sober lifestyle

Abundance

You want to feel like the world is deserted? Take a walk in the pouring rain. I didn’t see a single soul while out getting my feet soaked in the neighborhood this morning…not that I minded. Hell, at that same time my poor husband was fighting crowds (and the frustration of not being able to find what’s on the list) at our local GIANT, and who wouldn’t rather be out in nature with puddles in their shoes than getting bumped into by oblivious cart-pushers and staring at an empty shelf where the chamomile tea used to be?

Ugh! I just got the whams thinking of being in a grocery store parking lot during a pandemic. I don’t even want to think about going inside the store! And he does this every week! 😱

My husband takes good care of me. He always has. The man even wrote into his wedding vows a promise to always keep me plied with my precious Diet Mountain Dew. No joke, although it’s become our running joke. I used to guzzle that shit back in my 20s when we met, but then again, I’ve always guzzled everything I got my hands on. My hubby knew that about me from the start and grew to love me anyway. He somehow kept loving me — and doing it from the same side of the same bed — when the relatively harmless poison of aspartame and caffeine was supplanted by mood-altering/soul-darkening fermented agave juice — straight, no chaser.

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Anxiety

This weekend, I was supposed to go to a local addiction treatment center and share my story with a group of women at a recovery meeting, but you’ll never guess what happened.

Yep. It got corona-ed out.

I was totally prepared, and eager, to go, and maybe this is a great example of how f*cked up I am: Neither pandemics nor public speaking engagements give me the slightest pause, but pretty much everything else on the planet scares me to death.

Heights. Crowds. Needles. Enclosed spaces. Awkward silences. Negative vibrations. Hell, the prospect of being even a minute late for something plants a firm knot in my stomach. I could go on, but I’m afraid you’ll stop reading.

See? It’s bad.

Believe it or not, quitting drinking has amplified my anxiety issues exponentially, to the point where I sometimes feel like…let’s see, how can I describe this with one my trademark dated pop culture references?…

Oh! I’ve got it.

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Redemption

Warm-and-fuzzy feel-good stories were my bread and butter throughout my career as a journalist (RIP, “The Good in Sports,”) which is funny, because in my personal life, I’ve always been partial to dark subject matter.

My entertainment obsessions include Cormac McCarthy novels, Coen Brothers movies (dark comedies are my absolute jam), true crime docudramas, bleak 90s grunge rock (RIP, Layne Staley), and TV series filled with complicated, conflicted protagonists who both battle and indulge their demons. The Tony Sopranos, Walter Whites, Ser Jaime Lannisters of the world…they’re not purely evil people, and yet they’re not above leaving chaos, devastation and bloodshed in their wake. Somehow, they make you root for them, even though they frequently act like assholes and occasionally scare you to death.

Speaking of which, I’m soooo looking forward to the new season of “Fargo,” which apparently premieres on FX next month, because I’m pretty sure my husband will move out if I spark up one more re-watch of “The Sopranos,” “Breaking Bad” or “Game of Thrones.”

Sitting here now, looking at things through the lens of eight months of sobriety, I see some clear commonality in the stories I used to tell and the stories I like to follow: namely, the redemption arc.

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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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Survival

Washington Crossing, PA, between the canal and the river. No better view in Bucks County, IMHO.

The warmth of the sun, the love of my family, and a clear memory of what happened the last time I tried to self-medicate a bad bout of depression with alcohol…those are the reasons I sit here today with 231 days of sobriety — and counting.

Getting out of bed, going to work (on the weekdays) or going out for a walk (thank God for our gorgeous weather this entire weekend), and NOT drinking to feel better, are the extent of my accomplishments since I last checked in here.

Maybe next week I’ll have enough perspective on managing early recovery from addiction and mental health issues at the same time to write my usual tome. I have plenty of thoughts on the subject, just not the clarity or focus to sort them out in writing. Right now I’m too immersed in survival mode (think of it as a poor swimmer in the deep end of the pool, neck straining and feet kicking furiously to keep eyes, nose and mouth above water) to be very articulate.

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sober lifestyle

Celebration

flowers

A lot has happened in the past week. Prior to marking — literally — my 210th alcohol-free day this morning, when I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in until 4:30 🙄, I had my one-year job review at the marketing company I joined at the beginning of 2019 as Step One on my “Plan B” post-journalism path. The meeting went well.

By “well,” of course, I mean that I sat in the HR guy’s office and cried, because hearing people tell me I’m doing a good job still affects me at 41 the way it did back in elementary school. Which is to say, deeply.

I might never have had clear goals, personally or professionally, but all I’ve ever wanted in life was to do a good job. Money, status, material things…nope; never gave a shit. I just wanted to feel worthwhile, to feel that my skills were useful to the world, in whatever small way.

(My husband is reading this going, “That’s very nice, but we also need our skills to pay the bills, especially when some people in this lovely house eat so damn much food.” 😬) Continue reading “Celebration”

sober lifestyle, Uncategorized

Sufficiency

Bar Selfie. Get it? 😉

The other day before a recovery meeting, I was chatting with someone in my group who, like me, enjoys working out.

“I’m a recovering alcoholic and CrossFitter,” I told him with a chuckle.

It wasn’t really a joke. After more than a year away from the competitive fitness circuit that consumed my free time and dominated my consciousness for about a decade, I can see very clearly how it brought out the best parts of my Type-A achiever personality.

I can also see how it fed and enabled my darkest demons.

Now, before anybody gets their booty shorts in a bunch, let me be clear: I have absolutely nothing against that community, nor would I try to pin any of my personal issues on an exercise methodology, a gym culture — or anything outside of my own brain, for that matter. I was a sick puppy long before I walked into my very first WOD back in (I think) 2009, and it’s like they say: Wherever you go, there you are.

Or, to quote another cliché: It’s not you, CrossFit. It’s me.

And I am a person plagued with never-ending, nagging not-enoughness.

It’s getting to the point where I can say that in past tense — “was plagued” — because 202 days of sobriety has begun to ever so slightly soften the sharp edges of stringent self-appraisal that used to make me look in the mirror at lean legs, cut arms and six-pack abs and think, “Yeah, but you can do better…”

Maybe some of you can relate to this awful affliction. It’s as damaging as any physical addiction, this innate compulsion to always keep reaching for more than what you have.

You’re in the best shape of your life, and you focus on what you perceive to still be wrong with your body. You push yourself hard, physically and mentally, in an activity, but still emerge displeased because you could have gone harder.

You measure your self worth by constantly comparing yourself to others.

If it’s possible to be better, why would you ever accept where you are? If satisfaction is somewhere else, why would you ever stop and enjoy the view here in this spot? If happiness is a few more accomplishments away, you can’t be happy until…

[Space Indicating An Infinite Wait] Continue reading “Sufficiency”