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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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

 

What Is Left To Do.

It’s my Sunday. It’s overcast and spitting rain which means I won’t be able to zone out at the park today. I have little errands to run and some house stuff to attend to but it’s been a productive weekend for me so I’m procrastinating a bit. I went and got a physical yesterday, glad it’s done with. It was uncomfortable but quick, as they usually are. In-and-out in 10 minutes (hardy-har). I’d like to meet someone who really enjoys being probed by a stranger… Anyway!

I sent NB a message the other night before bed, after debating for some time whether I needed to or not. Turns out I felt the need to apologize for how things ended and to clarify a couple of things about our final conversation. I feel like it was the right call. Perhaps I was apologizing on behalf of him, knowing I won’t ever get the apology I feel I deserve. I’m creating my own closure here. Whether he responds or not is irrelevant, I said what I had to. I meticulously thought out what exactly I was feeling and pressed send once I knew I didn’t have ulterior motives in doing so. So here we are, over two weeks without communication at all. The days are passing painfully slow. I feel different than I did in the first week. I’m exhausted. And the sadness is now coming in waves. I crave even more alone time, and I’m sensitive to every kind of stimulus around me. I guess this is normal for a break up? I’m getting smacked with insignificant memories which hurt regardless of how ridiculous/unimportant they were. Swallowing how much I miss him is no easy feat. I feel like I’m drinking poison.

All that is left to do is start moving on, I suppose. Is progress measurable when it comes to break ups? I don’t feel like I’m making any. I’m still in shock. I’m still angry. I’m still wondering how I will ever get close to another person in that way. I’m not going to go on dating sites. I’m not going to be able to have rebound sex. I just won’t. I know myself. I can’t drink this away. I can’t fuck this away. I can’t work this away. I just have to feel it, I guess? How long is it going to hurt like this? How many more hours do I have to jolt myself back to reality and remind myself he isn’t coming back?

In other news, I’m booking my flights back to Onterrible for the holidays. I’m being forced to visit, as my sister is having a baby in October and apparently family members are supposed to care about that sort of thing. Last trip home I took was an awful time, so I’m hellbent on making this one better. I won’t be staying with my parents, which was part of the reason everything went to shit during my previous visit, and I’ll be sober! I hope the sobriety makes dealing with my insane mother a bit more manageable (although intuition tells me the opposite).

Speaking of sobriety, July 25th is my 3 month mark. Feels like it’s been years.

39 Days Sober! Ranting and Rambling.

The breakdown of my annoyances/anxieties/general ramblings are as follows,

Home Life: Roomie said something that really irked me about an hour ago while we were outside having a cigarette. She is having a similar kind of day and she is contemplating her future with work/love/Vancouver. She wants to move back to Ontario (which is where we left 3 years ago). I don’t know why it made me so annoyed. What, she wants to split up the cats? She wants to leave her best friend 4000km across the country? She thinks the grass is somehow greener over there? This is all probably because of the left behind feeling, right? Everyone is making plans without me. As they should, because people’s lives exist outside of me!! But here I am acting like a baby about it. Woe is me. Blahblahblah. On the positive side of things, she has been as supportive and present as her schedule has allowed her to be, and I do appreciate it a lot. Maybe I need to look at this all in a different light. I don’t want to treat her unfairly solely because my feelings are hurt. Something to explore further, I suppose.

Work Life: The GM at the restaurant quit recently, which opens up an opportunity for me to step in. All of my coworkers have asked me to take the position but I keep wondering if it’s something I want. Do I really need to tack on more responsibilities? I already do most of the work that she was supposed to be doing. Do I want to involve myself even more in the restaurant than I already am? I answer my phone 24/7 regardless of how determined I am to ignore work calls on my days off. Do I want to commit to another year at the same job? Am I settling? Am I constantly fighting the urge to just quit because I’m afraid of more responsibility? The owners return from their vacation this weekend, and we have a meeting scheduled for Tuesday… Guess I will have to decide how I feel about all this by then.

Love Life: I want to ask NB what the fuck he is going to do about all of this. I want to be able to make a plan for the next 6-12 months. I want to know if I’m beating a dead horse. Everyday I feel him opening up to the possibility of a future with me, but I don’t know if that’s false hope seducing me into complacency. Submitting to the situation. Saying something is changing even though we’re doing the same song and dance that we have been for some time now. Will he ever make a decision? I do know that it isn’t an easy one. I do know that if we decide to embark on this journey together, it will be no cake walk. We are in for a few years of rough waters. I have made my peace with that reality, because we are worth it. He is worth it. I keep telling myself I’ll stop waiting, but find myself doing it anyway. I’m not happy in limbo with him, but the future we could have is absolutely too wonderful and authentic to give up just because I’m being impatient. Uprooting his family is not something either of us desire to do, but being together means some tough choices have to be made. The quote that keeps resonating with me about this particular situation is ‘I don’t understand how you can be so worried about what might happen, when what might not happen, is so much worse’.
 
General: I feel a deep sense of unrest, clearly. There are plenty of things I could be doing around the house to alleviate some of this anxiety, but instead I’m sitting on my couch jittery from too much coffee and beating myself up for not having more to do. What a stupid cycle. I spent hours this week looking at the homepage for the Vancouver Agnostic AA. I saved both the locations, meeting times, etc. and yet I didn’t go. Guess it’s something I have to work up to. I feel like I’m crawling out of my skin. My immediate friend circle (including Roomie and NB) is leaving for the weekend. I’m stuck with my work week beginning tomorrow, and two adorable (and insanely annoying) 10 week old kittens. I don’t know how to stop feeling so muddled. I want to write but I don’t know where to start. I want to read but I can’t maintain concentration. I want to run but the thought of lacing up my runners is exhausting. I feel left behind, and this isn’t the first time I’ve gone through this. I can’t even get into a TV show, let alone sit down and watch a movie. So frustrated. So tired. So antsy. So few distractions. My head has been aching since I woke up and I feel drained, again. I guess the good news is, I don’t feel like drinking. I’m enjoying a cucumber mint sparkling lemonade which is quenching any thirst I could have. I wonder if this persistent low has anything to do with PAWS. I’ve felt out-of-body for the past 10 days, at the very least. I sincerely hope it goes away soon, whatever it may be. Guess I’ll just hope for the temporary insanity I’m feeling to disappear. Ack.

Procrastination Police

Written on May 11, 2017

Humans have an arsenal of excuses and justifications for putting things off. It could be that we’re too busy, too tired or too whatever. But we find reasons to not do something or leave it to be dealt with when it’s appropriate. The ultimate lie we repeat to ourselves and those around us is that “it’s not the right time” or “I don’t have the time”. It could be something small; personally I am fond of this excuse for doing my taxes, going to get groceries, going to the dentist, and calling my mom and dad. it could also be something with larger consequences; leaving your marriage, having a child, moving, changing your career, and in my case- quitting drinking. Whatever the task is at hand, we will find a way to avoid it until we absolutely cannot anymore. And this is where I found myself, I left my drinking problem until it could not be put off any longer. Everyday I’m dusting off something that led to my descent into drunkenness. Honestly, I’ve left plenty of other problems to fester until they start to fuck with me. When we do this, our shit has a tendency to rear it’s ugly head at the most inopportune times.

Case and point from my repertoire of personal shit: denying intense romantic feelings for a close friend while trying to reconcile with my ex. Cut to a few minutes in to make up sex, the emotional dam releases and suddenly a seemingly joyous moment is marred by gut-wrenching sobs and the realization that hope for this rekindled relationship has abruptly died because of unresolved/unexplored feelings for the other man. Yep, crying during sex. That was a first for me, albeit a relatively mild case of avoided troubles haunting yours truly. Had I just been honest initially with myself, my boyfriend, and maybe the other man too; I would have been sad and it would have been extremely uncomfortable, but I wouldn’t have hurt myself (or him) the way that I did. Had I said to myself 6 months earlier, ‘cut the shit, girl, we both know this isn’t just a crush’ I could have skipped over the cringe-worthy sex experience, too. Despite what I used to tell myself (and continually joke with Roomie about), nobody wants to fuck a sad girl.

I’ve struggled with procrastination for as long as I can remember but as I become increasingly clear-headed in sobriety, I see the flaw in this mechanism. Sure, shit is tedious and can be downright awful to handle sometimes (maybe even all the time) but that doesn’t mean we get to take a pass on it. Distractions can be just as detrimental as those lovable numbing agents! It damages us to pretend that our problems aren’t big enough to deal with à la minute. How can we start to build ourselves back up after a painful or changing experience/traumatic event if we shove the entire thing into a dusty corner ne’er to be seen again? Even worse, we convince ourselves it’s not a problem and we don’t ruminate on it longer than 30 seconds, only to be blindsided by it on some random afternoon 2 years later.

The unfortunate truth is that there’s no commitment in saying “I’ll deal with it later/when I have to”. Sometimes it’s necessary, of course, to put things off for a bit, but there should be a timeframe in mind. We say “I’ll get to it eventually” all the while hoping that it wraps itself up neatly in the meantime. So we don’t ever have to actually do the thing! All of this boils down to our fear/disgust/distaste for cleaning out the attic, the ignored parts of our psyche. Well, to that I say tough fucking tits! Nobody likes dealing with the painful shit, but nobody gets to run away from it either. When I think back to the rare time I appropriately handled an issue, I remember how well I slept the night of. I remember having so much more space in my heart and head for new things (sometimes new problems, too). So that’s how I remind myself when things get ugly and I want to burrito in bed forever. I remember how fucking good it feels to work through something diligently, so it can never come back to kill me one day.

Let’s be real, I can’t be the only one who craves the relief that comes once we cross something off of our infinite to-do list. In thinking about all this over the past few weeks, I’ve decided to make a deal with myself to take accountability and stop avoiding the big shit. The uncomfortable shit. The inconvenient shit. It’s time for me to start checking off the boxes. It’s a bit of an endeavour to be sure, but worthwhile ultimately to be able to sigh once I have put things in their respective places and moved the fuck on from them! Same goes for the accumulated clutter/big to-dos in our houses, cars, work places, actual attics. Lay it all out in the open, work through the complicated parts. Then box up the rest and put it where it belongs. Garbage or storage. No more crap or parts of our sanity living in limbo. If the task seems too great, remember you can (and should) take it one thing at a time and one day at a time. Go easy on yourself, take it slow, and pat yourself on the back every inch of progress that you make. If this emotionally crippled recovering drunk can do it, so can you.

And with that I’m off to get my taxes dealt with, make a grocery list, and book a dentist appointment. I’ll leave calling mom and dad to another day, as I’m only so brave. One thing at a time.