329 Days – The Trick is to Keep Breathing

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Weekends blow by so fast, don’t they? They’re just never long enough…

My weekend was good, lots of catch up time with friends, but little time for me to recharge and have me time. I found out some not-so-great news in regards to my case Thursday, and I am trying to deal with it as best as I can. If the prosecution is unwilling to accept a new plea deal, then it’s looking like I will have a jury trial sometime next month. This will most likely not end well for me. I’m really scared, but I’ve decided to spend this next month going to as many meetings as possible and being as active as possible. Meetings and exercise are tremendously helpful. My head will be in a better place, and hopefully the activity with help with anxiety and stress-induced insomnia. I am also trying not to dwell, as I cannot obsess over something that has not happened yet.

The trick is to keep breathing. 🙂

In the meantime, my emotions are still alllllllll over the place. I’ve never been a big crier, but lately I’m crying at the drop of a hat. The other night I cried at the end of an episode of “Girls“. Really, who does that? Oh! Me, apparently. Last night I was looking for a photo promoting April being Greyhound Adoption Month for my new Facebook cover photo. This lead to me crying over photos of Greyhounds. Not my deceased dog, but you know, just cute greys. What the fuck is going on here? I told my counselor Friday that sometimes I feel really great and strong, and other times I feel like I’m going to disintegrate into a million pieces.

I know, it’s all these feelings swirling around and making themselves known. Feelings that were stuffed and swallowed down for years. Combine that with everything that’s going on in my life, and I am suddenly a hot mess.

No, scratch that. A year ago I was hot mess. Now I’m just…feeling everything. Dealing with life’s hiccups in healthier ways. Crying is good, I’m just not used to the tears making frequent unannounced visits. Makes me think of an episode of Seinfeld…

“What is this salty discharge?”

Until next time, I’m gonna breathe, I’m gonna cry, and I’m gonna get through all this, dammit!

Demons

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After juggling several part-time jobs since grad school, I started a new full-time job a year ago. It was definitely a moment to celebrate, and true to form, I celebrated (er, drank) with gusto. The Saturday after being hired, I went out with a good buddy of mine to celebrate (er, DRINK!). S. and I were usually able to keep things calm during an outing together. We could manage dinner and one or two drinks. Amazing, right? However, nights when S. and I joined in with the rest of our little group (“The Four Musketeers”) , all hell would break loose. Those were usually blackout nights.

This particular night started off low-key. Dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant with one martini. We decided to hit up a dive bar after, and our bartender obviously enjoyed the two cute girls at the bar as he was practically handing out drinks to us all night for free. Naturally, I don’t remember leaving the bar that evening. At some point, it was in the back of my mind to call a cab…but I never did. I’m assuming I felt that all would be fine in the 2.5 mile ride back home.

When I woke up that next morning, I felt like hell and had a feeling that something was wrong. I discovered that my car had leaked out all its transmission fluid onto the driveway. Oh, and the driver’s side tire was pretty much gone. Awesome! What should have been a $10 cab ride turned into a $2400 car repair. OUCH. This from someone who was already broke before the car incident. Sigh. Of course I have no idea what the hell I did, and I was so ashamed and upset at myself. But not enough to quit drinking. I made a mental note to cut back, but you all know how that goes.

Fast forward to April. One of my favorite bands, The National, had released their first single off their new album that was coming out in May. The first time I listened to “Demons”, I had to immediately listen to it again. Then I cried. I felt like the song was written for me.

When I think of you in the city
The sight of you among the sites
I get this sudden sinking feeling
Of a man about to fly
Never kept me up before
Now I’ve been awake for days
I can’t fight it anymore
I’m going through an awkward phase
I am secretly in love with
Everyone that I grew up with
Do my crying underwater
I can’t get down any farther
All my drowning friends can see
Now there is no running from it
It’s become the crux of me
I wish that I could rise above it But I stay down
With my demons
I stay down
With my demons

Passing buzzards in the sky
Alligators in the sewers
I don’t even wonder why
Hide among the under views
Huddle with them all night long
The worried talk to god goes on
I sincerely tried to love it
Wish that I could rise above it

But I stay down
With my demons
I stay down
With my demons
I stay down
With my demons
I stay down
With my demons

Can I stay here? I can sleep
On the floor
Paint the blood and hang the palms
On the door
Do not think I’m going places anymore
Wanna see the sun come up above New York
Oh, everyday I start so great
Then the sunlight dims
Less I’ve learned
The more I see the pythons and the limbs
Do not know what’s wrong with me
Sours in the cup
When I walk into a room
I do not light it up
Fuck

So I stay down
With my demons
I stay down
With my demons
I stay down
With my demons
I stay down
With my demons

I wondered if I would always “stay down with my demons”. Their album “Trouble Will Find Me” was released right after my car accident, and I spent many hours listening to it and reflecting on my life. From the song “Sea of Love”:

If I stay here trouble will find me
If I stay here I’ll never leave
If I stay here trouble will find me
I believe

I knew I couldn’t stay where I was, doing what I was doing. Trouble had already found me, so much more so than the time I passed out in the park…or when I wrecked my car after getting my new job, only to total it and almost kill myself three months later.

Listening to the album still wrecks me emotionally today, but it’s different. I am no longer that person down with their demons. I’m still struggling, but I am in such a better place right now. It’s amazing how much life can change in just one year.

Six Months

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Six months ago I came to in the ICU of a major trauma hospital in NE Ohio. I was on a backboard, in a cervical collar, intubated, on oxygen, and had a giant soft cast on my left arm. Not only did I not know what had happened to me, I had zero memory of my first helicopter ride (I have to insert humor somewhere…). The past six months have been the most physically and emotionally taxing of my life, but I am making progress in so many ways. This month (and always), I have gratitude for so much: for the unwavering support and love of my family, for my friends who have seen me at my worst and still stand by me no matter what, for my fur-kids who act like they haven’t seen me in ten years each and every time I walk through the door, and for the courage to change and grow.

Today also marks six months since I’ve had alcohol. It was in my hospital room that I realized that I had to change. I had known for a long time that I had a problem, but I wasn’t yet ready to say goodbye to alcohol. It is a miracle that I am alive today, and it took that miracle to give me the strength to give up my crutch. I was done feeling bad for being unable to control something that I would never be able to control, no matter how hard I tried. I was done feeling guilty for lying to friends and family to cover up my tracks. For waking up and not knowing how I got home. For feeling this horrible sense of doom all day following a particularly crazy night, worried to hear from my friends about the stupid things I had said or done while being drunk out of my mind. I was sick of two day hangovers, and getting really shitty sleep.

I hate that it took such extreme measures for me to give up drinking, but it had to happen. And despite how hard this lesson is, it has filled me with gratitude.