Month: June 2014

SIA’S ‘THE FIGHT’

This morning while I was walking from the train to work and listening to this song, I was just looking around and taking in the sights AND I STARTED CRYING LIKE A MANIAC. Like. A deep guttural cry of gratitude that I made it through the dark. I had to stop and sit on a bench and pull myself together. These overflowing moments of incredible wonder at how good things can be. How good things are. Amazing.

THE FIGHT LYRICS

We are born, we are born
We are born, we are born
We are born, we are born
We are born, we are born

We are born, we are born
We are born, we are born
We are born, we are born
We are born, we are born

We are born
Without a care
As we grow old
Become aware

As we grow tall
Begin to falter
We want to know ourselves
Give love to all

But we falter, yes, we are human
Yes, we anger, we feed the hunger
Yes, we push through, just me and you

We made it through the darkness to the light
Oh, how we fought yet still we won the fight
Oh, yes, we stand together

A fantasy for you and me
Though beauty lies in reality
No need to fear, the truth sets us free
We’re all looking for love and harmony

But we falter and yes, we are flawed
As we play victim with such conviction
And we play bully, both you and me

We made it through the darkness to the light
Oh, how we fought yet still we won the fight
Oh, yes, we stand together

Took it day by day, worried we would fail
How we flailed and we wailed and we screamed in pain
Take it step by step, we could not forget
The wounds we felt, how we screamed for help

And the dark, dark nights when you held me tight
And we’d wait for light to rescue us
Oh, we were distressed, now we’re nothing less
We are strong, we are blessed, we are united, yeah

We made it through the darkness to the light
Oh, how we fought yet still we won the fight
Oh, yes, we stand together

We made it through the darkness to the light
Oh, how we fought yet still we won the fight
Oh, yes, we stand together

SOBER GAZELLES. FLYING COWS.

The apocalypse had arrived. Sudden sounds signaling a nuclear meltdown began blaring in my bedroom at 5AM yesterday. I jumped out of bed on guard and ready to shit my underwear. You know how sometimes when you very abruptly wake up, you just go from lying flat to standing upright in a split second? You launch from your bed like a rocket and somehow you are instantly at attention? And you know something needs to happen. There’s a reason why you’re awake now but you don’t remember what it is so you scream something like OK I’M AWAKE, I’M UP. OH MY GOD, WHAT WHAT! and you pivot on one foot back and forth trying to decide what to do in this situation because while you understand you are awake, you don’t know why and you still haven’t turned off the alarm so as you continue to panic, you hear nothing but that biohazard-disaster-is-imminent wail of WAH WAH WAH WAH. So loud. So disturbing. I thought I had already changed this obnoxious alarm sound long ago to something less harsh. WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? Maybe I’m late for work? Maybe the house is going to blow up? Then you make a quick split second decision and start putting on clothes. You don’t know why. You don’t care why. Any clothes. Pants. Dresses. Hats. Garter belts. Whatever you can grab. And by the time you remember that you had decided the night before to get up 2 hours earlier in an attempt to go to the gym before work, you are standing in a dark room dressed like a hooker hobo with your dog and boyfriend staring at you like you’re a crazy person. Which you are. Because it’s 5AM and you aren’t still asleep.

Fifteen minutes later and you’re on an elliptical machine wondering what the fuck you were thinking. Instead of resting up for another fun filled day of working hard and not getting drunk, you are simulating forward motion without going goddamned anywhere. And elliptical machines aren’t nearly as sane as a treadmill or stationary bike. At least when you use one of those, you’re simulating an actual motion used to move forward in space and time. What the fuck is an elliptical? Our bodies don’t DO that motion in daily life. We aren’t fucking gazelles running from lions. How stupid. This is stupid. I glance over to the woman next to me. She sort of looks like a gazelle, actually. And she’s really pushing hard. On a scale of 1 to 20, she’d selected level 17 which is like the equivalent of 4 lions chasing you at once. RUN, GAZELLE LADY! RUN! She’s so in shape. She’s already burned 784 calories. Wait. Is she smiling? OMG SHE’S SMILING. Dumb bitch!

Fast forward another 15 minutes and I’m on level 17. I’m smiling. I’ve found my inner gazelle. I apologize internally for calling her a bitch in my head so basically I was apologizing to myself for being negative. I’M SORRY, ME! ME, DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT! IT’S FINE. I feel good now! At the 1 hour mark, I towel off and walk home to get ready for work. The boyfriend and the dog are their typical selves: Awake by duty and not looking too happy about it. And I’m extremely happy and talkative and I can tell they were thinking SHUT THE FUCK UP, CRAZYLADY. But that’s okay. The rest of my day went wonderfully. I was more productive at work, felt more grateful for the little things, and just operated in a less heavy and clunky way. So guess what? I DID IT AGAIN THIS MORNING. And same thing. Feel great. Could this be that little extra something that I’ve been looking for in this crazy recovery journey of mine?

If anything, maybe it will help me sleep better. I’ve been having the oddest dreams lately — (none as odd as this one) — but two nights ago I finally had one worth reporting. Almost every single night without fail, some stupid asshole in my dreams is trying to give me bottles of vodka or cans of beer. And every single time, I take them and drink them and get drunk in my sleep which feels VERY real and makes me quite upset. Either that or I am running around searching for alcohol or I have alcohol but can’t drink it because people are watching. But two nights ago, I finally took control of the situation and when some weird Asian lady offered me a drink, I said, “No thank you, ma’am.” She persisted and finally I took the drink and threw it to the ground. She looked at me in shock and I quickly morphed into some kind of farm animal. I’ve been telling people COW but I honestly don’t know. It felt like cow. But I couldn’t see myself obviously because I was me in the dream and there were no mirrors to look in. I could have very easily have been horse. I don’t think it was goat or sheep because I felt BIG. And then I flew away. Sober.

I really don’t want to turn into more of a cow than I already am. And the way I’ve been eating lately, it could easily happen. But now that I’ve got this new gym kick going, hopefully I can keep my human Old Macdonald farmer physique and avoid bovine or anything too bulky.

Overall, I feel happy.

At least 2-3 times a day, I’ll be doing something rather mundane like reading a book or watching TV or ballroom dancing with my Chihuahua… and I’ll suddenly stop and think OH, WOW. I’M NOT DRUNK. I DON’T DRINK.

That’s an amazing thing to be able to say.

I don’t drink.

I don’t drink.

I don’t drink.

Today.

SOME ENCOURAGEMENT

Short post. I’m slammed at work and I’m pretty sure I’m going to dream in Excel spreadsheets tonight. And if my boss comes in here to bother me one more time, I’m probably going to need a new computer monitor because this one will most likely break when I throw it at his eye. Breathe. Breathe. SMILE. Scream into desk chair.

In the midst of such chaos, I received a random and very thoughtful email from my boyfriend and it honestly couldn’t have come at a better time. Very short and sweet. It said:

I’m really proud of you. Taking the steps to becoming sober and being sober show your strength, your passion to live life to the fullest, and are quite inspiring. I love you and wanted you to know how much I care.

You never know how a simple expression of support or love can turn a person’s entire day around. So if you have an impulse to check in with someone you love, just DO. It might be exactly what they need. AND WHAT YOU NEED.

And in the spirit of this post, I have a message for anyone reading this silly silly blog:

I think you are absolutely fucking amazing for contemplating sobriety, pursuing sobriety, living in long term sobriety, or supporting someone in recovery. You are brave and endlessly inspiring to me. And I’m so glad to know you. Even if it’s virtually. And I wish you nothing but eventual peace. If you have sobriety, hold on to it. And if you don’t have it yet, don’t stop fighting for it. Things can be better. Things can be amazing.

Okay. That’s about all the silly mushy shit I can muster for the day. If you want more warm cuddlies, go read some Hallmark cards. Or ask your grandma to braid your hair and tell you stories about the old timey days. AND DON’T DRINK!

A HUMAN?!? I’M NOT A HUMAN! WHAT A STUPID THING TO SAY TO ME!

Well, holy fuck. I survived the past four days and am nearly back to myself. After exactly two months of hard fought sobriety, nature decided to reward me with one of the nastiest flu bugs I have ever had. RUDE. And, yeah, I DESERVE to be rewarded for doing something so monumental and significant like not pouring poison down my throat, right? Because I am the most important person in the world and heaven and earth should stop and take note that I don’t get drunk anymore. Sure, there are people out there curing cancer but look what I just did! I didn’t get shitty and fall down the stairs for SIXTY DAYS. Shouldn’t it be on the news? You know, just before the weather. They should flash my photo on the screen for all of the viewers to see. My face should be surrounded by really bad clip art graphics of confetti and thumbs up signs. The news anchor who only has an accent when she introduces herself (Maria Consuela Guiterrez- Johnson!!!) would enthusiastically deliver the report on my internationally relevant accomplishment: AND THIS JUST IN FROM QUEENS. A SLIGHTLY CHUBBY BUT DEVASTATINGLY HANDSOME MAN, PICTURED HERE, JUST FINISHED GOING TWO MONTHS WITHOUT PUTTING A SINGLE DROP OF VODKA INTO HIS MOUTH. AMAZINGLY, HE ONLY DRANK WATER, SELTZER, AND THE OCCASIONAL CUP OF COFFEE. EYE WITNESSES SAY IT WAS SIMPLY UNBELIEVABLE AND THAT HE HASN’T PUKED ON ANY OF HIS FRIEND’S HAIR IN A FULL TWO MONTHS!

Okay. So 60 days is a big deal. To me. And to you, maybe. Because you know how difficult and life-shifting this all is. But outside of my circle of fellow sober freaks, there wasn’t much fanfare. Because ultimately, alcohol consumption, or lack thereof, really doesn’t matter much to people who don’t have a problem with it. As the day approached, I joked with my boyfriend about celebrating. He was generally supportive and happy for me as he always is. But he didn’t do back flips or buy me an airplane or anything so I was obviously a little hurt. So let me get this straight. I just told you that I haven’t had a cocktail in 60 days. Why the fuck isn’t your head spinning around independently from your body?! Why the fuck aren’t you up and dancing a highly elaborate celebratory jig in my honor? WHY ISN’T THERE LOBSTER ON THE TABLE?! WHERE IS THE FUCKING LOBSTER!?!?! There would be no lobster.

When day 60 finally arrived, what had started as a pesky sore throat the day before had morphed into a raging, destructive, and terrifying flu. I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck. A Ford, not a Chevy. I crawled to the bathroom and tried to take a shower but realized about 30 seconds into it that I couldn’t stand to lift my arms above my head to wash my hair. I dried off halfway and got back into bed partially wet. I called out sick from work and spent Friday-Sunday holed up in a dark cave completely miserable. But sober. Some things I learned:

  • If you fall asleep with a movie on the TV starring Katherine Heigl and you have a 103 degree fever, Ms. Heigl will turn into a giant cat in your dream and antagonize you incessantly as you sleep while she says whatever lines she is saying in the movie.
  • Your bedroom can be both Antarctica and The Sahara Desert simultaneously. And you can hallucinate camels and penguins concurrently. And you can mistake your Chihuahua for Kelly Ripa.
  • If you are a recovering alcoholic and feel miserable, you might actually consider drinking alcohol even when you feel like you are dying. Even if your resolve and love of sobriety had been rock solid up to that point. You might still want to drink. I did. Briefly. Fleetingly. The old me would have just gone for it. I would have somehow dragged myself to the store to pick something up. I’d get a nice buzz going and suddenly convince myself that I didn’t feel so bad. The idea that I was home alone for the entire day and could drink without anyone knowing would have invalidated any symptom, hallucination, or chunk of mucous coming out of my nose. I felt awful and what I always did when I felt awful — or felt anything for that matter — was drink. I never thought I’d need to be so on guard while feeling so shitty. But I did. Just a heads up in case ya’ll ever get sick in early sobriety.
  • Maybe have someone else walk your dog if you can barely walk yourself to the bathroom. It’s almost summer and the fireflies are out. I’m terrified of bugs and any insect that can make its ass light up is obviously a witch. Stumbled downstairs with the pooch at dusk. Already disoriented and upset that he wouldn’t hurry up and shit, imagine my horror when sudden yellow lights start flashing inches from my face. Needless to say, I picked up the dog and got the fuck out of there FAST.

This was a really good reality check for me. I mean, obviously I’d rather not have had the flu. But there were definitely takeaways from such a nasty experience. It reminded me that life will happen as it happens. There will be disappointments at inconvenient times. Sometimes when celebrations should be happening, we will be mourning or puking instead. And there is not a damn thing you can do about it but ride it out and stay sober.

During a really bad stretch of time on Friday night, I was sobbing in my bed as my boyfriend lay there next to me. I went on and on about how it wasn’t fair and that after all of the hard work I put in staying sober and learning about myself, THIS was the reward. He said — this isn’t verbatim and it could have been one of many hallucinations– but I think he said “Babe. You aren’t sick because you are a recovering alcoholic. You are sick because you are a human.” I don’t remember what I said in response but knowing me, I probably got up defiantly, snorted lots of snot, and screamed, “A HUMAN?!? I’M NOT A HUMAN! WHAT A STUPID THING TO SAY TO ME!” or something equally delusional. But he was right.

I may not get to drink like normal people, but I get to be sick like normal people. And that is NORMAL enough for me, thank you.

I also couldn’t help but taking inventory of how destroyed my body felt when I woke up. I thought, “OH MY GOD. You used to wake up feeling this bad every single day. Sometimes even worse.” I immediately yearned for the past 60 mornings where, to varying degrees, I woke up feeling at least NOT DEAD. Sometimes even fantastic. But never hungover. Never decimated at the hands of my disease. And I wanted 60 more of those days. Maybe 120. Maybe a year. But for now, one at a time.

I’m really not at a place where I can say something like, “Everything happens for a reason.” I wish I could but I don’t know that it’s true. I really don’t think there is a reason a plane crashes and kills 250 people. There is a cause. That’s all. Faulty equipment, pilot error, etc. But I do know that occasionally something happens that seems coincidentally perfect. I’m feeling much better now on my 63rd day sober and while the past few days threw me for quite a fluish loop, I have a renewed value for peace, health, and happiness. I feel renewed at a time where maybe I was starting to take things for granted.

So the moral of the story? If you are feeling yourself start to drift and you aren’t seeing pink clouds, go lick the subway stair railings and see what you can catch. JAY KAY JAY KAY. Don’t. Gross.

 

Chandelier by Sia

Commenting on her own battle with alcoholism, Sia’s Chandelier resonates with me because it accurately captures the mood of my addiction right before it got to be too much to handle. Might be triggery to some. Listen at your own discretion. Lyrics below.

Party girls don’t get hurt
Can’t feel anything, when will I learn
I push it down, push it down

I’m the one “for a good time call”
Phone’s blowin’ up, ringin’ my doorbell
I feel the love, feel the love

1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink

Throw ’em back, till I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

And I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight

Sun is up, I’m a mess
Gotta get out now, gotta run from this
Here comes the shame, here comes the shame

1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink
1, 2, 3 1, 2, 3 drink

Throw ’em back till I lose count

I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier
I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist
Like it doesn’t exist
I’m gonna fly like a bird through the night, feel my tears as they dry
I’m gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier

And I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Help me, I’m holding on for dear life, won’t look down won’t open my eyes
Keep my glass full until morning light, ’cause I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Oh I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
‘Cause I’m just holding on for tonight
Oh I’m just holding on for tonight
On for tonight
On for tonight

A MESSAGE TO ME (OR MAYBE YOU)

If you’re anything like me (and you are like me because I’m talking to me), you may have had a very clear and defined image of what sobriety would be like. Or maybe you (now I’m talking to YOU, not me) aren’t sober yet but are doing a lot of thinking about what that might be like. The image alternates randomly between idealized visions of serenity and terrifying visages of discomfort, depression, boredom, and a life that wouldn’t be fun anymore. The negative ideas won out during that first month. In fact, there were times where things seemed so bleak and unmanageable that you were certain you were either going crazy or that you would remain miserable forever. It’s totally understandable why the thought of caving and having a drink entered your mind on occasion. And while not ideal, it would have been totally understandable if you would have caved. And it explains why you had 6 years of Day 1’s before you finally had had enough. Because this shit is hard. But you didn’t cave this time. And it has served you well.

You remember that first week? You were a filthy disgusting hot mess. In a cute way. And by cute, I mean gross. But precious. And by precious, I mean nasty. And you had the SILLIEST of questions.

Q: How will I ever walk onto an airplane again without having a cocktail first?

A: With your feet, bitch. Shoot.

Q: How will I ever talk to people at an event without being drunk?

A: Use the hole where you put the food, okay? It also makes noises.

Q: What about when I go to Paris? How will I go to Paris and not drink?

A: Girl, please. You can’t afford Paris.

It was a scary time for you and everything felt monumentally challenging and terrifying. Going to the grocery store during that first week was just about as difficult as painting your fingernails while sitting inside of a bouncy castle with a bunch of six year olds cracked out on birthday cake and their own boogers. Remember when you couldn’t decide what to make for dinner so you grabbed that old lady in a panic to get her opinion? OMG CHICKEN OR FISH?! CHICKEN OR FISH, AGNES?!?!? and it just became too much so you ran out of the store flailing your arms like a Muppet on the verge of tears and just went home and ordered Chinese food instead? That was a really good move because Chinese food is delicious and ain’t nobody got the time to be crying at the butcher counter. That was you taking care of YOU. And it’s what you needed. And you didn’t drink that night so victory was yours.

Remember when you sat at home alone feeling weird because you had declined an invite? You were in your bed staring at the wall, humming Joni Mitchell’s A Case of You. You were mourning your old friend Absolut (Drink Responsibly). You were certain that the entire world was living an amazing life and that their nights would be profoundly changed by the deep connections they made over 5-20 adult beverages. Sure, they might throw up. But in that chunky vomit was FUN, MEMORIES (maybe), and JOY. Remember feeling shitty as you fell asleep early only to wake up feeling fantastic while reading Facebook posts from people cursing their hangovers from the night before and asking if anyone knew who took their cellphone and panties? You didn’t feel so shitty anymore, did you?

Remember having a really bad morning one Sunday but then your mood began to lift in the afternoon? And then you walked past those really drunk girls outside of the Irish pub down the street at 3PM and one of them didn’t know her skirt was riding up really far and you could almost see her vagina? But you didn’t say anything because how the fuck are you supposed to say MA’AM YOUR VAGINA IS ALMOST OUT to a perfect stranger? And her friend lit the wrong side of the cigarette and started coughing and choking as borderline-vagina girl laughed. And you thought, I’M SOBER. I FEEL REALLY GOOD. Things are starting to change.

Remember when you were suddenly the happiest person in the world a few days ago? You were shitting rainbow colored poop, there was a bounce in your step, and glitter followed you wherever you went and accentuated just how lovely you felt. And glitter is REALLY annoying but you were so happy that you didn’t care. You didn’t even care when you found it in your ass crack that evening in the shower because Y.O.L.O. Because everything was perfect. Sobriety is amazing. I can do anything! I can change the world! I can become the next RuPaul even though I’m white and don’t know how to do drag makeup! Remember when that all came crashing down and you were crying the next day feeling as if it had all been a dream and sanity had been ripped from your arms? Then a few days later you had a few more good days. Then a bad one. Then another good.

It’s easy for you to become discouraged and disillusioned when things aren’t 100% incredible. That’s why you drank to begin with, right? But it’s becoming more and more evident to you that life isn’t about amazing days every single day. Sobriety isn’t about constant and extreme joy. It’s about honesty and experiencing truth. Sobriety is about living, loving, and learning. You can live, love, and learn while happy. And you can live, love, and learn while sad. And you WILL do both. But living, loving, and learning are gifts to be grateful for and they can only be experienced if I’m… sorry… if you’re… not a drunk hot mess.

You didn’t think this would get easier. But it has. In the darkest hours on Day 1, Day 2… Day Who Knows… You kept asking WHEN WILL I BE OKAY? Well, guess what? You are okay. In fact, you’re better than okay. You’re back. Please stay.

And if you aren’t here yet, please come. The water is lovely.