Sober Living

As you know, I don’t drink enough to actually mean sober living in the AA sense, but in the Marcia sense, who told me that sober is actually an acronym… Son of a bitch, everything’s real. Actually, my funniest Marcia story is that we were sitting in Swirl (yogurt place in PDX), and she was telling me that she counsels people who’ve just gotten sober in terms of finding work. When she asked a man about his previous experience, he said that he drank a fifth every day for 20 years. I told her that if I’d been in her place, I would have leaned really close and said, “do you get dental with that?”

Ok, one more funny Marcia story. I was telling her that I thought the Mormon religion was interesting because it was one of the few started late enough that there is actual documentation all the way back to the beginning. Without missing a beat, she said, “no, we have documentation all the way back to when Joseph Smith made it up.” Sorry if you’re offended, but I’ve met too many Mormons over my lifetime that when they become actualized, there’s a point in Mormonism where they just look at themselves and say, “well, that got weird.”

But back to the whole sober living thing. I think that Dana and I partied too much and pondered too little. So when I moved in with the Nassers, who keep alcohol in the house but don’t drink it, I became the same way. My mental state became clearer just from not being one of those people who has a drink every night after work… and damnit if Marcia wasn’t right. Feelings became more intense the less I numbed out, which is probably why adding anxiety medication to my protocol was the right move. I didn’t realize how socially anxious I’d become until I gave away the small amount of social lubricant I allowed myself. Even when I went to the Women in Their 30’s Meetup and drinks were two for one, I gave my extra coupon to someone else… which made running into the glass door at the end of the night even more embarrassing because I didn’t have anything to blame except my own clumsiness. That night gave me more sympathy for Argo than I’ve ever had in my life, because all of the sudden it clicked in my head what it was like to get unwanted attention. I mean, it was fun to be flirted with, but when someone actually gave me their number and wanted me to call, I ran like a house on fire.

My best scenario for that evening was just to have some fun. In reality, it was a meat market and I was FRESH.

That’s the thing about the lesbian community. It’s so small that even in large cities, chances are you’re dating someone that’s already dated three or four of your friends and you just have to be okay with it, because what choice do you have?

Just having moved here was appealing to many of the women there, and I am not kidding when I say that a few threw themselves at me, which is why I was so lost in thinking about what a dumbass I was to Argo… and to one other woman that shall remain nameless but I thought was so cute I walked into a door trying not to notice.

It did not go well, except for with Dana, because she was laughing her ass off. In that moment, we were both 15-year-old boys, in a sense, egging each other on.

I thought that since she was happily married and so was I that she’d know I didn’t mean any harm. She did not. But I will excerpt part of a letter I wrote to Argo about her here, because it illustrates my true feelings about her:

If ___ were actually a lesbian, I wouldn’t hesitate to call her a butch. But because she’s not, it makes me root for her even more, because the world has to know there is more than one kind of straight woman.

I meant every word, and I will add that the world also needs to know that there are men out there who can handle the swagger, and like it. There’s all this bullshit written about how straight men cannot handle strong/smart women, and won’t. I find the opposite. Every strong straight woman I know has met a man that not only loved the strong and the smart, but encouraged it.

It generally goes something like this, “I’m a handful, and he’s capable.”

I would give damn near anything to hear someone say that about me… that I’m a handful, but they’re capable of getting it handled. I had that with Dana until I got really sick, really fast, and it was not something I could help. My entire world had just gone to hell in a handbasket, even with the move to Houston, because I was proud of myself for going back to my family and tightening the fortress, and at the same time, miserable because I couldn’t escape any of the memories I had there. It was the wrong decision entirely, as evidenced by the slow death and dismemberment of my marriage from the moment Dana and I moved there. To be sure, I had no idea it was coming. I thought everything was going to be fine, because I always think everything is going to be fine.

Instead, we hung out at the local ice house, we invited the neighbors over for drinks, we painted our dining room with chalkboard paint so we could play darts in the house, we did everything we could to escape. And as all of that was happening, my mental state got worse and worse, until I couldn’t ask anyone for help. I needed to get it on my own… to admit to myself that I was too much for my friends and family to help and needed professionals to take over their jobs…. which they did, masterfully so.

Getting out of Teas and into Maryland while jobless was what I needed at the time, because I qualified for Medicaid and Maryland had a wealth of services that Texas did not. As I have mentioned before, all of my appointments, BOTH psychiatry and psychology, were free, and my medication was $1.00/bottle. I didn’t like not having a job, because it felt like not having a purpose… but at the same time, I don’t think I would have progressed nearly so fast if I’d had to work all of my appointments around my schedule. I just wrote and wrote, hoping Oprah would call (if she did, I wasn’t home).

My anxiety went down to a manageable level, except where Argo was concerned, because I didn’t know what was going to happen between us and I was hoping for a miracle… not that she would all of the sudden realize she was in love with me, because #nevergonnahappen, but that peace and love would win out over enmity and fear. It was funny, I knew that it was never going to happen, anyway, but it was a paradigm shift when I realized I didn’t want to be with her… that I had to know whether Dana was right or wrong when she said that Argo would end up falling for me, anyway, just based on words… and at the same time realizing that as friends, all we’d done was fuck each other up and I didn’t want that to get any worse. If we could fight like cats and dogs as friends, what would it look like to have that day in and day out? It looked like an unholy mess, that’s what.

And in a very real sense, it seemed silly not to send her gifts on things like birthdays and Christmas, because I thought we were getting better AND I considered it back payment on services already rendered. 🙂  She’d been incredibly sweet and supportive of my writing, so I wanted to be incredibly sweet and supportive of her as a person in general. I’m glad I got that chance, no matter where we stand now. It made me feel good to give of myself, with no expectation of anything, just the spirit of giving.

Where I got tangled up in reciprocity was “things have been going so well… why do we keep fighting like this?” It had become an entrenched pattern that we couldn’t break, because every time her language escalated, I took it as a personal challenge. “I will not let you be bigger than me this time. I will not let you railroad me this time. I will not let you step on my head this time, etc.” That entrenched pattern was something I had with her that I don’t have anywhere else in my life. There was nothing I was ever going to do in which we’d be on equal footing, and she’d make sure I was powerless until we were both dead (although she will die first, because she is SO MUCH OLDER :P~).

I’m not eager to keep that pattern going, because it doesn’t get me anywhere except into “more trouble.” In quotation marks because in a way, her power position makes me feel parented instead of accepted for who I am…. and I’ve never had to feel that way before. I can’t take back any of my power with her, because she’s determined not to let it happen. Sometimes I feel as if I should just shake myself and say, “I wrote a book for you…. Chapter One…. Get over it. Chapter Two…. get over it…. Chapter Three…. get over it.”

If you could look into my mind and into my inbox, you’d know why this is so hard. But you can’t, so just bear with me. One day it will just click, and I’ll read my own book, and I’ll take Kristie’s advice just to stop caring. But there’s just so much there there….. you know?

Son of a bitch. Everything’s real.

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