Now the only thing a gambler needs is a suitcase and a trunk

I don’t know where to begin so I’ll begin here. I called out of work because I feel like a miserable human being. I’m fat. I’m depressed. I’m ugly. I go to work and sit at a chair while clicking the same three links over and over and occasionally popping into my boss’s office in hopes she’ll bombard me with a ton more work to do. You wouldn’t think that most people would want more work but I do. I lived in such a chaotic mental space for so many years, I thrived under pressure in stressful deadline-driven environments. Then I calmed down. I had to calm down when I stopped drinking. I couldn’t continue the pace. For a few years, I’ve been afraid of picking up that pace again. But in a world that prohibits me from drinking and driving and recklessly ruining my life, I need to find some other way to find meaning. To find life again. For me, that would pitifully be through work. Wouldn’t it be amazing and great to work somewhere that would pay me just to write about my thoughts? Even this is almost alien, though. I used to be so much more familiar with a keyboard. Not the physical attribute of one, I can still type over 45 wpm with my eyes closed, but then most of humanity in the United States can. No, I meant I felt more familiar with it when I spent hours agonizing in emotional pain about which letters would tell my story best. My vocabulary was better and my metaphors were sharper. Now, my allegories are muddied and the reader always misinterprets what I meant to say. But that’s what Margaret Atwood says anyway, once you have created something and put it out in the world, it no longer belongs to you. She also says that a writer isn’t a writer unless they write. I haven’t written anything in a while, so I guess now is my time. I get exhausted by telling myself the same story I told myself while I was drinking. “This time will be different, this time I will eat healthier, this time I will exercise, this time I will write more, this time will be different.” Within 24 hours, all my will is gone and I’m calling off work and laying in bed with the blinds closed, mindlessly thumbing through hours upon hours of Instagram and Facebook feeds.

Date: 2018-09-05
Words: 406

Your love is fearless, help me to be courageous, too.

“The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.” – Anne Lamott

I won’t claim to be an enlightened individual. Mainly because if you’re reading this, you likely know me and could call me out on my several thousand spiritual flaws. My humanness. But I will say the desire to want to be enlightened flutters daily from heart to brain in this 5 foot 2 inch body of mine.

My fears still get ahold of me, though. The all-or-nothing, black-and-white, yes-or-no thinking begins to call the shots. Everything is an absolute, there is no need for context — I already know. When that happens, the possibility for miracles — the miracles I need — gets snuffed out. Just that fast, just like that. *snap*

The date of the third anniversary of my sobriety gallops towards me and I think, Are you sure you’re coming for me? Are you mine? Does that date belong to this alcoholic?

Time just isn’t a good measuring stick to use for this kind of stuff. A year is a year is a year. Am I better for it, I guess? But the reality sets in that this spiritual malady never. goes. away. A reprieve, yes. Twenty four hours — I know, I know. But also, what about all those times I didn’t rely on my Higher Power? All those times I curtsied politely and said, “Thanks but no thanks, God. I’ll do this my way,” turned back back to walk right smack into an infinite loop of regret and still worse choices.

Not a drop of alcohol, not a pill swallowed — yet still, desperate to feel something different. To be someone else. Chasing a high I didn’t know I didn’t need.

If I don’t get this, then I’m not that. If I can’t feel this, then what is the point. Why try, why try, why try? Why believe anything could ever change?

That last thought: the inebriated final call of self-will. So short-sighted. So delusional. So drowned in self-pity and self-interest.

The truth is I want to believe. Otherwise why would I care that I didn’t?

Things can change. Things will get better. And I know I’m speaking in vagueisms and that can be annoying but believe me that this is the constant state I am in during this season of my life. The solution remains the same, it is always the same. If I ask God to help me believe, He will.

Just. Like. That. *snap*

I’ve been playing dead my whole life.

I saw a dead owl today. It was stiff and on its back. Two legs stuck out of it, the feathered blob. It was on a path behind me as I walked my dogs. The path separates the manicured field from a small wild creek. At first, I thought of the internet meme that shows an owl sleeping on the ground. “Did you know owls sleep like they just got back from a night of partying?” the caption said. Probably in Comic Sans. But which way was that… face up? Or face down? I couldn’t remember. For a second I thought – Yeah, it’s just sleeping. It’s nap time, duh. 5 pm. It has rodents to rest up for. Party Owl stays up late. Creatures like this don’t die alone. Not like this, in the suburban wild, in this type of stillness.

But no, then I remembered – the meme was funny because owls sleep face down. Well, this one was face up so I guess it wasn’t sleeping. Anything with that many feathers should look regal. Instead, it was a caricature of an owl that wasn’t wise enough to escape death.

Last week on my walks, I kept seeing bluebirds. My dogs sniffed the trunks of trees and my eyes wandered to the branches. Bluebirds fluttered there, the sun highlighting their shimmers of blue. Never could get a good photo of them. A friend told me to see bluebirds was a sign of joy and prosperity to come. That was the meaning of seeing a bluebird. This was the significance of being a witness to a bird with blue wings.

The owl didn’t look very significant. Wondered what that meant. Unless it was used as a prop of my lost wisdom then, maybe. Who determines these things? Who adds the meaning? My dogs still hadn’t noticed the corpse. Their noses buried in grass, contentedly inhaling ants. They didn’t move as I pulled them away from the owl’s last rest. Finally, in what could be considered animal abuse, the harnesses that held their little bodies lifted them up and away as I grabbed them each like six packs of beer and marched across the field. Tiny chihuahua legs mimicked a walk but they dangled mid-air.

 As we left the carcass behind, a group of children ran by us. Coppola, my smaller dog, growled and barked at their laughter. Personally, I couldn’t stand the sound either. But there’s no use in warning them, Coppola. Eventually, they’ll find out about death. Leashes tangled as I finally set the dogs down, a safe distance completely across the field. As I worked to loosen the knot, a child’s shriek pierced the sky. Children started to form a semi-circle around the owl. Once dignified but never again to be significant, that owl. Then silence. 

The leashes untangled and a child whimpered, “Mom!” 

And honestly, that reaction made the most sense to me. Moms are good to call to soothe the oddball horror that can only be felt and never described. She comforts when mourning strikes, standing in line at the grocery store, grieving for security the world can’t supply. When the Burden is too heavy, it steals my breath as it suffocates – yes:  MOM!

Later, I looked up the bluebirds in San Diego and found out they weren’t bluebirds at all, they were scrub jays. Scrub jays. Wasn’t it the great musical trio TLC who said, they didn’t want no scrubs? Well, neither did I. There was no romantic significance of seeing a scrub jay. I checked.

That was significant to me.

And I get this feeling
Whenever I feel good
It’ll be the last time.
ICU – Phoebe Bridgers

The Biggest Worst “Decision” to get a 3rd DUI

There is no excuse for driving drunk. Let me be clear.

For true change to happen, for people to stop being reckless with their own lives at the expense of others, the way we talk about mistakes like these would have to change.

It baffles me that to this day, someone will say I made the decision to drive drunk. Maybe the first time, or the trillionth time, but by that time — it wasn’t a choice. It was my life. On a daily basis I was engaged in behaviors that put me and others at risk. Or at the very least, would severely concern my parents.

There was not another way to function at the time of my third DUI. I was given every opportunity to be a happy healthy individual and still, the true CHOICE I made was to not. get. help. I refused to believe I was living in a way that was “wrong”. My alcoholic life seemed the only normal one.

By the grace of God and the human angels he’s placed in my life, I’ve been able to see there is another way. Through tremendous amounts of work and mercy, many old beliefs and behaviors have been abandoned to transformed to support living a healthy and meaningful life.

It was well-intentioned but bad advice, hell yeah…

If you’ve ever scrolled through social media during the holidays, or like, a worldwide pandemic, you may come across well-meaning friends posting the number for NAMI or Suicide Hotlines.
“If just two of my friends will post this, you can change the world.” Or something.

These posts invariably appeal to people who want to provide support to the mentally ill without having to get involved in the messiness of it. Well, if you’ve ever really loved a person with mental health issues, you know — it’s far from clean-cut and sanitary.

As a person who is well-versed in various forms of cognitive and dialectical therapies, spirituality, and nutrition to manage her own fluctuating mental stability, it still catches me off balance and knocks me on my ass every time. As someone who previously flooded the discomfort of feelings with booze and participated in shopping sprees and obsession of things not-yet-conquered (boys), in order to distract myself from feeling anything mildly unpleasant – I’ve had to change.

Now, as a sober person trying to not be crazy all the time, I have to sit with all the ugliness that swells up in this five-foot-two body. There are still physical scars on my arms and legs to prove a time existed when I couldn’t stand this dis-ease. There are, I imagine, mental scars still breathing through half-healed and half-gaping wounds —  aggravated by my own self-willed beliefs of how my life is supposed to look. Like pouring salt on a snail, I pour sugar on my emotional wounds and watch the mess fizz up. It’s the sweetness I want, all the empty calories, that spins me out into a cycle of moods. I want to always be in control of how I feel. Sometimes, I just can’t. And anyway, how I am supposed to feel? Sometimes, I barely can.

So when my brain is fizzy and my body feels made out of boulders I’m too weak to shuffle across my living room floor to get to the door and answer, I scroll past the Suicide Hotline posts and think, “That’s sweet. That person thinks that when I’m this deteriorated by a depressive episode, that I’ll think straight enough to pick up a phone and call someone.” I hope that it works and I KNOW that it MUST for many people. But since I like to consider myself so special, I’ll let you in on some other safety measures I have in place because my dual diagnoses likes to super complicate things and makes a liar out of me.

  1. I let people know I’m in recovery and have bipolar 2 disorder. This will automatically make people suspicious in any drastic personality and mood changes so this is the easiest best way for people to call me out.
  2. When I feel the spiral (up or down) coming, I get super honest for the .003 seconds that I can and let 3 or 4 of my closest peoples know. Then I blab about it on social media.
  3. My family members and 3 close friends have the door code to my apartment in case I stop responding to calls/texts.
  4. I make commitments to ongoing things like workshops or groups so if I’m missing too many weeks, someone again can call me out on it.
  5. The best thing I’ve learned to do is to just let things fail.

It is OK to fail being able to control my moods, to sleep in too long and miss my morning meditation, to not sleep enough because I’m doom-scrolling until my eyes wanna fall out, to binge on sugar and watch my body swell up from the inflammation it causes. It is OK to fail for a short period of time. But then I gotta try.

When it goes onto week three, the changes need to start and that’s why I’m here — getting back to writing. It’s the last thing I want to do and it’s the perfect thing I need. But this didn’t come to me. I shouted at God to help me and he threw an old journal at me and told me to write. [Literally, I was walking (moping) around and my old journal came out of nowhere and landed at my feet and I tripped and I got madder than I already was. OK GOD I GET IT THANK YOU BUT HONESTLY iloveyou&thankyoufornevergivinguponmeJesusilybye]

Am I Miss Universe yet or do I need to be an alien for that?