sober lifestyle

Relationship

I feel bad putting my mom on blast, but this little snippet of her recent text message jumped out and smacked me in the face so hard that I felt compelled to drop everything and reflect on it the best way I know how.

That is, getting up out of bed at 2AM, pouring some coffee and pouring out my heart and soul on the internet.

I’ve expressed before how difficult it can be to measure progress in recovery, which is, to paraphrase a popular saying, an ultra-ultra-ultramarathon, as opposed to a sprint. Think: tortoise (versus hare), or better yet, stop-motion animation.

In the latter scenario, I’m arriving at the North Pole fresh off the boat from the Island of Misfit Toys, and my socialization process plays out in a series of painfully slow, nearly imperceptible movements that take forever to piece together and bring up to normal speed.

Still not sure what’s supposed to be “wrong” with this girl. She’s cute, cheerful, musical, has fashion sense and a few friends…guessing it must be perfectionism and performance-based self-worth causing her crippling anxiety and depression? (I know the type. 😉)
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sober lifestyle

Qualification

Basically my biography 😬

The reading assignment this week for “Concepts of Psychopathology & Wellness” is two thick chapters — nearly 75 total pages — but I’ve learned not to stress too much about finishing the homework for this class.

I mean, I know it’s a thing for psych students to start self-diagnosing every disorder they study (it’s called Medical Student’s Disease), but for me, this is not about the power of suggestion. This shit is seriously my life story. I could’ve stood up in front of my cohort and spoken with confidence about the last five weeks’ worth of “Abnormal Behavior” readings without having cracked the book.

Many of my classmates have actual professional experience in counseling, in addition to their relevant bachelor’s degrees. So, in some ways, being in grad school for psychology at Delaware Valley University reminds me of my undergrad era at Northwestern, where I was surrounded by kids toting binders full of newspaper clips and highlight reels from TV and radio reporting internships, while I’d just checked “JOURNALISM” on my application because I loved to write.

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Application

Yeah, so, basically, I wrote a blog post to get into graduate school. Sat down one day, poured my whole heart and spilled a few guts into a Google Doc, then hit “download” and shipped off my application without even showing it to anyone first.

This has been my M.O., in relating to others, for most of my life: Overshare now, ask questions later. Tell ’em how you really feel, and let the chips fall where they may! If they don’t appreciate your authenticity, it wasn’t meant to be/you don’t want to associate with them, anyway! So there!

What really sucks is being like that but also needing a job and realizing, the hard way, that intense passion and professionalism sometimes don’t mix. Sometimes (*grits teeth*), you have to stop being so stubbornly set in your ways and consider what’s “socially acceptable.” You have to compromise for the sake of a paycheck.

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sober lifestyle

Preference

Sitting in the car in the parking lot of Washington Crossing Park, basking in the glorious — dare I say, addictive? — post-run euphoria, I finished saving the above collage to my camera roll and looked up to see the first drop of rain plop onto the windshield. Another kind of rush ran through my body: that pleased-with-yourself feeling you get when a gamble pays off.

Can you see the smug satisfaction in that selfie? I promise it’s there. 🧐

Not that running in the rain is terrible, but if you’ve visited the Delaware Canal lately when it’s thawed out and muddy as 🤬, you understand my desire to get up early and beat Sunday’s warm, wet weather forecast.

I had no trouble putting my custom Nikes on the path before 7AM. Amid my recent struggles with mental and physical health, running has been my go-to mood booster, and I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do to celebrate 32 months of continuous sobriety.

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sober lifestyle

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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sober lifestyle

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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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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