I Never Trusted My Own Eyes.

beer and work

November is National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo). To put a spin on things, yet still get inspired, I’ve chosen to work on re-launching my (other) blog: Chicago Beer Club. If you thought this blog was poorly maintained, my craft beer blog is way worse off.

My goal is to develop it as a portfolio for myself. While I enjoy sharing personal stories here, it’s not something I would feel comfortable citing in a job interview.

On top of that, #ChiBeerClub is much more than a blog. It’s a social presence (currently on Instagram and Twitter, with more platforms to launch in 2019). This fits nicely with my professional role as a social and digital editor. While I work at a content marketing agency in our financial services vertical, the craft beer industry is much more interesting and exciting (to me, anyway). But the beer industry hires from within, so I’m just looking for a way to get my foot in that door.

In deciding to re-launch ChiBeerClub, I considered making a greater commitment to Bee Sophia, as well. With an editorial calendar, getting ahead on my writing and automated social publishing for my other blog, I’m hoping both can be manageable. While I’m likely biting off more than I can chew, my goal is to continue sharing here. In the meantime, check out ChiBeerClub to see what I’m up to and to keep tabs on whether or not I’m living up to my goals.

Cheers!

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Story Stayed the Same

To say that writing saved me would be dramatic. I’ve had a strong, supportive network of humans to help along the way. But I won’t let that diminish the role writing has played in my healing, understanding and acceptance throughout the years.

Time and time again, I’ve turned to writing for support and guidance. I’ve told journals things I wouldn’t dare tell another sole. Putting pencil to paper allowed me to work through emotions, understand my internal struggles and come out at the end of a page with the ability to move forward, or at least an idea for how to get started.

Historically, I’ve done all this through the form of poetry. I spent my high school years pining over the tragic life of poets Sylvia Plath and her husband Ted Hughes. I romanticized the stereotypical emotionally sensitive lifestyle of a poetic personality and threw my childish words into prose poetry. And it made me feel good. It made me feel excited and understood, even if I never felt quite like I fit in.

As a creative writing major in college, I spent many roundtable sessions editing my peers’ work and also had my own put on the chopping block. And, somehow, I always felt as though I was coming up short. Either I wasn’t eloquent enough, profound enough or “deep” enough… whatever that means.

So, following college graduation, I didn’t head back for a master’s degree in creative writing. I was far too inferior for that. My best hope was to go into publishing, but 2008 Chicago had other things in mind.

Instead, I found myself writing and editing for a plumbing and piping consultation firm and a trivia company. Research became both as interesting and important to me as writing had always been. And as my career continued, research would be the driving force behind it as I dove into content marketing—a field where I must become an expert in whatever industry my client is focused.

And while this was never a career I saw in my future, it’s where I’ve found myself excel. I get to write, and sometimes I can even weave in a little creativity. It’s also helped me find my passion and expertise in editing. While this is something I always had an interest in, creative writing is a tricky form for the editor’s eye. How can you correct someone’s poetry? That shit comes from the soul.

But through all this, I find that I’ve lost my poetry. I think I started this blog with the intent to draft from that poet’s mindset. But, instead, I find myself focusing on research-driven topics or drafting in stream of conscious. The digital disconnect is easy to blame; there’s just something about putting pen to paper and scribbling until your hand hurts—capturing every error, rewrite or addition along the way.

I’ve toyed with the idea of poetry challenges. Signing myself up for readings, workshops or just about anything to get the creativity flowing again. The thing is, I only want to write for me.

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.” – Cyril Connolly

Turned All My Ls into Lessons

When I don’t know what to do or how to feel, I write. I write in hopes of finding some sort of safety, connection, security. I don’t know if writing has ever helped me figure out what to do or how to feel. But I can say that writing put me at ease. It calms me and strengthens me.

I haven’t been focused on self-maintenance the past couple of years. I threw myself into wedding planning upon getting engaged, and from there I was dedicated to marathon training. After that, selling the condo and getting into our new house. I’ve given myself goals for distraction from the emotional difficulties I’ve faced. Even currently, I’m (half-assedly) training for the Chicago Triathlon Super Sprint.

In all of this distraction, I find a comfortable pace. But somewhere along the way, I collapsed emotionally. It’s only  here with my thoughts that I’ve been at my best. When I can navigate my self doubt, triumps and failures. When I can reminice and remember, smiling at the good and cringing with the bad. But in my head is no place to live. Those moments are memories and are worth moving on from.

So how do I find happiness in the present? I’ve come to terms with the inescapble fact that I will never get closer and may never truly move on. Do we ever, even when the damage is repaired?

So what’s next? Where do I go from here? I’ll turn to the things that I love. I’ll turn to the written word, long adventures with no destination and enabling change. I’ll be busy and maybe it will all just be a distraction, but I know that’s where I can find happiness. I’ll stop trying to fill a gap and start trying to heal.

Someone Who I Used to Know

Holy fuck, I think I had a breakthrough.

I saw a ghost today at the climbing gym—no, it wasn’t an actual ghost, of a climber who had fallen to their death. I thought I saw someone I used to know. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t her.

While I haven’t seen or spoken to this person in almost five years, I do think about her from time to time. But immediately upon seeing her look-a-like, I flashed back to our last actual conversation. And it reminded me of the importance of letting go and moving on. It reminded me that you have to listen to what other people are saying and just accept it.

I do hope this is a milestone for me when it comes to the “grieving” process, but I’m not convinced it’s over. I still have a long way to go toward coming to terms with my lost relationship and moving on, but I’d like to think I made some progress today.

It’s always easier to give advice than it is to take it. But today, today I had the opportunity to take my own advice. And while I can understand and respect the point of view, it’s still hard as hell to accept.

Let’s Talk About Sex

The other weekend, I was pressured by multiple women in my family to share the age I lost my virginity. They were playing a game of 20 questions and I’d sat down unknowingly. This was not a group I’d choose to tell all to.

When they first asked, as an “initiation” question, I said I’d rather not say. To encourage me, they all eagerly went around announcing their answers. It was back to me. “I’d rather not say,” I told them again.

It’s a safe place, I was assured. It didn’t feel very safe.

We won’t judge you, they explained. I didn’t care if they did.

We told you ours. I didn’t ask.

It wasn’t my age. It was the story. And what they didn’t know was that I’d lost a lot more than my virginity at that age.

But this isn’t about that story, it’s about five women in my family making me feel pressured into sharing.

Today, women are able to enjoy sex and acknowledge it publicly. We’re no longer forced to feel ashamed of our sexuality. And while we’re still fighting sexism and inequality, we’ve made broad strides.

I’d like to think that’s where this pressure was coming from, the false promise of a supportive group of women. But when my discomfort was dismissed for their entertainment, they lost all credibility.

We need to do better

I recently watched Mindy Kaling’s commencement address to the Dartmouth class of 2018 and was both inspired and ashamed. Toward the end of her speech, Kaling speaks directly to the women in the graduating class and encourages them to lift each other up.

We need to do a better job of supporting each other.

And she is so spot on.

I know I need to do a better job of supporting all the women in my lifeprofessionally and personally. My inability to do so has distanced me from family, my best friend and colleagues. It’s inhibited me emotionally and paused me professionally.

While acknowledging this shortcoming is easy, it will take a lot of effort to do. It will take forgiving myself for past mistakes, saying goodbye to a friendship I long for, letting go of the past and looking toward the future, and allowing myself to feel inspired and vulnerable. It means starting over, feeling better and moving on.

I’m not sure how I got here from when I started this draft last week, but I’m glad I did. And I’m ready to start trying.

The Way Things Change

Moving on is hard, and sometimes damn near impossible. For the better part of the past year, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit obsessing over a lost friendship. Funny isn’t it, we always think romantic relationships are the hardest to end. Now, this isn’t the first friendship I’ve had come to a close, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. However, it’s the only one that ended in an explosive argument. And — at the time — I didn’t realize it was actually the end. I thought she’d admit wrongdoing, apologize, or at least forgive and forget. But none of that happened.

The more time that passed without one of those things happening, the angrier I got and the further I distanced myself from the relationship. Looking back, I realize how that probably just made it easier for her to pull further and further away. In the end, by the time I was ready to acknowledge my wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness, it was too late. By that time, she’d moved past our friendship and was ready to not turn back. Oh my god how that hurts.

Perhaps the hardest part of accepting the fact that “your person” is no longer there for you to turn to is not even having the chance to say goodbye. Not even getting a big “Fuck you, I’m done,” and instead receiving radio silence after a phone call, text message and email. For some reason, as much as that response sounds painful, it seems better than this. Better than a lack of closure. Especially knowing I could have prevented things from going this far.

So, I try to look for the good in things. Lessons learned, frustrations ceased. But in the end, none of that matters. Nothing can replace the person you could laugh with, cry with, bicker with. So it seems the only thing to do is become better. Recognize how to better deal with situations and react to emotions, even if it’s too late to fix what’s been broken.

Day 6: Writing Retreat — Binge Culture Part 2

Almost immediately after publishing my last post, I realized I hadn’t answered my first question on this topic: Why do we binge?

What I really want to know is what the science behind it is. Why are we drawn to addictive behavior? Let’s find out…

Perhaps not surprisingly, it’s difficult to find research on binge behavior that isn’t dedicated to binge eating or drinking specifically. But there are parallels between these, including an addictive and compulsive personality.

Addiction is complicated. It is one of the most pervasive and least understood of maladies. It’s not that we don’t understand addiction per se, but our understanding is controversial. Is it biological? Is it inherited? Is it a disease process? Is it psychological, or psycho-social, or cultural? Is it a characterological disorder or just pervasive poor judgment?

The Continuum of Addiction and Addictive Personality

Personality traits of someone who is inclined to participate in binge behavior can include:

  • Obsessive compulsive
  • Stressed, lonely
  • Passive aggressive
  • Socially isolated
  • Deceptive
  • Anxious
  • Depressed
  • Ashamed

However, these characteristics are generally used to define an alcohol or drug addict, rather than someone who has an obsessive personality that results in compulsive behavior. So, is there even a link between different types of binge behavior? Is it even something worth exploring?

According to Greatest, yes. Binge behavior is the result of coping with negative feelings that are caused by either psychological, chemical and sociocultural factors. And you can binge on just about anything — food, exercise, shopping, sex and so on.

So, how do you cope with this addictive personality if it starts to become a problem? You should first solicit the help of a professional, who can let you know if it’s the result of a mental health issues. But if you’re using binging to cope with your stress and anxiety, you may be able to self treat. From meditation to writing to acknowledging, there are plenty of was to ensure you’re leading a healthy lifestyle.