Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Getting to Solid Ground

This time of year is so all over the place for me- glorious things happen all month: my yearly I got sober day, my oldest's birthday, Christmas- but I'm sort of an emotional wreck at this time of year just by the natural way my body works. I have noticed, since getting sober, that I have about three times a year when I get downer than just down and I have to work for normalcy.

This time of year just lends itself naturally to change- it seems like I learn big stuff around this time, so that November and most of December seem to be me pushing something big around and around until suddenly things start to fall into place and I feel lighter again.

I am wondering about yoga teacher training- still a solid five weeks away. I finished my writing class and feel so inspired to write but can't seem to get it into my schedule with any regularity. I feel so fragile, and incapable-  I'm trying to honor that instead of pushing myself. But then I'm just in my head all the time which sucks. It reminds me of all the years I spent trying to quit drinking: I wanted to be different but I was so scared to be different. The me that I am is still a comfort, even when I've outgrown myself.

I've been sick for three days, a sure sign that I need to do less. While I was lolling about in bed for those three days I came across an article about how people who are into controlling everything like to make lists about all the things they want to do, but then never actually get around to doing it. That is so me! I love to map out ideal schedules, regimented times for yoga and writing and running and book work and research. Then my life gets in the way and I abandon my ideal in that hopeless way I get when I just can't get myself on track.

I have a huge problem with things being the way they "should" be. I did it when I was drinking- if I couldn't quit on the first of the month well then, fuck it. The month was ruined. If I didn't keep my New Year's Resolution to quit then the whole year was ruined. Might as well drink. This carries over to my sober: if I can't do an hour of yoga why bother? Unless I can write for a solid two hours I might as well just fritter away my time on the internet, or wandering around the house accusing myself. What good is a fifteen minute walk? I need to run, and for an hour.

I know, of course, that all of that is ridiculous. A few minutes of yoga is grand. A few minutes of anything is better than no minutes of it. I know, I know.

I've been thinking so much these past few weeks: thinking about my spirituality (have you read "Take This Bread"?) my habits, the way I wake up sort of mad and disappointed every day even though that's not how I really feel. It's so confusing to try to reconcile the person I feel like I am with the person I'm in the habit of being. It's like I'm stuck in a rubber suit- it's too small, I need to take it off, but I'm held fast by my inability to surrender.

It reminds me of the time I was running in the fall a few years ago. My therapist had given me a beautiful palm sized amber crystal-y rock. She told me to write down all the things I was trying to control and rubber band them to the rock. Then I had to carry it with me everywhere. So I was running, holding my rock- list of control things held tight by a big purple rubber band from the broccoli. I started crying. "What if I fall?" I wailed. "What if I catch you?" said a voice from inside of me. I cried harder and had to stop running.

There is not much faith in the world in me. I have always felt unsafe and on the look out. It's like I'm on a tightrope- sometimes I'm ok, carefully picking my way along, and sometimes I'm flailing everywhere, but I never reach the end where I stand two feet solid on the ground. I've developed the habit of reminding myself that I am loved, that I am safe, but years of flapping are hard to undo. Even if I'm settled I still long for lopsided. It's hard to feel the precariousness of my place in the world, it's just as hard to trust my roots. Feelings are just hard all the way around sometimes.

I am not so good at being caught. I am good at pushing people away. I want to help everyone, but feel so uncomfortable accepting help for myself. While I was sick I made myself have help. It sucked. It felt awful and I felt useless but my husband took care of me- a job I reserve exclusively for myself because I am not accustomed to or comfortable being cared for. It feels....weird. Like I have to wait for the other shoe to drop- here's your help, now here's the price.

But here I am, wrenching my heart open anyway. Sometimes the work we do is not so obvious- it can't be plotted on a bullet list or mushed into a clean neat schedule. It's just me, and my heart, and the days and years it takes to heal from all the years that came before. I have these moments now- where I feel like myself, really like myself and I know it's working. I know the tightrope walk is coming to an end- to a place where I can carefully place my feet on solid ground. Even if it's only for a few minutes.


  1. Sigh
    Finding that place of "enough" is tough.
    I sometimes don't start something because I know I won't do it perfectly, so I'd rather not do it at all. Or I worry that it will be come such a routine that I will feel like I fail if I miss it.

    But most things don't need that. I have started doing warm oil massage (abhyanga) in the mornings. First I made it a ritual, with panayama and asana practice. Quickly I saw that this was unsustainable as I have kids interrupting me and every morni is different.

    So I do what fits. Some mornings more, some mornings nothing. And I know the next day will just be what it is, not making up for anything.

    I think we have to practice this. Practice doing what you can. Recognize it. Notice the wish it was more. And smile. Because really, a little is always better.


    1. As always thank you for your thoughtful comment. I am learning about a little being enough, that the glass half full is still not empty. I find when I put less on myself I succeed more- right? And that makes it easier to do more.

  2. "The me that I am is still a comfort, even when I've outgrown myself." So true Amy. You know I read your blog posts and sometimes you sound so like me and that's why I love to read what you write. It's like you a version of myself about 10 months ahead of me and it's a huge comfort to me - thank you thank you thank you :) xx

    1. I love when we are versions of each other. The "me too" always kicks my ass- in a good way. Xxxooo

  3. I LOVE reading you. Yes, a little is better than none...isn't that such a tough concept to accept for our perfectionistic selves? But it is so true. There is so much here... Thank you.

    1. Annette- I love YOU!!! And reading you, and being your friend. :)! I often wonder what part of me is setting these high standards?

  4. I'm not a control freak, more like a control "enthusiast". I keep hearing this from a silly commercial, yet it rings true, and seems to be a reality for lots of us who have struggled with the booze.

    1. It is so hard for me to surrender, let go, etc etc but I know that when I do I feel more sane. Sometimes it feels like I like the urgent anxiety more because it feels so familiar. So many addicts I've met are perfectionists. Thanks for commenting:)

  5. the unspoken eleventh commandment in my house, growing up, was 'Thou Shalt Not Ask For Help.' because to do so was to expose oneself, admit that one was not, in fact, perfect and irreproachable... I hear so much of myself when Jean talks about this on the Bubble Hour, about how perfectionism is our armour against criticism. being open and risking that is HUGE, for me, but it is the only way forward. armour is bloody heavy to wear, and interferes with our ability to hug people ;)

    your question from your running with rocks reminded me of this Erin Hanson poem - do you know it? I think I quoted it on my blog a while ago:

    'There is freedom waiting for you
    On the breezes of the sky
    And you ask, "What if I fall?"
    Oh, but my darling - what if you fly?'

    flying difficult in armour, too.... Prim xx