Category Archives: The New Sober City

SOBER CITY – Perception

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OK, so right off the top I need to settle the minds of many of my awesome and warm hearted friends out there who reached out to me after my last post with words of concern and encouragement by saying I am doing a thousand times better. I appreciate all the love and concern but rest assured, the Joe MacLeod you all know and love is far from dead and he’s gaining momentum and power every day. It’s sometimes hard to remember that he’s still in there but I know that he is and he needs to take the wheel back from the negative, critical imposter Joe and throw him out the goddamn window ASAP, then run him over like the dirty rodent he is (no offense to dirty rodents). I’ve realized that for the past 5 years this other voice had been festering inside of me, growing and amplifying and wedging himself securely in the driver’s seat of my personality, charting a course for a town called Fear and Insecurity doing donuts in the parking lot of Depression Mall. I hate him and yet I give him the keys over and over again, cheering him on and feeding into the madness despite my ever growing need to escape it. It has to stop and it stops now.
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We all live out our lives in the starring roles of our own movies and although we sometimes feel like we may be horribly miscast, we forget that we’re also the writer, director and producer, and can rewrite and reshoot whenever we want to achieve whatever artistic vision we ultimately desire. It’s easy to forget that we’re the ones creating our own realities but we are and we do it every second of every day whether we’re conscious of it or not, so why not be aware of it. It’s all about perception. If we see ourselves as ugly or undeserving then that’s the person we’re projecting to everyone else. If we constantly think of ourselves in a negative light and spend most of our days silently judging and demeaning ourselves then wouldn’t it make sense that other people will do the same? It definitely increases the chances that they will, so why not paint a better picture for them?
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The even crazier part of it all is that other people usually see us in a completely different light than we see ourselves anyway. Old friends see all your good parts from years ago, new friends focus on current positive aspects and your family remembers the person you used to be in relation to who you are now. It’s all perception and a lot of it is out of our control. The only thing we can really do to influence other people’s perception of who we are is to actively engage in creating who we want to be and hope the message comes across the way we want it to. That’s hard enough to do as it is and even then people are still going to see us whatever way they already see us, so really the ultimate goal is (and should always be) not caring what anyone else thinks at all. It’s only one of the hardest things to do ever. No big deal.
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But it’s all good because no one is meant to totally figure it all out and “win” at life. It’s all part of the process and there can be beauty found in the struggle. Bad days help us appreciate the good; It’s always darkest before the dawn; Caterpillars turn into butterflies; All you need is love; I am the Walrus. Goob Goob Ga Joob. It’s all up to you what you take from everything and it’s equally up to you what you leave behind. I’d like to think it’s never too late to turn it all around and live the life I truly want to live, happy and fulfilled and as long as I think that way, I’ve already succeeded.
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JM

SOBER CITY – Depression

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And the infrequent posting begins…
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So it’s been a while since I wrote an update and it’s probably going to be even longer until this actually gets posted. Why is that? Where did I go? What the hell? Well, I’ll tell you the hell. I’m depressed. Yes, that’s a pretty serious statement but it’s the truth and I can’t be yapping on about honesty and truth without talking about everything no matter how embarrassing it may be, so there it is. I’m pretty sure I’ve been dealing with various levels of depression for a while now (the past 5 years at least) and I’m currently in a high level shit zone at the moment with my inspiration and motivation crippled beyond recognition. It’s not the first time I’ve felt like this and I know it won’t be the last, but it’s also not a completely dire situation and I know the feeling will eventually pass. I just think it’s important to recognize it for what it is and talking about it is always a good step in the right direction.
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I bring this up now because it’s legitimately a big part of what I’m going through at the moment and it was also a major factor behind the original Sober City. I didn’t focus on it too much before because I didn’t understand it enough and I thought it was just a byproduct of drinking and therefor easily manageable, but the truth is it’s something that has been growing inside of me regardless of alcohol for quite some time now and it’s high time to call attention to it so I can send it back to whatever filthy jerk hole it crawled out of.
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The good news is, it’s not the end of the world. I have plenty of reasons to be experiencing this right now and I also have plenty of tools to get myself out of this sad sack state and back to something at least resembling happiness. The trick is (and always has been) actually doing the things I need to do. Knowing how to feel better is the easy part. The real problem is doing those things and trust me, sometimes I have absolutely no idea how to do them. It can seem utterly impossible to get motivated when you’re feeling even slightly down but if there’s one thing I know, it’s that nothing stays the same forever. Tides turn. Bad thoughts pass. Darkness lifts. It’s just the way it is. That’s why the only thing you can do when you’re engulfed in despair and sadness is to be open and aware enough to take advantage of the inevitable window of positivity, no matter how small or brief it may be, and be ready to pull yourself out of the shitty swamp of depression and onto the dry shores of hope and promise as soon as that window cracks in the slightest, and it will crack. That’s when it gets better.
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From the time I started writing this post until now (about 2 weeks or so) I’ve already starting healing, seemingly out of nowhere. Talking about it to my friends and family helped a bit, talking about it to my therapist helped a bit more, forcing myself to go to the gym helped even more and spending a day outside in sunshine and nice weather helped even more and more. It’s all part of the ebb and flow of life and it’s important to recognize any moment you can that gets yourself back to yourself and pounce on those moments before they’re gone. I’m doing my best to practice what I preach and keep trying to be the person I truly want to be. Some days are going to be harder than others but I’m keeping my eyes open and engine ready. I may not be out of the woods just yet but the path is clear and I’m moving my feet forward, one step at a time and that’s the most important thing of all. That and avoiding bears. Avoid the bears.
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JM

SOBER CITY – Moderation

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This post feels weird for 2 reasons; Number 1: It’s the first Sober City post I’ve written in a while without a numbered day attached to it.
Number 2: It’s the first Sober City post I’ve EVER written while drinking a beer. You read that right. I’m drinking a real beer and it’s delicious.
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So for those of you who might have missed my last post (or were just confused by the vague subtly of my redefinition of this blog), Sober City isn’t about me not drinking anymore, it’s about positive self reinforcement through moments of clarity and sober thinking. In other words, I’m drinking again. Realizing alcohol wasn’t my main problem meant taking away any power it had over me. Avoiding it entirely only makes it more of a constant presence in my life by becoming this thing that I’m always talking/thinking/writing about, when it really shouldn’t be anything more than a beverage I enjoy on occasion…and therein lies the key. On occasion. Moderation. It’s the minor character that has been hovering in the wings this entire blog since day one and it’s time for it to take its rightful place at center stage.
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Now before I go any further, I should stress that I fully realize that moderation doesn’t work for everyone and that people with serious alcohol/drug/nicotine addictions should absolutely seek help in quitting full on. The obvious question here is, “What makes me think I don’t have a serious problem?”. Well while it’s hard to answer that without sounding like I’m in complete denial, all I can say is, I don’t. If in trying to moderate my drinking I find myself not able to just have a couple here and there without getting wasted every time, then I will be the first to admit I have a problem, but for now I’m just focusing on staying happy and healthy mentally and being the best me I can be. So far so good.
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Moderation has always been the better way to go with things that are ultimately “bad” for you one way or another and practicing moderation doesn’t have to be as hard as it can sound. It’s nice to be able to go out and stop at 2 or 3 drinks instead of thinking I need to keep going until I guarantee myself a hangover. I still get the desired effects, I still get to indulge in the things I enjoy and it’s ultimately not that hard to do. After spending an entire year avoiding it completely, cutting back and moderating myself seems like a cakewalk in comparison and I have a pretty good gauge of when to have one more and when to switch to water. This is all common sense of course and it’s seems ridiculous to even have to waste time typing any of it but it’s all part of the process and sometimes it feels good to remember the simple things.
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Now I’m not saying I’ll never get drunk again, but I am saying it’s going to be WAY more infrequently than ever before and only when I make a very conscious choice to do so. It’s been said a million times but I’ll say it again, “Everything is fine in moderation”. It’s just being honest with your ability to moderate that’s important. Here’s to hoping I can be sober minded enough to do just that.
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JM