On Time, Vulnerability and Approaching 40

 

 

 

 

 

When I first started this blog in 2009, I was 29. I knew I eventually wanted to write professionally and publish a book. I also had lot of emotional baggage I needed to write my way through. This blog served me well and provided a place for me to write about breakups I’d kinda-sorta-not-quite-healed-from, share bizarro dating stories, talk about sex and (hopefully) make you guys laugh as I journeyed into the world of comically strange products. I wrote openly about my mental health and experiences with heartbreak. I rode the wave of balls-to-the-wall personal blogging, until, well, things changed.

The internet landscape changed (with Instagram taking the place of deeply personal blogging), but I changed too. I always tell people that I chose the blog name Skinny Dip because it’s good metaphor for sharing your life on line. When I started blogging, I wanted to strip away outer layers of myself; shed my figurative skin if you will, in hopes that I would eventually arrive at the most “me” version of myself. Ten years ago, I felt so full of angst and feelings that I couldn’t envision a time in the future when I wouldn’t have things to get off my chest in a very public way. But then I arrived at that point.

The stuff I needed to let go of got let go of. Sex blogging stopped feeling fun and I started to save my time, energy and juicy stories for my book. But then, even book writing became challenging.

The problem with shedding your skin is that eventually you reach a point where you hit actual flesh and bone. It’s raw. It’s tender. It’s uncomfortable. Self-preservation kicks in and you instinctually tell yourself to pull back.

This is basically the point I reached sometime in 2018. After nearly ten years of personal blogging and several years of working on a book project (and watching it shift & transform) I hit a wall. I was suffering from a vulnerability hangover that I had no cure for. So, I switched my focus to travel writing and went on a bazillion work trips. Okay, it was more like seventeen — nearly half of which were to Mexico — but still, it was a lot. I needed a break and travelling provided that.

While I’m super grateful to have travelled so much over the past two years and have no plan to abandon travel writing (or blogging) any time soon, eventually my “break” started to feel like I was running away. In my gut I know its time to slow down and get to work.

The idea of “time” is something that’s been on my mind obsessively for the past few months. How should I spend my time? Is it better to go with the flow? Am I better served by sitting still and doing the work? These are questions that have been on my mind obsessively since I turned 39 in September.

Looking ahead at 40 is such a weird feeling. On one hand, I’m much happier and in a better place mentally than I was at 29. I’ve also accomplished some major goals and had some amazing opportunities. On the other hand, there’s still so much that feels…in progress. Things that (society tells me) I should have checked off by now just aren’t. While my friends are closing on houses and renting out a gender reveal smoke cannon to honour their third kid (yes, that’s a thing), I’m here — still single, still living at the same spot, still working on a book that isn’t quite finished yet. I’m happy and healthy but all the external stuff that I just assumed I would have taken care of by now — the fat bank account, the home, the committed relationship with plenty of hot sex –are still works in progress.

It’s so easy to let my thoughts spiral into an anxiety-driven maelstrom start thinking of the what-ifs. What if things never work out? What if I fail? I’m neutral on children, but what if I never even get the chance to veto a gender reveal cannon because I end up ALONE, BROKE AND LIVING IN MY MOM’S BASEMENT FOREVER. While there’s literally no evidence that any of the above will happen, the FEAR takes me to some really dark places (literally. Hello, Mom’s basement?)

(I have a friend/colleague who’s in a similar situation and I was joking with her that maybe because we’ve spent our thirties sorting out our internal selves & living our lives on our own terms (with plenty of freedom), that we’ve preempted a 40-something mid-life crisis where we go out and randomly buy a speed boat to fill some kind of deep emotional void. Here’s to hoping!)

I know my writing has the greatest impact — both for myself and others — when I allow myself to be vulnerable. But guys, I’m kind of fucking scared to dig into that tender flesh. Every day I have moments where I think of just escaping (saying yes to a press trip, running off to visit a friend, etc) just so that I don’t have to sit down and feel the things I need to feel so I can write the things I know I have to write.

So, while I work my way through to the other side of this vulnerability hangover, I’m reclaiming this space for my writing. While I can’t promise a return to the no-holds-barred blogging days of yore (in fact, it likely won’t look anything like 2009 or even 2013), I do plan writing things that feel honest, true and (ahhh) vulnerable, while I work through all these feels.

Maybe people will read. Maybe they won’t. But if you’re interested in following this journey, you know exactly where to find me.

Some Brief Thoughts on Love, Addiction and Dealing with Alcoholism

When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I was in love with a guy who I now understand was an addict. When we got together he was open about his past struggles with alcoholism and drugs, but he assured me that those days were well behind him and that he “no longer had a problem” because he “knew his limits.” Spoiler alert: he didn’t.

Over the next few years, I got a front row seat to his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. The all night coke binges. His angry tirades when he was drunk or high. Getting kicked out of places because my boyfriend was drunk and belligerent. I was only nineteen when I met him and thought (like most people on the cusp of adulthood) that I could handle anything — including “fixing” him. I was wrong. I was young, naive and living alone in a new, big city with almost no support system. In the end, I turned to self-medicating as a way of dealing with the things that were happening in my life.

I’ll never forget the day my roommate told me she thought I might need help. Earlier that day she’d come home from an early morning class to find me passed out drunk on the kitchen floor. Although I never sought formal addiction treatment, I did eventually seek out a therapist who helped me better understand and deal with the reasons I was drinking in the first place. The truth is, I didn’t really start to work through a lot of my issues until I was in my 30’s. While my life is good now, I often wonder how different things would have been if I’d gotten help right then and there.

What I’ve learned from both of these experiences is that you should never be ashamed to get the help you need. With that said, there’s a lot of mystery and misconceptions surrounding what drug and alcohol treatment actually looks like. (I mean, I’ve seen the episode of Californication where Hank Moody does a stint in a rehab, but I’m smart enough to know that the process probably involves less hot celebrities and witty quips around the group therapy circle than what’s shown on screen). This is a cause that’s important to me, so today I’m sharing some info about addiction recovery on behalf of Recovery Village Rehab.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, here’s a few things you should know:

What is drug rehab and treatment?

Drug rehabilitation, commonly referred to as “rehab,” is the process of treatment for dependency on drugs. The purpose of drug rehab is to release a person from the grips of substance abuse. These individuals often seek treatment when their substance use has become compulsive and out of control, and the negative side effects aren’t enough to deter their decisions. There are hundreds of drug rehabilitation centers all over the country designed to help men, women and adolescents struggling with an addiction to drugs, alcohol or both.

Whether you’ve been struggling with addiction for months or years, rehab can be a source of strength for people. Drug rehab centers typically employ a variety of methods to overcome substance use disorder, including programs that range from medical detox to inpatient and outpatient programs. Understanding the process can help you choose the right process for you or the person you love.

The rehab process is typically divided into 4 steps:

  • Assessment: The person seeking treatment meets with a team of counselors and doctors to identify the right treatment plan.
  • Detoxification (detox): In order to begin the rehab process, abused drugs need to be removed from the body. This process can be dangerous, which is why it’s overseen by doctors. Detoxification also involves taking medication to manage withdrawal symptoms.
  • Rehabilitation: getting drugs and alcohol out of the system is just the beginning. This part of the process involves working with therapists to get at the core reasons the person is using in the first place.
  • Aftercare: The main purpose of aftercare is to ensure the transformation that happened during the rehabilitation process endures. This involves taking steps to ensure that the skills learned during rehabilitation become a part of everyday life.

Kinds of Treatment Programs

Everyone needs something slightly different which is why treatment programs should be tailored to individual needs. Programs for treatment of alcoholism include:

  • Inpatient/residential programs: Residential inpatient treatment is the next step for clients who have completed or are near completion of their detox program. For those in residential inpatient treatment, a medical and non-medical option exists based on the client’s needs.
    Recovery Village Rehab is a type of inpatient rehabilitation center that is designed for specific patient’s needs. It offers various treatment options, wellness programs and support to clients to enhance healing.
  • Partial hospitalization: This is for people who have stable situation but are in need of continuous medical monitoring. The program is conducted between 3 and 5 days a week for up to 6 hours a day. Treatment is done during the day and the client can go home in evening.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: An option for individuals whose addiction is less severe and doesn’t require inpatient treatment. Clients in this phase of rehab drug treatment visit the facility regularly, but do not stay overnight. This approach allows the individual to receive drug treatment while maintaining family and job responsibilities.
  • Individual, group or family therapy. Aftercare is so important. Therapy helps in identifying the root cause of addiction while building relationships and helping patients learn coping skills.

In conclusion, I wish I’d known more about these options when I was younger — or at the very least sought counseling to talk through the reasons why I felt I needed to self-medicate. This is all to say that there’s help available and that there’s absolutely no shame in getting it.

Gorgeous photo by Stephanie Dimiskovski and found via Pinterest.

Thanks for tuning in for this very special episode of Skinny Dip! This post was brought to you by Recovery Village Rehab. Thanks for supporting the posts that support Skinny Dip. xx

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