A Year-End Reflection, Part 2

My word for the year:

BRAVERY (being afraid, or complacent, or _____, and doing things anyway)

Intentions for 2019:

  • Leave the country (I am cheating here, because ITALY)
  • Get a promotion (staying with the same company, tho!!)
  • Spend more time with people IN PERSON
    • Reach out more often, just to say hi
    • Be honest when I need help feeling connected
    • Nurture relationships and build new ones
  • Find a group/community to get involved with
  • Find a cause to actively champion
  • Learn how to do – and then DO – a proper push-up
  • Hold personal retrospectives on a regular basis
    • What did I do well?
    • What could I have done better?
    • What am I proud of?
    • What hurt? What made me angry?
    • Where did I find the joy?
  • Read books
  • Draw a cartoon
  • Paint a painting
  • Take more pictures
  • Avoid social media
  • Stop taking everything so damn personally, and stop centering myself where I don’t belong
  • Listen to Kacey Musgraves and Ruston Kelly on repeat, a la Isbell/Shires, probably

What I’m taking with me:

  • Permission to shine, glow-up, excel, and grow all the way into what I’m capable of
  • A multi-dimensional view of humanity
  • A willingness, desire, and need to tell the truth – to others, yes, but especially to myself
  • The desire and drive to better myself, however I can

What I’m leaving behind: 

  • A victim mentality, self-deprecation, and responsibility (or guilt) for things that aren’t mine
  • Small-minded ideas
  • Talking myself out of things because of fear
    • fear of rejection
    • fear of failure
    • fear of the unknown
    • fear of no reciprocity
  • The unwillingness to give people a chance, and the right, to be human (again, myself included)
  • The willingness to waste time on people, places, and things that don’t deserve it
Every moment is another chance to get things right. ❤ 

A Year-End Reflection, Part 1

I am fully disconnecting from social media – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, all of it – for the month of January. Maybe longer, I don’t know yet.

I find myself at the end of this exhausting, mostly terrible year feeling compelled to be online all the time, and worse as a result. Addictive behavior, this time in the form of constantly checking my accounts for activity and some form of engagement, I guess.

But the small amounts of joy I find online, the occasional meaningful interactions, the small bits of knowledge I amass, are nothing right now compared to the overwhelming awareness of people being petty and/or manipulative and/or shitty, people out there having fun with friends and family and me not being part of any of it…  Read More »

Confronting Your (My) Own Bias, Part 2

This past October, I started working for a really young company. Young in years its been in existence (4); young in spirit, with all its enthusiasm as a disruptive innovator; and young in its team members. Like, really young. I am one of the oldest, if not THE oldest, on my team; the person whose place I took is half my age. Literally – he is 23 years old. There are a few 20-somethings; the rest are in their early to mid-30’s. And the vast majority of the rest of the company has the same demographic makeup. There is diversity in gender, race, and everything else imaginable, which is awesome… but goddamn do I feel old.

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Confronting Your (My) Own Bias, Part 1

Does anyone else out there have a running commentary going through their brain at just about all times, questioning and digging into every. single. thing. that happens to/near/around/because of you? No? Just me?
An example: The other day, I was walking down the hall at work, and someone I knew was walking towards me. We made eye contact, said hello to each other and smiled (which – I have a whole other post about this and how much I crave eye contact and acknowledgement from the entire world and I’m having to get over expecting it as well as being disappointed when it doesn’t happen, but that’s for another day)…

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Food and This Addict Brain

(CW: talk about food issues, dieting, weight, addiction and drug use, etc.)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize the part my addict brain plays in just how “successful” (or not) I am when it comes to eating well.

I guess I should define a few things first:

  • Addict brain = the brain of someone prone to addictive behaviors
  • Eating well = eating the way I know my body works and feels its best (and that includes my brain)

To lay some groundwork… it’s been a lot of years since I was in active addiction, but even still, to this day, if I have more than two drinks (wine, cocktails, whatever), at some point in the evening the thought will cross my mind, “Boy, some cocaine would sure be nice right about now.” I’ve gotten used to that little voice that shows up, and even laugh about it most times because it’s so predictable, but if I don’t distract myself or laugh it off… if I didn’t have a really strong support system and even stronger resistance built up, then chances are good it might pose a threat. But it doesn’t. And the day that it does is the day I stop drinking and dive back into the work.

All of that to say, I’m not “cured.” I don’t know that there’s any such thing. Even though I can drink normally and have no concerns there, it absolutely could act as a gateway to other things if I ever let myself get back to that point. And knowing how quickly I used to devolve and spiral, there’s no question I would do it again. Whether I wanted to or not.

So, with that insight, I’m going to talk about food, and how my brain has taken to thinking about and reacting to it. I’ve been seeing some addict-type behaviors, and I’m calling it out here because the only way I know to get better is to get honest. Even when it’s embarrassing or whatever (and some of this is absolutely shame-inducing, when I let it be).

Over the last few years, I’ve had times where I felt like I had to hide “bad” food, like in my desk drawer or in the trunk of my car. Things like Cheez-Its, or chocolate, or other things I’ve identified as not in keeping with how I want to eat – or how I want other people to think I eat. I would be embarrassed to admit to my husband or others that I’d been shoveling crap in my face, or ordering from Panera 3 nights in a week to eat enough food (and mac & cheese) for 2 people, so I would either not mention it (and feel ashamed) or I’d downplay it. There’s a reason people think I eat so well… I’ve been managing perception.

And mind you, it’s not an all the time thing, but the fact that I even think or act that way at all is problematic.

Then there’s the current situation of my sweet spouse who has all but made the switch to eating vegan and (mostly) gluten-free, not drinking alcohol, etc. It began while he was on the road a few months ago, and he has been able to maintain it for the last several (6?) months. He’s active, healthy, has lost weight, feels great, and I am incredibly proud of and impressed by him.

I’m also experiencing feelings of being left out, left behind, resentful, scared, threatened, defensive, and a whole host of other shitty feelings. Threatened, because I don’t understand and can’t relate to how he’s eating, and I worry that it’s going to come between us because we’re not eating the same things anymore and not cooking together and I’m having to find ways to accommodate both of our ways of eating (mostly in my head) when we’re together. Resentful because I don’t seem to have it in me to so easily shift how I eat and stick with it, and I also don’t have it in me to be active every day like he does without some major planning and emotional/mental bandwidth expended to get there. And one slight change in ritual/schedule/behavior throws everything off. For months. Defensive because I feel like I’m being judged, even though I’m not – by anyone but me.

A lot of it feels like when you’re an addict in a relationship with an addict, and one of you goes and gets better/clean/sober/healthy. The other one is going to feel threatened and all that other stuff, even as they’re proud of and impressed by the person who recovered. You want that person to succeed, even when you want them to stay sick with you, because that’s what’s comfortable.

And yes, I get that it’s a bit of an extreme example because for the most part I do eat well… but my brain isn’t healthy around any of it. I have to acknowledge that.

I am pissed that I can’t just eat whatever I want without consequence. I am pissed that I have to put in the work to see the results I want. I am pissed that it isn’t easy.

I am also pissed at the social conditioning I’ve been through – we’ve all been through – that says thin = healthy, successful, attractive, etc. Because not only am I battling against addictive behaviors, but I’m also battling that internal voice telling me I’m a failure in all those ways because I’m overweight. Mind you, I don’t ever look at anyone else overweight and think those things, but the bias is obviously there if I’m applying it to myself. It had to come from somewhere, right? Anyway, I’ll save the internal bias talk for another post.

What I’m recognizing now is how my brain likes to work overtime to screw me over. It used to be with drugs, now it’s with food. And I think a lot of former addicts can relate. If you’re not engaging in the original addictive behavior, your brain starts looking for other ways to satisfy that craving and fill that void. Shopping, sex, food, risky behaviors… it all happens, especially when you’re not tending to your emotional and spiritual needs.

So, I don’t know what this is all going to look like, moving forward. I get that I have a chemical reaction to sugar and other things, kicking the craving behaviors into high gear… so it makes sense that I might fare better by cutting all those things out for a while. Like when I got sober for 5 years. I had to wait for the fog to lift before I could see what needed tending to. All I know is I need and want to get to a place where I’m not actively sabotaging myself at every turn, or harboring fear and resentment against the world (and especially my husband, who is nothing but loving and supportive no matter what I do, how I eat, or what I look like).

This may all sound histrionic or like I’m making a much bigger deal out of something that doesn’t need to be, and I get that. But viewing it all through the lens of addiction is, I hope, going to help me know how to address the problematic thought patterns and behaviors that are cropping up. Especially because I love GOOD food so damn much, I don’t want there to be weird thoughts or behaviors around any of it.

Random Friday Thoughts

  • It makes me feel good, knowing there are remote tribes out there who will kill you on sight and do not give any kind of shit about who you are, where you’re from, or what you think you have to offer. I like that they’re totally untouched by the rest of the world, and I hope that never changes.
  • Why are people (read: ME) so resistant to doing the things you know are good for you? Like, eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep (if you’re able)… or trying to expand your horizons, learning new things, etc? I mean, I know damn well I’d be in better emotional shape if I were doing what I should be doing physically. Why, then, am I avoiding it all like the plague?
  • There are times when it’s totally appropriate to thank yourself for something, and times when it’s not. Snoop Dogg thanking himself for all his hard work, for showing up and trying to be more of a giver than a receiver, all in response to his Hollywood Star on the Walk of Fame? That’s appropriate. Being the president and getting asked what you’re thankful for on Thanksgiving, and naming yourself for all the things you (claim you) have accomplished? That’s just tacky. How did we end up with a poorly-raised 14 year old as our “leader?”
  • I’ve discovered what makes me excited again about letting my silver hair grow out: red lipstick. I am still conducting an ongoing investigation into my own internal biases to keep it all in check (and not just about gray hair, but about age, weight, and everything else I’m struggling with), but red lipstick – or any bold, bright color – with silver hair is THE BOMB. 💋

Telling the Truth About What’s Good

I’ve been thinking about how important it is to be honest about what’s good.

What I mean by that is, when you look back on a situation, on a relationship, on your life… are you being honest with yourself about the good parts AND the not-so-good parts?

I have a habit of making sweeping generalizations about situations. About past relationships. About circumstances, life events, you name it. As an example, if you hear me talk about the person I dated before meeting my husband, you’d only hear what a monster he was (and, probably is). But if I’m being honest, there were good parts in there. There would have had to be, right? Otherwise, why engage in the first place?Read More »

Thanksgiving | Gracegiving

It appears I have a lot of feels about Thanksgiving, if the state of my heart is any indication these days.

I mean, there’s the obvious connection that gets made every year to “The Thanksgiving” I spent homeless and addicted in the panhandle of SF’s Golden Gate Park, 20 years ago now. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago now, and other times, like yesterday. 1998 was a hell of a year.

But my association with Thanksgiving has grown and morphed over the years, where it’s become an association with family, with connection, with grace.

Every time I’ve spent the day with anyone other than my family, it felt bittersweet. Like a loss. Like something wasn’t quite right; something was missing. The level of comfort you can feel with your family, even when there may be discord or discontent, even when there may be squabbles or irritation or “that one family member guaranteed to be an asshole,” you’ve got the baseline of family, where you’re surrounded by people who – for the most part – love you unconditionally.Read More »

Finding and doing your part.

“…a design for living that really works.”

One of the things I’m most grateful for from my relatively brief time in 12-step programs is the active process of finding my part in things. Doing a 4th step requires that you take a fearless and thorough moral inventory of yourself; you find all the things you are resentful about, all the people, places, and things you resent or harbor a grudge over or are just basically holding onto in a toxic-to-you way… you write it all down, you figure out how it has affected you…Read More »

How and when to be still.

The last several months have been a repeated exercise in learning – again – to sit with uncomfortable feelings and identifying if or when to take action on them.
On the one hand… back in June, I left a job I enjoyed, working with people I loved, to try something new. Mind you, there were a lot of underlying factors in that decision; some things were never going to change about that place, and I finally decided I’d had enough. I sat in the discomfort until I couldn’t any longer, and I made a move.

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