Jan 28, 2015
Mark was out-of-town and I was worn out and thin from the daughter I was beginning to now call “toddler”. Fits of crying and negativity left me hankering for a glass of wine night after night. I “needed” my edge smoother, I thought.
But I also worried that I might have a problem. I worried that everyone else thought I had a problem. Ask an alcoholic and they’re sure everyone is one too. Ask the child of an addict and they are waiting to become one too. Every man I ever dated, and the first one I married, had drinking or substance abuse problems. So did I have one too? The worrying about it made me want to drink my glass or two or three of wine all the more.
I grew up witnessing my father operate in much the same mode as Stephen King described of his early work process in his book On Writing. Quantities of drinking to get quantities of writing and work done. Drink, work, and repeat. And nights in my youth were sometimes spent drinking to get drunk.
In more recent years, I didn’t obsess all day about my next glass of wine. I wasn’t hiding my use. I just assumed that come wine thirty, it would be time to pour a glass and relax. Although, I didn’t drank until I was falling down or slurring drunk, I worried that this casual use to calm my nerves was a problem that I was not in control to stop. I was building a tolerance and a midsection. Because most of all, I really didn’t like my wine belly on top of my post 40 something pregnancy belly.
If I’m a role model who says ‘No’ to her children, doesn’t that mean I should believe I have control and can obey my own No’s? Finally, I tested the waters and said,”Not this week”. Sometimes the biggest dare is to see if we really are in charge and have the guts to do something without ropes. In many cases, I think the wine was a given safety net. And I wanted to prove I could handle life without it. And I did.
Every day I’d say “See, your life is calm enough to do without that anxiety queller.” And it did wonders for how much I trust myself to have restraints. And to know I’m in charge, not the anxieties or the chosen substances to appease these fears. I proved I am running the show and my fears are not. And eventually, even when I am at my most stressed, I do not think about drinking or my long departed pal nicotine anymore.
Wine drinking has reached epic casual joking heights online. So many memes extolling the virtues of this method of “relaxation”. Not enough wine in the world kinda stuff. It’s not the wine that is in question, it’s our assumption that everyone is “using” it in the same way. And it’s a razor wire to walk. These references are shared in the kinda way that makes you complicit for your participation in the joke. You won’t judge me if you and I are both in it together.
It is OK to be stressed out. And Moms absolutely need to figure out some way to make the stress of today OK in some way. Anxiety is a real feeling, and more common than you know, and despondency isn’t good. Talking with someone may be the better choice to work out other choices. A depressant doesn’t help depression.
Grant that substance use is not abuse, yet it’s over use is also a sign that you may need to step up for your own needs and support yourself through those very real fears. And needing wine isn’t the same as wanting it.
I didn’t believe I could kick my fears or using the wine to quell the fear until I actually bravely did it. And although the first week was a tough one, the next week I said no to playing into the week’s anxieties and I had kicked my daily wine habit. On the weekend, I may say yes. And then during the week cold turkey again if it is an habitual action. I am the only one who knows how much and why I’ll drink now and it’s really my business but… I can tell you, I am not an alcoholic. And that certainty means so much to me in the light of what I grew up with. It really comes down to what I believe about myself and my truth is mine to know and be proud of while I live it.
Nov 3, 2014
My butt got a good kicking by that Mercury in retrograde thing this past October. Maybe a little awareness that it was descending onto my life would have been good so I could have a heads up to brace myself for what was to befall me. Otherwise, nothing to do but wait the storm out. And what a storm it was too.
The month of October had taken on grand planning proportions. Great big happenings got crammed into it’s borders. First, a 30th High School reunion for the school I never ended up graduating from. Then the trifecta event weekend that included special event decorating for the Jazz Club themed fundraiser, the Blogger’s Meet-up I was organizing, and a trip into DC on my own via the Metro to a Smithsonian museum to hear Kim Werker talk Creativity, Ugly Style.
The week before the reunion, my worry and anticipation (read anxiety) turned into a black hole that I wanted to fall down into. All I could do was just go do something distractionary as my brain refused to listen to any reasoning. Thankfully, by the day of the reunion, I was happy with my outfit and wasn’t really nervous on my journey North West to the suburbs of Baltimore to see my classmates from 30 years prior at my high school reunion I would finally attend. It was a huge bookend for me.
The following weekend of the event trifecta, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and truly felt each endeavor was successful. It was a lot of stuffand yet I proved when you do your homework, think hard about what else you need to do, and then show up fully present, it all works out well. Maybe not as you’ve expected, but good anyways. And the cherry on top? Did I mention I was also writing and posting 31 days worth of blog posts too?
My two kids thankfully seem very happy and well adjusted despite my brain mayhem, and as the Halloween weekend came to a close, I felt like a rockstar Mama. My oldest had a case of Pneumonia starting Thursday and we still managed to take good care of him, go trick or treating, carve pumpkins, eat homemade waffles, and enjoy each other’s company despite being trapped in the house all together for the weekend.
There’s a very amusing Jewish folktale from Poland entitled “It Could Be Worse”. Essentially when you’ve had all of it piled up on top of you all at once and you’ve dealt with it, and then you take it away, you will appreciate the peace much more than you did before. Also, I now know that when I say I don’t have time, sometimes that’s true. And sometimes I’m telling myself this to avoid getting onto bigger stuff. Breakthrough stuff. Empowering stuff. Good stuff.
The biggest stuff I’ve recently decided I’m missing in my life is continued creativity. Spontaneous joyful creating just for the sake of creating. Stuff that doesn’t come from my think box but from the wind passing over my shoulder. And I truly know now that if that ain’t happening, nothing in my life is quite right. I’ve tried it the other way, doling out creative opportunity like it was some sort of reward for dutifully doing all of my other adult chores. It is hard and for what reason?
Currently, my house is clean, there’s laundry chugging, and I am ready to move on to the big blockages. I’ve been thinking a lot and I don’t like the story I’ve been telling myself and I want to rewrite it. The one where I can’t because? That one.
I’m off to start a new chapter in releasing creative flow and energy by tackling all the tasks I keep meaning to get to but secretly hold myself captive by not doing. The first one is Fiona’s room. I’ve been almost finished redecorating her room for a year now. And I’m tired of that never-ending story. It needs editing. So here’s to editing the story. I’ll let you know about my revisions.
Oct 11, 2014
Quite honestly, there was never a time when I wasn’t anxious. I have always been anxious. The baby was three weeks old and boy was I anxious. I’ve always felt anxious and therefore I was. Got it honestly from my family.
I was so used to being this way that, in college, my growing stomach pains were just something I tried to ignore. Until one day I was told I had gastritis and soon to have an ulcer. I tried to mend my anxious ways. The pain would come and go but it wasn’t really until a year ago that I actually got rid of them without the aid of medication. Which, by the way, I’d have had no problem taking. I believe in better living through over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
I still have phantom anxiety pains. Moments where I recognize that in the past I would have worried about this or that, but the worry is just not there anymore. Like a missing limb, the anxiety no longer exists but I still remember its use. This week I had an overall sense of disease however. And I wouldn’t call it anxiety but I certainly wouldn’t have said no to some Wellbutrin just to tweak my brain a little until I got over myself. I am moving through the spell thanks to hard work, meditation, list therapy, and prioritizing my doing.
My theory has always been that the majority of the US population suffers from anxiety problems and symptoms. And that it is so accepted as a human behavior that we call that normal. And then I took a look at the statistics and verified my hunch. From the Anxiety Disorders association of America, statistics on anxiety:
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population).
- Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment.
- GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population.
Women are twice as likely to be affected as men
I can say that lessening the worry about things I can’t control has definitely changed the quality of my life. I am also deeply respectful of the reasons people have earned their worried ways. We are never told it’s OK to be not OK 100% of the time. Somehow America’s promotion of the Perfecty Perfect Easy Existence has us constantly falling below our lives’ high expectations. Go figure. Imaginary Joneses to keep up with are everywhere. And really nowhere.
The change in my life is due to increasing my self-esteem and self-efficacy. To realize I’m always capable and I have my back. I’ve built on this concept in layers and waves. And when I take a look back to my old journals and see what I wrote, I really know how far I’ve come. And knowing that you can change your outlook if you work and learn and listen and read and write makes me feel better everyday. Anxiety should be revered and held to the light. Because it isn’t a nice way to exist. You need help to even help yourself out of that hole. And there’s plenty of help out there for the person who asks. The asking is better than the suffering.
Jun 20, 2012
I noticed myself feeling anxious when recalling someone’s name recently. And I became slightly flustered. Yet, on another occasion, I realized I actually knew the name of the person I worried I’d forgotten. As my friends will attest to, I have a pretty sharp memory. Where I may have temporary memory loss of your name I will, however, remember what you told me ten years ago about your Great Aunt Bebe. I will remember that you had pretty bad BO last time I saw you or that you were a bad tipper. I’ll certainly remember if I liked you. So what the heck?
What is this phobia I have about getting the name right? I suspect there’s a correlation between this and my nauseating fear of remembering passwords. Every time I go to type a password in, I am certain it will be wrong. And Mission Impossible style, it will self destruct in five seconds? My anticipation of getting flustered before I try naming you and correctly pass-wording makes me anxious and throws me off. It’s the old self-fulfilling prophecy, again.
I suspect the commonality of these two fears tie is a need for perfection. Perfect people don’t mess up. So recently, I tried to keep calm and say the person’s name out loud and often. I risked being wrong and ended up making points. From now on, I will give myself permission to ask you your name if I can’t remember it and I’ll loudly chalk my forgetfulness up to hormonal levels which I suspect sabotage me regularly. Happened to me when I was pregnant so why not cyclically too?
Sometimes just calling myself into awareness about a fear or anxiety can set it righter. And that auto remember thing on my computer for saving passwords has been a godsend. Too bad I can’t press my nose and remember your name.
In the grander scheme of things, names and passwords are just flim flam. We often focus on the small stuff while the larger stuff escapes us. I do not doubt however, the devil or deliverance, may be in the details. Do your best, let go of the rest.
Mar 21, 2012
As I have intimated, things are feeling a lot different for me than they used to. Where I was once fueled by my general anxiety about my life, the world, or that look you just gave me, now I’m not so much.
Recent events have really shown the vast difference between the then and now versions of me. There’s the general travel anxiety which wasn’t there on my recent trip to Philly. And the lack of upset I felt at my first submission rejection for my third. I couldn’t tell you I felt anything but an “uh-huh, yup, of course”.
My two other examples of not spazzing out have to do with car incidents. The first included Johnny Law. And the second, today, introduced me to Mr. Roy, his dog Gizmo, and his nice tow truck.
At my house, I don’t do cars. I thought that was an understood when I got married to this husband. Although I might clean a car, registrations or gas mileage or tire rotations just ain’t my thing. A month ago, I forgot to put my cruise control on as I headed to the soccer game and got nabbed doing 64 in a 50. My mother and my son were both in the car. And I was as cool as a cucumber.
He gives me a ticket but not for the speeding. He said my stickers on my license were wrong. After a bit of research, I figured out I’d been the one to put the doggone stickers on and why wouldn’t you put the 12 over the 11. What do you mean there’s colored ones and black and white ones? What was I doing putting the stickers on anyway? Still, I didn’t cry or shake in front of the nice officer. That was huge.
The second incident was today when I went to turn the key in the ignition of the truck and nothing happened. Husband even told me he’d experienced a moment of this the night before. Best news was the insurance sponsored roadside assistance had been auto deducted. Yeah! So me and my groceries only had to wait 20 minutes before tow truck Roy showed up. He handed my grocery bags down to me at my house on his way to the dealership.
It was the starter that went up. And the timing belt needs replacing while they’re in there. But since I’m planning a return trip to Philly after Easter, it is better it happened now.
Long and not so long ago, I would wince at every perceivable possible glitch in my life. Christmas tree shopping was notoriously the most stressful event of the year, especially, and maybe only, with the ex. Now it’s all easier.
Because of my willingness to have it be less stressful, I take care of phone calls and chores and whatever else pops up more quickly than ever before. Springtime rolls out in front of me and I am here to see it. I’ve probably only got another short 40 years to go in life. I intend to get the most out of life’s perks while I avoid paying the price for the perpetual fear of unknown everything. It’s about time.