Category Archives: Daily Life

Drinking yourself sober?

It’s the idea employed by the Sinclair Method (TSM), and it’s my first real attempt to scale back from alcohol abuse to recreational, situational alcohol use, which is the program’s ultimate goal.

I started on naltrexone a little over two months ago, but without any guidance.  I had a vague inclination to keep a drink log, but it was sporadic and not detailed.  After learning about TSM and deciding (hoping) it could be right for me, I’m now starting to keep a better log and a journal about my experiences.

I take 50 mg of naltrexone every day at least one hour before I expect to start drinking.  Of course I’ve been doing this for two months already, but now with TSM, I’m engaging in what they refer to as “mindful drinking,” or really considering and contemplating each drink I take.  How badly do I want it?  What do I like about it?  Was it as good as I thought it’d be?  These types of thoughts, along with the chemical effects of naltrexone, are supposed to work in tandem to reduce cravings and dull the pleasure receptors that make drinking such a rush.

When I was prescribed naltrexone, I was also given the sleep aid seroquel.  On nights when I’m committed to not drinking, I take seroquel before I leave work so that I’m ready to pass out when I get home.  This does help, but I’ve found lately that seroquel has been giving me vivid nightmares.  I had the same problem with trazadone and gabapentin before.  Many of these nightmares center around me being in my bed, aware that someone is breaking into my apartment, yet I’m paralyzed and blind and can’t do anything about it.  After a few of these terrifying episodes, I’m considering switching meds when I see my psychiatrist next week.

But I’m going to stay on naltrexone and continue to practice mindful drinking, with the end goal of deciding that drinking just isn’t as fun as it used to be.  The process can take six months, and I’m more or less in the beginning of month two.  I will post updates as time goes on, or maybe even start a separate blog for this topic.

Travel blogger privilege

As I prepare for my next big trip, I’ve been reading a lot of travel blogs searching for advice on ways to cut costs.  A common theme that exists across travel blogs is the insistence that anyone can afford it if they just try hard enough, and that’s a really ignorant idea that’s dripping with privilege.

I do agree that most people in the Western world living above the poverty line can budget in a way to make travel a priority if they want to.  I’m a lower-middle-class white woman living in a big city who is able to travel, and yes, there are definitely things I could do to be able to afford to travel more frequently.  My rent would be significantly cheaper if I had roommates or lived in a less desirable area.  I’d save money on food if I brought sack lunches to work more often.  I could opt to have really shitty internet that barely works for about a fifth of the price I currently pay.  I could stop going to rock shows.  The fact that I’m not willing to give up those things impedes my ability to budget for traveling.  That’s a choice I make.

But so many people–all over the world and here at home in the US–don’t even have the option to choose whether they want to budget for traveling or not, because their wages are too low and their expenses too high.  It’s not an option for them to cut back on spending, because they’re already only spending on basic necessities.  Suggesting that they could backpack across Europe if they budgeted a little better is insulting and oblivious to reality.

Traveling is a luxury and a privilege.  Even if you’re living out of a backpack and staying in hostel dorms, it’s a luxury and a privilege.  No, not anyone can do it.  I’m lucky that I’m going to have the chance to go to Paris, Amsterdam, and Berlin this fall.  I’m lucky I’m in that position.  I recognize that, and I’m grateful for it.  I don’t take it for granted.

Rape culture

I was sexually assaulted again.  A couple weeks ago.  It was a friend of a friend.  It wasn’t as bad this time.  He didn’t pin me down and try to rape me, like the previous guy did, but he did repeatedly grope me as I tried to sleep–while each time I told him to get away from me–and he eventually put his hand in my pants.  And guess what?

It’s my fault.  Again.

I’m making it up for attention.  Again.

I’m making it up to get revenge on him.  Again.

I must’ve been leading him on.  Again.

I must’ve done something to deserve it.  Again.

If it really happened, I would’ve screamed.  Again.

If it really happened, I would’ve called the police.  Again.

It’s my fault again.  It’s always my fault.

And hey, bonus, here’s a new one: I must’ve fooled around with him willingly, then pretended it wasn’t consensual in the morning so my boyfriend couldn’t get mad at me.

These are the thoughts that people have had about me since I spoke up.  These are the thoughts that people have had about me, because a man believed he was entitled to my body, and I told him no.

Again.

So many people are doing so many good things and, for the most part,  I’m not.  That’s not to say I’m doing anything wrong, either, but my existence is pretty neutral.  I’m not doing much to make the world a better place, and as a middle(ish)-class white person, I really should be.  I feel great about doing my part to get a dangerous man slapped with the label “criminal” by the penal system*, but that only affects the handful of women who may encounter him before his unhealthy choices kill him.  I want to help effect broad-scale change, because so much change is needed.

What holds me back is my inability to be a leader.  I can’t be the one to start things, to do the planning and organizing, and especially the outreach.  I can’t join others’ organizations either, because of my social anxiety.  Walking into a room where I don’t know anyone (and staying sober) is more than I can handle.  I’ve been to a couple protests before, but all I could do was stand to the side holding a sign.  Chanting and marching in a group of strangers is far too scary.  Plus, I’m also afraid of the commitment, of people relying on me.  What if they want me to do something I’m uncomfortable with?  What if I get too depressed and just want to lay in bed?  What if I’d rather drink instead of do work?  I don’t want to put myself and others in a position where I fairly likely may let them down.

Part of me wants to give myself more credit than that, but I know my own flaws too well.  I love my comfort zone, and my comfort zone has become drinking and listening to music with Bunny.  They might ask me to write a press release or paint some signs, but I’d rather get drunk and sing songs and play on Facebook.  These habits have me in a spiral of self-loathing at times, but I’m not sure I have the willpower or the drive to break them.

A long time ago in this blog I made mention of a girl I had a one-night stand threesome with.  I knew her first name and had a vague idea of a last name.  About a month ago a name popped up on Facebook, and I was pretty sure it was her.  It was.  Since that crazy night/morning, she seems to have been very ambitious and gotten some cool things done, including an upcoming plan to start a garden.  I think, maybe, I can handle starting there.  A community garden won’t enact major policy change in our sexist, racist society, but at least it’ll benefit some people.  I’ll be doing something positive for the greater good.

 

* I won’t go into detail for both legal and privacy purposes, but I’ll say that it has proven to be a very good idea for me to write the below post about intimate partner violence.  It turns out I’m not the only one.

Analyzing my abusive relationship

I did my best to convince myself and anyone I talked to that we were happy and in love, because if we weren’t, it didn’t make sense that I let him so blatantly take advantage of me.  Instead of calling the police so they could force him out of my apartment, I acted like I was making a choice to help the man I loved.  I was ashamed of myself for what I was letting him do to me, so I tried to deny it to myself.  I still carry that shame, even though I know I shouldn’t, because I regret the entire situation so much.  Damn it, I’m a feminist, for fuck’s sake!  My feminism is a huge part of my identity, so why would I let a man treat me that way?

Because he’s terrifyingly manipulative and deceptive, not just to romantic partners, but to his friends and family and even himself.  It was almost like mind control the way he got into my head and made me comply with whatever he wanted.  I constantly acted contrarily to my own best interests, and even my own mental health, because he had managed to gain control of me.

I’m changed for the worse because of him.  I know I need to go to therapy to process his abuse, but I keep putting it off because I don’t want to relive the pain.  I have PTSD and trust issues in a relationship now, as well as just recently developing occasional flashbacks to the way he’d beat my ass during sex until I cried, and I never told him to stop because I did whatever he wanted.

My boyfriend now is gentle as a lamb, a feminist, and a self-described beta male.  I know he would never intentionally hurt me.  But I can’t help having an underlying fear that anything is possible, because there was a time when I insisted that my ex was “a good man” too.  I’m not afraid of my boyfriend at all, but I’m afraid of the fact that I wasn’t afraid of my ex either, in the beginning.

Much more so, though, I’m afraid of unintentionally doing to Colin what my ex did to me.  I worry about it all the time, actually.  Because he’s so passive and always wants me to make the decisions, I’m so scared that I’m going to make choices for us that hurt him.  I’d hate myself forever if I hurt him in even a fraction of the way that Kevin hurt me.  This is something that haunts me constantly.  I’m paranoid of becoming the monster that Kevin is.  While I don’t think I have that much evil in me, I can’t help worrying about it.

Christmas

Putting up the tree is one of my favorite parts of the year.  My family always made a big deal of it, with a crackling fire and hot cocoa and Nat King Cole.  Last year I got my first apartment and my first Christmas tree, and I was so excited about carrying on the cutesy traditions in my own home.

But last December was awful for me.  I was very depressed, in an abusive relationship and trying so hard to convince myself and everyone else that we were madly in love.  Reading my blogs from last fall and winter–not early summer, because that was still genuine–I can’t believe how fake it all was.  I’m not even sure I realized it at the time, though.  I was deceiving myself, insisting I was happy even though I resented him so much for refusing to leave my apartment no matter how much I begged.

Again, come this time of year, I was very excited to give my new Christmas traditions a second try.  And then, ironically enough, he came back into my life in an unexpected way, terrorizing me again a year later.  But, this time, even though it’s been emotionally excruciating, it’s still for the best.  No regrets at all.  It has been painful, but it’s progress.

Anyway, what I wanted to share was not all that pain and disappointment, but how I was pleasantly surprised last night, when I forced myself to put up all the Christmas decorations even though I was sick to my stomach when I started.

Colin and I built the tree together (yeah, it’s a fake tree, but stop judging me for my need for convenience), but then he accidentally got too stoned and had to sit down and veg for awhile.  For some reason, I was really intimidated by the idea of putting the lights on.  It’s silly in retrospect, but I’d never put lights on a tree before, and my dad always bitched and moaned about it, so I was worried.  But, I did it!  I strung all the lights myself, while Colin DJed and gave a stoner-grin of approval.

I explained to him which ornaments were most important to me, and why I valued them so much, as I placed them on the tree.  He watched me and really listened.  Sure, it was partly the weed, but I felt a real sense of peace and happiness that I hadn’t expected to feel.  It was the best I’d felt after an emotionally grueling week.

Then, it was like a movie.  Love scenes in romance films are always so contrived and fake, and most people never have those kinds of experiences, because they’re not usually realistic.  (Again, in terms of our experience, I’m sure the weed factored in.)  But he came up to me next to the tree and gave me a peck on the lips, and that peck immediately turned into making out.  I pulled his body against mine, kissing him deeply and running my hands through his hair as I felt him get excited against me.  We groaned and kissed and fell into bed (pretty literally, since it’s a small apartment), and it was like the main sex scene in every rom com–clothes flying, stealing kisses in between unbuttoning jeans, nails dragging across each other’s backs.  We proceeded to have the kind of unbridled, screaming sex that the whole neighborhood can hear.  What we did, I’d always thought of as a movie cliche.  And maybe it is, but it happened for us, for whatever reason.

Instead of basking in the afterglow, though, he picked up the laptop right away and put on a song, Queen’s “Love Of My Life,” and he belted it out to me, even louder than the wild sex we’d just had, and I thought it was so silly and cute.  This was immediately followed by simply making funny faces at each other and laughing until our abs hurt, because we were stoned and giddy and in love.

Then we finished decorating the tree naked.

I think I’m finally ready to talk about my experience with intimate partner violence

It’s kind of out of nowhere, but I think I’m ready to talk about the time I was sexually assaulted, even though it’s minor compared to what other women have experienced. Inspired by this Feministing story, I decided to just go ahead and share it. The more we talk, the better the world may become.

I was already asleep in the bedroom and had been for awhile.  My then-boyfriend Kevin was in the living room, presumably binge-watching Netflix or channel 11 and growling profanities at my pet duck.  I woke up when he opened the bedroom door, and I saw him standing there, just his dark silhouette in the doorway.  He loomed there looking at me for a moment, and then suddenly he threw himself on top of me, pinning me down with his weight.  I shifted under him as he started kissing my neck, telling him politely, “No, Kevin, not now.  I need to sleep.”  He didn’t stop, but grabbed my hands and held them down so I’d stop trying to push him away.  “No, stop, I have to work tomorrow.”  He was pulling my pajamas off and I started fighting, trying to push him and protesting, “Stop, stop!”  But he wouldn’t listen.  He said nothing, just held me down under the weight of his body, tearing at my pajamas, swatting my hands away when I tried to grab or shove him.  I was crying hysterically, protesting louder and louder, and we fought progressively harder.  It continued on, in a violent struggle on the bed, as he used his strength to try to get me naked and force me to compliance.

Then suddenly, the look in his eyes changed.  The animalistic passion disappeared and they became clearer.  It was almost like he suddenly remembered that rape is bad.  He stopped, rolled off me, and said sorry.  He fell asleep, and eventually after I’d calmed down, I admittedly went back to sleep next to him.

Worse things have happened to other victims of intimate partner violence.  I’m lucky that the lightbulb went off in his brain and he stopped trying to rape me.  But in those five minutes or so that he attacked me, I felt what it’s like to be a helpless victim of a physical assault.  Fortunately that was the extent of the experience. I’m also lucky that he was my boyfriend, so I consented to sex with him many times, though not that particular time. It would’ve been much worse if it was someone I never consented to sex with.  Regardless, it was not at all consensual by any stretch of the imagination.

People question why women stay with men who hurt them, and the reasons are usually very valid and important: financial dependence, fear of further violence, protecting the children.  But reasons of that magnitude are not why I stayed with him.  I stayed because I was so physically (though not very emotionally) attracted to him, and I stayed because I wanted to see where his music would go.  I also stayed because I felt sorry for him, for what a wreck his life was.  He still needed me.  But even though I stayed, things did change after that incident.  I saw a glimpse of the abuser he really was, underneath the charisma and charm.  My rose-tinted glasses came off, and what I saw was scary.  I should’ve explored those feelings further, but I didn’t at the time.

I didn’t tell anyone about it for almost six months, and even then, I only told a couple of my closest friends.  I was embarrassed, I guess, and while we were together I still wanted to protect him.  I didn’t want people to know he was capable of being violent.  But now I think it’s time for me to be open about it, because silence helps no one.  What happened to me is on the low end of the scale of intimate partner violence, but it was real and it was scary, and I have much sympathy and empathy for other victims.

So why speak out?  Just for awareness.  To remind people that these things happen, and they can happen to anyone.  Anyone can be a victim or a perpetrator.  Anyone can be hiding this secret.  Trust victims.  Believe them.