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.
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.]
My nana passed away last month. We knew it was coming. She’d been sick for a few years now and her health was rapidly declining. A few days before she passed, my dad called me and said “This is it. She’s probably not going to make it through the night”. She ended up making it through two more nights before peacefully passing away in her sleep on Sunday, September 11th. I got the news via text from my dad while I was at work. I took a few breaks to hide in the office to cry, but I managed to remain somewhat intact so I could finish my shift.
As soon as I got off work, I didn’t know what to do. I felt lost. Dizzy. Disoriented. I called my best friend from back home (who now lives in Denver), Keegan. Thankfully, he answered. I couldn’t get the words out of my mouth because I was crying so hard, but I word vomited the following (or something like it):
“My Nana just died and my roommate’s out of town and I’m walking around the city alone and it’s September 11th and I’m staring at One World Trade and the energy here in the New York City is just really weird and I miss my family and I don’t know what to do and I want to drink but I can’t drink because I’m fucking sober. Should I go to Texas?” He calmly talked me down and gave me the advice I needed to hear. “Go home. Relax. Think on it. Go to Texas if you feel like that’s what you need to do”.
So I did. And here’s a few other things I did to cope with death sober:
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.
I was worried about being sober at a wedding, especially in my hometown where I spent half of my life in a drunken haze. My former self saw weddings as a guaranteed path to intoxication and finding a hook up. Everyone else is going to be hammered, you can be, too! Make sure you get a bottle of Jack Daniels in case the reception is beer and wine only. Oooh…we can pre-game with the whiskey!
While most of my blog posts are written for a general audience, this one is specifically written with people in recovery in mind. Here’s a list of tips for attending a wedding sans booze:
On this day in 2014, I finally graduated college at the age of 28. I took the scenic route, to say the very least. I lost sight of my destination, so I stopped to explore as many parties, concerts, and intoxicants as I could.
For as long as I can remember, education was something that I always wrestled with. I was fighting some internal demons so learning the Pythagorean Theorem and the Periodic Table of the Elements seemed like a waste of time. I got expelled from high school in my junior year because I passed out in science class due to a dangerous mix of 5 bars of Xanax and copious amounts of weed. The school nurse had to revive me and carry me to her office. She found more drugs in my backpack, hence the expulsion. I had to attend an alternative education program where I finished my GED within months. In a brief moment of sobriety, I took advantage of being able to start college earlier than most of my friends.
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.
There are tons of health risks associated with having a drinking problem: cirrhosis of the liver, high blood pressure, cancer, infertility, hurting yourself and others, yada yada yada. Knowing those things never stopped me from destroying my insides one drink at a time, so that’s the last thing I want to talk about right now. What I do want to discuss is how much money I have spent on booze. I made some brutal calculations based on a very low end of my whiskey-soaked spectrum.
On average, I went out for drinks 3 nights a week for 10 years. I would spend about $50 a night.
$50 x 3 nights = $150 per week
$150 x 4 weeks = $600 per month
$600 x 12 months = $7200 per year
$7200 x 10 years = $72,000
I’m at a yoga retreat in The Berkshires and I’ve succumbed to some sort of stomach bug. This retreat was supposed to be my getaway from the city, my time to reflect, my time to slow down and recharge. Why did I have to get sick? Why am I stuck in my room for most of the weekend?
I just threw up for the first time in years. The last time I threw up, alcohol was the catalyst. In my past life, I drank to excess, puked, then drank some more. This correlation between drinking and vomiting happened so frequently that I eventually developed some tricks on how to refrain from throwing up: swallow saliva repeatedly so it can’t come up, take another shot and forget about it (until later), or dance to burn it off. All of these tactics may sound insane, but in that state of mind, I thought that these practices kept me afloat in a world where I was drowning. Worst of all was my favorite… Continue reading “Puke & Rally”