HOW TO DANCE TO LADY GAGA AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN SOBER

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Last night was brilliantly fantastic. AND I REMEMBER IT.

As mentioned, I celebrated 30 days of sobriety by doing something that would normally have been an incredibly boozy affair for me. About two weeks ago and only a few weeks into recovery, I impulsively traded my right eye and part of my damaged liver for a pair of Lady Gaga tickets at Madison Square Garden. I immediately began to regret the purchase and worried that I was taking on something excessively massive entirely too soon. But that’s me. I’m always going big or going home and I recognize that this is something I need to keep in check as it could land me into a tough spot if I’m not careful.

I spent the past few weeks preparing, panicking, and planning out the evening with my boyfriend who happily agreed to stay sober with me. He’s been pretty great. I scheduled a late start today at work because I knew I’d be getting home at an obscene hour and didn’t want lack of sleep to jeopardize my wellbeing and state of mind. I find it pretty funny that I purposefully arranged to come in late because of sleep concerns. The old drunk me wouldn’t have bothered. I would have drank my ass off all night and called in sick the next day, completely disregarding consequences. I love that I’m actively protecting my mental and physical health now.

The show was to start at 8PM so I left work around 6PM and began to walk to the arena area. It took about 25 minutes and I could have taken the train but this was all part of my plan. I listened to some calming music and took my time. I did some breathing and took in the sights and sounds of the city and really went inside of myself. As soon as I was at an optimal place mentally and everything seemed perfectly peaceful, the smell of dog shit and soggy garbage flooded my nose. Ahhh, New York City. My peacefulness dropped from an 8 to a 5 and my face contorted and I started breathing out of my mouth and walked faster to get to a cleaner patch of air. The smell melted away and I got back to my happy place fairly quickly. It’s going to take more than poo and decomposition to ruin my night.

I arrived at the Thai restaurant that we had decided on. Once seated, the waitress excitedly told us about their Happy Hour. You guys. All of their cocktails were FIVE FUCKING DOLLARS. That’s UNHEARD of in this city. Why didn’t I know about this place back when I was being a stupid drunk asshole? The boyfriend asked for a Thai Iced Tea and I asked for the same. As the waitress walked away, I got her attention and she returned to the table.

“In my Thai Iced Tea, please don’t put any liquor. No alcohol in it. I have a drinking problem,” I blurted a little too loudly catching the attention of the patrons next to us. Probably could have handled this a little smoother. I’ve been to Thai restaurants where they have a Thai Iced Tea that’s akin to a Long Island Iced Tea and I didn’t want to take any chances.

“No alcohol in Thai Iced Tea anyway so no worry,” the waitress stuttered awkwardly while seeming VERY uncomfortable.

The teas came and I went on and on about how delicious they were. AND THEY WERE! I don’t think I’ve ever been so over the moon for a beverage without alcohol and was amazed at how happy something so simple was making me. We had a delicious meal and talked about the past month and how much things have started to change already. I expressed some apprehension and fear about the concert and that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to have a good time without being stupid in the head. He reassured me that it would be fantastic and that there was nothing to worry about.

We walked around the corner to The Garden and went through security where they searched my bag and scanned me with a metal detector. This always makes me really nervous and I start to panic. WHAT IF THEY FIND MY HAND GUN AND 40 BAGS OF HEROIN?! I’ve never owned a hand gun and have never been in possession of heroin but I still worry that they might find it. It’s totally irrational and something that I can laugh about after the fact but I have such a deep rooted fear about getting in trouble with the law that it manifests itself in really ridiculous ways. I was on the train a few weeks ago and cops occasionally board a train car with a bomb/drug sniffing dog. The dog was standing right next to me and I clutched my bag tight. WHAT IF I ACCIDENTALLY RUBBED UP AGAINST SOME MARIJUANA WITH MY BAG AND THE DOG WILL SMELL IT AND THEN BITE MY FACE?!?

The array of people at the concert was so varied and diverse. Old, young, gay, straight, etc. It was so beautiful. Parents with their kids. Older women in their golden years with neon glow in the dark necklaces. Say what you want about Miss Gaga but she really brings people together to celebrate. We started walking towards the entrance to our section and stopped to purchase some Diet Coke’s and after seeing the price of said Cokes, I was pretty disappointed they didn’t come with a magic pony. There were drunk people wandering about being bombastic as expected. There were others that seemed to be altered by something else. But you won’t believe what I’m about to tell you next: THERE WERE SOBER PEOPLE, TOO! Now, I can’t 100% confirm that they were sober but they were certainly drinking sodas and water and eating hot dogs and acting normal and not falling down.

We got to our seats and sat there for about an hour and half before Gaga finally went on. During this time I would have normally been making trips to the “bathroom” where I would certainly stop at the bar to take whiskey shots. I might return with a beer for him and one for me but would never mention the sneaks I was making to get myself where I wanted to be. Instead, I got to sit comfortably and enjoy the opening act. Well, maybe not enjoy. The opener was a cartoon Japanese girl. Literally. Japan created a pop star that is digital and performs on screens. Not exactly my thing but whatever. I was just having fun being there and people watching and soaking in the energy.

Gaga rose from the floor like a goddess and rocked the house as expected. I found dancing to be a little strange at first but soon settled in and had a wonderful time. There were moments where I thought about alcohol and wondered if I’d be enjoying myself more if I were to have had some drinks. The truth is, I probably would have THOUGHT I was enjoying it more but the reality of the situation would be much different. I would have been disconnected and consumed with the stresses of figuring out how to get back to the bar to get more to drink without missing the show. I would have been watching it hazily and would be hard pressed to recall details about her performance or how it made me feel. I would have felt like shit this morning instead of peacefully treating myself to a few hours of extra sleep and self-care. And I would have had to come here and tell all of you that I fucked up and had to start over. NONE of that seems appealing. So give me sober and slightly awkward over relapse any day.  

I feel inspired and victorious. I feel like celebrating. And because a flute of sparkling wine is the first thing that popped into my head when I just typed the word ‘celebrating’, I know that there is more work to be done.  

 

17 comments

  1. It sounds like a great night! Congrats on 30 Days. (I was “Anonymous” before but now officially following). Bravo! And bravo to your boyfriend for being so supportive!

  2. That is amazing. I want your life.lol
    No, I’m happy being a mom living in northern canada, but it is fun to read about fabulous events done sober!!!

  3. So glad to hear it was good. I too wonder how I’d do in a situation (public and FUN!) sober. I don’t think I’ve been to a sober concert since like 1996 when I saw Phish and fell asleep (that’s another story…) Anyway, I’m so happy you share your up’s and down’s dealing with this shitiness that booze is, and just like you use to do…I’d be sneaking off to the ladies room to “go pee, cuz I drank lots of water today” or to “fix my hair. This clip is jacked up” or “I need to go rinse my contact lens” etc….I had it a little cheaper, tho, as I kept a little sippy container of the vodka in the inside pocket of my purse. Keep it up! You are awesome!!

  4. Congratulations! We can do anything sober that we did drunk, so long as we remember a few simple things. You did a great job of self-care and of remembering that you’re an alcoholic… in my humble opinion you have much to be proud of.
    Plus, Gaga rocks. So great to see her and remember it all! Experience it all!
    Great insight about how you might have “thought” you were having a good time but actually have been checked out and tortured about getting more drinks.
    Again, Congrats!

  5. Wow.. I have never got a comment from Mr SponsorPants himself before.. you are SO LUCKY!!! I have enjoyed concerts so much since I got sober. The relief at being able to just stay in your spot and feast on the wonderful performance (lighting.. sounds.. it’s all laid out for you at a concert.. they WANT to blow our minds!!).. and not have to rush in and out and to and fro the toilet and the bar.. been there done that so many times. What a great report thank you for sharing you have made one sober housewife miles away in a small (compared with NYC) city very happy! xxx

  6. I am still nervous to check out a concert sober. I used to think I was such an awesome dancer but was always fueled with booze. Maybe I could handle a Gaga concert sober? I am thinking of buying Coachella tickets for next year. I will have more than a year sobriety by then. Should be able to do it. I just wish there was some sort of dancing elixir that was not alcohol.

    1. Yeah, it was tough at first. I think it helped that it was a giant arena show with seating. It was so massive and dark and so many people that it was easy to just disappear and blend in. Might be a good way to start before moving on to smaller shows or places where you’d be more noticeable? Coachella and stuff like that would probably be really hard for me because of the duration.

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