Tag Archives: self-empowerment

Sobriety does not have to be a religion

19 Apr

11:28 am

So, a few nights ago, I watched two episodes of Cosmos and then watched the blood moon lunar eclipse from my roof. And I realized: none of this really matters. In a good way.

Lately (as in, the past year?), I’ve been mulling over this idea of “Being Sober” as being almost as bad as being an active “alcoholic.” It’s almost as much of a mindfuck, to be blunt. And, while choosing to NOT Be Sober does not have to mean I drink again, I think it might be the best thing I can do for myself right now.

I think there actually does come a point when your recovery ends. When you need to stop ruminating, stop excavating–not everything has to do with wine, or lack thereof. Especially when all this connecting-the-dots starts to subtract from your overall well-being.

Honestly, even though I haven’t been to meetings in a long time, I, too, have been indoctrinated with this false idea that “addiction” is in me, forever. It’s not. I am a completely different person than I was a few years ago–I don’t want to drink. YES, I have my moments, when I get depressed, or frustrated, or angry and want to blot it out. However, I’ve re-learned how to cope (I think we all do learn, at some point in our lives, and then “forget” when we give in to using alcohol for this purpose).

That’s the thing about the 12-step, and the disease-model: they both presume that you still want to drink after all, and they don’t take into account the fact that you’ve healed mind, body, and increasingly, soul. Personally, I have NO desire to blot out with booze–and next-to no desire to “have fun” by drinking. (I mean, I do miss the buzz, but maybe that’s because I have depression, and I haven’t as yet encountered an antidote that worked as well as wine.) I have an inkling that my body and mind have changed so much that drinking would not affect me the way it did before–drinking those first two glasses equals static brain instead of euphoria, in other words.

Wine is an option, but it’s not the best one. But, isn’t that what EVERYONE knows? Maybe it just took me a fuck-lot longer to figure out that life lesson than others.

Is it necessary for me to Be Sober, which has become burdensome? In my opinion, no, not really. In my gut, I know that I don’t have to drink, ever again. And, that simply means, I don’t have to drink. It doesn’t have to mean more. Sobriety does not have to be a religion, with all its confining constructs–constructs that I’ve built, and imprisoned myself within. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that Jesus was rebelling against, simply by preaching, You can contact God and have a relationship with Him without intermediaries. It kind of reminds me of the organized religion that inadvertantly sprang up around Jesus’s teachings!

I used to think about a LOT of other interesting, exciting things; now, I find myself focusing on not drinking all the time. It’s sad, in a way. When I say, I miss me, this is what I mean. And, I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve been blogging on it constantly, and thereby making it more of a Thing? Who knows? Right now, I’m thinking about the cosmos, and the cities I’ve lived in, and science, and volunteering, and the fun I’m going to have in the future. Not the past, not drinking, not being “diseased” or tempted to drink. Not relating my behavior and mood swings and anger to wine, AGAIN.

Anyway, I think it’s just time for me to move on. Get back to living life, and not living recovery.

Happy Easter. May yourSELF be resurrected! 🙂

Advertisements

Lessons in letting go

5 Apr

1:57 am

Well, yet another “lesson” in forgiveness? That is surely the plus-side of this week’s equation. As my mom says, let it go. You’ve apologized once, now let it go. Easier said than done, like many things in sobriety.

I have to say, I’ve been wanting to drink over this; but, I’m glad I haven’t, mainly because getting through the upset, getting over the anxiety around how to deal with an upcoming confrontation (in May), and grappling with what’s really bothering me–how do I accept that someone actually hates me–these are obstacles that have to be surmounted. I wish I could avoid this confrontation, but I know that I will never move on–and grow toward a MUCH stronger me–if I don’t have it.

As many of you know, I offended my brother’s girlfriend two-and-a-half years ago, and there has been an unhealthy (to say the least) back-and-forth between all of us since then: first he forgives me, then he checks back in with his grudge-holding girlfriend, and then he seemingly changes his mind and nothing is forgiven; or, he engages in a passive-aggressive thing, where he says one thing to me, and then when he gets home, he has to hang up the phone and listen to his girlfriend tell him what a bad sister I am. And on and on and on.

Well, I’ve laid low the past year (i.e., haven’t had much contact with my brother except, well, friendly phone chats about once a month), but she got drunk and contacted me the other day with a vicious Facebook mail. Ugh. Just when I thought it was over. I left them a voicemail message a few weeks ago–once again saying I was sorry–and the latest is, I received an angry, nasty “you hurt me/us and I will never forgive you for as long as I live” email from the girlfriend the other day (sent from HIS account no less, which makes me wonder if I should ever send him anything again to that email if she’s checking it, too).

Needless to say, it put me into a tailspin. Why? I don’t know. Why do I give two shits about what some crazy woman thinks of me? Eventually, I’ll come around and be able to make fun of just how ridiculous this has become (trying to explain all the Facebook’ing and emailing to my mother made me realize how fourth-grade it seems). But for now, it’s draining and almost maddening to be somewhat forced to re-visit the horror of that night because the girlfriend decides that she wants to play.

Really, though, why do I care so much? What bothers me to the point where my voice trembles talking about it and my stomach feels bloated from the loads of adrenaline? Mainly, I think I just feel extremely uncomfortable knowing that someone hates me so much, however irrational she may be. And, it makes me feel ill that I have to see her and somehow interact with her when we are forced to hang out at the wedding we’re both going to in May. I have never dreaded an event so much. And that really, really sucks.

But, I’ll get over it. Talking it out with my mom helped me to accept that her email was bullshit; and the way she is treating me is a choice, one that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with her, and her reliance on her number-one tool: resentment. THEY might believe that their grudge–their hurt, their anger, their persistent hate–is mine to keep, too; but I know that it is all theirs.

I realize that she has actually given ME a lot of power here–like, could I really have had that much of an influence on her life? Wow, I feel sorry for her that her life is THAT boring. The irony that in her attempt to insult me, she laid ALL her cards on the table is, of course, completely lost on her. She may never forgive me, but at the end of the day, when I see her and my brother, I’ll probably feel nothing but pity.

What I have realized is that I have to let them go. Believe them when they say they don’t want anything to do with me. (For this week, at least.) And, hold them to it. You know, not having anything to do with me means also, not getting to send me drunk hate-mail in the middle of the night.

I wish she’d stay home. There’s the slight possibility, seeing how she’s backed out of engagements before because too many people she “hates” are going to be there. But, in a way, I NEED this confrontation. And, I know that after the first awkward encounter, I will have mastered her, and her hate, and letting go of the entire sordid affair. It’s going to suck, but this will eventually all be over.

And now I am boring myself, because there are SO many good things to think about, like the “key” lime pie I’m going to make tomorrow, for instance. Or the friends I’ve made in my life, and the people I’ve met in my moves and travels–the full array of which is hard to even grasp, there are so many amazing ones. Or my sweet dog, who is my protectress.

(As you can imagine, the girlfriend also tried to disparage my sobriety–as being somehow fake, as alcoholism being a foolish choice and not a disease. I laughed at that, mainly because it’s SO ill-informed and simply not true. BUT, I have to say, it’ll probably get me through the next few months of sobriety. Just to prove her wrong in person will be so very satisfying: I AM sober, I can stay sober, and I am doing better and more awesome each and every day. I can’t WAIT to stand my ground–in my 4-inch heels, and sparkly-unicorn gown, looking fabulous–and say loud and proud, I am a sober fucking alcoholic, and I feel AMAZING. Tell me what’s fake about that…BITCH!)

Deep breath, I can deal with this

18 Mar

12:40 pm

I HATE CONFRONTATION. I mean, it sends my heart rate to the moon, and turns my stomach to knots. It has always been a problem for me. I mean, I can’t really convey to you how much I hate confrontation; some people thrive on it, whereas I avoid it like…death. It made being a “beat reporter” really hard, which is why I am not doing that job (duh). If I could, I’d never piss anyone off, never rock anyone’s boat. But, sometimes–a LOT of times–it has GOT to be done. People’s boats need to be rocked. That, I know, will be a lifelong learning process for me, but I’m up for it. I have to be.

I received yet another nasty Facebook message from my brother’s girlfriend–a whole two years after the incident (long story very short: I blacked out and yelled some really nasty things at her, probably threatened her with physical violence, rolled around on the floor and came to in a heap of tears). Deep breath, I can deal with this. I am sober, and even though I am shaking right now, I know this much to be true (for me, to MY story): she will not bully me anymore.

Her message was mean, hateful, and took me totally by surprise. I do not like emotional surprises–I’ve had enough of them to last my poor little heart a lifetime. And, I do not like being bullied–I can see this now. I think I’ve been bullied a lot in my life, but never really accepted it and dealt with it. It sucks that I have to deal with this, because I really dislike standing up for myself. It’s like, I wish the world just stood up FOR me, you know? I can see that now. I can totally see that now.

Anyway, I wrote her back, told her that if she wanted to engage in meaningful conversation about this, she has my cell phone number. I told her that I will not let her bully me with random, hateful messages on Facebook, and I told her that I think we should at least attempt to resolve this. Then, I texted and left a voicemail for my brother–apparently, he didn’t know about the message. I will follow through and call him later–it’s been six weeks since I left him/her my “I’m sorry” voicemail, and the only peep I heard from my brother OR her about that was a text from my brother, a week later no doubt, thanking me for being thoughtful.

I feel good about telling her that I refuse to be bullied, for the most part. I know that could (will) be twisted into a “confrontational” remark, but it’s just HOW it has to be, in my mind. I will no longer be bullied by anyone. That is what she is trying to do. I am not afraid of her (yes, I am, but I’m not going to let anyone but you guys know that). I figured, if I don’t do anything, this will just keep going on and on. So, the best approach is to draw my line, confront both of them (well, be aggressive and not passive aggressive), and at least try to resolve this before the wedding in May. I will call my brother until he and I actually talk–if she wants in on the conversation, all the better. It will suck talking to her, but I welcome the confrontation now, and not at the wedding.

I am shaking right now. I hate confrontation. My voice shakes, my stomach lurches, and my heart rate literally goes up to like, 150 beats a minute. But, it has got to be done, and I am going to do it. My brother is getting married at a relatively grand ceremony in May, and I simply refuse to go into that situation with blinders on. I am his photographer, for fuck’s sake–I can’t be tiptoe’ing around the guests, looking over my shoulder, wondering when my brother’s girlfriend is going to get too drunk and lash out verbally or God forbid, physically. I know I WILL be wondering that the whole time, but at least I can dissipate the dread a little beforehand.

THIS is why I don’t want to relate to them after this wedding. How can you have a relationship with people who act this way? YES, I hurt her feelings; but, it’s been two years, and she’s getting drunk (I could tell she was drunk) and sending me Facebook messages telling me that I’m a lying bitch, my life is fake, and that I am a “user bitch cunt?” Who does this? Who holds onto this brand of anger–without EVER having acknowledged my letters, emails, and phone call saying I was sorry? A crazy person, that’s who. A person with a personality disorder, that’s who. A person who is so crippled by mental problems, so fixated on fueling her life with hate and resentment, that she literally can’t move.

I am proud of the life I’ve lived so far; it is not fake, it is real. My sobriety is real. My relationship is real. My attempt to make a freelance career is really fucking real. My travels and volunteer work abroad, that’s real. My friends–you guys, my real-life ones–are real. Yet…I am letting this one person make me doubt all this? Ugh.

It is not easy to stand your ground, but you must. And, I’m simply glad at the moment that I have my sober buttress to lean against here. I can’t really explain it except, it is my rock-solid wall, and I am gripping it with all my might right now. It’s strong, unbending, and both cool and warm at the same time.

Deep breath. I can deal with this.

Now, time to celebrate today–not me, just today–which is Day 365! Go, me. Go, us. Go, all of us, struggling with things, big and small. Just stay sober; if for no other reason than, you will need that sober wall to lean against one day, and it will be there for you.

HALT–Hungry, Angry, Lack of control, Tired

12 Feb

8:09 pm

HALT. Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I am hearing that phrase ringing truer and truer the longer I maintain my sobriety. For me, that’d be, Don’t get too Hungry, Angry, Lack of control, or Tired.

My biggest triggers are indeed hunger and anger–both make me feel like I might want to drink. However, even bigger ones are feeling like I don’t have control and feeling fatigued (sick, or ill, comes in here, too, and maybe that should be put into “lack of control”). I realized this today, as I was interpreting my life as being super-out of my control. A few tears welled up in my eyes as I checked off all the shit that I simply DO NOT have control over:

work
the energy to attain said paycheck
my constant back pain
my ongoing sleep disturbances/insomnia
my water quality (we have cistern water)
my REACTIONS to all this lack of control
etc. (this would include, for example, my greying hair–haha)

In writing this, I realize now that I do, in fact, have control–or the ability to control–all these things! I just have to consider different options.

Obviously, I don’t have control of the world, of the way things happen. BUT, I realized today that there are some things that I NEED control over, to a certain extent, in order to remain sober, basically. And, that what I CAN do is construct a life that feels safe, in that certain elements are there/controlled for.

When it comes to work, I know I need to keep it challenging, but I’ve learned to take breaks, turn it off when need be (well, learning how not to exhaust myself before it’s too late and I hear wolfie breathing down my neck), and set only attainable goals. Once upon a time, I used to believe that “Make your goals unattainable” was a perfect motto to live by. Now? No. Just, no. Not if you’re someone like me, who goes crazy trying. I mean, of course, we all have to work, and we might not like that; but, I can choose to let’s say, write freelance instead of going into an offices every day and doing marketing copy. I can control for the amount I earn, and the amount of time I put in (unless, of course, I’m a new freelance writer, which I am!). Plus, for me, going into an offices adds a dimension of “pain” that is hard for my younger self–and sacral spine–to imagine.

So, OK, I have control over my choice of work. And a relative degree of control over the amount of incidental pain I have to endure every day. Yet…with that tradeoff comes the uncertainty of the freelance paycheck–will I or won’t I either have enough work or have enough energy to find enough work? That, I’d say, is my number one item in the “I feel like I have no control” column. Right under this is my reaction to this kind of stress, which is negative. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t have control over my reactions, and I react, and I feel angry and frustrated–just like I did when I was drinking, and man, it is the exact same feeling and it makes me want to drink. Of course, I calm myself down better now, and talk myself off the edge fairly efficiently, but, I wish I didn’t let myself get there in the first place.

Sometimes a lack of initiative on my part is really just a lack of stamina. I can’t go as hard as I used to; or, I simply don’t want to. Or, I don’t have wine to fuel me. I get tired faster, and what with being so PAWS-y for so long, I am just now recovering my powers of concentration. The past month this has been waning, and it worries me. Being tired–or sick, I guess–hasn’t helped, and that just makes me angry. Very mature, I know.

So, I don’t know what this post is about except, if you need more control, take it. There are some things that need to be there, and that are OK to hold an iron fist above–especially if the stress of not having that control is going to make you wander aimlessly back to the wine aisle in the grocery store. If you need a break, take it. It’s not worth drinking over. If you get extra hungry, or extra tired, or extra angry–hello, PMS!–sleep on it. Manage it, but let some things slide (it’s OK to binge on ice cream for dinner, says Dr. Drunky Drunk Girl; it’s more than OK to sleep for 10 hours if you have the time). It’s not worth drinking over. If you feel like you have no control, maybe you just don’t have enough control? Getting sober is hard and takes a lot of focus and concentration–you are basically re-wiring your brain–you need some things to be taken care of, and not flying around, willy nilly, you know? Maybe you need to construct a tighter household, so to speak; pull some things off the burners; cut the last 14 items off your to-do list–they probably aren’t that important anyway.

Sometimes still, it’s hard to figure out if I’m tired for real, or if I’m burnt out (I see my energy to pitch stories coming in daily, weekly, and monthly waves), or if I’m just being PAWS-y and need a break because my sober brain isn’t ready yet for the big leagues. It’s hard to figure out how, exactly, to react differently, and to gain more control over my reactions. But, I know if I try to change the course of my reactions, even when it feels like I’ve gone too far in, I can do it.

What helped me today to curb my emotional reaction (to the stress of the pressures of freelance, of feeling nostalgic for my grad school years as I contemplate my hourly wage at my new job)? Shutting myself in the office for the first hour or so, and then, taking a little walk later morning. And then, remembering that I am a new me, and I am no longer the girl who reacts violently and carries it with her to the end of the day and the end of three wine bottles. I am a new me, and I do things differently. And, this is how I do it now. And then, realizing that right then and there, I am re-learning how to do things, and how to do things better than I used to. I am practicing this and I am turning the tables. It’s weird, and painful, but good.

Sometimes I feel like a child. With navel-gazing powers that rival a superhero’s. Yes, I’m ready for a change of scenery!

Into every life a little PAWS will fall

5 Jan

12:29 pm

I was going to post on something that I mentioned to Lilly the other day–how we have to remember that we’re addicted not just to booze, but to the “idea” of what booze gives us, does for us, makes us; and how we have to grieve the person we “lost”–but instead, I’d just like to keep it simple: PAWS sucks.

According to the “illustrious” Wikipedia, the symptoms of PAWS–post-acute-withdrawal syndrome–include mood swings resembling an affective disorder, anhedonia (the inability to feel pleasure from anything beyond use of the drug), insomnia, extreme drug craving and obsession, anxiety and panic attacks, depression, suicidal ideation and suicide and general cognitive impairment. These can last from a year to several decades, or indefinitely. YIKES.

I highlighted the ones that have affected me the most, and I think we can all agree: once we stop drinking, it doesn’t necessarily do jack shit for us. In fact, for me it meant seeing myself succumb to a lack of motivation that I blamed on my inherent nature, when really, it was just me coming off booze. That goes for my ongoing mood swings and depression, too.

I felt frustrated A LOT. Up until about a few months ago, actually. I mean, we stop drinking, and we’re supposed to feel great and happy and lovely, right? And yet…we feel WORSE sometimes (most of the time). We not only feel the depression or anxiety that we’ve been self-medicating away, but PAWS brings its own special form of hell. And, until we have medications to help us out with PAWS symptoms, we simply have to go through it in order to be able to look back and say, Ahh, so that’s what they were talking about. FUCK.

My main symptom has been lack of motivation. A feeling of “meh,” or “blah,” or “why bother?” surrounding basically everything–eating, reading, watching movies; working, hiking; going to bars and picnics and barbeques. It wasn’t that I didn’t have fun doing these things, or that they were so bad to do sober; it’s just that I totally noticed how much I MISSED wine and how most things just didn’t offer much reward for doing them without it. Wine was a serious motivating factor; it was also my main reward.

In learning more about how our reward circuitry gets fucked up when we come to depend on booze, it’s not hard to see how nothing but wine would motivate me. Our brains become sensitized to alcohol. What does this mean? It means that, other rewards–incentives, like eating good food or having an orgasm; or higher-level rewards, like a future job done well, or a big professional goal accomplished–other rewards lose meaning. They hold no weight, in fact. It’s like, the ONLY thing that’s going to do it for me, and by that I mean, instill in my brain a DESIRE to do something, is wine. Forget that it may or may not give me pleasure. What’s happened is that your dopamine circuits (among others that make wine the “high” that it is) have become attuned to this one stimulus–your only motivating factor becomes wine. Otherwise, there literally is no reason, in your mind, to do it.

Now, I’ve blogged about this before, but I’ve seen a lot of people on here lately complaining that they’re feeling depressed, or unmotivated, that they’re just going through the motions and really, wasn’t quitting drinking supposed to have the opposite effect? And, all I can say is, it takes time. YOU HAVE TO GIVE IT TIME. You have to live through the “blah” period. For me, that lasted for a good 1.5 years. I’m sorry, but it’s the truth. My innate motivation–you know, how I used to “get pumped” to work out, to job search, to plan a trip to Greece…because these things are inherently worthy of doing–took some time to return.

I journaled a lot. I felt sorry for myself a lot. But, I also just went through the motions, and there’s a LOT to be said for just doing what needs to be done. I made a lot of to-do lists, and then, finally stopped berating myself for not getting to much of what was on my list. I just didn’t drink. Sometimes I’d go to bed early; a lot of times I did only what needed to be done in terms of work (I didn’t make very much money last year–haha); I bitched to my boyfriend; I took long walks with my dogs (they are my “higher power,” I swear); I ate a lot of sweets; I drank a shit-ton of Diet Coke. There were treats in the form of trips and hikes and lazy days on the beach–which were sometimes (often) clouded by me feeling bad or guilty about taking time off to heal, or not being capable of enjoying the moment. It just takes time, and constant effort. But, mostly, it just takes doing it, and going through the motions. Believe me, you will NOT be going through the motions forever, even though you’re convinced that things will never feel good again and you might as well drink because there is NO WAY you’re not drinking and putting up with this shit forever.

It’s like a really bad breakup: one day, you’ll just move on. One day, you’ll wake up and the gut-ache will have dissipated, poof, gone. One day, you’ll be like, Oh, well, he was a fucking asshole anyway. One day, you’ll say, Huh, I think I’m gonna wear some lipstick today, and maybe even some short shorts. HA.

Your motivation–spark, enthusiasm, desire to do, and to go, and to achieve–will come back. But it’s going to take time, healing time. It wasn’t until I gave myself a SOLID 7, 8, 9 months (and this was AFTER a solid 2, and then, 6 months first-tries at getting sober) that I started to see my thinking change. To feel butterflies again. YES, I’d actually feel butterflies once in a while (when was the last time I felt butterflies, in the ’90s?) thinking about the trip I was going to take, the book I was going to write, the new job I was going to apply for and work.

I’m still just starting to come back, but I am coming back. I have found myself having more random man-on-street conversations, being open to socializing; applying for jobs and not feeling like I can’t do them (that was scary, having so little self-confidence when it came to work, which was always “my thing”); in general, feeling at ease in my own skin again. Thinking back, I wonder, why did I make it so hard? Why was I just so…weird all the time? Not “myself?” Literally beside myself? Because getting sober–and PAWS–sucks, that’s why. But, it’s not going to suck all the time, and it’s definitely not going to suck forever. And, you will get through this. You have to. If you keep not drinking!

Consider this: what IF you healed your mind, and you could drink again? What IF you healed your mind and you simply did not WANT to drink again? These are very real possibilities. And, you can even use them as motivation to not drink–IT’S OK. Don’t let other people’s personal experiences in getting sober bog you down: your path is your own, and what you CHOOSE to do after a period of abstinence WHICH ALLOWS YOU TO FULLY HEAL, MENTALLY AND EMOTIONALLY, is up to you. But first you have to heal. And you have to see how this might work, the longer you go without your “go-to” (wine, in my case).

I’ve got a story/essay to outline, and job to apply to, and then, “me” time! And that always involves trees, sun, water, and exercise! Happy Sunday, all. (And, I’m inching toward 300 days come next Sunday–woo hoo, I guess.)

My life doesn’t have to center around alcohol anymore

5 Dec

11:17 am

Lots of folks–LOTS–talk about booze-ism as a perpetual disease. What, is it like a flower that comes up every spring that you planted 10 years ago?

The BEST part about this journey, for me, has been seeing my mind heal. Witnessing the change. My actions are different, my reactions are different. WAY different. WAY better. And, maybe even back to normal.

By normal I mean, well, what do I mean? I can see now that I wasn’t “normal” back in let’s say, 2007. I know I’m a better version of myself. However, there was a sanity to my drinking, a certain “normalcy” to it before my several-years’ descent into out-of-control drinking. I’m not saying I could, or would want to, drink again, but…isn’t that the fucking point? You learn from your mistakes; now you can move on. You tried bungee jumping and decided it gave you whiplash and almost killed you. While you could do it again, you’d prefer not to, right? Same with a lot of things in my life: psychologically abusive boyfriends, poor academic choices (the expensive school over the cheaper one), “mom” jeans.

I don’t want to trivialize people’s experiences, but, they are just that.

At this point, I might choose NOT to drink even if I could, it’s that unappealing. (Well, I also know that I couldn’t “take it or leave it”–that I probably wouldn’t want to have “just one.”) I mean, there’s the short-lived buzz, but if the rest is boring or bullshit, why bother? Honestly, I’d rather not get high in order to avoid the low.

And, this is not rocket science. This is not big recovery stuff. This is not ME having a unicorns-shitting-glitter revelation. This is what most people have experienced, whether “addict” or not–some, it only took one try, others, it took a lifetime of tries.

Granted, I think addicts might feel a “higher” high than non-addicts. I don’t believe that my buzz from wine was significantly, qualitatively better than that of the annoying simpleton sitting next to me who had every hair in place, but I do assume that the relief it provided was something she had never–could never–imagine.

Anyway, what I’m saying is, you can stop dwelling on your sobriety long enough to look around to appreciate that alcohol has lost its hold on you. Sometimes, I do have the desire to drink, but it is a reaction, similar to other feelings and thoughts that would not be a good idea to react to. Drinking was a way to solve our problems, but it was a bad one. Now we are solving our problems in GOOD ways. Why? Because we know better. Consider your booze-ism as the school of hard knocks–we really did learn the hard way. But, now we know better, and we do better.

Why can’t that be enough? For recovery, I mean? I’m not saying I’m going to drink in moderation tomorrow, but I feel…healed, to a large extent. I feel better. I feel…normal, even? Maybe I hit a high bottom (maybe not); it doesn’t matter. The only thing that ever mattered to me was the fact that one, I drank alcoholically, and two, I could heal from this skewed mental state.

These days, about 18 months into sobriety, I don’t walk around constantly examining the horrible things I did, the anniversary of such and such drama. Why? Because everyone’s got a past, this is mine, moving on. These days, I walk around thinking of things worth thinking about, like friends, work, the trees, the ocean, whether or not I’m going to have kids, why that even matters. My life does not center around booze anymore. Most importantly, my life doesn’t HAVE to center around alcohol anymore, whether I’m sober or drinking.

I’m going to say this, and it might not be cool: I feel like there is such a culture of self-indulgence surrounding both drinking and getting sober. (And, for drinking, I might even substitute “using,” in general). In recovery, they hammer in the “it’s not all about you!” thing so hard, but yet…the entire recovery process IS all about you–catering to the addict’s well-being, finding the best medication to reduce the amount of pain the addict is in and the long-term cravings the addict will feel, delving into all the messed up shit that the addict went through in her life that caused her so much pain she had to use. I mean, even I saw the truth of the matter when I was binging on two bottles of wine a night: I did it because I could AFFORD to. I had the money, I had the time, and I had all the safety nets that our society provides. I was willing to spend my emotional energy, and to take physical and psychological risks. I could afford to, one way or the other.

I know there are addicts everywhere, and we share one thing in common: the urge to use to fix a pain. Addicts use as solution, even IF they think they’re just getting high. Why is it that AA works so well? It teaches you how to deal with the perceived pain of living, whether that pain comes in the form of egomania or other people’s bullshit. It seems that everyone, even the folks who say they drank for fun or “just because,” benefits from this program in that it works by giving you tools to both recognize the pain and then, transmute it into SOMETHING ELSE. That something else is life, silver not gold.

Take away the pain, and everyone can heal. Everyone can heal. And, an alcoholic past can be like a bad memory, or a faded photograph–not something you need to hold on to in order to stay sober, in order to not want to drink. I would say, hold on to the present, the desire to seek out productive solutions to this thing called life, not counterproductive ones. It becomes that simple, it really, really does. Everyone can heal. EVERYONE CAN HEAL!

Letting others take responsibility for…

7 Oct

11:38 pm

Their anger.

Their sadness.

Their confusion.

Their lack of sense of purpose, of self.

Their lack of trust, or faith.

Their joy.

Their “luck.”

Their change, or growth.

Their happiness.

I have been working on an “amends” with my brother for almost two years. Two years over ONE incident in which I blacked out and screamed mean things at him and his girlfriend, mainly at his girlfriend.

The other night, we finally talked. After months, maybe close to a year.

I got the impression that my brother was drunk. It made me smile (in an “oh, the irony” sort of way), and cringe a little. He finally asked a question about my boyfriend, which rubbed me the wrong way anyway (mind you, he’s never before, in the near-two years we’ve been dating, even acknowledge him as being in my life). And, he’s never ONCE asked me about my sobriety, how any of that is going. Not once. Ever. It’s relevant here because, if it was such a big deal, isn’t my getting sober part of that big deal now, too? Or, shouldn’t it be?

I don’t feel that pissed anymore, just sorry. Sorry about what happened, sure, of course. But sorry, too, for them. Sorry that he can’t forge the courage to call his own sister because his girlfriend is telling him he can’t. Sorry that she and he are in a relationship where she fans the flames of his anger and resentments–to match her own, many of which are based in her early-life trauma (psychological problems, incest, rape). Sorry that they don’t have any friends. Sorry that they don’t want any friends. Sorry that they might not see any of this; sorry that they seem to feel the pain that it causes anyway. Is it I who is in pain here, though? Am I unhappy because they seem unhappy to me? (Some of it is that they ARE unhappy; some of it is that I am projecting my own goals and values on them, for better or for worse.)

What I realized in all this is, everyone is responsible for their own happiness. And to grant people that responsibility is you telling them that you have faith in their ability to tackle what I would consider life’s hardest challenge–to live without resistance, i.e., be happy. Me saying I’m sorry a million times, and worrying about whether two “co-dependent” people are going to forgive me–this does me no good. This is meaningless, actually. I don’t have to care about this outcome, and I don’t have to make them happy. I don’t have to worry about whether they’re happy or not.

See, I think I’ve spent a LOT of time in my life not only caring what others think about me, but shouldering–internalizing–their responsibility for their own happiness. For some reason, I feel guilty that my brother, or my mother, or my father, or my boyfriend, or my friend is unhappy. I drank over it, in one way or another. It’s taken a lot of work, actually, to see this tendency to want to please taken to the extreme: the need to solve everyone else’s unhappiness!

Sigh. Deep breath. Like I said, I carry this around, like a burden. It’s so deeply ingrained in me that I’m barely conscious of it–this “ability” to see others’ pain and lack, and then, my habit of not letting that go and leaving them to tend their own gardens. However, when I quit drinking, it was staring me in the face, and there was no way around dealing with it. And, once I started learning how to let go, even forcing myself to “not care,” I became MUCH happier–more balanced, had more time and space to focus on my own self, my healing, tackling of cravings, even probing into deeper mental realms.

Some people don’t like it when you leave them alone, though. They don’t like it when you hand them back their issues and say, Here, this shit is YOURS, bitch (Breaking Bad reference!). It’s a rejection, and an abandonment. I’ve felt that way, actually, when certain friends (and even my brother) have told me to get a handle on my drinking…and then literally disappeared, walked away. I felt abandoned; it was unfair, I felt, and it hurt.

It was the catalyst, though, for me learning to finally stand alone, and take charge. Whether there is anyone to lean on or not. And, I could do it. I CAN do it.

So, this handing back responsibility is also a way for them to say, And, I know you can do it. I have faith in you; I know you can take responsibility for your own happiness. It’s a way for them to say, I can’t do this for you, and you can’t do mine for me–but, hey, that’s life, kiddo. We are ALL responsible for our own happiness.

This is not to say that amends aren’t important. I have to say that I don’t think I would stir the pot in the case of most of the people I’ve hurt and/or offended; it’s over, and revisiting the hurts would cause more damage. I do, however, believe that continual effort on my part to conduct my relationships well, to handle my end of the deal, is key to dissolving any and all remaining bad karma. I guess.

I wasn’t pissed at my brother after hanging up. I wasn’t dubious, or sad, or emotionally changed in any one direction. In fact, I just kind of let it go. So be it, I thought. If they’re still pissed, that’s their problem. Literally. And, problems can be solved. Just with this one, it’s not going to be by me.

doctorgettingsober

A psychiatrist blogging about her own demons and trying to deal with them sober

Storm in a Wine Glass

I used to drink and now I don't

Off-Dry

I got sober. Life got big.

Laura Parrott Perry

We've all got a story to tell.

Finding a Sober Miracle

A woman's quest for one year of sobriety

Dorothy Recovers

An evolving tale of a new life in recovery

Lose 'da Booze

MY Journey towards Losing 'da Booze Voice within and regaining self-control

Life Out of the Box

Buy a product, help a person in need + see your impact.

Laurie Works

Intuitive Tarot Guidance

Drunky Drunk Girl

A blog about getting sober

The Soberist Blog

a life in progress ... sans alcohol

soberjessie

Getting sober to be a better mother, wife, and friend

mentalrollercoaster

the musings and reflections of one person's mental amusement park

TRUDGING THROUGH THE FIRE

-Postcards from The Cauldron

Guitars and Life

Blog about life by a music obsessed middle aged recovering alcoholic from South East England

changingcoursenow

A woman's journey to happiness and health

Sober Identity

#Life Coach #50+ Years #Striving #Thriving #Emerge: Growing From Addiction-Starter's Guide" #AfterRehabCoaching

WELL CALL ME CRAZY

This WordPress.com site is about hope, trauma, hypocrisy, and transformation.

A Canvas Of The Minds

A unique collaboration of different perspectives on mental health and life

married to an alcoholic

life with an alcoholic husband

Life Unbuzzed

Rowing my sober boat gently down the stream

ChardonNo!

Original Goal: 100 Days of Sobriety - New Goal: 200 Days

Sober Grace

Finding and practicing grace in recovery

Mended Musings

Healing, Feeling, Thriving

Stinkin' Thinkin'

muckraking the 12-step industry

Sober Politico

Young and Sober, Surrounded by Egos and Alcohol

Carrie On Sober

A blog to help keep me on the right track...

My Healing Recovery

Healing from the inside

The Sober Journalist

A blog about quietly getting sober

mysterygirlunknown

My Desire for a New and Better Life

Arash Recovery

My journey to get back on my feet

Mished-up

Mixed-up, Mashed-up, Mished-up.

The Party Doesn't Leave the Girl

a memoir of sobriety...today.

Good2begone

I'm not really here.

themiracleisaroundthecorner

There are no coincidences.

The Red Sox Saved My Life

A peek into the recovery of another drunk.

1800ukillme

Just another WordPress.com site

The Existential Addict

One choice at a time...

Al K Hall-ic Anonymous

Get With The Program.

thinkingaboutgratitude

How gratitude has helped me stay sober, "one day at a time."

Living Life In Control

A journey into taking control of life and seeing what's on the other side of the mountain

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

unpickled.wordpress.com/

How I Secretly Quit My Secret Habit of Secretly Drinking

Out of the Bottle

I Dream of Beaming

Wandering American

Advice and tips on how to travel the world.

%d bloggers like this: