Whenever I’m Disturbed…

I am in uncharted territory again. I feel excited at the possibility of returning to school and pursuing a degree in something that will enable me to affect positive change in our world. Yet, I am completely irritated, and I don’t really know why. I can only surmise that changing my routine, focus, and the way I think to be more productive and driven has left me intolerant to old habits and ways of thinking. It seems counter intuitive. The more self understanding and focus I have, I would assume would instill further compassion and understanding of others. Instead, all I see are unhealthy thought patterns, time sinks, and bad habits that need to be quashed.

When I first wrote this blog, and WordPress.com’s lovely block editor ruined everything by deleting two thirds of it, I spent a bit of time venting about my mother’s entitled, childish behavior. I am not, however, going to retype all that as it is a huge waste of time and energy. That is who she is an I can’t expect anything different. She is stuck in her ways, and the chance of that changing or her doing any real personal development is slim. It is still extremely frusterating, but I will try not to linger on it too long.

Why am I so irritated? I guess I just want better lives for everyone I love, but know I can’t force-feed anything to anyone. This will be problematic as a social worker, and I will have to figure out a way to deal with the frustration. It’s almost infuriating once you start applying yourself and learning how easy it is to turn your life in a different direction. Perhaps this is just my experience. It may completely inapplicable in other regions of the world, but for most in people in the USA, a little focus, drive, and no BS attitude with yourself and things get clear real quick.

This is not to say anyone can be an astronaut or fairy princess. If you really want to be rich, there is a way. If you want to be healthier, there is a way. If you want to have a better relationship with yourself or another person, there is a way. It just takes an open mind to change and a willingness to apply yourself and sacrifice what you have to for the things you really want. This does not require sitting, doing nothing, doing the same things over and over, or living in self pity and denial. It takes action, breaking old useless habits, self restraint and self discipline. It only sounds hard. It is not any harder than being miserable with your life. The more you change, the easier changing other things becomes. Life is always changing. Either change with it or face the notion you have, in essence, accepted you life for what it is whether you realize it or not.

Here in lies my frustration. After lifting a blindfold off my eyes, I’m stuck looking around at everyone else with blindfolds on, wishing desperately I could rip them off. It’s something only that person can do for themselves. I have to accept this. So, instead of getting annoyed at other people, I am going to go back to focusing on improving my own life and eventually find a way in which to help others in a different way.

Ego be gone!

 

 

Get Married or Else…

I always thought that the ultimate goal in life was to get married. I was never the kind of person that wanted to be rich or famous. Yes, I wanted to travel and learn about different cultures and languages, but I thought there was always time for that. What if I miss my chance to get married!? Eternal love and happily ever after was out there if any Disney story I ever saw was real. How horrible it would be to wind up alone and miserable! All my friends and family kept getting married, and I felt enormous pressure to find The One and get it done. So I did.

First comes the ring, then the announcement, and then a date is picked; among a million other decisions now lining up to be made. Getting married was such a whirlwind of chaos and joy that I hardly knew what was really going on in my relationship. Denial is a powerful thing in my mind, and I assumed the constant fighting and misery was normal. Planning a wedding is stressful after all, especially when you are mostly doing it by yourself. It was to be expected, I thought.

The day comes, everything is finally out of your hands and you just have to roll with it. Every detail has been hand picked; the music, the venue, the guests, the officiate, the words, the time and place. And then, you’re married. Everyone cheers, pictures are taken, people say nice words, and then everyone parties. Everyone there is there for you. All of you family, from near and far, and your friends give up their time and attention to make this your day. You can even drink as much as you want, provided you have time to take a sip in between visiting with everyone. It is indeed quite a wonderful experience.

I loved seeing my family from up north, and my Father even made the trip back to a town he swore he’d never step foot in again. He gave me a poem, titled “Are You Sure.” It referenced the first night we spent in the tree house he built just for me out in Iowa. It was windy that night, and the wood kept creaking. I kept asking my Dad, “Are you sure it won’t fall?” I ignored the implied “Are you sure?” to getting married. Everyone knows the divorce rates, and everyone saying “I Do” is certain they will beat it. My father credits wanting to walk me down the isle for getting him off major painkillers for his back pain and back in to his life again. So… I guess it wasn’t all a waste.

Drunken Society

I can remember watching an episode of South Park where they were making fun of Stan’s Dad’s alcoholism. They were mocking people that called it a disease, and at the time a laughed along with it. Just have a little self control right? I no longer find that sentiment funny, as I have since come to find out I am an alcoholic.

Finding this out was the scariest moment in my life. Denial is strong amongst alcoholics. We like to think we have control of our drinking far, far past the point where we have lost control. I figured it out when I woke up one day, feeling like a piece of rotten meat inside a discarded trash can. I looked myself in the eyes in the mirror. In my head I said no more drinking. Immediately after saying that, as I had every day for weeks, I realized that wasn’t gong to happen. I literally couldn’t stop. Terrified, I looked into my eyes, and no longer recognized who I was looking at. The person in the mirror had dead eyes and a dead soul; slave to her master; alcohol.

That day, after a few more beers to quell my anxiety and the shakes, I decided to quit cold turkey. I lay awake all night, sweating, shaky, and completely unable to think. I could only count to ten over and over and over again. The night seemed like it would never end. I was screaming for relief in my head, and then I found myself praying to anyone/anything out there that could possible relieve me of the agony. That night, I found no relief. It was the worst night of my life.

The next day, I took 1.5 hours to get out of bed, get dressed, and go a block to grab a 6 pack. I couldn’t take it anymore. I drank half a beer that I REALLY did not want to drink, laid back down, and called my husband to take me to the ER. Detox was slow and painful, but it was in that hospital that I found AA and my first sponsor.

I have faltered since then. It’s a slow process of forgetting the pain and assuming you’re doing ok on your own. I stop going to meetings and then BAM! I’m right back in that miserable place. I know I cannot drink. I know I cannot control it. Usually when I decide to take that first drink, I have every intention of self destructing, because I have carried too much stress and bullshit for too long. I stop caring about myself. I take one drink, and it is never just one. Eventually, I go past the point of no return and have to snap out of the denial once more. It is never done without help and medical intervention.

  •  According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.1 million adult Americans are alcoholics, and approximately 623,000 adolescents (age 12-17) are alcoholics as well.
  • About 88,000 people die in the U.S. from alcohol-related causes annually. This makes it the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the America; only behind tobacco and poor diet/inactivity.
  • Globally, alcohol is the 5th leading risk factor for premature death, however; among the age group of 15 to 49 years old, it is the number one risk factor. In 2012, 3.3 million deaths were attributable to alcohol consumption world-wide.

From what I know of the pain and struggle with alcoholism, there are a whole lot of people in our world suffering horribly and dying from this disease. Yet it really isn’t talked about much. There are two dominant perceptions of alcoholics that I regularly see in society.

One of these is disdain. There is always some accident report on the news about a drunk driver, the reporter concluding with finality police report the driver was drunk, intoxicated, over the legal limit. Period. Horrible tragedy, or close call, all because the person was so careless. There is NO excuse for driving drunk, but there is also no discussion why it happens. It is accepted with certainty that irresponsibility with alcohol was to blame, and then we move one.

No one asks why. No one thinks to address the fact alcohol is sold almost everywhere these days. Liquor stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, vending machines, movie theaters, and the list goes on. I find it harder to find a store that doesn’t sell booze than it is to find one that does. What does that say about us as a society?

The other societal perception of alcoholics I frequently see is amusement and/or entertainment. “Oh that’s just Uncle Larry,” the sexy misunderstood hero of a movie with the tragic past, the drunken anti-hero you just can’t help winding up rooting for, reality TV of drunk people making a complete fool of them selves and often time getting hurt: These alcoholics are taken lightly, gawked at, or even admired in a strange way.

Bad Santa was and still is one of my favorite “Christmas” movies. Showcasing a vulgar old drunk who cons malls as a Santa each year, Billy Bob Thorton plays a character who swears, stinks, is creepy, and he is constantly drinking. I still can watch it as it does a decent job of showcasing the misery of being a chronic alcoholic; albeit with a comical twist. Billy Bob’s character wakes up to take a swig out of a half drank bottle of beer with a cigarette butt in it. We chuckle, because it’s ridiculous. However, I guarantee many alcoholics have done the same thing. “Parking” at his new mall gig and a waterfall of beer cans and empty liquor bottles pour out the door as he emerges; and again, we laugh. How ridiculous?! Again, it has happened in real life, and there’s nothing funny about it.

  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental health Administration (SAMHSA), heavy alcohol use is defined as binge drinking 5 or more days in the past month (it does not state days in a row).
  • Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as drinking until your blood alcohol volume (BAV) is past the legal limit (0.08) in any 2 hour timeframe.

I laughed at these definitions. I certainly don’t need two whole hours to get tipsy, and I’ve gone weeks, maybe even a couple months doing it every single day… all day. But what do those statistics mean for everyone else? What does it mean to the party animal frat boy or the sports fan that likes to “celebrate” victories and “sooth” the wounds of defeat? What about the micro beer aficionados ordering beer flights or the wine coinsure at a wine “tasting.” You know you aren’t spitting it out ever time. Beer and yoga, painting and wine, happy hour; how much are you indulging?

Heavy alcohol use doesn’t automatically mean you are an alcoholic, and that is certainly not the point I am trying to make. The concerning issue for me is how pervasive alcohol consumption is in out society and across the world. Sporting events, concerts, weddings, or just because it’s Tuesday and your favorite restaurant has a special on your favorite drink; excessive alcohol consumption is not only everywhere, I feel it is encouraged and/or expected. This leads those prone to alcoholism straight down that path under a mistaken haze of normalcy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cubicle Prison

Sometimes, I feel very disconnected from the world. I’m like an actor in a play who never got the script and has no clue what lines to say. Quick to smile and even quicker to walk away; I’m not one for prolonged contact with strangers. I have to wonder if I was always like this.

To an extent, I think I can say I’ve never been much of a people person, but that hasn’t exactly kept me down. I aced my honors speech course. I was a student aid for my professor in college helping freshman with literary analysis.  I’m not one to wait a stupidly long time for the waiter to come back to tell them something is messed up with my order. I don’t avoid interactions in which I need to do or say something, but other than that, I couldn’t care less about basic human interaction. Give me a book, a bottle, or scalding hot bath, and I am completely content to not deal with anyone.

What the hell does that say about me? It’s not that I implicitly don’t care about other people. I do deeply care about most people. But in my daily life; the boring monotonous drudgery that is working in a cubicle for 8 hours a day in a state where going outside in the winter months can literally hurt you… I could not care less about the people around me.

“Stay warm!” “The day is almost over.” “It sure is cold out today.” “Boy, he is getting so big! How old is he now?” “It’s almost the weekend!” “How are you?” “Fine.” “Good.” “Did you have a good weekend?” “How was your vacation?” “Oh my gosh you looks so good! How far along are you?” “Good morning!” “Good night.” “See you tomorrow.” “Drive Safe.” And my new personal favorite… “Happy Friday-Eve!” All of this, I am happy to live without. I smile, I nod, exchange pleasantries, pretend to care, but really, if I disappeared to Alaska tomorrow, I would feel no sorrow. I would not miss this congenial pergatory.

I do understand that there are many other jobs out there that are perhaps worse than mine. Physically demanding and/or dangerous jobs, far more monotonous, thankless jobs, or no job at all could all have any person worse off than I. I’m not asking for pity. I am simply stating that this kind of job, for me, slowly kills my soul day by day. If I do anything else right in my life, it will be to get the hell out of this industry and find a job I actually give a damn about.