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On anger and forgivness

16 Nov

12:10 am

There is no way around it:  I am angry.  I am just plain angry.  I want to scream into their faces, Who do you think you are?  And, what, exactly, do you think you’re doing?  It’s about being sober, and being able to see those people SO uber-clearly now, 5.5 years later–and seeing that some of these faces are bullies, and the bullies can’t touch me anymore.

I think I have had a lot of bullies in my life, and I NEVER knew what to do about them–out of fear, out of self-loathing (as in, for some reason, I believe I don’t have the right to talk back), out of lack of self-confidence (as in, my idea or path can’t be the right one).  I let people bully me–but I also, of course, participated in the exchanges by not being direct, or being secretive, or taking things too personally, or just plain assuming things that were not or are not true.  That’s part of my alcoholic drinking problem as much as it is a personality “flaw.”  However, not “talking back” led me to bury a lot of anger, and to learn to bury it and be passive-aggressive (which I fully admit that I can be).  Now, I see the bullies and their ways for who and what they are, and I do talk back, and the response is usually one of either reciprocal anger or deeper bullying tactics.  And this, too, I can see, and it makes me angry!

Am I paranoid?  Maybe.  I just feel like, with these handful of old relationships, they’re still running on (over) the “old me” tracks.  Even now, years later into my sobriety.  It’s actually strange to see how these people either try to continue their old ways, or simply detach because they just don’t know how to relate to the new me, or simply don’t want to relate to her.

Can’t we move forward?  Is it my job to school them on the “new me?”  Probably, and eventually.  It’s hard, though.  It takes a lot of trial and error and effort!  And, for people who for some reason refuse to acknowledge my sobriety–my having gotten sober–it just doesn’t seem possible to have a relationship.  And that is the hard truth, because I am the one who has to accept the change and move on with or without their ability or desire to relate to the new me.

Maybe letting go of this anger and paranoia, this is part of that elusive process of “forgiveness?”  I wish I felt some sense of sustained relief, of renewal when I have chosen to forgive, but it’s more of an intellectual pursuit for me–the next day, when I think about that person, I feel angry again.  Nothing has changed, inside or out.  I know that I should continue to try–but, IF these people are in MY PERSPECTIVE (again, that could be skewed) bullying me because they still think of me as sad or poor or drunk; how can I cultivate good will toward them?  It just doesn’t compute…yet.

It could just be a matter of having those hard conversations, where I, um, tell them how I feel and allow them to explain to me how they feel.  Haha.  Oh, me.

On a somewhat different note:  I am not at home (where we get a LOT of sun) right now, and I really notice it (I think your brain gets used to a certain amount of light and can no longer function well in places that are darker).  That is me, now; it’s actually been me for years, and every time I come back to this city, I am a little bit less enamored (I am in the cold city where I became a drunky drunk girl, and where I also started this blog two days after quitting drinking).  I’ve been here before, in this space of being reminded, literally around every turn, of what went down and who I used to be–and, I’m used to the sour feeling in my eyes and belly and brain, that thing I just can’t shake, that time machine effect where suddenly, I am closer to BEING that old me than I am of only just remembering who she was.  And, it is not a good feeling; it’s not as heart-hurtful and soul-sucking as it used to be, but it’s still there.

Am I still there?  Maybe I am; or, maybe I’ve just never dealt with my anger.  I don’t get it.  FIVE years later, after having worked through what I thought was my anger, and now…I see that I’m just scratching the surface?  It kind of scares me, this whirling from past to present and back again; how my emotions can exist in a timeless state, evergreen, able to trip me with the flick of a brain cell back into my past.  Boom, and I’m literally there; and it’s hard to not feel the same way, to not see myself as my past self.  The thing is, I AM that person, as much as I am the one writing this now; I can’t not embrace what happened to me, what I went through, because that has made me the person I am now.

Is this how it’s always going to be, living in a prism-like reality, where it’s never really over?  I guess as long as I have memories (which, hopefully will be until the day I die!), and as long as I choose to confront these deep-seated feelings that caused me to drink in the first place–no, I don’t think it will ever be over.  In fact, for the first time in many, many days, I’ve thought about drinking (more than once while here; not good).  I have even slipped into thinking, ahh, it would take the edge off, it would be such a nice treat, a reward for slogging through..what?  A dark, cold night?  A storage unit that seems to have a life of its own?  Um, NO.  No, no, no.  It would SO not be a relief, or a treat.  Duh, I know this.  God, do I know this!

I have had FIVE damn years of practice, of re-training my brain–am I just feeling extra-sensitive to the triggers here because this is where the worst of it went down?  Probably, and I will remain steadfast, but…I haven’t heard the whiny voice of wolfie-boy (a pup barely in the womb, that’s how small it is) in a very long time, and it’s more confusing and surprising than anything.

On that note, I have to close it up because it’s midnight and I have a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow.  Needless to say, I still love this city, and I am, of course, grateful to be here, now, sober.

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Building

8 Aug

12:25 pm

So, I got a full-time job.  After three-and-a-half years.  I should be happy, since this has been in the works for almost a year (yeah, a full year of soul searching, job searching, and networking).  Why do I feel like my sober bubble is about to burst?  Or, like I’m about to jump off my sober cliff–and into what?  Free fall?

Actually, I ventured into the real world of real people and tens of millions of stressful triggers last year, and have continued to branch out in 2014 and 2015.  This year, I’ve decided, is going to be–has been–all about continuing to build off of what I created last year.  I’ve been working nearly non-stop this spring as a barista and freelance journalist, but the writing (no pun intended!) is definitely on the wall:  it’s an unsustainable (and physically exhausting) way to earn a living.  So, I found a full-time gig doing what I was doing (and what, from an outside perspective, drove me to become Drunky Drunk Girl) in the place I was doing it (albeit, much farther south, and therefore, not really in the same place).  And, while I have re-entered the world already, and managed just fine, this is still a huge transition.  I’ve created so much here that is SO different from my old life–and hence, my old drinking self–can I pull it off and continue to build on what I’ve done here, there?  We’ll see, is about all I’ve got.

What no one told me about sobriety is that I would miss the early days of my “sobriety cocoon.”  And that I would sort of live OFF of it, like a spider consuming whatever it’s caught and wrapped up in its silken web.  And that maybe that wasn’t a good idea, to nurse my sobriety cocoon like a bottle, but that’s what I did.  That’s what I did…until it got old, boring, until I saw that I really needed to venture out, to forage again for real sustenance.  It was my pink cloud of endless awesome–a hermetic existence that made it possible for me to exist, almost child-like, in newfound wonder.  It helped that I quit Corporate America, started my own business, and moved somewhere totally exotic.  It helped that I had a sober support network that allowed me to work less and think/ponder/analyze every gory detail of my sober journey.  I needed that.  I really, really needed that.  And, as it turns out, so did many of my readers.

It’s not that I’m no longer grateful to be sober–I am, and more and more every day.  The other morning, someone I worked with showed up to barista with a supreme hangover, complete with the 30 texts sent to the boy she’s currently fixated on, the other 20 calls to him and random friends, and the falling-down, bruises-from-out-of-nowhere drunkenness that lasted until her shift started (with me) at 5:30 am.  Oof, was mostly what I thought.  But also, eh, who cares?  What can I do for her?  And then, probing deeper, a desire on my part to turn away and FORGET that I was there, not too long ago.  A desire so intense to completely just forget, let it go, move on, NOT remember that I was there, not too long ago.

This desire I have to say, Fuck this sobriety bullshit, and move on, is strong right now, has been for a while (hence, the lack of blog posts).  But, another part of me–the one that became a drunk, and the one that had the need to write this blog–can’t help but wonder, is it OK for me to do that?  To let it go?  It’s not that I can’t empathize, it’s been too long; it’s that, I can, and I just don’t want to.

But I have to.  And, I don’t think it has anything to do with wanting to be nice to people or do the right thing–those two things are givens.  It’s that I’m still there.  I’m still there, in a way.

The longer I’m sober, the more I realize that I can’t just shove this “sobriety bullshit” into a box under the bed and wipe my hands of it.  It’s there, this “alcoholism” thing, and it’s not going anywhere.  I’m not “once a drunk, always a drunk,” though–like, the long-term effects of physiological dependence elude me to this day (in other words, who the fuck knows?  Wine no longer works for me, but maybe someone else with three years might have a glass and not feel dizzy, confused, and flat?).  What I am is STILL insecure, and STILL grappling with questions that truly have no answers.  I guess I’m learning to live in and with that insecurity, that instability, that uncertainty, that moving-sands, that lack-of-answers.  Those questions of self, of purpose, of existence–they’re still there, and they’re still somehow related to why I drank copious amounts of wine for a decade.

And, the fact remains that everyone has to cope with what this is, which is LIFE.  And these people did not also become drunks. Hmmm…

The difference between early and later sobriety is this:  ya have to live in the drinking world as a sober person, and you have to embrace the fact that it’s NEVER going to go away.  Your past, that is.  And, it shouldn’t.  The fact that you DID do all that shit, and you DID drink the way you drank.  The fact that your alcoholic drinking unfortunately has NOTHING to do with alcohol (would that it did!?).  Really–very, very little.  Sure, it was fun and you got buzzed and you got addicted because it helped you cope, but, in the end, the bigger motivations hovered dead-center around self-esteem, trauma, perfectionism.  We know this.  You know this.  So, forgetting about your drinking is like forgetting about the present-day issues that still linger.  You can’t, if you want to keep growing and keep healing–and frankly, keep helping others who are still stuck in addictive behavior.

The longer I’m sober, the more I see JUST how long healing takes.  Recovery.  I’m still recovering:  lost income, lost relationships, lost confidence.  I’m catching up, and I’m building.  I’m beyond satisfied that I got to spend most of my initial sobriety in a tropical paradise, literally recovering in isolation.  It was what allowed me to have the patience to dissect my process–and the faith to see a labor-intensive start to a freelance writing business through a nasty 18-month bout of PAWS (no motivation, will I ever WANT to work again?).

Have there have been many times these past 12 months where I just wanted to put the sober thing in a box, shove it under the bed, and say, Ugh, I’m done with this?  YES.  To say, let’s MOVE the fuck ON?  YES.  However, the reality is, I drank alcoholically–for reasons that I’m not quite sure I’ll ever truly pin down, define, or exorcise.  And that alcoholic-ness is what lies at the root of simple behavioral reactions that still trip me up in my day-to-day life!

I’ve made SO much headway this year and the last, in forging ahead, getting back into the workforce, and interacting with “normal” people in the real, non-sober world.  Now, the big test awaits:  can I somewhat seamlessly go back to doing what I was doing (albeit with a strong foothold remaining in the world of freelance journalism)?  I’d say yes, but I’ll also say, I’m nervous.  I’m wondering.  What will be?  What will happen?  Am I leaving my greatest creation behind, this “new me” that I’ve spent three years building?  Or, does she come with me now, wherever I go, and whatever I do?  All I can say to myself is, hold onto your heart, which happens to resemble (or even be) journalism.  It saved me once, twice, and will save me again.  It’s part of my sense of purpose and creative agency (and urgency)–the lack of which are my biggest triggers.  These things I know, so I’m hoping that knowing this, and having practiced this for so long now, will carry me through the next six months…

I’ll keep you posted!

(And, it’s good to be back!  Thanks for reading, friends.)

Understanding triggers

12 Oct

10:34 pm

I’m embarrassed, but I know you guys won’t judge.

I drank. I mean, I got drunk. For the first time since my quit date of March 18, 2013. And yes, the whole bottle, of course. I know it’s going to be a one-time thing, primarily because being hung over sucks. And, my body and mind can’t take another one.

Why did I drink? Half of me is like, I did it to “just get it over with,” and half of me is like, I did it because I wanted to try and see what it was like–not sure if I could or would moderate (which to me would have been two glasses, not the four I had). I think Paul blogged something that is exactly right: you try to fit back into it, and it doesn’t fit!

Now, the fact that I’ve been obsessing about this one freaking bottle of wine for like months? Wondering, planning, and then, finally drinking and being hung over for 12 hours? Houston, we DO have a problem. And it’d called alcoholism. I’m not sure what it means, precisely, but I can no longer deny that um, I am not normal when it comes to drinking, and er, recovery might very well be a lifelong thing.

Oy. Hangovers still suck. Suckage. Blargh.

Right now, I think I just feel like WHOA, too many things. Too much stuff. The ending of one life, the embracing of a new one. Confronting unresolved issues, and yes, personality problems. Wondering where my money for November is going to come from. Job searching (am I too old? I wonder, here, if I am too old) and freelancing and stressing about my savings, which is low. I was and continue to be a lurker–I despise that about myself.

What I do know is that wine did not help. And, this hangover will not happen again. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s up there around 7 or 8. Swirling head, anxiety, sadness, thinking of death (of my own, of my boyfriend’s), weeping for at least an hour, if not more; and then, trudging around the cold, dark city realizing that THIS IS MY PAST. These are well-worn paths. And, they are triggers.

I’ve come to have a newfound understanding of triggers. Triggers are not just the people, places, and things, but, they are ways of being, of thinking, of feeling that are embedded in us, and that take work to excavate. They don’t disappear overnight–in fact, they still reside in us, intact, like living fossils. I feel like I’m sad, and depressed, and a lurker (i.e., I have no life, but everyone else does–my one huge “reason for drinking” back in the day). I feel these things, as if they are real, right now-feelings. As if I am still that person. And, then, my reaction is still that person’s: I want to drink, and I drink, and I feel hungover and spend the day writhing and alone.

Yet, none of this makes sense! How could it be? These feelings are totally out of context. I am FREE of that past, aren’t I? I mean, I am no longer sad, no longer depressed, no longer a lurker–I have my own life, one that gives me a lot of joy. I have my boyfriend, 2.5 years living together; our dogs; friends who have become like family; an entire career carved out of sober work. Two years before that I moved my person out of this town–so, it’s been 4 years since I left.

I stored my stuff, though, and I can see how clearing out the unit might be sort of representative of what’s going on here–what I’m mourning is, the actual decision to finally say goodbye and move on. Maybe literally, maybe figuratively. I mean, it’s a great city and I think I could form a new, amazing life here.

It’s a lot to say goodbye to. And, while I am in tears again thinking about it, my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Talk about ambivalence! It takes what it takes, I guess. I am finally ready to let go and move on. I am finally allowing myself to see that this place can trigger me–activate that stored stuff, that radioactive material that simply takes work to lose, if we are lucky enough to be able to apply constant effort.

I mean, it’s just WEIRD. How can I still be there, when I’m here? How can I still feel the feelings of HER, back THEN, when I’m me, now? It’s just so weird. These triggers–they are deeper than I realized, and more ingrained. And yes, it IS easier to not be triggered into that past when you leave the scene of the crime, so to speak. I’m not sure if moving is the answer for all of us, but it has profoundly affected me–in a good way.

Maybe I’m just awful at saying goodbye. Of holding on when I shouldn’t. I’ve always held on, clung to the past to the point, I guess, of living in it. Or, if not actually living, then dwelling on it such that I’m not living in the present. Why is this, when the past sucked ass? I mean, yes, a lot of living was done here, but a lot of pain happened, too. I love being in a relationship–I can see now why I was so depressed here. Afraid to admit that I wanted–needed–someone else. I always saw that as a bad thing; now, it’s the ONLY thing (that makes my day worth having).

I miss my dogs, and I miss my boyfriend, and I miss our life. And I’m going back to that! And, I see how lonely this place can still make me feel. So, why am I sad about releasing it?

I’m OK, and getting right back on the horse. I know that this has to be a one-time thing; I’m not sure how it wouldn’t be, based on how awful I’ve felt all day. I’m not used to this, and I don’t want to be here. Letting it go as a slip, and moving forward tomorrow.

(In case you’re wondering what it was like, it was pretty uneventful. I felt…somewhat sweaty, and then, somewhat awake, and a slight bit of a buzz in the beginning; but mostly, I just felt anesthetized. But, in a bad way. So, yes, spending your Saturday evening sober is WAY better than sitting there, drinking shitty wine that tastes like cough syrup and makes you feel nothing but numb. I’ve done both, and I can honestly say that being sober is, in fact, a better way to spend the night. Especially if you don’t get buzzed anymore, if you only just get numbed.)

Is self-esteem the common denominator?

22 Apr

11:26 am

First, thanks for all the comments to my last post. I want to and will get back to all of you in the comments soon–great discussion, eh? BUT…I didn’t mean to write something polarizing, but that seems to be how many interpreted it. I think I was getting at something more basic: I don’t need or want to be “telling on myself” all the time. I don’t believe I am particularly “fucked up,” and I do believe that poor coping mechanisms besiege every single person on this planet. All that being said, I think there are particular commonalities among people with substance use problems and/or disorders, and those might actually be best ironed out in both individual and group (AA, other recovery groups) settings!

Anyhoo…

I was in the shower the other day–seems to be where most of my ideas pop up–and I thought, man, I have such low self-esteem. It was in reaction to something someone posted on Facebook, a picture of him hugging someone else. I noticed how happy he was, and how loving; but also, how “out there” his happiness and love were. Like, there doesn’t seem to be a hesitant bone in his body.

Whoa. That’s weird. I just segregate those “kind” of people into an entirely separate folder, because I don’t get them. I wish I was like them, but I don’t get them. And, maybe they, too, have had self-esteem issues–doubts, ruminations–but they’ve simply worked (are working) through them.

This person doesn’t seem to approach the day with thoughts like: I wonder what he is thinking of me; I bet she doesn’t like me; he is probably thinking badly of me; she is ahead of me; I don’t deserve to be here; I don’t deserve to be able to stand tall and look her in the eye; is my looking him in the eye going to be perceived as passive or aggressive? It must sound crazy to more outgoing people, or people who don’t think this way; but these are thoughts that I am almost embarrassed to say run through my mind on autopilot, like a subconscious soundtrack. They are literally so embedded in how I see the world that I don’t even hear them anymore.

It seems that there are people who seem to have self-confidence to the point where they almost lack any and all self-consciousness. They don’t wake up dreading the day, deep down. They wake up ready to embrace the day, because they are convinced that they deserve this. They don’t think they’re “better” than others by expecting love and reciprocity from people. They don’t think about this at all, that’s how ingrained it is.

I think this is called self-esteem, and from what I’ve seen, “addicts” and “alcoholics” (myself included) seem to lack this (to varying extent).

There could be so many genetic and environmental reasons why “we” are this way, but what I’m trying to do now is recognize this in myself–down to even the subconscious level–and reverse it. I have no idea sometimes if I’m doing it right, and maybe I can come across as bitchy, or self-righteous. I don’t mean to.

I realize that part of the problem with being so obsessed with seeing my brother’s girlfriend at the wedding in May (she hates me, and when I say hate, I mean hate) is that I feel SO uncomfortable with someone not liking me. It’s going to be a GREAT lesson for me, and I just hope I can distract myself enough while leading up to May and while actually there that I successfully get past it. I will, I’m just not sure how I will feel, and what will transpire between us–and that scares me, and periodically really upsets my inner zen.

However, the bottom line is, it’s not her, it’s me. I feel insecure with someone hating me, and I shouldn’t. I need to be able to love myself no matter what anyone else says, does, thinks, or feels about me. And, that hits hard at the core of my self-esteem “problem.” I’m glad it hits hard, because maybe I would miss the connection–and the possibility of some serious resolution–if it was more subtle.

Anyway, food for thought.

Bumping along

12 Apr

5:30 pm

Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA this past week. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and writing, which is when my blogging seems to go by the wayside.

Anyhoo, the past few weeks have been…up and down. I’ve felt like drinking, more for the, Why the hell not? and the, I can’t really do this boring sobriety thing forever, can I? But, the sober habit takes over, and I get all these “god shots,” mainly in the form of alcoholics telling me about their nights out, and me going, Uh huh, that sounds absolutely stupid and not fun. My, how things have changed! 🙂

Really, though, the fact is, when I give myself the option (sometimes I have been lately) of drinking, I wrestle with it for about an hour, and always end up with the same answer: Nah.

Nah, I don’t feel like being bloated. Nah, I don’t feel like going to the store to even buy the stuff–too lazy. Nah, I don’t have the money–too cheap. Nah, it’s not really going to make the people here more interesting–too cynical. Nah, I don’t want to feel blurry-headed during, and like UTTER HELL the next day. Nah, I don’t know how it’s going to affect me now, and I’m too comfortable in my sobriety, wearing my fuzzy sober socks and zoning out to HGTV, that I can’t even be bothered to drink. Nah, it’s just not enough anymore. I don’t know if all this is good, bad, or in between; but I’ve come to embrace it as one more step forward, somehow.

I’ve also had lots of issues coming to the forefront this week, and I can’t not deal. I need to deal, and I know–KNOW–that drinking wine means putting off dealing. I mean, here they are, my core issues, and I am in a right (sober) mind where I simply can no longer NOT think in detail about why and how and what regarding these things.

What’s coming up? Forgiveness and self-love. Or, lack thereof when it comes to both. They’ve been in my pot, boiling, coming up to the surface every so often, showing their faces. Ugly faces, sometimes. How to do both? I guess…I really don’t know. I never learned how.

I’ve been busily bumping along–thankfully, I am busy. However, I’ve also felt near-constant anxiety. Here and there; sometimes big gusts of adrenaline that don’t subside until my interviews are done, or until I’ve once again managed to pitch a story idea or write about a scientific concept/field of study that is seriously mind-numbingly difficult to grasp. (Ugh; first order of business when I get my ducks in a row: finding a way to earn a living that pays my bills AND doesn’t make my brain hurt.)

I’m not one to manifest physical symptoms, but, lately, it’s all I can do to not feel the adrenaline pooling in my belly; a certain restlessness at night (I swear, I haven’t slept more than three or four hours in a row for like, over a year); intermittent brain fog, which, I have to say, sometimes feels like it might break into voices in my head…which obviously would be bad and scares me, so the past two times it’s happened I’ve just gone to sleep, hoping that it will be gone in the morning. And it has been. But…it’s weird.

I am chalking it up to my overreacting to the brother’s girlfriend; some days, I’m fine, ready to tackle the wedding, and don’t really care what she thinks or does when we see each other. Other days, it’s all bad, and I feel sick with nerves, and my preoccupation fills my brain to the point where I can’t work. Those days suck, and I berate myself for letting her get to me, but, honestly, I just don’t know what to do but accept it as a bad day, hope tomorrow is better, and continue to meditate to incense and Tibetan healing bells (yes, I do this).

So, there’s this happening. I have to say, though, this has got to be it, right? Like, if I can make it through learning forgiveness AND self-love…can’t I make it through anything? And, the past few days, I’ve really come to accept that IF someone (ahem, you know who) chooses to hold a grudge, there really is nothing stopping me from not caring, from continuing along my path. I will continue to live, to smile, to laugh, to be happy and free; continue to learn and strive; to be sober, or not, if I choose. In the end, whatever I do, it just doesn’t matter what she does. It doesn’t matter ONE BIT to me what or how she is to me at the wedding. This is good-day thinking, and I simply hope it lasts, and I’m getting somewhere. I’ve realized that she is a small, small person; and these days, I don’t do small people. I don’t have to. As Belle says, Look away.

Darwin was right: we evolve

4 Mar

11:47 am

Not much to report. Aside from realizing that I might be mentally ill after all and that everything–and I mean, everything–in life is disposable. You know, just another day at the sober office.

Seriously, I’ve had all these thoughts lately, some of them related to drinking but more of them related to HOW I lived this past decade and WHY I may have turned to alcohol increasingly to self-soothe, escape, and deny. I was re-reading an old journal I wrote on a trip to Costa Rica back in 2003–I was 29 at the time, going through the seemingly-ludicrous “OMG, 30 equals the END OF MY LIFE” crisis–and man, was I hurting. I was in so much pain. I was mentally unstable, in a way. I mean, really really really up in my head, really paranoid, really all about MOI. I was reliving my teenage years then, so was vain in a way that left me feeling empty–that much I already knew. But, I didn’t realize how my behavior must have turned off those around me…? I don’t know. It just screams, pain, this journal; and frankly, I’m sad that I had to go through that, and a little pissed off, too. It seems like such a waste of time.

Life is such bullshit sometimes for people with mental problems! I envy these happy-go-lucky folks who just don’t seem to care as much–like, they just move on, relate, equate, donate. It’s not a big deal. Life has always been too big of a deal for me, you know? And, I see the obvious now. I am not calling you–or me–mentally “ill” in a bad way; but, when I see how anxious and angry I was back then, I see someone who might have benefited from pharmaceuticals, talk therapy, relationship counseling. Oh, well, 20-20 hindsight, right? You live and learn, right? Life is a journey of the spirit, right?

So much pain. And, interestingly, I was drinking two beers a night back then. It really wasn’t until 2004 that I moved into “raging drunk” (literally) territory–and, that was pretty fast, huh? To go from not really thinking about my two-beers-a-night thing (I remember beer helped me relax, and put me in a sleepy, turn-it-off state) to downing bottles of red wine and blacking out and banging things like my laptops, and phones, and keyboards, and bookshelves? I guess that journal sort of represented the precipice that I stood on: miserable, and about to fall much, MUCH lower.

I’m not sure what to think of all of this. I mean, it’s definitely made me scold myself and my judgments of other “mental cases” (my brother’s girlfriend, my father who is seriously depressed, friends and fellows who are going through the up’s and down’s of life)–I mean, *I* was a fucking mental case back then, and I subtly and craftily denied it for all these years. I KNEW I was hurting, depressed, broken-hearted; I withheld a lot of information, and in my mind, I was raging. However, I was also still me: ambitious, kind, diligent.

I evolved, though. I made it through that year, got into grad school, moved cross-country, began a new life. The booze followed, obviously. And the “thinking problem.” But, I evolved. People evolve. I can look back and say, since 2003–and, I think it really took off with me finally just giving up and getting sober–I’ve learned how to usher out a lot of those extraneous and often overanalytical thoughts. I used to believe I needed to think a LOT about everything all the time. And, as a writer/journalist, that mentality forms the backbone of our profession. However, in sobriety, I learned about letting go–I have to in order to stay sober. I just don’t need to think that much about things–and that is OK.

I think the lesson for me this past week has been, be more aware of where people are coming from. That doesn’t mean let people get away with acting like assholes–there’s a fine line, and if we’ve been sober for a while, we can tell who is worth it and who isn’t. And, if I ever have children, intervene. Butt in! Express my concern. Don’t ignore it or avoid it because it makes me feel uncomfortable. Don’t act out of denial. The long-term repercussions of that are immense.

Today is two weeks away from me turning ONE YEAR SOBER! Woot woot! I’ve thought about drinking again, but I’m quick to wonder, WHY THE FUCK would I do that? So, don’t go throwing up your hands just yet. I mean, the truth is, I don’t know what will happen if I drink again–will I even like it? I can pretty much count on the obsession coming back (It’s 5, can I drink now? What about a little earlier today, maybe 3:30? Can I drink now? What about now?). And, if there’s one thing I’m constantly aware of, it’s this LACK OF OBSESSION. The cravings have dwindled to pretty much being nonexistent. Like, they’re mental cravings now, weak at best; not visceral. And, to live knowing that I can do things–work and run and go out to dinners and attend a wedding–without wanting to drink? Man, that is priceless.

It’s like, I am on even ground now, the Earth is no longer shifting. Even ground means there is no uphill or downhill, just flat. I can walk on flat. I can walk on with my life, on flat ground. I don’t have to run around to find good shoes or a knee brace. My heart rate never goes up, and I never lose my breath. My back doesn’t hurt going up, and my knees don’t hurt going down. I like this, I really, really do. It’s just so much easier now.

Sure, in my mind, I have cravings. Little ones. Sometimes. Then I remember my last drunk and think, But, it wasn’t that good because…I didn’t even get buzzed. I just passed out.

It’s in my heart where I have to be careful. It KNOWS, but it wants, too. What, exactly, it wants (It can’t be wine, it just can’t be, right?), I’m not sure.

And, it’s time to Turn It Off before I write the wrong ending to my story. 🙂

Don’t give up before your motivation returns

5 Nov

2:46 pm

So, in getting sober, I’ve realized that there are things about myself that I know. Things that simply make me “me,” that are neither things that I have to accept nor things that I have to change. They are things that just ARE, and these things are OK.

Like, I’ve always been an overachiever. Some of this behavior was maladaptive, but to a certain degree, I was just born this way. I THRIVE off stress, off getting things done. A LOT of people do, I’m not saying I’m special. In fact, I’ve been wondering about this ever since I got sober. Why have I been struggling so much this past year? Well, I’ve been lacking in motivation because I don’t have wine anymore, that’s true, but I’ve also been going against my grain. Why do I need to go, go, go? Why do I like big cities, with all their ambitious people and innovative ideas and commotion and conflict? I don’t know! I just DO. That’s me.

The past few days have been awesome–large to-do lists, lots of information and sources to research, too much to do, all of it competing for my time. I got off on working in environments like this–for years I worked in the startup industry, and when I went back to corporate America, I can look back now and say that’s when I became depressed. When I went back to graduate school and was once again stretched to my limit, I was on top of the world again! Too bad I didn’t know how to manage my stress and my expectations–my “workaholism,” I suppose I could call it.

It’s always been a fine line for me, but in re-reading my journal from this year last night, I can say this much: I was my most enthusiastic after returning from a weekend visit back to NYC; and, I have never been more vexed, in general, than this past year struggling with too little to do and no motivation to do it.

No motivation was a daily thing in my journal, from about March until, well, now. It’s seriously been a theme in my getting sober. It was a constant struggle, and I blogged about it quite a bit. Now? I feel like there’s been some movement, something’s changed. My brain is healing, for real. Chemicals and circuits are getting back in shape. And, I can honestly say that it’s been like a missile landing in my lap, this return of my motivation levels. What a relief.

My focus, my desire to work, and my ability to manage my time–it’s all back, so it seems. I can “parse” information even better than I remember I could. For example, I seem to have learned how to say “Fuck it” to my perfectionist tendency to get lost in the details when reporting, and instead, focus on the bigger picture, the gist of it. What I need to know is who to contact; what I don’t need to know is their field of expertise (that’s why I’m interviewing them), OR–and this is key–whether or not they’re going to think I’m stupid or ill-prepared. That’s none of my business, what they think of me. (And, they simply don’t think of me, is the point. When I was drinking, I was always so concerned with what others were supposedly thinking about me. Ugh.)

It really does seem that it’s happened only within the past several weeks, maybe a month or two at most–along with motivation, I find myself focusing less on the “what if’s” and trying to perfect the outcome, and more on the “why not?” and “just do it.”

I almost gave up. I was so frustrated that I was going to be “brain-dead” forever. It’s been almost 17 months since I started getting sober, so, seeing my focus and motivation needing that long to come back is DEFINITELY a deterrent to me starting to drink again (even in moderation, whatever that means).

These past few weeks, I feel new. Renewed. A version 3.0 of myself. (I was going to say 2.0, but I think at 39, I’ve already had at least one major upgrade, right?)

The point of this post is, don’t give up! It will come. As Carol said on “Walking Dead” on Sunday’s episode (because you never know where you’re going to find sober inspiration!):

How do you not feel afraid? You just fight it and fight it and fight it and then one day, you’re not afraid anymore. We all change.

Laura Parrott Perry

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