At this point in round 2 of my not drinking program, one thing is easy: just not drinking. I'm clear in my resolve, I've set up good habits to help me, and I'm paying attention to the suff I need to pay attention to. OK, so I might look longingly at the glasses of wine on the table in a New Yorker cartoon (I really did that today), but for the most part, I'm not beset with cravings or temptation. I'm not going to drink, so I'm not drinking. I think my coming to terms with this being an addiction (even if the word and I are not on friendly terms yet) helps a lot. It means I'm not thinking about when I can drink in the future. In the vaguest sense, I tell myself "probably never" but I don't waste a lot of mental energy chittering on about it. So far, so good.
But figuring out how to actually cope with life without drinking, man that part is tough! I have a big deadline that's inching closer, and for about a month I was in a severe brain fog, so I did very little work. I really couldn't. Now I'm mentally more clear, but I'm still not over this depression, and I'm having a a hard time getting real work done. Here's the problem: I am very much afraid. I'm afraid I won't be able to finish the project in this (still a bit precarious) mental state. I am afraid I'm studying all the wrong stuff. I really didn't think I was ever going to have to face one of these biggish depressions again, and I am afraid that in the face of this, I'm not able to do normal life stuff--go to school, write papers, meet deadlines, cope with STRESS. Throw in being afraid of being an asshole and a loser and someone who at middle age still can't get her life together, and you're starting to get the general idea of what I'm afraid if. This stuff sucks. It does not help that a Greek chorus has somehow got itself installed in my mind, incessantly chanting, "No one loves you! You never get it right!" over and over again. I'm not usually given to that kind of inner insulting, so it's jarring to hear it loud and clear in my own mind. I can work around it, to an extent. I do it in triangles: I think of something I do get right, or someone who does love me--real evidence that the chorus is wrong--and I hold that in mind for a moment, then try to move on with what I'm doing. Except that sitting at the computer, trying to write a paper, is when things go really bad. Getting up and going for a walk works, but that's kind of like procrastinating. I'm pretty sure I always have some massive anxiety with big writing projects, and I have always used wine to calm (drug) myself through it. With no wine, it's very hard to sit still and do the scary work.
There are no easy answers here. I know that. I need to keep on doing all the good stuff. Today I spent three hours walking in the sunshine, and that felt good. My next plan is to clear the towers of book clutter from my desk, and leave only the bits and pieces associated with this big looming project. After that, I'm scheduling chunks of what a writer friend calls ass-in-chair time. I'm going to have to learn to sit through the worst of the anxiety and write anyway. Ass in chair, words on paper. That's what's needed.
I was going to say, "I know I can do it," but that's not quite true. I'm not sure. But I do know there is no other way to get the work done but to find a way through the terror and do it. I've done scary stuff before. I used to be afraid of everything. But I've skied, skydived, sailed in big seas, swum in wild ocean waves, hiked alone in grizzly territory, and lived alone in a broken-down camper in a field one summer when I was broke, even though I was terrified of heights, big seas, grizzly bears, and being alone in the dark when I did those things. This can't be worse than any of those things. And they weren't all bad. Along with the terror, they were actually fun. (Oh yeah, I remember fun. But that's another post.) This is me, gearing myself up for finding a way to plough through. Wish me luck, or courage, or whatever it is I need. Maybe just wish me ass-in-chair, words on paper.
If you're still here, thanks for reading. Peace and joy to you, and sunny walks, and finding the way through whatever it is you're afraid of.