Month: August 2014

LIEBSTER AWARD

Fellow WordPress blogger I don’t want to exist. I want to live. has very kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award. Thank you so much for the lovely gesture! Everyone be sure to check out Lauren’s blog. Obviously mental health issues and recovery go hand in hand so you may find it to be totally relevant to your journey.

From what I can tell, The Liebster Award is a peer based award meant to recognize excellence in blogging and an appreciation for your nominee’s writing and content. Liebster is a German word meaning “beloved”, sweetest” or “dearest.” It’s really fucking awesome to hear from someone else that they find your words relevant and important to their daily lives and journeys. I know I’ve said this countless times, but I feel so supported and not alone here. You all keep me sober so you are doing me a huge service by being here, reading my blog, and commenting. And I love that you get something out of the exchange as well.

As part of this process, I am to nominate a selection of blogs myself. It was very hard to choose because I read so many. I should also mention that none of these nominated bloggers are required or expected to participate if they’d rather not. That being said, I nominate:

  • Inside the Alcoholic Brain: I’m a big nerd and the science behind my addiction is fascinating to me. I also think that understanding what is truly going on is critical if we are to become effective recovery advocates. Breaking down the stigma of alcoholism and addiction starts with educating others about what addiction really is. And this blog is extremely informative and helpful in that regard.
  • Klen + Sobr: While you won’t find much on the blog itself, it is a portal to Chris’ main recovery website SinceRightNow.com. Tons of resources there and links to other blogs. I’m excited to see where this project leads and encourage you all to check it out!
  • Sober Learning: She was one of the very first people to reach out to me on my blog and has been around ever since. A wealth of wisdom and insight, I always check in to see how her journey is going and value her honesty and how she consistently updates. It’s helpful for me to be able to track someone else’s trajectory and witness how they deal with the same issues that I am dealing with.
  • Sober Journalist: While her posting has decreased significantly, this is still a blog that I hold close because it is one of the first that I read when I was trying to find the willingness to surrender. And I still forward this blog to newly sober individuals and encourage them to read from the beginning. It’s comforting, inspiring, and extremely helpful.
  • Mished-Up: Just an all around awesome woman with very well-written posts. I only wish she would post more often! *hint hint*
  • Mrs. D Is Going Without: Lotta needs no help with web traffic to her blog BUT I have to mention her here because she has been so helpful in my recovery. Her blog is wonderful and this is another to read from the beginning. It will take you some time because it spans years. And please check out her brand new book and recovery website: http://www.livingsober.org.nz/
  • UnPickled: Again, Jean needs no help getting people over to her blog so I mention her purely because of how appreciative I am in the role her words played in my recovery. I fell in love with this Bubble Hour host and classy Canadian recovery superstar for a number of different reasons but she really got my attention when I learned that she matches her travel mugs to her outfits. You probably already know this blog but just in case….
  • ByeByeBeer: Heartfelt, genuine, inspiring, and relatable. A great blog. Period.

If you wish to accept this award, the following guidelines are below. There is no pressure to accept the award.

The steps for The Liebster Award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award!
2. Add The Liebster Award logo to your post and blog.
3. Answer 10 questions provided to you by the person who nominated you.
4. Provide 10 questions of your own for your nominees to answer.
5. Nominate 7 bloggers for the award and notify them.

Now, I’ve been tasked to answer 10 questions! If you accept this award, I’m going the lazy route here and encouraging you to use the same questions that were asked of me.

These are my ten questions:

1) Why did you decide to blog?

I’m a writer! I write about everything. Mainly, I’m a playwright so I think in very theatrical ways. Telling stories about my recovery and spicing it up with humor is very therapeutic to me. Getting ideas and thoughts outside of my brain is so important. If I don’t do it, I feel FULL. Clogged. Filled up. Stifled. Unable to breathe. It’s hard to describe. But blogging has become somewhat of a necessity to me and I’d most likely be doing it even if no one was reading or commenting because it has become that critical to my recovery process.

 2) If you had to live in another time period which period would you chose?

This question is difficult. As a gay man, I am reluctant to choose a time period in the past. The past 40 years have brought a lot of change. Prior to that we had to hide and live our lives in secret. So the past doesn’t appeal to me. I like now. And while things aren’t perfect, it’s inspiring to live in a time where I’m able to witness the marriage equality dominoes falling right before my eyes. State by state and soon the entire country. I suppose the future COULD be interesting to live in. But that’s the thing: Who knows?! It could be terrifying. So today is fine by me. I’ll stay right here.

3) Which person has had the greatest impact on your life?

Oprah. And my mother.

4) Where do you feel most at home?

My house. I also feel really at home at Target. I like walking around with friends and picking up stupid shit like a dish towel and saying how cute it is and that the price is so reasonable. I like putting things in my cart and then putting them back. I also feel really at home at any buffet.

5) Which book do you keep returning to?

I’m a read-it-once kind of guy. There are so many things to read out there that I find it to be a waste of time to read something all over again. I’m the same way with movies. I don’t buy DVDs because they will just sit there.

6) Which of your culinary creations never fails to impress?

I make a really amazing chicken and dumpling soup. It involves opening cans of Pilsbury biscuits which is terrifying. But worth it.

7) What object holds a special significance for you?

My mother gave me her class ring when I graduated from high school. It sits on my desk in a little cheesy ceramic container that says BEST FRIENDS on it. It barely fits on my pinky. It’s something I will treasure forever.

8) If you weren’t blogging what would you do with that time?

I’d probably be drinking. Which I don’t do anymore. So I better keep blogging. I’d also probably be spending more time writing other things. A big challenge that I can foresee in the near future is finding the time to stay current with this blog and also work on my other endeavors. But I really must get back to work on my plays. Somehow.

9) What is your favourite poem?

I have no idea. I don’t have one? I like that Dr. Seuss guy. In all seriousness, I’ve never been a big reader of poetry. I can appreciate it when I do read it. I just don’t seek it out. No idea why.

10) Which character from a film, TV programme, play or novel do you wish you were more like?

I wish I were more like Oprah. And by more like Oprah, I mean that I wish I had all of the money so I could not work and just write and help other people and hang out with Gayle. Also, I wish I were more like my mother: Selfless, generous, regal, and gorgeous.

WE CAN SOBER VACATION

I’m back from Cape Cod. I am EXHAUSTED. So I’m going to post but I refuse to take responsibility for typos and grammar shit so if misuse of commas makes you crazy, it’s probably best of you close your browser now and call Michelle, your therapist. Tell her I say HEY.

I think back to all of the various trips I’ve taken in the past and I can’t come up with one memory of me returning home feeling rested and renewed. There is so much stress that comes along with traveling and I have a really hard time letting go of it. Stupid stuff like WHAT IF THE CAR RENTAL PLACE DOESN’T LET ME HAVE A CAR AND TELLS ME TO GO FUCK MYSELF?! or WHAT IF THE TSA FINDS TONS OF GUNS AND HEROIN IN MY CARRY ON BAG WHEN I GO THROUGH SECURITY!?!?!

It probably doesn’t help that I tend to not be able to sleep the night before leaving for a trip so I start off exhausted and then that exhaustion breeds more exhaustion and each day gets progressively more and more exhausting until I’m delusional and listening to Garth Brooks on the way to Provincetown, waxing poetically about the glory days of 90’s country music. That happened. And I loved it.

So. We woke up Saturday morning EXHAUSTED from packing shit into a suitcase the night before. Then we paid a car service to come and pick us up to drive us to the place where we would pay for another car to drive from New York City to Cape Cod. Once behind the wheel of a vehicle after taking public transportation for so long, you really begin to wish you had your own car again. For those that don’t live in a large metropolitan area where owning a car makes absolutely no sense, you basically end up existing in a bubble and take trains and busses only to places that are within close proximity to your house. It’s a blissful dream for an alcoholic because you don’t have to worry about DUI’s or getting behind the wheel of a car. You can get anywhere and everywhere with a Metrocard. Suddenly having the freedom to fly down the road and stop where you want is absolutely INCREDIBLE. You suddenly want to go EVERYWHERE. You see a TJ Maxx off the highway and say something stupid like OMG TJ MAXX! I NEED UNDERWEAR AND SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT PANTYHOSE and then veer off at the next exit grinning from ear to ear.

Traffic was horrible. It took us 8 hours when it should have only taken 4. My little puppy dog got car sick and started yakking all over the place but then calmed down about halfway there. We got to the house earlier than our friends and waited for them to arrive. Once they did, we spent some time visiting and unpacking and settling in before leaving for dinner.

On the way to the restaurant, boyfriend told me that while I was in the bedroom getting situated, one of the friends had asked him about drinking again and wanted to make sure that I was comfortable if they were to have a glass of wine at dinner, etc. The drinking thing was already addressed weeks before the trip happened so I was a bit surprised that it was brought up again. Always having my back, the boyfriend assured me that he wasn’t trying to cause drama but thought it was important that I know that there was apparently still some apprehension on their part about what I was and wasn’t comfortable with. So as soon as we sat down at the table, I immediately brought it up with the intent of getting it out of the way as soon as possible so it didn’t become a thing. I told them that they are free to do as they please and that I’m totally fine. Dinner proceeded as planned and nothing was awkward about it. Nobody drank but I didn’t really expect them to since they had their two young children with them and were driving. I figured they would kick back with a cocktail later that night once we all got back to the rental house.

We went miniature golfing after dinner. The six year old girl was a major cheater! I tease. But seriously. She was such a cheater. After golfing, it was off to eat hot fudge sundaes. Then back to the house for the night. I braced myself and was prepared to have my seltzer water while they got buzzed at home. I was confident that I’d be able to hold my own and enjoy my friends regardless of what they were doing in terms of beverages. I was totally ready. And then something funny happened: No one drank.

In fact, no one drank the entire time we were there. The rest of the trip marched on by. We took the dog to the beach. We went to Provincetown and did some shopping. We ate out several times. And we hung out at the house together. But somehow, no one swung by the liquor store. No one cracked open a beer. No one had ANYTHING. And it sort of pissed me off. I’m not going to lie. It made me self-conscious. It made me feel like there was some sort of spotlight on me and my sobriety. And it made me feel guilty and worried that I was causing other people to hold back and not enjoy their time the way they wanted to.

I don’t know if any of that is true. It probably isn’t. The other couple was staying on for five more days once we left so maybe they figured there was plenty of time for drinks. When I look at the schedules we kept, drinking didn’t really seem to fit in anyway. We were out and about a lot with the children and the dog. We got home late and everyone seemed ready for bed at fairly early hours. It would be very easy for me to just chalk it all up to the fact that they are just normies. They don’t need it or think about it or obsess over it. But I couldn’t help but think to myself that if it were me on vacation and I wasn’t an alcoholic, I would be drinking CONSTANTLY. But that’s the problem. And it’s not one that they seem to have.

I think for my own edification and to help me understand this a little better, I’d love to be able to ask them at some point down the road exactly what they were thinking, if anything, while we were there. I have no idea how my openness about my recovery impacts other people. I suppose time will tell and we shall see if similar invites come up.

They were absolutely wonderful, though. They didn’t seem the least bit put off or annoyed. And I’d really like to think that it just was a complete non-issue. But there is a small part of me that worries that I was being patronized at the expense of their own enjoyment and that there were stifled feelings of resentment that maybe I couldn’t sense. Then again, isn’t that just being thoughtful and considerate of your friends and their needs? Maybe that’s what they were doing?

I think the best thing to do at this point is to just accept the trip for what it was: A good time with good friends that left me exhausted. There is no need for me to strain myself trying to get inside the heads of others because even if I could, I have no control or power over their feelings or thoughts.

The trip also made me realize how important structure and schedule and routine are to me at this point in my recovery. My head does weird things when there is that much free time. I absolutely have no regrets but it was much more emotionally and mentally draining than I thought it was going to be and I think I’ll wait a while longer before I take another.

Lastly, I want to mention this restaurant I went to called Not Your Average Joes. They had a ZERO PROOF drink menu that was a collection of specialty, fancy non-alcoholic mocktails. It was so fucking awesome to have options other than Diet Coke, iced tea, and water. Look!

 photo

A SHORT SHARE

I posted this in my online support group (The BFB) this morning after being overcome with hope and joy on the way to work. No jokes or funny business in this post. Just wanted to share it here in case you needed to read words like these today. Much love, my little butterbutts. XO

With 120 days just a few days away, I wanted to check in here. This morning on the way to work I just burst into tears. Not because anything was wrong, but because everything was right. I felt alive, present, grateful, amazed by my surroundings, appreciative of the people I have in my life, and blown away by how good life is becoming despite its obvious flaws and speed bumps. THIS is life. THIS is joy. And I don’t ever want to lose this feeling again.

DO NOT call it a pink cloud and tell me it won’t last and to gird my loins. This is something deeper than a momentary euphoric sense of serenity (I’ve had those, too). This is a shift in understanding. This is knowing that even on my worst days, I have so much to embrace and be grateful for and that I can choose to acknowledge that gratitude, tell others about it, and let it grow until it completely snuffs out whatever negativity my alcoholic brain is trying to grow.

Stopping in moments of grief, pain, and anxiety and SPEAKING YOUR GRATITUDE to others, to yourself, or to your higher power (if you do that sort of thing), is a real and tangible strategy at overcoming the shitty times. Instead of marinating in what is wrong, I take deep breaths and FORCEFULLY make myself sit still and stew in what is RIGHT. For as long as it takes to feel better. It’s not just conceptual and idealistic. It’s real and it works for me. I’m hoping it might work for you if you try.

Grateful for my gratitude group and for all of you guys, too. If you don’t have this feeling yet, please trust me and know that you CAN. You will. This sense of authenticity and joy was not fathomable to me 4 months ago. It was beyond my realm of comprehension. And somehow it’s here. The miracle has happened.

I JUST CALLED TO SAY I LOVE YOU

I love you guys as much as Britney Spears loves lip syncing and auto tune. Really. I do.

In sobriety, I find it absolutely astounding that I can care about others who share this common illness without even really knowing much about them. It makes me so happy to wake up every day and have this space to get some things out of me and it’s AMAZING that you are able to read it and maybe it helps you a little, too.

So I’m headed to Cape Cod on Saturday and will be back on Tuesday. I have every intention of posting a bit while I’m there. Maybe some pictures and short thoughts. But I wanted ya’ll to know in case it seems like I disappeared somewhat.

It’s a very safe trip with safe people and I’m not going to drink. Trust. Stay sober with me.

XOXOXO

It’s Britney Johnny, bitch.

TARTAR SAUCE AND NICORETTE

“I really want to do something in radio, I think. Like I want to be Howard Stern or something fucking cool like that,” he said.

The kid couldn’t have been more than 17 years old, 18 max. I had no idea who he was and I don’t think I even bothered asking his name. It was probably on the CVS name tag attached to his uniform: khaki cargo pants and a navy blue polo. He was driving me in his extremely dirty vehicle to a Walgreens about ten minutes away so I could buy a box of nicotine gum and I was starting to feel a little weird about being in the car with a stranger who probably just recently got his license.

My phone rang and I answered.

“What’s taking so long?” my boyfriend asked.

“CVS keeps their nicotine gum behind the pharmacy counter and the pharmacy was closed so I’m going to Walgreens. It’s like right around the corner,” I said.

“He said he’s going to Walgreens?” the boyfriend said with a tinge of concern, relaying the information to our friend Samantha.

Samantha had invited us to her house in New Jersey for drinks and dinner on the very same weekend that I quite impulsively decided to quit smoking. After several cocktails (5? 6?), I had chewed my last piece of gum and was suddenly losing my mind and craving a smoke. I excused myself to take a two minute walk to the shopping center around the corner to buy some more Nicorette which both Samantha and my boyfriend were completely agreeable to. They even gave me the task of also stopping to pick up a bottle of tartar sauce for the soon to be ready fried fish.

“Samantha says Walgreens is one town over. Like 15 minutes away by car! How the fuck are you getting there? It’s too far to walk!” the boyfriend shrieked.

“It’s actually only like 10 minutes. We’re almost there,” I coolly replied.

“We?? Who is we?!”

“Me and the kid from CVS. He said he would drive me to Walgreens to get nicotine gum,” I said as I listened to them discuss my escapade in very worried whispers. I was entirely dumbfounded as to why they found this to be so troubling.

“Is everything okay?” the kid from CVS asked, one hand on the steering wheel and the other picking a zit or something.

“Yes. Sorry. Hey. Tell Samantha I’ll be back soon! We’re pulling in now. Just fucking relax,” I said.

“Hurry up,” he said, “And the tartar sauce.” CLICK.

What happened inside of CVS leading up to this little joy ride is somewhat blurry. I remember walking around the pharmacy area looking for the nicotine gum and not being able to find it. I remember a store clerk telling me that the pharmacy was closed and that it was behind the counter and locked away. I remember getting loud and telling them that quitting smoking is no joke and that they might be responsible for people lighting up a cigarette again and do they really want that on their conscience? Do they?! I remember the store clerk getting on the phone and unsuccessfully trying to get ahold of the pharmacy manager who had the key. And finally, I remember the store clerk asking another store clerk (the kid) to take his lunch break early and drive me to Walgreens.

Let me pause here to point out a few things about this story that simply astound me.

First of all, why the FUCK was I so concerned with not smoking a cigarette? I was a drunk asshole! Taking the smoke away wouldn’t change that. Why did I not simply buy a pack of cigarettes and try to stop again once I was able to regain access to nicotine gum? I had consumed the equivalent of half a bottle of liquid poison and had been drinking nonstop for 3 years straight without ever making such a bold and outlandish attempt to stop. But in this instance, I absolutely WAS NOT going to smoke. I didn’t care what it took. I could be a raging drunk alcoholic (and I was), but a fucking cigarette smoker? NO GODDAMNED WAY. NOT ANYMORE.

Second, I’m certain I smelled like Mayberry’s Otis Campbell, and instead of Andy Griffith coming to arrest me and put me in that fake jail cell, these clowns were offering to get into a car with me and do me a favor?! What on earth were they thinking?? I really feel like going back to that CVS and finding those store clerks and telling them just how reckless and dangerous they behaved by allowing an obviously drunk stranger to get in the car with them. I mean, I’m not a mean drunk and I know I would never intentionally cause anyone any harm, but I’m also a big brother with two younger siblings, and I would absolutely smack the shit out of them if they ever did anything as dangerous as this kid from CVS.

Lastly, I have a lot of shame about the whole thing. I feel horribly guilty that I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to decline the offer and not put this kid in a situation that I’m certain his parents wouldn’t approve of. I feel like I need to apologize to him, to his mom and dad.

“Are you drunk?” he asked as we pulled into the parking lot of Walgreens.

“Not really. I had a few drinks with friends,” I replied.

“I got drunk last night. It was pretty cool,” he said in that “bro” kind of way.

“Oh. Cool.”

I should have told him to be careful or he’d end up like me. But I didn’t. I bought my nicotine gum, he drove us back to CVS, I gave him $10 for gas and his time, he went back to work, and I started walking back to Samantha’s house chewing and feeling better now that I had my fix. I was ready for another drink.

At the time, my life seemed to be irreparably out of control. Everything was broken. I couldn’t go one day without alcohol. I was compulsively destroying myself at a very rapid rate. But somehow my mind had decided that if I could just control this one thing, it meant that all hope was not lost. It meant that maybe there was a chance for me to one day get myself sober again. I didn’t realize it at the time, but quitting smoking in the midst of my active alcoholism was my way of screaming out to myself. I was leaning over and looking down at myself sitting helplessly at the bottom of my dark, alcoholic well.

You can do hard shit, John. You can stop drinking. You can.

Somehow I did manage to stop smoking even though I kept drinking. And it took another three years before I would be not only smoke free, but alcohol free. It took three long, hard, miserable years once that tiny seed was planted before I found the willingness and strength to try getting rid of alcohol next. But there is no gum to chew for this monster of an addiction, is there?

I got back to Samantha’s and walked inside. They looked equally concerned and relieved that I was back.

“Dinner’s ready,” she said. “You forgot the tartar sauce, didn’t you?”

Shit.

I’M NOT OPRAH BUT I HAVE FAVORITE THINGS

Coming up on 120 days here pretty soon and I get a lot of questions about what kind of shit I do to keep myself not only dry, but SOBER. To me, there is a difference. Being sober means finding serenity in recovery and not being utterly miserable every fucking day without a drink. Dry is miserable. Dry is like a constant itch that can’t be scratched. Dry is feeling like something is always missing. Before my relapse when I had miraculously put together over 3 years of dryness, I wasn’t sober. What was I? Well. I wasn’t drinking. I was terrified by the health issues I had developed which scared me into submission. And I was BUSY. I did everything in my power to silence that feeling of emptiness by creating a full schedule for myself that did not include recovery work at all. I went back to school to finish my degree. I started writing and directing my own plays. Basically, I substituted any type of treatment or self-care with workaholism. My new drug of choice. Eventually, I got tired. Then a key part of my false sense security (my relationship at the time) fell apart. And I wanted to drink. Subconsciously at first. Then the thoughts came. And what could I do? I couldn’t seek solace in my work. I couldn’t cry in the arms of my work. I couldn’t tell my work what I was going through. I had no sober network whatsoever. I had no tools to rely on and for those 3+ years, I got through because I was a.) distracted and b.) not facing any immediate trauma or stress. And then the distraction wasn’t distracting enough and I was facing one of the most difficult experiences of my life: divorce. Well. It was basically divorce. We were together for 8 years and while not able to legally marry, we were extremely intertwined financially and codependently.

This time is different. This time I’m choosing to fill that emptiness with activities, people, and things that TREAT my disease rather than mask it. I’m still actively working on my art and writing and pursuing new productions of my shows, but I’m putting this work first. Sometimes it’s very challenging and time consuming but I have to do it. Because what the fuck am I supposed to do if something awful happens again and I find myself without the tools and resources to make it through? I can’t go back again. There is a podcast I listen to regularly (more in a moment) and on it, someone said, “Every day I wake up with an untreated disease. And each day I have to treat it or else it will kill me.” I’m paraphrasing here. But that’s really what’s going on, isn’t it? I wouldn’t skip medication for hypertension, would I? And this is no different.

So what do I do? What is in my toolbox? I thought maybe it would be helpful to list some resources and things I love in case some of you might find something new to take up in your own program. Some of these are practical. Some of these are WEIRD. Some of them really aren’t recovery related other than the fact that they make me feel better. Whatever.

The rest of this post is going to read sort of like a written version of Oprah’s Favorite Things. And while nobody gets a free car, I’ll be your Gayle if you agree to be my Stedman.

  • The Bubble Hour- The Bubble Hour is a weekly podcast hosted by some really fucking cool women named Amanda, Ellie, Jean, Catherine, and Lisa. I hope I’m not forgetting anyone? During my first month of sobriety, I listened to this CONSTANTLY. On the way to work, on the way home from work, laying in bed at night, during sex, etc. Okay, not that last one. But basically all the time. So much so that I started having freaky dreams about it. There is SOOO much information to be had and you feel as if you are sitting around chatting with people who genuinely care about you. I got so depressed when I realized I had listened to all of the past episodes so I listened to them again. And even now I am often turning one on at the gym or when I’m bored. It airs every Sunday night. Sometimes they do re-broadcasts instead of a new episode which really makes me so angry because everything is about ME and how dare they take a break to live their lives. More info here: http://www.thebubblehour.com/
  • Hot Sauce- Since getting sober, I put hot sauce on everything. If you don’t like hot things, don’t try this one because hot sauce is hot, FYI. Don’t ask me why this is a tool in my recovery toolbox but IT IS. I have hot sauce everywhere. At home and in my desk drawer at work. Nothing is too weird to put hot sauce on. Maybe it’s the burn I’m after? Maybe it’s the acidic taste of the vinegar in it? Maybe I’m pregnant again? I don’t know. But it brings me great joy and when I sit down to a meal, my bottle of sauce is right next to me religiously just like my cocktail used to be. The point here is to find things you love and LOVE THEM HARD. Not to the point of physical harm. Don’t drink your hot sauce from a cup or something. Or do!
  • Booze Free Brigade (The BFB)- This resource was totally game changing for me. Although very hard to say 10 times fast, The Booze Free Brigade is an online community of mostly women and some men. It allows for real time access to support. In addition to being able to reach out 24/7 with your questions or concerns and receiving very quick responses, the people are lovely and I’ve made so many new friends there. It’s just a really safe place to go and a lot of the members take it one step further and hold meet-ups with other BFB people in their area. More info about The BFB can be found at The Bubble Hour’s website here.
  • Puppy Cuddles- Okay. So here is what you do. Go get a puppy. Lay down in bed. Put the puppy on your chest and let him lick your face for a little bit. Pretend you’re grossed out even though you totally love it. Then let the puppy climb into that crevice between you chin and your shoulder. He’ll curl up and go to sleep. Put your hand on him and feel him breathing. Smell the adorable puppy fur smell. He loves you so much. And you love him so much. THIS IS THE CLOSEST TO A CURE FOR ALCOHOLISM THAT I KNOW OF. If you can’t get a puppy of your own, go visit other people’s puppies. Don’t steal other people’s puppies, please. Here’s mine.
  • Gratitude Group- One of the most incredible gifts in sobriety so far is my increasing awareness of all that I have to be grateful for. After joining The BFB, I was so fortunate to be invited to join a small and intimate group where we come together daily and share not only what we are grateful for but what we are experiencing in our daily lives. The friendships that have been formed in such a short period of time are astounding. And there are plans for us all to meet up for a weekend in the future. How do you get in on one of these? Well. If you know a handful of sober people, you could always start your own. More than happy to answer questions about how it all works. Don’t personally know any other sober people? Maybe check out The BFB as mentioned above or email me about the small gratitude group that was started as a result of this blog! But before you do, here is more about gratitude from my post GET GRATEFUL FOR GRATITUDE, GIRL.
  • Recovery Blogs- Well. You’re reading one right now. And let me tell you, I READ THEM TO! Tons of them. So many that I don’t often comment because I just don’t know how to keep up with the comments here AND find the time to chat on everyone else’s. Something I’d like to work on. But I do read them everyday. A simple Google search of ‘sober blog’ will lead you down an endless supply of things to read and people to reach out to. It’s very helpful for me to read how others perceive this disease and to learn what works for them and what doesn’t.
  • Recovery Memoirs- Just like the blogs, there is a seemingly endless supply of recovery memoirs to get your hands on. If you can’t afford to buy, check your local library’s digital section online. Right now I am reading Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. Others that I loved were Dry by Augusten Burroughs and Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man by Bill Clegg. Also, his follow up 90 Days was fantastic as well.
  • Carbonated ANYTHING- Soda water. Seltzer. La Croix. Canada Dry flavored seltzers. Anything that is extremely bubbly. I tend to not get anything with sugar in it. Again, I don’t know what it is but when I’m sitting with a meal or visiting with friends, I just have to have it. I like the slight burn of the bubbles on my throat. It makes my mouth feel more alive compared to normal stagnant water. It’s just infinitely more satisfying to me than anything else I could be drinking that’s non-alcoholic. I tend to keep at least 3-5 different flavors and types of soda water in my house so I never get bored. And I make it special. I know it might sound dumb but I get a nice glass, add ice, cut some limes to squeeze in, etc. I make it ceremonious and ritualistic the same way I would if preparing a cocktail. Because aside from getting shitty, I also enjoyed that part of it, too. And that part of it does me no harm. Of course, avoid this if you would find that sort of process triggery, I guess.
  • Gardening- This was the most random and shocking one of all. I suddenly got an urge to transform our deck into a little oasis. Remember? There is something so therapeutic about not only having a place to go sit and breathe, but it’s also extremely calming just to water the fucking plants. I don’t know why. I don’t care why. But it feels good. I’m constantly rearranging things out there. I don’t have the greenest of thumbs so I also have to replant new things if something doesn’t make it. Give it a try! Maybe a few house plants?
  • Elaborate showers- Make sure no one needs to use the bathroom for a while. Turn on the water steaming hot. Pull out every bath and beauty product you own. Use them all. Exfoliate every inch of skin you have. Trim your nails even though they don’t really need trimming. Examine your eyebrows for 15 minutes for no reason. Put a green facial mask on and pretend you’re a witch. Use that loofa thing as a microphone and sing Celine Dion songs. Look at your butt in the mirror and say, “Okay. Okay, fine. That’s my butt.” Actually try following the shampoo company’s instructions and REPEAT after you lather/rinse. What do you have to lose? Break the rules and use more than the size of a quarter if you want. Fuck them. Draw smiley faces on the mirror when you get out. Apply a Biore strip to your nose before you leave the bathroom. Lay in your bed feeling so calm and warm. 10 minutes later, remove Biore strip and gross out your boyfriend by showing him all of the black rods that you just yanked out of your face.
  • Frozen Yogurt- I love frozen yogurt. This can be eaten all the time if you need to. If you think you are about to drink, run to the frozen yogurt place, put your mouth under one of the flavors (I like strawberry cake batter), pull the lever, swallow, and then call someone who is also sober. Don’t worry about how big your butt is right now. Frozen yogurt actually makes your butt smaller. Just keep telling yourself that. Seriously, though. Have some fucking frozen yogurt sometimes. IT’S FINE. You can borrow my hot sauce.
  • Meditation- This one is new to me. So far, I know that it makes me dizzy from breathing really deep for so long and that I don’t mind that. I also know that it calms me down. I’d like to learn how to do it better and more effectively. For now, I use an iPhone app a friend turned me on to which is called END ANXIETY. I feel obligated to warn you that when I first used it on the train, I got so relaxed that I came dangerously close to drifting off and farting in front of everyone. Like. I jumped and had to quickly pucker my butthole to prevent myself from flatulating. Which made me anxious again so maybe I should have just let nature take its course. BUT I’M A GENTLEMAN.
  • Cardio- This is a really hard one because I find it SOOOO difficult to make myself do it but it’s the one that makes me feel the best. I used to spend at least 2-6 hours a day drunk doing nothing else other than staring at Facebook and watching weird videos of goats screaming. Surely I can squeeze in an hour a day to sweat it out and get my blood pumping. Easier said than done, I know. The love/hate relationship here is unfortunate but lately I’ve been pretty good about it and am loving what it is doing for me.
  • Talking to myself- I talk to myself all the time. I don’t care who thinks I’m crazy. If I’m thinking something really dumb, I will stop and say, “GIRL, YOU FUCKING STUPID RIGHT NOW.” Yeah, some people have given me weird looks but that usually ends up making me laugh and laughter is amazing so it’s a win/win. Self-talk is key for me. And while you may want to take a gentler approach and not cuss yourself out like I do, this one really helps me.
  • HGTV- HGTV stands for Home and Garden Television. They have shows where people just look at houses they might want to buy. You get to yell at the TV when they buy the stupidest one out of the three. They have shows where muscular men break things and then build them back up looking much nicer. They have shows where they do all of this work to your house to try to get you to stay in it and then you just get to be an asshole and LEAVE THE HOUSE ANYWAY. This is all therapy to me. And when my head is not right, this channel goes on and I grab some frozen yogurt, hot sauce, seltzer, and my puppy and we GO TO TOWN.

Okay. NOW. What might be fun is if you all comment with some of the shit you like/do in this crazy process of ongoing recovery. I’d like some more ideas for myself and also ya’ll might get some ideas from one another?

Hope everyone has a great day!