Three days of silence

Around a year ago, I took three days and stopped talking.

And watching tv. And using the computer. And texting.

I just had me, and my books, and a notepad, and silence.

And I’m going to do the same again this week, for the next three days.

I don’t do anything special. I don’t go on a retreat or anything.

I don’t want to sit in silence and sleep in a bag in a house of strangers. Not for me.

So I stay home and I unplug.

And I love it.

Stress is synonymous with suicide

I watched a documentary in Netflix about a year ago called something like Stress: The Silent Killer. I didn’t think it was very good. But I think stress does kill you.

I was under the vague impression that stress is synonymous with success for years. It’s difficult for me to try and dissect the logic, because it makes no sense, but I’ll try.

Being stressed meant I was important
Because it meant I was trusted with such a high volume of work
That obviously nobody else could do.
Being stressed meant that I cared
Because if I didn’t care I wouldn’t get stressed about it.
Being stressed made me valuable
Somehow.
Being stressed, to me, was the same thing as taking action.
Being stressed was the solution to a problem
Like stress is somehow the opposite of apathy.
Being stressed meant I felt “good shame” about my failures
So people wouldn’t lose faith in me
Or think I was lazy
Or narcissistic.
Stress was a way to fake self awareness.
Stress meant trying to propel my brain and body into action
Fight or flight.

This morning I was feeling stressed about yesterday, because I spent so much of it gossiping and being negative.

When you trash talk someone, even if what you’re saying is technically true, you’re always and forever afterwards, even subconsciously, awaiting the karmic payback. Dreading being found out. The fear of having someone do the same to you. Revenge.

This morning I was feeling stressed about money.
I’m going broke. Nobody wants to hire me. I don’t have any good business ideas. I’m young, and I’m stupid, and I keep making mistakes. Mistakes don’t feel like small humps to me, they feel like I’m dying.

This morning I was stressed about what I want to do with my life.
I haven’t done anything. I don’t have a college education. And I don’t think I want one. I barely made it through high school. I rarely even turned up. I’m not particularly passionate about anything, though I’m interested in lots of things.

This morning I was stressed because my house is dirty.
And I hate cleaning.

And then I decided that I don’t want to do this anymore.

That if I want to live, then I can’t do it anymore.

My life is weird right now. It’s changing. A lot. And I don’t know if it’s for the better or not. That’s what makes telling the truth so scary. Not many people do it. There aren’t many mentors or role models out there. I have no idea if I’m doing the right things or not.

But I’m going to stop stressing about it.

Because my life… Is so tiny and yet so huge. It’s everything and nothing all at once. I’m one of seven billion suspended in space where there is no such thing as up or down on a tiny planet in a tiny solar system in a tiny galaxy in the infinity of the universe.

We might be the only life out here. We might not. Either way our lives are precious and important.

Even if they are so tiny.

In 100 years we’ll all be dead, so it won’t matter anyway. That’s a little bit true. And it takes some of the pressure off.

But it’s not totally true. Because it negates the beauty of life.

I’m alive. And I’m not going to kill myself with stress. About money and houses and cars and jobs and titles and debts and gossip and fighting and guilt and shame and mistakes.

Do you know how many things have to go exactly right for life to exist on a planet? An infinite number of variables go into ensuring life. We hear a lot about how we need the sun, but did you know that every other planet in our solar system HAS to exist as it does for us to live?

There are all these planets and stars that determined whether or not I would live at all.

And I’m worried that I ate too many carbs and that my wallet is empty.

If we can be born from stardust in the infinite space of nothingness then I can find a job.

And I can find time to relax and be peaceful.

And I can decide that stress is stupid and pointless. And that it doesn’t make me important. And it doesn’t make me better.

It will kill me.

It makes me hate myself.

And how can I hate myself when an infinite number of things had to go exactly right just so I could be alive?

Alcoholic + Toxic Workplace = Sobriety

My last job was toxic. And hellish. And awful.

And it gave me my favorite excuse to drink.

After years of a drinking problem that was getting progressively worse, it pushed my drinking to the point that I could finally realize I was an alcoholic.

So that’s something.

I spent today generally trash talking my old job. The girl who replaced me is leaving. She lasted two months. I lasted nine.

She wanted to meet and talk about it. I think she wanted to feel like it isn’t her. That she isn’t the problem.

She isn’t the problem.

We talked about the job… And my honest reasons for leaving. When I resigned I gave some bullshit story about wanting to change careers.

Really I was just miserable.

And I thought I was the problem.

I was part of the problem.

But really, I wasn’t the problem.

I wasn’t really looking for something positive that I got out of the experience. But I found something anyway. That’s good. I’m grateful for that.

I don’t know how much longer I would have continued drinking if I hadn’t been pushed to my limit. I don’t know if I would be sober right now.

I quit drinking and joined AA about a week before my last day there. I was alone in the office that week, and spent the time sleeping on the couch near my desk to get through the withdrawal.

I’m so glad I was alone that week.

I hated that job.

I’m so glad I don’t have to do it anymore.

I hated getting drunk almost every night.

I’m so glad I don’t have to do it anymore.

It’s Sunday morning and I’m not hungover

I woke up really early this morning. I went to bed really early last night so I got a good, full night’s sleep.

And as I got up and made my morning cup of tea, I started to think about how my Sunday mornings were when I was still drinking.

I loved my Saturday night binges. My husband and I (he’s not an alcoholic) would stay up until 4 and 5 am drinking and talking and listening to music… And I would always drink more than I really wanted to. I would be wasted, and pouring myself shot after shot. I would think to myself, I’m already hammered, I don’t need this.

But I would have it anyway.

I could never sleep off a hangover. As soon as my blood sugar dropped and I woke up, I was up for the day. It didn’t matter how exhausted or sick I was. I was up.

Sometimes I would stay exhausted and sick well into Monday, too.

Sometimes I would feel a bit better so I would drink on Sunday night. But I tried not to do that too much.

I hate hangovers.

And when I woke up really early on this Sunday morning, I fell in love with how early I went to sleep last night.

Even in the city, if I get up early enough, I wake up to the sunrise that I can see from my office, and the reflection of the sun from the buildings facing my living room. I can hear nothing but birds. If I sit in the right spot I can see the lake. I don’t watch TV in the morning.

I’ve fallen in love with how early I got up this morning.

Even though most people wouldn’t get it.

Because I’m still young. Many people my age are just finishing up school.

But I feel partied out.

Even when I was drinking I wasn’t a social drinker. I only went to bars when I had run out of booze in the house. I preferred to drink alone. Sometimes with my husband. Sometimes with a small group of friends.

I can’t stand nightclubs.

I don’t understand the sober people who go to them with their friends as their designated driver.

Maybe I just don’t love anyone enough, but I would tell them to get a cab.

Nightclubs are disgusting.

I woke up and thought of the thousands, if not millions, of people who are waking up this morning feeling sick… And ashamed… And thirsty… And hungry…

And I thanked God that this Sunday, today, I’m not one of them.

Lisping, cartoons, patron saints, and prayers

I went to a Step 11 meeting tonight. I’ve never been to one before.

I was late (of course) and walked in just as they were about the read the Step 11 prayer.

I was eight years old again. Being dragged to church. I wanted to stay home and watch cartoons. How come Dad didn’t have to come? I told my mom that I was a member of the CatDog church. A popular 90s cartoon. I don’t think I worshipped CatDog, but I liked it more than church.

The church I attended would sing this prayer as a hymn rather than say it. They sang it every week. It doesn’t work well as a song. I remember only a little bit of the tune. Which is a generous description for that weird sound.

It’s so weird when people sing in church and there isn’t a choir. Not many people can sing well. Lots of them like to sing loudly. I feel guilty about holding that against them, but sometimes I hold it against them anyway.

I remember that during this hymn in that church, I learned how to make a lisping sound by watching the way a woman with a lisp moved her mouth.

When ever the hymn came to the “ess” sounds, I would watch her tongue move to the front of her mouth and tuck up behind her front teeth. I didn’t understand why she didn’t just move her tongue properly and make the right noise. You just flatten your tongue almost against the roof of your mouth, leaving a little room for the air to pass through.

The 11th Step prayer is the prayer of St Francis of Assisi. I just found this out on Google five minutes ago.

The church I went to was St Francis of Assisi, so it makes sense that they half said half sang it every week.

I also happen to know that my patron saint is Francis of Assisi. I don’t know how your patron saint is assigned, but I think it has something to do with your birthday.

He was (or is, I suppose) the patron saint of animals. And I remember being really happy when I discovered this, because I love animals. I liked the feeling of having a connection to my patron saint.

Patron saint. Whatever that means.

I really like the prayer of St Francis of Assisi. It feels purposeful. It has direction. It doesn’t require interpretation.

It makes me feel useful when I say it.

To think, to do

For a week, I’ve been promising myself and my husband that I would clean up the house. Do the laundry. Scrub the toilet.

I still haven’t done any of these things.

And I’m getting really bored of the idea of motivation.

The idea that to do something I have to get myself excited about it.

Picture the end result.

Imagine how happy you’ll be when you’ve done it.

Do it out of love.

Sometimes these things do get me off my butt and help me be productive.

But most of the time they don’t.

Sometimes, it just makes me feel even worse when I don’t succeed. Because I feel like I’ve cheated myself out of the opportunity to experience the end result. To feel happy. To show love.

Every time I fail to do something necessary, something kind, I hate myself just a little bit more.

And I’m getting really bored of hating myself.

I’m getting really bored of thinking… Thinking about how I can convince myself to do things I don’t have the energy for. Weighing the pros and cons.

Desperately hoping that the functioning part of my brain will call my limbs into action.

My heart beats without my conscious input. My stomach digests. My kidneys process. My lungs breathe.

I want my arms and legs to function the same way.

Effortlessly.

Gracefully.

But I don’t do things. I think about doing things.

Radical Honesty and Verbal Vomit

Radical Honesty.

I have a copy of that book, and I’ve read a little bit of it.

I didn’t really like the concept that much.

Verbal Vomit.

That’s what I would have called that book.

I don’t think being honest means that you need to spew every thought in your head into the ears of whoever happens to be standing near you.

I think that being honest can be unpleasant at times, but I think that unpleasantness needs to remain a personal experience.

I don’t think I have the right to drop “truth bombs” on people.

I don’t think that telling the truth is about being black and white. I think it’s about finding a higher truth. And I think that higher truth is gentle. And I think it is love. And I think that those truths are spoken gently and lovingly.

I think truth is an embrace. And I think it brings peace.

I think that sometimes you might need to tell a truth that hurts. But never tell a truth that will hurt someone else.

Be honest.

But above all, be kind.

The honest job application: Number One

Yep. This morning I sent out my first ever honest job application. My fraudulent resume was left behind.

To ease myself into the honesty process, I applied for a job that requires personal experience with addiction and mental health issues.

And I have that in spades.

It was scary.

But I’ve been frozen for the past few days, and I haven’t really been sure how to proceed. I thought of ways I could make jokes out of my situation:

Cold calling places and saying “would you like to employ a sober alcoholic with a history of lying but swears not to do that anymore?”

Asking to have my interviews filmed so they would think it’s a practical joke, then asking for the job anyway. Surprise!

But I think this may have been more about the process than the result. I was honest with someone (whoever reads my application) out there in the real world, while using my real name.

And it has come with a really mixed bag of feelings.

Fear of rejection
With a fake resume, rejection isn’t personal. It literally has nothing to do with you because they know nothing about you. Lies are a great buffer between yourself and the pain of rejection.

Entitlement
I feel like the world owes it to me to give me a shot. I feel like being honest should mean that I can get whatever I want, as a reward, rather than allowing honesty to be its own reward.

Excitement
I did it. I was honest. There is a chance it might pay off in a tangible, material way.

Fear of the unknown
It really might not. It might never pay off in a material way. I don’t know. I haven’t been honest before. This is unknown territory.

Satisfaction
If they do call me back, I don’t have to worry about covering my lies or getting my story straight. That is such an easy, relaxed kind of feeling. And I accomplished a goal I set for myself.

Obsession
I always get obsessed when I apply for a job I really want. I check my email every five minutes. I make sure my phone is near me and that the ringer is on. I start to think about how I could excel at the role. It’s a real drain on my energy. I find it difficult to let go.

Wanting
I guess I grew up with the notion that if you just want something hard enough you will get it. For some reason, the idea of “I just wanted it more than anyone else” as being the hallmark of success wormed it’s way into my head. To snap myself out of this delusional way of thinking, I like to watch bad American Idol auditions. Those people wanted it really badly, too. Wanting something doesn’t mean anything.

 

Living life in a new way is a learning curve. And it’s quite difficult. It’s bringing to my attention lots of long held negative attitudes and positionalities. I’m grateful for the opportunity to see them and to work on them. I’m grateful to have the weight of lies off my shoulders.

Even if it does mean I can’t get a job.

Letters to me: 10 tiny ways to be happy

Don’t ever step on a scale
You don’t need one to adequately asses your health. Scales just make you hate yourself.

Get loads of sleep
You need it.

Talk to people
You’re fascinating. Don’t forget that.

Meditate
Often. Make time if you think you don’t have it.

Don’t dye your hair
It just damages it and nothing will ever suit you better than your natural color.

Learn the power of “no”
Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Channel that energy into being happy instead.

Express love
And do it often.

Tell the truth
It’s scary as hell, but the weight that lifts from your shoulders is worth it.

Laugh
Find something funny. Everything is funny with the right perspective. Laughter heals.

Be around animals
Animals are innocent and beautiful and hilarious.

Honesty is terrifying

I tend to be pretty blasé about life. About events. For the most part, anyway. I tend to be able to move forward quickly. Like nothing can touch me.

It’s a lie.

The truth is that I feel sick.

Telling the truth is terrifying.

I haven’t felt this scared in a really long time.

I feel completely raw and open and vulnerable.

I tell myself that things could always be worse.

Things have been worse.

There was a time when I couldn’t afford electricity so I read by candle light and stored milk by the open window in the winter and washed my clothes in the sink. I never asked for help. I never wanted anyone to know that I was struggling. I was sweet sixteen. I was out of my mind on booze and cocaine. Trying to convince people I was fine.

I was so proud.

I was so scared.

I was so lonely.

And, ten years too late, I’m here to clean up the mess made by that proud, scared, lonely little girl.

And there is a lot of mess.

And I’m scared.