School, A Quote, and Some Reflection

I’m about to finish my first semester of grad school. I took two classes – Human Behavior in the Social Environment and Social Welfare Policy. I shed some tears and felt a serious amount of stress, but overall, my experience has been amazingly worthwhile.

I forgot how to use my brain in a classroom learning capacity, so that adjustment took some time. There is an incredible amount of reading required for a graduate degree (duh) and I’m surprised at how quickly I got into a groove of getting my shit done way in advance, absorbing the content, and kicking ass on assignments. As in, getting a 100% on my second policy paper after I cried hysterically over the first.

I went through a period in the first few weeks when I would dread the start of the live session (online program-speak for ‘class’. Just picture a Skype session with 16 other people set up in a grid with live chatting capabilities and you’ve got it.) But now that I’m almost done with week 13 of 14 of live sessions, I feel comfortable before class starts, not anxious as fuck about whether or not I’ll know how to contribute to the conversation in a meaningfully appropriate and graduate level way. I’ve continually surprised myself, which is new. I’ve unknowingly pushed myself out of my comfort zone and so far, I’m doing better than I thought I would.

I don’t know how to express how unimaginable it still feels to me that I have actually begun this process. I mean, a year and a half ago I was…lost, still broken, looking for attention in destructive places and ways, not loving myself, not engaged in anything meaningful and generally depressed. I was a shadow of who I am today. I’ve woken up from my coma of self-medicating and escaping. There’s a quote by Mary Karr who wrote a memoir about her recovery experience called ‘Lit’, that I have on my laptop’s lock screen and I see it every time I fire this baby up. It says: ‘There are women succeeding beyond their wildest dreams because of their sobriety.’ It forces a tiny knowing smile onto my face every time I read it.

The word sobriety has multiple meanings for me. A year ago it meant that I had to stop drinking entirely because I was a hopeless, disgusting, and troubled addict. ‘Sobriety’ felt urgent. It felt like an emergency. It felt like my last resort. That kind of sobriety will never stick, at least for me.

Today, the word feels like a departure from the thinking and behavioral patterns that were holding me down and less like an urgent need to immediately stop every single last bad habit I have in their dirty tracks. Now, it’s more a letting go of the fear that I wasn’t good enough. It’s also an acceptance that every bad decision I made during those days do not define who I am as a person. I used to feel so disgusted with myself. So fucking fed up and angry at myself for not being able to be better. And, yes, I still feel like that as I occasionally feel the pull to say ‘fuck it’ and succumb to the waves of sadness or worry or stress that often come over me. There’s a difference between letting the feelings completely bowl me over to the point of needing to say ‘fuck it’ and, feeling the emotion, giving it the time it needs to be felt and moving on without needing to escape from that discomfort. The decisions I used to make and will sometimes make in the future are only that, decisions. They don’t in any way mean I am a terrible person. I’m a good person who had/has a few bad habits.

As I move farther away from my days of drinking to numb and escape and acting out sexually and ghosting through my existence, I marvel at how dependent I unknowingly was on those behaviors to get me through. I had a conversation with an old friend recently who is going through a tough time and is self-medicating in much the same way that I used to. I can see so much of my addictive behaviors in her. I can see the hurt. I can feel the pain. I can practically smell the self-loathing drifting off her skin. I wish I could coax her out of this process and make her heal the wounds she’s desperately and defensively licking but I can’t. I have to let this period in her life run its’ course, much as I had to let the drinking days in my life run theirs.

This addiction/sobriety thing is a tricksy asshole, isn’t it?

I’m beginning to feel grateful for it because living through and growing from my experiences is going to make me a pretty badass social worker once I’m done with school. Nothing will be able to stop me and my success will be wild.

Better late than never

I’m realizing more and more lately that I don’t know how to remain in a state of contentment. I am pretty sure I never learned how, there was always something going on, something changing, someone moving in, someone moving out, constant motion. When I look back to when I was little, the one thing that sticks out in terms of consistency was the feeling that I couldn’t settle down emotionally because the majority of my weekends (and sometimes weeknights) beyond the age of 8 or 9 were spent somewhere other than my home, in my bed. Sometimes I slept at the house of the woman who cared for my aging grandmother, or with a family friend that I didn’t really like, or at a friend’s house. I honestly can’t say how often this happened, but it was a regular enough occurrence that I vividly remember how it felt to be ‘shuffled off’ to somewhere else.

Why was I being shuffled? Because my parents had to spend their free time dealing with the ever evolving, ever emotionally draining, and ever challenging enigma that was my older brother. They drove hours to Pennsylvania to visit him while he was enrolled in ‘school’ (it was really a rehabilitation center for troubled youth). Or, they went to secret court meetings with lawyers to work out what would be the best course of action when he stole the car. Or, they were out looking for him when he ran away from home for the 15th time. It must have been so difficult for them. They were trying to care for the their troubled kid who sought their attention through vehement rebellion and utter behavioral dysfunction. That’s what they had to do. They were without a choice; he was self-destructing by the age of 11. But, in the process they were essentially forced to neglect their other kid who’s emotional hard drive was being infected with a nasty, invisible virus.

It wasn’t as if I was abused or had a terrible time while my entire family was away from me doing things I wasn’t a part of. I usually had a great time with my friends. We watched Rated R movies before I was allowed to – Silence of the Lambs when I was 12 – Yikes…no wonder I have an unnatural love for Stephen King. We ate candy until we were practically sick and wrote the names of our crushes in cursive all over any surface that could be easily concealed. We obsessed about when we would get our first period. It was a very formative time, one I remember fondly. Mostly.

While I have the good memories, I still carry the hurt of feeling left out during those years. I didn’t understand why my parents always had to be ‘away’, or why they never explained where my brother was. He would simply be gone and then he would magically reappear one day without a word of explanation. All I did know was that I couldn’t get too comfortable at home because I would have to pack a bag and sleep somewhere else in a matter of days. I know my parents were protecting me – as they should have – I just haven’t been able to shake how consistently difficult it can be for me to remain content where I am.

Is that because when I was a pre-teen I spent many, many nights in a foreign house, knowing that the following weekend I would be in a different foreign house? Is that why, to this day, I am so annoyingly unable to sleep soundly in a bed that isn’t mine? Is that why I developed a destructive coping mechanism, because I learned that being away from home meant something bad was happening behind the curtain of protection? Is it why I feel more anxious nowadays than I ever have because things in my life are actually going, dare I say, smoothly?

I’m pretty sure that’s part of it. I’ve spent years not being able to truly settle into a pattern of healthy, positive, loving behavior because I’ve either been sorting through a loss, a giant mess of my own making or I’ve been bracing for the shit to hit the fan again. Part of me is waiting for that to happen now. That’s where the anxiety comes from – the anticipation of something awful, life changing and completely out of my control barreling straight for my pretty little forehead.

And that’s fine. Things will happen. Life isn’t easy and it owes me nothing. I can breathe more freely, more deeply now. I can sit with anxiety, knowing that it is fiercely fickle and will eventually move on.

The last 7 months have been a lovely, progressive shift from some dark, dark days into the light for me. The relationship I’m in grows more complex and fulfilling with every passing week. I got accepted to graduate school and my classes start May 15th. I’m going to move in with my boyfriend in the next few months. My future seems bright, and more importantly, it feels possible. 

Everything feels so new. Everything feels so exciting. Everything feels so fragile. I don’t want to check out because I feel anxious. I don’t want to miss anything that is unfolding now, I am so very aware of how precious it is. My life is finally, finally facing in a direction that I am in love with and I deserve it. However, I’ve never, ever had this feeling before – it’s no wonder I feel nervous. Of course I’m going to feel scared to let myself curl up like a cat sleeping in a band of sunlight because I’m brand new to the areas of healthy relationships, meaningful work and self-acceptance. Brand spanking new.

But, it’s never too late to let go of the insecurities of the past and embrace the confidence of the future.

Never. Too. Late.

In and out goes the tide…

Yesterday was my birth mother’s birthday. I met her for the first time shortly before she turned 50. She just turned 52. For years, I would have given anything required of me to know that piece of information. Any knowledge about my birth mother held an elusive and seductive power over me for most of my life and I would have willingly paid the price. In many ways, I have.

Two years ago, my birth father and I organized a surprise lunch for her. He told her that he was taking her out to lunch, just the two of them. But, unbeknownst to her, he and I planned for me to be waiting at the restaurant. When she saw me, the look on her face was priceless and she started to cry. I was elated to be able to share a moment like that with the woman I never thought I would know. I keep the memory of that day in my heart.

Last year, when she turned 51, I texted her and said something like: ‘Happy Birthday ___. I hope all is well with you.’ And her response, hours later was: ‘Thanks, kid.’ That text was the first contact I had with her after our major falling out, 7 months prior. From surprise lunches with tears to a vague text….the tide comes in…then it goes out.

My dad used to call me ‘kid’. My heart. It aches.

This year, I didn’t reach out at all. I thought of her the day before her birthday and wondered if I would be able to gather the courage/desire to send another awkward text. Apparently not.

I think about her a lot. I wonder what she’s doing. I wonder if she thinks about me. I fantasize that one day she will reach out and apologize for disappearing and choosing my birth father over me.

I try to hang onto the good memories I have of her – the first time I met her, when she first hugged me and touched my cheek, the day she introduced me to 2 of my brothers and that elated smile when I surprised her. I move forward with the security and peace that comes with knowing (finally) that I have her eyes, her hair, her lips and that for a short time, I had her love.

As much as thinking about her these days makes me sad, I am honestly really grateful for the beautiful pain that comes with having known her. It’s spectacularly complicated but it’s light year better than wondering who she was all those years…34 to be exact. That particular ‘not knowing’ pain was fuel to the fire of my addictions. Never ending fuel.

I miss her. I miss her raspy voice and her no nonsense way of viewing people and their ways. I miss her perspective. I miss the possibility she held. I miss the connection I had with her.

Maybe next year I’ll be able to write about how she and I mended fences and were able to celebrate her 53rd birthday together. Maybe.

 

Accountable Shma-ccountable.

I wrote the following italicized paragraphs on Friday night while I was drunk. *sigh* I didn’t have the balls to actually post the post while drunk though. I was venting my frustration at myself by typing furiously on my keyboard. I had every intention of hitting ‘Publish’ but I just….couldn’t. I felt too raw. Too exposed. But now that’s it is Monday – Labor Day, say thankya – I feel like I can handle letting this one go live.

Truth telling time….I’m drunk. In this moment of writing, I am drunk. And I feel incredibly shitty, false and low because I am drunk. Do I feel this way because I have gotten drunk while alone? Do I feel this way because I am drunk after many days of not being drunk? Do I feel this way because I think I have fallen off the wagon? Do I feel this way because there was really, utterly, definitively no real reason for me to drink enough wine to make it hard for me to type coherently? What am I compensating for? What makes it so tough for me to sit in my own company sober?

I’m searching for a catalyst and there just isn’t one to be found. I guess I’m just an addict. And I think I like the drinking and drunk feeling too much to give it up completely. Does that mean I have to give it up? DO I have to go stone cold turkey? Do I? Really?

A program made of 12 steps and a power greater than myself that has a penis attached to it says I do. I’m not saying it is wrong or completely misogynistic – even  though it kind of is – I’m just wondering why it has to be set up within a litany of extremes. Why do I have to give up my control to a power that I know nothing about? Why does this power have to be male? Why can’t I just handle this shit, as I handle the rest of my shit, my-fucking-self? Why do I need to ask for help? Why am I not enough?

I suppose that’s the core of my issues and addictions. I’ve never felt like I’ve been enough for anything – be it a man’s affection or attention, being free of the bonds of not understanding my abandonment into adoption or some other form of ‘not enough’ that I have programmed into my psyche.

That’s as far as I got because I was getting fucking angry before I crumpled to the floor to stare at the ceiling for a while. I do that sometimes. I do it drunk and I do it sober. Sometimes I just need a different perspective and lying down, flat on my back, legs and arms akimbo gives me that. It centers me a little and helps me remember to breathe. I forget to breathe a lot. I forget that I will make mistakes and I freak out when I realize I have started dancing with the Dark Side again.

And, (more truth telling time) for the record, I don’t know if I actually think that getting drunk on Friday night was a mistake. Was it? Really? Maybe it’s more a stutter step. A slight stumbling point on my road to Annie’s version of Recovery – whatever that may look like.

These past weeks I have been drinking. Not daily. Not heavily. Small amounts, usually with dinner when I get home from work and not much more than that. I don’t want to not have wine in the house. I want it to be available still. Which, as shown above is a slippery slope because I can easily get carried away. But I still need a binkie, my own version of a Recovery Security Blanket. I don’t want to be 100% booze-less.

Ugh. Do you ever just get plain old sick and fucking tired of listening to your own thoughts? That’s me right now. Maybe I’ll lie on the floor and breathe and try to convince myself not to have a glass of red with dinner tonight….I know I’ll cave. I’m making steak tips. Nothing better than deep red wine with succulent, buttery red meat. Am I right?

And if I do have wine tonight, so what? So fucking what? Is the Recovery Police going to come banging on my door and rip the wine glass from my hands and take me to Recovery Jail? I often wonder if that’s what I actually think will happen because lately, I feel guilty when I sip wine. Guilty as Fuck! I think it’s because of this blog. If I drink, no matter how much, I feel an inner obligation to report it here since my intentions in the beginning were to remain honest and accountable. I’m taking responsibility right now and the teenager who likes to let her hair down and forget hates when I make her do that. But the wise been-through-the-trenches-of-life-and-wants-to-be-free-of-this-crutch part of me needs to let this out.

So, now it’s out. And I feel better. Thanks Blog O’Mine. I love your face.

 

Good Girl Addict vs. Being Awake

Ever since I started this blog I have felt more awake to myself. That is to say, I’ve felt capable of listening to what the voices closest to my heart and best interest have to say. I’m really not sure if I’ve ever been able to. I walked through the last 18 years of my life in a specific mindset designed to protect, shield and keep afloat my basic needs: food, sex, job, paying bills, making it to the end of another day, etc. It’s been textbook survival mode. In many, many ways I’ve been asleep all these years. I didn’t realize the full scope of this until I sat down to start this blog and publically share my ‘stuff’.

I am finding this ability to reveal myself and put it all out there is maybe not as common as I think? When I let others who don’t know me all that well read what I have to say about my life, self and experience, they are usually amazed at how ‘brave’ they think I am. Someone once said something like, ‘you don’t hide in your writing’. When I think of it that way, I’d have to agree. Writing has swiftly become the one place where I don’t filter. I don’t retreat. I stand up and face down what is haunting me. It’s a place where I can let it all hang out and you (the reader) can take it or leave it. I drop my need to people please and be a Good Girl when I’m writing here and that is liberating as Fuck.

So, I’m waking up to my life, to my true self, to who I am. I am becoming aware to how deadened and numb I have been feeling, acting (drinking daily or sleeping with random, uninterested and undeserving men) and becoming. This shift from sleep to waking has been slow, but major. My life hasn’t belonged to me in quite a while and I can feel it coming back to me in fits and starts. I want to cry and throw a tantrum when I think about how unintentionally hard I have allowed my life to become. I lost my way in the damn dark woods. My default is to be angry with my lack of motivation or be really hard on myself for not seeing the truth sooner or for wasting so much time in the dark. I should have done this or should have realized that right away. The hectoring voice of my Addictions wants to take over……but this new awareness is too potent, too acute to allow that to happen anymore.

It’s still evolving and I am very sure that it will remain that way for a long, long time. I used to think that whatever work I did would be enough to stop the ‘problem’ in its’ tracks. I was completely sure that whatever effort I put in to getting through a traumatic life event would make pain down the road non-existent. Haaaa! What a joke. I never once put energy or thought toward the fact that I will always be learning. I will always be changing and growing. It will never stop and that’s a good thing. A state of perpetual education is something that people who live full, meaningful, delicious lives cultivate.

Now, that. That. Is something I want — A life brimming with depth and creativity and joy. A life where I see the light and fun as much as I can. A life where I check out the dark corners from time to time because I still believe that all emotion is valid and cries out for acknowledgment. But I don’t want feel the need to sit in the sadness and hurt. And honestly, I feel that need less and less. It almost doesn’t make sense to do that now. It seems silly to waste my energy on thoughts and feelings that do nothing other than hurt my already tired heart. What the fuck was I thinking all the long and lonely days I sat in my pain? Good Lord.

I’m starting to be able to recognize almost immediately when I slip back into an old thought pattern of habitual self-pity. Instead of bowing to it and succumbing like a glutton for punishment, I take a deep breath, square my shoulders and tell myself that I’m worthy of letting that shit go. I tell myself that I don’t have to torture myself. I tell myself that I deserve to be free of the beliefs and emotions that don’t serve me. And holy shit, that is actually working! I actually believe the strong, positive and loving voice that has been speaking from my heart more and more. I fucking believe her. Who would have thunk, huh?

I feel the need to reiterate: this is a process. I know this is an evolution of my self. I know I will slip back into the dark woods from time to time. I know it will happen because nothing is guaranteed in this life, not even my new sense of well-being. I know that old habits die hard. Really hard. And that’s totally ok. I can go with the pain or grief or anger or frustration or boredom or whatever I feel that threatens to deliver me back to my cave of addiction and pain. I can go with it, I can bend with it for a minute or two and then I can walk away. That’s at the core of the transition I’m going through – I can walk away. Remembering that I do not completely lack some form of control is key.

I can walk away from the pain whenever I want to. It doesn’t own me. It doesn’t control me. It doesn’t define me. I am my own imperfect person. I am the one who decides what I want my life to consist of. I am the one who lives fully, deeply and deliciously. I deserve it.

Awareness…so much awareness

Here I am. 11 days of no drinking (unless you count the margarita I had on Friday, which I mostly do not) and I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m quietly engaging with my life again. Very quietly. It’s almost like I’m observing my life as an open field; a young doe has slowly revealed herself from the cover of the forest and is gently eating some grass at the edge. This gorgeous and peaceful creature is my sobriety. She’s here, but she’s nervous and will bolt the second she feels threatened.

That’s why I’m approaching this whole thing lightly. I don’t want to upset my tentative equilibrium with a lot of big talk and half-hearted confidence. I’m gaining more self-assuredness from not drinking with each passing day. I am settling into it pretty well. And besides, I usually work better when I don’t think too much. When I just let something evolve on its’ own is when things shift into place in a positive way. When I put on my Good Girl Addict cape and try to fix and solve is when things get all messy and dirty. That’s when things can fall apart because I try to control too much. I am learning oh so very much these days.

I know it’s a serious thing I’m dealing with. Addiction is ugly. It’s complicated; full of many layers, just like ogres (if you want to get as technical as Shrek) and it waits.

I’m scared that my addiction is waiting for me to fuck up. I’m scared that it has gone into sleep mode and is waiting for the next clusterfuck of emotion to track me down so it can wake up immediately and snap back into action. It knows I’ve needed it before to protect me from whatever pain or hardship I couldn’t deal with on my own and it’s perfectly happy to wait and wait. I’m pretty sure that’s what it is doing. And for some reason, that feels ok. I have fully accepted that I went through a long stretch of years when I felt I had to use something to not feel. For whatever reason, my inability to see that has come sharply into focus and I’m ok with it. I’m not angry at myself. I don’t feel resentful about what I went through. I don’t have any angst about the drinking and eating and fucking to numb that I’ve done.

What I feel is awareness. Complete awareness. With that has come a deeply rooted need to allow myself to heal. It hurts my heart to know I still need to remain in healing mode. I mean, I thought I had healed. I thought I had done all the work I would ever have to do. HA! What a fucking delusional addictive thought that is, right? The self-work will never stop because for me, it’s about educating myself about myself. It’s about learning who I am and who I want to be and what I want my life to look like. Now, I’m going to do my damndest to walk the path that will foster the most growth to that end. Seriously. I feel like my world has opened up in a big, big way.

I almost broke down the other night and grabbed a bottle of red. I thought about it for 10 minutes or so. I felt the craving rise up from deep in my belly and I sat with it. I was minimally aware that I was scratching my beloved kitty girl under her chin while I imagined the way the wine would taste. She has no idea what an all-encompassing comfort she is to me. With every scratch on her glossy fur I could feel myself unwinding a bit more, coming down from the call to drink, turning away from it. It was tough to do. I even reasoned that I could just have one glass. Then a powerful, compassionate and true voice spoke up in my head and said, ‘you know that will never be true for you again as long as you drink wine to fill something, right?’

And just like that, I didn’t want to drink anything but water. Remembering that I used to use alcohol and food and men as shields against the holes in my life will be paramount as I move forward. Figuring out what else to fill those holes with now that I don’t want to use something will be an entirely new game I get to play. I’m thinking maybe meetings will actually serve as a huge help in that area. Couldn’t hurt, right? But for now, even though stripping down all these layers is disconcerting, uncomfortable and difficult….it feels completely worth it. Holy shit.

11 days.

Good Girl Addict vs. The Need to Help

Today I find myself filled with anxiety. Filled. To the brim. Anxious belly, tight shoulders, tension headache. The works. I know why I’m feeling this way and miraculously it has zero to do with booze (I’m now on day 6 of no alcohol. SIX!!) But it does have to do with what I’m slowly beginning to recognize as another layer of my addictive behaviors; I get consumed with other people’s ‘stuff’.

*Sigh*

I have always been this way, especially when it comes to men in my life (I choose the ones that are wrong for me. Really wrong And I secretly, fervently and unrealistically hope for them to change into exactly who I want them to be. Which we all know will never happen. Aces.)

I’ve never experienced it this intensely though – me getting mixed up and involved in someone else’s bullshit. Maybe that’s because I have a tiny, oh so tiny amount of clear headed sobriety under my belt and I’m actually beginning to feel my feelings again? Could be. All I know is, I got an alarming phone call yesterday from someone who should really be living in my past and I didn’t hesitate to say “YES” to helping him out of a jam that was 100% his own fault.

I’m not going to go into knitty gritty details. It was just your basic mess which comes from bad decision after bad decision mixed in with some serious denial and avoidance and….voila…he’s in trouble and needs someone (me) to bail him out. What alarms me is not that he found himself in trouble – again – but that I didn’t think twice to jump in and help. I didn’t have to help. I really, truly didn’t. But I just couldn’t help myself. I needed to get my hands in there and help him fix it. Fucking needed to. And, I felt like it was the right thing to do…so really it was the perfect combination of my people pleasing and helping syndrome. Good Girl to the rescue! Just another addiction to hang on my wall I suppose. Another thing I really should not fuck with anymore.

The reason said fuckery must be put on hold is this: I have been triggered and affected by what happened yesterday and I don’t have it in me to feel this way any longer. It’s way too much. I thought I would feel good about helping him and glad for my effort. But I didn’t. What I felt was exhaustion. Bone deep tiredness.

Exhaustion because, without knowing it, I give everything I’ve got emotionally and mentally when I’m in this ‘I have to help’ mode. I rush around and feel frantic. It’s not healthy for me. I completely do it to myself. All he did was ask for help. I could have easily said NO. But I didn’t and he knew I wouldn’t say no. That’s why he called me first.

I am still trying to save Tom in some way – this person and my brother are cut from the same cloth, Whoa Nelly – and if I can help the living, breathing version of Tom that I see in front of me then, in my Good Girl Addict way, I feel less guilty for being a ‘bad’ sister to my dead brother. Ugh.

At least I can see it. That’s the good news. I went ahead and fulfilled my misled Good Girl Addict need without thinking about it and now I know that it’s a need that doesn’t lead me anywhere worthwhile. Ever. I can see that I still need to be needed by people that are bad for me. I can see that I still need to help those who refuse to help themselves.

I’m ok with those needs. I will be able to recognize them the next time something pops up and I want to rush into overdrive to head into battle without thinking. I am learning myself. I am learning what I want for my life and what I don’t. That in and of itself is a miracle. Being able to say, ‘no, I just can’t help you because I need to take care of myself first’ is a tremendously large step forward for me. That’s what I will say the next time something happens….because I know it will.

 

6 Days.

 

A Shift

After my monumental realization in therapy (that I really do live in my pain – no matter how much I tell myself I don’t. I fucking do. The dream I had couldn’t have been more clear about that) this past week, something shifted. I feel different. I feel less restricted somehow. My day in day out routine feels less like a chore and more like living. I haven’t felt the heaviness of addiction in a few days. It’s been pleasantly quiet in my head. I also haven’t felt the pure need to drink/eat myself away.

It’s kind of amazing how addiction and dependence on something else really tries to trick you into thinking that your life is a complete mess when it’s really, truly, definitely not. The warped thinking is what fascinates and terrifies me the most. The mindset of addiction is the true killer. Nothing will change as long as your brain is telling you that you need the drink or drug or food or sexual partner or lottery ticket or whatever to survive. As long as your brain is pumping out the untrue slogans of ‘YOU NEED TO DRINK’ or ‘THERE’S NO WAY YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT BOOZE’ or ‘IT’S TOO HARD; YOU DESERVE A BREAK, TAKE A SIP’ the truth doesn’t stand a chance.

The more I’m examining this problem of mine and reading about it (I just tore through Lit by Mary Karr. Fantastic read), the more I’m learning that my mental state is mostly the culprit. The thoughts I have and messages (most laced with negativity, denial and self-hatred, Awesome) I send to myself are the bulk of what’s been holding me back and keeping me wrapped up in my security blanket of addiction. The past 18 years of my life featured some deep lows, there’s no denying that. My spirit was broken down and splintered and I lost track of who I am many times. That’s all I could focus on. I was hurt and tired and scarred and no one could possibly understand what it was like for me – or so I told myself. I began licking my wounds – it became my favorite pastime. And then, my mind got stuck on repeat and the rest of me didn’t realize that all I had to do was press ‘play’ again to allow forward momentum.

So simple.

I think that weird, humid, jarring dream was a gateway. It was a way to press ‘Play’ again. It was a way to remember that when I am feeling familiar emotions that lead me to feel trapped or low or misunderstood or tragic I don’t have to choose to stay with those feelings. I don’t have to wander around in the dark with them, searching for an answer to why it huuuuuuurts so much. I don’t even have to pick them up. I can simply acknowledge the pain, honor the fact that it happened and that it exists and then, I can walk away. I can leave it be. I can allow myself to be free from the pain. I can. And I have been able to sit with that idea for the past 4 days and let me tell you, I can breathe. I can stand tall. I can smile and feel whole. I can look ahead with a sparkle in my eye. I fucking can.

Holy Fuck. Revelation Personified. I swear to God.

I have found myself defaulting into my pain a few times since having the dream. The familiar lump in my throat rises (as it is right now thinking about my tricksy little Precious), my shoulders rise and tense and I take a sharp breath in, immersed in the toxic thrill of feeling shit that needs to be put down. Immediately. Yesterday. Better yet, it needed to be put down last year.

And you know what, it’s ok that I haven’t figured out a way to leave well enough alone. I’m actually starting to feel deeply at peace with where I have been. You know why? It’s because something shifted. Something clicked. I don’t want to numb myself. I don’t want to miss out on my life because the propaganda that’s on loudspeaker in my head is telling me I can’t or don’t deserve to or that everything is too hard or that I’m too FAT, too broken, too much of a lost cause. I don’t want the best times to fly by me because I was too self-involved and tragically wandering to see it all.

My daily drinking is a first class ticket to missing everything I want to see, experience and feel. I don’t want to end up paying for something I never had any intention of buying in the first place.

I want to find myself again (I’m already on my way).

I want to give myself a hug.

I want to look into whatever version of my eyes that are hurting the most (17 year old Annie, most likely) and tell myself, ‘You’ve always been enough, sweet, sweet girl. Always. All you have to do is believe it.’

And then I want to……….Let it Go and Move Forward.

 

Guess what I’m not planning to do tonight?

Drink.

 

 

Security Blanket

I have so many thoughts and emotions skittering around in my head today, so hang in there with me if this post turns out to be really scattered and/or emotional as fuck.

I sit here, in a blissfully air conditioned Starbucks eavesdropping on a couple behind me who are clearly on a first date after connecting on an online site and while I’m amused and inwardly smiling at their banter and completely feel their awkward pain, I’m also feeling incredibly adrift in a sea of emotions. Most of the things I’m feeling are familiar. Most are old hat. I know them well, I have walked these halls before; I know what the fuck I am doing in them. But there’s so many offshoots in the halls and I can’t decide where to go. I’m feeling lost today. That’s what I don’t know what to do with. I’m basically overwhelmed. And triggered. Triggered like whoa.

I’ve been reading up a lot on other women’s journeys through their drinking days and how they proceeded bravely into sobriety. I am deeply envious of these women. I am truly inspired by their courage and dedication to living again. I read their words, feelings and experiences and I am in awe. How do they do it? How did they dig deep enough? How?

I know it’s coming – my own sobriety. I know it’s going to happen for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to write the way I have been. I would avoid the subject of my drinking like the plague that it is. Also, I would still be going out all the time, drinking myself blind and making out with married men. Yup, I’ve done that a few times. Get me drunk enough and I have no regard for another woman’s vows or security in her marriage. I want what I want in the moment. Consequences be damned. Her husband is the one out late with a strange woman. The problem lies in his decisions, not mine. Right? Right?

Obviously, I am wrong to think this way. However, that’s usually the booze talking. It’s not really who I am at my core. If I was sober I wouldn’t think or do things like I just described. I am a good person. I have things to contribute to this life. I want to do more than drink and think and bemoan and drink and overthink and lose myself. I want to do more than numb and actively avoid feeling anything and wonder why it’s so fucking hard for me to simply live and be. I don’t want to stay drowning in the stew of my emotions. I don’t. I don’t. I don’t.

Why isn’t the fucking fact that I don’t want this to be my life enough to make me stop? Why can’t I just let go? I suppose the answer to that is simple; I’m holding on to it. This habit that helps me not feel. I’m holding onto it like a little girl with her security blanket who is spending the night away from home for the first time. Terrified to let go. I’m still holding onto the lies the booze tells me. I’m still adhering to the horrible and sometimes horrifying inner dialogue of my overtired mind and living according to what it says (You’re too FAT. You’re worthless. You’re disgusting. You’ll never be able to get through this. Your life is meaningless. Even your friends hate you now. You’ve pushed them away and you have No One. You should just fucking end it.)

Mostly I’m scared. That’s basically the bottom of the barrel. I’m scared. The fear makes me think these things. The fear keeps me in the bubble of not wanting to live without alcohol. It’s quite the cycle I have going for myself. Quite.

But that’s ok. I’m not upset with myself for being scared as I normally would be. I’m adjusting to the fear. I’m trying to settle down with it, to go with it. The energy it takes to go against it is tremendously draining. So, more and more I’m looking at my fear. The more I do that, the more I see that letting fear run the show is the silliest solution I could have ever come up with. C’mon woman! Get your head in the game. You matter. You are important to everyone but yourself. Stop that! Stop devaluing yourself because of your past! Just stop. Change your ways, change your thinking, change your life. Let’s fucking go!

Yes.

My sobriety is on its’ way. I feel deeply and I think too much. These two things have always been my downfall. I’ve always allowed the things that have happened to me to write my story. I’ve let the hard times design the landscape of my life. I can’t allow that to happen anymore. I have to get on my team. I have to be on my side. I have to take care of myself first. If I don’t, I will be – and, sadly, have started to become – absolutely no good for anyone.

*deep breath*

I fucking got this. I got this. I got this.

Yes.

 

The Good Girl Addict vs. Reality

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Hands down, this has been true of my life experiences. Everything I have been through has in some way, felt like either Too Fucking Much or Never, Ever Enough. Where did the happy medium go? Whatever happened to balance? Sometimes I think that I never learned how to balance. I never learned to pace myself.

Once I found something that helped me feel less unsure, less lost, less neglected that was it. I wanted that thing over and over. I would consistently search for whatever high I had managed to find the previous time. I felt alive when I could feel that high. It awakened a need within me and I began an endless search for something else to make me feel like my life was worth something.

A sugar high from candy when I was growing up; the very first signs of my addictive personality. Or when I was in my early 30s, it might be a self-esteem high from winning the temporary and extremely drunken affections of a stranger in my bed. Feeling a man’s body poised over mine, about to enter me gave me a thrill I didn’t think was possible.

And nowadays I’m chasing the perfect floaty, fizzy, tipsy feelings of my 3rd or 4th glass of wine. I feel giggly, worthwhile, sexy and exciting when the wine is invading my bloodstream. I feel tremendously invincible. I don’t feel like anything bad will happen for maybe 15 minutes and then reality inevitably pokes her head through the curtain to remind me that it’s almost bedtime because I’m an adult and I have responsibilities and I have things I have to do other than drink and fuck and eat.

Sometimes I’m glad to hear from reality. Sometimes I’m grateful that I still remember to keep my head on straight and to keep my shit together. Most times actually. More and more as of late I would rather have a clear head. But sometimes I don’t want to fucking hear it from her anymore. Reality is such a bitch and she always wins. No matter what. Sometimes I just want to stay and stay and stay in the haze of floaty, fizzy and tipsy until I forget where I’ve been and who I am becoming. But the longer I stay the more dangerous it will become. Addiction is progressive. Alcoholism is progressive. Over time, you start to need more and more than you used to just to feel a slight, tiny, miniscule buzz. As the great sage and eminent junkie Axl Rose once sang, ‘I used to do a little but a little wouldn’t do it so the little got more and more. I just keep trying to get a little better, said a little better than before.’

This shit is real. This addiction is happening. It has been for most of my life. But I swear to God, the more I talk about it here, the more I know someone else is reading what I have to say, the less this fucking rope around my neck is squeezing the life out of me. It’s loosening. It’s beginning to slip. And I couldn’t be more grateful for that.

Thank you for reading. Whoever you are. Thank you.