Heya, Monster.

A SoberBlog by a TallWoman.

Archive for the tag “Therapy”

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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I’m Here.

And I’m sober.

So that’s good.

i-am-here

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.

Considering the Past.

I’ve been reading a lot of the secondary tiers of information on alcoholism – its causes, its effects, its development, its stages, etc. – mostly via first-hand accounts of people’s experiences with alcohol, and perhaps a few more research-based studies via A Hangover Free Life¬†and¬†Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women & Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnson. I am struck over and over by the mention of early trauma, and over and over I think to myself, “No, that’s not me.¬†I had an amazingly happy childhood.¬†Nowhere hidden away in my deep dark psyche are there any secrets of abuse or neglect.” For months, I’ve been of the mindset that I developed alcoholism, probably, as an offshoot of my bipolarismness. Comorbidity factors¬†and the like.¬†And really? That has been enough of and explanation for me.

But then.

About three weeks ago I got a hit to my chest. My heart stopped, and suddenly I saw a clue I hadn’t recognized for so long. During my childhood, I was morbidly obese. From the time I was in 1st grade through 6th grade, I was more than heavy. In fact, in 6th grade, I weighed more then than I do now. I have always thought it was genetics. My dad’s family is heavier, and so I thought I was just living the life carved out by my genes. But no. The hit to the chest was the idea that it was my first symptom of me trying to heal something. I was using food as comfort to heal a hurt inside. But I still couldn’t recognize the What. I wasn’t sure I could name it.

Then, another week went by, and I realized I had another clue. In my teens and early twenties, I went to the other extreme and monitored every little thing that went into my mouth. I had what I’ve always considered an intellectual’s version of anorexia, because my brain knew I had to eat for all that I was doing, so I did, but it was always just enough. I went through days of intense physical demand with dance classes, school, and swimming conditioning (the hardest kind of practices), and would often only eat a bagel for lunch. Even now, I remember thinking it was just a teen phase. It was just something most girls did because we were girls and we were young and because we could.

I’ve never linked my psuedo-anorexia to my childhood overeating, nor to my drinking. Until now.¬†Really, I could now see they were one in the same. So what was I trying to numb? To control? Even a week and a half later with bubbles bursting full of ideas and realizations, I didn’t have the courage to name it. It hovered in the back of my mind and body (and even typing, I can feel my breath get shallower).

My trauma, my What, is Death.

When I was four years old, my baby sister died of SIDS when she was 4 months old. I remember the day, I remember moments surrounding her death in vivid detail. I remember her and her vibrancy and laugh, and I remember losing her and having the weight of her loss¬†bear down on me. Like Atlas and the world. And like Atlas, I had to carry it because my parents needed me. I was the only one left. At four, I wanted to take care of them. I wanted to stick around. I didn’t want to die. I had to be enough to cover the pain and the hurt of losing her. I also wanted my sister back. Terribly.

Instead of birthday parties, and playdates (I had them, but they are not what I remember most from childhood), I remember attending a support group with my mom called The Compassionate Friends’. Families would gather together and share stories of their lost children. I met numerous other kids and their parents who had lost children. I loved opening up about my sister. I loved hearing other kids talk about their lost siblings. And I felt good in the basement of churches, sitting with people who really got me. But those people weren’t with me in my school, or at my piano lessons.¬†Walking through my days, I felt like I had a secret that no one would understand, or that no one would guess because I looked so normal on the outside. Death was always at the back of my mind because it made me different from the other kids in my class. It made me weird.

Shortly after my sister died, in my memory, I remember my mother telling me about a second sibling, a brother, who had died less than a year before I was born. So not only did I carry my sister’s loss with me, but now I had lost a brother, too. One I didn’t know about until then. And instead of a family of five, I had a family of three. Our family felt empty. It felt lonely. It felt smaller than it should be, because everyone in our family knew the truth. We had lost two babies. They weren’t with us. And their absence was present in my life every day.

I loved being an only child, but I always thought in my mind that I wasn’t really an only child. I would draw family pictures, over and over again (it must have hurt my parents’ hearts to see them), with our ideal family at the park. My mom and dad would be there, with a baby (my sister we lost), and my older brother and I would be climbing¬†an apple tree. Over and over and over again. I would draw the same picture. I can¬†still draw it today. I know exactly where everyone is supposed to be.

Supposed to.

But they’re not.

They’re gone.

They’re dead.

And the irony is that I also know that, particularly because of my brother’s death, I was able to live. Had he survived an early delivery (26 weeks in 1978), then there is no way my life would have happened. I know that in my bones. So, really, it is thanks to Death that I am here at all. And I am so grateful to be here. However, I still hold onto¬†a little girl’s fantasy of having an older brother who watches out for me, and shouts at stupid bullies, and picks on me when we’re home on our own because I’m his stupid younger sister. All of this, even though, I know now, after 35 years, what really happened. He couldn’t survive because of his early arrival. And, had he survived, by some miracle, his life would not have been a typical, ‘normal’ life. He most likely would have had a thousand challenges both physically and mentally. But in my growing-up-mind, I created a perfect world where the two of us were thick as thieves, and he was my Big Brother.

But instead I’m the oldest. By a lot. My sister is eight years younger than me, and when she arrived, it was amazing! And exciting! And finally happening. My family was finally growing. … However, her arrival was not all roses. At her birth, she stopped breathing, so she came home with an ear-piercing monitor that ripped through our sleep on an almost-nightly¬†basis, whenever she turned the wrong way or accidentally¬†disconnected a wire. Her arrival also meant that I had to learn infant CPR as a second grader. I remember the room we sat in. I remember the woman who taught us. I remember the feel of that dummy doll heavy in my lap, and the sticky rubber under my fingertips. I was hopeful with the lesson because we had the power to save my sister – unlike my other sister. However, in that lesson of life saving, Death was also ever-present. A threat. A menace. A what if.

As an adult I learned my mother also had trouble with a number of miscarriages. I can’t even imagine the heartache and pain she and my father endured over many years as they tried to build their family, while along the way,¬†the pain was intensified by my brother’s and sister’s lives and deaths. What loss. What pain. What sadness. My childhood pictures captured what my younger self imagined and yearned for, but as parents in a family filled with¬†so much loss, I can hardly believe they found it in them to move forward. To get out of bed every day. To go to work. To hug their daughter. To try and try again to bring a new life into the world. They are incredible, remarkable people whose strength and compassion humble me to this day. As a child, I really was happy and content and living a charmed life, and it was thanks to may amazing parents. It is not until now that I recognize the struggle it must have been for them, and how little I saw of the truth of their pain. The innocence they kept and nurtured in me within our family dynamic truly made me who I am today. I am playful, and hopeful, and a doer. Had my parents multiplied my grief with their own, I believe my core self would have grown into someone very different. Growing up, the presence¬†of Death was almost all my own making. My possession, my companion.

In the past couple of years, I started to try and take ownership of my fear and awareness of Death, and make it more comedic, less threatening. I began to devise an idea that perhaps I should create a series of essays with Death as my sibling, my sister. It may sound morbid and macabre, but really and truthfully, Death is part of my family. I remember it as clearly as drippy, sweet watermelon spitting contests in the backyard at my babysitter’s house. And really, the thing about Death is that she was always right there with me. On my shoulder. Or standing behind me. Or an idea in my head even when everything was fun and carefree on the outside. She was my constant secret. The thing I kept hidden, but not out of shame, more out of the belief that no one would understand.

When I was younger, I had extreme separation anxiety. I remember my sister’s funeral. I wasn’t tall enough to look over the casket, so I would stand on the kneeling rail and lean over and kiss her cold cheek or forehead over and over. I remember the smell of her stillness, what I now know to be the embalming fluid. I remember her sweet, still, sleeping face. I remember the doll we tucked in next to her, and the¬†lace and ruffles on her dress. I remember my grandma picking me up and taking me to a pew to sit with her. I remember not feeling like I had given my sister enough kisses, and that I wanted to give her more. I remember the smell of the chapel, ripe and crowded with flowers. Later, as a grade schooler, I would cry deep sobs and waves of grief would wash over me whenever my mother left me¬†with someone else. I can still feel it in my chest behind my sternum. That ache and worry, my memory of loss. I was always scared to lose her, or my dad. I was inconsolable about being left behind.

To this day, I still finish the most mundane conversations with ‘I love you,’ because I¬†need them to know. I can’t let my last exchange not have those words of love in them. And that’s a bit of horrible, too – the idea that every conversation is our last. Some days are worse than others, but all days, the urgency to leave things on this earth in a place of love is there. To leave things in a ‘finished’ way. To make sure my loved ones know I love them.

As I grew, Death took on greater significance. My bipolar episodes began to develop in my late teens and early twenties. An interesting “fun” (sarcasm) symptom when I have a depressive or manic episode developing¬†in the wings is that I experience paranoia. The paranoia heightens and exaggerates inside my brain the closer an¬†episode gets to manifesting. And usually, my paranoid imaginings are full of death. Walking down a street, I know the person walking towards me has a gun and is going to shoot me. Lots of guns in my paranoia. Strangers walking into school are hiding guns. The person driving next to me down the highway is going to flash a gun in their window. Other times, complicated, horrific, scary things happen to my loved ones in their offices, in their homes, or on a simple errand to a store.

Walking from day to day inside¬†those days of paranoia is exhausting. I started a ‘fix-it’ plan with my therapist about a year ago, where I would take the imagined tragedy and recognize the paranoia and then reimagine it with a better ending. I would fix the problem by creating a surreal and happy solution. So, for instance, an imagined car accident would then become a car spinning, and then floating, and then lifting up into the air¬†and flying over the almost-accident and over the line of cars to home. I am particularly fond of surreal fixes. They’re magical, and definitely make me feel better.

However, in those times of paranoia building, they come faster and more frequently during a day. They’re a good indicator of what’s going on mentally – that depression or mania is on the verge – but as they are, for me, they are full of Death and morbidity. It is daunting and difficult to keep up with them. Not to mention, now my childhood secret interior has become my adult interior as well, but in a worse, more tragic way.

And, to be clear, I have these fantasies even when I’m not developing into a manic or depressive episode, too. They’re just not as numerous or as frequent. And usually, they’re not as violent or scary. But Death. Hello, Death. Death is always there.

…. So now, here I am realizing that Death is my trauma, and has been my trauma since my early childhood. My attempts to soften the blow, or comfort myself have found a variety of solutions, but none of them have worked. Obviously, I guess. All this time, I didn’t know that I was hurt¬†so profoundly by my siblings’ deaths. From the outside, I am a happy, highly functional, accomplished woman. And that is true. It is also true that I addressed my sister’s and brother’s deaths throughout my childhood. It wasn’t a secret at home. I attended therapy, I spoke with other kids about it, I was always trying to work it out. They why’s of their deaths. It was not as though it got swept under the table, or hidden under the bed, or in the back of a closet. We explored the idea and reality of death pretty regularly. On the whole, I knew my childhood was wonderful, and I cherished it as such – both in the moment and now as an adult. But all this while, I was carrying Death with me.

My question now is what is at the core of my fascination with Death? The thing that flutters just under my skin is that I don’t believe I should be here. Alive. Living. Why was I the lucky one? How come I got to live and my sister and brother didn’t? Connected to those questions, why were they taken from us? From me? Why was my family the one to endure so much loss so soon and so early? Why couldn’t we have grown in size and shape? Loss and emptiness and not-full are all feelings I carried with me growing up. Nothing clearly tangible, but just the feeling of less than whole.

On the other hand, I believe my life is incredibly precious and rare¬†because of the lives my siblings didn’t have the opportunity to live. I know first-hand the value of life and how dear and how precious and rare and fleeting it is. I should be making the most of my life and all that I am doing. Am I enough?¬†Have I done enough? Have I proven myself? The worth of my life?

And also, a question of belief. Are my brother and sister still out there? Are they with me throughout my days? Part of me truly believes they are. I feel like I carry them with me (along with Death) everywhere I go. I imagine what they would be like Рthe ideal versions from the mind of a child. I picture them at each birthday and wonder who they would be and what they would be doing and where they would be and what we would have done together in the past year. As a grown woman, I still have these fantasies. In other ways in my life, I believe they have been my guardians and saviors in a million situations where I should have gotten hurt or died myself. They accompany me right along with Death. In fact, I feel like they do overtime duty on the whole guardian scene because I am so reckless and careless, ironically with the life I hold so dear.

Sobriety has helped me a great deal. I am not filling in my holes with something ‘other.’ I’m not bandaging myself, or submerging myself in a way that hides my truths. However, I still can’t quite identify what my holes are. Not completely. I have an inkling that I am scared to die. Terrified in fact. But on the other hand, I feel like every day I am counting down to the moment I die. Because Death is so present. Death is such a reality. I’m scared, but I also know Death is inevitable. When I was drinking, I felt like I was just hurrying things along because life was so hard and difficult, and what was the point of living anyway? I would immerse myself in my glasses of wine and numb my worries, fears, and avoidance. Now that I am sober, I see my fears for what they are, but I also have rediscovered the wonder of the world and of Living. Now I am holding onto Life because I don’t want to lose it. Of course, I can and I will some day and I have no power over those truths.

So what is my next step? Where do I go from here? I have so many realizations and deeper understandings of my relationship with Death, but I don’t know what to do with them. ¬†I want to live and I want to experience as much as I can. Is it possible for me to soothe and comfort the little girl inside of me in such a way that she heals more wholly? How do I help her? Can¬†I¬†still heal myself after all this time?

Day 105, feeling quiet and small and unsure.

Fridaying.

Hello, all. Happy Friday to you. Just a check-in with a few tiddlybits.

Checked-in with my therapist (hi) yesterday. Good work. Set some very simple goals of monitoring my temper and trying for some small successes in how I unleash it. Glad because the sobriety and the mood stabilization are such huge endeavors at the moment, that adding to my ‘to-do’ list would seem overwhelming at this stage in the game.

Same goes with the hubs’ goal of losing some weight. (He brought up last week we should do a pseudo-Biggest Loser challenge and base it on our own percentages lost in comparison to one another.)¬†I definitely¬†want to, and I am making some healthy additions to my life (daily exercise, more fruits & vegs), but I am not¬†trying to lose any weight right now. It’s just a little too much to put on this woman’s plate.

Sobriety & Mental Health are definitely enough in and of themselves right now. *smile*

… So, in terms of ‘Fridaying’ it, I finally went out with some of my cast members last night after rehearsal. We went to a yummy neighborhood bar (my real first sober venture into the World o’ Alcohol), and it was a success! I splurged and had two NA beers and some yum-o wings. One of my actors asked if I was prego, but I just blamed it on the meds as had been my plan all along. I ended up getting home around 11:30 pm, which pushed my med routine back considerably. I ended up sleeping in until 9 am, which was love-ily, but also threw the rest of today into a relaxed-not-going-to-do-much kind of a day.

And do you know? That is juuuuust fine with me. ¬†Small (gentle) steps, grasshopper…

Checked in with my psychiatrist today. All is going well and it’s full-steam ahead before another check-up in three months. A good sign.

Instead of naps today, the babes and I curled up in our basement and watched¬†Despicable¬†Me, which was nice. And now, just did a mini-ab-workout, and am about to gett ready for a show tonight. Perfect. Not a lot, but just enough not to feel like I didn’t do aaaanything at all.

Alright, well. That’s it for now. I just wanted to check-in and reroute my digestive escapades from yesterday so that that particular post is not¬†the first thing you all see when you see Me. Hee. *embarrassedblush* I hope you all have (or had) a love-ily Friday!

Day 39, TGI_.

Fessin’ Up.

So here I sit with my cuppa joe and my laptop, ready to come clean.

I mentioned loooooong ago (a whole month?) that I have two nasty ol’ monsters hanging on my back – 1 Alcoholism, and 2 Bipolarismness. I really did not tread lightly into addressing them both head-on this summer, because the day before I started a mood stabilizer was the day I got sober. And that is where my confession lies. I feel like I’ve been cheating somewhat, or maybe had an added impetus to stay sober, which has helped a lot some days.

There are definitely¬†others out there who take meds which cannot be mixed with alcohol. And? My shame-based secret is that I avoided any med that would¬†require me¬†to stop drinking for a long time. I think that’s weird. I think it’s sad that I would choose drinking over balancing out my brain and making my life easier. … I thought the drink was making my life easier. I didn’t want to let go of my daily reward (1 bottle of wine) for the life of me.¬†Three months ago, I started one drug option, only to develop the beginnings of a life-threatening syndrome (eep!), which led us to realize I was allergic to said-scary-drug, and thus discontinue use. (I pride myself on the wise decision that was.)

I kind of hung out with myself for the next two months, avoiding another jump into a new mood stabilizer, and dragging my feet¬†while kind of,¬†sort of doing a little work towards getting sober. My shrink prescribed gabapentin, which I took maaaaaaybe once a week, instead of drinking. I was not to mix the two at all, so I would¬†have a mini-convo in my head every night to decide which way I would go. Let’s be honest, after two weeks of choosing the drink over the drug, I stuck with the drink and only told my shrink a nicer version of the story… That I had maybe ten sober days in two months, when I really maybe had three. Her whole goal for me was to get me off alcohol so that we could discern which symptoms were which – alcohol’s or bipolar’s – definitely not an easy puzzle to figure out when they’re a-happenin’ at the same time.

So. After the gabapentin, that was right around the time when for whatever reason, I was just kind of Ready. And I still don’t know why I chose it when I did – Sobriety, I mean – but I did. I just started. The next day, I went to my shrink and told her I was one day sober. She jumped on the chance to give me a nighttime mood stabilizer (quetiapine/Seroquel), as well as Naltrexone for the drinking – to help me stay away from it, or at least to change the way it affected me. So, I started those right away that same day, and I’ve been on them ever since.

The ‘fessin’ up’ is because I feel like a little bit of a cheater. These drugs knock me the fuck out. I take them around 10 pm most nights, and by 11/11:15, I am sawing logs. As someone who used to reach for alcohol for the numbing effects it has, I feel a little like I’ve replaced it with something else. Granted, I can still function on the drugs (mostly), but there is definitely a relaxation and drooly-sleepiness that comes with them. So in that way, I feel like I’m cheating a little, because I have the release into the extra, expanded drowsiness.

I guess what I’m saying is that I’m not doing this without a little (or actually, quite a lot of) help, or without a little threat hanging over my head, i.e. I can’t mix the quetiapine with alcohol or its side effects may worsen. And I have the Naltrexone to soften the effect of alcohol if I do jump off this wagon. (Not planning to, for the record.) I have been an easy-A-student my whole life (I’m an asshole), and along with it, I have this weird moral code in me that gets flustered even at the idea of cheating. And I think that’s how I am feeling a bit about these meds and trekking the sober path this past month. I feel like I’m cheating. Like I’m pulling one over on… Someone. Somewhere. Intellectually, I know sobriety is hard enough as it is, and that I shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed or like I’m cheating, because the truth is I Am Sober. And who cares how I got here? … It also goes to show you (and me) I am not doing this Alone (for once in my life). I have got support up the wazoo, and I am reaching out for it on a regular basis (also a first for me).

… … Oh…. …..Wait… … Um, okay…. … ¬†…. Thanks, blogopolites! You just reframed my thinking. You are so sneaky and so clever when you do that! So, okay. What I hear you saying is that I am seeking and asking for and depending on help to get through this sober- and mental-rebirth, and you know what? You’re right! Awesome. Now I feel better. You’re the best, blogolopitans.*

Moral Crisis Averted.

Day 31, gettin’ high (on Life) with a little help from my friends.

 

A Sober Hangover.

Testing, testing… Alright, so. Here I am. All in my muddle and mess of figuring out sobriety day by day, or minute by minute, whichever the case may be. … Noticing¬†that I am feeling embarrassed about my posts yesterday and the complete polarization of them – the high highs and the low lows – because I really was all over the place, and because I put it all out Here. I feel embarrassed because I wasn’t perfect, nor was my sobriety perfect (well, it was in the fact that I didn’t drink, but yesterday was a struggle absolutely in my head). I am embarrassed because I let it all hang out there and put my thoughts out to the ethernet gods and goddesses to note and recognize, or just to file away as having been. Silly human. … Hrm. I also have a sliver of proud in yesterday, because I¬†did let it all out, and I didn’t hide. All of those messy emotions just out there, naked, for everyone to see and read. … Am I having a sober hangover? Is that what this is? Feeling discombobulated, a bit embarrassed (as mentioned), a little confused by myself, and relieved that it all got blurted out in one way or another in the moment. … Yeah. Definitely SoberHangover.

So.

Now that that’s over (by ‘that,’ I mean ‘yesterday)…

After I unleashed all of my thoughts and feelings (like the kraken) on all of you innocent souls, I drove to my show, as I said I would. And no one was the wiser, except the hubs. So, thank you for that, oh, great and all-knowing tide of beautiful humanity. Even though I’m feeling a bit the worse for wear today, I am also feeling better, because I sat in those goddamned ugly things (i.e. emotions) and let them be what they were. And now, after a time, they’ve dissipated and become less. And that is good. And comforting to know the emotions will calm down, if I just give them time (How you say in your language… Patience? (Yeah, that may need to be a life-lesson further down the road…. in my 80s, maybe. Probably 90s.))

So.

Again.

Bringing yesterday into focus along the continuum of recovery, I am thinking my 5 stages of grief are all muddled and mixed together, so yesterday’s ups and downs, and especially its sadness and anger make a lot of sense … Now. Later. After the fact. (Don’t you just hate that?)

The 5 Stages of Grief
As Seen Through the Eyes of HM

  • Denial & Isolation – Spent a lot of time here, and even revisit it now and again in the past several weeks. If I were super-honest with myself, I would say I spent four solid years in denial, with the past two years becoming harder and harder to hold onto the facade, but goddammit if I was going to let go without a fight. And if I were even more honest than super-honest, I would say my entire 20s were spent justifying and permitting myself to continue drinking, even though I was too good at it (i.e. completely smashed almost every night). The past two years, working¬†with my therapist (hi), I thought it was my depression/bipolar, or at least, I hoped it was my depression that was making it hard to control my drinking (smartie-therapist suspected what I will call the Truth). But I admit, now, to how hard I worked at keeping myself at home and alone with my favorite obscurer of everything happy and sad. In these past few months, I was like the end of a movie when the villain (or the good guy, depending on your point of view) is holding onto the edge of a dusty cliff with the tips of his fingernails, scraping at every little pebble and grain of sand, trying to keep hold.
  • Anger –¬†This showed up in full-force yesterday. I also go through many Good days with multiple anger flare-ups, usually directed at my unsuspecting children and/or husband. These bursts of anger are my most frustrating aspects of sobriety thus far. I want to be like Glinda and float along in my big pink, tulle gown, in my big pink, glittery bubble, and show one and all what a kind, benevolent, and sweet (perfect) human being I am. … And then Anger shows up and I send people running for the hills. Usually it’s incidental. Things out of my control, or moments of being nice again and again and trying to move towards an end result, but then shit hits the fan, and I lose my cool. They don’t last very long when they’re just bursts, but still. I wish they didn’t happen so regularly. … I would say yesterday’s anger was a different from the daily fare. I was angry about missing alcohol, and angry that I couldn’t be like ‘everyone else,’ and angry because sobriety is hard, and angry because why do I have to go through it like this, and angry because I have to go through it at all, and angry because I know sobriety is the right choice and way for me, and that in and of itself pisses me the fuck off. And I still¬†feel those things today to some extent, but in a much smaller way. A much quieter ‘It’s not fair’ 5-year-old-self mewling and whining and feeling generally sorry for herself. WahWah. Poor baby. I know she will come out every once in awhile, as will the louder, angrier yelly voice, but again. It will pass. Eventually.
  • Bargaining – I think before I ever ventured into this sober world, I had jumped well into this stage. I would do anything to be able to curb my drinking habit. I was just like so many others – setting glass limits, or saying I’ll take a day off, or swearing I will only drink on the weekends, or giving myself a start time that would magically get pushed earlier and earlier, or …. anything I could think of to not have to let go of drinking all together. … Frustrating that this voice is still trying to be heard in my abstinence. This is the little whisper that keeps bringing up the devil Moderation. It wiggles its way into my brain on a given day, and then it takes all of my effort to either shut it up, or at the very least, to let it whisper on all day while I get my ire up and work to ignore it or focus on something else. Having taken the option of drinking completely off the table has helped so much, because even when the bargaining voice shows up (the fucker), because I can’t drink, I don’t. Does that makes sense? Yes, of course I want to entertain the idea, but because I am not drinking, and even though the bargaining whispers get louder as a day goes on, I don’t drink because I can’t. I’m not doing that, so I don’t. A little elementary, but it seems to work. … This stage, too, is what really feeds into the other cycle of anger for me – particularly in sobriety. As soon as this one shows up, my pissed-off-self is not too far behind. I wish I could pop this bargaining voice with a dart. I fucking hate it. Grr.
  • Depression – This one takes on different shapes and sizes depending on the day. Sometimes I am sad, but beatifically saint-like as I say ‘goodbye’ to alcohol. Sometimes I am just skinned-my-knee-sad that it’s a hard day and uncomfortable. Some days I look into the future (even though I am only supposed to look at today), and I see all of the ‘todays’ to come and miss it, miss alcohol Forever. That feels like a black hole on those days, or okay, I have a short attention span, in those minutes or hours. … Before I committed to sobriety, I was in this stage along with the denial/isolation for a long while. I looked at Forever a lot, and I think it is what held me back from committing sooner to this (awesome) journey. … And again, yesterday I was here, too, because it was intermingled with my anger. I like the beatific-saint-days best – I feel so superior and smug.
  • Acceptance – Finally got to this point after years of avoidance, mixed with everything above. One day – 9 June, 2015 – I realized today was the day. I don’t even know why I chose that day, or how it chose me. … I mean, yes, there is the cute math problem that came with it, but really? I didn’t go on a bender the night before, I didn’t embarrass myself the night before, I didn’t wake-up with an incredibly significant headache, but? I was done. And I was ready. After going through these stages over and over for years, it was time. And I am still mostly here than any of the other stages, so that is awesome. I¬†know I must be sober. I am better sober. And as I said before, many times, I am Me sober.

Day 27, mic drop.

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.*

 

The Talk.

Wow.

I love my husband.

And WowWow.

My therapist is awesome (hi).

And WowWowWow.

The Talk (referred to yesterday here) was fantastic, incredible, much-needed, relaxing, supportive, honest, heartfelt, sincere, thoughtful, scary-in-a-good-way, kind, gentle, funny, loving, truth-telling, checking-in, goal-oriented, careful-listening, hand-holding, tea-drinking, sobriety-centered-Awesomeness.

Seriously. You guys should try this. It’s delicious.

I shared a ton with the hubs about where I’ve been with my addiction these past 5-10 years. Was very honest about how much I’ve been hiding it from him. Got to ask him if he noticed my drinking habit and if he just wasn’t saying anything, and he said, ‘Well, you’ve been hiding it.’ Touch√©, sir.

We talked about his non-addictive brain versus my addictive brain, and the fact that we both don’t quite understand how the other one works. Thought that was helpful as an idea, because it put us on separate planets looking at each other… Not Venus & Mars. I’m thinking more like the Little Prince and all of the different planets and people he encounters.

I admitted that at times in the past, I really wanted the hubs to notice and to say something so that I wouldn’t have to make the choice or¬†see¬†and¬†own the problem myself first. (Is it weird to say I sometimes dreamed about an intervention so that I wouldn’t have to do the work myself? Weirdo.) And, again, he was great, because he just laughed and said he definitely could not do that because I would get all bent out of shape the way I do anytime he tries to teach me or tell me something (remnants of childhood daughter-dad relationship). So again, touch√©, sir.

He was just so gentle and receptive, as he always is, if I give him the credit he deserves. (I married him because he is Kind (and he loves his mother)). He said he just needed time to catch-up as I¬†have been keeping this journey so secret from him, because I’ve been wary of it and quite ashamed of it as well, and that seemed like a deal I could keep. It’s been 2-5 years in the making, and when I consider it’s almost all been in my head, except for one AA meeting all of a sudden 3 years ago (My Approach: Rip off the bandage and go Right Then), I understand his mild confusion at all this.

My requests were: 1. Check-in maybe weekly and give me a little knock on my shoulder and say, ‘Good job, pal.’ (Which he then did immediately.) 2. Celebrate milestones. 30 days is my first one I’d like to dance-party away with him. 3. Get out and get busy doing things… Festivals, fairs, events out and about the city, carnivals with the kids, etc. Especially on the weekends. I want to remember that I love living and doing and being. And I want to be with my family while I do it. I hid away from so much for far too long.

My favorite moment of the meeting was when I turned to him and asked, ‘Have you noticed anything different in the past two weeks?’ And he looks right back at me with his calico eyes and says, ‘You’re happy.’ … … … … … I am So. Lucky. To be married to someone who wants that for me, and hurts for me when I’m not happy. And who notices. And who knows. And who gets me. Wow. I just. Gah. It makes me get all weepy just thinking how beautiful that moment was. It meant and means so much to me. Lucky. I am. And loved. Wah.

So, yes. Top that amazing heart-to-heart with an equally stunning run of our theatre production last night, and I was on Cloud 9. No shoes were thrown at anyone. I did not want to light the stage on fire. Everyone was focused and strong and playful and fun, and the story was there and gorgeous and funny and poignant. Loved it. Loved the day. Love the hubs.

Today, a little time with the babes, more sewing projects this afternoon, and then a final dress before we open tomorrow.

Day 18 started with a little too much coffee… Can you tell?

Me and Einstein have SO much in common...

Me and Einstein have SO much in common…

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