Tag Archives: alcoholic

I Am Still Learning

 

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One night fifteen years ago, I stood brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed.  I was 14 years old, having a casual yet serious internal battle in my brain: how could I kill myself “accidentally”?

As my toothbrush swished and gyrated and I hawked some foam into the sink, a thought occurred to me: is it normal to think about suicide every night before sleep?

A friend in the program says he never would have made it out of High School alive had it not been for drugs and alcohol.  They anesthetized him. I never became suicidal, but it was always an overly appealing option.   My face, my body, my mind, was unbearable.   Pot and alcohol served as numbing agents, but above all, they fed the most valuable coping mechanism for survival: my façade.

In 9th grade I was alone with the shaky remains of who I had been in Middle School.  My undefined identity, or lack there of, was unsustainable…I needed to change.  The transformation didn’t take long.  Skipping one class with blatant disregard was the first high I got from attention seeking. I wanted to be the “bad” kid.

 

“Are you going to Psych?” Someone asked.

“Nope,” I said with self-proclaimed authority.

 

From then on, I strived and succeeded at being the class failure. The class stoner.  The class I-don’t-give-a-shit-girl.   Suddenly everything about my new persona was so easy; I knew where to buy weed, how to roll a blunt, who else wanted to cut class with me, who would pick me up in the morning to take bong rips, and for the first time in years I felt like I belonged.  Granted, every conversation was uncomfortable up until the point I got high..which is why it was a 24 hour a day job.

 

Sitting in the back of the class and reeking of ganja gave me a fucked up sense of confidence.  See?  I don’t care.

 

Ferocious honey badger

What I looked like 15 years ago

“Did you study for the test?”  Someone would ask.

“What test?”  I would say humorously, but seriously.

 

I barely graduated, I had no interest in college, and suicidal thoughts popped up on the reg.  However, thanks to my well-maintained image of comical failure, my “outsides” appeared just fine. Carefree, even! Weed! Yay!  Day drinking!  Yes!  Future? Fuck it!

 

Up until getting sober, those thoughts remained prevalent; for years I believed them to be my only true potential.  The hardest thing about working on myself right now is reversing the notion “as long as I’m doing nothing, I’m doing ‘me.’” 

Now I know: if I’m doing nothing, I’m being nobody.

The bad news is that I wasted a shit ton of time trying to mask emotions and bury whoever the hell I was scared of becoming (or not becoming.) The good news is, I’m getting an idea of who I am, and I’m liking the person I see in the mirror.   My identity crisis up until my sobriety date was just as real as it was that night standing in front of the sink fifteen years ago.   I didn’t pay attention at all in high school, but I think it was that Michelangelo guy who said:

 

“I am still learning.” (Age 87)

 

 

Me too, dude.

 

 

BAL143446

Angelo + Me = Us

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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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Lord Waldemort

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Day 235

I went to Walmart two days ago—it was awful, and unless there is a looting in the name of survival, I’m never going back.

There were several factors that contributed to my near death superstore experience:

 

a)   My wallet is on probation.

b)  I needed a bedside table to match my bedroom.  I had to obtain an inexpensive white table.  I had to go to Walmart…where white cheap tables flourish.

 

The parking lot was crazy enough, and once inside I realized it was suchlike a Vegas casino—no windows, no clocks, and no way out without spending money.  My eyes were immediately drawn to one dozen things I don’t need; Pajamas, cheap watches, Oreos, neato pencil erasers, four pairs of no-show socks for $5, an entire Dunkin Donuts facility, gallon-sized jugs of CheezIts…everything you need to kill yourself and keep yourself alive at the same time.

By the time I made it to where the cheap white tables lived, I realized that my cart was brimful with crapola.  As I contemplated whether or not I really needed ten gallons of Poland Spring water (I have a Britta filter at home), an announcement came on the PA.

“Attention adult shoppers, in TWO minutes there will be a free giveaway at the front of the store, next to the Dunkin’ Donuts.  We will be giving away FREE kitchen supplies, but it’s first-come first-serve.  Again, all adult shoppers, you have TWO minutes to get to the front of the store for this limited supply of quality kitchen goods.”

For the love of God, I thought, is this man trying to ensue a riot?!? Apparently, yes, yes he was.  Walmarter’s started running out from the woodworks in a mad rush for utensils they wouldn’t need to cook their 50 flats of SpaghettiO’s.   Motorized scooters buzzed past me as fast as their speed settings would permit, and the PA came on again.

“Attention adult shoppers, you have ONE minute to get to the front of the store for this free giveaway!  You don’t want to miss these top-quality kitchen gadgets!”

I wanted to reach into the invisible speakers and strangle the man. The herd increased momentum, and then passed leaving tumble weeds of wrappers behind.

After heaving the first white-furniture-structure I saw into my vessel, I hurriedly wheeled my big blue cart toward checkout.

“Your total comes to $171.52.”  The cashier said.

I was dumbfounded at the junk I had accumulated during my Walmart trance, but had no time to play the “can I put this back,” game.  After swiping my poor, dwindling debit card, I fled, and threw the grocery bags into the back of my truck, not even recognizing most of the rubbish.

What does this have to do with sobriety?  Nothing.  But I would have loved a drink after to calm down.

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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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Holy Hyperawareness

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“Hyperawareness,” best describes Step 6 for this alcoholic.  After spending seven weeks on Steps 4 & 5 with my sponsor, I got my five character defects in return.   Now I am obnoxiously cognizant and wary.  Was I born with greed and attention seeking? Where does my disease start and where do I end?  How interchangeable are the two? I don’t know how defects work, or whether or not as a group we alchy’s and addicts have predispositions to the same defected idiosyncrasies, but I do know which ones have been running my show.  Now I just want them to stop.

I took the whole, “searching and fearless moral inventory,” thing pretty literally.  I’m sure I’m searching a little too far forward and far back, which is probably why I feel like a vulnerable, exposed, creature of chaos.  I feel like Medusa, actually, and all those crazy snakes that live on her head are my defects.  Plus she was kinda crazy, really angry, and hideous; I feel all of these things now that Step 6 has brought such defined character flaws to the surface.

The alcoholic part of my mind tells me I was the last to know about my defects; that I’ve been a walking human deformity forever, and should be embarrassed.  This new hyperawareness has my mind running in circles; when I’m loud, I wonder if it’s because I’m seeking attention or because I’m naturally a boisterous individual, when I buy something I shouldn’t, I beat the crap out of myself for being greedy.  I hounded a lady today because she left her Starbucks table an absolute mess.  “Are you going to clean that up?”  I said more rhetorically than questioningly.

Was that my pride?  Do I have to give up pride?  This is what I mean by hyperaware. Yikes.

The serenity prayer says “grant me the knowledge to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  If I can figure out what those differences are, I’ll be set…

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Living Sober = Loving Sugar

NOM NOM NOM

NOM NOM NOM

When in doubt, I scroll up in my sobriety archives.  If I’m denying how far I’ve come entries from the first 90 days reassure me of my progress.  Here’s an entry from March 8; I had just over one month.

March 8, 2013

“i cannot stop eating. I’ve been having chocolate pudding for breakfast, I  wake up and the first thing on my mind is, cookies. sweets, candy. my mom hid the chocolate bars from me; i am actually being rationed. my mom has said, just have one piece of chocolate, and i have said, that means nothing to me. instead of thinking rationally about the situation, oh i need to eat healthy, i think, i just need to starve myself a little. healthy thoughts, by….”

…by Faith Anonymous…well, Faith Anonymous 7 months ago, anyway.  Reading entries such as this one give me hard evidence that I sometimes need to carry on for morale’s sake.  I can read the ways in which I’ve grown. Don’t get me wrong–I still love any and all forms of sugar, but today there are healthy solutions as opposed to self imposed starvation.

Healthier options have derived from a healthier mind.  Now I workout,   and then chow down on a candy bar.  Sometimes I have to ardently force myself to drive past that Crumbs Bakery place, aka my heaven and nightmare on earth, but that’s because I’m still learning moderation, and sometimes I walk out of there with three trays of cupcakes.

So I have a sweet tooth on steroids; at least the sugar I consume for sober sanity isn’t nose candy for my addiction.  See?  Healthier Options.

Day 256

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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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Woe is me

I’ve been lamenting the loss of my old life all day, and I don’t wear mourning well.  I’m sure my appearance was almost as bad as my mental state this afternoon; bloodshot eyes from no sleep, sweaty and frumpy from a panic attack at work, and either on the brink of tears or seconds away from murder.

All the ways in which life is no fair have been accumulating in my head and I was fully prepared to embellish the crap out of them right here.  The thought of never again having a Thanksgiving dedicated to beer and football sent me even further into a “woe is I” orbit.

The pity party came to an abrupt end sometime about 5 minutes ago.  Writing has this crazy way of giving me clarity, and the clarity still sucks, but it brings me back down (or up?) to ground zero.

Rationale has informed me that it’s not that I can never drink…it’s that I can never drink safely.  I’ve heard of alcoholics harnessing their obsessions to drink like a normal person at least for a little while, but there’s no white knuckling it forever; ultimately the result is some variation of a painful, destructive, long or short shitty life.

When the present isn’t all peaches and cream, glorifying to the past is a knee-jerk reaction.  It was so much better then!  When I had wine!  And football!  And that little Italian restaurant!!

The reality is that the last time I had dinner at that Italian restaurant it wasn’t the food or company I was happy about; it was the bag of blow in my pocket I wasn’t going to share.  While everyone waited for the check to come I was in the bathroom taking key bumps.  This was in January, when I had a one-way ticket to Central America.  It’s a good thing I didn’t follow through with that plan…I hear the cocaine there is terrible.  Yikes.

There was nothing glorioius about Thanksgiving last year. I was still on the pot farm, and made plans to drive five hours south to spend the holiday with close friends who felt like family.  I would have made it, too, if the night before I hadn’t been guzzling three bottles of wine with a married-ish total-mistake-man.  Thanks to my impeccable decision-making, I spent the day puking in a house on the mountain with no electricity, no furniture, and nobody; there was no football and no beer.

At the first pot farm I lived on in 2010, for Thanksgiving my “co-worker’s,” and I spent $500 on food which I didn’t even end up eating because we started blowing lines too early.  Poor time management.

Two years later, as I puked my brains out by myself in an empty cabin one pot farm over, I reflected on that first Thanksgiving, (again, looking to the past), and thought how awesome that year had been.  It never struck me that things were getting progressively worse, or that that first year wasn’t as joyous as I had it written in my memory.  I have no idea what I just wrote.

Like I said, I don’t wear mourning well.

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Recalculating, Rewiring, Showing Up

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Be there in a minute….

Day 241

Social events give me such bad anxiety that I don’t usually make it to said functions.  Feeling like I’m on the outside of every room I walk into has never made me very self-assured, but when there was alcohol, there was no problem.  Get buzzed and converse effortlessly, get wasted and don’t care about anything!  Hooray!  Much to my anxiety-ridden dismay, this social lubricant is no longer at my disposal.

Due to unrealistic projections on how every activity will pan out, I’ve developed a nasty habit of making plans and then immediately regretting them.  My mind begins spinning a web of irrational excuses…. Who will I talk to?  What will we talk about?  What if they stare at this giant blemish on my face? How will I get there?  What if there’s no parking? What if it’s so overly crowded that I have a panic attack?  I’m too fat today anyway. I’m not going.  Whew.

The second I decide I’m not going to go I feel wave of relief, but I’ve already let someone else down, including myself.  I don’t know what’s worse about these destructive decisions; that I end up disrespecting the person or persons who invited me, or that there is a 99% probability that if do show up I’ll have a great time.

Confidence and awareness have sprouted in sobriety, and tools have been acquired to counteract old-behavior; sometimes I even implement those tools.  I’ll remind myself to simply show up.  Jesus, it’s not that hard.  I’ll remind myself that no one cares if I have a zit on my forehead.  I’ll tell myself to stop being such a selfish flakey friend, and that the world does not cater to my own self-centered fears.

Unfortunately, it’s a long road of awkwardness before I fully reach a point where ease comes freely and events are easy.  At most completely sober settings I still feel like I’m standing around waiting for everyone to get drunk.  It’s like going to a party that never starts…talk about anxiety.

Yesterday “The Committee” started generating the same old bullshit for an occasion I had committed to.  A bailout plan was in the works, when sober thoughts kung-fu’d them in the face.   It was extremely uncomfortable to go against how I have conditioned my brain, but because of step work and progress not perfection, I was able to tell my insecurities to shut the fuck up, show up, and stop ruining my chance at life.

Of course, it was a great time.  All it took was some excruciatingly difficult recalculating! Showing up….what a concept.

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Let’s be real, we’re all Gollum.

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I used to think AA was an acronym for “AlcoholicAddicts,” and it still could be; for me they are one in the same.

There was a functional level of resistance I had against drinking, which did not exist when it came to nose candy.  If an environment wasn’t a designated, “get wasted,” zone, I may have mentally declared everyone lame, but it wasn’t the end of the world.   Drinking and not having blow, however, equaled catastrophic desperation, and desperation is something alcoholics and addicts all know about.

This morning a man (we’ll call him G) who was hooked on heroin told me how he’d inject a needle “this long” into his groin, because he had no usable veins left.

“You know, I was a doctor, so I could do these things.”  He said with humor.

I laughed.  Somehow it’s okay in AA to laugh at collapsed veins and desolation, maybe because we speak the same fucked up language.  At the same time, stories like his sometimes make me feel ridiculous for identifying myself as an addict.  My story doesn’t sound as severe, there are no needles, and I didn’t have a $300-a-day heroin habit.  Coke wasn’t even in my daily diet, but I know the desperation he spoke of.

Picture Gollum holding a bag of blow instead of the ring…you now have an accurate portrayal of who I was as an addict.  Splitting a bag with me was a big mistake.  Nine times out of ten the goods “fell on the floor,”  “fell in the toilet,” or “I accidentally sneezed all the lines away and this is all that’s left.”  My mind cannot comprehend how people share booger sugar; sharing wasn’t an option, it was an obstacle. Somehow I had to hoard the precious baggie all night.  Of course if anyone ever hoarded something from me, they were on my shit-list.  Just because I had a zero tolerance policy for sharing didn’t mean anyone else could.

If someone weren’t giving their coke away like pixie powder, I’d follow him or her around like a pathetic pleading drunk puppy dog.  It was very important to keep tabs on this person, whether at a house, club, party, sporting event, you name it.  My entire night (or day) revolved around a sick version of Where’s Waldo.

A girl at a party one time literally turned around and berated me for pestering her about the blow in her purse.  I saw nothing wrong with that picture, besides the fact that she was a bitch.  There was nothing wrong with missing my friend’s entire graduation party, either, because I had more important things to do, like sit in a parking lot for 3 hours waiting for my hookup in a ghetto of central California.  The Where’s Waldo game felt fine in Italy, when I insisted that a friend of a friend of a friend equip the night with party favors.

“It’ll take a few hours, and it’s insanely expensive.”  My friend’s friend told me in the middle of a crowded street in Rome.

“Done, I don’t care.”

Funds were limited on that trip and my best friends had already been spotting me, but for coke there was always money in the bank.  The night was spent blowing lines on my passport, rejecting my best friend’s request for just a bump.  “I know you have more,” she’d say.  I lied through my coked out teeth all night.

These instances barely scratch the hideous surface of the fiend I became in the name of cocaine.  Everyone I cared for went to the wayside so I could guiltlessly indulge in my addiction.   There are gonna be a whole lotta amends at Step 9.

To reach Step 9 I have to religiously remember Step 1; we admitted that we were powerless over alcohol–that our lives had become unmanageable.

An extended version of the list above is what I pull out every time  “just one” beer sounds good.  Just one beer would be the fast track to a rock bottom lower than my first.  Just one beer would lead to two beers, two beers would lead me to an eight ball, and before you could say relapse I’d be a worse version of who I was, and I don’t want to lose everything that’s been gained.  If I made it back to the rooms it’d probably be as a heroin addict.

I don’t know if alcoholics are addicts, or addicts are alcoholics, or if we’re all in the AlcoholicAddicts group together, but we all know the fiending, the pleading, and I bet we can all relate to Gollum.

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