Thanks to The Bubble Hour episode interviewing the director and daughter of the documentary My Name Was Bette: The Life And Death Of An Alcoholic, Sherri VandenAkker.
I have it slowly downloading to my iPhone so I can watch it during my commute. I've decided I'm comfortable with potentially being a "ducking commute crier." I sometimes savor having these very personal internal struggles that make emotions bubble up in a public sphere...as long as no one notices. Sounds like a fetish, right?.
Anyways, I plan to enter in a film phase for my recovery, starting with My Name Was Bette, The Anonymous People, and Lipstick and Liquor: Secrets In the Suburbs.
Maybe this will ward off the routine. I have to remember drinking didn't really relieve my cycles of boredom with life. My fear of facing boredom and doing something about it is one of the many reasons I drank-not to make any other decisions about what to do. That's what is boring. Drinking lacks imagination. Drinking reduces problem solving. Drinking is lazy.
Dabble. Sample. Flit. Jack-of-all-trades. Short term commitments. Experiment. Chameleon. Flirt. Superficial.
The above is how I describe my connection to activities, focus, jobs and sometime relationships. But I swear I have discipline, like routines and setting limits, like I stated in yesterday's blog. I'm not always proud of my fleeting interests, but I can do a many of things reasonable well, but nothing as an expert besides to try out something new.
Even with exercise I struggle with the continual routine of it-can't check it off the list for good and move on. It has to keep happening! And I carry on with the routine even when I find it painfully boring.
This brings me to the not drinking me. The blogging me about the not drinking me. Three months is a long time to dabble in this. It is sticking, but I'm weary about my commitment levels in both blogging and sobriety. Ho hum, I've stopped drinking, isn't everyone in the blogosphere tiring of my aches and pains? I guess you could look away, and that thought makes me sad too-to be left alone again with my thoughts, my demons, my addiction.
I'm in a bored, blah, meh state. Nothing much feels pressing, stirring, exciting. I'm irritable. Wanting an exciting escape from my routine life, the day after I talk about discipline and integrity...but I'm not deleting this post and starting over.
I'm fucking ridiculous. And so is auto correct-why does fucking autocorrect to ducking? Who is pretending that fucking isn't a word that is frequently used?
Back to me being ridiculous. Maybe I shouldn't blog at 7am when I'm hungry, wanting more coffee and going through sugar withdrawals. That could taint anyone's outlook and make them crave something more glorious than sobriety and cutting out sugar..
Tuesday. Let's do this! (Internal mock cheerleader voice)
I think I've gotten past the phase where I feel like my own hero for quitting the booze. I quit something that was bad for me. I continue to show discipline and resourcefulness to stay sober. It's positive, yes, but Its time to stop rewarding myself with substitute sweet treats or other things. The rewards from not drinking come naturally from the act of not drinking, I don't need to double up the reward system with unhealthy snacking.
Vanity: I used to drink a lot and then eat bad food that night and the next day AND skip the gym. I haven't done that for 100 days. Why haven't I lost weight, damn it? I think it is the substitute sweet rewards that I would never allow myself when I was drinking-I had discipline in areas outside of my drinking. You know, to balance out the extreme undisciplined drinking.
I find rules helpful. I live by principles. I function well within limits.
Sobriety is opening a continuously growing space for me to practice being the best version of myself. And that version wants to live by principles and with integrity.
Does that sound boring to you? Rigid? Self-righteous? It's not. Depends on one's principles, right? Stayed tuned to my upcoming week-end get-away to Paris that I spontaneously booked when my friend said she was going to be there and I should join her. See??? Not rigid!
Back to the vanity, the discipline. I'm joining my friend on a 30-Day Paleo-Style diet. A reset to cook and eat wholesome foods-taking a break from sugars and food groups that cause me to bloat or are found in junk food. A discipline challenge. And maybe I will get back to my year-ago weight as a bonus.
I'm officially in the triple digits of sobriety. It was a completely different season when I started this challenge and here I am soon to enter summer a healthier version of myself. Hello World!
This week-end I was reminded how much money I used to spend on drinking. We went with a group from school to a hotel on the Red Sea to sit around the pool and beach to relax. Drank bottled water and a couple of lemonades that were a bit too sweet, while each bad Egyptian beer was $5. I didn't see our bill for the week-end, but I would have doubled our expenses, making our trip $100+ more just in shitty beer.
Screen shot from today:
I've re-appropriated a lot of money to healthy activities: tennis lessons and yoga classes, and technically I'm still saving money. Where that is going is not quite clear yet, it's hard to account for it because I have hundreds of dollars out in therapy costs until I'm reimbursed. But I know the savings are there. I'm saving in so many ways by not drinking: money, time, heartache, health to name a few.
I am proud of the work I've done to address my ghosts since becoming an adult, even while I was drinking. I may not have seen how my alcoholic-laced childhood, my own drinking, my perfectionism and anxiety were all connected, I did work on pieces of the puzzle independently since my twenties. Now I'm trying out my newest lens: effects of addiction.
Starting as early as 2005, I had goals to end being a "yes girl" at work. Later I learned the term "work place martyr" and realized I was one of those too-first one in and last one to leave and resentful of everyone who didn't work as hard as me. The cross I would bare was doing the jobs of others because they incompetent so I had double the work of "everyone."
It is still a work in progress to have balance in my professional life. I'm better now than ever, but I still have a lot of work to do in my mindset. Personal work that will help my stress levels in check, my professional relationships positive and keep my hours manageable.
One thing I've really gotten the hang of is not working unnecessary work hours. I hardly ever take work home-starting this year. Yay me!
One thing that I really need to keep present is doing only my job, not taking on other people's jobs or creating jobs for myself as I see the need. A quote from "After The Tears" sums up some of the current issues I want to focus on under the umbrella of team player.
Learn to Trust and Become a Team Player: Many of us who grew up in alcoholic families gained some sense of self-worth through learning the tasks necessary to run the family or take care of siblings. We felt it was our job to make things work, and sometimes to make the alcoholic better. We became a one-person show, never trusting that anyone was there to help. As a result, we are often uncomfortable if we are not attending to every detail, project, or activity at work, and we often double-check the work of others. We feel out of control if not in charge. Sometimes we train others to be dependent by taking on more and more of the load ourselves—then becoming angry when we are alone at work at 10:00 PM. We train others to be dependent when we take on the responsibility of others’ feelings and behaviors and continually “fix” things. Learning to be a team player will take discipline and a certain amount of discomfort as you experience feeling out of control and you develop tolerance for feelings of powerlessness while allowing others to make mistakes and be successful.
A major problem I have is the fix things that seem broken, even when not officially under my job title. I stand by that many things need a fixing but I'm been on a rampage this year:
To name a few.....and I have a mental list of things to fix too. I stand by many things that have been neglected at our school and need attention, but I do get resentful that they haven't already been fixed or that other leaders don't find systematic fixes a priority in the same way I do.
2015-Learn to be a team player by not taking on others' jobs, asking for help and actually accepting help when it is given.
A couple days ago, I was bus blogging and my phone lost service, and lost my whole post. I'm now over the frustration and ready to try again. It's not really a post that can be written again because it was all about wanting a drink after a long productive and tiring day, and what I would do instead to overcome those cravings. Many days, right? Repeat.
Since my last post I've been thinking about the conversation with that teacher. There have been more conversations and he continues to get under my skin and make me question myself. I re-read some passages from the book "After The Tears." there is a section on adult alcoholics characteristics in the work place that applies.
Here's a quote:
All [adult children of alcoholics] suffered from low self-esteem, felt worthless, put others first and themselves last, and were poor team players. They didn’t know what normal was, and as a result had a high tolerance for dysfunction in the workplace. Each one of them was hypervigilant, frequently second-guessing the motives or actions of those around them, and each had difficulty trusting the competence of others. They felt responsible for the mistakes and/or emotions of those around them. All felt uncomfortable and undeserving of praise, yet defensive (whether expressed or internalized) when given constructive feedback, and they never felt that their performances were good enough. They had difficulty balancing their personal and professional lives and looked to their work to fill an emptiness inside themselves while continually feeling like imposters.
Yep, that's me at my lowest points in my professional life.
With this teacher, he brings out feelings from my childhood, triggering me to react to those feelings. My family always talked respectfully to each other and we never would talk about or address the bad behavior that resulted from alcohol or any negative emotion really. But I need to address his unprofessionalism and when I did I was floored when he turned around his irresponsibility and mocked me instead of taking ownership of his actions. I would have been so horrified to be called out and would have made it up tenfold but he did not.
I'm upset that he has gotten under my skin. I know I'm in the right yet I'm anxious about talking to him further about the ways he is unprofessional and that he has to change or his job is in jeopardy. Too much wasted energy on him and this situation. Ugh. Stupid. Bummer.
I'm coming down from my Pink Cloud, so long, stop by again cuz it was fun.
Yesterday was a bit taxing-one root cause was too little sleep. Another was the dread of confronting teachers who didn't turn in their grades on time-one particularly who left early on day they were due, didn't tell me they weren't done on top of that is hostile and disrespectful when I have addressed his unprofessionalism. He was just as salty and disrespectful as I thought he would be this time. I said my points though, but it got under my skin. And then I have to have that internal conversation, is it because I'm a woman? Is it how I carry myself that opens up that opportunity to challenge me? Basically, how is this my fault?
It didn't help my emotional state when I share this with my colleague and he asked if I asked this teacher why he was being disrespectful me. That just magnified my feeling of being a push over. In all honesty, I would have never thought to call the teacher out by directly addressing how he was speaking to me, "Don't be disrespectful, I'm asking a reasonable question. Why you didn't have your grades finished on time?" I have been able speak to students that way but haven't had to have those conversations with adults yet until this year. The world of management...here I am. Just do your job people!
I went through my day churning over that conversation fuming and trying to shake it off. I worked out with my workout buddy after school through an upset stomach and negative cloud. Even exercise couldn't make me shake it.
Then I left my wallet on the school bus and walked into Husband radiating negativity from his frustrating day at home. I didn't have the energy to pull him and myself out of it, so we largely ate dinner in silence to avoid talking about our negative days. Sometimes I can't rehash the work at home, let it rest, let it be work that doesn't define my person outside of work. Today was one of those days.
We did our separate things, and went to bed early. I did stop by the nail place to get one nail redone, and had a nice time there. She is a lovely woman and I gave her a mini-English lesson and she decided I needed make-up on and did my eyes like her. Heavy bright blue eye liner on my lower lids all the way to the corners of my eyes with lots of mascara. It was fun to play and see my eyes in a style that I would never wear but she thought was beautiful. She was sharing her beauty with me and she is beautiful. It was nice-probably not an experience I would get in the states when I ask for a re-do on a service. A mini-reminder that I'm in a foreign land where I get to have unique experiences. I treasure that, it lifted my mood.
Today is already looking better for me with my starting spirit. Not a pink cloud, but not a black one either.
It's been an overly social week-end. It has left me a bit unfocused, so much so I didn't honor or celebrate my 3-Month Sobriety date on the 16th. It doesn't feel as big as 2 months. But it is! It is, a forth of a year. 90 days, three months. A demarcation of time passed; new habits and outlooks cultivated.
How should I celebrate? What would be a celebratory event or activity? I need ideas. Maybe taking time to spell check my hastily written past blog posts. So un-profesh. Maybe something that I wouldn't find the energy for while I was drinking?
Per my title, I have not graduated, I will not graduate from Sobriety School. Sobriety can't be crossed off my To Do List. Sobriety isn't something I did. Not water under the bridge. It's one more exercise I practice: along with yoga, meditation, jogging with Dog Face and weights. Intentional but not obsessive. Focused but not tunneled-vision.
Still feeling good and it is starting to weird me out a bit. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between happiness and numbness. Am I content or numb from my emotions? I've had panic attacks over feeling numb; it scares me not to care or feel. But feelings are much more easy to identify when they are darker shades. I'm much more comfortable sitting with angst and wistfulness. And they go much better with whisky and indie rock.
Happy seems hollow, fleeting, boring even. Maybe it is just the word and how it has been thrown around too much: "don't worry, be happy." Cheerleaders. Kittens. Emoticons.
I feel calm, centered, satisfied, loved, respected, curious, empathic, connected, lucky, healthy, energized, balanced.
What might be a heavy influencer to my emotion high are hormones. Let's see how I'm feeling in a week, when I'm at the bottom of my menstrual cycle.
In the meantime, I'll enjoy the lightness while digging around to make sure I'm not numbing out. I have therapy tonight-I'm curious if I'll be able to tap into my concerns. Sometimes I'm just not able to access my emotional junk and sometimes when that door gets cracked, all sorts of shit tumbles out. Maybe I'll talk about this very thing with therapy lady.
Bus blogging on the way home from work and feeling good. I have a lot of love to give and energy to spare. How do I capture this feeling to save for the times I have the exact sort of day and just feel crummy for no reason?
Can't blog...need to take in the sights on the bus ride home. Savoring it, the fleeting and a messy beautiful pulse of 20 million people living their lives.
I'm sitting in the sun, pausing from my day to blog. What am I doing to support my sobriety today is a question I have in my head because I saw it in my Twitter feed.
While I haven't really thought of one thing I do to support my sobriety each day, maybe I can do that today. I need motivation to go to my yoga class tonight, I should do it for my sobriety! Leaving the house at dinner time or when it is dark to go do exercise is always so hard-so much more enticing to eat a plate of food while watching the new Game Of Thrones episode.
This pause is to remember the power of yoga to channel my emotions, thoughts and physicality together. It is a practice that needs to be done habitually, and it's been over a week. Maybe tonight will help me tap back into that space where I'm a bit more raw. I feel like that place has scabbed over with my vacation but I know it is not healed. Time to dig around in there again.
Yoga it is tonight. Thank you sobriety, for the reminder to step into the uncomfortable and seek the benefits that wait there for me there.
Its been a while, I haven't even wrote in the sober days of the eighties at all and I'm more than halfway through them. Wow. And so close to 3 months-that's an accomplishment! That's sounding better! And I am feeling better, so much better. So much better that I didn't feel the need to blog when on vacation-I felt too busy and content to find time for any of my personal care maintenance besides to be in moment-so delicious to be unstructured and out of routine for a week.
I was on a cruise up the Nile River to visit the major sights of ancient Egypt-and I so enjoyed the experience: the cruising, the touring, the time with my in-laws. Throughout the week I did do mental check-ins to see how I was feeling about being out of my routines and how I was responding to seeing the alcohol around the boat. No red flags, no urges, no cravings. Feeling happy.
With two more days of vacation I'm still feeling solid, with less urgency to have my sobriety front-and-center. I feel the pull to take a step back from sober world, my time has been devoted to reading, thinking, talking, listening and writing about alcoholism, sobriety and my emotions. I even struggled to pay attention to the Bubble Hour yesterday on my jog-I want to listen to stories outside of sobriety again.
It seems healthy and normal that at about 3 months I would want to broaden my world again-but I have taken the warnings about complacency to relapse seriously. And maybe this pink cloud will pass when work starts and I will need to realign myself with sobriety world to cope. I also know myself that I'm really good at shelving emotions and thoughts to worry about later. So I will continue with therapy, this blog and the Bubble Hour, but will honor my desires to use some of my limited free time for passions other than sobriety. I miss learning Arabic and my brain is ready to dive into fiction instead of recovery.
I'm sitting quietly with Husband's dad on the couch at 6:30am. He just finished yoga and is now reading a book after 24+ hours of travel last night. I'm drinking coffee and purposely up this early so I can take him on a walk around the neighborhood before breakfast so he gets a good tour, doesn't get lost and comes back within a reasonable time. He is in his late 60s and very into his health-lifts weights, does yoga, bikes, cooks healthy food, does not drink caffeine or alcohol. He looks great.
I will now get ready for my walk with my dad-in-law. I will show him what I love about the early morning in Maadi.
On my way to the last day of work before spring break. Two first coming up-a sober vacation and vacation with the In-Laws. I'm not anxious at all about it because the In-Laws don't drink. They were normies but for the sake of self-discipline they gave up drinking years ago. They may be openly excited and ask as many questions as I'm comfortable answering. They will will also be the people who would be actively concern if I return to my drinking ways. Letting them in is another piece of annountability and support.
Living abroad is helpful to let people know in stages and as I'm comfortable. Now that my inner circle of friends know, I can get some time behind me and when I see friends and family this summer I can let people know as we are catching up AND I can be a little less raw-"yeah, I stopped drinking about 5 months ago. It stopped being fun and I got bad hangovers, so I let it go. I feel great!"
I can't wait to say that to someone. And of course, "I'll start with water" is a phrase that makes me smile when I use it-the roots of all of this-a sober journey, a blog name, email address and recently a Twitter account: @iwillstartblog
T-shirts next? Water bottles? Plant pots with seeds? Floaty key chains? Excercise programs? If only I was an entrepreneur.
I just emailed my brother stating that I stopped drinking and that I'm seeking therapy that that I might email questions about our childhood because some of my memories are blurry.
My brother and I are not close. We don't talk on the phone and definitely haven't compared notes on our childhood. In many of my memories he isn't even in them. Where was he and how did he react to the traumatic events of our childhood? I have no idea.
I'm reaching out, hoping for connection and some healing from the safety of distance and email. He as rather emotional shut down and not easy to talk to at all. Maybe this way I can open some avenues that can help us see how much we have in common and make us closer. I've been perplexed by siblings who are close and hang out as friends. How did they do that? Why aren't we like that? I don't think my brother and I will become best friends but maybe if he's willing to, we can grow closer. As siblings, we can make sense of our shared pasts so we can lead better adult lives.
And now I'm annoyed. Why do I have to work on my relationship with my brother, why can't my family relationships just be fine? Why is it me that has to reach out to him? I don't have anyone reaching out to me! Fuck, why is everything work? Work that I end up in charge of? Geez!
I can drink with the best of them, but I don't want to anymore. But really I do sometimes.