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 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 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 43, 2020

In trying to re-structure my time and make up for all of the cheesecake I’ve eaten over the past 43 days, I purchased two beginner packages to local exercise studios.

I took a “mindful yoga” class on Monday which was really lovely EXCEPT for the guy next to me. I was irritable to begin with. I knew this guy was trouble when I heard him humming loudly in the hallway. He was huffing and puffing and humming and set his mat up TOO CLOSE to mine. I moved over. I had death lasers in my eyes.

Throughout the class, this creature is SNIFFFFFLING on the “breathe ins” and HAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHING on the “breathe outs”. Like, picture telling a small child to breathe in and breathe out and having them over exaggerate while shooting snots in every direction. It was like that except it was a sweaty man in his thirties.

NOW… I am married to someone who is on the spectrum and has a tick disorder. I try to be gentle-hearted with people who don’t seem to be able to control atypical behaviors. HOWEVER, I feel strongly that this was just a guy who was used to taking up a lot of space and not taking any other humans into consideration. He had a wedding band. I want to call his wife.

So that happened.

Then last night I went to a barre class. I danced for about 10 years and did some musical theater where dancing was involved afterwards. (This experiment led me to realize I am NOT a musical theater person.) I’ve taken barre classes before and kind of arrogantly enjoyed them. I’ve heard people say they were really hard and I felt pretty smug about the fact that I didn’t think they were tough at all. WELL… the class I took last night put me in my place.

I had to stop. I was sweating like a waterfall. That teacher kicked my ass. And it was good. Initially, I was like “can I just leave”? But I pushed through and was really proud of myself. My body was FUCKING EXHAUSTED afterwards and I climbed into bed at 11pm. I slept like a baboon.

I don’t know how baboons sleep but that image just made me laugh.

So yeah, I’m trying not to be a sedentary chip-vacuum. Tonight, I can try Mindful Yoga again or maybe do an online thing at home. Or go to the regular gym. I have to do one of those things though.

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 29, 2020

As I’ve mentioned 100 times, I still have trouble waking up in the morning. I honestly think that it’s out of habit in thinking I’m going to feel like shit. I honestly say to myself, “Go ahead and get up. You’re not hungover!”

This morning was a very sweet one. My little guy had a fever last night (his third this freaking month) and he had planted himself beside me in bed to read his Star Wars book. He was so quiet and even gave me one of his stuffed animals. This kid.

So I open my eyes and he is there and my day starts with sweet, enthusiastic kid chatter. It was such a perfect way to start the day. He gave me some Star Wars education while my brain booted up.

These tiny, special moments are so important. I would have definitely missed this if I was hungover. I would have been snoring, mouth agape, and smelly and very cranky. Today, I could be a comfortable place for my son and enjoy this magical little person’s company.

If I ever start again, I need to bookmark this entry. The struggle is worth it.

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 15, 2020

One thing I have to do is figure out how to stop this thing from dinging at 1am. Maybe I’ll reset it to like 8am or something.

Oh hi, I didn’t see you there. I’ve made it two weeks. I feel good. This is starting to feel normal. I’ve been laying super low and staying close to home though I did go out this past weekend.

On Saturday night, my bff and I went bowling with the husbands and kids. She is doing “dry January” and so I had a buddy. It was fun. On Sunday was a get-together at a friend’s house. Everyone was drinking but me – and one of my friends who agreed to be a buddy. It was nice to have an ally. I had a good time but only stayed a couple of hours. I began to feel squirrely.

I do not have another social outing scheduled for another couple of weeks – hahaha. That was enough for me. It’s funny because normally, I need to be out all the time. But I”m wondering if I needed to be out or if I needed to be drinking. Or if I needed to feel included and accepted and anxiety set in because I’m really not a fan of loud places so I drank more in order to maintain. I think that’s probably the most accurate.

I think of things I truly miss and it’s nights outside with wine and smoking and just talking. Would it be the same with tea or seltzer water? Isn’t the nice, luxurious thing the conversation?

Things to mull over.