Category Archives: sleepless

Good Mornin’

I went to bed last night about 11:30, having enjoyed my second day with all that extra time. Yes, I am still thinking about drinking almost as much as I was when I would actually engage at the end of the day (or the late afternoon), but, already I am benefitting from the clarity that comes with not giving up hours to the sauce. I knew it was a gamble, getting that vat of Cherry Coke at the movie theatre, but I wanted a treat. I omitted desserts and most treats for the past 5 years as I had to save my calories for alcohol and would “jest,” “I drink my dessert.”

Not cute. But especially not cute when I drank my meals too.

My first thought when I woke this morning was the Frank Sinatra quote I used to enable myself at the beginning of this habit I found myself in: “I feel sorry for people that don’t drink because when they wake up in the morning, that is the best they are going to feel all day.” Well, FINE. Because I feel fricking awesome this morning.

My husband happened to have some spring in his step yesterday and I managed to hit the sack before he got there. I am a night owl anyway, and especially when I want another “halfsie” of wine, so this rarely, if ever, happens. My husband has some medical issues (bicuspid aortic valve and testing for sleep apnea next week) and has been quite vocal in his sleep. This didn’t bother me really, when I would pass out to get to sleep, but when I would wake at 3 a.m. once the alcohol wore off, I would have the hardest time getting back to sleep with all the ruckus from the other side of the bed. It would be perfectly silent, I’d almost drift, and then a noise-making monster would appear.

For night one I planned to take 5 mg melatonin in place of the booze. I know I have relied on the drink to help me sleep. I had my last few glasses of wine the night before and I slept so fitfully, tossing and turning from 2 a.m. on, so I was “fragile” on the drive home from my parent’s house. Ready to cry at a moment’s notice. BIG tears too – the ones that come with twice as much snot so you can’t be all incognito about it and casually chase a tear away.

Reading Imperfect Birds and The Artist’s Way fit that bill, as did the death of Carrie Fisher. Having the same name was an obvious connection, but as a young actress being eaten up by the pressures of even college theatre, I identified with her struggles in the film industry. Getting a Bipolar diagnosis was another thread to connect us.  I never read her books, but I knew they were there and that she shared her struggles with addiction; I just hadn’t been ready to hear them since, by then, I was in the middle of my own story.

I was tired without all that sugar pumping through me when bedtime came, but I had that uneasy feeling that can come with melatonin supplements similar to when you wake up from almost falling off a building or a cliff in a dream. It was a little spooky and I wanted to avoid taking it again, if possible, though after the initial swooning, I had a decent sleep and a great vacation day puttering around the house.

A friend invited me to a movie yesterday afternoon and I asked what she was interested in seeing. She said, “Fences” but that she was flexible. Having studied August Wilson I was delighted. It’s not just anyone that chooses to watch a film like that and they are usually aren’t asking me along. Mostly, I watch the films I really want to see all alone. That’s what happens when you are a highly sensitive, INFJ with a propensity for sadness. During the first scene where the waterworks begin to flow for me, my friend remarked nonchalantly, “Oh that’s right, you’re an emotional one.”

The film was beauty. Wilson wrote the screenplay himself and Denzel Washington stars and Viola Davis (WHOA) slays in this family drama. I remembered the play moving me, but not really what it was about because it was twenty years ago that I saw it performed in my college theatre program. I highly recommend it in any format you prefer. Of course, at the root of their family troubles is a legacy crippled by alcohol. As with most signs from the Universe, I could have missed this one, but it was not lost on me.

Before retiring to bed, I learned that famed actress and Carrie Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, died after suffering a stroke while planning her beloved daughter’s funeral. I teach her breakthrough film, Singin’ in the Rain to my theatre and film students every year and I sing “Good Mornin'” to my boys when I play the wake up fairy at home. The tenacity with which the 19 year-old Reynolds approached this role with no dance training or experience must surely be akin to the way Fisher and I also approached things. All or nothing. Dancing until there is blood in our shoes.

I’m sticking with staying all out on this drinking thing. And I wish you all a “Good Mornin'”.

Oh, and last night? Almost fell right asleep, except I remembered that I tucked some earplugs into my nightside table…so, last night – no monsters under OR in my bed.

 

Keeping Your Head Up

I am back in my home after travel for Christmas with my family at my parents’ home. So many wonderful thoughts and experiences swimming inside my mind and heart. I have written a million words in the days since I last wrote here, just haven’t the time to capture them all in a keystroke.

But you can bet that I will. Be patient. We can explore that virtue together, but I’ve always lied and said “patience is a virtue I do not possess.”

I am assembling my tools for my recovery and I also realize that I need to  go and sit down next to my husband in the den. I have fallen so in love with becoming a better me and what I need to collect, read, write, do, and color to wade through this soul work that I may just have neglected getting hugs.

Meanwhile – mainly, Day One without the CRUTCH of alcohol has consisted of a heaping lot of “the waterworks.” Only, this time, tears that I wore with a badge of honor. This is the one. I feel it in my bones. I AM DONE. By using the crutch, I was choosing an injury. No thank you, getting rid of that.

Finished Saint Anne’s Imperfect Birds on the ride home and began the other book I also purchased some time ago and put on reserve in my bookcase, and was MAGICALLY led to select for this, of alllllll trips. You can’t make this shit up, y’all. First book finished in 2017 will be The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. My life’s story is in the introduction, that’s as much detail as I can spare. If I were to try and collect and explain the signs from the Universe that spilled out for me this time, I might never get that hug, so maybe I can get back to them in some detail later.

I’d have to be an absolute moron to not trust that I am right where I need to be in this very moment and the tears have been the kind that come because you are just in awe with how you are at one with yourself and you cannot remember the last time you felt that way – that you are making the absolute right decision.

I unpacked a little and focused, really focused on listening to myself and using my breath and awareness in the moment to help me navigate the challenges of my life after a nine hour car ride with a challenging family dynamic and what someone besides myself would call a fragile middle-aged woman operating a little (or a lot, on edge). The breath catches a good bit in my sternum, but I talk it into traveling deeper.

And the tears flow and my youngest asks questions and I tell him the truth. And the biggest truth I tell him is that it is okay to cry (I PROMISE that typoed as: “cray”) and be moved and in touch with things and to allow your feelings. I just happen to have A LOT of the weepy ones just about now.

But, I’m good. Really good. Here’s a killer tune to boost your mood or keep it there if you need it. The artist Birdy caught my attention earlier this year. As a child of the eighties, it’s been a rough year for beloved and addicted artists, but SURE AS HELL a 2 x 4 for a knock, if I ever saw one.

Things that will be different

Today we are to leave for our Christmas celebration with family. I do not expect it to be some feature film level of a hot mess, but I don’t suspect it will be easy. That is also how I feel that quitting alcohol is going to be for me – no picnic, but nothing to write home about. That’s precisely why the timing of this is the way that it is. Seems so crazy to be planning the big quit while still engaging in the habit, but I have to meet myself where I am, and that is the spot.

I have wanted to quit before but I kept it a secret and then fell to pressure quickly. I have also done it and had three weeks of amazing ease. This time I was honest with my husband and asked him to not be an enabler. This was a very big deal as my drinking has very much been a weapon against vulnerability and communication. I cannot even begin to fathom the “life things” I will now be learning.

For instance, we are supposed to be leaving on a trip. In years past, we would start out bright and early. This was influenced by his and my traveling childhoods. In years of late, we get out the door whenever my husband gets with the program to leave. (Related, but another story – his test for sleep apnea is January 7.) It makes for some very long trips. I made a clear statement about when I wanted to leave this time days ago and I went to sleep at 11:30 last night with a husband still up watching television. Here I sit at 7:00, ready to roll out and a certain someone is still sleeping. I said I wanted to leave at 6 a.m..

The way this usually goes is I get bent out of shape and super mad and seethe and lash out in passive aggressive ways because somehow I question if I am being reasonable. The drink from the nights before clouds my thoughts and I sink back, sure I would prefer to avoid the conflict so I would figure out other things to pick apart and use as a target for my frustration.

I am going to have to be able to trust myself and what I am feeling and not count on snuffing it out or drinking it away or letting it color my relationships negatively…and so, I shall go and play the wake up fairy and practice this critical skill I have avoided for so long…I suspect it’ll get easier with practice.

 

I woke up a little after 1 in the morning and the thinking machine started up. I wasn’t tired, so it didn’t upset me that I couldn’t fall back to sleep. After all, it’s winter break so I could take a nap this afternoon if I really need it. I’m generally not a napper, but I could probably use more sleep than I am getting. I went ahead and got up about 6:30.

Not bad, considering I don’t remember going to bed. Again.

Because I am going to get sober, I have been drinking all the liquor and wine in the house so that there is nothing here when we return from our Christmas visit to Texas. I explained to my husband that going into that cluster with new sobriety was not something that sounded even remotely like a good idea and he agreed. His agreeing with me is one of the reasons I keep him around.

I have been thinking that I should quit drinking for quite a long time now. And honestly, I think part of me just thought I could be the exception to the rule and I could still have it all while simultaneously throwing it down the drain. Let me explain this morning’s musings.

I remembered going to a friend’s parents’ house. I was actually going to start cleaning for them and my friend was showing me around. I saw these white spots on the wood floor and I happened to ask about them. She told me it was liquor, that her dad and stepmom were functioning alcoholics. I had never heard that expression before.

I took quick stock of their lives and I think I took it as some sort of challenge. This guy was a doctor and his wife, a school administrator. They owned a nice home in a prestigious part of town as well as vacation property and could afford private schools for their children.

At the time, I was just starting a masters degree in counseling (that I later opted out of) and was about to get married. I drank to excess occasionally, but it didn’t consume me. I have had my share of trauma and guarding my mental health has been a constant. Almost twenty years later and a whole lot of territory in between and lately it’s me and a bottle of wine every night. I actually do not remember the last time I went to sleep unaided.

My husband and I have good careers, a nice home and a reasonably happy family, but I still have that gigantic hole in my soul that I cannot seem to fill. I started yoga this summer and it has been the closest thing to making me feel like it might not always be so. I might not always have to endure this longing.

In the past year, since getting a new psychiatrist for my son, I have been drawn to a print that is hanging on the wall in the waiting room. I have no idea where it is from or who to attribute it to. It actually looks  a little like something someone kept back from a calendar and then threw in a frame, but it resonates so deeply with me.

I wanted more than this.

morethanthis

I am pretty convinced that whatever the “more” is, it’s not on the other side of a black out. So, here I go. I have been drowning out my words for the better part of twenty years and I am sure that it has kept me from being my true self and real soul growth. I’m ready to experience what is in store for me as I start expecting that I am worth “more”.