“Grief is like food poisoning, you have to let it work through you and it’s going to be messy”
This is what I pay the big dollars for. That and so I can cry and say “So when I’m crying and I’m sitting in my loss, what do I do then?” and she says “yeah” and I say no, I’m asking you, and she says again “yeah”.
This is me being glib but counselling continues to be good but hard. She asked how the magnesium and b12 are working, but because I’ve been an emotional roller coaster, I don’t have a baseline to measure from. There is no control subject. When I am in limbo I don’t know what feels normal. We might start EMDR next week, beginning with grief, but that needs a stable base to work from so I don’t know.
More than three weeks alcohol free now. The only time I’ve had a compulsion to drink was when I was was pouring out vodka to make a scent diffuser (cinnamon & peppermint) and I wanted to take a gulp, but only in the exact way that I’m compelled to lick the spoon when I’m cleaning out cat food because I know it’s something I really don’t want to do. Does that make sense?
Everything is of course sharper without the comforting blurring around the edges that a couple of glasses of wine used to provide. I’m overly conscious of where my hands are when I’m with the babe that I’m seeing, checking if it’s okay to put my arm around her, a hand on her leg or what have you. Obviously a huge part of this is awareness now of my aggressive drunken past, and making sure of consent, but my psychologist says this is also extremely common in people who have given up alcohol, a new sudden hyper-awareness. I hope this will fade a little, that obviously I will still be considerate and careful, but not quite as on edge as I am now. Reasons that I drank are so much clearer now.
Conversely, I’m also having trouble trusting my instincts right now, because I’m not sure what are genuine beliefs and what is cognitive dissonance. Remember when you were young and you wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid but your mum said no, so you decided you hated them instead and would gleefully sing “I’m one of a kind, I’m a cabbage patch kid and nobody likes me, nobody likes me,” but it wasn’t actually really all that gleeful? This is again where a psychologist comes in handy because you pay them to be on your side, but more neutral than friends. She’s good at asking me what exactly it is that I want. And what I want is to not feel like I’m in limbo anymore. Am I terrified of the consequences of a move out of that? Absolutely. But I can’t move forward to anything if I’m stuck and don’t know where I’m going.
I don’t know what the fuck I was smoking when I said it was getting easier. Or perhaps I doomed myself. That seems appropriate.
Because I have run out of things to do when it comes to working on myself, or at least the tangible things, y’know, but I don’t feel better? I gave up drinking. Check. I’ve seen my counsellor twice so far and have my next appointment on Tuesday. Check. I’m moving my body more. Check. I got a job. Check. I’ve read the book. Check. I use the app. Check. I reached out to see if I can start to repair some of the damage that I have done (apparently not, or maybe not yet but also I just have no idea). Check. I am doing things outside of my comfort zone and doing them sober. Check. But it’s not enough. I’m trying to do the acceptance commitment therapy thing in which I boil down my feelings to understand what’s going on but it’s just I am afraid I will always be alone, I am afraid I am unfixable, I am afraid I am unloveable, I am afraid I am incompetent. I am afraid.
And yesterday I was brimming with excitement about the Fat Babes Pool Party that’s being held in Auckland, so I booked flights and hotel and car rental and am paying for a Boom scholarship to it for someone who can’t afford to go. I saw it as the next step in accomplishing the thing that I really want to pull off later this year. But today when I’m thinking about how I have to go to my production manager to try on the new blouse tomorrow, and how I have to find a new venue for the photoshoot, and after this shoot I’ll have to find new photographers, and why am I pouring all this money and effort into this thing, I’m not making any money, no one has been buying lately and I just feel so fucking worthless and maybe the whole stupid thing has just been me skating by on people’s pity.
And yes, this is my fucking pity party. I’m back to crying all day. I’m also craving every carb under the sun and getting wank cramps so I know my period is approaching, but it’s just so tough last night and today. I can’t get away from myself because of course I have to sit with myself, sit in my feelings.
Or lie with them, alone in my enormous new bed that was delivered today. Tomorrow I need to build a new set of stairs for Sebastian because it’s too high for him to use the existing ones. Right now they’re sitting on my box of tissue paper and hopefully he can use them like that, but he is a cat stuck in his ways. I did love the way that he has greeted everyone who’s come by today – the bed delivery people, the women who came and took my old bed away and the DeliverEasy driver (carbs). I love that cat so much. My heart is sore for people missing their cats. My heart is so sore.
But my neighbours are home from their month long holiday, which means Trixie Doggie is home too! It’s hard to cry when you’re hugging such a happy lovely scamp. Tonight I will take a sleeping pill along with the magnesium, and hopefully I will sleep solidly in my new bed in crisp new sheets, and then tomorrow I will be productive. I will clean. I will do Boom admin. I will move my body. I will recite mantras as I knit another row in the scarf I’ve been working on since 2009. And hopefully I will feel a little better.
I’m back to feeling in limbo again. Because it has become too easy, I don’t have little victories to celebrate anymore. There was no parade for me at two weeks sober and I was disappointed. I walked into counselling smiling and I didn’t cry during the session. Somehow this feels wrong.
Obviously the way I felt at the beginning of the year was not sustainable. And I’m learning new techniques that make things easier. But it is still hard to sit inside my feelings, to acknowledge them as ACT teaches, instead of trying to hide from them. So maybe it’s not too easy after all. I dunno, my thoughts are little tangles right now, as if I was fancy dished up spaghetti, artfully twisted into a pile. Maybe I’m already thinking about lunch although it’s only 10.30am.
The one thing I was cynical of when I chose my new counsellor was her interest in supplements, and yet here I am now, dissolving more b12 under my tongue. My results were 170 and apparently you’re supposed to have over 600 for optimal health. Is this borderline scientology? I don’t know, but she listens to me and that helps. Mostly she reminds me that I can’t control what others think of me (even if that doesn’t align with my values), all I can control are my own actions. And the magnesium has me sleeping solidly through the night except when Seb wakes me up but returning back to sleep was easy, though I’m still a bit upset by Kris in my dream sleeping with my flatmate. Not going to analyse that one.
2020 continues to be weird. There continue to be challenges like getting to know a lot of new people, and missing, missing, missing the old. Dorothy Parker knows what’s up (https://www.classicshorts.com/stories/teleycal.html?fbclid=IwAR1PQ7nJ3TVjVq4mLVUrD5vqPBGk7z5bBYpXd9epNVDMh5beaArOfxxi4yk). Not drinking leaves me with more time in the day and I’m trying to get more chores done, despite being really fucking tired because of the new things that I’m doing this week. I’m dropping off the fabrics for the last of season four this weekend, so I really oughta try and pick up some more Boom sales. If I can just get my head out of ass for a while, perhaps that’s what I’ll do.
I’m still waiting for my new couch and enormous new bed to be delivered and I’m getting increasingly frustrated by Big Save who keep telling me “it should be here soon”. I have to organise Sara to come and receive it since I’ll be out during the day, and I have to pay someone to cart away my old bed, yo, don’t leave me hanging. Give me some certainty. Don’t make me sit in my feelings about getting a new bed, about saying goodbye to the surface on which I was raped, on which I was with S, with T, with the last two, with the new one now, the bed where I slept every night with Florence snuggled up to my butt, how I ordered the new bed with hopes that I already ruined. Well gosh, I guess I am sitting in those feelings already. Fuck.
In the meantime though, I’m here to spread the gospel of The Unauthorised Beverly Hills 90210 Story telemovie on TVNZ on Demand. The actress playing Jennie Garth is particularly impressive. Also, because I wasn’t regularly updating Hubris last year, you might not have seen me extolling the virtues of BH90210, the series sort of reboot in which the original cast members play versions of themselves. If you’re in need of perfect trash, it is utterly, utterly perfect.
And I think we all need some trash sometimes, don’t we? It can’t all be fresh veges from the garden and sitting with your feelings and reflecting on the people you’ve hurt. I mean, a lot of it can be. But not all of it.
Yesterday was my first big alcohol-free challenge, and I crushed it. Like in the good sense. I am super proud of myself. High five me!
You might not think that having to go to a luxury lodge and eat a five course lunch sounds particularly hard, but being sober around my parents has generally been something I’ve tried to avoid for the past ten years or so. But I did it. I drove us back from Wharekauhau even, and I was charming and funny and polite, and I didn’t even really miss the wine. I think this is where This Naked Mind has really come into its own, because all I could think about was that if I was drinking, I would be stressing about where and when my next drink was coming from. Of course it helped to be surrounded by people who love and support me too.
Full marks to Wharekauhau too, for stocking chardonnay juice and rose juice to match with their menus. It was nice to be able to feel a bit special and to ching glasses with everyone. Oh, and the food of course, the food was amazing. And it was fun to pretend for the day that we were rich enough to stay in a place like that (yes, I’m aware how wanky that sounds given the cost of lunch, but I guess we’re “lunch for a fiftieth wedding anniversary there” comfortable not “stay some nights there” rich). Here’s some photos.
I was absolutely exhausted and wiped out in the evening, which I put down to the physical stress of holding on to a handle thingie all the way on the drive up there thanks to my father’s driving, all the rich food, sitting up at lunch for three hours, being sugared up from all the juice and then deciding to go path of least resistance mentally, telling my parents just “I’m not drinking right now” and answering in the past tense when my mother asked the age of my people as we talked about age differences in couples.
Today I’ve been kind to myself and have taken a nap but also tidied my room, put away laundry and shortly I will be cooking dinner for a babe. Tomorrow a new challenge begins and that’s terrifying and exciting. I don’t know how I’ll feel when I get home from it, if I will want to pour myself a drink or not, but today I enjoyed being able to carry all my groceries at once without the weight of wine bottles, so I’ll focus on that.
We’re into double digit days now folks, which is pretty exciting. The days that dragged on forever have also blurred into a quick run. I’ve successfully kept myself occupied – thanks in no small part to all the wonderful people who’ve helped.
My first big test comes tomorrow when I spend the day with my family for my parents’ 50th anniversary without drinking. Of course, now I’ve finished This Naked Mind I am of course totally cured, right, so it won’t be an issue? But if I think back to times when I have been uncomfortable at family events, a lot of my angst has come from having an empty glass and wondering how to get in another drink before my mother notices and comments passive-aggressively on how much I’m drinking. If alcohol is just not an option then there’s no angsting over not having alcohol. Perhaps the book works after all. We’ll see. Hopefully it will be a beautiful day in the Wairarapa and the food will be tasty, and my sisters and brothers-in-lawish will be wonderful, and everything will be good. And then I get to see a babe later so that is also something to look forward to.
Today’s accomplishments were basically doing a lot of laundry and also going out for lunch with Anji. She gave me a late-arriving Xmas present, and almost made me cry – both because of my sweet cat Florence who I miss so much, and also because I also gave personalised socks for Xmas to a sweet cat boy who I miss very much as well.
But I didn’t cry! Haha! And I didn’t cry yesterday, and last night I slept through the whole goddamn night WITHOUT taking a sleeping pill and Seb even played his part and didn’t wake me up at 2am to be fed! Honestly I know that’s a lot of exclamation marks but it was an incredible feeling. On the health tip, I got all my blood results back and everything was great except for my b12, which totally gets depleted by stress, so I went and got a b12 shot. It hurt a little bit, but I’m a big fan of instant solutions. It’s been ten days now, so I’m fixed, right? That’s all the work that I have to do?
Narrator: that is not all the work she has to do.
Speaking of unreliable narrators, what a load of old cobbers the new Dracula is. Honestly, could Drac be more of a David Brent? Wasn’t there a time when Sherlock was actually good? How do you people even sit through Dr Who if it’s like this? At least in half an hour after I have fed the neighbour’s cat and loaded the dishwasher I’ll get to watch the new episode of The Good Place. Today I am in a medium place, and I’m very relieved to be there. Long may it continue.
Today was all go go go. I went to the doctor’s first thing to tell her I’d given up drinking and to ask her for the barrage of blood tests my trainer and my psychologist want, and also for a general health check. As per usual, my blood pressure was perfect, and she reminded me that I’d had a bunch of tests earlier in the year when I continued to be exhausted after my gall bladder came out in which all my functions were good, but totally understood why I wanted to doublecheck my results anyway. I might have fucked my mind but at least I haven’t fucked my liver, so that’s something.
I went to Kilbirnie for blood tests and to the supermarket, then to Newtown to pick up Sara who was spending the day with me. We went to a bunch of places to look for fabric for the last two Boom items for season four. I wanted to get some more of a particular tiger print because it’s a one-way print which means we won’t get a particularly efficient cut out of it, but they didn’t have any more of it. Instead I found an amaaaaaaaaaazing print that’s going to be blouses. No spoilers but I’ll tell you a joke:
What’s the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
One will see you later, one will see you in a while.
After unsuccessful times at the Fabric Warehouse we were getting hangry and decided since we were going to Porirua to go to Pete’s Emporium, we might as well go to Denny’s so as to avoid thinking. It wasn’t amazing but it filled the chip hole in my life. And Pete’s was a success, so hurray, progress for Boom.
After that we came home and I finished cleaning out my closet, like, literally. A big bag to go to the rag bins (I was really into boleros in 2005, apparently) and some better items saved to sell second hand at Reboom and a tremendous sense of satisfaction. The house is clean cos my cleaner came yesterday, and it feels calming. She brought me flowers even.
A box of syrups came from Six Barrel Soda Co cos apparently that’s what I do now instead of ordering cases of wine.
My counsellor emailed to say that I’m doing very well, which I know she’s basically legally obliged to say (much like my doctor was obliged to say my skin looked amazing) but it felt good anyway. The bummer is the kind of treatment she’s recommending for me is called ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and honestly, maybe I’ll just have to imagine myself kicking David Seymour in the balls in order to stomach that name. Also possibly EMDR therapy, and I guess I’ll be waiting for the sweet drop then cos it sounds like EDM.
I responsibly ordered a mattress protector instead of a sex blanket, which I’m sure is the more grown up thing to do, but felt much more disappointing. Apparently my new bed and new couch will be arriving some time next week, so that’s very exciting. Whose dumb idea was it to get rid of their full length for sleeping on couch right before having a breakdown anyway? Perhaps it was good luck, because I’ve been forced to move around which has made me more prone to reading, writing, knitting a row while reciting mantras and trying to get shit done than lying slack-eyed and open jawed staring at Netflix. Perhaps.
Tonight I was supposed to hang out with Keith but I was actually stoked when he rain-checked, because I’ve had dinner at friends’ places two nights in a row, which is lovely, but tiring. I forgot what it’s like having flatmates to manoeuvre around. Instead, my tired ass is gonna watch Top of the Pops – The Story of 1989 (all the episodes in this are fantastic viewing) and then go to bed. It is possible I might fail at my goal of not crying today but that’s only because the next episode of Buffy is ‘Into the Woods’ and you know what? I actually think Riley got a pretty fucking raw deal. Yeah that’s right, I said it and I’m not sorry.
The thing I’m learning about polyamory is that because you don’t just have one timeline, things play out and overlap and it’s a hell of a mind trip. You can be crying in the morning when your new super king duvet arrives for the enormous bed you ordered when you were still expecting there would be three of you in it, and then nervously putting on lipstick in the evening to go on a date with a new person. And it’s okay to mourn the loss of a relationship while you’re celebrating the start of another, because they’ve also been through those overlapping timetables. And you can see how they could all fit together so easily, all the compare and contrast and difference, and you’ll have honest naked conversations and you’ll cry some more and mess up that makeup that you so carefully applied. For the record, someone new coming into my life is not the reason that I lost the others. Though she understands the work that I need to do.
Speaking of work, oh yes, I’ve been doing that. Yesterday I met with my new personal trainer to talk about the work I want to do with her in order to build up physical strength and also to give my mind its best chance at being peaceful. Lou is perfect for me because we’ve been twitter friends for years, and believes in Health At Every Size. So we discussed how i’d feel if my body does start changing shape a little, which to be honest would be kind of weird because I have this whole fucking company centred on the idea of not being at war with your body, and on a practical level if my body changes significantly then that will affect things with Boom because I’m the fit model. But I’m not anticipating that happening, even though alcohol intake probably amounted to a fair percentage of my calorie intake. I do not intend to ever talk about weight loss though, only any improvements that I might see like, being able to walk up stairs without puffing. Or falling asleep quickly without taking a pill.
And speaking of trigger warnings, today I saw my counsellor for the first time, after she had a last minute cancellation. I am very grateful that she had very tactile velvet pillows for me to fiddle with as I laid out all the reasons that I was there in her office. It was strange to talk about myself as a violater, and also to list and recount the violations that have happened to me over the years. I began drinking at age 14 when Beth and I started sneaking out and going to nightclubs in Tokyo. One of the first times that I was assaulted was when I was 14 in the bathroom of a nightclub in Tokyo. Patterns emerge.
We talked about the mild PTSD I have at dentists now after getting raped in 2010. We talked about my history of antidepressants and how fucked up it was that I had a psychiatrist put me on two zopiclone a night every day for over a year. We talked about my stressers over the past year, and how it has been A Lot. She has had other poly people before so none of the language was new to her, which is what I had guessed from her biography and why I had chosen her. She’s going to email me some resources about the kinds of treatments that she does (we’ve moved on so much from CBT, apparently, which makes me giggle because that was my first job straight out of university – Computer-Based Training, and also I know a number of sex workers who also specialise in that – but quite differently). I’ll be seeing her once a week for a while at least, and I am so fucking exhausted now, but also hopeful that I might still be saveable after all.
Tomorrow’s task is a visit to my GP to ask her for all kinds of blood tests both for Lou and for my counsellor, and because I’d like to know my liver function and see if I can make that number change over the next three months. My redundancy money has come through, finally, and holy fuck what sweet relief it is to pay off debts. I am so fucking privileged to be in this position, I know. I owe the universe a lot, and I intend to do my best to repay it.
Everything is therapy-speak right now, or some gigantic big sign from the universe or some weird coincidence slash that thing where you buy a kind of car and then all of a sudden those cars are everywhere. Which is also the case when I bought a car in 2018.
Late last night/early this morning I had a long phone conversation with a friend who was having a rough time, and after I did my best to listen and hear what she was saying instead of just trying to rush in to offer solutions (I’m not sure how well I did), she told me that she’d read what I’d been writing here, and that when she had faded out of my life for a while, it was because I’d been drunkenly aggressive with her too. Of course that was horrible to hear, but I also felt really glad that she was able to tell me now. From all the thinking and reflecting I’ve been doing lately, my explanation of sorts, is that I spent so long not having any confidence that people would find me attractive or want me that I started to force myself to fake it until I made it – and then that faking just becomes more and more pushy with more alcohol shovelled in. Confidence becomes cockiness becomes aggression. Nothing excuses what I did, but all I can do now is apologise and continue to work to make sure I don’t do it to others.
It’s… interesting to be on the other side of the table on this one. Back in 2014 I slept with a guy who I’d talked to a fair bit on OKC and I’d met once before, friend of a friend, and of course because it’s Wellington we’d had lovers in common, etc. I’d been really up front with my hard limits (not in my butt and not being pinned down while sucking cock cos that’s a flashback trigger) and we’d had some delightful sexting in the middle of the day etc. Then when he finally came over, we drank and drank. When we got to bed we were drinking spiced rum straight from the bottle. He basically immediately went to sit on my chest and shove his dick down my throat, but to his absolute credit, he stopped immediately when I told him to and apologised. It was fine, it was just a momentary lapse, but it was a lapse. And in the morning, fingers in my asshole. Afterwards, I felt fine about him, I would have slept with him again, but it stuck with me. I carried it with me, and when I’d see him post on Facebook I’d find myself seething.
One night a couple of years I came home from a party (and obviously on the H.A.L.T scale I was Angry) and sent him a message to say that I wanted him to know about how he’d pushed my boundaries so that he didn’t do that to anyone else again. He was amazingly receptive, said that it must have been hard for me to carry it for for those years, said he was really sorry, and of course we talked about the role alcohol had in it (not using it as an excuse). I felt so much better after telling him, have absolutely no issues with him now and I was really impressed with his reaction. Looking up that conversation again now the shoe’s on the other foot and all, I can quote him
“I took consent seriously then but now I take it Extremely seriously because it’s so easy for one small misunderstanding in communication to be a massive problem for another person”.
Boy howdy. Why didn’t I learn that from him in 2018? I guess I just hope that I can use my positive experience talking to him about his mistake as a model for how to go on as I keep on unearthing the mistakes I have made.
Today started out okay. The exterminator came and the rats have eaten some of the poison baits so I was really happy. The chapters of This Naked Mind that I read today covered the myths of drinking to loosen up and lose your inhibitions and have sex. Yuuuuuup. And fucking speaking of being read, bloody Jo nearly made me choke to death laughing then crying at this tweet:
Geminis: Definitely not texting exes in the new year— Astro Poets (@poetastrologers) January 6, 2020
Also Geminis: I wrote this 3409 page poem for you, would you like to help with the footnotes?
When I went out to pick fresh beans from the vegetable garden, I found a dead rat. Cue my texts to a friend:
“Now I am crying coz I found the body of a rat I wanted dead and now I feel awful and honestly Keith brains are just dumb”
“That poor rat was consuming poison that made it want to drink more which killed it even faster and honestly Keith I think the subtext has rapidly become text“.
But it wasn’t all dead rats. Elizabeth who I mostly just know on Twitter came over and let me win at Bananagrams a couple of times. She said that I might be wanting to hang out with people who aren’t my standard drinking buddies, and she’s absolutely right. Not that I don’t love my drinking buddies, and not that I don’t think I’ll be okay not drinking with them, but it’s also nice to create new activities and new spaces for myself, and a game where I get to focus on words was perfect. Again, I am super lucky to have found such a supportive crowd. I’m lucky to be filling up my calendar with nice things with good people.
And! I found a counselling appointment! I got their soonest one which is…. January 22. Fucking hell. And it’s a $270 consultation. I’m hoping we’re going to be compatible. Her list of specialities includes:
- anxiety and mood difficulties trauma,
- stress and burnout alcohol and other substance use
- sexual behaviour and intimacy/relationship concerns
- adjustment to loss and life changes.
So those sound a little familiar. I am really relieved to have found someone, and also extremely lucky that I know I can afford to go see her (I can’t afford not to). Fucking hell, I just have no idea how I’d survive without all my privilege. But I am surviving. My heart is still so sore at the damage I have done, and there is so much work ahead of me. But I’m starting to have a little more hope. And that feels nice.
This morning, processing all the harm I’ve done recently means more and more memories over the past 20 years are surfacing to fit into patterns and it’s really confronting. It made me feel like I don’t deserve the support I’ve been getting. But spending time today with two different people who I know I have helped and supported in the past has allowed my thinking to move a little from “I am a monster” to “I have done some monstrous things”. I am not a thing that needs to be fixed – my behaviour and patterns are what need to be changed.
For the record, the staff at One Fat Bird in Karori are… not great at choosing their moments to clear plates or bring coffees or check in on how the food is going. Your chicken and waffles are fine, but yeah I can’t finish them if I’ve been crying the whole lunch through, sorry. But friends who have had lots of counselling and who share their lessons are great. I also like to think of it as communism by stealth, spreading the cost of thousands of dollars of counselling by helping others with it. Maybe it’s like people who put up bootleg MP3s of every concert they go to. Take that, Ticketmaster! We ALL get to hear that 19 minute jam on ‘Yellow ledbetter’!
I am trying to fill my hours and it’s going okay. Lunch with a friend, who let me cry and cry and told me to stop apologising every time I inelegantly blew my nose or apologised for being a mess on him. He entertained me with his hash tag Bridgeman problems, because we are so very self aware. I know the planet is on fire, but I can’t do anything about that, besides donate money and vote Green, and I don’t have any money until my redundancy payment comes through, hopefully on Wednesday. I am in so much karmic debt right now and I just can’t wait to be financially out of debt to a number of people at least.
I’ve realised that because of said money, I can pay for season four of Boom without needing to rush it to sale in order to pay for its production, so I can take my time with its release. People will wait. One person posted
And did I tell you that I wore my blue Kris dress to my fashion school interview (because I feel so happy when wearing it)? I start school in February. *That’s* the power of Boom – it’s so much more than clothing… it subtlety gives people the confidence to go forward and change their life path. *You* created that. You done good, Joanna, you done good. ? ”
It feels uncomfortable to be writing like this, like I am desperately wanting cookies from everyone, though perhaps I am, trying to impress you with my Serious Sadness And Look At Me Doing The Things, but also, I guess I’ve been doing this for over twenty years here on Hubris (with too many pauses). Maybe yelped out sentences on Twitter is the equivalent of the drunken slurring of emotions, when I should be sitting down calmly and working my way through them in long form on Hubris instead.
I’ve reached parts of This Naked Brain where I’m pushing back against it and I’m trying to figure out if it’s cognitive dissonance or whether my reservations are actually fair enough. She hasn’t mentioned the use of antidepressants, but she has talked a lot about how the body produces everything it needs, and yeah, I know that’s not true. I mean, absolutely, alcohol has no doubt fucked up my dopamine levels and played with my serotonin but not everyone on antidepressants is also a drinker. I think overall it’s probably healthy to have a little bit of scepticism around it, and my literature review will continue. When I find a counsellor, they’ll no doubt have their own recommendations, and hopefully they will be able to focus on depression as well.
Over on the Daybreak app, most of the people are Australian, so naturally there is a lot of talk about the bush fires, and the heat. People are saying they’ll donate the money that they’d normally spend on drinking, which is nice. I sent the beers & cider in my fridge home with Sara today because I won’t be drinking this summer. I’m holding on to my wine cellar though. This Naked Mind says you’ll never want to drink again, that it’s a lie you’re doing it for the taste, but again, cognitive dissonance. I think of all the fun I’ve had doing wine tastings – and hope that maybe one day I’ll do that again, without feeling the need to go to the bar afterwards for more. But that’s for the future Joanna to think about. This Joanna just has to figure out how she’ll get from now until 10am tomorrow when the exterminator comes back (she’ll finish writing this, post it, put the magic soup she couldn’t finish back in the fridge, finish watching Making It, watch some home renovation show, take half a zopiclone and watch 30 Rock til she falls asleep).
Of course, it’s not just all about booze though, it’s also about anxiety, so I’m still wondering about the usefulness of an actual app, because I’m already watching my phone like a hawk who has fucked up mightily, hoping desperately to get a message from someone that won’t actually ever arrive, so the hawk maybe should put the phone far away. Wow this is a bad metaphor. Safe to say though that I turned off the Daybreak notifications but at any time I can check in and see there are people in similar situations, celebrating small victories, and that’s comforting. Day 5 AF, etc.
This afternoon Sara and I sorted out my leftover Boom fabrics so I could donate the sizeable pieces to people working with those from a refugee background (who may end up working as seamstresses for my production manager doing Boom work, if the experience of others is anything to go by, so that’s a nice roundness). We also played Jackbox trivia games and I found myself laughing and smiling and it was nice. Tomorrow after the exterminator someone I don’t know hugely but we’re twitter friends is coming over to play Scrabble. On Tuesday I’m meeting with my soon to be personal trainer, and on Wednesday I’m having girlie face masks and movie night with another friend. Please invite me to do things. It’s lonely and echoey inside my head. Please tell me about your problems. I’m so fucking introspective right now that I might not pick up on you having them, but I’m so ready to listen.
So here’s how things are going in my head today.
CN: (historical) suicidal ideation
I think a thing that I never really processed properly – if there is supposed to be a proper way to process these things, is just how much I wanted to die in the week after I had my gallbladder out. I wrote about how I had a medical event and all the doctors rushed into my room, etc, and I was like “what, no, I’m not dying and I don’t want to”, but in the week after that, when I was at home recovering, I changed my mind about that. I’m glad I was warned by someone on twitter to expect that after general anaesthetic, because it was just a huge huge drop, which I’d compare to the time in 2003 when I stayed on my cellphone to Good Tom while Kate Hamlin came and took away my pills. It was the hospital food too, utterly disgusting, everything the same gristle coated in slime. Even once I was out of hospital, I could still smell and taste it, and after the pain I went through, I was afraid of all food.
Me, a famously food-focused person, could not stomach the thought of anything. And I didn’t know who I was anymore, as if my whole identity was built into eating and if I didn’t want to eat, who even was I? You can see where I’m going with this now, can’t you?
For no physical reason, food is a struggle right now and makes me nauseous, as if that gnawing hunger is what is keeping me virtuous. People have brought me snacks and sent me treats (and Tom even brought around treats for Seb too who has definitely earned them) but my desire to eat right now is gone. I did eat broccoli today though, I’m not wasting away. I don’t have a physical dependency on alcohol – it’s just that if I do drink, I might have more than I originally intended to, and it might make me a fucking jerk. So I’m trying to reimagine my life as a non-drinker.
The semi-ironic thing is that I’d actually mostly been drinking less in the past couple of months. I was driving more to visit people not within uber distance, and they weren’t big drinkers, so I usually wasn’t with them. When work was at its most awful I took to working from home on Fridays to avoid the after-work drinks and drinking too much to relieve the stress of it. And those were good things. I enjoyed sipping tea and chatting, cuddling someone, getting to know them and being vulnerable, instead of getting loud and slurry and thinking I was invincible. And yet, party situation where I was out of my depth and here we are now.
Progress on the sobriety: I’ve downloaded an app called Daybreaker where people trying to stay alcohol free or moderate alcohol (Jo, Day 4 AF – oh yes, there’s all the slang to learn too) share their triumphs and fuck-ups and their temptations, and others give them suggestions and encouragement. For example: Am I Hungry Angry Lonely or Tired?
There are online counsellors as part of the service, who you can talk to about your specific goals, and while I suspect they have very much a cut’n paste approach this was interesting:
“One thing that is good to remember is that some people will be affected differently by alcohol. For some people, based on their genetics and life events, they may find that it is really hard to stop drinking after one or two drinks – once their blood alcohol reaches a certain amount, there is a really strong desire to keep drinking. This is do do with dopamine pathways in your brain – if you’ve been exposed to a lot of stress in your life, or if you have certain genes, the ‘reward’ feeling will be much greater – leading to wanting to drink more and more alcohol even though you are not necessarily enjoying it anymore.’
Well that certainly sounds relateable. The part about genetics though, is pretty much in contention with This Naked Mind which I’ve started reading and crying my way through. Yup, your girl is trying all the things (while waiting to find an actual professional who will be able to add in specific advice around depression and anxiety too). You know how much I like to take on wide-scope projects. Maybe Hubris will basically just become a Lit Review that I’d barely scrape a passing grade on.
Writing helps, although the wiseness of being currently jobless and being so open in a town like Wellington might be questionable. I’m also writing down things that I wish I could tell people. I’m wondering whether to embark on an email campaign dating back to at least 2009 to apologise to various other people for fucking shitty things I did to them when I was drunk now that I’m recognising patterns of behaviour. Some of those people I’m still friends with and some are gone from my life for a number of years so I’m trying to decide if an apology would actually serve them at all or just me.
I’ve made an appointment with a personal trainer to work out some ways for me to move my body more to keep my brain happier and to build up my strength. I’m making appointments with friends for wholesome activities so I can get out of the house and have something to focus on. Conversations with lovely new people too have brought new perspectives and insight. I am so lucky to have the support that people have been giving me, both online and also in real life. I’m still not entirely convinced I deserve it.
I’m not at all tempted to drink because I’m still just very much in the self flagellation part of the process. It’s hard to stay hydrated let alone contemplate making an Old Fashioned. But Anji showed up today wearing a House of Boom t-shirt and brought me a bottle of non-alcoholic gin so if I do need to mix something up, I have options.
Now to retreat to the wholesomeness of Making It and the very much not at all wholesome Righteous Gemstones. Then sleep. Then wake. Then another day. Oh! And as your reward for making it this far – the other day I walked into my production manager’s studio and burst into tears so her partner took me into the room where their FOSTER KITTENS were and that was very nice. Here, have a kitten pic.