It takes everything in the end

The other night was TV night.  TV night is Thursday nights, a tradition that started some years back when Lovely Husband started going to an evening class once a week and leaving me in control of the remote.  Since it is only once a week, it’s a night I look forward to.  No idle channel surfing for me; TV night involves a DVD set or something highly recommended from Netflix.  It involves an indulgent meal, eaten solo after the children are in bed – recently I’m favouring spicy buffalo wings and fries, but it can be a smoked salmon and Brie affair or a huge bowl of lentil soup, as the mood takes.

And back in the day, it also involved a lot of wine.  A lot of wine: TV night was my free-pass night, because I was drinking sight unseen and I knew LH was nearby in case of emergencies.  I just added that last bit in case I sounded irresponsible; let’s be frank, here.  I was just drinking a lot because nobody was watching.

When I gave up drinking, one of the things I mourned was the end of my Thursday nights.  Because, you see, I can’t watch television sober.  That’s why I only do it at all once a week.  I needed the wine to make the television fun, without seeing through the tiresome cliches and the telegraphed plot points.  It was worth it, of course, but it was a loss.  And I stopped Thursday TV nights for a little while.

And then I started them again, and I found other ways to keep occupied.  Once I learned to knit, it helped a lot: I can’t knit without doing something else and I can’t watch TV without doing something else but the two things go together like the newly sober and oversharing.  TV night was back.

TV night.jpg

Anyway.  Last Thursday, I started the next episode of my current series (which is Nashville.  How good is Nashville?  LH hates it.  I’m particularly a fan of the fact that nobody kills one another and so far zero women have been raped) and I realised that I’d somehow skipped ahead.  I couldn’t remember which episode I was up to, and the blurbs weren’t helping, so I spent a few minutes cueing up past episodes and watching the opening to see if I’d seen it.  It took me four episodes to find the one I was actually up to, and all the time that I was doing this I was feeling The Oh.  The Oh is when I see a previous memory in a different light and – Oh.  Oh, that’s what was going on.  How did it seem like it was fine?  Oh.

I thought that wine helped me watch TV!  For maybe a YEAR after I stopped drinking, I still thought that!  (And not without a soupçon of smuggery, either: you guys, you normal people with your normal intellect, you might be able to enjoy the entertainment of the masses.  Some of us can’t descend to popular culture without a deliberate deadening of our insight.  Jesus.  How anyone ever stands me in real life, I don’t even know.)  And yet, here I was, mimicking a time when I used to have to re-watch episodes of my given show because by the end of the previous TV night, I was too drunk to remember them clearly.

The difference was that this time, it took me less than a minute to check each episode, because I remembered seeing it within that time.  Before, it would take me longer.  I might have seen this one?  I remember this bit, I think, where the guy comes in and shouts, but that whole sequence before it is new or is it?  I wasn’t enjoying TV.  I was barely registering it!  I had to give up on Sherlock because I couldn’t follow the plot!

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Here’s another example: books.  I’ve written before about my love of reading with wine (and TV, in fact – here I am, at six days sober, two years ago, talking about exactly the same thing I’m talking about now).  Reading + wine.  Heavenly.  But again, by the end.  Not so much.  It became normal to pick up a book where I’d left off and then flick back until I reached a page that I remembered reading.  Sometimes that would be a page or two.  Sometimes closer to a chapter.  What was the point?

It takes everything.  It takes EVERYTHING.  Back when I drank, my only hobbies were reading, drinking, and occasionally watching TV.  And arguing on the internet, I guess, but I was trying to quit that one well before I got sober.  Forget the me that I now am, with a birthday list stuffed full of gorgeous hand dyed yarns, running gear, and courses I want to do on power tools and window glazing.  Reading and watching TV.  It’s not a big demand on the universe, to have those things to enjoy.  But I didn’t.  I no longer had even those.

In an abusive relationship, the abused partner adapts to the demands of the abuser.  She tries to become better at acquiescence, hoping that if she can show him enough love and understanding, he will return the favour in increased trust and openness.  Instead the demands grow, and grow, until the victim is backed into a corner and she has nothing left, and if she is lucky she will realise that nothing she can give will ever be enough and if she is really, really lucky she will be able to get out of that corner and away.

When we say the words ‘alcohol abuse’ we tend to mean that we abuse alcohol.  But alcohol abuses us.  It takes and it takes, and it lies and it lies, and we give up everything rather than lose it.   There is nothing we need it for, and there is nothing it won’t take.

It takes everything.

Almost 2 years: A life worth living

So here’s a thing.  I read back the posts I wrote last year, and it seems pretty obvious to me that I had something of a crappy year.  I got hit with thousands of dollars in fines, plus so much emotional stress that I ended up in therapy.  My mother (who only has me) was badly injured.  My marriage wobbled.  I started a new business, which meant a huge step outside my comfort zone, and not a small amount of anxiety.  When I posted here, I was always struggling, and you guys were so supportive, and thank you.

But here’s the thing.  I didn’t realise at the time that I was having a bad year.  Because in between the bad parts were the good parts, and the good parts are so much better these days.

2016 has not started off particularly well in the Things Going Right: Things Going Wrong ratio department either, honestly.  Expensive things keep breaking.  A promised shower of work has failed to fall, perhaps lurking in the dark clouds above instead.  I lost a friendship.AND YET, people. Things are still so much better.  It’s crazy.rain-clouds_60415.jpg

I can’t believe I ever thought that if I gave up drinking, I’d be bored.  Bored.  Who…how…how can anyone be BORED with so many things in the world to do?  I’m staid, and domestic, and tied to my home by small children, so I’m not saying that I’m going to hike the Andes any time soon (I’m not sure where the Andes are, if we’re being honest here).  But over the last twelve months I’ve taught myself to sew, and to knit.  I learned how to wield a drill and a hammer and I built a chicken coop and I got chickens.  I dug out a vegetable patch, and my tomatoes are hanging green and plump.

chickens

I have been running regularly for the past two months, finally, and I’m about to start joining group runs.  I spend my day looking forward to my evening, just as I used to when I drank.  But not because I can slump on the couch with a glass of wine: because maybe I’ll finish that cowl and watch a documentary, or it’s a running night and then I have that new book to start, or I can’t wait to sketch out a design for a new quilt I have in mind.  And I’m not getting to do enough of anything!  I want to run more often, I want a weekend with just my sewing machine and some podcasts for company, I wonder if I can justify going down to the chicken coop and sitting with my knitting while I watch the girls scratch around just one more time this afternoon…

run harder

And I don’t write much here because there is so MUCH life to be devoured out there, and I don’t keep up with you guys as often as I should either.

I’m under no illusion that this life sounds like the ideal life to everyone.  It’s domestic, and bounded, and probably dull.  But it feels rich.  It feels layered.  It feels cerebral and physical and tangible and simple and complex and fresh.

And it is without question, a life I wouldn’t have if I had a life with alcohol.

2015: In Which I Was Tired

It’s the end of the year, and I’m tired.

kitten tired

It’s been a good year, in a lot of ways.  I started my own business and made many discoveries about myself, several of them good, some of them far reaching.  I did not starve my family to death in the meantime, so that’s always a bonus.

My mother had a major accident.  She may end up with serious permanent disabilities, on top of her current chronic condition.  I’m, realistically, the only person in her life in a position to support her financially or emotionally.  I feel stretched very thin, and I feel very anxious about how this might play out.

kitten tired two

It’s hot at the moment.  It’s very hot: global warming plus El Nino plus I already live in one of the hottest places in which people live on Earth (probably.  You look it up.  I’m too tired).  It causes me a lot of anxiety.  I’m only this year realising how much anxiety, and how maybe that’s not entirely normal.  It occupies a lot of my mind, when it’s this hot: I spend my time talking myself down off a ledge, reminding myself that there’s no reason to panic, and I’ll get through it, and autumn will eventually come.  I have to do this over and over again, because the fear part of my brain doesn’t really listen, and it gibbers at me, rattling the bars of its cage so loudly that it can’t hear.

That’s quite tiring, as well.

I hurt someone the other day with a careless tweet, without meaning to or thinking much about it at the time, and she lambasted me pretty savagely for it.  And I have a lot to say about that, some of it sad, some of it defensive, some of it angry.  But I don’t really want to.  I just want to move on and forget about it and process it later maybe, when I’m not so tired.

tired sign

And I’m fat, and my trich is a constant struggle, and I don’t want to fight with my own body.  Can’t we all just get along?

Most of what I’m tired of is thinking and feeling.  Who knew it could be so exhausting, living life as a sentient being?  Do I really get no respite from it, because I have addictive tendencies?  That seems unfair.  I don’t drink, I don’t smoke pot, and let’s face it I need to move away from using food as a palliative.  I read a lot of books, I go for walks, I sit with my feelings.  I mean, I know what to do.

But it’s tiring.