Tag Archives: sobriety

Catching Fireflies

catching fireflies

 

Every time I sit down to write I feel the pressure of time; it forcefully diverts me from reflection and makes demands for more pressing matters.  Life is a time sensitive subject, the pressure says.   No time to get quiet.  No time, so I press on…Yet the pages of my calendar seem to turn in a blink, and in rueful anger I look back, wondering why I haven’t done “more.”  I turned 27 last Wednesday.  Summertime has arrived and I’m slightly panicked that this is my second year in the same town, and my panic takes up the whole room.

 

At work I sit here at my desk that overlooks the water. I’m blessed to have this job, but in the midst of writing tax letters I pause to zone in on the band blaring from my speakers; The Revitalists.  An interview pops up and the lead singer talks about writing a song called “Catching Fireflies,” about his redemption from a life of “too much.”  The band members go on to describe the tangible energy that comes from a crowd and it makes me panicky again that I won’t get that sensation of wild-heart filling- energy bursts sitting at this desk.

 

Then again…just yesterday afternoon, the simplicity of a moment in the woods gave me chills to my core and goosebumps down my arms. It was a cloudy, rainy, grey day.  And it was beautiful.  I looked up just to close my eyes. I left feeling grateful.  Later yesterday evening I watched the Rangers with friends and laughed so hard my abs ached. We got ice cream, and it dripped down our hands carefreely. Despite turning 27, my laughter in sobriety is childish and pure.  Maybe that’s the energy-thing.  There’s a lesson in here somewhere, but I’ll end this post abruptly, for the sake of being an hourly worker…

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26 Things I’ve Learned in Second Year Sobriety

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Day 452

 

  1. My best thinking still gets me into trouble.
  2. Last year was animalistic survival mode: eat, sleep, flight, fight.
  3. This year I’m in touch with being human.
  4. Flaws are inevitable components of mortality.
  5. My shares aren’t going to be verbal sculptures of wisdom, nor do they have to be, nor will they be.
  6. I am not perfect, thank God.
  7. Willingness is fleeting, but my foundation is stronger than before.
  8. When I think I know everything, I remind myself I know nothing.
  9. More listening, less talking, more praying, less victimizing.
  10. Everything changes.
  11. Life gets full. Things come and go.  People come and go.
  12. Decisions get bigger.
  13. Estimable acts equate to confidence and connection with my Higher Power.
  14. Judgment is hideous.
  15. The world is at warp speed.
  16. Relationships take work.
  17. Where there is pain I can help.
  18. Where there is happiness I can join.
  19. Bitterness is removable.
  20. Fears are tentative.
  21. This is a disease of perception.
  22. “Having time” makes sense all of a sudden.
  23. I remember what it was like to think 1 month sober was long-term sobriety.
  24. Self-will is quickly identifiable and extra painful.
  25. Steps 1, 2, and 3 are crucial reminders, and must be visited often.
  26. “Make a message out of your mess.”

 

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Yikes.

Okay okay, I’m glad my body isn’t being poisoned anymore…

 

“Genetic variation also influences how well you can hold your liquor. Ethanol is poisonous in larger doses, so our bodies have evolved ways to break it down before it has a chance to build up. While your brain is enjoying its temporary loss of inhibition, your liver is doing its best to clear the alcohol out of your system before it kills you.”

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10 Awkward Scenarios in Sobriety

Eggs!  Glorious high fructose corn syrup eggs will keep me sober!

Eggs! Glorious high fructose corn syrup eggs will keep me sober!

1)   When you run into someone you used to party with, and he/she assumes that you moved/died.

2)   When you go on a date with someone who doesn’t know you’re in the program, they order a beer, and you immediately hate them for life.

3)   Kicking over a happy hour sign and then pretending it tripped you.

4)   Pretending in conversation that you still drink to seem “normal.”

5)   Letting it slip that you pray and then trying to take it back.

6)   Being caught smelling an empty wine glass.

7)   Dropping your step work in Starbucks.

8)   Being spotted in the self-help section of Barnes and Noble.

9)   Being asked why you don’t drink.

10)  Going to CVS at midnight on a Saturday to pick up Cadbury eggs and Valentines candy for yourself and being spotted by your old boss.  Yep that happened last night.

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A Word to the Wise:

“If you have one foot on yesterday, and one foot on tomorrow, then you’re pissing on today.”

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It’ll ruin your day….

 

 Day 312

This quote seems to be an AA favorite.  I interpret it in two ways:

  1. Stay present.
  2. Both feet need to be in the program. 

For the first five months of sobriety my feet were ungrounded.  It was impossible to stay present; all I could think about was my directionless future, and the security of going back to where I came from.  Having no idea whom the eff I was, why I was always so depressed, and whether or not I was actually an alcoholic, my thoughts were constantly neurotically ricocheting off the walls in my brain.  To make things easier, (aka 1,000 times more complicated), I told lies.

 

I told lies to my friends in California, and said that I was in AA because it was that or a DUI; I told them I thought it was stupid and that I would be back.  I told lies to my friends in Connecticut, saying I wouldn’t go to California because I knew I needed AA. Everything was a contradicting clusterf*ck. I guess the trouble was I believed all of my own bullshit, because I truly couldn’t stay put long enough to make a decision.

Indecision was killing the “today’s.”   It wasn’t until I finally went with my gut, surrendered to the program, and jumped with both feet, that I began enjoying the present. 

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Spiritual Vacuum

I’ve learned a boat load since arriving in Argentina; new words, new foods (blood sausage is disgusting), school systems and kids’ education, settlements in the 1500’s, religion, the President, and all about inflation.  I have also obtained a new “system” to work on myself every single day.  Sounds exhausting, but it’s actually easier than the alternative.

New behavior (actively trying to be a better person) creates dissidence in my mind.  It would be effortless to behave however I wanted, i.e. being selfish, impatient, introverted.  I used to make decisions based upon what would make MY life easier. Now, I am trying to change. Change is hard.

Sometimes I try to focus on everything all at once that I want to fix about myself; respect others, respect yourself, don’t be selfish, be humble, reach out to another alcoholic, lend a hand when needed, connect with your HP, breathe deep, have faith, don’t act out of anger, pray for those you hold resentments against…I could go on forever. That’s why it’s important for me to read different excerpts daily, and focus on just one.

Every morning I chose a quote, phrase, word, etc., to call on throughout the day.  If I read an entire chapter of the big book before breakfast I retain nothing; a result of trying to process too much advice too fast.   Short simple antidotes are uncomplicated, and accessible.

Today my catch phrase was “spiritual vacuum.”   The vacuum refers to how we remove our defects.  As I understand it, we can’t simply remove what we don’t like, and *poof* be gone.  We have to replace the hole with love.  Sounds soo corny.  I don’t care.

This afternoon I had big plans to sit by the pool and read a book, in the sanctuary of the backyard.  It turned out, there was an itinerary I didn’t know about; I was to go to the site of the wedding where my best friend is getting married next week, and help plan where the tables, flowers, and chairs will go.  We had to make decisions on how many candles we envisioned, and what petals would be in the pathways. I didn’t want to go.  Why?  Because I was being selfish.

It’s not my favorite thing to admit that, but it’s true.  I had to access the quote of the day to remind myself why I am here, and why I had to be there.  I had to remove the negative narcissist and replace the absence with my HP. Simply saying in my head “think spiritual vacuum,” I was able to reset with complete clarity.  I love this friend with all my heart!  She’s been my best for 19 years, she’s about to marry the man of her dreams, on a beautiful farm in Argentina, under a tree over 150 years old, and I’ve been asked to help make the special day even more special.  DUH.

I’m so grateful that I didn’t trudge through the day absorbed in my self-centered sphere.  After remembering how to be  the person I want to be, my attitude was reformed.  I wanted to (and want to) help in any way possible – directions, flowers, plot plans, candle lighting, whatever!

It’s going to be beautiful.  🙂

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Aaaand She’s Back.

 

After writing my “mayday” post last night I felt better.  When I can’t verbalize what I’m feeling, my actions express my emotions.  My actions last night were jarring and tense, and needless to say, left me with a pounding headache.

 

I reached out to people in the program.  What a concept!  Today is a new day. 

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For the love of…..

My writing attempts this week have been less successful than the rollout of ObamaCare.

I’ve tried sitting at the keyboard, writing outside with my clipboard, writing from the heart, writing with my head…Somewhere about five words in everything goes to shit.  Kind of like today.

Started out bright and early by backing my truck into the neighbors BMW.  Good morning, mam!  Got to work job 1 where my dog puked not once, but twice, on the carpet of the owner’s house.

Got a facial for my first time yesterday, let’s just say it didn’t “work.”  I’m now a walking cry for ProActive.  Did I mention that I’m going to Argentina tomorrow for my best friend’s wedding?

In preparation for the wedding I scheduled a hair appointment at a salon advertised on GroupOn.  DO NOT ATTEMPT.  Pulling up to the salon was the first sign of danger.  The establishment was along a string of worn down convenience stores, with plenty of parking spaces.  This was not a desired destination.

Not wanting to judge a building by its cover, I walked in anyway.  After all, how bad could it be?  Pretty bad.

One old lady was sitting at a chair in a room of empty stations.  Very hesitantly I said, ”I think I have a 1:00 appointment?”

Even though I wanted her to say “nope,” she said, “yup.”  And before I knew it I was sitting down with foils in my hair for highlights and a bucket of bleach next to crazy lady and me.  For the first ten minutes a man stood above me yelling in Greek at the lady mutilating my hair.  Finally she said in English, “I want no trouble.”  I’m not kidding; I thought this dude was about to pull out a gun.  I had already thought about dying in a salon with old crazy scissor hands.

Fortunately, the man left.  She finished my hair.  I cried, a lot.  This woman put streaks like a skunk on my head, seriously, the stripes were almost white.  The foil job she did was crap, too, so the solution ran and dripped throughout my hair leaving spots like a cheetah’s.

I got out of there before she could comb or blow-dry or kill me, and ran into my house when I got home to assess the damage by brushing through the disgustingness.  As I brushed, to my horror, I realized that my hair was coming out.  MY HAIR WAS FALLING OUT.  This woman over-processed my hair and used bleach to such extremes that my fucking hair started to fall out, aka breaking everywhere.

Did I mention I’m flying to Argentina tomorrow?

In a slight hysteria I got back into my truck, made sure I wouldn’t hit anyone (again) and drove one million miles per hour to the most expensive hair salon nearby.  I have to admit, it was worth every penny.  They told me not to cry, which didn’t really help because I was already pondering what color and style wig to buy.  Instead, the women and a man went to work using toner, and this and that, and yadda, and I look okay.  It actually came out pretty well.  My hair had to be dyed almost brown to cover the zebra/cheetah thing I had going on, and I lost half a head of hair, but I have a lot, so that’s okay.

At least I’m sober.  Sigh.

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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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Rainbows and Batman Take Halloween By Storm

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Day 274: 9 MONTHS TODAY!

To lessen the pain of my first sober Halloween in over a decade, I impressed myself by coordinating and purchasing tickets for an event called “The Blaze.”

I proposed the idea to fellow sober-rovers, and some asked if it was a weed convention; why else would “blaze,” in the title? I told them no, it was a pumpkin extravaganza, with over 5,000 hand-carved jack-o-lanterns.  Despite not knowing any details about the thing, several of us RSVP’d and began planning our Halloween costumes.

My getup consisted of rainbow suspenders, combat boots, a white tutu, and an electric blue wig over two and a half feet long.  In case there was any confusion about what I was supposed to be (a rainbow) I bought 3 boxes of Skittles and shook them vigorously.

Batman aka my partner in crime arrived at my house in a Patagonia jacket and jeans; not exactly the Batman costume I was hoping for.  He said his Bat-suit had turned into more of a sweat suit, but assured me he would change at the event. I would’ve protested longer but there were 150 pieces of candy in the Bat mobile.

Thirty chocolate bars and 45 minutes later we arrived, parked, and within seconds realized we were the only adults dressed up—actually I was the only adult dressed up, because my friend Batman was still a version of “Bruce Wayne” from the suburbs.  He opened the trunk and looked at his bat-armor reluctantly.

“You have to wear it,” I said, as a family not sporting any Halloween-wear walked by.

We struck a deal that made me feel better.  He wore just the Batman head and black rubber gloves with his regular attire, and held a light-sabor that made noise like a broken barcode scanner.  While walking with the rest of the foot traffic, laughing at the sheer ridiculousness, I had a perplexing moment of clarity; I didn’t care what anyone else was thinking…which was good, because of what happened next.

Half-assed Batman and I got in line behind an array of teenagers waiting to enter The Blaze. As the laws of waiting in lines go, we idly moved forward even though no one had advanced.  Our friends hadn’t showed up, but we were anxious to get going since it had started raining. People in line kept glancing at us, probably because we looked like challenged adult-children, who got lost trick-or-treating. Also I figured my wig was probably pretty straggly at that point.

Finally folks started moving, but not forward…everyone was dispersing; suddenly Batman and I were standing on a cleared patch of grass, facing a plastic orange fence between the event and the woods.

We hadn’t been waiting in a line at all, just standing awkwardly close to a group of strangers who were all friends.  No wonder they were looking at us! I bet they went through a round of, “Do you know that guy with the batman head and toy light-sabor? No? Why is that girl shaking a box of Skittles?”

Once the situation dawned on us, we doubled over in laughter. Batboy had to rip off his mask and I just about passed out from laughing so hard; I’m almost certain that any and all bystanders perceived us as wasted or on drugs.

The rest of the night was equally as comical and disastrous.  By the time we met up with our friend (dressed as an astronaut), found the real line, and entered the much anticipated Blaze, half the jack-o-lanterns had been snuffed from the rainstorm and the path was jam packed to a standstill with normal folks who had enough foresight to bring umbrellas.

After a unanimous “let’s come back next year” we retreated in high spirits.

The best part about last night was that our plans totally failed, but Halloween was still a complete success.  Blow and whiskey were my short cuts to feel self-assured, and converse “normally” without my thoughts interjecting doubts every two seconds; last night I stuck out like a sore thumb with complete confidence, and had a blast.

For the first time since God knows when, my mind wasn’t littered with unfounded suspicions about what “everyone” was thinking. I don’t have to point figures in unnecessary self defense.  Who knew wearing a tutu could be so freeing.

This morning I woke up with a raging hangover. Sugar hangover that is.  I’m going to revisit step one and add candy to my list of powerlessness…and The Blaze will go on my list for next year.

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