Loss of Power

I am feeling big feelings and I’m going to write them. I have been crying. I honestly cannot tell you the last time I cried. Really cried. Mournful, soul-pulling, crying. This feeling is terrible, but I know it’s important to acknowledge them and see this through to the other side.

We lost power on Tuesday and my husband, son, dog, and I stayed with my parents until it came back today. A series of incidents occurred that made me reflect pretty hard on what it was like living there as a teenager. My feelings were too big for my skin and I felt explosive, misunderstood, and alone – like most kids that age. Experiencing this as an adult, though – this prolonged, high level anxiety of messing something up – gave me more empathy for myself. Without going into detail, my mother did not speak to me, my husband, or my SON for the entire last 24 hours of our stay.

Every day, I take an antidepressant, a mood stabilizer, and anti-anxiety medication. I am a recovering alcoholic. Looking back, I have definitely pulled the passive aggressive silent treatment in relationships. I think back to those times and shudder. I forgive that person now because processing emotions was never really modeled for me growing up. My father is even keeled 90% of the time but would sometimes pivot to a complete sudden rage. It was rare, but it was terrifying. My mother, on the other hand was very loving to me when I was a child but as soon as I became a teenager it seemed she wanted less and less to do with me. My hindsight analysis is that this was because I was having more mood shifts. Front that point on, I was mostly met with digging remarks or silence. We often have nice chats, but when we do veer into any kind of depth, it is made clear that she knows best and my opinions are too lofty.

As I entered into my teens, It felt like I became dirty and unlovable. I carried that into adulthood along with a total inability rationally deal with my feelings. I’ve learned a lot since then and am mostly content with my actions and reactions to difficult things. I’ve been through many, many years of therapy and even studied Psychology and Counseling in college. I have found my spirituality and read about it every single day. In my recent life, if disagreement or discomfort arises, I often want to nip a problem in the bud with honest conversation. With my son, I truly try to teach him that it’s ok to have big emotions and that he can talk to me about anything. My dad did that with me but the abandonment I felt from my mother affected me in such a spider web of ways that I am still digging through them.

I am a 42-year-old, grown-ass woman who is not about to blame my parents for problematic things that they, as human beings, may have done in raising me. Right now, at this moment, I often think about what I’ve already done to completely ruin my son’s adult life because I have no idea what I am doing. I extend that compassion to them as well. Parents are not perfect. They are not saints or deities. Parents are people who have no idea what they are doing. I acknowledge that these actions cause issues that are up to me to work through. I have to do my fallible best to do better.

Today, I’ll let myself be sad that no one rubbed my back and said it’s ok. I’ll take this floating-away sensation as the final tethers being cut. I am my own person and nothing will change that. I am totally cool with it. I mostly like myself now. I do, however, want to grab Teenage Me’s bony little shoulders and pull her in for a hug.

I often mourn my relationship with my mother. I’ll never have a relationship with a mother who is unconditionally supportive and emotionally open. It’s sad to think about, but I am not alone. All through life, we find mothers in our friends, partners, teachers, and mentors. I hope to be that mother, not only to my own son, but to other fledgling souls I encounter along the way. That’s life. All I can do is try my best to be the things I wish I had and to find those qualities in folks I choose as family.

Bless and release

I’m not crazy about the word “bless”. It and “journey” connote a fakey “Live Laugh Love” brand of quick spirituality… in my brain at least. That being said, the process of acknowledging behaviors that don’t serve us well is a valuable one. My life experience has been more of the “ignore it” or “get over it” variety. Bless and release encourages you to recognize problematic things in your life and empowers you to let them go.

I’ve been reading Eastern Body, Western Mind which is now officially my favorite book. The third chakra, solar plexus, is all about will. The root chakra is about being/ existing, the second is about feeling, and the third is about taking that stuff, being your own person, and going into the world. This is where I’ve been stunted all along.

I’ve often lamented my past seeming inability to take risks. Staying in situations long past their “best by” date because the devil I know is at least predictable. The third chakra is all about intention-driven action. Mindfulness. Responsibility. Not just blowing wherever the wind sends me.

I have Imposter Syndrome which is not a real syndrome but a cycle of thoughts and perceived reinforcement. I rarely think I’m qualified enough to be sitting at the table. This has plagued my work life. I am smart. I’m a good worker. I am easy to work with. But I doubt myself and tend to be deferential to those I perceive to be in a higher position than me.

I’m not so bad in the music realm. Most of the folks I work with swim in the same pool. We are good at what we do, expect our cohort to be up to speed, and we deliver. Singing professionally is one of the areas in my life that I do not feel like an imposter. I will sing your face off. Just don’t ask me to read sheet music because then I will crumble. I make light of it. I’ve come this far so it is what it is. But I somewhat secretly ashamed because I am supposed to be good at everything.

I take degrees very seriously. College degrees, not temperatures. I am constantly seeking graduate and doctoral programs that cost insane amounts of money and when I really soul search it, I’m just looking for a permission slip. I think I’ve talked about this before. I’m looking for a permission slip to sit at the table. Permission from WHO? I couldn’t tell you.

I also collapse at the idea that my parents aren’t constantly beaming with pride over me. Deep reflection has revealed that this is a big messy one. I need to consistently reach goals to check in with them and make sure I am still good enough. My inner critic has the tendency to be very judgmental and overbearing when it comes to what I should be doing, where I should live, how I should raise my son.

In my extended family, I don’t even know how to act. I’m 42 and I still feel like a child. I think it is because I feel that I cannot appear to have any cracks despite being full of them for that very reason.

I want to be clear that I am not blaming my parent(s) or family for any of this. I am a grown ass middle aged woman who is responsible for my own life and happiness. My parents are human and I am human and to throw a tantrum over things I may have done differently would not benefit anyone. That being said, establishing boundaries with them is extremely difficult. I find myself wanting to keep everyone happy and still feel unable to truly be myself around them. I hide my feelings because I do not have the strength to hear how I am wrong about them.

There is some regret in my life – not traveling and exploring more when I was young; staying in long relationships that were not serving anyone well; not really TRYING at music; going with the flow on so many music projects with bossy, obstinate people. I regret settling for the office job that I never fit into. I never fit in because I was never supposed to be there. I was too scared to take a risk and follow my creativity at 25, 30, 35 and here I am.

Here I am.

I can engage in a cycle of wasting more time mourning lost time and losing the time spent mourning. But I’m not going to. With each step forward I will focus on acting from within myself. I exist. I feel. And that’s all that is needed to know what is best.

I bless and release anything that stands in my way.

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 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.

Same as it ever was…

This “blog” is basically a microcosm of other journals in which I talk about how I need to stop drinking and never do. I literally have a decade’s worth. Some are hand-written. Some are typed. Some are completely electronic. All are repetitive laments about my relationship with alcohol.

There used to be relationship woes peppered in but at 42, I am pretty clear that the most toxic relationship I had was the one with myself. I had little to no self-esteem in my twenties. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. What I knew is that generally, when I was drinking, I was pretty fun.

In my thirties, I began to feel more secure in who I am. Not completely, but the whole decade was a climb. I became a mom at 34. I figured that would be the end of drinking and smoking. But clearly I was wrong. I’m a musician, dammit. And when I play at bars, I’m drinking. Yay. Hi-five. Incoherent yell. Selfie.

This continued on into my forties and here we are. I’ve successfully cut down a bit. I don’t go out as much as I was. This turned into me drinking more at home. I’ve tried to curtail that and it kind of works. I broke up with wine because now I keep blacking out whenever I drink it. So I’m sticking with White Claws because I don’t get too crazy with them. When I drink, I want to chain smoke. The two go hand in hand and I get this grindy manic obsession where I have to be doing both of those things at all times.

I’m not sure why people even want to hang out with me because I’m always “going outside for a smoke”. I want to sit outside and chain smoke and drink. And it’s all like nervous energy. Sometimes I’m relaxed and enjoying myself but mostly… mostly it’s me trying to quell my anxiety about being out in the first place.

I think I mentioned that my therapist said I approach my problems in a very cerebral way. I know why I do things. I’ve drilled down to find the causes and reasons for my problematic behaviors. I’m good at it. What I’m not good at is finding the FEELINGS attached to those reasons. And my disinterest (or aversion) to feelings also leads me to numb myself (drink). See? I just did it again.

My face is starting to look it’s age. I’ve always looked younger than I am. My skin looks terrible. I don’t remember nights anymore. Who knows what a nightmare person I have been. I’m a middle aged woman for crying out loud. I need more gentleness in my life.

Want. Need. Listening. Shit.

I had my ladies night on Saturday and I didn’t get too crazy. In fact, I got a headache. I’m not sure if it was from dehydration or from exhaustion but it was a doozy. I barely slept the night before due to the Pup wanting to go out, the little guy wanting to come in, and regular old general anxiety. I had a nice breakfast at the diner with the girls and then went home to complete some chores.

I went back down about 3:30 and had a few hard seltzer’s before the headache started it’s strangle hold. I just wasn’t feeling it. I wanted to go home but I felt bad, so I stayed. A beloved friend was in from out of state so I wanted to be sure I spent time with her. Unfortunately, it was getting to the point where no one was making sense and kind of talking over one another. Sometimes, I feel like I somehow missed the wave everyone else is surfing on and then I just can’t catch up. And ultimately I’m fine with that because I’m so tired. And cranky.

I had intended on staying over and really going for it, but I left around 1am and put my throbbing cranium on a pillow. It’s weird that I couldn’t just leave at like 9 or 10 when I wanted to. I always feel like I’m going to be seen as a jerk if I do that. And I have a crippling need to be liked. So this is what I do.

We had a nice family day on Sunday. Lots of outside time. Reading, My little guy and the dog running around the yard. We went out for dinner and I had a glass of wine but that was it. All night. I went to bed at a reasonable time after watching a Doris Day movie.

Tonight, I am struggling. I honestly do not WANT a drink but I’m craving one. Does that even make sense at all? Like… many body wants it. I guess that’s why they call it addiction (sung to Elton John’s song). It’s such a shit feeling. I’m sort of caught between “oh go have one” and “no, just ride it out. Prove something to yourself.”

The second one is yelling louder. I’m listening.

This is not a food blog.

I made some pretty good choices today. I worked from home so I was able to cook some healthy food. I’m not much of a cook. I mean… I like cooking but I rarely feel inspired to cook. It’s a hassle. I’m tired from running from one thing to another and I don’t feel like doing it. You know the feeling. But when I have some time, I do enjoy it.

I installed a meal plan app on my phone because I literally need to be told what to do when it comes to food otherwise I default to raccoon in a dumpster. This app gave me a handful of meals that are easy to prepare and leave leftover to enjoy for lunch or dinner the next day. So I’m not cooking every night. It sounds good.

This is one of my own creations. Fried egg on whole wheat English muffin with avocado.

As we know, I get really jazzed about things in the beginning and then revert back to the raccoon. I’m just saying that so you don’t call me out on it. It’s what I do. But this plan could be promising. The recipes looked like things I would actually eat and they are not complicated. You can rule out meat or gluten, etc when you’re searching for your plan. And all of the meals are healthy. No they are not paying me to say any of this. I simply want to share.

In keeping with my “baby steps” approach here, if I even substitute ONE meal a day with one of these meals, I’ll be greatly reducing my calorie intake. You guys would not believe the amount of french fries I have ingested this year alone. Unsupervised toddler. That’s me.

So my commitment for the week is ONE of these (or comparable) healthy meals each day. If I’m inspired to do all of them, cool. If not, I won’t give up and dive into the nearest garbage can.

Thai Turkey (Lettuce Wraps) via MealPlan.
I had mine with quinoa. The peanut sauce was impressive!!!

One Healthy Thing

I feel like part of the reason I have not been successful (in getting healthier) in a long time is that a.) I have not been honest about what my real problems are and b.) I try to do too much at once. Historically I have tried to adopt an entirely new personality overnight.

Regarding being honest – I would try to eat salads and go to the gym but then come home and have a half a bottle of wine and smoke half a pack of cigarettes. I don’t even think I saw the disconnect. I see it now. I’m older and the universe is in my ear telling me it’s later than I think. I believe she is trying to say that I am not 25 anymore.

So I’m trying something different. And I’m in this – doing it real time so it might fail or it might work. We’ll see. I am basing this on book’s like Annie Grace’s The Naked Mind and Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Grace’s idea about taking small steps whether or not we are ready and Gilbert’s plea to show up and be open to the magic that life gives you.

I’m making a small commitment to do ONE healthy thing for the rest of this week. This is a small, reachable goal. For instance, yesterday I did yoga for the first time in ages. I felt good and am sore today. Today, I am going to take my dog for a nice long walk in the park because it is beautiful out. (He’s doing well at the moment!) I believe that if we allow ourselves to be successful, we are more motivated to continue seeking success.

I’m hoping that doing yoga or taking a walk or going to bed early will inspire me to have a salad instead of French fries at dinner or to watch the wine so I can have a good rest.

Thoughts?

There must be some kind of way out of here…

I need to start writing here as a way of documenting whatever the hell this is… either a path to better health or a slow descent into complete atrophy. Small steps though. I think I am one of those people who thinks that everything will change overnight. I logically know this to not be true but I am still bafflingly disappointed when I haven’t lost 15 lbs after a half hour of exercise or eating a salad.

What is that? Like – why am I like this?

I suppose I’m in this situation because of my need for instant gratification. I am overweight. I drink too much. I smoke cigarettes. I am uncomfortable, always tired, depressed, and full of guilt. It is a pretty tight operation if you think about it. The perfect combination and sequence to keep this thing running strong.

I should probably go back to therapy. But I arrogantly feel like I have been there and done that and I know myself really well. I know what the problems are. I am insightful. I majored in Psychology and Counseling in under- and post-grad. I have a good handle on why I am like this. My problem is finding the will power and discipline to turn it around.

I suppose I’ll go into my history at some point but the nutshell version is that I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety almost my whole life. A chemical thing. I found cigarettes in my teens, alcohol and food in my 20s, and have been treating myself like a spoiled toddler ever since. I have gone through spurts of exercise. I even did CrossFit for a year. I looked great. I felt great. I was NOT into the weird “cultiness” of it though. Yet, I plan my social life around recreational eating and drinking. (Talk about worshipping false idols.)

It’s gotten pretty bad in the past few years. I’m in my 40s now so I’m probably seeing the consequences on my face and body more. I can’t bounce back as quickly so I feel like shit pretty much all the time. I come home late, so I order fries from the diner to eat. I feel like crap in the morning so I grab a giant bagel. (Yes, clearly I’m in NJ.)

I have been a donor to Weight Watchers, Noom, various online eating and exercise plans and here I am gulleting two bags of M&Ms at 1am. Wonder why the scale keeps going up? Also, wine is like 150 calories a glass or something. (More like 200+ with the quantities I pour.) So, if I have 3 glasses of wine in a night… when I’m being conservative… I’m ingesting 450-600 empty ass calories.

Anyway… I am trying so hard to just get off the fucking ground here. I want to be healthier. I want to feel better. I want to have a sense of control back in my life.

So here we go. Again.