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Digestion

If the title isn’t fair enough warning, let me be crystal clear: This post gets down and dirty with some off-color subject matter.

Yes, that would be fecal matter. Feel free to flee while you have the chance! 💩😱

Although the topic is by no means humorous, it’s kind of “funny” that I’m sitting here writing about it, considering that just the other day, that one “Family Guy” episode came on where Brian and Stewie get stuck in the safe at the bank. There’s a point where Stewie prevails upon Brian to help with “cleaning up” his full diaper, and I always have to change the channel during that particular scene. 🤮 Somehow, it’s less triggering for me to watch a dog and a baby get drunk, shoot guns and rip holes in each other’s ears…🤷🏼‍♀️

And somehow, discussing my own digestive issues feels different. Guess I’m just so used to living with IBS-C, so entrenched in the all-consuming daily struggle that started more than a decade ago and has been gradually, insidiously escalating ever since, that I’ve gone “nose blind” to how gross it all is — kind of like a hoarder living obliviously in filth. Or like an alcoholic driving to the liquor store faithfully every Thursday after work for a new bottle of tequila, after promising herself faithfully every Thursday morning that she was “only going to drink on the weekends from now on.”

Humans can truly get used to anything. Bad shit, literally, can become “ho hum” to the conditioned brain.

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Indulgence

They’re mocktails; no worries.

My husband didn’t JUST support our entire household for the last four months of 2021; he ended up bringing in so much money for his company that they voted him Employee of the Year on his team.

His reward, from them, was an all-expenses-paid trip to Saint Martin later this spring.

I took him out for brunch.

Well, I guess technically, all I really did was agree to go out for brunch, instead of insisting we stay in and order Door Dash like we usually do. At 2 1/2 years sober, going to restaurants still makes me a little nervous, even when we purposely choose a place with an interesting mocktail selection to balance out the giant menu book filled with booze. But, to honor my hubby, I made the (unnecessary) reservation, and put on real pants and shoes, and even straightened my hair. 😳

He drove, though, and paid the check. He also sat in the booth for an hour, listening to me enthusiastically describe the intimate details of my fake client’s life from the mock counseling sessions we’re doing in Advanced Techniques class.

Was that breaking confidentiality?


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Tolerance

Not to brag, but in the span of two weeks, I handled a dental drill to the mouth AND a tattoo needle to the arm without having a complete nervous breakdown. I didn’t even cry! I mean, I’m still kind of sore from the full-body tense-up I held for an hour at a time, and my hands are still stuck in a bit of a claw from death-gripping the chair arms/table sides…but all in all, I did good.

If you want to go back a month to the date of my COVID booster shot, you can even add a drama-free injection to my big-girl resume.

I proudly texted my friend earlier this month, upon returning home from getting inked for the third time (see above: two wolves on left tricep), that my pain tolerance had finally reached adult levels. 💪🏻

I’m a couple months shy of 44. 🤷🏼‍♀️

It only took a few decades of downward-spiraling into in an alcohol addiction, and 31 action-packed months of sobriety, but I’m starting to get the hang of facing my fears — and feelings — without my old favorite security blanket.

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Mortality

I came home from class Monday night to find my husband standing in the kitchen with a look on his face.

We’ve been together 18 years. I can instantly tell in a single glance when something’s not right.

“Your dad called me.” (Yeah, something is definitely not right…) “Your mom is in the hospital. She had a heart attack.”

💥🤯💥

My relatives all live in Illinois and I’m in Pennsylvania. Since I moved away in the spring of 2000, whenever I’ve been faced with heart-wrenching circumstances, from 9/11 to my mother’s mortality, my first thought is always to jump in the car and hit the gas, heading west.

What am I doing out here? How can the last thing I said/did, to/with my family be [whatever trivial thing it was]?!?

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Reinforcement

“If I want to stay married, I’ve got to stay quit.”

The words shot out of my mouth like a knee-jerk reaction. No idea where they came from. But that’s what I said to the new chiropractor I visited yesterday when the topic of alcohol came up.

I’m not exactly sure how my “NO” writ large on the intake form turned into a conversation — do all back specialists ask new patients if they smoke and drink? This one did! — but somehow, I learned that this guy had given up booze for three years and “hated it,” so he “picked up” again. He assured me he was “good now” with alcohol back in his life.

My quick comeback surprised me. Even after 2 1/2 years sober, I’m still quite green when it comes to discussions of drinking in social situations. I’m unpracticed in talking about alcohol anywhere outside the safe bubble of recovery meetings, family gatherings, therapy sessions or grad school classes.

And yet, what I said was perfect. Succinct, 100% accurate, but not overly revealing. I thought about the entire experience on the way home from the appointment — one of many to come as I try to take care of an out-of-whack SI joint that’s making my life miserable — and my mind wiggled down a rabbit hole.

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Compassion

Source: @centerformindfulselfcompassion on Instagram.

RRRRRIIIIIIIIPPPPPP.

A tearing sensation snaked up the right side of my back as I yanked the handle of the rower toward my midsection, and I instantly knew: I was done…probably for a good long while. I released the chain with a snap and toppled stiffly from the seat to the floor, as the digital timer ticked down the final seconds of my workout.

Tears filled my eyes. One thought consumed my brain.

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

I’d just spent almost two months nursing a pulled hamstring, reluctantly ramping down my exercise routine to easy walks and modified yoga, with occasional light rowing and ultra-light lifting. Over a Christmas trip to Illinois, I pushed a little, and was elated to make it around the flat terrain of my childhood hometown in a slow jog, without incident. My patience was paying off!

And now, this. Something worse. A jacked-up back that basically rendered my entire body useless.

OK, universe! I surrender! I’m listening! What exactly are you trying to teach me?!?!

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Repetition

Turns out, the original title I had in mind for this post wasn’t original; the above excerpt is from one of my earliest entries in this sober saga, which is now, officially, 30 MONTHS long.

I don’t repeat headlines, but everything else in my life is one big rigid, predictable routine. From yoga and brisk walks in the early morning to fruit smoothies and honey vanilla chamomile tea in the late afternoon, to a few Tootsie pops and melatonin gummies before bed at sunset, every creature comfort a creature of habit could ask for is part of my daily procedure.

I won’t bore you with the details of my full meal plan, but trust me: It’s the same. Every. Day.

What can I say? I’m a highly sensitive girl, and giving up alcohol in some of the most topsy turvy times our society has ever seen, while going through a job transition and going back to school, is not something I’m equipped to handle completely naked. That is, without some kind of security blanket.

The most important thing: After 2 1/2 years of “one-day-at-a-time”-ing it, over and over again, not drinking has become as much of a ritual as drinking once was.

Halle-f*cking-lujah for the hard death of old habits…and the steadfast adherence to new ones! 🥳

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Power

Setting out from my childhood home at 4AM Central, headed on a 12-hour drive across three states and a time zone, to the place I call home now.

Predictably, the drive from Chicago to Philly — which my hubby and I did Thursday in one fell swoop — knocked me flat on my ass. Every time we travel out to visit my family, the journey there is one big jolly sing-a-long, and the return trip seems like a never-ending chore.

So, it was noon when I finally dragged my body off the couch and away from the New Year’s Eve “Twilight Zone” marathon on SyFy, and went for a walk in the park.

No matter how lethargic and unmotivated I might feel, fresh air and movement never fail to give my brain a much-needed boost. I do my best thinking on the trails at Tyler State Park.

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