This past Monday, if you were one of those ambitious characters who enjoy making the rest of us feel like lazy shits by bike riding through our hilly-AF neighborhood, you’d have been justly curb-stomped by the “refreshingly” cold wind in your face.
You also would have been treated to the sight of a woman lounging on a park bench (barely) watching her kids, bumping 2007 Atmosphere, sporting denim culotte pants and a surprisingly stylish string of neon green mardi gras beads left over from Easter, a red Solo cup in her hand.
That woman was me (hello) and that cup was filled with the last of the Easter tequila and some lime-flavored La Croix.
I’d have also brought along the can of white wine I purchased the day before, except that I finished it at lunchtime.
The saddest part about drinking is when the drink is all gone and you’re left with nothing but the fall-out of your terrible choice to drink: the irritability, the sluggishness, the ever-present threat of a headache.
And then, just when you think you’re finally out of the woods: the shits.
Ah, yes, drinking after the age of 30 has its drawbacks.
(Actually, I read a recent study that our health begins to deteriorate at age 27. So, I suppose drinking after 27 has its drawbacks).
The problem is, it’s also SUCH a fantastic way to numb out from life. And this week, all I wanted was to feel less life.
Because life, right now, consists of kids.
Everybody says weed is the gateway drug. Nuh uh – it’s kids. Kids make drugs verrrrrry appealing. I can honestly see how people get into heroin or meth. They probably heard one too many requests for toys and snacks.
Then there’s the weather, which really drives home the reality that I am a “sun” person living in a “cold-ass” state. I am unbelievably, inexpressibly tired of being cold.
I’m also tired of being broke. I love sending my kids to a Montessori preschool because now they’re all smart and shit, but this nonsense is bleeding me dry.
It’s tough sometimes, this adult world. It makes me wish I were a kid again, with less responsibility, more time to make mix tapes and eat jars of peanut butter.
Since I can’t do that, substances seem like a nice alternative.
Wine. Tequila. Weed. Maybe a Xanax or two if things are really getting messy.
It used to be social media. I’d feel a bit lonely or bored, hop online for a moment or two and feel ever so briefly connected to something.
But that’s just it: I’m connecting to someTHING. I want to connect to someONE. Actual people.
And when that happens, I’d like to be a more whole, connected person myself – someone with depth, character and interesting things to share.
It’s horribly complex, all this character-building. With fewer online distractions, I’m forced to sit with myself. Listen to my viciously tangled thoughts. Or read. Ew.
This week would probably have been the perfect time to, I dunno, finally work on that book I’ve been saying I wanted to write. Or brush up on those copywriting skills that will make me the better writer I’d like to be.
Finish painting the kitchen.
Weed the garden.
But it was so cold… and I was so drunk…
Which I didn’t see as a huge problem. Until I asked what my husband had discussed with his therapist on Wednesday and his response was: “your drinking.”
Initially, I was pissed. This makes me sound like some kinda lush whose entire life is circling the drain.
“There, but for grace, go I.”
The thing is, my husband didn’t see my drinking as a problem, either. But he remembered me sharing with him (in a humbling moment of clarity, just after drinking) that I only really drink when I want to escape something.
Dammit, honest communication, you foiled my day drinking plans again!
I didn’t even have to think about it. He was right. I knew it instantly because I immediately wanted a drink.
Drinking is easy. The taste. The buzz. It goes down smooth and makes me feel invincible.
And I so badly want to feel invincible. I want to know exactly who I am, what I’m about and which direction I’m headed.
I want to stop giving so many shits about EVERYTHING and start giving just a few shits about things that matter (without worrying they’re the wrong things).
I want to stick with a hobby until I learn to do it well.
I want to feed myself like a grown-up, no more last-minute lunches of chips, cheese and coffee.
We’re all so convinced that living life on BEASTMODE is The Right Way… I’m not so sure that being this busy is normal – or human.
That’s not how I want to live my life. Not anymore.
I beat a hasty exit off of social media to try and save some of my dwindling sanity – scrolling through feeds only heightened my fear that everyone around me had everything figured out and was already two steps ahead of where I’ll ever be.
But social media also allowed me to curate myself to the point that I started believing I was actually that person – the avatar I created. And now that it’s gone, who am I without it?
(Apparently, a drunk).
Really, we’re far more complex and colorful than our one-dimensional stand-in.
At least, we ought to be.
We were created to have real interests and curiosities, to meet new people (in real life, because we aren’t running around like chickens with cut-off heads), exchange ideas and share stories.
We were made to live colorfully. Not on autopilot. Not perpetually in a hurry.
In the chaos of kids’ birthday parties, school functions, work deadlines and future planning, I completely neglected to root down to the things that really matter… and to figure out what those things are in the first place…
Why? Because it took too much damn time! Before I knew it, every second of my life was filled, leaving no room to be present and to drift.
I need to drift. So do you.
We’ve got to stop giving time all of our power. We passively allow our schedules to be filled without acknowledging that WE are the gatekeepers. You get a say!
WE are in control of where we say “yes” and where we say “no.” WE are the ones spending every unoccupied second on Facebook or Instagram, then WE are the ones who complain that we “have no time.”
I’m ready to live like a minimalist with my time. I want to strip down to the things that truly matter and give time to JUST those things.
There should be an AA meeting for this stuff. Or maybe I need to go to actual AA…
“Hi, I’m Lauren. I don’t know who I am. I’m scared that I don’t really like myself, which makes me fearful that others don’t like me, either.
What I need is more time to get to know who I am, so I got off social media… but the idea of spending time alone with myself makes me feel lonely and freaked out, so I drink to avoid it.
Today, I’d like to express an intention to stay present to this journey – so help me, God.”
Recovery: day one.