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 hangover. 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. 

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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

 

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.