I’ve been writing a lot about feeling lost. It’s a common theme for me. I grew up in a place I did not belong and think I’ve been trying to rectify that ever since. When you live in a small town that tends to share a singular ideology and identity, it can be quite jarring to a developing mind to be almost antithetical to the norm. I’m not the only one of course. There were a few of us and, thankfully, we did get out, but I believe we all were faced with two paths at that point: we would fiercely embrace our individualism and seek to protect it at all costs for the rest of our lives or we would forever be trying to fit our beautifully square bodies into round spaces. I’ve always been of the latter.
At the height of my drinking days, I spent 90% of my free time getting drunk in my apartment and on social media, namely Facebook, chatting with people who lived far away. Sometimes I would text, and sometimes those texts would be out of nowhere for the recipient and quickly devolve into an emotional unloading for which I am constantly, silently sorry about. But on social media, we can present whatever version of life we want, and so I did. I made my life in New York seem more interesting than it was. Made my relationships with people here appear more connected than they were. Expressed my world views in closely curated spaces. Took filtered selfies to appear more outwardly beautiful than I maybe was. Pretended to care about catching up with people I had known in previous lives, when really I was just madly lonely and this was my primary medium for connection. Real life in person connecting had become too hard for me. I was too clumsy, attached too quickly, too prone to say or do ridiculous things after a few rounds. It was easier to make believe a life. Continue reading
I recently found this piece while perusing through some files on my computer. It’s from November 2015 and is born of a relapse I had after my first, and longest, attempt at giving up booze and cigarettes. Suffice it to say, I was devastated and furious with myself. This is also before I was diagnosed with anxiety, so it is interesting to hear myself describe my mental state without fully understanding what was underneath.
I wish I could say that things got better after I wrote this. I wish I could say that everything I professed I would do in the last paragraph actually happened and it was the start of a path back towards health and recovery. In truth, this relapse was the beginning of a hellish year in which I slid further into alcohol abuse. My anxiety reached a fevered pitch during this time, and I was convinced I had either heart problems or very serious respiratory problems. Thankfully, it was neither, but my mental, emotional, and spiritual state took a beating. Continue reading
In two days, I am turning 36. I’ve never thought about this age specifically. It’s a good age, I suppose – a nice, divisible, thirty-something number of no particular importance. Except that’s now how it feels to me at all.
I dove headfirst into a pile of life changes at the start of 2017: I stopped drinking and, by the third week of January, smoked my last cigarette. I found out I was pregnant and will be birthing a girl child in September. I started this blog, which deserves more attention than it gets (but hey, get in line on the list of things for which that statement is also true). I’ve read more books for my own personal development and leisure this year than I have in the last five years combined. A “sane” person would look at this list and say, “Wow! Look at God! Won’t He do it.” Me? I panic. Continue reading
Alcoholic. When you hear that word, what image comes to mind? Is it the drunk, out of control father sitting in his comfy chair in a wife beater pounding sixers and wreaking havoc on his wife and family? Is it the stumbling homeless guy who smells like pure ethanol begging for change on the corner and sipping something out of a brown, paper bag? Maybe it’s Meg Ryan falling over in her shower because she’s pissy drunk at three o’clock in the afternoon a la When a Man Loves a Woman. The word “alcoholic” is loaded. We attach very specific meaning and imagery to it, depending on cultural norms and proximity to alcoholism in our own lives. But what does it really mean? Continue reading
I hate the comments section and I realize that I’m not professing anything radical or new by saying so. Everybody kind of hates the comments section on social media, don’t they? It is a cesspool filled with trolls and keyboard warriors talking past one another, nitpicking and parsing the most asinine of details to side step the actual point of a topic, peppered with well-intending, but sometimes melodramatic internet unloaders who are quickly made for easy bait and seized upon. And I among them.
The comments section is my new drug of choice. Truly. I’ve taken to social media has a form of anti-meditation where I maintain a singular focus on what can only be described as the worst parts of our nature (I’m looking at you, Twitter). I can stay there, stuck on scroll for hours on end, quite literally. What a wonder it must be to watch: me fixated on the screen, scrolling, stopping, clicking, reading, reacting (or trying not to), and refreshing – always refreshing. Each refresh is a new “hit.” What is happening? What do people have to say about it? What narrative will I opt into? How can I speed read this article so I can get to the thread and weigh in, either in reality or my mind? Where will my outrage take root today? Continue reading
I recently sat down to read a fabulous article in The Atlantic profiling a guy named Tristan Harris who is making it his life’s work to design and encourage other companies to design more ethical software that will help break the increasingly vicious cycle of technology addiction in our lives. The article caught my eye because I’ve been feeling increasingly bothered by the amount of time I spend reaching for my phone, getting lost in the abyss, wasting hours of time perusing through social media, usually mindlessly. I’ve come close to installing phone use apps like BreakFree or Moment to see just how bad I’ve gotten, but I have yet to bring myself to do it because I know it will not be good news and I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to another major life overhaul. That’s ridiculous fear-talk right there, folks.
Can you imagine for a moment? I know I have a problem, that I am on my phone way too much and it eats away at my energy for other, clearly more productive tasks. I catch myself grabbing the phone for no reason other than pure instinct and habit. I’ve read books and articles from very intelligent people waving red flags in my face imploring me to wake up and get a grip on my screen time. It’s become such an epidemic that they are creating apps for our phones now to save us from ourselves (and our phones). Yet, I don’t take that next big step to use an app that will lock my social media apps if I spend too much time on them because I’m not 100% ready to face down this demon. Sound familiar? Continue reading
I’m now reaching the five-month mark in my sobriety (and, EEK, pregnancy) and there is one benefit that I am luxuriating in right now: reclaiming my formerly pickled brain.
Even in the thick of pregnancy brain fog, I still find myself in awe of just how much room there is inside this dome that had been previously clouded by a booze, hangover, anxiety cocktail. Towards the end of my drinking days, I noticed that I had difficulty thinking clearly. I was no longer able to tap into my “zone” and produce interesting content when I sat down to write (which was almost never at that point), nor did I possess any motivation to try. I no longer got lost inside complex thoughts. In fact, I was actually starting to forget things regularly. I would have to write everything down because I was incapable of remembering something in the short term for longer than a few minutes. We often laugh about moments when we walk into a room and have no idea why we came in there, but that was becoming my normal. It didn’t scare me necessarily, at least, not as much as it should have. Instead, it just made me more depressed. Whoever “I” was, whatever construct of self I held previously, was slowly vanishing. Continue reading