Blog

Redefining the ‘W’

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Some days, I have to force myself to come down to “Fly The W Fitness” to work out . Most days, I have to force myself to appreciate the little victories – and brush off the inevitable setbacks – that dot the road to recovery.

A mature woman with proper perspective on life would take it in stride, rationalizing that since she was THERE when IT happened, all other good stuff is gravy — and any bad stuff can easily be shrugged off. She’d also probably realize how little sports really matter.

I mean, I’m just speculating that’s what she would do. I don’t personally know that woman or relate to her in any way.

Nope, this woman still falls to pieces over the Chicago Cubs. Even in the midst of the most self-improvey era of my life, as I choose personal growth over substance-induced stagnation for the first time in 41 years, I’m still apparently stuck in sports fan infancy. When things don’t go my way, it’s in everyone’s best interest to stay out of it.

What’s making me unfit to mix in society these days, of course, is the Cubs completely missing the playoffs for the second straight year, after a cruelly anticlimactic tease of a season in which Murphy’s Law reigned supreme across the street from Murphy’s Bleachers — just like it always did back in the old days. Continue reading “Redefining the ‘W’”

Anonymity

I am not anonymous.

No kidding, right? A more obvious statement has not been typed into this space — or any space I frequent on the World Wide Web, for that matter. That’s my given name and my actual mugshot (I just updated it, so it’s even recent!) up there. Both are also attached to the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts that have all morphed into one big Overshare-y Sobriety Saga since I quit drinking 78 days ago.

My identity right now is completely tied up in the quest to beat addiction and re-route a life that went awry. Not once did I second-guess my decision to “come out” to the world and publicly post the real, raw details of the fight, for every single person with an internet connection to read all about if they so choose.

Well, that’s not completely true. I did have a couple of second guesses. In fact, the subject of this post dominated my thoughts this week after I was gently reminded that technically, forfeiting my anonymity while also taking to the cybersphere to trumpet my affiliation with a decades-old 12-step support group that was founded on that very principle is, let’s just say, potentially problematic.

So I’m not going to reference the support group anymore. I respect traditions and never intended to flout them. I do, however, want to continue talking about the idea of anonymity. More accurately, I want to talk about why one might decide to “out” herself when tackling deep issues that are at once intensely personal and also astonishingly universal. Continue reading “Anonymity”

Miracles

My shoes hurt my feet. I was mad at them. My bladder was full. I was mad at it. My headphones weren’t working, so I couldn’t listen to my usual podcasts — or anything at all, except the silence and the cicadas — on my regular early-AM walk in the park. That made me mad, too.

Then, some guy’s phone went off at full-blast during my A.A. meeting, after we’d been given the regular instruction to silence our cells. My anger at him only lasted a second, though, because I quickly had to busy myself trying to hide under the brim of my Cubs hat as tears inexplicably started rolling down my cheeks. Was I overtired? Was I feeling sorry for myself? Do I have Pseudobulbar Affect? Have I officially become my mother? Who knows, but when the meeting ended, I just about threw my folding chair in the cart and ran out the door to my car so I could have a proper cry.

That’s a recap of my Saturday morning, so you can see I’ve come a long way since last week’s post. 🙄

Nope, sober life is still an emotional roller coaster at Day 70, and apparently I’ve graduated from the “emotional mess” stage to the “emotional mess acting like a petulant toddler” stage. 🙄🙄🙄 Continue reading “Miracles”

Inventory

Back in my drinking days (LOL; it’s such a trip to be able to say that), this was a regular routine:

I’d wake in the middle of the night — or, what most normal people would consider “the middle,” whereas for me it was always about an hour before my 4 o’clock alarm, so, too early to get up and too late to go back to sleep — and flip out.

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…Decisiveness, indecisiveness, uncontrollable falling down, geriatric profanity disorder…

My panic-stricken brain would spin the same soundtrack: What day is it? Am I late for something? What embarrassing shit did I do last night (which is to say, THIS time)? Is [husband’s name] mad at me? …And on and on it played as I took inventory, trying to figure out just where I was on the shame spectrum (Feel Bad Rainbow? 😂) heading into another day.

I have since come to learn, through obsessively reading “quit lit” and listening to recovery podcasts, that the 3 o’clock roll call of regrets is par for the alcoholic course. It happens to everyone! This has been one of many comforting revelations I’ve experienced through A.A. and the “sobersphere,” assuring me that my soul-crushing struggle with addiction does not make me a crazy freak or a worthless failure; it makes me human.

I sleep a lot better these days, but the wee-hour panic attacks still happen from time to time. I had another one this morning — Day 63! — which might explain why I’m awake and writing at (checks computer clock) 3:31 AM on a Saturday. Realizing it was Saturday, and I didn’t have to go to work, and the man lying beside me is not only NOT mad at me but has cheered my sobriety with flowers, “Proud Of You” balloons and cases upon cases of Diet Sunkist, and the most embarrassing thing I’ve done in the last two months is tell the new guy at work he looks like Kyle Schwarber, then before he can even finish nodding politely and start slowly backing away, corner the poor kid into hearing my entire life story as a sports fan 😬… Continue reading “Inventory”

Anniversary

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A highlight from my final year in a multifaceted 20-year journalism career, feat. the great (former) CB South SS Alex DeLeon. I was a sports video reporter for six years and never figured out how to control that damn microphone cord.

Say what you want about social media as a sociopathic cesspool, but without it, I would have forgotten most of my life after the year 2009.  I’d also be missing a huge part of the support system that has helped me cope with significant loss over the past year: the loss of my journalism career and the loss of my lifestyle as a habitual drinker.

(Yes, the latter is a good loss, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Ask any new recovering alcoholic OR displaced journalist, and they’ll tell you they feel like a close friend/part of them has died.)

Social media, to me, has become a kind of scrapbook, helping chart the ups and downs of this journey. I bring this up because on Friday (Aug. 30), Facebook took a break from showing me creepy ads that mirror what I was just talking about in real life to send me an emotional reminder. Continue reading “Anniversary”

The Thirst Trap

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Currently blowing my mind: Annie Grace’s book, “This Naked Mind.” The above passage was a particularly potent wisdom bomb.

On Friday evenings, I morph into Fred Flintstone at quitting time (sans brontosaurus slide, sadly), skedaddling gleefully out of the office so fast my feet can barely keep up. Within minutes of clocking out, my wheels are speeding down the highway.

And then, with the miles between work and home increasing and hyperdrive mode subsiding, it hits.

The thirst.

Have you felt it? It’s hard to explain. I’d call it a kind of vague discomfort — not an ache or an itch, but more like a pull, subtly dragging my equilibrium a few centimeters off-center. I just don’t feel right. There’s something missing.

If you’re an alcoholic, you’ve come to identify this feeling as wanting a drink. Maybe in past lives, you identified it as wanting something else, but you ultimately settled on alcohol as the thirst quencher du jour.

After a while, if you’ve spent a long enough time habitually reaching for “that thing” every time you feel this, you recognize the situation for what it is: a trap. Continue reading “The Thirst Trap”

Keeping Score

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Unfinished home side of the scorecard from Cubs-Phillies series finale at Citizens Bank Park on Aug. 15, 2019. Was too busy booking the hell out of there to color in the final four diamonds and complete Holland’s pitching line — it should say “Owned.”

It’s a better story if they blow it.

This is what I kept telling myself in the bottom of the ninth inning of Thursday night’s Cubs-Phillies game. I stood in Section 134, staring at the giant white moon glowing in the sky above the grandstand just to the left of home plate, trying not to watch the cosmic meltdown happening on the field. What had been a five-run Cubs lead was now certain, impending doom in the form of Bryce Harper stepping to the plate with bases loaded and Rhys Hoskins (HBP; WTF?!?) standing on first, repping the winning run.

Insanity is a palpable physical sensation, and I know this, because that’s the only way to describe how I felt in my gut at that moment. Looking around me at the Phillies fans on their feet, ready to celebrate (because everyone knew how Harper v. Holland was bound to turn out), it hit me. I felt this exact same way on the night of Nov. 2, 2016, standing in the upper deck on the third-base side of Progressive Field in Cleveland after Rajai Davis’ game-tying home run. Yes, Game 7 of the World Series when your team hasn’t been in the World Series since World War II is a smidge more significant than a cross-divisional matchup in mid-August, but my anxiety doesn’t get that! It only knows one speed: full spin cycle.

I spent about half my life trying to slow the motor with alcohol, but anyone out there who loves sports with every fiber of their being – as I do – can attest that nothing soothes the insanity of those excruciating/exhilarating suspenseful moments. What you want so badly is completely beyond your control, and no amount of wringing your hands, biting your nails, talking to yourself, punching your husband in the shoulder, screaming – or drinking – your face off will ever change that. It’s maddening. It’s almost unbearable.

It’s real life. Continue reading “Keeping Score”