Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Round 3, Day 6: Tears, patterns.

Last night, right on cue, out came the tears. Five days without drinking and the enormous number of things I am trying not to worry about overwhelmed me. I started a conversation with my partner about some of it--academic worries, which maybe makes me sound precious but it's really, "What am I doing with my life?" and to me, that stuff is important. I'm not going to try and trace out all the issues here. Just that we started to talk about it, and I said how scared and overwhelmed I was, and I started to cry. As usual with me, it's not sweet little tears tricking down while the late evening sun breaks through the clouds and I smile radiantly, over it before it even began. No, it's swollen eyes and bright red nose and hiccupping through what I'm trying to say. People say that once you stop drinking, the emotions start to come through, you feel them whereas before you just numbed them out. I've said it myself, both earlier times I quit drinking. But then sometimes I doubt all that. What if it's just a nice story we tell ourselves so we can coddle ourselves for a while? Am I just being fanciful? So last night, after the crying, and the good conversation (my partner <I mean husband, ahem> really is great!) I felt better. And I remembered, Oh yeah, that's what happens. You feel it and you go through it and then it goes away.

I guess I am starting to accept that I have been numbing myself again for the past few months. There have been plenty of things to numb, that's for sure.

Lately I have been thinking about my mother. She has advanced dementia now, so she can't walk, and she can't talk coherently, and her memories are scarce and fleeting. But she's become about as sweet as a person could be, and she's still, even without most of her ability to talk, very funny. I think fun might be what has pulled her through her life. She loved to go dancing, and she told me years ago that when she married my father, she made a deal with him: she would move to the rural place he was from, and have kids, and do all the married stuff. But she would only do it if he agreed to go out dancing every week like they did when they were courting. When we were kids, my parents did just that, went out dancing at least one night a week. Sometimes two. My parents both had rough childhoods, and their adult lives weren't so easy either. They never learned to cope sensibly with much. It wasn't the way things were done where I'm from. Instead, they did the best they could with the tough times: my mother pursed her lips and said nothing when she was angry, while my dad swore a blue streak, and then they both settled back to some kind of normal. They met at a dance, and they were both great dancers. I think dancing was their escape, the sheer fun of twirling around the dance floor enough to obscure the drear of daily life. In pictures, my mother often looks a bit dour, except when she's dressed up to go dancing. Then she looked radiant!

Where I am from, fun is probably the central cultural value. People danced and drank and laughed and then went back to what they had to do and soldiered through, and yes, occasionally they developed lifelong grudges and just never, ever spoke to certain folks again, and some drank too much and just fell away from the world. No one, no one went to therapy or dealt with emotions. I've been thinking about this because I think culture matters. That world is more a part of me than I like to admit, or than I understand. I can talk a good game for a while about feelings and acceptance and so on, but after a while, I feel like some made-up west coast hippie freak show. It all starts to feel like I have lost myself, that part of me that wants to just whirl out of the dreary world and have fun for a while.

I don't much know what to do about this, so this is not a post with a nice conclusion. I have to get a better grip on it, though. Reading through my old posts, which I just about had to force myself to do, it's terrifying to see that there are so many patterns in my thinking about drinking, and quitting, and drinking, and quitting again. And I see that this suspicion I have of all the talk about feelings and so on is what starts to lay me low. But whirling away from things I don't want to deal with into the land of fun only works for a while.

So that's where I am. Still not drinking, or planning to. I am serious about the 100 days, and that part isn't the hard part for me. The hard part is coming to some kind of peace with who I am in a way that doesn't outright reject the world I'm from but doesn't pitch me headlong into the problems that that world always brings me.

Thanks for reading if you're sill here. Peace.

14 comments:

  1. I'm still here!
    Patterns of thinking are really important to see for me.
    But then I have to change the patterns, which is really hard for me!
    I too have depression which gets much worse when I drink.
    xo
    Wendy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Wendy. I do sometimes think of you being depressed, which seems at odds with the cheery smiley kindergarten teacher image I have of you, and it's helpful to see that other people have some similar conflicts. (Not that I'd wish them on you!) Finding and changing patterns is tricky business, but I'm trying. Best to you. xo

      Delete
  2. I'm here too! Glad you got through it and didn't drink!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, k. Hope you're doing well this week, too xo

      Delete
  3. I'm here.
    The thing about not drinking is it takes one internal debate off the table.
    From there, my path has involved letting go of the stiff upper lip mentality and letting myself experience the hippie, woo woo side. It has been refreshing.

    society really does influence Us. But taking time to comsider I we are doing things for approval or praise, or because they make us feel good inside, is a worthwhile experiment.

    Anne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne, I'm glad you're here, and thanks for your comment. But I think you are either misreading what I said or, more likely, I didn't express it well. When I talk about the culture of fun, I am not talking about trying to get approval from people. My mother is well past knowing how to approve or disapprove, my father is deceased, and my siblings can't be bothered with that sort of thing, and anyway I don't live where they live. I am surrounded my yoga-doing vegans and new age readers and so on, all of whom would approve of me to no end if I did headstands in the morning and mooned about tofu or sprouts of whatever. And I have let myself experience that at times--I sat with a zen group for years an dI have read just about every new age and self help book that was published up to a few years ago, when I stopped. But in fact, that doesn't bring me good feeling. I just end up alienated from myself, and that's a real problem. Part of what I am saying is that I have been in part formed by a culture and the person I actually am remains connected to some of the values of that world, and I have to find a way through that that works for me. I don't think there's a deep inner me opposed to society. Ack, I'm rambling. I know that the woo woo (as you call it!) works for you and for a lot of people, and that's lovely. And I'm sure not stiff upper lipping it here--that's as alien to me as anything I've been ranting about. I am just working at figuring out who I am and how that works, and it's not so straightforward as all that. Anyway, thanks for your thought-provoking comment. And thanks for being here. xo

      Delete
  4. I'm here! I'm here!

    We didn't do feelings in my family either. I wonder if it was just a generational thing with our parents? I think we are near the same age? I'm 46 and both my parents were born in 1940. My dad is gone but my mother is still alive and in a memory care facility with Alzheimer's and vascular dementia and a very impressive list of ailments! Good times lemme tell ya.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, similar age and background for sure. I do think how we deal with emotions is cultural/generational. And I think sometimes that makes me a little skeptical that our way is a good one. But I have to try something! I hear you on how tough it is dealing with a parent with dementia and assorted ailments. I am trying to learn from it, but it's a challenge. Thanks very much for visiting and commenting! Take care. xo

      Delete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  6. My family was just the opposite - they over shared EVERYTHING...most of it inappropriate for a child. I grew up using that stiff upper lip to prove I was above all that. I stuffed every emotion I ever had away until it all came tumbling out in the form of depression, too much drinking and too much eating.

    I'm just now figuring out who I am without the me of the past and without worrying about who I'll be in the future. Just being here, right now.

    Let me tell you, figuring out my 'authentic self' (to use a woo-woo term) is not for the faint of heart. I'm finding that I have to be way more bad ass then I ever thought I could be to tackle it. But I'm up for the challenge!

    I hope you find your way too.

    Sherry

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi. I am so glad you're blogging again. Drinking, sober, whatever .... I love how your mind works and am grateful for your posts. THANK YOU.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello and thank you for such kind words!!! Hope you're well, too. xo

      Delete
  8. Congratulations on your commitment to the 100 days, that is major.
    i don't think the emotional overflow is coddling at all, it is us, finally coming to the surface and bubbling over. We are overwhelmed in early sobriety,most of us started drinking at an early age and we really have no idea what a sober life looks like. We know we're supposed to want it, but how can we want something we know nothing about. All we really want is to escape from the hell that drinking is making out of our lives. For most of us, it takes lots of forays into sobriety and lots of scurrying back to what we know before one day we look up and decide we're in sobriety and we're there to stay.
    I don't know if after this 100 days you'll decide to stay, but I know that sobriety will be a less scary place the next time you want to visit. At some point, you may just decide to stay.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot for this, Kary May. I really appreciate what you say here. Aside from the long back and forth of mostly drinking with some days/weeks/months off from several years back, more recently I have had two long sober stretches (4 mos, 16 mos) with two short stretches of trying drinking (2 mos and 4 mos), which I see when I write it means I have been sober for 20 of the past 26 months. For me, trying both has been important. In my last post I wrote that in this past stretch of drinking, I started to miss being sober! Coming back to not drinking in search of a way of living that I think suits me better is a whole different matter than giving up something I am conflicted about. Whereas wanting to drink but being afraid of the consequences, while it works for some people, made me feel like I was living in fear. In fact, I have thought that after the 100 days I will likely keep on with being sober. I may say "another year" or "two tears," or I may not need to do anything like that. I'll see. Figuring out how to deal with the emotional world is tricky, though, and I think I will pay more attention to that this time. OK, it looks like I have just about written a blog post as a response! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It's lovely to see you here! xo

      Delete