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.

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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.

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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

One Day at a Time

Lately I feel like my old self, and I don’t like it. Not my old old self, the one who felt borderline suicidal and drank to drown my feelings, just my regular old self, the one who felt pretty okay most days but not deliriously happy every day like I did when I was taking Prozac. I get that feeling deliriously happy is not natural, but I liked it, gosh darnit.

I’ve been busy even after school let out a couple weeks ago, mostly with my new boyfriend, Mark, who I’ve told y’all about. Our relationship has become more comfortable and familiar, and he’s brought out parts of me that needed to come out, such as the importance of using my voice. He encourages me to speak my mind, and has no problem if I’m unhappy with something, even if that includes something about him or our relationship. It’s so refreshing.

And he’s the only guy I’ve ever met who I feel would be a great dad. The only one. Honestly.

The idea of having kids terrifies me. I’m almost 42 years old. I’ve been tired my whole life—at least until I discovered Rebbl coffee reishi drinks which are AMAZING btw and have NO sugar (you have to get the reishi one). And the thought of having even one kid exhausts me. But do I really want to miss out on that huge part of life? And honestly y’all, the thought of any change in my life terrifies me—especially this upcoming career change.

Right now I won’t go into the details about it all because I’d just be feeding the wolf that wants to spiral out of control down a path of an unknown future that probably won’t even happen. It’s just hard not to project into the future and want to know how this is all going to play out. But I will say this: for me it’s hard to imagine having both a kid and a husband. When I was a kid I imagined a future as a single woman living as a writer in NYC. Now that I’m older and prefer the—well, the suburbs really—I’ve imagined my future with a partner, hopefully a husband but a live-in boyfriend would probably be okay as long as I had faith that he’d stay with me. My fear of abandonment gets triggered easily, and my heart hurts to imagine the reality that there are no guarantees, even if you’re married… Anyway, I’ve also imagined a future in which I have one kid and live as a single parent. And I’ve imagined a future in which I focus on my career—but let’s be real, I’m not that ambitious, so really what I mean is, I imagine a future in which I’m single and focus my free time on me time doing whatever the hell I want with my life (which in reality would be me looking for a boyfriend).

Because the thing is, I don’t know how anyone does it. I honestly do not know how anyone does anything. Personally, I’m juggling a full time job, part time graduate school, a relationship, a social life (which has dwindled down to one or two nights a week), not going to the gym ever lately, and AA (which these days is about one or two meetings a week), and one night a week of going to meditation. How the hell do other people go to AA meetings every night? How do people have children? Actual careers? And what about those people who do all of those things: a job, a spouse, children, and for some, AA. And how do those people keep their house clean?

So I’m doing what I have learned to do, from AA actually, which is to put my faith in a higher power and take it one day at a time. What is it I want to do today? Today I want to see my boyfriend and take care of him because he has a cold. I don’t know if that means I’ll be doing the same thing 10 or 20 years from now, or if I’ll be doing the same for my own child 5 years from now, or if I’ll just get a cat.

I’m off to work. My room is a mess. Maybe it will get cleaned tomorrow, maybe not.

Peace, Love, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays, Etc.

TCH