Sobriety to the Front

Yeah, I know, that title is among the worst jokes I’ve attempted to make here (especially since I feel like I need to explain it.  It’s a Riot Grrrl thing).  I almost, very nearly apologize for it (except for that small, terribly geeky part of me that is giggling like mad.  Please forgive).  Also, as a matter of warning, this post sounds far more red-flaggish than it is.  I’m not in a great place today (way too much occupation of my own headspace recently, but I needed to get this out and published.  Should I post to my locked journal?  Probably.  But, my brain said here so here I am), but I’ll be okay.  No permanent solutions to temporary problems, and no attempting to “solve” in the first place.  Just being.

Among the various things one hears in 12-step programs–often–is that sobriety has to come first.  I’ve heard stories about how people have made this happen (indeed, I find myself listening hard to and for those stories–they aren’t always as obvious as one might imagine).  Everything from dedicated “me” time for meditation to sending other active addicts out of the household–those may be the far ends of the spectrum (maybe.  There are probably ends further on that I am not aware of), but those ends have each come up more than once from different people.

If I am to consider this week and last, I’ve done a poor job of putting sobriety first.  Things have been…hectic.  Late work evenings, long meetings, long meetings running late (a planned long meeting is bad enough.  When they keep going…), strangers (nice ones, but, well, that fear of people thing), details, complaints, oh hell I don’t even remember all of what has transpired.  Let’s just call it February.  February happened and continues to happen and my cow February, you expect a great deal from your minions, don’t you?  Exhausting beast, this month is.

Anyway, part of the problem is that the month is genuinely busy and there is only so much I can do about that other than just accept that this is temporary and things will slow down again–I simply need to meet February a day at a time (and, on some days, an hour at a time, lest I become overwhelmed by what the rest of the day holds).  These are the things I cannot change, but I’m also staring, this month, at things I can change.

I’ve become aware, for instance, that in my personal life I no longer trust my own judgement.  I won’t say this is a new experience–far from it, but it’s been quite a while since the feeling has been this intense.  Work life?  No sweat–I reach for consensus, I feel capable, I feel–most of the time–good.  Do I get thrown occasionally?  Sure, and I would be concerned that I wasn’t paying attention to those around me if I didn’t.  Home life…yeah, well, different story altogether.

Today, for instance, I feel like shrinking.  Mostly figuratively, but partially literally as well.  I want to shrink into this chair, small enough that I can’t be seen.  I want to confine my presence to the smallest possible area–restrict my belongings, my clothes, my books–all the physical reminders that Kitsch lives here–to spaces that are unobtrusive to the people I live with.  So I’m not troublesome, in the way, inept.  I typically have this reaction when I don’t know what to make of some emotion.  To escape from the emotion, I pull away and try to disappear. I did the “make presence smaller” thing earlier today.  I cleaned off my dresser and put my running medals in a memory  box under the bead so that they aren’t in the way for any one else.  I put books away.  So I gave into it a little bit.  Let us agree that my stuff is an aggravation to those around me at times, so I imagine that what I did earlier will be met only with pleasure.

Rather than continue down that path, I’m sitting here experiencing these fears–most of which I don’t have names for–and trying to just let them be.  Fighting them makes the desire to shrink away worse and it heightens the–ah, hell, let’s use that Zen for good here–suffering.  Fighting against the fears makes them stronger; trying to “solve” the fears on my own makes them–again–stronger.  All I can do for the moment is acknowledge that they are present and that–at least for this moment–they are real, even if I am not sure what they are, exactly.  Self-reliance in the matter of solving them is not a good idea.

Part of the expression of these processes is that in recognizing that I’m not necessarily the sane one in the room, I often default to assuming that my reactions are inherently insane (or wrong, depending on how I am feeling at the moment–I can live with insane–wrong is a bit tough for me) and that whomever I am in the particular situation with is having the “appropriate” response.  Sometimes this assumption turns out to be a relatively accurate way to gauge how I am responding (Am I overreacting? Am I hearing this incorrectly?*) and  allows me to move through circumstances more fluidly.  Sometimes, however, the assumption stymies me–because, frankly, I have always tended to assume in my personal life that I am “doing it wrong” and the embarrassment that comes from being wrong makes me lash out self-righteously, which is not useful, even if it turns out I have a relatively good point (ugly, ugly circle).  But, it’s a useful gauge enough of the time that I continue to use it–marking how I react, how others react, and what the level of difference between those reactions is.

Practically a scientific study here.

In not completely unrelated news, I started reading Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid again recently.  I’ve waded into my first copy so much that I broke all the glue in the binding (I bought it used, so it wasn’t totally me), but I’ve never really made anything that I could reasonably call headway before.  I’m kind of enjoying the puzzles this time, which may be a better exemplum of my insanity than anything above.

*Being around me must be awful.  I parse words and phrases to an obsessive degree.  I have to really think through what someone actually said as opposed to what they probably meant by it.  There is, for my brain, for instance, a world of difference for me between “I am sorry you are upset” and “I am sorry I did X and upset you” (or whatever); this is not the case for the rest of my household.


2 responses to “Sobriety to the Front

  1. dis ease. That was the key theme of a speaker last night. Well, it might not have been her key theme but it was mine. That, dis ease, I understand. I understand it in social settings, I understand it internally. Unhelpful as it might be, the most sincere response I can give you to this post is, yep. That’s about how it works and while you might feel ‘alone,’ ‘isolated,’ even ‘terminally unique’ in this regard as it happens, for as long as you want it (and even when you don’t!), you are one among many. The fix, as I understand it, ass-in-seat and hand-in-air.
    Love ya.

  2. Dis ease makes sense. As does yep. 🙂

    The ass-in-seat part is easy (well, most of the time). Working on hand-in-air–more success in some venues than others, but I’m working it (and on it). Wrote what may have been the silliest (and most honest) gratitude list ever last night as a result of all this.

    Love ya too, lady.

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