Just over a year after my last post…

It’s been a long time since I’ve had something to say, or since I’ve been willing to say anything. I’m not feeling as optimistic or as ‘strong’ as I was in my early sobriety. I was warned this would happen, that the glow would fade. I would describe it more as a swift ghosting than a ‘fade’. I woke up one day and felt exactly like I had in the worst of my depression- like I wanted to disappear. And now I (once again) struggle with this feeling every day.

I am still sober, though, 671 days to be exact. It is difficult to maintain the lifestyle even on my best days but I’m still grateful that I made the decision. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had continued to drink I wouldn’t be alive anymore. I will be turning 30 in March, thanks to my decision to quit drinking.

An update on my life, for those of you that were around before, or perhaps those who are nosy and interested (haha)…… My father lived through his cancer treatment, but he lost his leg, his hip and half of his pelvis. For a little while he also lost his sanity. My mother said it was delirium due to infection in the wound from his amputation. I got a phone call from her mid shift at the restaurant, she was quiet and I had to strain to hear her. He wouldn’t be conscious, she led with, but I had to show up, that night, to say goodbye. He wasn’t recovering from his surgery, he was in a coma and it was the end of the line. I flew across the country on that warm evening in May with a near-stranger (this story I’ll get into briefly, later). But my dad lived and he’s still alive nearly a year later. He doesn’t remember me being in the hospital with him on his birthday (May 24th). He doesn’t remember my mother and sister fighting over money or their importance in his life. He doesn’t remember me trying to take the high road, and me searching for meaning in every twitch of his weak body or the flickers of the many machines in his room. He doesn’t remember shakily asking me in whispers for help getting out of the hospital because he didn’t like it there and he didn’t think he was safe. He didn’t understand where he was, what had happened. The time I spent with him I had to continually push him back down to his bed because he kept trying to get up and leave, not realizing he was missing half of his body. It still devastates me to think of his time in the hospital, even though he never has to know how terrible it really was. My family is full of people who pretend that things are better than they are and this experience was no exception.

The plan had been for my dad to give me his car post-surgery and I would drive it back to BC and keep it. This had been planned for many months, and the timing of this trip back to Ontario was around 10 days shy of when I had planned to fly back and do the road trip with a friend (who I had not picked yet). This is where the near-stranger who accompanied me comes in. I met him mid-April at my restaurant. He seemed a bit strange and a bit sad, but he was polite and funny, even though he was clearly preoccupied with heavy things going on in his head. He seemed weird but in a quirky way. He was certainly a bit unconventional, in the way he dressed, the way he spoke, his general attitude. He showed up at my work again the day after we met and wanted the exact same thing, which I remembered and recited to him before he could finish ordering. We shared a laugh and eventually he asked me to a show that night and I shocked myself by saying yes. I was still nervous about dating/sex/relationships and I was in no way looking for a partner (or a date, really). Every person who had expressed interest in me I had kindly turned down, but I decided to do it this time. Fuck it. We had fun seeing his friend’s band play, he came home with me that night and we started a casual kind of relationship. We spent a lot of time together. We got to know each other, slowly. We had wild and uninhibited sex, often. He showed me many parts of the city that I never saw while I was drinking. He was in a few bands of all different genres and I was smitten with that, since I grew up around musicians and shows (I am not musical at all, however). He’s part surfer-dude and part philosopher. He’s smart and thoughtful but he doesn’t care to show either of these qualities off. He is masculine but without machismo. He’s open to so many things, he doesn’t give a fuck what people think of him or his behaviour (this is a blessing and a curse). I was nervous and afraid of where our ‘thing’ would lead. He’s spontaneous in a way that can be intimidating. He disappears for stretches of time on a whim, just on adventures by himself or with strangers he’s met along the way. Not to mention, his life is a total disaster as well. We met in the midst of his physical breakdown from stress. He had a bad breakup with the only real long term girlfriend he’d ever had. He owned his own business which quickly crumbled when his body decided to seize up and prohibit him from working. His mental health swiftly deteriorated. It was a crazy time in my life, too, so we kind of fit together in an idiosyncratic way that I liked.

While we were out for dinner celebrating my 1 year sober I asked him if he wanted to go on this road trip with me and he agreed. We had known each other for a little over 2 weeks. I booked our plane tickets, and then the above happened. When my mom called to tell me to change my flight to that very night, I told him that he could just meet me in Ontario on the day we had planned originally. Obviously there was going to be some crazy family shit going on and he didn’t need to be involved in it. He scoffed and said he’d pack some clothes and be at my house shortly and we’d go handle this together. So that’s what we did.

It’s been nearly a year and we are together. We fell in love on our cross country road trip, and it’s been a mix of wonderful and really fucking hard. I’m working to get over my past life, as is he. I’m working to get a handle on my depression, as is he. It is not a perfect relationship and the mental illnesses we both have get in the way, a lot. I’m noticing more and more the amount of effort it takes to keep myself balanced while I’m in a relationship. It’s a fuck ton. I’m learning a lot about myself and about my heart, most days I think he is, too. I don’t know what’s going to happen between us but I do know I am grateful to have someone in my life that I can love and that I can share my time with.

That’s all the update I can muster, right now. I look back on what I wrote in this blog one a year ago and I’m embarrassed and annoyed but I’m resisting the urge to delete it all. There was a part of me that felt all those things and a part of me that still does. I know this is true. I see my wonderful therapist tomorrow (the very same I found in my early sobriety) and I plan on unboxing some of the feelings I’ve shared with you all today.

Sending everybody warmth and positivity (though I don’t have much of it these days) xoxoxo

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This Is A Clusterfuck.

It’s fucking SNOWING and my skin is so dry it’s cracked and bloody no matter what I do to prevent it. It’s cold as fuck at work and cold as fuck at home. The roads are slippery disasters for drivers and pedestrians alike. I missed therapy today because the bus I was on LITERALLY STOPPED IN THE MIDDLE OF AN INTERSECTION and made us get off because it couldn’t continue. Vancouver is NOT SUPPOSED TO BE THIS WAY. AGHHHHH. Okay. Alright. Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest.

So here’s where I’m at. I feel shitty that I live across the country from my dying father. I feel guilty that I’m not around to be moral support for my mom or my sister and her family. I feel ashamed that I am so far away. I have been finding it difficult to keep my headspace positive in wake of everything that past year has thrown at me. Most days it feels like I’m getting it from all angles. Love life/work life/home life/family life. My brain often tries to convince me to give up.

Have a drink, Lana. Buy some cigarettes and smoke them all today. Hurt yourself. Hurt somebody you love. Anything to keep the pain from swallowing you whole. It’s all kinds of fucked up and somehow I’m used to it being this way. Luckily I have an incredible support system at home and at work and they manage to talk me down when I’m unable to do so for myself. I am grateful for them, for you. Things can be so overwhelming, guys. We’re all familiar with that feeling. I do have a sense of relief being able to use social media/writing as an outlet, so thank you all for giving me the space to do so (even if you never read what’s written, haha).

I am still sober. Smoke-free. Single. Sad. Scared. Soft. All the s-words you can fit in one description. I am vulnerable. I feel weak and terrified of what’s to come. But my carefully curated toolbox is keeping me on the straight and narrow, even if I’m chattering my teeth the entire way. I am waking up early and doing yoga, eating breakfast, taking my time getting ready for work. I am doing my best to make healthy food/drink choices and nurturing my body in whatever way is necessary for me to feel strong and capable. Reading as much as I can. Exercising. Drinking a copious amount of tea. Snuggling with the kitties. Crying when everything hurts. Laughing when things get downright ridiculous. I don’t know what else to do. I’m trying to truly connect wth the people I love. I take deep breaths to appreciate my working body, my beautiful eyes-wide-open life. I really do feel grateful that I came out on the other side of my dark and shaky past. But I still do feel angry, jealous, envious, judgmental, alienated, and alone. I feel ALL THE THINGS. Sometimes all in the same day, the same hour even. I’m 99% mess. 

With that, I’ve been thinking a lot this week about envy and greed, and about wanting what we can’t have. Or yearning for a fuller life and not doing anything about it. The subtle way we convince ourselves that ‘if only things were just a bit different’ we’d be happier/successful/better. It’s all bullshit. I’ve always been a grass-is-greener kind of gal and all it has done for me is set me up for disappointment. I (naively) hope that once I find the secret ingredient/piece to the puzzle, things will lock into place and I’ll discover the sweet spot where I’m able to maintain equilibrium, or balance things perfectly.

I rarely blame other people for my inability to achieve whatever it is that I’ve set my sights on, but I often blame circumstance. I usually say something like the timing is off or that I’m not in the right place to succeed, whatever. It’s ridiculous. If you can’t find your centre, your balance, your sanity (ha ha), it’s because it requires constant practice and vigilance. And most importantly, it comes and goes. It isn’t static or permanent. There are so many self-help books and blurbs floating around that remind us to ride the good waves like the bad because both come and go, but nobody gains any insight from simply reading a quote, lesson learned.

We have to fuck up. We have to envy and want and gain and lose. We have no choice but to be disappointed and adjust our desires, make our goals more authentic. We find ourselves in shitty situations and we must digest the things they are trying to teach us. Learning these lessons can be very uncomfortable and ugly. It can simultaneously be awesome and inspiring. But most importantly, this learning, this growth, continues forever. Whether we like it or not. We had better get used to it, make our peace with it, invite it in to muss up our lives whenever it knocks. We have no choice in this, it just is how it is.

So I guess I’ll invite my guilt, shame, and fear in to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea with me? I have no idea what else to do with it, and I’m fucking done letting it have it’s way.

Sending you all love and light and all the good things xo

Checking In: Part 2

I’ve been in a bit of a funk this past little while. I know that breaking from my routine makes me feel like shit, yet I couldn’t motivate myself for a couple days and voila- that’s all it takes to backslide into a depression pit. In order to pull myself out of this rut I have to force myself to do the things that make me feel better. This is no easy feat. Try making yourself a nutritious dinner when you could literally eat the pizza that’s sitting in front of you (having a roommate is a blessing and a curse). Try waking up at 430 to do yoga before work when you could easily just sleep until your alarm yells at you. Try meditating when you get big and possibly important news and your brain is firing 5000 times faster than it usually does. Man, I suppose this is the shit that everyone talks about. Doing the work when it’s the hardest.

This rut that I’m in may have to do with the plethora of noise in my personal life, or it could just be me losing steam in my high-energy days of late, but either way, it’s time to get back to it. I’ve been feeling off-centre because NB decided that it would be okay to drive by the restaurant a whole lot since the beginning of January. It bothered me quite a bit but I tried my very best to take it in stride and brush it off. It happened when I was at work on one of my usual days off. I told myself it was a coincidence and to let it go. Then it started happening on the days I’ve ALWAYS worked. Right around closing time. When he knows I’ll be there. He did it last week, coming towards the restaurant with his window down. Face to face. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I started to shake, feel weak. I got angry. I was visibly hurting. A friend of ours was in the restaurant while I was locking up, as he always is on Tuesdays, and he saw him too. I tried my best to hold it together but I couldn’t help it, I started to rage about the nerve it takes to do that to me. How cruel and inconsiderate. It wasn’t enough to abandon me, now he’s going to rub our proximity in my face? Show me that he could very well still be in my life but instead is dancing on the outside of it? What a flat out mean thing to do. I went on for a long time, crying and shaking my fist. I felt silly but I couldn’t help it. These things claw at me until I give in to them.

Anyways, as I had every other time this happened, I contemplated sending him and his partner a message. The only difference this time around was that I sent it. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say. I edited it probably 5 times. I waited until the next day to send it, you know, to ‘sleep on it’. I don’t regret it. I felt freer than I have all year. Instead of going with ‘MY DAD IS DYING, YOU PIECE OF SHIT. STOP TORMENTING ME’, I went with a cooler, calmer approach that asked him to take another route to wherever he is going. He and I both know there is absolutely zero reason to drive by my restaurant, nothing in that block could be one of his destinations, so he’s passively just trying to insert himself in my periphery. Which is infuriating and cowardly. Ugh.

Anyway, two days after I sent the message a mutual friend of ours came to visit and crashed on my couch. He dropped some news on me about NB that I wasn’t anticipating and I’m uncertain how to feel about it. Apparently he took off that day, in a motor home, by himself. Driving somewhere far away to get in touch with himself? Our mutual friend, S, has always been clear that he will not pick sides and wants to remain friends with all of us. Because of his willingness to stick around, I don’t ply him for information about NB, nor do I ask for tidbits (even on the days I desperately want to). He offered this as response to me admitting my anger and frustration re: the drive-bys. Again, I don’t know what to say or how to feel, or the context of him taking off. It could mean something, it could mean nothing. I resisted the urge to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes (it’s been over 6 months since I’ve had one).

I went back to work the next day, glad to have caught up with some friends that Friday night, and this time I received news from my family. My uncle had died over night. My Dad’s brother. He had cancer. They were estranged from years of family drama. I always liked him. He had a wicked sense of humour and a soft spot for me. I’m sad I didn’t get to see him. My dad is barely out of another round of chemo and his mother (my Nan) is devastated that she’s lost her oldest son. She does not yet know that my father is sick. He thinks it would kill her, she’s 94. It’s a fair concern, but she’s a tough lady. I hate lying to her. I hate lying in general. I’ve been avoiding speaking to her because of this. I can’t get it off my mind.

The rest of the week passed in a blur.

Yesterday was my Saturday and all I wanted to do was take it easy. But instead of dicking around in the void (my brain) I ran all my errands. I went to get my license renewed, picked up groceries, dropped off dry cleaning, and bought some books/organized them into my bookshelves (alphabetically, cause that’s how I roll). I did still manage to get caught in my head a few times, but whatever, nobody’s perfect! I woke up this morning and did yoga, made my smoothie, took my supplements, ate breakfast. I’m already starting feel back to myself. I have therapy at 1 which means I will be forced to unload the weight I’m carrying and hopefully create a positive outlet for whatever the hell is going on inside me. I am hopeful that March will bring good news even if there’s more bad alongside it. I just need something to remind me that I can handle whatever is coming.

So there it is; my 2018 thus far. Kind of dark and kind of light. I’m still here and I’m still sober, 10 months next week! That’s the most important thing. I’ve overhauled my life and my brain and hopefully sometime soon I’ll be able to do the same for my heart.

Checking In: Part 1

I thought I should check in with the WordPress world, I keep meaning to post more than once a month, but life gets away from me, and I’m sure you can all relate!  But here I am, in all my exhausted glory…

My dad finished round 2 of chemotherapy on Friday. He has lost his hair, his beard, and his well-known and respected handlebar moustache, too. None of us (including Mother Dearest; his partner of 42 years) have ever seen his face bare. It must be jarring for him to look in the mirror. He has four more rounds of poison to get through before they will amputate his leg from the pelvis down. This is a non-negotiable surgery that he will endure if the cancer responds to treatment. I’ve known this news since his first round but haven’t had much of an opinion. Obviously our family is attempting to get prepared for the challenges this will bring, but honestly I feel like we’re all just holding our breath. Awed and terrified and hoping he makes it through this ugly fucking nightmare. We can deal with the leg thing once we’re out of the woods. I don’t know how MD is managing but she seems okay. I’m not going to poke and prod for deeper conversation when everybody is fucking exhausted from this ordeal. All I can do is be here and keep my phone close by in case somebody decides to update me. My sister is in the same province as them if help is needed, and I suppose I’m just a 5 hour flight away.

Otherwise I am doing my best to keep my head above water, thanks to yoga, 5-HTP and the sun gracing us with it’s presence for the first time in forever. I am frayed, folks. Emotionally I am so raw I can barely interact with Roomie let alone the rest of the world. I have been crying, A LOT. I have been raging, A LOT. However, I have been ignoring my brain and keeping with my routine. I think it’s helping although I still feel volatile most mornings… I force a change in perspective when I can manage to, and write gratitude lists. They often go like this, off the top of my head-

  • I am grateful to be sober.
  • I am grateful to be cared for.
  • I am grateful to have a home.
  • I am grateful to have a working body.
  • I am grateful to have 2 fuzzy kitties who seem to sleep more than I thought was possible.
  • I am grateful for ice cream.
  • I am grateful for chai and earl grey tea.
  • I am grateful for clean sheets.
  • I am grateful for the sunshine.
  • I am grateful to have a broken heart.

That last one isn’t true, but I try to put one thing in there that I hope to be grateful for someday. I ain’t there yet. I know you guys don’t need me to prattle on about how cool gratitude lists are and how much they actually force you to shut up and be humble and all that good stuff… all I’ll say is that spreading love is a lot harder when things are bleak, but spreading hate will suck the fucking life out of you and everything you love. I try to find a way to be thankful when I am on the verge of collapse, and I find my lows a lot less suffocating when I do.

That’s all for now, it’s time to appreciate my quiet house while it lasts. Drink some tea. Meditate. Read one of the many books I have scattered at my feet.

xo

To be continued…

Priorities

Happy post-holidays and happy 2018 to all of you lovely people!

I’ll start with the fact that I stayed sober through all of the awkward, wonderful, and not-so-wonderful experiences I had over my 2 week holiday in Ontario! I hit my 8 month mark on Christmas Day, hooray! Not only did I shut down the bar I spent much of my drinking life at, I stayed up all night with an old flame and had a magical evening reconnecting (I was 150% sober). It had its (very brief) weird moments but it was definitely worth the tiny discomforts I felt. I went to a few bars on this trip, actually, and either drank sparkling water or a fancy coffee. It felt natural and I didn’t question myself at all. No hesitation whatsoever. What a reassuring feeling, that confidence.

I saw my (other) best friend C, and his high-energy partner, J. They have a handsome 2-year-old who I adore. I met my niece for the first time, too. She is a radiant little thing at 3 months old. I ran into a few people (and more old flames) from my past, all of whom I love and respect and covet time with. God, it was such an eye-opening trip. Even the less exciting parts were just beautiful. It was all new and shiny and not bogged down by the heavy news my family received just before the holidays.

I used to remind myself that people have real problems whenever life was holding me under water. I also used to tell friends that just because their problems don’t seem important doesn’t take away from the fact that they have them, and that they are real and big and scary nonetheless. Spot the inconsistency? I was certain that my problems were in no way worth the distress they caused me, but everybody else’s were worth using all the mental super powers I had. That’s flawed logic and not a healthy way to approach life’s ugly stuff, but it did help put some perspective on things that are also known as ‘first world problems’. Anyway, it’s no secret that life is draining and exhausting and as you get older things get more complicated and the weight we carry forward with us only gets heavier. The trick is to prioritize what’s worth testing our mental abilities (I’m terrible at this).

We found out that my wise and wonderful father has cancer. They found a mass on his pelvis and he’s currently in the hospital getting treatment. The outlook isn’t great. 10% survival rate at 5 years. The numbers from the first year of this type of cancer are even scarier. Fuck statistics though, right?

This has put a lot of things into perspective for me and I don’t really know if I’m ready to explore the vast ocean of ‘what ifs’ just yet. All I know is that this is real. And that this is a priority. A worthy use of my time; my dad. Letting go of what fell apart between us the past few years. Enjoying the time we have left. Realizing what is important when the foundation starts to crumble. I am terrified. However I won’t let my fear be as strong-willed as my courage. I have to go through this (most people do at some point) and I will face it as best as I can. I will not numb myself out in any way to avoid this reality.

I’d love to say that this news slapped me into a rational head space in terms of my heartbreak, but it didn’t. It helped quiet the obsessive idiot in me a bit, but I’m sad that NB isn’t here to help me through this. How silly, right? I remind myself daily that if he wanted to be here, he would be. Period. End of story. More importantly, I have Roomie and my work family and my actual family by my side. These are the people who matter.

This life matters the most as it’s the only one I’ve got.