A Dangerous Liaison

Still here.  Still sober.  Still appalled at the politics going on here in the U S of A.  My intent is not to go on a political rant.  However, I find myself in an almost perpetual state of agitation, anxiety and anger-and of course all fear based. Which comes from things not being the same as I’ve experienced them for the majority of my life.  Many of the the so-called norms rapidly changing. Seeing injustices done and seeing that so many don’t see them as injustices.  On and on and on..

I did watch the testimony of Dr. Ford-felt that I had to as a form of supporting her as well as the realization that many of us have or could be in her situation.  After watching her, I stayed tuned and watched Kavanaugh’s testimony. Without going into all of my thoughts and emotions about that-one of my first oberservations-within about 5 minutes of him beginning, was, “that man has an alcohol problem.” To be honest, I hate to think that I have or had anything remotely in common with him. But, he was doing something that I know I’d done many many times while I was drinking. Trying to normalize it all.  Trying to find a common ground with people through connection to alcohol.  He did it repeatadly. I used to to do that.

It’s funny, that slippery slope of having a drinking problem.  On the one hand, we try to hide it-not admitting how much we’ve had to drink.  Denying any kind of black out.  Saying the words “went to sleep” instead of “passed out”.  Expending a ton of energy to deny it to the world that surrounds us. Jumping through all kinds of hoops to hide it.  Sneaking.  Lying.  And yet, at the same time, trying to make it all sound so normal.  For instance, I’ve got a friend that’s been sober for like 35 years.  We drank like fish through high school and college-but she eventually stopped. Got in to AA-and is still very active in it.  I would find myself, in conversations with her, bringing up alcohol in some way.  I would be conscious of it. Almost as if to say, “see, I’m still drinking, but it’s just normal drinking. I don’t have a problem.” I will say, that she never once said anything negative to me about my drinking-or tried to step in.. But somehow, for some reason, I would bring it up-The thing is though, while I was talking about drinking as if it is oh so normal, the voice in my head was telling me that I was full of shit. That I know that I drank way too much..I mean I don’t normally talk about how much water I drink in a day-or coffee.

What I saw Brett Kavanaugh doing-and what I was trying to do-was validating it.  Normalizing it.  He was trying to get Senators to say what they drank-how much-whatever..

So we go on and on and on. Trying to normalize it.  Looking for validation.  Always on the lookout for someone “who really has a drinking problem!”  Always comparing – so that we can feel better about ourselves.  And even when we’re doing that, there’s that internal struggle-that voice that knows the truth. The voice that’s constantly pulling at us and driving us crazy until we can medicate it away again for a few hours.  That voice is always there.  Does Brett Kavanaugh have that voice?  Who knows.  Denial works until it doesn’t. What was interesting was seeing and identifying that behavior on the stage it was on.

I do know is that with almost 3 alcohol free years, I never talk about alcohol.  Rarely think about it.  There’s a behavioral aspect that just changes when we stop and have some sober time under our belts.  We’re not always thinking about it. We’re not looking for normalization or validation of our drinking. I get a picture in my mind of someone in a situation that’s unfamiliar to them. They go overboard in several directions because they don’t know how to act.  That’s how a drinking is when they’re trying to act like they don’t have a problem. It gets to the point that it becomes such a huge, ingrained part of our lives that it seeps out into every aspect of it.  It’s a noose around our neck and our psyche. It’s unbelievably freeing to be rid of it. And oh so easy to recognize when we see it.  Like I did the other day. One of the things that alcohol does is unite people who have absolutely nothing in common. It can make us complicit with people and situations that would otherwise be abhorrent to us.  It’s a total mind fuck!

With Love

#IBelieveHer

 

 

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Don’t Be Like Him

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but I have a new job.  Well, it’s not that new now-I’ve been doing it for several months. I am a manager on duty at an event place that does mainly weddings.  I rotate dates with 2 other people.  Basically, I get here before the vendors, the event planner-whoever and get the lights turned on, the doors unlocked and set the climate control. I’m here during the event and then close up at the end after everyone else leaves.  I have to say, this is the polar opposite of catering.  It is SO FUCKING BORING!!!   But! It pays pretty good and they direct deposit into my account.  I bring a ton of food-as I’m here usually around 10 hours.  Today, I watched the Champions League Final on my iPad.  To be honest, the first few times I worked, I felt like I was going to get fired for slacking.  But there really is nothing to do.  Except for poking my head in every once in awhile, there’s no reason for me to be in the room where the event is going on.   And, I have to say, at the end of the night when I’m watching the caterers and the event people break down and load up, I am SO GLAD it’s not me.  Also, not to give myself a pat on the back, but to give myself a pat on the back, I realize that compared to a lot of the caterers that come through here, I was pretty damn good!

Needless to say, as these are wedding receptions, there’s alcohol involved.  For the most part,  everyone behaves.  But, there’s always a one or two that drink too much and are pretty sloppy at the end of the night.  To be honest, at times I see myself in some of these people.   However, for the most part, I’m in an office and not really involved except at the end of the night.  And so, like now, I can get on my iPad and do what I want.  Like write a blog post.

So, here I am tonight.  The ceremony was to be outside in the courtyard at 5:30.  Of course at that point it was over 100 degrees out-but hey, that wasn’t my call.  Anyway, all of the guests were seated and the bridal party was lined up to proceed with the procession.  I walked up to the front of the house and saw this guy come in late, really kind of frazzled, with a cup in his hand.  He asked me how to get to where everyone was seated and I pointed him down the hall to the open door where the bridal party was making their way out.  The bar was on the way and to be honest, I wasn’t surprised when he stopped at it.  Made a snap judgement and thought something to myself along the lines of “Yep!  He’s a drinkerprobably been drinking all day!” And then forgot about it and him.  Then later, as I was making another round of the building  ( I walk about 5000 steps over the evening-which makes up for the half pint of Ben and Jerry’s Karmal Sutra I just ate) anyway,  he was back in the kitchen- where no one ever goes.  And we started talking.  He was saying how he was nervous because he didn’t drink and everyone was drinking.  What a struggle it was and he LOOKED like he was really having a hard time.  I said that I’d quit drinking a few years ago and that I never woke up and wished I’d gotten drunk the night before.  We talked about how things that used to seem fun drunk weren’t anymore. I said how I always wanted to stay the longest and now  I was always ready to leave after about 5 minutes.  I mean, this guy was struggling with being here-around all these people he knows that he used to drink with.  I asked why didn’t he leave and he said he came in from out of town for this, blah blah blah.  But then, he told me that it’s been like 20 YEARS since he quit!  20 YEARS!!  I was blown away.   Not that I showed it, but to see him and talk to him, I would’ve guessed that he was in the early days of sobriety.  I mean he looks like a hard core drinker in the throes of detox. He was sweating, almost twitching, nervous. This got me thinking.

The first thing that came to mind is that I need to quit making snap judgements about people.  The other thing was, while I don’t know if this guy is in or ever was in some kind of program, I don’t think he’s done the work.  By this I mean either following the steps or done some kind of inner work.  I really felt for him. He just seemed in so much distress. I’m hoping that in his day to day life he’s in some kind of situation where he’s cocooned.  But is that really living? I’m not saying we should go into situations that make us uncomfortable, but at the same time, life happens.  To come to a celebration like a wedding and be so distressed about being around people that are drinking-it’s sad.  It almost seems as if it’s missing the point.

Of course health reasons and issues are a huge part and a very good reason to abstain from alcohol. But it’s also about living a fuller, more balanced life.  It’s about going through life “unmedicated.”  Being sober does not mean acting soberly in all circumstances  Now while I don’t know this guy’s story and I also realize that I’m projecting, I’m gonna go with that for a bit.  To me, this was an example of just hanging onto sobriety by your fingernails.  What joy is there in that?  I realize that for some, quitting is the main thing.  And, that’s a good thing.  But it’s just the beginning. And I think it has to be in tandem with really doing some inner work. Facing up to the reasons why.  Acknowledging whatever hurts and pains we’ve experienced in our lives.  Being honest withourselves-at times brutally honest.  It’s about working through our issues and  making a commitment to making the changes in our lives so that, not only do we quit drinking, but we are able to to release the reasons why.  We become self educated in recognizing the things that trigger our negative behavior-We learn to love ourselves enough to stop the self harm.  We learn to accept ourselves-all of our parts and idiosyncrasies.  We become familiar with what makes us whole.  What makes us feel good about ourselves. We learn to become comfortable in our own skin.   While all of this may include cutting some people out of our lives and even boycotting certain situations, it does not mean to exist by hanging on by a thread.  Where’s the joy in that?  And that’s the word. Joy.  I believe that we are here in order to experience this thing called life in the fullest way possible.  All of it’s ups and downs-all the good and the bad.  Doing this kind of deep inner work takes commitment.  It’s scary.  It can be draining.  But at the same time, it can lead to an unbelievable freedom.  Not that working on ourselves really ever finishes.  We will always have issues.  There will always be people and situations that punch our buttons.  We can always choose to look at these situations and grow from them.  Wonder why our reaction to something is so strong.  It means taking steps to find the right kind of help-again for some that may be “working the program”.  For others, it may mean seeing a therapist or joining some kind of group therapy situation.  Living sober should be about experiencing a kind of freedom that’s unknown while in the midst of an additction. The joy is under all the muck.  That guy at that wedding, he wasn’t free. He was missing out. Don’t be like him.

With Love

*after meeting this guy, I rushed in to my iPad and wrote most of this post. just finished it  today…