Looking toward a sober 2014

end-of-time

There are just 35 days left in what has been one of the most difficult, exhausting, remarkable, overwhelming, conscious changing years of my 37 year life.  On March 13, I made it through the day without a drink.  I have maintained that stretch for 260 days.  One day at a time is how I am to live my sober life, but it’s hard not to sneak a peek at tomorrow.

What will 2014 look like?  I don’t know.  I know that I don’t want 2014 to be harder than 2013.  I can’t control what will happen around me, but I can control whether or not I make relapse part of next year’s landscape.  I won’t; I can’t.

I’m confident in the sober support system I’ve built.  I’m much more secure in sobriety today than I was in the early months.  Therefore, I can put attention towards other aspects of my life without worrying about slipping.

I want to evaluate my professional life.  I have a good job that worked very well for 5 alcoholic years.  Now, with a clearer mind and an evolving sense of self, I’m not sure it will work for the next 5 sober years.  I don’t know what I want to do.  I don’t know what I can do, but I’d like to take the time in 2014 to explore the possibilities.

Looking forward is a new concept for me.  Beginning at age 16, when I was certain I’d be dead before 20, I’ve never planned for the future because I’ve never envisioned one.  During the alcoholic years, I lived a reactionary life, simply putting out fires as they came up (which flared up often because this alcoholic osterich doesn’t like to deal with anything before it’s too late to fix).  Without the booze, the anxiety is gone and I can think about short distances into the future without panicking.  It might be fun to try.

Daily Prompt: To Boldly Go…

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Evil

Destruction SilhouetteTo the alcoholic, booze is pure evil; it creates disastrous misfortune in a most insidious manner.  It slowly, but ever-so progressively, takes hold of an alcoholic’s intuition, rational decision-making skills and eventually, self-worth.  The alcoholic quiets the inner voice that suggests that their drinking is out of control, allowing themselves to justify the choice to drink and drive, eventually believing they deserve nothing better from life than what alcohol provides.  When the alcoholic, who’s lost all sense of inner value and hope, looks back at who they were before the drinking began, it’s baffling to believe that the two versions of self belong to the same person.  That’s the stealthy nature of the evil beast.

I cannot drink again.  For me, one drink will lead to complete destruction of my relationships, my job, my life.  How can a substance be a safe source of occasional social pleasure for some, and a wrecking ball of ruin for another?  Perhaps I cannot call the substance “evil.”  It’s an unfair label on something that a large percentage of the population can consume without eventually becoming destitute.  I am not one of those people.  My body and mind’s reaction to alcohol is evil; it is an abandonment of my intuition and my body’s natural desire to survive and thrive.

I am grateful to have come to this understanding.  For too many years my mind stifled my intuition and allowed me to believe that I could handle a few drinks.  I am grateful to have finally learned from the countless times I gave into this ridiculous theory.  I am grateful that today I do not desire what causes an evil reaction for me.

Daily Prompt: Wicked Witch

Write about evil: how you understand it (or don’t), what you think it means, or a way it’s manifested, either in the world at large or in your life.

Day 176: Recovery and Reflections

ChickenHi, my name is Mental Rollercoaster and I am a chicken.

I am 176 days sober and I’ve spent the past 30 days putting off getting an AA sponsor.  I know who I want to approach, but I always chicken out at the last minute.  Why?  Because I don’t want to bother her.  I don’t want to intrude in her life and ask her to devote time to me.

The past 5 years were the worst of my alcoholism, which is no surprise considering the progressive nature of the beast.  I would struggle to get sober for a couple of days, only to run back to the vodka.  I tried to do it alone, maintaining a false exterior of sobriety; I drank 100% in isolation.  Near the end, I recognized that I couldn’t get sober on my own, but I still didn’t reach out to anyone I knew.  During one workday, I got a call on my cell phone from a rehab centre, following up on my email.  Email?  I had no recollection of emailing them.  I told them they had the wrong number.

It’s a character flaw that I don’t ask for help.  It’s not out of ego (believing that I know best), but for a lack of.  I truly believe that asking for help will burden the person I’m asking.  Why would they give a shit about me and want to spend the time I’m asking them to invest?  Wrapping my head around AA and sponsorship is not easy, but I know that I have to ask for help in order to stay sober.

So I’ll try again, on day 176, to ask for help in the shape of a sponsor because I am not a rock and cannot do it alone.

Daily Prompt: I Am a Rock

Out for all that I can get

211872_overflowing_glass_1It all needs to be timed just so.  Over- or under-estimating any element during the day will result in getting less of it into my body than is needed.  How much is needed?  All that I can get.

I look at the clock more than I look at anything else on this earth.  I have 3 hours before I have to go to bed.  How much vodka do I have stashed behind the spare bedroom’s door?  If I overestimate how much is left, I won’t realize that I’ve run out until after the liquor stores are closed.  I can’t let that happen.

That would mean elevated anxiety, knowing that I will have to go more than 12 hours without alcohol.  That would mean feeling nauseous and irritable for hours before I can reasonably excuse myself from the office for an “early lunch” and race to a bank machine and then to the store.  I can’t let that happen.

There is a minimum level of vodka to blood ratio that must be maintained.  Otherwise my body will begin to rebel.  I have to make sure that there’s enough stashed around the house and in the car to get me through, because I’m out for all that I can get and truthfully, no amount will ever be enough.

Daily Prompt: Can’t Drive 55

Take the third line of the last song you heard, make it your post title, and write for a maximum of 15 minutes. GO!

It’s a Balancing Act

Juggling Mental StabilityI’m juggling a lot of balls in my mind.  There’s a ball each for bipolar, anxiety, ADHD, and sobriety.  If I allow one ball to stray, then all will fall.  If I allow the bipolar ball to dip too low, I will sink into depression, which threatens sobriety.  It’s all a balancing act.

I’m constantly tweaking the strategy to maintain the balance in my brain.  It’s an interconnecting puzzle of medication, therapy, bike riding, comedies, blogging and reading.  The one piece that keeps everything together is therapy.  There is no question that without working with a therapist (one who is an excellent fit for me), I would not be the person I am today.

I have a lot of personality quirks, let’s call them quirks, that need work, but overall I’m a much better functioning person than I was before therapy began 5 months ago.  It’s the motor that keeps the juggling at an even keeled pace.

Bargaining With The Clock

Bargaining with the clockThere are 7 urgent items waiting for me at work on Monday.  Things that should have been done days or weeks ago.

My car’s license plates expired 2 weeks ago.  Last year, when I let this happen, I also put off paying the ticket I received for said expired plates.  So much so, that my license was suspended and I wound up in court bargaining with the prosecutor to allow me to keep it.  That was a $1,000 clusterfuck of procrastinations.

My home has been my home for 11 years.  There are unpacked boxes in the basement.

There is an unfinished needlepoint in a closet that hasn’t been touched in 15 years.

I put off everything.  I am always watching the clock and begging it to pause, just for a little while.  Just long enough to finish whatever task I’ve put off far too long.  I bargain with the clock.  I have to leave in 15 minutes; I can play Candy Crush for 10 more minutes, because it’ll only take 5 minutes to do my hair and makeup and pack my lunch, right?

I work a desk job and I’ll often look at the clock and realize I’ve done nothing productive for hours, and there’s not enough time left to do what must be done.  I end up working late and on weekends when there’s a hard deadline.

My doctors say that’s ADHD.  Perhaps.  That’s easier to digest than “you’re just a shitty, lazy person.”

I should be making dinner right now.  Looking at the clock, I think: fuck it, I can blog for another 20 minutes.  

Daily Prompt: Procrastination

Similar Read: Why Isn’t There More time To Do What I’ve Put Off?

Scenery, Not Seen

Daily Prompt: Standout
When was the last time you really stood out in a crowd? Are you comfortable in that position, or do you wish you could fade into the woodwork?

I do not feel comfortable being the centre of attention.  What?  The bipolar, ADHD gal with anxiety who used and abused vodka as a social lubricant for two decades doesn’t like attention?  Weird!

For my job, I force myself to be more social at conferences.  Although my position is the furthest away from sales possible, I work for a small company, so it’s everyone’s job to develop new contacts.  When sitting at a table with industry peers I don’t know, it takes extraordinary effort for me to start up a conversation.

But!  I’m better at it today than I was yesterday.  It’s a daily effort to develop conversational skills when, for so many years, I isolated myself with alcohol.  I chose not to maintain existing friendships and I chose not to seek out new ones.  The same can be said for my relationship with my husband: I chose not to have a fun, social life with him.  For many years, we’ve lived together almost as roommates, eating dinner together in front of the tv, then retiring to separate areas of the house to engage in our own hobbies, alone.  For years, we’ve been living in a frat house.

But!  That is changing.  It’s a slow process requiring that daily effort, but we’re finding little things to do together that collectively make a big difference.

Whether it’s a work or family scenario, it’s an effort to be social because I so badly want to fade into the background.  Knowing that fading away is a lonely way to live, I challenge myself to live a more social life.  The more time that separates me from my active alcoholism, the easier it is.  It’s all part of a complete personal evolution.girl_hiding-300x196