Sunday, November 15, 2015

Again and Again

There are a few times a year when PMS knocks me for a loop. This has been one of those times- you know, one day things are fine, then the next day you want to crawl into the dark closet with a quilt over your head and just cry cry cry your heart out all day because you don't know why but because.

I imagine this is a tiny taste of what depression might be like. Things go sideways and there isn't really an explanation- just this deep feeling of everything and nothing all at once, but then there's also  intense impatience and quickness to anger that I'm not sure where to put. In an argument with my seven year old about getting ready for school I flipped him the bird and yelled "Fuck you!" at him. I picked a fight with my husband about the same thing we always are trying to work out. Twice. I came home from work and sat in the car sobbing for a long time before I wanted to come inside.

I can remember when I first got sober it was like a revelation when I could feel the crazy creeping up on me. I would start to feel impatient, and irrational, and weepy but I would know what it was: PMS. I never knew this before. Drinking I was always so off center because I was hungover and I felt like hell, guilty and ashamed. Sober I knew it was my wacky hormones being out of whack. Then I found an app that would keep track of it for me and it's been lovely that as soon as I feel off kilter I peek at my app and yes- the concrete evidence is there. I am not just batshit crazy, I'm definitely not hungover; there's a real reason for all these flying around feelings.

Again and again it seems like I am always looking for reasons for things. Reasons why I feel this way, or that way. Reasons why my seven year old can't manage to get ready sometimes. Reasons why I have to be so feeling when it seems so easy for some people to be so blasé about it all. Reasons why people blow themselves up in Paris, why at a football game I can't help but feel compassion for the losing team. I really wanted to go down on the field and say "Hey y'all, wouldn't it be more fun to play football? And maybe after have some coffee and cookies?" It seems like I am always looking for explanations to make things that don't make sense make sense. If I find the reason then I can find the solution and then I'll be able to understand. Lately I've been having this urge to hold everyone in my heart because I want it all to be ok. Like a giant Kumbaya on crack. Which seems like an odd thing to say on a blog about addiction, but well, maybe you know what I mean.

I've been doing a lot of heart opening. I wish I could explain how you do this in steps and then it could be easy, but I don't really know. There's a lot of laying on the floor, getting my body on the ground. A lot of not concentrating on outcomes, a lot of not being the same as always. I didn't really know it was happening to me until I just now thought about that it has been happening to me, but I did know too. It has been my intention, but I didn't really realize that it was actually working until I thought about it. Which seems to be the case for every fucking thing- I set out to do it, kind of forget I'm doing it, but I've put that intention out there and so the universe is hard at work answering my prayers anyway. Then things get good, but also tough and sad, and then I remember my intention and feel awesome but also pissed off because dammit! Prayers are meant to be answered...ohhhhh, right.

There aren't a lot of big things weighing on me- it's all the little things that pile up together making a big thing. Actually it's my attachment to all these little things that make a big thing. I'm reading about avidya (spiritual ignorance) and it makes so much sense- because I am afraid I become attached to these little things and I forget that I am already who I'm supposed to be. Because I am already who I'm supposed to be I don't need to be afraid and attached. But I'm so attached to my attachment to the little things! Who am I if I'm not my idiosyncrasies or victories? Who is my self if I am not supported by these illusions?

Rolf Gates says, "Our pain is simply feedback from the universe: 'No, that's not it; no, that's not it either. Oh yes, you are getting a little warmer, a little warmer. Ooops, you're getting a little colder.'" I think that's such a cool way to think about it- the universe playing the hot/cold game with me. It makes it easier to take when I feel so sad and lost inside, or when I'm feeding my arrogance and not my confidence. Such a simple message: change direction. Move to where you are comfortable, where it feels better. Too hot or too cold- move to where it feels good. I don't have to all over everytime question it: Shouldn't I push myself though? or Whoa! Is that too much? These are just things I can know how to answer.

The day I cried in the car after work was a big step for me. It wasn't awesome to feel so sad, but it was awesome to let that sadness out- to feel my heart breaking and know that it was okay- I found the right spot in the hot/cold game. As soon as I yelled "Fuck you!" at my son I had a big peace come over me and I got quiet and said "I love you. Let's stop fighting." It took a minute, but he did, and grabbed me around the neck and we both cried. The right spot again. I often wonder who made the rule that hearts are wrong unless they're singing?

Again and again I find my life to be so much like seasons: after winter must come spring. And then around around again. Slowly circling around the spiral reaching closer and closer to center. Sometimes the view is the same, again. Sometimes it's all so new I don't know where to look. It isn't about arriving at the center though- it's about getting there even though you're already there. It's about seeing when you've mistaken your pain for pleasure, and then healing along the way. It's about taking a knowing look at yourself and understanding that the grace comes when you surrender and allow your prayers to be answered. Sometimes that's the hardest thing to do, again and again.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Hey Look! Me Too, Two!

Woo wee! Over the weekend I got the news that my "How I Got Sober" was posting today on AfterParty Magazine. Check out their site if you haven't yet- another great resource for reading, Me Too's, and staying sober. They sent me this awesome tank top just for doing an interview. At first I felt a little funny wearing it, but then I thought about it and my sobriety is one of the things I'm the most proud of. Plus it's interesting to watch people try to figure out what it means. :)

I know non-anonymous isn't for everyone, but it works for me. I am so grateful for the opportunity to tell my story, and hopeful it helps. I'm always available for being a pen pal so don't feel shy or like it's a burden. Thanks for reading! :)

Here's the link:How I Got Sober

Friday, November 6, 2015

Hey Look! Me Too!

I am always so delighted when someone contacts me and says "Hey...would you do an interview for me?" (link below) So far it's happened four times, which I find pretty amazing considering I'm just a regular woman going about a regular life doing regular things. Wait, that's not really true... :)

One of my biggest things sobriety has given me is this urge to help other people who are struggling with alcoholism to know that the booze doesn't have to be the end: that ending it can be the beginning. When I was drinking I never knew that there were other people out there just like me. I knew in my heart I was an alcoholic- but because I didn't drink every day, or in the morning, or have jail time, divorce, or lost jobs I thought I was sort of ok. Drinking two bottles of wine a few times a week is not normal- duh.

I want to put myself out there so other people can see that being an alcoholic looks "normal". It 100% looks like a married mother of two holding down a job and a life. It looks like a woman who has it together- except when she's hammered on the back porch a few nights a week, and then desperately hungover on the days after. You can still get up and get dressed and do a day when you're so hungover you feel like you might die: it just really sucks. But it doesn't scarlett letter you with a definitive "A" for alcoholic like the typical image people have of us.

I'm not trying to be all grand when I say I want to help people. But I do! I want to help all the people! It's like that song about buying the world a Coke to keep it company- I want to buy the world some sobriety. I sometimes feel like I could be an infomercial- Try it! It worked for me- it can work for you too! And then there are pictures of me wasted, and then there's a picture of me sober, and then I ride gloriously off into the sunset the end.

Being sober never ends. THANK GOD. I know that sometimes when you're getting sober the thought of never drinking again is the most painful thing ever. For some reason for me it has always been the biggest relief- I never have to do the thing that caused me countless hours of suffering ever again? PHEW.

The ME TOO. It's the thing that gives us all the power to grab a hand and have some help up. It's the thing that can give me such a feeling of peace: of being understood.

Veronica Valli has a great blog called Recovery Rocks. Here's the interview I did for her HERE. I loved reading other people's sober stories and looking around her site. I got so many ME TOO's.

I never ever in my whole life ever would have thought that I would be doing interviews about being sober- or being interviewed for anything at all, really. I never thought I would make the life I've made. I pinch myself sometimes knowing that it's really true. Anything is possible for anyone y'all. Anything is possible for you. Anything is possible for me, too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bigger Life

I had my first writing class last night.

When I signed up I was all "hell yeah!" then I thought it was going to complicate my schedule too much and I got fearful and almost cancelled doing it. Then I had the time wrong and it turned out I realized that I wanted to not go out of fear rather than actual complication.

So I went.


It was grand. I sang and yodeled and lalala'd all the way home. There were about ten of us in the library at the Center for Documentary Studies which was as lovely as it sounds. A room full of other writers??? Shut the fuck up. The woman teaching the class is thoughtful and funny and genuine. We did some short writing and I made myself read what I wrote because that's why I'm there: to put myself out there, to share my way with words. I did NOT want to read out loud even one tiny littlest bit, but my go ahead voice urged me on so I did it. It was so cool to hear other people's words and thoughts, to think about other people feeling the necessity of writing too.

I am in this constant state of wonder these days: the bigness and ease of my life stretches my imagination to no end. I'm always writing back and forth with at least one person who is at the very beginning or not even started getting sober yet and it's always this feeling that I want to convey- the feeling of wonder. It's so interesting to be able to remember clearly the frustration and suckiness of living that alcoholic's life and then mash that up to living this alcoholic's life: the only true difference is that I don't drink anymore.

Me minus booze equals magic.

It takes so long to get to this place: I want to share that but then I want to keep it secret because I'm afraid if anyone knows that they won't even stay or get started. But here's the thing- it just keeps getting better and better and better. So you start out and your victories are all big even if in retrospect they seem small. When I first got sober one of my biggest victories was all the crying. Then it was being able to show up for stuff like parent teacher conferences and work without raging hangovers. Now my biggest victories are pushing my boundaries into what I know my life was meant to be. Singing out audibly in yoga class when we chant. Reading what I wrote out loud in front of people. Every time I stretch I take my time because I know I need to, but sometimes I just push myself out of the boat. Sometimes my life is bigger than the boat anyway.

The thing about it taking a long time is this: time is for the taking. I can take time to build my life, or I can take time to drink it away. It's the same 24 hours every day. It will all pass regardless, marching on no matter if you're blackout drunk or on your way to writing class.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Rainy Days

It's raining so hard here today. I'm on the lookout for a few animals to go floating by or maybe a man called Noah to knock at the door and ask if I'm interested in either tree trimming or arks. I've been caramelizing onions for what seems like almost an eternity, listening to Death Cab for Cutie radio on Pandora AND shaking my ass in the kitchen. It's awesome.

A song by Coldplay came on and I had this sudden flashback to when my husband and I had gone from pals to living together in a slow but fast decision that we did, in fact, like each other "that" way. We used to get off work around 11 PM and head down to the corner bar to get started getting wasted the way early twenty somethings do except we were in our early thirties. Then we'd head home (lord, that we drove, really???) to drink more and I would put on that Coldplay CD and headphones and sing at the top of my lungs. I don't remember any of it, of course, I've been a blacker-outer from waaaaayyy back. I would drive him nuts with my drunken off key bellowing. Can you imagine? I was in such pain and such glory all at once.

Only later did we talk about how much he hated it. But what to do? Piss of a drunk person? God. Who the fuck even was I?

I was thinking this morning about how I am almost three years without a drink, without a drunk, or a blackout. How when I sing at the top of my lungs I know I'm doing it, how I'm becoming a better dancer because yoga and also letting go y'all. How I'm alive and living and I know all the things I do all the time. ALL THE TIME.

I was also thinking about the way that being a sober person is just part of my fabric now: that it would seem so weird to drink instead of vice versa. It seems so natural, like I was faking it that whole years of time I drank and now I'm who I really am finally finally finally. It gives me such a burst of joy and relief that I never have to drink again, that I never have to be that me ever again.

I put glittery golden hearts from fall festival prize making on my computer to remind me of how beloved I am by me- by the universe. I dance and sing in the kitchen while I make caramelized onions for half my life (those mugs take forever!). I sign up for writing classes and yoga trainings and I still yell at my children and pout when I don't get my way. I am not the same person I used to be- I am here with faith and learning to comfort my fears. Every time life seems to be as bright as it can be I am mesmerized again by what else is possible. This is not to say there is no sorrow, there is, but I suppose it's all the way I look at it.

Ah, rainy days. :)

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I had coffee with one of my sober pen pals the other day- at a coffee shop ten minutes from my house. I amaze at this: here I am, in a city, in a state, in a country. I write a blog about being sober and and out in the great wide world another person reads it and writes to me and it just so happens she works ten minutes away from that coffee shop.

It's interesting to meet people in person: to see the hope and hurting in their eyes, their bravery and shyness there all at once. It's like meeting an old friend but you've never met. The reason you're meeting is because of your worst so there isn't anything to hide. It's pretty cool to know there isn't a reason to sugar coat it: after all, our biggest "secret" is out.

It's even more interesting to find out that we have the same kind of father, a similar kind of personality, the same kind of drinking. There's something so comforting about someone across a small table describing a situation and saying "I don't really remember" and you both understanding it means you blacked out. The knowing when you talk about those nights before: telling how you used to wake up the next morning and have to take yourself through the morning-after shame check to see what damage you'd done that you might have forgot. The me too y'all. It's so connective.

I have spent most of my sobriety in the regular world. By that I mean I didn't go to rehab, or AA. I had a recovery group for a while but that hasn't been around for over a year or so. I mean that I don't spend any time with people in recovery or talking about being sober. It was such a pleasure to hear her story in person, and to share the victories I've gained, to connect eye to eye. To be able to give advice, and to get a different take on things.

I had to write a 500 word essay for my application for yoga teacher training. I had to write about things I wanted to transform about myself with the help of the training- i.e. intention. It surprised me (and then, of course, didn't surprise me at all) that the thing I most want to transform is my ability to connect with others and myself.

I am so so shy about letting people in: being vulnerable is one of my hardest things- I think I'm only really good at it with my children. With them I can let it all hang out and love them fiercely and big and not feel afraid. With pretty much everyone else I am always in protective mode- always making sure I have a defense or an out. I am hyper protective of my sweet heart- it has been hurt so many times.

Drinking helped me not have to connect. It insulated me from things like feelings and relationships. It bonded me to people but I often wouldn't remember.  It helped me isolate myself into a defended safe place where the only person reliably hurting me was me. Ack, that just sucks.

Sometimes I feel like such a dumbass for being so middle aged and so inspired by the magic of it all. I laugh at myself all the time: where have I been all my life? I laugh at this too: thank god I'm finally here- feelings! Relationships! Connecting! It seems like it all ends up being a study in opposites and differences, which ends up being about balance I suppose. In a wonderfully universe-ish practical joke my choices have placed me in a class that will connect me intimately with a group of other people and myself- my hardest thing combined with my dream come true. The universe never ceases to delight and puzzle me with it's twisted sense of humor. As soon as I announce something I can't do it seems like an opportunity to can do appears- and I'm learning to take it. These are the things that make miracles.

Friday, October 2, 2015


  Getting sober is about doing things differently. You for real decide, "oh hey, I'm not going to drink anymore" and then that day you don't drink anymore. On that before dinner you don't pour a giant glass of wine over and over again until you blackout. Then the next day you decide it again: differently. You drink seltzer and breathe and push and pull while you stand in the kitchen wondering how the hell you're going to manage making dinner without wine. A week passes and you are still differently. A month. Holy shit! Then a whole year and sometimes you don't even notice the differently anymore all the time because now being sober is the same.

Then arrives a whole other set of things you need to do differently! Ack! I have feelings? I need to figure out who I am? What I like? What I can do? What I stand for? Who stands by me? My place in the world? Is it not enough that I quit fucking drinking? Can't that be my grand gesture to the world- hurrah! I am healed! Ta- dow!

Ahem. Welp, I guess not.

There's a thing called "globbing": when you take every option and make a big wall in your head and then no decisions get made and you get trapped in your critical mind and forget about doing the thing another way. When you glob you get sad and confused and blamed and incapable. I am excellent at globbing! I can pull myself under real quick like in most situations with my automatic response that is usually Ugh, I am not doing this right and I want to hide even if I'm fine.

Which means that now I have to figure out how to do my thinking differently: how to talk to myself and the world in my voice and not in my fear of rejection or fear of hurt. I don't mean speaking my truth: I mean speaking for myself. It's about feeling secure: held and safe- even when I'm a total asshole. Recognizing the unthinking responses and then taking a moment to decide: whether positive or negative making the decision instead of blindly flailing along the way I've always gone just because I've always gone it and also that's just easier.

I quit one of my jobs this week. I quit because I didn't like what the company is doing and I was able to say "I don't like this" and be finished. It was so empowering and such a relief: I didn't want to stay and my life is arranged now so that I didn't have to. It has mystified me a little about myself all week: I really did that??? I was able to do that? I'm not totally stuck because of money or obligation? That was pretty different. Normally I'm a person who sticks it out even when it sucks, or I have to stick it out because I run my life like a train wreck, but now I'm not that kind of person anymore.

It can be as small as this: sometimes when I'm at acupuncture a needle can be uncomfortable- but I never speak up- or in yoga class we get into a position and I'm supposed to feel great and I don't- but I don't move. I don't want anyone to know I'm doing it "wrong". I finally spoke up at acupuncture and moved at yoga this week. No one was bothered or noticed, but I feel like a badass.

I smile at myself: me? Standing in my two feet having my own back? Speaking for myself? Pretty cool. The gifts sobriety brings are so dang ongoing- just when I get to a spot where I start to feel a little dum dum dum the universe offers up these opportunities for me to wow and amaze myself- and I've started to take the invitation to get less afraid and let my life be bigger. Even when the world is crazy and the children are both misbehaving at school and I'm hormonal and sad and it feels like the pile of things going on is bigger than all of us I can stop and think for a little minute and be...okay.

We spend so much time concentrating on what's "wrong" with us. I'm not this, I'm not that. I read a book every day called Meditations from the Mat and in it I found the idea of making it good instead of making it bad. That I can concentrate on what makes me not or what makes me me. And so when I start talking bad about myself behind my back I stop it right now.

It's getting easier with practice. All these things: not drinking, getting sober, staying sober, learning to be a person, learning to be a nice person- all have gotten so much easier with practice. It's so small: to not belittle myself, to decide, to be kind.  But the difference is so big.