So if I had drank on Saturday, I would be such a mess now. The dread and turmoil that hit me was passing and temporary. Now I am still sober and sane X 1,000!
It is hard to be a garden variety drunk with co-mingled mental health issues. AA, step work, meetings, sponsorship, service duties, and prayer have been the most effective way to stay sober. It hasn’t helped much with my dual diagnosis symptoms. The lack of not feeling better mentally has led me to lose faith in the 12 steps, and back to drinking given my relapse history. Staying sober (and no pills, drugs, etc.) is the only way there is any hope. 1,000 X better.
# 1) My mom was 19 when she married and 9 months later I was born. My father had schizophrenia, and was in out of hospitals and on and off meds. My little brother came soon after. My mom had her hands full as a single parent and poor in the early 1970s. My earliest memory is laying on the couch as an ambulance taking my mom out on a stretcher, and my baby bro in his crib. Later I learned she had tried to commit suicide. To this day, I have a horrible time with “emotional regulation”. It is really difficult for me to just feel “ok”. Over many years, I have turned to booze, food, caffeine, spending, screens, and more. Even with my periods of work and exercise addiction, while more beneficial for the wallet and waist line, those did not solve things with my day to day ups and downs. Yes, things like yoga and meditation have helped a little (but sometimes lead me to use those activities to avoid and check out from reality). I have been taking Lexapro for a year, and it has taken the edge off things recently. Nonetheless, I don’t have a smooth emotional baseline (who does right?), and experience great anxiety at times…even after a decade of sobriety (and excluding times when I indulge in a “dry drunk”).
# 2) So my mom signed me up for a Big Brother though the formal program given the situation and try to help me with a male mentor. Well, he eventually married my mom, but along the way, he sexually abused me and my brothers. I engaged in great denial becoming an Eagle Scout, honor student and going to the top university in my state. When my brothers and I finally spoke up, “Bill” killed himself with a gun. Fortunately, he was out of the house by then but as a I child, I thought it was all my fault, guilty about feelings of sexuality, and fearful for my family’s lives – both in terms of breathing and materially. While he lifted us out of poverty, it came at a great cost. My little mind didn’t think my mom could handle it, and he was a big man (6′ 4″) with weapons. As a human, he was not all bad either. To cope, I focused on his good qualities, and literally – did NOT think about the abuse until much later. A nine year old boy is not responsible for his then younger brothers being abused, but that is what happened. As a result, to this day, I have great capacity to deny and avoid, and stick my head in the sand, even with an elephant in the room on fire – while feeling terrible guilty, frozen, distressed and stuck – while painting my self into a corner.
So the end result is I am a garden variety alcoholic and addict with very persistent and treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. It is a cross between PTSD and emotional regulation disorder (a.k.a. borderline without the social challenges typical with personality disorders).
I am blessed with above average IQ and work drive, and with an upbringing with good values. For some reason, I am able to shield my kids from 80% of my mental health issues (but 0% when I am drinking). Like many others, I am good at taking care of others, but have an incredible block on self-care. I regress to childlike inaction or dissociative states. Recently, struggling with getting out of bed and obsessing on politics every other week the kids are with their mom, or when they are in school on the weeks they are on me. I only have a couple work meetings a week…thus my public library and gym blog posts of late.
For five years now, I have been in 4 days a week traditional psychotherapy with the same analyst. It has helped so much but I recently took a break to get perspective. Just like all the time I put in AA, there seems to be limits and ceilings with therapy despite the investment and progress. At times, it just feels SO hopeless.
So back to this weekend, when my personal bank account was levied and lost a total of $1,500. I was so upset – angry at myself for the self-inflicted problem. So upset that my kids savings accounts were also drained as they were linked to me. Usually, external events are not very triggering, but this was my personal not fixing the roof leak moment hitting me in the pocket book. I was just frozen to deal with the issue (like many micro-mental paralysis I deal with on a daily basis e.g. I have a graduate degree and am expert free-lancer in my field, but some times it takes tremendous effort to do the dishes – which I know I am not alone).
As a result of NOT drinking this last weekend, the following are now just days later:
A) I called the people I owe money and started the steps to resolve the issue I was ignoring. In the last couple months, they had phoned a couple times but I went through a spell when I did not answer my phone unless it was about my kids. I swear, these folks are the nicest most professional – I am not kidding – they have the opposite customer service than United Airlines. They had 0 choice but to levy my bank account so I can’t even direct my anger at them as it was all my fault and they have been pretty nice.
B) It could of been way worse as my business account was not touched and there was much more money in there – and I would not have been able to pay rent or child support this month.
C) I spent an hour and resolved a bunch of other bills I was avoiding. Half the issue was my bank cards were switched to the chip so a bunch of my auto-pays were cancelled.
D) I found $150 in a drawer that I thought I had lost…from when I was drinking in January. So I am 10% back to where I was.
E) AND I am sober, and doing the best I can, and taking care of kids (soccer season is killer, FYI).
The alternative would be 1,000 X worse!
F) Last, my local public radio station is playing my top five song list……this weekend. Unfortunately, this was a playlist I sent in drunk by email one late night this Winter. But I am sober now, and I still like the picks:
- Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
- All Lost in the Supermarket by the Clash
- Please Let Me Get What I Want This Time by the Smiths
- Closer to Fine by the Indigo Girls
- Box of Rain by the Grateful Dead
PS: I have probably outed myself as a white, Midwestern Gen-Xer. Please forgive me (: