alcohol

OUR TRUE INDEPENDENCE DAY

On May 6th, 2012, I developed a nasty tooth abscess overnight and woke up in the morning with my face doing its best impression of a fucking beach ball. The boyfriend and I had gone out for dinner the night before with a few friends and I had done it up pretty hardcore. Having pre-gamed before leaving the house, the many carafes of wine at the Greek restaurant down the street did a number on me and instead of OPA!, I was screaming something more along the lines of SDLJKFHHGS. At this point in my drinking career, I had been heavily consuming alcohol since October 2008 which marked the end of my three years of previous sobriety.

As I began to come out of my stupor early Sunday morning, the pain was excruciating. I audibly began moaning and went to the bathroom and stared in horror at myself. Not only did I have one of the worst hangovers I have ever experienced, it felt as if someone were driving a knife into the side of my head. I knew something was terribly wrong but I returned to bed like I always did and rocked myself back and forth trying to will away the pain and suffering. My boyfriend feverishly searched the internet on his phone for directions regarding what we should do. The obvious answer was to go to the dentist but it was Sunday and there were none nearby that were open. The emergency dental places in the city said to either come all the way in OR go to an urgent care/emergency room so they could at least treat the infection. He tried desperately to get me to get up, get dressed, and go. I refused. For hours I lay there in agony because the hangover was so paralyzing that going anywhere at that moment seemed absolutely impossible. I was also terrified about what else the physicians might find out about me and what my boyfriend might be able to deduce from their examination and response to my condition. He was furious with me and after loitering around the gates of Hell for what seemed like eternity, I finally got up and put on clothes.

Somehow I made it to the urgent care and they proceeded to do a normal check up. The doctor and nurse made no effort to hide their terror and seemed borderline disgusted by me. The tooth, which I knew was going to eventually give me problems, was massively infected. My blood pressure was dangerously high. So high that when the nurse took the reading, she looked like she was on a really scary rollercoaster with the ghost of Whitney Houston. She took it FIVE times to confirm the reading and immediately got the doctor. They gave me medication and made me sit still for a long while until it came down. They asked if I drank. I told them not really. They gave me a look that said, “GIRL, PLEASE.” I’m certain I still smelled like shitty bar floor from the night before. They weren’t well equipped to do anything more than triage my situation and I left with a prescription for antibiotics, Percocet, and blood pressure medication. They told me to get in to see a dentist and primary care physician immediately. Which I didn’t do.

Once home, I took a few of the pain pills along with the antibiotics, did a lot of crying, and secretly vowed to get sober because I knew that all of my problems and my inability to take care of myself and my health were a direct result of my disease. Even then, I knew I was an alcoholic. I had spent enough time in recovery previously to not have any delusions about what was actually going on.

I coasted through the first week of “sobriety” high as a kite on pain killers and the infection subsided thanks to the antibiotics. I was so fucking proud of myself that I wasn’t drinking alcohol as I sat glassy eyed on the couch eating pudding and staring at my belly button while in a glorious opioid wonderland. And then the prescription ran out. Luckily, the alcohol withdrawals had already passed for the most part and I hadn’t been on the painkillers long enough to develop a dependency. But I suddenly found myself ACTUALLY dry and not at all happy about it.

Somehow I made it through two entire months without alcohol. I wasn’t doing any work whatsoever on the actual problem. I wasn’t blogging, I wasn’t going to meetings, and I wasn’t touching base with others to remain accountable. I thought I could solve every problem I had by simply keeping alcohol from going down my throat. Even though I had gone through the recovery process before and knew what “dry drunk” meant, I had entirely forgotten how sobriety actually worked. Relapse DOES erase a great deal of visceral knowledge. You can know something in your head but you do forget what that knowledge feels like in your body and in action. I thought I was doing amazingly. I was going to the gym, I was dropping some weight, my blood pressure readings were going down, and I didn’t feel hungover all of the time.

And then it was the morning of July 4th and I was sitting with my boyfriend in our living room feeling good and clear headed and I said, “Let’s make some drinks and celebrate!” He agreed. You’ve got to realize that he had no idea that I was an alcoholic or perhaps didn’t fully comprehend what that meant in the first place. I’m sure he knew my drinking was weird sometimes but I don’t think he had the insight to know that something needed to change. He just thought that I had some health issues and I was being responsible and cutting back.

We made margaritas, watched movies, ate badly, and smoked cigarettes on the front stoop. I distinctly remember sitting there thinking to myself THIS DOESN’T FEEL GOOD. THIS DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT. THIS ISN’T MAKING ME HAPPY RIGHT NOW. I’M GOING TO DIE SOON. I’M GOING TO DIE.

Completely terrified that it was back inside of me, I proceeded to drink even more. That terror turned back into apathy. And I stayed drunk for almost another TWO YEARS before celebrating my TRUE independence day of April 14th, 2014.

I don’t consider this instance a relapse. My relapse started in 2008 when THE SIX YEAR HANGOVER began. This was a blip. This was textbook example of getting dry, not getting sober. I stopped drinking out of an immediate and pressing fear for my health but I never stopped with the intent of stopping forever. My fucked up logic assured me that I would just lay off until my health improved and then I would start back up drinking NORMALLY rather than alcoholically. Over the past 80 days, I look back at those two months without alcohol and desperately wish those months could have been these 80 days and that I would be two years sober now. But our stories have a way of writing themselves sometimes. Not even direct evidence that I could stroke out or have a heart attack at the age of THIRTY was enough to get me back in the program for good. And that’s terrifying to me. Terrifying enough to hold you all close and keep going.

This Friday, I plan on celebrating myself and my escape and independence from a monster like none other. And I hope you’ll do the same.

HOW TO FIND ME ON THE INTERNET

Every once in a while, I click on the WordPress page that shows me who is visiting my blog. SOOO many people from all over the world are landing here. It’s so insane. In a good way. It makes me feel like I’m in a big giant virtual room with all of you just hanging out playing pat-a-cake and drinking Capri Suns.

Then I started thinking about how many people visit, read, and never say hi! SAY HI!

Also, it looks as if searching for my blog by name is a pretty common thing amongst those who come and read. Ya’ll know you can put in your email address and it will tell you when I write something stupid, right? Look over to your right. See it? No pressure but you totally don’t have to scour the web for me when you want to see what I’m up to!

I subscribe to so many blogs that I set up a separate email address for myself and it’s like Christmas every morning. When I see Mrs. D has posted, I have to stop everything I’m doing and read. I’m probably following too many because I find it hard to find the time to comment because of work and stuff but I do read and applaud your bravery in my head. It’s so helpful in my recovery and might be for yours, too?

Speaking of searching the web for my blog, there is also a tab that shows you actual search terms that led people to you. Now, I’m a little confused how this works because for shits and giggles, I put a few of these search terms into Google and didn’t come across my blog. But WordPress says these are really what people typed in to find me either on purpose OR on accident. Maybe they are using another search engine other than Google? I don’t know.

Here are my favorites (copied and pasted exactly as they appear):

going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married

ehat trains can i take to madison square garden

dress for krumping

6year habgover

crazy thoughts on friends getting hangover

6 year sober guy

he says am sexy when sober.

24 days sober

post acute withdrawal and jaw clenching

i tired now

Okay, guys! Have a fucking awesome Tuesday. Don’t drink today. Gotta’ go! I tired now and need to go get dress for krumping. BYEEEEE. XO

HURRY UP AND POOP GODDAMNIT! POOOOOP!

OH MY GOD HURRY UP AND POOP GODDAMNIT! POOOOOP!

I was standing on the streets of New York this morning dressed basically in my underwear while screaming in English at a Chihuahua who refused to make caca. Obviously he doesn’t understand me. All he knows is that I’m acting crazy and making matters worse. And even if he did speak a human language, certainly it would be Spanish, right?

AYE DIOS MIO DE IR REPIDO Y CACA! CACAAAA! (Thanks, Google translate)

Unsuccessful in our efforts, both doggy and daddy went back inside. I proceeded to very quickly get ready in a huff as our morning non-poop walk lasted much longer than anticipated and I was going to be late for work. And I was really pissed off about it. In addition to being late, this also meant Mr. Chihuahua would probably poop in the house and I’d have a mess/smell to face when I got home. What a fucking rude puppy, he was. No consideration. I feed him, bathe him, and sing and dance like a moron for his pure enjoyment/terror. And this is the thanks I get?!

STOP. Stop it. Listen to yourself. So stupid. This is not a big deal. He’s a dog. Nothing bad is going to happen as a result of a minor delay. You are overreacting. You haven’t had your coffee. This is a normal bump in the road.

And it was. But in the mind of a recovering alcoholic in early sobriety like myself, that’s all it took to set off a chain reaction of emotional responses that snowballed quickly to form a terrible case of the Mondays. And those terrible cases of the Mondays (and Tues-Sundays) are what drove me to drink in the past. I know today that I will NOT drink as a result of this less than palatable day because I don’t want to and a crappy day is nothing compared to a crappy lifetime of death and destruction. I feel fucking stupid even calling it a crappy day because NOTHING of significance happened. I didn’t lose an eye. No one died. My butt didn’t fall off. So why do my emotions say otherwise? PAWS, maybe. Low blood sugar, possibly. There are plenty of reasons I can reach for but none of them make it make any more sense. How the fuck can we change our responses to things that seem to swoop in so suddenly and flip us over on our backs? I honestly don’t know. In the near past, I would do a lot of self-talk and try very deliberately to change my thought process by telling myself to STOP IT. And I did that this morning. But it seemed like the threads of negativity already reached out and tainted my entire day. Like I didn’t catch it in time to keep it from spreading even though I responded almost instantly by trying to talk myself down. And I’m still feeling the effects of it although I have managed to relax a bit and get back to a place where I can at least process and deal with the stupidity that was my morning. I’m writing this post, aren’t I? And an hour ago, the thought of blogging seemed so pointless. But I know it’s not. I know that this crappy heaviness will pass if I connect, do the work, and get honest with myself.

For the most part, I’ve been really happy. Monday normally doesn’t come along with all of this weirdo garbage. So I started thinking about how this weekend was different than most to try to identify what might have caused this faulty start to my week. And the only conclusion that I can come to is that I was REALLY busy this weekend with obligations, chores, etc. They were all things I said YES to. But I knew it was more than I have been taking on over the past 70 days. I didn’t feel like I was overextending myself when I scheduled certain things but apparently I maybe did? So I guess I back it up again and start being more cautious and keeping things a little more simple for now. I got through it with the help of my boyfriend who offered to pitch in with certain things to alleviate some pressure and to allow me to make sure I got to my meeting yesterday. And I took some time to do some things that weren’t on the agenda like a walk through Central Park to get some air and sun. I found myself rushing my time there because of all of the other things that I needed to do. It made it difficult to enjoy fully but the effort was there and I made myself stay longer than the responsible overzealous me wanted to.

Wow, this is a rambly all over the place post. I guess it really mirrors where my head is at. I will be FINE but I’ve learned that I need to say no sometimes even when I think I am capable of saying yes. Just for my own protection. I need to ask for help instead of waiting for someone to offer it at the last minute (if at all). I need to figure out why Mr. Chihuahua is being so stubborn with his poopy. I need for Monday to be over so I can give Tuesday a try but because there is no fast forward button, I’m just going sit in this and breathe deeply. The cartoon bluebirds will come again and sing the songs of my joy as they flutter around my head. Today I got the crows. OH WELL.

Trying to think of a funny ending to this post and I’m drawing a blank so let me just say: DONKEYFART.

XOXO

SOBER GAZELLES. FLYING COWS.

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

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

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

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

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

Overall, I feel happy.

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

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

I don’t drink.

I don’t drink.

I don’t drink.

Today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

DELI SANDWICHES AND PANIC ATTACKS

Hi everyone. By a show of hands, how many of ya’ll eat food?? OMG me too! How funny! We’re like twins.

So we watched the Tony Awards last night because I’m a homosexual and also because our friend was nominated for her role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. SHE WON! No one was surprised and we were all very happy for her because it’s such an honor and also she now has something to keep papers from blowing off her desk. Like any television awards show gathering goes, there was enough food to feed like three Paula Deens. What’s the plural of Paula Deen? Paula Die? It was a massive spread of maple bacon flavored potato chips, crackers and hummus, salami and cheese and bread and bean dip and German chocolate cake. So obviously I put all of those things into the hole in my face and swallowed them just because they were there. Excess and thoughtless consumption does not stop at alcohol, my friends. And I really feel secure enough in my sobriety to take on healthy eating now. So today is that day. I woke up feeling genuinely unwell from all of the shit I put into my body. BUT I DIDN’T DRINK. So victory is mine. One of my roommates was tipping back gin mixed with stuff. She had two. The second one took her just over two hours to drink which really pissed me the fuck off. At one point, something crazy happened on the show (I don’t remember what) and everyone started yelling OH MY GOD and other various expressions of shock and anger so I used it as an opportunity to yell at her for drinking like a sloth in slow motion. “OH MY GOD AHHHHHH!!” I screamed along with everyone else while staring directly at her. It felt really good to secretly scream at someone. The first 10 minutes of the gathering was awkward. I’m used to drinking in such situations. Even though we have on many occasions sat in the living room chatting or watching television since I’ve been sober, the mere addition of a scheduled event like an award show suddenly transformed what has grown comfortable over the past few months into a very clear reminder that the work is just beginning. It was a very low key test that I passed with flying colors and a food hangover and was a fitting end to a weekend that was a very mixed bag of happenings and feelings.

On Saturday, me and the boyfriend went to our friend’s dance show. Dance is really interesting to me for a variety of reasons. But it occurred to me while I was watching the program that dance is the perfect artistic metaphor for living in only this one moment. Painting, writing, film. They all leave an impression. They all leave a visible reference point of the brush strokes that came before. The text is on paper and various parts can be referenced as quickly as moving your eye to another part of the page. Fast forward or rewind a film to re-experience a moment or scene. But dance (live theatre, too, but not as much) is fleeting and melts away instantly. As I watched the choreography unfold, I became very aware that my attention was only focused on the phrase or movement happening at that exact point in time. I wasn’t actively trying to remember what had just come before or what would come next. There was absolutely no time for that. All I knew is that her leg was in the air right now and now it’s gone and it will never be in the air the same way again. And as soon as you process that image, it dies forever. I was very calm and reflective and began transcending time and space but then I heard what sounded like someone opening a large deli sandwich wrapped in butcher paper.

I turned and looked towards the source of the sound and it was an elderly woman opening a large deli sandwich wrapped in butcher paper. I was shocked how quickly my mood shifted from peace to contempt. It took her several minutes to get the sandwich out of its wrapper and a cacophony of angry shushes and crinkling heavy duty paper went on for what seemed like hours. My blood was boiling. I have absolutely no patience for people rudely interrupting the experiences of others in public spaces where SILENCE is just common sense. It’s disrespectful to the performers and to those who paid the admission price. Finally the sound stopped. My blood pressure dropped and I began reconnecting with the piece. THEN THE BITCH STARTED OPENING ANOTHER GODDAMNED DELI SANDWICH. Or maybe it was the same sandwich and she was trying to get the other half that she was probably planning on saving for after the show on the bus ride home but the turkey was really good and she thought WHAT THE HELL Y.O.L.O. and just fucking went for it. This paper crumpling session lasted even longer than the first and again I felt my heart pounding and my jaw clenching. AND IT WOULDN’T STOP. The crumpling sound went on for the next 10 minutes until the intermission. I think she ate 9 sandwiches during that time and I completely missed the show because of my rage. Several people spoke to her and the ushers during intermission and she actually left the show of her own accord. I assume she went to get more sandwiches. It just made me so upset that I allowed another person to emotionally derail me so drastically. And I recognize that it was enough to upset anyone BUT my anger and stress from the situation WERE NOT proportionate to the event. I realized that very quickly. My pulse shouldn’t be racing and my jaw shouldn’t hurt because an old woman didn’t have manners. While I’m becoming more aware of what I’m feeling, I still have a hard time talking myself down from ledges and find myself on said ledges when I shouldn’t be. It wasn’t THAT big of a deal. But it felt like the end of the world.

We left after the show and had time to kill before seeing another show later that evening. We walked around the city looking for a place to eat and eventually found a yummy Mexican restaurant. The meal was delicious and there was no talk of alcohol. Last time I put my foot in my mouth and tried to assure the boyfriend that he could have wine when he didn’t even want to. This time I just kept my mouth shut and we had water and Diet Coke.

We got to the theatre early to pick up our tickets and wait in line since the seating was general admission. And then it happened. A panic attack. NOT AGAIN. This was the third that I have had over the course of that past two months but usually they are precipitated by a series of events that creates anxiety like at work. This particular attack came after hours of calm. Surely I wasn’t still being affected by sandwich lady? I got very hot, began to sweat, and told my boyfriend I’d be right back. I walked around the corner and sat on a stoop. My heart was racing, I felt a sense of doom, my breathing became difficult, and I employed the advice I was given from prior episodes which included very deliberate and focused breathing. audibly AHHHING upon exhale, bending over slightly at the waist, and putting myself back into the last remembered moment of peace which was sitting at the restaurant. After about 5 minutes, it passed. I went back to the line. Boyfriend was obviously concerned and asked if we should leave. I told him no and tried to remain calm. We watched the show without incident and went home. He’s very supportive but I can’t help but sometimes become very self-conscious about the things he might be thinking about all that’s going on. Does he think I’m crazy? Does he think I’m weird? Does he wish he didn’t have to deal with this? I got into some trouble with him about a week ago by asking those questions directly TO him rather than just thinking them. He was patient at first but eventually snapped and said, “You really have to stop asking me those things. I told you that I’m here for you no matter what.” And I believe him. Except for the times when maybe I don’t. I have no reason to think otherwise but insecurity runs deep and cannot be fixed overnight.

I woke up Sunday exhausted and contemplated skipping the meeting I attend called Morning Medicine. A quick affirmation from folks on The Booze Free Brigade was all I needed. I love that I can log in there and basically tell everyone that I don’t want to go to my meeting and then dozens of people tell me that I should and why. It’s an invaluable resource. It’s mostly incredible women but there are a few men. Meeting was great. The speaker was phenomenal. Then I walked down the street and got my hair cut. As I walked in and sat down, I thought back to my days of actively drinking. I remember how difficult such mundane and basic tasks were. Waking up on Sunday usually meant feeling like shit. The thought of getting dressed and taking the five minute walk to Estella’s Hair Salon would have petrified me. The idea of having to sit there while she tries to talk to me? Fucking forget it. It was a monumental task back then. Nothing was easy. Not even the easy things. But there I sat calmly discussing the weather and her grandchildren. It was nice. Towards the end of the cut, I found myself eyeing a pill container sitting against the mirror at her station. Various pills in various compartments. I wondered what each was. I wondered if there were any narcotics. Vicodin? Perocet? What would that be like to take one of those pills? How would I go about stealing one if I really wanted to? Would it feel good? Probably, yeah. I paid and gave her a good tip. I walked home obsessing about my brief obsession with pills that weren’t mine. I didn’t even do pills in the past. Drinking was my thing. But my monster shape shifted briefly and those thoughts really freaked me out.

So there were hiccups over the past 48 hours but guess what, you guys? Still sober. When I have a wonky day, that’s all it is. It’s just a wonky day. Wonky doesn’t mean drinky. And when I have a panic attack and sweat like big fat pig? I’m just sweating like a big fat pig. That’s all it is. How would drunk sweaty fat pig be the better option? It wouldn’t.

I hope you all have a wonderful sober day.

I WANT TO BE IN THE PICTURES

Woke up this morning feeling lovely. The sun was shining after a disgusting and rainy day the prior morning. And though it was dark and dreary yesterday, I still managed to have an upbeat day. I still said FUCK and SHIT a lot on the way to work as I got splashed by rain water from cars driving by, but it didn’t dictate my overall mood. And today the rain is GONE! And it’s FRIDAY. I can’t believe I look forward to Friday now. Some Fridays I have plans. But the empty Fridays are the ones I look forward to the most now. I look forward to swinging by the grocery store after work without any idea what I want. I walk around filling my cart with various non-alcoholic beverages, fresh fruit, chocolate or ice cream if I want to be bad (and I always want to be bad). I’ll swing by the drugstore and maybe grab a new kind of lip balm or a box of tea I’ve never had before or both. Maybe I’ll pick up a magazine if anything looks good and possibly a movie from Redbox though I typically rent from On Demand. I might grab the dog a new toy or a special kind of dinner to see how excited he gets when filet mignon is on the menu instead of kibble. Essentially, I fill my night up with options. Then I go home, get in my pajamas, order dinner, and sit safely in my bubble filled with all of the awesome things I like.  I remember the first Friday sober. It was awful. The second and third Friday weren’t so hot either. A general feeling of uneasiness, anxiety, not knowing what to do or how to relax. And then that all lifted.  

Got ready for work and opened my front door. This is a photo taken directly from my front stoop:

Image

Those are the catering trucks for the filming an episode of the CBS show Unforgettable starring Poppy Montgomery which is shooting DIRECTLY in front of our home. I saw an episode of Unforgettable a while ago but I forgot. (GROAN) There are two responses that a person might have when their life becomes invaded for an entire day by union stagehands. You might become angry and annoyed and throw eggs and underwear. OR. You might get really excited. I got excited. I’m a writer, specifically for theatre, but would love the opportunity to write on a comedy series someday. So to me, these kinds of things make me giddy. And as I walked from my front door to the train and passed all of the trucks, dressing rooms, and chain smoking production assistants, I experienced quite a few  and some very fucking bizarre emotional responses and thoughts.

First, I noticed that the signs said they’d be filming until approximately 10PM tonight so they’d be around when I got off work. Out of nowhere and obviously without any active participation of my own, the following thought flashed through my mind for a split second:

OH COOL! SO WHEN YOU GET HOME, YOU CAN HAVE A FEW COCKTAILS AND THEN MAKE A DRINK IN A PLASTIC CUP AND WALK AROUND THE SET AND TALK TO PEPOPLE AND SEE IF YOU CAN NETWORK AND MEET PEOPLE!

Okay. WHAT THE FUCK? Tell me how my head goes from seeing a film shoot to planning a night of drinking in 2 seconds? They are not at all related. My wires are severely crossed. I have no desire to drink. But the mere excitement of something happening out of the ordinary immediately caused my mind to seek accentuation. Excitement begets the need to be even more excited. Because excited on its own is never enough. I laughed out loud and also felt my face do this weird contorting thing and I’m sure my expression was equal parts amusement and OH MY GOD, REALLY? It passed. And none of those things are going to happen tonight, obvsies.

The next thing that I felt was a brief and disturbing pang in my soul. It was one of regret, shame, and the feeling that my life has already passed me by. I KNOW THAT’S NOT TRUE. But the sight of seeing mass amounts of people living their dreams really got to me. I live in an amazing city of opportunity and I’ve wasted six years of my life doing practically NOTHING. And all of my peers have passed me by. And it will never be mine. None of that will ever be mine. Nauseated, I stopped myself and thought something along these lines but I’m paraphrasing because all of these flashes of emotions and thoughts happened VERY fast:

YOU ARE 32 YEARS OLD. YOU ARE TALENTED. YOU ARE NOT ON ANYONE ELSE’S CLOCK. THERE IS NO RULE BOOK THAT SAYS YOU MUST HAVE ACCOMPLISHED X, Y, Z BY A CERTAIN AGE. YOU ARE GETTING STRONGER BY THE HOUR. BY THE DAY. IF YOU STAY SOBER, ALL OF YOUR WILDEST DREAMS CAN COME TRUE.

And then immediately following that, I saw…. THEM.

There is this gay couple that moved into a corner house about a block from mine. They purchased their home. I rent mine. They have an immaculately landscaped yard that people stop and stare at. Mine is disgusting and mostly cement. They seem to be wealthy or at least well off enough to never have to leave their home for work. I sometimes have a hard time paying my bills and put in 50+ hours a week at the office. I’m not proud to admit this, but I have spent almost 2 years in my disease walking past their house scowling in disgust at their seemingly perfect life. I’d roll my eyes every time I’d see them in their yard working on things WHICH IS EVERY SINGLE DAY. I mean, isn’t it DONE BY NOW? One time I saw one of them on their hands and knees trimming grass with a pair of FUCKING SCISSORS. Like. Blade by blade. Everything about them made me sick to my stomach.

I realized that the interior of their home is being used as a location for the film shoot. Which means they got paid a shit ton of money to let the show use their house. And the familiar feeling of disdain and, yeah, jealousy, came washing over me once again.

Ever since getting sober, my attitude has changed a bit. I still find them obsessively overbearing about the look of their property and wonder why they sometimes sit in their window watching people walk by. I think it’s because they want to see others admiring their work. But I’ve gotten a lot better about it. I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t care anymore. But I care a lot less. And that’s progress. But seeing the attention they were getting put me back momentarily where I had been. For two years I stumbled past their home from the liquor store with my bottle of vodka shooting dirty looks in their direction. How awful of a person had I become? No. NO. I didn’t become an awful person. I was a good person displaying symptoms of a terrible disease. I still have a lot of shame about how affected I was by this happily married couple. And here it was again in full force.

Why did I care so much? Why do I still care a little? It’s a few things. First, I think I’m embarrassed/ashamed/regretful that I didn’t keep my shit together. Their life was a reminder of where I could have been if I didn’t derail. And AGAIN, I must tell myself that I’m not living on anyone else’s clock. My journey is my journey. Second, I think it is a product of me not practicing gratitude for the things I do have. I’m working on that now and am part of a lovely gratitude group online. There are days where it feels stupid to make a list of the things I’m thankful for but when I do it consistently, I find myself amazed at the awesomeness around me and don’t covet or desire the riches of others quite as much. I mean, I still want a nice house, a nice yard, money to ease financial worries, and a job doing what I love BUT I don’t want YOUR house, yard, money, or job. And I don’t have to be mad at you for having it. And I don’t have to be mad at myself for not having it YET.

As I walked by their house, one of the men looked up at me and smiled. I think I was in mid-anger/disgust. But in a split second, I forced a smile and waved. And that action soothed my soul. And as I walked past them, that anger and disgust faded. And I was left with a clear mind to process why I felt the way I did and what it all meant and that those two men were a lovely couple who worked hard and are proud of what they have together. I mean, they are still fucking asshole freaks. Who trims grass with scissors?!? But they might be nice asshole freaks. Who knows? I’ve never bothered to find out.

And here I am at work drained but hopeful. A very intense two minute walk, a glimpse into the dark places that still exist, and a replenishment of strength and hope that MAYBE if I keep at this, I’ll be in a writer’s room someday preparing a script for one of those shoots.

ON GETTING SOBER SECRETLY AND WHY I’VE DETERMINED THAT ISN’T GOING TO WORK FOR ME

Happy Hump Day, everyone. Hump it out. And as I always say, be careful not to pull your back out.

So last night boyfriend went out with a friend. She invited him to see a movie and I completely expected them to swing by a wine bar for a glass or two afterwards. I had the normal psycho thoughts like HE’S MAKING PLANS LIKE THIS BECAUSE HE HATES THAT I’M SOBER NOW AND THINKS I’M BORING AND HE JUST WANTS TO DRINK! or HE’S GOING TO FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE ELSE WHILE DRUNK AND REALIZE WHAT’S REALLY IMPORTANT TO HIM IS BEING WITH SOMEONE THAT KNOWS HOW TO DRINK MARGARITAS WITHOUT THROWING UP ON OTHER PEOPLE’S HAIR! or IF HE REALLY LOVED ME HE WOULD CHANGE EVERYTHING FOR ME AND NEVER EVER EVER TOUCH ALCOHOL AGAIN BECAUSE EVERYONE NEEDS TO START BEHAVING LIKE AMISH PEOPLE SO I FEEL SAFE AND COMFORTABLE!

The truth is, this is only the SECOND situation in almost two months where he had a drink. And neither of those two times were in front of me or in our home. And not only was he respectful about it, he didn’t even come home wasted! What kind of person only drinks two times in two months AND doesn’t make it a point to completely obliterate themselves?!? If it were me, my mission would be clear. If I’m only drinking twice in two months, I’m going to get disgusting. I’d most likely wake up with my mouth tasting like chicken taco and cupcake and I’d realize that I had something really weird pierced like my knuckle. But not him. He just had two glasses of wine which I’m sure when poured together would not even come close to the fishbowl I would have poured for myself. And even though he did nothing wrong, I turned off the bedroom lights at 10:30PM when he still wasn’t home yet and proceeded to go to sleep even though I wasn’t tired that way when he got home he’d have to deal with darkness and me not interacting with him. WTF? I guess I thought THAT WILL SHOW HIM FOR DRINKING WINE WITHOUT ME!

And that’s really what it was about. It was about me being pissed the fuck off that I can’t do that. That he can and I can’t. And what’s even more ridiculous is that I DON’T WANT TO. But I’m mad that I don’t have the option to. And as I lay there in the dark, I realized WAIT. I DO HAVE THE OPTION TO. It will totally kill me and put me in the ground. But the option is there. This is about me. I need to stay in my own yard. As long as he isn’t doing anything to directly compromise my sobriety and is being supportive, I have to start focusing on myself. He eventually came home and climbed into bed. I didn’t say a word. I am so fucking stubborn. It’s gross. But I’m working on it. I woke up this morning and for a moment I had decided to still be mad. But as he left the bedroom to use the restroom, I yelled STOP IT to myself. When he got back, I put my arms around him and asked him how the movie was. I chose reality. I changed the tape in my head. I turned the wheel and headed in a different direction. And it was great.

Last night also got me thinking about accountability. My boyfriend obviously knows that I have a serious drinking problem and that I’m a recovering alcoholic. But for nearly six years, he didn’t know that. Because I didn’t tell him. Sure, he may have thought it was weird that I sometimes went to sleep on the bathroom floor. He may have occasionally tilted his head in confusion when he’d find puke in the sink that I didn’t clean up because I didn’t even know I had puked. Okay. He knew. He knew I had a problem. But until he said something or I said something, I was accountable to no one. SOOO MANY TIMES I tried to moderate or stop drinking completely in private without him knowing. And during the week it was fine. But then Friday would come around and he would say something like, “Let’s go get a drink. This week was crazy!” And if I were to have said, “No. I don’t want to,” then he would have asked why. And I would have had to tell him. And the game would be over. And I wouldn’t ever be able to drink in front of him again.

If I were still hiding this disease, last night would have been different. I would have used his drinking as an excuse to do my own. I’d have stopped after work and picked up some stuff. I would have proceeded to get wasted. And I would have gone to bed and pretended to be asleep exactly like I did last night but for totally different reasons. I wouldn’t want him to be able to tell how drunk I was. Even though he would have been buzzed from his 1-2 glasses of wine, it would be nothing compared to the wreck I was.

But all of that is gone. All of the shadows are illuminated. The scariest thing was making the decision that enough was enough. Going to him and telling him meant I could NEVER drink in front of him again. And the need to protect my ability to continue living in my addiction kept me silent for six years. Even though I wanted sobriety and health, it didn’t matter. What if I decided I didn’t want sobriety in a few months? 6 months? A year? How would I ever tell him, “Honey. I was wrong. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m fine. Let’s go for dirty martinis.” Even though I was sure this disease was killing me and I wanted out, I chose the OPTION of being able to drink over peace. And any attempt at moderation or abstinence was completely futile without the accountability I have now.

Now, he would be FURIOUS with me if I drank. And this isn’t to say that I’m not drinking because of him. But none of this became real until I made it real. God bless any of you that were able to get sober in secret. Even if you eventually told your spouses or lovers, I am in awe that you could put together more than a week or two in private. The longest I went without the boyfriend being in on my secret was about two months. Yes. I had two months of DRYNESS during my six year relapse. It wasn’t sobriety. It was May 1 – July 4th 2012. Boyfriend thought I was just trying to be healthy and lose weight. He did it with me. Then Independence Day hit and I said, “Okay. That was good. Now let’s go make drinks.” And we did. Because HE DIDN’T KNOW. If I tried that shit now, OH HELL NO. He’d throw a TV at my head.

So what was I really saying by trying to get sober in secret? FOR ME, I was saying, “I don’t want to drink anymore. And I’m not going to. But I might want to and I need to protect myself from that person in case I do want to pick up again.”

There are so many people that I need to become accountable to. Not because I HAVE to. But because I want to. There are friends I haven’t told and I know for a fact that they will be FINE with it. So what’s holding me back? The thought that if I fuck this all up and start drinking again, ALL OF THOSE PEOPLE WILL KNOW AND SEE ME DOING SOMETHING HORRIBLE TO MYSELF. The difficulty I have making myself transparent is my disease doing the talking. It’s my disease trying to crawl into dark corners I have yet to expose. It is hoping it can hide away in crevices and holes and maybe I won’t notice.

I’ve determined that the only chance I have at living this life in the long term is to thoroughly and forcefully shine light into every single hiding place. That handful of friends over there that doesn’t really know my boyfriend or other friends? They need to know I’m an alcoholic. Because if they don’t, they are the people I will run to when I’m ready to relapse. Everyone needs to know. In the same way that everyone knows you need oxygen to keep from dying, everyone needs to know that I need sobriety. Because if they don’t know, they will watch me pour liquor down my throat until they are standing at my grave wondering what the fuck happened.

I don’t know how I’m going to do this. I’m not sure when I will go completely public. It could be a few months from now. Or maybe a year. But until I do, I’m choosing a life that is just to risky for my own good.

SOBER IS SEXY. LET’S BE SEXY TOGETHER.

 

Happy Effing Monday, my fellow sober freaks. Or, if ‘sober freak’ freaks out your freak, substitute any term that makes you feel sexy and amazing. Because being sober IS sexy and amazing. You know what’s not sexy? Hitting on someone at the bar and instead of saying, “HI MY NAME IS CRYSTAL,” you say, “HIZNAMEZRISTOL.” Being YOU is sexy. And when I say sexy, I’m not just talking about the GET IN MY BEDROOM NOW AND PUT ON THIS PONY SADDLE kind of sexy. I’m talking about being enigmatic, present, and there to live and love life with your fellow human beings. That kind of connection is beautiful. Being you in a world of other people being them. Sounds basic and obvious but to us candy obsessed kids, it’s very easy to forget.

And if you’re reading this and you aren’t a sober freak YET, Happy Monday to you, too! I obviously can only help by telling you what this process has been like for me and I know there are people who have read my posts who are still struggling to get some days of sobriety under their belts. And I totally understand. I read sober blogs for A LONG TIME before I had finally had enough and decided it all needed to stop. And this is still all so new that sometimes I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Surely this happiness and joy and peace can’t keep going, can it? Certainly I can’t live a life that is somewhat calm and lovely? But maybe I can. Maybe we can.

This weekend, you guys. Oh. My. God. THIS WEEKEND. This was the first weekend since getting sober where everything just seemed to click and nothing felt hard and everything felt right. I know, I know. Pink clouds. Be on high alert. The bad comes again. Blah blah blah. And I get it. I don’t expect everything to be great all the time. But more specifically, this was the first weekend where I didn’t feel the antagonizing discomfort of not knowing what to do with myself. While I haven’t actually had very many cravings for alcohol since the first two weeks of sobriety, I have craved the distraction it brought. And up to this point, weekends were big black holes that I was able to partially fill with good times and sober fun but there were still long stretches of time where things just didn’t feel normal or right. And even when I was finding things to do, there was always a dull ache that told me, “Well, this isn’t enjoyable, stupid hairy man. This needs beer to be what it’s supposed to be.”

But not this weekend. This weekend was correct. This weekend was the real deal. And it’s not like anything HUGE happened. None of my wildest dreams came true or anything. It’s not like I got to binge eat sweet stuff and discuss The Color Purple in a jacuzzi with Oprah and Gayle. I didn’t get to make love on a perfectly manicured beach with magical sand that somehow doesn’t get caught in your hoo-ha. I didn’t get to slap Guy Fieri from The Food Network across the face and scream, “YOU ARE NOT 22 YEARS OLD ANYMORE!!!” I didn’t get to do ANY of that stuff. And it was still an amazing weekend.

Saturday morning was spent leisurely drinking… COFFEE!, working out at the gym, and sitting around without caring about what was coming next. A general sense of peace and relaxation consumed me. I was smiling for no fucking reason, ya’ll. I was singing celebratory songs like Lady Marmalade and I was doing all of the Christina Aguilera growly shit. I was acting more drunk than I ever acted drunk. I WAS SO FUCKING HAPPY. Let’s pretend for a moment that I went back in time and was a dapper and well dressed 19th century gentleman with a monocle and cane. I would certainly have been one of those assholes that tips their hat to everyone and anyone they pass on the street. I would have bowed to them respectfully and said some crazy shit like, “AND GOOD DAY TO YOU, FINE SIR! THE SUN IS SHINING BRIGHT AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR LOVELY WIFE, ANNA” or “MADAME, YOUR DRESS LOOKS EXQUISITE ON THIS SPLENDID SUMMER MORN! NEVER HAVE I SEEN SUCH BEAUTY IN A WOMAN’S FACE.” ….  “WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING???” I thought. That’s how foreign unadulterated joy was to me.

“Why do you look so weird? What’s that look?” the boyfriend asked.

“It’s hard to describe. You know how when you’re like… happy?” I replied.

“Yeah,” he said.

“It’s like that,” I said.

“So.. you’re happy,” he concluded.

“Yeah, but… like actually happy. Not just happy. Like the kind of happy that’s not pretending to be happy. You know. Like. Happy.”

Then the BF and I hopped a train to the city to stop by a store to possibly buy new sheets. The store happened to be very close to the World Trade Center site so we spent some time reflecting and paying our respects at the memorial pools that mark the location of the footprints of the original towers. I was overcome with emotion. I’M SO… BLESSED? NO. DON’T USE THE WORD BLESSED. WE’RE NOT SURE HOW WE FEEL ABOUT GOD ANYMORE. LUCKY? NO. LUCK DOESN’T EXIST. OKAY. SO IF WE AREN’T BLESSED OR LUCKY, WHAT ARE WE? HOW ABOUT GRATEFUL. JUST BE GRATEFUL FOR NOW. REGARDLESS OF WHERE IT COMES FROM OR HOW WE BECAME SO FORTUNATE. FOR NOW JUST BE GRATEFUL TO WHATEVER AND WHOEVER WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR ANOTHER CHANCE. EVEN IF THERE IS NOTHING RESPONSIBLE FOR IT AND IT JUST HAPPENED THIS WAY BY CHANCE. JUST. BE. GRATEFUL. FOR NOW, THAT’S ENOUGH. And I was grateful. And it was enough.

We left and did some shopping at the store and found a few sets of sheets. We took our time looking around, making jokes about various items. They were selling jugs that were being marketed as mixed drink “kegs” for parties. But they were basically just sun tea glass jugs with pictures of, like, liquor bottles and beach balls painted on them and words like PARTY! engraved into the glass in Comic Sans. The old me would have been very impatient. Why are we here? Where are we going next? Will there be a bar? When will I drink? ME ALCOHOLIC. ME NEED ALCOHOL NOW! FEED ME FEED ME! How much is that mixed drink keg? Not that I want it. I’M JUST ASKING.

But none of that was there. And for like the millionth time that day, I thought, WOW. WOW. WOW. WOW.

We then cabbed it to The West Village to catch a show and had a few hours to kill. We decided to get a bite to eat. My normal instinct would be to look for restaurants with placards outside advertising the happy hour drink specials. No placard, no business from me thank you very much. But without that qualification, there were suddenly DOZENS of places to choose from. Thousands of fantastic restaurants in New York City? Who knew!?

We ducked into a French place that looked cute and had a patio. I don’t even know what it was called. I just liked its vibe. We sat in the garden and I ordered a club soda with lime. The boyfriend said he was fine with water. But I wanted him to feel comfortable. So I said, “You know, you can order a glass of wine if you want. I feel really good and I don’t care. Besides, I don’t like wine. If you want a glass that’s fine. Just don’t order a cocktail because I think that would be weird for me. Oh and please if you feel buzzed please try not to act too buzzed because…”

I suddenly stopped talking. Both of my feet were in my mouth. FUCK. FUCK. FUCK. I sounded like a crazy person.

“I’ll just have water,” he said.

“I’m sorry. I just…”

“It’s okay,” he said.

“Maybe it’s too soon.”

“I wasn’t planning on it anyway. It’s fine,” he said.

And it was fine. We ate delicious food, enjoyed the lovely atmosphere. It was hard to find something without wine in it but I managed. I know people say the wine burns off but I know FOR A FACT that this is not true so don’t even try to debate me on this one, girl. And even if it did, I don’t think it would have been wise for even the slightest hint of wine flavor to have hit my lips. That’s just how I’m rolling right now.

We ran over to the theatre and the show was AWFUL but we had fun laughing about it all the way home. Stopped at the drug store where I would have picked up several beers 50 days ago.

“Wow. Three beers?” the boyfriend would have asked.

“One for later, maybe. Or tomorrow.” I’d lie. Both beers would be consumed that night in addition to other stashes of alcohol he didn’t know about. The cans would be wrapped and put in the outside recycling. He wouldn’t ask about the beers I bought being gone already the next day because he either didn’t notice/care OR chose his battles wisely. 

Instead of beers, it was La Croix sparkling water and some chocolate. We climbed into bed with the puppy, watched some bad TV, and fell asleep peacefully. Together. Connected. Aware.

Sunday started with an early morning recovery meeting. I have a lot of thoughts about these meetings I’ve been going to but that’s a separate post entirely. Then some breakfast, to the gym, and back home for more relaxing.

The boyfriend got up from the couch finally and said he was going to go clean up the bedroom and office. For a spilt second, I shit my pants. For a split second, it all came flashing back: HOLY FUCK. THERE IS A BOTTLE BEHIND THE DRESSER, I THINK. IS THERE? I CAN’T REMEMBER. DID I MOVE IT? I THINK THERE ARE SOME MINIS IN MY UNDERWEAR DRAWER. CAN I RUN UP THERE REALLY QUICK BEFORE HE STARTS AND GET THEM OUT OF THERE? As quickly as my body tensed up and my mind began racing, I remembered that wasn’t the case anymore. I settled back into the couch and put my feet up and let him go off and clean for me. I don’t have to worry about that ever again. If I don’t pick up a drink.

Then a phone call with my mother. You may have read my post a few days back about my fears concerning bringing my mom up to speed with where I’m at with this disease. That post is here. Long story short, she knew I got sober in 2005 but I’ve never told her that I relapsed in 2008 and have been drinking ever since. I had no intention of this conversation happening so suddenly but she started talking about my father (her ex-husband) and how active and bad off he is, her concerns for me and my future, and it just became very apparent that now was the moment. We can plan and plan all we want but sometimes the universe has something else in store. She cried. I cried. She was so happy I had found my way back. We vowed to remain open and honest with one another. It was all good. And I feel so much lighter. One plate I can stop spinning and focus on slowing down the other ones.

This is all getting so good, my friends. Every day that passes, I find myself amazed at the gifts that are being handed to me left and right by doing this very important work for myself. And if this much joy has been born from my dark and shattered heart in 50 days time, I surely want to continue down this path to see how much better it can get. Besides, I look so much better when I’m not puffy. Trust.

If you are happy right now, I’m so happy you’re so happy. And if you are suffering, please look at what has happened to me in such a short period of time and know that you can have it to. YOU CAN. YOU CAN. YOU CAN.

 

 

I WOULD HAVE BEEN SOBER NINE YEARS BY NOW

I’m a double agent. Hm. No. Let’s be real here. It’s more like a triple agent. The fucked up web of lies, deceit, and isolation caused by my disease has turned my life and the people in it into the equivalent of a giant fisherman’s tackle box. Or like one of those plastic containers that keeps your pills separate from one another. There are people from my past that don’t know people in my present. And purposefully so. There ARE people from my past that DO know people from my present and keeping their interactions to a minimum has always been very exhausting. You see, there are things that people from the past know; things that people in the present do not know. And vice versa. It has been a constant struggle keeping people in their compartments and only opening the lids to their sections when necessary. There are other people that I sectioned off where the lid has been kept closed for years. The relationship may be dead for all I know. Friends that have faded into memories. Friends that probably wondered what happened to us or why I disappeared. Maybe some of them can deduce why. Maybe some of them don’t care why.

While I know I’m not really ready, I am very aware of the mess I’m going to have to eventually clean up. And a fucking Swiffer ain’t going to cut it.

My descent into wild and wonderful world of alcoholism started in 2002-ish at the age of 20 when I was just a precious and cute little arrogant asshole. The disease progressed rapidly reaching physical dependency and medical crisis in 2004. Without getting into the details of my hospitalization itself (that is its own post), let’s just say I nearly died at a very very young age (22). My sickness was blatantly public and everyone in my family knew what had happened. I got sober, developed a new circle of friends, artistically explored my sobriety in a very public way, etc. I was an advocate for recovery and no one hesitated talking to me about my own experiences or their own concerns with their own questionable behavior.

Then in 2008, I very casually and without much fanfare, relapsed. Here’s a post about that. My relapse coincided with the end of a relationship and a professional opportunity which required relocation. This is when my life began to fracture and compartmentalize socially and the various sections where I kept certain people began being born. It has gotten quite complex so to break it all down, here is a guide to various social vestibules in my people pill keeper container of a life:

  • There are the family and friends that I moved away from due to work who think I am still sober from my first go at recovery. In their minds, I have been sober since February 2005 and if they were to do the math, they would assume I just recently celebrated NINE YEARS of sobriety. That freaks me out and makes me wish it were true. Some of these people (my mom specifically) I’m sure are suspicious or think/know that I have not stayed sober this entire time. If they are, they don’t say anything. And neither do I. These are people I will need to come clean to about my relapse and newfound recovery. They will be disappointed, shocked, or relieved that their fears were finally corroborated and justified and will be happy that I’m finally getting help again.
  • There is the very small handful of old and ostracized friends that know about my relapse. I somehow manipulated them into allowing me to drink the way I wanted to even though they initially expressed concern and were terrified by the fact that they saw me suddenly with a beer in my hand at a bar in 2008. They were not happy about it but did very little to stop me. Ultimately, I moved away and in addition to the physical distance that separated us, I emotionally and socially distanced myself from them because they would have made it difficult for me to continue drinking and would have threatened my newly forming relationships by possibly revealing my past. These are the people that I need to acknowledge my relapse to even though they already know. I need to tell them I finally recognize it is a problem and make amends for selfishly choosing alcohol over them and causing them concern. I need to try to repair those friendships where I can.
  • There are the NEW relationships formed since relapsing and moving from home in 2008. I fear that this group of people poses the most challenges for me because it means admitting that I formed and developed relationships based on lies. None of them know I had a problem with drinking in the past. This is why none of them know any of my old friends. That was my doing. Specifically, I’m going to have to work through the challenge of discussing with my boyfriend the extent of my prior problem and how life threatening my illness was/is. He knows that I’ve dealt with substance issues but doesn’t know the details about my near death experience and hospitalization which makes my six year dabble with the sauce seem even more irresponsible and fucked up. Yes, it’s a disease and yes, if I had any say in it then it would have never have happened. But it did. And it did impact our relationship. And now I have to tell him how I kept things from him that I never should have. At the same time, there are current new friends that really only need to know that I have a drinking problem now and that I’m getting help. While not cool, my omission about my past prior to knowing them really shouldn’t cause too many ripples. I can’t see any of them being irreparably offended.

I’m trying to take it easy on myself. I need to work through these things at my own pace and keep reminding myself that this is not a race. There is time and right now I need to heal physically and deal with the immediate fallout and trauma. But it’s so very hard when you’re on the phone with your mother and you almost blurt out, “I’m 45 days sober today, mom!!!” before catching yourself and thinking, OH SHIT NO I’M NINE YEARS SOBER. NINE YEARS. It’s very hard to be watching a medical show with your boyfriend where they mention pancreatitis and you have to pretend like you don’t know what that is even though it almost killed you. It’s agonizing to have to FUCKING PRETEND that recovery is a new thing to me and that I’m learning concepts for the first time. How incredibly stupid does that sound?? When talking to my boyfriend, I actually think about how I’m phrasing things so I don’t give away the fact that I’ve been through this before and that I already know the drill. I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far. I feel good about it. So good in fact that I almost tell friends things like, “No PAWS symptoms all week, Linda! HIGH FIVE, SUGARMAMA!” Then I bite my tongue. Linda doesn’t even know about me and my problem yet. Also, I don’t actually have a friend named Linda so everyone stop picturing Linda in your head. It’s a waste of time.

I had some people tell me a few weeks back that I should just tell everyone and anyone. People talking to me like I don’t know what it means to be proud of my sobriety. People talking to me like I’ve never walked this walk or assume that I know nothing about advocacy even though I’ve done this all before. And I just have to be okay with that and not let it bother me. Ego shedding underway. They don’t mean anything bad by it and they don’t know me. They’re just trying to help. But just between us girls, know that I DO know what it’s like to proudly scream about my sobriety from the rooftops. I’ve done it. I’ve had that. And if you’ve never experienced it, just know that it feels fucking amazing. And I want it back. I’m going to get it back.