The Rut from Hell

It’s been a long time since I’ve written here and that seems about right. I’ve started countless journals, only to cart them around move to move, unfinished and unfilled. Unable to throw them away, I take comfort in going back over these fragments in time. Sometimes my heart aches for the broken person whose distress is fresh, even now. Sometimes I feel like I’m reading the words of someone much wiser, put together even, who seems to be reassuring me from afar. Reading over the posts that I made in early sobriety feel mostly like the latter. Which is crazy to me as it was such a busy, stressful, physically and emotionally demanding time. At least as far as I remember. I do have a way of prettying things up–making my depression (since that’s mostly what I write about) palpable.

Let me tell you, I’m not counting days the same way that I used to. Maybe I should. I’m still in recovery, but saying that means something different than it did from the start, and maybe that’s an issue. I’m still trying to suss it out. I’m not drinking, so there’s that.

My life is amazing–I mean that truly. The promises in many ways have come true. I have a job in my field that is part of my identity and exercises my compassion. I have a loving partner, who has been by my side for over two years. I have family that has forgiven and embraced me and friends that still call me when I’m set on isolation.

I, however, am still struggling. I am moderately to severely depressed most of the time. I lately find myself nearly crippled with anxiety that is only salved with a strong sense of guilt and responsibility. And a strong memory of what happens when I give in to those feelings and shut down. I am thankful for the wonders that sobriety has granted me–a stable life–for that has shown me that my depression is real, not situational, not simply a passing phase. I can look at the blessings of the universe in my life and say, “I’m grateful” while acknowledging that my brain is still trying to kill me. And FUCK that sucks. I wanted to deeply to be clear of this shit. I’ve known depression since I was a child and gaslighted myself about its existence for just as long.

It has gotten to the point where I can’t even lie to strangers about how I’m feeling. I can’t fake it till I make it. And I’m torn on whether or not I should want to. I work in a social-work oriented field now, gravitating towards helping others muddle through the mess of life as many addicts and hurt people do. There’s is an emphasis upon normalization. Normalizing mental illness, normalizing alternative coping mechanisms, normalizing the shit. Normalization in this sense is not so much painting these things as favorable or sustainable but rather emphasizing the importance of talking about them, seeking help, being authentic about that which makes us most alone in this life.

I operate generally under the mentality that if I don’t make waves with my own emotional nonsense, if I keep everyone happy and unaware, if I get shit done and manage my business on my own, I have succeeded. This mentality has failed me countless times. It has nearly killed me, it has left me with ingrained and harmful habits and beliefs that seek to fuck me to this day.

I know better, I seek to help my clients reach places that are better. But I’ve also seen through this work how abysmal the chances of successfully getting help can be. I’ve seen people spit out by systems that were probably run by people just like me, trying to do right by people only to fall short. I’ve seen people destroyed and marginalized by the very things that were meant to pull them out of isolation and despair. This particularly long ass three month rut has left me thinking, do I even know how to get help? Do I really want the help that’s available? Do I want to go through the song and dance of therapy, medications, etc. just to start over and over again?

I don’t know. We’ll just have to see.
Hang in there.

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The gifts of sobriety

-I have a job (2 jobs!) that I enjoy and do well.

-I have positive interactions with my coworkers, meaningful interactions even.

-I move about my day with patience (most of the time), focusing on each task rather than focusing on how I’m going to overcome my withdrawal before lunchtime.

-I wake up on time, often with a headache, but I know that’s because I didn’t drink enough water before bed, rather than getting into all sorts of trouble while drunk the night before.

-I am still broke, but I don’t feel guilty about it because I’m spending my money on the life I’m trying to live rather than my suicide.

-My car is about to break down, but I know that I’ll be okay.

-I’m about to move and I know that I’ll be okay.

– I am aware of what I’ve survived so far in sobriety, and while I’m still working on grace, I faced challenges with far more faith and strength than I would’ve drunk.

-I still have a sense of humor.

-I get to be a part of my friends’ lives. I get to make them laugh and visa versa, hold their babies, go on adventures, and lend support rather than inspiring worry and heartbreak.

-I get to be an example and resource for my younger siblings. I get to stick around for them.

-My health is improving, my energy, my ambition.

-Intimacy is a whole different experience. Whereas before sex meant a blurred line between consent and assault, I feel an ownership and connection to my body and sexuality–both alone and with a partner. I am starting to work on healing past trauma related to my body and sex.

-I have been given friends who are getting to know me from my most rotten core and they love me truly, because we keep each other sober and help each other see the light in ourselves.

-I get to be a living amends. Everyday that I stay sober and strive to grow in sobriety and in life, the healthier my relationships get to be. It helps me cope with my past and connect to my grief in a healing way.

-I paint and write and read and sing.

-On days like this, I feel the desire to go run around and play in the sun, instead of hiding from it with a bottle.

-My life is full, big, wide open, and busy–overwhelmingly so sometimes. But, again, I know I’ll be okay.

-I’m able to treat issues external to my sobriety–including my mental health–in a more productive way.

– I can see both the end of things and beginnings of things–both happy and sad are temporary–that’s how I know I’ll be okay.

-This list could be endless.

 

TSS

over 9 months!

Us Little Ones

I keep a picture of my six-year-old self in my wallet. I’ve gravitated towards tokens for a long time. I keep these things with me as reminders. A torn piece of a sentence that I picked up in the park (and continue to carry with me through each move), the top of a bottle my best friend tossed off my roof the night that we slept together and destroyed our relationship, a scrap from my dad’s car tire that I found later at the scene of his accident, bottle caps, rocks, hospital bracelets. They represent important moments in my life, many of which involved me trying to get sober or at least less unhappy. The chips from each sobriety milestone fall perfectly into this collection. The lovely thing is that, unlike my other tokens, they represent continued success in my effort to recover.

The picture in my wallet is one of the more important tokens that I have, It shows me a version of myself that I view with love, care, and pity. The mind of an addict or alcoholic seems to be characteristically littered with violently abusive conceptions of our broken selves. Regardless of how my disease manifests itself externally, I could (and sometimes still can) count on a steady stream of hateful words between my ears. My proverbial gun has always been pointed at the center of myself and I pose a tremendous threat to my survival–or at least I do when I am not treating my alcoholism, cross-addictions, trauma, and bi-polar depression.

I need to remind myself, with kindness, that I am working to become the kind of person that I needed. I am working to be able to love and nurture those around me. I am a token too. Scars, wrinkles, gin blossoms, a beat-to-shit soul that for some reason keeps clawing towards the light. I believe it when people say that these things, these times, are going to be what really help me help others. It’s much easier to reach into someone’s darkness and soothe them when you’ve walked through its streets. So I rub my coins raw, hold onto the mementos that now seem so brave in their multitude–We have to give ourselves credit for failing so many times and still holding on to hope with a stubborn desperation–and I hope like hell that this time it sticks, this time it grows, and soon I won’t look at that little girl with a single glimmer of pity in my heart. I will know, then, that she has a powerfully beautiful and complex life ahead of her and that she will earn every moment of joy by being finally well enough to give it back.

So I’m hanging in there, I hope you are too.

TSS

 

Shoot the Alligators Closest to the Boat

Where did we leave off? Relationships in AA?

I ended it with loverboy after my January court date. It was amicable and mature, though we may or may not still bang from time to time– you know, classic healthy, sober, adult behavior. Ha.

Actually, before I get too down on myself, it is moderately healthy behavior, I wanted him to be more enthusiastic about doing shit–really anything–instead of us spending all of our time together after 11pm at his house. As I get healthier, I am becoming annoyingly energetic (it’s not annoying to me, I fucking love it).  I wake up early and stay up late, I exercise, hang out with friends, I paint, I get shit done and instead of crashing and burning about 5.5 months ago like I usually would have, I’ve sustained this energy.  That isn’t where he’s at and that’s okay. If we still enjoy certain aspects of each other’s company (i.e. making music and bumping uglies) , I think that’s okay too.  Due to my past experiences of both wildly reckless promiscuity and carefully buried victimization, I’ve been analyzing everything to extremes–why am I doing this? Am I backsliding? How will this negatively affect my sobriety?–I’ve come to the temporary conclusion that I need to give myself a fucking break.

In other news, I have one day until I finish my 30 day stint in Work Release. Something that bugged the hell out of me when I first went in and over the course of the first few weeks was when I would encounter people that would tell me that I’d be okay or that it wouldn’t be so bad. I feel like some, if not most, people would interpret these comments as supportive and encouraging, I, on the other hand, felt myself closing up and getting annoyed if they came from someone who had not been in work release/the criminal system before. In my head, it went a little something like this. “You will be okay”–yes, I know I will be okay, I’m always okay, even when I’m not okay. “It’s not that bad”–it probably isn’t as bad as it could be by any means but could you just let me stew in my anxiety, fear, anger, guilt, etc. for a moment instead of reassuring me that I will emotionally survive this experience that you have as little information about as I do? Thank you! 10th step resentment shit, right?

I am okay and it wasn’t so bad. That doesn’t mean that I am not fucking ecstatic to get out and GO HOME. I’ve been struggling my ass off these past few weeks, having nightmares about relapse, thinking about it all day. That’s what scares me, That is why I’m not always okay and that is what is that bad. Being babysat for 30 days while working my ass off 7 days a week (don’t get me wrong, I love my jobs) compounds everything. I feel far from the group, rushed, and cut off. 6 months and I am crazier than a coconut.

But, as usual, I’m hanging in there. My sponsor told me to start giving it back, so I’m raising my hand in meetings now. I’m excited to be a sponsor and grateful to be sober, even more so when my pink cloud turns to a shit-storm.

Tss

202 days of sobriety

You and I

So somehow, I fell into a relationship.Which has been a hell of a lot better than falling into a drink. When my sponsor recommended that I refrain from dating during my first year of sobriety, I laughed and told her that it had been a couple of years since I’d even entertained the notion of getting some, much less actually appreciating someone as a partner.

I met him during the AA haunted house that we put together a few weeks back. We started going out one-on-one shortly after. He’s pretty damn super, guys.

I haven’t fallen for someone in YEARS, but I feel myself caring for him more and more everyday. It helps that he is also in recovery, because we are both predisposed to the idea of talking about meaningful things until we’re blue in the face. Our conversations are frank and honest, he is inspiringly direct. Still, going gah-gah for someone signifies a fair amount of chaos for me.

I’m aware that in many ways, I have zero control. That’s one of the main points of AA, after all. I feel great, really happy, and pretty much scared shitless all the time, but the happy part is worth it. My life today is mind-blowingly different than it was a few months ago. I hate how cheesy that sounds, like a false promise, but seriously, this bitch is getting shit done and going places. I still have consequences down the line that worry me (i.e. work release, probation, etc.) but the program and especially the people in it have helped me develop sufficient armor to face and take responsibility for these parts of my life.

Still working a good program, still staying hopeful and willing, and, most importantly, still sober.

Hang in there,

TSS

4+ months sober