I don’t know. I don’t get it.

I am back, and having a great Sunday–I finally get to enjoy some down-time. Ahh…sweet breezes, warm weather, the sounds and scents all around. It feels wonderful to realize just how different my values and priorities are now. And, I have to say, it’s what helped me move forward–being forced to live outside my comfort zone, on multiple levels, and try something NEW–and the lack thereof that’s allowed some of my friends to remain stuck.

But, I digress. I don’t want to dwell too hardcore on the whole “my friends don’t seem to give a shit about my sobriety” thing. Which may or may not be a figment of my imagination. First of all, I haven’t been in great touch with any of them since swearing off the wine, and frankly, I don’t think they knew all that much about this whole journey because I didn’t divulge that much (though, to several I did, so…).

I just had this niggling feeling that they were either shocked that I was still sober/am sober at all. I just didn’t get it. They know me, and know my past, and each and every one of them knows specifically that I am, indeed, sober, and not just “not drinking.” None of them really congratulated me, which is OK, I’m used to that. They don’t need to. However, on two occasions, I had to basically interject about my sobriety because no one was asking anything. It’s a huge part of my life, the fulcrum on which everything else rests these days. So, I thought I needed to at least address it–in the context of how it’s made my life much, MUCH better. To one friend, I said, “Everything I have right now is because I am sober.” She was stunned, but got it. Melodramatic? I don’t think so.

I went out to a piano bar with one group of friends, and when the waiter came around, I ordered a San Pellegrino with lime (so delicious). My friends literally went quiet, staring at me in disbelief, as if to say, Well, I didn’t think you were SOBER sober. At a restaurant with another friend, we got to talking about not drinking because she was pregnant, and she goes, “So, you don’t drink AT ALL?”

It’s like, how many times do I have to tell you that I’m sober? And, these are close friends, people who know how bad things got. It’s why I felt like they were purposefully trying to bring me back to the ground…because of envy, because of fear, who knows.

After my trip, I honestly don’t know how much more I can interact with these three friends. It’s sad, in a way, because if they only knew the work and thought that I’ve put into my sobriety, maybe the two who seem stuck could learn from my experience! I felt like they were saying, I “hate” (not hate, but you know) you because you’re well and I’m not. It’s the exact same thing I get from my brother and his girlfriend. I refuse to forgive you: not only did you “get away” with being a drunk, but you get to be sober and happy and productive, too. It’s not fair.

Sometimes, it’s confusing to go “home again,” in terms of old friendships. I think I’ve come into my own to where, I don’t attract dysfunctional ones anymore? I must say, however, that my circle of friends where I live now is awesome: I can’t even count the number of times they’ve gone out of their way to welcome me in spite of the fact that I wasn’t drinking at parties; to offer me nonalcoholic beverages; to respect my choice to not imbibe and make me feel respected and proud, even.

I did wonder if my one friend was turned off by my being sober because she, as a doctor of psychology, is all about harm reduction. I have some new thoughts on harm reduction, and I’ll get to that later. For me, and I think for most of us who have crossed that line, ONE sip is too much. ONE sip activates Wolfie. And what we’re trying to accomplish in the end, is shut Wolfie up, not stop drinking per se.

Anyhoo, la la la. I am great, doing well, rocking the stories and hopefully, starting work as a part-time barista this week. All in all, though, I don’t need the barista work (at least for this month’s income)–but it could be fun. I got to think a lot about my three years in exile here–and how I could have done it differently (for another blog post). My trip back to the city allowed me to both connect with my old self AND let her go. And, though it was exhausting, it’s allowed me to go even further, to expand and grow even more. Oh, and that slip, or whatever it was? Totally allowed me to fully conceptualize never drinking again–drinking just doesn’t do anything but ruin the next day, it’s not how I roll anymore, and the benefits of sobriety are so mind-blowing in terms of moving forward in my life that…there is no place for wine, and that is OK. I can keep on being free. Sobriety is liberation from the old way you did shit; and it allows you a blank slate of mind, to finally try doing shit a NEW WAY.

Sobriety is banishing the “Wolfie thinking” and doing shit a NEW, DIFFERENT WAY. Because you’re free, you really are. And because you can–you are able.

Lots to do today, so I’ll sign off. More soon!

Fuck you, and, I’d rather have ice cream

3 May

8:48 pm

Those were the two thoughts, in that order, that helped me STEP AWAY from the bottles of wine lining the shelves in the “wine aisle” last night, as I gazed at them, pretty much ready to buy.

Fuck you (sort of), to my brother and his girlfriend–who continue to disparage my sobriety. I’ll show you!

I’d rather have ice cream, chocolate chip to be precise. And, honestly, I did. Whenever I think about buying a bottle of wine these days (it’s happened a handful of times; I probably should simply take the option 100 percent off the table, otherwise it’s just going to start fucking with my head), I find that I am somewhat overwhelmed. WHICH one? God, there are so many. White, or red? Cork, or screw top? And, then, this almost-feeling of “wine tired.” You know, that feeling of drinking being more utterly exhausting than fun. Like, I actually almost start to dread it–I feel anxious in my belly–the second I start to truly imagine me drinking a glass, then another, then a third: flushed face (my face turned red a lot when I drank red wine, maybe I was literally allergic?), sour stomach, dizziness, shortness of breath, and a general sense of confusion. Exhausting keeping my thoughts straight, keeping my piss in, keeping my fake interest in the people around me. Exhausting! Hence, I’d just rather have ice cream. Ice cream is better.

I know the first thing is not good, because it just shows how hard it is for me to LET IT FUCKING GO, this resentment. Deep breath, I keep telling myself, imagine them in a good light. Yet, when I know that they are not only still hating on me, but ACTIVELY doing so (I have since blocked BOTH of them on Facebook and email–sad), it makes it hard for me not to go to my unhappy place when I think of them in their unhappy place.

In any case, that was that. And it helped me. I didn’t buy a bottle, and I’m still on track. I know I won’t drink until my 40th, which is in June. And, then…well, I guess I’ve sort of made 500 days my new goal, which happens to fall conveniently (easy to remember) on July 31.

I had a great day. LOTS of physical activity. It’s carnival season down here, and I went to the parade with a friend. The first time I went to the parade (two years ago), I drank three beers really fast and got “beer drunk grumpy.” It was no fun. This year? God, SO happy to be bright-eyed; SO happy to wear my new sundress and be comfortable in my skin; SO happy to feel calm and not dizzy and not tired on the inside and not confused. So happy, period. I know I said that I’m sort of getting sick of relating everything to being sober, but it’s hard not to compare and contrast how I was then, and how I am now. And that, it really is because I am not drinking anymore. Period.

(PS: Last night, I had a dream that I was looking for a bottle of wine. I felt frantic–where the fuck is the wine around here?–and ended up in big store, like Kmart or something. The lights were half off, they were getting ready to close. There was literally NO wine on the shelves, maybe three bottles or so. I felt embarrassed, like, I can’t buy the LAST bottle, that would look desperate! But, I felt desperate. So, I was debating it, and the lights were going out, and then…my DOG shows up, sniffing around my feet, patrolling me. Don’t do it, the universe was saying. Wait, since my dog is here, was my boyfriend in the parking lot? Was he, too, looking for me, trying to prevent me from buying a bottle? Don’t do it. I woke up and was like, Jeez, Universe! OK, I got the memo.)

Top five things about not drinking on a Friday night

26 Apr

8:30 am

I like to make these lists, from time to time, as you may have noticed. And, there are SO many good things about not drinking at Friday night “happy” hour, that’s it’s going to be tough to pick just five.

I’ll preface this by saying, I am sitting on the couch, feeling and hearing the ocean off my deck, at 8:15 am–sure, I’m a bit tired because I didn’t get enough sleep last night, but it is WAY better than being hung over. And, I must say, I would be hung over even after a couple glasses of wine, I know it.

I also must say, I felt ill enough from sitting all day at a training-type event that I simply could not imagine drinking at the happy hour-thingie that someone in the group was planning (jones’ing) for–even if I was still drinking. A LOT of the times when I was living and working in “the city,” I felt so office-sick after my days, I had to come home, hit the gym to sweat/detox; and ONLY THEN was I able/ready to go out and consume my shit-ton of wine. Maybe that was what helped me do it for so long, I had some preemptive metabolic support (shit, I KNEW what I was doing, but I’ll leave that for another post titled, How to prepare and maintain your body for a high-functioning alcoholic lifestyle).

Another thing: I felt SO calm, and SO not tired in the training session. I was a student my entire life, and a good one, but I was either always anxious or always tired. I thought that was “just me.” It wasn’t, it was what I did to me. In high school and college I didn’t drink, but I would only “allow” myself about six hours sleep a night; in college, it was worse, with me struggling to keep up with my pre-med studies, probably getting no more than four hours a night during most of my first two years! In grad school, I was basically either always hung over or exhausted, or both, from staying up all night drinking.

Yesterday was different, and it changed the story I’ve been telling myself all my life about myself as I relate to school: I am not inherently anxious about my abilities. Either by 40 years old, I’ve changed, or, I was simply always tired or anxious because (at least in grad school) I was always and constantly hung over.

It was a great feeling, to be the one in control, finally. If ONLY I had realized just how fucking hard I was making it on myself in grad school–how would my experience have been different had I not boozed it up every single night? If I had turned to yoga to ease my intense anxiety (the program was brutal), instead of making it WORSE by drinking?

Anyway, top five reasons to NOT drink on a Friday night:

1. No hangover on Saturday morning!

2. Feeling freedom, which is ultimately mega-empowering: I was not jones’ing for a drink at 5 o’clock. I was not “looking forward” to it during lunch, or toward the end of the training session. There was not the least bit of “running in circles” in my mind, trying to figure out where and/or IF I would drink that night, how much, with whom, or worrying about “missing out” on some shit if I didn’t go out. NONE. What a blank, wonderfully calm slate it is, a mind that is not thinking about drinking during the day.

3. Being able to work out and de-stress and detox after a long day–for real, and not for fake with a drink. All I wanted to do after this session was work out, sweat, move my body. And, I did. And, drinking–even ONE drink, even in “moderation”–would have prevented that.

4. Staying on track/maintaining momentum–this has to do with not necessarily feeling “guilty” because I drank (I wouldn’t anyway), but this feeling I have had for a while, and that just KEEPS BUILDING the longer I don’t drink on Friday (or any other) night. It’s like, an integrity, a wholeness, a circle, not a fragmented line. Doing my body good. Counting on myself. Never getting stupid, or oversharing, or being indiscrete, or being a dumb fuck. It feels GOOD to have that…long-term thing going. A sense of personal best, or satisfaction, or something. It’s taken so much mental work, but: a feeling of finally being convinced that even one drink is actually NOT better than continued sobriety. Maybe it’s called, preserving grace?

5. Plans are intact–I guess this relates to being not hung over (but that’s more of a physical thing), or to being able to count on myself (but that’s more of a feeling thing). The weekend is here, and my plans are intact, and I still “don’t need” wine. I have everything I need, and I feel free. I have some writing to do, and my part-time job to do, and packing to do (for our mini-vacay on Monday and Tuesday), and all that will get done.

Top five. The pangs still come and go, and I did still (after almost two years) feel a bit…weird, being the “sober” girl at the “happy” hour last night, but…NOT ENOUGH TO GIVE UP MY SOBRIETY, or my Friday night. Not even close.

My drinking past: a reminder

15 Mar

1:05 pm

Not to go into it in too much detail–to protect you from wanting to strangle me, and to protect me from my head exploding–but I went through my drinking past the other day. Yes, again. I wrote out all the drinking shit/stuff/shenanigans/problems/troubles/shambles that occurred since 2007. Why 2007? I don’t know; a friend emailed me and was waxing nostalgic about our “amazingly fun” (my words, but hers were even loftier, as if she had forgotten the Hell that I would go through) drinking binges at this one bar we discovered that spring, which would become our “go-to” or “local.” And which is where, over the next few years, my worst drunken mishaps would happen.

And, that got me to going into my past again, and realizing after I had written it all down in a text file, how draining, how sad, how wasteful, but yet…how painfully instructive it all was. Mostly, I saw just how wending wine was in my life–threaded into every nook and cranny. It was not just a part of my life; it became a driving force, a mitigating factor. It was, in essence, what everything else revolved around, and worse, sort of determined how everything else went, or turned out, or happened. In my worst of moods, I think back and hate myself for not seeing it, and my family and friends for not only allowing themselves the luxury of denial but also, for letting it happen out of ego, or spite, or resentment. In my best, like I said, I take it as a painful, yet instructive, part of my past.

Now? I’m pretty damn relieved to have stopped drinking; stopped the madness; to be making my choices, steering my ship, with a sober mindset; which is to say, my choices and driving force is about my essence as a person, about what I want, about who I am, about who I really want to be, about who I really want to be with and what I really want to accomplish.

I’ll be turning 40 in June, and realistically, I have a good 30 years left to do shit. That shit better be well chosen, you know? I can’t afford to waste any more time–and spirit energy–on drinking; on wrapping my life around a rotten core. On making life choices based on how it will or will not affect my drinking, and vice versa!

I hate to say it, but now, I’m actually living my worst fear. Quitting drinking has allowed me to confront what I was running from, and professionally, I think my worst fear was writing–working as a freelance writer! Which is what I’m doing now. As I was lying in bed last night, I realized that it was/is my biggest fear. I drank to avoid writing and then I drank to forget that I was running from what I should be doing. And, while I often tell myself, Enough is enough, you should simply give up and do something else–this is what I have to do. At least for now. Which, in a big way, has kept me sober.

I tell myself things like, I won’t drink until I get a story published here; or, until I get a story pitch accepted via THIS route of query. (I’m a biologist at heart, so I can’t help but leave no stone unturned, meaning, no estimates, and no shortcuts…which is the God damned mentality that made (makes?) me want to drink, but hey, we can’t strip our core overnight.) So, until I do this, and do that (pitch here, write this, volunteer there), I can’t drink. And, this is basically the hardest, scariest thing I’ve ever done, in my own mind; so, if and when I get over this hump, maybe I’ll drink then. Maybe I’ll be able to afford the time spent and the money wasted getting drunk instead of working on my life. Not yet, though.

And, that’s been good enough. So far. Lately, though, that drinking past of mine has come up again, and in realizing so clearly how drinking LED my life–it wasn’t something to fill the time, a diversion, an afterthought, as I told myself for years–well, it makes me really, really, REALLY not want to go back there. I mean, I COULD drink, but man, I’ve already been through that wringer. I’ve tried it all before. I’ve done it from every fucking angle. And frankly, I think I hit bottom. I think this is what they mean. YES, I could get that buzz again, and I could then be like, Woo hoo, my life is back to normal…

…but, THIS is normal now. And, that buzz comes with not just a bad hangover the next day, or the sober day count being set back to zero, or a sense of “Oh, I can drink now” and the obsession slowly but SURELY coming back; but, that buzz also now comes with my entire drinking past. That huge text file of a million words covering all the drunks and hangovers, and scraps of a night out, shrapnel of people and places and things–it’s just not worth it. As my sense of denial has disappeared in the face of remembering more accurately, that buzz HAS BECOME not worth it. So very much not worth it.

It pains me to admit it, it really does. And, I know I will continue to struggle with the IDEA of drinking again, of it being fun and a release and a refuge; but really, that is the old myth of me. I am coming into the new myth, and starting to believe it. Was it always there, lurking in the shadow? Or, have I torn down the old statue, and there’s a hole waiting for the new one–which I am building, and will erect in its place soon? It’s like changing religions, coming to believe in a new myth; and it takes time. It takes moving a boulder, inside and out. But, you do it, and you come to understand that you can change myths, you can tell a new story to yourself about yourself, you can become new. You don’t have to live in the drinking past, but you can use it as a tool to build your new statue.

THREE MORE DAYS, people! Till I turn one. Woot woot! I am planning a little get-together (at a wine bar, no less–no worries, I will not be imbibing, it’s just a really cute little place with lots of ambiance), and…I feel really good about that. Like, a birthday party that you weren’t going to give two shits about and now that you’ve decided to celebrate YOU, you’re at peace with that and looking forward to it.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine. 🙂

Allowing myself to be happy, or, the balance between “should” and “want”

18 Oct

4:41 pm

The longer I am sober, the more I am learning–having to learn, and painfully most of the time–how to allow myself to be happy. I had a friend about ten years ago who used to tell me that I liked being in pain. That I liked not being happy. I took offense to that, as well as feigned confusion: Me? Reaaaaaallllly?

Years later, after sort of (well, OK, totally) confronting my drinking problem, I am realizing just how much truth there is to his observation. I don’t–I never fucking DID–allow myself to be happy, and I drank because of it. I did things I “should,” never things I “want.”

In fact, I had a nightmare the other night in which I was rendered unable to breathe in the midst of a “craving panic.” You know what craving panics are, I’m sure: that anxiety that must be quenched, now, right now, and if it’s not, which it won’t be and can’t be but has to be, you start to feel your insides boil, your heart clench, your throat close…and your breathing stops. You need wine, right now. Yes, it was horrible. I woke up feeling sick, and had to take a few minutes to catch my breath.

And what was I doing in said nightmare? I was sitting in a salon chair, getting my hair cut. But I hated the hair cut. And, I couldn’t tell her (who?) that I hated it. Which made me want to drink more than I ever remember wanting to drink. And, after I woke up and calmed down, I remembered something, a small thing really: when I was about 12, going into the 7th grade, I got my hair cut really short. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but it was the 80s and my “stylist,” Louise, thought my curls would look SO CUTE short. My mom wore her hair severely short, and she agreed. Me? Not so much. I sat there in silence, though, as my hair was butchered. Tears started to pinch out of my eyes, and my face went red trying to hold them back. I was crying, and my hair was gone. There was nothing I could do. We all looked at each other. “She’ll get used to it,” and “It looks SO CUTE!” I felt voiceless then, and I remember now how often I felt this way growing up.

Fast forward to now, and this voicelessness–stifling my own ideas of what I want, my expression, my creativity–remains to a certain extent. And, it was a large part–an integral part–of why I drank, I see now. Never allowing myself to do what I wanted, instead only what I should, what I thought everyone wanted me to do! I mean, I could go deep into this, but the gist of it is, as a twin, as an introvert, as a perfectionist at heart, as someone with an absentee father and fighting parents, all my efforts went into overachieving as a kid. When I got to high school, this morphed into a masochism that kept me up until 2 am every morning, joining and trying to excel at every single extracurricular activity on tap. College brought a crash-and-burn of sorts in the form of bulimia, heart palpitations, running away to France for a year. And finally, wine. Wiiiiine.

After my early 20s, when I WAS doing something I wanted, I reverted back to my old ways. Late 20s came and went, early 30s. I thought I was doing what I wanted, so why was I drinking all the time, exhausted and anxious and irritated and downright angry? My brain always hurt. I felt alone. Was it supposed to be this way? Everyone ELSE in New York was running around, overachieving, working and then, drinking until all hours, weren’t they?

I drank, that’s all I know. I drank after a long day of doing a job that both bored me and overwhelmed me. I drank all throughout a graduate degree that stressed me beyond which I thought humanly possible. I drank to be able to get the courage and extroversion to reach out to sources, to interview them. I would drink for these very reasons now, if I had my way! I notice now that most of the day, my stomach is sort of clenched, my gut apprehensive: ugh, I have to research this complicated subject matter; ugh, I have to get the balls and the thick skin to be able to pitch and then, face rejection of my pitch; ugh, I have to worry CONSTANTLY about earning enough money to pay my rent. Some of the best days are when I don’t have to think about this shit.

But yet…I LIKE IT. I need it!

See, on the other hand, I NEED this sort of achievement in my life, goals that are gotten by hard work. If it’s not hard-won, if it doesn’t hurt, it couldn’t be worth it, right? I have to achieve at least as much as my competitors, if not more, don’t I? Where is the line between doing something that you put up with in order to “grow” and “push your boundaries,” and doing something that you love and it being easy, almost too easy in the sense that you stagnate, that you never find that sense of accomplishment that comes from a hard job done well?

Sigh. It’s especially confusing now that I’ve gotten sober. I put down the wine glass only to realize that I drank to avoid this edge, this cliff, one which I can neither back away from nor jump off of. I am sitting on this cliff, scared out of my mind, knowing that I “can’t go home again” but pretty sure I can’t fly!

I know now that I drank in the face of these feelings of wanting to do something easier, more fun, more with my grain; while at the same time feeling afraid that I wouldn’t be challenging myself enough if I put down my burden–and, abandon the sense of identity that doing the hard work got me.

I’ve been this way all my life–a highly overachieving, academic-focused person. It’s served me well, and believe me, when I look at my resume and see my degrees from Ivy League schools and “impressive” roster of companies that I’ve worked for, I’m not ashamed. I’m proud, but only to a certain extent. At this point, I’ve realized that life is forgettable if you’re not doing something that makes you happy, that makes your day enjoyable. That’s all that we’re going to the grave with, is a memory of our happiness, locked into every cell in our body. Maybe that’s what gets us to the next plane.

What does being happy mean, though? Right now, to me being happy means not feeling stressed to the point that I’m going to get cancer of the second (voice) and fifth (sacral) chakras. Yet, it also means being challenged, and having the ability to write, to teach, to explain–I am good at this, and I like the process. So, how do I do this AND not let it get to me? How do I reconcile a desire to “achieve” in the sense that most of us here in the US understand–working for appraisal, and winning–and an equally strong desire to “let it go” and work to live? How, in fact, do I allow myself to be happy, no matter what I’m doing for work, or for play?

parking lot pushups

Because I will be stronger.

Dorothy Recovers

An evolving tale of a new life in recovery

Lose 'da Booze

MY Journey towards Losing 'da Booze Voice within and regaining self-control

Life Out of the Box

Buy a product, help a person in need + see your impact.

Laurie Works

My Resilience Story

Drunky Drunk Girl

A blog about getting sober

New Adventures of the Old Me...

A Woman,Mother, and Wife, makeing sense of life...

The Soberist Blog

a life in progress ... sans alcohol

soberjessie

Getting sober to be a better mother, wife, and friend

mentalrollercoaster

the musings and reflections of one person's mental amusement park

TRUDGING THROUGH THE FIRE

-Postcards from The Cauldron

Guitars and Life

Blog about life by a music obsessed middle aged recovering alcoholic from South East England

changingcoursenow

A woman's journey to happiness and health

Sober Identity

Sober Identity #Life Coach #The 50+ Years #Striving #Thriving #38-Empowering Affirmations #"Emerge: Growing From Addiction-Starter's Guide" #AfterRehabCoaching #Motivate

WELL CALL ME CRAZY

This WordPress.com site is about hope, trauma, hypocrisy, and transformation.

A Canvas Of The Minds

A unique collaboration of different perspectives on mental health and life

Growing Up Chaotic

A blog about getting sober

married to an alcoholic

life with an alcoholic husband

Life Unbuzzed

Rowing my sober boat gently down the stream

ChardonNo!

Original Goal: 100 Days of Sobriety - New Goal: 200 Days

Sober Grace

Finding and practicing grace in recovery

IRETA

Institute for Research, Education & Training in the Addictions

Mended Musings

Healing, Feeling, Thriving

Brandy Shock Treatment

Therapy for an alcoholic

Stinkin' Thinkin'

muckraking the 12-step industry

Sober Politico

Young and Sober, Surrounded by Egos and Alcohol

Carrie On Sober

A blog to help keep me on the right track...

My Healing Recovery

Healing from the inside

Soberbia

A blog about getting sober

Mrs D Is Going Without

A blog about getting sober

The Sober Journalist

A blog about quietly getting sober

mysterygirlunknown

My Desire for a New and Better Life

Message in a Bottle

Swimming in Big Chunks of Truth

Arash Recovery

My journey to get back on my feet

Mished-up

Mixed-up, Mashed-up, Mished-up.

The Party Doesn't Leave the Girl

a memoir of sobriety...today.

Good2begone

I'm not really here.

Below Her Means

a little of everything.

themiracleisaroundthecorner

There are no coincidences.

The Red Sox Saved My Life

A peek into the recovery of another drunk.

1800ukillme

Just another WordPress.com site

The Existential Addict

One choice at a time...

Al K Hall-ic Anonymous

Get With The Program.

thinkingaboutgratitude

How gratitude has helped me stay sober, "one day at a time."

Living Life In Control

A journey into taking control of life and seeing what's on the other side of the mountain

A Life Less Scripted

Adventure Travel

%d bloggers like this: