My head has been off to the races lately. The running commentator who likes to tell me I’m a loser who will never amount to anything and is destined to grow old alone in my hot box of a studio apartment is working around the clock. Seriously, Mean-Voiced Me, take a break every now and then. At the risk of sounding really dramatic, sometimes this voice gets so loud and so negative, it feels like the only viable solutions are death or alcohol. That’s how difficult it is for me to silence it. Luckily, I haven’t resorted to either of those activities.
Sobriety has forced me to find other ways to “check out” at times like this—whether it’s through a social media vortex (my preferred trifecta is Facebook, Instagram and Twitter), sugar, baking more sugar, frozen pizza, Domino’s pizza, television, working out obsessively, overbooking my calendar with social plans so I won’t be alone, reading Eckhart Tolle even though I can’t always turn off my ego to comprehend a book about turning off my ego—you get the idea. The problem is, lately none of it is working. I still feel shitty. I still feel like I’m a failure as a writer and a stand-up comic—even though I am consistently paid to do both on a regular basis. I don’t give a crap about being single right now (thank God), but that’s also usually a symptom of my unrest—obsessing about when I’m going to meet the dude I’m going to marry and whether I will still be able to have kids by then. A lot of the worry is around thinking I need to achieve or acquire certain external things in order to be okay. When in reality, as I’ve been told over and over again, I’ve got to find peace and happiness within myself, then I can always find a way to be “okay,” regardless of my external circumstances.
Damn, I’m pretty evolved for a chick who just talked about calling herself a loser!
When I finally decided to quit drinking, I had to find a program of recovery—a set of tools, if you will—in order to stay sober. Otherwise, I would have just been white knuckling until the next time I gave in and drank again (as was my pattern throughout the course of several years). I chose a 12-step program, and part of that program is meditating—like, you gotta do it if you really wanna be workin’ those steps. Still, I keep not doing it. If my mind gets too loud or I’m feeling the kind of stress only wine used to quench, I shove gummy bears in my mouth or crawl under the covers with Gossip Girl on Netflix (What an emotional journey! Highly recommend that series. Lots of pretty people.) Except now I’m sick of binge watching TV and sugary candy kind of makes me feel worse, mentally and physically. So basically I’ve come to the point where, according to many trusted resources in my life, I am going to have to start meditating to survive. I resisted it for so long, it definitely feels like some sort of last resort. But if I don’t learn to quiet my brain now, the next stop is death or booze.
People have been telling me to meditate for years, but I always had an excuse. One of the comedians I respect and admire the most is Jerry Seinfeld. A friend recently sent me an interview between Jerry (I call him Jerry, even though we’ve never met, I think he’d want it this way) and Bob Roth all about Jerry’s experience with Transcendental Meditation. Whenever I’ve heard Jerry refer to his TM practice, I always assumed it was something he took up long after he was rich and famous, milling about his palatial Long Island estate. Why not meditate? He’s got no worries so of course he has time to just “be.” I told myself I don’t have that luxury since I’ve got too much to actively worry about and so many problems I need to aggressively “think” my way out of.
Then I learned that Jerry has been meditating since the 1970s, long before he became one of the most successful stand-up comedians of all time. Dammit, not being rich was my out! Jerry claims TM has given him what he deems the most precious gift an adult can get—boundless energy. I still want to use his financial status as an excuse for why he can claim energy is more valuable than money, but also, I can’t really argue with the guy. More energy can definitely translate to the ability to work harder, and in turn, earn more money. Jerry strikes again.
I let a good, long-time meditating friend lead me in a 30-minute guided meditation on the first day of my new zen journey. It was 10-minute increments of focusing on various things (breath and sensations in every part of my body, for example) and it was kind of painful for me to sit still that long and just be with myself. But that night, I went to an outdoor moving screening with a DJ and danced more freely than I have since getting sober. I was shocked by how much fun I had. Dancing without inhibitions has been what I missed most about drinking but maybe I’ve found a loophole for being able to do it in sobriety. Or maybe I just got lucky that day.
When I’ve dabbled with meditation in the past, I found podcasts that were guided—usually themed around tapping into your guardian angel (not exaggerating for comedic effect, Google it) or finding your true purpose. But I’ve been instructed to attempt to do them without a guide, in silence, with nothing but the space between my ears—which, as we’ve established, is usually a real shit show. As I write this, I am on day four of this new habit I’m trying to build. I am determined to make a meditation practice part of my routine—like I would exercise, preparing healthy meals, reading my daily positive affirmations while making a gratitude list, going to 12-step meetings, yoga and therapy—that’s right, don’t even try to step to my self-care regimen, y’all.
I hope I will eventually learn to live peacefully in my own brain. I better; it’s not like I’m getting another one to try out any time soon.