90days

2160 Hours. Give or Take.

Today is a mile marker in my sobriety. Today I am 90 days sober.

I’ve been counting down to this for what seems like much more than 90 days. As much as I stick to the adage of one day at a time, I still have to have shiny objects for my mind to seek out and 90 days was one of those. It’s hard to truly put into words why it means so much and also why it was a stepping stone for me. Other than I would not have guessed I would be here if I had asked myself six months ago. This is the longest I’ve been sober in nine years. And I was only sober then because I was growing a person.

I’m happy, and proud and feeling accomplished. Excited to announce it and let people know I’ve done it. It’s only three months. 90 little days. 2,160 hours (or so). But a difficult 90 days that have taught me a great deal including the understanding that I have an intense amount more to learn.

But I’m also stressed, anxious and my depression is sneaking up behind me after a lengthy reprieve from its haunting effects. There are parts of these past 90 days that have been a breeze. No hesitations, integral revelations and appreciation for the route I’ve chosen. Others have been rife with hurdles and land mines. Some requiring moments of seeking out a life raft or reassuring words.  

Last night, as my anxiety and panic overwhelmed me over something that would perceivably be innocuous to others I had a moment of alcoholic longing. It was wine that came to mind. The velvet feel of it on my tongue. The warmth as it spread through my chest. The gentle buzzing that would fill my head space, crowding out the nagging thoughts and ringing cry of my unease over all the things my anxiety was showing me. 

Because sometimes my anxiety is like show and tell in a class of kindergartners who have been eating sugar all morning and also got no sleep the night before. Belligerently holding up their favorite toys, screaming at you to look and throwing tantrums when someone else gets more attention. It’s chaotic and demanding, which exhausts me.

Overall, while I have this significant moment to applaud and feel pride over, I’m weighed down by a clamoring of thoughts. Of dissatisfaction with certain areas of my life, that aren’t immediately reparable and some I just haven’t come to understand yet. The mom guilt on the days I question my parenting, which are most of them. Usually for simplistic reasons that are truly unjustified self persecution. Sullenness and frustration over constantly having to worry about finances, with very little room to breath and no reserve should anything drastic happen. Mental flogging for not pursuing my writing further, knowing it’s something I enjoy and I would like to see flourish. Even fretting about my exercise regimen and where the hell my discipline has gone to.

It should be a much more exuberant day and perhaps it’s winter doldrums as well, but I’m just struggling on my 90th day, and it’s unfortunate. Maybe part of it is that while I have learned how not to run from what burdens me, now I’m sitting with all of it. There has to be an in between that exists so as not to consistently be in the thick of challenges, feelings and lack of peace. I’ve seen it. Glimpsed it from time to time lately. I’m still determining what makes up the ideal of happiness so that I may claim my own particular definition of it.

Through all of this, I have not caved to the whispers of temporary freedom from these smothering thoughts in the form of a drink. I have stayed true to my drive to succeed at finding a better way. It’s definitely a challenge right now. While I’m excited to hit triple digits, I know that by the time I get there, I could be fatigued and begrudging my inability to moderate. There are times I get a little indignant about being in this position. Watching tv shows where characters drink with freedom, knowing I don’t have that luxury if I want to stay sane (and healthy). Attending my first social outing where I typically would have been plastered by the end of the night. I watched those around me take shots that I usually would have been the one to encourage partaking in and for a moment, I felt a little lost. Without tequila, who am I? Without the raucous laughter following the slamming of shot glasses, where do I fit?

But the moment passed and I embraced the opportunity to actually figure out who I am without inebriation. To know that the next morning wouldn’t be haunted by half-hearted texts about how awful I felt and attempts at piecing together missing pieces of the night. Because I’m not that girl who would have stopped at one. Or five. I never will be.

So here I am, at 90 days. Pieces of me reclaimed. Large parts of me uncertain. Anxiety ridden, at least for the time being. Understanding that even sometimes a day at a time will be too much and that’s okay. The next 90 will be worth it.

Parks and Puppies

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

As another birthday passes, I tend to have high hopes in that this is the year I get my shit together. Sometimes I feel like I have most of it at least contained, but for a good portion of the time, it’s still the same uphill battle. My well-earned façade is great at first glance, yet it masks more than anyone would guess on some days. It’s like shutting a bunch of puppies in a room together. If you’re outside, it’s just a closed door. But inside it’s probably one big mess.

I’ve finally, after 20 years, figured out how to manage my eating disorder. The one that has made me hate myself every day I look in a mirror; throw tantrums over how my pants fit and essentially decimates the rest of the day. It’s exhausting to live in constant dislike for everything you see when you look down. To wage mental abuse for how I’m shaped. I’ve longed for (and had) bones extruding, knowing that’s not my body type. I feel massive guilt if I’ve crossed any food boundaries. Yet, within the last year, I’ve reached a point where I’ve been able to move past some of that. I eat meals, and sometimes I even let myself eat before noon. I’ve learned to be okay with what size I wear and if certain pants don’t fit, to just not wear them. These are huge strides for me that have taken so much work; so much rationalization and constant, unending dedication to preserving my self-worth.

There are trade-offs, though, as none of this is without negotiation with the thoughts that linger. These allowances are all as long as I continue working out. So I’m still striking deals with myself, but they’re healthier than striking the deal to avoid food to make up for any I’ve allowed. Yet I still find times where it would be easier to be waif thin; going against my athletic pre-disposition. Making sure I work out, so I can eat still feels like a compromise with my disorder and at times it’s just exhausting. I don’t just work out to stay “thin” or to eat, I do appreciate how strong it makes me feel and the progress I can see myself make. But the caveats are still there, latent because of how I’m wired.

Despite my affinity for working out and desperation to just accept who I am, I find myself sabotaging it consistently with poor outlets and vices that quiet my brain. These vices tend to negate any hard work or effort I make to stay healthy and be happy with myself and go against the thoughts demonstrated in the above rambling. Therein lies the crazy circle that is my brain. It’s like an amusement park. A really lame one. Where the rides are all broken. Every week I set new goals, or measures of moderation. Every week I slip far away from those intentions and set new goals for the next week. Excuses, rationalization, promises, etc. are all my tools of holding off another week on making those difficult choices to limit myself.

As the above starts to crumble, my depression sets in further, like fish hooks, curving back in which makes them much more difficult to remove. The smallest things trigger my anxiety and dark feelings and it compounds in that same little amusement park. Suddenly it all feels out of control, unsettled, like happiness is too far reaching of a goal and the rollercoaster is stuck at the top and none of us have safety restraints on.

Now, at this age, that usual, familiar cycle is wearing out but beyond that, now I feel like I’m too old to ride this ride. Yet I can’t shut it off and it’s often going too fast to jump off. Even as much as I champion for acceptance of mental illness and struggles, I still lambaste myself for experiencing them at times. Why can’t I get myself under control, why does self-harm have to cross my mind as an option. Will I be 60 years old and experiencing suicidal ideation? I sometimes want to just stomp my feet, and say it’s not fair because I truly don’t know what else to do to manage it.

I certainly don’t intend this to sound self-absorbed or whiny; more in that when I’m struggling, I really struggle. I’ve done such an okay job of managing it and learning the best ways to do so, that if I’m crumbling, it’s been a long time coming. My mental health collapses are now cumulative potentially due to ways I handle it, but also because I’ve learned to be strong through so much, I let less break me until I just don’t have any other idea how to maintain my composure.

This is probably the most selfish thing I’ve written in my blogs; the most juvenile and elementary. But I just want things to be fucking easy and maintain that smooth flow for longer than the blink of an eye. While I understand that things aren’t all bad. I do have positives in my life, things I’m appreciative for and treasure. But mental illness and strife just doesn’t allow you to experience those. You’re too busy surviving invisible monsters who just don’t know how to stay under the bed.

Each time I write one of these darker pieces, I sometimes leave it unresolved. Other times I throw around magic fairy dust and claim I’m going to start living and stop fearing. This one, though, leaves me neutral. I’m admittedly struggling with my age and again, wondering if this is how I’ll continue through life. Stumbling, surviving and managing instead of thriving and enjoying the vibrancy that’s often dulled. What do you do when you feel as though you’re too old to be broken? There are paths I haven’t taken in life I’m starting to realize I may never get to and suddenly I face accepting my story. There’s been so much time spent learning from the last hurdle that the next one is upon me before I get to enjoy walking a road with no interruptions. As I get older I start to wonder if I bartered my happiness and levity in some unknown deal that has been wiped from my memory. That’s extreme, I know. But these are all the only ways I can truly express what goes through my mind during these bouts.

On this one, I really am lost currently. How do I find inner peace and learn to navigate depression and everything else in a way that I am able to find joy again. It’s there in little ways; my kids, a joke, that one moment where I’m okay with me. I’m striving for it to be there without interruption. For it to be easy. I know I can never be too old for any of the issues I face; but I do kind of wish I could “grow out of it.” It’s the part they don’t tell you, or at least broadcast as much. We’re stuck with these brains, and we can do all the work in the world and find progress and really apply therapy the best way possible. But we’re still all wired in that one finite way that certain aspects will find little flexibility and that’s not something we can grow out of. I’m seeking a balance and I desperately hope I find it before I age another year.