We're Simply Spinning (Linear is a Lie)
It's been a long time since I’ve sat down to write a blog.
I’ve been writing lots of things, mind you. But most of it is just journaling and ramblings with hardly any syntax or structure. Structure just seems so daunting these days, which is why I’m forcing myself back into some form of it. I think sometimes we absolutely need to do the thing we absolutely do not wish to do.
In 2019 I had a lovely, consistent writing flow. I was posting two blogs a month, which is actually quite a lot for an entire year (for me), even though I had no real goals for them other than to put the words from my mind onto a page where they could simultaneously exist. The act itself was cathartic and freeing. It’s a cheaper form of therapy, you could say. And then the events of 2020 happened to the whole world, and things just kind of changed a lot. Old routines were abandoned and new ones were found, even if they weren’t productive ones. My blogging fell off, but my writing did not. It just became something else for a while. And to hell with productivity anyhow, time is merely a way to get to know yourself in my opinion. And I've gotten to know myself a lot lately. Which is how I’m confronted with a new truth I recently learned that I felt so inclined to share with you.
Spinning in spirals is how my life has begun to feel for me.
This became all the more clear a couple nights ago when my aunt sent me a photo series of us on a trip we had taken to Japan roughly 5 years ago. All I could think of was sadness as I watched the photos appear then disappear, one after the other, little moments caught in a sequence of rectangles. I came to understand the dismal response as a few things, one being that I was drinking very heavily back then, and that was the trip where I started to realize it. When no one else on the family trip is drinking as early or as hard as you, it becomes a more daunting task to ignore rather than to confront. There were little comments like: “Sam - vodka in the morning? - it’s 7 am.” To be fair I was on a plane, well at least that was my reasoning at the time. “I’m on a plane! What’s the big deal?” It actually seems kind of silly now that being thousands of miles in the air made drinking vodka at 7 am somehow more logical than if I had been firmly on the ground, but we tell ourselves what we need to, don’t we?
It was on that trip where I also began to notice the fine lines on my face, which I would catch in a reflection and get teary eyed over. And of course I thought I was the fattest I'd ever been at the time, which is how I always feel whether I've lost weight or not. My body has fluctuated within no more than 15 pounds my entire life and I live like it’s the end of the fucking world each time I gain again. Body dysmorphia is real. I was just complaining to my boyfriend the other day how “I’ve gotten fat again.”
And this is when it occurred to me, as I'm staring at a photo series where I could hardly enjoy myself in fucking Japan - a country of not only my heritage but inexplicable beauty, and how I could hardly enjoy myself now looking at these photos, and how, everything has changed and nothing has changed - at all. We must live in spirals, I thought. It’s all circles. Because if I existed at all in a linear process I would not still be thinking in such this way. Linear timelines, linear anything must be an illusion. Since those photos were taken in Japan all those years ago, I’d reached my 30’s, moved to NYC, and had given up booze for about a year and 4 months. These are some major milestones in my life. And yet there I was, thumbing through the pictures, gulping some red wine, comparing my body now to my body then with shame (a favored means of torture of mine) and underlying all of this was the realization that my mind will stop at nothing to pull me away from the present moment. Interesting. In Japan I always needed the moment to be a little better than it was, because I always needed to be better than I was. And this was happening in real time, still.
So I'm back to a kind of square one, drinking again, hating my body, even after all this growth - but this time it's with brand new eyes. And that’s the whole point! There are no straight lines from birth to death where we learn the thing and are then done with the thing. We learn things, and we forget things, and sometimes we stop caring about things. It's more of a dance than a sprint. We spin our way to our demise; returning to old beliefs and thought patterns only to say - hello again, I thought we were done, and now it seems we are not. So I suppose the only hope is to find new perspectives that make the spinning less dizzying and more vivid. My very awareness that I was doing the exact same thing I always do: maintaining this state of mind that keeps me noosed to the ceiling of my imagined failure - feels more vivid to me. Just understanding this feels authentic, and true, and present. Because now I know my imagined failure is just that, imagined. And it stems from the belief that I am somehow never quite worthy of the moments I arrive in, just as I am.
And so there it is folks: I’m drinking again and I still can't quite love my body, not even after a good chunk of sobriety and doing the whole-hearted, honest to god, "work". It’s a reality I haven’t really wanted to own up to because I had quit booze very avidly for that year and four months. I was open and honest about it in my blogging, and I mean it when I say I meant every word I said. How drinking isn’t good for me, and how I decided to give up the things that weren’t serving me, and how feeling like shit just wasn’t an option anymore. But here I am again, finding it's very much an option once more - and I understand how this could look a lot like failure. It all happened when Trump lost the election and I wanted to celebrate, and for some reason booze felt necessary. I don’t know why, I’d made it through Thanksgiving, Christmas, a wedding, and my own birthday without alcohol - so I really don’t know why I suddenly felt the urge to drink again. It had truly been pushed to the far reaches of my consciousness. But suddenly I did. And so I gave in, because I trusted myself to. And at first it was nothing much, I had the drinks that day and it was no big thing. But then the door I was working tirelessly to close shut and never reopen had a light shining through it’s crack. Thirsty for that glimmer, I went to the crack in the door and opened it, and now I’m drinking again.
What I’m realizing here in this space of drinking again is that it is familiar and unfamiliar at once. The warm burn of the booze into my body reminds me of a home I left long ago that is comforting to come back to. Alcohol, for me, feels something like knowing there’s a bed always waiting for you at your folks house should things ever get too heavy. After having lived, well, and survived, and experienced life without its burn, it does feel a shame to return to its embrace. Why am I here? I keep asking. Why? And all that comes up is this sense of a spiral. My most recent wine bottle even had a spiral on it; it was called Nucli which it describes is a Catalan word for “core”. Core meaning the central or most important part of something. Center. Have I lost my center? Or am I standing firmly in my center knowing I’ve returned to something as a choice, which means there is also always a choice to choose otherwise? It’s little synchronicities like these that speak to me; that let me know I haven’t lost awareness, or even my way. I’ve just circled back, but as a new version of me; not better or worse, just new.
There are many novel themes revealing themselves that must stem from this newfound spiralized way of looking at life.
It’s much more forgiving to understand that to be back to where you once were is part of the journey. I’m tapping into deeper parts of my psyche and I think I am both in awe and terrified of myself. I imagine this must be quite natural, to feel strange towards your power once you begin to wake up to it. After all, I was never supposed to be powerful. The story I taught myself was one of desperation and salvation, never a reckoning. Never a staking claim. Never taking ownership of what’s mine, which I see now is my own life, and every single bit of it.
I’m taking the reins of this one human life of mine. I admit I have agency and I also admit I run on scripts. I admit that all of the control isn’t mine, and yet, some of it is. And this is where I’m oscillating, and I don’t think I could be here if I hadn’t also been much lower than here, much more desperate than here, much more in fear and loathing than here. And now I am here, back here, but also brand new to here, because here has never happened this way before. And this time I am actually trying to be here. This time, I want to own where I am, drinking again, existing in this spiral of life, knowing I’ll soon be moving onto what’s next - which is something like sobriety. Because for so long no matter where I was whether it was abroad or in my backyard or on a mountaintop, I was so intent on escaping the moment before me. I let myself think the moment could be better if only I were more perfect.
The moment I was in was never enough because I would never let it simply be enough. It was never just enough to be alive and well on a day - in a week - in a year - on a planet - in a Universe. It had to be more. I had to be more. And I think sometimes that's why I developed an eating disorder, and a drug problem, and all of the other maladies, too. Because I was empty unless I was full. Moderation was a no man's land of not quite enough ness. It had to be all or nothing.
All or nothing.
All or nothing.
And after so many years of all I finally chose nothing.
And that's what sobriety is. It’s nothing. Nothing outside of you to complete you. It’s a whole lot of you; and it’s been a whole hell of a lot of me lately. And so I’ve checked back in with my vices, and yet, they feel empty and hollow, too. But maybe empty isn’t so bad because empty doesn’t have to mean nothing, not really. It means not quite yet. It isn’t full yet. And perhaps I will simply never be full until I am dead, and there is no way to get around this. You can pump yourself full of whatever makes you "feel" full, but it's fleeting, because we are a case of an event unfolding, and cannot be fully done until we are fully done. (Dead.)
I want to be full at my death. Not of booze. Or any substance really. But of experiences, love, warmth, and presence. And when those leave me I want to remember them leaving me. I want to say, those were mine, and I will miss them but I’m off into the unknown for now. I want to know I gave it my all, and owned each step as I took them even if they weren’t the best steps to take. I’m not perfect after all, if I’ve learned anything it’s that. And that’s why circling back to alcohol doesn’t feel so terrible or awful or like I’m stupid and crazed for doing so, it just feels like a step I’m taking. And one I won’t sit in for too long. And what a gift that is, to trust in the spiral that is life, to flow instead of resist. To simply be okay with the fact that I exist, imperfectly, incomplete, and yet always whole. Kind of like a circle.