When most people think “self-care,” they usually think of those lists you see plastered all over Facebook and Pinterest; go to the coffee shop and write, take a bath, sit out in the sun, do an at-home facial, watch your favorite movie while eating candy; those sorts of things (note: and a lot of them involve alcohol.) In early addiction recovery learning not only self-care but also how to have fun while sober is an incredibly important and challenging piece of the puzzle.
For me, I was a very heavy user while alone (yes, even more dangerous, I know) I wanted to keep my problems hidden until eventually I just stopped seeing people. Every night was a fun night at home, every movie I watched was the best film ever, every record I listened to was my own little party in my apartment, everything was entertaining, or so I perceived it that way. I was relaxed, I was happy, I was at ease. I don’t want to romanticize my drug use so I won’t go too deep into how I felt while using and having “fun.” The truth was none of that was fun, I’d forget the movies as I was watching them, I’d have to clean wine stains and “mysterious” powders out of the grooves of my vinyl the next day, I’d spend part of my “enjoyable” time trying to manage whatever unpleasant symptoms I was experiencing, I didn’t remember what I listened to, I didn’t remember what I wrote or played on my guitar, I didn’t remember who I texted; or worse, I remembered, I just didn’t care. When the high wore off everything that seemed like the best time ever seemed so dull and boring, until I got high again.
I had wired my brain to require floods of dopamine to enjoy anything, so when that was gone I had no idea how to enjoy myself (I wrote more about that in this post.) Once upon a time, concerts and listening to new or my favorite music were the times I was the most sober, I only used enough to prevent withdrawal but not quite get a high. I used to want to have my amazing experience of listening to music, I wanted to dance sober, I wanted to remember the concert, I wanted to study every lyric, I wanted to let my imagination run wild with thoughts, art, designs, characters, outfits, and images for each song, album, and artwork. I felt like experiencing a live show is the best kind of high I could get, it overwhelmed me, but it soothed me too. Of course, my drug use got worse; I started getting sloppy at concerts and forgetting them, I even got called out by the band after the show on more than one occasion for falling asleep. Music wasn’t the same to listen to because I didn’t get my unique experience anymore, I couldn’t see, hear, or feel it the same way. My imagination no longer ran wild, it was just music, plain and simple music, but the high made it feel good.
Some nights I’d put on a record, use, then pass out before the B side. I was a bit shocked when I realized I didn’t know half an album by a band I love and I thought I had listened to dozens of times; it was because I never made it to side B. I was barely a human when I was having my “special fun nights” at home. Trying to re-train your brain after years of doing this is hard, not only am I lacking my “rush,” it was habitual, I never even thought about it, it’s just what I did. I thought I was doing something good for myself; I thought I was relaxing. That is what I considered self-care, that was my life.
I’m so excited I can experience music the way I used to again, it took months for my brain to “heal(?)” enough to get it back, but when I first noticed it again I was floored in the best way (note: I need to write a post about how I experience music, because it’s weird and rad.) I also feel my ability to be the creative and imaginative person I am coming back; my head is filled with ideas, it’s a bit overwhelming, sometimes too overwhelming. But it’s back!
So, to the main goodies of this post. I wanted to experience things the old way again; I wanted to genuinely enjoy music and the excitement of new music, completely sober. I was in rehab or having a nightmare of a time when The 1975 put out their new music. Back in September, I had pre-ordered their new album as one of my “success” gifts to myself while in treatment (it was on my birthday too!) I got the biggest bundle they put out and I was so excited for it! Then, well you know the story; treatment, relapse, breakdown, rehab, breakdown, blah blah. When I came home and the package was at my door I was in a terrible headspace; I knew I wouldn’t enjoy listening to it in that state. So I decided I’d hold onto this package until I felt better and then when I was in a better headspace I’d have myself a little listening party.
Finally, I started to feel better, music was fun again, and I could get out of bed and enjoy things! I did a little listening party with the new Andrew Mcmahon in the Wilderness album. When I was listening to that, I was going through memorabilia from the crazy trips I have taken to see him. My imagination ran wild while listening to the music; I felt the way I did back in the old days before I completely lost myself. I had colors and art and designs and characters and outfits all dancing through my head. It was so pleasantly overwhelming I started to cry, I had to re-do side B because I couldn’t focus. I missed this feeling so much. I thought of the package I had with the new The 1975 album in it, the one I wouldn’t touch or spoil for myself in any way until my listening date; I knew it was time soon.
That day finally came last night, I finally opened the package and saw the album artwork, read the song titles, and went through all my goodies. My creativity was sparked when I saw the album cover; it’s simplistic with small bits of color. I had to do an outfit based on it. Here’s what I came up with. A white grid bodycon skirt and crop top, a yellow blazer, green shoes, and a red beret. I wish I had something small and blue, but I couldn’t find anything quickly, so the blue lamp will have to do.
You can laugh, and you can think this whole thing is stupid, but celebrating little things you enjoy as if they were huge, even if it’s just putting on a new record by a band you like, makes sober life so much more fun and truly is self-care.
Ps: You really should give “A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships” a listen. Just skip the first 3 tracks and don’t judge it based on TOOTIME, the rest of the album is fantastic.
Now for the fans who were wondering what my favorite songs were, I won’t get to in depth as to why in this post, I’m also writing this after one listen so I’m sure this will change once I dig into the lyrics.
I’ll list them in the order they appear:
“How to Draw / Petrichor” – I loved the original “How to Draw” and like what they did to meld it into this piece with an entirely different sound that goes along with the feel of the new album.
“Love It If We Made It” – Do I even have to explain why I love this song? I’m so glad they pushed their usual boundaries and attacked issues currently going on in the world and well as adding a bit of “shock value” in there, I mean opening a song with “we’re fucking in a car, shooting heroin, saying controversial things just for the hell of it” is a whack to the face to the listener.
“Be My Mistake” – This gets personal. I know I was somebody’s mistake in a very similar situation (at least how I interpreted it) … they were my mistake too. I later fell into a drug spiral due to the consequences of living this mistake.
“Sincerity Is Scary” – Hey! A song featuring my fears about getting clean and life after that set to this cool jazzy lo-fi beat!
“It’s Not Living (If It’s Not with You)” – The first time I heard this song I was lying on my bathroom floor in rehab. I took an opioid antagonist, and it gave me opiate withdrawal symptoms (shocker), so I was all messed up on the floor and romanticizing the fuck out of opiates, thinking I needed them to survive, panicking that I wasn’t a person without them, etc. Then I find out The 1975 dropped a new single, so I opened up Spotify and played it. This song really struck me in that moment; it was kind of perfect for the situation. I replayed this song over and over, at one point I think I cried. In a way, it helped pull me out of that headspace for a little while, and I felt less alone. It’s also just a really good song, haha!
“Surrounded by Heads and Bodies” – A beautiful ballad, I really like some of the chord progressions and key changes. Also, it’s really relatable to me.
“Mine” – Another beautiful ballad, and I like how it incorporates piano and some horn. There’s also a pice that I really relate to in a strange way, I don’t want to get too personal (I thought this blog was about opening up, Darling?) but since getting clean I have hesitations about things in my life, can I do it?
Deserves a Mention:
“I Like America & America Likes Me” – As a dancer, I love this song. It would be perfect for some choreography. Also, some of the synths and vocal effects sound so much like a song I loved and danced to years ago, I used those synths and effects so much when I took music production in school. They may actually be identical, I’ll have to find them and compare. This song may grow on me more once I dig into the lyrics more. (Update Feb. 24th, 2019: Yes, this became one of my favorite songs)
“The Man Who Married a Robot / Love Theme” – I’m mentioning this because I think it’s widely hated by fans, but I actually rather like it. I like the story. Also if you know me personally and are very close to me, you probably know why it resonates with me a little more. Also, is that all I am, just a girl on the internet? Nothing more. Will I die and this will be all there is to show for my life? Ok calm down Darling, you’ve had enough “fuck the internet” breakdowns. Maybe I’m due for another?