Month: March 2015

My In-Case-Of-Emergency Person is Leaving

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Going through the envelope of documents my sister left for me in the passenger seat of her old car (my new car), I could not help feeling a rush of emotion. She was so organized. The car was spotlessly clean, of course,  with a full tank of gas, of course. The envelope contained all relevant ownership docs, service records, transfer docs, even a traveler’s prayer. She gave me her moon key-chain too.
Today she leaves with her baby for a new life abroad. My mother, who also lives abroad, has been here for the past week, in order to fly back with my sister today.
While I am 100% supportive of the move and very happy for my sister and nephew, I can’t help but feel lonely. I know I have many cousins here who I am close enough to, but my sister is leaving.
I know we will skype and keep in touch on whatsapp, and we will visit each other when it’s possible,  but my sister is leaving.
She grounds me. She has grounded me the most throughout this past year. And not in the form of a shoulder for my sober journey woes, but as a sounding board, fellow philosopher / psychologist, clown, ocd partner in crime, and trusted friend. We talk every day even if it is just to touch base. We get each other. We understand each other’s histories, motivations and wishes. I was in the delivery room with her when my nephew was born three years ago. When I quit drinking a year ago, it was because she forced me to face the demon. While this past year has been wonderful and growth filled for me, it has been a year of struggle and frustration for her. I endeavoured to remind her to see life’s beauty and to always have hope. We are a pair. And my sister is leaving today. 😦

Update:

Thanks for all the support friends. I am doing much better. My sister and I have been keeping in contact and we are both adjusting nicely. I do miss her, especially this last week as my ex and I have been talking about our recent break-up. But I am looking at this experience as an opportunity to learn how to become more self-reliant. I’m okay. Hugs to all.

Letter in Time

My three year old nephew wanted to see photos of his mummy as a little girl so, being the unofficial family historian, I went looking. I came across a letter I wrote in 1995 to my future self as part of a cousins project. I somehow managed to convince eight of us to write letters to our future selves that we promised to open a decade later. Hilarity ensued when we opened our time capsules as we had also saved photos of ourselves hoping to embarrass one another a decade later. A few of us, myself included, surrendered the same letters to the time capsule once more, to be opened in ten years.

It’s funny, even twenty years ago I was quite dramatic. Aside from the usual love-struck lines about “the love of my life” back then, there are sentences that make me pause now:

Excerpt: “Ten years from now I will be an archaeologist. I would’ve visited Egypt and stood at the foot of Ra. I have been climbed the Great Pyramids and the explored Grand Canyon. I have been to the Pyramid of the Moon and the Pyramid of the Sun.”

I didn’t go back to school to get that degree. So many things happened around that time: my parents’ terrible divorce and my subsequent emotional disconnect from them; my dad’s decision not to allow me to transfer to a university with the archaeology program because it was too far from home; my anger about that channeled into the pub on campus; the less than intelligent choices I made back then; the incident that summer in Florida.

I think I spent the greater part of two decades running from everything that happened back then. Of course, with alcohol being my running companion many more mistakes were made. I judged and damned myself for everything that happened and that guilt never really went away. I blamed myself for so much, and while it is important to own up to and acknowledge mistakes I’ve made, it has taken me a long time to accept that I also critically judged myself as broken, hopeless and unworthy because of those mistakes. I’m still working on reversing the self-inflicted damage.

Excerpt: “I have stopped trying to hide from myself. I have stopped being an ass to my mom and I make her smile instead of cry. I have forgiven myself and therefor my dad for destroying our relationship. I can hug my parents again. To my future self: I hope you still believe in unicorns and magic, and that faeries do exist as people who see light and goodness. There IS magic in this world. I hope you found your house by the sea and that all your dreams are coming true. I hope you have forgiven yourself for the mistakes in your past.”

Well, I have stopped being an ass to my mom, and Dad and I are in a much better place than before. I’m doing an okay job with forgiving myself for most of my crap. Would you believe me if I told you that I have accomplished most of this in the one year I’ve been sober? Amazing isn’t it? Needless to say I still look for the light and goodness in everyone I meet, and I still, and always will believe in magic.

Hugs, Phoenix

Booze-free Breakups, Blueberries and the Brightside

A few days into Sober Singledom and I’m doing alright. The episodes of being Miss Bitch while driving (swearing in sign language at incompetent and inconsiderate motorists, or grinding my teeth when faced with ineptitude at the office) are becoming less and less. Today is a rough one. I know my temper is short these days so I am reminding myself to breathe. Nevertheless, I have learned a few tricks while finding my way about this unfamiliar territory.

THE BOOZE-FREE BREAKUP

It’s remarkable how much this week has reminded me of the first few days after quitting, with the odd sleeping hours and the over-thinking. It’s ridiculous! Without the usual alcohol numbing escape I am analyzing everything. In between the “WTF” and the “How dare he?” questions, [Okay Phoenix, give Mr. Potato Head back his angry eyes] there are the “What if it’s really me?”, “What if I’m f***ed up?” and “What if I’m unlovable and will never be a compatible with anyone?” feelings. I know it’s okay to be sad, feel vulnerable and have my mind’s cogs turning and questioning everything.  I’m going with it but being careful not to get carried away by it. I accept that my sadness and regret stem from the fact that I’ve lost something that was a part of me, into which I put time, effort and emotion. It is natural for me to feel regret and loss but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am NOT back to square one. I am not the same person I was before the relationship began and today’s Me has so many new opportunities that the old me didn’t.

BUSY, NOT BOOZY

Ok, maybe I’m overdoing it a bit with the alliterations but work with me. I have a plan. I’ve been keeping myself busy without running from the rough stuff. I know I need to process everything to get through it, but I’m also taking care of ME in little ways, with mani-pedis, full body scrubs and moisturizing. You know how after a break-up, life feels surreal? Well being in contact with my own skin helps me to feel present and grounded. I’ve gotten a haircut and covered the 3mm of gray hair that would’ve frustrated me a week from now. I went to the dentist to clean and polish my pearly whites. I keep a new canvas with paints and brushes at the ready and try not to binge watch TV series, unless I really need to. I have my girls on call for silly pep talk or a heart to heart, and reach out on my blog when I need to. (Thanks so much to all of you for reaching back). I cleaned my apartment and de-cluttered my kitchen. Oh! Speaking of kitchens…

BLUEBERRIES

I can’t run to booze, cigs, or weed to alter my mood, so I’m keeping my fridge stocked with feel-happy foods. Did you know that there are many foods that actually have a positive effect on our mood? Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries contain nutrients that help reduce stress and depression. Dark chocolate (yum) is high in magnesium, a mineral that calms muscles and reduces stress and anxiety. It also contains phenylethylamine (the same chemical generated by the brain when falling in love), causing the release of endorphins. Salmon and walnuts are packed with omega-3 which helps fight depression and mood swings. Avocados, coconut milk, almond milk and mushrooms all contain vitamin D which can improve mood by enhancing the production of the happy hormone, serotonin. Synthesized by the body in response to sunlight, serotonin becomes a feel-good neurotransmitter. Greek yogurt is a mood and immune system booster. Green tea, which is my go-to hot beverage, is full of theanine, an antioxidant which acts as a calming agent. I always knew bananas were a happy food and add them to my smoothies a few times per week. They are full of energy, vitamin B6, tryptophan, iron, magnesium and potassium. In fact, one banana has enough stress-reducing magnesium for the entire day!

THE BRIGHTSIDE

My impatience won’t last and I have admitted that the Universe is not really out to get me. I am so thankful that I am not dissolving into tears which I may very well have been doing if I’d been drinking. Being weepy and sorry for myself always came hand in hand with being too drunk.

I tell myself that the over-thinking and super analyzing is going to get me where I need to go much quicker. Instead of swallowing the rough feelings with whichever drink of choice as I would’ve done before, I am woman-ing up (with my pillow in hand) and allowing those pesky feelings to be sorted out.

My ex and I are on good terms and that’s a relief. We might even become better friends down the road because there was no damning, reckless,hurtful or resentful behaviour by either party in the end.

Because I have a sober head and able to stop an emotional meltdown, I am happy to report that I don’t see any risk of me turning to hook-ups to feel less needy. I know it is natural to feel that way after a break up as I am out of my comfort zone and just want to feel safe again, but that won’t happen by jumping into waiting arms or onto a waiting body. The age old advice: “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” is utter BS. Those rebound relationships are never good. For me anyway. All my life, all they have ever done was delay the process of healing.

All these blueberries and dark chocolate and body treatments are actually good for my skin. Taking care of myself is comforting and protective in a way. I feel safe and fairly stable.

Remaining sober and taking care of myself physically has allowed me to be more present and recognize the positive things that are happening. I found the gumption to request and receive a raise at work which allowed me to buy my sister’s car. She is migrating so the sale of the car will help cover her start up costs. New articles are being published and proposals for future commissions have been accepted. I have seven articles due, my mom is visiting next week and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a break up, or booze jeopardize the positive adventures coming my way – career-wise, creatively or otherwise.

Love and light, Phoenix.

Click here for Blueberry Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Bits

Just Another Day At The Beach

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I’ve driven past this little beach every morning for the past fifteen years and for many years I looked out for an elderly couple who came to Williams Bay for their early morning dip in the sea. They caught my eye a long time ago for one simple reason, the man’s kindness. It was clear that his wife had difficulty walking on her own. Driving past them day after day, I caught glimpses of their at-the-beach routine. I’d see him gently lift her out of the car and steady her on her feet. Facing her, he’d hold her by both arms, his hands under her elbows, and guide her as she awkwardly walked through the car park, onto the sand and into the water. Once thigh deep in the calm blue water, never once letting go of her arm, and he would softly splash water over her body. Delight was always the expression on her face. When their time in the water was over he would guide her back to the car just as gently as before, never showing any sign of impatience or frustration. He would seat her in the car and standing next to the open car door, would dry her hair, dress her in a dry gown, put her slippers on her feet and brush her hair. Her eyes never left his face as he did these small tasks.

The romantic in me often wondered about that couple. I wanted to know what had happened to her, where they lived, and if they had any children. But I never stopped at the beach to talk to them, fearing perhaps that the ‘magic’ would disappear. Four years ago I stopped seeing them at the beach but I haven’t forgotten them or his devotion to her. The kindness, compassion, love and gratitude I read on their faces and in the language of their bodies gave me hope that true companionship is possible.

~*~

My boyfriend and I ended our relationship on Sunday. It wasn’t anyone’s fault.

I’m trying really hard to take my own advice and not look at this as a failure on my part, and I know all the rules to follow and the ‘right’ things to say at this point. But to tell you the truth, I’m more than a little afraid. We started going out when I was still drinking and he was 100% supportive when I quit a year later. There is a lot of love, respect and mutual affection between us but in this case it’s not enough. We are at different places in our lives and having been together for two years it is clear that we are not on the same path. We both agreed it is better that we end it now before we have a chance to really hurt each other.

I’m really sad about it and every now and then I get that heart crushing, sinking feeling in my stomach and my breath is caught. I’m on my own. Again. I thought about that elderly couple a lot today, wondering if I would ever have a relationship with someone I can grow old with. I have to keep reminding myself that I’ll be okay and that perhaps it’s time for me to learn how to be on my own and not be scared of being alone. I know that I want to share my life with someone, but perhaps now is not the time and I have some homework to do.