Still Sober

Still sober.

It’s been 7 days. 

I’m not going to wax poetic or whatnot, I am still tired and still fighting my way through this shitty time and too much work and learning boundaries and whatnot. 

I will say though that things are looking up.

And I’m catching myself in my old pattern of creating messes and stopping them. Still haven’t lied. Still haven’t messed things up. Still going strong. Still breathing. 

Work has been dumb, but I am going to get through it. And I am proud of myself because I put my foot down about Christmas. Told my family that I will not be in the same room as my brother (unless I choose to reach out, which I am contemplating for my own reasons), and that I am keeping my Mom and husband separate. 

I’m not doing drama this holiday. I have just had four weeks of stress and drama. I am done. Done with drama. 

Today was shitty. But I am still sober, I came home and had a bath, and I am going to watch an episode of Grey’s anatomy with some chips and then go to bed. 

One step at a time. (Today is day 8!). 

Love you all – ♥️PD

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Two days of sobreity

I took my team out for a team building event tonight. It was trivia night at my favorite bar. I will go to this bar at lunch, after work, whenever really. And it’s 9:20 now and I’m sober. 

I’m so fucking proud of myself. So proud. This was going to be the hardest day this week for me. It wasn’t really fun, watching them all drink. I also had my favourite bartender be like “what?? No wine??” I drank two pineapple juice and sodas and we did trivia. And it was fun enough, without the alcohol. I enjoy my team members and we had fun. 

But the craving is massive. 

I did tell one of my team members, we will call him Jordan, about it. I was like “you are reasonable and compassionate and kind, I trust you, and I need someone to know about this.” And that was probably my best move because in such a familiar place I would have been three or four in if nobody around me knew I was barely two days sober.

I know you’ve all heard this before, that I’m not drinking, and I continue to remind myself that it’s a choice. I’ll be home before 10pm and able to do some work that I need to do. I will also be able to sleep well. And I didn’t spend any money on wine, because work covered $20, which was my food. 

It is hard, though. Making these choices to show up. If I get home and my husband doesn’t believe me, will that be derailing? Probably, yes. But then I remember I promised A, and that helped (but probably wouldn’t have saved me if I hadn’t also told Jordan about what’s going on). 

It feels very like in the land of in between. I’m me, but I’m not me, because the me I’ve been doesn’t make these choices. 

With every drink I don’t order, I choose. And with every dollar I save, I choose.

I choose to be more me, but at the same time, less.

Choice

It’s been a while since I updated you on what’s happening. 

Turns out I was wrong about my parents – which was the beginning of the spiralling thoughts of the last four or five days. They asked for nothing. They asked not even to have it paid back. All they asked was that I don’t tell anyone, and that I don’t lie about my situation anymore. That’s it.

Which made me feel so shitty for assuming that there was going to be more. And made me look, really look, at the people they are, and at our relationship.

And then, on Saturday, I finally confessed the rest of the debt to my husband. Which went about as well as you are imagining. It isn’t the money, it’s never been the money for him. It’s the lying. As it should be. 

And I left this weekend feeling very disheartened, very much alone, very sad, and wondering – how do I change? 

I’m not a dumb person, I’ve beaten all sorts of IQ tests and learned to read at 2. I manage millions of dollars of other people’s money and make decisions that affect that money every day. 

And yet, for whatever reason, I cannot manage my lying, my debt, my drinking, or my follow through. And this made me feel like shit. 

It did, after about 24 hours, also diffuse his anger though. Because normally I “promise I will change” and “I will never lie again” becomes my battle cry. But this time I sat there, I cried, and I said “I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do it.” 

He said that he was tired of me choosing things over him, over our relationship. Tired of me choosing alcohol over him, of choosing lying over him. Because ultimately, whether or not I feel like it, I have a choice. 

And something clicked this morning for me, about the word ‘choice’. Implying ownership. I have choice around where and how I spend my money. I have choice in my life. I’m not sure I’ve recognized that choice before. 

And in choosing how I spend it I also choose what is important to me. And looking at it that way has changed something. I’m not sure what yet.

So I got to therapy this afternoon and was also kind of mad at A. How have I spent almost $13,000 on her and not know what’s wrong with me!? 

I explain everything that happened. 

Me: *ends rant* I feel like I’m going backwards! 

A:  I know things are really hard and painful right now but I am struck by this celebratory feeling. Because I think this has represented a big shift for you. You’re looking at what you have done and what you can do instead of looking at what has happened to you. And I think maybe the word “bankruptcy” was your bottom. Maybe it’s shaken you awake.

Me: Why am I like this? Why do I lie? Why am I lazy and selfish!? 

(Post session I know the answer – because it feels like it hurts more to show up than to be those things)

A: you are not bad, there is nothing wrong with you. You are not your behaviour, and you know that. “Did anybody model dealing with their feelings? Did anybody tell you it was ok to be not perfect? Did your caregivers deal with things head on or avoid? Did people solve their problems with alcohol? Do you get where I’m going with this?” 

Me: *nod*

A: “If you had an ideal upbringing with attuned parents and lying was still your default and things were still messy then I’d be like, yes, we have a problem, let’s figure it out. But this makes sense. There is nothing wrong with you.” How does it feel? The muck? 

Me: *snaps* Fantastic, obviously. I’m having a great time. 

A: You never speak to me like that (said as matter of fact statement). What brought that defensiveness on? 

Me: *stubborn silence*

A: So this is where you are right now. What do you want? What do you need?

Me: A quick fix.

A: That’s what your ego wants. What do you want, in your heart? 

Me: *more stubborn silence* 

A: I think you want to show up. 

Me: And my immediate instinct to that is what is the point? My whole life I’ve tried to show up and nobody was there. 

A: Exactly.

Me: And there it is. 

I pause here so you understand the enormity of this realization for me. I’m afraid to show up, because I tried to show up so many times before and was never acknowledged. I tried showing up as everything I thought they wanted, everything I thought they loved. I tried fitting into that box. I’m still trying to fit into boxes. This was a huge realization, the “and there it is” said slowly, as though I could taste the history in each word as it left my tongue. 

A: It crushes me a bit, because, and I know you’re not saying it about here, you show up here, and we’ve made something wonderful here, and you still feel like what is the point?

Me: (huffing) that’s not what I meant 

A: I know. Showing up has always brought you extreme pain and a feeling of not belonging. 

Me: *tells a story about my Mom*  all I ever have striven for is the perfect body and job and husband and career. My diaries were full of lists of ways I need to be better. I eventually figured out I could basically cure cancer and still not get what I need. What if I show up and he leaves? 

A: There’s a risk there. But what if you don’t show up at all?

Me: *a less stubborn, more thoughtful silence*

A: Its important to me, I want you to know that I love you. 

Me: All of me? All the messy and ugly bits? 

A: All of you. Those things aren’t you, they are things you do. 

Me: I love you, too. 

A: And you should know it’s so wonderful to be loved by you 

Me: I just want you to tell me what to do. To be like “do this”. 

A: And you think you would listen to me? 

Me: Probably.

A: Okay, so if I said “PD, don’t drink until the next time I see you,” you wouldn’t drink?

Me: I wouldn’t drink. 

A: (surprising the shit out of me) “Alright, then don’t drink until the next time I see you. And next time we will have a discussion about it.”

Me: Okay. (Crap)

——————————-

I wonder what she’s doing, and I know that if she forgets I’ll be upset, but if she’s helping me get over the first hump of staying sober, it will work. I respect her too much, our relationship matters too much. She knows the real me. 

Even I don’t know who that is. 

I’ve been struck by the word “choice”. My husband said it last night and then I was watching Meghan Markle do her interview with Harry and the BBC and she says “we just chose each other” when she is asked how she’s made it work. 

And it has always felt so automatic, that “choice”. It hasn’t really ever felt like a choice at all. Maybe it’s because my behaviour has never felt like it was mine, or like I had ownership over it. And maybe A is feeding into that by this experiment of “I’m telling you not to drink again until I see you next”. Or maybe she’s going to do what I think she is, and when I attribute it to her, remind me that I owe her nothing. And that it was ultimately, my choice. 

I am usually on to her, but I’m not sure what she’s up to right now. 

So it isn’t that I don’t want to take ownership. I do. It’s that maybe I don’t know how. 

Choice. Show up. 

I have a choice to show up. 

The Hard Stuff (A Deal with the Devil?)

I think I’ll look back at this time in my life, the last year and a bit, as incredibly difficult. The last three weeks has, as my new financial advisor likes to put it, been full of “the hard stuff”. 

Her other favorite saying is “financial health begins with depression” which is so fucking true and while it makes me laugh every time… it’s pathetic how true that is. 

I’ve been drained, sad, angry, grief stricken, and yes, I’m still exhausted. But, I am also growing. I’m moving forward. And I’d probably (oh God) voluntarily do it all again to get back here. 

And thank goodness for Lu, who has been the most supportive ray of light in reminding me she is here. 

A debt counselor this week suggested bankruptcy. 

And, after thinking about it, I confessed the debt problem to my parents. Who have now told me they will help me take care of my credit card debt (the bad debt, the $910 in interest only a month debt). I will pay them back at $500 a month. 

This means so many things. At first, I cried with relief. I don’t have to declare bankruptcy! My husband won’t leave me! I can still afford to see A (which was going to have to stop).

But then I remembered all I’ve done to extricate myself from my family this last year. And I remembered that nothing comes without strings. And my Mom saying “you’ll have to do some things for us” on the phone – to me meant, pay them back and pay them back regularly, but then once I had calmed down I realized what that really means. 

To let the Little Prince (brother) back into my life. 

Now, they haven’t done it yet, they haven’t said that, but I would be shocked if it wasn’t explicitly stated. Or even then, if it wasn’t “after all we’ve done for you you won’t even try to talk to your brother.” 

And so I’m in this place mentally where I am like – am I willing to exchange $40,000 for talking to my brother? Is my financial health worth my mental health? What are my boundaries here?

Does it matter if I state them? Will they hear me? 

I am also just in awe at the general thing my parents do which is bail out their children to force communication. And how fucked that is. Do they actually think that is going to work? They honestly believe they’re creating family unity that is best for everyone, but it’s really for them. 

And then again, maybe I’m being too hard on them. Maybe they will surprise me and the condition will be paying them back with 5% interest. 

But no, I don’t think so. 

So here’s where I am at. 

First, I need to talk to my Dad this weekend. 

Second, regardless, I need to curb my spending and keep working with a financial person. 

Finally, I will not, money or no money, tolerate abusive behaviour from my brother. That I will say 1000% times over. 

I will agree to talk to him, I will agree to be in the same room as him, I will agree to unblock him. But the second, the single second, what he has to say becomes angry and abusive, I’m out. 

And I will not apologize for not having him as a groomsman. If I do that, I lose all the ground I’ve gained. I lose everything this hard year was  all about. I lose that growth. 

If I take the money, I get my financial health back. I am in a MUCH better position, and there is no more staying up all night unable to sleep/wondering where my rent will come from/if my husband will find out how bad it is. There’s also talking to my brother. Which as much as it would annoy me, would allow me to keep tabs on him. Not knowing where he is or where he’s traveling freaks me out often. But I’m also tied to my parents and my family again, and that means a certain level of crap. But I can also afford A.

I guess the question is can I deal with that crap? Can I exercise my newfound self respect and boundaries? Am I strong enough to not let a text message spiral me out of control? Can I let him have his temper tantrums and not affect me? Have I had enough time away?  This option also helps my credit score immensely which means I can maybe buy a house. This option also does not compromise my husband’s financial health. 

If I don’t take the money I retain my emotional freedom. I am not tied to my parents financially and dealing with my brother is more optional. To be honest, I had recently decided to never speak to him again. I was fine with that, I was resigned to it. I know he sees himself as a victim here, I know they all do (well, except my father, whose neutrality/dismissiveness is just starting to piss me off). But I’m broke. I am working myself into the ground and I’m exhausted. I can’t afford A, and I likely can’t have children. 

And the question is, about giving up my freedom, have I ever really been free? I’ve often thought it’s only really going to hit when they die. 

So, I will wait to see what their terms are. I’m only making agreements for me, there is no “and your husband will also xyz”. This arrangement isn’t with him. 

Do I take what is essentially a bribe? Do I make a deal with the devil? 

Would they help me out anyways? If I refused? That’s a good question. 

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. 

Which hell do I want to live? 

My Session

I cried (and occasionally sobbed) through today’s session. Just cried. I knew as soon as I sat down that it was coming. And at one point A told me she wanted me to connect with her, to let her be there with me and support me while I cried and I told her no, that I couldn’t do that because as soon as I leave I’m alone. 

And she said her heart breaks for that little girl who believes that nobody is there and that she is so alone. 

I was alone then because of my family. I’m alone now because I won’t let anybody in. 

I told her I was angry that I can’t see her every week. That I wasn’t ready to go to every other week. That I hated all the people who spent time with her for free. She said she understood. She also said they get a more irritable and different version of her. And then I told her I was refusing to go to every other week. That even if I had to give up other things, that I needed her right now, and the change had felt too abrupt and not okay. 

Eventually I said that I really want her to come closer but I’m was NOT going to ask because I’m afraid of her saying no and rejecting me but that was my roundabout way of asking and she said “can you think of another way to ask that.”  And I said I could but I wasn’t going to ask, because that implies a need and I don’t get to need and that needing her was dangerous. And she asked again, if I had another way to say that. 

And it took me a bit, still crying (holding back though) and said “will you please move closer” and she did which allowed me to absolutely sob. I told her I felt like giving up, like the kind where you lie in bed all day and just don’t go to work or do anything, not the other kind – I didn’t want her to worry. She said she wasn’t, but she appreciated the disclaimer.

Eventually I asked if she would move on to the couch, and she sat beside me, and I leaned on her, and we talked. And I felt so much more peaceful with her close. And I told her that I really do trust now (and it’s true) that I can bring anything to her and she will react appropriately – because even if she doesn’t agree I won’t be rejected, and I trust that now. She said how grateful she was to hear that. 

And that was my session, and I’m exhausted.

Let’s Keep The Adult Online

I had a really productive therapy session today and I’m really glad I went to see A.

Granted, during our conversation I was very adult minded. We ultimately talked about everything that had happened this week (my God it has been a LOT), why I asked for this extra session, and then talked about the meltdwn I had at work yesterday when all my emotions spilled over.

And ultimately decided two things. First, when I’m overwhelmed or upset it feels like an alternative operating system takes over (the younger me – perfect on the outside but reckless until she explodes), and we really need to find a way to keep the adult online. When A asked what I needed to do that, I answered “rest” almost immediately. So I’m on a quest for more rest. 

But also when that adult goes offline, when I am not capable of being present or in tune with my emotions, I need to a) have a barrier to purchase and to reckless decisions and b) figure out what is going on sooner than I have been. 

Idenfitying the pattern I have and what has been happening and having A meet me there with no shaming and no judgment has been really beneficial for me.

So I’ve cancelled a trip I paid half of the money for (more in symbolism to my husband that I’m serious this time), I’ve resolved to working my way through my to-do list and getting the majority of my work out of the way this weekend, or making a plan to have it happen. And I am cancelling my credit cards and disabling anything I typically use to spend money so that I can put as many barriers between the operating system that is Sophie and spending as possible. 

When talking about what happened with Dave yesterday, where I melted down during a normal work talk, A asked about what I could be accountable for. So I went to work today and apologized for not being as focused as I could be, and for taking advantage of our friendship. A pointed out that I do that to Dave, he is my boss but also a friend, and a safe person, and I will explode on him in a way I would never do to someone else. 

Finally, A asked what I need. I said I need rest – not just sleep, but rest. I need to not take new clients immediately and to schedule myself better. I also need to find two or three long term clients who pay the bulk of my business bills. She was like “definitely, 100%.” 

To which I replied “you’re welcome” because that’s what I am to her! We laughed.

It felt good to laugh.

Numerous people today commented I looked and sounded better. It’s because my adult is back online. I need to do my best to keep her here (although, as A mentioned, that’s not to dismiss the other part of me at all – it has kept me alive – but to integrate it so it doesn’t seemingly have a mind of it’s own that gets me in trouble).

Haywire 

Well.

This week suck(s)ed. 

I’m exhausted. I say that a lot. I say that too much. Something has to change. 

Balancing work + outside of work work + therapy + my friendships + my relationship and deprioritizing sleep = not sustainable. 

I see A again this morning. 

After Monday, the emotions became quite unbearable with nobody really to hold them and I didn’t quite realize the lack of ability I had to deal with them so it shut off. It was like a switch. Click (or whatever noise you make to turn off a switch).

Then yesterday everything came to this explosion when Dave called me into a room with another manager, I totally misread everything and starting crying and levelling accusations of being ganged up on, which did not make things better, and then when he said (rather gently) “I know that this is about things that are not happening here right now, and this conversation is bad timing” I got so angry that he was insinuating that I was letting outside emotions in (um, I definitely was, I was crying before he was done saying what the meeting was about) that I got angry. 

Very professional.

Afterwards, once we had talked it out, he told me that I am lucky I work somewhere and with someone who understands those things because had it been anyone else exploding on him he wouldn’t have been so calm about it. 

I’m still pissed though. Although I can’t place it.

My husband isn’t leaving, he’s given me 6 months to figure this out and if there is no solid improvement in how I manage money, then he’s gone. 

And I’m back to feeling like a robot again this morning. Matter of fact, emotionally stable. 

It’s like really sinking in to these feelings Tuesday set my whole system haywire.