The Parking Lot of Pain

So. I had a session with my therapist today and she (as per usual) had some fantastic nuggets of wisdom for me. I read ‘Visiting Day’ to her. Her immediate question when I finished was, ‘Does the pain really still feel that big to you, even now?’ My answer was, ‘Yes.’ I wish my answer was something different, but as of today, it’s not.

I then told her about a dream I had the night before I wrote the post. In it, I was walking through a huge parking lot. A Target style lot. Rows and rows of empty spaces on either side of me. The air was humid, saturated with moisture and very close. My clothes clung to me like barnacles. I was pushing an overloaded shopping cart. I had no idea what was in it, only that it was cumbersome, heavy and difficult to navigate. I was trying to get to my car as quickly as I could because of the heat. I loathe the heat. But because of the damn cart I wasn’t covering any ground. It was almost like the pavement was half melted and the wheels of the cart were forever getting stuck, twisted and off course.

I glanced behind me and saw a group of five 13 or 14 year old boys following me. They had an intense ‘Lord of the Flies’ energy about them; all charged up on primal testosterone-fueled anger. Their faces may have even been painted and they were literally carrying spears. They were gaining on me because of my snail-like pace. I could have left the cart and started to run. This idea didn’t occur to me. I just dug in my feet and continued to push. Before I knew it, the leader of the pack starting whooping, ran at full speed toward me and smacked me square on the ass – HARD. He said, ‘Get the FUCK out of here!!’ I felt the slap, but not in the good way. It Hurt. And then I woke up.

I didn’t think of it again until I was in session with my therapist today. Right away, she knew what the dream was trying to slap me (literally) with. The pack of boys represented my brother and his tumultuous existence. Their anger was Tom’s anger. It was my anger too. All my anger directed at myself. She reasoned that the parking lot represented my pain. Big. Suffocating. And she went further still saying that the boys were trying to literally kick me out of my pain. They wanted me Gone from that giant lot. Disappeared. Never to return. It was like they wanted to be left there in peace. I had been overstepping my welcome for far too long and they were just plain done with me. Done.

And holy shit. The boys in my dream and my therapist were both SO right. I feel this pain of mine too much. I turn it over and over in my hands. I gaze at it. I worship it. My Precious.

Putting the tribe of boys in my dream together with what’s been going on in my life, (e.g., drinking daily, not exercising, feeling stuck as fuck) was exactly what I needed. My eyes opened and it clicked – I’m stuck in my pain. I’m addicted to my pain. It’s like I’ve been laboriously pushing that damn cart up and down the rows, looking for a car that isn’t there (and probably never was) since 1997. It’s a fruitless and tremendously exhausting endeavor, one I’ve been trying to perfect for years.

And I don’t have to stay stuck there. I can give up the search for my non-existent vehicle and simply walk away. First I have to let go of the shopping cart. That has to stay in the lot. I know it.

All I have to do is….Let………Go.

It’s so simple.

Mindfulness and awareness have always been my biggest allies. Both have helped me immensely to foster change in my thinking and behaviors in the past. Remaining aware and mindful is where I struggle; it’s oh so easy to fall off the wagon.

But nowadays I have a blog. I can come back to this and re-read it any time I need a reminder of what I already know. I have friends who check in and can help me remain accountable and blissfully aware. I do not have to do this alone. That’s one prime piece of knowledge I want to remain especially mindful of.

I am not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Definitions of self

In spite of this problem (my struggles with addiction), I deeply and profoundly love, respect and accept myself.’

It was suggested to me by my therapist to repeat this mantra to myself out loud. She stressed the importance of saying it out loud. By using my mouth to shape the words and actually hear my voice saying the statement, she hoped that something would click so that maybe, just maybe the meaning will stick in my mind and I will believe it.

I have trouble accepting myself. I think a good portion of my ‘stuckness’ around self-acceptance comes from being adopted. I never felt connected to my family while I was growing up. I always wondered where I came from and who made me. However, my parents didn’t use the word ‘adoption’ and they never asked me how I felt about it. I took their lack of openness as shame. I thought they were embarrassed that they had to adopt me. I followed their lead and never spoke about it either. I felt ashamed that I wasn’t truly theirs and I never learned how to talk about it because we didn’t have a dialogue.

I adopted ‘adoption’ as a form of protection. If I kept myself apart by being ‘adopted’ then the confusion and emptiness I felt about my parents’ assumed shame wouldn’t hurt as much. I would think to myself, ‘no one understands me, it must be because I’m adopted.’ Within that word I was safe. Underneath that label I was able to drift away and not feel anything because I had a built-in excuse. I would think, ‘I’m adopted, you’ll never understand who I am or how I feel.’

But now that I’m an adult, I actually found a dialogue about adoption with my mother (and oh my God was I wrong about her feeling ashamed of me. As far as she is concerned, I have always simply and completely been hers) and with that came the ability and courage to actually find my birth parents. I met them. I spent time with them. I met 2 of my 4 half siblings. I hugged my birth mother and my birth father. I engaged with them. I learned from them and discovered with them. Then I lost them to each other (I’ll get into the belly of that beast at some point down the road, I promise). And now, I don’t have anything left to protect myself with. I don’t have the armor I’ve always worn with some sort of backwards pride because ‘adopted’ doesn’t really apply anymore. Sure, that’s how I started my life, but it will not be how I continue or end it.

Now I’m wondering how I’m going to define myself as I move forward. I’m not the tragically lost ‘adopted’ girl anymore. I’ve grown up. I’ve evolved and I am a woman, standing on my own two feet in spite of all the problems that afflict me. I am stumbling, but I’m still fucking walking forward. I’m still excited for my future. I still feel joy and hope in my heart when I think about what my life will look like when I deeply and profoundly love, respect and accept myself (and when I fully immerse myself in recovery). As of today that love, respect and acceptance is not bone deep. And that’s ok. I’m not perfect, but I do love myself. I just need to allow some more healing around that particular area.

With every passing day it gets easier.

With every post that flows out of me like water it gets more clear that in writing in this candid, revealing fashion, I am doing nothing but loving myself.

I deeply and profoundly love, respect and accept myself.

 

Her third time.

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If only I could live my life like the trees. Methodically dedicating time to shedding the dead things. It’s so easy for all of us to carry our pain and hold it close. It’s so easy and sometimes frighteningly unconscious to live in the past. It’s so easy to lose sight of what really matters because you feel like the emotional walking wounded. I want to be like the trees and shed all of it. I want to shed the shroud I’ve kept around myself because I’m overweight, adopted, lived with an alcoholic, lost my brother and my father, helped nurse my mother through cancer, began drinking more and more steadily over the last 10 years, found my birth parents and then immediately lost them again. I want to shed all these hurts and fucking live again. That’s what I want to do. I’m scared of it too.

I came clean about my drinking with my therapist and she urged me to think of a place that I could go to in my head. A place that I could picture and eventually access whenever I need to fill myself with something. She urged me to think of a place that would soothe, comfort and hopefully help me heal. She gave me a homework assignment to write about it. So, here’s what I came up with —

‘She stands alone on the waters’ edge. The sand beneath her bare feet is hard packed and soft. The body of water laid out in front of her, is as peaceful as freshly fallen snow. The forest behind her, is thick and full of life. There is a slow, easy breeze playfully pulling at the tendrils of her hair. It tickles her neck in a pleasant way. She inhales deeply, gazing across the calm water to the opposite shore. The trees on that side are not quite as thick as the ones at her back. There is a shady meadow on the far side of the pond. There is a weeping willow in the far corner, her favorite tree. There is an old, crumbling rock wall along the left side with all manner of flowers blooming along it. Hydrangeas, roses, pansys, tulips. The flowers remind her of the garden in Alice in Wonderland. It possesses a loveliness that evokes a longing in her heart. She can see woodland creatures moving through the grass in the clearing. The quiet of that place gives birth to a yearning she has never known.

The wind shifts direction, she closes her eyes, inhales again. She is very conscience of her body. Her feet are planted firmly on the ground as her lungs fill with pure, clean air. She lifts her arms out in front of her, palms up, as if in offering. The breeze blesses her skin with its touch and she smiles. Eyes still closed she can hear the animals around her, frolicking and living. Happy in their natural habitat. She can smell the flowers in the meadow across the pond as the breeze moves yet again. Wonderful. A soothing scent from her childhood. Again, the image of Alice stumbling into the unknown crosses her mind. She has felt so like Alice all these years. Lost and unsure, yet confident in her ability to find her way. She opens her eyes to notice a different texture to the day. The time of day is late, she can tell by the way the light slants through the clouds and vegetation. There is power in that light. It brings the end of the day, the stopping of activity, of responsibility. The light begs for rest, for the need to slow down and appreciate. This light, this gloaming, is everything about life that she loves. The quiet. The simplicity. The availability of beauty. It is her.’

I use ‘she’ and ‘her’ because I’m just barely putting my toes into the waters of recovery at this moment. It didn’t feel right, at least not yet, to use ‘I’ and ‘me’. I feel like I am watching the woman, waiting to see what she will do next. I’m very, very curious about what her next move will be. Will she stand at the waters’ edge forever? Or will she dive head first and swim to the other side?

Time’s going to tell…I’m hoping for the latter.

 

Again, thank you for reading…

Her First Time

Oh God.

I made a decision to start a blog without really thinking about what it would actually feel like to write about myself honestly and allow *everyone* to read my words. I’m shaking in these boots of mine a little. Be gentle with me….won’t you?

Here goes:

I am an addict. This is my attempt to stay accountable, responsible, conscious and one day, become sober. I am a truth seeker, a truth speaker…but I’ve been lying to myself for too long. I am an addict. I have been hiding it for too long. I need help. Maybe, just maybe, in writing this blog and talking about what is slowly taking control of my life I will be able to dig deep and let go.

Most people are addicted to something – booze, drugs, sex, gambling, shopping, social networking, gossip, food, etc. A lot of people are unaware of their vices, I certainly was. Addiction is quiet, stealthy. It builds and waits. Waits and builds. It likes to *pounce*. When it pounced on me, the paralysis was total. And terrifying. I thought I had my shit together, I really did.

Growing up, I was always the good girl. Good grades. Good friends. Good after school activities. Good plans for my future (Syracuse University baby!) I did everything right, it never occurred to me to be anything but a ‘good girl’. That was the first half of my life. Everything was mostly ok until the summer before my senior year of high school. My brother died. And the Good Girl part of me was lost. His death gave birth to The Addict in me.

The second half of my life feels like a whirlwind of grief, bad relationships, booze, overeating, random sex, cancer, more loss, more grief and chaos. All the tough life experiences that have simply happened to me have dragged me down so much that I am now a daily drinker. I don’t even think about it anymore, I just come home from work and pour. Desperate to disconnect.

My addiction is threefold – food, men, alcohol. The focus of my addictive behavior ebbs and flows. Sometimes all I want is to drink myself gone. Others I want to eat an entire bag of potato chips and then some cake. Maybe an entire cake. And others still, I want to get laid and I don’t give a fuck who it is. But the foundation remains the same, I continue to need to be numb. I need to fill myself because inside I feel empty, broken and viscerally scared.

I think I’m almost to the point of being sick and tired of being sick and tired. I’m almost ready to make a significant change. Almost. Will I drink tonight? Probably. Will I feel quite as guilty about it as I have in the past few months? Maybe not. I’m finally talking about it. My white knuckle grip on my ‘secret’ has loosened.

Thank you for reading.

More to come.