Musings At 6 Months Sober

On April 24th of this year, I took my last drink. I didn’t know it at the time, but something had shifted in me while I finished the last of a 6 pack at home. I was surprise picked up from a local bar after imbibing heavily. I was shitfaced. I pretended I wasn’t but NB knew. I suppose it happened during my drunken crusade against everything I love that night, although I don’t remember a damn thing. The following morning it was there waiting for me even though I didn’t expect it to be. The echo of a click that I was unfamiliar with. This feeling took me a long time to name. I still don’t have one word for it. It was kind of a throbbing ache and kind of a sharp stabbing. It was kind of a relief and kind of my worst fucking nightmare.

It was different because I didn’t have a hangover that day, yet I still didn’t remember the majority of my night. The dread I felt is indescribable. The discomfort I felt was palpable. The knowledge that I was not living up to the person I knew I could be was lying in front of me, writhing around. It was the truth that had been waiting for me for years. With every sip, every shot and every morning after, it remained the same. I had kept my eyes so tightly shut in fear of how hard it would be to execute what I knew in my head and heart I absolutely had to do. I had to stop drinking. Forever. The truth is that every hour I spent drinking I spiralled further into oblivion. I was leaning in to my pain but not in the way I needed to be, not in a healthy or productive way. I was leaning in to wanting to die. I have always struggled with depression and more recently have been working on it in an honest way, but when I was drinking all my attempts at self-love/self-improvement were a fucking joke. I wanted to die because I thought it would be easier than what I was going through. I was leaning in to self-pity and self-sabotage because I wasn’t getting ‘my way’. I wanted it to stop, or for someone to save me, or for something to distract me long enough that I could find a new life and start all over again. The good news is all those things did happen, just not in the way I expected them to.

It did stop. The relentless cycle of being hurt, drinking to forget/numb out, waking up apologetic/filled with shame and then starting back at the beginning (whether it was the morning after or the weekend after). It stopped when I realized I was in a hamster wheel with all my regret and missed opportunity and until I ceased running I would never get free. It stopped when I admitted (out loud) that I hated myself and I hated being drunk and that I had to fucking change. It stopped when I accepted that alcohol was prohibiting me from moving forward. Alcohol was prohibiting me from growing up. It stopped when I admitted I was done blaming my problems on life/work/boys/girls/Mother Dearest/whatever else. It stopped when I admitted I was living a big fat lie.

I was saved. Not by any version of a god or Jesus. Not even by a cute boy who kinda looks like Jesus. Not by rehab or medication or AA. I don’t do the god thing, I don’t have faith in a HP and I don’t feel like less-than without one, but my recovery has certainly looked different because of it. I was in love with a man when I got sober and he played a huge part in this path but he didn’t do this for me, either. I wanted to go to rehab because I thought it would make my problem seem more real (whatever the fuck that means) and I didn’t go because of money and the idea of taking a month off work. I’m kinda glad I didn’t in the end. I’m proud that I was able to do this the way I have. I found a lovely therapist in recovery, but she didn’t save me either (she certainly helps, though). I am on no medication and I don’t swear by a program or a system. I wasn’t saved by anything specific, rather by everything all at once. I saved myself somehow. I dug deep and stopped being a fucking brat; that’s what it came down to for me. I had to stop acting like the world owed me an easy way out. I had to stop acting like I was the only person who was in pain. This is just what my journey looked like, although I know everyone’s is different.

I did find a new life. It is incredibly full but with holes of who I used to be punched through it. These holes are in the shapes of lost loves; cigarettes, alcohol, NB, my depression. It is exhausting and scary. It is also ridiculous and hilarious. I am so filled with gratitude that I’m 100% certain most of my friends now want to puke whenever I start talking about it, but I don’t give a shit! I am thankful and humbled and terrified and all the good/bad things. It can be non-stop which is when it gets taxing. It has two no-longer-tiny kittens in it that make me want to scream from cuteness and frustration. It has a best friend/Roomie that I actually get to be there for and with whom I share a one-in-a-million connection. It has a 1 month old niece that I can get to know and love and who will be in my life forever. This life has meaning even though it fucking hurts sometimes. This life has purpose even though I don’t always know what it is. This life is honest even when my once-addicted brain tries to lie to me.

I had to start all over again. I had no choice. Roomie calls this the ‘overhaul’. I had to reset my brain; all my coping mechanisms, all my misdirected love, all my not-good-enough thoughts. It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t. I think for the first few months I was so awed by my rawness that I just went along with whatever my brain was doing. I cried a lot, I ate a lot, I slept a lot. Now that it’s less fresh, my brain has begun to fight back; which can be alarming at times. My depression has resurged in a floating/looming way but hasn’t touched down fully yet. I’m anticipating this and it petrifies me. I have started eating regularly and running every other day and with that my self-esteem has plummeted from the weight gain; even though I’m told I look fantastic I still feel fat and unattractive. I guess it comes with the territory, all this change can be uncomfortable. I work on these new insecurities daily.

I’ve just begun to recognize the woman I am, as me. I’m starting to know what I like and what I don’t like. I’m learning what is too much for me and what is not enough. I laugh so much now that I can’t control it; this was a foreign thing to me 6 months ago. I feel like I have so much more to learn about myself and the world around me AND the acceptance of that undertaking genuinely excites me. I do get sad often; about my lost life, about Mother Dearest, about NB, about the time I spent pushing this life away from me, but I can’t explain how incredible it feels to also know that I am so fucking lucky to be where I am today.

Ultimately all I can do is take this life as it happens. Sounds overly simplistic doesn’t it? It isn’t. It’s fucking hard. It’s hard to surrender to it all, every day. Let things humble me, every day. Let people in with the knowledge they will probably hurt me, every day. Let the bad and the good wash over me and then trickle away, every day. It’s hard but it’s worth it and that’s why I do it. That’s why we all do it. Everybody following this path knows that we’re ‘on to something’.  We may be green and raw, we may be scared and lost, but we are warriors and we are unfuckwithable. 

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So Many Things.

I had a big talk with Roomie the other night about my sobriety (real surprise there, I know) I give her an enormous shout-out for always having ears for this subject, anyway, it was a goodie. I tried (and failed) to explain to her the feeling I have after another day of not drinking. This is the best I can do to describe it.

I feel like I have a huge secret. I feel like I won the goddamn lottery. Every night before I fall asleep I do some version of Yoga Nidra, and when it comes time to ruminate on whatever I’m grateful for before I set my sankalpaI immediately think of only one thing; I am so fucking lucky that I’m sober. I can’t explain it properly. I won’t tell you that every second of everyday is filled with misty eyed wonder, that’s just not how it is. But I will tell you that it’s worth it anyway. My days still include an alarming number of miserable and sad minutes. There are hours filled with general disdain for everyone and everything. Yet hiding in every day are moments where I am stupefied at how quickly things are falling into place for me.

I remember waking up the morning after I had my last drink and wanting an immediate fix. I wanted to erase the damage I had inflicted on myself and the man I love (but couldn’t remember what exactly I did or said). I wanted to erase the crippling shame of not knowing what happened. I wanted to erase the tears and the snot pouring out of my face and teleport anywhere else, to a time where I wasn’t a huge fuck-up drunk failure. I wanted to erase myself. I didn’t want to do the work, I just wanted it to happen. I quickly came to the reality of it all; that changing my life meant changing this one thing. This thing would change everything else. It seemed simple and impossible all at once, but I knew it was the only way. So I said to Roomie ‘this is it’ and that I might need help and that I might stumble and cry and suck at it, but I was going to do it anyway. This thing held a few big truths and a million little truths in it and I hated myself for having to accept all of them simultaneously.

The one thing was obviously that I couldn’t fucking drink anymore. I had to quit. Not moderate or take it easy. Fucking quit. Forever. Roomie sat with me and chain-smoked and told me she loved me no matter how many awful things I had done and didn’t remember doing, but that if I continued down the path I was on I would lose everything and everyone around me and I would regret it for the rest of my pickled life. I hated that day. I hated every wide awake hungover minute. I hated the talking to NB gave me in bed later that afternoon. I hated the spotlight that followed me around my house. I hated that I couldn’t take any of it back and that I would carry all of it with me for the rest of my life.

I look back on the whole day with tenderness, strangely enough. I want to give the ugly, hungover, shame-filled Lana a fucking hug. I want to tell her how funny life is going to get and how much it is going to hurt. I want to explain that things won’t really make anymore sense than they did before but they will also make the most sense. I want to tell her that in a few short months her drinking life will feel like a book she’s read about somebody else.

I kept hearing about how once you make the choice to quit boozing/drugging/whatever-ing that your life opens up; things happen that you can’t even fathom while actively addicted. It all sounds like bullshit, I know. I rolled my eyes at everything I read about sobriety. It was ridiculous to think that I, someone who will be forever fucked up, could possibly stoop to a level where meditation and saying no were in my list of daily to-do’s. How trite! How mundane! How yucky! I know, I know. What I didn’t (and you probably don’t) know was that the whole ‘journey being a gift’ spiel everybody parrots starts to ring true.

My first sobers days arrived and I quickly realized that I knew absolute dick about myself. I knew dick about recovering from addiction, even a secret/insidious/do-I-really-have-a-problem one. I knew dick about honesty or surrender or building a healthy environment. I knew dick about life. More specifically I knew dick about my life. And that’s the only truth I’ve still got some days; I won’t bullshit you. I still wake up certain mornings and feel like I’ve been run over by a freight train. I still wake up exhausted and frustrated and weepy for no reason. I still wake up lost and confused and questioning. It’s different now, though, because I feel all those things without a safety blanket (and without a hangover). That’s the real thing all the sober people are constantly talking about, guys, you have to live your life 150% present. Which means you have to be heartbroken and not drink it away. You have to talk about (and have) sex without booze to remove your inhibitions. You have to figure out how to fall asleep without a nightcap. You have to plan dates and get-togethers and weekends away without a stocked bar. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? I feel you. But maybe I should have written that differently… instead of ‘you have to’ do those things it really should say you get to do those things. You get to live out your life without blinders and bubblewrap on.

You Get To Live Every Fucking Second.

I know that also sounds terrible to you, right? It isn’t. I promise. It’s raw and beautiful and definitely intimidating. So I guess it is terrible while also not being terrible. Confusing, I know. I will say this; it’s mostly a fucking privilege and a gift and a god damned miracle. Especially for me, for us, the ones who have craters in our memories from years of drinking ourselves into oblivion. You have conversations late at night that hold the truest, quietest epiphanies and you wake up the following day remembering all of them and they are still real and you aren’t cringing remembering how your voice sounded! The entire experience of a sober life feels like one giant holy shit moment. The kind of moment we talk about with only our closest friends, with our lovers, with our mentors, with our shrinks. And yes, sometimes those moments are fucked up and ugly. But sometimes they are perfect and spectacular. You get to be present for every single second of every single one of them. 

Sobriety is the key that opened (and continues to open) every lock that exists inside of me, and I can’t fucking explain how wonderful that is. Not fully the way that I feel it, not ever. I will keep trying to though, because it is impossible to keep all this beauty to myself. Quitting the sauce was the most magical, preposterous, petrifying thing I have ever done. It continues to be all of those things. I thought this feeling would go away after a few weeks, but it hasn’t. Not yet, and hopefully not ever. I’ve put over four months of sober time together and I am fucking flabbergasted at how awesome I feel when I realize that I never have to do all of that again. Wait, sorry, I literally get to Never Drink Again. This is huge, guys, it’s fucking enormous. Without a doubt I can say that sobriety is the biggest, most incredible gift that I’ve ever given myself and it’s also undoubtedly the most important thing I’ll ever have. 

Huh? When Did September Get Here?

I’m struck with the ‘holy shit’s thinking about what I was doing on this day last year, what we were doing. NB, myself and a few other friends. We were drinking to Roomie and Whatshisnuts’ demise (her included). More accurately, we were using the break up as an excuse to drink a stupid amount on a random Thursday afternoon. We went to the restaurant and played card games, as we chugged plenty-o-beers. We definitely had some Jameson, too.

NB and I had an entire night to spend together, magically, somehow. Maybe even an entire weekend, I can’t really remember. I was giddy that we didn’t have to keep looking at the clock that night. I watched as he beat everybody (including me and Roomie) at Golf, the game he taught the entire crew the previous summer. I always loved watching him play. I loved watching him, period. He had a way about him. I was a moth, he was a lamp. No, it’s more like he was the god-damned sun, anyhow, we went bowling down the road from the restaurant and somehow ended up shitfaced (quelle surprise), downing gin and tonics at a karaoke bar that I wouldn’t be able to find again with a gun to my head. We sang the Moody Blues together and I remember not giving a single fuck if we kissed in front of the people we were with, mind you I was usually the one who didn’t care about such things. Why would I? I then remember clumsily falling into bed together that night and having sex for the first time. And the second time. And the third. We were 3am drunk at 10:30pm. Waking up every hour somehow drunk and hung over all at once, somehow beside him and thinking I was dreaming the whole thing up, something I frequently did. Anyway, it’s been a whole year since that night.

How much can happen in such a short (long) time! It feels like a decade ago, not one measly year. That’s kinda how I feel about sobriety, too. Has it seriously only been 4 months? Yesterday in therapy I had this creeping feeling that I was getting somewhere. I felt like I found the one thread that holds the entire sweater together. I didn’t have the guts to yank on it just yet, but instead began to tug gently to try to reveal the naked thing underneath without running screaming in the other direction. I even said to Roomie and Y that I was ‘on to something’, whatever the fuck that means. The bus ride home from kits (which takes an hour at least) was relaxing even though it was jam-packed. I felt blissful, hopeful. I felt the promise of being free in the future, a rare emotion for me.

This afternoon I watched a sci-fi movie that was entertaining and heavy and that got me thinking deeply. After it was over and I felt I needed to clear my head, I decided to do the dishes and tidy up a bit. I find cleaning to be the number one thing that helps me realign on a bad day. Anyway, mid rinse, I’m floored with emotion. Literally. I sat in the middle of my kitchen floor with soapy wet hands and sobbed. Hot tears ran down my face for 45 minutes; I don’t get it! I felt okay-ish. I felt neutral for the most part of today. Lazy even! I read a whole book and lounged in my brand new teal velvet reading chair (it is a magnificent thing). I still can’t make sense of it. Is it because so much has changed in one tiny year? It’s an anniversary of sorts, I suppose. Is it because MD is in rehab? Apparently she’s doing well. Is it because I kept hoping he’d show up at my door today? This is the sad truth, for more days than I’d like to admit. Is it because I feel alone and overwhelmed and lonely? I don’t know anymore. Maybe it’s all of the above.

I got a message soon thereafter from Y. I had told her how crazy emotional I felt and her response was something along the lines of “well at least you aren’t me right now, driving home half drunk”. So, I guess she relapsed this afternoon. She’s home safe currently but I was fucking frantic, stuck between not wanting to distract her further by calling and wanting to chase her down and pull her screaming out of the car. I’m disappointed, naturally, but it’s not my place to give her any more shit. It’s her life. I don’t care if she drinks or drugs or stays sober, it’s the fact that doing the former things makes her want to die. That’s the problem with all of us drunks, addicts, whatever we are. We do these things to stop us from feeling the scary things.  We do these things even though they make us feel the scariest things. We do these things to the point that we don’t give a shit whether it kills us or not. We do these things to a degree that eventually we hope it will put us out of our misery, for good. I won’t sit back and watch her kill herself, but I also can’t/won’t be her conscience. I know she’ll get there on her own, I just hope she doesn’t have to bottom out before it happens.

Nothing To Report/Wah-Wah-Wah.

No epiphanies while trekking home from work. No ‘thank fuck I’m sober’ seconds while pouring beers for my friends. No ‘grateful for the pain’ moments. I’ve had a lot of shit running through my head and heart this week. I’ve had tidal waves of ‘oh fuck’s all day. That’s not the kind of emotion I’d like to be swimming in. But that’s what I got anyway, so I’m here to bitch about it because I feel god damned defeated by it.

I yelled at Y at work today. I signed out 2 hours before I realized I was still ‘finishing up’ the schedule. I sat with three people I quite enjoy and poured them beers while obsessing over my fight with Y, the schedule for Sept 11th-17th, and the fact that if I wasn’t careful I could just as easily pour myself a beer. I could even drink it. It’s not that I wanted a drink necessarily. I wasn’t even tempted, not really. It was that I could have been lost in my thoughts, poured a beer and sipped it without thinking twice. Something I have done many-a-times in that exact same seat. It was that I would probably sigh with relief after ‘accidentally’ doing so. I would probably say something like ‘oh man, what difference could one drink make’? And that would be the beginning of a dark chapter. Maybe (probably) the final chapter. One drink could turn into one night, one night into one week, and one week into one lifetime; however long it would last. I am certain of that. I despise that. Yet I know how easy it is to get back to that.

Those are the minutes that make me realize the addict is still very much awake in me. She’ll probably never go to sleep again. She’s got one eye open waiting for Sober Lana to give in and pass the fuck out. It’s horrifying to accept this, especially when I feel so good about the time I’ve clocked. Especially when I feel like I deserve a pat on the back. A ‘go me!’ day. Some recognition that staying clean/sober/honest will probably be my life’s work. Some acknowledgment of how terrifying and difficult and brave that undertaking is. But instead I get shitty demanding guests to placate and fawn over. I get the normally totally sweet regulars being pervy and weird. I get the support system I adore and rely on being cunty and unavailable. Such is life, friends, I had better get used to it, right?

Wrong. I can’t get used to the idea that I can never drink again. I can’t get used to how lucky I am I stopped when I did. I can’t get used to the fact that life dealt me a hand I don’t quite know how to play. I can’t get used to any of this. Not ever. I can’t get used to how much trust my bosses and co-workers have put in me to run the restaurant. I can’t get used to the outpouring of love and support I get from the community I’ve found myself in. I also can’t get used to the gaping hole in my chest that NB left. I can’t get used to the shocking cold of rejection and abandonment that washes over me whenever I’m reminded that what I once had will never be, again.

Maybe I’m not supposed to get used to any of this. It’s all supposed to sting like fifty-thousand tiny fucking paper cuts whenever it gets brought up, right? I’m supposed to cry every time I face the reality that things aren’t fair and nothing feels real or good or fine or welcoming, right? What am I supposed to be doing with all these internal WTFs? Somebody fucking tell me, cause I’m fed up. I wanted to have a life affirming chat with MD before she got shipped off to celebrity rehab and instead I got a superficial convo about her mink smoking jacket being hemmed (not kidding). I got my sister informing me not to tell any of the family about MD’s little ‘trip’. Sure, universe, whatever you think is relevant. I wanted to have a light work day that ended early and went by quickly and instead I got a day that passed like a visit to the fucking dentist. A day that ended 3 hours after it should have which meant that I missed my meeting (Sober Agnostics). I got home from my hell day feeling insecure and crying only to deal with SATAN’S KITTENS all bloody night. And to top it off, I can’t sleep. Alright, universe, whatever you fucking want. As long as this is how it’s supposed to be I’ll accept it. Wait a second, no, FUCK THAT. Fuck all of this.

Fuck today.
Fuck work.
Fuck beer.
Fuck MD.
Fuck NB.
Fuck the cats.
Fuck insomnia.
Fuck.
Fuck.
Fuck.

You win, universe. Give me a fucking break now, kay?

123 Days

I am four months sober, as of this week. Aren’t you proud of me? I’m proud of myself, most of the time. Well, some of the time. Okay, so I was proud of myself for a few minutes and then felt like an ugly naked dying thing all over again. I’m also at 3 weeks without cigarettes, which I don’t seem to miss nearly as much as I thought I would. I guess giving up my two great loves (booze and Not-Boyfriend) made giving up a third no big deal. Anyhow, I’m a wreck. I don’t know what’s going on, or maybe I do? I just finished reading Augusten Burroughs’ memoir, Dry. Jeez Louise it’s a doozy! I cried like a little bitch. It got me thinking about NB, and about my mother, and about Roomie and Y and all these people who I love/hate/love, who saw me drunk and who saw me sober. It got me thinking about what inside me is really hurting. It got me thinking about AA and about sobriety toolboxes and about relapse. It got me to wake Spock and Squid from their post-neutering slumber and kiss them both with the stupid cones of shame still around their necks. I’m still congested from the tears. I don’t know how to articulate most of this so I’m going to write whatever comes up and see how it reads another day…

Mother Dearest is going to rehab. She is being admitted this coming Tuesday. This means she’ll be in treatment for her birthday, September 9th. There’s something wildly depressing with that realization. This is her first time doing anything of this sort. This is her first time speaking (somewhat) openly about her addiction. This is the first time I’ve ever felt any strong emotion other than hatred/resentment/disgust towards her. I feel like my sobriety may have impacted her decision. I wonder every day if that is a conceited and ugly thing to think. I ache for my dad to comfort me on my strange shaky days, although I’m sure he has his hands full with her, something he would never let on either way. I want to know MD, as a sober person (not just as a mom), but I also fear that she won’t be able to do this. I want her to feel all of the floaty feelings I felt in my first 90 days but also know that her struggle was lengthy and completely different from mine. I want her to have hope. I keep saying this to her, as if somehow it’ll magically make what’s about to happen less terrifying. I have no idea what’s about to happen to her insides, physically or emotionally. She’s been drunk every time I’ve spoken to her since she sent the email to us about her decision. I haven’t berated or ignored her, although that would have been my instinct before. I just listen and respond when necessary, in neither a good nor bad way. I want to know that she’ll get through this, and be better for it. Some hidden corner of my psyche worries that she’ll kill herself once she’s sober, realizing how much of her life has been wasted or how much damage drinking has done to herself and to us. She was always the drama queen of our family. I’m happy for her though, too. Quitting drinking has been the most transformative decision I’ve ever made, I know it will be for her as well, if she lets it.

I went out with that guy, the super fit one from work. 3 times. He’s sweet. We’ll call him M. He’s my age. He’s friendly. He’s honest. He’s single. We went to the art gallery had some lunch and then took his dog for a walk on our first date, went to a baseball game on our second, and went to the park on our third. He waited until the third to kiss me, and it was fine. I say fine with a solemn shrug. He’s so lovely and open and happy. It’s fucking creepy how happy he is. Like wakes-up-in-the-morning-smiling happy. Weird right? It’s refreshing, but I think I knew it would be the downfall of whatever went on between us, I’m quite certain (as of how I’ve felt for the past 48 hours) that nothing will continue from this point forward. Maybe not for any other reason than it being too soon. It’s too much. Too much pressure. Too much pretending that my heart isn’t in 1500 pieces. I went from finally finding some solid ground in my sobriety to realizing that introducing even one new thing/person/whatever could bring my recovery to a screeching halt. I looked at my sobriety clock(s) every single day this week, that can’t be a coincidence. I did it to remind myself of how far I’ve come and that one slip up will cost me so SO much. I’ve also looked up AA meetings in my area everyday since I gave him my number. Probably not a coincidence either, right? Also, let me be clear, none of this is on him. He isn’t a drinker or an enabler, nor has he done anything wrong. He’s wonderful, I’m just not ready. That’s all it comes down to.

I’m also kidding myself if I think I’ve done all the work necessary to heal the trauma from the end of the relationship with NB. I literally flinch when I think about him, I’d say that’s nowhere near ‘over it’. I bailed on some fancy dinner/date plans with M last night because I felt overwhelmed by the whole week and that made me certain that I’m going to have to tell him how I’m feeling and cut him off romantically. Now I understand why all the programs (12 steps or not) tell you no big life changes for your first year of sobriety. I mean, I still haven’t been to a meeting, but I keep reading about them! I do plan on going on Tuesday (how funny that it’s the same day MD is being carted off) to a Sober Agnostics meeting. I’m nervous but also looking forward to it in a way. I want to find my tribe. I’m beginning to understand the importance of having a support system.

I feel more connected than ever to Roomie, who is going through a mind fuck of a time too, so I’m trying my best to be present and available for her. I’m actually happy to drop what I’m doing to sit outside and listen attentively while she chain smokes through her life’s problems. Yesterday after I bailed on M’s mysterious fancy plans I felt like a total sack of shit and wanted nothing more than to lie on the couch and drink coffee and mope into my book. Instead I got sucked into the house cleaning party of 2017. We cleaned out our closets, literally. I threw over 50% of my wardrobe into a donation bin. Even some newer/much-loved items got tossed solely because just looking at them salted NB wounds. I scrubbed the bathroom from floor to ceiling with vinegar and bleach. I swept and mopped upstairs and vacuumed downstairs. I gave Roomie my ill-fitting and much hated dressers and vowed to shop for better ones this coming week. I washed my sheets, my towels, and all my dirty clothes. I purged everything that served no purpose to me. I purged the shit I’ve been holding on to that no longer does anything but make me fucking sad. Roomie did the same, all through which we drank non-alcoholic beers/many flavours of LaCroix, blasted stadium country and crappy dance music, and sweat through our ratty t-shirts. It was tiresome work but it felt fucking fantastic.

Here’s the short list of all the other things I’ve been doing that are really really helping me through the not-so-great days,

  • Therapy as much as possible, which is, at best, once a week.
  • Sleeping, as early or as late as I want.
  • Meditating, absolutely without a doubt every damn day.
  • Laughing, at myself and others, but in a nice way.
  • Hugging, everyone I love that is available.
  • Finishing my to-do list, even when I feel like being a hermit.
  • All the mani/pedis a girl can get, cause who doesn’t love pampering?
  • Quality coffee drinking, duh.
  • Quality pastry eating, double duh.
  • Kitsilano roaming/window shopping.
  • Clay face masking, every other day.
  • Purchasing upwards of 10 (kitten safe) plants, happily staying up too late repotting/rehoming.
  • Intense reading marathons.
  • Watching god awful movies with Roomie every Wednesday night.
  • Eating unapologetic amounts of whatever-the-fuck I-want. Coconut Bliss ice cream is like crack in this house.
  • Fancy tea buying/drinking.
  • Crossword/sudoku hoarding.
  • Lingerie buying.
  • Book ordering via Amazon Prime.
  • Instagramming.

Basically I just do whatever the fuck I feel like doing as long as it isn’t harmful to me or my sobriety. It’s foolproof in my worst spells of the blues. I’m exhausted and it’s bed time, but I wanted to check in and send my love and gratitude and awkward-and-weird-everything-is-nuts vibes out into the WordPress world. Be well, all of you xo

 

08.12.17

I thought I had posted this last week, turns out it saved as a draft. Silly Lana!

Sometimes you know your day will be hard and you have to let it happen anyway and you smile through it, knowing you were smart enough to prep for it, and at the end of it you’re glad you didn’t chicken out of existence just to avoid it. Sometimes you have no fucking idea what category of hurricane is blowing your way and you can’t fight with it or run away from it once it’s arrived so you grit your teeth and let it whip your hair around real good and just hope to god it passes fast. That was how Thursday and Friday went for me, respectively. Both were overwhelming but in completely different ways.

I woke up Thursday morning (my Saturday) feeling anxious and poorly rested and generally unwell. I knew the time to expose my insides was 3:15 pm. The countdown began when the clock struck midnight and I was still awake staring at it. I dreamt about therapy, the blurry face of the woman I was to bare all to. I thought about it all day at work on Wednesday. I lied to Roomie and said I was looking forward to it, but in reality I was just plain ol’ annoyed that I had to go to fucking therapy, again.

The smart girl who lives inside me realized there are many hours between the time I wake up (7:30-8ish usually) and 3:15 so I planned on doing all the good things beforehand. A friend and I planned a bit of a ‘girl’s day’, we’ll call her Y, so I hopped on a bus to meet her in Kits just before 11am. We got our nails done at some fancy place. When I go bananas on the mani/pedi train you can be sure I’m having a bit of a time. I believe this habit comes from my father smacking mine and Mother Dearest’s fingers out of our respective mouths. We both bit our nails extensively, to which he constantly commented on our swollen cuticles/brittle little stubs. He loves jewelry and we used to be showered with it on birthdays and holidays until the nail-biting got really noticeable. He would say quietly that he’d never buy us shiny things again as long as we continued, MD and I squawking uncomfortably like the magpies we are. What an odd little memory. Anyway, the point of that digression was that I make my fingers look spectacular to avoid biting them clean off when shit hits the fan. And all of the shit is hitting all of the fans, at least in my head.

After said pampering, we dawdled around and poked into some kitschy home decor/antique type places where I finally bought some wall hangings/posters and Y bought a super cute drop-leaf desk that even MD would approve of. I then noticed hunger pangs (which, by the way, is a huge win for me, I’m a human again!) and we stopped at the world’s tackiest 50’s diner for some pre-therapy eats. The food was shockingly good, as was the coffee, I also fondly noted that a picture of Roy Orbison hung on the wall beside our table and as I’m named after one of his songs I smiled at it. Lots of dad reminders this week. Anyway, we talked about quitting shitty habits and what it means when you take the leap into Sober Land. Y has been struggling with the idea of total abstinence for a while, she’s no stranger to addiction or the wily ways us ladies can convince ourselves ‘everything’s fine’. She is simultaneously going through a break up which means mandatory personal transformation, as we all are familiar with. I was so humbled and grateful for her honesty/willingness to share these insecurities with me. Peoples stories can be so incredible. The bravery, the heartbreak, the resilience. I resisted the urge to fold her up and put her in my pocket, I wanted to protect her and console her and be the security blanket that she is without, but I know it much more important to let her fight her way through this with support, not protection. But it is nice to feel less alone, I think, for the two of us. She and I both suffer from depression, anxiety and lack of direction and similarly tried to shut these demons up with the same poisons/solutions. We share the knack of self-sabotage. But at least we have each other to help navigate this uncharted territory!

I adore my new therapist, Jeannine. She is seemingly the perfect fit for my needs, I felt heard and understood and safe while I was talking to her. So much so that within the hour I was moved to tears… something that never happened in my last counselling experience. She said that she would be honoured to guide me through the journey of getting healthy mentally and physically. She was sympathetic to the clusterfuck of the NB situation, and I was 100% honest with her about my drinking habits/how I got sober. I’m actually looking forward to seeing her again. After our time was up, I met Y down the road and we had coffee in her beautiful backyard. We talked for hours about our lives, about our pasts, about our hopes for the future. She came back to my house afterward and we ordered pizza and watched comedy specials. Adult slumber party! It was lovely.

I woke up yesterday (Friday) with zero residual good vibes from Thursday. I felt like I’d been run over. I was spent. I cried for most of the day, god knows why. I missed NB to the point it was physically paining me to think of him, I was angry at myself for not being more productive with my weekend, frustrated with my co-workers for being lazy and unable to fix problems for themselves (especially on my day off). It was a shitty fucking day. Such contrast from how I felt on Thursday, which, in short, can only be described as hopeful. Yesterday was dismal. My work week has now begun and I no longer have the energy to fight with or over think my moods.  All I can say to myself is let it be, Lana.

The Only Way Out Is In.

Tons-o-tears this week. In my very early sobriety I cried quite a bit, but for different reasons. I felt humbled and scared and loved but I cried because I couldn’t believe all of the work I had ahead of me. I knew it meant consistent pain, loss, and ‘moving on’ from so many things I wasn’t ready to let go of. These are exhausting thoughts, especially when they’re relentless. I’ve cried at least once every day this week, for much of the same reasons, but less because of disbelief/shock. I haven’t broken down at work or in public (not intentionally or anything, it’s just how it’s been), but they have been still kind of unexpected and authentic, these mighty tears. They feel good. I remember people talking about the release of crying being cathartic as something I never really understood. It always gave me a headache, I always felt foggier after. I get it now. Now that I’m crying for the right reasons. Better reasons. Honest reasons.

It’s funny how it works, isn’t it? I cry because my heart is broken that my person left without a goodbye, seemingly without looking back. I cry because my best friend/Roomie forgave me for all the shameless shit I did while I was drinking and because I didn’t have to ask her to, she just did. I cry because my friends remember my tiny silent victories and shower me with praise and love when I least expect them to. I cry because I miss NB and have so much I wish I could talk about with him and there’s just no way it will happen. I cry because he hasn’t come back, and he probably never will. (I cry because I still had to put ‘probably’ in that last sentence). I cry because I’m starting to like myself and it’s terrifying and new and raw and it comes up at the moments when I was used to feeling the most ugly and disgusting and unlovable. I cry because I gave up the crutch that forever sheltered me while simultaneously scaring the shit out of me, and because I don’t really miss it all that much. I cry because not missing it is reassuring. I cry because of the many nights I can’t remember and equally too because of the nights I can. I cry because it’s uncomfortable to let things, feelings and people in, but I know it’s critical that I do it anyway.

I cried the other night because I felt homesick for the first time, ever. I’m not joking. I’ve never felt that way before and I kept tearing up because I didn’t know how to describe it. Until I explained it to Roomie, sitting outside in the alley, I didn’t understand what homesickness was. I realized that it has nothing to do with the where or when, it’s the feeling we miss. That blanketing love. That illusion of safety that our families somehow give us, even when there’s no way it could be true or lasting. That unwavering faith that I could never be abandoned or feel alone as long as I stayed in that same place. I felt the pull to return to the house that I don’t particularly miss and never really loved. The physical urge to lie on the beige leather couch while my dad sat in his burgundy leather chair. Both of which were in the den that always smelled like cigarettes and sometimes Bell’s scotch, but had the perfect combination of home-y comfort and tasteful interior design. My mom was noticeably absent on these evenings, which meant freedom. It meant putting my feet up. Not having to sit as far away from the other side of the couch as possible to avoid contact with her. My dad and I would shoot the shit about our days and watch mindless TV, we did this often. I would light up like I had some delicious secret when we both laughed at unremarkable sitcom jokes because it confirmed that somehow we were on the same wavelength and that meant we could never be disconnected, not in a million years. It also meant that we couldn’t possibly disagree about the big things, which ultimately led me to believe my father hated my mother just as much as I did (I was wrong about this, it turns out).  I think on summer evenings where I’d be reading and he’d be playing golf on his PlayStation, and he’d pause the game so I could read him a line or two from whatever book I was living in that day. Perpetually saying, “hold on, peanut… okay, go ahead”. I would excitedly dictate what I had just found and wait for his eyes to widen. This rarely happened. More often than not his responses were dismissive of the epiphanies that the words held for me. I resented him for this. I would sulk and sigh and clam up, a bit disheartened, and continue to read to myself. When I would get the guts to revisit said revelatory line(s) hours/days/years later, I often realized I had interpreted them wrong, which to this day can make me wince at my silent anger towards him.

All of the early moments were so reassuring and wonderful until I got older and the distance widened between us. It widened until it became almost 4500 kilometres. I think more on our relationship in my sobriety. The realization that he loved my mother even though she was/is a fuck of an alcoholic who terrorized my sister and I, and that my loathing of her didn’t change that, took me many years to accept. I don’t know if I’m even there yet. I’m just shy of 4 months sober and these jagged little pills are still making their way down my gullet (shout out to Alanis Morissette, the first voice of my teenage angst).

These small moments aren’t daydreams, they are memories, some more coloured than others. These tiny rituals became safety blankets for my young self, so I suppose it doesn’t take a famous German psychoanalyst to presume I would wax nostalgic about them given my current turmoil. What it comes down to is that I miss that connection, plain and simple. I miss having unshakeable trust in someone to stick around, love me, push me and hold me when the time called for it. I miss feeling special and irreplaceable. Everyday I grow with the knowledge that this feeling is trying to teach me something that can only be learned from my decision to take this path.

A little while ago I had a longer-than-usual conversation with a brunch regular at the restaurant. He’s cute and I’ve certainly noticed him, but I’m not (and wasn’t when I met him) in the place where I’m looking or interested. Anyway, he seems like a nice guy. He’s around my age, looks like he’s in shape, always half asleep and smiley and most of what he says is quite endearing. He isn’t trying too hard, or at all. He tells me his name, what he does for a living, we both quietly confess our leaning toward introversion and then he asks me what I like to do for fun, and I can’t believe I don’t have anything remotely interesting or witty to say to him! 6 months ago my answer would have been straightforward, I drink. I like wine, Jameson and beer and I like to slam it, sip it and savour it. Now that is no longer in my vocabulary and luckily I mentioned this at some point previous to this conversation, I stammer something along the lines of ‘uhhh… I don’t really know how to answer that… I like to read. And I sit at the park a lot. Oh! I just bought a telescope.’ and he laughs because I’m a bumbling idiot. Sober Lana gots no game. He proceeds to ask me out, at least that’s what it felt like. Says he’d like to go on a hike/take me fishing. I kind of imply that I’m going through some shit but vaguely commit. ‘That sounds great, one day.’ I love to fish. I love the outdoors. I didn’t really mention this but he seems to recognize that in me anyway. He doesn’t push for my number or hand me his, leaving the ball entirely in my court. He continues to come in sporadically after this. Cut to a few weeks later (today), he drops in for breakfast, ever so sluggishly, smiling sweetly and I find myself jittery. I haven’t even approached my second cup of coffee at this point and the idea that HE was having this effect on me made me laugh out loud. I idle near his table taking a payment at another and ask him if he wants more water, as I do so, I confidently put my hand on his shoulder. Strange of me to do, but it happens. And lemme just say FUCK, guys, those shoulders though. I realize that when he said in passing that he’s an active person it was a sneaky way of saying, ‘I’m fucking jacked. I live for the gym. I will forever be in better shape than you but am too humble to say this aloud’. Meeee-ow.

I immediately find my friend/co-worker in the bussing station and tell her I will 150% let this guy bench press me with his dick (???). Exact words. This makes no sense, but I bet you know what I’m getting at regardless. I go to print his bill as I see him grabbing his backpack, he says that he’s left something on the table for me but I can’t look until he leaves, something for ‘all those lonely nights at the park’. I assume that it’s his number (and hopefully some cash, or else he’s leaving without paying me). I was right about the cash. But what he left for me was two books. Both of which are about astronomy, sky-watching. They are old and used and absolutely perfect. Swoon. I scan the first few pages of each for numerical scrawl and there’s zilch. Smooth move, dude. Ball is still in my court. I know I’m not ready for anything serious, but also can’t stop thinking of different ways to get this guy my number. So, maybe I shouldn’t write off the idea of dating. If it gets that far, I plan on being honest about what’s going on in my heart and head just for the sake of transparency. I don’t know whether it’ll matter or not, but I’m not starting a friendship/relationship/anything with anybody under false pretences. I have no idea what the fuck I want or what the fuck I’m even ready for, and I probably won’t for a while. Now, to actually somehow get him my number or get his (something I’ve never done in the history of my life, not ever). EEK.

I went from tearing up finishing Sarah Hepola’s book Blackout, to thinking about how I missed my dad, to smiling stupidly realizing that I not only potentially want to flirt/hang out/fuck some dude that isn’t NB, that I actually went through all of these motions/feelings/strange desires sober. Is this what growing up looks like?

I forgot to mention: I’m meeting a new therapist tomorrow! Her name is Jeannine and I don’t know what spawned me to continue on my hunt for yet another ear, but I’m willing to bet $185 dollars an hour can buy some damn fine wisdom, advice, or at the very least an unbiased viewpoint. We shall see either way! OH AND I quit smoking last week. After I hit my 100 days of sobriety I decided it was time to ditch the sticks, too.

So much change! It feels right even though it’s all really fucking hard and confusing. I’m just forever repeating to myself that this is all worth it and big beautiful things will come out of this stinking shit sandwich, even if it isn’t the case. Wanna know my biggest secret as of late? More and more I truly believe it is.