inner politics

I could really relate to this column:  http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/03/18/headline-stress-disorder-i-have-it-do-you/

And found some promising solutions here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/opinion/depressed-by-politics-just-let-go.html

I originally wrote about the problem in this post.

I have lived next to immigrants that were hard-working and made my neighborhood better.  The call for a wall and travel ban will not make us safer. It truly just collective scapegoating driving ideas like this.  My kids’ mom is African-American.  The children face racism at times (and enjoy privilege in other situations). Someday soon, I have to have that talk with my son about interacting with the police (as he likely won’t get the many passes with the cops I got in as a lily-white youth).  Though he looks a lot like Bruno Mars right now, some people just see brown.  I could go on and on about the threats that the country faces…of war, or an economic recession, or the crumbling of the safety-net for our most vulnerable community members.

But it’s more than long-standing Blue state versus Red state arguments.  I would do most anything for McCain or Romney right now. Instead, it is like a train wreck you can’t avert your eyes from.  I seriously need an Al-anon meeting.  If you have ever been exposed to someone with a serious major personality disorder – the constant chaos, finger-pointing, detachment from truth, projection, attention-seeking, deflection, gas-lighting, etc. – this turmoil feels familiar.

Intellectually, there is a steady steam of new information and different perspectives.  Info-tainment.  At this point, it is about the same as binge watching a TV show but the episodes never end in a “finale”.  It is a distraction from my real problems in life, or from the live people or work that need my attention.  As I read about it all, the distress it induces matches what is lingering inside.  But I have zero or no control of these external events – when I have much to do with my inner peas and immediate circumstances.

I have talked to my therapist.  Yes, it feels like mommy and daddy are fighting, or it all taps into some kid-like grandiosity about my influence on things, or I catastrophize the situation more than reality, among other dynamics.   I grew up in a home with significant abuse, so this is not just “triggering of liberal tears” – the dysfunction and problems of my family of origin would create existential issues for the most psychologically-sound among us.  But yet it goes beyond that.

I have this lack of faith that the institutions of this country can survive.  That the constitutional checks and balances will be able to maintain a fair and just society.  That the free press and grassroots opposition can make a difference. That at least some members of the majority party will take a stand.

For my personal life, beyond my kids, lots of the proposals, if enacted would help me.  The bill repealing Obamacare will give me some tax credits that I don’t get now buying my own insurance (though my rates will likely get higher as I get older).  Hey, I am all for cutting back on IRS agents, since I am working out some income tax issues. Ha, ha.  But as someone that doesn’t have much of an IRA, and has paid into entitlement trust funds for 30 years now, will Social Security and Medicare be around for me in 20 years (right now they are slated to implode when I am to “retire”)?

So, my point – I am taking a “break” from politics.  I am shooting for 30 days.  I cancelled my newspapers in February, and I got off of Facebook and cut cable TV 2 years ago.  So that just leaves me refraining from going online to read blogs, newspapers and Twitter, and from listening to talk and news radio.

Paired with sobriety, my politics “fast” will hopefully lead to some new healthy behaviors:

1) Putting away the electronic devices for better sleep hygiene – no “screens” in bed.

2) Getting to the gym for a light workout or outside for a brisk walk every day.

3) Eating a little healthier with meals planned ahead and bought at the grocery store, especially not eating right before bed.

4) Trending down on caffeine consumption.  I don’t have a daily habit but sometimes I drink too much coffee or diet soda and get all geeked out.

5) Eliminating over the counter sleep aids.  I buy a two pack of PM pills at the gas station a couple times a week when too much caffeine or stress make it hard to sleep (#4).  Usually if I do some exercise (#2), I sleep like a baby.

6) And a new symptom that I have never had my entire life until last fall, is staying in bed all day to either work (I have had very productive days when under a deadline) or to just lay around to read everything about politics for 36 plus hours – boxing out the real world.  I am pretty sure this will go away if I cut back on caffeine (#4) and eating right before bed (#3), increasing exercise (#2) and eliminating screens in bed (#1) and OTC sleep aids (#5).

These are all aims.

I know complicated rule making for oneself is a little akin to the drinking bargains we would try to make when drunk – like “no drinking” in the mornings or just on Friday / Saturday nights.  Or no more than a “six pack”, etc.

I know the rule making activates the “Black or White” thinking of my “All or Nothing” mind.

But if I can trend no politics, no screens in bed, more exercise, less caffeine, healthier eating, cutting out sleeping aids, etc. things will get even better.

And of course, nothing gets better if I take that first drink.  And that is bright line with no crossing.

30 days

It snuck up on me.  Got here real quick.

One of the highlights of the month was taking my 8 year old daughter sledding on a unseasonable snow day.   She insisted on bringing a box, and it must had a wax coating because she really had fun zipping down the hill.

It sure is easier to stay sober, than to get sober, that is about all I know.

Looking Up

As a child and adult up to last year, I had went skiing like 3-4 times in my first four and half decades of life.  Then last winter my kids took some lessons and decided to get really into one of the most expensive hobbies around.  We went like 4 times last year, and I joined them twice, never leaving the bunny hills.

This year, we’ve hit the slopes at least 8 times, with two long weekend trips up north for more substantial skiing (or boarding for my son).  It got cold here this weekend, and I took my son one last time out. At this point, I am OK on the intermediate hills, am not as scared and can keep up with my kids on the chair lifts, etc.

However, on Saturday, I started to look ahead down the hill instead of right down at my skis.  Just like walking, my legs have “eyes” and can sense trouble and make the adjustments needed faster than than my head.   And it is way more fun and relaxing.  I told me son this and he said “yeah, that’s one of the first things they teach you.”

Unfortunately, I’ve done some drinking this winter while skiing and it wasn’t an issue at all on this trip.   You never know when the temptation may pop up.  I took my daughter to a dance later Saturday and ran into some others also going when we were out eating dinner.  Those folks ordered beers and I got a lemonade.  It would have never crossed my mind without that social cure.

So things are looking up, by looking up.

Now with skiing, I need to do less “pizza pie” and more “french fry” but that is a sobriety metaphor to explore next winter as I hope we are done this year!

2 weeks sober – free beer is not gratis

Since I relapsed in September 2016 after almost 3 years sober, until the last 2 weeks, I had not resisted an urge to drink even once.  However, the last several weeks I have been confronted with circumstances or thoughts of drinking – and have said no thank you.  Each time, like a muscle, it makes it easier and more automatic the next time to abstain.   These situations included:

* Bowling tonight in which pitchers of beer, paid by the host, were passed around with little plastic cups.  I drank some “pop” – which may reveal my geography!  (Social drinking  plus wet place plus the culture of bowling for some of us.)

* Eating essentially at a bar this weekend, at which I ordered a salad.  (Wet place at a location I had drank before about 4 years ago.)

* Empty house with no commitments for the weekend on a Friday night.  (Isolation and boredom plus too much time on my hands.)

* Completing a couple days of solid work and meeting several deadlines.  (“I deserve a reward”)

I started this blog 32 days ago. I have had two 2 week periods of sobriety sandwiching with a 4 day (excruciating painful) stretch in which I drank.

Thanks for your support.

 

 

stinkin’ thinking

Last night – a crazy thought came into my head – that I should grab a drink.  I was in a good mood, things are going well with work, no stress………I had to recall the last time I had a similar brilliant sentiment (but acted on it) and how miserable I was for four days afterwards.

Today, I woke sober, with a clear head, without a care in the world.

The insanity of alcoholic thinking is really mind blowing.

why fret?

In a weird turn of things, my big deadline due today has been postponed to March 9th.  75% of the work is done.  I was going to have to do a marathon today to make the midnight online submission but now we have more breathing room and can produce a way higher quality project.  It is not entirely related to my drinking we got to the wire like this and part of my block over the weekend was my doubts about the missing parts that I was reliant on colleagues to deliver.  Now that I am sober, I was able to say clearly this morning we need X, Y and Z.

So why fret?

You just never know.

brain blocks

I didn’t get started on work until Noon yesterday.   I have terrible mind freezes often… unfortunately it hasn’t been better at 10 days or 10 year sober.  Drinking just makes everything worse.

When I am blocked, it creates lots of anxiety.  Saturday was such a beautiful warm day for February here.  I should of just relaxed and enjoyed the time off. I just beat myself up for being unproductive.

The unhealthy way to “unfreeze” my mind usually involves disruption of my sleep and consuming too much food and caffeine.

Healthy effective strategies to break the paralysis include –

1) Call the person looking for the project from me, or better yet, meet them in person to discuss.  Email communication is too impersonal and doesn’t usually break the ice enough.

2) Start working on the project the night before right before bed; read the background information and review the requirements.  Often my unconscious mind will take over and work on it as I sleep – and I wake eager to solve the puzzle of the project.

3) Change of scenery of work environment can sometimes help combined with above bullets.

4) Doing something physical – go to the gym or a walk (and eventually running again) can diffuse the mental tension through exercise and change brain chemistry.

Caffeine never helps these freezes – it actually makes the anxiety more acute and profound.  Right now I am not dependent of coffee in the morning, and hope to keep it that way.  Someday I would like to be caffeine free but I need to focus on the booze right now.  Some caffeine is effective for mornings after little sleep.  Lots of caffeine to try to fuel work focus is NOT effective NOR healthy.

Nonetheless, the big project due Tuesday was sent off for review late last night, and I have a good start on the project due Thursday.  The several projects with no due dates are still weeks behind.  On to those next.

The bummer of this is I really enjoy my work, and I am really good at it.  I just get these major mental blocks – which has parallels to many other areas of my life too.

the siren call of…

… a Friday night after meeting a bunch of deadlines with quality work after being overwhelmed just days earlier.

… An empty house with no kids as it is their week with their mom.

… A very clean house (usually on Fridays after their week with me it looks like a tornado went through the place) but it is very tidy now for when the landlord comes by to fix some plumbing.

… Nothing scheduled to noon on Monday.

I feel good a little wound up maybe.  I drank about 72 hours ago, and Wednesday I felt so horrible inside and out, but I can barely “recall” that now.  Crazy.

I’m in for the night and will be focusing on the next 7 days in getting into a positive routine.  Starting each day with a meeting at 7am.  Getting in some work in every day.  Going outside this weekend as it is supposed to be warm each day.  Heading to the gym at night to just to get the body in motion since exercise always changes my brain chemistry in a positive way without fail.

I’ve had some days in the last couple months when I did not drink, but I stayed in bed all day when the kids were gone.  While better than boozing, it wasn’t that great either.

Onward and upward!

reinvention

Recovery is the chance for reinvention in this lifetime.

Indigo Girls – Galileo Lyrics

Galileo’s head was on the block
The crime was lookin’ up the truth
And as the bombshells of my daily fears explode
I try to trace them to my youth

And then you had to bring up reincarnation
Over a couple of beers the other night
And now I’m serving time for mistakes
Made by another in another life time

(Chorus) How long ’til my soul gets it right
Can any human being ever reach that kind of light
I call on the resting soul of Galileo king of night vision
King of insight

And then I think about my fear of motion
Which I never could explain
Some other fool across the ocean years ago
Must have crashed his little airplane

(Chorus)

I’m not making a joke
You know me I take everything so seriously
If we wait for the time till our souls get it right
Then at least I know there’ll be no nuclear annihilation in my life time
I’m still not right

(Instrumental)

I offer thanks to those before me
That’s all I’ve got to say
‘Cause maybe you squandered big bucks in your lifetime
Now I have to pay

But then again it feels like some sort of inspiration
To let the next life off the hook
Or she’ll say look what I had to overcome from my last life
I think I’ll write a book

How long ’til my soul gets it right
(Til my soul gets it right)
Can any human being ever reach the Highest Light
(Til we reach the highest light)
Except for the Galileo
(God rest his soul)
King of night vision king of insight

How long…
(Til my soul gets it right)
(Til we reach the highest light)
How long…
(Til my soul gets it right)
(Til we reach the highest light)
How long

Songwriter: EMILY ANN SALIERS