More crushed by celebrity deaths than I am used to

All year-long when my friends got upset about a celebrity dying, I did not understand. I was not empathetic. I was saddened by Prince’s death in May, but I was also upset that people were blaming the calendar year and not focusing on the problem of addiction that caused the death. A lot of other celebrities that died I either was not a huge fan or thought they were quite old and it was inevitable.

But when George Michael died on Christmas Day, I felt part of my childhood died. I loved his music when I was a teenager. I now realize I didn’t understand the meaning to so many of the lyrics as a kid, like I did not know his song “Monkey” was about a lover with a drug addiction. I have not followed his career or life the past decade, but after his death I read about his DUIs and arrests for drugs. I guess the monkey followed him to death, or at least destroyed his body enough that he died young.

Interesting the “monkey on your back” is a metaphor for addiction and so many celebrities died from complications of addiction during the Chinese Year of the Monkey.

Carrie Fisher’s death was extremely difficult for me to handle. She was so an inspiration to women from my generation. And a role model for people suffering mental disorders and addiction. I watched Postcards from the Edge last night after not having seen it for about 20 years. I cried a lot because I pictured Carrie Fisher as Meryl Streep’s character and Debbie Reynolds as Shirley MacLaine. I also saw similarities between my myself and my mother. While my mother is not an alcoholic, I was jealous every time she drank a beer around me because I wish I was able to handle a beer. After a long letter I sent to her last May about things I was upset about, she quite drinking alcohol around me. Now I feel guilty! But also secretly happy.

I cried a lot on Wednesday. Then I cried some more the next day when her mom died. After I got done crying and feeling bad for myself, I thought of how I can use this to make my life improve. I thought of how this could be a warning to everyone that is struggling to stay sober of the damage alcohol and drugs do to the body. If I return to a life of booze, I might have a heart attack at the age of 60 on an airplane. Even though Carrie Fisher was sober for many years, the damage to her heart was already done. I had cardiomegaly on a chest x-ray 6 years ago so I was on my way to destroying my heart also.

I am hoping 2017 will be my first year with NO ALCOHOL ingestion. It was a few weeks into 2014 when I first quit, and a few months into 2015 when I first slipped, and I had a few times this past year that I drank. It had been a long hike through different terrains. Maybe 2017 will finally be the year I walk across the flat surface of sobriety.

“Happy is one of the many things I’m likely to be over the course of a day and certainly over the course of a lifetime. But I think if you have the expectation that you’re going to be happy throughout your life–more to the point, if you have a need to be comfortable all the time–well, among other things, you have the makings of a classic drug addict or alcoholic.”
Carrie Fisher, Wishful Drinking

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Work Problems but Love Answers

Sorry I haven’t been around in blog world. I think this happens a lot in either long term recovery or those that return to a life of boozing. I am still sober. Sometimes happily sober; other times still struggling. In January it will be 3 years on-off sobriety. Lately (last few days)  I have been very depressed and having to keep reminding myself that happiness is not in a bottle of rum.

There have been issues at work. Without trying to give too much information about the situation, I lost 2 days of work and pay last week due to some paperwork not being filed on time. Then my boss changed her mind and said I can work until this paperwork thing is “figured out”, but if it isn’t, I might have to look for a new job. I started fixing my resume and searching to see who was hiring. I found some jobs that seemed good, but they required me to move away, at least for a few months.

Once upon a time, moving away would have been my answer, along with getting drunk. But I started to date someone two months ago that make me want to stay in this area. And I think he wants me to stay also. I talked to him about my problems at work and that I could always go back to travel contracts. He seemed sadden by this idea and asked how long I would be away.

Leaving my job would also mean giving up my tuition reimbursement benefits and tuition discount. It seems to be taking awhile, but I am less than two years away from my degree that could open up so many more opportunities. After much thinking and crying, I decided to get this paperwork thing settled and keep my head above water there until I finish school. And by then, who knows how things will be with this guy.

This guy: he is wonderful! Our first date was at a coffee shop. He made me laugh a lot so I realized I would like to see him again. Next date was dinner and a movie. I was surprised he did not order a beer or alcoholic drink at dinner and just got a water like me. Next date was a walk around his town and when he asked if I wanted to step into an Irish bar, I honestly replied I would rather not because it is too hard to talk in a bar. I think it was the 4th date I admitted that I do not drink alcohol anymore and he said he doesn’t really drink much either. I mentioned I used to drink too much to the blackout point, but I did not go into more details. After several more dates, I noticed he never ordered alcohol. Even at a nice restaurant in the city, he ordered a soda. Then the other night we went to a bar because he wanted to see what their live music lineup was: he asked for a non-alcoholic beer. I am still not sure if this is out of respect for my sobriety, if he really just doesn’t want alcohol, or if he is hiding details of a problem also. I told him at that bar I would drive if he wanted a real beer and he said no, that’s okay.

On top of being worried about work this last week, I have been worried about my status with this guy. Sometimes I text him questions  that he never answers. Even when he text me hours later, he seems to avoid the questions. I texted him the other day about New Years Eve plans and he replied the next morning with just gibberish about the weather. This turned my over-analyzing brain into crazy mode and wondered if he has other NYE plans or maybe a family tradition or something. So I canceled our Tuesday night plans because I got upset after overthinking. I said I was gonna go visit my mom instead. He said he would miss me but he understood. Then I get worried I am sabotaging things again and being sober doesn’t make me any better with this relationship sortie.

It took getting my legs waxed for me to see another view. My esthetician said it might be a financial thing. Maybe my idea for NYE cost too much. What other questions has he avoided? When I asked him about renewing his passport, when I asked him if he would like to go to Mexico with me, and my NYE plans did involve getting a hotel. She asked where he lived and pointed out rent is very pricey there. She said if he is worried about finances, his male pride might keep him from admitting that.

I have been reading The Recovering Heart: Emotional Sobriety for Women by Beverly Conyers. (Now my semester is over, maybe I can spend more time reading it.) It is making me think of how I am treating my problems and how I am facing this new relationship. I am acting like a teenager. I have responded to so many problems with running away. It makes sense since I started drinking at the age of 18. When talking about how we stop maturing when we start abusing alcohol or drugs, Conyers mentions “when she faces obstacles and disappointment, when she feel unhappy or anxious, she will resort to chemicals to make herself feel better, rather than trying to work things through.” I never learned how to work things through without alcohol. I never learned to stay and fight. I divorced quickly. I left jobs when I got unhappy.  Even after 3 years of sobriety, I am still growing up. Caroline Knapp said “The drink stunts you, prevents you from walking through the kinds of fearful life experiences that bring you from point A to point B on the maturity scale.”

It is like I am 18 again. Struggling with work and college. Starting a new relationship. I just have to do this without beer and rum this time.

Tonight I am going to his place. I will try to avoid text questions and just wait until I see him to discuss things. I like that I can feel happy around him without the desire to drink. It is just when he is not around and worries flood my mind that I desire booze to fight the flood. I have to keep reminding myself drunk=hangover=no answers.