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Who you are vs. who you want to be

14 May

6:14 pm

So, as you all know, we moved to a new place about three months ago, and we’re managing to stay sane, I suppose!  Being in a new place, my contract job having ended, and neither of us really all that extroverted or desiring to be so–it just sort of sucks!  It is NOT EASY moving somewhere new in your 40s!  Haha.  You sort of just don’t feel like any of it anymore, you know?  I knew that I would feel more comfortable in one of the many places that I have already lived, but I thought, take a chance, go outside your comfort zone (again), yada yada yada.  I think we have both realized that there is a point of diminishing returns when it comes to aging and trying certain new things, like, moving to a new place.  I don’t know.

And, this has all made me start thinking about this whole, “go outside your comfort zone” thing, which I’ve been trying to do my whole life, to varying degrees of success.  Like, what IS a comfort zone, and why do we have this idea of it being a bad thing?  Are you supposed to be doing something that makes you feel comfortable, most like yourself; or are you supposed to be challenging yourself and doing things that are hard or scary or too big to chew?  I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I just can’t stand writing anymore, and I want to do something else; but, when I boil it down and observe myself in action–you know, being who I am, or who I have always gravitated toward being–I realize that I AM simply a writerly type (quiet, thoughtful, introverted, so at ease in my thoughts) and then, can’t seem to conclude that I should do something else.

Yet, what IF I didn’t want to be that thing anymore?  Can I just go and be someone else entirely, throwing off the “callings” and character traits that I always seem to relax into, and instead do something that I think would make me the person I want to be (less in my head, more active, more intrepid, as it were)?  I have thought about this a lot in getting sober, in moving through it all, in relocating, in losing yet another job that I didn’t really want in the first place but that I was “good” at and that I made money doing.  Are you supposed to be who you are, or work at being who you want to be?

I am SO fully on board right now with trying to be who I want to be–with putting in that work–because I am so tired of who I am.  I am so tired of being the neurotic writer, the science geek.  It’s like, I wasn’t that good at science and wanted to major in freaking poetry in college (yeah, the fear started way back then, and it is one of my life’s regrets)!?  Um, when as a child did I say, Mommy, I really want to be a…technical writer when I grow up?  Time is running out, y’all.  And not only that, but I am sort of becoming desperate to NOT be in my head all day–even IF it means taking a huge pay cut…at a time in my life when I need all the money I can get.

The other day, as I was contemplating who I am (a writer) versus who I want to be (maybe a public health professional, maybe someone who works for an international development nonprofit or NGO), I was struck by how confusing it is to decide who to be:  which person (the one you are, the one you want to be) is more authentic, more truthful, more along the lines of fulfilling a personal destiny?

It’s a dilemma.  As a writer, I am always looking for work, selling myself, and moving from contract to contract, subject to subject.  I mean, it would almost be easier to be a lawyer, or anything with a well-formed trajectory, and then at a certain point be like, it’s too late to change course.  As a writer, part of your job is changing course, so you are constantly also thinking about courses outside of your own realm (well, at least some of us are).

I am trying to sort of end this chapter in my life, but I have only ideas, and not enough savings, and a heavy dose of fear.  I hate that.  I hate feeling afraid at this late stage–I am 43 years old, and it’s only been in the past several years or so that I wouldn’t have just up and left a well-paying job to pursue a shitty paying passion.  And, I am grateful for that newfound level-headedness (it has enabled a lot of financial progress and big changes, like this move), but I’m also still learning how to balance my need to earn a big check with my equally large need to feel stimulated, excited, fulfilled, wanting to get out of bed in the morning.  I know there are many an alternate career I can pursue, and I just need to sit down and chart a course of action beyond the next few months.  All in due time, I say.

I gave up freelance writing because it did not pay the bills; and, I think it might have just tired me out and made me believe that I didn’t like writing when in fact, it was the stress of never making enough money.  I WANT to be like, eh, I don’t need the savings, the retirement account; I should just Go For It and become a barista (again), or a teacher, or a poorly paid writer for an international NGO.  Yet, can I expect to feel safe, or, the way I want to feel, on that kind of income anymore?  In an ideal world, we would have a thriving business, which would allow me to pursue a more “passionate” career again; in THIS world, maybe we would both feel equal parts comfortable and challenged; in this world, maybe I would love being a writer again.

Exhale.  It will all be OK, I keep telling myself.  You got this.  It’s all about balance, right?

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Writing and cold cities

27 Nov

11:45 am

Hey, folks, Well, I’m here, back at it, and ready to be fierce.  NOT!  Happy Thanksgiving to all, and a kickoff of the holiday season!  For some, that means painful memories, for others, it means an uber-busy next few months.  For me, it means both, and cookies, and cakes, and just continuing to be grateful–5-plus years later–that I am here, and not there.  Here, having this life, with its ups and downs; and not there, drinking my everything away, and all the possible everything’s, too.

I realized recently that part of what is causing me to feel less than whole is that I’ve stopped writing.  Even writing this makes me feel a bit sick in the pit of my belly–anxious, actually.  Must must must start writing again!  I think  my depression, and self-loathing (to be blunt, I hate myself more than a little when I don’t write or create), is caused by this.  There is no magic in my world if I’m not writing, or, in general, being creative.  I look at this blog and think, what happened to that girl?  She is still here, she’s just not writing.  And therefore, not feeling quite whole.

The hurricanes have turned our world upside down, and rearranged our lives.  I miss going to the beach; I miss running on said beach road.  I miss knowing that while I’m in the middle of the ocean, things are FINE here–things are NOT fine here, and things won’t be fine for a while.  There are uncertainties that won’t–can’t–be ironed out.  There are things and faces and places that are never coming back.  And, while I want to ignore this reality, it’s there, the new “normal,” as everyone down here keeps repeating.

I refuse to give up, though, on figuring out what, exactly, I need and want right now.  It’s not wine, it might be hormones, it could be a move (while we have made our exit plan, which is both saddening and enlivening to me, I know changing locations is not going to change what’s going on inside my head and heart, fundamentally), and it most definitely is to start writing/being creative more.  I won’t give up!  And, I won’t stop choosing to be happy, content, grateful, and empowered by that choice.

I flew home last week after about 3 weeks away.  I am glad to be home, with my loves, in the light (literally; cities just might not be in my cards anymore because they are so dark, so angular); and one main thing I realized when I was there, in the big city, is that if I’m honest, I don’t really want that lifestyle anymore.  And, that it is OK to be angry and that instead of fighting the anger, the sadness, the whatever negativity I’m feeling, I should just accept it.  Huh?  The thought sort of bowled me over:  accept and don’t judge your negative feelings instead of exhausting yourself trying to outrun them.  I’m going to try the former and see what happens.

And, so, yeah, cities.  Drinking and going out in cities, which is what I did and how I defined myself for so long.  Not anymore.  I mean, YAH, it really is a bit more heartening to go out for a pink twilit walk with the dogs than to be walking into a pub, ready to temporarily and artificially enhance my mood!  It really is better this way, soooo much better.  Even when I feel quite lonely here–alone as we all do now and then on our solo paths and journeys–I know that I have this world within that is never-changing, that is always bathed in that pink moonlight, that is there to hold me, to embrace me, and to tell me that It Will Be OK.

It Will Be OK.

That is default setting when you’re sober.  When you’re not, default setting is, The World Sucks and Nothing Will (Ever) Be OK.

Walking into a cold bar to drink among cold non-friends?  Eh, no thanks anymore.  I choose light, and happiness, and maybe even accepting the darkness so I can move through it without fear.  Huh, maybe cold cities have more to teach me than I thought?

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!  🙂

There are lulls, but never lows

5 Nov

2:02 pm

In sobriety, there are lulls–such as the rather lengthy one I’m going through now–but never lows.  I mean, not the kind of lows I had while drinking.  In fact, I’d say sobriety is really one (life)long high, with lulls.

Right now, I’m trying to regain some energy or focus or something that I feel I’ve lost.  Or, lost within.  I’m not off caffeine yet, and I’m still running around (figuratively), doing work to make money and not doing writing to make myself fulfilled.

All in due time.  I’m not too worried–it’s always there, and it’ll always come back, if it’s not there right now, the desire or essential nature that drives me to write.  Mostly, it requires stillness of mind, of heart, and of body.  That is lacking, and in part, it is lacking because I’ve chosen to create a space of constant activity–because writers can be sort of effed up, I’m doing that in order to not HAVE to write.  Sad, but true.  Still, I want to want to write, if that makes sense.

I just spent most of October traveling, and now, I’m back to my “old” life here and it feels…like it did six months ago.  I’m trying not to go there, and to remember that I can change it by staying active.  However, at some point, I have to figure out how to balance staying insanely active/busy with sufficient “still” time for reflection and writing.  It seems so either/or to me right now, and I’m struggling, I guess, to figure this out.

One thing that I’ve noticed throughout this lull (maybe even depression) is that you CAN, with practice, re-frame your thoughts and thereby, divert your mood.  Distractions help, but I’m finding that simply narrowing in on the rogue thoughts and literally thinking myself out of them helps me more than a reward here, a distracting treat there.  I need to work and stay on track; I can’t stay on track if I’m thinking things that are making me feel negative (doubting myself, wondering about the future, feeling vexed that I am not writing or creating).  So, I try to catch myself and think other things, other outcomes, other possibilities.

I am not on that pink cloud anymore, but I think that’s because I re-entered the world of the living a few years ago, and increasingly, it’s made my life feel normal.  Normal is good, though.  I’d rather feel normal and be out and about, able to deal with the world; than on a pink cloud, in my imagined bubble.

So, I keep working, and trying to write, through it all.  And I hope (believe) that it is or will somehow, some day, be enough.  I would never call this a low, though.  And I would never want to distract myself from the struggle–which in itself is enlivening because it is an active one, now that I see how I need to use my mind to control its tendencies toward the complicated or negative–with a drink.  And, frankly, I look at my old friends and think, how on EARTH could you still be doing that?  And, doubly frankly, I wonder, how does it even work on your brain anymore, after all these years (almost 10 years, and definitely 7 or 8, for most of my drinking buddies from the time right before I got sober)???

Time to turn it off and get back to my day.  Much love to all.  Thanks for reading…!  🙂

Do you still miss drinking?

21 May

10:16 am

Well, that’s a question, isn’t it?  My boyfriend and I were driving to the beach the other day, or back from some boat trip, and he was like, Do you ever miss drinking, or still want to drink?  Or, do you just not talk (complain) about it anymore?

Hmm.  I really had to think about it.  I’ve been thinking about drinking, and sobriety, but I just haven’t been coalescing those thoughts into posts.  And, as you guys know, it’s partly because life has gotten busy, work-wise.  I’m still working remotely for the company I was at, and I’m also working three to four days a week at the same local coffee shop.  And, frankly, it’s still not enough money, considering my ever-present student loan debt, future goals and dreams, and well, life is expensive.  But, it’s comforting to know that I do have spending money (the lattes money), and I don’t feel “guilty” buying trips, new shoes, and expensive food items once in a while.  As Peter Tosh sang, most of us are livin’ small.

The other reason I haven’t been blogging is this irritant factor.  It’s like, I’d rather just not think about not drinking anymore.  But, I DO think about it, all the time.  It’s just changing.  It’s weird.  While I miss getting sober–there is definitely a “high” to achieving and sustaining a longish-term sobriety, and I’d say that lasts up to years–I do have to accept that I’m beyond that.  The pink cloud still rests above my head, it’s just sort of faded.

I mean, yes, when I see people come into the coffee bar at 5:30 (my start time–ouch), STILL FLAMING DRUNK and having incoherent and emotional arguments with each other, I cringe inside; and then, I breathe a sigh of relief.  And that relief doesn’t ever go away; in fact, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I have to admit, in my darker hours, or my agro ones after the caffeine buzz wears off and I get “hangry,” a small part of me feels smug about it–just a little bit.  Mainly, though, this sense of relief, of being FAR, far away from the urge to binge drink/drink alcoholically–it’s a constant, gracious presence.  I feel gratitude all the time.  For not feeling the urge to drink, ever, really.  And for never, ever having to be hungover like that again.

What I don’t feel is the excitement in congratulating myself anymore.  And, I suppose that’s a good thing.  Life is just life, it doesn’t have to revolve around this idea of “me being or getting sober, or being pleased with me being or getting sober.”  You know?

However, then my boyfriend hits me with that question, and it stirs up the fact that I haven’t forgotten about my sobriety at all, and I have to say:  Yes.  Yes, I do still think about drinking.  Yes, I do still want to drink once in a while, when I encounter a very powerful (to me) trigger.  When?  Well, let’s just say, on a boat trip, when I feel jealous (ugh) of all the hot, young girls with their flat bellies (well, I never had a flat belly, even in my 20s).  On that same boat trip, toward the end, when my insecurity about being “old” has been sufficiently compounded by the sense that I’m not only “old,” I’m also boring–that’s when I really start to feel grumpy and want to drink.  I feel sorry for myself.  It’s residual though, like a long lost limb from a faraway ancestor–I can intellectualize it away, and realize that it’s just a feeling.  Still, I do feel tired of being the “narc.”  (In fact, at the last beach bar we stopped at on this “for example” boat trip, I ordered a virgin tropical drink, and the guy goes, “I die a little every time someone orders said tropical drink without the rum.”  And I look up, pissed, and I go, “Well, I die a little every time I drink rum.  So, what do ya got for me?”  He wasn’t displeased, but he was definitely taken aback.  He ended up adding coconut water, and let me tell you, it was pretty damn tasty!)

I have to stress, and this is most important as my sobriety lengthens:  it’s not that I want to get drunk.  It’s just that I want to…not be sober.  When I see a friend of mine, doing it up in the big city we used to live in together, drinking drinking drinking all over the place, every night; I feel…some sort of loss.  I know it comes back to this fear of missing out, or my OLD ideas and notions about how to “have fun” or “have a good life.”  My OLD ideas of me.

I don’t miss getting drunk.  What I, Drunky Drunk Girl, miss is the ability to instantly and effortlessly escape my seriousness.  The world.  Daily, “hum drum” life.  Some might call it a lack of free spiritedness, an “always in my head”-ness, a sobriety of thought, or, an overwhelming thoughtfulness.  Maybe it’s simply neuroticism:  the tendency to overthink negative (and positive?) thoughts.  Maybe I can call it depression, as this lingers.  I don’t know.  But, I do miss being able to “be that fun girl.”  Of course, I know I can be that fun girl in other ways, and that frankly, I WAS NEVER THAT FUN GIRL when I was drinking.  But, the constructs and stories we tell ourselves linger on and on into our sober years–and it really does take a constant checking in to right, correct, re-mold these ideas.  And, yeah, the peer pressure is always going to be there unless you check in and say, Fuck that, I rock.  SO MUCH HARDER NOW THAT I’M SOBER.

So, no, I never want to get drunk.  But, yes, I still do want to “not be me.”  Or, be that fun girl.  Or, escape from my sober life.  And, I guess that’s what we give up in exchange for constancy of mood, deep knowledge of self, and the GIFT of being able to look forward, with relatively laser focus, on our lives–and to make plans that suit us, lift us, and maximize our potential.  That is worth a thousand nights of drinking, and a million mornings of being hungover.

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.)

Just working

2 Mar

10:49 am

Hi, all! I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: sorry for being MIA on here. I just can’t seem to “find” the time to blog, and maybe, just maybe, I don’t enjoy ruminating about drinking and the desire or lack thereof. It’s just not a part of my life anymore.

What IS a big part of my life is working; or rather, making ends meet as a writer. Holy cow, is it stressful. I thought by now, three years in, it’d be different, but it isn’t: I still spend most days either worried, slightly anxious, or at least thinking about “how am I going to make money this month?” Granted, I have some magazines that I write for regularly now, which I’m proud to say, but frankly, it’s only as good as the ability and desire and gumption to keep up and pitch story ideas. (And the fact of the magazine’s existence: they come and go.) Everything I write comes from my own head, or the research I do, and lately, I’ve been like, Uh. I can only work so fast, and the pay is so little that even IF I work my little butt off (which I have been doing for the past about seven months, ever since I got back from my volunteer writing trip), it still doesn’t fully cover my bills. Forget about dinners out, vacations, and new running shoes. (Now that I write that, it doesn’t seem like this can be defined as a “success,” this freelance thing; le sigh.)

Hence, I’ve learned how to barista (which I’m also proud of) and am now employed by at least one coffee shop, maybe two (I’m heading over there today to train).

So, that’s what’s up here. Just working, and working, and working–and wondering, does it have to be this hard?

The answer, obviously, is no. But, saying no is different than doing no; doing no takes ramping up for a job search and a move, which we are, but slowly. Since freelancing feels like a continual job search, it’s become hard for me to stomach a literal one. I’ve begun again, though, and am targeting, oh, I don’t know, a few months down the road. (This year is going by SO fast, isn’t it? I can’t believe it’s March already!?)

Otherwise, all is well. Still running, still truly enjoying the warm breezes and glorious amounts of sun (I swear, sun has become my new alcohol–except it’s a good medicine that actually works). Dogs are great, and my boyfriend and I are still going strong. I have all this because, and only because, I am sober.

I still seem to have friends who either chose not to get it, choose not to get it, or somehow dislike the fact that I’ve gotten sober, picked myself up, and am rocking the freelance thing. Including my brother. The brother-his girlfriend situation has died down to the point that neither he nor I make the effort to relate. I’ve just given up, and for the better; I can’t be in a relationship like that. For me, continuing to try to have a relationship with someone who very much still seems pissed at me, or lies about being pissed, or just acts in a passive-aggressive manner by not calling me–eh, I’ve been there, done that, and the longer I’m sober, the longer I don’t want to try with people like that. There are so many people, and when you get sober, you get to see them for who they really are–and that’s a GOOD thing.

Socializing is still a bit strange as a sober person, mainly because I’ve found myself to be, well, guarded. I don’t know how much to give, and I tend to hold back. And, frankly, I want to. I want to remain guarded. Something about not really having the desire to get involved with other people’s drama? It’s still too tiring and too distracting for me right now, and so while I’ll engage with people and socialize once in a while, it gets really hard for me when they start to complain or gossip. I’m not sure, I used to love to complain and gossip, but now it just seems like…a huge waste of space! Like head space, heart space, sober space. I’m working on it, and I’m definitely getting out more and feeling more and more like my “old self” these days–not so overly sensitive and “I’m sober! I’m sober!” I think it might be that I haven’t found “my people” where I’m living, and while my boyfriend would argue that it’s for my lack of trying, the past seven months have proved to me one thing: there IS a certain type of person who moves to a place like this. So, yeah, that part is not a piece of cake yet. All in due time.

My slip last October totally re-solidified my desire to stay sober: drinking literally does not work on my brain anymore. Next? It’s become as simple as that. I’ve wanted to drink a few times the past six or seven months, and I’ve sipped white wine once or twice, but each time, I immediately felt dehydrated, confused, and well, was terrified of being hung over the next day. Call it what you will, but for me, this has been an essential ingredient in re-training my brain toward not simply sobriety, but healthy coping skills.

I’m learning to much more quickly let go–literally, stop thinking, or stop acknowledging negative thinking loops–of thoughts that don’t serve me. Are these thoughts moving me forward? No? Stop thinking them. I don’t have time right now to let negative thoughts slow me down, is all. I just can’t afford it, literally.

And, I’m working on embracing the ups and downs of my emotional life. I used to run, terrified, from sadness, or boredom, or existential crises. Now? I am realizing that it’s OK to feel sad, bored, or terribly bored (ennui?). It’s OK, I don’t have to NEVER feel these things. I think I spent a lot of years always trying to live the best life, and “party on” through all the muck, but really, the muck is there, and it’s probably there for a reason…? I don’t know, maybe I just need precision medicine, like, antidepressants or something external to re-balance my neurochemistry. It’s an ongoing conversation with self, and one that I’ll probably write about in the future.

So, on that note, I gotta run! Love to all, and I promise, more posts to come more frequently!

Laura Parrott Perry

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