Change is hard. Like, real earth-moving, deep down in your bones change is hard. That should seem like an obvious statement, but for me, for years, it really wasn’t. I was being flanked on all sides by industry professionals telling me that change was easy. I just had to genuinely want it. If I devoted all my mental energy to wanting this change, the Universe was going to intervene and say, “I got you, girlfriend!” and all was going to be right. If it wasn’t, it was my fault for not wanting it badly enough.
I once read a book where the author told me us that she was battling alcohol and cocaine addiction, a real party chick, and was wrecking her life. Then one fateful day she woke up and heard a voice say, “if you get clean, you’ll have everything you ever dreamed of” and that was it for her. She got clean that very day and everything (seemingly) was sunshine and rainbows from then on (at least on the not using front).
I don’t know about you, but no such voice ever intervened in my life. No magical switch ever flipped in my brain and made all my pain and struggles go away. Continue reading
When I initially sat down to write yesterday, I had a topic in mind. I didn’t get out my laptop. Instead, I fell into a kind of stream of consciousness into my iPhone notes section. It was initially intended to be a “topics brainstorming with key points” session with myself and evolved from there. Midway through, I realized that this article would be something else.
A hashtag got started up within the recovery community on Twitter that sparked my interest: #ThisIsWhatAnxietyFeelsLike. In reading back my thoughts, I realized that the piece I was writing was less about the topic I had started with (though it does explore that as well), but more about the way my brain operates and how anxiety inserts itself into so many aspects of my thinking and operating. It isn’t all bad. Everything is not a total panic or meltdown. In fact, most things teeter somewhere between there and just a general “all over the place” feeling. Here’s a glimpse into where my brain goes when it gets into these strange zones, with minimal editing. Continue reading
Having anxiety can feel a little like being trapped inside a very loud high school cafeteria where the chatter ranges from shrill gossip, to bullying, to random diatribes over seemingly useless topics. The noise varies in its harmfulness. There’s a mean girl in there judging everything: your looks, your attire, your personality and life choices. She reminds you of all the dumb shit you did, as any true frenemy would, and leaves you feeling suddenly mortified about a past event you thought you’d locked away forever. The bullies are there interrupting any peace you might have with random insults hurled from every direction. “Stupid bitch!” Whoa, buddy. Where did that come from? What did you do to illicit this? Nothing really. It’s just what bullies do. In the milder moments, you’re swept up in trains of thought that seem interesting and insightful, but ultimately are stealing time away. It’s incredibly exhausting to live inside a space that rarely gets quiet.
So what to do? Continue reading
You may have heard the term “gaslighting” bandied about in today’s discourse. It is a psychological term used to describe a very specific type of manipulation style in which a person attempts to make another person or group of people doubt their own judgement by manipulating situations, facts, and memories. Proficient gaslighters can make others feel as if they’re going crazy, to doubt proof that is in front of their eyes, and generally doubt their ability to judge a situation accurately. It is a tool that abusers use to control others and it is a wretched thing to go through. Perhaps you’ve known one or two in your lifetime. Continue reading
I’ve been doing a lot of opining recently for the days of yore. You know the kind I’m talking about. The days when you would sit outside at a bar or house party after a long week of work, perfect weather, drinking cheap brews, smoking cigarettes, and talking shit before heading out for some food and more imbibing later in the night. When opining, these nights are always perfect. Nobody got too drunk or made an ass of herself. At worst, somebody got a little too gracious buying rounds, but ce la vie. When the night draws to an end, we take our happily buzzed selves home, crawl into bed, and wake up the next morning fully able to function. Perhaps there’s a slight headache, but nothing a cool glass of water can’t fix.
This memory is mostly false, as is the case with all memories. We pick the pieces that seemed good and fill in the blank spots with the fluffy half-truths necessary for a pretty picture. This unicorn of a night may have existed once, but what’s more likely is that somebody took a stumble, or had to throw up in the bar bathroom before heading back out for round seven. It’s more likely that the food run was some high caloric burrito you had no business eating and probably saw again after lying down and getting hit with a mild case of the spins. It’s more likely that somebody got talkative after a few drinks and said something embarrassing about herself or someone else. It’s more likely that a regrettable text message got sent or a number given out to a total stranger you had no intention of seeing again. Or maybe that stranger came home with you. It’s more likely that the next day didn’t start until after lunch and you couldn’t really get going until it was time to hang out again and you had your “get right” drink. Continue reading
As Lent approached this year, I started to think about what I might give up. I do this every year, much like I do with resolutions. I’m a big fan of goal setting, but a D student when it comes to follow through (and that grade may be gracious). It’s not that I’m a religious person. I’m not, in the traditional sense anyway, but I do love the ritual of giving up things we don’t need to focus on our own nourishment whether that be spiritual or emotional. I appreciate the art of clearing space for what better fills us. If I’m being honest with myself, I’m probably more drawn to the poetry of fasting, giving up things for Lent, and resolutions than I am with the actual process itself. I know this to be true because I am a tragically predictable quitter. Continue reading
I haven’t been writing or engaging on my Soberish social media too much lately. Two, three months ago, a fire had been lit under me. I was immersing myself in my sobriety: engaging with the sober community, soul-searching and unpacking all the baggage from the years before. The work was interesting to me. It inspired me. Writing became my own treat to myself, a much-needed outlet to replace old, destructive ones. It mattered to me. It was important.
Things got complicated, as they so often do. My passion project became interrupted by visits to the doctor. I was trying to get back on my anxiety medications because I was struggling and beginning to revert to old patterns like posting up on the balcony, chain smoking and drinking Diet Pepsi after a hard day’s work. The medication wasn’t agreeing with me. I felt sick to my stomach and wasn’t holding down food. My emotional state swung between apathetic and despondent. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t write. Something was off. Continue reading