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Hi Hi Hi

Not that I’m counting or anything (I AM counting OMG), but my lower jaw lands on the floor whenever I glance at a calendar and realize just how close I’ve come to being sober for an entire year. There is no day but today, one day at a time, yada yada yada, yeah, all true, fine whatever, shut the fuck up. I know. And I know that one year won’t mean that I’ve graduated. It won’t mean that it’s safe to drink again. It won’t mean that I’ve won at sobriety. This is not some fucked up game of Mario Brothers and no princesses are being saved from a giant dragon turtle thing as a result of me not pouring poison down my throat, but it’s pretty fucking cool nonetheless.

DON’T JINX IT says the little asshole voice in my head to which I say GIRL, PLEASE. Alcohol is the furthest thing from my mind right now. I’ve got 99 problems and booze is NOT about to become one of them. I woke up the other morning after a completely inappropriate heavy junk food eating session the night before. Oh. My. God. We had chips and dips and cheeses and crackers and ice cream and every single kind of bullshit under the sun. Well, so, I woke up and felt awful, destroyed, disgusting, HUNGOVER. It was crazy how closely the feelings mimicked being hungover. I actually thought OMG DID I SLEEPWALK AND THEN SLEEPDRINK? But it was just garbage in my body. And I thought how awful it would have been to also have had drinks along with it. Used to do it all the time without even thinking about it.

It wasn’t a hangover, exactly, and I was able to get up and get myself going, but I was reminded about where I’ve been and where I want to be. It was just enough shitty to make all of the old feelings come flooding back. I don’t want that EVER AGAIN. In fact, I don’t want the junk food hangover ever again. I’ve become so addicted to wanting to feel GOOD that I don’t eat that way hardly ever. As a result, I’ve been steadily dropping pounds. It’s like things are naturally shifting over to some more efficient way of existing and I really haven’t had to consciously make a ton of choices other than DON’T DRINK. No matter what. Even if my asshole explodes and an asteroid comes flying out of it and it hurts so bad that I want to die. DON’T DRINK. Just. Don’t. Be the anti-Nike. Just DON’T DO IT. Everything else starts falling into place with a little work and a lot of patience.

Hey, but things aren’t entirely great, you guys. I’m still wonky even after nearly 11 months. When they tell you it’s going to take a really long time for everything to even out, believe that. I woke up the other morning with absolutely nothing to do all day long other than 1.) Do the laundry and 2.) Maybe go buy some groceries. I lay in bed when I woke up and had so much fucking anxiety over that, it was unbelievable. HOW WILL I DO ALL OF THESE THINGS TODAY?! How will I do those TWO, COUNT THEM, TWO simple, mundane, easy things? It’s little shit like that that reminds me that, wait, okay, maybe we’re not totally OKAY yet. But I go easy on myself. I reminded myself that I could just wear dirty shirts if I really wanted to. I could just order take out food all week if I really wanted to. I could do whatever, whenever, and nothing terrible would happen. Barbara Walters will not drop dead if I don’t wash my panties. Relax. And so I did. I relaxed.

What I’m trying to say is that I think I’m still just as crazy as ever, but the difference is that now I don’t feel the need to hide the crazy or push it way down deep into a hole, drowning it with something temporary. I just act crazy, acknowledge, say WHOA THAT’S NOT COOL, and then work through it as best as I can to get less crazy. It’s getting easier and easier.

I really would love to update here more. I’m in the middle of writing a novel for kiddos and I’ve only accidentally said FUCK, like, twice. Such an adventure.

I hope anyone who still reads this is doing fabulously. I do genuinely wish everyone so much peace, love, and continued recovery. Still working on that balance thing and will be back here as often as I can without compromising my wellbeing.

XO

NINE MONTHS

Nine months sober and 6cm dilated. Feel like I’m giving birth to my life again. It’s pretty good, and I’ll name her Cathy.

So much has changed in such a relatively short period of time. It has been 3/4 of an entire year since this whole journey began. When I think of the time that has elapsed, it somehow seems to have passed by insanely fast and terribly slow all at the same time. The days and months begin to fly by at a warp speed while the emotional progress seems to crawl along imperceptibly, like thick sap down a tree. We always seem to measure our progress by marking days, months, years, but the work that we do doesn’t seem to comfortably fit into the container of man made units of time. As life begins to resume its normal breakneck speed, I continue to feel as if I’m hobbling along while everything and everyone passes me by.

A simple question pushed to the forward of my mind after hearing it several times on The Bubble Hour: Is this true?

Is it true that I’m being left behind by my peers and that I can’t have a successful career because I’m taking it easy right now? No. The success and accomplishments of others do not deplete some imaginary success pool that will somehow dry up and become empty by the time I’m ready to swim in it. Success doesn’t work that way. The world will not suddenly run out of opportunity for artists to present their work. No. It is not true. Continue taking it easy.

I’ve had to slow down quite a bit over the past six months. I’ve had to explicitly state and enforce boundaries for myself and for others. I’ve had to pull back creatively, socially, and return to a simpler state. I felt as if things were falling around me, and while never once did I come anywhere close to drinking, I knew that something just wasn’t quite right.

Things are better now. If we’re using these man made units of time to describe and mark our progress, I’d say that I feel six months sober now rather than the nine that it actually is. What I mean is that at around six months, when my friend passed away and everything went to shit, I mentally and emotionally feel as if I reverted back to an earlier place, like the floor fell out from under me and I slid all the way back, like I was in some fucked up emotional live action game of Chutes and Ladders.

I am grateful for these nine months. I am grateful for the practice I have had in managing and coping with difficult things. And I’m grateful that I managed to keep alcohol from jumping down my throat.

I think the most surprising of all of the changes is the fact that I just don’t think that much about alcohol or sobriety anymore. At times, that is quite a relief. It seemed that toward the beginning I was constantly thinking about not drinking. I’d be walking down the street and just think, “I’m walking down the street. I don’t drink anymore,” or I’d be falling asleep and think, “Going to sleep without having drank tonight. I don’t drink anymore.” It was CONSTANT. But now there are entire days that go by where I barely consider it.

I recognize that this relief from the obsession of alcoholism and recovery can also be a curse. There is a very fine line between accidental apathy and the prolonged blindness that takes hold leading up to a relapse. Remember, I’ve lived it. So I’m working on inserting myself back into the fold in various ways to keep myself plugged in, connected, and aware of my disease. It takes a concerted effort to make recovery a part of your life, and I definitely could do a better job at it.

Still, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to write about recovery or my experience. It isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve sat staring at a blank WordPress page many times over the past month wondering what it is I had to say. The truth is, I’m living a somewhat calm and basic life these days. I’m reading voraciously. I’m spending time with my dog and boyfriend. I’m going to work and attempting to pay down debt. I’m just BEING without alcohol and without very many thoughts about alcohol or recovery.

But I think I could stand to have a few more thoughts about my recovery than I currently do. For these reasons, I’m going to get some meetings in. At the very least, my Sunday morning. But perhaps more. I also think I’m ready to start meeting with someone regularly to begin unpacking stuff more deeply. So fortunate for comprehensive insurance that will help me with that.

Overall, I’m GOOD. I feel fine. But I know I can feel even better and I’m ready to work on that.

YOU DO YOU

Got a motherfucking email asking me why I fucking cuss so goddamned much.

The answer is simple, Sally! It helps keep me sober! It’s one of my tools! And it’s soooo fun!

For me, there is something extremely freeing about being verbally explosive when I write here or chat with friends. It feels as if it gets the negative shit OUT of me quicker. Some people scream into pillows. Some people buy a punching bag. But me? I WRITE THE WORD FUCK. And I say it, too.

I understand that superficially it may sometimes appear as if I have major anger issues. And I do. Don’t we all? But I guarantee you that if I didn’t allow for release via words, I’d probably resort to other less kind ways of decompressing… like crashing the birthday parties of little girls dressed like a terrifying clown where I would tell them awful things like, “OMG Taylor Swift IS DEAD!” or, “All of your kittens and puppies have CANCER!”

I choose to view my obscene mouth as a public service that keeps everyone who comes in contact with me safe from more extreme and impolite outbursts.

So it’s on record: This blog is rated R for Recovery, ya’ll, and also for Really Raw Words Sometimes.

Now, I’m not advocating for you guys to call up Ms. Rosetta Stone and purchase her 5 week course in Potty Mouth. But I am encouraging you to do the things that keep you sober as long as they don’t hurt anyone else directly.

Can I get a fucking amen?

HOLIDAY SHOPPING

The goddamned holidays are back, you guys, and I’m actually pretty excited this time around. I’m going to be hopping on a plane with my puppy dog to fly across the country to my home state of Arizona where the people are absolutely fucking bonkers and the government hates gay people and Hispanics. I’m a little bit of both, so returning to the place from which I fled is always a bittersweet event. Fortunately, gay marriage was just legalized in The Grand Canyon State so progress is being made. Politics aside, I am very much looking forward to the week-long trip during which I will be able to spend some quality time with my fam-fam.

At this very time last year, I was in a state of anticipatory dread over the impending return home. I would monitor the calendar daily and attempt to pick the most appropriate day to stop drinking in order to dry out just enough to be able to carry on a conversation without looking and sounding like a freak. My family and friends were all under the assumption that I was still sober after having started my first go at recovery in 2005. For me, a return to Phoenix didn’t mean resolving to make every effort to moderate. It meant complete abstinence. It was not a situation in which I could drink without blowing my cover. I would be dependent on my family for transportation and housing. Even if I weren’t, they surely would be able to identify the telltale signs that I was using again. So, for years I boarded the plane hungover (the attempts to sober up a bit before leaving never worked) and flew the six hours to the dry, dry booze-free desert. I would white knuckle it the entire time and long for the moment when mom would return me to the airport for my flight back to New York where I would immediately stop for a vodka soda once clearing security.

Last Christmas was different. I was unable to remain sober during that visit despite all of the possible negative consequences that could befall me. It was a very real and scary manifestation of how my drinking had progressed over the course of six years. It began when I arrived at JFK before my departure. Already hungover, I stopped for beers. The thought crossed my mind that my mother might be able to smell it on me when she picked me up in Phoenix, but I dismissed those concerns quickly once the warm buzz began to set in. And then the deafening obsession began to howl.

I purposefully neglected to purchase Christmas presents prior to leaving New York with the idea that I would be able to sneak away and do some “shopping” at nighttime when mom was in for the evening. After some minor questioning about why I didn’t come prepared, the keys were handed over and I went about my merry way. The most inconvenient thing about the whole plan was that I actually had to go fucking Christmas shopping. I hastily moved through big box stores giving little thought or consideration to the items I was choosing for those that I supposedly cared for the most in life. Gift cards. Socks. Scented candle. Tampons. Ho, ho, ho.

I threw the bags filled with manipulative deceit and tinsel into the trunk of the SUV, drove to the nearest grocery store, and walked toward the liquor and wine section. I avoided the liquor store and opted for a grocery so I could quickly run to produce section and pretend to be examining an avocado if I happened to see someone I knew. Liquor stores have no avocados to hide behind.

I decided against hard alcohol because the smell was too easily identifiable. I knew mom had poured herself a glass of wine earlier in the evening (just one). WINE. I hate wine but… She won’t be able to smell it if she’s been drinking it herself. I’m a fucking genius! Wine it was. But the bottles are so big. And loud. I’ll need more than one and they will surely clank against one another in my bags of very sad presents. Wait. What’s this?! Wine inside of small cardboard boxes?! With twist-off tops?! Easily collapsible containers that I can smash down and hide the empties in my suitcase in my bedroom?! PERFECT. I’ll take ten.

I brought the bag of wine cartons to the vehicle and put them on the passenger seat next me.

WHAT AM I DOING?

I got back out and went to the trunk, retrieving one of the depressing bags of obligatory gifts. I put it in the front seat along with the wine cartons. I took the wine cartons out, one by one, and shoved them in with the gifts so I could easily sneak them into the house. I drove home with my hand resting atop my brilliant plan which sat next to me whispering sweet nothings into my ear. DRINK ME. I’M WINE. I’M CUTE! I would get home, walk in the door, announce that I had presents to wrap, and disappear to do so. And drink. Then I’d slink from the bedroom and into the bathroom thinking I was finished imbibing for the night, and I would brush my teeth. I’d then return to the room and decide that I wasn’t done. I’d drink another box of wine. Then back to the bathroom to re-brush. And back and forth several times.

But before I would do all of the above, I pulled the SUV over to the side of the road and turned off the engine. I was about 30 feet from the house, 30 feet from being able to easily start my evening of isolation as planned. But it wasn’t soon enough. I wasn’t close enough. Without any thought process preceding the action, I reached into the bag, pulled out a box of wine, twisted the top. CHUG. CHUG. CHUG. Ahhhhhh. I put the empty back into the bag. I pulled out another, twisted the top. CHUG. CHUG. CHUG. Ahhhhh. Ok. Now I’m ready to go inside and start drinking.

I started the engine and drove the remaining 30 feet to the curb in front of the house. As I unloaded my gifts, a cop car drove by very slowly apparently on patrol. He waved. I waved back. He drove away.

I did my wine thing that night, felt like shit the next morning, and spent the rest of the trip filled with resentment and anger. I resented the fact that I couldn’t repeat the process the following night. I resented the fact that my mother would have a glass of wine here and there even though she asked if it would bother me and I said no. I was angry that I couldn’t be a big fat fucking alcoholic and let it all hang out. As a result, I wasn’t present. I missed the one opportunity I have each year to connect with my loved ones. I missed the entire thing.

With 8 months of sobriety under my belt, this year will be different. It has to be.

Looking forward to loving, feeling, embracing, and soaking up every little bit of joy that I possibly can.

EASY DOES IT

Hi there and how the fuck are you? Happy, healthy, sober, and sexy, I hope. And you ARE sexy so stop it with that self-depreciation bullshit, okay ma’am?

How am I you ask? Well. That’s an extremely complicated question. I know it has been a while since my last post. My first instinct is to say that I’m so incredibly sorry for being absent, but I’m going to resist the urge to apologize because I know that I have nothing to be sorry for. Sometimes certain things have to give. Projects get put on the back burner. It’s okay to take breaks. The things that are important to us ebb and flow. Things change… sometimes forever… and sometimes things change for just a few minutes (months). The bloggy blog just had to hold on for a second so that mama could figure out what the fuck was going on.

The most frequent piece of advice that I’ve received over the past few months has been the adamant direction to do whatever it takes to stay sober. So that’s what I did. And whatever it takes meant putting my head down, pushing through obligations, and getting out the other end without a drop of liquor going down my throat. And not a drop did, thank God. It easily could have been a disaster. But it wasn’t, and I’m coming up on 7 months sober in a few days.

I’ve been in this really intense funk that has at times been slightly frightening. It all started on August 30th when I found out a friend had passed away. I never really considered drinking over it, but it shook me to my core and dramatically shifted my trajectory on this recovery journey of mine. It felt as if I was knocked off my high wire and I was no longer standing on my own two feet. Instead, I was crawling on a thin and shaky surface at risk of falling at any given moment. It also felt as if I had spun myself around for hours and was then asked to continue crawling on the same straight line I was walking before everything became murky and sad. I was disoriented, depressed, and my entire reality became something that was significantly darker. Harder.

I also began work on the presentation of one of my plays. This was an obligation that I put into motion months earlier thinking that I was ready and that it wouldn’t be an issue. Honestly, if it weren’t for the death of my friend, it might have ended up being completely fine. Instead, I started moving into preparations for the show while already on extremely uneasy legs and ominously shaky ground. Contracts had already been signed and there was little that I could do to get out of the situation without causing myself significant trouble professionally. So I pushed forward.

I’ve spent the past few months feeling as if I might lose my mind. There were many instances where my anxiety and stress levels reached a point that resulted in me bursting out in tears and acting somewhat inappropriately. There were some meetings that I literally walked out of because I just couldn’t take the panic that was washing over me. There were also moments of extreme clarity where I would laugh at myself and think OK, GIRL. CALM THE FUCK DOWN. THIS ISN’T THAT BIG OF A DEAL. BABIES WILL NOT DIE IF YOUR PLAY ISN’T AMAZING. Those moments of clarity seemed so real, and I would convince myself that I had turned a corner and everything would be okay. An hour later I would be on the floor hyperventilating and bawling about how my brain just couldn’t handle the stress.

TOO MUCH, TOO SOON is a VERY REAL thing. FYI (For Your Information). But what’s really fucked up about the whole thing is that I didn’t KNOW that it was going to be too much until I had already fucking bit off way WAY more than I could chew. And like I said, maybe dealing with JUST the death of the friend would have been manageable. Maybe dealing with JUST the show would have been okay. But some bitch somewhere decided it would be real cute to throw them both at me simultaneously. And it turned me into a psycho that would start crying if the toothpaste accidentally fell off my toothbrush before I got it to my mouth (true story).

Things are calmer now, but I’m still feeling the effects of the past few months. I’m shell shocked. I feel creatively and professionally whiplashed. I feel compelled to get back to work on a new project because that’s just how I’m wired. But I’m resisting. I’m sitting still. I’m making myself stop, reflect, assess, and wait. I’m going back to my base. I’m getting back in my bubble. I’m returning to the necessary work that my recovery requires. I’m meditating on balance. I’m thinking hard about how and why I do things. There are DOZENS of blog posts that I could write as a result of this single paragraph. And I will. But I’m not going to rush myself and I’m going to take this at a pace that is right for me from now on. I know I used to write often and I might again at some point, but for now I’m just going to take it easy.

Here is what I have learned:

  • When you think you are ready to take on the entire world, maybe don’t.
  • It’s okay to set boundaries that might upset others in order to maintain your sobriety.
  • Service to others is important, but it should not come before your own sobriety,
  • The best way to stay sober during difficult times is to NOT FUCKING DRINK AT ALL NO MATTER WHAT, OKAY?!
  • It’s okay to be quiet for a while.
  • PAWS is real and persists for quite a while (at least for me).
  • Death is a really hard thing to deal with sober. I can’t imagine how awful it would be if drunk.
  • You CAN eat too much ice cream.

Much love from New York City. Let’s keep going.

I’M OKAY

Hi guys. Getting message after message of concern. I know they come from a place of love so thank you. But I will admit that they are stressing me out! Ha. Putting this post up so it’s there for everyone to read who might come and check in here.

I am totally and entirely OKAY. I am over six months sober. I’m moving right along.

My life shifted quite abruptly and I have suddenly been immersed in situations professionally that have demanded a great deal of time and energy. Perhaps too much, too soon. But that is an analysis for another time. After Oct 31, the bulk of what has been going on will be over. At that point, I will begin reassessing where I am at and the role that BALANCE plays in my recovery. Because there hasn’t been good balance over the past few months. There certainly wasn’t enough balance being employed to keep all of the plates spinning. That’s what it has felt like. This shouldn’t feel like a circus act. And it has.

Something had to give. Updating regularly on the internet ended up being that something. It’s not something I wanted to do and I do plan to make this blog, my gratitude group, and my other writings a more pressing part of my daily routine soon.

This is where I am at the moment, and I cannot make any apologies for it. Yet.

Thanks for letting me move through this stretch. Lots to figure out, but until this month is over there is literally and absolutely no way for me to pause long enough to do so. That’s not a good thing, and I know it. But it is what it is.

Keep doing your thing. Stay sober with me. Talk soon. Don’t worry. My absenteeism digitally does not mean I am absent from my life. On the contrary, I think I’m LIVING a little bit TOO MUCH and need to back things down a bit once my current show is over.

XO

SOBER MUSCLES

There are these really disgusting men at the gym that wander aimlessly and look at themselves sexually in the mirror as if they might take themselves home and get themselves pregnant. They seem to be performing and appear to believe wholeheartedly that the entire gym population is staring at them and admiring their very large muscles and, in most cases, tiny chicken legs that don’t match the upper part of their body. They want everyone to know just how hard they worked to get into their current shape and they drive that point home by grunting and screaming like gorillas as they lift big metal bars into the air and put them back down on the floor with a THUD.

I get it, boys. Really. I do. I have been wandering around New York City over the past few weeks working out my sobriety muscles. I’ve been lifting really heavy emotional shit like death and anxiety. I’ve been curling very cumbersome and socially awkward situations in hopes that maybe I’d get stronger. And I have! Really, I have. And like you, I want everyone to know about the hard work I’ve put in and how it’s paying off. But I can’t run up to complete strangers and say things like I JUST DRANK COFFEE WITH A FRIEND WITHOUT GETTING DRUNK BEFORE I WENT! Well. I CAN say that to a complete stranger if I’d like to, but they aren’t going to understand the significance of it. They’re going to look at me the same way we look at those meatheads in the gym that scream with the intensity of someone taking the world’s most massively large shit. So who can we tell? EACH OTHER!

I went out to dinner the other night with the boyfriend and another couple. The discussion was had via email before we went regarding alcohol consumption and whether or not it was kosher for them to drink some wine at the table. I told them to do what they wanted to do and that I was fine either way. And I was. They got their wine and I got my club soda and we ate delicious food. There was nothing awkward about the beverages on the table. There WAS however some awkwardness on my part in terms of not feeling open and connected to the conversation being had. I felt pressured and cornered and had a hard time finding things to say. I think it was because they are friends that I’m not particularly close to and don’t see very often. They are LOVELY people, but there just isn’t a familiarity that makes me easy going around them yet. An amazing thing did happen, though. I suddenly became extremely aware of the fact that I was feeling off. As the conversation progressed, I was able to internally dialogue with myself briefly. I accepted the fact that I was feeling shy and uncomfortable, I told myself that it would all be okay and to just relax. I reminded myself that there were no expectations being placed on me and that the people seated across from us just wanted to have a good time. RELAX. RELAX. RELAX. And I did. I left that dinner feeling stronger and more prepared for future situations that would be similar. Like the musclemen, I wanted to GRUNT LOUDLY and let everyone in Williamsburg know that I just did something HARD. I ATE FUCKING DINNER WITH PEOPLE AND TALKED. And it is hard. No one gets that. But you do.

I recently spoke about my concern that I was declining invites and backing out of things due to the fact that I was simply afraid of feeling uncomfortable. And for me and my sobriety, that’s exactly what I was doing. It’s important to know your own boundaries and it is completely acceptable to avoid situations to maintain a level of serenity in the beginning where you are able to work through things. But I was becoming complacent in my solitude and realized that my sober social muscles would never grow stronger without experience. So I started accepting invites in moderation. And things are getting easier and easier.

I’m not at all advocating for any one person to force themselves into situations they are not comfortable with. You have to honor your own needs and take this at your own pace, I think. But I recognized that my refusal to reinsert myself into the lives of those who care about me was no longer about protecting my own sobriety. It was about an unconscious tendency I have to keep doing what I’ve been doing. Isolation was what I had grown accustomed to over the past 6.5 years and I was doing it in sobriety as well. So I made a conscious choice to start lifting the weights. Gradually and slowly. Easy does it. And it feels really good.