Sobriety in AA

Recently I came across a well-meaning blog post from someone who wishes to explain AA to readers who feel they may have a problem with alcohol. As a sober member of AA for the past 8 years, I feel compelled to write about my experience, as there was some misinformation on this particular blog, and I almost posted a comment, until I realized I’d need to include my name and email address. My email address has my full name in it, and I wish to remain anonymous in this blog (partly because of my AA membership, but mostly due to the personal nature of what I write), so I didn’t post a comment. Instead I’m posting my own blog with my experience (even though I have less than 200 readers and about 10 views per day on any given day, which kinda bums me out tbh, but that’s for another day… and even if I help only one person, then I’ll have done my job).

Here’s what I can tell you about AA: the best way to find out what it’s like is to go to meetings. I recommend trying more than just one meeting, because from my experience, some of the meetings I went to, especially when I was new, were just weird. I’ve always preferred women’s meetings where I feel most comfortable talking, but you have to decide what’s most comfortable for you.

No one could’ve told me what AA was like any more than anyone can explain to me what it’s like to ride a bicycle. You can explain it to me, but I don’t know until I do it myself.

I also don’t think AA is the end-all be-all. It’s not the solution for everyone, and there are problems with it, as with anything. Nothing is perfect. But it has changed my life for the better, that’s for sure. Whatever you do, it’s my opinion that what works best is finding another solution for life’s problems, along with having friends who are on a similar path of living a positive way of life.

That’s all I really have to say about that. I want to write more, as I’ve been in a funk lately, but I need to get ready for work. This funk I’ve been in is due to my anxiety about my professional future as well as the whole dating thing. Dating takes a lot of work, and online dating makes it almost impossible to really know what a person is like. I’d rather not date someone from AA because I go to meetings for support, and plus there are all kinds of problems with dating in AA that I can write about later. There are positives too, though. So… with that being said, more later.

To be continued. 🙂

Peace, love, hugs, etc.

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.

 

Relationships, Amends, Healing, etc.

I caved.

The same day I posted that I’d stand strong and not give in to Mark’s request to be friends with benefits, I texted him and said fine I’ll do it. Of course I’d rather have love and commitment, but I don’t have time for a boyfriend while in grad school, and my hormones are raging. So there you go.

As soon as I texted him that, he was like, Come over now, so I went to his house right after work. We talked for a bit, he told me how bad the past few weeks have been for him, how therapy is going, and how much he’s learned already. The poor guy really has had a rough go of it. Meanwhile I haven’t shed one tear. It’s strange how I cried so much over whatshisface when he went back to his ex, and I didn’t even like him that much. He was boring. But I think it was because at the time I was still grieving my break-up with Steven, and I felt jealous that he’d go back to his ex and have a long-term commitment to someone, while Steven left me.

And to be fair, Mark’s sadness mostly has to do with childhood trauma that he needs to work through. His mom was negligent, paying more attention to her boyfriends than to her kids. It turns out he did a lot of drugs until the past few years, which I think is why he hasn’t fully dealt with this until now. When we drink or do drugs, we numb those feelings and we just don’t deal with them. That’s why they say in recovery we come in at the age we were when we started using, which for me would’ve been 14. So I guess that makes me about 22 now, in recovery years, lol, though I’m really almost 42. That sounds about right. I don’t know how many other 42-year-olds have blogs like this, about their boyfriends and school. LOL. I’m really like a teenager. But, whatever. This is who I am.

I noticed that I’ve always dated guys who didn’t get enough attention from their mothers, and pointed it out to my friend Spencer, who said that it’s not so much that I attract them to me as that I am attracted to them. I don’t know if I completely agree, but it does make sense. I’ve always liked a needy guy due to my fear of abandonment, in the hopes that he’d never leave me. It’s unhealthy, but that’s the truth. Then I just end up leaving them. I sure hope I can break this cycle, without it being with someone who can’t commit, because it seems that now I am attracted to commitment-phobes. They’re so much more attractive than needy guys. It’s like I want someone who’s in between, which is probably why I was so into Steven. He’d go back and forth from either extreme, and I was addicted to that excitement, like the good little codependent that I am. I guess you could say I’m doing the same thing with Mark.

I have this tendency to want to project years into the future, which I think is a human tendency. I want to know how all this will play out. Maybe we’ll just be friends with benefits forever, and I’ll get my own place, and he’ll have his own place, and we’ll see each other however often. I won’t have to put up with his neurosis and he won’t have to put up with mine. I won’t have to be annoyed that he leaves the sink dirty with dried toothpaste yet vacuums the house 25 times a day. He won’t have to be annoyed that I forgot to take off my shoes before walking into the house. We can each do whatever we want, have our cake and eat it too.

We all know it won’t play out that way but I’m doing it anyway. God help me.

In the meantime Steven sent me another email, this time to my work address. He wrote that he takes responsibility for the end of things (um, what about the middle, when he’d ignore me for days at a time?), he would’ve committed if he could relive it (yeah, right), he’s sorry he didn’t make me feel more “safe” with him and his kids (I hope he means safe as in comfortable?), and thanked me for introducing him to ACA, which he says he’s really involved in now. My sponsor and I both agree that his amends is really about him feeling better, which is mildly annoying yet understandable—I know I don’t like feeling guilty—and at the same time I truly do feel bad for him because he clearly regrets it. Spencer suggested that maybe he’s been in the dating field for a year now and can see in hindsight how good he had it, and wishes he could go back in time. I’d guess he didn’t have much luck with the online dating sites. My sponsor feels that he’s manic right now, and I agree.

So I emailed him back and said that I appreciate him apologizing, and that I’ve grown a lot since that time, that it was needed for spiritual growth, that it looks like he’s done a lot of soul-searching, and I’m glad that he’s in ACA, and hope he and his kids are doing well. I had my sponsor read the email first, to make sure it was nice and not too resentful-sounding. And I must say that his emails have helped diminish my resentment quite a bit. Now I’m at a place where I don’t really want to talk to him or see him, but I do hope he gets better. I wanted to say something along the lines of how I wish he’d take care of his bipolar disorder if not for himself then for his kids, but that’s none of my business.

One thing that really stands out to me in all of this is just how damaging a bad childhood can be for a person, especially when combined with a mental illness. His dad was abusive, his mom didn’t protect him, and then he had bipolar disorder. That will really eff a person up. He could’ve turned out to be much worse. He’s not a bad person. He’s a sick person trying to get well, like many of the rest of us. Same for Mark. They’re both good people, which is what I feel is true for most of the people on this earth.

After I published my last post, I felt like I must look like one of the rich people on “Hunger Games.” There are people in the world living through war and poverty, and here I am worrying about my various ex-boyfriends. It’s important that I remember to be grateful for all the good things I have: friends, family, a place to live, a job, food, an opportunity to change careers, sobriety. And I have God in my life. Not everyone gets all of that.

That’s all I have for today. I’ll leave you with this song by Sia, “Chandelier.” I’m so grateful to be sober today.

Home

Home sweet home.

Being in Georgia this week was like being in another universe. I visited my dad and grandma, and it was Grandma’s birthday, so we went to dinner one night with my aunts and uncles too. Luckily my oldest and best friend visited her family at the same time, and having her there made it so much more bearable. Overall the trip was successful, but my dad and I had an uncomfortable conversation that’s all I can really think about.

First I’ll tell you the good stuff: he actually asked for and listened to my nutrition advice, he was generally pleasant, he didn’t drink, and he was fairly easygoing (for him anyway). The first night I was there we went out to dinner with the rest of the family, and they all wanted me to be like some kind of drill sergeant barking at him what to eat and what not to eat. My uncle sat between us so he could boast about how healthy he is due to his own healthy lifestyle habits compared to how unhealthy my dad is due to his terrible eating and lack of exercise. Looking back on it I wish I’d taken up for my dad but I did what I do which is I complimented my uncle on his efforts and didn’t really say anything about my dad. I certainly didn’t insult him but I didn’t take up for him either, and I wish I had.

Afterwards I asked my dad why he wasn’t going bowling with the rest of them later (as was their plan) and he said he didn’t want to hear his brother brag about how healthy he is compared to my dad, who has type II diabetes and coronary heart disease. It’s not easy changing lifelong eating habits, and no one wants to hear how great everyone else is doing due to their lifestyle factors when they’re in ill health for the same reason. A nutritionist won’t get far shaming someone for their eating habits, and that’s just not my style anyway.

More good stuff happened: I cooked for my dad, his wife, my grandma, and best friend, and they all really liked my food. It was fairly healthy compared to what they’re used to–I didn’t want to make it too strange for my family, who prefer fried food and overcooked vegetables, so I breaded the baked flounder and put some Old Bay in there.

Then my dad actually asked questions about nutrition, and they all wanted to know what chia seeds and quinoa are. It was all so foreign to them but they were open to it, which was amazing. It was so nice that he respected what I had to say.

He still seems disappointed in my life choices. He brought up what he brings up every time I talk to him or see him, which is this: Why didn’t you and your sisters major in math or the sciences in college? Why don’t you get a job with the government up there in DC? And then he talks about all the benefits that he’d gotten as a chemist working at the air force base. And I told him what I always told him: I tried getting a government job when I moved here and no one hired me, it’s very hard to get a government job, I didn’t know back then to major in the sciences, I thought a liberal arts degree was enough, I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. He will then bring up that he told us back then to major in math or the sciences. I do remember him suggesting that I become either an architect or an engineer when I was in seventh grade and had gotten an award for getting the highest grade in my class for both math and art. The math one was a fluke because I’m not that great at math. But I didn’t know what an architect or an engineer was or what they did, or why I should become one. I didn’t understand why that would be important, and what the alternative was. I don’t want to play victim, but it’s not like he got really involved in my life or even took me to tour colleges like other kids’ parents did.

So then I asked him point blank: Are you disappointed in us?

He said that no, he was just baffled.

So I said, Well it sure sounds like you are.

I guessed he was worried about our financial futures, and I told him we’re doing just fine, and we’ll be just fine. I pointed out that I’ve been taking care of myself since I was 18, and it seemed like a surprise to him despite the fact that I’ve told him this before. I don’t know who he thought was taking care of me. Bills and rent/mortgage was split down the middle when I was married, and I didn’t get any kind of money for my divorces.

Daddy wanted to know how much my school tuition is, and I said, A lot. I didn’t want to get scorned for borrowing more money when I already owe on my previous student loans. I figured I’ll be paying on it forever, and I’ll be working forever too, so why not do something I’m happy with? And I hope to God I’m happy with my career when this is all over.

Maybe he feels guilty or else he knows he doesn’t have any money to leave us so he’s worried about how we’ll get along. He’s not worried about my sister who’s married, but he’s worried about my other sister and me. I asked him: Do you think I’m not doing anything now? He admitted that indeed I am going to school but I learned that he thinks I won’t make much money doing that. If I ever “make anything” of myself in his eyes, he probably won’t be alive to see it because his health is deteriorating and he isn’t doing much to try to reverse or slow the progress.

It all makes me kind of sad now, reflecting back on it. It was supposed to be sort of an amends trip, though I didn’t really have a plan on that, and should’ve talked to my sponsor about it beforehand. I guess I made my living amends by going there and spending time with him, and I felt it was important to speak my mind. There’s more but I don’t feel like writing about it right now.

In spite of that, it was a good trip. It wasn’t much different than any other time I’ve been there, except everyone’s gotten older, slower, and more achy. No one can hear anything; everyone needs hearing aids. I honestly cannot remember the last time I was there. I know I was there in 2010, and I’m pretty sure I went once or twice after that, but I can’t remember it.

Being in Georgia made me grateful that I don’t live there anymore—no offense to any Georgia readers. Atlanta was fine, north Georgia is pretty, I love Savannah, but still I can’t see living in Georgia again. I did enjoy some delicious biscuits and collard greens though!

I’m so happy to be back in Maryland, back to my chosen family. One of my good friends picked me up at the airport, and tonight we’re going to the movies, tomorrow I’ll go to a meeting and the diner with my other close friends.

It’s so good to be home.

Peace and love,

TCH

My Most Embarrassing Post to Date

This morning it was a toss-up between “relaxing” (if you could call this relaxing) and writing for therapeutic purposes or cleaning my messy room with its piles of (clean) laundry, my half un-packed bag from staying at Mark’s, and way too many bottles of supplements, each one designed to “fix” me in one way or another. And don’t forget the books: textbooks, books that people have given me, self-help books, books on spirituality, and a stack of books that belonged to my mom, which I grabbed at the last minute just before I left her house the last time I visited my stepdad. It was one of those moments of I may never see this stuff again and I want to know everything she read. I just try not to think too much about how badly I want my own place where I have a laundry room to keep my laundry and a pantry for my supplements and some bookshelves for my books. Be grateful for what I have and not upset about what I don’t have. And my room is so cozy and warm, and it’s painted a beautiful grayish shade of lavender, known as Benjamin Moore piano concerto.

School will be out in a few weeks and I’ll have a long break to finally go through my boxes and get rid of what I don’t need or use, and I cannot wait. I am so looking forward to de-cluttering. Once I do, I hope to keep it that way. I’m going to have to tell people to stop buying me things on birthdays and Christmas. No more stuff!

I’m stressed out, in case you can’t tell.

School is out in a few weeks, and I’ve registered for next semester, and all of my classes are preparing for clinic. I do not feel ready for clinic. I can’t remember what I did yesterday. I’ve been just scraping by each semester. How am I going to work with clients? And if I can’t work with clients, I can’t take care of myself, and if I can’t take care of myself, I may as well work in a grocery store forever, living in the bedroom of someone’s townhouse with no personal space of my own, racking up more and more student loan and credit card debt.

As you can see, I’m spiraling out of control. Projecting into the future. Forgetting to live in the moment. What can I do today to work towards my goal? I have class later today, so I will study for my quiz, and I will talk to my professor after class about my schedule next semester. I hadn’t planned on taking the clinic classes yet, but all the other classes I wanted were full.

I have too many other distractions going on to focus on school. I often have to pass up social opportunities which make me feel like I’m missing out on life. For the past month I’ve been spending more time with Mark, who, by the way, is possibly an ex now.

And this is where I finally get to the embarrassing part, my most uncomfortable post yet.

Friday night after work I got to Mark’s house and I’m talking to him and he’s like what did you eat for lunch. I had binged on some flavored (Gluten free! Organic and non-GMO! Healthy!) pretzels I saw in the breakroom after several weeks of not eating any carbs except what’s in vegetables and Granny Smith apples, and I had not brushed my teeth before going over there, figuring I’d brush them when I got there. The pretzels had some sort of delicious seasoning on them, and were super unhealthy but I’ve been eating like a piece of spinach every day for a month now and I’m starving so I scarfed those things down like they were my last meal, and now my breath wasn’t smelling so great, which Mark informed me as gently as he could. And it turns out, in fact, this has been an ongoing problem for the entire month we’ve been together. Bad breath. Me. I have bad breath.

I had no idea.

No one has ever told me this before.

Then I remembered. There was that one time my ex told me, but at the time I had some weird dry sinus issue that resolved itself and he claimed it went away and I believed him. At the time I bought a tongue scraper and mouthwash and flossed more, but I didn’t keep doing the tongue scraping because he said it was gone and I felt like maybe that was overkill, and they’re always talking in school about how we as a culture overdo it with cleanliness so much so that we don’t have healthy microbiomes anymore and we’re resistant to antibiotics when really we need to just get dirty sometimes and let our immune systems build resistance to the antigens in our environments.

Well. Clearly that is the worst advice I’ve ever followed since apparently I’ve been walking around with rancid breath all this time and NO ONE has told me.

So I texted everyone close to me: Do I have bad breath?

What??!!

Luckily that is the response I got from most people, including sisters, best friend, co-workers, who all said no way.

But then one co-worker said she’d noticed it once when we first started working together two years ago. Then Kevin said he’d noticed it before and assumed it’s just because I eat healthy. After I replied to him with shock and horror, he tried to reassure me that my perfume overpowers it, and it’s not all the time. That does help a little, but seriously? Who wants bad breath? Some people told me that everyone has bad breath at some point. Which is true. No one wakes up with pleasant breath. You can’t drink coffee and have the breath of roses. And I have been drinking a lot of coffee lately, which doesn’t help (and is just making my anxiety worse). I do eat a lot of garlicky kale nearly every day, so that’s not going to happen anymore, I promise you that. I have taken fish oil supplements here and there but not every day, especially since one day they made my stomach hurt so bad I thought I’d have to get my gallbladder removed. So that’s definitely out now. Which means I have digestive problems, btw. Which I already knew. Which Mark suggested may be the reason for the bad breath (so the cat was out of the bag on that one too—Surprise! I have digestive problems! Isn’t that sexy?). I had some hyaluronic acid mints but they had sorbitol in them which cause bloating so those are out. I had been eating a lot of (sustainably caught) tuna, and that’s definitely out too. Sorry but I am just going to have to get my omega-3’s some other way. Flax seeds.

I brush my teeth at least three times a day and I floss each night but I use all natural products made with tea tree oil, mint, cinnamon, and clove. Mark doesn’t believe in these products and prefers what I think of as carcinogenic products like Listerine and Crest. But you better believe my ass went out and bought some Listerine, another tongue scraper (can’t find the old one), some cinnamon toothpicks, some chlorophyll (an internal cleanser, also acts as an internal deodorant), mint floss, and yes, folks, I will probably get some Crest. I’ve been using various toothpastes from Nature’s Gate to Dr. Bronner’s and honestly my teeth don’t feel as clean afterwards. Oh, and I am overdue for a teeth cleaning, so that appointment will be made Monday.

Before we met in person we asked each other what the other’s deal breakers were, and one of Mark’s was bad breath. I remembered that, and I remember thinking what an odd thing to say, of course that’s gross, and not something I have to worry about, and not something I’d think of because I’m thinking more along the lines of bipolar disorder (based on previous experience in case you’re new to this blog) or grudge holders. Never did I think I had better step up my dental hygiene because I thought mine was already better than most, along with all my other personal hygiene habits. I have more kinds of specialized soaps and lotions for all the various body parts than anyone else I know.

That happened Friday night before bed. Saturday I was supposed to meet his family. I’ve been dating this guy for a month. It seemed too soon to meet his family but I’d decided I would do it because I thought it was cool he wanted me to meet them, and what could it hurt. Meeting them would not change whether or not we stay together so why not.

But after the Bad Breath Incident I thought, How the hell am I going to meet his family? What if they think I have bad breath too? Does his mom also have OCD with germs? Because he has that (diagnosed), and that may be why he finds my breath bad, because I went to work the next day and had my co-workers smell my breath to which they said it smelled like nothing.

I did not feel confident. Or attractive. I felt like who will ever want someone with bad breath? I remembered he’d said it was a deal breaker, so the next morning I decided to gather all my things I’d left at his house and just go home. This is clearly over, and I don’t see how he’d want to be with me, he’d already said it was a deal breaker in the beginning, and what if he never thinks it’s good? What if I really have bad breath and cannot resolve it?

I spiraled out of control yesterday, thinking I may as well become a crazy cat lady now, especially what with the night sweats that I’ve also been experiencing for quite some time now, which has to be perimenopause because I don’t know why else that would happen. Except I’ll be a goat lady instead, which is perfect because that can just add to my pleasant smell.

When he woke up and saw that I’d packed all my stuff, I told him, Listen I should just go. And he was like, Okay. And that was it.

On my way home he called me: What’s going on?

I don’t see how this can work; you’d said that’s a deal breaker.

That was before I’d met you. Clearly there’s more going on.

I don’t feel attractive. I don’t know how I can meet your family. I had no idea I had this problem.

You’re trying to punish me.

I’m trying to protect myself.

Well I gave this a chance. You’ve made up your mind.

I don’t want to break up. I just think things are moving too fast.

Well you decided to leave. You made up your mind.

I’m telling you now that I haven’t.

That is the gist of it though more words were used, but then we got cut off, and I tried calling back but he didn’t answer. I left a message that I’d like to work through it but he didn’t answer. When I got home I saw that he’d unfriended me from Facebook. I talked to my sponsor who told me I overreacted and owed him an amends, that he’d made himself vulnerable and had been honest with me, and I had punished him for it, when in reality that’s what I want from a relationship: for someone to be honest and vulnerable with. I agreed and called him back and he still didn’t answer so I left a voice mail making my amends in which I admitted my wrongdoing, asked how I could make it right, voiced that I could see how he felt that it was punishment (though between you and me I did not intend that at all), that I want the kind of relationship in which we can be open and honest with each other, and I don’t want to be the kind of partner who just leaves like that, that I’d still like to meet his family.

A couple hours later he sent me a text saying, You meeting my family is not going to happen.

Did you listen to my voice mail?

Yes.

I was wrong and I’m sorry. What can I do to make it up to you?

No reply for hours, and then finally: I need to think about things.

I understand. Thank you.

Maybe I should go back to CODA?

This is supposedly the right thing to do, but it feels like groveling, and I have PTSD from my ex, and how he’d hold grudges for the entire relationship, storing them for a rainy day, to spring something on me out of nowhere about how I’d done something wrong that I had no idea about. It’s enough to make me want to run, to be single forever, to get my tiny house and go live on my friend’s property.

So that’s where that is, my friends.

I don’t know if it’s just because I’m an alcoholic, but relationships feel so impossible to me at times. One of the things they tell us in AA is that we have an inability to form a true partnership with another person until we can live our lives in a more spiritual manner. My sponsor told me what I did was out of self-centered fear, which is true. For some of us, when we’ve lived our life being/feeling abandoned by everyone at some time or another, sometimes we become a rolling stone. And that is exactly what I’ve become: a rolling stone. After my ex I almost don’t care anymore.

Almost.

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Love in a Time of Mass Shootings

Before I get into my exciting love affair with Mark, I’d be doing a disservice if I didn’t pass along info I found about protecting yourself during a mass shooting. When I was little we had tornado drills, and when my parents were kids they had Civil Defense drills  because everyone thought there would be a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, which we were still afraid of when I was a little kid in the 80s. There’s so much violence and fear in our society today, I’m honestly afraid to go to any large public gathering, which is okay because I don’t like big crowds, but people can’t even send their kids to school, go to concerts, or go to church without fear of being mowed down by some psycho gunman. These are times we need a higher power, which I call God, the most.

It feels weird to follow that up with what’s going on in my little life but that’s what I’m going to do. I’m an everyday American having an everyday life, so far without any mass shootings in my personal experience, thank God. I’ll have to make this a short post because I need to get ready for work, so I’ll get right to the point: I’ve fallen for Mark, he’s my boyfriend now, and I see a future with him. It’s unwise to project too far into the future but I’d be lying if I didn’t say in my mind I’ve already married him and had his babies. That’s just what infatuation does to us; it’s human.

Here’s the thing about Mark: he’s incredibly sweet, he makes time for his friends and family, he loves his life, he likes his job, and he treats me well. Because I don’t just want someone who treats me well, which is a given, but I want someone who has their own life, and appreciates what they have. I just like him. He’s adorable, in whatever way a gigantic, six foot six man can be adorable. He’s honest about what he thinks and feels. When I think about him, I just want to hug him. And kiss him and make passionate love to him. In short, I’m done y’all.

So it’s time to find a new routine, and look for Zumba classes near his house (as if I didn’t already do that weeks ago) and AA meetings near him that I can go to in order to stay on top of my sobriety/spiritual life/social life. Because that’s what AA does for me: provides me with a spiritual way of life that keeps me on track, and I make friends there. One thing I’ve learned about myself is just how important having a social life is to me, so much that I may be one of those extroverted introverts, when I thought for years I was strictly an introvert. My friends mean the world to me, and I don’t feel that I get to see them enough. If I have a week in which I don’t get to talk to them, I feel lonely and sad. It makes me realize that when I was growing up, in my teenage years, I bet I’d have been a lot happier if I’d had more friends rather than isolating myself and getting caught up in drugs and alcohol. These are the kinds of things that make me worry for my niece and nephew for example. Mostly my nephew because my niece is a social butterfly. They’re 12 years old now (twins), and I feel nervous knowing they’ll be teenagers soon, dealing with all the effed up shit the world throws at you when you’re a teenager. Maybe I’m projecting my own effed up teenage years onto them, but at the same time, now they have the added pressure of social media and fear of mass shootings and a mentally ill narcissist for a president… Anyway, more on that later for another blog post.

At first I was stressed, worrying about how I’d balance everything and Mark too, but now I’m seeing it more easily. He helped me study for my quiz (which I made a 100 on—first and only time that’s happened so far), and he actually enjoys helping me study. He loves trivia and he likes reading my handouts that I have to make for class, handouts that we’d make for a potential client on what nutrients and lifestyle factors they should take into account based on their life stage. Mark loves being healthy, and although his idea of being healthy is different from mine, eg, he follows the conventional/popular way of eating, he’s interested and open to learning more. He seems to listen to what I have to say and he’s not a know-it-all about everything. Not that I push my dietary or lifestyle beliefs on him or anyone else—people will do what they want to do when they want to do it, but it’s nice when someone asks or is interested and willing to make changes for the better. It’s nice when someone respects what you have to say. I try not to make comparisons to my ex, but I think it’s probably only natural. What I realize more and more is what an asshole he was to me at times, and how I didn’t even fully realize it. Yes, he was also very sweet to me, and great when times were good, but when times were bad, they were the worst. Time will tell what will happen when I have conflict with Mark. That will be the real acid test.

Time to get ready for work and hopefully I’ll make it to meditation tonight given all the homework I have to do, and I work late tomorrow and Friday. I want to send some prayers up for my friend whose dad just had a massive heart attack and sounds like he may not survive, and for my friend’s aunt who got diagnosed with cancer recently. And for the loved ones of those who died in the most recent mass shooting that seems to be everyday news now. I’ll leave you with this beautiful talk from Tara Brach, the meditation teacher I like to see on Wednesdays here in the DC/Maryland area.

Update: Stents, Video Games, Alcoholism, Etc.

Tuesday I leave for Georgia because my dad will be having stents put in his heart, and they don’t know until they go in there if he’ll need bypass surgery. Stents are more routine now than in past decades, but he’s the most unhealthy person I know, so I’d be surprised if they did not need to do bypass surgery, or if things didn’t look so good when they go in. He quit drinking in January, which is a miracle to me, and tells me he must’ve been a heavy drinker all these years, and not an alcoholic, a distinction that used to baffle me, but starting not to so much anymore. He quit drinking because his doctor told him to. Easy as that. I can’t imagine it being that easy for me but then I’d never really tried to quit, except that one time I quit for 17 whole days, and it ended in disaster at the company holiday party where I lasted a whole hour before getting wasted and making an ass out of myself. Everyone was like, Wow you’re really different when you drink. And it was not a compliment.

Y’all know I hate going to Georgia, and I’m not that close to my dad, though I do love him, of course. He’s my father. I can’t not go; it’s out of the question.

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Daddy has diabetes that he doesn’t really manage very well, ie, he doesn’t watch his diet or exercise, and he just takes medication. The doctor wanted to put the stents in right away but he refused because he wants to watch the Georgia-Florida game tomorrow. Lord help us all.

On the relationship front, figuring Mark out has been a fun puzzle for me. I’m learning that he seems to be a nice guy though a bit immature and inexperienced with relationships, which is fine with me. He’s very sweet, and doesn’t seem to be jaded. He likes to play video games, which I think he was embarrassed about, but I’m like, I’m just glad you’re not the leader of a sex cult. If video games is your vice, play all day please. Out of all the other sick, disturbing shit I’ve heard that some men get into, I’d be grateful to have a guy that plays video games. I’ll even play video games with him. For real. My roommate has a cool game with this badass woman hunter who shoots a bow and arrow and it’s all very Hunger Games which I love.

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I have class this weekend and a lot of studying to do, and now I’ve got to get to work, so I’ll sign off but just wanted to let y’all know what’s going on with me. My life is super busy lately, and I’m mildly stressed about it, but will figure out a good routine soon.

PS: I stopped going to CODA for reasons I don’t have time to get into now. More on that later, but I’ll be focusing more on AA instead.

Peace and love,

TCH