Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sometimes You Just Need To Cut Your Bangs

As I mentioned in the last post, another birthday has passed--sigh.  I used to kind of gloat inside that all my time spent in sand and sun hadn't made itself glaringly apparent on my features. I used to get the occasional, "How do you do it?" referring to my skin. (It helps if you hang around with a significantly older crowd and everyone assumes that you are their age.)  Even the occasional, "Have you had work done?" came my way.  (Only one teeny-tiny blepharoplasty ten years ago because my upper eyelids were threatening to fall down around my ears.)

Alas, those golden skinned years have decided to exact their revenge. I kind of take side glances out of my weaker left eye at my reflection in the computer screen these days and I often lie to the cap'n  and tell him the internet is too bad for video skype. Not because I don't want him to see me-- how he saw me every mornings during my boozer days and didn't turn to stone, I'll never know -I just can't stand staring at myself while I talk to him. I can't pay attention to anything he's saying because I'm noticing the newest crevice at the side of my mouth or how my latest attempts at improvement via make-up reminds me more and more of Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.

On top of all that, I need a haircut!  The last one I had is a faint memory and the humidity down here causes my fine hair to droop about my face like ropes of over-cooked pasta. I told the cap'n I was going to get it all chopped off but he's got that guy thing about long hair and he promptly replied,"The Hell You Are!"

That's okay, I've got the guy thing about long hair, too. My friend, Barbara, says at a certain age woman should not wear long hair. I reply, "I agree. At the age of 105, it  might be time to get a whack job so I'll look my age."

But last night I'd had it . I was going out with some friends for dinner and it was hanging lank around my face and my too-long bangs were parted in the middle just begging for some bobby pins to complete my look.

In desperation, I ran to the kitchen and grabbed the shears out of the drawer. Chop! Chop! Chop!

Then I looked back in the mirror.

And smiled.

My bangs weren't perfect, but they weren't as bad as some of my grade school pictures where I swear my mother must have used my kindergarten safety scissors at the same time the one and only earthquake to ever hit Liberal, KS must have struck.  But just like in those pictures, I looked younger. Better.

I decided I could live with the rest of my hair for awhile.

NPR ran an article last week on moderation for heavy drinkers, In the article, Re-Thinking: Can Heavy Drinkers Learn To Cut Back it mentions Moderation Management and as many of you know MM is the organization that was and still is my main means of support through this recovery journey of mine.  MM has fought to overcome that all or nothing mindset of "If you are a problem drinker, you're only recourse is to quit drinking completely." that has been force fed to all of us through the years. Many of moderation's naysayers, have gone as far to say that MM is a danger to alcoholics, that it encourages recovered alcoholics to drink again. To that I say, if they were that unsteady in their sobriety, they were probably going to drink again, with or without MM.

 When I joined MM, I knew that I most probably, maybe even most certainly needed to quit drinking, the equivalent of shaving my head in the above scenario. I had been drinking heavily all of my adult life, twenty five years, more or less. In the latter years of my drinking, I'd developed a physical dependence to alcohol and found myself  stumbling downstairs at 2 am most nights to chug wine just to quiet my palpitating heart. By no one's definition, certainly not MM's, was I a candidate for moderation.  But I just couldn't get my head around walking around like a bald troll in a world full of people with luxurious heads of hair.  I worried that my husband and friends would not adjust to it well either.  It was too big of a change all at once.

So, basically, I cut my bangs. I started participating on the MM message boards and learning about and using their tools, such as counting my drinks, limiting the days I drank, spacing my drinks.  All those things that define moderation. My husband and friends raised their eyebrows a little bit, tried to cajole me into drinking more to assuage their own misgivings about their personal drinking, but then shrugged their shoulders and continued to drink. After all, I wasn't making them cut their hair.

However, those little snips here and there weren't working so well for me, I wasn't seeing the big change that I wanted and let's just say my hair seemed to grow back overnight. So I  I decided to take and inch or two off the ends and attempted my first 30 day abstinence period.  I didn't succeed, but I made it twenty days and I found out the world did not stop revolving, my husband and friends didn't run for the hills, and I lived through it.

I tried to moderate for a year. In the end,  I found that trimming the amount I drank  did not work for me. There was never enough change or progress to make me feel good about myself and I still had no control once  I started drinking.

But those dramatic swaths of time I spent abstaining, as recommended by MM?  They saved my life. I hadn't had one day, much less a week, or a month without booze, in a decade .  Those abs periods introduced me to a life I had never experienced as an adult.

A much gentler world.

They also introduced me to a person I had never taken the time to get to know.


After that year, I could finally imagine a life without booze. But even more, Since my "hair" no longer consumed me, I looked forward to the baldness of life in all of its fierce and liberated beauty with an anticipation I hadn't felt since I was young.

I haven't had a drink in almost four years and I've never regretted or been disappointed in one second of it.

Does hanging around and listening to people discuss moderation tempt me to try again. Nope. My unfettered hairstyle suits me to a "T".

Friday, March 27, 2015

God Winked

Let's see if I remember how to do this.

This picture was taken about 10 years ago when we lived on the boat. It was right after 9/11--oh my God! That was almost 14 years ago!--, the cap'n and I had been docked at Gangplank Marina when the attacks happened.  They shut down the Potomac for about 3 weeks and when they finally opened it up, the cap'n said, "To hell with staying in the Bull's Eye Zone, I'm going to Fantasy Fest in Key West before I die."

Two weeks later, we were on a mooring in Garrison Bight, Key West. If you know anything about traveling on a sailboat, you know we hauled ass!

So here is Stanley, the killer bichon (he wasn't blind yet.) looking about as trepidatious as I was about donning a mermaid suit with two tiny triangles to cover my bodacious ta-ta's and a tight mermaid's tail skirt and wandering around with a bunch of drunks all night. (That would be me in the mermaid suit, not Stanley. And if you've ever been to Fantasy Fest, you know I was way over dressed.)

Yes, my costume was giving me cause for concern, but that wasn't the real reason for my trepidation.  For the longest time, maybe ever since I started drinking, I dreaded the thought of these kind of events.  I used to stare in bemusement at people who got so enthused about concerts and big holiday parties, and all-inclusive vacations.  These same people would wander into work on Monday morning and laugh about how drunk they got and what fun they had.

That was  never me.  My stomach was always cold with dread before these occasions, and afterwards...well, I didn't come into work laughing about what some other drunken idiot did at the office Christmas party. I was usually the drunken idiot.

My drinking was always wrapped up in worry and shame.  Maybe that should have been my first clue that maybe I shouldn't be drinking.

Oh, I had fun, but only after I had enough drinks in me to make it seem like fun.

There weren't enough drinks in all the bars on Duval Street to make Fantasy Fest Night fun.. I was pretty much wasted by 7:00 pm, which is when I thought I'd pull one of those drunken girl tricks.  I guess I decided that the cap'n was ogling too many of the bare but highly decorated and much younger ta-tas of the other female revelers. So I thought, I'll just step away for a minute and see if he misses me. Not a good idea in the shoulder to shoulder and other sweaty parts to other sweaty parts press of humanity that is Key West during Fantasy Fest.

This little mermaid was soon swept away by the crowd.

I didn't see the cap'n or Stanley again until 4:00 am. Of course, the cap'n swore he never moved from the spot where I left him.  Then we had the photos developed--that was a long time ago, wasn't it? Suffice it to say Stanley ended up with a lot more beads than I did and most  of the photos depict a decidedly worried Stanley trapped between two masses of silicone.

We said good-bye to Stanley last May, he was nineteen and blind and even the mild Mexican winters were getting hard on his bones, but he still loved me ferociously. I used to comfort myself with the fact that I couldn't be all bad if Stanley still loved me.

God Wink Time. ( I bet you wondered if I'd ever get around to it, huh?)

1:00 a.m day before yesterday. I can't sleep. It's been my 53rd birthday for an hour and I'm feeling a little sorry for myself. I'm here in Mexico all alone while the cap'n is stateside working. I think I suffer from Birthday and Holiday PTSD from all those years when the kids forgot to call me, or relied on the fact that they could forget to call but tell me that they had, knowing I'd be too drunk to be sure.

All of a sudden my phone on the nightstand makes that little "brrrinnngg" sound it makes when I get a notification and I grab for it in the dark to see who might be sending me my first Birthday Greeting.

Up pops the picture above. Nobody sent it and I had no idea it was even on my phone. I obviously didn't have that phone 14 years ago. And the computer it was stored on died two months ago. I have posted the same pic on this blog I think, and on the old blog I used to write about cruising, but I haven't seen the pic in a long time. Not since Mr. Stan died.

I guess he was letting me know I wasn't as alone as I thought I was. Oh geez, here I go crying again.

I've been receiving a few God Winks that I should get back to writing this blog,  So here I am. Not much has changed in the last half year.

But I'm still not drinking and that's pretty major.