Tag Archives: mortality

Our bear passed on…

21 Mar

10:58 am

On Saturday, March 17th, our “son” (beagle mix, almost 10 years old) passed on to the next realm, or whatever you believe exists after our brain turns off and we take our last breath.  We were beside him on the bed as the house-call vet (who happened to have gone to vet school in the islands, which was actually quite comforting–we just moved here, and it still feels quite foreign) stabbed some “feel good” drugs into his heaving frame, and then followed that with barbiturate.  I have had people and pets die, of course, but I have never been in the room as the creature took its last breath.

I almost took my last breath as, a moment later, our dog stopped breathing and his eyes went glassy and still.  It was heart-wrenching, and it was seared into my brain.

As I’ve written, he was such an intimate part of my island life, and was everything to me for the 6 years that I knew him:  coworker (I work from home), confidant, best friend, higher power.  Once, when I was still drinking and had just arrived on island to visit the man who is now my fiance, I drank and blacked out and yelled; and our boy was so scared he hid outside under the truck.  That was before I knew what a gentle, sweet soul he was, apt to cower at even the slightest expression of frustration, the smallest rise in voice.  I vowed never again to scare him like that, and it was that memory, along with so many nights of love, comfort, and simply his presence that kept me from uncorking a bottle of red wine.

As my mind, however, begins to do what I could not imagine a few days ago–accept the unacceptable, normalize the horrific, move on from death–all I’m left with is a sense of awe and anger:  the mind is an amazing, if not entirely effed up, place.  Haha.

As we moved through the first hours without our little man, I couldn’t help but recognize in my actions the similarities between coping with death and dealing with a hangover!  I spent the day clinging to “micro-goals,” like, breathing, like thinking about my next breath without having a panic attack; putting some food down my throat; paying my bill; rearranging the pillows on the couch; forcing a smile just to know that my face was still there.

And I gasped when I suddenly realized that EVERY one of my hangovers was a small death–a little death, but a death all the same.  And, of all the horrific events of the last few days, that realization was kind of the most horrifying–that we, as alcoholics, put ourselves through a death every single day, for months, years, decades.  How cruel are we to ourselves!  Our bodies, minds, and souls deserve so much more; we deserve to be sober, we deserve to live.

I have wanted to smoke a cigarette the past few days, when my heart has felt so tight I could barely think; but not drink.  I can’t imagine going through this trauma and being drunk or hungover.  I still think about my old drinking buddies, some of whom are still using booze to coat, soothe, forget; and I wonder, how is it that I got here, that I GET to be free, to actually live through this pain alcohol-free–such that I can, again, transform it to something else, something positive, something light?

It was interesting to watch our other dog sniff at death and then immediately move away; it was saddening but also interesting to watch myself caress my boy’s corpse right after he stopped breathing, check his eyes (I was like, Is he definitely gone?) a couple times, and then…move away.  We instinctively move away from death.  Likewise, eventually, we instinctively move away from drinking alcoholically; drinking alcoholically is death, and we move away from it to life, to light, to clarity, to actually processing our reality.

I miss him, but I know I have to be grateful for all the life he gave me, the love he allowed me to see in myself, the thing that we conjured together by loving each other–that lives on, I have a strong sense.  And for that I am grateful.

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Life is too sweet to be bitter

25 Jul

4:52 pm

I came across a story today that about Kris Carr, and it totally inspired me. Here’s her final quote of the piece:

I think that life is just too sweet to be bitter. Once I was able to change my focus, desperation led to inspiration. I made so many changes, and I thought: This is an awesome life. I mean, honestly, I don’t think anyone has a better life than me. How can you live with the knowledge of cancer? I might not ever be able to get rid of it, but I can’t let that ruin my life. . . . I think: Just go for it. Life is a terminal condition. We’re all going to die. Cancer patients just have more information, but we all, in some ways, wait for permission to live.

For many reasons, this struck me as relevant to sobriety. It strikes at the core of what we avoid as drinkers: we wait for permission to live, we live in fear, we don’t just Go For It. Once we change our focus, we can go from desperate to not drink to inspired to live life.

Today, I’m reconfirming my commitment to running more, embracing the challenge of developing balance in my life, and giving up (trying to) the Diet Coke. If there are small things I can do (juicing might come soon, why not?), then let’s DO THIS.

Healing is boring

21 Jan

2:42 am

Or, maybe I’ve just let it bore me, and therefore, define me as “bored.” Who knows, but I’m ready to rock and roll on out of this “thinkin’ about drinkin'” phase.

I feel a lot like my old self, now that I’m well past 90 days–made it to 100 last night. I’ve been having some GREAT days, with lots of coffee, running, swimming, dog walking, cooking, rastafarian food fair-going… What I mean is, I’m not sure how others feel, but quitting drinking has allowed me to literally go back to who I was. Where I left off, so to speak. Ready work, to play, to run around like a chicken with my head cut off again.

Really?, I secretly dig at myself. Or, is it the opposite? I don’t know, and that’s where I’m going to simply have to say, I don’t know myself right now and I’m going to have to live around that fact. Live anyway, y’know? Work, dream, plan, move forward, minute to minute, day to day.

See, I used to have a lot of well-defined needs, wants, and goals. Now, however, I feel like I’m not sure which, if any, of those needs, wants, and goals are even of any value! I think quitting drinking, actually, is but ONE SYMPTOM of the transition that is staring me in the face, like a disease: the disease of mid-life, of mortality. I could not both survive this disease and its symptoms AND drink, so I had to quit. And, now that I’ve quit, I see this crisis for what it is–a lot of work to do, a lot of information to parse. Sigh. I don’t even know if I’m making any sense, which is why I haven’t written in a few days.

All I know is, I’m feeling my way forward, with blinders on, and it’s NOT because I’m drunk and confused. And, I’m starting to feel like my old self, and it doesn’t mean that I want to down two bottles of wine. I might, if given the chance, though; but that’s MY CHOICE.

(Yes, this is the problem of having to go to bed sober; thoughts are still whirring, a lot of them negative, but only YOU can turn them off because you realize they’re meaningless; you can’t use The Wine, and it never did a good job anyway.)

Am I punishing myself by staying sober?

6 Dec

1:21 am

Uh, talk about a heavy question. Then again, AA is heavy, and that’s where I heard someone pose this question recently in response to a death in her immediate circle.

Hmm…

Yes, in a sense, you are punishing yourself. You don’t get to obliviate, and that sucks. It’s a choice to live through the pain, or at least not circumvent it at will. However, in the grand scheme of things, you and us both know that you aren’t. Learning to cope with death–with pain and with grief–is necessary to live. Avoiding moving through it to the other side is escapism, not reward. Sobriety is the reward, as without it, you just keep going back to square one; you keep yourself in the pain, instead of moving past it. You cry, you drink, you cry because you drank. You wake up and wonder why the pain is still there. That sounds like punishment to me! (Easier said than done, especially when I’m not the one grieving a death, *especially* while sober.)

My first experience with grief came after the [beautiful island] [natural disaster]. I had times there–amazing, life-changing times. I had friends there, and some of those friends were crushed to death. After the [natural disaster], I had horrible sadness, confusion, and bouts of frantic anxiety–usually at night, in my bed. What would happen to me when I died? Would I float off into endless black nothingness? How could life be considered so precious when it was made of such a frail mold? If it could be taken so easily, how could (can) it really be so valuable? I couldn’t fall asleep at night, and would sometimes wake with feelings of being smothered.

I got through it, and for better or for worse, I don’t really think of death as bad anymore. Sure, it freaks me out, but death is. Death just is. I will die; the question is, will I accept this and then, how will I live my life? As a friend told me years ago, when I was in my early 20s and feeling bogged down by my first-world choices to the point of being depressed about life: Good thing it’s short, eh? Right, thanks.

In other words, drinking stalls your process and wastes your time. And, considering how few moments we have here, and how difficult it can be to learn to grasp and cherish them while sober…even if you want to drink, can you really, truly afford to? Life is short, and learning its lessons takes time. Why not start now, end quicker, and get out of class while the sun is still shining?

Going on 8 weeks tomorrow, and then (my second time around) 60 days this coming Monday! And, I’m NOT stopping this train. Drinking is simply not in my cards these days; sure, I’d like to, but when I re-think it, I don’t want to waste the hours drinking and being hung over. I have better things to do, things that provide me with much longer-term and substantial buzz than wine. Plus, I know that drinking wine after this long of being sober–I fell off ye olde wagon, remember?–will not feel good; the buzz’ll feel weird, and I likely won’t have a good time, mentally (static brain) and emotionally (downs for the first two glasses, blunted ups for however long it’ll take me to black out, which won’t be more than 2-4 more glasses). It’s not worth my valuable time anymore. Go, me.

(Still, wouldn’t it be nice…NO! Down, wolf, down.) 😉

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