under attack

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As I perused a website that makes my corneas burn but I can’t make myself quit (I’ll give you one guess. It rhymes with SchmaceSchmook.) I rolled my eyes when I read  “___________* Attacks GOP For Healthcare Failure.” My first thought was “Girl, please.” Like is everything now an attack now? I mean a white tiger leaving Roy(of Siegfried and, natch) partially paralyzed is a muthafucking attack. Somebody blowing up a hotel? Also an attack. Gay bashings, robberies, sexual assaults? All incredibly awful and all attacks.

But some maybe-billionaire with hair that looks like cigarette-flavored cotton candy whining about not getting his way? Not an attack. Not even close. Yet it appears it’s not just Herr Hairball who claims that he’s being attacked. Somewhere along the way, we wound up in an era of easy victims who are now attacked by everyone and everything.

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I know I’ve certainly fell victim to, well, feeling like a victim. The “poor me, poor me, pour me a drink” cliché of alcoholics is a fucking cliche for a reason. Despite usually being the biggest assholes in the room we alcoholics have a sorceress like ability when it comes to still feeling like the victims sometimes even make others believe that too. As I was watching the latest episode of Girls and witnessing sad, sad, skinny, little Marnie get her ass handed to her yet again by the universe, a light came on. That character, that one the makes you want to throw your remote at the screen is so frustrating to me because I’ve been her. Like repeatedly and for years. Now, I’m not saying “We’re all Marnie.” Bitch, I don’t know your life. But I certainly identify. Every time something goes awry for Marnie, it’s somebody else’s fault. Kind sounds eerily like how I lived my life forever. If it was a “tough” childhood or “bad” relationships or “mean” bosses or “competitive” people who were always ruining Sean’s life than Sean would never, ever have to say, “Sorry. I suck.” It was a foolproof plan, well until it wasn’t. But it did work for a while. For example, I once drunkenly unleashed a hateful text storm on a friend and was somehow able to spin it that I was justified for doing so because this person deserved it and because I felt attacked. The crazier part was I was able to get people to side with me and co-sign my terrible behavior! Like I said, magic. Luckily for me, this charade only had a two decade shelf life and if I wanted to get and stay sober, I had to drop the perpetually attacked routine.

faf74108c8c1ede332001ae0e2c02b3eAlas, shedding the victim act wasn’t an overnight thing. I mean after you’ve played Edith Crawley in your brain’s production of Downton Abbey for several years, it takes a some time to slide into another role. Even recently (this week) I was feeling very run over, very attacked by circumstance. There was a temporary landslide of boring ass life things that werent going my way. It was all shit I had zero control over and none of it was life or death. But to my victim mind none of that mattered. My default is, “Everything sucks and world is out to get me.” I call this Jill Abbotting. Jill Abbott, for the uninitiated, is a the longtime resident bitch-in-chief on The Young & the Restless. Since the 80’s, Jill has perpetually found a way to be pretty awful and do terrible things like sleep with her stepson and have her nemesis kidnapped yet still act like a victim of circumstance. It’s always the world’s fault. Unlike Marnie, however Jill knows she’s being an asshole and DGAF. Jill–>Lady Edith–>Marnie. Maybe the interpretation of this character gets watered down or less self-aware over time. I know. Girls, Downtown Abbey and a daytime diva. This post is pretty damn gay and we haven’t even gotten to the ABBA yet. But I digress. The point is I was slipping into that mindset and it started to feel shitty.AttackFromSpace_Poster

Which brings us back to that guy from the beginning of the post. I guess I should be grateful to him. I mean he’s like a four-year long writing prompt but to be honest I’d rather write about baked goods or Marc Chagall paintings. Nevertheless, his ridiculousness served as a gateway for me pulling my headed out of my ass. Remind me to send him a fruit basket to thank him. Or not. But that’s the gift of this whole living a life of accountability thing: I get to laugh at my self-imposed victimhood. More than that, maybe I can even have compassion for others who are actually struggling.

As I write this in my cozy apartment with my sleepy cats, someone in my life is dying as a result of alcoholism. This beautiful being never deserved to go out like this. This spitfire and life of the party shouldn’t be dying right now. And really shouldn’t be dying as a victim of something she could have overcome if only she had an inkling that she deserved better. However, now at this late in the game, the writing is on the wall and her time on this planet is limited. Talk about a real tragedy. Yet as much of a heartbreaking story as hers is it’s also a call for me to drop the victim bullshit. It’s a call to not feel attacked(especially by consequences of my own actions), to be grateful for the life I have in this moment and to laugh and sing along to ABBA, even if my inner drama queen wants to tell me otherwise.

*The blank space is used where his name should appear as I’ve taken a vow not to type his name on the sacred sparkly space of these pages. xo-S.

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Angry Anymore

chile_villiarica.jpgBubble. Furiously simmer. Boil over. And explode. Repeat for 10 to 20 years. This was the family recipe passed on for generations of hotheaded alcoholics. The funny thing is I always thought I wasn’t one of them. You know one of those angry, yelling types who blew the fuck up out of nowhere and for no good reason. Those assholes were cray-cray. I mean I loved them and I was related to them but they needed to relax. But I also thought that I wasn’t an alcoholic so what did I know?

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Turns out, your buddy ole smiling Sean Mahoney is one angry muthafucker. Thru a series of writings that the kids in programs that help people stop killing themselves with drugs and alcohol  call “stepwork” I was able to learn this. The more I wrote and looked at my past actions, the more I realized how incredibly pissed off I was. Pissed off at Catholic school teachers who humiliated me. Pissed off at exes who didn’t love me enough. Pissed off at myself for making the same mistakes year after year.  If I looked at this stuff and found my part and cleaned up my messes, I’d feel better and maybe, just maybe I’d stop drinking to dull how angry I was. They turned out to be right. And seven years later they are still right. I’m back into doing this kind of writing again and I guess I should explain why.  A mutual friend with the same time as me relapsed, couldn’t stop and killed himself. Another friend who I got sober with in 2009 and with more time than me went out and now struggles to stay sober. And yet another beloved friend had seven years but relapsed and has spent the last seven trying to get sober. He just celebrated a year. This sort of thing happens in recovery (sadly, a lot)but for some reason these events got to me this year. All of these people had the amount of time I had and suddenly did not. I was terrified. So I asked my sponsor if we could do the work again. Thus, here I am looking at how angry I am yet again.

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I realize for me, like the generations of hothead Irish alcoholics before me, that anger is poison. I’ve had two maybe three big, angry explosions in sobriety. They feel awful. They feel out of control. They feel like the kind of thing that would make me go back to drinking. Rage is equally as deadly as drugs and alcohol and I’ve seen people destroyed by it. Therefore, I have to look at it. I have to treat it. I have to write about it. Sigh. Seven years later, I’m still wishing for the unsavory parts of my character to vanish but they don’t unless I do a little work on them. This time around, I’m discovering there’s still a few things that I’m really angry about. It’s deeper, less superficial stuff though. I’m angry at America. I’m at angry at the news. I’m angry at the way we treat each other. I’m angry at racist, homophobic, sexist, intolerant assholes, in general. But the people I dated, the people who raised me, the people I drank with and probably pissed off too? Child. Ain’t nobody got time for the that.

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Miraculously, through doing this stuff that seems impossible and like a real pain in the neck, a lot of the things I thought I’d never get over, I’m just not angry about anymore. Really. There’s a lot of forgiveness. There’s even more accountability. And there’s a strong recognition that being crazy and angry for me is a toxic place to be. On my best days, I can let anger say it’s thing and explode and then tell it, “Thank you for sharing. Now, go sit your angry ass down.” On my worst days? I try to shut up and not hurt people.  Yesterday, my sponsor told me to look at the people and things I have resentments against and realize which ones have to do with acceptance. What am I unwilling to accept the way they are? Turns out, that’s almost everything. For me, I can be sad today. I can have compassion. I can even be disappointed by the world and the people who populate it. I can also take action and change the things I’m mad about. But I just can’t be angry anymore.