Friday, November 18

My mind is like a dangerous neighborhood; you shouldn't go there alone.

I don't even know where to start so I guess I'll do a local news recap?

Tonight at 11:

Horrible election results leave nation stunned, overtly racist, and in a panic. But how the results are affecting vulnerable, angry women in Western Washington?

Speaking your mind over feeling like shit: how standing up for things can put what you're standing up for in jeopardy.

Choosing cheap health insurance over employment: what some college debt-ridden adults are sacrificing just to afford coverage and life-saving medication 

A break up leaves two in critical condition. More but hopefully less at 11pm.

Our top story: we have a failed real estate mogul, sexist demagogue, sympathetic white supremacist, racist confidant as our president-elect. A lot of the country felt as if we should elect someone who is anti-establishment, but their seemingly best option chose people from the actual establishment to complete his non-ethical purge of the normalcy we once had. 

It's been a depressing ten days. On the day of the election, I was working at King County Elections sorting ballots that came in through our mail-in system in Washington State. This job was extremely temporary since we were only counting the ballots that came in before 8pm on November 8th. Ballots were divided into two groups, the ones that could be read in a scanner and those who ate breakfast over their ballot, filled in more than one bubble per elected candidate because why not make it multiple choice when it really isn't, and wrote in candidates such as Harambe, Megatron, Homer Simpson, My Butt, Bernie Sanders, and I Don't Care.

I wasn't allowed to have my phone on me or any belongings for the fear I would steal ballots or any voter information. With a partner, we could sort 1500 ballots per day. We wore blue latex gloves to avoid paper cuts and for the extra grip while thumbing through decisions. At times, the entire floor of King County Elections looked like a cigarette factory in a third world country. No one talks while counting and recounting piles of 20 ballots, focused and diligent. The general election provided the highest voter turn out in the county's history, roughly 1.2 million votes out of approximately four million ballots distributed. It was mindless work for a high hourly wage, even though it only gave me nine days of work. 

I was ready to start at Amazon in a distribution center on East Marginal when it became apparent I would need to go back on Obamacare because my family can no longer afford my current health insurance plan. I know that sounds weird like, "well if you had a job, wouldn't you be able to pay for it?" Not necessarily. 

A lot of my arguments in the last week have stemmed from the uproar over Dingle Grump repealing the program which saved the lives of thousands of Americans. Instead of being permanently covered due to a pre-existing condition, insurance companies have the right to deny me because I'm "high risk." They would need to pay more to cover me, and if an insurance company accepts me, I'll have to pay through my ass because of the stigma producing label. If I go back on Obamacare while it's still available, which is income based, I won't have to pay anything for my premiums or copays. If I work, I'll have to pay more, which I won't be able to afford on my own even if I'm working. I feel like I'll never really be living on my own as long as someone is assisting me with the medical bills and payments I'll need to pay for life. So I had to make a decision: risk not finding work until I can get free healthcare, or get a job to support myself but have to pay a bundle in health insurance costs and prescriptions. 

My health insurance is non-negotiable, unfortunately. I can't risk the possibility of not being covered. Obviously this would be different if I had to forego an allergy medication or a kind of lotion. But diabetes is immune to any kind of OTC treatment or recommendations from your shitty vegan friend. I can't beat the system because the system has something I need, and byway of capitalism, the supply and demand feature of medication and keeping myself alive relies upon needing a lot of money for something I can't go without. 

This election has spawned a lot of self-hatred within myself. If I wasn't a woman or a person with a disability, I wouldn't be nearly as hard on myself, something I'm incredibly good at, right up there with parallel parking and turning away obvious things that are good for me. I wouldn't say I've been having a pity party, but it's more of a realization that I actually have to worry about things I should have access to, things I have never gone without, suddenly disappearing because President-Elect Pussy Grabber is only interested in himself and other xenophobic people like himself. Liking myself was already hard enough, but with legislation previously passed by Pence and other idiots taking control it has only become easier. I actually had to do research to see if I can get drugs sent down from Canada. I have to be prepared for the worst possible outcome, something my friends and family may not all together understand. Insulin is time sensitive, as in I need to take one kind once a day at the same time to keep my blood sugar at a healthy level while I can only take the other kind every 4-5 hours before meals. Keeping track of all the math and bullshit that comes along with this disease came to a head about two weeks ago and while I haven't been able to completely ignore it, there are times where I think about the freed up brainpower I could acquire if I wasn't so preoccupied with making sure I stay alive. This election brought out the worst in me and it still isn't over. I still have two whole months before Derfus Gump takes office. 

I really didn't think Donger Twusp would get elected. But then the numbers started pouring in from all over the country and it was revealed somewhere around 41% of eligible voters didn't vote. These were the same people who said voting doesn't matter, Bernie people who refused to see a different yet positive outcome, and those who simply didn't understand the electoral college, a process which Donald Trump was incredibly against, and then all of a sudden, incredibly for. Yep, the guy who said the election was rigged won the election. He and his weird immigrant wife and strange looking adult male children are taking over for Obama on January 20th, and they're not off to a good start by choosing cabinet members such as climate change deniers, white supremacist sympathizers, and surgeons who also ran for president and who were also deemed unqualified. Sleepy Doctor Ben Carson even held back and was like "lol no" It was a shock to see how many people in King County (mostly people with Caucasian-esque names who live in Bellevue) actually voted for our new fascist leader, probably the same people who use "communism" and "socialism" interchangeably. 

I've had to stand up for myself more often than not as of recent, either because of work or causes for which I'm passionate. I had a therapy appointment where I hashed out a lot of instances where I feel like I should have said something when I didn't, causing me to ruminate on the conflict for sometimes years. These aren't instances of a George Costanza comeback where he drove to Akron to zing a guy. These were specific instances of not wanting to be bulldozed, backed into a corner, pigeon holed, etc. I'm not good at acting like everything is fine but it's not. Not good at all. But usually when I speak up or out or for something, it never ends well. And over time, I've learned not to say anything until the breaking point is forever sharp. 

Facebook has helped me maintain a vocal stream during the course of the election and the last six months. Perhaps it's a passive aggressive way to float my ideas into the ether and hope no one calls me a cunt. One can hope. Yes, I, the privileged white person is having an issue, but I think that was my biggest issue: white men were incredibly surprised any sort of minority group had any sort of feelings about what was going to affect everyone. What do you mean gay people are scared of an administration whose half believes in gay conversion therapy? What do you mean immigrants are freaking out because of the anti-hispanic rhetoric running rampant from the whitest house? 

But as I felt these issues arise, they became prominent in my life offline as well. The breaking point was sharp and everyone was going to know about it. My family, boyfriend, and close comedian cronies knew more about my struggles than what I showed online. It slowly started becoming too much. Despite my intentions and the strongest urge to make my points known, my ferocity began to back me into a dimly lit corner. I couldn't communicate the horrendous din of my fear accurately and often it came out angry instead of passive and docile and it ultimately left me alone and afraid.

The more aware I am of my defects, the more depressed about them I become. Instead of becoming willing to change, I fester in a web of pity and cat hair. I often times expect the other person to change when really I need to accept their irks and quirks. Upon realizing that I'm the person causing the turmoil, I get even more depressed and down on myself, one of my major defects, and the catastrophic cycle continues. It isn't fair to put others through the pain and misery of my psyche. I would be better off alone working on myself than trying to blame others for my mistakes. I've thrusted a lot of blame onto others, those who didn't deserve it. I have a tendency to push people away when I'm having a hard time because I'm so ashamed to have any feelings at all. I feel like I don't deserve to have them or that I'll be scolded if I do, which is why voicing strong opinions on Facebook immediately backfired into a welcome wagon of extreme sensitivity from Trump supporters, the mentally ill, the sober who aren't really sober. 

If you want something destroyed, tell me that something is a good something: a job, a relationship, or an opportunity I may have passed up long ago, there is an undeniable fact I will destroy it. Maybe not with fire, but with great vengeance and furious anger...I feel like Lenny in Of Mice and Men where I'm too big and I don't know my own emotional strength until something gentle and innocent comes my way. Maybe I'm the smallest giant. 

I don't know what to do going forward. I've tried to free myself of the inclement pain which has pulled at my heart for years. I'm still sober, so that's good. I discovered invaluable treatment for whatever it is I feel like I've been missing. I'm not alone, just lonely. Healing sucks and I need to get better at it. I'm going to three meetings this week. Stress acne is real. I will never buy crumpets and eat them all before they go bad. The sober show is in a little over a week. I have good things to look forward to, but I don't know what to actually do. I mean what the fuck do adults do? Surely I can't do those things. But I'll clearly get a start on it by being hard on myself. 

Friday, September 16

September 8 and heartbreak

Every night at 8pm, my heart shoots itself in the foot. After achieving emotional homeostasis for a few daylight hours that resemble something close to normalcy, my previously bulletproof organ hastily loaded a shoddy gun and fired downward.

I was basically in a cocoon for four days. The step counter on my iPhone counted 35 steps for Saturday. My time out of my unkempt, empty cocoon was spent standing in front of the open refrigerator knowing I had to eat but couldn't because of enormous inner triage. That and obsessively plucking my eyebrows into vain symmetry. As the days continued, they got better. But my nights grew into nothing short of lunacy ("moon sick.") I couldn't control any tears, any sinus build up from said tears, or any sort of shaking accompanied by the word "why." My double-digit blood sugar levels became credit scores and my to-do list became a to-try list. I had successfully succumbed to heartbreak of my own doing.

I've been digging my nails into the future to resist backsliding. Physical and electronic purging seemed easy at first. Sigh, toss, sigh. Deep breath, walk away. I couldn't listen to music (still can't) because I didn't want to cry more than I did the night before. I opened Spotify at one point and saw what I had been playing recently and every artist connected back to the center of our alt rock universe. That was our little universe inside my car, the one complete with air drums and imaginative lyrics. I feel like it's a vacation spot I can't return to alone because it took the two of us to create it. So I can either cry or listen to new music I'm anxiously unfamiliar with.

Kitty knew something was amiss. Like me, he is never really active during the day. He has his place on the topography of my comforter, usually white with tummy fur. I'm sure in some aspect he was thrilled I was spending more time in bed. But usually when I turn off the light, he nestles into his spot by my feet. I can tell he's there because he lets out the smallest of sounds when I wiggle my feet. While we were cocooning, he always made sure to have at least one paw on me while I slept. If I tossed or turned in the middle of the night, he temporarily resettled himself and then resumed contact. One night he slept completely on top of me. He sort of crept into the small of my back and just stayed there. He made these cute little snores while I fell asleep.

A lot of people had suggestions for me about how to accept and cope with my grief, most of them included stereotypical twenty-something endeavors I do not take part in:

  • Mani/pedi. I don't see the need to spend money on something I can do at home by myself and save $50 each time I do it. Also I fucking hate people touching my feet. HATE it. 
  • Bath bomb. Like a mani/pedi, turning a relaxing soak into a color science project didn't seem like the proper aquatic treatment to soothe my collapsing soul.
  • Bad movies. If I watch a bad movie in a bad mood, I just get angry. Remember in Seinfeld when Elaine was watching Weekend at Bernie's II? She's upset because not one person realizes Bernie is dead. In a similar vein, it's kind of like trying to rationalize a storyline meant for children. A squirrel with a southern accent would never acquire a dome underwater and become best friend with a sponge...unless this place called Bikini Bottom was actually located in Bikini Atoll and had been exposed to nuclear tests and were a result of catastrophic radiation levels...
  • Writing. In progress.
  • Retail therapy. Most of the time, I'm pretty good with money. I have enough money to go out to dinner with friends and fill up my tank without having to pinch pennies from under the floor mats of my car. I usually calculate my spending to the end of each month and factor in every paycheck. But every once in a while I'll find an inflatable t-rex costume on Amazon and throw all of my monthly calculations to the side. 
  • Hanging with girlfriends. I rarely hang with friends, let alone girls. Once a week I have a standing lunch/dinner date with three friends who do stand up, but it's nice to get away from the politics of the Seattle comedy scene and know each other as actual people and not sociopaths. But I rarely hang out with more than one girl at a time. I hang out with my mom and the occasional woman who resurfaces after some time away from our friendship. My best friend is on the east coast and I miss her dearly and I hope to see her sometime in the near future. But for now, we text each other purple heart emojis and talk about gross girl things and boys. 
  • Wine. Hahahahahahahahaha. Let's be real. If I'm going to relapse, it's not going to be on pinot grigio in the bathtub; it's going to be on Old Crow in the garage.
You go dumb during a break up, almost as if you reemerge from a coma, trying to figure out what happened right before the accident. You start to remember these minuscule, captured figments from the infancy of the romantic atmosphere: what song you were listening to the last time you drove down a particular road, the little nickname he'd call your pet, the tattoo you wanted to get but now feel weird about remembering it at all, the awkward motion of someone who made you both laugh, those times before bed you would laugh for no reason, the texts you'd wake up to, baseball tickets and movie stubs you hid in your room, that one selfie that turned out perfectly so you didn't have to turn it into black and white to hide yellow teeth or spend money on an app to reduce the red's like slowly waking up from surgery only to realize no one is there to greet you or ask to see if you're okay. You have to do it alone. But I'm not alone. I'm just lonely.

In the last few days, my routine has become less rocky. I got back on stage for the first time in over two weeks for my audition for the Seattle International Comedy Competition. I found the first apartment I'll be living in all by myself, a building I've driven by thousands of times since I was able to develop any sort of infantile memories. My relationships with my family have tightened, and my sense of responsibility is morphing into something of which I can be proud. As a result of this..."growth," I'm beginning to feel like a real person. I still wince at the appearance of some things: a beverage he liked, a story that reminds me of him, a mismatched sock unintentionally abandoned underneath my bed, the bracelet I nervously removed from my wrist, a nail polish color he liked, a baseball radio announcer's particular cadence, a word he had trouble spelling, the social and political issues we'd playfully argue about, the reoccurring dream of malicious laughter, the jokes we told to ourselves and others...

I've eaten ice cream for breakfast a few times in the last week. A few of those days, I also had ice cream for lunch. I've tried to follow really vague self-care guidelines, and turning vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup into frozen soup seemed like the only valid options at the time. I've caught up on sleep, started a new book, bought new pants, and mostly stayed on top of my work. Grief is scary; that's probably why I drank my way out of most of the grief I've ever experienced. Not caving and going to the bar over the last week has been incredibly hard, but a lot of people reached out to remind me of where I would be had I awoken my dormant addiction. 

Monday, July 11

Calling my own shots instead of taking them.

Now I'm not one to judge but of course I am.

The more I become involved in AA, the more my jimmies are rustled. In the beginning (a forever pompous way to begin untrusted and controversial texts), I was under the impression there was only one path to staying sober: go to meetings, get a sponsor, and work the steps. My 21 days in inpatient rehab was essentially conditioning me to rely on the system of Alcoholics Anonymous for the duration of my sobriety. With the success rate of the program resting between 5-8%, AA convinces you that it's your problem you can't become sober instead of the institution in which we were threatened to trust. I know people who have gotten sober over ten times, been to rehab over 15 times, people who did a stint of sobriety after each of their eight DUIs. So I don't feel as if it's the person who is failing, but merely the system we are thrust into when we are confused, tired, angry, and barely sober. We needed something to trust, an ongoing sense of support, and unfortunately the only option was Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA has a ton of sayings by which we need to live our lives now that we've embraced the notion we are powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable. Here's a list that should be shorter:

One day a time
Easy does it
This too shall pass
To thine own self be true
You can't get drunk if you don't take the first drink
Live life on life's terms
Fake it til you make it
Let go and let god
Keep it simple, stupid
Gratitude is an attitude
Keep coming back

If you stray away from the herd of seemingly innocent and sheepish credos, your guilt begins to set in. The "am I in the right place?" kinds of questions emerge slowly but you can never seem to shake them, sort of like alcoholism. The positive reenforcement, which can be easily mistaken as guilt, is thick at a lot of meetings. You're doing what you were told to do: you're at a meeting, but you're uncomfortable, you're newly sober, you're constantly wondering if this is the only option, and the other members of the community often corroborate all of the instructions for aftercare you heard during your 21 day stretch. Keep coming back! You're in the right place! Am I, though?

I spent the first eight months of my sobriety without a sponsor. During those eight months, my life wasn't the best. I was unknowingly going through a horrendous break up for two months, I moved my entire life back to Seattle as a result (a decision which I regret on occasion), I experienced a deluge of medical issues for the first six weeks I was home, and my readjustment into a supportive setting ultimately made me feel like I had failed as an adult. I was working the steps as I saw fit; I made amends with those who I knew I had harmed, I reminded myself every day that I'm an alcoholic, and I tried to reflect at the day's end about what I could do better. Going to meetings and working the steps as I interpreted them seemed like a good plan, but I never wanted a sponsor. The list of people I had to report to about my mental, emotional, and physical health was long enough. Why add one more person who is going to take me through the steps, a creaky staircase I don't even agree with?

The first step of AA is "we admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable." Sure, easy enough. Throwing up in order to continue drinking and living a life of liquid hibernation was not normal drinking behavior. But that's it. That's the first step. At the beginning of most meetings, the secretary will ask the group to pause in a moment of silence to remember why we are there, most often followed by the serenity prayer. If I'm not completely distracted by bags of chips rustling or one of my chair's legs not making total contact with the floor, I usually think of those extreme instances of my alcoholism. I was never in denial I had a drinking problem, I just didn't really accept it. I believe the first step of the 12 is the most important (or 14 if you include the douchebag who 13th steps vulnerable women and Netflix).

The next 11 steps are an attempt at getting you to be a better person, but it's these 11 steps commence the rustling of said jimmies. Five of these steps mention god and none of them mention alcohol; only the first step in the staircase mentions alcohol. The rest are a feeble attempt at getting you to become a drone of the program. I took the attitude of "just don't drink." And if I feel lonely, there are places I can go to be among other former drunks like myself, which is good for AA as a whole. Unfortunately, there's this spiritual status quo alive and pulsing at most meetings. One of the common experiences within AA is having a "spiritual awakening." I don't place any spirituality behind coming to the realization I needed to quit drinking. Others may see it differently, but I had all the information in front of me: the proverbial trigger needed to be pulled.

Bill W put all these ramblings into a stack of 164 pages that became the lifeblood to the program. This text has not been seriously edited since the last World War and it fails to mention important cultures and demographics who aren't white men. Any sort of deviation from these ramblings are seen as "half measures," which I imagine conjures most of the guilt we experience when we aren't 100% committed to the program setting us up to fail. The sponsor we work with are supposed to take us through these steps and the assigned literature which desperately needs to be changed. Rewritten. Something. But my first experience with a sponsor ended poorly. I was loosely taken through the steps and I was left feeling extremely inexperienced in the idea of doing the same for someone else. It was during this time I sunk into a deeper depression as a result of trying to commit myself to the program and completing steps 2-7. I had to list all of my flaws, my harms to others, my entire sexual history, and all of my fears. These lists stared back at me as if to confirm I was a failure and I was still in the process of failing. How is this helping me stay sober?

When I switched to my second sponsor, I was less than thrilled to know I was to start my progress over with step work after assuming my credits would transfer. I was hovering around steps 10 and 11 only to realize the painful realizations brought forth by the exact staircase I was trying to ascend were not to transfer sponsors alongside me. As a defeated square peg being forced into a round hole, my aggression and resentment towards the program became top tier. Some of the steps are to relieve us of our resentments, not to liven them towards the exact establishment attempting to guide us.

AA cannot solve all of my problems, but I frequently come across others who think differently. And that's great! Whatever keeps you from drinking. Part of the program in AA is removing your ego and your obsession with self. I believe it was my own decision to stop drinking and my motivation and consequences in the past that keep me sober. I don't believe there is a greater power working for me, or a cognizant force aware of the decisions I make or don't make. Again, whatever works for you. Your sobriety is not my sobriety. Part of relapse prevention is not isolating, but being among many others who are also alcoholics make me feel emotionally isolated because of their progress through the program, and my choice not to take part in the ideals which I do not believe in, or those which have a history of upsetting me.

I also do not believe every part of my life needs some sort of sobriety related connection. I'm trying not to be a dick, but certain aspects of the program and the people who also participate in it is turning me into a dick. Alleviating myself of a sponsor has allowed me to rid myself of the anger the AA program, literature, and attitude has fogged me with for the last few months.

Whenever I listed my hesitations to those around me, I always had to preface it with, "Okay, hear me out. This isn't the relapse talk or the leaving the program talk." People freeze up whenever I mention the program with a piss poor success is doing me more harm than good. After all, I was lead to believe it's my only option because otherwise I'll fail.

I am not going to drink today, and that isn't my ego speaking or my powerlessness. Alcohol makes me an asshole, an undependable person, a shitty family member, a frustrating girlfriend, a horrible human being. If I can avoid that by choosing to not drink, I'm going to do it. That's my choice, and it's not one created by powerlessness. I have seen how alcohol affects my life, and it forces me to make poor decisions. I am happy to remain on the ground level of my sobriety without the social and guilted stress luring me up a set of stairs with a less than stable foundation. I'm happy right here.