I think I might be slipping into a bad, dark space. 500 days sober tomorrow, and all I keep thinking is: that’s a stupid date marker. I’ve never considered 500 days to be a meaningful amount for anything. It’s not equivalent to anything important that I’ve done or experienced in my life. It’s just an arbitrary timespan that I’m using as a “sober tool” to feel good about my progress.
The span between hitting year 1 (which felt actually meaningful) and year 2 is… long. So I suppose we all come up with pitstops in the second year to give ourselves a pat on the back. I was game, for sure. I put it on my calendar as a day to celebrate, setting two event alerts so I’d be able to prepare some sort of self-care or treat on the day itself.
But now that I got the meeting reminder on my phone – “500 days sober today!”, starting at 9am tomorrow – I feel nothing. Actually, less than nothing. I’m in a horrible mood and I basically don’t want to be living my particular life right now.
I’m in a shitty pattern and I don’t know how to lift myself out.
Daily terror: I’m pretty certain that nicorette gum is causing muscular and joint pain (that I’ve never experienced before), but I’m afraid to quit it. This is extra terrifying because what if it isn’t the nicorette gum? What if I have cancer again?
Periodic attempts at fixing myself gone awry: I saw a naturopathic doctor. It’s a long-ish story, but I saw this naturopath in order to get a referral – and hence insurance coverage – to another naturopath doctor’s “health at every size” exercise program. In any event, during our 90 minute initial appointment I told her that I’d had a weird and sketchy experience with a naturopath before, and that there was pretty much nothing wrong with me (I sent her my recent blood tests, and she took my blood pressure). However, despite knowing my history with a “naturopath” who instructed me to buy (and take) 15 different $75/bottle supplements, this new naturopath prescribed seven different supplements to aid in digestion and reduce inflammation. So I feel scammed again. And mad at myself for doing the same stupid thing twice.
Constant worry that my marriage isn’t quite “perfect”: I don’t know how to appreciate my marriage. I swing from intense boredom to intense irritation to intense love and gratitude. I frown or roll my eyes more often than I smile. Every so often (like right now) I feel this out-of-my-mind heartache and regret about the fact that I can’t and never will have babies. With no babies on the horizon, it feels mighty scary to wonder if I might have chosen the wrong partner for life. Then I quickly realize that no magical rainbow unicorn husband will fix me; I’m still me.
I’m so mad at myself for not getting my eggs retrieved before having surgery, or even right after (I kept my ovaries). I was only 36. It was an option. But now I’m 44 and it’s never ever going to happen.
Back then, before and after my hysterectomy, I decided not to retrieve and freeze my eggs because it requires a large dose of hormones, the same hormones that caused my uterine cancer. I was afraid of giving myself cancer again. I wanted to be sure I would live instead of risking my life so that one day I might be able to use a surrogate to give birth to my own baby. And now I regret it. Of course I do.
I try to fix myself, but it backfires: I keep trying to manufacture more meaning in my life to fill the baby “hole”. Sometimes I’m aware of it, like getting more involved in political activism, re-training myself to accept my body, or my “learn-to-sew and start a clothing line” project. Sometimes I’m not aware of it and it becomes really problematic, like constantly wanting to buy a new house, or rebuild the one we’re in, and then back to looking at houses and getting pissed when my husband doesn’t want to go to an open house with me. Or buying $600 shoes. Or eating all the things. Or wishing my husband would just leave me alone, forever.
Can we talk for a minute about looking at houses to buy? There’s something really cathartic about imagining a whole new life in a new house. But there’s also something really self-destructive about putting myself through the same “do you guys have kids?” questions from realtors at open houses. The house descriptions that talk about great extra rooms for baby. And all the ways I imagine my life might become “normal” if we just had two toilets (and a baby).
Sigh. I hate that I’m not feeling great on the eve of my 500th day of sobriety. I hate that my sober life hasn’t magically filled in all the emptiness. It’s pretty clear that house-hunting, over-eating, chewing nicorette gum, watching TV and checking facebook are all just pieces of flimsy paper that I’ve taped over the gaping holes.
But I think I can find some really big things to be grateful for. I am alive. I am no longer trapped in alcohol addiction. I don’t smoke cigarettes anymore. I am not either on a diet or on a binge. I don’t hate my husband (I love him). He’s good. I’m lucky in that respect.
I may not know how to fill the holes yet, and that’s ok. Actually, I probably know too many ways to fill the holes. What I don’t know is how to live peacefully as swiss cheese. To be myself.