sober lifestyle

Inspiration

I’m a recovery junkie, craving anything and everything having to do with beating addiction. No amount of “you are not alone” seems to be enough.

That might explain why I’m now writing two or three blog posts per week on this subject, and on top of attending a regular Thursday 12-step meeting, I’m filling most of my free time devouring the inspirational stories of fellow addicts.

Including “Approved AA Literature,” I’ve read 24 “Quit Lit” books in the past 427 days. Some of them multiple times.

Can’t count the actual number of sober podcasts I’ve played on my phone while working out in my basement or walking in the park, but I have a solid rotation of four or five “shows” that I subscribe and look forward to every week.

I owe so much of my progress to these authors and speakers. I’ve never met them, but they feel like friends, and I owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.

Thus the list I’m going to post below. Not that anyone mentioned will ever know how much they’ve done for me, but for anyone reading this who’s struggling with addiction — or just an unhealthy relationship with alcohol/drugs/food/love — I feel like my heroes can help you, too.

Enough with the intro. Let’s get to that list.

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sober lifestyle

Negativity

Forgive me if I play the blame game here, but I just can’t accept that my absolutely 💩💩-y attitude this week has been due to my being an actual 💩💩-y person.

It has to be side effects from the mental health medication and the hormonal 💩💩-show of middle-aged menstruation, topped with a liberal sprinkling of work stress, that’s making me a snarling, feral beast who wants to eat the face of every human I encounter — in person or virtually (especially virtually) — and smash to bits every inanimate object that doesn’t fully and immediately cooperate with my efforts to open, move or operate it (I’m 👀 at YOU, broken washing machine), and who is currently sitting here flinging 💩💩 at strangers on the internet.

I’m also sitting here with 425 days of sobriety, and while that’s notable, I think it’s clear that it does not make me a shiny, happy person able to deftly handle her 💩💩. (Ok, I’ll stop with the poop.)

I went on my weekly Zoom recovery meeting, video turned off so no one could see my bitter, sulky facial contortions, and confessed to “hating everything and everyone right now” and “not wanting to be here,” and while “hate” is indeed a poor choice of words, that was me actually trying to hold back. So as not to offend! Truth be told, when I went to share, about 20 minutes into the meeting, I contemplated hitting the “leave” button instead of the little mic to un-mute. Just, you know, 🤬 this! I’m out!

So, you get the picture. It’s ugly. I’m acting c*nty, and I own it.

Now what?

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sober lifestyle

Renunciation

So we could also call shenpa ‘The Urge’ — the urge to smoke that cigarette, to overeat, to have another drink, to indulge our addiction, whatever it is. Sometimes, shenpa is so strong that we’re willing to die getting this short-term symptom relief. The momentum behind the urge is so strong that we never pull out of the habitual pattern of turning to poison for comfort.”

— Pema Chödrön

The Urge is strong with this one. It has been all week. I could feel it building, or more like steadily pulsing in the center of my chest, and I described it to my therapist as feeling like I was plugged in to the Tesseract…you know, from the Marvel Universe?

She knew. Thank goodness. Nothing more awkward than when a pop culture reference falls flat. 😉

It’s an apt analogy, too: an indefatigable, incredibly powerful energy source that will not stay frozen or buried and can reawaken at any time and threaten to destroy everything. That, my friends, is the compulsion behind addiction.

It distressed me that at nearly 14 months sober, after several dull, sleepy — one might even say balanced — months, my old core issues had seemingly jolted back to life. Why now? What triggered this familiar, scary rush of need, to buy things, exercise all day, scroll through Twitter and Facebook, snap selfies…and write blogs on blogs on blogs?

All of the above = healthier than drinking tequila. So, there’s that. At the same time, it’s plain to see that the mere absence of alcohol does not remedy the underlying problem. It merely exposes it, more raw and real than ever before.

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sober lifestyle

Expansion

What to say about the sky? I haven’t really known, so thus far, I’ve let my pictures do the talking.

The above was taken just a few hours ago in one of my favorite places on Earth: the top of the big hill on the main road into/out of Tyler State Park. The huge expanse of unobstructed, endless openness that greets you when you’ve hoofed your way up that steep incline has an effect that I can only describe as spiritual. Transcendent. Other-worldly. I’d say that the view “takes your breath away,” but unless you’re a world-class athlete, you don’t have much left to lose after completing the climb.

Today’s humid, stagnant morning air had me wheezing even more than usual.

Physically, right now, I’m not…shall we say…in great shape. At 13 months sober, walks in the park are my go-to form of exercise (when I do ramp it up to running, I head to the all-flat canal path). And at 42 years old, with a sedentary job and an increasing affinity for big meals, long naps, audiobooks and Netflix crime-show rabbit holes, I’ve…shall we say…lost some leanness from my old CrossFitting, strict-eating days.

Pre-Climb Selfie on Day 391
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sober lifestyle

Protection

Caption: 300 days without alcohol and I’m (cough) still alive.

It would be a smidge overdramatic, and not quite accurate, to refer to my sobriety date as “The Day The Music Died,” but it seems I unintentionally gave up more than one of my old favorite things on July 7, 2019.

That was 10 (get it? Ten?) months ago today, by the way. I still vividly remember every moment of no fun I had at a family get-together the first alcohol-free afternoon of my new life, without any substance available to blast through my ironclad inhibitions.

Loosening up used to come naturally to me, back when I was a little kid who spent hours spinning, and spinning, (*Pee Wee Herman voice*) aaaand spinning around the family room carpet singing along to “Steal Away,” “What A Fool Believes” and other 70s pop hits playing on my dad’s reel-to-reel stereo system. My parents have this on video (viewer beware: may cause dizziness). Isn’t it cute how oblivious kids are to embarrassment?

…she says, at age 42, while relating the gory details of a 20-year drunkalog on the World Wide Web…😳

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sober lifestyle, Uncategorized

Survival, Part 2

Show of hands: who else was really glad to see February 2020 fade into the rearview mirror?

🙋🏼‍♀️

Even in a leap year, it was still the shortest of all the months, and yet it felt like a never-ending slog through the muck. It felt like every time I try to run in a dream, and instead find myself crawling on the ground, clawing desperately to propel my body forward. (I’m open to all suggestions as to why that exact scenario keeps recurring over and over.)

If you’re watching “The Outsider” on HBO, it felt like that one cop Jack who gets body-snatched by the evil entity and then is continually wracked by random attacks that leave him looking like a walking corpse — and desperately looking for a way out.

So, you get the point. It’s been a painful month. I’m sure that was pretty clear after last week’s post, and without going into too much more graphic detail, suffice to say I got perfect-stormed by IBS, endometriosis and depression, and it sucked.

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