paws

GIRL. PSSST. YEAH, YOU. YOUR EARLY SOBRIETY IS SHOWING. AND IT’S OKAY.

I’m forgetting what has been happening lately so when I sit down to blog, I’m starting to draw a blank. Not because things aren’t happening. I think I’m just not being as observant of the progress I’m making as I once was. And I think the sober firsts were coming so fast and furious at the beginning that I almost ALWAYS had something to tell you whether you wanted to hear about it or not. Everything was shiny and new and impressive. YOU GUYS I’M MAKING LASAGNA AND I’M NOT GOING TO THROW UP ON IT! DO YOU LIKE MY APRON? *spin around* -or- GUESS WHAT?! I WATCHED A MOVIE LAST NIGHT AND I CAN ACTUALLY REMEMBER WHAT WAS EATING GILBERT GRAPE! BE PROUD OF ME! -or- I’M AT A GROCERY STORE SHOPPING AND I’M TALKING TO STRANGERS ABOUT HEIRLOOM TOMATOES, HUMIDITY, AND WENDY WILLIAMS! -or- I JUST POOPED NORMAL PEOPLE POOP! COME LOOK! IT’S SO CUTE!

I keep taking the lovely and amazing moments for granted, I think. Obviously not intentionally. But I have a few really fantastic and through the roof days of pure bliss and somehow I repeatedly make the very dangerous assumption that the happy days are here to stay. And then I wake up one morning with the soupy poopies, aches and pains, and a general feeling of malaise. WHAT. THE. FUCK? I was just on cloud nine. Where did this come from? How can I STILL be feeling bad. And I’m not stupid, you guys. I know all about PAWS and that the symptoms can persist for months and months. Even years. But when the intoxicating pink clouds roll in (and they are intoxicating), it’s very easy to forget that I’m not really well yet. It’s easy to falsely assume that maybe I’m different and that PAWS is over for me and that I’m one of the lucky ones and that somehow my recovery is better than your recovery and I fast forwarded somehow and EVERYTHING IS OKAY AND I’M READY FOR A FULL TIME JOB AT BETTY FORD. Then the sudden jolt of a random migraine, back pain, gloom and doom outlook and I’m right back in the thick of it. And I must confess that when I land back in the thick of it (which isn’t often), I do get a bit panicky and just like I assumed the good feelings would never fade, I also illogically worry that the bad feelings are now here to stay. But they never stay. And I always end up back on the other side. And cumulatively, the good days are by far outweighing the bad.

Last night, I was watching Gordon Ramsey tear off the heads of young cooks and shove them up their own asses on Masterchef. It was so beautiful. I’m fully aware that trash television can’t be good for me but it’s better than alcohol. Boyfriend got a text and said, “Oh God. Betty White and Richard Simmons are at the wine bar down the street and just texted to ask us if we want to come meet them.” I’m using fake names here to protect the identities of our friends and also to further the careers of two national treasures. “Well. I’m not going. Do you want to go?” I asked. “Not at all,” he replied. “You aren’t just saying that because I won’t go, right? Because you need to do what you need to do,” I said. “Nope. I don’t want to. But I don’t know what to say to them,” he lamented. “Just tell them no. That we are in for the night and thanks for the invite and maybe another time,” I concluded. So that’s what he told them. And although I really had no interest in going, I got a little frustrated that I’m not at a point where I can throw on a pair of pants and take a 2 minute walk to a bar to see a friend and sip a soda water. Actually, I know that if I really wanted to, I COULD do that. But I would be uncomfortable, distracted, bored, and wouldn’t have any fun. So aside from the obvious need to avoid alcohol, why would I put myself through that? I wouldn’t. And I didn’t. But I must say that I really do look forward to the day where I am comfortable visiting with someone regardless of where the meeting place happens to be. The fact that my early sobriety forces me to choose between myself and my friends sort of pisses me the fuck off. And it’s not like Betty White and Richard Simmons are big drinkers. I’ve never seen them drunk, really. They are sophisticates that sip one glass and eat fucking olives. So the fact that their location was a wine bar was merely arbitrary. But then I wondered what I would have done if Betty White and Richard Simmons sent the same text and asked if I wanted to meet them at the frozen yogurt shop. I WOULD HAVE STILL SAID NO. Because I’m old and it was almost 10PM and I’m not eating sugar and even thought I really truly love Betty and Richard, this was not an invite I had any desire to say YES to. Which led me to the very eye opening conclusion that my frustration with the situation was not over the fact that my sobriety limits what I can do with Bett and Rich. My frustration was over the pressure that I feel to PLEASE Bett and Rich and that I have genuine anxiety about how I will be perceived if I don’t show up. Am I a bad friend? Will I still be in Betty’s last will and testament? I mean, she’s loaded. I don’t want to blow that.

What are my motivations? Where are my loyalties? Why am I loyal? Am I loyal or am I actually just insecure?

Every single day I’m sober and do this very hard and sometimes exhausting work, I unearth new shit that needs dealing with. It can be somewhat stifling. But all I can do is continue being honest with myself and make sure that there is never a drink in my hand.

Ok. Enough whining. Who’s ready to sweat to the oldies?

 

 

HURRY UP AND POOP GODDAMNIT! POOOOOP!

OH MY GOD HURRY UP AND POOP GODDAMNIT! POOOOOP!

I was standing on the streets of New York this morning dressed basically in my underwear while screaming in English at a Chihuahua who refused to make caca. Obviously he doesn’t understand me. All he knows is that I’m acting crazy and making matters worse. And even if he did speak a human language, certainly it would be Spanish, right?

AYE DIOS MIO DE IR REPIDO Y CACA! CACAAAA! (Thanks, Google translate)

Unsuccessful in our efforts, both doggy and daddy went back inside. I proceeded to very quickly get ready in a huff as our morning non-poop walk lasted much longer than anticipated and I was going to be late for work. And I was really pissed off about it. In addition to being late, this also meant Mr. Chihuahua would probably poop in the house and I’d have a mess/smell to face when I got home. What a fucking rude puppy, he was. No consideration. I feed him, bathe him, and sing and dance like a moron for his pure enjoyment/terror. And this is the thanks I get?!

STOP. Stop it. Listen to yourself. So stupid. This is not a big deal. He’s a dog. Nothing bad is going to happen as a result of a minor delay. You are overreacting. You haven’t had your coffee. This is a normal bump in the road.

And it was. But in the mind of a recovering alcoholic in early sobriety like myself, that’s all it took to set off a chain reaction of emotional responses that snowballed quickly to form a terrible case of the Mondays. And those terrible cases of the Mondays (and Tues-Sundays) are what drove me to drink in the past. I know today that I will NOT drink as a result of this less than palatable day because I don’t want to and a crappy day is nothing compared to a crappy lifetime of death and destruction. I feel fucking stupid even calling it a crappy day because NOTHING of significance happened. I didn’t lose an eye. No one died. My butt didn’t fall off. So why do my emotions say otherwise? PAWS, maybe. Low blood sugar, possibly. There are plenty of reasons I can reach for but none of them make it make any more sense. How the fuck can we change our responses to things that seem to swoop in so suddenly and flip us over on our backs? I honestly don’t know. In the near past, I would do a lot of self-talk and try very deliberately to change my thought process by telling myself to STOP IT. And I did that this morning. But it seemed like the threads of negativity already reached out and tainted my entire day. Like I didn’t catch it in time to keep it from spreading even though I responded almost instantly by trying to talk myself down. And I’m still feeling the effects of it although I have managed to relax a bit and get back to a place where I can at least process and deal with the stupidity that was my morning. I’m writing this post, aren’t I? And an hour ago, the thought of blogging seemed so pointless. But I know it’s not. I know that this crappy heaviness will pass if I connect, do the work, and get honest with myself.

For the most part, I’ve been really happy. Monday normally doesn’t come along with all of this weirdo garbage. So I started thinking about how this weekend was different than most to try to identify what might have caused this faulty start to my week. And the only conclusion that I can come to is that I was REALLY busy this weekend with obligations, chores, etc. They were all things I said YES to. But I knew it was more than I have been taking on over the past 70 days. I didn’t feel like I was overextending myself when I scheduled certain things but apparently I maybe did? So I guess I back it up again and start being more cautious and keeping things a little more simple for now. I got through it with the help of my boyfriend who offered to pitch in with certain things to alleviate some pressure and to allow me to make sure I got to my meeting yesterday. And I took some time to do some things that weren’t on the agenda like a walk through Central Park to get some air and sun. I found myself rushing my time there because of all of the other things that I needed to do. It made it difficult to enjoy fully but the effort was there and I made myself stay longer than the responsible overzealous me wanted to.

Wow, this is a rambly all over the place post. I guess it really mirrors where my head is at. I will be FINE but I’ve learned that I need to say no sometimes even when I think I am capable of saying yes. Just for my own protection. I need to ask for help instead of waiting for someone to offer it at the last minute (if at all). I need to figure out why Mr. Chihuahua is being so stubborn with his poopy. I need for Monday to be over so I can give Tuesday a try but because there is no fast forward button, I’m just going sit in this and breathe deeply. The cartoon bluebirds will come again and sing the songs of my joy as they flutter around my head. Today I got the crows. OH WELL.

Trying to think of a funny ending to this post and I’m drawing a blank so let me just say: DONKEYFART.

XOXO

HOW BOILED EGGS CAN RUIN YOUR LIFE AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO STOP IT

Okay, what exactly the FUCK is wrong with this boiled egg?! It seems like a perfectly normal egg from the outside. You know the type of egg I’m talking about: White, shaped like an egg, acting all egg-like. That kind. So it should be peeling like a normal mother fucking egg. But it isn’t peeling like a normal mother fucking egg and this minor inconvenience is somehow completely destroying my life right now. Eggs should not go around looking like eggs and then not be able to do normal egg things like getting peeled. I’m staring at it right now after picking off dozens of tiny pieces of shell that did everything in their power to stay connected to egg. It is giving me the stink eye and looks like a weird chunk of Swiss cheese. Kind of like my soul. And my breakfast is completely ruined and I’m certain that because of this single stubborn egg, my entire day is going to be shit and this is just another example of how awful my life is. Just eating a mouthful of goddamned protein has to be laden with insurmountable challenges and difficulties. Fuck eggs! Fuck breakfast! Fuck it all!!!!!!

………..

So that’s where I was about ten minutes ago: Ready to call it quits over eggs. I stepped back from the ledge by employing a few very basic steps that seem so obvious in hindsight but next to impossible during a mental downward spiral. First, I removed myself from the situation. I threw away the (fucking stupid) egg, got up from my desk, and walked the hallways. I stopped and made a cup of coffee, drank a small glass of water, took some breaths, and accepted the fact that a very hostile and horribly rude boiled egg nearly took my serenity from me and that there was nothing I could do about its defects. Now I’m back at my desk telling you all about it even though it’s a little embarrassing and absolutely ludicrous. I don’t even like boiled eggs that much.

I’m still chalking these periodic crazy spells up to PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) and I’m trying very hard not to let them freak me out. They are becoming less intense and not as frequent. At first, it was very easy for me to spiral out of control mentally to the point where I became fearful and worried that maybe I was totally losing my mind and that nothing would be normal ever again. You know when you put toothpaste on your toothbrush and then put the brush under the water to moisten it and the toothpaste falls off and disappears down the drain? If I was already in a mood or having a bad day, something like that could totally freak my shit out. Typing it makes it seem utterly insane but in the moment, everything collides in a perfect storm of self-pity, despair, and frustration. How DARE that blob of toothpaste leave the room before I was finished with it! Doesn’t it know it’s supposed to be on my teeth and in my mouth? What the fuck is wrong with Colgate? IT’S 2014 AND THEY CAN’T FIGURE OUT HOW TO MAKE A TOOTHPASTE THAT STAYS ON YOUR MOTHERFUCKING TOOTHBRUSH!?!?! And so on, and so forth. I can either choose to follow this train of thought down the rabbit hole of illogical stupidity OR I can force myself to act like a normal person would in that situation. Of course these are extreme examples and I choose to mention them because they illustrate quite well how horribly drinking has impacted my way of thinking.

What about when you are feeling fine one moment and then your boyfriend asks, “So how are you doing today?” Suddenly you are forced to take inventory when maybe you just wanted to keep watching Dance Moms like a normal recovering alcoholic. And maybe Abby Lee rubbed off on you a bit so rather than assessing how you are and answering like a normal person, you snap and say, “I’m fine! Why? What is that supposed to mean?!” Somehow in my fucked up, cross wired, fragile mind, I received an inquiry that was rooted in love and genuine concern and completely flipped it over and decided that it was an attack and an underhanded way of telling me that I wasn’t acting normal. How dare you intervene and force me to evaluate my emotions and communicate them with you like a human! I’M IN THE MIDDLE OF WATCHING YOUNG GIRLS BEING TRAUMATIZED BY STANDARDS AND EXPECTATIONS THAT AREN’T HUMAN WHICH WILL EVENTUALLY DRIVE THEM TO DRINK OR MAYBE LOVE MEN WHO DON’T LOVE THEM BACK. SO PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE. AND GOOD DAY TO YOU, SIR.

Then you hand your boyfriend back his head, sew it on for him, apologize and move on. But did you know that if you are verrrry lucky and choose to maybe not open your mouth in response for approximately 2-5 seconds, you can feel the emotional recoil, identify it as abnormal and inappropriate for the situation, and choose to respond more like a person and less like serial killer? It doesn’t work every time and sometimes the bad words and inappropriate responses erupt like projectile vomit before you have a chance to stop them. In that case, it’s my responsibility to clean up the mess. The worst thing I can do is yakk up negative craziness on a person I love and then run away leaving them covered in it. They will eventually leave me. No one likes getting puked on. Well. I’m sure someone somewhere does but that’s gross and not my problem.

Each day that passes has its own challenges. Sometimes I’m very fortunate and somehow avoid any major freak outs. Other times I’m a weird mix of Linda Blair and Gordon Ramsey. But the wonderful part about all of this are those moments where you regain control in challenging situations. When the toothpaste falls off the brush, let it go and apply some more. When the boyfriend inquires about where you are at mentally, take a deep breath and tell him. And when the egg won’t peel, GET REALLY FUCKING MAD BECAUSE THAT’S SO ANNOYING. Then order an omelet.

PAWS IN FULL SWING

Coming up on three weeks of sobriety this weekend and I’m confident that the physical acute junk has reached its end. While I’m thankful that the sweats, shakiness, and general physical discomfort has subsided, a new and formidable opponent has taken their places. A recent listen to The Bubble Hour’s podcast on PAWS reminded me that psychological and emotional symptoms are far from over. I had a vague recollection about how challenging the first year was from the last time I battled this beast. Still, not even prior experiences can prepare you for some of the things you begin to encounter.

A Day In the Life of PAWS (yesterday)-

I woke up in the morning after not getting to sleep until very late the night before. I had every opportunity to get a full night’s rest and I certainly tried to. Tossed and turned and fell asleep for five minutes off and on until finally passing out for a lengthier period at around 2AM, I think. That’s the last time I recall looking at the clock. As I forced myself to the shower, I noticed dizziness and a touch of rage inside. I was so angry. As I washed my hair, I cursed the day and tried to pick a fight with myself. I told myself how sick and tired I am of my routine, my job, getting up early, and how none of it was fair. I brushed my teeth like I was pissed off at them. Poor teeth. My hair wouldn’t do quite what I wanted it to so I very audibly began cursing and threw the brush down and pulled at my hair with a good amount of force as if saying, “FUCK YOU HAIRS! YOU MAKE ME MISERABLE!” Poor hairs.

I stepped outside my house and was met by a torrential downpour of rain. I knew I needed to grab an umbrella from inside and that it had to be one of the sturdy ones and not one the easily foldable pieces of plastic. Became even more frustrated by this because I hate carrying an umbrella that doesn’t fold up. It gets in the way. It’s incredible how enraged this seemingly minor inconvenience made me. As I walked to the train with my stupid giant inconvenient umbrella, I said things to myself like, “Yeah, OF COURSE it has to be raining on a day where I’m already feeling terrible. OF COURSE. Thanks a lot.” I’m not sure who I thought was listening to me or why I thought the weather cared enough about me to purposefully conspire against me. ME ME ME ME ME.

Work was challenging. There seemed to be things coming at me from all directions. Everyone needed something and everyone was annoying. At one point, I felt my jaw clenching and there was this immense and profound anxiety bubble in the pit of my stomach and I was sure that at any moment I was going to tell someone off or throw a stapler at my bosses eye. I ordered lunch, ate, and felt better. Then as the day went on, I developed the most awful headache. It made me feel sick to my stomach. I sniffed around the office like a bloodhound looking for candy and found some. Ate it. It didn’t help and then I felt guilty because I’m overweight and really have no business eating that crap. So then I felt badly about myself and my awful migraine-ish head pain.

I left work, rode the train home, and walked inside our house. My partner and I share a four bedroom with two other friends because this is New York City and who can afford the rent with just two people? A quick glance toward the living room revealed that every person was home and sitting there. They have every right to be sitting there. But my head didn’t care. I wanted an empty house to come home to. This was the icing on the cake and I could feel my face turning red and the anger bubbling up inside of me. I ran upstairs to my room, shut the door, and swam around nearly drowning in my own horrible emotional upheaval. I’M TIRED OF LIVING LIKE A COLLEGE PERSON! WHY ARE THEY ALWAYS HOME? DON’T THEY KNOW I’M GOING THROUGH AWFUL CRAP RIGHT NOW??? Again. Me me me me me.

After about 20 minutes of this, I came down a bit and felt suddenly exhausted. I needed to eat dinner so I considered heading downstairs, grabbing something, and then running back up and closing my door. Isolation. Wait. No. WTF? I’m doing the same thing I was doing when drunk and for what? How was doing more of the same going to get me where I wanted to go? After a few minutes of positive self-talk, I went downstairs, got my dinner, and sat next to my roommates quietly and eased myself in. I was still frustrated they were there so I chose not to speak for a bit so I didn’t say anything stupid. Eventually, reality snapped back and as quickly as things spiraled out of control, they all became manageable. Normal, even.

Before bed, I spent some time looking at the day’s events and tried not to be too hard on myself. I made it through. I didn’t drink. So this was a victory. But what can I do to make it less challenging or get through it with less gnashing of teeth?

First, I think I waited too long to eat at work and hunger and perhaps low blood sugar really made everything seem infinitely worse than it was. Second, I didn’t do what I normally do at work when feeling stressed which is to pause and take a few minutes to touch base online with some people on the blogs and forums. That always grounds me and brings me back. Third, I still haven’t found meetings to attend so all of my support is virtual and I KNOW this isn’t going to fly long term. If I had finally bitten the bullet and found some places to go, I could have stopped on the way home from work which probably would have made my night less chaotic.

So while I made a lot of mistakes, I did two huge things that were right. 1.) I recognized the insanity as insanity and am learning from it and 2.) I didn’t get drunk.

I can always do better but even my worst day sober is better than my best day drunk.