Heya, Monster.

A SoberBlog by a TallWoman.

Archive for the tag “Depression”

Dear Dad,

Or Dear PapaBear. ūüôā

Or Dear Man-Who-Believes-In-Me-Most.

Or Dear Man-I-Look-For-In-Every-Other-Man-I-Meet-Or-Know.

Or Dear Most-Generous-Kind-Man-In-My-World.

You keep bugging me for a blog post. And, well? Here it is. *smile* Just for you (with a few other worldly people dropping in to say ‘hi,’ of course).

As you know, I am still sober. 2+ years now, and doing well. So well, that I drifted from my blog, because I wasn’t thinking about SOBRIETY so much anymore. I had gotten into the swing of things (as a golfer, you can appreciate this metaphor *smile* (Although, maybe it is actually a reference to monkeys in trees? (Not sure. I will have to Google it))). I was feeling pretty even, pretty confident about my new job, my life with husband, my life with kids, my life with friends. It was all feeling good.

But then, it all of a sudden wasn’t. About a month ago. I got real shook up because the hubs said he wasn’t happy. That I wasn’t giving him any energy. That I seemed really depressed and angry. That I wasn’t loving the kids, but rather, I was super-short-tempered with them all of the time. That ‘We’ were not good. That he was feeling really distant, and maybe even separate from me, and all because of the way I treated him, or didn’t treat him rather. He said we were really good roommates, but not partners. He said I didn’t talk to him, or touch him. Anytime he would reach for me, I would swat him away, or more often than not, say ‘I’m busy.’ I didn’t have time for him in my world. I didn’t have energy. He wondered if I liked him at all.

Holy shit. Did that wake me up.

My first instinct was to defend.

Wait, no. That can’t be right. I’m the best I’ve ever been! (I actually said those words.) And then I went on with a list about how great I was – Job, check! New job, check! Current show, check! Kids, mostly check! Learning new things (sewing), check! And the hubs? Well, he made the list only in the way that I don’t worry about him. I trust us and what we have, and I see us as pretty separate, mostly because of how our work takes us away from each other so regularly (theatre). So, Hubs? Semi-middling-waffling-check. (No exclamation point.)

So we walked away from each other, not seething from a blowout fight, or crying hysterically from a dramatic moment. No. I can’t speak for him, but for me? I walked away feeling hollow – like my stomach had been scooped out and there was nothing left inside of me. Shaken, sad, confused. If that’s how he felt, then that’s how he felt.

Over a week, I reflected and watched and tried to understand where his concerns and feelings were coming from. It was an interesting and odd week. We walked on eggshells with one another, but then would talk about the eggshells, and then things would feel if not normal, then at least honest. We talked more that week. When I got home, I would find him and talk with him about the day. We were a little awkward-distant in our text messages, but then we were also thoughtful and considerate of one another. To use a weird metaphor, it felt like we were fourteen-year-olds dancing a slow dance. Awkward steps. Happy, but unsure of ourselves. Hyper-aware of one another and ourselves.

It was a hard week, but a good week. I realized, he was right. (He usually is. Psh.) I was without a doubt, one-hundred-and-fifty-seven percent taking him for granted. I trusted him and trusted in us so much, that I forgot that marriage needs work. And time. And energy. Of course it does! Of course he needs my attention. I was being a selfish, solely-functioning woman of the world. I was conquering all that I saw, but forgetting the treasures I had right there at home. (That metaphor was a little squishy and cliche, but right? It’s the truth!)

And most of all? … Well, sort of ‘most.’ He/The Hubs was the Most. His feelings in our relationship were the most important in that moment of upside-down.

Secondarily-Most of all, was the feedback from this man who loves me most in the world (tied with you, Dad *smile*), and here he was saying I was depressed. I was angry. I seemed really bad. And my reaction was disbelief and surprise. Over that week, I started reflecting on what he had said, and really trying to notice myself and my ways. ….. I had caught myself isolating in May/June, but I thought maybe that was old drinking habits trying to take hold. Not that I would drink, but that my tendency is to isolate. But then, I noticed I had been having loads of trouble waking up for the last three months, ever since my spring show closed. During the school year, I wouldn’t wake up until 7:30 most days (school starts at 8:30), and during the summer I was sleeping until 9 am every day, no matter if I put my alarm on or not. I had ballooned up again and couldn’t get control of my eating. I kept thinking, ‘I deserve this.’ *munch* ‘This is my reward.’ *bite* ‘I’m not drinking, so I can afford these calories.’ *gobblecrunchsmackswallow* Over and over and over again. Worst of all? I was really angry with my kids. Short-tempered. Short-fused. Over stupid shit. ….. Who was this woman? And how in the heck did she get here when I was feeling so strong, vibrant, and amazing in my Working Life?!

GAH. Life is so dang hard to balance. GodDamnFuckAssShitFuckFuck.

Okay, so the Hubs was right. Absolutely. No disputing him. All the facts were there. I just hadn’t seen them at all. I felt them and was going through them, but gah. Depression. Addiction. They’re hard to see when I’m in the middle of them, which is such a weird factoid. One would think that being in the middle of a months-long depression, a person would eventually get the kick-to-the-head they would need to realize, ‘Oh! I’m depressed!’ But no. For myself, I go through my days slogging and dragging, while simultaneously kicking ass at my job, because over-achiever? Driven? WonderWoman? But then on the flip-side miss the clues of me dropping my HomeLife, my SweetLife, my LifeLife…. And letting it drift through my fingers without even noticing. Or, really? Without even knowing.

So. Self-reflection? Check.

And then, I did what I was taught to do by you, PapaBear, and by MoM. … Take care of shit! (I wasn’t really that flippant, but for purposes of this post, and, if I’m super-honest, to sound a little cooler than I actually am, I am pretending to be a little flip. But only pretending. (For real? I was core-shook and scared.))

So, that same week, I actually had a 4-month check-up set-up with my psychiatrist. I unloaded on her in our 10-minute session. She was very sympathetic and she asked if I needed help on the meds side, but at that point, I hadn’t got down to the deepest layer. So I said, ‘No.’ I thought I was just crappy because my Life was suddenly horribly crappy. I didn’t think there was more to it. (Hey, Monster: Wrong!)

I kept on, keeping on. I started working on fixing the little things. Being more aware of the Hubs. Being more aware of the Babes. Being aware of my isolating/drinking behavior.

Things started to feel like they were moving in a better-than-bad direction, so that was good. My summer show opened. The Hubs and I were doing better-ish. I was doing things with friends. My Life was looking better. Looking Good. But it still wasn’t feeling good-good. You and Mom came down for the show, and if you remember, Dad? I was just cranky. Okay, but not Good. Not great. I had started noticing I was also still really short and quick-tempered with the babes. There was a low-lying feeling of dissatisfaction permeating most of my minutes.

The ‘it’… The Ick didn’t start lifting until I got out of here. Until I got to my hometown with you and Mom and got some time to just rest and not rush. To relax. To just Be in the place and the Home that felt good and felt soothing and healing. And so much of that goodness comes from feeling cared for and loved. I know how lucky I am to have had a great childhood and adulthood with two parents who love me and care for me and put up with me and my ways from time to time (let’s be honest, right, PapaBear? *smile*). Being Home always spins me back to Center somehow. It realigns me and my two poles, if you will. Ha. There is the gift of not having to worry. Not having to ‘Be’ for anyone. I mean, yes, I am still a mother. But somehow, being in the primary role of Daughter while I am with you and Mom is really comforting in a way I don’t get when I am a Woman of the World. So thank you for that. Times infinity.

While I was home with you, I realized I hadn’t been Good through and through, and I caught myself getting sharp with the Babes still, too. So I finally picked up that book you kept telling me about – The Happiness Project – and I started to read it. I am only three chapters into it still, but I while I read, I kept and keep thinking about how profoundly it touched you and where you were those few years ago, when you were LowLow. And some of the beginning stuff is basic and good for just Life and living. It’s made me look and see where I could prioritize myself and my needs (Hungry-Angry-Lonely-Tired, anyone?). It’s reminded me to step outside of myself and Give, as opposed to looking for what I might Get. And honestly? It’s just made me happy knowing how lifted up you felt after reading it.

As things were going now, I felt the gears start moving a little better and a little less muckity-muck. And with the layer of ‘Hmph-ness’ still somewhere inside of me, I thought, ‘Nope. I need more Help.’ And so? I upped my meds. Not a lot, since I was already taking basically the lowest dose one could really take. (I often wonder as someone who is very susceptible to meds and their affects, do I make doctors scratch their heads that I can actually feel what I feel from meds? Kind of like the Princess and the Pea. …. I wonder if they wonder if I’m faking it. Or if I am actually feeling it, or if it’s in my head. …. Anyway. Another post.) So, yes. I upped my dose by milligrams, and? About five days later? The crud and the crap and the junk? It kind of left. Just lifted. … I mean, Life is still up and down, and the children still drive me batshit-crazy sometimes, but I don’t hit the top of my Anger Meter when I deal with them. I lost my temper yesterday, and do you know what? I gave myself a timeout. And it was a really good choice. Woot. Go, Me. *smile*

I don’t know. Sometimes (Read: ALL the Time) I feel like I can do things all by myself. And do you know? I am going to call ‘Bullshit!’ on myself. Because I can’t. People can’t. We’re not built that way. We’re not meant to be that way. Looking back, I see the steps and the incremental improvements I made by adjusting myself and my world slightly and differently from day to day, and honestly? Yes. I absolutely got a little better, and truly, I thought I was better-better. But until I stepped away from my Regular, I couldn’t see the fact that I was Not. Having the space and the love and the support from you and Mom, even though neither of you even knows that that is what you give me without even trying, I finally saw where I wanted to be and that I was Not There Yet.

PapaBear and Friends, this is seeming to be more of a BiPolar-Post than an Addiction-Post. However, I will say, to those of you new to Ye Ol’ Blogge here, that for me? They go hand in hand. I am no longer a drinking-drinker. I got rid of that garbage (Woo-hoo!). But? I did not get rid of the garbage that comes with the garbage. All of the isolating, moodiness, rewarding, woe is me, I deserve this, resentful, yucko crapola that is Addiction down to its bones. That shit? That shit is still around. Added to the fact that I am a BiPolar, who has of late favored my depression more so than my mania, and you have a lovely combination that simmered, stirred, and served is enough to knock any optimistic-peace-loving-goody-two-shoes onto her ballet-flatted ass.

I am SO beyond lucky that I have people who love me. People who love themselves. People who are honest. People who care. And sometimes? PeopleLikeMe need a little more help than even those awesome ones. We need a therapist to talk to, or we need daily exercise (okay, we all do need that (Goals)), or we need a pill or a combination of pills.

And the hardest part of it all? Is getting off our cute little butts and going out there and getting the help we need. Dad, I always laugh when I think of you telling me I am the dumbest smart person you know (when I started smoking (Update All: I quit 10 years ago))…. But I always think of that because You Were Honest. And you Love Me. And? It always. Seriously, ALWAYS gets me off my ass to do the thing I think is stupid because it is the smart thing to do and I just don’t want to (whiny-whiner voice). Or, because I think, ‘It’s not fair!’ (Also whiny-whiner voice.) And just this last visit, Mom said to me, ‘Well, I’ve just learned that Life isn’t fair, so I can stop griping about it and just get on.’ YES. Life isn’t fair because I’m BiPolar and I’m Addicted and I’ve got a temper and I’m too tall and blahblahblahblah ….. It isn’t fair, but let’s get the ThisThatIsNow figured out Now, right? *smile*

I learned that from YOU, Dad. You and Mom.

And oh, my dear Lord, has it …. Have YOU …. saved me a million-and-one times.

Day 780, Thank you and I love you.* Your, -HM.

p.s. Hope you liked your post. *smile*

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You changed my world, PapaBear.*

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Drumroll Please….

Happy New Year’s Eve, my friends.* I hope this finds you and yours well and wonderful, happy and blissful, and full of hope and energy for the year to come.

What a beautiful day it has been for me – full of relaxing and cleaning (yes, that is actually a beautiful activity, especially when I avoid it for good stretches of time) and playing and being and eating and laughing and last, but not least, enjoying a beautiful winter’s eve walk in the moonlight. Ahhhh….. C’est parfait. *smile*

And now? I am here to announce my Word o’ the Year. WootWoot. And the word is?

nourish

*lesigh*…. Right? It just feels Good. And I love the definitions because there seem to be so many possibilities for the coming year.

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I see first, my person, and making sure my needs are met on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. Lately, I have discovered some addictive habits creeping back in, such as isolating, and eating for pleasure, and rewarding myself constantly (with food). Part of me is okay with the not worrying about calories, however, I have gotten a bit gluttonous. I need to remember to fill myself with necessities and Good Things. Not just stuff to fill me up…. I’m worried there may be a hole or something I am not consciously aware of at the moment, which is causing these behaviors. Not frantically worried, but just noticing at the moment. The past few days have been a bit better since I caught myself, but still. Better to be mindful and considerate of myself, rather than just eating to eat. Delicious, but not necessarily healthy. *smile* Oh, Monster…..

I also like the ripple-effect¬†‘nourish’ has on my relationships. Deepening them, and embracing them more wholly and again, more consciously feels right and good. After a year of being taken care of, I need to turn around and reciprocate the love and kindness so many people have shown me. It’s my turn, now, to care for them. With two of my dear friends expecting very, very soon, it just makes me excited for the year to come. … And the hubs. I don’t know, things feel more playful and more connected with him again. Maybe it’s because we’ve had some time to spend with one another this past month, but it feels so nice to be his wife. Does that sound dorky? (Yes.) But seriously. He’s just a fun guy, and playful, and nerdy, and handsome. I’m tellin’ ya. I feel lucky and¬†aware of how lucky I am, whereas we are usually too busy to get more than ‘Have a good day’ and ‘G’night’ pecks on the lips most days.

In a wider circle, I love the word ‘nourish’ because of the new school and the new students and the new work relationships I am creating… That I am nurturing. This program my two coworkers and I envision is really, brand new, because we are each brand new. We are beginning this program from the ground, up. Caring and tending and ever so slowly growing it into being. Cultivating. Nourishing! Yes. This word feels especially good and inspiring for the Work. For the Passion. For the thing I would do, even if I wasn’t getting paid (as my dear friend Jack reminds me often). It feels exactly right. And again, because it is in service to this community and, especially, to these children, to these students. Just thinking the word in regards to the work makes my next four months of rehearsals exciting and energized, as opposed to full of dread and obligation. It feels Good. (There’s that stamp of approval again…. GoodGoodGood. I think we have a winner.)

So, yes. Here is to Nourish, and all of its lovely synonyms.

Day 571, Hello, 2017.*

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p.s. A sidenote: I have been on the blogs a lot these past couple of weeks, which has been so wonderful – to connect, to read, to find inspiration. I have noticed so many new people, and I want to say a huge ‘Welcome’ to each of you. The turn of the year seems to encourage many people to consider sobriety, and I just want to say you are not alone, even when you may feel like it, you are not alone. For those of you who have taken your first forays into blogging your own experiences, it’s great to see you and to ‘meet’ you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to anyone else here in this blogolopolis we have going on here. I find so much in your courage to take those first early steps, because it is scary. And unknown. And who knows what will happen?¬†And Even If the worst happens (and it did for me), you can make it. And you can stay present in Your Life. That sobriety you’ve got goin’ on is one helluva beautiful thing. It gives you back your memories, your thoughts, your relationships, your time, your self-worth, your confidence, your joy…. And it removes your guilt and your shame. What a cool equation. Pass me s’more, please. *smile* …. And as I’ve said in the past, I do not have this sober thing figured out. Far from it! I am here, every day, just workin’ on it, even on the shitty days. Because even on the shitty days? Those positives will far outweigh 5 oz. 25 oz. of wine….. Like a herd of elephants versus an ant. Seriously. The scales are definitely tipped in sobriety’s favor¬†for me. And even on those¬†shitty days? (And, dammit, but they do happen.) I am still present. I am still Me. 111% *flex*….. Keep on keepin’ on with your bad selves. *smile*¬†Happy New Year, my friends! Thank you for all you’ve shared with me in 2016. *clink* (It’s bubble water. hee.) -HM.

Last Night…

I did a huge sink-full of dishes after my babes went to bed.

And then I corrected work and reported final grades for my students.

Played a little of a silly video game just because I wanted to.

And then I read a bunch of political articles on Clinton and Trump.

Watched several hilarious video shorts on the same subject.

Coordinated my new book club’s next meeting invite.

Took my vitamins and meds in a long-series of nights taking vitamins and meds (the longest consecutive stretch of nights in my life).

Read a book.

Visited with the hubs.

Fell asleep.

All sober.

Day 515, and still surprised by the little things sobriety gives back to me.large_happy-birthday-present

501 Blues.

Not actually Blue at all. *smile* A nice shift from my last post.

Some time off on the weekend. Time with babes, the hubs, friends, my books.

For your viewing pleasure…. A blast from my past. This commercial makes¬†me giggle.

Day 501, Take it away, Neil….

October Road.

It’s early morning. I can her our grandmother¬†clock ticking. My family is tucked in their beds – mostly. My daughter stole her way into ours, which was the impetus for me getting out of bed, and thus, finding myself here in my chair with a hot cup of coffee. I’m quite happy she did. I love starting my days off a little earlier than everyone else, reading, and just waking up on my own. It’s nice to be awake and to have some time and space just for me.

I’ve been feeling this way – this relaxed, contemplative way most of this past¬†week. On the one ¬†hand it’s very nice because my brain has stopped going a thousand miles a minute every second of the day. With the new job, I didn’t realize until I had stopped spinning, that I was in a constant state of stress and anxiety. I was trying to race as fast as I could to write curriculum, clean, grade, plan, collaborate, learn the community, organize, and take stock, that I didn’t even notice how hard I was working to stay caught up with even the most basic responsibilities of getting through each day¬†and doing what I was hired to do – teach.

This is my sixteenth year as a teacher, but this new job is really Brand. Spankin’. New. I am writing it from the ground up, which is exciting to do, because I and my partner are designing a theatre program to follow students through each of their elementary and secondary years a child’s entire elementary and secondary school years. The structure before was a bit too nebulous and focused on Fun. I am definitely not opposed to fun, however I want kids to be challenged and to grow as artists.¬†It’s exciting, and I know in the coming years, this planning will do the program a lot of good, and help us to create a lot of depth. However, I am a little frustrated because I am covering basics with most of my students at every grade level, so that next year, I will have to write even more curriculum once we have students on the same page and with the same skill sets.

Then, I look around my space and in my rooms, and I just see a Mess. Granted, it is entirely my own fault because it was my idea to flip the costume and prop room inside-out, as well as the library….. Yeah, it’s a mess. Ha. And I know, from growing up with my father, whenever I was feeling stressed, he would tell me to clean my room so that my mind would feel better. A good rule of thumb, as long as one has the time and the energy to do so. *smile* I have kept my office quite clean so that I have a space I can escape to, but…. Yeah. Maybe I will work on prioritizing the other rooms again so that I don’t feel trapped underneath a mountain of Theatre Things.

This post is sounding quite negative, but overall, I am feeling better than I was. I should have written more last week, but I was feeling tired and sad and …. Oh, wanting to isolate. Dagnabbit. Stupid human tricks that keep repeating themselves. Argh.

Anyway, the other feeling I’ve been really having trouble with is melancholy. The longer I am at my new job (which, even though is overwhelming, I am really loving – and I’m not just saying that as a¬†perfectionist in order to appear¬†perfect to the outside world – I truly love it and the students and the people), the more and more Real it feels that I have lost my old job and my old community. With the fall weather exacerbating everything, I just feel Sad. And lonely. The communication from my old people has been little to none, which further breaks my heart. And I know everyone is as busy as I am, or more so, but it just makes me sad. I definitely feel like I am grieving again in many ways. The two months of grief and franticness and loneliness surrounding the¬†initial news of my job loss in April seems to almost be repeating itself from August to September to now.

However, like I said above, I feel like I am stepping out on the other side of those feelings of sadness and spinning my wheels. I am still definitely in there. It’s not a quick fix by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I can now see where I was and what I am moving away from. Why can’t we see our full situation when we are in the thick of things? Is it because we don’t have perspective? Because we are too close to it all?

Day 496,¬†a little James to walk with me today and to¬†make the day brighter….

 

I’m Here.

And I’m sober.

So that’s good.

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Things in my little world have felt whirlwind-crazy for the past 5 weeks or so. In a quick nutshell-type blurt: Work has taken over almost everything and I’m not even directing yet; The administration change has everyone (including me) on edge and on our toes; My babes were both sick for two weeks; I was sick for two weeks, but still had to meet a ton of external expectations and deadlines; I’ve been white-knuckling my sobriety for about 3 weeks and feeling just pissed and angry about it most days; I’m worried with the seasonal change that I am feeling more depressed and anxious; And the biggest news is that my dad is in the hospital with bleeding ulcers and pneumonia.

That’s a shit-tonne, people. … Jeez. My eyelid is twitching right now just thinking about the list above.

Here’s the follow-up to all of that as I sit quietly in my parents’ front room, listening to the classic music station, and finally checking-in here after way too long…

  • Work things – administrative deadlines, etc. – seem to have been mostly met and finished. I’m in a good place now to prep for my shows coming up in about two weeks. So that’s good. I feel like my feet are under me again.
  • Regarding the new regime, well, that can’t be fixed. Like most of my coworkers, I am just slogging through and trying not to catch too much attention (always a hard challenge for a theatre person).
  • Babes are healthy again, and my youngest is looking forward to turning 3 on Tuesday. He can’t wait, because he will start preschool this Monday and celebrate his birthday all on the same day. I’m excited for him. He’s so eager to get to school and be like his big sister.
  • I am finally better, too. I had a virus that just kicked my ass day after day for two weeks. It was different from the kids – I’m so glad they didn’t have what I had. Man, did it suck. Plus, with everything happening at work, it made everything about 10 times as difficult.
  • Sobriety is still in effect, but again, does it suck the big one right now. I am angry, hostile, and pissed off about it. I know a lot of it has to do with not having time to be Here and connecting with all of You. So, it’s nice to show my face again. I’ve missed you and I’ve missed your wise words and ways. I haven’t had a drink, but I have probably considered it every day for the past 3 weeks. I have to say, it doesn’t make recovery very easy when my brain just wants to say ‘Fuck it!’ I haven’t. And I won’t. Not today.
  • The bipolarismness is being addressed.¬†I’ve been worried my meds aren’t working mood-wise, especially with the exacerbation of the loss of sunlight, so my psych upped my dose slightly yesterday. We’ll see if that helps. I’m just feeling low. I realize I’ve had a lot of shit going on this past month, so it is entirely possible it’s just Life that’s got me down, but I’d love to have the weight I feel on top of me lifted a bit. Being a functional alcoholic in my memory feel a lot like being a functional depressive without the ‘added bonus’ of forgetting and hiding on a daily basis. It’s just hard. And difficult. And I’d like some relief.
  • For my dear PapaBear, he was rushed to ICU on Tuesday night with bleeding ulcers. He had been sick for two days and thought it was the flu, but then at Urgent Care, they did some tests and discovered his white count was high, he was throwing up blood and had been for the past day and a half, and his blood pressure was incredibly low. In ICU, they were able to cauterize his lesions and gave him a transfusion, which raised his blood pressure significantly. While he was there, they also discovered he had pneumonia (probably explains the white cell rise), and have been putting him through his paces with a monstrous nebulizer every four hours, as well as other exercises. I drove the 5 hours north to be here with him and Mom, and I’m so glad I did. Just being in the same room with him after hearing about all that was happening to him feels so comforting. I’ll be here for another day or two, and we’ll see how his recovery is going. I’m happy to say he doesn’t have any pain, which is amazing. His body has just been put through the wringer. It needs time to rest and heal.

And that, my friends, is what is going on with Me. Over the next day or two, I am going to be reading your blogs, so be warned. *smile* Comments are a’comin’.

Day 129; Hour 3,104; Minute 186,283; Second 11,177,011… I’ve missed You.

Hours in the Day.

Wow. The days are so much longer now that I’m not drinking.

And they’re awesome (mostly).

So much beautiful time in a day.

So much beautiful time in a day.

Since quitting drinking, I have found that there¬†is time for me to relax (Note: ‘Relax’ no longer means ‘Drinking until I’m foggy and groggy and unable to keep my eyes open.’). ¬†And now my relaxing is full of time with my kids, cooking, drinking fizzy water, watching¬†MasterChef Canada, reading, working, cross-stitching, talking with the hubs, going on walks, being with friends, drinking coffee, etcetera etcetera, so on and so forth. *smile*

The anxiety of making sure I have MeTime has almost disappeared. Some days I get antsy for it, but mostly I find things to get invest in and then I’m good. Some days, I take a couple of gabapentin and then I step back into the world and am able to say ‘yes’ to whatever is going on. By the by, for those considering sobriety or in the early stages of recovery (that’s still me, too, p.s. I am not setting myself up as someone who knows it all – definitely not!), talk to a doctor or a psychiatrist about the options you have that could help you stay on the sober path. Honestly, this past summer I only took gabapentin three or four times over the two and half months. Since starting back to full-time work (I’m a teacher), I have taken it five or six times in the past two weeks. It calms my anxiety and tension right around the witching hour time of 5 or 6 o’clock. (To clarify: It’s not my witching hour to drink any longer – I definitely won’t. But it helps take the edge off of that coming home from work tension so that I can relax and be with my kids and not be drunk or in an altered state.) And what I love about my psychiatrist is that she was so nonjudgmental when she prescribed it. Her point was she wanted to give me all the help she could so that I would stay sober. In fact, when she first gave it to me, I was the one who was all judgy-judgerson about it. But now? (And considering what¬†my friend¬†told me in one of his responses to a blog post awhile ago – ‘You’re still sober, right? Who the fuck cares how you stay there? You’re sober!’) I agree with my shrinkydink and my friend. I Am Sober! And sometimes I need a little extra help, and¬†that’s okay.

So, that was a long paragraph to really just tell you not to be scared to ask for help. Perhaps in a way you wouldn’t necessarily consider. (I know I hadn’t!)

And? I will say my goal in the coming month is to taper off using gabapentin as I find my new balance with the school year and all that is going on. I had so much freedom to create my day this past summer. It truly felt perfect. While I am in love with my job, I do need to figure out how to ‘be home’ when I get here. And without the habit of drinking as soon as I walk through the door, it feels like discovering a new world, which really? It is. I’ve been at my job fifteen years, and almost every day of that work life, I sought a drink as soon as I possibly could after work. That’s a lot of Habit to reconfigure, untangle, and rewire.

So? Back to my newly discovered hours…. Last night, for the first time in four years, the hubs and I stayed up after the kids went to bed and watched a¬†Lord of the Rings. (I’m a dork.) And? It was awesome! I kept checking myself and just noticing that I was still awake and still engaged with him, with the movie, and yep! All systems go. …. We’ve tried watching a movie several times before in the past year, but I was drinking, so I would pop upstairs to fill my glass countless times, then within the first hour, I would usually start listing to one side, or falling asleep because I was chugging the wine so fast. Granted, I was always happy and thinking ‘We’re being adults! Yay! UsTime!’ But my stupid brain would equate that with drinking, so I would drink and drink and drink s’more. And those date nights always ended early because I would start snoring, and/or I would try to hide how drunk I was and stumble upstairs to go to bed, blaming it on a long day or something like that.

Watching movies (awesome movies like LOTR) is SO much better sober!

 

Seriously. *smile*

Last night I was talking with the hubs about being sober and how it feels like I have to relearn how to do everything. I feel like I’m waking up for the first time and seeing the world again for what it is – and everything is new and different. I know my mood stabilizer is doing some of the work (especially now that I am sober and it’s able to function correctly), and that is great. It makes me feel great. But I also know that so much of this¬†feeling is because I am sober. My body isn’t sluggish or bogged down with tired. I’m not grey any more. I’m all sorts of different colors. I really feel like I have woken up from a long, spindle-pricked sleep full of horrible dreams and dragons. Now I feel like I am carrying a sword and could kick any dragon’s ass that might come my way.

My favoritefavorite thing? Instead of having a cottonball-brain, it’s clear and rested. This is going to sound weird to some of you, but for the past ten years, I haven’t been able to listen to music much on my own. Never in my car. And definitely never when I was in conversation with someone. My brain could not filter one thing from the other. It drove my music-worshipping-hubs batshit crazy. And now? As I type this! I am listening to music. I listen to it Every Day. And I LOVE it! I forgot how much I love it. I just think it is the craziest thing in the world that I¬†couldn’t listen to it for so long. I was physically unable to. And now? *angelssing* Music is on all the time. So happy to have it back in my life. I missed it. Truly.

Music & Me.

Music & Me.

Off to spend a day (my favorite day of the week, p.s.) with my beautiful fam.

Day 82,¬†we be jammin’.

She’s Alive!

And holy fuck is she busy!

… Yep. Hello. I’m here. School has sucked all of my time, and then my children have sucked any little droplet of time that’s left over.

I’m here and I am sober and kicking ass. Well, mostly.

It’s been a really good week and a really (fucking awful/stressful/crazy) intense week. Here are some things….

Biggest blog news is that the hubs is now in the know. He knew about the blog all along, but didn’t read it because I wasn’t ready. Then, while I was away with the babes, he accidentally read a post, came clean to me (so sweet that he felt so bad about it – he thought it was one of your blogs that I had bookmarked on our iPad), it happened to be the post where I told all of you about my early 100-day celebration present¬†before I had gotten home to tell him. Eep! He was mad (rightfully so), but also struggling with having read the post in the first place. (Can I get any luckier in the love department, people?) And I completely understood where he was coming from, but also felt that it was okay that it fell out the way it did. We came to an understanding, and now he is reading the blog. (Hi.*)

Quick query for my friends who have friends/family reading their blogs… How is it for you and yours? It hasn’t really been an issue for me because I haven’t had the time to write in what feels like so long, but I also worry about holding back my honest thoughts if and when they come up. I’ve promised the hubs I won’t do that – he’s been warned. *smile* But I also know there is a possibility of it happening subconsciously. What do you all do about that conundrum, hm?

For me, the cool thing about his reading the blog is that he’s more inside of my head and has access to seeing all of the things I am juggling and digging through in my recovery. I feel like it’s really helped our mutual understanding as he is a normie and does not have addiction tendencies. Not one lick! The lucky dog.

The other thing that was affected by his reading the blog when he did was that it made me get real honest real fast. Particularly, it made me worry that he had read¬†the post before¬†the ‘Premature Celebration.’ For those of you who haven’t read ‘More About My Monster,’ it is a bit about my discovery of alcohol and my subsequent abuse. When TH told me he had read my blog, I panicked. It became clear as we talked that he was in the dark about my more vulnerable story details, but it also became apparent that I had to tell him the truth. All of the truth. So I did. I came clean about my night with our daughter (more is in the linked post above) and how that really felt like my lowest point. All of my low points after that one were me avoiding my problem and trying to convince myself I didn’t have a problem.

I do. It’s called alcohol.

And while I love now miss it, my Life is so much fucking better now. Even when it sucks, it’s better. I feel so much better owning every feeling – even like the messy bits of confusion and hurt like what happened in my story with the hubs. I know I’ve said this a million times before, but being present for my life is the reward. I’m not missing anything. And because I am not hiding from any of it any longer, I have so much more confidence in who I am as a person. The equation is truly remarkable.

My last little bit here is to say more about the hubs…. He’s awesome. And I’m not just saying that because he now has permission to read these words. I am saying it because it’s true. The night we got into it, I ended up tearing up at one point because I told him how many recovery stories I’ve read, or heard where the marriage or the partnership doesn’t survive the alcoholism. How many times partners have walked away because things got too ugly, or the alcohol had changed the drinker too much, or …. countless other reasons. And here I am, eight years into our relationship, and thanking all that is holy that he is still here with me. And that he stuck with me even in the murkiest days and nights. Even when he was mad at me getting too drunk to walk into the house after a night out with friends. Even when he had to make sure I was okay through the early hours of the morning – passed out on the bathroom floor again. And again. Even when my drinking and my depression stole my light. When I wasn’t really Me anymore. He waited. And he was patient. And he loved me. In my most gruesome, monstrous form.

That’s incredible. … He’s incredible. And I am soso lucky.

Our colors. So sweet and rich.

Our colors. So sweet and rich.

I have more to share, but will save it all for another post. This one can stand alone as an ode to my guy.*

Day 79, one of my favorite numbers!

More About My Monster.

I realize I’ve alluded several times throughout these posts to the number of years I believe my drinking has been a problem, and I believe that number morphs and changes depending on the day and the factors I take into consideration in the moment. So this post is my attempt to nail down some specifics, as well as detail the last four years a bit more clearly and the build-up which led, ultimately, to choosing a sober life.

First, the discrepancies in the amount of years I’ve thrown out there…. I believe I’ve said ‘four,’ ‘ten,’ and ‘fifteen’ years at various points in this here bloggy. I will go on record at this moment in time and say that my drinking has been a problem since the first day I ever drank. Fittingly, the night was deemed ‘My Night of Debauchery’ as I was a straight-laced do-gooder throughout high school. I swore I would never chance losing all that I was involved in by getting caught with alcohol, and so I never drank. I will admit to seriously judging those who did drink, alongside of my dearest, most wonderful friends as we sipped our intellectually astute gas station coffee ’til all hours of the night at our favorite hang-out place in our teeny town in Midwest, Minnesota. We were very good at judging, and we were very good at staying sober. Throughout high school, I was never tempted because it was clearly stated to anyone who would listen that I would never drink in high school. Ever.

So, yes. MNoD was quite the event. It happened a few weeks after high school graduation. Friends of mine took it upon themselves to walk me through the steps of drinking a beer, drinking a hard alcoholic drink (vodka & cherry slushie, I believe, the creme de la creme of all alcoholic drinks), smoking a cigarette, and then smoking a cigar. It was quite the night. I remember it as fun and silly and ridiculous, and it was all of those things. I believe I walked away that night feeling like I had just broken the seal on ‘Naughty.’ It was fun to be a little bad, to feel the rush and giddiness of the alcohol and smokes, and later, walking away feeling like I had gotten away with something.

I’m sure I thought about doing it all again as soon as I could, but I was also wrapped up with my friends who did not drink, so pursuing a drink wasn’t my be-all or end-all…. Yet.

Then, as Fate would have it, my best friend in the entire world and I ended up in an extreme drunk-driving accident perhaps a week after my first drink. To clarify, we were not drinking. Not a drop. The people in the car which crashed into us were blackout drunk, perhaps even drunk enough to be hospitalized. The driver registered a .24 blood alcohol count, and the two people with him were as much as that, or more, I’m sure. It was horrendous. My best friend was so hurt from the accident (she was driving), that she missed her first semester of college, which was supposed to start three months later. Her life’s momentum was put on hold, her physical health was wholly compromised, and the mental toll it took on her takes my breath away, even today. For the others involved in the crash, they were also critically injured, but because of their responsibility in the accident, I felt no remorse for them. As the passenger in the second car, I was the only one to remember the accident. I had a small cranial fraction and some more severe facial cuts, which required stitches. I was unconscious for about ten or fifteen minutes, and when I came to, the accident scene was rushing forward in full force. I was taken to a regional hospital, while my best friend was airlifted to a trauma center, as were two of the other people in the first car. I still have issues driving as a passenger to this day.

You would think that after such a traumatic event, I would avoid alcohol at all costs. However, without my best friend next to me every day, I found a new, older group of friends to take me in that summer. They were not ‘partiers’ per say, but because they were older, they had already been to college for a couple of years, and they came back and took me under their wings. They were an awesome group of friends (and still are), but I quickly associated drinking with fun. I left behind all of my former choices and stances, and I began seeking out alcohol in order to have fun. I started to work my schedule and my events around drinking.

This pattern was full-blown in college. Even though I was underage, I managed to drink five to seven nights a week, easy. At this time, my bipolarismness really came to the forefront as well, and I wonder now, with the clarity of hindsight, if my manic and depressive episodes would have been as extreme had I not been drinking as regularly and as wholeheartedly as I was in those early-twenties’ years of mine.

Zipping forward into my mid- and late-twenties, I see that I used alcohol to dampen the weight of a couple of bad relationships I worked hard at entangling myself in. I would go so far to say I even sewed myself into them. They were Bad. The first was bad because I didn’t respect the man, even though I had said ‘yes’ and gotten myself engaged. (So many times in my life I have wanted to grow-up faster than everyone else. My question to my younger self now is, of course, ‘Why, you crazy nutjob?! Slow the fuck down and enjoy the ride for Christ’s sake!’) To clarify, I did not marry the first man (phew!). The second relationship was emotionally and verbally abusive, and I am pretty sure (again with hindsight) that the man is a narcissist. So all through my twenties, I used alcohol as a social lubricant (what a weird phrase), as well as a buffer for my unhappy home life. I probably drank every night at this point. If I wasn’t out with my friends, or my current boyfriend, then I would cook at home and usually drink a bottle of wine by myself. Those nights were my favorite. I loved time to myself, I loved cooking, and I loved drinking wine. And I honestly thought that my friends were all living this way, too. I was single (to a degree), and I didn’t have the pressure of taking care of any children, so I could fit most of what I wanted into a day.

…. A note, too, to say that not all of my twenties were shit. In fact, I was mostly happy. I used to believe… I convinced myself that I shouldn’t be too greedy. In my world, my life was a pie divided into three pieces (.33333333333 for those math nerds out there). So, here I was over-the-moon happy with my career (teacher – still am, p.s.) and with my family. I thought to be completely happy in love was just not part of my equation. I thought it made me greedy and that it broke some cosmic rule in the universe if I should happen to be happy with¬†all three pieces of the pie. So I just accepted my fate and lived with what I got (i.e. not much, love-wise).

Then, tuh-dah! The heavens rained odours on me (that’s a Shakespeare quote (I’m not kidding – I know it’s weird)), and I realized I was a stupid idiot. I met my amazing, sweet, kind, handsome, good-kissing hubs, and had my pie and ate it, too (sorry for the quotey misappropriation).

But? The weird part that I noticed in the side of my mind…? I was still drinking just as much, if not more. And I didn’t know why. I blamed it on winter and seasonal blues. I blamed it on being in theatre and going out for drinks with everyone … all the time. I blamed it on the stress of work and let myself decompress at the end of a long day. … I knew I didn’t have anything to be truly unhappy with, but I still kept drinking. In my late twenties and early thirties, I was easily drinking a bottle of wine or more a night.

Then, children struck, or were born… Take your phrasey pick. My first pregnancy was wonderful. I was the epitome of a healthy, cute pregnancy. I didn’t drink during those ten months, except one glass of wine a month. And I usually tried to make my decision well in advance so that I could celebrate a family birthday, or a holiday or something.

When my daughter was born, I was so happy and such a helicopter (I still am). I didn’t go right back to drinking. I would have maybe a glass here or there in a week, but not much at all – not compared to my old numbers. But after about five or six weeks of monitoring, I slid back into regular daily use. Plus, now that I was home with her all day, every day, I didn’t quite know what to do with myself, so I would drink. I remember one night when my daughter was about two or three months old, I drank so much and ate so much of what I had cooked that night (feeling like a grown-up for a change and feeling put-together), that I threw up. I threw up a lot. My husband wasn’t home, and I was scared. My little baby was on the couch crying, and I was heaving my guts out and trying to clean everything as soon as I had made the mess so that my husband would never know. I don’t think I’ve ever told him about that night. The next day I went to my first AA meeting and wept and spun in circles as the AA members were so eager to pick me up and guide me along their path. …. Looking back, I just remember being so happy at the beginning of that night. Here I was a new mom, with the sweetest, smartest baby in the world, and I was being a grown-up in my own kitchen cooking a love-ily meal, with fresh groceries and a baguette, and I had picked up a box of wine, and I was just enjoying those minutes So. Much. And I was so excited for more and more and more goodness, that I ate and ate and ate, and then I drank and drank drank…. It was horrible. And it so quickly spun downward from something so exciting and good to one of the worst nights of my life. I still beat myself for putting my daughter in danger. Thank god nothing happened to her. Thank god, thank god, thank god… I shudder remembering that night.

As I remember it, and I will admit to not remembering it well, I believe by that night of the AA meeting, I had convinced myself that the night before had been an accident and that I wasn’t that bad. I’m sure I also needed a drink in order to soften the hangover, and so convinced myself that I wasn’t as bad as all that. My husband is still confused about that weekend. I won’t tell him about it, or rather, I haven’t had the courage to yet. I don’t think I’ve told anyone that story until now. …. There you go, world. Not glib at all here, to clarify. I’m shaken and scared to put that out there to you, but it’s one of the biggest reasons in my long list of reasons over the many years it’s taken me to realize I needed help, and that I needed sobriety.

My second pregnancy was the opposite of my first. I was still depressed and not very good at figuring out how to balance my life with a baby, a job, a husband, my drinking, or at the very end of my list – time for myself. I was feeling frayed, hollow, lonely, and empty. I drank a lot – similar to my mid-twenties – about a bottle and a little more every night. With my second pregnancy, I still was mostly sober. Instead of my one glass of wine a month, I allowed myself a glass of wine a week. I also ate anything I wanted because I was trying to fill¬†the something in me that was so empty. I gained a lot of weight, struggled with sciatica pain, and was just sad and disconnected from my life and my toddler. Of course, my sadness was not apparent to the outside world. I was the picture of perfection (besides the weight) to the world at large (so to speak). In fact, I was Wonder Woman. *ching* (That’s the sound of my golden bracelets chinging together, p.s.)

With my second babe, I jumped into drinking¬†almost immediately. As before, I was always careful with my breast milk, but I definitely brought back my ‘reward’ faster than with my first. And I was still in my funk, in my depression.

All that time – almost four straight years – I honestly thought it was my bipolar that was bringing me so far down into depression. I figured the added complication of post-partem accentuated the depression of my bipolar, and was probably multiplied by two quick pregnancies, one after the other.

I am a smart woman. I have two undergraduate degrees and a masters. I am a leader of my peers, as well of teens. I organize and accomplish school-wide agendas. In short, I get shit done. …. And no where in this strong, independently-minded, smart woman did I ever consider my drinking as being the root of my extended depression. I thought it was my fate as a woman in her 30s dealing with the changing nature of my dear old friend,¬†mental illness. I thought I was just having a tough time sliding into the adult world of marriage, mortgages, and motherhood. No where in that brain of mine did it¬†occur to me that (so much) drinking was affecting me so poorly. My habit was an every day habit, and most mornings, I was recovering in one way or another from the night before, while mid-days I was usually figuring out how to get more, or at least figuring out when I would drink later that day/evening.

How could I have been such an idiot?

… Alright, no judgment. I didn’t want to see it. I didn’t want to recognize the problem that drinking and alcohol had become in my life. The last four years, especially, have been particularly painful and challenging, because of the added complication of being a mother and not being a very awesome one much of the time. I was also carrying so much Shame because I was working so hard to hide my habit. I’ve said before that I had switched to boxes of wine because a. Cheaper and b. So much easier to hide how much I was drinking in a night. In my last four to six months, I would say I was probably closer to two bottles of wine a night than one. …. And even though it’s only two months ago, I just remember always being So tired. And resentful of everyone around me wanting me for this or for that. My resentment was growing bigger, as were my instances of anger. I began seeing a therapist two years into my heavy depression, but as my depression was weighing heavier and heavier on me in the following years, I sought out help from a psychiatrist for the first time in twelve¬†years. I really thought, I believed¬†the problem was a fix that could be given from the outside. That there was a cure outside of me that would magically make me all better.

But no. That was not the case.

The cure was in me. In my accepting that alcohol had become too important, too much my reason for making it from one day to the next, too big a reward for getting through a day or an event or a minute, too much my anchor. Without realizing it, the alcohol was making my life unhappy, listless, and lonely.¬†Everything and every day was foggy. My memory was getting worse and worse, my sleeping was affected every night with early morning insomnia, and my resentments towards my family, my friends, and my responsibilities were growing daily. It was a horrible and difficult life to move forward each and every day, and it was mine. I couldn’t fathom why anyone would¬†ever want to grow up, why anyone would ever want to be an adult. This was awful. And since it was, I believed¬†everyone was working as hard as I was to keep their dirty little secrets hidden, which kept me running in my hamster wheel.

Then, some time in May, I think, I found Kate and¬†The Sober Journalist¬†blog she created when she was pursuing sobriety. Although I had wondered about my alcohol consumption levels over the past eighteen years here and there, I didn’t see or identify myself in the word ‘alcoholic.’ And yet, here was a woman who looked like me, and worked like me, and who drank like me. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone! I wasn’t the only one. My secret only¬†felt¬†like a secret – there were others in the world who felt and behaved as I did. … All it took was the one blog (and all of her archival posts), and I found myself able to consider the possibility that yes, I might be an alcoholic. In the weeks to come, I found other blogs and met other voices with more stories I could relate to. Day after day I felt less and less alone.

On 9 June, 2015, I found myself ready to commit to sobriety, and here I am two months later and feeling centered, emotionally richer, happier, and not ashamed of who I am.

Day 62, What’s your story?

 

A Goose, a Gander, & a Lie.

Morning.*

Went for a run this am, and felt myself actually¬†enjoying it. I felt like….

Go, Go, Go!

Go, Go, Go!

And when I finished, I felt like….

Wah-HOO!!!

Wah-HOO!!!

I was sweaty and winded (in a good way), and felt like I could do anything… Maybe after I got a glass of water and stretched. … And showered, etc. …¬†Then I could do anything.

And sitting here, catching up on blogs and everything, it made me laugh, because I was feeling all proud of said run and feeling like ‘Oh, yeah. I’m awesome,’ when it occurred to me… I actually look like¬†this when I run….

My True Running Self

My True Running Self

I am a goose. The goose is my spirit animal. Even my temperament is a bit ‘goosey.’ Maybe it’s my gangliness (spellcheck does not believe this is a word (spellcheck is wrong)), combined with my height and wobbly neck and non-athletic-coordination? But, yes. I can take it. I can face reality. I am at one with my goose-self. I commune with the goose.

It’s nice to admit what I really am. That I am an alcoholic. That I have bi-polar. That I am goosey. And a little loosey. It is so refreshing to be who I am here, and not to feel I should or have to hide pieces of myself away. … It’s making me feel more confident in my day-to-day life as well. I am holding my head higher, and my smile stretches¬†bigger. I feel more Me. That’s a good feeling.

I have told a couple of you here and there on your own blogs, but I am reclaiming my Life. Literally. I’m taking it back from the past decade of poor decisions and struggles with the wine bottle, and in so doing, I have chopped off five years of my age. It started in March (my actual b-day), when I for whatever reason, I just couldn’t face my real number. Granted, it was probably one of my heaviest drinking periods, which probably made me feel the worse for wear, tired, hungover, sad, overworked, exhausted, stressed out, and full of anxiety. … Fun times. … (Never thought I would be the woman to lie about my age, as I want to be one of the Purple Hats and embrace every year, but here I am. … Lying!) So, I told my students I was five years younger than I actually was, and maybe they were being nice (they were definitely being nice), but they believed me. So, I’ve kept it up. And now? I have started to believe it myself, which? Is awesome. I think of myself as my new chosen age – 31 – than my actual-really-real-age. I feel like I get a bit of a redo. And I like that, because I want to do these years over with more of myself Here. I really have missed Me. A shit-tonne (one of my favorite phrases).

Connected SideNote: The other day, I caught myself thinking how much older the hubs is than me. Ha! I forgot for a moment we are actually a little closer in age (39:36) than my new, improved, preferred Math (39:31). Have I mentioned? Ridiculous = Me.

Along with sobriety, I have been attempting to find medication to help my bi-polarismness, which has tipped to depression pretty heavily in the past three or four years. I am taking a mood stabilizer and slowly building it up into my system. I feel so strong and proactive about seeing my therapist, a psychiatrist, blogging, running, napping (I have never been a napper until I started being sober – now I love it!), listening to podcasts,¬†eating (mostly) good food. …. I am actually taking care of myself (and not faking it to the world so that it just looks like I am). I’m a big kid! And … more surprising, I’m having fun being one! All this hiding away from the world and myself and my life and the idea of ‘being an adult,’ and who knew it would be so enjoyable? I have Hope, and am feeling optimistic, and determination to continue on this path.

So, yes. Reclaiming is a great word for how I am feeling these past few weeks about life. I am so lucky it’s summer, and that I have the extra time to invest in sobriety, and my mental health, and my physical health, and in my family, and in me. This cushion is so helpful in putting time and energy around this new mission. I feel like I am building the world’s biggest pillow fort (Oh, wait. I accidentally stole that idea from an episode of¬†Community. Whoops. I’m a plagiarizing asshole, but am going to continue with the metaphor nonetheless.) around myself. All of the walls are soft and cushy, and of course cute in mismatched pillowcases, and a few cozy blankets thrown here and there for good measure. I have my cave entrance that I can crawl into and barricade if I need to. And overall, I am just happy and snuggly and content in here. In me. …. For the first time in a long(-ass) time.

Day 24, never underestimate the power of the Goose.*

 

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