what’s new?

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What’s new? What’s new with me, you ask? Well, naturally, I’m thrilled that you did because there is a whole lotta new going one in SeanLand. New furniture to sit my pampered behind on! New sparkly town to live in! New places to go to meetings at! New fancy folks to hang out with! New yummy places to eat! New thrilling things to do. New, new, new! But the bad news is that I’m the same old me wherever I go which is exhausting regardless of my current zip code.

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I noticed the other day as I got unexpectedly snippy about an inane topic like where to put the little thingy that holds our spare change that my mental health wasn’t exactly award-winning. In fact, I was a level of cranky which quickly made me feel like I was crawling out of my skin. And this was AFTER I had been to a meeting. So it wasn’t just feeling “dry” but more of that “spiritual malady” business that the recovery kids talk about. Meaning maybe all was not so well on the mental health ranch.  Granted, I understand that being snippy after moving is par for the course. Given the amount of ridiculous crap me and the hubs have had to endure over the last 10 days, a little tantrum now and then isn’t the end of the world. Still, I don’t love being an asshole about ridiculous stuff like where to put the little thingy that holds our spare change. Because the reality is at the core of my being I don’t actually give a shit where that little thingy goes. No really, I don’t. I’m NTKOH (not that kind of homo). Michael’s department in this relationship is Home Decor & Organization and I happily turn all of it over to him. And I know I’m in good hands as he actually does this kind of thing for a living. If I’m being testy about stuff I honestly do not care about, I’m clearly not taking care of myself.

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The short(ish) answer to that question, “What’s new?” is “same old, same old.” Feel free to say that response in a Texan accent or like a bored waitress at a roadside diner, by the way. Whatever you like. I trust you. Anyway, the predictability of my own bullshit is tiresome yet comedic. Like a Lucy rerun or a Looney Tunes gag, you can see the joke setup and it’s punchline from 40 miles away. As I finally meditated this morning after days of running around like a person gathering stuff for an impending apocalypse, I had to laugh. It was hilarious that as usual the things that make me feel less crazy still do and are fairly easy to accomplish. Duh.com.  As I’ve lamented recently in these pages,  meditation has really rocked my clock in 2017. Breathing and taking a few moments that aren’t all about me is a fucking relief  so when I don’t do that I tend to feel pretty gosh darn horrible. It’s a part of the combo that makes me pull off this 24-7 mental health magic trick and when it’s missing, the shit is not cute. But if we’re really gonna sip some coffee and tell the truth, me not taking care of myself mentally is actually a tad uglier than all of this.

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The other night after a long day of something tedious and moving related, the husband and I went to dinner. He doesn’t have the specialness of alcoholism that I do so he sometimes orders a beer or a cocktail at dinner. It isn’t a big deal. I certainly don’t obsess about drinking or freak out when he has a drink so it’s not a thing between us. Yet when he ordered whatever alcoholic beverage it was at dinner, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think to myself, “Oh! I should order one of those too!” Luckily, that thought was immediately followed up with another thought of “Yeah because that’d work out real well.” But nevertheless it happened. Oh and it happened a few days prior to that as I watched him and coworker drink wine at a farewell thing we attended. Look, these thoughts aren’t pretty and having them immediately disqualifies me as some sobriety guru I’m sure. Darn it. You would assume that after 8 years I would never, ever think about drinking. But in my case you’d be wrong. The truth? I drank and used drugs for a long ass time so I’m just going to have occasional fantasies about it. The important thing is that they pass and not turn into plans I want to materialize. Also, now I tell on myself and have a little list of things I can do to make myself feel more human and less like a snippy weirdo who wants to start a fight about the thingy that holds the change.  The flip side is when I don’t do these things, there’s a possibility that the passing thought actually becomes a reality and that’s just something I don’t want to risk.

So what’s actually new? Nearly everything externally  is new which I have to say is exciting. I feel like a kid again and I’m ready to explore and be inspired in a different town.  But absolutely nothing internally and that’s really okay because I love me, snippiness, random thoughts of drinking and weirdness included.

 

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Handle With Care

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It’s a recipe. That’s the only way I can describe it. I’m sure that has something to do with the fact that I’m ravenously hungry every single time I sit down to write but it’s the only metaphor I have in my writerly rolodex right now. The ‘it’ I’m talking about is self-care, in case you were wondering. Those two words were a head scratcher back when I was on my tequila soaked kamikaze mission. The closest I ever got to self-care back then was going 24 hours without lying or avoiding a blackout for an entire week. So now that I’m this sober adult and shit, I still regularly tinker with this recipe on doing actions that help this love cruise of mental wellness stay afloat.

Last Thursday, I figured I better scramble to get some sort of self-care recipe in action. For starters, I logged off Facebook and Twitter and I avoided news headlines. Listen, everybody everywhere was talking about this world event happening, one that I find horribly depressing, and I honestly didn’t want to engage. Besides, what could I possibly add to a conversation with so many voices? I detest redundancy and more than that I hate being beat to the punch when making jokes about current events therefore I passed on reading and commenting. Intuitively something told me that hanging onto my serenity was more important than obsessively reading and wringing my hands over this train wreck in slow motion. It turned out to be a good move but it wasn’t easy and had a lot of steps like making a paella and macarons at the same time. Mmm macarons.

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In addition to not reading the headlines or being on social media, I had to take it one step further, I turned off my phone on Friday. FOR THE ENTIRE DAY! This deserves all-caps and an exclamation point because I’m undoubtedly my smartphone’s bitch and I know this. Hi. I am an addict so of course I cradle and obsess over the damn thing like I’m Gollum with a piece of shiny jewelry. I always laugh when people in recovery come to meetings only to spend the whole time playing on their phone. Boo, you are in the right place, you freaking iPhone junkie. So that was difficult but not impossible. I knew if I didn’t want to know anything, I’d have to cut off my pocket-sized link to the outside world. Next, I brought a book to work. Sounds simple but replacing the fondling of my phone with something more tangible was key in order to keep my mind off of that stuff that was happening. Books have always been my touchstone to my higher self so reading turned out to be a godsend.

The day was chill and clipped along at a normal pace. I engaged with a few visitors who were there just to see something beautiful and get their mind off of things. One in particular was so kind and clearly upset that our conversation made me teary. Like run to the bathroom just in case I totally lost it teary. Moments of tenderness aside, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there and go home. But before I went home, I stopped at the bookstore. As I’ve mentioned before, libraries and bookstores have always been sacred places to me where I can manage to center myself. After about 20 minutes of perusing the fiction section and picking out a few titles, I wasn’t okay. I got sweaty and hot and felt like I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t  panic attack but I needed to go ASAP. I realized in that moment of feeling like crap in the bookstore that despite all of my wrapping myself in bubble wrap, something was still broken. I was fucking depressed and devastated.

I walked home with my books (along with some burritos for dinner) like a zombie. No sacred place, no amount of precaution could disguise the fact that I currently felt like I didn’t belong in the country where I was born. The country, that I believed when they told us in Catholic school we should be proud to live in, now wanted totally different things than I did and that really fucked with me. Which is fine. I’m one of those prone to butt-kicking depression types so to think that I wouldn’t occasionally get my ass handed to me by emotions would be like thinking that McDonald’s will just one day decide to stop making Big Macs. Ain’t gonna happen. For what it’s worth, I don’t think “getting over it” is the answer. I think that sort of “don’t deal with it” thinking is the reason we’re all hooked on drugs and drinking our faces off. I no longer shoot to get over things. I shoot to move through things, regardless of how long it takes or how much it hurts.

Nevertheless, I got home, had dinner with my husband, watched an episode of Top Chef and was actually in bed by 8:30pm. I’d had it. The final step in the recipe was, “if all else fails, go to bed” so that’s what I did. By Saturday, I’d glanced at a few headlines and was shown a picture of White House staffer in a nutcracker uniform but otherwise I was still off the grid. We saw a play, had dinner with friends and generally moved to a more light-hearted place. There was a lot of laughing going on which helps me immensely. Undoubtedly, the winner of the weekend was prayer and meditation. I’ve been gently directed to do more of those things lately and have been sort of practicing a half-assed spirituality for months. I only turn to these things when I’m in bad shape so suffice to say, I was praying and meditating like it was going out of style. On Sunday, I started peaking my head out again. Tweeting, processing events with coworkers, texting program friends, more laughing. I read a little more news and spent more time on Facebook, two terrible ideas. I quickly moved back into self-care and had a great dinner with my husband followed by another early bedtime.

I share all of these boring-ass details of my weekend because that’s what the recipe looked like. Handling myself with care took a lot of steps and to my surprise I still felt shitty. As I started to get down myself yesterday for still being a raw, emotional wreck, a little light came on. I didn’t drink all weekend nor did I use drugs and I also didn’t hurt myself or others. So in my mind the recipe was a success. Sure, I would like to feel magically fabulous with all of my hurt gone but staying sober and relatively sane was good enough. Hell it was a miracle. I recently talked to a sober homie of mine and we both agreed that drinking right now and being “out there” right now would be a nightmare.

As far as me and this country goes, it’s one day at time like everything else. It’s acceptance, like everything else. It’s love and tolerance, like everything else. And it’s also plane tickets. Late Friday night, my husband purchased our flights for a long-brewing trip to Europe. Because when the going gets tough, the tough make a recipe for self-care and the tough also get going to Paris.