Month: July 2014

I COULD HAVE RELAPSED MONDAY

When I left the dentist’s office on Monday, I suddenly found myself sitting in a fairly dangerous combination of emotional states. I was feeling extreme ELATION (that is was over and that I was brave) and TERROR (that it was about to start hurting like a motherfucker once the anesthetic wore off). I felt like I should be celebrating (YAY, COURAGE!) and also girding my loins for the inevitable onslaught of pain that surely was just around the corner. I deserved lollipops. I deserved parades……  I deserved vodka.

The thought entered my mind without any active participation on my part. In a split second, the entire process flashed through my head like a film in fast forward: Me in the liquor store and then me at home with a glass full and then me dicking around aimlessly on the internet until I passed out. It was the middle of the day and no one was home. No one would know. I’d have plenty of time to get myself in working order and shower and flood my mouth with Listerine to cover one antiseptic smell with another.

SHUT UP, STUPID FUCKING IDIOT. I said this under my breath and pushed the thought back out of me. In total, the entire rapid fire thought process probably lasted no more than 2 seconds. It never turned into a real craving. My mouth didn’t water. I didn’t feel the rush of the recreated warmth that your body can so easily reproduce if you think too long about swallowing liquor. That feeling I got just now as I typed this out. That burn and momentary hug. How frightening that my mind can make that feeling happen without a drink.

So, after I cussed myself out on the street, I went to the drugstore, got some extra gauze and some treats that I could eat, and went home where I rested and took care of myself like a human being who just had a tooth ripped out should.

Thoughts like these flicker in and out of focus from time to time. Towards the beginning, they happened regularly and I managed them by checking in with other alcoholics, immediately binge listening to recovery podcasts, or hopping online and reading old posts from sobriety bloggers just like you might be doing right now. As time has gone on, the thoughts have become fewer and further between and are easily quieted by a swift kick to my own ass through internalized self-talk. Sometimes even OUTLOUD if I’m really taken aback at my brain’s stupidity. And I am very fortunate that up to this point, I’ve never really had a close call where such thoughts ran the risk of turning themselves into a relapse.

Monday was no different and I knew I had no intention of drinking. And I didn’t drink. But in hindsight, there is something a little more unsettling about the chain of thoughts I experienced when leaving the dentist when compared to other random drinking thoughts I’ve had in the past. Usually, drinking brain farts seem to be random for me. They are rarely motivated by anything specific. But these thoughts were connected to a traumatic event. Something had just happened that was, for me, extraordinarily stressful and frightening. And for a split second I not only considered alcohol as a solution and a reward, but I also considered myself DESERVING of getting drunk because of what I had just experienced. IT’S WHAT PEOPLE DO when something hard just happened. It’s how people cope. And you are no different. That was scary, you are about to be hurt, and you overcame fear. So go be like everyone else and claim your reward.

A dentist appointment and tooth extraction are not anywhere near the worst I will ever experience. But still, here were the thoughts of self-medicating and using my old friend to cope. It got me thinking about my preparedness for life events that could… will… eventually come my way. Relationships can end. People can die. Jobs can be lost. Houses can burn down. And am I ready? Surely the same thoughts will bubble up in one of those instances and I would also assume that the intensity of the thoughts are proportionate to the severity of the trauma experienced.

NO FUTURE TRIPPING. This is something I hear a lot. Just do the work thoroughly, reach out, and if/when those fleeting thoughts convert themselves into actual cravings that threaten sobriety, think through the drink. Think it through from start to finish. See where you’ll end up before you put the glass to your lips. Live one day at a time. Don’t create problems that haven’t happened yet.

Yes. All of those suggestions are valid and helpful and it all makes sense. But I think it is entirely normal to ask the question: WILL I BE READY WHEN SHIT HITS THE FAN? As of right now and at this very moment, the resolve I feel to remain sober seems unbreakable. But I know that confidence can be vastly misleading. It’s evident by the countless people we eventually come in contact with who have suffered a relapse in the past. Myself included. Six months before my big breakup happened in 2008, there was no way in hell you could have convinced me that six months down the road I would be passed out drunk on the living room floor of my empty apartment. Not possible. I was sober, strong, and had NO desire to drink, thank you very much. But that’s exactly what happened.

As someone who has relapsed in the past, I suppose the good news is that I have a reference point. I know that leading up to that relapse, I had stopped doing any recovery work. I had stopped seeing or speaking regularly to people immersed in sobriety. I was flying solo and seemed to be doing okay as I surrounded myself with busy work, art, etc. It wasn’t enough and it all came falling down.

I now know that should something awful happen like a death, I am DOOMED if I’m not in active recovery. That’s not the same as simply not drinking. Because for me, relapse wasn’t conscious. It didn’t happen gradually. I didn’t think to myself Oh. Ok. This is painful. This hurts. Let’s have a drink. It just suddenly WAS. It was as if I was forcefully strapped down to a chair emotionally and I watched myself do the things that led me to another six years of misery. Yes, I was DOING the things. I suppose possession is a fairly accurate way to describe it. Or when you get put under for surgery and that few hours of unconsciousness feels like alien abduction. It just is gone and you don’t remember it or how it could have possibly came to pass. All because I was unprepared. I wasn’t at the ready. I let my guard down. I stopped treating my disease.

The little stupid shit storm that went through my brain on Monday was easily snuffed out. These days, I always have on armor. And I guess the real issue here is not whether or not I have the ability to stay sober in the face of great obstacles. The question is whether or not I’ve kept myself armed when those things eventually come.  

 

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YOU’VE GOT HATE MAIL

Oooooh, girl. Someone threw me major shade last night while I slept peacefully in my bed.

One of the biggest gifts that I have received in sobriety thus far is the markedly reduced amount of drama I seem to find myself in. Back when I was heavily drinking, everything was utter chaos. My relationships were crumbling and I always seemed to be in some sort of heated and nonsensical argument with SOMEONE about SOMETHING. But since putting down the drink, I’ve been amazed at the amount of love and support I find myself enveloped in. It’s really incredible. Which is why it was so jarring to wake up to the following comments awaiting moderation:

Six year? … just around the corner hangover! I think it’s sooo great how you can censor any little bit of honesty that somebody might write about you on your precious (doomed to be abandoned blog) It must be nice to surround yourself with pathetic minions, even if it’s only like 7 of them. Keep up the good work pussy bottom, you’ll be going down quicker than…well I guess, like you did as a drunk. XOXO, Fuck Off, Bane

And then…

Pathetic Hag… God you’re not even good at pretending like you could care less about notoriety. Like, Really? Only a self-absorbed drunk (as they usually are) would whore herself out to gain some attention. Sad, little girl. Guess Daddy didn’t give her enough pats on the back and Mommy was a little too domineering, just saying. Oh well, atleast now she’ll get some attention from someone..anyone who is sadder than her to care. Night Night, Princess.

Obviously comments from the same person or they engaged the services of one of their friends to write something about me. Not sure what motivated the sudden gender flip but I suppose that is a minor detail.

Whoever this person is initially became upset with me because a.) I hadn’t posted in a while b.) I hadn’t replied to comments and c.) I told you all about my blog post being picked up by TheFix.com. I know because THEY TOLD ME in a previous comment the day before. A comment that I ignored because it was condescending, disrespectful, and complete garbage. So I chose to avoid further interaction with this person and simply deleted it.

I had two options this morning. The first would be to simply decline the comments on the blog and move on and write the post that I initially had planned: Thinking Through the Drink. Or I could address this little blip publicly.

I’ve become a firm believer in shining some motherfucking light on the darkness so I guess that’s what I’m doing here. Up to this point, this blog has been nothing but a joy. It makes me so happy to be interacting with people who understand what it is I’m going through and vice versa. And because I’ve become so protective of this amazing little space we have here to share, commiserate, and lift each other up, I just had to take a moment to acknowledge this small cancer that has crept up. Especially since I noticed the culprit attempting to respond to some of your comments with these same passages.

I’m not going to bash whoever this person is as I have no idea what they might be going through. I myself have penned nasty messages such as these during my active drinking days. Usually I was very drunk and didn’t recall what had set me off or why I thought such vitriol was the solution to any problem, imagined or otherwise. Granted, they weren’t to complete strangers. Even worse, they were to people I was supposed to love and care for. There are amends to be made on my part and I’m in that process now.

I’m not saying that this person is actively drinking. But I can with some confidence say that there is something awful going on in their life that would create a situation where they feel justified spending their time and energy writing and sending something so disgusting to a person they don’t even know. It’s really a shame and I mean it with my whole being when I say that I genuinely hope that they are relieved of whatever it is that is causing them to behave this way.

So, that’s all. It happened. I acknowledge it. And now away it goes. Grateful for this experience because I was able to catch a glimpse of the me that I could become if I don’t do the work to keep myself sober. If I take a drink, I’ll be sending messages like the ones above in no time. Guaranteed.

THEY RIPPED OUT A TOOTH

I walk past the dentist’s office every single day. For years, I passed it by as I made my way to the train from my home, completely hungover and wondering how I could possibly make it through a day at work. It somehow disappeared from view during those drunken years and every once in a great while, I’d become aware of it. Usually, its existence resurfaced when I’d have a tinge of pain in a problem tooth. On a few occasions, a full blown infection would snap me back into reality. I’d happen to glance in the window and see people of all ages sitting, waiting. They were doomed. At any moment, their name would be called and they’d be led into a room where a sadistic monster would strap them down and begin ripping out their teeth, willy nilly.

When I was in junior high school, I was in a production of Little Shop of Horrors. I was a fat 13 year old that was cast as a 60-70 year old Jewish man that owned a flower shop. I was born to play this role, right? Made perfect sense. Another boy, who would later become my arch nemesis and rival in high school drama club, was cast as the dentist. In preparation for our parts, we watched the film version of the musical. I’ll never forget how terrified I was of Steve Martin and the awful things he was doing to Audrey and all of the innocent people who just wanted a fucking cavity filled. And aside from the occasional check ups I had as a younger child, the thought of having to get actual dental work performed has always flooded my mind with images of Orin Scrivello, DDS.

So for years and years, I turned my head. I refused to look at Park Dental and its lobby full of patients who were taking care of business and their oral health. Like so many things in my life during those dark, alcohol saturated years, I delayed. And when things would get a little too real and it seemed that perhaps I had an abscessed tooth, I’d somehow get my hands on antibiotics without having to go to the doctor. I worked with a woman who brought me back three rounds of amoxicillin from Honduras when she went for a family vacation. I used to work next door to a mom and pop pharmacy and somehow managed a friendship with the owner who would give me a 10 day supply when the tooth would flare up. And each time, I’d wash the pills down with copious amounts of alcohol, turn my head away from the dentist’s office as I passed, and the infection would subside. Problem solved. Until it became unsolved again and the whole process would start over once more.

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster of fear and anxiety. Crippling anxiety. Anxiety that, on a few occasions, made me wonder if my heart was going to get fucked up from how hard it seemed to be beating. I’ve been a bit paralyzed, you guys. I never really thought I had anxiety issues before getting sober and I suppose that’s no surprise. How would I have known? I was always drunk. And if there were any moments of perceived anxiety, I’d quickly make sure those got watered down in booze.

When I made the decision that it was time to go to the dentist, just picking up the phone to make the appointment took me about two weeks. I’d keep putting it off until tomorrow. I’d sit with their website up and my phone in my hand and then put it down and start doing something else. And once I finally did call, I began the slow and grinding battle of waiting and trying with all of my might to not cancel.

The initial visit came and went with very little to show for it. They took X-rays and I’m sure I made a fool of myself as I flinched at every minor movement they made while attempting to assess my situation. It was determined that I needed oral surgery on one tooth and an extraction on another. The specialist who needed to perform the procedures had an appointment available about one week later. Terrified, I took it and started the waiting game all over again.

I did my best to calm myself this past week. I downloaded and tried a self-guided meditation app that a friend exposed me to. It really did help and as I listened on the train with my eyes closed, I started to drift off and suddenly caught myself almost farting which quickly woke me back up again. Anxiety returned. I played through the looming visit over and over again in my mind. I pictured them yanking and realizing that I wasn’t numb enough. I imagined shooting pain through my entire body. I imagined blood pouring from my mouth. I entertained ideas of post operative infection that gets into my blood and kills me. This is where my head has been. Illogical and entirely unfounded, my fear has really gotten the best of me and kept me somewhat quiet as of late. Maybe you’ve noticed.

Sidenote: I had a person contact me calling into question why I haven’t posted anything of substance lately and why I’ve been slow to respond to comments on my previous posts. Well, the short answer is that I have a life I’m leading over here, too, you guys! I have come to really care about you all and love that you are here with me and we are doing this sobriety thing together. But shit does and will happen. I try to post as often as I can because it really helps me to externalize what’s going on. But obviously there will be times where that doesn’t happen. They also told me that it was a major turn off that I promoted the fact that my blog post about coming out was picked up by TheFix.com. I hope you all realize that the reason I did that was due to the fact that I wanted THE MESSAGE of the post to reach as many people as possible. I wanted people to know that they didn’t have to hide. If I was chasing celebrity and fame as has been insinutated, I’d probably go a different route other than writing a blog about being a big old drunk asshole. Just saying. 

The appointment was at 2:30PM yesterday. I forced myself to go into work for the first half of the day to keep myself distracted. I listened to The Bubble Hour episode on acceptance and did my best to accept the fact that I was about to be in a very uncomfortable situation but that it would soon pass. I went, they ripped out a fucking tooth, it was terrifying, but I’m still alive. There is more work to be done but I think now that I know what to expect, I can take on the rest with significantly less paranoia and fear. As I left the office with my mouth full of gauze and blood, I wanted to grab the old lady waiting in the lobby and scream I WENT TO THE GODDAMNED MOTHERFUCKING DENTIST, JANICE! 

We can do realllllly hard shit, you guys. We can conquer the world, one tooth extraction at a time. As long as we stay sober. Who is staying sober with me??

LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU ALL.

MINI-POST: HIP FLASK

A while ago, I signed up for the male version of Birchbox. It’s called Birchbox. I got it with the hope of coming across some miracle products that will prevent me from eventually looking like a bearded Dowager Countess of Grantham (Downton Abbey reference. That show is boring). So far, I haven’t found anything too great. Yesterday was no exception. They have only ever sent me grooming shit. But yesterday they decided it was time to tease me like a bunch of stupid assholes. A HIP FLASK? Girl, that’s a plastic bottle made in China. Who ARE these jokers? Maybe it’s time to cancel.

Going to use it for water when I take the puppy to the park. That’s hip, right?

HAPPY SATURDAY!

 

FEATURED ON THEFIX.COM

Some news! My recent coming out post was published on the recovery website, TheFix.com! Many thanks to the staff there! Please maybe possibly go take a look, LIKE the post, share it, etc? Maybe they’ll let me put something there again if the response is positive?

HERE IT IS

I wanted this post to be widely read for a lot of different reasons. But mostly it was my need for…

ACCOUNTABILITY

Once upon a time, I was a recovering addict living a life of sobriety completely out in the open for everyone to see. There was no more shame. I addressed it like the disease that it was and made no apologies for my condition. I regained the trust of family and friends through my actions. I became of service by telling my story through art. By living a rich and fulfilling sober life out in the open, I became responsible not only to myself but to everyone around me. I knew that I couldn’t just show up to a friends birthday party and pick up a beer without there being a whole lot of drama. And while this accountability to others was obviously not at all what kept me sober exclusively, it certainly was a significant tool in staying clean for as long as I did.

Once relapsed, my world began to shrink so quickly. It was like experiencing countless deaths at one time. Ok, fine. Maybe it wasn’t THAT dramatic but it certainly felt that way at the time. There were people I couldn’t see anymore. I couldn’t see them because I couldn’t stand the thought of them seeing me the way I was: drunk. People gradually floated away because I essentially untied the tether of our relationships and allowed them to drift. No effort could be made to maintain what we once had because I wasn’t who I once was. They wouldn’t know me and I wouldn’t know them.

So I met new people. And while it’s true that I would have met new people anyway had I still been sober, I wouldn’t have gone to such lengths to keep the new separate from the old. The new allowed me to drink the way I wanted to because they didn’t know. The old allowed me to drink the way I wanted to because I didn’t let them see and they no longer had a say. And, so, I essentially spent six years entirely alone. Not alone in the sense that I didn’t have love or the presence of others. I was alone in my own place of prolonged purgatory. I kept a secret that no segment of my now fractured life could be in on. And while I made some progress artistically and managed to not completely destroy all of the new relationships I had made, I was alone in my disease once more.

This “coming out” became absolutely necessary for me. I realized that even if I managed to get myself completely sober alone for a long period of time, my life wouldn’t start to become functional again until I reconciled it and broke down the walls of the compartments that I was so carefully keeping everyone within. Everyone’s situation is different. For me, this was the only way to true freedom. And the only way I wanted it to be.

I also am very excited about the prospect of others reading the post who might be sitting silent in the shame closet wondering how they will EVER be able to live a life openly. Maybe this will plant the very beginning of an idea.

Please don’t get me wrong! I am not insinuating that anyone should run out and tell the world right this instant like I did. I know there are a lot of situations where that kind of impulsive act could do more damage than good. If you can live a happy and healthy sober life without everyone knowing you had a problem, DO THAT IF IT’S WHAT YOU NEED! There is no judgment. DO WHAT KEEPS YOU SOBER. Always. But if you feel yourself sitting in total discomfort and shame even once you’ve got some sober time under your belt like I did, it MIGHT have something to do with the secrets still being kept. That is what was going on with me. And I can only tell you what my experience has been.

Lastly, the one piece of the puzzle that I have not yet laid down on the board is the fact that this blog exists and not everyone I’ve come out to knows about it. With this publication, my name is out there now. I’m certain it would be easy for someone I know to stumble upon this at any given time. I’m not quite ready to hand over the key voluntarily to everyone and say HEY! GO HERE AND READ ABOUT EVERY DISGUSTING AND BEAUTIFUL DETAIL! I will. Slowly. That’s where I’m at.

In the meantime, if you happen to know me personally and are reading this and wondering why I didn’t tell you about the blog, please know that it was done as a means of self-protection and preservation. I knew I needed to be vocal about what I was feeling to get and stay sober but was not in a place where I was ready for you to hear ALLLL about it. I mean. I talked about my bowel movements and how quitting drinking impacted them, for Christ’s sake. Not the kind of thing you go running to your mates about. HEY, STACY! GIRL, READ THIS POST I WROTE ABOUT POO AND HEADACHES! OK LOVE YOU BYEEEE!

JOKES, TEETH, 100 DAYS

Short post!

I’m tweeting one liners. Because if I posted five times a day here, I’m sure someone would punch me in the butthole. Come follow me on Twitter, too! Here: https://twitter.com/SixYearHangover

Here are some:

When I was a drunk, I used to dream about being a stand-up comedian. But I couldn’t stand up. I also couldn’t comedian.

or

Sobriety is such a blessing. I have so many more friends now that I’m fully present and don’t puke chunks all over their weaves.

or

Now that I’m sober, I love going to church on Sunday. And by church, I mean the frozen yogurt shop.

Today is 100 days. 10 days ago was 90 days. I’m not sure which one is more important? I mean. I know they both are. Every day is important. But the number 100 seems so fancy. How many days do you have? Even 1 is amazing. Because this monster really wants us drunk and in a gutter forever. So celebrate every moment without the motherfucking bullshit. And it WAS motherfucking bullshit. All of it.

People have been asking about my teeth. They’re okay. Still there. I have to go back Monday for some shitty oral surgery. I’ll update and reflect once they are done destroying my face. Trying to stay calm and definitely not drinking over it.

Go hump your hearts out, sober people! Happy Wednesday!

SHOW ME YOUR TEETH

I’m headed to the dentist tomorrow and I’m scared out of my fucking mind. If there is a God, she really should have spent more time before implementing this whole TEETH thing. Don’t get me wrong! I’m a big fucking fan of chewing food. It’s pretty cool. And I totally love saying CHEESE while standing awkwardly in a forced pose just so someone can create an image of us forever frozen in time showing the world our pearly whites for no obvious reason whatsoever. But teeth are also really fucking weird. They turn various shades of yellow which is disgusting. And they sometimes get in the way. Anyone who has ever been involved in a heavy make out session will agree that there is nothing quite as disgusting and terrifying as the front teeth of two lovers accidentally clanking against each other just as the pants are about to come off. Teeth also decay. They break. And they need fixing which awful, too. I’m not advocating for a toothless world, here. I’m not saying that whatever powers that be should have made our mouths empty slobbering fleshy voids. But couldn’t these things have been made a little more durably?

A lot of things were neglected during my six year drunk vomit fest. I gained weight, I stopped paying close attention to my skin, and towards the end I just began to deteriorate physically in so many ways. And now I’m doing to the cleanup work and it’s really fucking scary. The idea that someone is going to have to put their hands inside of my mouth and yank and pull and drill and file and bang and twist and grind and tap and pick and do the cha cha REALLY makes me just want to puke and crawl into a hole and cry and eat candy. But the appointment is tomorrow morning at 11AM and there is nothing I can do about it but show up.

This fear is different, though. This fear is still blinding and makes my heart pound faster but it isn’t the kind of fear that kept me stationary and refusing to take action to protect my own health and wellbeing. I now know that I CAN and WILL make it to the dentist and I can and will get the work done that needs to be done. But I never would have been able to take this step without stopping with the booze. How insane does that sound? Something that normal people do on a regular basis became an unapproachable and impossible mountain of terror. To think that I could have been years away from becoming Cousin Cleetus, the banjo player, is really fucking creepy.

Everything (and I do mean everything) was so much more difficult back then. Even impossible. Sitting down to pay bills took extraordinary amounts of energy and focus and created so much anxiety that I started doing it only after consuming a few drinks. Going to any event where alcohol wouldn’t be present was like jumping into a really deep pool and being asked to hold my breath for a few hours. I’d still be expected to conduct myself like a normal human being despite the fact that I was slowly drowning. There were things that I felt I simply HAD to do but those things became fewer and further between. Some bills stopped being paid for absolutely no reason even when I had the money to pay them. I began declining invites to events that I would have once forced myself through. And going to the doctor or to the dentist were completely off the table. For what? So they could tell me that I was dying? No thank you. Gimme pina colada, please.

After a pretty bad toothache about three years ago, my boyfriend began harassing me so aggressively about making an appointment to get it checked out that I finally did just to make him shut the fuck up. It was a cold winter morning. A Saturday. I was hungover. I walked up to the dentist’s office on a typical looking residential street in Queens and stood outside. I was early and the sun was blinding and there was snow on the ground. I took out a cigarette and it occurred to me that it’s probably not a good idea for my mouth to smell like cancer right before a nice innocent man has to climb inside of it. This was back when I still smoked, obviously. I would end up quitting a few months later even though I have no idea how I managed that one. My heart was pounding through my chest and I was close to tears. I considered a quick dash around the corner to the bar to have a beer even though it was only 9AM. That would calm me down. But he’d smell that, too. I thought about going to that same bar and having that beer and then not even going to the appointment but telling my boyfriend that I had. Finally, I put the cigarette away and made my legs move and suddenly I was sitting in the chair, reclined, and crying.

I don’t remember much. He was poking around. They did xrays that made me gag for some reason. They cleaned my teeth and I screamed a few times when I felt a weird vibration. And then he told me things. He said this tooth needed this done and that tooth needed that and that I should see the front desk to make appointments for the procedures. I paid for the visit and told the nurse I would call to schedule follow ups once I had a chance to “look at my schedule.” I needed to see if I could squeeze oral health into my busy agenda of vomiting, moaning, sleeping, and chugging . She gave me their card, I walked out into the freezing air and lit a cigarette and never went back. This whole charade got the boyfriend off my back for a bit but he has been bothering me about it off and on for the past three years.

So tomorrow it all begins. And while I am paralyzed by fear, I am also eerily and aggressively ready to get this shit taken care of. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of worrying. I’m tired of biting into something and feeling a sudden pain shoot through my face. I’m tired of looking at a decent smile and knowing that if I don’t take care of myself, I could lose it.

I like to think that my disease is really fucking pissed off at me that I’m going to the dentist tomorrow. He wants me sick. He wants awful things to happen to me so maybe I’ll go back to him for comfort, to numb the pain. If he had it his way, it would just be me and him under a bridge somewhere. I’d be toothless and smelling like piss. And he’d be the same as he’s always been. And as I took a swig from my half pint of Georgi, he’d make me feel warm all over and tell me just how beautiful I am.

No fucking thank you.