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04 July 2005 @ 01:47 pm
hard stuff  

I've been feeling good lately. The last few days, less so. I had a realization--is there a better word for something smaller and less significant than an epiphany, by the way? Maybe this was a mild epiphany. There's a theory that says active alcoholics are people who aren't able to fully grow up--to cope with the realities of life. And I think that one of the key problems I've had is a desire for stability, but not in a reasonable way--more in the way a child wants stability. Children eventually grow up to become adults who have to recognize that life is essentially unstable. Though when I say stability, it's not just economic, for instance; it's also equilibrium--emotional, physical. So if I was having an off day, if I was angry or lonely, or didn't feel well, I'd drink, to smooth things out to that familiar, evenly distributed fog.

It's a little odd, because it wasn't as if our family was military and moved every six months. In fact, my family was always in a rut, in almost every way. But maybe I had some sense of instability at the core of it all. Certainly all my adult life I've felt like I have no firm ground under my feet, and I guess that feeling probably started hitting my consciousness in my late teens.

I don't want to be in a rut, but I get frustrated when I can't rely on a sustained equilibrium: I hate that my balance can be upset by moodiness, PMS, illness, wildly fluctuating energy levels. Sudden hypervigilance of breath. I mean, I've spent this whole weekend doing not much more than breathing, my energy low. I want my life to be at least a nice, stable 85% or so, with occasional spikes of joy into the nineties.

A few weeks back I was hitting a rough patch in terms of sobriety; beset by recurring thoughts of drinking. It's not so bad right now. Everything goes up, everything goes down, yadda yadda.

Work was great this last week. I want to keep that effort and level of accomplishment up. I felt really good about myself. The writing took a backseat, obviously, but I have to admit, it wasn't because I was being all self-disciplined. I actually wasn't feeling any creative motivation. I kind of quasi-feel-bad about that, for the sake of people reading my stuff, but whenever that feeling rises through a hole in the bottom of my mind, it's as if I take a bucket and bail the rising water out and toss it over the side. Because I still feel this drive to focus on myself until I figure out the hang of this--of living. Ha. Maybe someday I'll mature and evolve enough to be a more selfless, outward-looking person. Or maybe those who believe in reincarnation are right, and I can project my hopes for enlightenment onto the next lifetime or ten.

::I breathe I breathe I breathe::
mizu_gamiwakinghour on July 4th, 2005 08:53 pm (UTC)
My mom has been recovering for just over a year now and she said that taking a Yoga class specifically for recovering addicts was fabulous for her because it teaches you some thought control, so she can get away from inside her head.
Anna S.: byzantiumeliade on July 4th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
Yoga is definitely one of those things that lingers on my life-sized "to do" list, but which I've not yet aggressively pursued. But I like being reminded of that--thank you! :)
tried to eat the safe banana: Namastethefourthvine on July 5th, 2005 10:02 am (UTC)
I don't know much about yoga as a part of addiction recovery, but I do know some small amount about yoga, including a lot of the easier ways to get into it, and how long they take. So if you're ever curious about it, or want to know what that would take, feel free to ask me.

I can also tell you that yoga is a part of my life because it's one of the more useful, healthy, grown-up ways I have of resetting my brain, of taking it out of a sort of locked down, shut in, very unpleasant cycle that feels, in part, like I desperately need something but I don't know what. So yoga works for me and my primitive developmental disability; it never occurred to me that it might also work for people in recovery, but now that I think about it, it makes sense.

Anyway - *hugs*.

And, seriously, as the icon says - namaste. (The light in me salutes the light in you. I know, it sounds hopelessly corny and hideously stupid the first few dozen times you hear or say it, so I'm sorry. But after a while it acquires real meaning, and it is precisely what I mean: the best part of me salutes you.)
(Deleted comment)
Anna S.: blair-sandburgeliade on July 4th, 2005 09:00 pm (UTC)
Ha! That's awesome. *g* I must try to retain and use that.
Cesperanzacesperanza on July 4th, 2005 09:05 pm (UTC)
I think Apple makes an I-piphany. It's cute and small and portable. {{hugs you}}
light of other daysiliadawry on July 4th, 2005 10:14 pm (UTC)
I was thinking an epiphanette.
WesleysGirl: RChandswesleysgirl on July 4th, 2005 09:19 pm (UTC)
*Hugs you*

Breathing is good.

I re-read your TS series "The Woods" this morning and loved it just as much as ever. It's wonderful. So are you. :-)
alittlebritonalittlebriton on July 4th, 2005 10:02 pm (UTC)
Since leaving uni, I have come to a conclusion: life rushes by, carrying you along and the best you can do is try not to bump into the rocks. I know that doesn't really help, and I have no background in sobriety (my friends are nodding vigorously at this point) but I wanted to let you know that everyone on LJ and hopefully in your life has faith in you and love for you. You are doing fabulously. IF you fall down, you pick yourself back up with the help of others. It's what other people do, and it works, so just keep going. You are, and will be, totally fine.

Sorry for long post. Just my show of support.
Kres: methoskres on July 4th, 2005 10:17 pm (UTC)
Breathe and be there and write. You make a lot of things better.


Once more re-reading,
julia_herejulia_here on July 4th, 2005 10:19 pm (UTC)
Good days, bad days, days... I'm with you on the need for stability, but I've found, in fifty-three years mostly spent within ten miles of my birthplace, that the stuff is hard to come by. The only way I can feel balanced and whole is by turning my back to the living world and blinkering myself down to the screen on my iMac and I have to tell you the evidence is that doing so is A Very Bad Thing Indeed.

There's all this good advice out there about finding security in a joyous insecurity, yadda yadda, but I've found that is what leads me to excesses of various sorts. There is the kind of stability that comes from tradition, the kind of dynamic stability that comes from being very involved with some cause or project, the negative stability of surrender to the status quo. There's the stability that comes from doing things to make other people happy, which is only life-enhancing if what you're doing is something which also makes you happy. "You" = you, y'all, me, people who are none of those who do things that way.

No point to that; I should be getting cleaned up and ready to face the family 4th of July gathering. Which is a fragile kind of stability indeed- the people I look forward to seeing there are all in their seventies and eighties. It's like taking joy in the last bloom of camas on a piece of [property that the next year is bulldozed flat and covered with big box stores; after a while, I take what I can get.

Julia, obviously without a clue, today
(Anonymous) on July 4th, 2005 11:11 pm (UTC)
I am posting anonymously, as a member of AA, and as a person who eagerly clicks through to your journal through another friend's journal but who doesn't know you not only for your fic, but for your discussions of your life. I just wanted to say as a person with 3.5 years that I really appreciate your fearless discussion of what you are going through to get sober. In my first year of sobriety, I think one of the best things I learned was "This too will pass." "This" includes not only bad times, but good. The important thing is to accept and move forward through life.

Also, related to the suggestion of a yoga class, above, you might want to look for an 11th step meeting--they often are group meditation. As you proceed through the steps you will no doubt get to 11 on your own, but these meetings can help.
xanphibian on July 4th, 2005 11:31 pm (UTC)
I think life, no matter whose it is, is always unstable, ever changing, and no one can remain static or unchanged. Sometimes it seems like things are happening to us all too often, instead of us making things happen, making things better, bringing about positive change.

One thing you can do is to maintain your center. This has been especially hard for me in the past, but I'm getting better at it. Meditation, exercise, a few minutes here and there I take during the day to make myself return to the moment: these all help me regain my center when I feel like I'm all over the place and my mind isn't making sense because I have so much energy focused outward. I'm not talking navel gazing, just ... breathing, and staying in the moment, and not getting too far ahead of yourself.

I think you're doing a pretty good job of it, actually.

*hugs and good vibes*
Jack Pride: X: bouguereau2 (anniesj)jack_pride on July 5th, 2005 12:47 am (UTC)
I have no advice, but I read your post.
Alizarin_NYC: Those Daysalizarin_nyc on July 5th, 2005 02:38 am (UTC)
I hate that my balance can be upset by moodiness, PMS, illness, wildly fluctuating energy levels. Sudden hypervigilance of breath. I mean, I've spent this whole weekend doing not much more than breathing, my energy low. I want my life to be at least a nice, stable 85% or so, with occasional spikes of joy into the nineties.

Me too.

My balance is so easily upset and it upsets me to know how fragile and delicate that line really is. I just experienced a terrible three days, an emotional upset, and I drank from the minute it happened and kept drinking despite the fact that it was unsafe to do so.

It takes immense courage to face life without a drink, I think, and gosh, I admire you so much for what you have accomplished.

I'm adrift, jobless, humiliated, lost... and I'm still incredibly proud that it was only a three-day binge and that I'm again ready to face the world. And you should feel great when you DO accomplish the act of breathing, of getting your work done and feeling good about that, and also knowing that you're working on yourself.

And those spikes of joy are sure to come... they always do, so you have that to look forward to!
cindershadow on July 5th, 2005 02:51 am (UTC)
Sometimes when I feel particularly raw and volatile, I think about the movie "Parenthood": the Steve Martin character gets distressed as he watches his son, who has even more trouble than he does in dealing with too much input from daily life. His wife, who clearly has a few more layers of skin than he does, says that he needs to view life as a roller-coaster and just enjoy the ride. I think that advice works for some people, and I do think we all have to develop some of that skill to keep balance on the pitching ship deck or keep the canoe afloat as we skim past the rocks, an image someone used earlier. I also think that some of us do better staying away from roller coasters and river rapids; I find ordinary, day-to-day life more than intense enough, both good and bad. So I've insulated myself with animals I can love and touch and a job which provides some structure and sense of fulfillment--and beyond that, I do what works for me. Not everyone would agree that the life I've constructed is successful enough or conventional enough, but for the most part it allows me to be a basically functional individual . . . and to my mind, that's good enough, and I don't owe anyone any more than that. I've also tried to get rid of that Puritan/parental voice in my head that says "You should be able to handle this! Don't be so weak." I still have days when everything seems grim and I feel like a waste of space, but then I ask myself how, in terms of objective reality, that day is fundamentally different than the days that have been great, and often there isn't any; it's just like someone put a dark filter on the lens. That's when having relatively non-destructive self-comforting behaviors helps, like the way cats groom themselves after stress. That's natural, not shameful. (Unless raw spots develop!) I don't present this as any kind of wisdom, but it's gotten me to the start of my second half century, for what it's worth. Anyway--you seem to be asking yourself good questions; just be sure to give yourself enough praise, and let yourself believe the praise and support you are getting from others. (That's one of the best things I get from the animals: uncritical, uncomplicated affection, both emotional and physical. I hope you find what works for you.)
Roquelaureroquelaure on July 5th, 2005 09:03 pm (UTC)
Another word for epiphany: revelation

Sounds less epic than epiphany, I think. :)
Tehomettehomet on July 7th, 2005 03:02 am (UTC)
Thank you for posting. I have nothing valuable or insightful to add, just that it comforts me to read your stuff.
empresspattiempresspatti on July 8th, 2005 06:05 pm (UTC)
You wrote - I don't want to be in a rut, but I get frustrated when I can't rely on a sustained equilibrium: I hate that my balance can be upset by moodiness, PMS, illness, wildly fluctuating energy levels.

It really hit home to me, as I was in that exact place for several years. I had to build myself a brain filter to evaluate what was worth worrying about. Is PMS worry as important as I didn't workout worry or I didn't pay off all my credit card debt this month? It took me a long time to quit squicking about the regular ups and downs of my life and knowing when to worry enough to have a plan to fix things - whatever they were. I also had to admit to myself that sometimes I'm just a small, moody person. Oh well, other times I'm a joy to behold!

ALSO - Just want to point out that 90 days of sobriety is a major equilibrium. Good for you!