The Lighter Side

My drinking pattern seems to go through phases. Sometimes all I can think about during the day is when I can leave work, walk in the door at home and pour. And once I’ve poured all I can think about is when I get to do it again so I can feel that unaware sensation. So I can feel floaty and fizzy and tipsy. Sometimes I can’t wait to legit get fucked up.

When I’m boozing it up on this side of my spectrum I feel guilty, ashamed and generally asleep while awake. Does this make sense? I feel like I’m walking through my days without a clear sense of actually living them. Sure, I’m alive. I’m breathing. I’m talking. I’m doing all the biological things required of me as a human, but I am not living. It’s a cloudy fog that I walk through when I’ve been drinking heavily for many days in a row. I don’t feel connected to anything but alcohol. I don’t want to engage with anyone or anything except alcohol. This is when I can and do become depressed. I’ve been told I may need medication. I refute this advice every time. The last thing I want is to take something that might make me feel ever more unbalanced than I sometimes already do. Even if said imbalance may only last a couple of weeks, I want nothing to do with it. So, I continue to drink. And drink some more.

The other side of my spectrum is when I stop the evening binges for a short time and come back to myself a little. Last night I drank one glass of wine. I did not get floaty or fizzy or tipsy. I was too tired to even try to get there. Instead I told myself, ‘you are going to enjoy this one glass and then be all done.’ And it actually worked. For last night.

Having only one glass allowed me to get some actual, real sleep. I woke up feeling my gratitude and life force returning. I woke up feeling optimistic for the day to start. I woke up feeling less like a piece of shit. I didn’t hear the anxious, hectoring Voice of Guilt in my head telling me I’m wasting my 30s and I’ll never lose weight if I can’t get out of bed in the morning to fit a workout in because I spend my evenings drinking myself into not being able to get out of bed bright and early to do something good just for me. I didn’t hear any of that. My head was blissfully…….clear.

I swear, it’s been ages since I’ve felt like this. I’ve been forcing myself to stay on the more destructive side of my spectrum of drinking. Forcing myself to feel that delicious buzz night after night. Telling myself that if I don’t I won’t be able to sleep and all my real emotions will come up and out of me and I won’t be able to handle it and I’ll realize how alone I really am and I will just plain fucking implode. But if I drink too much for weeks in a row, my sleep will be disturbed no matter what. I am depriving myself of sleep when I drink. And I know it. But still I drink. And around and around it goes. I’m an unwilling rider on the carousel of my addiction.

At least I feel good today.

At least I got solid rest last night.

At least for today I feel like myself. I feel peaceful. Unencumbered. Close to something good.

I want to hold onto this feeling and keep it with me when the next round of drinking wants to force its’ way down my throat. I want to hold onto the peace. I want to remember the clarity. I want to remember the depression and resentments evaporating like sweat on skin when a cool breeze tentatively floats by. Without those two vicious distractions I feel capable of anything.

How long can I hold onto the good?

 

Shhh…Just let it happen

I wrote the following two paragraphs about a week ago. I was trying to force my way into my next blog post before it was ready to peek out of the soil. Not the way I want these posts to be born. I would prefer for the words to own me for a time and take over. I want them to bloom on their own. I don’t want to think too much about what I’m saying. That’s usually when I do my best work. But when I was writing the following words I was putting a gun to my head and making myself bleed. (Bleeding is what I have been calling my process ever since I started my memoir. When I write about myself I end up being brutally honest with whoever reads this and with myself and I bleed. All over the page. And damn if that doesn’t feel Good.)

‘Right now I am practically forcing myself to finish a glass of wine. I slept very little last night and drank more than I normally do. I had a busy day at work – I take care of other people’s children and essentially their entire lives to bring home self-respect and money – and I am thoroughly exhausted. I want to go to sleep. I want to rest my weary bones and over taxed body. I want my brain to be quiet. Sleep will be the best remedy.

But here I sit, at my trusty laptop, sipping my second giant glass of white. And I don’t even fucking want it. But I cringe at the thought of trying to lay down to sleep without the numbing agent of my precious elixir.’

It’s not good to force things. I never, ever want to feel forced or rushed in my work life, social life, family life or even in traffic. If I’m going 80 in the passing lane on the highway and some ‘need for speed’ fuckbag comes bombing up behind me and starts to tailgate me I will refuse to move over to the right. I will remain and remain in the passing lane until the fuckbag angrily swerves around me to pass on the right. Fine by me. I might even look over, smile and flip him the bird – I will not be rushed. I will not.

So, when I was rushing myself to write something, anything, I knew I had to put down the pain and walk away from it for a time. I started those almost forgotten paragraphs with the voice of my Addict (17 year old self) in charge. She likes attention. In any form. I didn’t let her take over though. And I’m glad because now my Highest Self is at the wheel and I feel the flow, the words are coming. I feel the satisfaction of purging what is in my mind. Somehow typing it all here makes what I have to say feel less shameful.

I drink too much. Sometimes, as seen above, I force myself to drink too much because the agony of sitting alone with myself in an unblurred fashion is too itchy, twitchy and uncomfortable to even consider. So I don’t. I just walk in the door and pour. I don’t give myself time to think. I want my shoulders to come down and blessedly relax and the only guaranteed way to get there is to sip my beloved wine.

I feel I must illustrate that I don’t drink to get drunk. I don’t like being drunk. That feels irresponsible, chaotic and scary. I drink to get floaty, fizzy and tipsy. I drink to let go of the Internal Dialogue that has been judging and criticizing me all the live long day. I drink to disconnect from my reality, just for a short time. That realm feels safer than drunk. I do not give Fuck One when I’m drunk. I think everything is a good idea, everyone is my best friend and that I am invincible.

Drunk is too harsh. Too dangerous. Drunk is when I make even worse decisions than drinking everyday. Drunk is when I go home with strangers. Drunk is when I cry myself to sleep after eating an entire pizza by myself because I ‘need’ something to soak up the alcohol. The morning after being drunk hangovers are the worst in the world. My head feels full of painful, hot liquid and every time I move the liquid moves and I want to die. It takes me a solid 24 hours to overcome that feeling. The hangovers after getting fizzy, tipsy and floaty ain’t no thang. Those I can live through standing on my head. I’m a beast at handling those.

I am beginning to wonder when I am going to start stopping myself from having to ‘handle’ them though. So far it hasn’t happened. I do not want to stop drinking. I like it too much. I enjoy it still…except for when I’m forcing it. That’s when I hate it. That’s when the voice of my Addict (and 17 year old self) won’t take no for an answer. She is incapable of hearing a real ‘NO’. She is spoiled, unruly and incredibly insecure. When she calls the shots I feel powerless. I let her take over far too much. She has never recovered from when Tom died. She never moved out of the home with the angry, drunk ex. She hasn’t even begun to face losing Dad and don’t even attempt to talk to her about adoption or birth parents. Off limits.

When I let her out too much is when I know I really Do have a problem, when I know that something’s gotta give eventually. I know I need to sit down with my Addict (my 17 year old self) and really listen to what she has to say. I have to really let her feel and accept that she may never, ever change. She might simply be stuck. I am starting to realize that I’m the one who has to change. I’m the one who has the power to stop listening when she cries. She deserves my compassion and my understanding, but I can’t keep holding her hand. I might have to let her walk out of my life so she can wreak havoc somewhere else. I might have to let her go so that I can move forward (and away) from all the pain she carries.

I’m getting closer to that point. But today, I still drink.

 

 

Turtle Power

‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

So simple. So wise. My therapist asked me to really think about this quote. She offered the further examination of thinking of it as if I were a turtle; my home always on my back wherever I go. My home always with me. Or better yet, my home always within me. This is something I have struggled with since I can remember. The feeling of home for me was always with my family when I was little. But as I grew and matured and experienced I began to feel that my home wasn’t with them – these biological strangers. If my home wasn’t with the people who raised me, where was it?

When I was 23 I thought my home would be out in California. I followed a man I barely knew out there who was 13 years my senior. I made an impulsive decision and waited for the West Coast to feel like home. It didn’t. A year later, I was back in the home I grew up in and it had never felt less like my home; the misery was palpable.

Fast forward to the age of 25. I thought my home would be with a 30 year old man who made me laugh, took me to Fenway for the first time in my adult life and loved to get a good buzz on. I moved my life in with this man – impulsively – because I was so in love. We adopted cats together and went to the gym and walked around Boston laughed and lived. We drank and made plans for our future. I was thrilled. I thought ‘my life is about to finally begin’. But the drinking for him never stopped. The anger appeared soon after I moved in along with the blackouts and broken furniture. I lasted 4 years in that home. Approximately 2 and a half years longer than I should have stayed.

At 30 I was living alone for the first time in my life. I loved it. I still do. No one to bother me. No one to clean up after. No one to avoid if I just don’t want to talk. I could come and go whenever I wanted with whomever I wanted. And I could drink alone. I loved that too. It was a freedom unlike anything I had ever experienced, but it didn’t satisfy me. I still longed for companionship.

At 33, I fell in love again and asked ex #3 to move in with me. Patterns repeated themselves and as with the drinker, I loved someone broken and lost, someone who made bad decisions and painted himself into corners. I tried to save him and make it easier for him. In turn he got more and more comfortable and accustomed to not having to take responsibility. I didn’t let him drown until he was pulling me under the water with him. I had no choice but to kick him out.

At 34 and 35 and 36 my home has become mine again. I have reclaimed my space and vowed never to stray into a relationship impulsively again. I have dated here and there, but I remain alone. Unattached. Willing but unable to find the home within the home of myself. My home nowadays is in the bottle. I don’t feel the creeping need for it as I did before my Big Reveal – you know, the actual birth of my blog and sharing my secret to some dear friends, both new and old – now it’s just a staple. An unbreakable habit that both comforts me and isolates me.

How often do I feel unsatisfied or confused or irrelevant or troubled by where I am? Almost every day.

The quote at the beginning has some real truth to it. How do I find satisfaction in the home within me without looking for that same satisfaction elsewhere? How do I stop looking for a home with a man? Or a home with my birth family? How do I look within myself and be sated? How will I ever be enough?

I strangely find a lot of comfort in these questions.

 

No choice

As I mentioned, I am adopted. In 2014 I decided to find my birth parents. I was 34. I found them, met them, fell in love with them and then lost their affections 5 months later. I started writing the story of my life immediately after I met them. I didn’t have a choice. The need to write it was immense. Much like the need to start this blog. Maybe I really am a writer?

I tentatively named my memoir ‘Pandora’s Box’.

I started out with how happy I was to know my biological beginnings – and oh my GOD, was I over the moon to know where my nose came from, to learn that I have FOUR half siblings (!!!) and that my birth parents were always, always, always thinking about me. That was just the tip of the iceberg. I will revisit this topic and talk about it in more posts to come. Don’t you worry.

For now, I just want to share a small excerpt. The beginning of the passage is recalling how I couldn’t save my brother from himself and his inevitable death. Since then, I have always tried to find someone to love who also needs to be saved. Ever the caretaker am I.

I’m nervous about sharing this…but here goes —

‘My mind gave up on trying to reach him at an early age, but my heart. Oh, my heart. She never gave up trying to find someone just like him to love. Relationships. That word carries a lot of weight in anyone’s life. Relationships are complicated. Involved. They take work. Investment. Relationships can be difficult. Beautiful. Fulfilling. Exquisite. They can ruin you. Devastate you. You can completely lose yourself and any sense of who you are in an unhealthy one. Or, you can plant a seed with someone and grow little healthy versions of yourselves that eventually turn into generations of love and memories. It’s always a gamble. A risk.

To commit to someone and say, ‘I am yours, as you are mine, no matter where the course of our lives takes us.’ ‘I am yours’ has fucking consequences. Having someone to call mine has been the biggest thrill of my life. That singularly enveloping notion of ‘belonging’ is my adrenaline rush, my joy, my drug, my biggest challenge, my biggest downfall and my biggest failure. I tend to put far too much energy and emphasis into my relationships. I’m not talking about friendships, or family. I do not mean co-workers, acquaintances or buddies. I’m speaking of boyfriends, potential partners and lovers, all of which have never been able to win me over completely. Not a one. They each ran out of steam in their own way. Blew their load of bullshit all over my gorgeous face. My first boyfriend, with his needy tendencies. The guy in California, with his gaming, physical and emotional absence. The angry alcoholic, with his drinking, anger and mother issues. And finally, my most recent ex, with his immaturity and refusal to grow up. I saw all of these imperfections and flaws. I knew I would be sucked dry by each of them so I was forced to throw in the towel before I was entirely ready to. I certainly loved each of them and they loved me back. The love I shared with each of them just wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t enough because deep down, I really didn’t love myself. I never learned how. I learned many lessons on how to hate myself; not understanding why I couldn’t talk about adoption, not feeling like an important part of my family, hearing my brother belittle me because I didn’t tie my shoes the same way he did, being overweight and finally, at age 15 I was judged 100% on my appearance by someone I thought I was in love with. So, complacent and confused soul that I can be, I continued down the path of least resistance and stayed trapped in my self-hatred. I was too young to see how destructive the easy way would be. And in all honesty, I didn’t think I deserved anything better.’

 

Again and again…thank you for reading.

No Bargain

When did it all get so difficult?

I’ve been alone for most of my life. Of my 36 years on this plane of existence I have been single for approximately 29. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with this number. In fact, most days I’m proud of myself for having the stones to be on my own for so long.

It’s no bargain folks. It takes serious independence and strength to forge your own way when the choices you have made haven’t ever panned out the way your sweet, overloaded and hopeful heart hoped. It takes guts and soul to pick yourself up after major breakup number 3 explodes in front of your pretty little face. It’s Not Easy to walk this walk. It’s Not Easy to know that when you are ready to burst at the seams from sheer overwhelmed exhaustion there’s no one waiting for you at home. No one there to offer a comforting shoulder or ear, specifically promised to you.

Please don’t take my stumbling, bungling attempt at explaining myself that I’m saying I don’t have friends or any kind of support system in my life. That is so far from the truth. I have friend upon friend who would answer my call if I said I needed to talk or vent. My mother would never turn a deaf ear to my rantings. Ever.

But those same staples of my younger years aren’t doing it for me the way they used to. I’ve just been noticing that the older I get the less I want to ‘bother’ or ‘interrupt’ my tried and true friends. All of them are coupled off or married, most with a couple of kiddos. And that’s lovely. Beautiful. They made great choices and life blessed each of them. They all deserve the good things in life.

Does that mean that I don’t feel blessed or that I don’t think I made good choices? No. I know I am blessed. I Know in my bones that it could always, always be worse. I know that I have many, many wonderful people and experiences in my life. I know my choices belong to me and I don’t regret any of them.

Does it mean that I don’t think I deserve the good things in life? You’re Goddamn right I don’t. My worth is all wrapped up in being adopted/abandoned/FAT/alone. My drinking pattern has been cumulative over many years. Remember, addiction is progressive. It creeps. It sneaks. It waits.

Life has dealt me some difficult times. I saw grief and utter desolation at 17. My troubled big brother – dead at 21. We didn’t have a good or even existing relationship when he died and I blamed him for that. I loathed him actually. I thought he was a leech and that he didn’t deserve my parents’ love. He made everything in our home difficult and angry and violent. I never forgave him for that. I cried for my parents when he died. I knew they were absolutely shattered. I didn’t feel anything, except disgust. And the guilt I feel typing that, even now – 19 years later….it’s brutal.

I can’t help but wonder why my path has been ever laced with pain – my brother was one of the early notches in my belt. I also wonder why I can’t shake it off and feel grateful and happy for what I have.

I need to reason out my emotions because they’re HUGE. I could walk all day down the corridor of one of those fuckers and still not be able to fully absorb it. I take on others’ emotions and don’t realize that my own stuff isn’t only mine anymore. It’s a mixture of his or hers and mine. It doesn’t separate like oil and water, it’s not fluid. The mixing I’m talking about is Thick; peanut butter and chocolate swirled together. It’s delicious at first, and makes harmony on your taste buds. It can initially taste so intoxicating that you get lost and consume too much and before you know it you’re addicted. This emotional mixing pushes me to the point of wanting to drink every. single. day.

I’m in a low place. I fully acknowledge and own that.

But nothing lasts forever.

This blog O’Mine is helping. I’m still drinking. I’m still overwhelmed. I’m still crippled with my Fears and Old Pain, but I’m offering it to the masses. It’s not remaining inside me any longer. Take what you want and leave the rest.

Let it Begin

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I have been inspired and fundamentally in love with Alice in her Wonderland since I was a little girl. She has a cat (named Dinah (!!)) and a fantastic blue dress (not pink (!!!!)). Those were two big ticket items that I could really relate to. Felines and lack of girlie colors. Sign me up. But the central reason I loved her so much was because she didn’t ever apologize for being herself. She was lost in a world she knew nothing about. She shrank to an eighth of her true size. Then she grew taller than a redwood tree. She was almost ‘smoked out’ and she was thrown out of a garden of very snotty flowers for ‘maybe’ being a weed (bitches). She was constantly confused and led astray by a clever, ever disappearing, floating cat. No one seemed willing to help her in any kind of rational way. Everyone else’s Madness was thrust upon her but she still remained clear headed and strong willed. Surrounded by all kinds of obstacles and unknowns; she was Alice. She is Alice. She will always be Alice.

I dig that. I dig it so much I’m putting it into my blog. Probably more than once. The idea that you are the only you there could ever be is something I find intensely comforting and gratifying. I’m Annie. I will always Be Annie. I’m the one who is in charge of my place in the world. I’m the one who calls the shots. It’s up to me. Same for her. She makes her way through and eventually out of Wonderland. Another reflection of Alice that resonates year after year. The only way out is through. This latest era of wandering around, challenged and alone has nothing to do with anyone but me.

There’s a slogan in al-anon that says ‘Let it Begin With Me’. I never adhered much to that one because I always felt the reason I landed in al-anon meetings (at least in the beginning) lay at the feet of my angry alcoholic boyfriend. My need for community and support did not begin with me. It began with him. I know now that the slogan wasn’t talking about where fault lies, it’s simply saying if you want something to change you have to start with yourself. Look to you and your own behavior and choices first. Period.

It took me years to figure that one out. When I first started going to meetings – the day after I drove my ex to rehab – I was very angry, very afraid, deeply codependent and lost as fuck. I figured, he was the one who drank, so I was the victim. He didn’t drink because of me, I knew that. But he didn’t stop drinking because of me either and I took that very personally. The patterns of his addiction had nothing to do with me, but it intensely affected the fabric of our relationship. It framed everything we did, said and experienced together. It was a part of us as a couple – his drinking and eventually his anger. Whether or not he drank 30 beers and punched holes in walls and broke things and ruined parties and terrified me was where is began for him. Not me. It took me years to figure that one out too.

Nowadays, I’m sincerely my own woman – in many ways, I’m my own Alice – walking tentatively through the jungles of my own Addiction Wonderland. I encounter lots of temptations, lots of triggers, lots of reasons to drink. For now, I’m lost in the thick multi-colored trees of daily drinking, not exercising, feeling burnt out and that FEAR I talked about before. I’m stumbling around blindly right now, but I have not fallen. It’s going to begin with me, Goddamnit. It’s going to. It’s only a matter of time before I figure out how to run with what’s inside my head.

As before…thank you for reading.

Ball gag

I think about being honest a lot. I think (and often over think) about what I want to say and how I should say it. I want to be sure I’m saying what I mean and meaning what I say…but I also watch out for not stepping on toes and try to be delicate when sometimes I just want to dole out the truth. Being authentic is very, very important to me. I was told just last night – “Don’t ever change.” And all I could do was throw my buzzed head back, laugh and say, “That will *never* happen.” The basic core of me will not change, I know it too well for it to go anywhere. But sometimes, without warning, I feel intensely inauthentic. Like a fraud.

I think about what other people think too much. I worry about how I will be perceived and how I will be received. I concern myself with others’ needs and wants more often than I wonder about my own. Unless, that is, I’m thinking of my own wants and needs in a selfish, immediate way. I often factor in how hungover I might feel on a given day and that, in turn makes me pick and choose what activities or events I can commit to. The weekends as of late are lost causes. All I want to do is keep to my own schedule of having no schedule so if the mood to get fucked up strikes, I have no previous obligations getting in the way.

If I take my drinking time out of the equation (usually between the hours of 6-10 each evening) and lock myself down for an evening event with friends I feel excited and hopeful initially. I think, “that’s going to be a really nice time. I haven’t seen ____ in forever.” I think about the good points in the plans I’ve made, I remember the relationships I want to nurture and foster (and realize, guiltily, that I have been neglecting a lot of them). I feel pretty good about making plans. At first.

Then the clock starts marching forward from the time I say, “yes, I definitely want to attend that party” to when the actual date of the party is a few days away. My brain starts to quietly fret. I begin to feel the pull of isolation. I begin to feel that fucking straight jacket of FEAR pulling taut against my arms and ribcage. I start to plan and then veto what I might want to wear, telling myself that I look hideous in everything I own. Then I beat myself up for not looking fabulous like my slender friends. Then I hector myself for not going to the gym or for eating those fucking pretzels at 10pm. It’s this endless, endless cycle of self loathing. It drives me to cancel plans. Being alone sometimes feels easier than putting myself out there with the attached risk of silent judgment. And that leaves my drinking time blessedly open.

I’m writing about all this shit not to complain, but to get it the fuck OUT of me. It’s the extra ‘stuff’ that I want to put in these posts in the hopes that eventually, it will remain here and only here. Never to haunt me again. I want to be rid of the circling and recycling thoughts of my Inner Judge. She is such an asshole and she’s loud. Anyone out there know where I can find a decent ball gag?

 

 

What keeps me up at night

I live in FEAR everyday. I’m not afraid of something tangible like spiders or clowns (although clowns creep me right the fuck out). It’s not some future event that keeps me up at night like when my mother will die or wondering if something harrowing will befall one of my nearest and dearest. It’s nothing like that. It’s more an all-consuming feeling that I will never be able to cut myself out of the straight jacket of FEAR I feel I have voluntarily worn for years. I’m not entirely conscious of it all the time, but it’s there. And no one else knows about it. It belongs only to me. I’m the only one aware that it is always quietly maintaining its’ presence by holding me back, keeping me isolated, ensuring I remain stuck. Always constricting my emotions, my sensibilities, my positivity…sometimes the very breath in my lungs.

I don’t want to be unachieved potential for the rest of my life. I don’t want to miss out on the many, many opportunities I have at my fingertips if I would only just let go of this FEAR. I don’t want to feel like this anymore.

And, wonder of wonders, I’m feeling that FEAR less today than I have in ages. My consciousness has shifted. I think my choice to write here and maybe one day gain a larger audience has inadvertently given me a renewed purpose. I’m actually trying to do something now. I’m taking action. I’m putting forth some effort. I’m really thinking about what I want.

I’ve been waiting for this shift. The idea to write a blog came to me in a quick flash and within 12 hours of thinking carefully about whether it would be a good decision or not, my blog was born. That was….4 days ago. Since then I have had my waves of terror over the fact that now people are going to know about the secret I’ve been keeping. But I’ve also had waves of happiness and confidence because I’m informing people I care about that I’m suffering. And it’s finally ok (at least in my head) to go there.

I’m still afraid though. I know I will not be changing overnight. So, coming to terms with the fact that people in my life might actually check in with me and specifically ask how things are going or if I’m still drinking or if I have tried a meeting yet (the answers today to those questions are – I’m fine, yes and no) is what is scaring me today. And that’s ok because it feels lighter than the FEAR of someone finding out before I had the vocabulary to talk about it. That FEAR was keeping me up at night. That FEAR was squeezing most of the life out of me. That FEAR was what I couldn’t take anymore. I don’t want to do this alone. Sitting in the silence of my own secrets is one of the worst kinds of hell I can imagine. It was eating away and worrying my mind like a rabid, vicious dog.

I have other worries now. New worries. And that’s ok too. So far, they’re smaller than my FEAR. With time and effort and more reading and continuing to be open and writing and writing and writing I think they’ll remain small. Who knows what may happen next? Today it feels like good things are coming. A weight has lifted and I feel that straight jacket loosening as I type.

Blessed Be.