Tag Archives: living sober

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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I don’t think I’ll ever drink again, but…

28 Mar

10:23 pm

That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel angry, lost, overwhelmed.  Bitter, resentful.  Joyful, too; much joyful.  And content.  Though, I am realizing daily, almost on an hourly basis some days, that I have to cultivate contentment.  I have to make sure I see that there is SO much to be grateful for; that my brain does not have my permission to hijack my mood, my peace, my sense of belonging in this strange sober world that I discovered/created for myself.

I was thinking about my slips here and there over the past 4+ years of continuous sobriety.  I basically got sober in October 2012, drank once the following March (2013), then went over a year until the summer of 2014, when I think I had a beer one day in June, and then a few sips of wine and/or alcohol (maybe an accident, maybe to “test” my waters) at some point that summer; I had a horrendous drunk one night in October 2014, then…didn’t drink again until the following fall, of 2015, when I was away in my new location, working a big-girl job, and pining for “what was.”  I think I drank a couple glasses a couple times, with the final, third attempt in January of 2016.  That was really a dud–sandy and uneventful and sad.  I had two small glasses (I think, something like that, very minor) and was TOTES hungover for the next day.  LOL.

The point is, I haven’t looked back since January 2016.  Not at all.  I’ve realized that I have no interest to try, to test, to wonder.  I think it’s because I did all those things–I tried, I tested, I wondered–and wine didn’t work.  It never worked again.  But, it’s not like I gave up trying, or, believing somehow someday wine would work again.

This time was different:  I think (now that I’m actually taking some time to revisit how I felt in January of 2016 and the fact that I haven’t felt like that since) I just surrendered.  Or, was taken up–like, lifted up.  Like, my higher power–I actually like to think of my higher power as a higher me, a higher self, my best self, some evolved sense of myself as this great and good creature hovering over the pathetic, wimpering “real me” below, living out her day-to day–said, No.  Let it go.  There is no reason.

And, really, I haven’t thought about drinking since then.  The past few months, even, I haven’t considered that drinking would help–and, the past few months have found me feeling quite angry.  Like, all the bad feelings and habitual ego stuff is still right there, very much at the surface, as if I never did any work!  Angry.  So angry.  So angry.  At whom?  It’s like, I don’t recognize myself some days.  Except, I do; I see through the personality bugs and character flaws and negative thought loops to the real me, the me I liked best a few years ago, the one dancing on her self-styled pink cloud/bubble.

I’m not in a bubble anymore, and I admit, I do/can have a lot of negative thoughts and feelings these days.  But, I’m working through them, and realizing that getting sober–close to five years ago–is just the beginning of this strange trip called sobriety.  It doesn’t just keep getting better…without work and self reflection.  However, the desire to drink, in all its entirety, does go away.  No matter how angry or frustrated or trapped I feel these days–and, admittedly, I do a lot–I don’t even consider drinking as a solution.  As something I would even want to do, regardless of its (in)ability to solve my problem or resolve my conflict.

And, holy eff, is that startling to realize.  Like, I don’t think I’ll ever drink again.  And, it’s not like this big revelation that I thought it would be.  It’s more like, a foregone conclusion, one that I’ve been too busy and productive and angry and frustrated and in flux to notice!

Yet, sobriety, and all its work and progress and lessons and maddening ins and outs, continues.  Is it just life?  Um…I don’t know.  I think those who have gotten sober have a newfound perspective on all this life stuff, I really do.  Yes, this is life, and yes, I’m bitching about it here, on my long, but hopefully not lost blog.  But…there’s so much nuance; life is reflected through the prism of sobriety and getting sober, such that we see all these different colors, maybe more colors than people who have never had to deal with all their shit (yet).

Random thoughts on a Tuesday night.  Miss you all, and hope to start catching you up once I remember how to form this whirl of thoughts into words!

I get “this” because I’m sober

16 Feb

2:08 pm

Today marks one month to go until I’m one year sober. Holy crap! I never thought the day would come, and, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about drinking in moderation (what’s that?) again come March 18th.

Numerous thoughts rush through as I consider that possibility, and there are a few that stand out.

Why bother? I am actually consistently happy now, and I would by lying to myself if I said that drinking would add anything to an occasion or a situation. It’s an escape at best, an excuse at worst–that’s all it is, and maybe it simply took me 20 years to see what a sham alcohol actually is. Drinking would not add; it would only subtract. This I know to be fact; it’s been a long road to accept this fact into my stubborn brain.

Do I want to drink sometimes? Sure, of course. I miss the buzz, especially when I feel slightly down, which is a lot of the time; I’ve been meaning to get on the antidepressants thing. And, sometimes, when I let my “can’t drink, won’t drink” guard down, I’m appalled, in a way, at how far I still have to go. Case in point: Last night, I wanted to drink simply because I was getting ready to go out–which I rarely do, and now I know why–and just the act of getting ready to go out made me pine for a glass (or ten) of wine. And, a previous conversation about an old drinking buddy earlier in the afternoon had me thinking about all the bad that happened while drunk, and then, shockingly, a longing for that bad–that out-of-control-ness, that sickness–hit me. It was weird to witness my reactions like this, as strong as ever.

These pangs tell me that maybe I haven’t come to terms with things, I’ve just put them out of my mind. I mean, have I simply cut people from my drinking past out of my life, and instead, need to re-engage with them to “work shit out?” It’s so confusing, and my heart says, NO. But, my mind wonders, Well, IF, in fact, merely thinking about what went down between us–the shenanigans, as it were–is triggering an almost-uncontrollable urge to “just go out and get fucking tanked,” then, maybe I have a lot more work ahead of me than I thought?

I have “this”–why, as hilarious, wonderful Belle once said, would I want to go back to living in a sewer? I mean, lately, I’ve been seeing the FRUITS of my labor. These are big and small, a slap in the face or a gentle tap on the shoulder. The other day, I had a “wow” moment, as in pink SKY, not just pink cloud. It happened when I was walking the dogs, and I came to the crest of a hill–I must say, the views here are astounding, and I don’t take them for granted. Usually, though, maybe I do a little. Anyway, it just hit me and it was a shocking thought: I get “this.” I get THIS instead of that. And, for all you who were reading about my trials and tribulations in the cold, foggy city whence I came, you can understand why this is so much better than THAT.

I get THIS because I am sober. It really is that simple for me. Getting sober was instrumental in getting everything else that I have right now: I get to live here, where I am, with hot weather, and trees, and water, and sun. I get to live on an ocean. I get my boyfriend–friend, partner, someone who saw me through the horrible times, when I had zero idea that I even needed to be seen through. I get a blossoming freelance career–a second chance, in a way. I get to work a low-wage, part-time job, which is gloriously easy (showing up and just getting paid to exist isn’t as bad as I remember it being)–I get to work to live, and I get to appreciate this now. I know it won’t last forever, but it’s good for now. This is really good for now, I see.

That. What was that, that I was living? Just two years ago, I was, as Belle put it, living in a sewer. I was drinking constantly–I mean, I don’t think I truly sobered up for weeks if not months at a time, toward the end–and I had nothing that I have now. Worse, I didn’t believe I could have it–an actual freelance career, a boyfriend/partner, the ability to juggle a low-wage job and my overachiever’s mentality. The chance, every day, to plan exactly how I want to live it.

And, the best part is, I earned “this.” I have never been able to say, unequivocally, that I earned something. I must have, right? I’ve always thought of myself as a fraud–no matter how hard I thought I was working, I was still cutting corners.

With sobriety, I know I earned it. And, I’m really proud–like, all the time, every day. In fact, I feel pride for the first time in a long time. And, maybe it’s this sense of constant pride, day in and day out, that remaining in continuous sobriety brings? It builds, too, and you just keep feeling more and more pride, or constancy, or something like wholeness; it’s like, it settles into your bones and you finally start to believe that this isn’t a fluke, that you have the right to be proud again, to be whole, to exist.

Life is just starting to get easier, and introducing a desire to “fix” anything–a mood, a thought, a fight, whatever–with wine will complicate the “savannah of my mind.”

My relationships are better because I am learning how to have them as a self-respecting person, you know? I guess I was always acting, always trying to please–that made relating to the opposite sex, especially shady men who were more than willing to take advantage of that lack of self-awareness, particularly bad for me. And, I am learning to let go of things that don’t serve me–like, worrying about whether or not my brother’s girlfriend likes me anymore.

I see just how much I value my new self in being sober, in the very way that they (people from my drinking past, I suppose) are trying to relate to the old me. That old me? She’s gone. I’m here now. Relating to people who haven’t changed, or who can’t or won’t understand a new you–it becomes impossible. Either they adjust to the new you–to some, she is probably jarringly unfamiliar–or they don’t.

Anyway, I get this, and not that. And I earned it. And this is why drinking again–even for “fun”–might never be in my cards. What good, what “better” could it bring? The thing is, I needed almost two years of abstinence–and one full year of continuous sobriety–to get to this point, a point that I never imagined existed let alone believed I could reach. Slow learner? Maybe. Do I want to put in that kind of work again? Nope.

Four more weeks! And then…what? Waiting for Godot…

The view outside my sober healing bubble

24 Oct

3:56 pm

Tired, but hanging in there…

…not unlike the one car that YOU happen to be on that gets stuck, dangling in mid-air on the roller coaster ride called sobriety. Or life. Or living sober. Or just living.

I had a job interview today, and I only got about three hours sleep last night due to waking up at about 3 am and then tossing and turning for the next four hours. I had the worst recurring “nightmare,” too: I was literally buried under mounds and mounds of possible interview clothes, and I had like, 45 minutes to pick an outfit. I was running out of time, and I had no idea what pieces I wanted to put together, and I needed help, so I frantically called in…an old boss of mine? What? Anyway, it was SO stressful. When I finally shook the sleep out of me, I realized with sweet relief that real life is actually better than my dreams–kind of like when you dream you’re drinking, or drunk, and then you wake up to the fact of your sobriety. Sweet, sweet relief.

Someone emailed me the other day, and she reminded me of what I’ve heard before, that the first year is about getting sober and learning how to stay sober; while the second year is about learning how to live sober. I think I’m finally simply understanding this shift, from “healing” to “living;” and that I can’t stay inside my sober healing bubble forever. Unless I want to either stagnate and/or drink again.

As you’ve seen, I’ve been sort of getting my mojo back when it comes to socializing and work. Today, I took a BIG peek–maybe even a step!–outside my sober healing bubble and went on a job interview. Now, I have gone on a couple in-person interviews in the past two years (when I left my last full-time job to begin freelancing), but my last one was last June, and last June seems like FOREVER ago. In fact, I believe I was stupid hung over on that day–big surprise.

Anyway, today I interviewed sober and not hung over, and I felt good. Good to start to put myself back out there, in all ways, not just pitching and talking on the phone in the comfort of my own sober living room. Good to have to stress myself out a bit, whether that was finding an outfit (I’m picky, so I reluctantly spent more than I could afford), or driving myself downtown, or finding parking (I’m pretty sure I fucked that one up and parked where I shouldn’t have), or introducing myself to a new person and having to talk about myself for half an hour.

I don’t know if I want this job, but it would be SO nice to have some reliable income–a 9-to-5 job is manna from heaven to this girl right about now. In any case, over the past few weeks I’ve managed to land a few other freelance gigs that could turn into more substantial income, so that’s definitely good news. The name of this game is persistence and/or how bad you want it. Fortunately, I have at least one (persistence), which I might be confusing with banging my head against a brick wall, but so it goes.

So, that was what happened this morning. And now, back to my regularly scheduled program of looking to see SO many other science writers being published, especially in two new-ish magazines. Le sigh. One day…one day.

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