Tag Archives: aging

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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Is self-love radical?

5 Mar

11:12 pm

We’re finally settling in here, coming up on 6 weeks after our big move.  And, while we’re getting used to the new normal–stores, working electricity, no bugs (and therefore, an almost-vacuum of sound at night), a sense of being definitively bounded by four walls (not the sky as one, the ocean as the other three)–I’m still feeling a bit disoriented.  But, I just plugging away, and doing what needs to be done; sort of the same thing over and over, day in and day out.  That’s how I’m coping with all this change.  Kind of sounds just like getting sober, eh?

This move has been challenging, to say the least.  Who am I here?  Who are we?  And, am I still sober or do I just not drink?  I guess I’m sort of  on autopilot at the moment, and with that, some of my old “character defects”–feeling restless and irritable, desperately not wanting to “miss out”–crop up.  I don’t feel like I can relax, or let go of the reins, and therefore, my dreams, and my sense of humor, and my romanticism are sort of dwindling.

I know it’s all got to come back once we find our way, but I must say, once in a while, out of boredom and restlessness (I feel so boring sometimes, especially if I don’t write or dissolve into a slightly more magical reality), I do wonder if I can drink again?  Like, it’s been so long, can’t I…improve this mood, make me funny, and young, and sexy again?  NOT!  I know it’s just a fleeting thought, but I still have it and others like it once in a while–especially under stress, or while I’m PMSing.

Lately, I’ve been stuck in the past–and, angry about it as well as confused as to how I actually have a past (haha)!   First up, I’ve been ruminating on friends who I feel just don’t get the new me–I know it’s been years since I got up, got sober, and went my own way, but I wonder, WHAT do they think happened to me?  Like, these were good friends, but friends who never bothered to ask me, so, you quit drinking, moved to an island, and…what happened?  Why did you do that?  How did you fare?  What’s your life been like?  Who ARE you now?  And, now that I’ve moved to a totally wacky-choice place (it’s a place I never would’ve imagined I would live)–not ONE of these so-called friends has inquired at all.  Maybe they never cared, or maybe we just fell out of touch as our lives moved on.  Maybe probably I was bad keeping in touch; yet, they KNEW of my drinking problem, and how much emotional trauma I had put myself (and them) through–so, I get tired of making excuses for them.  The street goes both ways, it really does, and after a while, I think you just have to truly, finally let old “friends” go and make new ones.

Second, I finally got ahold of a set of old boxes full of old stuff–like, my life in pictures and scrapbooks, journals, jewelry, and stuffed animals–stuff spanning my childhood through teenage, college, and early 20s years.  And, I went through it today.  And, uh, I felt nothing but sadness, and confusion:  sad that years have passed, we’ve all aged, and yeah, I’m definitely, I guess, “not young” anymore; confused in that, I don’t know what to do with all the memories, all the powerful experiences and people who have shaped who I’ve become, or, more pointedly, who I became up until I quit drinking.  I am angry at that person (my younger self), and all those people and places and things that “happened to me” before I got sober.  Why?  It’s my life, it’s what made me, me!  I guess I’m just at a loss as to what the point of all those experiences are, when, today, I have nothing really to do with those old friends, exes, people who left such a mark on my path; all the experiences and diplomas and takeaways.  Since getting sober, I have practiced so much living in the present, and maybe forgetting about a painful past, that I literally forgot about it; erased a lot of times that have made me, me.  It’s strange:  what’s the point of all the living that we do, when in the end, all it amounts to is a few boxes of fading, illegible memorabilia?

I wish I could have hung onto all that, but I had to let it go in getting sober.  At least so it SEEMS to me now.  And, I think the hardest work in sobriety is after you make the break, the split with your old self and life and you finally do get sober–what do you go back for, reconcile, keep?  How do I love my younger self, when I SO didn’t love her then?

I see my story, how things turned out, what was happening THEN so much clearer now; and the biggest question I have is, why did I hate myself so much?  I was so sweet, clear, beautiful, harmless–at least from the outside.  I was such a pleaser.  Yet, I felt NO ONE loved me, and I definitely hated on myself.  Maybe it’s just common to teenagers, or common to people affected with depression and anxiety, which I had growing up.  I don’t know, but I did kick and scream against my self-hatred for a long time, and it wasn’t until I got sober and started practicing what I now see as an almost-defiant act–self-love–that I have come to realize how DIFFICULT it is to push against that hate, pressure, disapproval, discrimination put on you as a kid or teenager.  The more I come into my own and STRUGGLE to love myself every day, the more I see not only what a DEFIANT act it is to practice self-love, but how RADICAL an act it is.  To consciously love yourself is a radical act of defiance.  And I don’t think I’m the only one who understands this!  I think we all struggle with this determination that no matter what has happened, or happened to you, you must push up and into the sky, and love yourself.

The boxes are too much, so I’m putting them in the closet.  The past will always be there, but right now, I need to live in the present, and somehow begin to again honor and love the girl who got me here.

How do we let go without forgetting?

1 Oct

11:11 am

I am totally grateful for what I have and where I am, but I have to say:  life is a fast, fast blur right now.  I am trying–and succeeding, I think?–in keeping up, but what I long for is a retreat of sorts.  Ten days of no working, no doing, no thinking, really.  God knows, no news skimming, no Facebook scrolling, no remembering, no creating new memories.  Just time to turn it off for a while.

I am in the place–the city–where I started this blog, over four years ago, and I’m feeling…at a loss for adequate time and head space to collect my thoughts about it all into a post.  What I can say is this:  I’ve realized that it is OK to let some of it go.  It is OK to change.  To do things differently.  I have, for many years, been inside my head–and by that, I mean, have clung to the idea that thinking and analyzing all my thoughts is of utmost importance.  More so, that storing all these thoughts, analyzed, in my brain is worth EVERYTHING, is something I cannot give up or stop doing.  I am at the point where I’m starting to ease up on that idea.  I am starting to think that allowing myself to just let some of it go is actually the only thing that is going to restore my sanity, and move me forward.  What is that “it”, though?

That “it” is comprised of many things:  my old self, my old notion of self, the things that made up my old self, I guess.  It is true, I am “me”, here, now, much improved.  Yet, how did I get here?  Is it OK, after the whirring stops and I look around, to let that go?  Because, to me, letting go equates to forgetting.  And, I don’t want to forget all that.  I’m also incredibly nostalgic–I suppose, a vestige of the old poet in me, which I adored and long to reconnect with, at some point in my life.  How do I balance the sober me, the one who had, out of necessity, to put away all that ruminating in order to recover–and the “old” “drunk” me, the one who is me, who thinks and feels?  I guess, at four years sober, I am simply at a loss as to how to live in both skins.  Because, completely “letting go” of the “old” “drunk” me is not working anymore.

That’s it.  That’s what I’ve been struggling with for a few years now.  It’s not that I am not living my life anymore, stalled, trying to figure this out.  It’s just that now that I’m having a little more time to reflect on what I’ve been doing, how I’ve been working, who I’ve been seeing and relating to–it’s always hard, I guess, to come home.  It’s just hard.  I think it’s doubly hard for people in recovery, because so much of our recent past selves are tangled up in our “addict” selves.  While one does not equal the other, they were and are all part of you, you know?

Ack!  So hard.  So, at this point, which I’ve been doing for those few years now, I have to turn this off–this problem that I cannot seem to grasp or solve–and move on to my day.  I have to work today, and then, enjoy this great, big, beautiful city that I’ve spent TWO YEARS waiting and working toward visiting again for 12 glorious days.  And, I’ve got a rock solid foundation of sobriety, which keeps opening up new doors of understanding, and I’m more “me” than ever.  So, I will do this and live in the moment–because we all have to work, and live, in our sobriety, even if it still feels new, four years later–and come back to the rest later.

On a more present note:  I just finished dying my roots.  Um, yeah.  My roots are grey.  I am too young to be grey, and I don’t really like seeing what truly looks like someone who is 20 years older than I am right now (I’m 42, not 62).  It’s all good; I’ve always looked young, and continue to feel young at heart, so, why not?  I think it’s great that I get to pick what color my hair is now (I choose a reddish-blonde–haha).  BUT, it’s a reminder of something that connects, for me, with recovery and all that I’ve been dwelling on recently:  how do we age?  I mean, literally, I’m asking, how are we to do this?  How do we move through life balancing all our past experiences–in our heads (memories on overload as we keep acquiring them), in our hearts (feelings that we’ve pushed down or out, but never really go away)–with our present, active days?  And, how do the “moons” of this world reconcile life having to be lived, out of necessity on many levels, as “suns”?

Haha.  Sorry, guys, I’m still me.  😉

It is cold and rainy here–a welcome reprieve from incessant 90-degree, 90-percent-humidity days, I have to say.  I gotta run now.  More soon, she said a million times.  No, seriously, I miss you guys.  Happy fall!

That “hole in the middle of my stomach” feeling

23 Apr

2:06 pm

Hey, guys.  It’s been so long, and in a nutshell, I’ve been working.  Trying to earn a living.  I have been both freelancing and working part-time as a barista, and I hosted a friend and then my mom two weeks back to back this month.  It’s been tiring.  Today was a shitty day at work, and I can’t help but blame myself (of course):  I’m too quiet, I’m too thoughtful, I don’t smile enough, I work too slow, I make stupid mistakes.  Le sigh.  I’m usually able to bounce back emotionally–as in, I don’t let the thoughts make feelings make ruminations and a bad day–but for some reason, I just feel tired of it all today.

My mom is getting older.  What happened to her 50s and 60s, I ask?  I feel like I missed the transition, and only now do I see that I can’t go back.  I can’t get her younger self back, and I can’t get my younger self back, and I can’t get all that time back that I spent pushing her away.  I think a lot of people must feel this way, but I didn’t know that it would be a literal feeling, one resembling grief, I suppose.

Anyway, my mom will be 69 this year. She has developed what seems to be some profound anxiety and insomnia, and she has some physical ailments that just keep filling in the lines as the years go on.  While all this is troubling in that I can’t quite seem to relate to her, what is most troubling is that I have a continued lack of ability to communicate with her about my drinking past.  I sort of try, but mainly I just feel awkward telling her the gory details (and, with her anxiety in mind, I shy away from giving her anything else to worry about or ruminate on–that’s the way I see it, I’m sure she has a different perception). Of course, she witnessed it. However, aside from her, there was only one other family member who confronted me.  I’m still baffled by that.

What’s also news to me:  THEIR view of me, as the drunk, as the person who was trashing her body, as someone who couldn’t necessarily be relied upon, as the one making poor choices–this view is not going to go away JUST BECAUSE I AM NOW (three years!) SOBER.  And, for some reason, I guess I thought it would.  I thought it would sort of disappear, like my drinking habit.  Granted, there has been no, “Hey, look at me, I’m sober now!” on my part.  There also hasn’t been, “Hey, I’m sorry for all that shit that you might have been bothered by or that might have pissed you off or alienated you, but that you never said to my face” either.  From an outsider’s perspective, and that includes MOST of my close friends and family, I got sober very quietly. Except, I wrote about it and talked about it and reported on it–with everyone BUT my immediate family. This seems to be the pattern, and I don’t know why: it’s really hard for me to share my life and feelings with my family! It’s been this way forever, and I guess it comforts me to know that many people find a tribe or “family” outside their genetic one, the one they were born into.

My family is fractured, but not in the sense that I don’t have a relationship with both my mom and dad.  I’m just not sure they’ve ever been easy, or even good, relationships.  And that bothers me.  It’s always been a struggle to relate, to navigate, to extract.  I don’t know.  Maybe if I felt more comfortable, then my perspective would be different.  But, it’s always been hard and I have the feeling it always will be–no matter how far along I think I’ve come in my sobriety. The problem has become, I’m sober for three years now–err, I have very little desire to rehash all the crap I went through.  All the blog stuff I wrote about, all the craving bullshit, all the psychic back and forth.  It’s done, it’s over, I’ve shrunk my brain to the point where I feel “normal” again.  Or, at least focused on the present, the real, the emotions that need to be felt and dealt with in order to conduct a life.  I don’t want to talk about it now with my parents.  That leaves a HUGE gap–what to fill it with, then?

I’m tired, as you can tell.  Nothing inspirational today.  I was up at 4:30 to make my shift, which was a rough one because of a bad coworker.  What I should be doing it job searching, but frankly, all I want to do is nap.  I feel like I have a hole in the middle of my stomach.  BUT… I’m sober, so sober that I don’t even think about being sober!  My boss came in hung over and had to take a nap mid-morning (on the floor of a neighboring shop).  Most of the regulars at my coffee bar participate in this place’s “drink hard, drink-and-work harder” culture, so…I also saw quite a few peeps with pained expressions on their faces.  NO desire.  It’s cast me as a goody-goody at work, the quiet one; but I’ll take that ANY day over being hung over and not remembering what I did the night before.

Onward.  All in due time.  Grateful.  Breathe.  Joyful entitlement.  These are my daily affirmations, and they keep me on the track that I have come to cherish, and which I get to share with all of you!

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