Surfing and Crying

If anyone can be in a bad mood while on vacation in Hawaii, it’s me.

The time that I look forward to is early morning when the sun’s rising, and I sit alone on the balcony of the 27th floor of this time share right in Honolulu, in Waikiki Beach, and I look out at the vast city buildings, and the even more vast sea and sky beyond that, and I do my meditation to connect with my spirit guides, and I close my eyes and pretend that it’s a crystal city, that light’s pouring into my crown chakra from the outer reaches of the atmosphere, and orangey-red lighted roots extending up from the core of the earth into my root chakra, and that my arms are outstretched, creating electric static lights to the outer reaches of the universe, like one of those old glass spheres that makes squiggly lights run through it while simultaneously running along the outside of the sphere. I imagine I’m flying out over the city and to the sea, and I pretend that there’s not the occasional ambulance siren going off, no motors from city buses, no buzzing from the window unit behind me, and that I’m okay with not going back to the north shore, which is where I’d rather be.

The only people at the north shore are rich hippies, or well-to-do people with more interesting taste, judging by the minimal and quaint cottage-y local shops and art studios, and best of all, the beach is bare. The water is too rough this time of year, and I don’t swim anyway, so I’d rather be walking there. Waikiki, where I’m staying, is lined with shops ranging from Forever 21 to Rolex, and so many people on the beach you can barely walk. I have never seen so many people on one beach.

This morning when I woke up, I decided I will look into surfing lessons. My boyfriend mentioned it last night, and I immediately said no, because the truth is, I’m scared of the water. He’s more of an adventurer, which I admire, but I’m also fearful. Water over my head just scares me. I don’t like it in my ears and eyes, and especially not in my nose.

Last night we met a surfing instructor, a guy at an AA meeting we decided to check out. Last night I had a dream about this (good-looking, dark-haired, ex-military) guy, that he was my boyfriend, and I was being unfaithful to him, with another surfer who I know from Maryland, a tall and beautiful dreadlocked, half-white, half-black young musician who moved to the Outer Banks, but not before giving me a beaded bracelet and ring that he made, which have an eye on the center beads, and I wear them all the time.

That’s what I like about my current boyfriend. He’s fun and he likes people, and people like him. But being alone with him for this long of a time period is driving me nuts.

Every little thing he does lately annoys me, and when I find myself internally criticizing, trying so hard and unsuccessfully oftentimes, I don’t like myself for it. Why can’t I just let someone be themselves? Do I not love myself enough to let other people have their own journey? But the way he chews and talks with his mouth open, or loudly exclaims at the price of something while shopping, or beams at the Starbucks across the street, or complains that the moderate hike is too hard for him, I want to scream. I feel like a teenager, and he’s my embarrassing parent, hindering my personal growth and freedom of self-expression.

Being with the same person 24/7 is not easy, especially in a studio apartment without the personal time and space that I crave so much. The thing is, I’m going through another stage of spiritual growth, and history has shown that I don’t stay in relationships when that happens. Which means I may never be able to stay in a relationship… but I won’t worry about forever and never today. What I will say is that my beliefs are changing, and I have yet to find a way to stay with the same person when that happens, when the beliefs are fundamentally different, and I find it intolerable to stay with someone whose beliefs are radically different from my own, or who’s on a different path. The thing is, how often do we find those who are on our same path? For me it has been rare, though I wonder if it’s just because I simply haven’t been in an area among people whose views are more aligned with my own. On the other hand, everyone has their own journey, and it’s impossible to be on the same one with someone else, at least all of the time… isn’t it? There are only two people I can think of in my life who I’ve been on a similar journey with, and that’s just a similar journey and not the exact same path at the same time.

I want to write so much more but my laptop battery is dying and I don’t want to wake my boyfriend, who’s pretending to sleep in the bedroom so I can have space out here on the balcony where there’s no outlet to plug in the laptop. The good news is that we’ve decided to relax on the beach today, a beach we found where there are hardly any people further north from here though not quite at the north shore where the waters are too rough. So far we’ve been running around trying to fit everything in and we are exhausted.

Maybe today I’ll gather the courage to try surfing, and allow my boyfriend to be his own Southern, dad-like self, and I’ll… well, I’ll just try to be nice.

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Coincidences, Numbers and Pi Day

Little things have been happening lately that seem too random to be coincidental, but at the same time, my skeptical mind questions them. From what I hear, that voice of doubt is just the ego, trying to rationalize and basically darken my beautiful experience of becoming more aware of the interconnectedness of the universe and my existence in it. Here are a few things that have happened:

This one is completely random, and I don’t know what it means, but my friend mentioned Saskatchewan during a conversation, and about 10 or so minutes later, someone on a game show playing on his tv had the answer of Saskatchewan.

A couple of days ago, I was listening to a podcast, and had a thought of my mom. A few minutes later, the podcast speaker mentioned an owl, and my mom loved owls. A minute or so later, I found myself on a road that sounds just like her first name, and I wasn’t on this road on purpose. I had turned onto this road because I drive down a country road to work, and if someone gets behind me, I’ve taken to turning off to a side road and letting them pass. So I went down a side road with the intention of turning around in someone’s driveway, but then deciding to just drive into the neighborhood. Then I look up and I’m on this road that always reminds me of her, which I’ve never even been on before but have often passed.

The aforementioned road I only noticed a few weeks ago when I was thinking of Mom, and then I looked up and saw the road, which reminded me of her. I like to think it’s her, telling me she’s with me. The funny thing is, the name of the road is Ednor, and her first name was Edna, which she hated. Ednor, in my head, is pronounced like Edner, which sounds like something an old Southern lady would say, and it makes me laugh. It’s something Mom and my sisters and I would totally make fun of.

Another bizarre moment came when I went to post my business card and brochure up at a local organic grocery store. The bulletin board is in the café area located above a single table, so if you want to post anything and someone’s sitting there, you have to lean over them. So I go in to do this, and this guy, this young man of about 25, who I used to work with at a different organic grocery store than this one, is sitting there. In this area you don’t run into people you know very often, not unless I was in my own little town. I’d worked with him in a different town, and this was another area, we didn’t live in the same town, and I haven’t seen him in ages. He’s moving to Portland in a few days, he said. I can’t even remember his name, but he looks like a young Leonardo DiCaprio, so every time I’d see him, I’d think of Leonardo DiCaprio, specifically in “Basketball Diaries.” That movie, which I think is based on a memoir, is so dark, and the main character spirals into such an abyss of addiction, but he’s so young and innocent and had so much potential and opportunity that just went down the drain. After giving it a lot of thought as to what my running into him at that spot like that might mean, I surmised that it reflects my own recovery, and how far I’ve come. Often these days I forget to appreciate and honor that because I’m only looking forward. But for me to have lived such an unhealthy lifestyle, from consuming so much alcohol every single night, to be less than a year from graduating with a master’s degree in science for nutrition, that’s a huge accomplishment that I haven’t really given myself credit for. I went from downing a bottle or two of wine every night, often crying myself into oblivion, to now, with eight and a half years of sobriety, posting my business card as an intern nutritionist at the local grocery store. Instead of being grateful for that, I’ve been worrying about how I’ll ever make it in this new career.

But back to the signs. To solidify the message, one of my classmates who I haven’t seen in a long time came into the store and talked to me for a while, and it turns out we’ll be graduating at the same time. I told her I didn’t know if I would walk, and she was surprised. Why wouldn’t I participate in this celebration, this acknowledgement of accomplishment? I hadn’t done it as an undergraduate, because at the time I was more focused on leaving and starting over, but none of it in a healthy way. I had tried to commit suicide a few months before that, and I left for London soon after, presumably to become a new person, and write a memoir, but instead I consumed lots of alcohol and ecstasy and stayed mired in depression for many more years, until I was 33. I went from that to today, where I’m working in an organic grocery store in the supplements department, studying nutrition. How miraculous is that? It seemed so impossible to me at the time. I thought I would never get sober or feel happy. Mom would be so proud. And she was proud. Maybe this is her message to me, to let me know how proud she is.

Lately I’ve been noticing different numbers and their possible significance. For one, I got sober at 33, and that number has so much significance I will just defer to this article. The most significant to me is Kuan Yin, who undergoes 33 transformations to attain salvation. Her image is depicted on one of my favorite Goddess Guidance cards from Doreen Virtue, and I used these cards through a few difficult times in my life, including after Mom died, even though I wasn’t sure if using them was doing anything other than giving me something for me to do during a time that I could not speak or write, and I didn’t want to listen to words. And weirdly, just now I looked off to the distance to collect my thoughts, and there’s now a clock there (I’m at my boyfriend’s house), which showed 9:33.

Another significant number is my sobriety date, and I don’t ever want to have to change it. This morning I googled the number and discovered that it’s the same as the zip code of the city where I took my last drink. It’s a city I hadn’t been to in a long time, and haven’t been back since: Savannah, Georgia. It’s also a city where a new friend of mine is from. She’s sober, doesn’t have a Southern accent (she dropped hers as a young child, I dropped mine in high school), has lived in London before… My sobriety date is the same as pi: 3/14, if you’re American, like me. If you’re English, or military, then it’s 14/3. But I’m American, and I got sober in 2010, so I had 5 years sober on 3.14.15, which are the first five digits of pi.

Last night I had a dream in which I had been drinking all along, and had been lying to everyone about my sobriety. It was so real that when I woke and realized it was a dream, I was so incredibly grateful.

I didn’t plan to get sober at 33, nor did I plan to get sober on Pi Day, but it seems significant that I did. That being said, I don’t think this significance is any more amazing than what your numbers or dates are for you. Everyone has their own journey, and mine is amazing for me just as yours can be amazing for you. This is what I’m learning, and we each need to give ourselves credit for our own journey.

This blog is expiring soon, and I can’t decide if I want to keep it up or not. I’m paranoid about having so much personal information about myself out there, especially as I’m getting closer to a real career for myself. At the same time, I feel like my soul will die if I don’t write. And for some reason, I can’t just write in my own personal journal that no one reads. For some reason, I want to put this out there, even though most of you don’t know me, nor I you.

So if you don’t see another post, or this link doesn’t work next time you come here, that is why. But I will be around. I just don’t know where or how yet, but I will continue to write and speak and learn my truth, and I hope you all will too.

Peace, love, and namaste,

TCH

Pink Roses and Pennies from Heaven

Right now I can feel that I’m on the cusp of a spiritual awakening, or shift in perspective, or beliefs, and I don’t know what they are, or what will happen, but I can feel it. It all started with two events: 1) looking up my birth chart and finding that it was uncannily accurate, and 2) my dad’s allusion to my mother’s possible infidelity at the end of their marriage. The birth chart idea came up when my co-worker suggested it, as she had done many times, as I’d dismissed many times, thinking it’s too new-agey, too woowoo. But then for some reason I decided I’d see what it said. I’m sure I’ve done it before, in high school, when I was very into analyzing my dreams, reading Edgar Cayce books, and had learned to lucid dream. My best friend was and still is into astrology and crystals and chakras and everything new age, and now she practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine which I know very little about. I want scientific explanations, and I don’t think Western science has all the answers, and in fact I think there’s so much more out there that we/I have yet to learn, or re-learn, and I have an interest in learning more about quantum physics. Anyway, my birth chart is amazingly accurate, so I looked up my sisters’, my boyfriend’s, and parents’, and they all seemed accurate enough that if you were to switch them up without knowing they’d been switched, you might suspect they’d been switched. You’d say they were wrong. But I only felt like that on this one website. I haven’t tried but one other website, which didn’t seem accurate.

This whole birth chart review along with thinking about who my mom was as a person has led me to thinking about mediums. A couple years ago my hairdresser had mentioned that she’d seen one who knew details no one else could know, and that she and all her friends had seen her, so I finally decided to set up an appointment with her. And I don’t know who the medium reached, if anyone, but it couldn’t have been my mother.

First off, she sensed someone who’d died of heart or lung problems, and my mom had a stroke. She did say that the way it worked was someone would come forward and then she’d ask them to get my mom. So it could’ve been my mom’s mom, who’d had lung cancer, or her grandma, who’d died of a heart attack. It seemed to me that anyone could guess heart or lungs – that’s not uncommon. The medium described my mom as a reserved, kind-hearted, and charming person. Mom was kind-hearted but not reserved and she sure didn’t try to charm anyone. She was a tell-it-like-it-is kind of a person. She said that she saw water, and my mom lived near a lake, but she also said my mom loved water. My mom’s father drowned when she was six months old, and she was afraid of water for most of her life. She didn’t learn how to swim until she was in her 30s. Then the medium mentioned the color pink, that Mom was surrounded in pink, and she sensed pink roses. It’s true that when I think of Mom I imagine her wearing pale pink pajamas because she loved pajamas and she had some very pale pink pajamas, but she did not like the color pink. The medium said that Mom’s advice to me was to be frugal and that she was sending me pennies from heaven. This isn’t really anything Mom would say to me. She did worry about money but she never told me to be frugal. She thought I made a lot of money and never worried about me, but I’m actually in debt and sometimes spend beyond my means. So that does make me wonder. It makes me wonder if now she knows I was doing that to prove my independence, so she wouldn’t worry about me, so she’d think I was strong. She wouldn’t say she was sending pennies from heaven.

Two nights later I was walking out of a meeting and someone looked down and said, “Whoa there’s a pile of pennies here on the floor!” and I thought to myself, Now every time I see pennies I’ll wonder if it’s my mom. And you know what? Maybe it’s not, but I’m going to choose to believe it is. I find it a comfort. Maybe the medium was full of shit, and maybe it was a waste of my money, but I still found it comforting. I’d have liked it better had she mentioned owls, lavender, reading, politics, Mom’s feisty nature. Something specific to Mom. Or something random like something about Dolly Parton, because Mom and I went to see “9 to 5,” a play showing at her local theater, just before she died. Then I’d have been blown away.

The weird thing that happened about 20 minutes before the call was that I was straightening my hair in the bathroom, alone in the house, and the mirror fell. I was trying to hurry so that I could meditate before the call, and first the earbuds I’d hung on the towel rack fell. I picked them up, thinking it was probably a coincidence, and then a couple minutes later the entire mirror fell. It did not break, but rather, it was wedged between the walls. A 50-pound mirror that’s been hanging since 1983, which I know because that’s the date on the back of the mirror, I later found out (August 1 or August 10, I forget which now), and probably when this house was built. I hadn’t been moving much, no one had banged on the wall, nothing had provoked the mirror at all, and it just fell. So I got the hell out of there, went downstairs and meditated.

I want to write so much more, but I have to get ready for work, and I want to pray and meditate beforehand, so more on all of this later.

Oh and I forgot to say that after my call with the medium, I went into the dining room and there were pink roses on the table. So that was weird. My roommate apparently had brought them home the night before.

This is going to be a journey.

A Good Man Is Hard to Find

Five days ago I celebrated eight years of sobriety. If I’d known eight years ago that my life—more importantly my outlook—could change so dramatically I wouldn’t have believed you. That being said, I’ve been feeling down lately. A lot of different things have been going on, and even before all this happened I was feeling blah for no discernible reason. Last night after class I wanted to cry, and I wanted to cry again when my friend Kevin came over and joked about how long dinner was taking me to cook. Let me rephrase that: I didn’t want to cry so I held it in. Not healthy but I just didn’t feel like it, not in front of anyone.

Class yesterday left me with an old feeling of deep-rooted insignificance. Invisibility, without a voice, unimportant, unheard, silenced. It probably wasn’t my classmates’ intention—certainly it wasn’t Rochelle’s, because she’s the sweetest, most compassionate student in the class, and I don’t know the other guy in my group very well but he seems nice—yet I felt… swept aside. We had to do a case study together on a guy who sounded just like my dad, so I felt like I knew just what to do with this guy. My group had a different, more extreme approach, so my suggestion was outvoted. I just don’t think you can take a person who’s used to eating Philly cheesesteaks every day and tell him he can no longer eat any bread, sugar, fast food, or processed and refined or packaged foods on Day One. The person they described is a heavy drinker with type 2 diabetes. Yet when I suggested abstinence for the client’s third month, the guy in my group was like, Whoa there. Let the guy have his drink. He’s human. The health problems that this guy had, and the effect of alcohol on someone with diabetes—it’s just dangerous. And the way in which this client drinks coupled with the fact that he has a family history of alcoholism suggests he’s a problem drinker, possibly an alcoholic himself. As medical professionals we have a responsibility to tell someone their drinking is dangerous to their health, and that if they’re having trouble drinking they should consider treatment. It pisses me off when students gloss over someone’s drinking because of how acceptable—and not only acceptable but encouraged—drinking is in this country. To have one or two drinks is one thing, but when a person drinks so much their judgment is impaired and they’re causing damage to their health, taking dangerous actions, driving drunk, destroying relationships… Ugh! I just want to scream! I know. I have been that person.

But it’s such a touchy subject, especially as someone in AA. It’s not my job to preach to the world about how they should all be abstinent. For one, most people don’t need to quit entirely. For another, most people—especially those who have a problem—don’t want to quit. But would you tell someone who’s a hundred pounds overweight with high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and high blood sugar that it’s okay for them to continue eating fast food? Would you tell someone who’s allergic to bees that it’s okay if they stand next to a beehive as long as they only do it once a day?

The thing is, if a person has a problem, they’ll quit when they’re ready. No one can make them quit. To harass that person about it won’t help, and in fact can cause more damage. But what you can do, as a medical practitioner is inform them that their drinking habits are unhealthy, dangerous even, and suggest that they cut back, and if they can’t cut back, then suggest that they consider treatment. Then it’s up to them to decide what to do with it. And if you’re a friend or a family member of someone who drinks too much, let them know you’re worried about them and suggest they try cutting back, and if they can’t but want to, then suggest treatment. If they don’t want to, that’s on them.

Enough on that soapbox! Thanks for letting me share. Lol.

The thing is, I felt ignored yesterday. I suggested what I wanted to do for a diet plan with this client, and my classmates were like, Well this is what we’re gonna do. It touched a nerve, because the one guy in my group was informed about what deficiencies the client had based on his symptoms, rattled off something about the different metabolic pathways, remembered a bunch of science-y stuff from biochemistry, and my fear is that I won’t retain this information nor will I remember it if I do.

love-yourself

The day before I’d gone on a date with a guy working on his PhD in molecular biology working on cancer research. I didn’t understood much of what he said when he discussed his work, and when I’d mentioned a few things about nutrition, he replied with his point of view as if they were facts, as if he’s the one not just studying nutrition, but having already studied it and become the expert. He mentioned he’d been commissioned as an officer, and I had no idea what that meant. Turns out he’s in the Commission Corps, which I didn’t know existed. All of it left me feeling small, stupid. Apart from his work he didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation, and afterwards he sent me a text telling me I’m beautiful and sexy, and has since sent me several texts referring in some way to sex. He’s 33 years old and told me he likes older women because they’re better in bed. I told him the same is true of older men.

I’ve decided not to reply any more to him or the guy I had a date with after class yesterday. That guy was nice but something about him came off as inauthentic. He was almost too nice. His mom died about 10 years ago of cancer, and the conversation about our mothers’ deaths didn’t go in a way that felt right to me. In other words, I am following my gut feeling and leaving these two guys alone.

self-worth

Ditto for the guy I had a phone conversation with last week. I also met him through Match, and he was funny, but I just had this gut feeling something wasn’t right. He seemed like someone I’d have drank with back in the day. And that’s a red flag.

A couple of weeks ago my closest guy friend “in AA,” Spencer, decided he couldn’t talk to me anymore because he wants more than a friendship. I use “in AA” in quotes because he doesn’t really practice the program or go to meetings that much, and although I’m bummed, it’s a relief too. For one, it’s difficult to try to be a flotation device for someone who’s drowning, particularly when you aren’t the best swimmer yourself. And another, maybe it’s just not right to be friends with someone who wants more. This was one reason I didn’t have close male friends before Spencer and my other friend Kevin. Kevin also wants more, but says he’s okay with just being friends. I don’t want to cut off the friendship because he’s a good friend but at the same time, am I doing him a disservice? If I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t even hang around a guy who I liked for more who didn’t reciprocate the feeling. This is why it’s best for us girls to just stick together.

Kevin hurt my feelings last night, joking about how long it was taking me to cook dinner, as we often do with each other. We always joke in that mean sort of way, like the characters on “It’s Always Sunny,” or my dad and his friends, insulting each other, and while this wouldn’t work with my female friends, or maybe it would now depending on what and how it was done, it’s hilarious to us. Until last night when I thought he was for real. I was already feeling sensitive, wanting to cry, but I didn’t want to cry in front of him because I just didn’t feel like going there. The problem with that is this is how you develop closer friendships. By opening up and letting yourself be vulnerable. I don’t know if that’s a good idea with Kevin given that he’s interested in dating me, so I’ll let myself off the hook.

Another mental note I made for myself was the two times I went out with the two aforementioned guys, I was in an awkward position of saying yes because it’s my default reaction to be a people-pleaser. The PhD guy asked at the end of the date if we could go out again and I just said yes. How does one say no in that situation? Then the second guy asked if I wanted to continue the coffee date by going somewhere else to eat, and I said yes even though I didn’t want to. I decided if these kind of situations come up again I’ll say, “I really had a good time but I’d like to talk to you on the phone a couple more times first,” or “I have other plans,” or “I’ll be in rehab for the next year,” etc. Anything. I could tell the guy I’m alcoholic and I’m twice divorced. That I have explosive diarrhea and need to go home immediately. Lessons to be learned, my friends. Note to self: be prepared to say no.

do-i-like-them

To top it all off, as soon as this semester ends I’ll be flying to Georgia to take my 95-year-old whippersnapper of a grandmother to Albuquerque to see my sister and her kids. Y’all, this trip is gonna be like an updated version of “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” (by Flannery O’Connor) except hopefully no shooters (didn’t the Misfit have a gun?). Hence, I am stressing.

Also, my ex-husband texted to say he’s in DC this week for work and wanted to know if I wanted to hook up with him. Lord help us all. There’s a man out there who I will love and who also loves me for me and doesn’t think of me as a good piece of ass. I just haven’t met him yet.

make-ourselves-strong

St. Patrick’s Day has had me thinking about the last time I drank, in Savannah with my second husband and his parents, when I got so drunk I felt like I’d die the next day. I’m so glad those days are behind me.

Off to work now but first I want to say that I’m grateful for the life I have today. I’m glad to be sober, to be dating, to be attractive to guys, to be able to choose, to have an opportunity to take my grandma to New Mexico.

Peace and love,

TCH

You Don’t Have to Suffer

One of my friends relapsed, and it’s really gotten me to thinking.

The thing is, she’d had 12 years of sobriety at one time, slipped a few years ago, and hasn’t been able to stay sober since then. She’s back in recovery, had never really gone out completely—she’d been drinking on the sly after meetings starting a few weeks ago.

When these things happen, as they often do for those of us in the recovery community, it drives home how serious the disease of alcoholism/addiction really is. It’s easy to forget when life gets good. My life has been wonderful lately, and I feel invincible, like it will never happen to me, but then I meet someone who had decades of sobriety and got drunk again, or, more commonly, started taking prescription painkillers or opiates.

Some people in the community are dead-set against prescriptions of any kind, whereas I’m like, You mean you’re going to cut into my eyeballs? And this anesthesia is NOT going to put me to sleep? Give me the strongest thing you got, and double it. That really happened to me, btw, when I had eye surgery a few years ago. Now, I’m not saying I’ll down a bottle of Nyquil or Robotussin when I get sick—that would be a big no-no, and I don’t believe in those particular OTCs anyway—but I’m not above taking antidepressants, for example, as prescribed, when and if the situation calls for it.

Many of us who are alcoholic suffer from depression, and while I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg that came first, the point is that neither one helps the other, and I believe we really do not have to suffer. After my mom died and then Steven left me, I lost my motivation for life, and I just could not take the pain. My threshold for pain has become much lower in sobriety. The shit I’d suffer through when I was drinking is unacceptable to me now. It took me years to even make a decision to become sober, although for years I told myself I would do it, that I had to do it.

My ex-husband from the first marriage, the one in which I caused a lot of damage from my drinking, is visiting DC next month and has asked if I want to meet up. At first I said sure, and thought of how good I’d look, showing him how sober and stable and rational I am now. Now I don’t even care about that anymore. Who cares what he thinks? I’ve made my amends and honestly have no interest in seeing him or even talking to him again. Also, he hinted that he wants to basically hook up with me, and I am SO not interested in that today. With him, I mean. The guy I recently met on Match… well, that’s another story I’ll tell you about in another blog post, but I’ll give you the short version now: HOT.

Plus I think the whole idea of it has been triggering memories I don’t care to re-visit. All we did was go out to dinner and drink pitchers of margaritas or bottles of wine, and eventually I’d get wasted and make an ass out of myself. It was hard to look at myself in the mirror, knowing I was living a lie, that I hated everything about my life, and I felt like such a fraud.

A fraud. No feeling is more empty to me than knowing in my heart that I’m not being true to myself, or to anyone else. My friend Cathy who’d relapsed described herself as feeling exactly like that: a fraud. She’d go to meetings, pretend to be sober, then go home and drink. I had no idea. Just like my friend who’d committed suicide a few years ago. She seemed fine. In both cases, I’d noticed a slight pulling back, but I thought that they were just busy.

A friend of a friend recently committed suicide, also someone who’d started drinking again. Suicide seems to be the way most of us die, from what I’ve seen from my almost eight years of life in the recovery community so far. Which means their deaths don’t get reported as being alcohol-related, and we in this country don’t take alcoholism seriously enough. The thing is, I bet most of the crimes that get committed wouldn’t have happened if the offender hadn’t been drunk or high at the time. And also, many of us—probably most of us—have other problems, like my friend who died. She had bipolar disorder, and had taken it upon herself to stop taking her medication, because the message she got from her group was that no mind-altering drugs of any kind should ever be taken, including antidepressants. This is one of my big problems with AA.

I have a few other problems with AA, but I’m not leaving. And I’ll tell you why: AA is the only place where I’ve ever felt like I belonged. It’s the only place where you can go anywhere in the country, and just about anywhere outside of the country, and find a safe haven full of welcoming people who are there for you, and they’re not bullshitting. They really have been there for me. I’ve watched elderly people die sober in this program, and they died happy, surrounded by a loving and supportive community of people who would pick them up and take them to meetings, who’d check on them, visit them in the hospital, etc. As a single woman with no kids, that sure looks better than growing old alone. Plus, I’m an extroverted introvert, and I like having friends.

So the problems I have with AA pale in comparison to what AA has done for me, which is that it saved my life. Truly. I would’ve committed suicide by now otherwise; I’d tried before, years ago, when my drinking was starting to get really bad.

Anyway, back to Cathy. She’s a career changer like me, living with her parents for now while she’s in the process, she’s single, and she’s about 55. Her son struggles with opiate addiction, lives on the other side of the country, with her baby granddaughter. If I had a kid, how do I know they wouldn’t become an addict too? Alcoholism/addiction runs rampant in my family on both sides.

So all these thoughts are swirling around in my head, these are the things that are happening around me right now, and I’m not exactly a model member of AA these days. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, but if I want to live a life of serenity, it’s important that I maintain a spiritual way of life. School and work keep me busy, and I’ve gotten back on Match—though I will say I don’t spend nearly as much time or put as much hope into it this time. I just want a lover and a friend, and if that happens, great. If not, I’ll just take a lover. I already have friends, thank you. Is that horrible?

These days, in the morning when I wake up I thank my lucky stars, which I call God, for my life, and at night when I go to bed, I thank God (aka a higher power, a power greater than myself) again. This life that I live today, I love it. In many ways I don’t ever want it to end, except that I want my own place. But graduating and going back into the real world to be in an actual career, this time of my own choosing of which I have limited experience and of which I have no idea if it will work or how it will work, and meanwhile my student loans will be due… it’s daunting. Two of my friends are going through it now, and it’s scary. Luckily I still have two years of living life almost like a kid, living off my student loans, limited responsibilities…

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m planning to taper off my antidepressant in favor of Chinese herbs to see how it works, although the tea makes me feel nauseous and costs more than my prescription. And the last time I tapered off I had two days of severe depression. Some say the antidepressant does that because it becomes addictive, and maybe that’s true. I want to do whatever’s healthiest for me–unless it means I have to be depressed, LOL. If I have to take antidepressants for the rest of my life to avoid the emotional hell I used to live in, I absolutely will.

In the meantime I’ll call my sponsor today, go to a meeting tonight, pray to my higher power which I call God, reach out to Cathy and another new friend struggling with sobriety. This really is all just one day at a time. Everything. When I start to worry about the rest of my life and what my future holds, this is what I ask myself: What do I have to do today? What can I do in this moment that will be the next right action to take? What would be the wise, healthy thing to do? Right now, for me, it’s to go back to sleep, wake up and go to breakfast with one of my favorite friends Kevin who makes me laugh so hard, then go discount shopping with another favorite friend Kathleen. It’s my day off, and I plan to enjoy it. I want to call my sisters today too. And I should probably go to the gym, but um, yeah, that’s not gonna happen today. You can only do so much in a day, my friends.

If you feel down, call someone for help. Even if it’s the suicide hotline. This life is all that we know. Why not make the best of it? You deserve to be happy. Instead of telling yourself all the reasons why something good can’t happen to you, ask yourself why not. In the meantime…

no-one

The above image was taken from hubpages.com via Pinterest.

 

On the Tip of a Melting Iceberg?

Yesterday I went to an herbalist at school to try Chinese herbs for my anxiety and depression. I’ve been on Wellbutrin for a few months, after having been on Prozac for a year, and I’d like to try something more natural for my body. The Prozac made me feel fatigued, and the Wellbutrin makes me feel mildly numb or apathetic. Not completely robotic, but not completely human either. Feelings should be felt, even the painful ones that I don’t really want to face, ever. Not that I’m experiencing painful feelings at the moment, but I’m just saying.

These kinds of healthcare visits always make me think. Probe. Into the dark recesses of my mind, or soul, heart. I’d just gotten finished re-reading a passage from Louise Hay’s You Can Change Your Life from the chapter on how to change, and I’d wondered if I’d ever even read it before. She’s all about positive thinking and the law of attraction, and I’d decided to get back onto that train. But the problem is, this herbalist starts asking me all these probing questions and finally zeros right in on the center of my pain: “So what is it about your mom that you miss?”

My mom died suddenly a year and a half ago, and four months afterward I started taking Prozac. The pain was so unbearable I just didn’t want to deal with it.

So the herbalist asks this question, and that’s when the tears came, but only for a minute, and more like half a tear, because I just don’t want to cry. Been there, done that, let’s move forward.

The Louise Hay book was in my bag, I was at school, and I’d ordered it for a friend of mine who I’ve been wanting to help, trying to help for a couple of years now. But as I read it, I realized maybe I hadn’t even read this particular book before, although my Amazon account showed that I’d ordered it already on my Kindle, probably a few years ago. I know I’ve read some of her other books, but I wasn’t remembering this passage, even though it’s stuff I know. It’s just that we all need reminders—I do, anyway. Louise Hay’s law of attraction philosophy has been on my mind again the last couple of days, along with how my sponsor and my therapist have told me I don’t have to force myself to try to be single. So now I’m beginning a new story to rewire into my consciousness which is that there’s a good man out there for me, someone who loves and respects me for who I am, who will allow me my independence, who’ll be faithful, who I have good chemistry with, and the relationship will be one in which we have friends together and outside of our relationship. Because prior to this I’d been telling myself just the opposite: The pool of available, good single men gets more and more limited the older they get, I won’t find a good guy, I’ll be single forever, and if I do get into a relationship it will feel like a trap and/or won’t be healthy. Eventually that thought pattern leads to Eff this whole town I’m gonna get me a tiny house, live on some land and get some goats. (Because that’s the thought process everyone goes through, right? LOL… PS: Baby goat season is almost here and I cannot WAIT to go to the farm and see them!) These are all old ideas–about the relationship, not the adorable baby goats–but the old ideas about relationships will hold me back if I allow myself to believe them. How do I know there’s not some great guy out there right now who’s maybe going through the process of a divorce and will be ready for a relationship in the future, with me? Someone who’s really funny, and who finds me funny too.

head

The other thing is, I saw myself on video recently, twice, and it was… jarring, to say the least. It’s been bothering me ever since. First of all, I look weird. On the video I look nothing like how I look to myself in the mirror. My mouth is crooked, I move my mouth in a funny way when I speak, my face is asymmetrical, and I don’t understand how anyone finds me attractive. I’m grateful that some people think that–don’t get me wrong. And that part is not important on a deeper level; it just sparks my curiosity. More importantly, more disturbingly, I can see how people find me to be someone who doesn’t show her emotions. Mark had said I keep my cards close, or something like that, whatever the saying is, I have a poker face. It reminds me how others have expressed surprise in the past when I voiced my care or concern over an issue—they’d say, Oh I thought you didn’t notice or care. The videos were for an assignment we had to do for my clinical skills class in which we are to interview a mock client and in it we ask them questions about their health and background. We’re supposed to show empathy and comfort. The good news is that a classmate said I seem like a natural and she could see that in me, but the things is, I cannot see it when I watch the video. I don’t think my customers at work can see it, I’m sure my family doesn’t see it (but then, they don’t see a lot of things), many of my friends don’t see it, and I’m concerned I won’t be able to show it when I become a licensed nutritionist. That classmate and I had a conversation about it afterwards and she said that she herself is expressive so much that when someone tells her something shocking she can’t hide her surprise, and that for me to be more poker-faced is a positive attribute because if a client tells me something I don’t want to show it if I’m surprised or judgmental about it. This is true, but it really bothers me.

So the herbalist gave me some Chinese herbs, some that are designed to “break apart things,” she said. I love how acupuncturists and Chinese medical practitioners always describe things in a way that make no sense to anyone else but make perfect sense to them. They always use their hands when they describe it too, and they always pause before describing it (love you, K!). I’m in a hurry to get ready for work right now so I can’t elaborate, but more on that later. But I am pretty sure I’m picking up what she was throwing down there, which is that I’ve buried a lot of feelings and really need to release them. So maybe I’m on the tip of an iceberg that’s about to melt?

Sigh.

The thing is, I want to bypass all of that and get to the happy part. I just want to be happy! All the time. LOL.

But life is a process, and more layers get peeled back all the time.

Peace and love,

TCH

Freedom and Self-Love on Valentine’s Day

This article from the New York Times jumped out at me this morning when I logged onto my laptop: For a Better Marriage, Act Like a Single Person. Stephanie Coontz writes, “Many of the problems experienced by divorced and widowed people may result not so much from the end of their marriage as from having relied too much on their spouse and thus failing to maintain social networks and the skills of self-reliance.” Amen to that, sister.

Last night my friend Kate invited me out, saying sometimes a group gets together to go bowling, and also there’s a girls’ night out on Fridays once a month. I’d been invited to the girls’ night already, so I’m excited about that. Mixed feelings about both because there’s a back story to both situations, but overall I feel glad to be single because when I’m in a relationship I feel like I can’t participate in these kinds of outings. Or if I do, it’s not as much fun. Never have I been in a social circle that included the guy I was dating, because I don’t typically date guys in AA, which is where I make all my friends. Kate told me last night she doesn’t want to be in a relationship; she’d much rather have her freedom and have friends. She looked at me and said, “You don’t seem to broken up about Mark.”

Spencer had said the same thing, and I must admit it’s true. My life has been far less stressful without driving 30 minutes to Mark’s house, packing and unpacking my stuff, skipping meetings or missing outings because I’m with him, etc. I told Kate I wish that he and I could’ve kept the sex part lol, and she said something like I needed a much more low maintenance sex partner (lol). I do want a companion, more than just a sex partner, but what I also want is someone I can share a social circle with, but who has their own friends, and doesn’t become possessive of my time, who’s okay with me having my own friends.

So here’s the backstory to the social situation I referred to earlier. One of the girls in the group is someone I sponsored but who decided she wanted another sponsor because she felt like she didn’t see me enough. She’s younger, about 28, and ended up asking someone else to be her sponsor, a bossy woman in her late 50s. Apparently both of them are part of the group that goes out, so it’s mildly awkward. I can’t help but feel rejected by Brooklyn, the girl I’d sponsored, and I’ve just never liked her new sponsor. And Brooklyn started dating this creepy older guy who has about 25 kids, a guy I’ll call Jake, who’d sent me a like via Match a while back which I ignored. Dude is twice Brooklyn’s age, and he has so many kids, including little ones. He’s not attractive in the least; he looks like an unattractive woman. Brooklyn on the other hand is new to AA, pretty, young, and she has whole life ahead of her. It’s just creepy. None of my business, but still. I can’t help but think if I were her sponsor I’d be giving her better guidance, I hope, than that bossy Bianca. For one, I’ve been there before. I’ve dated creepy guys not worth my time because I was so insecure I loved the attention and didn’t think I’d get it anywhere else. That’s experience I could’ve shared with her, and she could do what she wanted with that information, but it would be a seed, I hope. I suppose I still can share this with her if the opportunity comes up. Bianca’s the kind of person who will have an opinion and will probably give it. She seems like someone who tells you what to do, and maybe Brooklyn likes that. But it wouldn’t work for me.

It’s none of my business but that’s what goes through my head. At the root of all this is me feeling rejected because Brooklyn left me for another sponsor (as if she was my girlfriend lol), when I felt like we had a good relationship. I was always available for her, we met frequently, we’d gotten to her 7th step already. The only thing was we didn’t see each other at meetings often because I was usually with Mark instead. She didn’t know that but probably guessed, so I feel judged, like she and everyone else thinks Bianca is somehow a better person than me. As if somehow I’ve failed at sobriety, lol, which is ridiculous because I’m still sober, and I still practice doing the right thing in all my life situations. Anyone who can’t see that chooses not to see it, and it doesn’t matter anyway because I know who I am and what I do. What I forget is that Brooklyn’s decision to fire me and get someone else has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with her. Sometimes when people do that it’s because they feel like they’re not working a good program and they want to blame it on their sponsor. That’s why I changed sponsors so many times during my first four years of sobriety. Whatever the case, I must remember not to take it personally. And who knows? Maybe the guy’s not really a creep; I don’t really know him… Btw, I’m coming up on eight years now! What a blessing and a miracle that is.

Anyway, the other awkward situation is that the group of friends who go out bowling sometimes includes the guy I’d dated briefly (Jay) who went back to his girlfriend (Yvonne), a couple I refer to as Jayvonne, and Kate wanted to know if I’d be okay with them being there. Honestly, I don’t really mind, and would love to go out with the group; it’s only mildly uncomfortable when Jayvonne is there because I feel bad for having slept with him when they were separated. No one, including them, knew they’d get back together, so it’s not like there was infidelity, but if the tables were turned I wouldn’t like having the other woman around. Kate doesn’t think she’d mind, and he doesn’t care and probably likes it because he’s a guy, and he probably feels like a rooster. Anyway, I’ll probably go out with the group soon. That whole situation is just a lesson learned not to sleep with guys in the group. Or anyone else for that matter.

Both of those situations, and my recent break-up with Mark could leave me feeling rejected—and I do, especially with the sponsorship situation. I mean, I hate rejection, no matter what form it takes. But these situations also make me glad to be single. Valentine’s Day is coming up, and I actually feel grateful to be single, to have my freedom, to do whatever I want with my time. I’m glad not to be in Brooklyn’s or Yvonne’s shoes. I’m grateful to be enjoying school this semester. My room and bathroom have never been cleaner and more organized, which I’ve been able to maintain because I’m actually home now, so my space has become a haven. I have a warm home, a fun job with supportive co-workers, friends and a social network in sobriety, and sobriety itself. If you’d told me 10 or 20 years ago this is where I’d be today and I’d be happy, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet here I am.

I hope everyone can find this kind of peace and gratitude. You just never know where you’ll find yourself. I know a lot of people who are suffering, and I can relate. I’ve been there. For SO long. Years. But if you believe good things are just around the corner, that good things are here already, you just have to open your eyes to them—life gets better. It really does.

May you find peace, happiness, and self-love.

Here’s a song (a cover of Meghan Trainor’s song “He’s No Good for You” by someone named Eliza) I’d like to dedicate to Brooklyn, and all the girls out there who are dating creepy guys who don’t deserve their time, because they want to fill a void that really only a higher power and self-love can fill… Girl, I’ve been there before, and I hope never to go back.

Love,

TCH