Shame for Breakfast


I think the pink cloud has vanished and sobriety is no longer easy. Sobriety last night was like leaping into fresh hell. And, no, not the hell queers imagine ourselves hanging out at once our physical bodies leave this realm. I’m referring to hell when your body feels so tight you might just snap in half. I’m talking about when you have a shooting pain in your chest and your fists are so clenched you forget to breathe. Or knots lining your spine and reminding you this emotional pain is here to stay. I was at a show last night and in retrospect, it was not a show I was ready for. I have never been to a show sober and this realization caused a reaction so visceral I thought I might crumple to the floor. 

There were a few people there I could have gone without seeing. I think we all have a few people we wish we could erase from the universe. I started thinking about why I didn’t want to see certain people and it’s rooted in shame. It was never about those people. It’s never been about those people. It’s about how I’ve acted, it’s about who I’ve been with them. And, wow, that realization really fucked me up. 

After two drinks,  I’m a pretty lively version of myself. A more feisty and vibrant color. But it’s never two drinks for me.  It was supposed to be just dinner and now its 5 AM and I can’t figure out how to get in my front door. 

And then the next morning, it’s breakfast and shame. I know people have a tendency to feel shame when it’s not warranted. But, this shame, this shame is warranted. I’ve hurt people I’ve never intended on hurting and this doesn’t remove the accountability. Regardless of intention, it’s your impact. When I’m drunk, I have no intentions, there are no consequences. It’s like driving a 100 miles an hour down Lake Shore Drive and laughing.  

Those things, they’ve stayed with me, sometimes I think they’ve festered under my skin and no bristle pad is going to remove them. I started to make a list of the things I feel ashamed of and how I can change those behaviors. Writing the list, was like hell on earth. 

I don’t think I can make this pretty. I don’t think I’ve forgiven myself enough to face those people. I just feel grateful for the people who had to really really really love me to see through me.

Pond​

Pond, by Claire-Louise Bennett is a rush of sentences. When she refers to her like for worms she writes, “no problem picking them up, which is unusual and thus gives me a clear advantage in certain situations because it means I can fling them at people if I feel like it and that never fails to cheer me up”.
I don’t want to pick up a worm and I envy Claire for being able to accept their texture. I do have a list of people I would like to fling a worm at. Just the one worm, two worms seems menacing. 
In Pond, the main character moves to a coastal village to escape urban living because she hates people. She never finished her postgraduate thesis and she frequently visits Berlin but has no real relationships outside of herself. 
The narrator was so isolated in her cottage, I was terrified and thrilled by her existence. A few months ago, I convinced myself if I turned of all the lights in my apartment, I would feel the most alone. I ended up banging my shin and stepping on my cat. 
You find yourself with a lot of alone time when you’re sober. I’m not sure how to interact with people in sobriety. The textures of my interactions feel rough and my tongue feels raw  and there is no alcohol to sooth things. Conversations are like a cold pool in may or that one drafty spot in the lake. 
I know there must have been some point where conversations felt softer. One’s where my expression was an extension of my inner world rather than dissonance. It seems I’ve neglected my own inner world for so long I don’t know how to connect back to the external. 
There is safety in my solitude. And for right now, I think it’s okay to be alone. 

Ship on fire

Beginning this project, I started reading other people’s blogs specifically on sobriety and the body. I had a visceral reaction when a white dude wrote an article on how humans live “bubble-wrapped” lives and have a low threshold for pain/discomfort. I was reminded by all the people in my life who have forced themselves to grind to survive under capitalism, starved their body to fit an unattainable image of perfection and jeopardized their mental health just to meet basic human expectations. I thought about how much energy I would need to exert to verbally bring this dude to his knees but decided he would never be worth it. The point: I’ve never taken the time or had the wherewithal to take care of my body. 
I’ve had two surgeries in less than 24 hours, so this is the most time I’ve ever taken to rest in my 20s. Even with all the physical trauma my body has been through, it’s felt shameful to ask for help. My partner had to help me off the floor and I apologized to her. I apologized to her and contemplated laying on the floor until I had the strength to get up. While I don’t think asking for helpful is as difficult for everyone, I do know a lot of people who will respond with “I’m fine” instead of responding with the truth. 
Alcohol always helped me get myself to “I’m fine.” It was a lot easier to drink than it was to listen to what my body needed. If I felt tired, draining or exhausted, but still felt I needed to be social, drinking was an easy way to combat both pains. After I was assaulted, very dear people in my life asked if I needed help. I did need help, I needed a lot of help. I had been physically humiliated and it seemed daunting to be emotionally vulnerable. I told people “I was fine” and continued to drink/ do whatever I needed to maintain “I’m fine.” I think everyone knew I was lying to myself and to them but I was too delicate and too unpredictable to be approached. Like a cat, hiding underneath the bed, waiting to claw your eyes out. 
Lying here, knowing I’m not going to be able to get up without help, it crossed my mind I owed my body an apologize. Instead of torturing you and punishing you, I should have wrapped you in some bubble wrap and put you to sleep. Sweet dreams, you tiny tired thing. 

Seeping in rage

I was enraged on Friday, almost to tears. I was sitting in traffic and I could feel the anger seep into my shoulders and trickle down my spine. I had just left a funeral home; I met my client there to support her while she picked up her mother’s remains. The funeral home “misplaced” her mother’s remains and it was unclear who was responsible for finding the remains. And here lies the epitome of the impoverished, they’re always neglected. They’re never taken care of, they’re never given basic human decency. When they even have the slightest emotional reaction to their trauma and heartache, they’re reminded they’re responsible for their circumstances.

I like to “fix” things, I want things to be “fixed.” It quickly became apparent to me I wasn’t going to be able to “fix” this. Frankly, most of my client’s crises can’t be “fixed” and “fixing” things isn’t the nature of my job. What really is my role here? As I found myself sitting next to her on a curb, it came to me, there was nothing I could do in that moment beside be with her until she was ready to go home.

Sitting in discomfort is something I’ve avoided my whole life. Checks out, alcohol is a terrific way to forget you’re emotionally uncomfortable. Hand me a Manhattan, a dirty martini, a few shots of whiskey and those uncomfortable feelings are as dead as a Chicago winter. So, sitting in traffic, after witnessing another tragedy, made me really reconsider this newfound sobriety. I knew there was no way I could drive home. I would have exploded till the walls fell down and then cried when there was only the skeleton of our home.

I went to the gym, punched the screen of a treadmill and forced myself to process what just happened. I thought about how I use to take care of the children I nannied. I fed them, I watched over them, I held them, I loved them. I decided to treat myself like one of them: I took a shower, I tucked my wet hair into my watch cap, and I went home with the promise I would eat until I felt full.

Did I instantly feel better? Absolutely not; I think I might have felt worse. But then today, it hit me, I don’t need to “fix” things. I don’t need to “fix” a crisis, I don’t need to “fix” a drink, I don’t need to “fix” me. I’m not a carpenter, I’m a person. I’m a person who needs to sit in discomfort to be able to experience the beauty of joy.

just 31 days

I am 31 days sober. 31 days sober has been just 31 days sober. I started this journey on January 2ndof 2019 because I was supposedto start cutting back in early June of 2018. When June came I told myself I couldn’tcut back because it was summer; sobriety in the summer is isolating. When fall came I couldn’tcut back because I was violated and how was I going to cope with feelings of humiliation when I was sober. Then January came and I knew I was going to lose my relationship if I continued to drink. At the time, my relationship seemed more important than my own well-being and losing it wasn’t an option. To be clear, I knew my partner wouldn’t have left me if I continued to drink, but she was going to leave who I was while I was drinking. So here we are, 31 days sober and I’m not sure if anything has changed. 

What has changed is I know I’m capable of not drinking for 31 days. Will I be able to not drink for 32? Will I make it through tomorrow? I’ve always thought of my sobriety as circumstantial; if life isn’t too stressful, I won’t drink. When life becomes too stressful, well I’ll needto drink. If life feels dull or I need to fill a void, I’ll need to drink. Isn’t that the question, what is that we need versus what is that we want? In reality, I needed to stop drinking for health reasons. I needed to stop drinking because I didn’t know who I was outside of my relationship with alcohol. I vaguely understood my interests but they were often pushed aside because of my toxic love affair with alcohol. 

Nothing in the last 31 days have changed; most days, I think I know less about myself than the day before. Recently, I started questioning my career, which was fueled by a master’s degree worth over 150,000 dollars. Turns out, buyer’s remorse applies to education. Sobriety at 26 feels as confusing as navigating the world at 21. Things feel even more vulnerable and raw. Most nights, I lay on the couch and cry with no indication of why I even started crying. While, I think my stress level has remained the same, it feels less manageable sober. While I’m not hungover on Saturday and Sunday mornings, I wake up startled by anxiety. I don’t know what I am going to do with my unstructured time besides scrub the floor and bath the plants. 

I started this blog because I needed somewhere to write down my thoughts and I need the accountability of an audience. Or the accountability of a nonexistent, yet potential audience. I don’t want to make a commitment to writing daily/weekly because that feels overwhelming. However, I do promise quality content with persistent pop culture references.