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:
This morning, while chatting with one of my clients, she asked, “How do I cope with the guilt of setting myself up for failure by not following through with a set goal?”. I believe she was actually experiencing shame, not guilt. (My homegirl, Brene Brown has made a career out of identifying the difference between the two feelings). The goal my client was referring to was her participation in an online accountability group I started this month called #soberinjune. A few days into June, my client realized she was not in a place where she can take on this challenge.
I answered her question by asking a few of my own: “What’s your Why? Why did you initially decide to be sober for a month, and why did you change your mind?” This “ask why” advice can actually be applied to most aspects of goal setting.
This Mother’s Day, I decided to celebrate it in a unique way: by having my mom interview me. This all started when Mom mentioned that even though she reads my blog, she still has some questions about my issues with alcohol.
I’m an only child and she raised me as a single mom, so we developed a very tight bond. We are more like sisters than mother and daughter. From politics to religion to health to dating to sex, no topic has ever been off limits. She even bought me my first vibrator when I was in high school. She wanted me to know that despite what society projects, there is nothing wrong with female sexuality. She raised me in a progressive household, creating an interesting juxtaposition in a predominantly conservative community of Waco, Texas.
The following conversation took place on a drive from Waco to The Woodlands. We discussed addiction, feminism, homosexuality, Texas conservatives, and much more…
Mom: Do you think you’ll ever drink again?
SobrieTea Party: I would love to be able to have a beer, but one drink could lead me to internally justifying a night of partying with my friends. I don’t want to risk that.
For the past two years, naked yoga has been on the top of my bucket list. On a sunny Sunday afternoon in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, I finally crossed it off my list in a class with 8 other students. I’ve always enjoyed finding new ways to see what I can learn about myself. This desire for fresh invigoration has amplified since I cut alcohol out of my lifestyle.
The 8 of us sat in the waiting room, filled out our waivers, and talked about how nervous/excited we were. One guy mentioned that he’d been a few times. “This class gets me out of my comfort zone. I still get butterflies in my stomach before class – and I like that,” he told me. A few minutes before class started, we finally began removing our clothes. We walked, totally nude, into a well-lit yoga room with yoga mats, candles, and Rihanna bumping in the speakers. Our instructor, Joschi, was a German man who exuded confidence from his fit, naked body. He asked how we were feeling, told us jokes to calm us down, and began to guide us through our practice.
For as long as I can remember, St. Patrick’s Day was just another day to get hammered. Green beer, Irish Car Bombs, pints of Guinness, shots of Jameson – you name it, I was your basic party girl wearing kelly green while listening to Dropkick Murphys.
I decided to celebrate this holiday in a unique way this year: silently. I committed to being silent vocally. That’s right, no conversations with people. I also went off the grid from all social media channels, emails, texts, and phone calls. This social (and spiritual) experiment has been on my to do list for a few months now, since I interviewed MC Yogi and he shared his experience with me. Inspired by Ghandi’s vows of silence, MC Yogi spent one day a week in silence for an entire year. He best describes it as “recharging my spiritual battery”.
A few years ago – when I was still living in Waco, Texas – I stumbled upon a YouTube video of Gabrielle Bernstein a.k.a. The Spirit Junkie. The more videos she posted, the more I learned about her. Seeing that she went from party girl to spiritual guru gave me hope. I hoped for the courage to talk about my secrets with confidence in a way that Gabby spoke about her addictions and other issues she was working through. I knew that one day I would be sober like Gabby, and could have a blog like Gabby. Maybe I could even inspire people with my story and help others…..just like Gabby.
In the Fall of 2014, I was living in The Woodlands, Texas and I gave up drinking for three months. It was relatively simple; I just chose other activities instead of going out. I soon got bored of sobriety and eventually went back to dating Jack Daniels.
Fast forward to Winter 2015, I’m living in New York City and I’ve committed to giving up booze for a full year. The first three weeks were great because sobriety was fun and new. Now, reality has set in and it’s pretty rough. I’ve been sober for seven weeks and I’m struggling. I’m struggling pretty damn bad, actually. Abstaining from alcohol is easy. I have no problem saying no to a drink or avoiding social gatherings centered around alcohol. The hard part is a newfound awareness of my true self. I feel like a teenager going through puberty. I’m emotional. I’m stressed out. I’m anxious. For 15 years, my subconscious sent me to drink and do drugs to suppress these feelings. Now these emotions are coming to fruition and it’s as if I’m feeling all of them for the first time. Sobriety wasn’t this hard when I did it last Fall in Texas. Continue reading “Sober in The Big Apple”