Category Archives: Rants and Raves

Don’t Mind Me…Or My Mouth…

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I’ve made a lot of progress over the past 10 months…I don’t blow a gasket at drivers going the speed limit or go ballistic in grocery stores.  I don’t want cocaine when I see salt.  I have a job I love and am becoming a functional member of society.  I even pay taxes.

I have not, however, learned restraint of tongue and pen…

Tonight I was at particularly moving meeting for newbies.  The topic was triggers during the holidays, and my fellow beginners were honest and poignant.  There were a number of people who I wanted to try and offer some solution to, having been there myself quite recently.  I was really listening to each share, but someone in the back of the meeting kept dropping something clamorously on the wood floor.  It sounded like a frying pan falling on a metal bouncy trampoline.

For the 10 millionth time (okay maybe 8th time) the disruption came again, this time in the middle of my share; just when I was getting to some tender shit. The thing dropped and I pivoted in my chair, whipped my head toward the back of the room and said/yelled a little, “What the FUCK is that?!”

To my chagrin, it was some girl knitting. She kept losing grip of the knitting apparatus thingy.   I awkwardly regained composure, apologized to her and the rest of the large room (thank God they were familiar faces), and tried to spew something about a spiritual Christmas before passing.  In my defense, it was a really really obnoxious noise.  What was she doing back there, anyway?  Combat knitting?

She was the last to raise her hand and of course shared about dying puppies and job loss.  Great.

Maybe I was assembled without a pause button, and that’s why I find myself in so many awkward situations.  A few months ago a guy asked me if I wanted to grab a beer.  Instead of saying, “I don’t drink,” or “maybe coffee instead,” I said, “How about apple juice?”

His response:  “See ya.”

Obviously someone who can’t hang with juice boxes isn’t for me, but the point is…I dunno, there’s a point in here somewhere.

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I’m Probably Jealous of Your Blog

I WILL DESTROY YOU TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER RAAAAR

I WILL DESTROY YOU TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER RAAAAR

Day 282

My defects of character are always one step ahead.  By the time I catch up to a situation at hand, the alcoholic part of my brain has already decided how to spring into action, or isolate into oblivion.  Any notions that run on defects, naturally, are not the best.  A fault that hijacks my mind with the force of a Jedi night is jealousy; an emotion anyone with a steam of consciousness is familiar with.

For me, jealousy is the size of Godzilla.  Maybe that’s why they call it the green monster of envy…Anyway, pre AA; there were no tools on how to harness my raging ill will.  My gut reaction was to take the feeling and destroy it by belittling whomever I viewed as a threat.  Unfortunately a lot of the time my first thought is still the same.  Instinctively I want to judge as quickly and harshly as possible, thereby coddling my wounded ego.

Fortunately, now I know how backwards my thinking is, was, and can be. Now, something wonderful happens just before I generate a laundry list of invisible imperfections for someone…I stop.

My bat shit crazy brain comes to a halt, because I know now that the set of instructions I was following for life never worked.  Judgment made me feel shameful, more alone, and dragged me further into the darkest place of my pity partying mind.

Sure, the same feeling of jealousy still bites me in the ass when someone has what I want, whether it be looks, success, family, ambition, slippers, whatever. That’s okay though, because AA has taught me that envy is just fear, and fear is something I’m learning to recognize, face, and erase.

It comes naturally to torment myself that I’ll never have what you have, I’ll never be pretty like her, or happy like him. It’s easy to judge the shit out of you, and assume that you had a leg up that I missed, and therein lies the reason you have what I don’t.

The hard part has been learning that none of those things are true.  The hardest part has been finding the pause button, and following a new set of instructions.

Through powers of example and with the help of my HP, I’m learning to be truly happy for people, and it feels good.  When I ask for envy to be removed, it is–I might have to ask 20 times a day, but it’s becoming easier to redirect defects.

I used to dislike for the sole purpose to make myself feel better, but now I’m doing the exact opposite and finding that is where the solution has been all along.  To commend others for their success and try to help where they fall short breaks down the barrier between everyone and me.   Helping others is what’s made me more confident.

The best thing about my new set of instructions (aka the steps) is that the better I get at following them; the more I have to offer.

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Frozen Yogurt or Something

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Day…Month 9 and change.

I’d be lying if I said I had my sh*t together right now.  My emotions in the past 48 hours have ranged from hysterical laughter, hysterical crying, extreme sadness, lethargy, mundaneness, rage, contempt, contented, fatigued, and spasmodic…and this is me on a mood stabilizer. The posts I started to write but deleted with fury were just as disorderly. This has been going on for two days.

Yesterday my attention was focused on researching the tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I intended to relay a scholarly, articulate interpretation of my past drunk version of Hyde, and the present sober Hyde in me who is still very alive.  I thought that’d be a good time to write about how I was threatening to sue IKEA for a dresser I built incorrectly, but that was a dud, too.

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(This is how I look right now)

I confessed my writer’s block (more like writer’s spaz) to a friend.  Together we tried to generate metaphors on life and frozen yogurt.  This is what we came up with:

-Today is like a gummy bear…transparent and sticky.

-My mind is like a clogged frozen yogurt dispenser.

-My ideas are the crumbs that everyone drops because those stupid spoons are too shallow.

-My fingers are like gummy worms.

-Frozen yogurt is like a blank canvas.  The toppings mean so and so…

So far nothing has been able to reassemble my discombobulated thoughts.  I feel like the creativity portion of my brain is Humpty Dumpty; in pieces and can’t be put together again.

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(sorry to be so graphic)

I even tried to provoke my archenemy for material, but the fight didn’t progress much past, “fuck this guy,” and something about grudges in small huts.  I guess writing about disdain isn’t exactly a sober topic anyway.

The worst part about this shit-show is that the problem is obvious and the solution is one step away.  My pal “Dan” said he was a crazy person during Steps 6 & 7, and now I understand why. In Step 6 I came to terms with the defects of character I’d like to be removed, but they’re still there because I’ve been unwilling to get rid of them. After being in limbo for 3 weeks I finally willingly read Step 7. It was an extreme ah-hah-clarity moment.  Hey look I’m actually writing about something.

“Our crippling handicap had been our lack of humility.”

Humility as I understand it is: “not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

My lack of humility explains this neurotic scatterbrain state I’m in.  My actions inside the AA room have been “A” material but outside, getting an “F.”  Road raging, threatening to sue IKEA over a dresser, buying things I don’t need, and thinking of myself are traits I’ve been working to eradicate, not enhance.

“Instead of regarding the satisfaction of our material desires as the means by which we could live and function as human beings, we had taken these satisfactions to be the final end and aim of life.”

I live in a town where material possessions prevail, and my insecurities make it real easy to forget that they don’t matter.  Standing in line at Starbucks sometimes makes me feel like I’m the only person at a fashion show wearing jeans and flip-flops.

What I’ve forgotten in between Step 6 and 7 is that my confidence and happiness aren’t going to come from acting more selfish, less grateful, and insanely insecure.  I forgot to remember that I have to work at this everyday, because one bad mood makes me behave like I’m being victimized by the world.  Self-centered fears starts running my show and I start losing it, in more ways than one.

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(victimizing as usual)

So I guess if I was to compare myself to frozen yogurt right now…kidding, totally kidding. I’ll keep coming.

The End.

The End.

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Procrastination: Getting nothing done, slower!

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Day 271

Woke up at 6:03AM as usual, made oatmeal which I consider to be as whole as healthy gets, stretched, prayed, went to the nanny gig at 7:00AM.  In a hustle, I shook off a brrr before I opened the door.  The second I walked in the 10-year-old munchkin/monster jumped out from behind a chair.

“BOO!!!!!!” She screamed with her hands up like claws. She got me.  Friggin’ boo tag.

Since it’s too cold to play basketball in the mornings Miss. Anonymous has taught me what she calls “Boo-Tag,” and I call “Anxiety Attack.”  The game goes like this:  one of us counts to 20 as the other hides somewhere in the house.  There’s the standard “ready or not here I come” warning, and the objective is to scare the crap out of the seeker the second before they see you.

My physiatrist told me that the worst thing to do for anxiety is avoid it, and recommended I put myself in situations that make me  most anxious; like driving on highways, and watching scary movies.  I figure since my mornings are now living nightmares, I’m taking doctor’s orders and enhancing my cognitive health.

After getting my blood pumping I went to job 2, which was great. It was picture day, and we had a photographer who started barking like a dog.  Usually I hate getting my picture taken but this guy made it worth the pain.  Plus, there were donuts.  I had the NY Giants-frosted one even though they should be shamed to NFL hell.

Then I had to get cupcakes, because someone mentioned cake; I can’t talk about cakes and not eat cupcakes.  I stopped at the bakery and picked two with the most grotesque amount of frosting.  I ate both and immediately regretted it.

There’s been a lot of nothing since then.  I fought with some insurance companies, wandered around, picking things up, putting them down, going to my laptop, googling dog behavior, texting for 20 minutes about diabolical plans, play dates, fireballs, and how Yoda’s name should be Young Yody. After that it was back to the computer, leaving my computer, etc., etc., etc.

Sometimes I think I spend my day walking around in circles, growing increasingly more anxious and stressed with each lap, until it’s nighttime; then I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about all the shit I didn’t get done. Procrastination will be the death of me…if I ever make it there.

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The Disease of More

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Moderation has never come easily to me; I’m not  sure if I ever had it at all.  When I was only two and a half years old my mom introduced to the sweet, swirly goodness of cinnamon raisin bread. Knowing what I know now, I’m pretty sure this white flour carbohydrate was my first addiction.

Mama Anonymous has recounted my affinity for the bread hundreds of times; how after she doled out one piece, she’d turn around and my little baby butt would be sticking out from the cabinet, in a not-so-sneaky attempt to snag the whole loaf. Even then I felt that one piece was not enough. This would be the theme of my life.

The insatiable thirst for more has consumed me for as long as I can remember.  In elementary school my obsession became watermelon flavored Jolly Ranchers—I would spend my piggy bank money and buy the biggest possible bag from CVS, sneak them past my mom, and stash the inevitable unborn cavities under my pillow so I could eat them in secret at night.  Nothing about my covert Jolly reserve struck me as unusual, and maybe it wasn’t, maybe all kids hid candy under their pillows.  Maybe…

Dependencies have torn me down in mental and physical forms over the years: weed, artificial sugar, advilPM, ibuprofen, coffee, cigarettes, self mutilation, excessive exercise to the point of injury, overeating, under-eating, frozen yogurt, ecstasy–If I can use it I’ll abuse it.

Fortunately my life has taken a turn for sobriety, but my two most dependable addictions are gone: drugs and alcohol.

Whiskey and cocaine went together like peas and carrots, and provided everything I needed to live with myself and cope with others.  They fed me short-cuts to self-esteem and anesthetized the real world (and the real me) I was unable to face.  Mind altering substances diverted me from looking in and finding out where the pain was coming from, and diversions were okay for a while.  Albeit, as many alcoholics say, “it stopped working.”

The addiction I struggle with now is money.  Just like drugs, if I can use it, I’ll abuse it…and I do.  Although, my savings account is taking the brunt of the abuse.  Where’s my piggy bank when I need it?

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35 Ways You Know You’re in Early Sobriety

1.  You have best friends but you don’t know their last name, and you know their sobriety date; not their birthday.

2. When you refer to the Big Book, you’re not talking about the bible.

3. What’s moderation?

4. You can relate to meth heads and heroin addicts more than you can your own mom.

5. Spending $20 on candy for yourself on a Friday night is completely justifiable because, “you’re not consuming all those calories you would if you were still drinking.”

6. You find yourself standing around in a lot of parking lots.

7. Over half your friends live with their parents.

8. You just found out that you’re selfish.

9. Being spiritually fit is more important than being physically fit.

10. Beer commercials have ruined football, forever.

11. You can’t help but grin manically at people suffering from a hangover.

12. Holidays are the leading cause of isolation.

13. You feel like you’re growing up, and down, at the same time.

14.  You have to be reminded to sleep and eat and ask when you need help.

15. Almost everything is your sponsor’s fault.

16. You probably already hate your first sponsor.

17. You’re still a little embarrassed to admit that you pray.

18. There are probably a dozen other addicts and alcoholics in your family.

19. When you tell people you’re going to a meeting and it has nothing to do with work.

20. You’re sick of phrases like, Let go and Let God.

21. When going to a meeting is more important than saving yourself from the apocalypse.

22. You are strongly suggested to stay away from the opposite sex, so naturally you are extra tempted to gravitate toward the opposite sex.

23. Seeing someone from the program around town makes you feel like you guys should have a secret handshake.

24. There is never a time you don’t smell like coffee grounds or cigarettes.

25. You are becoming increasingly okay with going to bed at 9:30.

26.  You have some sober friends who don’t understand, and say things like, “it’s all about will power,” referring to your addictions and alcoholism.

27. Everyone is out to get you.

28. If a door is closed, the people on the other side are definitely talking about you.

29. Salt looks like cocaine.  Ice water looks like vodka on the rocks.

30. V8 will never not smell like a bloody mary.

31. You often feel like you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

32. When a friend switches home groups, it’s like he or she has died.

33. Your conversations consist of everything from crack cocaine and death to rainbows and butterflies.

34. If you go through the day without making a gratitude list you feel like you’re on the brink of relapse.

35. You can probably relate to everything on this list.

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Time Takes Time

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Day 254

If I were to relapse, I think it’d be from pure nostalgia; a feeling that blindsides me from time to time.  It fills my head with happy recollections of the past that make me painfully resentful of the present.

I can’t justify banishing these bittersweet memories.  I lose myself musing in the life I’ll never recapture…. even though I know that the memories I relish in jeopardize my sobriety.

I rationalize indulging in nostalgia because it doesn’t make me behave irrationally the way other emotions do–like say, anger.

When I’m enraged in sobriety I have many outlets and opportunities to express my frustrations.  Typically I blame pedestrians who have the right of way by laying on the horn and yelling “cocksuckers,” at them, while waving my middle finger out the window.  Such maniac behavior is unreasonable, irrational, and generally pretty embarrassing.

But nostalgia doesn’t make me react on the outside; it breaks my insides.

A song came on a Pandora station today and transported me straight back to the pot farm, to the point that I could almost feel the weight of a condensation covered PBR, and smell stickiness from a harvest.

The Avett Brother’s ballad took me through 3 minutes of self-inflicted torture; I could have turned the song off the second it came on, but the emotional levy broke and I did nothing for it to be blocked.

It was like a slide projector of moments in time.  I saw the bonfires in the middle of our illegal Redwood’s playground, I saw the green Jeep Wrangler with no doors, me learning how to drive stick shift with a beer in the cup holder and a huge smile on my face.

I saw the orange sunset over the mountains and felt the feeling of freedom.  I felt bumpy trips down the rocky mountain in the grey pickup, and never worrying about the mud smeared on our legs or our boots covered resin.  I could smell the pour of gasoline into a generator and the sound of it coming to life.  I saw my friends and me sitting on the tailgates of trucks, nowhere in particular, just to drink because no one was telling us not to and no one ever would.

The track switched and I was jolted back to reality, as I always am when nostalgia strikes and ends.  I force myself to remember the shell of a human being I became, that a relationship I kept holding onto almost robbed me of all dignity, and remind my heart and mind that the fire red sunsets turned into grey coked out mornings; that the Wrangler was destroyed, and real laughs died out well before the end.

Still, sometimes I try to convince myself that the old life is obtainable some 3,000 miles away on a mountain full of freedom. Maybe it was for that time.  These notions are what could take me out.  I’ve heard that “time takes time,” and illustrations of the past do eventually fade; I’m just not entirely sure I want them to.

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You’re sick? Here, Prison Should Help

behind bars

My friend’s little brother is struggling with opiate addiction. Actually, he’s not little anymore; he’s 22 years old and has a good 5” on me.  Regardless, I’ve known him since he’s had chubby cheeks and temper tantrums; therefore I reserve the right to forever see him as a little brother.

The last time I saw “little brother,” was about a month ago; he was strung out and had the glazed over hollowness in his eyes that we all know.  My heart hurt for my friend and her family and for little brother’s future or lack there of.  I think the most frustrating part about being in this program is “getting it,” and seeing someone else missing “it.”

After seeing him that day I went home and expressed my troubled thoughts and feelings of helplessness to someone who was familiar with the situation.

“What happened?”  My confidant asked with concernment, referring to little brother’s reality, “he was such a good kid.”

He was such a good kid.  This notion makes me want to scream and yell and throw big books around, because the professed solicitude is misplaced.  The tragedy is not that he was such a good kid, it’s that he IS such a good kid, but the need for drugs has taken over his want to live.  I feel like when many people witness the disease taking over, they preemptively decide it’s the end.

There seems to be an understanding among those who don’t understand that once a fuck-up, always a fuck up, and you chose to be a fuck up.  You got an addiction, you fucked up.  What these people don’t see is that the “fuck up” is still a good person; the “good kid” is still inside, and what the kid needs is help, not judgment from society with an arms up, “see ya.”

When I voiced my despair over little brother, it didn’t matter to my confidant that he has a kind smile and a genuine laugh with a big heart.  To someone who doesn’t understand, those characteristics are engulfed by shameful addiction that probably could have been controlled if they had tried a little harder.

I read the St. Francis prayer every morning when I get out of bed to counteract whatever selfish thoughts are already brewing. The portion of the prayer that asks  “I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand,” rings relevant in this situation, but despite St. Francis, I’m am still wanting to be understood as a representative of the fucked up population.  What I’ve written here is a result of over-sensitivity, justified anger, and a self-centered demand for the world to rethink their stigma against addicts and alcoholics. All the same, I believe these wishes are warranted.

Of the 2.3 million inmates in the US, more than half have a history of substance abuse and addiction, and a large percentage of those million landed themselves in prison because of desperate busted attempts to feed their habit.  The punishment of people already being punished by a disease is fueled by convictions that drug users and alcohol abusers are good people gone bad; they are undeniably lost causes.

It doesn’t take addiction for a human to lose his or her way; everyone gets lost sometimes.  But those who don’t lose themselves in a bottle or baggie have a better chance of betterment, and why shouldn’t we all?  Help is available but not behind bars. Little brother IS a good kid and not was. Anyone’s genuine smile can be restored, but not if people decide for the sick that it’s already the end.

Day 247

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But Why is the Good Mood Gone?

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I wrote this last night…not exactly my most inspirational shit.

Day 242

I want to live in a world where if I wake up in a good mood, I have the right to retain that positive condition for the duration of my day.  Let’s take this morning, for example; woke up thrilled to be alive.  Before the day even started there was prayer, meditation; I almost skipped out of the house leaving flower petals in my path, like a friggin Disney princess.

Fast forward to tonight.  Here I am sitting at my kitchen table positively apoplectic at nothing and everything, with a ‘tude that’ll probably land me on Isolation Island.  Isolation Island is the place I refer to when I shut down.  Kind of like the government, only they’ll be bullheaded idiots forever.  Anyway…. I digress.  Back to hating myself and everyone involved.

For me nothing is more annoying than someone trying to take my bad mood away–sounds childish, I know, but maybe isolating myself just to feel the shittiness of a situation is what helps most. I feel an extreme loathing toward AA right now, and AA is always talking about feeling feelings, and this is what I’m feeling.  AA is also always talking about bullshit that makes me want to bang my head against every door of the church on my way out, which I came close to doing this evening.

The topic for discussion was willingness.  What a stupid fucking topic.  I wanted to share and say to the leader,

“Hey lady, our asses are glued to these foldout chairs aren’t they?  These moronic made chairs that are physically impossible to sit comfortably on?  If we weren’t willing, why else would we subject ourselves to this torture chamber?  And why are you talking to a room of willing people about willingness?  Why not go to a bar, find the alcoholics still drinking, and talk to those messes about getting their shit together.”  The speaker is someone I actually respect so I held my tongue.

When the discussion closed I bolted down the staircase before the ceremonial recitation of the Lord’s Prayer.  I didn’t put my chair away, either, I wonder if that’s double whammy AA blasphemy.  To be on the safe side I apologized to my HP as I power-walked through the parking lot.

I’m not sure at what point today or tonight my good mood started checking out but I can pinpoint where it was totally annihilated.   It wasn’t when I had to shell out $660 to a tax collector agency; (for a drunk accident last year, I tripped over a boat…different story), it wasn’t the stupid fucking topic, it was a casual drive through town that has sent me over the edge.

There’s a little Italian restaurant near my house where my friends and I would wine and dine every once in a while.  I’ve passed this place over 100 times since I got sober and it’s never made my heart hurt or my anger flare like it has tonight, and it was triggered by two complete strangers and some cancer sticks.

My mind was staring blankly at the red light in front of me, numbing out from the nonsensicalness of the meeting, and the restaurant was to my right.  Two men walked outside, lighting up cigarettes.  That’s all it took.  I am suddenly so fucking angry at my sobriety.

Cravings pass–they turn me into a ballistic fire breathing human dragon, but they pass.   This isn’t about not being able to drink in the moment; it’s about not being able to drink ever.   It’s feeling like I’m missing out on parts of life because of my sobriety; those parts I miss now and I’ll probably miss always.  It is infuriating and depressing all at once.  Seeing those men outside the restaurant has brought the consequences of sobriety to the forefront, because I used to stand outside that restaurant, with cigarettes, and friends, and have nights to get ready for.  I don’t feel like I’ve been freed from a disease, I feel like I’ve been sentenced to sober hell.  I do dramatic really well.

I don’t care how ridiculous it is that I miss smoking cigarettes outside a fancy restaurant, or how “first world” problematic it sounds.  Trust me I know the pettiness of these “issues” in the grand scheme things, but that recognition doesn’t make my reality any less painful.  I am officially in full fledge everything-is-about-me mode.

Blah blah blah, ego ego ego, insert AA jargon here.  Still not listening.

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Survival Skills

You mean this isn't okay?

You mean this isn’t okay?

Day 233

Getting sober entails so much more than putting down the drink and abstaining from cocaine.  This was brand new information.  I thought it’d be, “ok, don’t drink, ok, good job, you graduated.”  Lies.  Life altering revelations were blindsiding me in the very beginning, and they still are, but I’m taking notice of the smaller necessary changes, too. It’s like growing up for real this time; I just recently decided it’s time to start with a basic survival skill: cooking.

This morning started as Operation Make Omelet but ended in a near-fire bailout.  It began innocently enough; eggs in a bowl, check; mix eggs around; check; put nonstick stuff in stupid-proof-omelet device…Fail.  Spilling oil all over the burner didn’t seem like a big deal to me, until everything started smoking and Safety Squad Mom was called for backup.  Evidently that’s a great way to start a fire. No big deal, I’ll use the other burner.

Fat chance.  Things were back on track until the omelet device started spewing egg guts and hot oil everywhere. I have the disease of more, dammit, and three eggs with five sides of veggies couldn’t fit in the stupid-proof-easy-omelet-maker-thingy.  There was too much everything so naturally I panicked and tried to prematurely flip the whole kit and kaboodle.  This is where it really went down hill.

The double sided pan was never securely fastened, so when I tried to turn it upside down everything went upside down with it.  Avocados sizzled on burners everywhere, egg yoke dripped into the deepest darkest parts of the mean cooking machine, onion bits fell to the floor all slimy and slow in whisked grossness…I mean it was a real disaster.  Mom Squad heard my war cry and calmly came to the rescue. She assessed the scene, turned off the burners, and tried to scoop up the remains of my failure…it was shameful.

I had toast instead.

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