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.
Over the last few months, I’ve been compiling a list of “notes to self” in my phone while sitting on the subway. I wrote these reminders for my own sanity. They help me calm down when I feel a spiral of self-loathing coming on. This list isn’t always pretty, but it’s grounded in a reality that I’ve learned to accept. Call them mantras. Call them affirmations. Call them maybe.
Lululemon was my first job outside of a bar or restaurant. When I was hired, I was 28 years old, fresh out of college, and had just moved from my hometown of Waco, Texas to The Woodlands in North Houston. I’ve proudly been rocking my high-end yoga pants for nearly three years now – both in The Woodlands and New York City. This job has been a consistent support system for my sobriety and my coworkers have been some of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders. Here’s how the unique work culture has played a key part in my recovery:
I’ve been sober for 500 days, y’all! It feels surreal sometimes. There are moments when I still feel like that 20-something party girl who was dancing on bars and taking body shots off of strangers. I have moments where I ask myself, “Am I really a sober blogger?!?!”. Yes I am! And I fucking love it. While recovery has its ups and downs, I’m grateful for it every single day. These 500 days have been full of happiness, heartbreak, anger, new adventures, and personal growth. Here’s 5 of my recent favorites memories in my first 500 Days of Sobriety:
I started seeing a therapist in August 2016 when I was 9 months sober. I was prepared to be Goldilocks and shop around, looking for the therapist that was juuuuuust right. I lucked out and found “the one” on my first try; I’ve seen her every Wednesday ever since.
The first 9 months of my sobriety, or as I like to call it, BT (before therapy), I talked about what I was going through to anyone who was willing to listen. That was usually my therapy-advocating roommate. She listened to me, gave excellent advice, and found graciaous ways to sneak in the whole “you should see a therapist” message. I’d get annoyed, then after the 100th time, it finally sunk in. I realized that my neuroses weren’t so cute after all. I felt like Carrie Bradshaw circa season two of Sex and the City.
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.
This past Friday night, I attended a Yoginis Only (aka Women Only) yoga class at SWEAT Yoga in TriBeCa. This vigorous, heated flow was taught by the lovely Sarrah Singer. She guided a diverse group of students through an hour-long practice while we rocked out to an all-female playlist: 4 Non Blondes, Madonna, Meredith Brooks, Lady Gaga, and of course, Beyonce.
Back in my party girl days, my Friday nights consisted of pre-gaming (drinking in preparation for more drinking), getting dressed up to impress potential hook ups, hopping from bar to bar, then driving home drunk at 2:30am. My Saturday mornings, predictably, were full of headaches and regret.
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.]