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The Bandaged Place

“Don’t turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That’s where the light enters you.” Rumi

“By attending to the bandaged place—embracing the pain I had been running from—I began to trust myself and my life.” Tara Brach

So that pretty much sums up where I’ve been and why this blog paused and why I let relationships dissolve. Again. I stopped looking at my fucking bandaged place.

Who wants to sit there and look at their bandaged place? How disgusting. Who wants to pay attention to wounds, bloody and tender? Sick. No thanks. I’m good.

Remember how I used to pay attention A LOT and all the time? I was like LICKING my bandaged place. So gross. I was like putting my bandaged place under a microscope and poking at it with a stick. Somehow that stopped being something I wanted to do.

I’m still doing the postmortem to figure out where things changed, but I’m trying to focus more on now and this and here.

But, okay, I did stop paying attention. In fact, I repeated the exact process that led to a relapse for me in 2008. Miraculously, I am now clawing my way back before it ever came down to a drink. My sober calendar is still ticking and displaying an honest count of 2 years, 5 months, and 23 days. But we all know sober is not recovering. 

I could be drowning in shame right now about wasting so much time not growing—

But I am practicing RADICAL ACCEPTANCE as best I can, okay? I am not defective. This is just what happened and this is the place from which I take my next steps. I turn my gaze back to my bandaged places and I stop running.

And now: How to be vigilant without being anxious? How to pay attention without trying to control? How to think about what happened without allowing shame to creep in?

Like a real relapse that ends in drink, this emotional backslide came seemingly out of nowhere. It started with a growing anxiety issue that I had a hard time treating. This went on for a long while. I never understood what people meant when they said they had an anxiety problem. Like an asshole, I probably told people to JUST RELAX AND BREATHE. Well, now I get it. Relaxing and breathing aren’t even things that exist in the midst of full-blown anxiety and panic.

I combatted that anxiety with self-imposed distraction. I delved further into my theatrical writing and I justified stepping away from recovery momentarily to complete graduate school applications last fall. Then my job spiraled out of control and I found myself trapped in a very hostile work environment. And suddenly all of those distractions became my reality and my life. And there wasn’t room for anything else.

Poof. It was like I was teleported to a new version of my existence. One that was empty and painful and hard. And one that would eventually end in drinking if I hadn’t started seeing clearly. It was like an abduction. My world shrank so quickly.

I’m walking through this new and bleak landscape a year later, and even though I’m not drinking, I’m also not really happy. Not yet. And it’s okay that I’m not happy in this exact moment. I know that I can be. Seeing things for what they are is the only way I know how to move forward. This is where I start from. And I already feel 100x better by being here and typing these things. I’m ready to go back to where I was before, and further still.

This whole return to what’s important actually started on July 4th of this year when I resigned from my job. It was a long time coming and while the actual decision to pull the trigger was somewhat random, it’s obvious now that I had been preparing for this for a long while. I honestly think if I would have stayed where I was, I would have eventually gone back out.

I spent years saving up money while things at work became progressively more unbearable. And I don’t mean just unbearable in the sense that I didn’t like it. No. This was quite literally breaking me. I was in a constant state of fight-or-flight, unable to sleep, unable to feel. I was a theatre major doing high-level accounting work 60 hours a week that no one in their right mind should have hired me to do in the first place.

I was so out of my element, but it turns out I’m really good at shape shifting. They thought I was doing fine. Excellent, in fact. Really, I was losing my mind. And I don’t mean that hyperbolically. I legit felt crazy and had issues solving basic problems and couldn’t remember things. I would get dizzy. I would go to the bathroom and hyperventilate in stalls. And then I tried not caring to see if that helped. And then things got worse because I wasn’t staying on top of my work so I’d have panic attacks about being behind when I was the one who made that happen.

But no one else ever noticed. It was a secret kept between me, my partner, and my psychiatrist. The topic had been brought up in sessions about finding new work. Well, I went even further and decided to find no work at all.

Without any plans, I gave them about two months notice because a sudden departure would be traumatic to their daily operations and I thought it best to not set all of my bridges on fire. I endured the two months, getting worse and worse the entire time, and finally walked out the door to freedom at the end of August.

I am unemployed.

This is not a bad thing.

I desperately needed this time. I am embracing this time. I’m going to the gym. And reading things I want to read. And trying not to pay attention to the election.

And now I’m doing things like writing this. And reading Tara Brach. And looking up meetings nearby. Dipping in toes before I plunge.

I went to Paris last week and stayed sober. That’s probably another post. I have pictures. Paris is beautiful. They have a lot of wine, but who cares.

It’s strange. I’m living this temporary life of leisure, but it’s amazing how everything in my mind and body tries to fight against it. I wake up anxious as if I have a million things to do when I don’t. I create a false sense of inadequacy, chastising myself for not getting more done throughout the day. I should be reading more, writing more, doing more, I say to myself. I tell myself that for someone who has all day long to do whatever he wants, I’m certainly not taking full advantage of it, am I?

See? I think it’s time I get back to my Tara Brach book.

This is where I begin again. Glad to be here with you.

 

VANISHED

I haven’t been working on myself.

I still haven’t taken a drink since 2014, but this separation from an active recovery process is no longer sustainable.

It makes me feel alone.

First post back here. Short. Putting words down.

Trying to figure out what to say next.

Hi blog.

WALGREENS TARTAR SAUCE

This isn’t even remotely recovery related, but who cares?

I have always been fascinated with looking at the WordPress stat page. It tells you all about who is seeing your posts. There is this one section that shows you what people actually typed into a search engine that caused them to find your blog.

Some of the results are obvious, and you can tell the person is intentionally looking for my page.

Other results are hilarious because I do remember mentioning certain things in posts that clearly directed them to my page by mistake. They probably get to my blog with a big WTF?!

And then there are the fucking WEIRD and oftentimes twisted searches that leave me dumbfounded and I have absolutely no clue how or why it brought them here.

Some of my favorites and some of the more weird ones: 

how to hurry up and poop
scary oprah
when your tummy rumbles does that mean hangover is gone
getting fucked by road recovery guy gay
fuck anxiety hangovers
hyperventilating to become sober
swinging from the chandelier suiciding
toothpaste withdrawal
why boiled egg can ruin your life
i want to krump but I’m skinny
is sia holding on for tonight about depression
people near my house want to fuck
get chandelier out of my head
walgreens tartar sauce
6 year hangover blog pilsbury
oprah fucked hard
123, 123 drink, 123, 123, drink, throw em back till i lose count. gaaaaaayyy!
i peed when he fucked me
And here is the complete list just in case you are looking for a band name……
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Hi Hi Hi

Not that I’m counting or anything (I AM counting OMG), but my lower jaw lands on the floor whenever I glance at a calendar and realize just how close I’ve come to being sober for an entire year. There is no day but today, one day at a time, yada yada yada, yeah, all true, fine whatever, shut the fuck up. I know. And I know that one year won’t mean that I’ve graduated. It won’t mean that it’s safe to drink again. It won’t mean that I’ve won at sobriety. This is not some fucked up game of Mario Brothers and no princesses are being saved from a giant dragon turtle thing as a result of me not pouring poison down my throat, but it’s pretty fucking cool nonetheless.

DON’T JINX IT says the little asshole voice in my head to which I say GIRL, PLEASE. Alcohol is the furthest thing from my mind right now. I’ve got 99 problems and booze is NOT about to become one of them. I woke up the other morning after a completely inappropriate heavy junk food eating session the night before. Oh. My. God. We had chips and dips and cheeses and crackers and ice cream and every single kind of bullshit under the sun. Well, so, I woke up and felt awful, destroyed, disgusting, HUNGOVER. It was crazy how closely the feelings mimicked being hungover. I actually thought OMG DID I SLEEPWALK AND THEN SLEEPDRINK? But it was just garbage in my body. And I thought how awful it would have been to also have had drinks along with it. Used to do it all the time without even thinking about it.

It wasn’t a hangover, exactly, and I was able to get up and get myself going, but I was reminded about where I’ve been and where I want to be. It was just enough shitty to make all of the old feelings come flooding back. I don’t want that EVER AGAIN. In fact, I don’t want the junk food hangover ever again. I’ve become so addicted to wanting to feel GOOD that I don’t eat that way hardly ever. As a result, I’ve been steadily dropping pounds. It’s like things are naturally shifting over to some more efficient way of existing and I really haven’t had to consciously make a ton of choices other than DON’T DRINK. No matter what. Even if my asshole explodes and an asteroid comes flying out of it and it hurts so bad that I want to die. DON’T DRINK. Just. Don’t. Be the anti-Nike. Just DON’T DO IT. Everything else starts falling into place with a little work and a lot of patience.

Hey, but things aren’t entirely great, you guys. I’m still wonky even after nearly 11 months. When they tell you it’s going to take a really long time for everything to even out, believe that. I woke up the other morning with absolutely nothing to do all day long other than 1.) Do the laundry and 2.) Maybe go buy some groceries. I lay in bed when I woke up and had so much fucking anxiety over that, it was unbelievable. HOW WILL I DO ALL OF THESE THINGS TODAY?! How will I do those TWO, COUNT THEM, TWO simple, mundane, easy things? It’s little shit like that that reminds me that, wait, okay, maybe we’re not totally OKAY yet. But I go easy on myself. I reminded myself that I could just wear dirty shirts if I really wanted to. I could just order take out food all week if I really wanted to. I could do whatever, whenever, and nothing terrible would happen. Barbara Walters will not drop dead if I don’t wash my panties. Relax. And so I did. I relaxed.

What I’m trying to say is that I think I’m still just as crazy as ever, but the difference is that now I don’t feel the need to hide the crazy or push it way down deep into a hole, drowning it with something temporary. I just act crazy, acknowledge, say WHOA THAT’S NOT COOL, and then work through it as best as I can to get less crazy. It’s getting easier and easier.

I really would love to update here more. I’m in the middle of writing a novel for kiddos and I’ve only accidentally said FUCK, like, twice. Such an adventure.

I hope anyone who still reads this is doing fabulously. I do genuinely wish everyone so much peace, love, and continued recovery. Still working on that balance thing and will be back here as often as I can without compromising my wellbeing.

XO

NINE MONTHS

Nine months sober and 6cm dilated. Feel like I’m giving birth to my life again. It’s pretty good, and I’ll name her Cathy.

So much has changed in such a relatively short period of time. It has been 3/4 of an entire year since this whole journey began. When I think of the time that has elapsed, it somehow seems to have passed by insanely fast and terribly slow all at the same time. The days and months begin to fly by at a warp speed while the emotional progress seems to crawl along imperceptibly, like thick sap down a tree. We always seem to measure our progress by marking days, months, years, but the work that we do doesn’t seem to comfortably fit into the container of man made units of time. As life begins to resume its normal breakneck speed, I continue to feel as if I’m hobbling along while everything and everyone passes me by.

A simple question pushed to the forward of my mind after hearing it several times on The Bubble Hour: Is this true?

Is it true that I’m being left behind by my peers and that I can’t have a successful career because I’m taking it easy right now? No. The success and accomplishments of others do not deplete some imaginary success pool that will somehow dry up and become empty by the time I’m ready to swim in it. Success doesn’t work that way. The world will not suddenly run out of opportunity for artists to present their work. No. It is not true. Continue taking it easy.

I’ve had to slow down quite a bit over the past six months. I’ve had to explicitly state and enforce boundaries for myself and for others. I’ve had to pull back creatively, socially, and return to a simpler state. I felt as if things were falling around me, and while never once did I come anywhere close to drinking, I knew that something just wasn’t quite right.

Things are better now. If we’re using these man made units of time to describe and mark our progress, I’d say that I feel six months sober now rather than the nine that it actually is. What I mean is that at around six months, when my friend passed away and everything went to shit, I mentally and emotionally feel as if I reverted back to an earlier place, like the floor fell out from under me and I slid all the way back, like I was in some fucked up emotional live action game of Chutes and Ladders.

I am grateful for these nine months. I am grateful for the practice I have had in managing and coping with difficult things. And I’m grateful that I managed to keep alcohol from jumping down my throat.

I think the most surprising of all of the changes is the fact that I just don’t think that much about alcohol or sobriety anymore. At times, that is quite a relief. It seemed that toward the beginning I was constantly thinking about not drinking. I’d be walking down the street and just think, “I’m walking down the street. I don’t drink anymore,” or I’d be falling asleep and think, “Going to sleep without having drank tonight. I don’t drink anymore.” It was CONSTANT. But now there are entire days that go by where I barely consider it.

I recognize that this relief from the obsession of alcoholism and recovery can also be a curse. There is a very fine line between accidental apathy and the prolonged blindness that takes hold leading up to a relapse. Remember, I’ve lived it. So I’m working on inserting myself back into the fold in various ways to keep myself plugged in, connected, and aware of my disease. It takes a concerted effort to make recovery a part of your life, and I definitely could do a better job at it.

Still, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to write about recovery or my experience. It isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve sat staring at a blank WordPress page many times over the past month wondering what it is I had to say. The truth is, I’m living a somewhat calm and basic life these days. I’m reading voraciously. I’m spending time with my dog and boyfriend. I’m going to work and attempting to pay down debt. I’m just BEING without alcohol and without very many thoughts about alcohol or recovery.

But I think I could stand to have a few more thoughts about my recovery than I currently do. For these reasons, I’m going to get some meetings in. At the very least, my Sunday morning. But perhaps more. I also think I’m ready to start meeting with someone regularly to begin unpacking stuff more deeply. So fortunate for comprehensive insurance that will help me with that.

Overall, I’m GOOD. I feel fine. But I know I can feel even better and I’m ready to work on that.

YOU DO YOU

Got a motherfucking email asking me why I fucking cuss so goddamned much.

The answer is simple, Sally! It helps keep me sober! It’s one of my tools! And it’s soooo fun!

For me, there is something extremely freeing about being verbally explosive when I write here or chat with friends. It feels as if it gets the negative shit OUT of me quicker. Some people scream into pillows. Some people buy a punching bag. But me? I WRITE THE WORD FUCK. And I say it, too.

I understand that superficially it may sometimes appear as if I have major anger issues. And I do. Don’t we all? But I guarantee you that if I didn’t allow for release via words, I’d probably resort to other less kind ways of decompressing… like crashing the birthday parties of little girls dressed like a terrifying clown where I would tell them awful things like, “OMG Taylor Swift IS DEAD!” or, “All of your kittens and puppies have CANCER!”

I choose to view my obscene mouth as a public service that keeps everyone who comes in contact with me safe from more extreme and impolite outbursts.

So it’s on record: This blog is rated R for Recovery, ya’ll, and also for Really Raw Words Sometimes.

Now, I’m not advocating for you guys to call up Ms. Rosetta Stone and purchase her 5 week course in Potty Mouth. But I am encouraging you to do the things that keep you sober as long as they don’t hurt anyone else directly.

Can I get a fucking amen?