sober lifestyle

Certainty

Celebrating a sweet Chicago Sunday on my Monday sunrise walk. Forgive the tired face; it was smashed into a pillow like 10 minutes prior to taking this pic. 🥱

Sunday was the first time in a long time that I sat down and intentionally watched sports. It was a “safe” endeavor, given my complete lack of skin in the Eagles-Washington game — which, come to think of it, lacked “skin” altogether, now that the home team has dropped its controversial nickname.

“Safe” is all I do these days, now that I’m sober.

Of course, the second that game was decided, the sports gods LOLed at my snugness (and smugness), and FOX switched to the final seconds of Bears-Lions. Detroit had the ball down 4, with favorable field position and plenty of time to snag the winning score. Then, before I could change the channel in a panic, they had it — no, they dropped it! — and Matthew Stafford was launching one more last-ditch pass…😱

This was precisely the type of emotionally-charged, unpredictable situation I have been strenuously trying to avoid for the past 14 1/2 months.

It’s almost — no, it’s exactly — like I don’t want to feel things I can no longer numb with a drink. 🤔

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sober lifestyle

Support

It can be difficult for non-addicted people to understand that just because it’s been X number of days/years since your last “fix,” and you appear to be “killing it” in recovery, that doesn’t mean you’re totally OK with confronting the same old “people, places and things” from your drinking life.

It doesn’t mean you’re “cured.”

Familiar “triggers,” or situations in which you drank to self-soothe for years and years until it became an ingrained habit, can be very powerful, no matter how much time has passed. A certain person, or even a feeling, can send you reeling off in an anxiety spiral.

Then, add the ready availability of your go-to “medication,” your drug of choice looking you square in the face, and it’s not so easy to “act normal” or play it cool.

So, when I was overcome by a sudden, very unexpected sobbing fit on Sunday morning before we left for a family barbecue — the first gathering on our schedule in more than 2 months, and only the third time we were venturing out in a non-work capacity since COVID-19 quarantine closed everything down — I knew my husband was not the only one to talk to about it. He’s wonderfully supportive, and I 💯 would not be 428 days sober today without him…but he’s not an alcoholic.

A healthy support system absolutely starts at home, but for me, a well-rounded recovery requires some occasional, non-blog branching out.

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sober lifestyle

Regret

It’s not that I don’t have some beautiful memories of the once-in-a-lifetime, two-week trip to Hawaii I was fortunate enough to be invited on, back in August of 2015. It’s that the “bad,” or at least cringe-worthy, ones are so hauntingly vivid that they crowd out everything else.

I suppose I’m lucky to have any recollections at all of that time, given how much of it I spent intoxicated.

Part of early sobriety, I’m finding, is flashback attacks that hit at random moments, without warning. It’s like my brain is healing itself by scanning for sores and starting to apply ointment, creating some ugly, pus-like seepage in the process. 🤢

Sound gross? I’ll tell you, it is. Picture me relaxing on my deck at 14 months sober, listening to a peaceful, calm “beach massage” meditation track and suddenly, WHAMMO, I’m back to slipping on the wet tile stairs of a cabana in Kailua while double-fisting bottles of Corona I was drunkenly carrying back to the beach, then lying there bleeding profusely in a pile of broken glass while my traveling companions look on disgustedly, no doubt noting that just a few days earlier, they watched me drunkenly horsing around at the pool, and slipping and face-planting on a rock, cracking my front tooth and busting open my lip and cheek.

(Enlarge the attached picture — snapped, I think, in a blackout — and you can see the scabs.)

I lost a lot of blood on that trip. I also lost quite a few friends.

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sober lifestyle

Solitude

What if I told you it was easier for me to quit drinking than it is to initiate a social interaction?

It took me 20 years of getting my ass handed to me by booze to finally get that 🐒 off my back. I guess it’s not really surprising that, in the absence of my precious chemical security blanket, I’m just as afraid of people now as the awkward, anxious 1990s teenager who preferred tutoring sessions with a math teacher to hanging out in the hallways before class trying to make small talk with schoolmates.

(Oh, just wait! The stories get even more embarrassing…)

Solitude has always been my natural comfort zone. It’s normal to want to cozy up there after losing my most loyal lifelong friend: liquor.

Well, it might not be so “normal” to be 42 years old, and the mere idea of picking up the phone to call someone — anyone; the pharmacy, Athleta customer service, my family members — gives me a severe case of the jitters. Some of these people are, like, required by law to love me, and I still get so nervous about engaging them in conversation that I often chicken out and do not make the call.

Reminds me of my early days as a reporter, when I had to use an actual land line to solicit interviews. I would sit there, staring at the number pad for 10 minutes, trying to work up the courage to lift the receiver while simultaneously racking my brain to think of any other possible way to get the information I needed for this story. Were quotes really necessary? Could I just up and quit this job and move to a cabin in the woods? 🤔

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Tyler State Park Sky, Day 418

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sober lifestyle, Uncategorized

Aggression

I’ve never actually kicked a goose — or punched a cat, for that matter — but boy, have I fantasized about it.

…The geese-kicking, not the cat-punching. What I mean to say is, I don’t have anything against animals in general, but I really hate geese.

I forgot how much until I started (occasionally) running again on the Delaware Canal towpath, which is a wonderful place except that it’s basically one long, narrow, winding outhouse for worthless water fowl. This morning I was out there trying to log a few miles before assuming my groove on the couch for the weekend, and sure enough, when I wasn’t zig-zagging to avoid stepping in their shit, I was yelling out loud at a gaggle of them to GTFO and stop just standing there for no reason and blocking the trail. My actual words were, “MOVE, YOU MOTHERF*CKERS!” and when they didn’t immediately comply, the idea of kicking them (briefly) occurred to me.

Maybe you can see why I chose the topic I did for this post, and why I relate so much to the attached “Simpsons” clip (it’s funny because it’s true!) It’s become very clear to me since I swore off my drug of choice 216 days ago and no longer have booze to numb out my innate emotional intensity, that I, unfortunately, am an angry girl. Continue reading “Aggression”