Thursday, 17 December 2015

With Two Weeks To Go. . .

I’ve got two weeks left. TWO WEEKS! That’s nothing, comparatively, and yet it feels like a millennium away.

I’ve done a fairly shitty job articling my journey, thus a long(ish) summary of how this has all made me feel is well deserved.

You know one of the biggest reasons I haven’t written more? Because I’m worried you’ll find it boring. I keep thinking you’ll get half way through (if that) and then decide it’s “too deep” or “too serious” and stop reading. I mean, it’s not like this is a blog about traveling the world, or doing other exciting things, like baking gluten-dairy-soy-free vegan muffins. But this one isn’t for the people who think it’s boring. This one is for all of the people who wonder if maybe they drink too much, or feel guilty, or wonder if life would be better if they just stopped for a while. This one is to all of those, who like me, think that if they could just cut out their vices that their life would be “on track.”

Do I have my shit together? Most days I don’t think I have my shit together. Compared to how together I want my shit to be, it’s not that together. But I’m sure, to some people, it looks like I have my shit pretty together. (I’m done with the shitty paragraph.) (That one’s for Stacy.)

Stopping drinking didn’t get my life together. What actually happened was that I chose to stop drinking because I wanted to get my life together. So the actual catalyst wasn’t the lack of alcohol (although in many ways it made it a lot easier), but actually just making a choice to prioritize my life differently in order to put what really mattered first. Granted, I removed what was a huge part of my life to make room for all the other things, so I’d be lying if I said sobriety hadn’t allowed me to accomplish more.

Maybe you’re wondering if I think it was worth it. Was giving up a year of wine on date nights, ciders on the patio with friends, gluhwein at the Christmas Market and après ski cocktails worth everything I gained? Of course. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH MONEY I SAVED!?! I mean, I don’t even think I realized how expensive my love of all things alcohol had become. We all say we know, but until you actually do it, for an entire year, through every holiday and season, you have no idea.

Now, I’m not sure if it’s just because at this point I’m well-adjusted to my new clean liver, but my brain power and my body don’t feel all that “clearer.” I really anticipated waking up with more energy and feeling mentally quicker. Maybe I did, and now I’m just accustomed to it. Truthfully, I guarantee I’d feel better just exercising more without needing to cut out the booze. Science may argue my anecdote. Sometimes I think I feel more tired, but that’s probably just because I’m busy over accomplishing every day with my lack of hangovers and unrealized brain potential. *wink, wink*

Did I miss it? Did I ever! I want to be invited out again! More so, I actually want to want to go when I get invited out. It’s one thing for your friends to not include you because you’re the sober one. It’s a whole other pile of self-pity when you bail because you’re the sober one. But I mean, you drunk people really aren’t as much fun as you think you are. Sorry!

What I miss most, is just forgetting. Now, now, I know you aren’t supposed to drink to forget, and that’s definitely the sign of some unresolved issues. But take it from a woman who just spent a year facing her life (and it’s a pretty darn easy one) without an alcohol break. I have a lot of relaxing hobbies; yoga, colouring, knitting, tea drinking, reading, journaling, going for walks. . . essentially I’m a pretty active 70 year old! But none of those things pull you away from the world like a single glass of Tempranillo can. I’m not saying I want to get hammered and try to forget that I’m still serving when I’m nearly thirty (trust me, I’ve dealt with that. . . the colouring is a god send, I swear!) I could happily say I could go the rest of my life dealing with my stress alcohol-free. But I don’t want to. I want to have a couple ounces of scotch some nights after a really long work night and just relax.  You know how in relationships it’s said that we should choose our battles? Like, sometimes you just need to let it go? Well, sometimes the relationship is with yourself, and sometimes a beer after work with the guys is the best way to “let it go.”

I’m not putting any expectations on what getting off the wagon is going to be like. I can 100% promise I’m not going to party like it’s my 19th birthday (I didn’t party that hard then, anyway.) To be honest, it just doesn’t feel like that big of a deal anymore. I’m more so just excited to take the leash off. Spending an entire year telling yourself you can’t do something you really enjoy is hard. And as I type that sentence I realize it’s also kind of stupid. It was a great, challenging, extremely enlightening experience that I’m happy to say I can’t see myself doing again (exceptions being pregnancy and supporting friends.)

More than anything, I’m really looking forward to sharing a bottle of wine (or scotch) with my man who’s been the most supportive and patient boyfriend a sober chick could ask for. A year later, life still doesn’t feel normal without the occasional alternate reality provide by alcohol, and I’m totally okay with admitting that.

My advice after all this? If you think you need a break, you probably do. How long that break should be really depends on how long it will take for you to reprioritize your habits so that alcohol doesn’t come before things like: relationships, financial stability, health, career. . . as a matter of fact, alcohol doesn’t get to come before anything. If alcohol is priority over anything actually important in your life, get yourself some help. Feel free to contact me; I know some great people you can talk to.

Cheers to you and yours over the holidays! Enjoy that [extra] glass of bubbly on my account.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Signs of Sobriety

It was 22 months ago that I wrote a blog dictating my issues with alcohol. Listing all the reasons I could detail as to why it is just plain bad for us, you can clearly tell from that blog that I had a negative view of drinking entirely. I thought it was (plausibly) the reason that I didn’t reach my goals, or why I ever felt unhappy. It took nine months of sobriety for me to realize that none of that was true.

It was an excuse. What used to be a hangover, is now blaming the weather for not going for a morning run. What I used to blame on my over-active social life, I now blame on. . . well, my still over-active social life (some things don’t change.) The ever-challenging savings account I constantly used to spend on nights out with friends, I’ve found other things to spend it on (like, writing conferences!) And my happiness? Well, that I’ve learned is a state of being, not a place you can get to.

I promise I’m not just an unproductive slob; I have accomplished so much this year in my sobriety. But it wasn’t because of the absence of alcohol. It was because I finally prioritized my life—something that I know I can do exactly the same while enjoying the occasional spirited beverage.

You can tell in that original blog I wrote that I had a pretty negative and guilty feeling about drinking. This is something that will not being continuing into my new year. If I’ve accepted anything over the course of the last 327 days sober, it’s that pursuing something simply because you enjoy it, is a positive. As Kurt Vonnegut says, “We’re here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anyone tell you different.”

Thursday, 16 July 2015

What Half Way Feels Like

I’d started this sobriety adventure with the key point being that it would give me something to write about each week. Excuses galore and 6 months later, I’ve written a handful of posts and then abandoned the idea altogether. It hasn’t felt like a journey I’ve wanted to write about—even in my own journal. I’ll whine about it to friends often, and describe my experiences to those curious enough to get past the “I could never do that” statement. However, now just over half way and remembering back to what I had anticipated this point feeling like, has inspired some sharing. 

I thought after 6 months of reinstating habits of not drinking I’d stop missing it. At this point willpower is not an issue, cravings are non-existent, and my social habits have changed significantly (night life? What’s that?. . . just kidding—I still work in a bar.) BUT, those expectations have been shattered. I miss it. More than I did 5 months, more than I did 2 weeks ago. In fact, I miss it so much, I sometimes forget why I started doing this to begin with* and resent myself for making this decision, despite the pride in my accomplishment. 

The fact that I’m missing it so much is why I haven’t been writing about it. I’m scared that speaking negatively about my experience will discourage others from taking a hiatus from their vice to put their energy towards “real” life (more on that in a future blog.) There are so many benefits to staying sober. Overall, I feel better about myself and have so much more time and money to pursue things which makes my sense of autonomy and self-efficacy skyrocket, translating directly into more motivation than I know what to do with. 

I’ve also had to realize I face high levels of anxiety that drinking helped me avoid wholly feeling; I’d still acknowledge and work on those thoughts, but a glass of wine would make it easier to forget about them come bedtime and sleep a little cozier until the next day when I could actually get up and face the troubles head on. Sans booze, I’m stuck circling those emotions and—in typical Miranda fashion—over-analyzing my worries to the point of spiraling anxiety attacks. On the positive side, a little help from some counselling sessions (and admittedly, the odd visit to Mary Jane), and I’m proud to say I can actually calm myself down and sleep just fine. . . usually. 

You know what the biggest kicker is of this whole sober trek? Feeling left out. I know, I know, my friends still invite me out to big gatherings, and coffee hang outs, and walks along the seawall. That sounds great, right? And I do try to stay positive about it, but the truth is, I know its awkward being the only sober person amongst a group of tipsy-to-drunk individuals. No drunk person wants to talk to a sober person! It makes you feel self-conscious. I’m also regularly bailed-on for daytime hangouts because of other people’s hangovers, so I feel like I’m just missing out on both the social fun night and the social fun days. And meeting new girlfriends? It’s a like a not-so-secret code that bonding over a bottle of wine is a check-box to being considered more than just a Facebook Friend. Maybe I have the wrong friends? No. I love my friends and I don’t have a single person in my life that I call a friend who doesn’t enjoy alcohol regularly (some more often than others, but that’s beyond the point.) 

So I was naïve. Beginning this journey, my fear used to be that I would never go back to drinking again; I now know that won’t be the case. Perhaps in some ways it taints my experience because I know one day I’ll be back on the train and therefore not fully immersing and adapting on this new path. What I’m only starting to understand is my new relationship with alcohol and how I view it (words for another blog.) Especially how culture, history and tradition have impacted my (our?) views on drinking and drug use. 

In finally admitting this isn’t all I talked it up to be, to myself and to you, I think I’m ready to share again. It’s easier when it comes from truth. 

*For those interested in why I started doing this, it was essentially to write more, save a ton of money, reset my social habits, and spend my time doing healthy activities and business building, rather than being hungover and staying out too late with acquaintances made friends under the influence of alcohol. You can read more about that by clicking here.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The Journey of Un-Depressing

I often hear people say they were “saved” from depression. Maybe it was music, maybe it was yoga, maybe it was God, or a puppy, but I know I hear it lots. People rarely word it so it sounds as though they saved themselves from depression. It makes me want to call myself a victim and wait to be saved. It makes me want to curl up under the covers and watch my life shrivel until it looks like a worm on a sidewalk on a sunny day and do nothing about it while I wail that the world has yet to come save me. It really does. And if I’m being completely vulnerable, it makes me want to stop eating. And not “I’m so sad I’ve lost my appetite.” I want to stop eating because it gives me something else painful to feel. Because focusing on my eating disorder and how skinny I still want to be, is easier than trying to figure out why I’m so sad all the time. Because the physical pain of starvation is actually easier to handle [in my mind] than working through whatever is bubbling up out of me right now. But I want to be healthy, and I don’t want to put those who love me through more stress than knowing I’m depressed will already put them through. And in remembering how hard it was to get out of the anorexia cycle last time, I’m very eager to stay clear of that dark and lonely path.

I’m smart enough to know I’m not a victim. I’m fortunate enough to know that while people don’t vocally admit to saving themselves from depression (how humble those individuals must be!) that I’m the only one who can take steps forward. That I can choose to put energy and passion into something outside of myself—be it yoga, music or simply, writing more.

Knowing that, I think makes it harder. I mean, I can imagine what it would feel like to not know how to make it better. Those lost in sorrow moments, with no direction. I’m not saying I see a light at the end of a tunnel; I honestly don’t think my depression is any better or worse than others, but why compare? I feel sad and it sucks. I shower, and make myself eat, get myself to work and do yoga almost every day. I hear of depressed people (and some not depressed people) who don’t do that much. As I said, I think it makes it harder, feeling like I have to save myself from myself, while trying not to focus too much on myself, and being mad at myself for not having saved myself by now. Get it? I’m depressed that I’m depressed and even more depressed that I haven’t un-depressed myself yet.

And you know what makes me madder? I thought this arbitrary, undefined anxiety and depression would be alleviated with my continued sobriety.

And what makes me even madder? That I’m such a perfectionist (which somehow I’d forgotten about myself) that just admitting to being depressed makes me feel like I’ve failed—again. Just to expand on this, even when I go to see my counselor, in the back of my head I’m constantly aware that I want her to see me as “succeeding” despite lack of progression. What does that even mean?!

My life is actually pretty great. I think that makes this all easier and harder; so much to enjoy and so little enjoyment to feel. And harder to figure out what the hell is actually wrong. I hope you realize this isn’t a help-cry, or even me looking for support or encouragement. It's just, when you are working through depression, you tend to not tell people, and it's a lonely place. You feel drawn to isolation, yet hate it at the same time. You don't want people to know, but wish they understood. It's not really what people are asking when they greet you with a "How's it going?" I wanted to share with my friends why I’m not around so much, and let them know while I’m not alright, I’ll be alright. And why I’m sort of a cranky and insecure &H!T these days. . .

Also, I've heard vulnerable people live more fulfilling lives.

To all those who deal with depression, MWAH! Lots of love, and unfortunately, no real advice.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

I’m Told He Was Just Being Nice

I wonder if that young boy who wrote the words “you’re pretty” onto my face with his breath knew it was akin to a permanent ink. So close to me he stood, I checked my pockets straight afterwards to ensure I still had my wallet. I’m told, by society, by friends influenced by society, by culture, by history, by T.V., by books, that this was just a compliment. I’m told he meant to make me feel good. I’m told he was just being nice.

I didn’t turn around and follow his gaze to catch him with his x-ray vision called imagination staring at my behind. It’s been argued that I’m arrogant for assuming he would. How immodest, how un-lady-like of me!

But after the first twenty times, playing nothing often seems the only option. To look and grimace is often the knock that invites me into anger; nasty comments I apparently encourage; and most frequently I’m given a smirk a nod that reads “mission accomplished.” A statement I would not dare! To say anything of the discomfort he’s engrossed upon me is sure to end nothing and start something.

Let’s rewind.

I hadn’t noticed him. I was dodging my way through the sidewalk traffic. Head up. Focused. My mind jumping from my to-do list, to the quickest path around the human body labyrinth to the store entrance. How many minutes do I have left before my next appointment? Vancouver Januarys only require a warm coat, and today’s sunshine freed my neck from its woolly winter scarf. Still, the shadows cast from the downtown high-rise architecture caused me to cross my arms and pull my shoulders to my earlobes.

A brick from that labyrinth moved nearer. At first you think the best—he’s avoiding a person walking behind me, or to the side of me. But he side steps closer, and again closer, and within a second his nose is in my hair and his words are there. His body turns and pivots and he throws his head backwards to avoid knocking the brim of his hat on my shoulder. He’s a short cunt.

I’m told he meant to make me feel good. I’m told he was just being nice. Then why do I feel his slime still oozing from my pours. His breath sits there on my skin, hours later; long enough that I’m compelled to sit down and write this. What amount of time is required to full cleanse something so seemingly small?! And why do I feel violated, not complimented? Why do I feel like he tried to rob some small amount of power from my gait as he strolled by? Why do I constantly feel that no reaction is the only appropriate reaction?

Why will society continue to tell me I shouldn’t have worn skinny jeans and a leather jacket, or bothered to curl my hair?

More so, why do I still care?