some disjointed sentences about my life right now.

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walking across the williamsburg bridge i was in love. with the city, i mean.

all those people on bikes. if i lived in brooklyn i would not be struggling over bumpy concrete alone. i’d be with my people. MY. PEOPLE. mouthy new yorkers. fearless queers. tough bikers. people who talk fast & mean what they say. in brooklyn i wouldn’t be too intense. i wouldn’t be too much.

but there are no jobs & i have forgotten how to be in new york. and like it or not, my life is in pittsburgh. for now, anyway. i’ve already spent a month of this year away from home, and i’m planning to be on the road for at least two weeks, probably longer, for my zine tour (if it works out! still not totally sure).

i am hurting right now. i did something awful before i left and i don’t know how to make it right. this awful thing was in direct response to something awful that was done to me. but still. leaves me feeling very fucked up & shaky & unlovable & alone in the world. even though i know it is (mostly) not true.

i should probably stop drinking. again.

see, the thing is, i am not physically addicted to alcohol. for this, i am eternally grateful. however, since i grew up in an alcoholic and violent family, i feel like as long as i am not as bad as what has been done to me, i am okay.

and on one level, that makes sense. on one level, i hate the person i love when he is scared of me, when he thinks i am acting inappropriately, when he says i am out of control. because who ever said that in my behalf? because whoever intervened on my behalf? because who ever gave a fucking shit if i felt safe? no one. and i feel like if i could handle situations that were far scarier, and far more inescapable, and far more violent, for over fifteen unrelenting years, as a child–then he can deal with one or two bad nights. i feel that’s not too much to ask.

but on another level, i know that’s wrong. i know that i have failed him & i have failed other people & i have failed my younger self, who promised, i will never be like this, when i grow up i will never do this to anyone. i know that while my drinking is not out of control, i am out of control when i am drinking. i know that my own anger is so huge as to be uncontainable. yet i contain it most days. and sometimes i want some acknowledgement of how hard that is, i want someone to acknowledge that and someone to validate how much i struggle, every day, to be a good person, and to rise above my past. my ex-best friend came from a similar background, and he used to say, “we are nowhere near as crazy as we have every right to be.” a lil’ grammatically disjointed, sure. but it was so comforting. so, i know where you are coming from. so much like, we can get out together. & of course we didn’t. of course you can’t escape the crazy. but sometimes, sometimes, you can try.

& sometimes you forget that you’re trying, and you do really fucked-up shit. and you can’t undo it. and you can’t do anything besides say you’re sorry and say it won’t happen again and try to make it right while knowing it will never really be all right. and that’s awful.

i don’t know what i’m saying with this. i don’t know who i hope will read this or what i think they will get out of this. i do know that reading the zine “filling the void: interviews about quitting drinking” this morning was really illuminating. it scared me, how much i related. you can order here but i think cindy’s really busy these days, so you might wanna get it from another distro. (i got mine at bookthugnation in brooklyn!)

i still get a lot of letters about sobriety from people because of an article i wrote in my zine in 2008. i have been un-sober for a year now. at first it was really fun but it has taken a much more sinister turn as of late. i don’t know how else to deal with my social anxiety, though. i don’t know how to leave the house and socialize with more than 4 people without wanting a drink. thoughts?

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3 responses »

  1. It’s really hard to deal with this. I always tell myself, “I’m not going to drink tonight” & then I always end up drinking because it’s what everyone else does. This isn’t quite what you were talking about but I feel you about not knowing how to be social around lots of people without alcohol. Or people act like you’re weird for not drinking, like your sobriety is a reflection of themselves. i don’t have much in the way of suggestions, but I would just like to say that I feel you, that I struggle with this, too.

  2. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about all of this – but not really anything I can summarize in a blog comment. I would love to talk about it sometime.

  3. I know this is an old post but I was looking at your blog and I just wanted to reach out to you. I have really bad social anxiety myself. Used to have lots of panic attacks and even hospitalized myself once for agoraphobia. I quit drinking in March and while it’s improved my anxiety overall, I’m forced again to deal with social anxiety. I don’t know where you are with the things you’ve posted about here, but I just wanted to share a few thoughts. You can email me if that would be any help to you; I’d also be happy to send you a zine I wrote this summer about quitting (I’m gathering my thoughts together for a follow-up). (Maybe I sent it to you already? — Seaglass?) I don’t know how your social anxiety manifests, but this is what’s been helpful to me.

    * Trying to do things in places that feel safe to me. Maybe the environment itself is just really comforting (say, lots of plants), or maybe it feels safe because it’s close to home or someplace close to public transportation so I can easily get home. Before my bike was stolen, knowing I could ride home if I wanted to really helped.

    * Carry talismans, or charms, or however you want to put it. At any given social event I’m likely to have on me: lavender tincture; rescue remedy; my baby blanket (he goes everywhere with me, and at this point I’m totally not ashamed to bust him out and start rubbing him between my fingers); lots of layers so I can feel cocooned; my mp3 player so I can take a break and listen to music that will calm me; chewable pepto in case my stomach starts churning; tasty herbal tea. My pockets are usually stuffed with special necklaces and rocks and slips of paper.

    * Giving myself permission to leave at any point I need to. Also giving myself permission to go to the bathroom as often as I want/need for a break.

    * Having a safe person there who knows this is a struggle for me. It might be my partner or a close friend who knows what I’m going through. Sometimes I’ve even said to strangers “sorry, I just feel a little anxious in new situations.” In my experience people have always been very kind, even if I think they think I’m a weirdo (and maybe they do).

    * Paying attention to my life overall. If I haven’t been eating well, and work has been stressful, and I’ve had things to do after work three nights this week already, I’m probably not going to be able to do a party on the weekend. Sometimes when I have an event that I know I must do (like a family graduation) I’ll clear my schedule the week before and focus on eating well, getting acupuncture, taking lots of baths, whatever will help prepare me.

    * My sobriety has been helped overall by developing a spiritual practice (I know, six months ago I would have said “no fucking way”) and I practice my grounding and breathing exercises in social settings.

    * I am still working on this, but accepting myself for who I am, and that I can’t really — at this point anyway — go out to a party with a bunch of strangers. And that is totally ok.

    I hope you’re doing better with your social anxiety. For me I think it is a lifelong thing — at least, it’s been thirty-one years for me. Sometimes I surprise myself, though.

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