This seems just a little bit different. It seems to be clinging on a bit more. It seems to be a bit deeper. There is a cloak feeling to it, as opposed to strips of it passing over me like those dull blue scrubbers at the car wash. I can’t put my finger on it, and yet my fingerprints are all over it.
A funk seems to have encased me, and it’s nothing like I have felt in my 3+ years of sobriety now.
I have started to even wonder if it’s a low level depression. I am contemplating a doctor’s visit, but don’t relish the thought of taking pills again. I have taken pills in the past – three or four different kinds – all with different annoying side effects. Perhaps it was the fact that I was still drinking like the alcoholic I am that made things ineffective. Or at least dialled down the efficacy of those little wonder drugs. Do you think?
What I do remember well is the coming off of my last set of anti-depressants. I was stone cold sober, so it had nothing to do with my alcohol intake. I mean, these are powerful drugs. They are the most prescribed drugs on this continent (and perhaps the world) and yet we forget that they rewire the brain. They play with the chemical make up of our minds. They alter and adjust and take in the seams of our system’s center. These aren’t Flinstone’s Chewable Vitamins. So coming off my last meds was difficult. It felt like my brain had a wet blanket on it for two to three weeks. There was a dizziness, a heaviness, a fogged feeling that I couldn’t shake. I wanted to sleep and yet needed to get up. Not fun.
I can only look at my behaviour, and beyond that, my motives to see where I am coming from.
One of the comments from my last post had someone sharing that they were going through a burning bridges phase of sorts. And I replied back that I too was doing that in some respects too. Not in a spectacular fashion, but one where I am disguising isolating and anger as “whittling down” or “simplifying”. Kristen at Bye Bye Beer wrote a great post about “stripping down” things. And I identified, as did some others who are at about our time of sobriety. But I wonder if I am going a bit too far, in terms of removing others from my life (online predominantly) and vice-versa. I had someone email me the other day and asked if they had offended me, as I unfollowed them everywhere. And the fact was, they didn’t at all offend. One of those “it’s not you, it’s me” type of mea culpas.
So checking my motives is where I get the real deal on where I am coming from. Slashing and burning my ties doesn’t sound like it comes from a loving place or a place of peace. A scorched earth policy isn’t exactly what I pictured in my healthy sobriety. Having that sort of heavy head and heart isn’t what I signed up for, although it is a mild case.
And here is the prognosis of what has been going on:
- taking things too personally (in person and online)
- feeling like I have to defend the 12-step program (I have even gotten into heated discussions with other 12 step members – ugh)
- having a hard time connecting with the Creator
- skipping meetings (I did go to one yesterday, and while it was okay, it didn’t buoy me like they usually do)
- haven’t worked with anyone in months
- stopped meditating, or meditating sporadically
- starting to see the negative in things
- have become quick to anger at times
In fact, I have even had a hard time doing the blogging thing. It took me some strength this morning to even reply to those comments from my last post. Usually I very active in the blogging community, but don’t feel it these days.
Now, before anyone gets too concerned, I am just writing about this to show that sobriety isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. I am not dive bombing into destructiveness. I am not cannonballing into a kidney-shaped pool of lava here. I am probably exaggerating things a bit. But these things have been coming up, and I need to just be aware of it. That’s all. That’s a first step in taking actions to correct these things. I’d be worried if I didn’t see any of this at all and continued down the gang plank.
Even writing this now has opened things up a bit for me. I know there is a light, and it’s up to me to continue moving towards it. I can’t sit on my butt and hope that it happens. I am just obfuscating His love and guidance through selfish and self-seeking ways. I am allowing ego to creep in and take the reins. I had to stop today and ask Him to take these burdens from me, whatever they are. I am not even sure what they are, as things are a bit murky for me right now.
Old Paul is coming through, and there’s no room for him here. I have too much going on, too much at stake, too much happening for that to push through and upend the cart. This feeling down and moping and isolating and pushing others away is how I lived my entire life. My. Entire. Life. It’s like a silk glove. A reflex (not the Duran Duran type). An old haunt that haunts anew.
I guess I ask myself this – what would I say to a sponsee (if I had one) if he came to me in the same predicament? I would probably say the following:
- hit more meetings
- talk to other sober members of the program
- get back to meditating
- pray more
- write out anything that is lingering – resentments, fears, etc.
- write gratitude lists daily
Now, I would be my own worst sponsee, as I have a terrible time taking my own advice. Ain’t that rich? But I will have to make some changes. I know that those with double digit sobriety do talk about some low stretches. And I understand that. It can’t be riding high every day, every moment. Impossible. So I will have to make some changes.
And in the end, it comes down to perspective. Alcoholism has also been called the disease of perception. And I agree to an extent. It’s all about where I see myself in the continuum of life – the flesh and the spirit. For example, at work I have been asked to do morning shifts temporarily. At least for the summer. I am not crazy about the morning shifts – it starts at 6am and goes to 4pm. Long days in which I am both mentally and physically tired (I get up at 5 am). There is a lot of responsibility, as there is only one person in the mornings, as opposed to several at night. So anything that goes on in the mornings lands at my feet.
Now, I have been the guy to fill in the days off for the person who normally does mornings. I don’t mind the change up in the shifts – keeps things interesting for me. But to do it non-stop…well, that’s a different ball game. When I told my wife, we were both crestfallen in some ways. It is more disruptive to our family when I am not there in the mornings, or around to pick the boys up from school, etc. So it all falls on my wife. And I am usually exhausted when I get home.
But as we spoke about it, we both shifted that perspective. I took it as a validation in some ways of my hard work and efficiency at work. I saw it in a way of them seeing the work I put into things. And my wife and I decided to look at the positives of this – more stable hours, more consistent days off, more planning of things at night for her (she needs the time to her self too). And for me, I had to shift my perspective – that yes, I am going to be tired, but that I can’t lounge on the couch when I get home. I will have to just stay in work mode, so to speak, and make sure things at home get taken care of – cooking, cleaning, bed times, etc. I have to shift, mentally. And I can do that.
So the same applies to what is going on with me. I am going to have to shift my perspective and make the best of it…and then move upward from there. But I have to get off my ass to do that. I’ll have to step up my game. I will have to make some sacrifices to make sure things get done and that I am in a position of being positive and rested to be of service to my family and others.
That’s all I can do.
I’ll be okay. It’s always going to be okay. It’s when we feel that we’re at a breaking point where things break free and there is more clarity. I just have to be patient. And let things fall where they may, and not be afraid. Because I am afraid. But in the end, He’s got it. He always did.
Thanks for reading.