Sobriety can be hard. Like, really hard. To me, a life of sobriety has meant a lifestyle of being awake. All. The. Time. It’s fucking exhausting. I’m tired. Meditation and yoga help to an extent. Quality time with friends and family can be relaxing. Work outs release endorphins. But those solutions are all temporary. When I’m alone on the train ride home, alone in my bed, or alone with my thoughts, anxious feelings that I chose to momentarily ignore manage to get all of my attention. I’m beginning to think that life may be a series of temporary events to get me through to the next one.
As I continue into my second year of sobriety, I decided to follow my passion of personal growth. I chopped my hair off, enrolled in Spanish classes and sketch writing classes, and even went on a couple of dates (that’s a pretty big deal for me, but more on that next time).
This week continued down the path of new experiences when I took my first improv class. I’ve flirted with the idea of improv for awhile now, but the thought of emitting that amount of vulnerability scared me to death. I used to hide my vulnerability by binge drinking a ton of whiskey, but this year, I’ve decided to face it head on. I found a class at The People’s Improv Theater called ‘Improv Your Public Speaking.’ I hesitated, but finally signed up for the February 13th class as a Galentine’s Day gift to myself.
When I was struggling with admitting the truth about my drinking problem, I spent a lot of time in a magical place called Denial. It was a diverse, overpopulated place filled with delusion, ignorance, and fear. I didn’t just camp out there, I moved in. I paid rent. I unpacked. I decorated. Living years in denial was expensive. Financially. Emotionally. Mentally. And physically. I lied to myself daily. I told myself that I was fine. I told myself that I was happy. The thought of addressing my drinking problem, giving up alcohol, and living a life without booze sounded next to impossible.
I didn’t know anyone who was sober. All I knew about sobriety was what I saw on TV or in movies: someone who’s lost everything and they have to go to AA to rebuild their lives. I told myself that I wasn’t one of “those” people. It was nice to pretend that everything was fine and that I had a healthy relationship with alcohol. That was a big fat lie. Here’s a few other lies I told myself so I could keep drinking…
I did it. One year sober. Holy shit. I can’t believe it. This has been a really hard year. And being sober has made it harder in some ways. I’ve had to actually face my problems instead of getting drunk and pretending that they don’t exist. But now, I can’t imagine being any other way.
Being sober is hard, but it’s totally worth it. Here’s a few things that I accomplished this year that I don’t think I could have without sobriety:
Stoner Liberal to Binge Drinking Conservative to Sober Democrat
For nearly 15 years, I self-medicated my depression and anxiety with drugs and alcohol. While dealing with the narcissism of depression and the side effects of substance abuse, I was too self-absorbed to empathize with anyone’s problems that didn’t directly involve me. That included my family, friends, and especially politics. Now that I’m almost a year sober, my growth as a person has amplified my political awareness. I always kind of knew who I was politically, but I was easily swayed into other camps – just like I was easily swayed by any drug or drink that crossed my path.
[The full article is published on The Huffington Post. Read the full piece here.]
Last week on both Facebook and Instagram, I opened up the forum for people to ask me anything they wanted. I figured most of the questions would be about sobriety and recovery, but surprisingly only a few were. People also asked me about eating disorders, relationships, and egg yolk. Yes, egg yolk. Continue reading “You Asked, I Answered”
(This article also appeared on Huffington Post.)
The photo above is me passed out in the grass at 3am. I was 27 years old. While I don’t remember anything about the celebrations from that night, I remember telling myself that I “needed to celebrate” being back home after a 3 day weekend in LA. I blacked out completely. I somehow ended up in my front yard. I vaguely remember my roommates picking me up and carrying me to my bed. We laughed about it the next morning. One of my roommates sent me this photo and I posted it on Facebook because being a party girl was, like, soooooo cute. I continued to drink this way for two more years.
Some would argue that being a party girl (or boy) is never cute and I’m sure they have valid reasons for that. I would argue that – in moderation – there’s nothing wrong with having a phase in your life where you have a few too many drinks on the regular, act silly with your friends, and hook up with someone you barely know… as long as you’re safe about it. Yes, you read that correctly. This sober woman supports others getting drunk, safely. My toxic relationship with alcohol has nothing to do with other people’s relationship with alcohol.
My body was clearly giving me signs that the party girl lifestyle wasn’t for me anymore. These are some of the red flags I ignored for years, and wish I hadn’t:
It was the summer of 2009. I was 24, living with my at-the-time boyfriend and bartending full time at a fine dining restaurant in Waco, Texas. I was in my own delusional drunken world, unaware of anything that was going on around me – unless it directly affected me.
That July, a group of seven sort-of friends met in Houston, Texas to celebrate their mutual friend’s Bachelorette party. Each of us rocked heels, dresses, and clutches as we frantically texted from our Blackberries. After a sushi dinner with lychee martinis, we got into a limo and sipped champagne. The maid of honor gave each of us a pink, zebra-print mask with a sassy adjective. I screamed and begged for the one that said “Wild”. I got it.
Last week, on my daily stroll through Washington Square Park, I had an honest conversation via text with one of my clients. The sun was shining as we discussed dark times. Eager for help, she asked me several questions about sobriety. Her questions turned into an accidental interview and she helped me come to terms with some things I didn’t even know about myself. She agreed to let me share our convo as long as she remains anonymous. Let’s call her….Amanda…
Amanda: How did you just quit drinking? I always get to this point, where I feel so bad and so guilty. I’ll swear I want to make a change and give up alcohol, then never actually follow through. I’m so sick of my behavior, but I don’t know how to change it and actually stick to it.
Me: After years of “trying on sobriety“, making mistakes, hurting myself and others, I realized that living a party girl lifestyle wasn’t cute anymore. I woke up on Monday, November 30th, 2015 with a terrible headache. I was hungover. Again. I told myself that I’m going to go one week without booze to see how I feel. Then I told my roommate. Then I told my coworkers. Then I told the people I was drinking with the night before. I asked all of these people to help keep me accountable and to please refrain from inviting me out for drinks. That week turned into two weeks. Those two weeks turned into a month. As of today, I’m happy to say that I’m 7 months sober.
I don’t remember my last drink, but I think it was bourbon.
I was proud of the alcohol tolerance I’d built up through the beer soaked college years and continued to build through my mid to late twenties. I eventually graduated to manhattans and martinis. Or maybe I should say, “Graduated to manhattans and martinis when I was out on the town and also accompanied by cheap vodka hid in water bottles to assist with sleep, stage fright, social anxiety and increasing general drunkenness while on a budget”. I bragged about my high tolerance in the company of friends and they enjoyed trying to keep up with me.
The final night I drank, I was in mixed company and I was hyper-aware of how I did not want to be perceived. Ya know…like an alcoholic. I always counted the number of drinks everyone else had and was careful to have them think I drank the same amount. This often lead to me pre-gaming at my apartment before going out, sneaking to the bar and ordering quick shots for myself while out, and night caps once returning home.