Sunday, November 15, 2015

Again and Again

There are a few times a year when PMS knocks me for a loop. This has been one of those times- you know, one day things are fine, then the next day you want to crawl into the dark closet with a quilt over your head and just cry cry cry your heart out all day because you don't know why but because.

I imagine this is a tiny taste of what depression might be like. Things go sideways and there isn't really an explanation- just this deep feeling of everything and nothing all at once, but then there's also  intense impatience and quickness to anger that I'm not sure where to put. In an argument with my seven year old about getting ready for school I flipped him the bird and yelled "Fuck you!" at him. I picked a fight with my husband about the same thing we always are trying to work out. Twice. I came home from work and sat in the car sobbing for a long time before I wanted to come inside.

I can remember when I first got sober it was like a revelation when I could feel the crazy creeping up on me. I would start to feel impatient, and irrational, and weepy but I would know what it was: PMS. I never knew this before. Drinking I was always so off center because I was hungover and I felt like hell, guilty and ashamed. Sober I knew it was my wacky hormones being out of whack. Then I found an app that would keep track of it for me and it's been lovely that as soon as I feel off kilter I peek at my app and yes- the concrete evidence is there. I am not just batshit crazy, I'm definitely not hungover; there's a real reason for all these flying around feelings.

Again and again it seems like I am always looking for reasons for things. Reasons why I feel this way, or that way. Reasons why my seven year old can't manage to get ready sometimes. Reasons why I have to be so feeling when it seems so easy for some people to be so blasé about it all. Reasons why people blow themselves up in Paris, why at a football game I can't help but feel compassion for the losing team. I really wanted to go down on the field and say "Hey y'all, wouldn't it be more fun to play football? And maybe after have some coffee and cookies?" It seems like I am always looking for explanations to make things that don't make sense make sense. If I find the reason then I can find the solution and then I'll be able to understand. Lately I've been having this urge to hold everyone in my heart because I want it all to be ok. Like a giant Kumbaya on crack. Which seems like an odd thing to say on a blog about addiction, but well, maybe you know what I mean.

I've been doing a lot of heart opening. I wish I could explain how you do this in steps and then it could be easy, but I don't really know. There's a lot of laying on the floor, getting my body on the ground. A lot of not concentrating on outcomes, a lot of not being the same as always. I didn't really know it was happening to me until I just now thought about that it has been happening to me, but I did know too. It has been my intention, but I didn't really realize that it was actually working until I thought about it. Which seems to be the case for every fucking thing- I set out to do it, kind of forget I'm doing it, but I've put that intention out there and so the universe is hard at work answering my prayers anyway. Then things get good, but also tough and sad, and then I remember my intention and feel awesome but also pissed off because dammit! Prayers are meant to be answered...ohhhhh, right.

There aren't a lot of big things weighing on me- it's all the little things that pile up together making a big thing. Actually it's my attachment to all these little things that make a big thing. I'm reading about avidya (spiritual ignorance) and it makes so much sense- because I am afraid I become attached to these little things and I forget that I am already who I'm supposed to be. Because I am already who I'm supposed to be I don't need to be afraid and attached. But I'm so attached to my attachment to the little things! Who am I if I'm not my idiosyncrasies or victories? Who is my self if I am not supported by these illusions?

Rolf Gates says, "Our pain is simply feedback from the universe: 'No, that's not it; no, that's not it either. Oh yes, you are getting a little warmer, a little warmer. Ooops, you're getting a little colder.'" I think that's such a cool way to think about it- the universe playing the hot/cold game with me. It makes it easier to take when I feel so sad and lost inside, or when I'm feeding my arrogance and not my confidence. Such a simple message: change direction. Move to where you are comfortable, where it feels better. Too hot or too cold- move to where it feels good. I don't have to all over everytime question it: Shouldn't I push myself though? or Whoa! Is that too much? These are just things I can know how to answer.

The day I cried in the car after work was a big step for me. It wasn't awesome to feel so sad, but it was awesome to let that sadness out- to feel my heart breaking and know that it was okay- I found the right spot in the hot/cold game. As soon as I yelled "Fuck you!" at my son I had a big peace come over me and I got quiet and said "I love you. Let's stop fighting." It took a minute, but he did, and grabbed me around the neck and we both cried. The right spot again. I often wonder who made the rule that hearts are wrong unless they're singing?

Again and again I find my life to be so much like seasons: after winter must come spring. And then around around again. Slowly circling around the spiral reaching closer and closer to center. Sometimes the view is the same, again. Sometimes it's all so new I don't know where to look. It isn't about arriving at the center though- it's about getting there even though you're already there. It's about seeing when you've mistaken your pain for pleasure, and then healing along the way. It's about taking a knowing look at yourself and understanding that the grace comes when you surrender and allow your prayers to be answered. Sometimes that's the hardest thing to do, again and again.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hey Look! Me Too, Two!

Woo wee! Over the weekend I got the news that my "How I Got Sober" was posting today on AfterParty Magazine. Check out their site if you haven't yet- another great resource for reading, Me Too's, and staying sober. They sent me this awesome tank top just for doing an interview. At first I felt a little funny wearing it, but then I thought about it and my sobriety is one of the things I'm the most proud of. Plus it's interesting to watch people try to figure out what it means. :)

I know non-anonymous isn't for everyone, but it works for me. I am so grateful for the opportunity to tell my story, and hopeful it helps. I'm always available for being a pen pal so don't feel shy or like it's a burden. Thanks for reading! :)

Here's the link:How I Got Sober

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hey Look! Me Too!

I am always so delighted when someone contacts me and says "Hey...would you do an interview for me?" (link below) So far it's happened four times, which I find pretty amazing considering I'm just a regular woman going about a regular life doing regular things. Wait, that's not really true... :)

One of my biggest things sobriety has given me is this urge to help other people who are struggling with alcoholism to know that the booze doesn't have to be the end: that ending it can be the beginning. When I was drinking I never knew that there were other people out there just like me. I knew in my heart I was an alcoholic- but because I didn't drink every day, or in the morning, or have jail time, divorce, or lost jobs I thought I was sort of ok. Drinking two bottles of wine a few times a week is not normal- duh.

I want to put myself out there so other people can see that being an alcoholic looks "normal". It 100% looks like a married mother of two holding down a job and a life. It looks like a woman who has it together- except when she's hammered on the back porch a few nights a week, and then desperately hungover on the days after. You can still get up and get dressed and do a day when you're so hungover you feel like you might die: it just really sucks. But it doesn't scarlett letter you with a definitive "A" for alcoholic like the typical image people have of us.

I'm not trying to be all grand when I say I want to help people. But I do! I want to help all the people! It's like that song about buying the world a Coke to keep it company- I want to buy the world some sobriety. I sometimes feel like I could be an infomercial- Try it! It worked for me- it can work for you too! And then there are pictures of me wasted, and then there's a picture of me sober, and then I ride gloriously off into the sunset the end.

Being sober never ends. THANK GOD. I know that sometimes when you're getting sober the thought of never drinking again is the most painful thing ever. For some reason for me it has always been the biggest relief- I never have to do the thing that caused me countless hours of suffering ever again? PHEW.

The ME TOO. It's the thing that gives us all the power to grab a hand and have some help up. It's the thing that can give me such a feeling of peace: of being understood.

Veronica Valli has a great blog called Recovery Rocks. Here's the interview I did for her HERE. I loved reading other people's sober stories and looking around her site. I got so many ME TOO's.

I never ever in my whole life ever would have thought that I would be doing interviews about being sober- or being interviewed for anything at all, really. I never thought I would make the life I've made. I pinch myself sometimes knowing that it's really true. Anything is possible for anyone y'all. Anything is possible for you. Anything is possible for me, too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bigger Life

I had my first writing class last night.

When I signed up I was all "hell yeah!" then I thought it was going to complicate my schedule too much and I got fearful and almost cancelled doing it. Then I had the time wrong and it turned out I realized that I wanted to not go out of fear rather than actual complication.

So I went.


It was grand. I sang and yodeled and lalala'd all the way home. There were about ten of us in the library at the Center for Documentary Studies which was as lovely as it sounds. A room full of other writers??? Shut the fuck up. The woman teaching the class is thoughtful and funny and genuine. We did some short writing and I made myself read what I wrote because that's why I'm there: to put myself out there, to share my way with words. I did NOT want to read out loud even one tiny littlest bit, but my go ahead voice urged me on so I did it. It was so cool to hear other people's words and thoughts, to think about other people feeling the necessity of writing too.

I am in this constant state of wonder these days: the bigness and ease of my life stretches my imagination to no end. I'm always writing back and forth with at least one person who is at the very beginning or not even started getting sober yet and it's always this feeling that I want to convey- the feeling of wonder. It's so interesting to be able to remember clearly the frustration and suckiness of living that alcoholic's life and then mash that up to living this alcoholic's life: the only true difference is that I don't drink anymore.

Me minus booze equals magic.

It takes so long to get to this place: I want to share that but then I want to keep it secret because I'm afraid if anyone knows that they won't even stay or get started. But here's the thing- it just keeps getting better and better and better. So you start out and your victories are all big even if in retrospect they seem small. When I first got sober one of my biggest victories was all the crying. Then it was being able to show up for stuff like parent teacher conferences and work without raging hangovers. Now my biggest victories are pushing my boundaries into what I know my life was meant to be. Singing out audibly in yoga class when we chant. Reading what I wrote out loud in front of people. Every time I stretch I take my time because I know I need to, but sometimes I just push myself out of the boat. Sometimes my life is bigger than the boat anyway.

The thing about it taking a long time is this: time is for the taking. I can take time to build my life, or I can take time to drink it away. It's the same 24 hours every day. It will all pass regardless, marching on no matter if you're blackout drunk or on your way to writing class.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rainy Days

It's raining so hard here today. I'm on the lookout for a few animals to go floating by or maybe a man called Noah to knock at the door and ask if I'm interested in either tree trimming or arks. I've been caramelizing onions for what seems like almost an eternity, listening to Death Cab for Cutie radio on Pandora AND shaking my ass in the kitchen. It's awesome.

A song by Coldplay came on and I had this sudden flashback to when my husband and I had gone from pals to living together in a slow but fast decision that we did, in fact, like each other "that" way. We used to get off work around 11 PM and head down to the corner bar to get started getting wasted the way early twenty somethings do except we were in our early thirties. Then we'd head home (lord, that we drove, really???) to drink more and I would put on that Coldplay CD and headphones and sing at the top of my lungs. I don't remember any of it, of course, I've been a blacker-outer from waaaaayyy back. I would drive him nuts with my drunken off key bellowing. Can you imagine? I was in such pain and such glory all at once.

Only later did we talk about how much he hated it. But what to do? Piss of a drunk person? God. Who the fuck even was I?

I was thinking this morning about how I am almost three years without a drink, without a drunk, or a blackout. How when I sing at the top of my lungs I know I'm doing it, how I'm becoming a better dancer because yoga and also letting go y'all. How I'm alive and living and I know all the things I do all the time. ALL THE TIME.

I was also thinking about the way that being a sober person is just part of my fabric now: that it would seem so weird to drink instead of vice versa. It seems so natural, like I was faking it that whole years of time I drank and now I'm who I really am finally finally finally. It gives me such a burst of joy and relief that I never have to drink again, that I never have to be that me ever again.

I put glittery golden hearts from fall festival prize making on my computer to remind me of how beloved I am by me- by the universe. I dance and sing in the kitchen while I make caramelized onions for half my life (those mugs take forever!). I sign up for writing classes and yoga trainings and I still yell at my children and pout when I don't get my way. I am not the same person I used to be- I am here with faith and learning to comfort my fears. Every time life seems to be as bright as it can be I am mesmerized again by what else is possible. This is not to say there is no sorrow, there is, but I suppose it's all the way I look at it.

Ah, rainy days. :)