sober lifestyle

Holiday

I’ve started to get a “Twilight Zone”-esque vibe from this blog, where every time I write about being happy about something, it immediately goes all to 💩.

It’s like the classic episode — aren’t they all classic episodes? — where the husband-wife grifter team finds that old instant camera, and when they take a picture in the moment, it shows them what’s going to happen in the future. And most of what the camera foretells, with the (temporary) exception of predicting winners at the horse track, ain’t good.

You thought my 90s references were bad. This TZ episode aired in 1960.

No sooner did I start gushing about my newfound love of running, to the point that I was impulse-blogging from the running trail in a state of exercise-induced euphoria, that my hamstring decided to snap. Just one week after the aforementioned blog outburst, I drove all the way over to Yardley on a beautiful Sunday morning, gulping my usual turbo-charged pre-workout drink as I mentally prepped for a 6-miler, and when I got to the canal path and my feet went to push off toward Washington Crossing…

🏃‍♀️🧨💥☠️

Two weeks later, that hamstring still strenuously objects every time I move. 😩

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sober lifestyle

Freedom

Fat, wet flakes started falling as I neared the causeway at Tyler State Park, smacking me in the forehead and occasionally the eyeball, and my face broke into a self-satisfied smile. This was my plan: To be out in nature when the storm started, and before every other human within miles crawled out of bed.

My mom is somewhere cringing, picturing this scene — “Do you always go walking alone?” she once asked me with alarm — but the truth is I much prefer the park when it’s deserted, and even sometimes when it’s dark. To take in a sunrise, witness a change in weather, or just stare at an early morning sky, is such an intensely personal experience for me that I think something would be amiss if anyone else was there.

I guess you could say that it’s when I am isolated that I feel most free.

I’ve been a loner all my life, and at 42, with an annoying habit of getting up at 2AM, I’ve pretty much given up hope of ever fitting in with society. I was always one of those “morning people” that seemed to perplex all the normies. These days, I feel like I’m at my best in the wee hours, when I write or do yoga while excitedly awaiting the dawn.

(Flash forward 12 hours, when some of y’all are just eating lunch):

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sober lifestyle

Recollection

So many of my bad memories started just like this…

Sitting in one of my very first recovery meetings last summer, I heard people talk about all the mysterious injuries they would wake up with after a night of heavy drinking — unexplained bumps and bruises, dried blood caked here or there, broken digits and the like — and I thought to myself, “Not me! I never hurt myself while drunk!”

Many months later, WHAM! The memory burst into my brain, like a 160-pound human body from a higher row, suddenly toppling on the backs of unsuspecting concertgoers, then slamming into the hard stone amphitheater stairs at their feet.

In case you hadn’t guessed, the uninvited crowd surfer in that scenario was me, six summers ago, “celebrating” my wedding anniversary at the Interpol show at Penn’s Landing after pounding sakis at my hubby’s and my favorite sushi restaurant, then guzzling who-knows-how-many $12 hard ciders from vendors at the venue.

I’ve attached a “BEFORE” photo from that night. Didn’t think you’d keep reading if I chose the “AFTER.”

My shins ended up looking like ground meat after my unfortunate booze-fueled tumbling act, and the (untreated) trauma to my lower extremities was so severe I basically crawled through our subsequent Hawaiian vacation — where, as I’ve recounted in previous posts, I went on to take several more spills while soused. I couldn’t walk normally for like a month. I nearly had to pull out of a half marathon that November.

But no, I never got injured in the throes of alcoholism! 🙄

Tequila Sunrise-to-Sunset…would be an apt tagline for our entire 2015 trip to Hawaii. 🥴

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sober lifestyle

Milestone

The wind always blows straight into your face on the far side of the track at Honesdale High School, and what I can best describe as unwelcome resistance on a warm day becomes, in the winter, a good reason to stay in bed.

When I pulled up to the snow-swept track on the morning after Christmas, the car’s built-in thermostat read 14 degrees.

I had driven up there reluctantly, and groggily, leaving my husband cozy and warm under the covers in the guest room of his parents’ house. It was nearly 8 AM, and the sun was up, making this an unusually late start for me; however, without my usual high-octane pre-workout drink (I forgot to pack it) and a belly that still felt full of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, apple pie and “moose tracks” ice cream (I took the holiday off from my gluten-free diet), it had taken quite a bit of self-coaxing — maybe more like self-flagellation — to get up, get bundled up, and get my ass out the door.

My preferred form of exercise these days is running, and although conditions never seem 100% ideal, and sometimes seem downright hostile, I’ve managed to make a habit of it.

“It” amounts to around 20-30 minutes of movement, three or four times a week, and if you asked me how far I go on a typical day, I could only venture a rough guess. It’s not quite enough to consider myself “a runner,” or to make a significant dent in my level of fitness, or even to burn off all the calories I’ve consumed over the course of this celebratory (read: incredibly lazy) month.

But “it” is something. And once I clear that initial motivational hurdle and start moving, it’s something I always enjoy. Fresh air is life-affirming, even when it’s so cold it numbs your face, and any time spent out in nature feels like sweet freedom, when you’ve spent the bulk of your year cooped up in the same eight-room townhouse.

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sober lifestyle

Physicality

Themed workouts are a big thing in the CrossFit world, and these workouts tend to be community events. So when the holidays rolled around, back when my husband and I belonged to local gyms, both communities offered opportunities to run around for an hour or two in reindeer antlers, socks splattered with Santas, etc., and shove your face full of food and booze…not necessarily in that order.

Hubby’s place was pretty laid back about it — they called it “Festivus” and strung lights on a PVC pipe, then stuck it in a stack of weight plates to represent Frank Costanza’s pole (see above pic) — and we showed up with gym bags filled with Mad Elf (see below pic), ready to sweat through a “12 Days of Christmas” circuit, but really prepared to party.

Some of us took the party portion of the day a bit more seriously than others. I mean, I’m not gonna lie: Working out and drinking were my top two hobbies for most of my adult life, so Festivus was always one of my favorite days of the year.

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sober lifestyle

Patience

What I love about the Delaware Canal towpath — long, flat, soft stretches of trail uninterrupted by roadways — is also what I hate about it. How I’m feeling depends on whether I’m on the way out on a run, or on the way back, when I’ve gone as far as my achy lower back, touchy hamstrings and crampy calves can carry me without anything snapping or falling off, and I’ve slowed to a walking pace out of self-preservation.

That return trip to the car takes for-EVER.

It feels like plodding away on a treadmill, watching the seconds tick by but not really getting anywhere. You know you’re covering ground, but the distance ahead only seems to grow and grow. Your mind starts to dwell on all forms of discomfort: you’re cold, even moreso because you’re sweaty, and the coffee + energy drink from an hour ago is sloshing in your bladder, and your entire lower body is stiff as 🤬, and you wish like hell you could time warp to the point when you’re showered and cozy in house coat and pajama pants, probably also a winter hat for added warmth, and you’re eating egg whites with spinach and broccoli in front of some “Law & Order” rerun on TV.

It occurred to me, as that exact scenario played out on Sunday morning, that I spend a ridiculous amount of my life wishing away my life. I’m constantly looking at the clock, then looking anxiously ahead to when whatever is happening will be over.

This is why I’m not a good cook. Who wants to stand idly in a kitchen for 20 minutes, waiting for meat to reach that no-longer-potentially-deadly “done” point, or for a pizza to get un-soggy in the center? Who wants to spend TWO minutes heating up water for tea in the microwave? It’s so uncomfortable I have to, like, grab my phone and start scrolling through Twitter to occupy the emptiness.

Patience is a virtue…something something…” Hell, I couldn’t even stay in the moment long enough to listen to the entire proverb my grandmother used to say back in the day. No clue why she was always saying it to me. 😉

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sober lifestyle, Uncategorized

Endurance

running1
Taken after my second half-marathon four years ago. Of course, the next picture in my camera roll was of the free celebratory cup of post-race beer…and this is why I rather dislike scrolling through the old pictures in my phone.

I used to run a lot in my younger years, and while I got gung-ho enough about it to complete two half-marathons, I never crossed the threshold into “hard-core runner” territory. Never did I feel even the faintest shred of desire to run a full marathon, and when people would ask when I was going to move on to that natural next step, I just laughed.

Hell, 13.1 was too much for me. I never lasted longer than 10 miles in training, and during the actual races, I distinctly remember getting to the seven-mile mark and being like, “OK, I’m good now! Ready to do something else!” (the first time), and “Shit! How did I forget about the awfulness of the last six miles and sign up for another one of these?!?” (the last time). Of course, I am a competitor at heart and I don’t quit in the middle of athletic events, so I kept plodding along to the finish line — and got there in less than two hours; thank you. But that invisible “wall” runners always talk about hitting was, to me, a mammoth fortification akin to the home of the Night’s Watch in “Game Of Thrones”, complete with undead ice monsters on the other side whom I didn’t care to meet.

At some point or another, I always smack straight into that damn wall, no matter what task I undertake or journey I embark upon. And it’s not that I get tired physically. It’s some kind of short circuit in my head.

I hit it — or it hit me — for the first time in my recovery last week. I just woke up one morning and felt empty and spent, as if all my positive energy had drained overnight and been replaced by sadness, frustration — and yes, self-pity. I found myself contemplating a dangerous question that tends to pop up during all the low times in my life: “What’s the point of it all?” Continue reading “Endurance”