Organic Evolution

For what it’s worth, I thought I might write about some things that I’ve learned and experienced since I’ve quit drinking-which was just about 2 1/2 years ago. Or 904 days as of today.

That last sentence, the number of days without alcohol might as well go into the first thing.  I don’t count days anymore.  To be honest, when I looked at how many days, I really didn’t know what was going to come up.  I just don’t give it much thought in that way anymore.  I suppose the whole counting thing comes from AA. How they give out chips for each milestone of sobriety.  In some ways, I can see that this is a good thing.. However, as time goes on, the fact that I don’t drink anymore just isn’t at the forefront of my consciousness. However, it does lead me into another point I’ve been thinking about.  Overthinking.

I am definitely into trying to be as conscious as I can be. Always looking at things from several angles, analyzing, processing. All of that.  But from my own experience as well as what I’ve read in various blogs, I think there may be a tendency to “overthink”.  Look, I get it-I am/was a pro at that.  That’s part of why I drank-to medicate that away.. To dull the whole overthinking thing-which in turn, kept me from truly being conscious.  The drinking, whether I was actually under the influence or not, totally played a part in every decision I made-in every aspect of my life. Always lurking in the background.  Then when we quit!  Well, everything comes up-in spades!  It’s almost as if we/I had been “bad” for so long that I had to correct it all at once.  No alcohol.  More exercise.  Better diet.  More this-less that.  Blah, blah, blah..That whole quest for and expectation of perfection. In many ways, it’s like changing one burden-the alcohol- for 100 others.  Sort of like all of the things that we don’t like about  ourselves and have kept at bay by the use of alcohol have been unleashed and allowed to run rampant in our psyche.  It’s crazy!  It’s stressful! It’s a mindfuck! It’s that voice saying “okay, you’ve stopped drinking (for like 1 day) now you have to get your act together and fix every single thing in your life!” Right…It’s also a way of not feeling good about yourself.  As I’ve mentioned before, for some crazy reason, quitting an abusive habit feels like punishment, when in fact, it’s one of the best kinds of self love we can give to ourselves.

So, here’s one thing that I can say. STOP! Just Stop It!!!  Try to quit doing a number on yourself.  All of that yammering is you telling yourself that you’re not good enough and that’s just not true.  The single most important thing to do when you first stop drinking-and by “first stop drinking” I don’t mean the first day or week or even month-I mean as long as it takes-just don’t drink. Don’t worry about your diet.  Don’t worry about the gym-although I would recommend light exercise- just get through the day the best you can without finding reasons to beat yourself up.  If that means coming home at 4 and going to bed, just do it.  If it means coming home at 4 and eating 3 scones with jam and cream-go for it.  If you need to make some sugary “mocktails” to get through wine-o-clock-, go to the store and stock up on the supplies for this.  If your significant other still drinks, do not buy their alcohol if that’s going to pose a problem for you and make you struggle with not buying some for yourself. Take care of yourself. DON’T WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE! I do understand that children take a priority, of course! But don’t use them as an excuse. The biggest gift you can give them is the same one you can give yourself-sobriety.

The first 6-8 weeks that I went without alcohol, I really thought that I was in the middle of having some kind of breakdown.  Not like DT’s or anything like that-although I was really tired. But, I was mentally fragile.  Oh, I could keep it together at work and with clients, but I felt like I was hanging by a thread.  I thought that I was going crazy.  I had absolutely no patience (not that I ever have much under the best of circumstances:) and I felt like I had developed some form of Tourett’s Syndrome because I was cussing an unbelievable amount-even for me! I just tried to stay as even as I could.  While I didn’t want to, walking my dog was an incredible therapy-just being outside. To be honest, sometimes we only walked to a nearby bench because I couldn’t handle anything more and just sat there, enjoying the energy of nature.  Me trying to hang on. At times, even though I wasn’t fighting the urge to drink, I would have to remind myself that the rollercoaster of emotions that I was experiencing was my body and mind trying to balance itself out. In writing this I get the picture of a ship in a storm that’s leaning on it’s side-almost to the point of going over-but it doesn’t. Eventually, the storm abates and the ship rights itself.

What I’m trying to say is don’t be impatient with yourself.  Give yourself time.  You can always start a new diet or a new workout regime.  In my case, things just evolved organically, over time.  While things may not move as quickly as you or your ego would like, they will move.  As you become more grounded in living without medicating yourself, I think you’ll find that things will even out.  As your body changes and adapts to living without alcohol, your tastes may change.  You will certainly become more aware of things. In my case, I’m just not as focused on my weight or working out as I was when I was drinking.  I don’t know why- maybe it’s because when I was drinking I was so out of control that controlling my food and working out like a maniac made me feel like I was in control.  A false sense of control that was, as my whole existence was dictated by how, when and what I was going to drink. Now having said that, I will say, that I eat a healthy diet overall-but when I don’t, I don’t beat myself up.  I just let that boat right itself and go on. I am much easier on myself.  I can forgive myself. Speaking of things changing-even my taste in clothes changed somewhat.  Well, not my taste but my color preference. I discovered black in 1986 and that’s about all I wore for “donkey’s years”.  Sometimes, I’d throw in something purple.  But for the most part, my closet was one big black line of clothes.  I still love black and it’s definitely the dominant color in my wardrobe. But, I’ve also started incorporating cobalt blue and a few other shades of blue and other colors as well. I doubt I’ll ever wear pastels-I’d need a total lobotomy for that! But I’m letting more color into my life-in many ways.

You know what else? When I look in the mirror-at any time of day-it’s not always my first reaction to hate what I see.  I mean my first reaction when looking in a mirror previously would be “Ick!”  No self love there! But, I don’t do that anymore. Okay, sometimes, but nowhere near as much.  I’ve gained self acceptance.

Another extremely important component is to reach out. Find someone you can really confide in-without shame. This could be AA or another type of support group, a good friend or even reaching out to a fellow blogger.  And, while I know that I’ve said this before, dig deep and do the work.  By “the work”  I mean some kind of therapy. I know this may be hard or foreign, but it’s so important to not only share what you’re going through but to dig down deep for the reasons behind the behavior.  Scary, yes I know. Painful. Yes, it can be. BUT-once you do it, you will know so much about yourself.  You will be able to let go of so much needless shit in your brain.  Remember my recent post, where I met that guy who was a mess in a public place, even though he’d been sober for like 20 years? He hadn’t done his work-or program as they call it in AA. To be clear, I’m not pushing AA. It’s great for some and not for others. It’s about finding what works for you and how to go about it. Find the way that fits for you. You know the whole “body, mind and spirit” thing?  I believe in that.  It’s important to have and develop all three of those components to make a whole.  To develop them in a way that is comfortable and works for you. Find an outlet-journaling, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga.  Just try something, for say 10 minutes a day-see what may work for you. In 1987, after finding out that my ex had been having an affair (he wasn’t my ex then!) I went to a therapist who suggested that I start keeping a journal.  I have continued that for the past 31 years! Sometimes I write pages, sometimes one line, sometimes I skip several days.  But, I always go back to it-it’s become my silent witness so to speak. And, just so you know-I don’t use a fancy, leather bound thing-just spiral notebooks, college lined.

The world is so crazy right now. So much going on-so many things to be upset about.  However, in the midst of all of the mess, all of the injustices, there is still beauty to be found. There is still joy to be had. Keep reaching.  Keep reminding yourself.  Keep evolving. Believe in Your Self. Keep on putting one step in front of the other.  It will change.

With Love

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What a Waste

I had a totally different topic that I was going to write about today…but something else is bothering me, so ….

The son of a friend of  ours-really my SO’s- came to stay with us.  From the UK.  The parents are very old friends of my SO and he has spent a lot of time with them where they live in the country.  They go back “donkey’s years” as they say…Anyway, they have a son-32 years old- who still lives at home and is around whenever we’re there.  But the interaction is fairly minimal as he’s doing stuff-whatever that is.  Doesn’t really work.  He was in a band for a time and traveled around a bit with that in Europe-but nothing ever came of it.  So he really doesn’t work other than doing things around the property for money.  Kind of like when I was a kid and I had to earn my allowance.  Which stopped when I was about 15 and got a part time job after school..Which this guy has never done. And just to be clear-and set the picture, his parents are not wealthy, landed gentry.  Well, they do have some land-but they are not wealthy.  He is not a “trust fund” child.

Anyway, when he called or e-mailed my SO to say he was going to be here in Austin for a week and would like to stay with us-we said fine.  Almost immediately, I suggested to my SO that it might be an nice idea to treat him to a hotel one night in the downtown, music part of town. When we realized that the second night he would be here we were committed to “Ashram sitting,” which is another blog post, and would be out of town ourselves, we thought that the perfect night.  So we arranged it.  We also offered him my old, beat up van to use while he was here as well as asking questions about what he would like to do. To be honest, my thought was that he really wouldn’t want to be with us at all and would love the freedom a vehicle would give him, etc.  But, no he said.  He didn’t want to use the van. So, my SO left me in Brenham, Texas at the Temple of Compassion taking care of the 2 sacred Brahma Cows and came back to Austin to pick him up from the airport and spend the night.  The next morning, he took him on a tour of Austin and checked him into the hotel that we’d booked.  My SO then returned to me and the cows.

So, to make a long story not so long, the guy wasn’t at home when we came back.  My SO went and picked him up and brought him back-where he ate some leftover pizza he had and then crashed out.  I’m not sure exactly what happened that night, but I can guess that a ton of alcohol was involved… Fine.  Now my SO and I are not into going out-driving downtown, etc.  Trust me, I have done that a zillion times and I just can’t be bothered.. The most we ever do is take people to a place called The Continental Club-which is iconic-for the 6:00 show..Anyway, earlier in the day on Saturday, he said he wasn’t going to go out.  Was just going to sit by the pool or hang in the back yard.  Which he did. Drank 8 beers and smoked a ton of cigarettes.  All before 6.  Then he decided he would go out.  My SO said he’d run him where he wanted to go and he could get an Uber back.  Sunday morning around 11, I was just trying to figure out how to check the previous evening’s arrest records when he called and said he was on the way back-some guy he’d met the night before was bringing him.. While he didn’t say so, I’m sure he was hungover..the shaking gave it away.. He had some toast and juice to hold him over til we had our usual Sunday lunch.  Then he took a nap…passed out is what I would say.

We didn’t see much of him that evening and he didn’t want to go out the following evenings. Just sat outside and drank and smoked.  On Tuesday, he decided to sit by the pool in the morning and had 7 beers by 2:00 p.m. Then took a “power nap” as he called it.  I call it passing out.

He’s gone now.  Left yesterday to drive to El Paso (God knows why!) before going on to California for a couple of weeks and then back to the UK.  The thing is though, I have had some major buttons pushed and am not exactly sure which ones.  I never once wished I was drinking.  And I don’t give a flying f*** if someone else does.  And, as I watched him sitting on the patio, drinking, smoking and listening to music, I couldn’t help but think about how I did that every night for, well, donkey’s years.  So what’s bothering me?  I will say, that his interaction with us was very minimal. He never seemed drunk.  He was always polite.  Said “thank you” and “that was lovely”.  But I couldn’t help but feel that those were canned responses-the kind he uses to appease his mother.  Of course when I was drinking a bottle of wine on the balcony every night-it was after working a full day.  Being productive.  After having gone to the gym and working out.  Walking the dog.

Which brings me to the question of, is there really any difference?  Is there any difference between someone who’s pretty lazy and spoiled and abuses alcohol and God knows what else-and someone who puts in their shift and more.  Someone who still gets the laundry done, the shopping done, dinner on the table, earns a paycheck? Does that make that person a “better” abuser of alcohol?  More deserving? There’s a part of me that feels that he is lost.  He’s in some kind of pain-on a “soul-u-lar” level.  As is everyone that abuses.  I don’t know-I wanted to put a list in his suitcase that went something like:                1)Move out of your parents house  2)Move out of that podunk town 3)get a job-any job-earn your own money 4)interact with different people… Shit like that.  Although as I’m going over this list here, it occurs to me that I never thought about telling him to quit drinking.  Huh! I don’t know.

Don’t know why I can’t just say to myself, “he’s gone..” and just forget about it.  Something about his energy-or was it the energy of a person in that state that is upsetting to me?  I will say my SO even picked up on it.. I thought I smelled something burning yesterday and when I mentioned it, my SO said he’d lit some incense to cleanse the energy-smudge the space!!! Of course after that, he’s just moved on-and I can guarantee you he hasn’t spent any time analyzing the whole thing. My SO I mean.  But in my case, this feeling of dis-ease is lingering.  I know in time, it will pass.  As I write this, what has occurred to me are the words “what a waste”.  And, maybe that’s it.  You know, I try to not be a would’ve, should’ve, could’ve kind of person.  I also try not to dwell too much on  the cringeworthy things in my past.  I don’t like to think about the drugs I took or the moments I was extremely drunk in a public place.  I also don’t lay a guilt trip on myself about it all.  But seeing it play out in front of my eyes-and I want to be clear-this guy wasn’t acting like this because “he was on vacation”.  No.  This is his life.  He’s 32.  I’ll be 62 in a few weeks.  Less time in front of me than behind me.  And while I had a long drinking career, I’ve also lived a life.  Had a career.  Traveled.  Met a ton of people. Grew in many ways.  Could I have grown more and maybe been more successful if I had been sober the whole time? Maybe..Probably.. Who knows?  I’m not going to beat myself up with those questions. I also came into this world with some drive.  Some desire to accomplish.. I’m a worker.  Just am.  It’s in me.  I realize it’s not in everyone.  But being a witness to this guy’s behavior was very upsetting to me.  Because, as far as I can see, it’s a waste.  It’s sad.  Don’t let that be you.

With love