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.