Pity…party of one? Your table is now available.

So as the universe and life continue to duke things out in my current existence, I can’t help but try to maintain my sanity and my authenticity by NOT hurling myself into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a Hoarders marathon, but to attempt to handle the stress and anxiety with a calm and realistic approach.  One could argue that I’ve never been either; calm OR realistic.

Shit happens.  This we know.  People go bankrupt, divorces wreck families, people get cancer. There’s no shortage on hard times and I certainly don’t have the worst of the lot, by any means.  However, there are times when things are on more even keel than others.  This is not one of those times in my life.

Of course, for almost three decades my coping mechanism came in liquid form. Over the rocks, in a shot glass, or straight outta the bottle. This was always the answer when life threw me the hard questions. Knee jerk reactions of anger, blame and resentment. Lashing out at everyone and everything, save for MY part in the wreckage. Well, it would seem those days aren’t quite over. Despite my best efforts, I found myself up to my tits in a four-alarm meltdown on Friday evening over a situation that I myself, caused.  Trust me when I say I caused it because I spent the better part of the day desperately trying to find a deserving target in which to direct my anger and more importantly, the BLAME for said wreckage and only came back to my own reflection.

Shit.

So, did I put into place all the healthy and sound coping mechanisms I’ve learned in the 1,016 days I’ve been sober? No. Did I take a deep breath and focus within and press the pause button?  No. Did I immediately panic and spiral into a ferocious and tearful/fearful shame cyclone?  YES I SURE AS HELL DID.

And to show you how hard wired the ‘fight or flight” response is within me, my first reaction was to tell my husband that I was going to retreat for the weekend into a cheap bed-bug ridden hotel where I would remain under the jizz-stained faded bedspread while repeatedly telling myself what a non-deserving loser I was and why I really don’t merit any happiness or comfort in this world and all I do is screw things up. We drunks have a penchant for the dramatic at times.

I circled around and around this dark abyss and freaked out for the better part of three hours and the best most painful thing about this was it was just the SAME THING on repeat. No solution, no way out, just a endless downward spiral of shame with a dash of self-pity sprinkled in for irritating measure. NOT HELPFUL.

When I did finally press pause (with the help of my husband, my stalwart and rock-solid anchor) I was able to see the situation for what it truly was; and naturally, it was not remotely close to life-threatening.  Life on life’s terms. That’s what it was, and I had to look for my part in it and move forward from there. You know, like a GROWN-UP, dammit. We do the best we can with what we’ve got and sometimes your best is better than average, and sometimes, notsomuch.  My point here, if I have one, is that you have to forgive yourself for being a human being sometimes, warts and all. I reacted poorly, yes. I behaved selfishly and childishly and if I’d had the floorspace and flexibility to throw myself onto the ground in a fitful tantrum, I would have.

Years ago, after fucking up a situation at work, an old co-worker once remarked to me, “Hey kid, we’re not packing parachutes here, we’re all gonna walk away from this” in a hilarious comeback to my dramatic and apocalyptic reaction to my mis-step. And you know what?  He was correct. No, it doesn’t take away the feeling at the time when your chest tightens and your heart beat quickens and you feel yourself spinning out of control, but in reality, that’s the truth.  In some situations a freak-out of biblical proportions is indeed a justified reaction, but sometimes you just gotta check yourself before you wreck yo’self.

My situation is still not resolved and you know what?  That’s alright. I have no idea how things will shake out, and that’s okay too. I just have to keep doing the next right thing with the right intentions, and I know it will work out like it’s supposed to.  I know this, but sometimes while you’re on the way to the principal’s office you gotta shoot a few spitballs, am I right?

You know I can’t say anything in 500 words or less, but in summationlet me close with this; life is hard, guys – go easy on yourself.  Oh, and totally go for the Ben and Jerry’s* – it may not solve your issue, but it couldn’t hurt.

*I suggest their awesome flavor, Phish Food. Trust me, it’s waaay better than their music.

 

And the horse you rode in on

Back in my wilder days in Hollywood, my best (now dead) friend Ben gave me a nickname. Here’s the thing about nicknames; you usually don’t get to pick yours and often, they’re not at all flattering.  Think about it, didn’t we all go to school with a “pizza face” or the like?  It’s like that old joke, “you fuck ONE goat, and for the rest of your life, you’re The Goatfucker”.  Thankfully, mine wasn’t quite that terrible.

I got “Warhorse”.  The Warhorse, if they were referring to me formally, just Horse for short. Isn’t that delightful?  Years ago, as I prepared to go out for the night, my best friend Ben was flitting about my apartment, playing mood music and fixing us “primer coat” cocktails. You know, the drinks you have at home in preparation for the ones you’re going to have, when you go out. “They put a little glide in your stride, Mary”, Ben was fond of saying.  He would perch atop my toilet and sip his vodka tonic as I plucked, sprayed, styled, contoured, powdered, and shadowed my face and platinum hair. The finale was always crimson-red lipstick, drawing yet more attention to my pale face and dark smoky eyes. I would contort and squeeze myself into dirty ripped jeans along with a midriff baring top and cowboy boots, and then adorn myself with every amulet, ring, and bracelet I could find. I fancied myself a bit like a younger Stevie Nicks.

you call that a side-eye?

As I was gearing up one evening, Ben took a long drag off of my Marlboro and looked me up and down. He twirled the cigarette from the top of my head to the well-worn tips of my boots (kicking the bar from many a stool causes this tip-scuff phenomenom) and remarked,  “Jesus H. honey, you’re like one of those war horses in the movies  – all painted up with metal shit hanging off everywhere, ready to ram your way into a fight” and lo, the nickname was born, and you know what? For years, I wore it proudly. I WAS like a Warhorse. I stomped and snorted my way up and down Hollywood Boulevard for years and often returned home limping and/or bleeding. One could say the bars on the Boulevard were drug and alcohol soaked battlefields in those days. In my memories, I was regal and magnificent – an independent strong woman who drank straight whiskey and didn’t need a man to buy it for her. Luck was on your side if I was feeling flirty but woe to the hapless patron who crossed me in those days. I was brutal, unforgiving, and hellbent on letting everyone know that I didn’t have a single fuck to give.

Nice, huh?  This is probably a more accurate representation of my appearance.

fyi my hair never looked this good

I don’t recall thinking that the world owed me anything, but somehow I had tapped into the concept of unearned unhappiness. Looking back now with some perspective, I suppose my angst and bitterness simply stemmed from wanting to be different from who I was, or who I thought I was, I should say.  I was a good girl. I was smart. I was loved deeply by my family and had a pretty healthy and supportive childhood. There was no abuse, no neglect, no abandonment. Ho-fucking-hum. I was SO white-upper-middle-class boring.

So, I became The Warhorse. The Warhorse wasn’t nice, OR a good girl. The Warhorse took no prisoners and left a lot of wreckage in her wake. She was ruthless, cutting and downright predatory, not a shy and timid Pollyanna. Over the years I’ve reconnected with folks from those days and they’ll inevitably mention a memory of my eviscerating someone in their presence, if not themselves. Naturally, this is mortifying and heart-breaking for me to hear, but I still need to hear it. More often than not their story will include whiskey, a fight and/or arrest or some other regrettable outcome on top of the initial castigation and I want to vomit right there on the spot. It’s just not who I am. . . anymore.

There’s a saying; “hurt people hurt people“. Simple, but accurate.  It’s a vicious and terrible cycle, and one to say I’m proud to have broken. I’m not that horse gal, anymore. I’m stuck with the nickname, however, so now my lifelong pals and I choose to have a little fun with it.

there a horse in the jacuzzi. what’s it doing? the backstroke.

The Warhorse has been put out to pasture, and one could argue that there’s just a passive old nag left where the fearful beast once reigned.

Life is change, and that’s okay. . . the ride goes on.

 

Alcoholiday

 

What, you’ve never woken up missing a tooth AND a best friend? Where the hell did that baby come from?

I’ve always said that I’m somewhat similar to Herpes, really. You *think* I’ve disappeared and WHAM! there’s a flare up and I’m back. So, I hope you all had a kick-ass Thanksgiving and if you are in fact struggling with sobriety that you made it unscathed through the whole enterprise. These are trying times for the best of us and then you compound the holidays on top of it all and, well. . . it can be a shit show.

We ventured out of town for the long weekend and it was fantastic. Sometimes a getaway can really put things into perspective. I refused to worry and project and/or doom say. I just enjoyed the atmosphere  and the holiday hustle and bustle, ate too much and in general just took some time off to just enjoy the now, as in the previous post.

Now, I’m married so this means that I have to occasionally do things that I don’t necessarily enjoy, but that are important to my husband. No, I’m not talking about dressing up like Danica Patrick in the bedroom (again). . .this time it was college football. Since we were out of state we had to wing our approach to viewing his games and that was finding a sports bar. Now some of you out there are probably wondering aloud why I would purposely strap on a suicide vest and walk INTO A BAR. A dark raucous bar filled with obnoxious and loud folks all screaming for their team while drinking booze and eating fried foods. In other words, HEAVEN.  These, you see, are my people.

Well, they used to be. And here’s the thing. They haven’t changed, I have. They seem to be able to still go out and enjoy a few beers and get home safely without the assistance of the backseat of a patrol car. Assholes.

Regardless, it doesn’t bother me to go into bars on occasion. Rarely have I ever been in one sober so in a very real but kind of comical way, it’s like seeing them for the first time and objectively, they aren’t so bad. Well, some are, but this one was pretty reputable and more than that, clean. I may be a drunk but I’m still obsessively tidy.

As we bellied up to our stools my husband suddenly and completely lost his hearing. Wait, let me rephrase that. . . he lost his ability to hear me or any of the surrounding clamor as long as his game was airing. I’m used to this during football season and promptly ordered a ginger ale and struck up a conversation with our bartender who was young, dumb, and full of. . . himself. He had an amusing way about him and I liked him immediately. As we chatted about our holidays he offered up some snippets of his. He was hungover, he mentioned, from a pretty legendary night of drinking with his buddies the night before. I asked him if he had a good time. He grinned.

“I fared better than both of my buddies,” he said, “one broke his thumb and the other went to jail. It was pretty epic!”

I nodded my head knowingly and laughed. I’ve been there, of course. It’s one thing in your early twenties but quite another in your late 30’s and 40’s. There comes a point in your sobriety where you look back on all the terrible consequences of your actions while drinking and then realize to your horror that you kept up that nonsense for another 5, 10, maybe 20 plus years AFTER that awful incident.  The fact that really bad shit happened and that it wasn’t even a wake-up call is one that’s hard to navigate in sobriety.

The wreckage in your rear view mirror is personal and unique. Sure, sometimes it’s amusing and funny. I’ve jumped off a second story roof onto a trampoline to the delight disbelief of other guests at a summer cookout. I’ve drunkenly saddled a stranger’s Harley on Sunset Boulevard and spent the entire night with a dude that could have been Ted Bundy. I crashed a number with The Spinners at a fancy country club party and proceeded to *play* tambourine with them until a roadie politely escorted me off the stage. What I’m talking about is epic wreckage. People lose spouses and jobs and children and relationships and that’s not even scratching the surface of what that it does to you internally and the emotional havoc that comes with the oppressing guilt and self loathing.

Of course I didn’t say all of that to Tom Cruise behind the bar. He was busy texting his comrades about their recovery and I didn’t feel the need to expound upon mine. I just smiled with a little nostalgia and a whole lot of gratitude.  After all, who has TWO functioning thumbs and woke up in a snazzy hotel?!?

This gal.