Mother’s Day 2020.

Something broke in me today. I had a good sob, then I took a bath and a muscle relaxer.

First of all, I have been having daily migraines for over a month as a result of TMJ. The muscle relaxers are from a car accident I had in 2014. Thank god I hung onto them because they’re the only thing that helps the pain in my jaw. The ONLY thing. The prescription said one every 8 hours. They do the job for maybe two. But I’ll take those two. Since I only had about 6 left, I’ve been rationing them out for days that are insufferable, like today. I have one left.

I’m frustrated because my GP was not listening to me. She kept saying it was allergies. I have no medical degree, but I’ve had allergies AND my skull for 42 years and this is not allergies. My dentist heard me and gave me a new guard to wear at night. That helped at first but the migraines are back.

Today was Mother’s Day so I went to my parents’ for a distance-appropriate afternoon hang on their deck. It was a really nice time. Then I wanted dinner from Veggie Heaven but they weren’t taking orders. Frustration.

I came home, my head throbbing, my stomach churning, and my heart breaking because of the nice, but still surreal time with my family and I lost it. Completely lost it. And for once, I LET myself. I’m doing a lot of internal work during quarantine and allowing myself to feel emotions is a big part of it. I cried for maybe 7 minutes total. Then I took a bath. Now I feel relaxed.

Day 112, 2020

I haven’t felt much like writing about drinking. I don’t really have much to say. It’s moved from the front of my brain to the back. From screaming and kicking to subdued. I’m probably not out of the woods as I considered taking a sip of a liqueur that we were trying to identify. But I remembered – oh you don’t drink anymore. And I put it down and that was it.

W asked me if I’ll ever drink again and I didn’t have an answer. I told him I didn’t know. Right now, I am not ready. In part, I don’t want to. I’ve worked hard to associate my drinking with terrible headaches, bloating, and acting like a fucking idiot. I don’t want any of those things. If that means not drinking, great.

The one thing I do miss… and I’ve talked about it here several times… is our favorite restaurant in Newark. They make sangria that descended straight from heaven. It tastes SO good. They may have a non-alcoholic version. I don’t know. But it’s ritual. At some point, I would consider going there and trying it out. Not now, but maybe at some point. And maybe I’ll get there and think it’s not worth it.

What I am trying to articulate is – my relationship with alcohol doesn’t seem so “urgent” anymore. I don’t have to work every day to quell my desire. Many days, I don’t think too much about it aside from strengthening my identification as someone who doesn’t drink. I wrestle with that part a lot. Probably because of my narcissism. Nobody gives a shit what my personal relationship is. People gather for the good time. And that’s fine.

This quarantine has been somewhat of an Awakening for me. I’ve paying attention to where my soul wants to be and what it wants to do. I’m connecting with energy and getting even more fucking woo-woo than I was before.

I was accepted into an MBA program and have already started on Foundation classes (that I need to pass before enrolling). I’m immersed in Accounting most of the day and then I get some yarn out and watch a crime drama – or chat with friends – or take my Reiki course.

Life as a hermit is pretty fucking good right now. That being said, I am acknowledging the role my continued paycheck, health, and general privilege play in that statement.

Going forward, expect more woo woo musings. That feels like where I’m gonna go.

DAY 101, 2020

I have not been celebrating milestones because we are living in Bizarro World. I am continuing to enjoy a life without alcohol though. This quarantine business would have surely been a very long bender had it been last year. I can’t even imagine.

I’ve been using this time to do some naval gazing and writing and art. I’ve been staying up too late watching questionable television. I have been on Facebook WAY too much. Not saying much, but quietly seething. It’s honestly not much different than before. Also, I’ve been hibernating from 100 days. So this is old hat for me.

What I do appreciate is the quiet time with my family. It has helped us to work on some stuff. It’s making me more patient. We are working our way back to teamwork. It’s hard sometimes. My husband is on the spectrum and communication is challenging. Additionally, he is stubborn and bossy. I’m impatient and easily annoyed. Telling me what to do is the quickest way to unlock my mean streak. Both of us tend to isolate. Sometimes we forget the other person is even there.

It’s been good for us. I am lucky to continue earning full salary. I am so grateful and am certainly not treating this as a vacation. In fact, I’m working even harder than ever – but in velour tracksuits. I have like 5 of them.

I also just completed my application for an MBA program. I’m HOPING to do an accelerated (12 month) thing, but I know how I tend to go super hard and then burn out. This time has taught me to be more thoughtful and accept space.

This is getting boring I think.

Day 94, 2020

90 Days came and went without much fanfare. In quarantine, the days are all kind of melting into one long, boring day. I am incredibly thankful to be able to continue working and earning a salary. I have zero complaints.

I am, however, writing to you from my office which is about 20 minutes from my home. I had to get checks because we still have to pay the bills. and there are maybe 5 other people in this enormous building. I haven’t seen them. I just saw cars. This is the first time I’ve arrived at work in a velour tracksuit, sneakers, and a baseball cap… and ZERO makeup. I’d probably scare someone if they came in anyway. I also discovered some extra hand sanitizer I have at my desk. And my beloved Sprite Zeros. I’m taking those Sprites home and I am downright giddy,

I also got a bagel. I haven’t had a bagel in weeks. Everyone stood 6 feet+ apart. I was happy to be able to give some $$ to my favorite bagel shop. I Can’t even finish it. I forgot how big bagels are. (Like it’s been years lol).

Anyway, I’m experiencing this odd tiredness that everyone seems to be dealing with. It’s nearly impossible to get out of bed then again I’ve been staying up stupidly late. Doing nothing. Knitting, listening to audiobooks, watching Tiger King in its entirety. I really need to try going to sleep earlier. I talk about this all the time. It’s like my body is simply not made for that. I used to think it was the drinking but it turns out, it’s just how I am wired. Outside of that though, I’ve been tired during the day. Like needing a nap.

I read an article that this is associated with grief. I don’t know if that fits for me. Anxiety seems more likely. On high alert 100% of the time making sure I don’t touch anything or breathe. It’s exhausting.

I don’t know. I’m tired and I need to finish up what I’m doing.

Hope you’re staying well.

DAY 88, 2020

I cannot believe I am almost at 90 days. I do not miss drinking. Each time I have a craving, I flash to the headache feeling or the sloppy, mortifying person I become when I drink. I am more quiet and thoughtful. I am becoming more secure in who I am – the creative parts, the deep thinking parts, the analytical parts, the woo woo parts. I am becoming who I have been meant to be.

I don’t think this is all alcohol related. I think this is part of growing into oneself. I am sure that everyone, whether the realize it or not, is slowly changing over a 90 day period for better or worse. The good news is, you get to start a new 90 day period every day if you want.

I don’t mean to sound high and mighty about this. It’s been hard work. It’s been strange navigating my relationships as a non-drinking person. Drunk Me had few boundaries and went with the flow for the good of the fucking party. Just saying that is gross. I put up with words and behavior and situations that would now qualify as wildly unhealthy, unsafe, and unacceptable.

I feel more powerful now. I feel power in the word “alcoholic” because it indicates that I am willing to look honestly at that part of myself and not run away.

TRIGGER WARNING – depression, self-harm, suicidal behavior

I have been thinking about my twenties a lot lately. My soul was so lost. I was a ghost. I barely existed where I stood. I’ve spoken here about how I drank to fit in and to make it more comfortable to interact with people.

When I wasn’t drinking though, I was severely depressed. I tried dozens of combinations of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers. At 24, I drove my car into a pile of rocks and then drove the clunking car straight to the emergency room. I was fine from the small collision. But I wanted to die. My senses were heightened. Everything in my eyesight was sharp, yet I felt like I was just a pilot in my body. That last little shred of reason left in my brain knew I needed to get help.

As I drove, I sliced into my arms and legs with a broken CD case. It was all I could find. I felt possessed. I was conflicted. I didn’t know how I would pay for this but that small pilot directed me in. I answered so many questions. The room was tan. The furniture was vinyl.

The next step is fuzzy. I did not stay overnight. I must have gone home? But looking back, I’m not sure how I escaped the mandatory 72 hour hold. The next thing I remember is going to intensive outpatient. I did that for a couple of months.

My face bloated from all of the medication. Also, you’re not supposed to drink on that shit but clearly I didn’t adhere to that. I remember being at a music festival and my friend was taking pictures (with a real camera lol) and he said to me… I don’t know if I have ever seen you smile.

I was in this perpetual heavy conversation with myself in my head. I always felt like I should be doing more and should have amounted to more and should should should all over myself. I didn’t measure up. I didn’t finish college. I stopped singing. I kept painting though. That always got me through.

I don’t remember a lot of specifics from my twenties. All of the vignettes I recall are standing in a kitchen and drinking and smoking cigarettes and not feeling comfortable. I had a boyfriend through this period of time. We had gotten engaged actually. He was a nice guy. Smart. Also liked to party. We were toxic to one another.

I remember his mom asking me why I was so sad. I couldn’t answer. Partially because she terrified me (I was not alone in this) and partially because I simply did not know. I remember one day she held my face and said I just wish you could be happy. She meant it. It was kind… and intense. But she meant it. I guess I just exuded sadness.

I think our 50th breakup might have been the last. We still talk on occasion. He’s a good guy. I know why I loved him. And I know why we didn’t last.

That was a lot. That can count as a chapter. There’s another one but I don’t have the energy for it right now.

The good news is that we all know the ending, or at least the chapter we’re in now, is fine.

I didn’t even talk about this quarantinsanity. Next post.

Day 74, 2020

I am doing well. I mean there is a global pandemic and all but as well as one can do in this situation. We are embarking on having my son home from school for the next two weeks at minimum. I have a very ambitious schedule printed out during which I will have to find blocks of time to work. I have a feeling I will be pulling nights. I don’t mind. It all evens out.

I had a dream the other night that I drank. In the dream, I hadn’t realized it. I just drank a glass that was handed to me and continued to drink without thinking. Then, in a panic, realized that I had ruined everything. I was very upset.

In the morning, it took a bit for me to realize that I had not in fact had a drink. A good friend’s Dad who has been in the program for a long time reached out to me today and we went back and forth with stories. He was also a musician and acknowledged the very specific obstacle we have to endure being that alcohol is ever present in our industry. Aside from being exposed to it almost every time we play, it’s not only accepted, but expected to partake while we are playing. I digress. I told him about the dream and about how upsetting it was and he imparted that the longer you make it, the more precious it becomes. And that made a lot of sense.

We also talked about narcissism and alcoholism and how they tend to go hand in hand. It was a funny, honest, and much needed conversation. I am luck to have such people in my life.

Not sure if I mentioned that my neighbors are also program veterans and have been checking in with me. It’s nice to know that other people have gone through this and are living productive, peaceful, and fun lives. That normal changes.

Day 64, 2020

I past the two month mark and am feeling really good. Well, in terms of the drinking. The bigger picture is a little more complicated. I’m feeling really disjointed and tired from worrying about my cousin. I’ve started a GoFundMe for her and we have gotten a good response. I’m so concerned for what her life is going to look like going forward. The septic shock has caused irreversible damage to her lungs, kidney, and extremities.

Once she is released which is likely a long way from now, my aunt is going to take her home to care for her. My aunt was a nurse for many years but is in poor health herself. My cousin’s kids are good kids but they are young adults without much direction. I’m worried for all of them. This worry is taking up a lot of brain space.

I am all over the place with most of my commitments. At work, I’m managing to stay on top of things, but it’s a big task to gear up and actually get things done. As for mu music stuff, we’re on a relatively critical timeline and I’m finding that my energy and focus on it is practically nonexistent. My business opportunity and idea has fallen to the wayside as well.

I’ve kind of dived into art. It’s a sanctuary for me to escape to. I have been listening to a lot of Mari Boine and painting. It’s grounding and helpful.

I have many angel friends who have checked in on me. I’ve been taking time each day to think about how thankful I am for the flexibility of my job, the strength of my friendships, and the oasis of art.

I did not think I’d go this deep today.

3 gigs this week. Yesterday was a wedding showcase that I was DREADING. I felt aloof and unprepared. Lo and behold, it went well and I actually felt some joy in my heart afterwards. I really love that crew. Tomorrow, a group of NY/ NJ musicians band together at the legendary Bitter End for Hemopalooza, benefiting the NYC Hemophilia chapter, which is near and dear to my heart. Hi Max! Also, get it? Saturday, we are back at our “home bar” for a 3 sets. I’m a bit worried about this one since I’m usually in bed by 11 lately… and we start at 10. So that should be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing my people but a little worried about my first 3 set gig at my favorite bar.

Also, I just got a call. I have to appear for jury duty tomorrow.

WHAT A FUCKING TIME. Bye.

Day 55, 2020

This past week has been a lot. I am impressed that I have not had a drink. I wanted to and I came close. Without rehashing the story for the 100th time, my cousin became suddenly, critically ill. She is in a coma and was dying. All of this came out of nowhere. As of Thursday, final arrangements were basically being discussed and as of Friday, she has turned a corner. She is fighting her way out of this and making progress that no one thought was possible. She is such a tough person and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was partially driven by spite. Hahahah. I love her so much.

We are very close and the range of emotions and scenarios I (and my family) have bounced through have been expansive. The suddenness of it. The fact that she is 46 and has two boys who were devastated. This also dredged deep into the family. Cousins I don’t see regularly were all in the same room for hours – telling stories, re-connecting. I talked to one cousin who I haven’t seen in 25 years. I spoke to the wife of another cousin that I don’t think I’ve seen since I was a small child.

My cousin (M) is kind of the glue. She is in regular contact with all of the cousins. Our family, like all families I’m sure, has an almost fabled level of tragedy and drama. Addiction runs real strong in our blood (surprise?) and the fallout from it is pretty far-reaching. There’s a sort of “live fast, die young” phenomenon in our direct line, so seeing her on life support shook us to our bones.

Moments ago, I was just told she is getting another dialysis and blood transfusion and is showing signs of coming to. I feel very strongly that she is going to make it out. I think she will be fully back, too.

I am hoping so much that this results in all of us making a fucking effort to get together at least once a year and not at hospitals and funerals. This has been too close for comfort. We all have a lot to work through but I truly felt like we are stronger together.

Day 47, 2020

I took a dance class over the weekend and loved it. I can’t wait until next Saturday to take it again. I was impressed with myself. I haven’t lost my ability to follow choreography relatively quickly. Afterwards, I met one of my best friends for lunch. She has also quit drinking and is doing great. We talked about lot of shared experiences with this – how bad it got, not remembering big events we attended, being embarrassing, the constant recovery mode. It was good to relate and it was a relief to know that we had just as much fun without the bottle(s) of wine.

To be honest, I have worried how my relationships will change. I think about it A LOT. I’ve already seen some friendships begin to fade and it’s a fucking bummer. I’ve retreated a lot this past month and a half because I have been doing some HARD WORK. I don’t know when I’ll resurface. I’m not ready right now.

I spent a lot of time doing all of the things. Going to all of the dinners and events. Checking in on all of the people. I had to be at all of the places. I couldn’t miss a THING. If I did, I’d become irrelevant. People would forget about me. I would fade away.

And that may be true in some cases. And that’s ok. The years of permeable boundaries and trying to be “supportive” of virtually everyone, left me depleted. I mean, the whole thing was unhealthy – my need to be liked and my need for meaningful relationships were often at odds. Being a good person will remain important but I don’t have to be everyone’s best friend. I should keep an eye out for those who return that care and focus on them. I am lucky to have a good handful of those folks.

This is as far as I am gonna because I’m on the beach of some dense and murky stuff that I am not interested in dealing with right now. My boundaries are re-forming. I have to take care of myself, my needs, and my health for the foreseeable future.

But yeah. I really loved that dance class.

What the fuck.

Day 45, 2020

You guys. I am happy and peaceful today. Like a lot.

I went to a yoga class this morning. Honestly, it was ok. Not great. The teacher was kind of all over the place. I’m glad I went and my body feels good but I liked the teacher from earlier in the week better. She had a wonderful calm about her.

After yoga, I went to therapy where we discussed my business plan and did some collage and talked about my progress and how I finally feel like I”m beginning to be grounded. In fact, on my way from yoga, I was thinking “wow… this is what you’ve wanted.” I’ve wanted to be a yoga person, not someone who is too hungover to do it. I wanted to be a calm, peaceful person who isn’t bogged down by her own brain. I am feeling this right now. Right this second. I have plans. I have things to look forward to. I am proud of the work I’ve done this week. I am connecting with my body, which I’ve actively ignored for several years. This is good fucking stuff.

In therapy, I’ve taken some time to really honor the changes in my thinking and approach to almost everything in the past 45 days. I’m able to use my brain now. It’s not drowning. Turns out it’s a pretty good brain. A very productive brain.

This is such a good day. I hope you are having a good day, too.