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Where’d DDG go? I’m right here, Elliott

9 Mar

11:44 am

And like Elliott, it’s been so long since I checked in on him, he grew up into a man!

Hi, guys.  WOW, I don’t think I’ve chased around this much in my life since, well, I worked a full-time job back in my cold, big-city days.  And even then, I managed to ALSO live a double life, drinking away four, five, six hours every night.  HOW on EARTH did I work, eat, work out, AND drink five hours every night–and still maintain a handful of friendships, an often-bordering-on-broken romantic relationship, and make phone calls to the family every Sunday night?

In case you haven’t been reading my oh-so-interesting posts about my struggle with what I’m just calling “hot flushes” (as opposed to hot flashes), let me quickly say:  I have been having this “thing” that happens to me pretty much constantly, wherein, my skin feels very hot all over, but I also shiver.  And I don’t sweat.  And this lasts for hours, days, weeks, sometimes months at a time.  I chalked it up to perimenopausal weirdness that I can’t do much about.  However, when I went to a gynecologist, she was like, that doesn’t sound like hot flashes; and then, when I went to an endocrinologist, she was like, the symptoms you’re describing, I’ve only seen in ONE other patient in my entire career, and, your blood tests say that you’re body is hypothyroid but your symptoms are hyperthyroid (figures).  So, there might be more going on here than I originally thought.

Anyway, this is all just to say, the way I’ve been dealing with this is by taking a hot/cold shower at night, which means, over about 20 to 30 minutes in the shower, I change the temperature of the water from hot to cold, eventually ending with cold when my skin can tolerate it; somehow, it like, “resets” my body’s interpretation of its temperature.  SO WEIRD, I know.

As I was methodically going through my nighttime routine last night, I was like, huh, what would my nights be like now, if I was still drinking until 2 or 3 or 4 am?  I mean, would I still be drinking?  I would definitely not be taking care of myself the way I have to each and every night these days, just to be able to get to sleep; like, maybe I would just pass out and avoid feeling the body heat, avoid having to meditate myself down from feeling stressed about it, avoid having to take a series of deep breaths (I have what seems to be related irregular heartbeats, too–doh!)…?  Would I just pass out and avoid it altogether?  Probably not, which means, I’d somehow have to juggle it all.

Which, well, I wouldn’t be juggling it, and my life would be falling down…

And it just made me see how important my sobriety actually is right now, and how grateful I am to be ABLE to care for myself at night (and that doesn’t include forgetting about it all by passing out).

This year, 2019, has just been blowing me over–I will bend, but I will not break, one of my high school teachers used to quip.  And, I guess that could sum up the past three months for me, being bowled over by the seeming-hurricane winds of my neverending to-do list!  It’s all good, though, and I’m glad I’m making it through the days–and the nights.

Since the last time I blogged, I’ve become entrenched in my new job.  I started it about three months ago, and I feel like I haven’t looked up from the page since then.  I have to preface this by saying, it IS a nonprofit, and I DID have some inkling about the workload (large), but, I am constantly reminded that I gave up a job that was pretty cut-and-dry for something that is anything but that.  I will say this:  there are things I like about it, and things I don’t, and that’s where I’ll leave it.

There is one thing that stands out, and that is having to–gasp–speak in public at a work retreat the other week.  If there is anything that causes me anguish, aside from nighttime body heat and insomnia, it’s gearing up to speak in front of a group.  I may have talked about this before on my blog, but when I was in graduate school, I started having panic attacks related to drinking; and then, during one of my seminars, for which we had to give a lot of individual presentations, I suddenly froze up, my heart start hammering in my chest, and I became so anxious that I could barely speak.  One of my generous classmates stared me down, and as we locked eyes, she was able to move me out of that place.  From that point forward–that happened over a decade ago–I have not been able to escape feeling the same intense physical reaction to speaking in front of a group.  Someone recently told me that it sounds like PTSD.

Well, at this work thing, I had to do just that–I have been successful at avoiding it, but really, you can’t avoid it for the rest of your life; there will be times when you have to get up in front of a group of people and talk.  And, of course, all the same things started to happen when my name was called:  yammering heart, whirling mind, the literal inability to breathe such that, I come across as either winded or stuttering when I am actually talking.  But, because I had no choice, I started talking and just went through it.  I apologized a few times, stumbled over my words, was breathless at least twice and had to stop and inhale and apologize again; BUT, I went through it, made it to the end, and by the end of those five minutes, I was at least still talking.  And breathing.

It was good for me to see that I could get through it.  No one is going to die, I thought.  With that new knowledge, I realized, well, if I can get through it by just going through it to the end, sticking it out to the end; then, I should be able to apply that practice to my night heat–I just have to go through my routine, wait to cool down, and wait to fall asleep.  I don’t know why, exactly, but it was just really empowering to see that I COULD get through speaking in public–it was painful, and I will avoid it, but I CAN do it, if I have to–the same way that every night since I started my new routine, I eventually DO cool down, and eventually do fall asleep.

Of course, you can apply this to sobriety!  You CAN get through those nights of horrible cravings, those days of zero-dopamine lack-of-motivation, those months of want and lack and sadness about losing your “everything.”  You can and will get through it if you just keep going.  Just keep not drinking, no matter what and how you feel.  You will make it through to the end.  No one is going to die.  You got this.  (notes to self, literally, in my journal every day, to this day)

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Getting all Marie Kondo on this isht

17 Feb

1:03 pm

Just a quick post to say, we got our isht out of storage, the both of us.  And just like that, my “life in Storage Wars” is over.  After 9 ridiculous years, I finally and quite unceremoniously (my love actually cleared out my unit, and I closed out online, so I wasn’t even there) vacated my near-decade old room away from room.  And, the past few weeks, I’ve been going through yet more boxes and bags of clothes, books, pictures, paperwork–tons of CDs, a “Let’s Go: Europe” book from 1993, an MCAT prep guide…all of which are about as valuable to me now as, well, a glass of red wine!

I have to admit, I’ve been feeling pretty damn happy and proud of all the things I’ve done (lived through), and excited about the future.  I mostly let go of this past a long time ago, the one that was weighing me down with should’s and must-do’s, careers that I tried but was never meant for, relationships that ended up YES, teaching me things but also leaving deep psychic scars.  But, I clang to it in some way; hence, a storage unit for 9 years of stuff dating back to 1993 (and earlier!).

It just feels great–mainly, I see now just how HAPPY and GRATEFUL I am to have the life I have now, to have the man I have now, to have the dog and the job I have now (I would not trade schlepping to an office every day for anything anymore, though, I sure had some cool clothes to do it in; I am perfectly content with the low-stress version of what I used to do, and honestly, secretly, I want to make it even MORE low-stress); super-grateful for the memories of 6 years on the island, a move without having made I would probably still in many ways be in that dark place that I was in for decades.  Kind of like a few of my old friends, who still drink, who still do the same jobs, who still cling to that big city as “home”…when there is a whole, colorful (warm) world out there to explore.

I mean, I know our 20s and 30s are not easy, but the searching is of course, necessary; searching for what fits, and doing all sorts of things that just don’t make you happy.  Some people move on quickly, or start doing what they really want almost immediately–others, like me, take years to stop trying to please people who are not ourselves; and frankly, we ALL take years to pay off that student loan debt that is holding us back.

Anyway, it just feels great.  I cannot emphasize enough how ready I am to move on, to move forward, to simply clear out the past.  To really, truly let it go so I can make room in my mind for, well, everything else, maybe even blank space.  In this round of boxes, I’ve found so many items that I clung to for years, that I simply happily and gratefully acknowledged the person or experience’s role in my life, and then threw out.  I think my other boxes, the ones from high school and college, were more difficult to pare down since a lot of that stuff is just stuff that you don’t want to get rid of!  And you shouldn’t.  But these boxes, the stuff from my recent past, well…

Don’t get me wrong, there were and are a lot of things that I want to keep–things like framed pictures of recent trips (well, dating back to the 2000s) that “spark joy” in that they remind me of my growth:  who I was then, and who I became because of those times.  And, they remind me less of the failed relationship or job of that era and more of the actual place, and the experience, and my particular love of the Getty in LA, or the Rodin in Paris–and so, I cherish the now-framed black-and-white photos that hang on my walls here, now, because I still love those places and they still remind me of me.

I don’t know if I believe in purging necessarily; but for some reason, right now, at this time in my life, I am SO ready to retire it all; to retire, in a way.  I have been grinding away for years, and it’s not been all bad, and I wanted a lot of the writing gigs; but right now, I’m ready to put some of it behind me, and start on a new path–truly, one that redefines me, maybe away from writer, science writer, journalist, maybe just more toward creative writer.  I didn’t dream of this as a kid; I dreamt of being a poet, a vet, and later, an anthropologist in Africa.  I’ve dreamt of opening a coffee shop for decades, long before I actually started working as a barista.  I have so many other dreams that have nothing to do with writing, and especially science writing, is what I’m saying; I drank for years to cope with the stress of this work, and with the stress of “should’ing” myself into it.

Lately, and this might sound weird (perimenopause is weird, and no one told me about that mid-40s awesomeness either), but at almost 45, I kind of feel ready to die.  Haha.  It sounds ridiculous, and I mean, ready to die to my old self, and be reborn into a new version of me, the one who I’ve been building and cultivating for years…but who still hasn’t been allowed her long day in the sun.  As I went through my boxes, I found this tube of pink lipstick that dates back to 1994, when I was 20 and studying abroad in Paris.  Yes, a 25-year-old tube of lipstick can be harder to trash than a drinking problem–this is long-term sobriety to me, this eventual letting go and evolution of self, of how we choose to see ourselves in our lives, of who we choose to be.

Sobriety continually gives us choices to be–the same, different, old, new, evolving.  It’s up to us to do what is a scary and constant paring, cleansing, purging…with that elusive goal of sparking joy in our present moment.

The pictures I have hung DO spark joy, and I am relieved and so very happy about this.  I was afraid they wouldn’t, that they would remind me of those times and make me feel nostalgic for my old self, my younger years, the people associated with those times who are no longer here, or in my life (What a waste, one might lament; what’s the point of any and all relationships?); yet, they didn’t.  They don’t.  They spark joy.  I was afraid of my reaction, but you know what, I, too, have changed; I have evolved to prioritize joy over nostalgia and sadness.  Maybe it’s just that so much time has passed, and I can only now appreciate the joy of those moments, the simple beauty of the imagery that made me snap the pictures in the first place.  Only now can I relive the past and feel joy–not because I have forgotten the past, or gotten too old to remember; but because I can see it clearly now, and can find a healthy balance between past and present feeling.  Maybe I am just ready to move on, to retire in a way, to let go of that past in order to make way for a wonderful most-recent past, a present for which I am grateful, and a future that I increasingly believe holds the best yet to come?

Back again to where it all began

5 Feb

10:32 pm

Tonight, I am remembering last August, when I paid a visit to the city where I first got sober in the summer of 2012 (and started this blog!).  My fiance is there now, getting his stuff and hopefully, my stuff out of storage so that we can finally consolidate it all under one roof.  I’ve had my stuff in a storage unit for a ridiculous number of years (I’m too embarrassed to reveal how many; suffice it to say, *I* am that person they write stories about when they want to feature the amount of money people waste on storing stuff that eventually becomes the equivalent of a big, fat ZERO), so this is good.  What is also good is that I am not there with him, having pangs of doubt and longing as I consider cutting my last remaining tie to the city that stole my heart and then, stole my sanity!

I spent 5 years there, and I went back many times since moving away almost 9 years ago, always with the plan that I would move back one day.  Before I left, I put my stuff into storage, and over the course of these many years, have consolidated and moved to a smaller unit, but I never got rid of it.  Of course, I am moving back here, I kept telling myself:  this is where I went to grad school, had amazingly new experiences, became a drunk, had my heart broken and mind burnt with every crushing hangover.  Of course, I have to live out the rest of my days here.  These are my people, this is where I belong.

Not being there to finally say goodbye might be a good thing–to just let it go, finally and forever, from afar.

Anyway, it’s got me thinking about the week I spent in the city this past summer–I tend to go back once a year, to “visit friends” (I literally have no friends anymore in that town except my brother, who has recently moved there part-time), “reconnect with the city/see my old haunts” (I have wasted countless days, walking past old apartments, old bars, old university buildings, being reminded that I am simply chasing a drunken ghost), and, I guess, plan my move back.  Yet, every time I go back, I become slightly less enamored with the place; sure, I will always love it–I went to graduate school there, I became a drunk, I had many life-altering experiences; it’s the place where I spent the first month of my sobriety holed up in a studio, starting this blog in an attempt to finally get sober.  I remember during my last stay this August, I walked by the studio where I got sober and started this blog, and took a picture of the place–again.  I have more than one picture of that place, and of all the other apartments and sublets I lived in in that town.  I can’t let go, and I don’t want to.  Why?

I haven’t lived there in many years–that must tell me something, right, even amidst my rationalizations of why I can’t let it go (because I am still in love with it/that life/that lifestyle/my dreams of that era).  Thing is, I never did come back, and I’m not precisely sure why, except, I couldn’t financially, and I didn’t really want to anyway.  It’s cold, and dark, and my dreams are all intact, inside my mind; I can be anything from anywhere; I can write from anywhere, not just a cold, dark city where I also lost my mind to wine.  The more times I return, the more I see that it is and always will be part of my past–the past is the past, and searching for it is just, well, like I said, chasing your own ghost.  When I look at it that way, I have to wonder, why not just let it go?

These days, I am starting to sort of feel being in my mid-40s:  the whole perimenopausal thing has something to do with it, but I have to say, it comes and goes and right now, I feel totally normal (plus, my blood work came back at almost all normal levels, so that leads me to believe that nope, at the ripe old age of 44, I am definitely not in menopause yet!).  It’s just, when I wander around that city (in particular, but not just that city alone), I am very much aware of the difference between me–and my life, and my state of mind and being, and my sobriety, and all the amazing experiences I have had AFTER leaving that town–and all the 20- and 30-somethings around me.  I have to accept not that I’m not young or that I’m old, but that I’m just not THERE anymore.  My being is telling me to just let it go; it’s too much work holding onto it, and there are so many other things to do, and dreams to be had!  I can–and will–let go of holding onto that past, that idea of who I was in that past.  I am still her, she still is me; but, we are here, now, and we are plugging away, moving and building.  I do not belong to that time, to that past; I belong to me, here and now.

Speaking of which, yes, I continue to build–every day is like laying one lone brick, and hoping it doesn’t fall down or get knocked off by an unexpected wind that came up in the night.  My new job is sort of a lot of work–and YES, YES, I am grateful (it’s good work, and my coworkers are probably the nicest, most fun people on the planet to work with), but…  I miss my old life!  Haha.  I have to admit, I miss the freedom of being, of time, of mind, of dreams that island life granted.  There is just no other way to say this:  I am back in the real world (well, I work from home, but I work every day from 9 to 5, and my day is fairly regimented), but I long to be on that physical and metaphorical island, soaking up the nothingness of the moment, and the magical possibility of the future.  I miss being/feeling “young” (um, I moved there the year I turned 38), which I guess entails a bit of saying “fuck it” and just doing what I want, not caring anymore about achieving and doing “important work,” or participating in the consumer culture of the mainland–I mean, who wouldn’t?  I miss the sense of fullness of soul that comes with no material possessions.  Sure, life here is easier, and I need this “real-world” job so that I can continue to build something that sort of broke down after years as a freelance writer, but…I miss being a freelancer, too!  And, most of all, I miss being a barista–ahh, the simplicity of it, the satisfaction, the sense of ownership of doing something a little bit unique to my story and my past.

I have hope that soon come, after the bricks have been laid, we will move forward, or back to, the place that stirs magic in our hearts.

As for that old city where I got sober and that I might not have any remaining connection to once my manz clears out my storage unit in a few days for me–well, there is nothing left to do but let it go.  Accept what happened, and what has passed; and let holding on, and longing, and the old idea of my younger self–let it go.  I am here now, wherever that may be; I belong to this story, to this place, to this here and now.  And, thank Goddess for that.

The angry insomniac

20 Jan

9:33 pm

Perimenopause is ruining my life.

I actually Googled that the other night–as I was sitting up once again until 5 am, getting more and more, uh, agitated might be the best way of describing it.  Agitated, angry, raging, whatever.

Come to think of it, I don’t know if I’ve EVER felt as angry as I did last night–like, an out of control, desperate anger that not only lingered into the next morning and afternoon, but persisted and felt just as strong upon waking as it did at 5 am!?  I am trying to move on from it, and not hold onto it, but…guys, this feels a little bit WAY too much like a hangover, and I do not like it!

I’ve mentioned that I started experiencing symptoms of perimenopause all the way back in 2013 (when I was 39), but they never really affected my life until the fall of 2015.  It took me until the fall of 2016 to start taking the birth control pill (to even things out–it was amazing and I had no side effects), and not until well, this past year, to really start having “night heat” and insomnia.  Now–and this is what is so damn maddening, especially for someone like myself, an alcoholic control freak–I have no clue if it’s the pill that’s giving me night heat and insomnia, or if it’s the peri.  One thing I do know is that the pill I have just gotten back on in the past few weeks seems to be exacerbating my mental health issues–crying jags, dark thoughts, anger anger anger.  I know I should get off it, but…maybe one more night (I am afraid of that intense body heat at this point, even more than I am of the sleeplessness)…?

So, last night, right on time, my body started to heat up at about 10 pm–it has been doing this for a while, maybe a year on and off; and I’ve fixed it by both going ON and OFF the pill (go figure).  I recently had about two months of continuous heat–it’s like having a fever and the chills, at the same time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; I don’t have hot flashes yet, so these are more like heat flushes that just don’t stop and that seem to come only at night, except for this two-month period where it just didn’t go away.  For some relief, I decided to get on the pill again, and while it has helped some, I have nights where it seems like the pill causes me to both burn up and wake up.  Last night, I was up till 5, and in between all the huffing and puffing, I just got SO ANGRY.  Angrier than I can even define, or have ever felt.

Mind you, I think I HAVE been this desperately, painfully, crazily angry before, but I was blacked on on wine and never actually had to deal with it.  Last night, I just could NOT calm down; I was almost heaving, I felt so angry.  I paced around, cried, heaved silently so my boo couldn’t hear me (he was sleeping); I slammed my fists into my quads, but not hard enough like I did last time to leave marks.  It’s like, I wanted to break things.  I finally fell asleep for a few hours at about 5, and woke to a relatively cooler body.

Though, like when you wake up after a bender, I was still feeling angry.  I went to the gym and pounded out a few miles on the treadmill, which helped but not completely.  By the time we went to see a movie, I felt anxious, and struggled to not have a panic attack throughout the entire length of the film.

Man, it just feels SO much like a hangover–the lack of sleep, the anxiety from the lack of sleep, the fuzzy brain…

I am feeling better now, but, I don’t think, outside from being drunk, I have ever felt more out of control as I did last night and this morning.  Maybe it’s just the lack of sleep, and my reaction to it is anger.  If only it were that simple…

I just want myself back!  I haven’t felt like myself in quite a while, I have to admit.  I am trying to not think about it and hope it just gets better, but I don’t think I can stay on this pill and also have it get better.  I thought I could deal with a few side effects for the relief of not burning up all night, but maybe it’s better to burn up all night?  I am trying to have patience here, but why does it feel like perimenopause is ruining my life (and I don’t even have true hot flashes yet)?  I am going to see my doctor next week, but until then, I guess I’ll really have to work on cultivating a positive space in my mind, reserved for my old self, whenever she happens to come home.  🙂

Recovery…from family time

14 Jul

4:04 pm

I’m back from my 4th of July trip to see my dad and mom, back to back–along with my brother.  And, whoa, Nellie, what a (head) trip, indeed!

See, I’m going to be blunt–and maybe it’s not my place, but I have to talk about it:  both my parents suffer (yes, I know they are in pain, which makes me feel pained) from untreated mental health disorders.  We think my dad has bipolar disorder, I think my mom has anxiety and possibly never-diagnosed OCD, and we know for a fact that they’ve both been treated for depression.  Not a big thang, you know, if everyone involved SEES that they are suffering and makes a CONCERTED EFFORT to get and stay in treatment.  But, you know, they don’t.  They are not.  They try to hide or avoid their issues, and they seem to be too afraid to confront them in order to change.

Of course, I get it!  I could be describing MYSELF when I was in the midst of my drinking disorder!  And, I know it takes what it takes, but…  They are both in their 70s!?  I don’t know what to do most of the time except to practice not reacting the way I want to (in anger) and accept their behavior but try to lead and/or engage them in what I see as “healthier” techniques of relating.  It’s just all very hard when these people are your parents and not some strangers, or even someone else’s parents.  Our shared history and my emotional baggage makes it harder to not react emotionally.

It makes me angry to see both of them not really ever seeming to resolve anything on the inside, but mostly, it is just draining to have to deal with it.  I felt so drained coming home, and it took me days to stop being really angry and reactive and just heavy-hearted and like my brain had been scrambled.  To make matters worse, they had these issues growing up, and they affected me in a big way–it took me years to even realize what bizarre coping mechanisms I had developed let alone start dealing with them so that they stopped negatively impacting all of my own relationships, from personal to professional!

I SO want to just out them sometimes, to yell and scream, to tell them “what is wrong with them.”  But, I don’t.  It just doesn’t seem…worthwhile.  I’ve thought about writing a letter, which would allow me to be more measured and empathetic, but again, it just seems like it might be a waste of time.  Plus, I’m not ready to go there AFTER the letter has been read, as in, I don’t have the desire to be that open right now, as their daughter, and/or the ability to play the role of psychologist.  So, I just leave it–with my mom, I think she is trying to work on some of her problems, and my dad, well, I kind of consider him a lost cause at the moment because he’s manic, and it seems like a hallmark trait of mania is that until the person hits bottom, they honestly don’t believe there is anything wrong with their thoughts and behaviors.

It was great, though, to get caught up on on this stuff, and to be with each other, and to just be real.  And a part of me feels sure that somehow, seeing their kids helps them stabilize a bit, normalizes whatever tangent their emotional or thought disorder has taken them on–I imagine our kid-parent bond as a powerful antidote, at least temporarily, to feeling estranged from themselves; it helps me, in a way, to feel less estranged from life, to reel me back into something bigger than myself, gives me a sense of order again, helps me find “myself” again, at least one that I recognize.  I hope that I’m right, and it makes me realize that I should see them more often (I hadn’t actually seen my mom for two years, and with my dad, it had been a year…but before last year, it was three years!).

You would think that all of this would have made me want to drink, and I admit, there were a few moments when I really did think a glass of wine would make it easier to just escape, to get rid of the bad feelings, to disappear for a while.  Of course, I didn’t; I had plenty of time to think about ALL that I’ve worked for the past six years, and how, really, one drink would lead me back to where I was when I started writing this blog in June, 2012.  I’ve had quite a few moments, too, in the past month or so, when I’ve felt SO FUCKING BORED here, in my new home, that I have wanted to “start drinking again.”  It’s weird how in this case, it’s not a glass of wine I want, but the entire habit, or activity, of “drinking again.”

Not to worry:  they are just thoughts, and I have every reason in the world to NOT start drinking again.  In fact, just this morning, as I was listening to a podcast about a man who lost the use of his lower body from a drinking and driving accident, I just felt so…horrible for him, and disgusted for him, but also grateful for the simple beauty of the GRAND, POWERFUL act of getting sober, of being sober.  It does keep going, and it does get better, and I am still feeling wonder-full about it all–in spite of family pressures, and in spite of the occasional side of boredom that comes with the eggs and toast of life!  (haha)  Have a great Saturday, all!

Perchance to dream

16 Apr

4:26 pm

I had to look up this quote from Hamlet to make sure I wasn’t using it totally out of context–no, I have no intention of ending my own life, but the phrase conjures this idea of dreaming, of an uncertainty toward the future precisely because you have one.  I like this.  That is what I mean, perchance to dream…

I haven’t been writing much lately mainly due to the fact that life just feels busy–has felt busy, for going on years now.  I average one post a month here, and sometimes I feel like I have more to say, and sometimes I feel like I have nothing more to say.  So it goes with writing, I guess.

Anyway,  my brain has felt overloaded for the past too many months, with doing what needs to be done:  all the little details of work, earning a living, making life happen.  Two weeks ago, my contract job ended, and I don’t know if it will come back to me as a full-time role, and I know I don’t necessarily need to work for a few months–well, it’s the first chance I’ve had to breathe, to clear my head, to DREAM in a good long several years now.  Shit!  It’s been years since I pitched a journalistic story!?  It’s been years in the making, my to-do list of personal projects and ideas!  YEARS, friends, not months!  And, how GREAT does it feel to finally, at last, have some real time off in my new city (well, it’s suburbia, but it’s been home for three months now).

I feel like I can finally take that much needed step away from the daily grind, enjoy a slower pace, see what there is to see in this new home, and really look at what I’ve been spending my mind time doing–finally use this time to DREAM.

I need time to figure out what’s next.  We’ve been living states-side for about three months, and frankly, we don’t like it.  Well, no:  we LIKE the conveniences and cleanliness very much; what we don’t love is, well, the TOO much convenience, and the TOO much cleanliness!?  I know this feeling, as I felt it when I came back to America a couple years ago for a while after having lived in the islands for a few years.  It felt sterile, and the consumerism was just too much–cars and malls, malls and cars.

Now, that sense of “buy buy buy” is acutely intense–everything is about buying and selling here, and nothing feels to be about community, or “culture,” as it were.  I sort of hated the “culture” when we were in the islands, as I never felt all that welcome; now, all I see here is a lack of character, and a lack of history in some parts, which kind of lends a certain soullessness to the place.  On the other hand, I am grateful to be here, to have been able to finish out my contract in a new apartment with easy access to green space and with reliable, always-on utilities!  So, it’s not all bad.

So, yes, perchance to dream?  It’s a luxury that many people don’t often get.  In this mental space, though, I’ve noticed that a LOT of self-judgment is coming up, and I guess I should see this as a chance to work on simply accepting how I feel, and going with my gut, and not judging it as bad, or wrong.  We all have gut feelings about people, places, and things.  I am not sure why, but for most of my life, I did what I “should,” and not necessarily what I wanted–partly, it was and continues to be about deciphering calling from job; and discarding things that I simply don’t like or don’t suit me, that don’t make my brain hurt or scare me to death but that challenge me just enough to feel fulfilled.

These things change, and I am pretty sure that they will keep on changing–what fulfilled me in my teens and 20s is no longer what I want or need to do now!  So, instead of judging the way I feel about being here, in this new place; instead of punishing myself because I “should” like it–why not honor those feelings, and embrace them for what they are, which is guiding lights?  I need all the guiding light I can get right now, and so, embracing how I feel, actually honoring my feelings instead of hating on myself for having them, well that seems KEY to future happiness.

Perchance to dream–I will let you know what I come up with!  For now, it includes finally working on finishing the start of a big writing project; checking out the barista scene here; taking some camping trips (one reason we moved out here was to be able to camp and see all the great natural wonders of the West; we didn’t realize that a desert climate has all sorts of variables that might slow us down, like wind, and lack of humidity, and dangerously high temperatures); looking into finally moving from corporate work to nonprofit or NGO or disaster response (I once dreamed of getting a degree in public health, and maybe that’s something, too)…the list goes on, and I am super-duper grateful for days like today, when I feel “up” enough to not be overwhelmed, when I feel energized and clear-brained and well-rested enough to WANT to do all these things.  NOT always the case, folks; there have been quite a few days here when I haven’t felt like doing anything, where I’ve been wondering, will I ever feel excited the way I used to, about doing all these things on my “bucket list?”

It brings me ’round to mentioning that yup, over the past few weeks into months, I have wanted to start drinking red wine again, mainly for the “anticipation celebration” effect.  When I was getting sober, I wrote a lot about how drinking seemed to fuel a long many years in my life of achievement-oriented work, play, goals.  I drank in order to get excited to do things–and it worked, as wine drops dopamine, and your entire system just feels excited, and MOTIVATED–and I drank while I was striving for “excellence” and “achievement” in order to reward myself for all this freaking brain-crushing, soul-sucking “excellence” and “achievement.”  It was as if–and maybe it was actually so–my entire life of striving was built on the anticipation and then, reward of wine after a “job” well done.

So, when I quit drinking, and even now, of course, I struggle with feeling excited to do stuff!  Like, at night, I often feel I’ve done nothing, or not enough, with my day; I felt that way before I quit drinking, and I would mask it by downing wine.  I can’t hide from these feelings anymore, and I still have them, and I struggle at night when it’s time for bed and I’m like, I feel SO GOD DAMNED BORED but yet of all the MILLION things I could be doing, I don’t want to do any of them.  So, I go to bed, moping, feeling defeated, depressed, wondering, what’s the point here?  I am SO squandering my talents, my time, my LIFE.

Wow.  I know, I am neurotic, and it’s helped and hurt me.  What I am saying is, lately, I have been wanting to drink out of a sense of frustration at night (I am so not sexy anymore, here, this wine will make me feel young and hot again–NOT…haha) and a sense of existential panic (I feel so bored and so maybe I should read or write, but I SO don’t feel like doing that, and I can’t escape both feelings so here, let me have this wine to just erase the fuck out of all of this nonsense–NOT…haha).  Of course, I have no intention of drinking again, I stay firm, but, it’s not to say that this wispy idea hasn’t been coming back to me over and over again, sneaking its way into my “Oh, that sounds like a good idea” thought patterns…  I know I could benefit from meditation, and it’s something that has helped me in the past.

It’s a process, but I stand firm because I KNOW that drinking is not going to change ANYTHING but the cosmetic appearance (to myself) of my life; that I will wake up with the same face, black eyeliner smeared into bruise-like patterns where rouge and lipstick should be, wondering why I just spent $50 on wine and wasted another night?

Anyway, perchance to dream, and inhale, and exhale, all while sober–how lucky am I!

Redefining yourself sober

30 Aug

11:40 am

I know, I know, it’s been a while.  Seems that once we finally do make it through that whirlwind of sh*& called getting sober, and actually ARE sober, and actually have a ton of amazing and good and interesting things going on, to write about–we stop writing about it!  I, for one, have always tended to write, to express myself, in general, only when I’m experiencing negative emotions.  I always used to drink when I felt bad, to self-soothe, not necessarily to party or celebrate (sure, on the surface it was to party, but really it was to pass time, to avoid committing to spending time, to soothe my social anxiety in group settings, etc.).  Anyway, I’m still here, and still have a lot to write about–being sober is challenging enough, but writing about daily life challenges without whining about being or getting sober is, well, one of the hardest things I’ve had to try to do!

Another thing that I’ve found a LOT harder than I would have thought before getting sober (I know who I am, pfft) is redefining myself.  Man, this is hard.  Everything from how I feel and how I express how I feel, to managing my emotions, to figuring out not only what I want to do, but if it’s OK to actually do what I want to do–all this stuff relates to figuring out how to be sober, how to LIVE sober.  And, it’s a process.  It’s been about 5 years since I got sober, and most of the time I’ve spent getting there.  Now, I’m definitely here (sure, I have a twinge now and then of wanting my old self back, my old life, but it never lasts long and it almost doesn’t make sense to my brain anymore to feel this way), and I’m like, now what?

Of course, I’ve figured it out along the way, but it hasn’t been without angst.  And, every day, I wake up wondering, now what?  Not in the sense of, what am I going to do today?  I have my freelance career (as it stands, I don’t write as much as I work for one place, doing one thing, getting paid once every week–woop!), and my life here, which I try to live to the fullest (walking dogs, meeting friends–err, investing in a social life is still a huge problem area for me–doing yoga, working out, eating out, traveling here and there, etc.).  It’s just…there are all these other things that sort of don’t come naturally that I have to work on–and I often sincerely wonder if “normies” have to “work” on them, or if they just live them, and move on?

Some of these things include wondering what to do next, and how to make it happen; wondering if I should invest in a home, a piece of land, a business, or…a new career; learning how to not feel, in general, that the world is an abrasive, combative place toward me; managing my moods (which have been SERIOUSLY controlled for the better simply by going on the pill last year) such that I don’t let the negative feelings and thoughts set my course for the day and disturb not only my experience of the events but also my productivity…  So many daily things that, well, maybe are new because you grow and change and that is life; or, maybe are new to me because while I was drinking, I was able to avoid dealing with them.  I did what I “had” to do, or thought I should be doing, and then I downed myself in wine every night in order to not have to deal with the stress, or manage the pain, or confront the why and how of the stress and pain in the first place.

Exhale–it’s still my mantra these days.  I realize that there is a higher brain, a higher power, and maybe I’ve sort of neglected the “getting sober” lessons that were so animated in my early sober days/years?  I don’t think about getting or being sober, and I’m kind of starting to think that I need–not want–to put myself back there.  Not to avoid picking up again–that’s unfortunately over, over–but to…I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, MOVE FORWARD IN MY SOBRIETY.  I feel stuck, and it’s because I’m not dealing, or confronting.  I’m being, and to be is great.  However, I think I need more.

I think we’re definitely going to move this fall–it’s a big deal, a big change, one that I know we need to do and want to do, but that will bring a lot of bittersweetness (I know what mainland life is about, and I know what this life is about, and I think my soul likes this life better, but my spirit needs out of this place–you know?).  I bring it up because I think once we do hit the road, I’m going to look into finding a counselor to work through some of this…confusion, I guess is the best word to describe it.  I saw someone a few months into getting sober, and it helped, so maybe this will help me iron out some of those big folds in the landscape?

Hope all are well, and here’s to blogging more often!  (Jeez!)

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