Day something, Moment.

I am FEELING things today. I am frustrated as hell. Instead of just stuffing down and moving through, I took a minute to acknowledge my feelings.

1. I was on a call for work for over an hour where the same two people blew hot air for 90% of it. This call is supposed to be a weekly check in to give an overview of what everyone is working on. It inevitably veers into granular territory of specific projects by one particular individual. It is especially frustrating to me because this stuff has nothing to do with me. My portion of the check-in is typically crammed into the last 1-2 minutes of that call.

As aggravating as it is to hear one person drone on for an hour, I am fine with folks delving into details. I remind myself that, at times, this is actually valuable education. Other times, however, I feel that it is inconsiderate use of time. It is clear that my update is treated with minimal importance. I have a good relationship with my boss and could bring this up to him, but I need to sort through it first so I don’t come across as whiny. I want my voice to be heard. Also, random “pro tip”: NEVER use the word “just” in business emails. EVER.

2. The MBA v. Artist thing. Taking my courses is becoming such an emotional chore. I am really at odds with whether I want to see this through.

The thing is, when I consider quitting, several faces show up who are either judging, laughing at, rolling their eyes, or are disappointed in me. Throughout my life, I have had a lot of false starts and big ideas that went nowhere. Like – here she goes again. What tends to happen is I make a big statement like – “I’m going to be an art therapist” and then I start classes and then I drop out. And a couple years later I say, “I’m going to open up an art studio” and I secure a space and then a global pandemic happens and the whole idea crumbles. So I think, “I’ll get my MBA”, and apply, get into a program and then second guess whether or not I am looking for a high five from my parents or for someone to finally fucking take me seriously. ANYONE. Because I am worthless without a secondary degree apparently.

Also, I feel like a lot of my accomplishments are out of spite. Hhahah. I’m not even kidding. I rage-succeed. Jesus. Oh you think I can’t do that??? WATCH ME. And I’m wondering if that’s what THIS is. Again. Quitting drinking was partially a rage-success. Improving my credit was absolutely a hate-fuck.

But back to work stuff, I started working in an office in my early twenties. I NEVER fit in. I’m smart but I’m not good at herd mentality and I am terrible at sucking up. I was typically doing “women’s work” as a receptionist or secretary where I did a good job but ultimately got bored and then unmotivated and I’d eventually become horribly depressed and quit. This cycle happened 4-5 times.

I’ve been at my present job for 14 years. I enjoy what I do and I generally like the folks I work with. I have a flexible schedule and I get to run things without anyone breathing down my neck. As far as office jobs go, it’s perfect. But it’s still an office job and I’m at a conflict with myself about it. Our CEO is going to retire in the next few years. Basically, I like working for him. I feel very hesitant about starting over under someone else.

3. I am also not feeling heard at home. This is a very large knot that will need a lot of time and patience to untie. Typically, just looking at it sends me into a panic so I just pretend it’s not there. It’s just getting bigger. Surprise?

I think what I usually do is get angry and snippy and then I isolate myself and get into a merry-go-round of resentment in my head. Today, I took a breath and thought about it and felt the feeling. I kept repeating “feel this” which was weird. But I did. And I connected with it. And now I’m writing about it. I will not be getting into specifics but this feels like a baby step forward – for my own healing at the very least.

I feel like a lot of what I am looking for is permission.

Day 140, 2020

I am all over the place today. I’m moody. I slept really late. I have sneezed no fewer than 1,500 times. Having allergies is like living in a constant elevated state of frustration. I just want to scream and go to bed and wake up in a month or so. To add to this, my cat, who I love and am also dangerously allergic to, has taken to napping on the windowsill where I work. You would not believe the cat wigs that float off of her. My lampshade is covered in Pearl fur. I digress because she is excellent company.

I have done the bare minimum for work over the past two days. This is partially because I put in a ton of work last week, so I can float a little bit. It’s also because my mental capacity needs a break I’ve been ramming into a wall over the past week. The guilt attached to not giving 100% to work, parenting, teaching, keeping my house together, art has been climbing. My brain knows it is impossible, but the perfectionist in me is still like “why can’t you fucking just do this?” or “why are you being lazy about this?”

I’ve been doing a lot of spiritual work and naval gazing during this lockdown and man, I am my own worst enemy. I am not looking for people or situations to blame from my childhood. I don’t care where it came from. I just need to fix it. (Even here, I’m trying to be a hero.) In any case, I’m trying to just be fucking nicer to myself. I’m not that bad.

Over the years, little mental wars about my physical appearance, my business accomplishments, my creative talent, my intelligence – have broken me way down. The upside of this is that I think I’m ready to rebuild.

I’m never going to be 120 lbs again. Hooray. I’m sick of fucking caring. I like potato chips. My belly wiggles. Not into it? Your call.

I’m sick of “sexy”. The whole fucking concept is bullshit. It’s objective AND subjective and fully based on whether the collective “men” want to fuck you. If you’re sexy, you move a dude’s dick. Gross. I hereby dismiss this as a basis of value in any universe. “But sexy is can be your mind or you energy.” Cool. But it’s still measured in YOUR genital response. None of my business. NEXT.

My hair is streaked with grey. I think it looks cool.

I will never be the up and coming artist to watch in music. That shit simply doesn’t happen to women over 40. It’s not going to stop me. But I’m also not going to give as much of a shit. I’m being choosier with what I invest my time in. I can’t do all of the things. I don’t WANT to do all of the things. I think I tried to be involved in everything in order to stay relevant. At this point, I either am or I am not. The opinions and whims of other people are beyond my control. I’m gonna keep doing me in either case. Time>Money. Naps>Exposure.

I came back from 2 nervous breakdowns and bankruptcy in my twenties with near perfect credit and pretty fucking solid mental health in my forties. Also I don’t drink anymore which probably has a lot to do with everything said in the previous sentence. Either way, mission accomplished.

All of this is not to say I’m this immensely evolved superwoman. I still have hangups.

I’m not cool with my face looking older.

I’m still battling whether or not I should go through with grad school or follow my passions with art, spirituality, and mental health. I literally do not know what my opinion on this is.

I’m still figuring out my voice and my authentic feelings and thoughts on a lot of things. I’ve developed a callus over my true desires over years of stuffing them down just to power through. Much of my life reflects the direction I have taken from others. And what I’ve learned (spoiler alert) is that you CANNOT please EVERYONE ALL of the time. That was my actual goal. Seriously. I mean, it’s nearly impossible to please EVERYONE even SOME of the time… unless you’re air. I am not air. Or potato chips.

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 36, 2020

I’ve found my rhythm and do not miss drinking at my house after work until I pass out. I do, however, miss the idea of going to my favorite restaurant for my husbands birthday and not having the best sangria I’ve ever tasted. I’m actually on the fence about this. Like, can I have it one day and then go back to this? Probably not a smart thing to do.

I’ve been in a weird head space. I’m becoming very sensitive to other people and the way they treat me. As a Libra, I want everyone to get along. I hate discord and arguments. I often shut down when people want to argue or disagree or even boss me around. I’m not proud of this. It enrages me, actually. But I am finding how I easily kowtow to people to avoid any tense discussion.

If I’m honest, I’ve dealt with this my whole life. It’s a long-discussed topic in my therapy sessions. I was raised during a time when girls were better seen than heard. Even in the 80s and 90s. Sure there were women rising to power and fighting the good fight, but for most of us, especially those who were still young, it was still sit down and shut up time. ANNNNNNYWAYYYYY…

Between that cultural nonsense and my own internalized everything, I have a major problem with confrontation. I go with the flow and many times that drowns my wants and opinions. I’ve been making a conscious effort to at least say something if I feel like I’m being steamrolled. It’s hard and awkward.

Music has been a touchy thing for me because I’ve always felt “less than” as I don’t read music and have never studied an instrument. I’m self-taught and I make music through my heart. Sometimes I’m not taken as seriously because of this. I see it and feel it. And sometimes I’m bulldozed because I don’t have the language to back up what I’m saying.

At my daytime job, I also sometimes feel pigeon holed doing “women’s work” and it makes me nuts but I think I’m more apt to voice my opinion there. Maybe I have more confidence there? I don’t know.

This is going to be part of my peregrination.

Day 33, 2020

I have an old drinking friend from the time I was maybe 19. She makes delicious dinners and we sit at her table and drink and chain smoke and it is gloriously without filter or airs. I’ve been wondering what our friendship would look like if I stopped drinking. I am happy to report that I went to her house for a wonderful dinner with another friend, brought a six pack of Sprite Zero, and had a fantastic time. I went home quite a bit earlier than usual (10pm seems to be when I turn into a pumpkin) but it was a lot of fun. She had no idea that I had quit drinking. I told her Friday. I felt comfortable and relieved. I also was happy to be in my bed by 10:30.

Day 19, 2020

First of all, I’m proud of myself. 19 fucking days.

Last night I woke up at 3am with a horrid stomach ache and spent an hour with my head in the toilet. It reminded me of the MANY times I had experienced this over the years because of drinking. I kept flashing back to that feeling. The grindy brain, exhausted body, confused, Jeckyll wondering what Hyde had done and why. Hoping for some relief in vomiting.

Last night’s escapade was of course not driven by alcohol however I suspect it may have been a result of the chips, sour cream and cookies I decided to indulge in around midnight. Soooooo, as stated before, I still have some shit to work through. Why am I eating so much? To fill a void. But why? What is that void? I have several suspicions based on what my life is missing. I do not feel like getting into them now.

Today I logged my only meal. An egg with cheese on toast. And tea. I’m such a fucking Britophile. Does that count if you were raised mainly in that culture? Who knows or cares.

I’m going to do a barre exercise in a bit. It’s literally the least I can do. More later maybe.

Day 11, 2020

I have not had much to write about. Things are pretty status quo over here and that’s good. Boring is good. I think I thrived on chaos long enough.

Things I have noticed so far:

    My head is more clear.
    I don’t grind my teeth as much (anxiety not as bad)

    • I stick to staying at home or going to meetings though. Have been avoiding anxiety inducing things on purpose.

    I’m a little calmer, meaning not as moody. (Not something I expected this early on.)

    I’m going to bed earlier.
    I have REALLY messed up dreams. Excruciatingly detailed and just fucking odd.
    I have found places and people who are on my team and that means so much.
    I think I can do this.

I’be been wrestling with the idea of sobriety for several years. My life and behavior have had peaks and valleys and the last couple of valleys were deep. I’ve known that something had to be done for the past 5 years, I guess. When it was simply not cute to be trashed anymore. That crazy/ hazy look does not translate into your late 30s. It just covers you in a giant red flag.

In the past year, an acquaintance posted on Facebook that she quit drinking 4 years ago and her life was much “gentler”. That clicked it in for me. THAT is what I want. Gentleness. Calm. Peace. I was under the impression that I had wine to calm me down, but it was just numbing me out and making me feel more anxious the next day. So, I’d drink to get rid of that. You get the picture.

This gentleness has called out to me. We’ve been thinking of moving west for a couple years now. I want to be near more trees and some water. Gentle. I want to have a view of nature rather than apartment buildings. Gentle. I want to hear birds rather than sirens. Gentle. I want to drink tea rather than wine. Gentle. I want to make the coziest retreat of my home. Gentle. For a while, I pictured how nice it would be to drink wine out on a patio surrounded by trees. But now I realize it’s the trees I want. I mean, I want the wine, but the trees are even better without it.

What am I even talking about?

Tonight we are meeting one of my best friends who is doing a “dry January” and going bowling with the kids. I’ve been looking forward to this all week. Tomorrow, I’ll do a meeting and then a sports ball party that I promised to pop by. I have a seltzer buddy who will be there.

Then back to the grind.

Day 2, 2020

I attended my first AA meeting last night. Well, that’s not entirely true. I attended a couple in the early 00s as part of my partial hospitalization but it didn’t stick. Obviously.

So I went last night. It was a beginners meeting. A guy talked. A few people raised their hands to talk. I sat in the back. The person running the meeting gave me some phone numbers for temporary sponsors. I didn’t talk to anyone though.

The guy who spoke said this was his home meeting. When he came 12 years ago he was welcomed with open arms. Several people mentioned that actually. I was not? I felt alone. That being said, the meeting was mostly men. And I give off an almost aggressively unapproachable vibe. It’s armor. I hate small talk. I am wary around people so I guess I send off a message of “no thanks”. Seriously. That’s why I drink. I’m much friendlier when I’m drunk. Almost aggressively friendly actually.

Many friends that I met in my teens and twenties have said – wow, I thought you were such a frosty bitch. Anyway. I did not leave any room for people to welcome me. I almost ran out of there now that I think of it. I am going to a women’s meeting this evening. Maybe that will go better. From what I understand, you have to try a few before you find one that works for you. I don’t know. At least now I know it is ok to bring tea.

I slept like shit. I knew this would happen based on the last few times I tried to quit drinking. You’d think you’d wake up the first day all refreshed but you don’t. It takes like 4 or 5 days. I’m not sure because I never made it that long. Also my kid couldn’t sleep so he was in and out of my bed. I tried listening to podcasts, white noise… nothing. It was a circus here last night. I’d love to say, well maybe I’ll sleep better tonight but I would up reading at 8:30am and falling asleep again until noon. So I shot myself in the foot. Whatever.

Today was a vacation day for me. My intention was to keep it super chill. Do some writing and reading and not much else. The kid is at school so I have had a few hours of absolute silence. It might have been nice to go for a hike or get a massage but I’m fine with this.

Day 1, 2020. Long and meandering.

I’ve been mentally preparing for this for a while now. I am part relieved and part terrified. The relief comes from letting go of the illness, shame, and anxiety that comes with it. The terror is all anxiety.

I didn’t drink much until my late teens/ early 20s. The first time I really drank at a party, several people commented about how much fun I was. I never talked much in high school. It was nice to be funny and to talk to people I never would have interacted with otherwise.

I started gigging in clubs around that time. I found that a glass of wine before performing helped loosen me up. I moved out with 800 roommates at 20 and we had parties all the time. From that point, drinking became part of my nightly routine. I was mainly surrounded with friends and we were having fun. Somewhere in the past 15 years though, it became something else.

Numbing. Avoiding feelings. Little sleep. Troubled sleep. Odd dreams. Depression. Anxiety. Shame. Guilt. Numbing. Avoiding feelings. Bad decisions. Blackouts. Lost time. Wasted time. Lots of social interaction, little connecting. Numbing. Avoiding feelings. Isolation. Shame. Guilt. Weakness. Defeat. Numbing. Avoiding feelings.

Almost a bottle of wine every night. Or the White Claws when I was trying those out. Minimally 4. Usually 5 or 6. Chain smoking. Not moving. On my back step. ALONE.

On the few occasions I honestly shared this with friends, they thought I was exaggerating. I am not. Not even a little bit.

On big gigs or celebrations, I used to throw down and have fun. Over the past 4 or 5 years, the blackouts started. I put myself in some really fucking stupid situations. I fell down. I would feel mortified when people filled me in. A 40ish tornado ripping through the party. Not cute.

I’ve steadily put on like 10 lbs each year for the past 3. I’ve never been this heavy. A bottle of wine is like 500-700 calories. Each night. Math. The drinking led me to forget my concerns about eating so that would typically result in a stop at the diner on the way home from a gig for some disco fries. Then I’d need a bagel to soak up whatever in the morning. Math.

I used to look younger than my age. Now I look my age. It’s fine but I don’t want to look older because I am vain as fuck. I know several people who look fucking terrible and it’s their lifestyle. Maybe I’m that person to someone else. If I am and it makes them re-examine their choices, then good. But watch out because I’m shaping up* this year, bitch.

I have a feeling I’ll be writing here a lot. I’m afraid of being isolated since the vast majority of my friends are drinkers, some of whom do not have a modicum of control. I am not casting judgment because that is me. I get it. I just know I cannot be around it for a while. I’ve taken the month off from gigging. Actually it might be the first two months.

I’m scared of how I will even talk to people. Even my friends. Mostly because the entire time I’ve known them, our social interaction has been doused in booze. Will we be able to talk? Will they still like this version of me? Will I still like them? What will we do? I’m dreading have to explain this shit over and over each time I reconnect. I’m sure some relationships will suffer, but I think that is just part of life.

I don’t know.

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*results may vary.