Hi. Let’s talk about all the things I am not doing lately, because it seems like a lot.
I am not using social media. I can’t do Facebook anymore. Sure, there are cute kid photos and funny videos, but these days my feed is 75 percent political posts, and I know I am not alone in that fact. The world is such that many of us are feeling something and we want to express it, but what comes out on Facebook is flattened and one sided. Social media, I don’t think, was ever meant to be a political sounding board for all of our ideas and we as humans can’t compress that much opinion in such a small space and amount of time. Even when I agree with general points, the onslaught of strong opinions I see in the first minute I open my Facebook exhausts me. I mean that literally; I leave Facebook tired and a bit sadder than I had when I logged on. Not to mention, people are extremely rude and mean to each other, acting in ways I am sure they wouldn’t in person. It’s incredibly disheartening to see high school classmates, old friends and members of the same community tear each other down over a political action. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s extremely imperative to express your opinion, but I personally don’t believe Facebook is the way to do it and it causes more harm than good. My personal policy is to not engage in any political discussions on Facebook (while I’ve been a bit more political on my other social media platforms), but, oh have I been tempted. My decision to get off of social media may make me a “snowflake” (if being a snowflake means that I care about others and demand equal treatment, so be it), but I’ve found myself checking into Facebook too much recently to see those bitter comments, to find that underbelly of the internet. Not only had Facebook become an ugly place, but I was seeking out the nasty parts. Like my usage of alcohol, my social media habits teeter on unhealthy and so the Lent season presented a good time to log off all the platforms for awhile. I will miss important updates, but I’ve been missing too much in the real life with my head stuck to a news feed and I want to re-enter that world.
I am not running. Again. After running a blissful eight miles at dusk last Friday (the longest I’ve run in more than a year), I’ve finally came to terms with the persisting pain in my right hip, specifically when I couldn’t stand up for the next day without wincing. Luckily, I had a doctor’s appointment a few days later and she set me up with a sports medicine physician, who is miles better than the guy I saw for my knee last year. It’s unclear if the knee and hip pain are related, but I am headed back to physical therapy and on prescription anti-inflammatory medication. I can’t run while I am on the meds so we can determine if they are working. I really like this doctor and have much better feelings about this physical therapist, but it’s possible that I have a tear. Whether or not I will be running the marathon this fall is to be determined, and my heart hurts more every day that I don’t run. I try to do yoga or hop on the bike and it’s just not the same. I just want to run.
I am not writing (as much). For several weeks, I got up at 5:30 and wrote all the way until 7:15 when I needed to hop in the shower and get to work. At one time I was working on several projects: a deep edit of my book, a short story for my creative writing class, a personal story for a storytelling show, these blog posts and other random essays and stories. I wrote and wrote and wrote until I had gone through the book, finished the short story and told the other piece on stage. Now, I’m at a lull and most of my writing needs heavy revisions before I can put it out into the world, and that’s not the kind of work that makes you spring out of bed at 5:30 a.m. I also have some deep seeded fears about where my projects should go and what they should be that I think are the undercurrent to my procrastination. All of these projects need my attention, but my brain is scattered and I don’t know where to go first, so I pretend not to hear them screaming at me and sleep until the last possible moment.
I am not feeling like myself lately. My mentee asked me yesterday if I ever felt jealous, and I gave her two examples from that day of my envy. She laughed a bit uncomfortably and I recognized how unhealthy my internal dialogue had been. Maybe it’s seasonal depression (can you still get that if it’s been 70 degrees lately?) or just a dip in my state of being, but a general malaise has taken up residency in my attitude. I feel a bit bad for others around me because I don’t go into situations with a light hearted attitude, or at least I don’t feel that way. I feel somber and gloomy, like I am struggling just to get through the day when I have no major obstacles in my way.
I am not drinking. You knew that one, but sometimes I like to remind myself that I don’t drink because I grasp at identities trying to find one that sticks and feels like the real me, whoever that is, and maybe that could be a sober person. I am going to TWO beer-doused events this week, where you pay a flat fee and get a bunch to drink. I am writing to you before going to these events, so I will report next week how bad/great this went. Both events are fundraisers and I feel pretty solid about their causes, but still. I miss getting buzzed for a cause. It’s in these cases I think, Would it really bother anyone if I had a drink? And the answer is no. It would not make one damn difference if I had a drink and the world would keep ticking and likely not a single thing would be made better or worse in my life. That’s been the saddest realization of being sober – little has changed and this crusade for sobriety feels pointless. I know it’s not, but sometimes when I am at a brewery and I have to explain that I am not drinking, I ask myself the hard question: Why? Because I chose not to. And there isn’t some gold star or candied prize waiting for me at the end of this journey, just the knowledge that I could give up drinking, and sometimes, that doesn’t feel like enough of a motivator.
This is a pretty gloomy post (and long, so if you made it this far, thanks), but it’s how I feel lately. I am not sure I have a happy bow to tie this one off, but I suppose that this is how life is – sometimes all the pieces click and you are reassured, other times they don’t fit and you are filled with doubt about everything. I am trying to take care of myself in this down moment. Last night, I saw a late invitation to my writing group’s monthly meeting that I hadn’t originally planned to go, but decided to at the last minute. I didn’t have anything to read (see the not writing section), but I am glad I did. I needed the companionship of creative people to realign my values and ambitions. It didn’t pull me right out of this hole I’ve dug myself in, but it gave me a boost. The best thing I can do is look for those boosts and give them the opportunity to help me, and then I’ll find way my way to the next high.
The hardest part of not drinking this week: Alcohol is quite desirable in moments when you don’t feel up for the world, and that was much of my week.
The best part of not drinking this week: Having a partner who also doesn’t drink. It’s really nice to not be the only one abstaining from alcohol in social situations.