I’ve been itching to write about authenticity lately, so here goes: I’ve mentioned before that during the last few years, I’ve had nothing to talk about – and that’s largely due to me disliking myself. Think of someone you can’t stand to be around – and imagine being with that person 24/7 – that’s what my depression felt like. Self-hate ran deep within my bloodstream and I couldn’t escape it. While I believe that depression is a chemical imbalance in our brains – a sickness – I also believe that the severity and constancy of my depression had a lot to do with my unwillingness to be authentic. Authenticity wasn’t in the realm of possibility for me because being authentic to myself made me different – a cardinal sin for someone who believed that being likable by others determines one’s self-worth.
Today is my 30th birthday. My views on birthdays are as follows: I enjoy any excuse to give me presents. I dislike events during which I am the center of attention. I enjoy events heavily centered around desserts. I dislike the idea of measuring the value and quality of my life and accomplishments on a particular day (New Year’s, birthdays) because society expects me to. It’s kind of a wash. But this year is different.
Thirty is a milestone, they say. Of what? I think it’s funny that because I’m hitting this random number, I’m supposed to reflect on the progress of my life. I just Googled “why are some birthdays milestones” and read this bullshit article about how people credit their success to the reflections they make about their lives on their birthdays. One woman talked about dyeing her hair when she hit a “milestone” birthday because it signified having “fun again” after she spent the last few years taking on responsibilities like marriage and parenthood. Let me be honest. This woman pisses me off. Continue reading
This list is is only the beginning…
1. Better hair, better skin, better nails: Let’s be honest: our society largely determines a person’s worth by their appearance. For the sake of vanity, let’s talk superficial for a moment. My nails are stronger and grow faster. My hair has more life in it – actual life – my curls are bouncier. It’s also growing faster than ever and is shiny and soft. My acne is about 40% better than it was when I was drinking and my skin is half as dry.
2. Better sleep: The most beautiful thing and one of my favorite parts of every day now is getting into bed at night. Every night I crawl under the covers and in a matter of minutes, I am out cold. Drinking Katie would be thrilled for bed each day too, but only in the sense that things stopped and she didn’t have to be alive for a few hours. Now, I not only sleep heavily and wake up feeling rested, but I no longer wake up at 2am needing to vomit, take an acid reducer or Pepto, feeling foggy, with a headache, sore, with mystery bruises, with my make-up on, without having brushed my teeth, or finding myself fully dressed. The apartment doesn’t smell like we drunkenly smoked cigarettes and there are no beer bottles, no take-out, no mess to clean up. I get a solid eight hours of peaceful, restful, rejuvenating sleep Every Single Night. My body thanks me daily for treating it better.
Do me a quick favor and watch this commercial.
This commercial makes me cry cry cry. Lifespan made a series of these, this being the longest, and between the six o’clock news and Modern Family reruns, I tend to catch the shorter ones which never fail to send me into a sweet oblivion of tears. I am so touched by these fucking commercials and it astounds me every time.
These commercials remind me of what I’ve only just learned: this is what we get. How simple. How utterly perfect and beautiful that is. We get life – chores and work and laughter and making dinner and riding our bikes. These are the things that make us human, they are proof that we are alive; life is simple and complicated and takes place while we’re breathing in and out, maybe we’re laughing, maybe we’re crying, maybe we’re staring up at the ceiling trying not to think too much. It is all so fucking perfect and it brings me to tears because it’s true: this is what we get. We get so fucking much. It was only a short time ago that I thought that what we got was nothing at all. Continue reading
I have had a lot of trouble writing this week – I have started and shaped probably four different topics, and I keep finding I need to edit but cannot. The act of writing can be torture in that the exact words you end with are the only thing that count to the reader. What you leave out doesn’t matter, and within my recent writings, I have found that I have so much to say and don’t want to leave a single word out. I am grateful for this because for ten years (my drinking years) I did not have anything to say, and now the words aren’t coming out fast enough. Still, after dealing with this for three days, the writing and stopping and editing and reading and writing some more… At this point, if anything good is going to come out of my words, I need to back away from them for a while.
What this means for you is that instead of reading about whatever it was I intended for this post (it is still unclear, gah!), I am going to talk about my choice to be sober and where I am in that choice today. Continue reading
Why is being social so difficult in early sobriety? I may have put the cart before the horse with my last post. Let me back up and do a some explaining.
For me, alcohol gave me a place to fit in. Alcohol was my societal lubricant; it gave me friends, romance, courage, self-assurance, and a host of other attributes of which I considered myself void as a sober person. Being so readily available, drinking made sense. Watch any TV commercial advertising alcohol and at its foundation you will see human connection. Advertising promotes alcohol as everything we hold dear: camaraderie, relaxation, masculinity, femininity, celebration, individuality, and reward. The next time you watch TV, take a look at any booze-oriented commercial and try to figure out what they are actually promoting. Becoming sober shed a huge light on this for me and I am still astounded and disgusted by it, mostly because it is everywhere. We are told that we must drink in order to form human connections. Human connection is a fundamental desire, so we’re pretty much fucked. To drink champagne is to celebrate, to drink wine is to unwind, to drink beer is to nourish friendships, and drinking liquor fosters adventure.
I don’t know about you, but drinking made me and my chosen company tolerable.
Social settings in early sobriety are a fucking nightmare. Regardless of your conviction, I think it’s fair to say that in early sobriety, one does not have all of the tools needed to actually enjoy an event during which one would have previously imbibed. It’s like entering a battlefield unarmed – good fucking luck. Watch out for that cannonball rolling towards your leg, and that guy with the bayonet gaining ground behind you. And there’s a tank on the right and a sniper in the trees and you might as well raise that white flag already, it’s not looking good. But you can choose to fight because there is always a chance for victory.