Never Give Up On Love

You may be wondering where I’ve been lately, why no blog posts, am I okay, etc. And the answer, my friends, is that I’m perfectly fine, I’m just busy with school and work, I’m feeling better emotionally, and… the thing is, I’ve just been trying to get my groove on. Yep. That’s what I’ve been doing in my spare time, which hasn’t been a fruitful or healthy way to spend my time, but there you have it. Oh, and I have been going to the gym and riding my bike again–so that’s one good thing. We must look at the bright side, folks.

Having an active (safe, consensual) sex life is healthy too, come to think of it.

Match has yielded no positive results, except for one promising guy who I’ll tell you about in a minute, but first let me tell you about the two creeps. So last night the 34-year-old guy I was supposed to “make dinner for” (and sleep with, let’s be real)–let’s call him the Doctor, because he’s an arrogant PhD student who thinks he knows more about nutrition than I do, who’d showed no interest in who I am as a person–bailed on me. I’d already written him off as boyfriend material prior to that, and decided I’d get mine since he clearly had no interest in more than sex. In other words, he didn’t mind if we were just friends with benefits, so it’s not like I’d be hurting his feelings. And he seemed like a safe bet because… I’d assessed through our conversation that he probably didn’t have any diseases, and he promised he’d wear a condom regardless. He lives about 15 minutes away, so it would be convenient. He’s in grad school so he understands my busy schedule, and he hasn’t been too demanding so far.

So then he texts me yesterday afternoon to say he’s sorry but his arrhythmia is acting up and he can’t make it.

A 34-year-old guy? Can’t make it because of his arrhythmia?

Oh Lord help us all.

That was my first sign that it’s not meant to be, that maybe we jumped the gun too soon on that whole thing, maybe I can wait a few more dates before jumping into bed with whoever the next guy is that comes along.

That red flag lasted about a minute, because then Jose from Plenty of Fish (yep, I got on POF, the hookup site… God help me) emails me. His profile picture is of him standing shirtless in front of the bathroom mirror, as is commonly found on online dating sites. These guys are letting you know they look gorgeous and this is what they have to offer: sex. So I decide what the hell, I’m a grown-ass woman, I can hook up with someone if I want to, and my hormones are raging right now.

So I get to texting with Jose, and then later we get to sexting (yes, I sexted! Apparently everyone’s doing it now), and then we make plans to meet up at a later time. And he’s gorgeous, let me tell you. Six feet tall, fit, sculpted… dang! But I’m a smart woman and I value you my life, so I made sure he knew he’s going to be wearing a condom and that we’d need to meet in a public place first so that I can be sure he’s not a Ted Bundy (because that worked so well for his victims), and then I ask his last name. Even though he just moved from Delaware, I figure I can google him to make sure he’s not a formerly convicted rapist with assault charges or something scary. (In Maryland we have Maryland Case Search (just google it) to find any charges a person might have.)

And he won’t give me his last name. He wants to know my last name, and I’m like hell no I’m not telling this guy now. He’d already asked where I worked, and I was like nuh uh. And he’d already suggested coming to my house, and I was like, pffft no. Is this guy for real? I just met you online and you think I’m going to give you all my personal details?

He had the nerve to get suspicious of why I wouldn’t give him my last name, and honestly y’all, I’d have given it to him if he hadn’t freaked me out by that time. Then he told me that I was scaring him because of how suspicious I was. I tried to explain it, saying, Look you could hunt me down and kill me, but what would I do to you? Then he tells me that I sounded crazy, and then he’s like, We don’t have to meet, problem solved.

After that I wanted to draw my shades closed, just in case. Maybe I’m paranoid but I’m not going to sleep with some guy whose last name I don’t know, who I met online and haven’t even had a phone conversation with yet. Sure, I’ll send him a picture of my boobs, lol (without my face, of course!). But invite him into my house without knowing him first? That’s crazy.

I ignored his last text and decided there’s another sign that I need to just get my vibrator out and ignore these dudes. We need to just calm down here. Breathe. Cold shower. Anything!

A little while later I got a sweet text from Francois, a French-Canadian guy I started talking to a couple of weeks ago. Francois seems to be a nice, normal guy, who probably doesn’t have a secret profile of him shirtless in front of his bathroom mirror, and he probably didn’t waste last night sexting with some weird sober instinct-driven alcoholic who needed to be sleeping, meditating, praying, chanting Buddhist mantras, anything, instead of sending naked pictures to creepy dudes she doesn’t know. Am I weird? Well, we’re all weird.

I was relieved with The Doctor aka Arrhythmia Guy (as my friend Kathy and I now call him) bailed and when Jose called it off. It’s just not like the old days when you got drunk at a bar and went home with a guy whose name you didn’t remember the next day. Ah, the good ole days! Just kidding. Thank God I survived.

More on Francois later, but I’ll give you the cliff notes: he lives in DC, loves the outdoors, loves atmospheric indie music, knows a lot about female artists, and his mom died seven years ago. In my head I was like, Oh, your mom died too? Yay! Just kidding, kinda. The music he listens to is a bit sad for me anymore—I used to eat that kind of music up, but now I’m all about happy pop. But most importantly, he asks me questions about me. This morning he sent me a text asking if I’d heard of the band Alvvays, and I replied that I’ve only heard “Archie, Marry Me” but hadn’t heard their other songs. Then he suggested a few other female artists, and says “Headache” by Grouper is especially beautiful. So I did what I do and I immediately went to songmeanings.net and read the lyrics and cried and hoped that if he’s the guy I end up falling for that this isn’t his viewpoint about love and life.

We must stay positive.

Peace and love,

TCH

https://youtu.be/ZAn3JdtSrnY

Codependent Friendships

Another friend of mine, Spencer, ended our friendship two weeks ago because he had stronger feelings for me, and the friendship was too difficult for him. At first I felt like he was being childish, but when I stepped back and looked at it from his perspective I realized I’d have never been friends with me in the first place, simply because I wouldn’t want to spend time with someone who I liked for more than a friend if they didn’t reciprocate the feeling. So I could understand why he did it.

During the two weeks we weren’t talking, I realized I had more time to do what I need to do: write, read, homework, spend time with other friends. My friendship with Spencer had been codependent. We’d text first thing in the morning, throughout the day while I was at work, at night before bed. It wasn’t fair of me to focus so much on him knowing he liked me for more than a friend. It would’ve been wise for me to keep a healthy distance, but I didn’t do that.

Prior to my friendship with Spencer and with other guy friend Kevin, I didn’t have close guy friends. When I first got sober I made it a point to focus on my female friendships. I guess after my mom died and then my ex and I broke up, that changed for me. Spencer was always available, he made me laugh, and I liked the attention I got from him. When I was drinking I had plenty of guy friends but like all of my other “friends,” other than my best friend, I didn’t get close to them because I was emotionally unavailable and just incapable of doing that at the time.

The thing about women is that we’re not as available as men. Most women have husbands, children, other friends. My friend Molly didn’t have all of that, so she too was often available, so much that she was downright needy at times. Most guys don’t come across quite as needy as women can (the women who are needy, that is), so I did my best to be there for her as much as I could while at the same time trying to keep my distance, if that makes sense. In other words, when an acquaintance of hers died I listened to her cry and I sent her inspirational quotes, tried to show support. Deep down I judged her, felt she was overreacting to a situation that wasn’t that close to her, she hadn’t talked to the girl in years, to be crying over it seemed odd to me. She’d been friends with her years ago, they’d had a falling out, and I think they’d made up, but they didn’t talk much. But then I thought, who am I to judge someone else’s grief? Maybe they’d been better friends than I thought.

The thing about guys (Spencer) is they won’t (he wouldn’t) usually call you (me) crying like that. He didn’t demand so much of my time, or so it seemed. Instead he was just there when I wanted him or needed him to be. I enjoyed his company, so it seemed benign. But isn’t that just using someone?

Thursday night he asked if we could be friends again, and I said sure. Friday I worked all day then I had a meeting with my sponsor and all of the other women she sponsors, which is something we do once a month. Saturday I had the March for Our Lives event and falling out with Molly, and I felt physically and emotionally drained all day. After the march I visited with my sponsor who advised that I keep Spencer at a distance. When I asked her if I should have any conversation with him she said no, I don’t owe him anything. I knew that wouldn’t go over well but decided to try it anyway.

Spencer and our other two friends had talked about going to a meeting (AA) that night and then to the diner afterwards, but then our other two friends were on the fence about it later. Spencer sent us all a few texts letting us know that we’d let him down, that it was easy for us since we only lived a few minutes away from the meeting but he had to drive all the way from his area to get there, and if he didn’t have a commitment from us then he wasn’t going to bother. It just made me want to run. I said something along the lines of I don’t want anyone to feel pressured to go to the diner, and if Spencer wanted to skip the meeting and see us at the diner if we went afterwards then let’s just do that. So then the meeting happened, and I’d felt physically and emotionally drained all day, I had a headache, my body hurt, my heart hurt, and I wanted to go home and take a bath and go to bed. So I’m standing there talking to two new people at the meeting and just got finished telling them I’m not going out tonight when Spencer walks up. Now that I saw he was there, had driven all the way from his part of town where he lives 30 minutes away, I decided I would go ahead to the diner.

We sat next to each other at the diner but didn’t talk much. At one point I sent a text to a guy I met on Match, and Spencer asked me who I was texting, was it one of my Match guys? That was annoying but I just shrugged it off. Mostly he talked to our other friend who was sitting on his other side, and they were discussing the sale of marijuana in Colorado, which I have limited interest in. Spencer had gone to Colorado just before he got sober last year and took pictures of his time in a marijuana store, and… I just want to be sober, live a sober life, talk about how to live a happy, spiritual life, and I don’t have any interest in going back to my old lifestyle. I find nothing nostalgic about it the way Spencer does.

000-friends

I found the quote/image above on Pinterest via this blog, On Letting People Go.

Also, so many other people were there it was hard to have that intimate of any conversation which suited me fine. Like I said, I felt crappy, so I just didn’t talk all that much though I tried to be polite and nice to everyone.

Yesterday (Sunday) I had the day off, so I did laundry, worried about my upcoming school assignment, went to the grocery store, started on school work. My friends were sending texts as we often do and I only interjected a few times, tried to focus on homework, finally turned off my phone.

After maybe an hour I turned my phone back on and Spencer had sent me a lengthy text wanting to know why I was ignoring him, why I had acted so “fake” to him the night before. I told him (again) that I was tired, didn’t feel well, had just had that falling out with Molly, and was trying to do homework. He knew all of that. What I didn’t tell him was that Kevin had told me Friday morning that his dog may have lymphoma and his mom was in the hospital getting a stent put in her heart, so I was trying to be available for him.

Spencer sent several more texts, that he’s not buying my bullshit, that I’d been “fake” and rude to him, that he doesn’t have any interest in me anymore, he’s not attracted to me, he’s not jealous of my online dating experiences and has no interest in them, but he doesn’t want to be acquaintances, that we had a real friendship and he wants that back.

Nevermind that I just told him (many times) that I wasn’t feeling well Saturday. That I’d had a falling out with Molly. That I was trying to do homework. He wasn’t accepting any of it. It turns out I have a life outside of Spencer that has nothing to do with him, that I have a lot of my own concerns to deal with. None of that mattered to him.

Lately I’ve been focused on being alone and doing my own thing, reevaluating my friendships, trying to take care of me. I want to treat others fairly, not give someone attention simply because I want their attention. I want to be a positive force in someone’s life, and I don’t want friendships based on need. I want to be there for others, and I’m not sure exactly what that looks like, but I’m pretty sure it does not consist of texting someone 24/7. And I don’t want to write about all of this as though I don’t have a part in it.

My time here is up for now—I’ve got a dentist appointment to get to before work. More evaluation on this subject later!

Ending Toxic Friendships

I lost a friend yesterday, and honestly y’all, it is such a relief.

losing-friends

This quote showed up on my Pinterest feed yesterday. Is that really true? What about being friends through thick and thin? What about the friends you grow with? None of the friends I had from childhood are still around. One friend, my best friend, is still with me, and we’ve been friends since high school, but we’ve had our ups and downs—though mostly ups since we’ve both gotten sober. My friend Kathy is also my boss so we’re not as close as we might be otherwise; mostly we talk at work and go discount shopping on Sundays. My friend Spencer stopped talking to me two weeks ago because he wanted more than a friendship, and the feeling is not mutual, so he decided it best to stop talking to me. So we stopped talking, but then he came back a few days ago and asked if we could be friends again. I said sure but knew that it wouldn’t and couldn’t be the same – I’m not going to text him 24/7 about everything under the sun anymore which just wasn’t healthy anyway, and plus I need to focus on other things, like living my life. When I look back on it, he’d showed up right after my mom died and my ex-bf had left me, replacing my ex in that we just talked to each other all the time. I liked the attention. He made me laugh. A similar situation is happening with my friend Kevin who I’d been spending more time with lately, and who confessed he wanted more than a friendship. So now I’m trying to take a step back from both of those friendships, and have decided to seek out more female friendships, specifically from women who aren’t… how do I say this nicely? Crazy and needy like Molly.

Molly, who I’d had plans with to go to the March for Our Lives rally in DC, flaked on me. We were supposed to meet at noon yesterday after a tutoring session that she couldn’t miss because it was the only time her tutor could meet her and she was failing this class. She was nearly in tears about it over the phone the day before so I decided that we didn’t have to meet early as I’d originally wanted to do, and I had told her not to stress out, we’d just go later. So when I called and texted her yesterday and she didn’t answer until 11:30 saying she’d just woken up, had missed her tutoring appointment, had been up all night from anxiety… well. As you might imagine I was pissed.

She said she hadn’t gone to bed until 6:45am. She knows I’m up that early most days, we’ve talked and texted many times at that hour, she could’ve texted me then and said she’d been up all night. But she didn’t, okay fine, but when we talked she went on and on about how she’d let her tutor down, she’d have to call and apologize, she felt bad about it, but she couldn’t beat herself up now, what’s done is done, etc. Um, what about me? And our plan? She barely let me get a word in, but finally I just said look I’m on my way to the metro now, I’m just going by myself and if you want to meet there let me know. Then she keeps talking and I’m like look I’m kinda stressed right now so I’m gonna go ahead and go down there, all in a calm voice because one thing y’all don’t know about me because you’ve never seen me, is that I have a calm demeanor even when I feel anxiety, and most people don’t even know when I’m stressed out. So then she’s like Well it’s good that we’re not going together because I can’t deal with anyone else’s stress, that shit’s contagious and I just cannot deal with it. And she keeps talking as though her words aren’t hurtful to me, as though that would not piss me off, and she goes on about how upset she is that she’s let her tutor down. So I say Look Molly I’m kinda frustrated right now so I’m gonna let you go. And she sounded surprised. Maybe because I’ve allowed her to do this too many times without expressing my frustration. So many times that this particular event was a rare one in which I even made plans with her because she’s so unreliable. If she even gets there, she’s not on time. If it requires her coming to my house or to an AA meeting, forget it. We’re both in AA but we rarely go to meetings together because I learned a long time ago she will most likely flake. There are so many other things I could say right now, but I’ll just say this: she’s been drinking off and on since I met her, and only recently did she admit to me that she relapsed not long ago. I have no idea if she was even sober last night and maybe that’s why she was up all night. I have no idea if she also does drugs. I have no idea what her actual diagnosis is in terms of her mental health because she’s had various diagnoses including borderline personality disorder, which was the most recent one she’d told me about.

After I hung up the phone, pulled into the metro parking lot, looked at my phone I saw she’d sent a lengthy text saying that this was why she’d wanted to make plans earlier (Thursday we’d had trouble getting in touch with each other, and Friday same thing until late… I don’t see how that’s solely my fault). She texted that if I was frustrated with her because I’d changed my mind or didn’t speak up for myself then I should take a look at that. She said that she was upset with me for waiting until the last minute to figure out logistics. Then she wrote that she’d been struggling and I’ve known that, and that cute texts are great but not the same as checking in, and that she’d supported me when I was struggling, and she’d like more support from me, and she needs to take a step back.

Let me tell y’all something.

I’ve confided in Molly maybe twice during the several years of our friendship, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, I was desperate at the time I did break down and confide in her. I rarely confided in her because I didn’t want to be indebted to her because she’s very clingy. When we’d talk on the phone it would be an hour-long conversation, and I’m not big on talking on the phone. She’d want to meet up so we’d make plans and then she’d flake so I didn’t make plans with her that much after a while. Another reason I didn’t confide much in her is that she doesn’t have much to offer in the way of support. She has struggled a lot over the years, and tbh it has been difficult to listen to. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t want to hear about it which made me feel like a horrible person and a terrible friend, but I tried my best. Most of the time she had one drama or another with someone, including her family who disowned her because she was 40 years old and still being taken care of by her parents who paid her rent and bills, because she’s had trouble taking care of herself and she can’t keep a job. She hasn’t been able to stay sober and as I mentioned she has at least one mental illness. More recently she had an ongoing year-long affair with a married man (who’s also an alcoholic and has two little kids), and quite frankly I got tired of hearing about it. She wanted to talk about why they were fighting or how he’d hurt her and I’d be like, He’s married. He is never going to commit to you. That didn’t matter to her.

Why was I friends with this person? What did she have to offer me? What could I offer her that she’d be willing to listen to or take action on?

She made me laugh and she was fun to hang out with. I enjoyed her company. Period. Isn’t that good enough? Or is that enough? And it’s not like there haven’t been times in my life when I was a total train wreck and my best friend stuck by me. I’m sure there were plenty of times she didn’t want to hear my bullshit.

But the thing is, I’ve grown. Molly and I got sober around the same time, and I stayed sober. It’s not like I’m perfect or that I don’t still make mistakes, but at the same time I don’t have room for toxic friendships in my life today. And she was right about some things. I have the opportunity to speak up for myself today, and it’s time I start exercising that. I can choose not to have that kind of friendship. Her comment about my cute texts was just mean. I send my friends inspirational and funny quotes or pictures of animals in order to lift their spirits, and she’s complaining that it’s not the same as checking in. What she means is she doesn’t like that I’m not allowing her to suck and drain the life out of me with her drama. I send those kinds of texts too because I can’t do anything more for her. I cannot solve her problems, I can’t tell her what to do, and I can’t live her life for her, nor do I have time to listen to her bullshit when I’m doing my best to live my own life.

What was I getting out of that friendship? Someone to hang out with and laugh with. But it turns out there are a lot of other people out there I can do that with.

It’s time I learn to stop people-pleasing, set better boundaries, speak my mind, be more direct, and find more friends who are on a similar path as me. And be more independent, not have such codependent relationships.

If that means I need to be alone for a while, then so be it.

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

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…

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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