Hemming It Up

I really wanted to when i left my partner in November make it as painless as possible. I dated a woman once who discussed our breakup and helped me ease out of it in the kindest and gentlest way. She is a therapist though so she has a leg up on those kinds of endeavors. Whenever I’ve tried to perform similar magic, it was met with resistance and only recently have i realized i just have to plow right through the pain rather than dancing and tiptoeing around i, at least in this instance because, damn, we have been fizzling out and fucking around with separating for half a year. The worst is over as of yesterday because my ex and i disclosed to each other that we are seeing other people. I knew that she was but she just couldnt come out and say it which was frustrating to me. We live in a small town so everyone has to get along and im a firm believer in love and acceptance conquering ot things, especially stupid things like jealousy–even if it means i have to se my ex girlfriend, whom i had plans to marry and raise children with, frollock around town with another boy. He is a nice boy, the one she is seeing now, and he comes into both places i work so i sent him a facebook message that i dont want him to feel weird around me and that i hope that he can offer my ex girlfriend some sunshine in her life. But now that all this info has been disclosed, my ex girlfriend has put up another wall. She hugged me bye after our talk and said everything is fine, but she isn’t speaking to me. Again. It hurts so badly, and it mademe want to boot five beers around 4pm yesterday, but I didnt and instead i called a friend and said, “i need you for a few minutes.” And talking with her made me realize I have to accept that my ex has different ways of everything which is why we didn’t work out, and that i need to leave her alone if we are to eventually be the friends i want us to be right now.  Ugh. Patience.

And then on my end of things, along comes ms perfect. Fuck. My therapist has just told me to stay single for at LEAST 6 months. But this person, on paper, is seriously perfect. Imessaged her on a whim through OkCupid cuz, ya know, she’d  looked at my profile (which is a fucking work of art!) and liked it and so i initiated some discussion about the ATL. It has gone so amazingly from there that it is hard to believe and i don’t want to jinx it, but she is coming here this weekend to meet me, an i am soooooooooo excited. I did mention right off the bat that i was hemming up the ends of a breakup and that was something that required some heavy talk, but in an afternoon’s time, we worked through it, and i was like, damn, am i kookie for being so emotionally invested in this person already? Ive never experienced something quite like that. I mean the compatibility is strangely high, and im so stoked to see if the cyber version of compatibility translates to reality. If it does, then I dont want to wait on “good timing,” I can’t. I can’t pass up an amazing person bc, geez, i have this arbitrary time frame im working with, but i do want to be mindful about the entire thing because i do not want to bring emotional garbage into a new relationship. I don;t want to vent to this new person about the old person and lately i havent even talked to my mom about the old person. I do want to give my mom time to grieve or process my last relationship because she was extremely invested in my ex girlfriend and it isn’t fair just to be like “well, here is the new one, mom, gtfover it!” So, im stoked about the weekend, the happiness that it will bring, and im writing when the waves of sadness crash on the rocks. The worst is over. The best is yet to come.

Slow and Steady

So, Sunday, i went to my second meeting. My therapist suggested meetings as a complement to her sessions, and like i said initially, i have nothing to lose from this and possibly loads to gain. Well, the gains have been tremendous so far and as of today, im sober for 9 days. Ive eased my friends into it, and they are being supportive which is incredible because sometimes those around you will pull ya down. I have so many projects going on that if i wasnt being sober right now, everything would be a wreck instead of going really well like it is now.

My second meeting was at the triangle club and like the meeting at the church, this place is like 2 blocks from my door. Convenience makes me want to keep going. The nice people also make me want to keep going. Linda had gotten a text that morning that her brother dieted. “He slowed down on the bottle so he could pick up on the pills.” A lot of the talk revolved around death and comforting Linda which was awesome to witness–a room full of people making themselves vulnerable to help another human. 

After the meeting on sunday, i went to a work baby shower. All my work buddies drink and drink lots. Ive found that it is sometimes fun for me to watch it happen and sometimes it’s too much, but that is everything. i get overstimulated easily–that is why i am so thankful to are up early. I get to ease into the day, get comfortable with it rather than wake up in media res. That would be a shock to my system to wake up late and be frantic. So i had to go sit outside on the bench in the sun and decompress and listen to the music and the chatter coming from the open windows. It all sounded very happy. My ex girlfriend was also inside. She was civil which is all i can demand right now. I moved on to another neighborhood party for a three-year-old. I sat in the grass and soaked up some more sun and listened to talk about the OJ documentary. Next was a going away party of sorts–the event was less a party and more a political performance. Nicole Townsend busted on the asheville city council and remarked about how the civil war couldnt have been fought to free slaves as we’ve been taught in history class because ” black lives have never been valuable enough to wage a war and white people have never been civil enough to tell the truth.” Whoa. So, my darling desaray is leaving town, the person who got me to notice that black lives in fact dont matter, this is what she chose as her last throw down in asheville–fitting for the beautiful, heavy, dark soul that she is. Im excited to have a friend in Baltimore. 

I went home to a backyard of drunk people. I left to go get food immediately but was followed. I ate my supper and drank two NAs and went home to bed, leaving my roommate and some other folks to bounce around the town until the bartenders were ready for bed. Im so glad im not drinking and that i dont even have the motivation to do so. 

Healthy Boundaries

I’m wondering now if my friends are just coincidentally fucking up more or if I’m just noticing it more because I’m noticing everything more. A friend yesterday got to the airport two hours early but still missed her flight at 10:20am to Florida for a sommelier introduction class over the weekend. The last text from her I have is “Yeah I’m just trying to get to my Bloody Mary.” Hours later I heard from another buddy the fiasco of the plane leaving ten minutes early and her not being on it. 

And last night, my ex girlfriend whom I have told a number times that she acts way differently toward me when she’s drinking and that even though it is a more touchy-feely, emotional version of herself, it isn’t an authentic version and overall, I don’t really appreciate the interaction because then when she isn’t drinking, it’s kind of a mindfuck because I’m acting the same, all affectionate and sweet but I’m met with stoney, aloof ex girlfriend, yeah, she dropped by already a little tipsy and being super sweet. Then she got a little more intoxicated and one co-worker of ours was like, 

“how is she getting home?” 

And I was like,

 “I’ve already talked to her about not driving drunk for like the last three years and it is, to put it lightly, not well received, so YOU can tell her not to drive and she might actually listen.” 

My ex gf did ask me to take her home, and even though I’d rather just chill with my buddies post sweeping and mopping, I took my ex girlfriend home. On the way, she decided something I said was “calling her out” and whacked me with the back of her hand. I explained that I really didn’t appreciate getting hit for no reason and she apologized and I stayed quiet, listening to her talk about her night so I could get over being flash angry for someone whacking me. But I wasn’t answering and I was being mad which made my ex girlfriend mad and I was like, 

“you gotta give me a second to get over that. You can’t get mad at me for being mad about getting hit. I woulda been fine in a few minutes.” 

“Go back to your house, I will drive myself home.” 

“That is a terrible idea. S—– already asked who was driving you home.” 

“Well fuck her!” 

Alrighty then. I got out of the car as my roommate whom I wished I had stayed and hung out with was walking up. 

“She’s driving herself home?” 


“She shouldn’t do that.” 

“I know. I already said that but as you’ve told me before NMP, not my problem.” 

“Oh, geez.”

So, I’m setting boundaries. I don’t want to be around my ex when she is drinking. It isn’t fair that I’m trying to be a better person and trying to treat other folks better but getting met with this drunk anger. Like, i don’t want to spend energy on conflicts that arise solely because someone’s emotions are being fueled by alcohol. I didnt receive her criticism of my ecstasy intake very well so i don’t expect this to go over very well, but it’s just the way it has to be. My emotions are SO triggered by inconsistency in affection on top of everything else that is wrong with the situation. 


So, im not sure why, but people tell me things, like their deepest darkest secrets. I walked into my favorite coffee shop this morning and the cashier whom ive known for literally years now just told me that she likes to drink when she’s bored and it is always to excess and i told her that im trying sobriety out and that she is welcome to talk to me and or go with me to meetings any time. Why was the conversation superficial until this particular morning? What was different about the interactions dn why id she feel comfortable enough to tell me in great detail how much she drinks and why and she’s more fun to her kids when she’s drinking and how people give you shit when you try to stop and how once she has one she drinks til it is all gone. We’ve never gotten much past the obligatory “hey, how are ya?” and now i feel really connected on a human level to this person. 

I havent told many folks im not drinking. Ive just told a couple of folks. some folks i just tell that im drinking less. When i told one friend, I thought maybe i shouldnt have because it turned inward and she seemed a little defensive. When i said, “im not drinking right now. I gained a lot of clarity from my trip. My therapist recommends not drinking during therapy, so im not going to drink this glass of wine but thanks,” she was like, “I’m not an alcoholic,” about three different times during the conversation. “Im not saying you are and im not sure that i am either but I have nothing to lose by chilling out for a minute,” is what i said. I dont want this reaction from folks–to think im pointing a finger at them. I just want to maintain clarity and achieve my gigantic goals which i can only achieve by maintaining clarity.  I did tell my mother an she is supportive. I know she wishes she could get my dad in there but that 75-year-old is hell bent on being miserable. The one time my mother got him to a family therapy session he told her afterwards, “if you ever make me do that again, i will leave you.” Twenty-four years later, he is still in that mindset even though he has witnessed the benefits of therapy in me and in my sister. You can lead a horse to water, ya know? In this case, he doesnt even want to know where the water is, just where the extra cold coors light is. He never drinks prior to 4pm which maybe is why he thinks he has control over his problem, but once he starts, he is a different person. I can see a physical difference at even half a beer. 

Anyway, last night i went to a kickoff party for a non profit in my town and they were serving up free wine. I chose water. And had conversations with folks all night about preferred gender pronouns and jesus. A friend showed up late and then wanted to go out afterwards. I decided that would be a good thing, to go out for a second and try out not drinking in a bar. By the time i bicycled there, she had already ordered a bottle of wine. She was offering me a glass before i could sit down and i declined getting in my server’s ear to request an odoul’s in a pint glass. I just started working at this particular bar (in addition to my full-time gig) and love all my new coworkers. This girl didnt even flinch with judgment or question it but got me a coupe of beers in an inconspicuous pint glass and the only person who asked me what beer i was drinking was the town deaf guy. And i was like in my best ASL, “oh, Justine of the bottled ones, not a draft, im not so sure of the name.” And he left it alone. AND double bonus, i got the beers for FREE because we get 8 beers a month as part of the benefits. Winner winner non alcoholic beer dinner. 

First Meeting

I’m pretty sure i was the youngest person in the room, the crowded room in the episcopal church, not even a block from my house. The guy who was leading the meeting, it was his “belly button birthday,” and he said without his AA birthday, he probably wouldn’t be celebrating his “belly button birthday.”  Everyone was super warm and welcoming. I got name overloaded in the first couple of minutes. Because being off drugs and almost all alcohol fro five weeks gave me such clarity, i am inclined to hang on to it and not slip back into getting fuckd up to deal with life. I thought i had a grip–after all, i wasnt in a ditch, i wasn’t stinking drunk, i wasn’t experiencing medical issues, i didn’t freak out not having drugs in me on vacation for over a month . I was getting to work early, making money, expanding programs associated with my camp, overall being a productive member of society. I was also having a couple of beers regularly between shifts and spending loads of money on ecstasy and not at all dealing with reality.  This is all part of step one–getting the fuck out of detail about your addiction. Still, maybe this is part of that denial, but i can pick up or put down any substance when i set my mind to it so im not convinced im an alcoholic.  Im going to humor my therapist, however,  and pretend that i am and see how it goes. I dont have anything to lose from it, and i have loads to gain.  One thing i don’t want to do though is go around telling everyone.  Ive watched my friends be SO weird about folks who dont drink and drug anymore–like they FTFO about whether or not to have alcohol out at parties and FTFO about whether or not to discuss drug use, that kind of stuff. Drugs are all around me. Im in F&B. I can’t nor do i want to get out of F&B. My friends all drink and do drugs. Are they addicts?  Some are. Some just have a dysfunctional relationship with substances. But i dont want them adjusting their behavior for me. That is something i cant control–other people and so as the serenity prayer goes, not something im supposed to be worried about.

Anyway, so here are all these warm fuzzies bouncing around this room, and im nodding my head along with everything being said and overall, i had an enjoyable time listening to folks and drinking coffee. Some ladies came up to me after the meeting to offer their phone numbers and told me to call any time. One guy said, “get hooked up with the women.” And the women were very eager to get me to the women’s group. The binary-ness and urge to lock me into gendered meetings really kinda rubbed me the wrong way. I have a friend in asheville that has told me about queer aa meetings, and im now very interested in that because binary bullshit makes me at best uncomfortable and at worst fucking suicidal. That is something i guess i will bring up later. I dont want that to serve as a deterrent to meetings so i won’t let it, but it is something i will need to talk to someone about eventually–sooner rather than later. The cool thing about going to these meetings is that i want my hostel that will eventually support my camp to be a space for aa meetings so maybe i can have a queer meeting there.

Good, Better, Best Jess

So, i left for a vacation, a sorta vacation–traveling alone and on a tight budget to strange places is more like a working adventure than it is leisure time.  It is still worth every penny because, if it goes right, it is transformative in only the ways that travel can be.  Here i am five weeks later, home and transformed, ready for further transformation.

What exactly would require transformation?  Well, as i just told my therapist yesterday, right before i left, I was doing ecstasy multiple times a week along with drinking every day which demonstartaed to me (as I’d already heard 20 years ago) that drugs and alcohol really do only numb and delay pain.  I cried for two weeks straight on “vacation.”  Ya cant go around it–ya gotta go through it.  So my therapist’s recommendation, and the only way she would take me on as a client, is for me to promise to abstain from drugs and alcohol and to attend AA/NA meetings while in therapy.  That is NOT what i wanted to hear. Yes, i wanted to maintain the clarity I’d achieved on my trip and yes, i had just said i want to be my better self, but what the FUCK?!Now im an alcoholic. “Um, I’m kind of resistant to that label.” “Yeah, we’re rebellious by nature and don’t want anyone telling us what to do.” The funny thing is I’d already considered going to meetings when i got home, just as a form of free therapy, but someone telling me i needed to go, well, that is a different thing altogether. However, i have always been drawn to doing things that are difficult and that i don’t necessarily want to do.

Today i will try out my first meeting. Well, my first meeting for myself–i went a long, long time ago with a girlfriend, and i just didn’t get it, and was not interested in the least to be sober anyway so i was like, “well, this is weird” and never went back. Looking forward to not being my better self but my best self and since this is MY year, this seems like the time to do it, AND and no one ever said the path towards that was going to be easy or how i imagined so i t seems right to examine this path that someone else, an objective observer is pointing me to