sober lifestyle

Regression

I started weighing myself again.

This is dangerous territory, where someone like me typically dares not tread. I mean, for one, who wants to look at their gnarly, mutant, never-been-pedicured toes? And secondly, when you’ve struggled most of your life with body image issues, to the point of eating disorders and exercise addictions, knowing that number can…(understatement alert!) royally mess with your head.

And yet I marched into the bathroom last weekend and stepped up onto the dreaded measuring device — and into a substantial collection of dust — as if pulled by some irresistible, mystical force.

You know shit is 🤬-ed up when a former anorexic/bulimic starts seeking solace in the scale.

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Education

The last thing the professor asked us to do in our orientation session Thursday night was go around the room and share one word that described our feelings about the upcoming semester — our first as “Cohort 9” in Delaware Valley University’s three-year MA in Counseling Psychology program.

It’s actually my first as a student, period, since the start of this century. 😳

Anyway, the other noobs were like, “Nervous!” “Overstimulated!” “Ready!” And your trusty wordsmith over here blurted out… “Summit.”

It wasn’t an adjective (still isn’t, actually). It made no sense outside my own head. So, true to form, I took up more than my share of allotted time, explaining myself to the group.

All I could think about during the 3+-hour session was the slow climb to the top of the big drop on a roller coaster — clickety clickety clickety 😳 — and that crazy-making anticipation of the terrifying free fall to come — clickety clickety clickety 😰.

You can’t turn back. You can’t get out. You have no control whatsoever. And you know you’re going to get thrown completely, wildly, out of your comfort zone. 😱

I’m so afraid of this exact scenario that I rarely even go on those coasters.

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Reality

I was “running” — I have to put it in quotes; that’s how far I’ve fallen from my own standards — so slow on Saturday morning that I was able to take the attached, crystal-clear picture in mid-stride.

Not sure if that’s a sufficient illustration of rock bottom, or if I should tell you about the time a few weeks ago, when I huffed and puffed my way to the top of a hill in the park, and I felt so awful that I stopped “running,” and doubled over and grabbed my knees. I was wheezing so loudly that a dude walking his dog stopped to ask if I was OK.

I’m not proud to admit that I took my frustration out on this poor Good Samaritan.

“I’m fine,” I snapped. “It’s hot out. And I’m not in good shape.”

I turned in a huff and started back down from whence I came, my descent mirroring the trajectory of my physical fitness over the past three months.

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Disenchantment

My phone was buzzing away on Friday afternoon, but I was busy banging on a keyboard, finishing out my work week. And by the time 5 o’clock hit, I was so eager to get home and eat my Door Dash sushi, I barely glanced at the long string of texts my family had been firing into our group thread, as I…well, dashed out the door.

I didn’t see the news until this morning.

It’s probably a good thing that I’ve kept baseball beyond arm’s length over the past couple years while I was preoccupied with getting sober, working on my marriage, changing careers — you know, all that annoying “real life” shit that adults have to deal with. There was a time I had a finger planted on the pulse of my favorite sport, but now, it can’t reach me to deliver a debilitating gut punch.

The Big Cubs Breakup has me feeling numb.

I’m in disbelief but not really shocked; the selling-off our 2016 World Series heroes was by no means a bolt from the blue. You’d have to be completely off the grid to miss the telegraphed signs of an imminent fire sale, and if you’ve followed sports for even a little while, you know these things are par for the cyclical course.

I feel more like one would if, say, her parents had been threatening to ground her for months, and all of a sudden one day, she found herself confined to her room with TV and phone privileges revoked.

They did it. They actually did it.

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Quantity

I didn’t get overly drunk at my wedding. I was too busy, making the rounds and talking to people and dancing to the playlist I painstakingly put together — and besides, the drink of choice back then was Coors Light. Weak! 🚰

It would be five years before I’d start hitting the hard stuff, and hitting the skids.

I mean, don’t get me wrong; at 29, I was regularly consuming mass quantities of alcohol and well on my way to the depths of rock bottom. But, thankfully, I have vivid and wonderful memories of Saturday, July 21, 2007, when those two well-dressed children 👶🏼 tied the knot in the upstairs banquet room at Chicago Firehouse Restaurant on South Michigan Ave., ⬆️ just a few blocks from Grant Park. ⬇️

That was 14 years ago this past Wednesday. So, my husband and I have celebrated two anniversaries this month. It goes without saying: There’s no way we would have made it to one without the other.

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Quality

You could say that pole did us a favor; an obstructed view of last Monday’s 13-3 debacle was the next best thing to changing the channel. The Cubs have been unwatchable over the last few weeks, so it’s fitting that my husband and I organized a family trip to watch them play live at Wrigley Field, as part of our annual summer visit to Chicagoland.

We’ve lived together in the Philly area for almost 20 years and have an abysmal track record when it comes to Cubs-Phillies games. We probably should have warned my parents, sisters, nieces, brothers-in-law and aunt when we bought the tickets: “Guys, the steel beam blocking half the field will probably be a more pleasing sight than the final score.” 🤷🏼‍♀️

Of course, as lifelong Cubs fans, we’re all used to making light of losing, and we ended up having a blast. Or at least I did!

I sat next to my two younger sisters, a rare treat considering they both live in Illinois and have busy lives with jobs and kids. We spent three-plus hours sweating in 90-plus heat, me sucking down water and diet cola and keeping score on a $1 scorecard (cheaper than Citizens Bank Park!) We clapped and danced along to the ballpark organ and made snide comments (Patrick Wisdom’s pitch selection? Not very wise! …For those of you who missed BP, here’s Eric Sogard on to pitch!) that entertained some out-of-town fans in the row below. We laughed, long and loud and from the gut, just like we did when we were kids at the game with our friends.

It was real, honest-to-goodness “quality time,” the likes of which I rarely — if ever — experienced as an active alcoholic.

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Momentum

Everything has felt incredibly heavy over the past few weeks: my entire body, the summer air, the constant drag of depression, the side effects of my second COVID shot (before you even ask: Pfizer), the looming responsibilities of attending — and paying for — grad school while working full time…

Lugging all that shit very slowly up a hill at Tyler State Park at 5AM on a Wednesday — less than 10 minutes in, my drenched clothes were like sandbags weighing me down even more — I started to crack.

It began as a guttural groan, like a mortally wounded animal crawling off to die, and crescendoed into a primal scream.

“OH MY GOD YOU’RE SO F*CKING FAT!!!”

😳

Of course, the sane part of me knows that verbally abusing oneself out loud in a public park not only doesn’t provide the satisfying release one seeks from abject misery, but it also drains additional energy from an already sputtering engine. Still, I yelled my putdowns and profanities, searing rage flying off me with every splash of sweat as I lumbered along my typical 30-minute jogging route.

I guess the key takeaway from this charming anecdote is that I kept going. I did not stop “running,” or give up and go home early, or throw myself into Neshaminy Creek hoping to float away forever — don’t think I haven’t contemplated that — and when my disgusting, dripping slab of meat finally burst back through the door into the air-conditioned entryway, creating an instant puddle on the wood floor, I felt a little better.

And that, friends, perfectly sums up my entire second year of sobriety. Well, the first 359 days of it. I still have one week to go. 😬

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Confrontation

Well, friends, it happened. That cringe-worthy, uncomfortable scenario you imagine and try to plan for, but never really expect to encounter in real life.

Someone offered me a drink.

Maybe I would’ve handled it differently, had it been in an actual social setting — I don’t really do social settings, precisely so I can avoid this type of hellaciously awkward interaction — but it was at work. So I was caught completely off guard.

It’s hard to just brush it off when you’re cornered in an office and there are two hours left before you can leave.

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