Monday, February 28, 2011
Breathe. And Wait.
My triggers now are mostly emotional: irritation, boredom and monotony top the list.
This past week has been all about irritation, boredom and monotony.
It was school vacation week, and we had no plans. Most of our friends - the kids' regular play dates - were away, having hightailed it to warmer climates. The weather is abysmal - alternating between snow and rain; the world has been reduced to a black and white photograph. I ache for splashes of color, birdsong and the sun on my face.
There was only one day this past week where we could go outside. The rest of the days were spent pinging around in the house, tripping over our own feet and trying to stay out of our own way.
By Saturday, I was done. My moods alternated between excruciating boredom and profound irritation. I did my best to interact with the kids - play games, read books, color, do crafts. These activities don't come naturally to me, and this is a source of existential angst. Playing Legos with Finn and drawing endless pictures with Greta are amusing to me for about twenty minutes. Then the guilt (what's wrong with me? Aren't I supposed to want to do this with my kids?) and itchiness (oh MAN I'm bored) sets in, and I feel trapped in my own skin.
I longed to escape into the computer, the television or a good book. None of these things were possible, not really, until the kids were in bed. Every evening I would lie on my couch and soak in the silence, too edgy to watch television, write or read. Then I would go to bed and start the cycle all over again the next day.
Food is another challenge when the days are long and boring. Rewarding myself with food was a big part of eating for me, before. My mind scrambles for relief and eating and drinking were my trap doors, my ripcord out of my own head.
Now I don't drink, and I don't eat to excess, so at the end of that long day I felt bereft, lost, and more than a little edgy.
There are tools I can use to get through difficult times, and they work. Sometimes. I made gratitude lists, I thought about how much worse this week would have been if I were drinking. I remember the self-hatred I felt after a bout of mindless eating. I know I don't want to go back there. But it doesn't stop me from thinking, on the really bad days, is this seriously all there is? Just an endless stretch of road with no relief?
My mind is programmed to find the nearest exit away from unpleasant emotions. When the days are full and I'm rushing from one thing to another, I don't have time for existential crises. Too much time is not easy for me. The hyperactive squirrel in my brain wakes up and starts foraging for self-pity, negativity and angst.
I can't do it, I thought. I want to drop away from my life, just for a little while.
Finn yelled from downstairs that he wanted popcorn, and my shoulders hunched in irritation. I can't even escape for five minutes, I thought. I'm so done.
Everything passes, and Saturday night did, too.
Recovery, for me, is about learning to feel everything. I can no longer adjust my moods with food or alcohol like some mad scientist.
In the rested, sane light of day, I wondered what was so difficult about the night before, anyway? I realized that so much of my trouble is born out of my own thoughts. I can't think my way out of unpleasantness.
But I can breathe. And wait.
And so that's what I do.