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.

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Love and Exercise

I just want to write a quick note that I am feeling better. I had old friends that visited over the weekend. And today I went for a 3 mile hike. I think the love of friends and exercise helped a lot!

I am actually worried about my friends because they are both overweight. One is extremely overweight. He gained a lot since our days of partying in our 20s. He mentioned a few times “I need to lose weight” but then he ordered a few beers with every meal and some between meals. I wanted to slap it out of his hand “THIS IS NOT HELPING YOUR HEALTH!” He does not have a drinking problem but his drinking is not helping his weight problem. Anytime I have a friend whine about their weight and then see them drinking alcohol, I want to pour some of that beverage into a sack and glue it to their bellies. THAT IS WHERE IT IS GOING!

Now I know not everyone that drinks is overweight and a lot of people that quit drinking have problems losing weight. I know I was irritated when I first quit that pounds weren’t falling off. Then once I stopped replacing alcohol with carbs and sugar, and once I started hiking and walking, the weight dropped. It helps. Not fool proof but at least the walking helps pump my blood, clear my mind, and maybe see some pretty views.

I was disappointed my friends tired out very easily. But I guess it was like the days when I used to pass out on them early or disappear from the clubs.

Unhappy

But be careful when you finally get heppy. Because you can become greedy for the one thing you don’t have.
I missed drinking. This new world was grand, but I didn’t feel complete without that foamy abandon. I thought about drinking all the time. If only I could drink again, then I could lose myself to this handsome stranger and not be hobbled by my own nagging insecurities.

From Sarah Hepola’s Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget

I haven’t had much time to read this wonderful book because of school. I haven’t been sleeping much nor well because of stress from work and school and life.

My mom is no longer talking to me because I demanded my 14 year old nephew apologize for ditching me 4 months ago. Not much. I just wanted an apology. But I guess my mom and sister were offended, like I was criticizing their parenting. So they stopped replying to me. In defense, I told my mom about my suicide attempt in 2001 that put me into the ICU. She tried to call and left a message wanting to know what is wrong. I got the message as I was going to class so I shot back a quick text reply about our family ignoring problems and I still want an apology. A week went by and no response. I guess she just wanted to make sure I didn’t have a gun to my head at that moment but as long as it is just my ramblings about excepting a teen to learn say “sorry”, she can go back to ignoring me. So I blocked her number and my sister. Then I deleted my nephews and brother off Facebook. I declare myself an orphan and only child. It is not much different than going on through life with them all ignoring me anyway.

I see my cousins posting about their brother that died in February. Their posts are full of love and mourning. I feel jealous for their closeness. “Sibling day” just passed and it reminds me of how crappy my siblings are. I am too. When the terrorists attacks happened in Paris last fall, I secretly wished my sister was there. I will miss my nephew and niece but I also feel guilty I don’t miss, nor know, my other nephew and niece.

The stress of being family-less has been eating me up. And hating work because I feel odd and unlike has made me want to quit. I start thinking drastic thoughts. Start thinking of getting drunk to numb it all. Start fantasizing about ways to die. Some think gardening when they see hoses. I think carbon monoxide poisoning. I think of buying a flight somewhere and chasing Valium with whatever rum is local. I think of going to the Middle East, breaking a law like fighting for women’s rights, and getting stoned to death. I think of going on a sailing trip and skinny dipping, after taking a bunch of Valium. I just want to stop feeling.

Then I went to a party Saturday. It was a costume party. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed expressing my creativity. I enjoyed seeing people that seemed honestly happy to see me. I felt surprise that people seemed impressed by my costume. That they seemed really happy to hug me. I felt liked. And that is more I get from my family.

So the suicide dreams are slipping away as I get more acceptance. Maybe happiness is on its way.

Sober Campus and Stories

It is Alcohol Awareness Week. At least according to all the flyers posted all over my school’s campus, with photos and a stories of a victim from boozing too much. When I google the event, I find that April is actually Alcohol Awareness Month. Is my school getting a early start? Or is there a separate week or month to focus on alcohol abuse on college campuses? Either way, it is sobering to read those stories.

There was a different one posted in each bathroom stall and on almost every door to each building. A 20 year old fell off a balcony while intoxicated at one school and died. At another school, a guy passed out in the road walking home from a party and was killed when  a car drove over him. 18 year old girl was found dead in her dorm room from alcohol poisoning on a different campus. All young people who probably thought they were just having fun, just fitting in, just partying, and not realizing the dangers of getting drunk. It took me two decades to learn for myself.

I have to keep reminding myself I was lucky. Even with all the dumbshit I did or horrible things that happened to me when I was actively drinking, I am alive. I survived. I am here to tell my own stories and not have them plastered on a wall for people to contemplate while they are peeing. (Unless you are reading my blog on a laptop on the toilet.)

I have started to read Sarah Hepola’s Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget. I am only on page 12 and so far I love it. It is me. It is my story. It is about my life! Well, it is Sarah’s story but so far I relate to so much of it. I have to force myself to put it down and finish my school work first. But a quote that sounds as if it came out of my own personal journal is this:

I think I knew I was in trouble. The small, still voice inside me always knew. I didn’t hide the drinking but I hid how much it hurt.

I have been making new friends that seem to accept that I do not drink. It is the old friends that have been irritating me lately. The ones that say they are proud of me, but continue to overindulge in bottles of wine. The ones that parade photos of being plastered online. The ones that perpetuate the glamour of getting shit-faced. The ones bragging about all the green beer they will chug this Thursday, as if that is the more important event in the world. I don’t know if I am jealous, concerned, or lonely. But all three feelings make me annoyed.

I am working Thursday night. I wonder how many years it will be that I volunteer to work St Patrick’s night to avoid the parties and Jamesons.

Uncomfortable

I have already mentioned that I am going back to school. But “going back to school” makes it seem I had the summer or a semester off. In actuality, this is returning to the classroom after graduating with an associates degree fourteen years ago. And returning to a university rather than a community college after twenty years! I am surrounded by traditional students on campus. The community college I graduated from had a lot of older students that worked while getting their degrees. This school is mostly kids in their twenties that live on campus. This is more uncomfortable than I thought it would be.

I took some online classes the past two years. I started taking them to ease myself back into college life and to attempt to increase my GPA. None of the credits from those three classes were transferred to my new university. But I am glad I took them for the slow return to academia. Yet online classes are not the same as classroom classes. I was able to hide behind a computer screen.

I am at least fifteen years older than everyone in my class. It makes me feel old. But at the same time, taking a college class makes me feel young. Having homework and writing papers makes me reminisce about my twenties. I like having a notebook. I wish I had a locker to decorate. I could fill it with photos torn out of Teen Beat magazines.

My drinking slips made me realize being uncomfortable creates urges. If I am at a party or surrounded by people I do not know, I begin thinking “a beer will help me relax.” Yet that is not possible in a classroom. It had me thinking that I am learning to deal with the uncomfortable feelings I get surrounded by these new kids who are so different from me. If I can learn to handle the feeling there, maybe I can learn to deal with being uncomfortable at parties.

I need to read my SMART book. It has a section for dealing with cravings. Maybe it has a part for dealing with being uncomfortable.

Thoughts on detoxing

When I hear about alcoholic detoxing, part of me feels like “haha I am better than you because I never went through detox.” The other part of me wants to go back out drinking until I get to the point of detox. Then I will feel like a true alcoholic.

Success Is A Stairwell

I don’t think the cravings for alcohol will ever go away.  I just need to learn to cope, deal, and live with them. And not drink.

I went to my second SMART recovery meeting. I was late because I had the start time wrong in my head. I was 20 minutes late but the meeting lasts hour and half. I enjoyed it. I walked in on a discussion of a TED talk about addiction. (That reminds me, I need to watch that video.)  I have not been to a SMART meeting since November. I have not been to an AA meeting since before that. When the group leader asked us to talk about our past week, a few added how they have been since their last meeting. So I started with talk of my past week and then added how I have been (related to my drinking problem) since November.

After my post of being sober at the party, I got drunk on the dinner cruise. I am not sure why I even did it. It was a masquerade party on a large yacht with many levels and rooms. There were three different DJs in different areas of the boat. Lots of bars throughout the vessel. I spotted a few of acquaintances on the bow taking pictures of the sunset. I posed with them for some photos and they all said I looked glamorous and beautiful. Maybe it was the compliments, or maybe it was the glamorous surroundings. Maybe the masks and the costumes and being surrounded by water made me feel it was another world. And it was a world where champagne flowed.

Without hesitation, I asked for a glass of champagne at one of the bars. I paid with cash because I swore I would just nurse this one glass and it would be my last. Then after a few sips, I thought maybe I would space it out and have one an hour. Of course that did not happen. I do remember at one point getting another glass and a handsome man named Mike started to talk to me. He asked my name and reached out to shake my hand. I remember thinking “I am too sober to handle talking to this gorgeous man.” I ordered a 2nd glass, pretending it was for my friend, and excused myself to find her. I drank both glasses.

I ran into a lot of people I knew at this party. Later I found out I even missed some people I knew, either due to the masks or being drunk. I even called one girl by the wrong name and when she corrected me, I realized I wrote about her in my blog. She was the woman that experienced my small meltdown  after Burning Man 2014. I am not sure if I ever explained to her in my apology emails that I was struggling with sobriety. After she saw me drunk at this party, I felt like a fraud.

I did have fun for the most part. Except I spent $300 on drinking. That included the “oh let me buy you a drink” expression to my friends. I ran out of cash and started to use my credit card. Then when I couldn’t find my credit card the next day, I canceled it. I found it 3 days later in my wallet hidden behind my driver’s license. I slept in my car where I parked it a few streets away. I woke up with no coat and no shoes. I even went back a few days later to see if I left them on the street somewhere between the boat and my car, but by that time a homeless person would have snatched them up. I convinced myself that they are being more useful to a homeless person now rather than just a drunk mistake.

Again, one of the things I like about SMART meetings versus AA meetings was the way I got to discuss this setback. The leader asked me how it made me feel and told me to compare it to a recent night out where I did not drink.

I can not go to many of the SMART meetings because of my work schedule. But I will read the book I bought there and put the lessons to use to stay sober. I also started a book Sober for Good by Anne M Fletcher. It is full of advice from people who quit drinking with different ways. It even mentions people that stayed sober just from reading books about sobriety. I think the books I read in the beginning were a big help for me.  Now I need to immerse myself in the dry books again to stay in the saddle.

I am not sure how much time I will have for reading my sober books nor reading novels for fun. On Monday, I start my first classroom class since 2002. I took a few online classes the past two years to get me prepared (and unfortunately none of those credits transferred.)  But having to go on campus twice a week is going to take up a lot of my time. Plus, it is a college writing class that will require a lot of reading and writing papers. I also signed up to start an online art history class in March, but I will have time to adjust my life schedule to this writing class first. I am trying to work extra shifts when I can to help pay for the school. I am gonna be busy starting Monday. Too busy for drinks and hangovers.

I keep looking back on that boat party and regret the alcohol and money spent. But I also keep looking forward to being on track with school and my life. Wallowing in bitterness won’t help me succeed.