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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!  🙂

I’m back–quick update

5 Jun

11:12 am

Well, I’m back. And, what a trip! We covered 3,000 flight miles each way, and 2,500 in the car! Needless to say, I haven’t had much time to blog, but I’ve been thinking about everyone and wanted to write a quick update.

The wedding went GRAND. The girlfriend ignored me–literally, pretended I didn’t exist/wasn’t in the room (how someone does that for an entire 48-hour period is interesting, I suppose). And, I returned the favor! 🙂

And that was that. I realized almost immediately my error in resenting her and giving her all this power all these years–she is literally powerless, which makes her irrelevant to my life. I have–and always had–the power over my reality. Beyond that, I tried to enjoy me, and my brother, and the family, and my boyfriend meeting the family, and all the amazing food, sites, and sounds!

The ceremony was magical, and I felt amazing–calm, happy, calmer and happier than I have in years. I/we were just…present. Not caring about what she was doing or saying (which was ridiculous, and I’ll blog about it later, but right now, the main word that comes to mind for her is “mentally ill”).

We then went on a week-long road trip through “the West” (of the US), hitting four states, four national parks, and two major cities. Whew. Now, it’s back to work…for two weeks. Because two weeks from today, I leave for a 6-week “voluntouring” trip to another country! If I told you which one, it might blow the anonymity of this blog, but suffice it to say, it’s a neighboring place that’s been in the news lately! I am really excited, having planned where I’ll be and what I’ll be doing, embraced a certain level of emotional and physical uncertainty, and determined my immediate next steps upon return.

I have to say, and this has happened before, when you reveal yourself to the world–your dreams, let’s say–the world responds! I was a bit nervous calling my boss here and being like, Hey, can I ghost on you for the next six weeks to go and volunteer in a developing country, and then, uh, maybe come back to my job? He was not only cool with it, he gave me his “blessing” (his word, which I appreciated so much I am quoting him!). Turns out, before becoming a real estate agent, his thesis work was on similar stuff in the South Sudan. Click. When will I learn? Stop being afraid, DDG! The world rewards–craves–our bravery of spirit and humility of soul.

Back to work. Like I said, I will dish much further on “the girlfriend” later. I must end with this: at the end of the event, I realized one thing, and that is that it is not about her, or him, or them, it’s about ME. I can’t quite explain, but I realized just how much energy I wasted putting any of MYSELF into thinking about the girlfriend’s thoughts of me, or anyone else for that matter. It’s my world, my path, my mind; no one else’s. It doesn’t matter at all what or whether she thinks of me.

Thank you, friends! You were there with me every step of the way this past two weeks.

Day 500–coming up on July 31. No thoughts or desires to drink, btw. Maybe I’ve outgrown it? Maybe, as Belle said, it just takes a longer, continuous period of sobriety to reach greater levels of freedom from the want to drink? Whatever it is, I’ll take it.

Sobriety does not have to be a religion

19 Apr

11:28 am

So, a few nights ago, I watched two episodes of Cosmos and then watched the blood moon lunar eclipse from my roof. And I realized: none of this really matters. In a good way.

Lately (as in, the past year?), I’ve been mulling over this idea of “Being Sober” as being almost as bad as being an active “alcoholic.” It’s almost as much of a mindfuck, to be blunt. And, while choosing to NOT Be Sober does not have to mean I drink again, I think it might be the best thing I can do for myself right now.

I think there actually does come a point when your recovery ends. When you need to stop ruminating, stop excavating–not everything has to do with wine, or lack thereof. Especially when all this connecting-the-dots starts to subtract from your overall well-being.

Honestly, even though I haven’t been to meetings in a long time, I, too, have been indoctrinated with this false idea that “addiction” is in me, forever. It’s not. I am a completely different person than I was a few years ago–I don’t want to drink. YES, I have my moments, when I get depressed, or frustrated, or angry and want to blot it out. However, I’ve re-learned how to cope (I think we all do learn, at some point in our lives, and then “forget” when we give in to using alcohol for this purpose).

That’s the thing about the 12-step, and the disease-model: they both presume that you still want to drink after all, and they don’t take into account the fact that you’ve healed mind, body, and increasingly, soul. Personally, I have NO desire to blot out with booze–and next-to no desire to “have fun” by drinking. (I mean, I do miss the buzz, but maybe that’s because I have depression, and I haven’t as yet encountered an antidote that worked as well as wine.) I have an inkling that my body and mind have changed so much that drinking would not affect me the way it did before–drinking those first two glasses equals static brain instead of euphoria, in other words.

Wine is an option, but it’s not the best one. But, isn’t that what EVERYONE knows? Maybe it just took me a fuck-lot longer to figure out that life lesson than others.

Is it necessary for me to Be Sober, which has become burdensome? In my opinion, no, not really. In my gut, I know that I don’t have to drink, ever again. And, that simply means, I don’t have to drink. It doesn’t have to mean more. Sobriety does not have to be a religion, with all its confining constructs–constructs that I’ve built, and imprisoned myself within. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that Jesus was rebelling against, simply by preaching, You can contact God and have a relationship with Him without intermediaries. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that inadvertantly sprang up around Jesus’s teachings!

I used to think about a LOT of other interesting, exciting things; now, I find myself focusing on not drinking all the time. It’s sad, in a way. When I say, I miss me, this is what I mean. And, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been blogging on it constantly, and thereby making it more of a Thing? Who knows? Right now, I’m thinking about the cosmos, and the cities I’ve lived in, and science, and volunteering, and the fun I’m going to have in the future. Not the past, not drinking, not being “diseased” or tempted to drink. Not relating my behavior and mood swings and anger to wine, AGAIN.

Anyway, I think it’s just time for me to move on. Get back to living life, and not living recovery.

Happy Easter. May yourSELF be resurrected! 🙂

Love yourself

14 Feb

12:25 pm

You are not sick.
You are not crazy.
You are not “overthinking” it.
You are not obsessive.
You are not mean, or manipulative, or a bitch.
You are not diseased, or disordered.
You are not lazy, or inept, or incapable.

And, most definitely, you are not the label you call yourself.

You are a person, with a miraculous tenacity to fight the urge to drink, or use–which drinking or using is the opposite of loving yourself. One day, you will come to realize that there is this big ocean of calm called self-love, that can combat all the negativity, self-doubt, and external “un-love” factors that present themselves on a daily basis. To those attempting to mess with that ocean? Go ahead and try; it ain’t gonna work on me this time. THAT is self-love (and a little bit of self-righteousness, but hey, we need that now and then).

Love yourself, and everything else will follow. Love yourself with treats, and flowers, and solitude. Why? Because you can. Because you want to–above all the self-sabotaging, you see that you really want to help yourself by loving yourself. Because that is the “natural order” of things. Look around–do you see birds and plants not loving themselves, not putting their needs first, trying to break themselves down?

You are seeing through the ways in which you didn’t love yourself before–most of them you learned, or they became habit. You never stopped to say, I deserve to be loved. It’s OK, we all do it. We’re human. We have this brain, and it is a complicated little mess of electricity. Beyond this brain, however, is a bigger body–the holy ground. This Body with a capital “b” is the holy ground. This Body is our connection to self, to relationships, to “god,” as it were. And this Body needs care, and calm. This Body doesn’t need to be beaten down, or examined, or “dealt with.” This Body just needs love.

You can be proud of yourself no matter what you “did” or “didn’t do” while drinking or using. You really can. You can be proud of yourself today, for not drinking, or for starting over, or for reaching your 100 days, 300 days, 3,000 years of sobriety. And, if no one else loves you today, love yourself. At the end of the day, that is the ONLY thing that matters. Everything else will follow.

Just say YES

31 Dec

5:08 pm

Just say yes.

That’s my “theme” for 2014. Well, that seems to be what it’s going toward–and, it just came to me against my will, so, hell, why not? Just say yes.

After some tough face-to-face realizations over Christmas–some of which made me feel uncomfortable for reasons beyond which I could elucidate–I’ve come to see what about getting sober has become counterproductive, for me anyway.

Here’s what: I feel like since getting sober, I’ve reined myself in so tight, closed my boundaries so much, that I have a hard time anymore saying yes. Stopping thinking and just doing. Opening myself up. Loosening those boundaries.

I’ve come to see that when we first get sober, it’s all about saying no. And necessarily so: No, I can’t drink. No, I can’t drink. No, I can’t drink. No, I can’t do this, that, or the other–because it might make me want to drink again, or, it MADE me want to drink again. No, I can’t go there, or see him, or talk to those people. No, I better not take that job, or run that race, or tax myself in any way beyond what I believe myself–weak and vulnerable, because this quitting drinking shit is fucking hard–to be capable. I better just stay here, small, enclosed, tight. Saying no. All the time.

To the point where you don’t realize just how much you’re over-thinking things and as a consequence, limiting yourself. I don’t think I’ve ever been as up in my head as I have been getting sober, wondering about every choice, overanalyzing every step I take. It’s as if getting sober has resulted in a spotlight on my forehead, a strobe going ’round and ’round and ’round, illuminating every thought, action, and reaction. I don’t just go or be or do anymore; life has come to carry so much WEIGHT.

Now, everyone’s journey is different. My “bottom” was low–it was the end of the business-as-usual way that I drank–so, I don’t think I can refuse the sober momentum that is building inside me. A certain order has been cast on my innards, almost as if the moral code of my Universe has melted and re-solidified as something else. So, I’ll keep going with what’s been working–moving toward “yes,” is how it feels. I can’t go back, and that’s OK, I guess.

However, I wasn’t necessarily using wine to get out of bed, or, to basically live. I lived my life, and my life was working in spite of my hangovers and stupid drunken shenanigans. My relationships suffered, yes, and my job, too. I had the distinct sense, though, that I wasn’t “not doing,” you know?

Sobriety seems to have made me less willing to do stuff–in order to protect myself from myself, I guess. And, I think, taking a step back/a time-out is necessary to heal. It was for me. Now, though, I feel like it’s time to move forward. It’s time to stop “being in recovery” and start “being recovered.” Time to say, well, yes. Yes, I can probably do this sober; yes, I’m ready to…just say yes.

Say yes to a new job search.
Say yes to a move.
Say yes to having kids–or yes to trying.
Say yes to saying NO to the guilt of not having kids–or the guilt of an abortion.
Say yes to saying NO to a career in journalism, if that’s what I truly want.
Say yes to a new career outside of my head, maybe yes to school for this new career.
Say yes to exploring different healing methodologies for my back pain–maybe even the Western ones.
Say yes to trips.
Say yes to exploring my sexuality further.
Say yes to saying NO to thinking about how things relate to my sobriety or not–chances are, they do, but who cares? Enough is enough–say yes to this.
Say yes to getting my energy up every day, and being more of a firecracker and less of deadbeat–even if my neurotic mind says no because I’m afraid of threatening or alienating others who are less energetic.
Say yes to saying NO to Facebook!
Say yes to the people around me, and yes to not trivializing them by wondering what people in my computer are doing.
Say yes to saying no to comparing myself to others–and that includes knowing what everyone is doing all the time in favor of what I’m doing!
Say yes to what I’m doing as being good enough, engaging enough, valuable enough.

You get the point.

I don’t know, just say yes. What’s the worst that could happen? I could be afraid of the outcome; I could pretend there is no outcome, or that it doesn’t matter; I could pretend there is no fear in me. Or, if I can’t ignore the fear, the projections into some nonexistent future, I can say yes anyway.

Just say yes.

Am I a lurker in my sober life?

27 Dec

11:34 pm

What a week, eh? Ah, holidays. Ugh. Even with my 280-some days, I had MAJOR pangs, which was quite unexpected! Again, not necessarily pangs to drink, but pangs to avoid what I really didn’t want to feel, or acknowledge, or confront.

So, quickly, let me set the stage. My boyfriend and I went away for a few nights, and all in all, we had a great time. We’d been to where we went before, and so there was a level of familiarity–and nostalgia–to the place. Which played against me this time, as you’ll see. On Christmas Eve, he sprung something on me that I wasn’t comfortable doing–honestly, I’m not sure I would’ve been comfortable doing it drunk, let alone sober. However, while other people do everything sober and don’t think twice; not me, so cue the whirlwind of “should I/shouldn’t I” thoughts!

I was also feeling surprisingly lonely. I mean, lonely for family in the sense of connection, of belonging, of “protocol.” You know, how it’s nice to sit around once in a while with your big, dysfunctional family because, well, it makes you feel like you’re part of something larger than yourself? That there’s SOME sort of order to the Universe? Now, I’ve been “un”-celebrating holidays for a long time, spending many of them alone, or doing random things around the world, literally–it’s not like I’m all that big into Christianity OR family. Why the HELL I found myself wearing shades en route to the airport, having a hard time holding the tears back, I really don’t understand. I think it was the combination of feeling a sense of loss–my old self, my old way of doing things, the old me who could party and be independent–and a sense of finality–how much I’ve gained, how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown.

It was in this state of mind that my boyfriend sprang “the thing” on me. I sort of moped my way through dinner, feeling inadequate in a way because I couldn’t (wouldn’t) do something just because it would have been easier to do with a “glass” of wine to take the edge off. And then, we went to a salsa club. Neither of us danced, and it was the worst feeling in the world–because I’ve been the one to Not Dance out of feeling awkward and like everyone is staring at me SO MANY TIMES. And, it brings up the worst sort of paranoia in me: that I’m unable to enjoy the way others do, that I’m unable–worse, unwilling–to have fun, to let go, to just be. That I can’t do so many things (that make me feel unsafe and self-conscious) without wine.

And, then, I said, Let’s wander around the bar. And my boyfriend was like, And, do what? If you want to be part of something, go and do it, but stop making not being able to drink an excuse for not having the guts to do it. (I’m paraphrasing.)

Hmm.

Am I, in fact, a lurker in my own life? Have I always been? Duh. YES. I mean, when I was drinking, I was alone and desperate for connection, but I was afraid to go out and get it. I’d watch other people, looking for clues as to how to have a life. How to LIVE a life. Ten years ago, I started to walk around the city I lived in at night, looking into lit-up living rooms, craning my neck to gaze deeper, feeling the chill in the air outside even more strongly because the inside looked so warm. I’d DRIVE the fuck around after midnight, passing clubs and bars that I used to frequent, hoping to find…something I had lost, I guess. I never went into those clubs or bars; I was alone, after all, and way too scared. But, I wanted to know that nothing was going on without me. That I hadn’t really lost anything. Or that, I wasn’t missing out on all that much.

Nothing has really changed, it seems, with me getting sober. For years, I drank and drank and drank, and that gave me the courage–or alternately, the excuse to pass on events–to go to things, bars, events, dates, to initiate conversations, to maintain relationships. I had to drink to do it, I was way too scared to do any of it sober. It wasn’t that I was always drunk, but, toward the end everything and everyone in my life involved wine.

It’s been a struggle, and I’ve been trying to be patient with myself. These days, it’s not that I can’t do it, it’s more that I don’t want to. I gave myself a pass for these past 18 months, but more and more, I’m finding myself craving connection. And I see that my “pass” has become an excuse to lurk, to hide out, to avoid contact, to basically give myself the excuse to not do things, socially and professionally.

And, I can’t come up with one thing other than that horrible four-letter word: fear.

I used to pride myself on being the one who was up for anything, on being fearless, on making shit happen. Maybe that was just another story I told myself, because I’ve always hated dancing in front of strangers, for instance, unless I’m drunk. I’ve had an infinite number of conversations with people in my lifetime, at bars, in cities, in colleges and travels, under blankets and in between sheets; but once I got sober, I didn’t want to anymore. I simply didn’t have it in me anymore. I chalked that up to needing to conserve my energy, to finally focusing on me, to being able to at last say, Fuck it, to the shit that I just didn’t want to do–since that “shit” was making me drink.

I keep telling myself that when the time is right, I’ll get back to doing what I used to do–all of which was WAY easier because I was fueled by “liquid courage.” Won’t I? Or, do I need to push myself?

Have I been hiding myself away from life? I think the answer is yes. It’s a very difficult truth to embrace, but…I think it’s time to cut the cord, dive in, jump off.

It sucked balls to have to confront, on Christmas Eve no less, some of the things that have been fucking STARING me in the face before, during, and now, after getting sober. That while I needed to stash myself away for a while and avoid the “real world” of socializing–meeting people, making friends, forming authentic relationships–I need something else now. Something like friends. Girlfriends. Warmth through conversation. A sense of belonging, even community, with others. What irks me the most is that I know this has always been a sore point with me, and I’ve always been afraid of it. It’s why I drank, to avoid having to do what makes me feel uncomfortable–fearful, basically. To put myself out there, for me, is to confront and embrace human interaction.

I’m glad I didn’t drink on Christmas Eve; even now, I see that it would’ve made things easier, and probably more fun. However, in exchange, I got to confront myself and get a little bit closer to my truth, to the real story, as it were.

On that note, I’ve got a cold, so it’s off to bed (at least it’s a “legitimate” excuse to stay home!).

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