Resetting the clock

I had two months in my rear-view mirror when I decided to have a drink again.

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The Margarita that reset the clock

I was thinking of ending my sobriety for a couple weeks before I actually did. Everyone said that it would only be a matter of time before I was back to square one. I still couldn’t get the idea out of my mind that I just wanted to enhance my situation sometimes.

I felt like a little kid in timeout that wasn’t able to play with the adults.

I wanted to be able to go to a restaurant and order a fancy cocktail. I wanted to have a beer at a concert with everyone else. I wanted to try the seasonal drinks at the local brewery. I even wanted to come home after a hard days work and have a cold one. I guess I just perceive these things as “normal”, since drinking is such a big thing in our society.

So, one night my boyfriend and I went to the Cheesecake Factory and ordered steak and I had a margarita. It ended there.

Well, at least until three nights later, when I had a hard day at work so I decided to have a pint. After all, it was only one pint and it was a seasonal pumpkin flavor that I needed to try.

Two days after that I got two more of the pumpkin pints. I don’t really have any any reasoning for that…other than I really enjoy them!

It’s been really hard for me to decide that I need to stop. So many people have said that it’s only a matter of time before I am back at square one, but I don’t really feel that way or have the desire to stop.

I don’t know where I will be in the the months to come. I do know that I hope to look back and read this reflection with a peaceful heart, a forgiving soul and an open mind.

Independence Day, literally.

For two days I have tried to write this entry. I have written paragraphs, only to dissect them and ultimately delete them. Each effort began on a different tone or at a different scene, but the result was always the same: darkness. My mind is like a black, empty void that is scrambling to give description to 14 years of repressed grief.


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy


 

Independence Day, 2002 took a very literal meaning for me when my mother, who was terminally ill with breast Cancer that metastasized to her bone and brain, passed away in the hospital. She was 48.

It wasn’t sudden. My mother fought for 6 years with Cancer and never really went into remission. We were constantly told that she would die, as if she had some expiration date stamped on her arm. My bed-ridden mother was the reality for so long that I guess I perceived it as normal. I didn’t believe that she would die, or at least told myself that I still had plenty of time. Time to talk to her and hear her old stories. Time to play games. Time to drop the teenage attitude and be a better daughter.

There wasn’t enough time.

I don’t remember my mother before she died, with her bald head from too many rounds of chemo or her heart surgery scar. I remember the version of her as she was when I was a small child. I remember her boy haircut, and her big plastic glasses. I remember her red lipstick and her puffy purple coat. I remember how she was the director of Camp Fire boys and girls, and I know now that it’s because she wanted nothing more in her life than to be with her two daughter’s and their friends every day. I remember her borrowing money just to put food on the table. We didn’t usually have much but my mother put us first.

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My mother, cooking in the kitchen, how I remember her.

My mother didn’t make it to my High School graduation. The birth of my first child. My wedding. My divorce! Mother’s Day comes and goes and I’m not sure whether to mourn or celebrate because I am a mother without one. Time goes on but the scars are permanent.

I was left to spend my days with my alcoholic father, who joined her in 2010. I remember so many nights, laying in bed and asking the darkness, why?  My mother’s passing brought my father and I together. So, if there can be any ‘why’, it was that. Nothing helps you understand the fleeting beauty of life more than death. Nothing helps you understand what is important in life more than death. The people in our lives are the most important. The connection, the bond, the stories, and the memories that we share.

The people that you call family, whoever they may be, are your greatest gifts in life. Forget the arguments, the drama, the fights, the blame or the wrongdoings. Grab hold of them. Don’t learn about life from loss.

 

 

 

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The burning.

Five years ago, I was sitting at the kitchen table in the same run-down apartment that I live in now, and I realized that my feet were burning. Careful inspection revealed no burn, and no home remedy seemed to help. My skin simply burned in weird waves like a sunburn. It didn’t take long for the sensation to move to my legs, arms, face and back. The burning would float around, coming and going like the tides. I was stumped as to why it happened or why some days it was like the plague was upon me and others it was hardly noticeable.

I finally went to my primary doctor when I was in an unbearable flare. I remember telling him, “It’s like I’m being dipped in acid! I can’t stand it“. Sometimes I would touch things with my arm or leg and feel a burning sensation in its wake. Sometimes I would touch something and itch in that spot. My doctor said it was Neuropathy and referred me to a neurologist.

I waited for 3 months to get in to that specialist. On appointment day, I arrived 5 minutes early with a list in hand. I didn’t want a single thing to get missed. I waited for 45 minutes in the exam room for the doctor to come in. I remember it all so clearly. I remember his suit that didn’t fit, his white hair and his indifferent gaze. I remember starting to tell him about my symptoms, but he cut me off and started a few physical tests on me. I remember one of them was running a paperclip down my leg. He asked me if I could feel it, and I said yes and added that it left a wake of fire behind it. He raised his eyebrows and nodded as if I were telling tales. Then he said, “Well, it’s not M.S.” in a dismissive tone.

He wrote me a prescription and quickly left. The whole appointment was less than 10 minutes long. I remember getting up and watching him walk away down the hallway. I stared down at my list and realized that I had only touched on 1/4 of it. I was so angry.

An older, wiser self wishes that she could go back in time and tell Mr. Big-Shot Specialist a thing or two. I wish that I could say I never said anything about M.S., you twat. I wish I could remind him that the only way to diagnose M.S. anyway is with a series of tests like MRI and spinal tap, and he hadn’t ordered those. I wish I could tell him that when he dismissed me as being a liar it deterred me from getting help for nearly three years and encouraged me to self medicate with alcohol. Prick.

Today, I am no closer to getting answers or relief. In fact, new symptoms were one of the things that increased my drinking and brought things to a tipping point. The doctors are very quick to offer medications, but not so quick to get to the bottom of why it’s happening.

Using alcohol to self medicate was a dumb decision, but it seemed necessary when prescription medication had failed. I tried the medication the Big-Shot Specialist gave me, but it didn’t help my symptoms and had a lot of side effects. Other medications that I tried before that induced panic attacks. It didn’t seem worth it to feel worse in an effort to feel better, even if it was temporary.

After many negative experiences with doctors, the very idea of going again makes me instantly angry and defensive. And yet, I know that I am writing this because I am opening myself up to the idea of going again. I know that I don’t really have a choice if I want to stay sober. I have a neurology appointment coming up this month, and I’m not feeling very open to whatever treatment they will recommend. I don’t know what other options I have, though.

Sometimes, giving up alcohol is the easy part. The hard part is afterwards, when you’re thrown into the UFC octagon ring called Life with nothing but your wits and you’re opponent is a decade’s worth of problems. All you can do is hope to come out alive.

Okay, that’s a bit dramatic, but still fitting. The best reassurance that I have received lately was from my boyfriend, who said: “Well, you’ve made it this long with your health issues and you didn’t die, so… you will probably be okay”. Not dying is always promising. I’ll take it.