Tag: alcoholism

My Champion is a Hundred Pints


This post was updated to reflect that I thought this weekend was February 1st, but I’m a whole week off! So this new adventure doesn’t start until the Monday after this one.

On February 2nd I’m going to pop a new pill. One that will make me vomit if I drink even the tiniest drop of alcohol. I’m fighting the thought that this represents a door being boarded shut forever. Last year I promised myself I would do this if I couldn’t learn to keep my alcohol consumption within healthy bounds. I made a point of not promising anything to anyone else. I didn’t drink for the first three months of 2014. It was pretty easy, except for Fridays, which made me want to rip brick walls down with my teeth.

But when the three months was up I quickly returned to my previous habits.

I have a happy relationship with alcohol. I haven’t got the darkness that comes with black outs, risky behaviors, alcohol-fueled abusiveness, or terrible regret. I rarely experience drunkenness at all because I loathe the feeling.

I’ve said all this before. I’m not sure I need to repeat it. I’m not really talking to anyone but myself. I answer to no one but myself. This is my autonomy as a human being. The human being I am requires that I consider the people I love and care about in all the decisions I make, of course. But what I write here is, ultimately, between me, myself, and I.

One of the truths I keep half buried, always, is that alcohol has made me a better mother. That’s not something anyone is supposed to ever say. Motherhood should be pure and unadulterated. For me, motherhood has been one long conversation with a breaking heart. This has nothing to do with who my son is, because as challenging as he’s been and may continue to be, he’s a beautiful and wonderful person. I experience so much pleasure in knowing him, in having the privilege of rearing him. This has everything to do with how ill-equipped I was to steer a tiny human being through all the awful challenges of childhood. This has everything to do with how I didn’t know that having a child meant reliving every fucking tiny little shitty minute of my own childhood again, but with the added weight of wanting to protect my own baby from everything I know about life that ever made me want to die. Every rejection my son experiences, I experience with a magnified pain, every set back, every rage, every disappointment he experiences is a little death in my own heart.

Those times I haven’t got any comforting answers for his worries, his pains, his sorrow, I feel myself fall apart just a little bit more.

Motherhood has gutted me.

Alcohol has smoothed the road. It’s administered calm, reason, and respite. It has given me constant courage and forced my fences down, again and again. Alcohol has mellowed me, allowed me to function, and to rejoice. It has kept me open to laughter and joy. It has prevented me from reacting with panic and anger when patience and love are required.

But I require more of it all the time to maintain my equilibrium. The price is my health. My alcohol consumption has hurt no one but me and my budget. But I can’t keep paying the price of my health. My body is tired. I’m only 45 but I feel like I’m 80. I guess that’s better than when I was 15 years old and felt like I was 150 years old.

All of this is nobody’s business, but, as usual, I share it because all the relief and non-alcohol-related courage I’ve ever gotten has been from others being honest, telling their stories even when it made them look bad, even when it turned the world against them, just so other people like them could feel less alone.

Not feeling alone is a powerful weapon against a poverty of safety.

I want to live a life in which I can hang out with friends and enjoy drinking a couple of pints of ale or sharing a bottle of wine. I want to live a life in which this is an occasional, even a frequent enjoyment. I would like to live a life in which it’s part of the dinner table, not part of the whole night.

Alcohol tames my insomnia. Though I may never know regular good sleep, alcohol keeps me up later and through its magical chemistry it bypasses my dreadful insomnia so that I can get right to sleep. Yeah, I still wake up several times a night and am still plagued with bad dreams, but at least I have the sensation of being able to nod off easily at first. I take what I can get when it comes to sleep.

Alcohol enables most of my socializing. The only people I genuinely don’t need alcohol to hang out with are my closest and oldest friends. My family (possibly just my mom) thinks I’m a super social creature. I do seem that way, I suppose. Most of my socializing is online, for one thing, and for the rest, I prefer social gatherings where alcohol is a feature. I don’t know how to be comfortable around people without the calming smoothing effects of booze. I don’t know how to socialize without beverages. Without alcohol I’m pretty much limited to socializing over coffee between the hours of 10am and 12pm.

Without alcohol I want to tell everyone how much I hate their hair and their air of casual rapture. Without alcohol I want to ask everyone why they’re so fucking human, as though I’m not, which I am. Without alcohol I struggle hard not to pull people’s hair and stare hard at their camel-toes like a village idiot fixated on a parade of naked clowns.

It’s not that alcohol makes me better at socializing, it just makes me feel better about being the person who asks every couple I’ve just met to reassure me they aren’t about to get divorced.

I don’t know how long I’m going to take Disulfiram. I’m on a journey of reparation with unmapped boundaries, uncharted obstacles.

I’ll tell you this, though, the first person who calls me an alcoholic gets a fucking hemlock milkshake. Maybe I am, but I prefer to keep the stigma-sticker off my back for a while longer.


90 Reasons not to Drink for 90 Days: #18 and #19

my green stripes

#18 Reason not to Drink: method writing

Method acting is a way actors access the thoughts and emotions of the characters they’re playing.  Method writing is the same thing.  What if I wanted to write a sober character in one of my novels?  How could I access the thoughts and emotions of a sober person while experiencing the joy and comfort of drinking delicious beers?  While I have no actual intention of writing completely sober characters any more than I have the intention of writing alcoholic characters, this is a valuable exercise to expand the colors in my crayon basket.  Now when I need to access what it feels like to BE a teetotaler I will be able to draw on all the raw irritation satisfaction and discomfort well being and Friday boredom zen-like indifference to festive beverages that I previously wouldn’t have been able to FEEL in my bones and make REAL on the page.  Now it will be in my power to make YOU feel it too.

#19 Reason not to Drink: my green and white striped XL shirt 

In the world of weight loss and weight gain there is this popular idea that you shouldn’t hang onto your “skinny” clothes because it’s just going to depress you and help you FAIL at reaching your goals and will serve as a sad reminder of how you used to be in horrifying contrast to what you’ve become.  I disagree with this.  I haven’t held onto things I wore when I was really thin.  I’ll never be really thin again and that’s not what I care about or want anyway.  However, I have kept all my favorite clothes from when I was a regular sized person.  I wore XL and looked great.  I had a waist and wore stripes and felt good.  That’s what I want.  That XL looks tiny to me now.  That’s what becoming obese does to you.  I know people who are proud of being size 4 and that’s great that that number means something to you.  I know people who will not feel good about themselves until they are out of the Large sizes and down to the mediums and smalls and invisible sizes.  Not me.  Look at that shirt.  It’s so small.  The fact that I’ve kept it all these years is to prove that I have not lost hope, that I have never stopped believing that at some point I will turn things around and get back to the clothes I love wearing.  I miss wearing my striped T’s so much.  Yah, I know.  I could wear them now.  I shouldn’t care about wearing stripes at any size.  I just don’t feel right or good in them.  Even if I could find this kind of stripe in my size.  Generally in my size they’re all bejeweled or beaded or covered in weird-ass decoupage-style printing and made of creepy fabrics.

I will wear that shirt again.

It is the closest I can come to religious-style faith.


As I’ve reached #19 reason not to drink I am realizing that it’s going to be very hard to come up with 90 reasons.  I think it’s going to end up being a lot of jewelry and shirts I want to wear and stupid little nothings.  I’ve already used up about 80% of the big reasons I have for not drinking for 90 days.  Ah well, it’s okay.

Something I’ve been thinking about the last couple of days is this head-space I’ve sunk into and how I find myself wanting to jump into the television to become a fictional character on Fringe (maybe one of the people who doesn’t die at the beginning of every episode) or into a book, but only my favorite ones.  I find I don’t want to waste my time on fiction that disappoints me or stresses me out because I’m already spending enough evening time struggling to get into that calm happy place that I no longer have.  It has occurred to me that as a fiction writer I should be able to immerse myself in a different place any time I want.  I shouldn’t have to depend on other people’s fictional worlds to give me the happiness and comfort I need.  I’ve thought that maybe I should go get on my laptop and write some fiction.  Write what I wish I was experiencing.  Write the space I want to be in.  But then the weight of having to make Cricket and Grey follow the path it needs to take makes me stop.  So I rewatch another episode of Fringe and worry about what I will watch when I’ve rewatched the whole series.

Artists sketch in their sketchbooks.  I know because I’m married to one.  They sketch ideas and what they see and sometimes they just doodle and the doodle becomes something more.  Writers do this too, usually, writing in a journal or a blog.  I do this all the time to empty my head.  But I don’t sketch fictional characters or scenes that aren’t part of the big project I’m working on.  But why not?  Why not do small vignettes?  Why can’t I just sketch out small scenes without it having to go anywhere in particular?  I don’t have to share it with anyone.  I don’t have to take it seriously.  Why don’t I do it?  The last time I did it it turned into a whole novel (Jane Doe) that remains unfinished.  It doesn’t have to turn into anything.  I make up my own rules.  I always have.  So I don’t know why I haven’t  been doing this.  I can rewrite the same scene over and over and over again if I want.  Not to polish it for a book but simply to continue to be in the middle of it.  Long-form poetry.

In other news, I’ve lost 6 lbs in 18 days.  I put it on facebook but I need to record it here too.  I had 113lbs to lose and now I *only* have 107lbs to lose.

Yesterday I got take out from my favorite Mexican take out place.  I got my usual plat of cheese enchiladas, beans, and rice.  I always eat the beans and rice on tortilla chips first and eat the enchiladas last.  This time I took a few bites of the enchiladas and it was too cheesy for me.  I am not evolved enough to not eat them anyway, so I did.  Then I felt too full and not good.  Like I’d had way too much cheese.  These are words I don’t understand.  This is an experience that is new and almost frightening.

Too much cheese?!

I wasn’t kidding when I said I naturally eat a lot less when I’m not drinking.  But I have never understood the concept of “too much cheese”.  Until now.  My friend Sarah thinks it may be my body being wise.  I don’t know.  I do know I haven’t had enough vegetables this week.  I’m craving them but not making them.  (Out of laziness, really, it’s been a real funk of a week.)  This coming week needs to be full of steamed vegetables.  I’ve been wanting to cut down on cheese but hadn’t had the will to do it.  Maybe it’s because I’m consuming other dairy in the form of half and half in my tea?  It’s all useless speculation.  It doesn’t really matter.  Over-thinking food in this way is irritating.  More vegetables is all I need to focus on now because I’m craving them.  And smaller portions.  Not because that’s how to lose weight (though it is) but because I don’t need as much food now.  I’m getting fuller faster because I don’t have any alcohol to soak up with it.

One last thing.  I have been unwilling to find alternative relief to my discomfort and I continue to feel unwilling.  It isn’t that there’s nothing satisfying to replace alcohol with or that there’s nothing else I could come to look forward to.  I’m not entirely sure why I am so unwilling to find new things to enjoy and look forward to.  I think part of it is that I don’t want to let myself feel comfortable.  A little self punishment perhaps?  Or maybe it’s just that I need to be in this place of discomfort because I need to really live it for a while in order to prevent myself from getting to this place ever again.  I think I have to work through some of my anger about having mental illness.  I think what’s going on is that I don’t want to mask the raw unpleasantness I’m experiencing – this return to how my head was before I drank enough beer to settle it down and keep it calm.  I think this is an important part of this whole experience.  Like going through the seven steps of grieving.  Or going through the 12 steps of AA.  This is my version.  With my rules.  I need to live in this place for a while.  Until it either resolves itself or until I’m ready to work towards resolution.  Being completely raw and unmedicated makes me a danger to myself so this here, this state is as raw as it’s safe to be.  Whatever the actual reason is, I am not ready to “fix” it or change it.

My friend Nicole has mentioned seeking sedative-like effects from herbs.  Hops came to mind.  Bitter bitter hops.  Hops are one of the key ingredients in beer and what contributes to its satisfying bite.  Long long ago, when I lived alone on Hyde street and was getting really witchy, I used to make a hops, peppermint, and honey tea to help me with insomnia.  It wasn’t very effective but it was calming.  When I’m ready to find other things to drink and look forward to – I may try using hops in a few different ways and see what comes of it.  Not a lot of other herbs have had a sedative action for me but I will consult my herbal books and see what other things I may want to experiment with.  I am interested in making bitters – but this takes some alcohol.  They are meant to be taken in very small quantities – enough to soak a sugar cube, for example.  So I may allow myself home made bitters if it seems like a good idea.  I do plan on buying Angostura bitters this weekend.  That’s made with alcohol too.  But you use only a few drops per glass so I will not be counting that as having an alcoholic drink any more than I would consider taking an herbal tincture the same thing as having an alcoholic drink.  We’ll see.  I will look into it and I will consider it.

I make up my own rules because this is my own adventure.

If Only my Brain had a “Comotose” Switch


I would like to point out that I have not been scrooging on everyone’s Christmas.  In spite of my disappointment in the Christmas crowd for trammeling Thanksgiving with their Christmas chatter.  I’m hoping that this magnanimity on my part will inspire everyone to leave off the Christmas chatter until AFTER Thanksgiving next year.

Today I’m going to see The Hunger Games in the theater while Philip and Max see The Hobbit.  That’s right, I’m a Hunger Games movie fan and I haven’t read the books.  I’m still not sure I’m going to.  I’m almost as excited as the tweens about this movie.  Plus – I love movie popcorn even though I know it’s very bad for me.  The only time I drink soda is with a big bag of popcorn at the movies.  I love going to the movies by myself so this is a double treat.

Between now and my birthday – after which I will be starting my big fresh adventure – I need to be mapping out my intentions, my goals, and my ideas for getting there.  Part of not drinking (for however long I abstain) is recognizing all the things it does for me.  No matter how much of addiction is just a chemical your body grows dependent on – it can’t grow dependent on something if it doesn’t perceive benefit from it in the first place.  For some people the thing they love about alcohol is shutting out all their problems – being drunk.  I have known plenty of people whose main reason for drinking is to get actually plastered.  They want that total incomprehensible slurry place where you are no longer in control.

I hate that.  This is why I don’t do psychedelics.  I hate feeling out of control.  I hate things to swim before me or become unpredictable or to alter from how they are supposed to be (the way colors get weird on acid and everything has an aura or how heroine makes you feel like you’re under water and time has slowed down).  I hate it.  It makes me feel scared and it makes me so uncomfortable I want to crawl out of my body.  I already want to do that most of the time.  Taking anything that accelerates and strengthens that desire is like poison to me.  I don’t want my mind altered unless it’s going to be altered to be less weird and dark and scary.

My mind is already a complete chaos of thoughts, hundreds of ticker tapes constantly computing and spewing out reels and reels of words and feelings and images and predictions and voices.  It never stops.  It’s a mad-house in my head.  This is why I have to write.  Writing is the most natural and healthy way I know how to get some of the noise down.  If I transcribe it into words on paper (or on a screen) then it makes my head a little bit calmer.  Cigarettes helped too.  Then psyche meds helped the most.  I still have a head full of noise but it’s less malignant and harmful when I’m on psyche meds.  It’s interesting without being so scary now that I’m medicated.

I need to figure out how to give myself the same benefits that alcohol does in healthier ways.  So first, here’s a list of what it does for me and how it has gotten me through 7 years of hell:

Beer makes me sleep better.  I still wake up a couple of times a night most nights and I still have nightmares but I don’t have any trouble getting to sleep in the first place and getting back to sleep when I wake up in the night.  When I don’t drink I have insomnia and once I wake up in the night I have a much harder time getting back to sleep.

It needs to be noted that I’ve had sleeping problems my whole life.  Not sleeping well when not drinking isn’t a withdrawal symptom, it’s just me going back to the way things are when I don’t drink.

Alcohol eases anxiety and quiets my mind.  It instantly eases my anxiety.  Social and otherwise.  I do not feel anxious when I’m drinking and I love that.  When I’m drinking my mind feels calm and in conjunction with television shows or movies it is completely quiet.  There is no other time in my life when my mind is completely quiet.  A quiet mind is an addictive feeling.  It is not quiet when I sleep and it is not quiet when I’m just drinking but when I’m drinking and watching television there is no noise in there.  Just blissful quiet.

Alcohol tastes good.  Yeah, there’s no beverage that tastes better to me than beer.  Except for coffee and water, which I drink quite a bit of too.  Tea is okay but lacks the punch of bitterness that beer has.  Coffee has the same satisfying punch that beer does but I can’t drink coffee (not even decaf) later than 1pm.  (I drink mostly decaf as it is)

Alcohol makes it possible to be social.  I don’t think about this too much because I avoid social gatherings as a general rule.  I love to hang out with very small groups of really close friends and though I don’t NEED alcohol for that – in those situations it’s just warm and festive and enjoyable.  But without alcohol I could not possibly go to parties or large meetings of people.  The idea of going to a dry wedding sounds like the most depressing and tedious thing I can think of.  I don’t know how people can do that.  I have serious social anxiety but most people only know that because I tell them I do  – they can’t tell for themselves because I am very skilled at hiding it, especially if there is alcohol present.  If I have to attend any big group meetings with people I don’t know intimately I will most likely drink more than usual when I get home to bring down my anxiety levels.

Alcohol is an effective pain killer.  Ever since breaking my hip I’ve had a lot of pain in my body.  Even after it healed.  Since then I’ve had a lot more problems with my back going out, my feet started having problems, and exercise results in injuries quite often (recurring foot injury, flare-up of hip pain, the weight of my body is absolutely to blame for some of this though I have always had skill at injuring myself in situations that shouldn’t be injurious)

I am a person who relies heavily on habits to get me through life.  Routines are important.  Not necessarily having a strict daily schedule.  Not like that.  Routines such as the order in which things are done.  Every morning I wake up, start coffee, brush my teeth, and then go to the bathroom.  Exactly the same.  If I wake up and have to go to the bathroom really bad I will try very hard to wait until I have done the other things first.  If I can’t, I feel out of whack.  Every night after 5pm I start drinking some beer and I check in with my family, feed my kid, eat if I haven’t already eaten (though I usually eat dinner before 5pm) and then I start watching shows.  I have to watch 2-3 hours of television with alcohol to wind down before going to bed.  Minimum.  Otherwise I’m too wound up to sleep.  I generally don’t bother trying to get to sleep early because I have never been able to.  Not even with alcohol.  Sometimes I’ll watch tv and drink beer until 3am.  My body doesn’t like this.  My mind desperately needs it.

Ideally, I would have a mental health professional visit me every day at 6pm and turn off my brain, activate a coma, and then return at 5am and turn my brain back on and wake me from my coma.  It’s essentially what I try to do to myself every night.  It’s the best I’ve been able to come up with and it works well except for the part where I’m fat and hate myself.

I always laughed when my Kung Fu teacher talked about studies that show that watching television puts your mind in a coma-like state – AS THOUGH THAT’S A BAD THING.  I realized that that’s exactly what I love so much about it.  I watch it and one part of my brain gets engaged in what I’m watching and the rest of it shuts up like it’s in a coma.  If you have a brain like mine you know that this is the only time I truly am at rest.

Reading books used to be inextricably connected to smoking for me.  It took me a few years after quitting smoking to be able to read books again without an intense urge to smoke.  It’s been years now since I struggled with that.  I got back into the habit of reading without smoking and they are no longer linked.

Drinking is now linked with watching television.  The link is also complicated by another issue.  Something I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before.  When I watch sitcoms I usually drink one beer per show.  When I watch dramas I usually drink two beers per show.  This is actually very difficult to queue up properly.  I won’t stop watching television until my last sip of beer occurs in the last scene of the show.  If I have half a beer left at the end of a show I have to watch another episode.  If I finish my last beer only halfway or two thirds of the way through the show, I have to open another one.  I rarely leave a beer unfinished unless I fall asleep in my chair.  It’s very much a compulsion.  I feel itchy inside to have things not level out evenly.  I also have to finish ALL the beers if I even hope on a prayer to not drink the next day.  Philip not drink the next day even if there are some left over.  I want there to be no beers left and it isn’t just because I don’t want the temptation.  It’s the unevenness of leftover beers.  I have been known to stay up two hours longer than I wanted to because I couldn’t stand the thought of 2 or 3 beers being leftover.

I don’t have this problem with wine.  I can not drink when there’s a bottle of wine in the house.  I have even been able to not drink when there has been an opened bottle of wine in the house.  But I prefer beer and this thing – whatever it is – is fucking annoying and uncomfortable.  It’s exactly like that urge to do things in the precise correct order or feel wrong and itchy and have your brain stuck on the wrongness until it’s righted.  I had a half a bottle of 100 proof vodka in the house for a long time that I didn’t feel compelled to drink.

Next I will try to list some things that might help calm me in the place of alcohol and also lay out the routine that I want to establish for myself.

I hope you’re all having a great weekend – hope you’re not freaking or stressing out about Christmas.  It’s just a holiday, it’s not the apocalypse.

Shouting the Pink Elephant Down


I’ve been struggling with something for a really long time.  Last week I made a really tough decision.  One that has forever changed my status on medical forms.  No, I’m not getting a sex  change.  I went to my psychiatrist to ask for help.  I told her I was an alcoholic and told her my plan for temporarily* going sober using Antabuse to help me.

And now I have said it out loud to anyone who cares to know.

I am already mentally ill and get to grapple with people’s constant judgement and opinions and misinformation about what I live with every day.  The stigmas are still very strong even for those of us who don’t seem “crazy” to outsiders.  They find out and there is just so much judgement about how you should treat yourself, especially with regard to medications.  I have not shared my struggle with drinking out loud very much because the last thing I need is to make myself even more vulnerable to people’s judgements.

I am not a drunk.  It is very rare that I get drunk.  I do not black out.  I do not engage in risky behaviors.  I do not become belligerent.  I do not abuse the people I love and my drinking has not ruined any relationships in my life.  The only thing my drinking has abused is my body and self esteem.

And my bank account.

Basically I have developed, over the years, a tremendous tolerance for alcohol.  You have ALL heard me say I can drink anyone under the table and this is the sad truth.  I will not disclose how much I drink because I don’t need to amaze you with specifics.  I am amazing enough without specifics.  It all started when I broke my hip.  Before that time I loved to drink but I didn’t drink more than is considered within healthy limits and any time I found I was edging up I was able to reign it back in and reestablish healthy parameters for enjoying booze.  That changed when I broke my hip because I took one Percoset and it made me feel nauseous.  As you all know already – I’m emetaphobic and will do anything to avoid throwing up or feeling like I might.  So I wouldn’t take any more pain pills.

Having your acetabulum fractured in five places hurts like a son of a fucking bitch, in case you haven’t experienced it for yourself.  Going to the bathroom hurt so much it made me cry every time for the first week.

You know what is a great pain killer?  Beer, it turns out, is very effective.  It took me two weeks after breaking my hip to go to my doctor to get x-rays.  At urgent care they didn’t bother taking them because the fall I described to them “couldn’t cause a break”.  I figured I’d just pulled a muscle.  When my doctor saw the x-rays she called me and said “You are a really stoic person”

This is the point where it began which is the only reason I am, AGAIN, bringing up my stupid broken hip incident from eight years ago.  Yawn.  You all know it.  That event in conjunction with Philip having just lost his job two days before created a kind of watershed in our life.  It was the point at which things took a very bad turn and just kept getting worse.  The long string of misfortunes.  Selling the house we loved, Philip breaking his arm, my cancer scare, moving out of state and not getting jobs, having a business and closing it down, not fitting in with our community, being more lonely than I’ve ever been in my entire life, feeling isolated, the paxil weight gain on top of the bed-rest + beer weight gain compounded by the extreme depression and anxiety that grew and grew until it all had a momentum I couldn’t handle.  Then there was the bankruptcy and the foreclosure and the Hamp loan attempts and one of our only sets of really close friends moving back to the bay area.

Beer got me through all of it.  I refuse to say bad things about beer.  It calmed me down every night.  Made me feel better.  Made me feel centered.  Plus it tastes great.

One year we had it all back to a healthy place but that was the year before the bankruptcy.  The fact that I barely lost any weight when I wasn’t drinking too much and was exercising a hell of a lot and eating really healthily – it ended up sending me back into a spiral of depression.  That was before my doc noticed that every year I’d upped my paxil I gained 20 lbs regardless of how much I was exercising or drinking or how healthy my diet was.  And, believe me, my efforts to correct all things never ended for long.  I kept getting back up off the ground and trying again.

When we moved back here I was so happy, so relieved, and my feeling of belonging was so strong I thought that was all I needed to deal with my drinking and bring it back to a healthy place.  But the few months right before we moved back were very dark and I think pushed me beyond what I could fix myself.  It was so bad I got internal hemorrhoids.  It was so bad, my acute anxiety and desperation, that I was nauseous almost every day with panic.  So last year I promised myself that if I couldn’t do this on my own, I would talk to my psych about it.  But when it came time to make that decision my mom’s sister threw the first bomb our way.  It was too easy to fall into my familiar stress mode.  Then mom almost died.  And then once more.  You all know the story already.  This is the only part you didn’t know.

Except that I think you knew.  You have all probably known or guessed for a long long time.

Pointing it out would have been the unkind and unhelpful thing to do.  Prying me open never works to your advantage when it comes to me.  I share so freely most of my thoughts and my journey, what I don’t share I protect with sharpened teeth.

Only I can pry myself open.

I’ve done it before.

I’m doing it now.  I’m opening myself up again because it’s the only way I know of letting the light in.

There is so much good in my life right now.  So many problems have smoothed out.  We get to keep our house.  Philip got enough of a raise that I might be able to stay home and dedicate myself to writing novels.  My mom is alive and doing really well.  I don’t feel alone at all.  I have a great support of close friends I see frequently here in my city and I have a large online support.  My son is thriving.  I’ve been married 20 years and never once hit my spouse with a frying pan.

There are only three things wrong with my life right now.  Three things holding me back from achieving everything I’ve been working towards.  Three things preventing me from closing the door on that seven year shit-storm.

I’m morbidly obese.  My medical record says so.

My obesity fills me with an intense self-loathing and depression.

My drinking is keeping me from losing weight which fuels the desire to drink more.

So I went to my psychiatrist with a plan and said this shit out loud and now substance abuse will always be on my official record and I can’t take it back and I can’t lie on medical forms any more.  I will not stop drinking until after my birthday.  I can’t see trying it during the holidays.  It will just make me more stressed and depressed about myself.

The only way I know how to navigate something this huge is to do it out loud and set it free.  So I’ll write about it here for as long as I feel the need.  Maybe it will feel heavy around here for a while.  You don’t have to stick around and hear all about it.  But if you do, try to think of this as a light-seeking adventure rather than a heavy story of human weakness.

And remember, I willfully kept the truth from you all about this to protect myself, but I never lied to myself.

*Do not even dare to shake your head at me.  I need to reset myself and if that doesn’t work then I will need to change my plan to some level of permanence.

I Believe In New Beginnings

I didn’t mean to spend half of today writing a heavy post about rape and gender.  It took me close to five hours to write that post.  I am tempted to say I wish I was the kind of person who could set these issues aside, that I didn’t have a pit bull mind crushing a hundred pounds of pressure on the questions that meet my teeth, but I can’t because I don’t wish for an easier mind.  I have come to value what gifts I have and if they make me dark at times, if they cast shadows against your light I can’t apologize for it.  I have always been willing to pay the consequences for my curiosity, for my anger, for my accusations, for pointing uncomfortable questions in everyone’s direction.

I have paid dearly and it’s still worth it.

It’s exquisitely uncomfortable having an obsessive mind and one that will not toe the social line.

I have rarely spared myself.  I try to always be human in my exploration of this world we share.  I know I’m not always right.  I have always been willing to recognize this publicly.  I have always been willing to listen to other people even when it hurts to do so.  And I have always trusted myself enough to know when it’s time to step away or shut someone out who isn’t interested in arriving at a mutual truth.

This mind of mine is something I will take with all its traps and dark corners because it also encourages me to find arcs of healing light.

There are only three things I want to change about myself and that’s my body size, how much alcohol I drink, and that I cry.  All terribly private and destructive sources of self loathing.  I want to hurt myself for having gotten so fat.  I want to hurt myself  for letting my drinking get out of control (though it’s self fulfilling as the drinking itself is very damaging).  And I want to hurt myself viciously every time I cry in front of another human being.  I know this is not healthy.  I want to rip my skin open every time I expose my vulnerability to others.*

I was exhausted after writing the heavy today.  So I’m up now that the whole house is asleep and I have watched a few reruns of SNL on Netflix and cleaned my office and set up my inspiration doors and done dishes and taken out recycling and here I am.  It’s 2am.  Officially the last day of the year.  My favorite day of the year.  Even more than my birthday.  More than thanksgiving.  More than the first day when summer air gives way to the vague chill of autumn.

Winter is open today.

My season is TODAY.  My time is NOW.

I am a pragmatic person and know that calenders are the imagination and organization of time by humankind.  I know that the New Year is just a symbolic turning of the page – a pretend point at which the days are reset – I know that nothing really changes.  I know that resolutions are illusions and that time marches on exactly the same as it has every other day of the year.  Still…

I believe in new beginnings.

I believe in fresh starts.

I believe in clean slates.

I don’t believe in deities or devils or voodoo or magic wands or fairies or goblins or fountains of youth.

I have no use for such things.

But I can always use a new beginning.  I feel it every time I move house.  I feel it every time I end a destructive relationship.  I feel it every time I start a new project.  I feel it every time I press a fresh hope against my skull.  I feel it every time I look at my son and see what old mores he’s shedding – what new humor he’s exploring.

The curse of the obsessive mind is that it doesn’t let go of anything and doesn’t distinguish between positive and negative – it just grips everything with equal strength and endurance.

The blessing of the obsessive mind is that it never gives up hope.  Never.  I am essentially an alcoholic**.  I am obese.  After 25 years of promising not to hurt myself again I am still fighting the urge nearly every day.  I am such a fucking mess of a person.  But I believe that I can heal, that I can change, that I can fix myself on MY TERMS.

The blessing of the obsessive mind is that as assiduously as it grips the negative – it grips the positive.

I can’t let go of hope.  I hold onto it every single day because it’s what has kept me alive.  It’s what has allowed my life to bloom with gifts of love and support and laughter.  It’s what has given me the strength to become a better person all the time.  I’m not calcifying as a middle aged person because my obsessive brain won’t let me.

I’m about to drop a little more heavy but only in the service of the light I seek as my spirit season opens.  I am a winter girl.  I like the dark days, I feel alive as temperatures drop, I am awake and alive and this is the most regenerative time of year for me.

I am a snow bird.

This has been a long fucking year.  It has held terrors for me and truths that have choked my airways.  It featured the douche-brothers and the first suicidal ideation I have experienced since I was 26 years old.  The dark has been like chloroform.  It’s time for a list to burn:

  • This year started by finding out we finally got approved for the Hamp loan which was supposed to help us hang onto our house in McMinnville.  We paid one month’s new mortgage (barely a relief from the original mortgage) before I saw my husband come home broken- spirited and realized that it was imperative that we get out of McMinnville.
  • I hadn’t admitted to Philip that I had already been fantasizing about dying for months before we agreed to move.  Because I wasn’t going to be the crazy-ass reason we abandoned the second house we owned in McMinnville.  I wasn’t going to open the closet of horrors.
  • When Philip admitted he had looked at job listings in the Bay Area I told him that he needed to decide that that’s what he wanted or not because once the door was open to move back home I was not going to be able to shut it.
  • Max had one of the toughest school years ever at the Charter School.  Certain things had improved but in so many ways his behaviors disintegrated and his health was weakened by anxieties.
  • Once Philip opened the door to moving home I let all my bitterness and heartache and loneliness and suicidal feelings generated by McMinnville flood out of my heart onto my carpet which no amount of spray could cleanse or erase.  It was visceral and toxic and dangerous.
  • There were months of Philip secretly looking for work.  I couldn’t share.  I couldn’t breath my own desperate pleas to the universe to give Philip a good job with benefits.  It wore us both down.  But Philip’s morale could not have been worse.  There are not so many jobs out there for graphic artists, what with this awful depression we’ve been in the middle of for years.
  • Philip moved to California without us.  I have not been separated from Philip for more than 10 days in the course of our 19 years of marriage.  He moved with a truckload of shit.  He left me in the town that made me want to die.  It needed to be.  I HAD to be.
  • The last month before our move was a hell.  A complete and devastating HELL.  I started drinking so much that even Russian alcoholics would be impressed with how much beer it would take to make me even a little tipsy.  I ate cheese by the block and gained all the weight  back I had previously lost.  Every single day I just did what I had to to not fall apart.
  • I still mostly fell apart.  My bowels pretty much staged a revolution and I haven’t been the same since.  It’s been so profound that I developed internal hemorrhoids which was only officially diagnosed last week after my first ever rectal exam accompanied by the most humiliating panic attack I’ve had in a decade in front of the doctor.
  • It took medals of honor from all our friends and family to get us back home and I am still thanking and blessing and wishing gold glitter on everyone who helped us achieve the impossible.

We have been home six months.  Philip loves his job.  We love my mom and aunt’s house that we’re living in.  Max is thriving in school for the moment and I feel so much support and love from my friends here.  I just spent Christmas morning with my guys and my mom and it was cozy and comfortable and happy.  Then we went south to my dad’s house and partied with family and family friends and it felt so good to be at my dad’s again.  Jews throw the BEST Christmas parties, in case you didn’t know.

Tonight I have finished unpacking.  Completely.  It was important to get it done so that this new year is completely fresh and unsullied by the business of this past year.

I am happy.

Other than those three things I hate about myself.

I believe in new beginnings.

I believe in fresh starts.

I believe in clean slates.

As flawed as I am, I have enough power to believe in them for you too.

*I am giving you the polite version of my feelings and the level of self harm I am inspired to inflict.  It is testament to my self control that I DON’T rip my skin open and haven’t since I was 17 years old.

**In most things I am open to discussion and your opinions – in this matter I am not open at all.  I only share this because I feel I need to be honest right now and say the truth.  “Alcoholic” is a dangerous term in my opinion.  I know what most Americans think about it – that it is an unfixable condition.  That once an alcoholic – always and alcoholic.  I refuse to subscribe to this.  I need to find my own way and in my own time.  I have been protective of myself in this regard until today.  I have alluded but not admitted my problem outright  because I don’t want to give any of you the power to crush me, to destroy my hope, to preach, to proselytize, to harp on me.  I have my own journey in this way and it is unacceptable to me to never drink alcohol again in my life.  If this is, in fact, the way it ends up needing to be – I’m going to get there because I see it for myself.  This is one of the rare times I am unwilling to listen to any of you if you think I can’t do this my way.  So criticize or moralize at your own peril.  I am feeling very protective of myself even in having opened up enough to admit my problem out loud.