Tag Archives: lack of motivation sober

Sitting and zoning out, or, this too shall pass

5 Oct

4:49 pm

Just sitting.

And zoning.

And eating cheese quesadillas and vanilla chocolate chip ice cream.

And not doing a whole lot of anything.

I’m baffled as to why my motivation can go from 10 to 1 in a matter of 24 hours, and does this every other 24 hours? I cycle in and out, in and out. Two steps forward, one step back. It is almost 5 pm and I’ve done a total of jack shit. (Part of my frustration is the fact that I remain in search of work, and others are searching, too, and we’re all facing the same, bigger-than-ourselves social problems that just Can’t Be Fixed by four (white) folks who aren’t from here. Sigh. I let it get to me; they seemingly don’t. And, it’s probably frustrating me a LOT more than I’m consciously aware of–which, essentially, is contributing to my feeling helpless, which always makes me want to escape with wine. I am impatient, I guess, and don’t like sitting with frustration=How’s about a glass of wine to “solve” that problem, hmmmmmmm?)

I wonder, is it that I simply don’t have a deep well to draw from anymore, when it comes to motivation, perseverance, and joie de vivre? I mean, staying sober takes a lot of that out of you, and keeps on wringing and wringing. In fact, I’ve read about studies showing that your willpower to resist temptation (drink, food) decreases the more tired out you are from other, mentally-exhausting tasks (think, you’re more apt to chow down on that Snickers if you’ve spent the day doing something mentally exhausting versus if you spent it chilling by the pool). Maybe this is part of getting older? Or, is it that I actually NEED more time off? Maybe I am (and have been, for a while) utterly burnt out, after all these years of overachieving, such that I can find neither interest nor rationale for anything whose main reward is “accomplishment” or “success?” The words ring hollow now, and I can only imagine the actual concepts banging around inside my soul like two empty milk cartons. They hold no weight.

I know I need to stop going against the grain, rest if I need to rest, sleep if I need to sleep, etc. BUT…when do I need to give myself a kick in the rear?

And, I’ve talked about this before, but sometimes I have so little energy/motivation (compared to how I used to feel, before I got sober) that I can’t even be bothered to drink! Sometimes (often?) drinking served as a way to not simply make myself feel better, or happier, or less depressed; but as a way to make myself see that I was trying to make it better. If I was drinking, at least I hadn’t totally given up, right? I was at least TRYING to make things better. I was trying to motivate myself to feel good, and that made me feel like I hadn’t completely given in to the lethargy and depression. Today, even if I wanted to drink, I really can not be bothered to pick up a bottle or even pour the glass. I know it won’t work, and I know, deep down (on day 201 today) that I can’t go back. I can’t go home again when it comes to wine.

I’ve figured out a few things lately, though, that help. One is physical activity. I’m not talking about a run, or a swim, or a walk, but all three, over a 4- or 8-hour period! I’ve often thought that if I could ONLY JUST STAY IN CONSTANT MOTION, then the urge to drink wouldn’t be so strong. This helped early on, and it’s helping me now when it comes to freelance writing: a solid bout of activity, 4 hours let’s say, helps to calm my mind, clears out all the raging thoughts, and allows me to actually sit down and work in a concentrated fashion.

Sooner or later, though, we all have to just sit with it (literally, in my case.) Sit with it when it sucks. I can do that, right? Yes, I can do that. I can have it suck and just sit with it. I have learned how to do that, and that it is much less painful than going out and drinking to avoid the sitting. What makes it easier, by far, is having someone else–a community, as it were–to sit with me! That’s where you guys come in.

For instance, I’ve realized that even IF I don’t get shit done, and I feel bad about it–like my world is crumbling, like it’s the worst thing ever–when I come here, I am reminded that it SO isn’t that bad. There was something so horrible about being hungover alone; it was better to share the burden once in a while with someone else, not that I did that a lot after my college days. Same is true of this sphere: when I come here with my problems and you sit, we sit, through them; I see that they might not be as bad as I thought. None of you are worrying, or freaking out, or telling me that my thoughts justify drinking, so…maybe they actually don’t? It’s an amazing sounding board.

So, now I feel sick. And, my sports bra is too tight. And my sciatica is acting up. And, obviously, my “illness,” which I would consider the extreme mess of thoughts that race through my head on a constant basis, is in full swing. But, I’m sitting here. With you. And we’re not reacting because there is nothing worth reacting to. Nothing to do but wait. And breathe. And know that this too shall pass. And I am still whole. And something got done, actually–I am stronger. For this, I thank you guys.

The problem with achievement

30 Aug

7:18 pm

I know I should (want to) be posting more often, but with titles like “Sigh” (yes, there’s a draft post in my list titled “Sigh”) I haven’t been able to hit send on any of my drafts, as it were.

Lately, I have to admit, I’m starting to feel like the only one who’s not really having fun at the (sober) party. I’ve also been thinking about drinking again. You know, when I get to 180 days. I’m not jones’ing for a drink, but I can’t help but wonder, Would I feel more like myself again if I inserted that habit back into my life? Would it help to orient me? More importantly, could it help boost my motivation back to some level of normalcy?

I don’t want to say that life sucks right now. For the most part, all is well, and I’m glad for all the things that I get to have by being sober: a clear head, no hangovers, never doing or saying anything destructive. OK, I got it. Good. Thank you.

What isn’t good is my lingering lack of…oomph. I just don’t feel excited about anything. Not the way I used to. The fire feels out, and I don’t know how to re-light it!

It’s hard to explain. It’s not that I don’t have work or hobbies, it’s just that I don’t really *feel* like doing any of them. The way I used to. I don’t feel any sense of achievement after doing almost everything, honestly. Yeah, yeah, it’s done. Can I go back to staring out at the water now? Maybe I don’t have the “huge” sense of accomplishment I once had because I was always hung over, and doing anything with a hangover seems like a Herculean feat. Back then, brushing my teeth felt like I climbed a mountain. And, getting through my work day? Well, I might as well have flown (with my own wings) to the moon. Now, everything I used to do just makes me feel sort of impatient and empty–is this it?

I realize that I used drinking to fill the void of not knowing how to spend my free time. I became reliant on using it when I’d feel that pull I just mentioned, feeling burnt out and “been there-done that.” However, as I was thinking about what to write for today’s post (which included a lot of procrastinating), I realized something: my addiction goes beyond the using of wine. My “core” addiction centers around not knowing how to spend my my time, period, without having something to achieve or accomplish. Which stems from an addiction to achievement.

Whenever I think and believe I haven’t accomplished much, I feel depressed. I feel sad. I feel frustrated. And, I want to drink. Wanted. Want. I want to make those feelings go away, to escape from those thoughts. I can’t just “be.” I need–and that’s the key word–to always be doing something “exciting” or “new.” I need–key word–to always be having something, or acquiring something, and in this scenario, that something is experience. I am, in essence, addicted to getting new things–knowledge, experiences, and maybe sometimes even things, but I’m much less addicted to consuming things as I am experiences. So, I drink to both ease the pain of not getting what I want, what I have come to need; and I drink to get an artificial version of that high.

This is both enlightening and saddening. While it’s good to know that wine is not the be-all, end-all of my addiction, it’s not so good to know that now, I honestly don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not. How much do I don’t do? If I was living my “old” life right now, I’d still be at work. I’d be just as unhappy there, “doing shit,” as I am now, “not doing shit.” And there, my friends, is the essence of the conundrum: there is no solution, at least no fast one, to this so-called problem. I know plenty of people who simply solve this and other existential conundrums with a drink–give it a rest, they’d say. Don’t think too hard on it. Others work harder, have more kids, get involved in others’ lives–you know, live life. My stumbling block is that these thoughts are in my head 98 percent of the time instead of the what I maybe erroneously believe is the “normal” 2 percent.

On that note, I’m not drowning and I still have (a little) hope that I’ll start to feel more excited about doing shit soon. I have found that just continuing to set daily goals and complete them helps. Ignoring the bad thoughts and feelings helps. Going for walks, doing yoga, and running or swimming helps. I have to smirk, in an ironic, God damn it, sort of way, when I think about drinking again. Even if I DID start drinking again, I know that it would not at all help me solve this problem. Other things might, like taking a trip, getting a different job, or moving (at least temporarily). But not drinking. I know too much now. DAMN IT.

Two more weeks until my 6-month mark. Woot woot. (insert sarcastic-wink emoticon here)

Lack of motivation, or, My attempt at neuroscience

20 Aug

5:25 pm

Lack of motivation. Bored to tears is not just an expression. Maybe some days you’re simply not meant to get much done? Except, ahem, eating and drinking everything in the house. (Why is it that after quitting drinking, we turn to food and substitute drink? Is there something so hardwired about equating “food substance” or “something that is going into my alimentary canal” with “reward” that we can’t shake it no matter how long and hard we try?)

Today is OK–meh, actually–and I can deal with that. However, I’m having the usual brain fart: I find it difficult to hold my thoughts in form; like food that wants to be vomited up, my thoughts want to come out in fragments that don’t resemble much of anything that makes sense.

Is this writer’s block, or simply something I have to contend with from now on? PAWS gone wild? I’m hoping the latter, but most of the time, my patience wears thin. I don’t have time for this shit.

Once every few days, I take note of my motivation level, which seems to me to be pretty damn low. And, I think I’ve figured it out: maybe for so long I associated EVERYTHING–work and play, life in general–with drinking, now my dopamine circuits can’t (won’t?) fire for anything without the attached reward (wine). It goes almost without saying that that sort of freaks me out, considering that I need to like, eat and work and laugh, whether or not (not) there is wine involved.

I’ve come to the conclusion that “normal” people–and even a lot of drinkers who did not fall as far as I must have–simply cannot understand this. Their dopamine circuits still allow them to desire to do many things, whether or not booze is in the picture. Like, eating, or going to the gym, or working. I was actually vaguely aware of how much I relied on the “reward” of wine in order to motivate myself to do any of these things toward the last few years of my drinking. And then it got worse: I skipped eating altogether; I only worked out in order to both be able to drink more and maintain a modicum of health such that my body could continue to drink more; in the end, the only thing that got me through my often painfully intellectual day was the reward of wine after having gotten through it and, later–it got even worse–the reward of wine DURING said day.

It was a neverending cycle, and I’m not sure how I ended up in its claws OR how I managed to extricate myself. Maybe throwing up a bottle of red wine at 3:30 am and then drinking an entire OTHER bottle before getting up, showering, and getting on the commuter rail by 7:20 am became one of those few-and-far-between memories that could override the need for wine? Uh, maybe.

Dopamine is involved not only in giving you pleasure, but in making you want to seek out pleasure. Motivation to do, or in science speak, to perform behaviors that are associated with pleasure. Now, if EVERYTHING you do–for me it ranged from running to writing to travel to talking on the phone with friends and family–you associate with the reward of drinking, and you place a high level of importance on this reward, eventually your dopamine circuit is only going to fire to motivate you toward these associated things as long as there is the reward of wine. If there is no reward of wine, there is no dopamine, and therefore, no motivation. (I’d like to do some interviews on this, but I think this is the gist of it.)

When the associated behavior/triggers are going out to bars, or hanging out with friends, ditching the wine isn’t the end of the world. But I associated everything with drinking.

Now, I feel no strong urge to do anything. I work because I NEED to, and I run and eat and read and hang out and go swimming and take care of the dogs and plant shit because…I know it’ll make me feel better, eventually. I do love certain things, of course, and living sober is amazing, don’t get me wrong. I just have to think my way into wanting it all, more often than not. Some days, though, all that future focus cannot cover up the present lack of reward. And, what’s worse, I’m afraid (worried) that this new normal might not right itself anytime soon.

With all that in mind, I continue to do and strive, and get about 25 percent of what I want to get done actually done every day. And I’m learning to accept this, and not judge myself. This is the only way, I somewhat resignedly tell myself. You got yourself into this, now you have to (and can) get yourself out. Is there another way, though? Does it have to be this hard? I honestly don’t know…

Anyway, I don’t mind waiting, and right here and now is a pretty good place to take a seat. Happy Week 22 plus 1 day to me! By Saturday, I will have passed my longest record of 158 (almost) days sans booze. Wowie. Thanks to ALL OF YOU, for listening and cheering and empathizing.

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