Tag Archives: achievement

You don’t have to be awesome, or win

25 May

4:16 pm

Yes, that’s right, folks!  At 43, soon to be 44 next month, I have at last made the realization that, nope, you don’t have to be awesome, and you don’t have to win.

You don’t have to do anything amazing, or challenging even; you don’t have to do it perfectly, or better than someone else; you don’t have to win any prizes.

Life goes on; life will go on, whether you publish a book, or open a business, or make millions as a lawyer or doctor.  NONE of that really matters; what matters, I say, is the fact that you got to fall in love with a dog, and walk him–he laughing into your tears with his tongue–until you stopped crying and starting laughing with him.  Our boy is gone now, but he lives on in my mind; and most days, that’s the only thing that feels like it matters to me.  And, I’m not sure if I am supposed to feel liberated by that or straight up SCARED to death that I am getting closer and closer to just not giving any fucks anymore!

There is so much consumerism here–buying and selling of things, of work, of jobs, of people, of relationships, of experiences–in America.  Maybe it really is everywhere, but, man, does there seem to be a desire here, almost a frenzied one, to acquire experiences.  I’m in on it, too, of course, and as frenzied as the next person–and enthusiastically so most days!  Yet, I try to remind myself of the existence of my higher power, the higher things, the lessening and loosening and lessons of sobriety.  Life is about the wind, the breath being taken away; the letting go.  Sometimes I do feel…estranged, I guess, in a “land of plenty” where there is never enough, and in some cases, feels like nothing.

I am trying to write these days, and all the usual bullshit comes up; somehow, though, I had this thought the other day that it just doesn’t matter–for real.  It’s a thought that I’ve tried believing before, and I got to a certain level and then you know, went back to being my normal competitive, hard-on-myself self.  Yet, the other day, I just thought, you know, you’re going on 44, you don’t have to win anymore.  You don’t have to get into a good school (did it, twice), be the best in that school (failed at that, but I’m sure I tried and tried), do this and that and the other (did it all, in search of “growth” and “challenge”); you don’t have to get another degree and even if you do, you don’t have to do well in the program!  You don’t have to DO anything or BE anyone except…yourself.  A person who will maybe be loved and maybe be forgotten; that is life, and that is what we fight for, and against, it seems, every single day.

At this, I drank.  I drank so much trying to be and do and achieve and win–and also, to NOT be and do and achieve and win.  Now, I don’t want to drink at this; I have accepted that this is how I feel sometimes, and what I think, and well, maybe the reality that we all have to face now and again in this lifetime.

It’s so hard not being hard on myself; it’s so hard for all of us, I assume, to not be hard on ourselves.  And, I would venture to say that, even IF someone tells you, Oh, DDG, don’t be so hard on yourself; in the back of their mind, they’re thinking and plotting and planning because there seems to be so very little example here (I’ll just call this world USA, Inc.) of actually choosing to not do, to not achieve, to not regard the world and your place in it as part of a game whose very existence hinges on your winning.

I’m not sure I know anyone who has completely said, fuck it, and decided to do away with the need for validation, by self or others.  I am not there yet, but there is a voice inside me that is screaming, quietly, DDG, it does not matter what you do, just be.  Just breathe.  You can try stuff, and do stuff; and trying it is good enough; doing it is good enough.  There are no prizes, and there is no winning, and when you die, your name and your achievements will not really be remembered as much as who you were, and what your presence meant to people.  So, just be.

Ahh–if ONLY I could practice this now-ness all the time, and not for about three minutes a day!

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More days, is what’s next

29 Sep

11:45 am

Well, I’ve had two weeks to sort of “toy” with the idea (just an idea) of drinking again. Starting drinking again. Whatever that means, I’m not even sure. And…

I’ve decided that since it’s just right there, I’ll set my next immediate goal at 200 days (which is this coming Friday). Then, on October 12th–a mere week later–I’ll celebrate my “year soberversary,” which is in quotes because since last October 12th, I’ve missed ONE day, right in between at 6 months. So, there will be treats–more treats this time, less excuses for not allowing myself real treats–on those two days. And a mini-parade. With some glitter balls thrown in for good measure.

And then…I’ll set my goal for another 100 days! That’ll take me to what seems like a nice, even, good-sounding number: 300. This will be on January 12th, 2014. That’s the goal, 300 days.

(From there, it’s really easy to see that 365–a true year sans The Grape–is right around the corner, but, I’ll re-assess when I get to 300.)

Why all the planning and days-counting? Well, it helps. It really does. For me, sometime around my 6-month mark (the first time around), I began to see sobriety as less like a lack of drinking and more like a window of time during which I could get shit done, achieve some goals. I could sit back, take a deep breath, and not feel pressured, rushed, or anxious. It was a weird shift, feeling like I could actually rest EASY knowing that I didn’t have to drink, that I would be able to focus on other things besides drinking and not drinking.

So, that’s how this feels now. Once I get to October 12th, it’ll simply be another 100 days where I have “off” from thinking about drinking and “on” for doing my thing–plugging away, moving forward, achieving some new directions.

I start a new job tomorrow. Baker’s assistant. We’ll see. It pays minimum wage, but it’s enough that if I do that AND keep writing on the side, I can easily cover my bills down here. It’s a start, I guess. Back to the “real world.”

As I’ve said in a few previous posts, lately I’ve realized that for whatever reasons, I lost confidence in getting sober. By taking myself out of the game in order to heal, I also isolated. (And, for this reason, I sort of feel a general sense of bitterness toward sobriety, like it’s a bad parent.) Now, though, I feel like my voice is coming back, my ability and desire to use it. My presence. A sense of direction, of goal-oriented-ness.

Sure, I’ve still got a thin skin and worry about everything, let’s face it; but, that old, caution-to-the-wind, “warrior-ness” that I carried around for years is coming back. It almost did me in, carrying myself like that, so this “new me” will be a balancing act: how much to care, and strive, and achieve, and feed my hungry ego (yes, it still cries itself to sleep every night); and how much to just be and do, to let it all go and embrace a softer, gentler, less achievement-focused way of living. I still long for structure, in a way; for those 60-hour work weeks. I think my real addiction might be work, but that’s for another post.

Anyway, today’s a work day. And up most immediately? Calling my dad–it’s a difficult conversation with him; he continues to be depressed, and I have to tell him we’re not coming to visit this fall–and my brother. Gulp. My brother and I haven’t spoken for almost a year. I’m honestly not sure if he’s still holding a grudge from “the New Year’s Eve incident,” when I blacked out and screamed bloody murder at him and his (crazy) girlfriend. That was not this past year, but the year before–two years ago. I’ve been more than a little ticked off that they dragged it out this long–I tried, and tried, and tried saying I was sorry, and I ended up closing my door, so to speak. Now, I’m ready to open it, I guess; to welcome their forgiveness (if that is what it is) and–I hate to put it this way but it’s how I feel–forgive them for not forgiving me. Wish me luck.

Then, maybe some personal writing. Another exercise in patience. At least I have time–because I’m SOBER. And no hangover to make a waste of me today–because I’m SOBER. And a growing sense of “can do”-ness–you know the drill. And, a momentum, doing what needs to be done–you know why. A sense of calm, of peace, of lack of regret, of self-reliance and self-constancy–is that even a word? Self-constancy. Like, as long and wide as a desert; I am here, constant in myself. I like having this SO much that it almost brings tears to my eyes.

Happy Sunday, everyone.

You have to go through it to get through it

30 Dec

9:39 pm

I REALLY wanted to drink last night. REALLY, REALLY, REALLY. Frustration, disappointment in self, ennui, fear of the past and future, sadness… I spent the day on the couch, feeling ill, too, which only contributed to this pent-up bad juju.

A fog of desire, that’s what it was. A fog of desire to drink. To drown it out, drown it away.

I used to drink when I felt the way I felt last night. OH, YES, I did. NO WAY IN HELL was I going to let that pimple come to a head. What I mean is, I would shut down the emerging thoughts before they fully formed, effectively transfiguring them into something other, something nebulous–something drunken. I would drink, then weep, yet, I never understood exactly what I was crying about; I knew I felt bad, but I never let myself think the real thoughts, only the drunken, fake ones.

I really wanted to drink the past two days, actually. I’ve just felt low energy, depressed, frustrated. Numerous points, but always the same theme: I’m not doing enough with my talents, I’m wasting valuable time. What’s it all mean? Why create, produce, leave behind, anyway? I’ve forgotten most of my life (I mean, I don’t specifically remember a lot of the hours I’ve been alive, y’know?), what’s the point of creating new memories? (LOL–SUCH a negative thought!) And, of course, the next thought had to come: In fact, what a SHITE thing to do, to have a kid and subject him/her to what I’m feeling and thinking right now, which HAS to cross most people’s minds now and then, right? RIGHT? And on and on. We rented “Ted,” and that was pretty funny, so the night wasn’t ALL BAD, of course! Yet, the whirring continued until my boyfriend went to bed and I was left on the couch (still), wishing I had bought myself a treadmill for Christmas. Or a sledge hammer!

I’ve always felt pressured to accomplish, achieve, create. It’s become an addiction, I know, perceiving my reality this way and reacting to it, usually negatively. However, being sober–getting sober, the process of, actually–has allowed me to begin to see that NO, I don’t have to keep doing what I’ve always done! I have a choice in how I see the world and how I let it make me feel. I mean, I can choose not only WHAT I think about but also HOW I choose to think about certain things, especially my own ideas of productivity, purpose, and achievement. I get to choose how I relate to my thoughts, my feelings, and my gut reactions.

It’s a process, though, so one step forward, two steps back. Last night, I did the usual: I let my brain go there, and pretty soon, I was clenching my gut, nearly wanting to break my teeth because… I…I…What am I doing? What am I doing with my time? Am I simply not a good writer? Have I become a has-been? And then, the thought of thoughts, the rotten core of the apple:

Have I lost myself in being sober? Which, of course, almost instantaneously morphed into, Sobriety has taken myself away from me!

Evil-doer, DEVIL sobriety.

Today, I’m not sure what to think about this melodramatic conclusion except, it’s sort of true. I am no longer my old self. I no longer have wine to boost my mood, to encourage me to want to do what I thought I wanted to do. Without wine, I don’t do this and I don’t do that, so did I ever really LIKE doing this and that? Was I even good at it?

Moreover, I just feel–feel is the key word; feelings are tricky, remember?–like I’m no longer myself! Sure, I’m a new self, and probably a better one. But, I MISS the old me. The “fun” me. I realized I haven’t danced alone in my room since June! That saddens me. And, I have to say, not drinking has left me feeling more content but less happy. I don’t get to get giddy, to let off steam. Sure, I could do this sober, but…why haven’t I?

So, that thought of “I’ve lost myself in getting sober” was what sent me on a crying jag. No wine, though, to initiate it for no apparent reason…and to instantly turn it off when the wine wears off. You know how that goes: you get drunk, you turn on a song (fuck you, Damien Rice), and you start bawling. It feels good, mainly because you DO have something to bawl about but it’s deep down and you simply don’t want to bring it up, or you CAN’T, or you can’t without the wine; and then, the song ends, you abruptly stop crying, and you refill your glass…likely now laughing. At something equally ethereal and, well, NOT REAL.

Last night, the opposite. Real pain, real tears. A staring-me-in-the-face realization that YES, maybe I will never be the same person, maybe I will no longer be able to identify with that self, which I’ve been living with for a long time. Yes, I am getting older; yes, I might not have children; yes, I might be a has-been, as far as the science writing community in [cold east coast city] goes. Yes, yes, yes. And, it hurts.

But you know what? This, too, shall pass. Cry, sit there and sulk in the dark, and then realize, who the FUCK cares anyway aside from little old you? LOL. Like, if John Doe over there doesn’t even KNOW what I’m going through let alone can even identify with it, is it really worth fussing over? Let it go. CHOOSE how you react to your own Never Never Land of thoughts, Drunky Drunk Girl. It’s not real…

A funny thing happened, then, which is pretty simple: I felt better. When I woke up this morning, I felt like I had made some sort of progress. Moved forward, or at least moved beyond a certain point. If I had drunk to drown out my thoughts and feelings, I never would have processed them. I might have had a fake catharsis (cry, hit someone, pass out exhausted), but I would have woken up in the same place–still sad, still semi-baffled and unclear, and worse, HUNG OVAH.

So, the title of my post: you have to go through it to get through it. For me, desiring to drink these days is much less about wanting to get drunk and happy as it is avoiding confronting my “issues.” Which is a good thing to know, really. Simple, but it takes what it takes, right? Oh, AA, I must thank you for your funny little expressions that I’ve sort of come to adore.

(I’ve decided that the Big Book is a bunch of malarkey, but we’ll blog about that another night.)

AND, thank you, Sobersphere, you’ve kept me once again from ruining my streak with one false move–coming up on 90 days in about a week and a half!

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