Floundering Inc

Which way is up?
Why are my eyes leaking?
This sigh!

I cannot smile for myself. How can I smile for anyone else?

Doing nothing can be the best way to sit out a funk. Or in this case a sit in. I hope it doesn’t last long. I cannot see an out. I know in my logical part of my brain that it won’t last forever. I know that. But. The loudest part of me cannot see that. It cannot fathom that. It despairs. It doesn’t see why I should bother trying. Why bother? What’s the point? Lie down. Give up. Stay down. You’re not worth it. You’re down right ugly. To the core.

I just want to hug myself and grip tightly and stay like that until the tears stop rolling own my cheek. Saying nothing. There are no words that comfort me. I just need to feel constricted and warm, cocooned. I don’t need unnecessary sounds of ‘there, there’ that’s just condescending. Shut up already.

Scratch that. I want to hug, not be hugged. I want to feel comfort, not be comforted. On my terms.

I cannot see myself clearly. I cannot see myself honestly. I am lying to myself. I am hard on myself. I am downright cruel. I would not treat an enemy as I do myself.

Fear grips me too. Fear to move forward. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of being laughed at, ridiculed. Fear of being vulnerable. Fear of being me. Fear to try. Fear. Simple. Fear.

I can’t deal with fear today. That’s too hard.

What’s the worst that could happen?

It will never be as bad as you imagine and it won’t be as good as you imagine. It’s usually somewhere in between.

I can talk myself out of trying. Easily.

Being sober. I am clinging to that. It is my life raft. I don’t have a desire to drink.

I drank to give myself moments of peace from the negative voices in my head. I drank to take a holiday from myself. It was my way of coping with being me.

I am living with fear. This fear I want to shake off. It is crusted and mouldy, there are layers upon layers of fear. Peeling layers replaced with glossy new ones. It is suffocating me.

Trying to open a window for my soul to breathe. But the window frame is painted shut. There are nails that need to be pried out. There are cobwebs. It is filthy.

I want to have a long soak in a bathtub. I cannot do that at the moment. I have a cast on my lower leg. A bath is out of the question. God I miss having a bath.

I have plugged the leaks of my eyes. In its place a headache has surfaced. Rest.

Rest.

I am so sick of resting. The simple act of taking a walk. I would love to do that. I am going stir-crazy from a month of rest. Damn this broken foot. That is the truth of it. This will pass.

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Best Time of Day

I am observing myself closely and I don’t really know when my best time of day is.

Am I a morning person?

Am I a night owl?

Am I something in between?

For now I am not a morning person and I’m not a night owl. I think my best time is between 5-8pm. But I could be wrong. I will observe myself in the wild and come to some conclusion after a month of closely monitoring myself.

The fact that I am in bed recovering from a broken foot will make the experiment biased for sure. I like to think of myself as a night owl but that just wrecks me the next day. And for now I’m mending bones so I should get rest so the sensible thing is to get an early night.

Try telling that to my body. I want to sleep at 10am after having a full night’s sleep. Sometimes I can’t get to sleep till 3am. I am all over the show. Daylight saving has started already so I would like to get in sync with the sun. But let’s see how I really am rather that what I think I am.

How well do you really know your own body and routines. Are you living your best routine and timing?

I no longer drink so there’s no need to be up till the wee hours, right? Does creativity happen at 2am? Does it really? Or is 5am the. Magic hour? Or 7am? 1pm in the afternoon I am drowsy, or I have been lately. After food a nap seems like the best choice option. I don’t know.

It’s just after 5pm so off I go to draw. I’ve had my daily quota of licorice already today. Should have waited till after my drawing to consume but that didn’t compute today. We’ll tangle that carrot tomorrow.

And does the season change when your best time of day is? And does it depend on what activity you do? There are loads of variables. The weather, your mood, your appetite, your schedule, your life.

When is your best time of day?

Broken

I lie in bed with my leg elevated. Six weeks of rest, elevation, no weight allowed on my right foot. I am halfway through my stint. A broken tibia.

Forced inertia allows time for one time to think. And I have had plenty of time to think. It hasn’t driven me round the twist. I haven’t felt weak and reached for alcohol. Have you tried crutches lately? You cannot hold anything while walking with crutches. A backpack would help but a cup of tea you cannot carry. A thermos of tea, yes but not a cup of tea. The effort to sit up in bed relying on one foot only, the effort to get to the toilet, to go down steps. I cannot go up steps. That’s where my bottom comes in handy. I creep up steps, one by one on the seat of my bum, with a flat cushion and make it to the top.

Could my fitness have been better before the break? Yes. Would it have made getting about easier. Yes. That doesn’t help me now though. I am not great on crutches.

Let me interrupt and say this: New Zealand has excellent public medical service when it comes to broken bones. I paid NZ$40 for subsidised X-rays and NZ$35 for a subsidised GP appointment and the rest was paid for by the government. Which really means by the people and our taxes. I received a moon boot. There was a long wait in Accident & Emergency. New Zealand hospitals are understaffed and underpaid. Capacity of patients in winter is at 145%. They are busy. That doesn’t stop them from being both professional and caring. I was impressed. Yes I waited a long time but others who waited also waited patiently. I received a cast after more X-rays. And follow up appointments for out-patients.

For getting about home I have been loaned a toilet seat with handles and stability. A shower chair. And later a knee scooter. I had my own crutches. The shower chair actually sits beside the bed so it makes it easier to get up and standing. Who knew how hard it is to do everything on just one leg. I am humbled by my situation. I have time to recover. I do not have children to look after. DH has been an angel with fetching and carrying things for me to keep me fed, watered, amused and functioning.

All this time to think and I have not gone bat shit crazy. I appreciate this moment in time that I have been given. It is a glitch or a correction in my life. A time to reflect and look to the future and see how I can do better, plan better. I can write, draw, use my computer. I can hobble about the house. I cannot clean. I hate cleaning anyway. But that got me thinking. I deserve to live in a clean house. I can look at cleaning as self care. Take more pride in my surroundings and care more. Don’t listen to what I say here, watch what I actually do later. Hold me to what I said here later.

The doctor asked me if I wanted a knee scooter. I said no. Why? I didn’t know what it was and it didn’t sound stable. I was an idiot. When I rang support at ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation), a government department, they suggested a knee scooter when I said how poorly I was managing on crutches. I said yes please. Not realising how helpful it would be. It was delivered to the house the next day. What a game changer. Mobility and stability with getting about. It has a basket on the front so I can carry things at the same time, The catch is, if the basket is on the front then it’s harder to turn. I ended up taking the basket off. Since having the knee scooter I can now do the laundry. I balance on my ‘bad’ leg which is supported by the knee, the breaks are on, with my ‘good’ leg firmly on the ground. I can lean down with the help of the handle bars. It allows me to function more normally. Rather than feeling useless and immobile I feel more independent and capable.

I can eat in the kitchen now for meals. I can turn the jug on. I can gather the placemats. I can do simple things. I can collect the yoghurt from the fridge, the muesli from the bench and the kiwifruit from the bowl. I can carry the knife, the bowl and the spoon in the basket and I can get my own breakfast. I still cannot carry a cup of tea.

I am not writing this for you to feel sorry for me. I am writing to voice how lucky I am. I didn’t need an operation with plates and screws. I can recover at home. I only have myself to look after and get well. DH looks after me. The cats have looked after me too. The public hospital system in New Zealand is excellent. I may have waited many hours for service but I was dealt with empathy, care and professionalism. I wish that others countries have the same level of care that we have here. My next cast will be renewed. My leg is getting skinnier. The cast feels roomier. That is life.

Everything takes longer at the moment but I have an appreciation for each thing or each action. I am lucky that this is temporary. I am grateful.

Hypoglycemia: Low Blood Sugar

If you don’t drink alcohol it’s not the end of the world. You won’t die. You don’t need it. You only crave it or want it because it’s there. It’s a comfort, it’s a habit. It’s a drug.

If you don’t eat, it can be the end of the world. We need to eat and drink to survive. If we don’t we die.

Above I have stated the obvious. Ten months sober and I feel I have a handle on the not drinking part of life. The benefits of being sober outweigh the hangovers and lost moments of drinking life. The abundance of time that being sober opens up is a daunting thing. I am left with myself, my sober self. I cannot take a holiday from me. I cannot take a break from me. I am stuck with me. Before in my drinking days I would have taken a break from myself by getting drunk. Today I don’t need to escape from the isle of me. Have I got my life figured out? Not by a half. However I am learning to deal with myself as I am today. I am far from perfect. I am human after all.

My body deals with sugar poorly. I have known this for most of my life. To have a banana or something sweet in my bag was not uncommon. I used to know this. I forgot. Stopping alcohol gave my eating habits a wobbly unbalance. I compensated by binging on food. A common enough side effect of quitting alcohol. Ten months into this sober pursuit and I think I can now face my relationship with food.

I have hypoglycemia. That’s a fancy word for low blood sugar. When I have low blood sugar I can feel dizzy, lose vision, sweat profusely, be clumsy, feel weak and shaky, fatigue, light-headed, have trouble talking, pale skin, diarrhoea, pass out.

I cannot eat the way I used to drink. I cannot substitute food for the way I drank. I will damage my body. If I binge on sweet foods my body has to adjust and level out. It expects more sugar later but when that doesn’t happen it panics and carries on like in the symptoms above. It used to be scary. Now I don’t panic. But I can stop this from happening altogether. I can eat smaller portions more often. I can carry something to eat with me. I didn’t do this and I was a mess a few weeks ago. Literally.

Why do we do this to ourselves? We know what is good for us and what is not. We know this. We have read about it. Most of it is commonsense. Humans are supposed to be a smarter species but I beg to differ. We have two options, the right one and the wrong one. We often choose the wrong one, even with all the information and knowledge that the wrong choice is bad. We still go for the wrong one. Is it plain stupidity? I don’t know. We cannot help ourselves until we go so far wrong that we get to the place of make or break. Humans aren’t logical. We like to think we are but we aren’t. We try to complicate our lives by doing the wrong thing over and over but keeping it simple seems too easy? I really don’t know why we do the things that we do. Stubbornness is a big reason. Why do we rebel against ourselves though?Why must we make life harder for ourselves when we know the difference between right and wrong?

Back to the sugar. I need to regulate my sugar intake. I can no longer guzzle an entire bag of licorice without suffering consequences. Because if I’m honest it isn’t just a bag of licorice. It is the desire to eat what is in reach. It is not healthy eating. It is eating for the sake of eating. It is perhaps emotional eating. It is replacement eating for alcohol that I no longer consume.

I do not drink fizzy drink or soda. I haven’t for many years. I don’t drink fruit juice either. I have a sweet tooth. I haven’t baked in a long while because I will tend to eat all of the baking within a short space of time. Why? Because it’s there. I have not taken moderation seriously with my food. I love food. I took food holidays. Visiting balsamic vinegar making factories, eating wild boar, pickled sardines, freshly fried sardines, octopus, fresh mozzarella, tiramisu. I ate my way around places. I would cook in apartments with fresh ingredients from the markets. It was a great focus to travel. I did art holidays too. I followed the footsteps of Matisse. I followed the Byzantine. Reading up before I left. It was a great way to travel.

I am forcing myself to moderate my food intake. If I regulate how much sugar I consume then I won’t become hypoglycemic. Simple. No. Not so simple. I am bucking the habits of a lifetime. I am limiting myself to five pieces of licorice a day. I read the back of the package and a single serving is 40g or five pieces. I used to look at the back for fun and then eat the entire bag. I cannot do that anymore without consequences. Wake up me. Time to get real. I have done three days of self regulation of licorice. That for me is a big step. Because with that comes better eating habits all around. Salads and salmon. Toasted muesli. Kiwifruit. Yoghurt. Almonds instead of chocolate. Whole grain toast. Smaller portions. Eating when hungry, not just for the sake of it, eating better.

This evening I will have five pieces of licorice. No more and no less.

For whom it may concern

Why do we do the things we do?

For ourselves? For vanity? For someone else? Or without thought?

Do we dress/act to keep up appearances, to keep to another’s standard?

What is that standard? What is your standard? Does it change?

Do we present ourselves to society and the world as our true selves? Do we even know who we really are? Are we merely a reflection of whom society chooses for us? If we see a photograph of ourselves who do we see? What do we observe about ourselves within the photograph? When we look into a mirror who do we see? What version of ourselves do we see or allow ourselves to see? Is it our true self? The one in the photograph, the one in the mirror, the one who lives in our bodies?

Do we change who we are depending on the audience in front of us? A wife, a daughter, a mother, a boss, an employee, a customer, a friend, a complainant, an advisor, a protector, a child?

Becoming sober let’s one choose to question with a clearer mind. The answers may not be any clearer but at least you remember the next day what you thought about the day before.

The discovery of self is a life long quest and some days feel like a leaden plod, and others a hop, skip and a pirouette. That being said I would still rather be my true self on a rotten day than an imposter with a painted on smile and crying on the inside. I would rather I cried real tears and really felt them without embarrassment or shame. Being human has a range of emotions. We have to let them in, to experience them, in order for them to pass through and out the other side. This nothingness or flatness I feel today I have embraced it reluctantly. A stiff hug for sure but hopefully it’ll be gone tomorrow.

10 months sober

For those of you wondering about my maths ability, yes, I jumped the gun earlier, and said I was 9 months sober when in actuality I was only 8 months sober. Today I am absolutely sure that I am 10 months sober.

A year ago today did I think I would be sober? Absolutely not.

A lot has changed.

Being sober seems to be the easy part. The ‘What Next?’ Step is the hardest. What I mean is facing myself and who I am is the challenge. I have spent all my life moulding myself to fit in, blend in or please that I don’t really know who I am. Don’t get me wrong I am not always entirely agreeable. I can be downright stubborn a lot of the time.

Am I being my true self or am I being an image I liked on Pinterest? Is it really me or is it an image of what I think I should be like? Today I have no idea. Today I cannot be bothered to do anything. I think I am afraid that I am nothing more than a couch potato.

My vegetable garden looks an overgrown mess. It is not tended well. Did I plant the garden because I like gardening? Do I want to grow my own vegetables? Because I saw it on YouTube and thought it looked fun, it’s on trend? Why did I bother?

Why did I start my vegetable garden?
I started it because I wanted to have more vegetables on my plate.
I want to eat healthier.
I wanted to have control over what food I ate, as in how it’s grown, spray free, etc,…
I like the idea of going outside to pick something fresh for the table.
The price of salad ingredients is ridiculous and so I wanted to grow my own for a fraction of the price. I wanted to save money.
Having a lawn doing nothing seems like a waste to me and so I wanted to create a garden that produces food for the table, an edible garden of what I like to eat.
The mulch from the hedge clippings goes into the garden and makes great soil. It all stays in the garden. Full circle.
I used the Hulgelkultur method so I could use rotten logs and branches and mulch and tidy up the place.
I measured the distance between the beds so I could easily fit a wheelbarrow between them. It was planned.

Marvellous answers to the question “Why” but do I really like gardening? Is it me? Or am I and will I always be a supermarket shopper? Today I find it hard to answer that. No doesn’t seem right. Yes doesn’t seem right either. I really don’t know. The fact that I have a broken leg and I can’t get about may have something to do with that. The garden doesn’t excite me today. Nothing does. Placing this in the too hard basket and will bring up the question to myself on another day.

Food made with Alcohol

Went out socialising last week surrounded by alcohol for the first time and more than survived. I had sparkling water as my drink for the evening. Dinner was great. I had dessert too. I enjoyed myself. I didn’t miss drinking alcohol. My dessert had alcohol in it but I let that slide. Tiramisu. I’m okay with that being in my life. I noticed that the slice of baked pear on the plate tasted of red wine too. Again, I’m okay with that being on my plate.

I’m not writing this to spark an argument but how do you feel about food with alcohol in it? I haven’t cooked with alcohol. Actually that’s not true. I cook with sake sometimes. Mirin too. It’s ingrained in Japanese cooking. I haven’t cooked with red/white wine. I don’t want to start the cooking with wine, one for the pot, one for me. I’m thinking of Spaghetti allla Vongole (Spaghetti with clams). Thinking aloud here really.

The reason I’m sober is that I cannot be a moderate drinker. I choose not to drink. I like myself better sober. I trust myself to have tiramisu out at an Italian restaurant and not feel like I’m failing myself. Put it this way, I didn’t feel the urge to order a glass of wine or limoncello after having dessert. That being said I don’t wish to buy alcohol filled chocolates. I don’t think that’s healthy for me. But having tiramisu while out occasionally is okay.

I have cooking wine, Chinese and Japanese in the kitchen and I use those for cooking for flavour. I have no desire to finish the bottle because it’s open. It stays in the cupboard. So what I’m asking myself is what is stopping me from using white or red wine? It’s the possible temptation of an open bottle sitting on the bench or under the bench. Nine months on and I think I’m okay with it. Just writing out these niggling ridiculous thoughts.

I just really love Spaghetti allla Vongole. Clams are cooked in the white wine sauce till they open. I didn’t use to make it often but I did have a glass or two of wine with it. More than. Now I think I’m ready to make it again without the glass of wine with the meal. Sparkling water is my go-to drink. Yeah. I think I’m okay with that.

That’s my rambling way of saying I’m okay cooking with alcohol. Tiramisu is not technically cooked so that’s an exception, I get that.

Buon appetito!

Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect

BOOK: Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect – By Jonice Webb PhD. with Christine Musello PsyD.

Feelings of something missing or absent but not being able to put your finger on what exactly it is what this book deals with. There is no blaming of parenting, there is naming of the void or neglect, there is dealing with it and moving on and giving the tools to become an emotionally mature adult. Most of us are doing the best that we can with what we have at the time. When we become aware of better ways of doing things we can implement them. If we lack the knowledge we cannot change or progress. It all takes time and can only happens when we are ready for it. Nothing forced can become a lasting habit, it must be adopted openly. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right.

This has been such a great book. A great stepping stone book for those early sober and wanting to deal with all this new character assessment and searching deep within ourselves. Much of what I read I had already begun to face and it gave me a great sense of being on the right track to finding myself.

Recovering from the flu so my brain has been a little fuzzy this past week. If it doesn’t make sense that’s why.

An Involuntary “Yes”

Last night I was asked if I’d like a sweet snack. I immediately yelled back, “yes, please.” I was in another room.

It took me a split second to realise that I wasn’t eating snacks at night. I was trying to NOT eat sugary delights. I changed my reply to a firm ‘no.’

Habit is what it is, involuntary automated actions or thoughts that inhabit our lives. The bad ones are hard to shake. They reply for us when we are undecided. I have gone five days without sugary snacks. I have lost weight. This is a good start. Today the weight plateaued but I know why. It was the tempura yesterday. Oily fried foods. Noted.

I have gone from absolute concentration to grumpy to head-achy back to grumpy and ho hum. When I wake up on Monday i will have made it to an entire week. Again I am determined to make it one week. Alcohol and sugar have been a huge part of my life for so long it is such a change to not reach for a glass of something or munch on something.

The involuntary yes to alcohol is no longer there. It is long gone. I am not a year sober yet but feel I have a handle on it. Or at least I do today. I haven’t been tempted. Sugar is still a firm habit that I am ripping off. The black adder tea was a Godsend last night. Licorice without the sugar.

Why is it that a bad habit is so hard to shake and a good habit so difficult to adopt? Both take effort. And we tend to take the easier option when offered choice. I know. And then when we are offered too much choice we freeze and make no decision at all.

I am choosing to be healthy.

Headaches and sleepiness

Three days successfully without sugary snacks in the evenings but last night I was head-achy and oh so sleepy, so I took paracetamol and went to bed ridiculously early.

Confession. I had two small bites of an ice cream that was on offer yesterday afternoon.

Cutting out sugar from my diet feels just as hard as giving up alcohol. I was reading online if headaches were a thing when going sugar-free. It is. I had homemade jam on my croissant this morning. And for those thinking, that’s not going sugar free well it is good enough for me.

I am feeling quite determined this week. I feel ready to face sugar. I know realistically it won’t ever be absent from my diet but if I can get the processed food type of sugar away from my diet that will be a milestone. Then evenings are the hardest as I’ve mentioned earlier. I bought string beans yesterday. To have as an evening snack if I need a snack. I have salted peanuts, black adder (licorice) tea to have instead of licorice sweets. I bought strong Earl Grey tea and kiwifruit too. I am ready.

There is chocolate and ice cream in the house and I have not touched them. There are no cravings for either as I write this, but it’s not the witching hour so that’s hardly surprising.

I don’t want to be focusing on food all the time, but I need to get sugar under control. Bear with me. This is a health crisis prevention order I have given myself. I chose to be sober. Now I am choosing to be healthier too. I am facing my health. I can do better. More vegetables and fruit in my diet. My policy is focused on adding good habits to the diet. I am waving a carrot in my face in the best way possible.