I was narrating a blog post during my long run on Sunday. every time i’d come around a corner, i’d realize something new. thinking ‘will i remember this later? maybe i need a tape recorder with me on my runs …’
How Sobriety is Like a Sunday Long Run:
i just wrote this to a sober penpal:
“I’m big on giving up stuff that doesn’t serve me…”
i’m pretty aware of subtle ups and downs in my day. My motivation and energy levels fluctuate some days more than I’d like. I get the work done, but some days I enjoy it, other days it’s a grind. Even within a couple of hours i can flip and feel like something is grindy. So i’m always on the lookout for ways to ensure that i’m happy more often than not.
I know this about me. If i run, i feel better. Therefore, i try to run as often as i can, for very short distances, just enough to get the ‘bump’. 10 minutes is enough. I usually try to go for 20 minutes. But 10 minutes is enough to change my mood.
I know this about me. i know that i’m shit worthless on less than 8 hrs sleep. I accept this about myself. I will never just crash on your floor or in your van. I will always go home and get into my own bed and have a good night’s sleep. Always.
I know this about me. ice cream makes my guts feel funny. so i have sorbet.
I know this about me. i don’t go *home* for christmas, i skip family events where the drama is high. summer is better. at least we can sit outside.
I know this about me. i feel better if i’ve set out something for tomorrow, something symbolic like putting the folder by the front door. something that means that when i get up, my behaviour will be intentional instead of just being adrift.
I know this about me. i feel better without the news. I don’t read the paper except when on vacation, and then i read the arts/food/family/travel sections.
I know this about me. Because i don’t have a tv, i don’t repeatedly watch shitty things in other parts of the world that have nothing to do with me (sinkholes, tornadoes, plane crashes, etc.). I did not see Hurricane Katrina on CNN. I didn’t see the olympics either. shocking, i know.
I know this about me. I have stopped writing fiction but it wasn’t really a decision. I just stopped. I never ‘had time’, I was always ‘busy with other things,’ and that’s it. years went by. then more years. now I realize that I wrote fiction to make other people happy. i had a talent that they insisted i use. For me, it’s too solitary. For me, I’m not compulsive enough (i.e. I don’t get up every day just dying to write fiction). I do get up thinking about pie, though. Turns out I had to get sober and be 46 to figure out what I’m really called to do. I’m CALLED to and dream about cinnamon buns. And pie. And today I made sour cream coffee cake and bagels and lamb pot pies.
I know this about me. I’m also (apparently) called to be sober penpal with a squillion people although this is a recent event and i’m not sure what it means yet. I seem to have fallen into it without really examining the ‘whys’ of it. I expect the meaning will be clearer later, maybe much later. This sober thing is part of a story, but i’m not sure what the story is yet.
I know this about me. I avoid crazy situations, even when they’re called Family. I stayed home from the funeral because y’all were fighting about who was going to inherit the bed.
I know this about me. i don’t have anyone in my life anymore who makes me feel small. If you make me cry, i’ll think very seriously about having anything to do with you again even if you apologize. if you think it’s OK to corner me, and to push even when i’ve said what’s best for me, then I’ll act silent. And then I’ll turn and walk away and never come back.
I know this about me. I do what’s best for me. even if you think i’m an idiot. or wrong. or that i’m selfish. or not brave enough. or whatever you’d like to project onto me. I do what’s best for me.
I know this about me. if you make me feel shitty because i got married and you’re single, and you liked me better when i was single, then please understand that i’ll pick my husband every day and twice on sundays. he’s adorable.
And really, Wolfie, if you think that listening to you is entertaining, then you’ve got another thing coming. i’m so fucking done with you, Wolfie. the empty space in my head and life now is filled with connections, and people, and cake. And bakeries and catering and sober friends and running. Fuck you wolfie. With sugar on top.
Durfee (day 97) sent me this photo a while ago, and i’ve been saving it for the perfect time. this is it.
Let there be no mistake. Getting sober is not a walk in the park. It’s not easy.
On this blog, I tend to be positive. That’s my way. Yes, at times — particularly if you’re having a shitty day — my tone will be irritating. It might look like my sober life is a fucking bowl of European chocolate covered cherries trimmed with rose petals. And that your sober life is hard and scary and freaky and soaked in dog shit.
Me: In case there is any misunderstanding, my sobriety might look ‘pretty and rosy and divine and twinkling’. But it isn’t. Your sobriety might look heinous and difficult and shitty and not worth it. But it isn’t. We’re both doing the same thing. Trying to get and stay sober. And we’re doing the same thing in our own way.
Not all of my sober penpals are having an easy time. Yes, I post the good numbers: “Hooray for A, she’s on day 157!”
Maybe you can understand, but I don’t post “XXX had a drink yesterday and asked that her number be reset to day 1.” But it happens.
Me: You may stop and start a bit, while you figure out how to get your sober car on the road. It doesn’t matter. There is no right way. There is only your way.”
If you are having a terrible sober day, or you’re having a low-motivation sober week, or if you really wish you could drink today — please don’t think that that means you’re alone. You aren’t.
Those of us who are cheerleader-y by nature are also real people.
Some things you may not know:
While I usually can find a way to focus on the positive — both in my sobriety and in my life — I’m also a big crier. I cried at least twice this week about the tiny-gift-button, AND i even thought about saying fuck-it and that wine would be a good alternative to wading into a sober internet quagmire.
I bet you also didn’t know that I thought about drinking today. Not in a concrete: “i am going to drink” way, but in a “this would be a good time for a glass of wine” way. Then I switched channels in my head, and thought about something else. The feeling didn’t last very long, but it was there. I think that in coming up to my one year anniversary soon, wolfie is starting to say things to me like “well, certainly one year is long enough and since you never really gave moderation a try, you should at least give it a go.”
When i say something (or when I share a quote from a penpal) that is along the lines of “we feel better sober than we did while drinking,” that does NOT mean that we’re always happy about every single moment of every single day. There are some days that fucking suck. Some sober days it seems to you like everyone has a glass of wine in their hands, and that everyone can drink responsibly so why can’t you, and it makes you want to throw something at the TV screen. There are days where you’ve said NO to everything and everyrone, and now you want to say YES to some wine cuz this shit is hard.
I can tell you what I do when this happens to me, when i feel like wine would be a good idea. These techniques have been working for me up to know, and i hope to fuck they continues to work especially as my one year anniversary approaches.
Over time, thankfully, I learn to see wolfie coming from further away, and I make changes quickly and definitively to avoid collision. If i have a series of low days, or if I feel the irritated ‘I want to drink’ idea starting up, then I blog about it. I tell someone — even my husband. I take some action and do something proactive, like pour out the booze in the house (or move its location), or whatever. I start running every day until I’m sure the feeling has passed. Then I go back to normal. Sometimes wolfie is silenced with one email, sometimes it takes a few blogs and a few long runs and a couple of good crying spells.
Whatever it takes.
Please don’t misinterpret the happy tone of my blogs. It is not all sunshine. But the good sober days are very very good, and the bad days when drinking were horrid. I’m choosing to live in the good days. Sometimes i have my rose colored glasses on.
Yes, it sucks for all of us sometimes. For example, today is only 50% good day for me. I feel a bit sick, my chest still hurts from my fall 2 weeks ago (so i alternatively think it’s a heart attack or cancer rather than bruised ribs), the weather is a bit cold, it’s sunday and my weekend is over and i’m not looking forward to this week, i think I’m getting a cold (again).
But — here’s the shiny positive shit that you hate — having a 50% good day is still better than if I was drinking/boozing/hiding. And I count on tomorrow being an 85% good day. That’s where i’m headed. if tomorrow still sucks — and i usually know as soon as I wake up what kind of day it’s going to be — then I will take action and go for a longer run before i even turn on my computer. I’ll have a very healthy breakfast, I’ll skip sugar for a day, I’ll blog more, i’ll say something to my husband about how i’m feeling. and I’ll wait.
To drink now would mean to start again at day 1. and no matter how today feels, i never want to have a day 1 again. Maybe you don’t either. That’s worth putting on some rose-colored glasses for, yes?
i tripped and fell on my long run today. i was on a dirt path in a garden area, must have been a root or a bit of stone. tripped, one knee went down, then the hand, then the other knee, the hand, then flat on my chest taking the worst of it on my breastbone. stunned, i rolled onto my back and just hung there for a second. then sat up. now fully covered in dirt, front and back. sat for a bit to determine that i hadn’t broken anything. that i was “OK”. in a touristy area of the city, billion people around. no one came to help. no one said “are you ok?” maybe no one speaks the language, and really if someone falls and they’re not granny, if they’re a runner and they seem to be getting up, maybe you just leave them to it, figuring they’re embarrassed enough already.
i’m covered in dust front and back. my left hand is cut open in 5 places, both knees skinned but i don’t want to look down, just don’t need to see it. i have no money and i’m not unwell enough to get a taxi and pay once i get home. i walk home, 18 minutes, first feeling gigantically sorry for myself — nearly teary — i check that my engagement ring on my left isn’t also mangled as my fingers are. my ring is fine. i think i might cry about how my ring could have gotten damaged. i don’t cry. i keep walking. after about 5 minutes of walking the shock has worn off. i realize i’m lucky that it’s not cold outside cuz i’m sweaty and that shit would get cold quickly. i’m lucky it’s not raining. i’m lucky that nothing is broken, that i’m not ‘hurt’ just scraped.
and i try to figure out ‘why’ this has happened. If everything happens for a reason, or if a lesson can come from everything, then why did this happen. OK, perhaps 7 minutes after the event isn’t the time to try to figure that out. i keep walking. i put the ipod shuffle earphones back in my ears, listening to an NPR podcast about Mormon missionaries.
my husband is really terribly squeamish, so i open the front door and say “i fell down. don’t look.” i lie on the spare bed, which can get dirty (versus the couch), and i wait to feel like getting undressed, into the tub. the tub is raised a bit, is in fact hard to get into and out of without good use of both hands. the water stings. i clean myself as much as i feel like, and then decide that absent gravel or glass in these cuts, they’re just going to be a bit dirty, too bad. i pour mercurochrome-equivalent on both knees, one hand, husband uses bandaids to stick make-up remover pads to my knees. that’s the extent of our first aid kit. i get into my pyjamas, he helps me put on my socks. he makes me lunch, he goes to the bakery to get me cake. i prop myself on the spare bed and watch a cooking show on the computer screen.
and i think:
‘god i’m tired. what is it about getting hurt that makes you want to sleep. i think it’s the wanting to hide. and you know without booze, which used to be my favorite place to hide, i now don’t have many ways of hiding. running is one place i can hide, usually, get into a zen state, lose track of real life. unless i fall down, and then i’m jolted back into real life kind of abruptly. i think sleep is where i hide now. well good. i’m ok with that. it’s restorative, productive, and safe. there are no side effects from sleeping. so what if i’m hiding, i fell down for fuck’s sake.’
i also think the sudden onset of fatigue is a physiological response to a spike in adrenaline, it’s the other side of the spike, the crash of adrenaline. of course, what the fuck do i know, i’m not a doctor. i didn’t even google it. i just make that shit up.
so why did i fall? no good reason. what did i learn? that i’m surprisingly tough, that our bodies are quite tough, that we can take scrapes, breaks, bruises, bangs, and we can heal ourselves. that it takes cake, cooking shows on tv, and sleep to solve problems (at least for me, at least for now).
i learned that in no way, shape, or form would having a drink aide me now. it would be like taking my swollen baby finger and then slamming it in a car door. drinking right now would be like slamming my LIFE in a car door. so instead i am going to roll over in the dirt, check that i’m ok, and i’m going to get up and keep going. i may go slowly at first, but then i’ll go more quickly. yes it stings. parts are swollen. it’s not all-right. but what are the alternatives? lie in the dirt forever?
Here’s how I know today is a good day:
And i went to the get supplies this morning, and went to a store far away that i’ve been putting off for (i don’t know) 5 weeks. then, just like that, it’s done and i can cross it off my list. All is well in this part of my world.
And I do adore the fact that — after my near-miss drinking feelings on Saturday — once i got through it and went to bed, it’s like it never happened and the days after are ‘normal’. Once i’ve kicked the wolf in the face, and once i go to bed, the next day it’s like it never happened and i’m back in my sober car again just tooling along, busy, happy, productive. And now that i have my tea back, all is well. What a stupid idea giving up caffeine. What was i thinking…
I’m feeling about 75% well today, so better than yesterday. Sickness, exhaustion, and overwhelm = not my finest moments. not the best combination. Mix that with the witching hour (7 pm to 9 pm). Last night was hard but not impossible. I’m glad I posted. Glad I put it out there that i was struggling. As soon as I press “publish” i know that i won’t drink. I expose the wolf for all the world to see, and then he shuts up. Thankfully.
But i have to accept, also, that this new hobby/passion is kicking my ass. and I am going to have to make some new rules starting right now. These things are more important to me than my passions, my work, or money:
If i’m being overworked by my passion, then I need to take a step back. if it’s not fun, and it starts to feel like work, then I’ve got to be careful. I don’t want to get burnt out on the one thing I really love doing.
I’m nearly 46 years old. Today is the day that I learn, once and for all, that I need enough sleep. It’s virtually impossible for me to stay sane, productive, running, and sober if i’m exhausted. I must remove exhaustion from the table. At all costs. Even if that means giving things up. Sleep and running are number one, because they LEAD to the other goals being possible.
If AA rules are don’t get too hungry, angry, lonely, tired…then mine are (expressed in the positive, cuz that’s the kind of chick i am):
YOU MUST GET ENOUGH …
- Healthy Food
- Rewards (like cake, tea, nail polish, fresh pineapple)
(i’m never lonely, and i’m usually only angry when exhausted, so i can remove those from my personal list)
I refuse to need to relearn these lessons any more. I’m old enough, i’ve lived long enough, and I know this already. I know that i need enough sleep. Stop fucking talking about it, and just do it. From now on.
i am less wobbly today. i had a very magical night’s sleep last night (8.5 hrs, didn’t wake once, woke at 8 am feeling like a million dollars). also, sunday long run = good times.
today i think i’m going to go ahead with the plans to work for the new company. I’ve been wanting to make this third hobby-job a bigger part of my life and this new contract has been dropped in my lap by a referral. i think all of the flashing indicators are saying “go this way” and thus i am going to follow along and see where it goes.
I am also ramping up my regular job work stuff now that it’s september; i send out emails and clients respond. I will be teaching again, and will be happy to be on the phone with people (in English!) starting in just a few weeks.
what did i learn yesterday?
I learned from Mrs D that my heightened nervousness might be new-sober-emotions and not to be feared. I learned from Paul that i’m focusing too much on the consequences of failure and not enough on the likelihood of failure (which is admittedly small). I learned (again) that i’m a girl who likes a clean house. I learned (thanks so much) that 8.5 hrs is enough sleep if i sleep through the night without waking! yeah! hooray! I learned that I love waking at 8 am … I learned that a big drumming group performing outdoors gives me the shivers (encountered one today on my long run). I learned that even on Sundays, the husband can say “i think i’m going to work a full day today” and instead of moaning that it’s sunny and he should do something with me, i have learned over time that if he feels like working – he should work. Motivation ebbs and flows for everyone. If he wants to work on a hot sunny sunday, who am i to argue! it’s not what i would do, but he’s not a sun whore like i am.
that said, me, this girl, i am going out to sit in the sun and read my book and plot to change the world. happy sunday : )
day 45. all is well. i haven’t had any of the “holy shit i had a drink” dreams. Instead i dreamt that i was handed a glass, and had a sip of wine and then spit it out, shouting to the hostess who served it to me: “I don’t drink!”
not only is “all well” with me today, but i’d like to continue feeling like this please. yesterday and today (so far) have been surprisingly settled, calm, happy, even days. Better than i’ve felt in a LONG time. Maybe the best that i’ve felt, ever. happy but not manic. content but not wacky. just good.
Now let’s talk about the 3 very small slices of chocolate cake i had yesterday. miniscule, really, but 3 nonetheless. I did mention that i wanted to do some baking during this vacation, and yesterday i got down to business.
i know that running 5 days a week, at my slow pace and for short distances, is all about mood control and not about weight management. I’m completely fine with that. I love running, and I don’t need to change anything about how i’m doing it. But my level of running does not permit me to eat ANYTHING i want.
yes, early days of quitting booze meant that i really didn’t have any choice. I needed the sugar and the calories and i needed it a lot.
but today is day 45 and i’m feeling good. so i’m going to slowly and gently begin to rein in the cake.
need a t-shirt made up:
“Must Eat Less Cake”
on my run today, i decided it will be best (for me) if i do something ‘out loud’ and accountable. Since i know from the law of attraction that what we focus on EXPANDS, then i will focus on pounds lost, so that i can watch that number grow.
Since quitting booze 45 days ago, as of today, Tuesday morning, I am down 2.2 pounds. not bad considering said cake. Every Tuesday morning for the next several weeks, i will post my total weight loss so that I can watch the number increase … sort of like watching my sober days increase. My current sober goal is 90 days (and beyond). my current weight goal is 15ish pounds (possibly beyond, i’ll see when i get there).
If you’re interested in joining me, you can go and weigh yourself now (2.2 pounds = 1 kilo). Yes, you can weigh yourself now, even if you’ve just eaten. Think how low the number will be by comparison next tuesday when you weigh yourself first thing : ) There’s no right time to start. There’s just now, and i’m starting here. i didn’t want to take on too much in the first 45 days, but now i feel OK with charting my numbers. nothing strenuous. no big diet. just conscious awareness. and mindfulness. Are you gonna join me?
Day 44. I am well, i having nothing new to report. I’m not having cravings. I learned nothing yesterday.
Well, that’s not strictly true. I think i learned these things, but i knew them before, but yesterday i learned them again.
Happy Monday : )
I am now back to running 5 days a week, which is the level I was at before we moved here to foreign-land.
I set out to run 30 minutes today and at about 20 mins I was tired. I know enough to finish the run, and to do what I set out to do. Because the few times that i’ve given up early (in my 12 years of running), i always regret it terribly afterwards. As a result, since I don’t want to disappoint myself, I almost always finish the run, AND I’m super careful to not plan to run too far. In the mornings when I set out, I plan my run based on how i feel, how much training, i’ve been doing, how much sleep i had the night before, the weather, etc.
And so I knew that 30 minutes was completely within my ability today. I felt like stopping at 20 minutes, but I knew I could ignore those feelings.[The parallels of running and ‘real life’ and sobriety are many. Don’t take on too much at once, we improve incrementally, don’t quit early, don’t quit at all if you can help it – even if you have to walk instead of run, it’s always better to finish no matter how you get there.]
So this morning, I was planning to do 30 minutes. Unfortunately, I went the “long way around” and at the end of 30 minutes I was NOT at the tram station where I hoped to end up, so that i could easily hop the tram and go home.
OK, no big deal. I decided to run from where I was to the tram (so my run was in fact 36 minutes … and I thought i was ‘too tired’ at 20 minutes … ha!)
On those last 6 “bonus” minutes, I had the coolest feeling. I know it’s in part from reading everyone’s brave and amazing comments on yesterday’s post. As I was running, I thought, I’m going to run this extra bit for all of the people who CAN’T. For everyone who wishes they could, but can’t (yet). And i got goosebumps, literally, like this really warm feeling of doing something for the greater good. I know, I know, it’s a bit metaphysical even for this chick.
But there are lots of people who’d love to be me (sober on day 40), so I just cannot fuck it up.
There are tons of people who’d love to live in this beautiful city and see what I can see. So i cannot hide in my apartment.
There are billions of people who’d give their left nut to run along the water and then take the tram home.
So today I ran extra because I can.
Today I am sober because I can.