Tag Archive | Alcoholism

Waiting To Exhale

Jenny Perlin

My hands shook as I put the toothpaste on my toothbrush this morning. I realized every muscle in my body was tense and aching. My fists are always clinched. My arms always crossed tight over my chest.

And then I realized I never exhale. I hold air in my lungs like I hold so many of my feelings in my heart.

I’m dying for a rest – a break.

Almost ten years ago, I left my husband. There were months of planning and worry. I saved money. I rented an apartment. I consulted a lawyer. I bought new furniture. I moved out while he was at work. I left him a note. All of this without him knowing it was happening.

When it was finally over, I remember sitting on the back steps of the science building at work smoking a cigarette with a friend. The sun was warm. The quiet privacy between the holly bushes that flanked the steps and under the blooming magnolia trees was precious. As we talked and laughed, my legs started feeling funny. I wasn’t sure what was happening.

And then I realized the muscles in my quads were relaxing for the first time in months.

Oh, how I need that moment again.

Nothing used to be better for that reboot than a few drinks or twelve. Drinking was better than any of the meds the psychiatrist has prescribed. And here I had to go ruin such a simple cure by being an alcoholic.

I’m waiting by the phone
Waiting for you to call me up and tell me I’m not alone
I’m waiting by the phone
Waiting for you to call me up and tell me I’m not alone

Hello, speak up, is there somebody there?
These hang ups are getting me down
In a world frozen over with over exposure
Let’s talk it over, let’s go out and paint the town

Cause I’m waiting by the phone
Waiting for you to call me up and tell me I’m not alone
Cause I want somebody to shove
I need somebody to shove
I want somebody to shove me

Links of the Week – March 27, 2015

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* A Beautiful Sunrise Over A Bacon Landscape

* Even In Defeat, Georgia State Was A Winner

* Pope Francis Receives Pizza Delivery – To Pope Mobile

* PostSecret: What Might Have Been

* Man Has Carefully Calculated Timeline For Revealing Negative Personality Traits To New Girlfriend

* Rainy Day Street Art – (I love this so much!)

* Neustetter’s ‘Light Experiences’ Illuminate Night – (So beautiful!!!)

* Emory’s Women’s Swim And Dive Wins NCAA Div-III National Championship – (Six in a row!)

* What Does It Mean To Wear Heels?

* Why Men Are Smarter Than Women – (Provocative, but I agree!)

* NASA’s Opportunity Rover Celebrates Mars Marathon Milestone

* “Raising Ryland”: Parenting A Young Transgender Child – (A wonderful short film from CNN Films…)

* The Transgender Life: What To Know, Say, And Understand

* Capitol Police To Congress: No More Drunken 4th of July Parties – (But our congresspeople CAN’T find the time to read legislation before they vote on it. Wankers.)

* Famous Atheists And Their Beliefs

* Ricky Gervais: Why I’m An Atheist

* Mo’ne Davis Asks College To Give Baseball Player Second Shot – (I want to give him a second shot – in the head. What in the world makes a college-aged man think it’s OK to call an 11-year-old girl (or any female) a slut? Men? What is your major malfunction with women?)

* 10 Stereotypes To Stop Spreading About Women

* Paw Prints On Your Food – (Dawwwwwww!)

* When You Finally Find Out Who’s A Good Boy – ( ❤ ❤ ❤ )

* Bullshit Bill With Bullshit Title Bullshitted About By Bullshitters

* Local Idiot Looking For St. Patrick’s Day Bar That Isn’t “Full Of Idiots” – (Perfect.)

* Microsoft CEO Announces He Can Be Mostly Gay By Q2 2015

* Becoming A Better Man: The Single Greatest Moment Of My Life – (Blog post of the week!
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* The Greatest Lenten Pun EVAH!

* Cadbury Creme Egg Season Is Here Again At Last

* Insult To Injury: America’s Vanishing Worker Protections – (This is what happens when people stop supporting unions. I promise you, this will continue to get worse.)

* 4 Scientifically Proven Ways To Be A Better Spouse

* Lemond – Missing-Ear Kitty Becomes A Furkid – (Adopt a pet today! They love you so much!)

* Alcoholics Anonymous, Mr. Spock And the Lighthouse

* Spaghetti Toes: If Love Was Measured In Weight… – ( ❤ ❤ ❤ )

* Pineapple Coconut Bars

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“Lisa, I apologize to you, I was wrong, I take it all back. Always be yourself. If you want to be sad, honey, be sad. We’ll ride it out with you. And when you get finished feeling sad, we’ll still be there. From now on, let me do the smiling for both of us.”

– Marge, “The Simpsons,” Moaning Lisa

“Which is a funny thing about boyfriends, I’ve noticed. they too often don’t know about you and jump to unwarranted conclusions. That for instance it was love, a mate you were after, when you really just needed someone to talk to.”

– Elizabeth Collison, Some Other Town

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day, Grandma…

Things change as you get older.

St. Patrick’s Day started out looking like this…
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After college it was like this for a few years…

green beer

Then during my 10-year marriage, it was always like this…

softball

After I got divorced, I had to prove I was OK, so for a few years it looked like this…

bar

But then that turned into staying home on St. Patrick’s day so I didn’t have to drink with amateurs. (You only drank six? How cute!)

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And then somehow, St. Patrick’s Day starting looking like this…

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*Check out that new pill cutter and pill case! Good times.*

How the fuck did this happen? I’m too young to be this old!

Forgiveness

Reposted from a message board comment I made elsewhere today…

Sorrow
Van Gogh, Sorrow

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I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the meaning of “forgiveness.” We talk about this as something we give to the person who has “harmed” us. “I forgive YOU.” But really I think we need to find another word to use because we’ve twisted the word “forgiveness” so badly.

The forgiveness and letting go we need as professional resenters and progressing healers isn’t really about letting the person off the hook and telling them it was OK. In some cases, it absolutely is NOT OK. (As in the case of my molestation throughout my childhood. I did NOT have a role to play in that. You didn’t have a role to play in your trauma either.)

But we need a word besides “forgiveness” that implies wiping the slate of your own heart clean of the pain and sadness and anger that memory still causes you.

Forgiveness isn’t really about the other person. Forgiveness is about freeing YOURSELF so you can live without the shackles that incident has placed on your life, on your ability to be proud and self-confident, on your ability to live your life without something you can’t control playing over and over in your mind and making your stomach and heart and brain grieve and ache and rage all the time.

That’s totally why I drank. It feels so much better to feel nothing than to feel all that sadness and pain.

But if you can find a way to let that shit go and also stop drinking, think of how light your brain and stomach and heart would be! That’s what we need.

(So let me know when you figure out how to do it!)

*Now we all join hands and perform our inspirational, synchronized dance routine to “Let It Go!”*

Links of the Week – February 27, 2015

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* 10 Ways To Be Her True Life Superhero

* How I Feel About My Responsibilities

* Christianity Without The Cross

* 24 Times Your Favorite Kids’ Cartoons Suddenly Got Really Deep

* Fun With Kirk And Spock – (WHY do I not own this book?)

* 27 Times Tumblr Used Art History Perfectly To Make A Point

* How We Talk About Our Teachers – (Turns out we use different descriptors depending on if they’re male or female)

* Star Trek Spock With Ears Socks

* The “Golden Years” Are Gone: Why Retirement Is Hell For Women – (Oh good. Something else to look forward to.)

* How Much I Was Distressed During “Fox and the Hound”

* Julia: Turn Turn Turn

* Game Day Program – Ohio State vs. Indiana – Thanksgiving Day 1903 – (So cool!)

* When I Hide In The Bathroom Stall Until I Hear My Coworker Leave So I Don’t Have To Make Small Talk With Them – (Every time.)

* Check Out Ambidextrous Pitcher Pat Vendittes’ Chthulu-Like Glove

* Adventure Time Oreo Necklaces

* Subway Riders Can Be Animals – (Awesome paintings!)

* You’re Not Happy Because You Never Learned To Be

* The Emory Wheel Editorial Board: Gender Neutral Pronouns Necessary For Inclusivity

* Just Let Them Kiss Already: Why Are TV Shows Are So Weird About Male Relationships?

* I Can Haz Cheezburger?: Extrovert vs. Introvert – (As illustrated by cats…)

* Why Each Sign Is Dangerous – (Scorpio)

* Stained Glass Backboards Are Completely Unnecessary And Beautiful

* 10 Things I Wish I Knew At The Beginning Of Sobriety

* 19 Anti-Social Motivational Posters That I Really Want To Hang In My Office

* Study: What Are The Most Addictive Foods? – (This is why I have frozen pizza six nights a week…)

* “My Mom Can Kick Your Ass” Kid’s T-Shirt

* After His Brother’s Suicide , Writer Seeks Comfort “In All The Wrong Places”

* Inflatable Toupee

* Get The Picture: Stubborn Is As Stubborn Does – (You can only do so much)

* 19 Pictures That Will Hurt Your Fragile Soul – (Owwwwwwwwwww!)

* The Refuge: A Healing Place – Depression

* The Center: A Place For Hope

* Photos: Evan Gattis The Astro

* Unlocking “The Woman Code”: 4 Tips To Know Your Value

* Unexpressed Emotions, Rage And Depression

* NASA Sees “Bright Spots” On Dwarf Planet In Our Solar System – ( OoO )

* This Wondrous Dutch Light Installation Mimics The Northern Lights – ( ❤ ❤ ❤ )

* A Tortured Soul, Josh Hamilton’s Battle Was Never Over

* To Boldly Go: Uhura

* GPS In Shoulder Pads: Vanderbilt Goes High Tech

* The Frisco RoughRiders Have Your New Favorite Presidential MiLB Logo – (Must have a cap with Big Head Teddy!)

* “I’m Scared” T-Shirt

* “Worthless” T-Shirt

* Reviewing My 2015 Goals Thusfar – (11 out of 26. Eh.)

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“As other girls prayed for handsomeness in a lover, or for wealth, or for power, or for poetry, she had prayed fervently: let him be kind.”

 – A Spy In The House Of Love, Anaïs Nin

“I turned over in bed and listened to the traffic in the rain. A few cold, clear truths rose one by one through my consciousness like a flock of birds: I wasn’t even remotely worthy of William and I wasn’t ever going to have him; I’d asked my mother to lend me money and she’d said no; I’d given all the change to the cabdriver; no one was going to pay off my debts; no one would save me from myself. I fell asleep to the soft beating of wings in my head.”

 – In The Drink, Kate Christensen

“One fine spring morning I awoke in my own bed alone, with an ache in every orifice and a memory of bending over on the Christopher Street Pier at four in the morning with my drawers around my ankles while John stood behind me, holding my hips. As I gripped a piling to keep from tumbling into the Hudson, I gazed down into the filthy water and thought gaily to myself, Well, here I am, and this is me.”

In The Drink, Kate Christensen

“Throughout these long afternoons outside with her, I was always conscious of being a speck at the bottom of a vast, ragged bowl of rock under the empty sky, buried in the silence and heat, surrounded by blank sand. The foothills, with their gray-green mesquite fur, rolled away to faraway mountains that sat sharp-spined on the horizon, unconnected to the valley floor, as if they’d been set down ready-made. The buttes and mesas to the west glowed deep red; veins of magenta and green spidered along rock formations shaped like tablets or giant hands, stacked in layers of cinnabar, crimson, brick. Masses of clouds echoed the rock shapes in their charcoal or ocher strata, wind-shaped crags so dense they looked mineral. The air was thick with the breath of sage and hot dust. At sunset the air hung low, striated like a weird plowed field of pigmented earth, backlighting the mountains with shirred, neon clouds, leaching all the color from the rocks, abstracting the bushes to dark cutouts. The wind moved like a huge hand through the valley, filling me with a restless, empty impatience I later identified as loneliness.”

In The Drink, Kate Christensen

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Homelessness, Addiction, Mental Illness & Recovery

Gaining Insight

I have an alcoholic friend who has relapsed. He was turned away from a long-term recovery and job training program at a local homeless shelter because he takes Paxil. The shelter told him that they didn’t have the facilities to treat people with mental health issues.

You would think that someone who is regularly and voluntarily taking their anti-anxiety medication would be a prime candidate for a program like this. He’s clearly a person who’s trying to get his shit together.

I do understand where the shelter is coming from though. Where do they draw the line on the intake of homeless men with mental health issues? But anxiety? I bet that co-exists with every addiction! Fortunately, my friend has another recovery resource, but most aren’t that lucky. Most would be forced to go back on the street and continue to feed their illness.

More than 124,000 – or one-fifth – of the 610,000 homeless people across the USA suffer from a severe mental illness, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They’re gripped by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression — all manageable with the right medication and counseling but debilitating if left untreated. In the absence of such care, their plight costs the federal government millions of dollars a year in housing and services and prolongs their disorders.” – USA Today, http://usat.ly/14quZv7

I would guess that the majority of homeless individuals are dealing with some kind of mental health issue. I know that the majority of addicts are. For most, the addiction itself, no matter the substance, is self-medication. I know mine was.

Fortunately, my bottom wasn’t a low one; and I didn’t drink myself out of a home or a job. (Yet…) After five years of sobriety I realized that my recovery wasn’t going to be just about working a program, but also about dealing with some underlying physical, chemical issues that fed my feelings of insecurity, anxiety and depression. I am blessed to have the money and insurance to pay for a therapist and a psychiatrist and meds. I can’t begin to tell you how much those things have transformed my life for the better. But the majority of people in this country, not only the homeless, don’t have affordable access to mental health care.

As intertwined as the issues of homelessness, addiction and mental health are, and as much as they cost the US, we have to find a way to create an integrated solution that is available and accessible for all citizens of the United States.

‘We learned that you could either sustain people in homelessness for $35,000 to $150,000 a year, or you could literally end their homelessness for $13,000 to $25,000 a year,’ he said.” – PolitiFact, http://bit.ly/1Bci5Oq

In this country where we continue to proclaim ourselves “exceptional,” everyone who wants a second-chance – a new beginning – deserves one. But you can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps if nobody will help you get a pair of boots.

No man is an island, entire of itself…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

– John Donne

Links of the Week – December 26, 2014

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* Boston Red Sox BamVino Bottle Holder

* Douglasville’s Elana Meyers Taylor Wins In Calgary

* Growing Up Gender-Nonconforming Amid Scolding, Awkward Silences

* NORAD’s Santa Tracker Began With A Typo And A Good Sport

* 23 Of The Cutest Things That Have Ever Happened On Tumblr

* Bobsled History: Elana Meyers Taylor To Compete In Four-Man Event – (First women to compete in this event – EVER!)

* A List Of Pope Francis’ 15 “Ailments Of The Curia” – (Go on with your bad self, Pope!)

* Religion’s Smart People Problem: The Shaky Intellectual Foundations Of Absolute Faith – (I wrestle mightily with this…)

* Why So Many Rich Americans Think They’re Middle-Class

* Patrick Stewart And Jonathan Frakes Can’t Hold It Together

* Star Trek Book Of Opposites – (Why didn’t I get this for Christmas???)

* Stay Single And Proud This Holiday Season – (THIS! 😀 )

* What’s Gender Got To Do With It: Is Recovery Different For Women? – (I’ve been debating this with some evangelists recently. This gets it right.)

* C Is For This Awesome Cookie Monster Christmas – (You gotta see this!)

* Katie Hnida’s Historic Football Story Not A Fairy Tale

* Seasonal Depression Kicks In Just In Time To Numb Woman Before Holiday With Family – (Perfect! 😀 )

* Avoiding Family Conflict During The Holiday Season – (The Onion nails it!)

* How To Navigate The Holidays Alone – (Aaaaaand The Onion writes my life…)

* Space Cat Shower Curtain

* Lumpy Space Princess Shower Curtain

* Jesus Died For Your Sims T-Shirt – (Amazing!)

* Magic Middles Chocolate-Filled Cookie Recipe

* Pierzynski At Least A Colorful Braves Addition – (Oh, great…)

* Gingerbread Enterprise – (For Mason…)

* Dr. Who Paper Snowflake Patterns – (Allons y!)

* The Department Of Unexpected Interspecies Friendship – ❤ ❤ ❤

* Obama Breaks Cardinal Presidential Rule By Donning Tiara

* Social Justice Kittens

* Baddest Mother Ever: Fartbuster’s Worst Fear – (Blog Post of the Week)

The Sad Crept In

I managed to hold it off until the day before Christmas Eve, but the sad sat down hard on my chest this morning. Driving  in to the office about 7:45, alone in my car, Paul Anka was on the radio singing “Rudolph,” all the Christmas lights were shining through the gloomy fog in Centennial Park, and the SkyView ferris wheel was lit up and spinning.

And suddenly it felt like everything joyful and festive and hopeful and good in me was sucked out and only an incredible emptiness was left. I was suddenly acutely aware of my aloneness.

What is it about Christmas that does this? I’m no more alone than I am any other time of year. And I’m not “alone.” The office is full of people today. I’ll be with my family tomorrow. (And for me, gratefully, unlike some, I love being with my family.) But when I could’ve left the office this morning after my 9:00 meeting was over, I didn’t want to. The idea seems cold and empty and dark and – alone.

I tried to alleviate the “alone” this year. I invited someone to come to Christmas Eve at my mom’s with me (and to various other Christmas events as well) – but… well… yeah… you know. And maybe that makes me feel more alone too, when you try to not be alone and those attempts are rejected.

I know there’s got to be more to this feeling that descends on me this time every year. And I’m so glad that it’s only happened a few days before Christmas this time. (For the last couple of years, it hit at Thanksgiving and didn’t let up until Christmas was over.) But even a couple of days of feeling like this sucks!

I read a great article yesterday that feels very true to what I’m feeling. (And I can’t remember where it was so I can link to it, dammit!) But basically it said that feeling anxious about being alone is evolutionary. As cavemen (and women), if you were alone, you weren’t safe.

That’s very much what my aloneness feels like; the emotion feels like vulnerability and insecurity and danger.

I always feel guilty when I feel like this around the holidays. I have so much and I am so blessed. I’m not a big evangelist or testifier, but I truly believe if God hadn’t interceded in my life, I could very well be homeless, whoring, or dead right now from my alcoholism. I have found an amazing church that fits my incredibly liberal beliefs socially and theologically – five blocks from my house. More importantly, that church has become a home and a family for me. I have an amazing family of birth and amazing friends. I have stumbled accidentally into a comfortable career that allows me to provide for myself. I could go on and on.

There are people who ARE homeless. Children who are hungry. I have a friend who’s sitting death watch over his mother right now. There are people who’ve been disowned by their families. There are people wrestling mightily with addictions. There are people in prison. There are people in sexual slavery. There are people in abusive relationships. I could go on and on.

I don’t feel like I deserve to feel sad, but still I do.

I guess one of the hardest things is that (at least most years) I don’t want to just wish away the holiday. When I’m sad or upset about some event at other times of the year, I just tell myself that it’ll be over soon. But I really like Christmas, particularly Christmas Eve at my mom’s where my immediate family eats ham sandwiches in front of the TV, then opens stockings, then move to the living room where we listen to Christmas music on the stereo while we exchange gifts one by one. So I guess I feel very conflicted about loving it and wanting it to be over (or maybe just wanting to not feel sad) at the same time.

I think if I could ferret out exactly why I feel like this, I could make it better. Meanwhile, I have a man pinging me on eHarmony. He sounds interesting. We have a lot in common. He has pretty eyes. But when I get ready to respond to his questions, I’m terrified and can’t bring myself to do it. So maybe I DO want to be alone.

Can you simultaneously want to be alone and want to not alone at the same time. I can’t decide which one is scarier.

I’m living in a limbo of fear and anxiety. Ho ho ho.

Run Away

One day I just packed my car and left my life behind. It didn’t turn out well.

But today I have a very real urge to do the same thing.

I don’t want to face this day.

I hate conflict. I hate argument. I hate feeling like I’m in trouble even if I don’t know why.

I want to jump in my car and drive as far in the opposite direction from my office as I can possibly go.

I am not brave.

I am scared. I am sad. I am angry.

This is why I drank. I would give anything to not have to “feel” this day.

What Counts

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The things that count cease being those that can be held in the hand and become only what can be held in the heart.”
– “Savoring Our Sobriety,” Emotional Sobriety
North Hollywood, Calif., August 1982