Pity…party of one? Your table is now available.

So as the universe and life continue to duke things out in my current existence, I can’t help but try to maintain my sanity and my authenticity by NOT hurling myself into a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a Hoarders marathon, but to attempt to handle the stress and anxiety with a calm and realistic approach.  One could argue that I’ve never been either; calm OR realistic.

Shit happens.  This we know.  People go bankrupt, divorces wreck families, people get cancer. There’s no shortage on hard times and I certainly don’t have the worst of the lot, by any means.  However, there are times when things are on more even keel than others.  This is not one of those times in my life.

Of course, for almost three decades my coping mechanism came in liquid form. Over the rocks, in a shot glass, or straight outta the bottle. This was always the answer when life threw me the hard questions. Knee jerk reactions of anger, blame and resentment. Lashing out at everyone and everything, save for MY part in the wreckage. Well, it would seem those days aren’t quite over. Despite my best efforts, I found myself up to my tits in a four-alarm meltdown on Friday evening over a situation that I myself, caused.  Trust me when I say I caused it because I spent the better part of the day desperately trying to find a deserving target in which to direct my anger and more importantly, the BLAME for said wreckage and only came back to my own reflection.

Shit.

So, did I put into place all the healthy and sound coping mechanisms I’ve learned in the 1,016 days I’ve been sober? No. Did I take a deep breath and focus within and press the pause button?  No. Did I immediately panic and spiral into a ferocious and tearful/fearful shame cyclone?  YES I SURE AS HELL DID.

And to show you how hard wired the ‘fight or flight” response is within me, my first reaction was to tell my husband that I was going to retreat for the weekend into a cheap bed-bug ridden hotel where I would remain under the jizz-stained faded bedspread while repeatedly telling myself what a non-deserving loser I was and why I really don’t merit any happiness or comfort in this world and all I do is screw things up. We drunks have a penchant for the dramatic at times.

I circled around and around this dark abyss and freaked out for the better part of three hours and the best most painful thing about this was it was just the SAME THING on repeat. No solution, no way out, just a endless downward spiral of shame with a dash of self-pity sprinkled in for irritating measure. NOT HELPFUL.

When I did finally press pause (with the help of my husband, my stalwart and rock-solid anchor) I was able to see the situation for what it truly was; and naturally, it was not remotely close to life-threatening.  Life on life’s terms. That’s what it was, and I had to look for my part in it and move forward from there. You know, like a GROWN-UP, dammit. We do the best we can with what we’ve got and sometimes your best is better than average, and sometimes, notsomuch.  My point here, if I have one, is that you have to forgive yourself for being a human being sometimes, warts and all. I reacted poorly, yes. I behaved selfishly and childishly and if I’d had the floorspace and flexibility to throw myself onto the ground in a fitful tantrum, I would have.

Years ago, after fucking up a situation at work, an old co-worker once remarked to me, “Hey kid, we’re not packing parachutes here, we’re all gonna walk away from this” in a hilarious comeback to my dramatic and apocalyptic reaction to my mis-step. And you know what?  He was correct. No, it doesn’t take away the feeling at the time when your chest tightens and your heart beat quickens and you feel yourself spinning out of control, but in reality, that’s the truth.  In some situations a freak-out of biblical proportions is indeed a justified reaction, but sometimes you just gotta check yourself before you wreck yo’self.

My situation is still not resolved and you know what?  That’s alright. I have no idea how things will shake out, and that’s okay too. I just have to keep doing the next right thing with the right intentions, and I know it will work out like it’s supposed to.  I know this, but sometimes while you’re on the way to the principal’s office you gotta shoot a few spitballs, am I right?

You know I can’t say anything in 500 words or less, but in summationlet me close with this; life is hard, guys – go easy on yourself.  Oh, and totally go for the Ben and Jerry’s* – it may not solve your issue, but it couldn’t hurt.

*I suggest their awesome flavor, Phish Food. Trust me, it’s waaay better than their music.

 

Gentle Joe

My Father would be 96 years old today.

I wrote about him a lot over at my other pre-sobriety site; Girl, Corrupted.  I was knee deep in it back then, dealing with his disease and physical and mental atrophy, as well as his death and post-funeral fall out.  I was a Daddy’s girl, through and through, and the last years of his life were more painful than his actual death and I’m sure some of you can sympathize with that bittersweet loss.

I’ve talked about his brash, hard-drinking, stubborn, fearless and heroic persona many times and I have brothers that can back up that bravado.  He was bigger than life, and not just to me.  He was a large man and had hands that would engulf yours if you were to shake hands with him, and I mean grown-ass men.  My Mom would lament that his feet were just as large and we were forever stepping over his giant mud-covered work boots in the garage.  Dad was a master handyman and could fix and/or build anything, really.  If he needed something and he could build it, well then, that’s what he did.  A garage.  Shelving. Tables or bookcases. I grew up with sawdust as a constant and yes, why that IS a post-hole digger, thankyaverymuch.  He had almost every tool or implement there was and if he couldn’t fix it, well, then it was a piece of shit in the first place.

He was a Marine.  He was a proud Irishman. He liked to fight, he liked to drink, and he liked to swear. More than that, he liked to laugh and I think he and I shared a belly laugh each day we were together on this planet.  He was my biggest fan, and I, his. His blue eyes would light up when I entered the room and his booming voice would yell “top o’ the morning, shitbird!”  Shitbird was a term of endearment, naturally. I loved it when he called me that; he was feeling kicky.

Today though, I’d like to take a minute to tell you about the other side of Joe.  The side that not many saw, but if you did, consider yourself lucky. The above picture was recently given to me by my Mother – I’ve never seen it.  This picture was taken at my high-school graduation.  My parents were among all the other families in the bleachers in my hot stuffy school gym since the weather that day didn’t cooperate.  She couldn’t remember much about the young boy’s family, only that he had grown so sleepy during the commencement ceremony, that he had unconsciously fallen over onto my Father’s lap and been fast asleep for the duration.  My Father, without a word, simply put his arm over the boy and waited it out while his only daughter was accepting her diploma. As the Grinch is famous for saying, my heart  grew three sizes when I heard that.

This was also the man I loved. The gentle and kind man that was always underneath the raucous braggadocio. Sure, he once punched a guy’s lights out in a McDonald’s DURING BREAKFAST, but he also rescued countless stray kittens and rabbits and baby birds.  I have many sweet memories of my Father holding an eyedropper filled with milk while nursing one of God’s littlest creatures back to health in a shoebox lined with a dishtowel. Don’t get me started on his love for dogs. Well, not all dogs.  He did take more than a few “for a ride” back in the day but that’s a post for another time.  He once told me that he hoped to die before our German Shepherd, Thor, because he didn’t want to imagine his living day to day without him. I didn’t take that personally.

To my absolute horror in my early twenties he showed up at my work with a picnic lunch.  Y’all, I mean a PICNIC lunch.  Complete with blanket, basket, fried chicken and all the fixings.  He had plopped it down in the grassy area of our parking lot and I was MORTIFIED. I went along with it though (thank god because we alcoholics can dwell on shit like that for decades) and now it’s one of my fondest memories.  What I wouldn’t give for him to pull up in his pick-up outside my work now, with a goddamn picnic lunch.

You better believe that if someone was on the side of the road with whatever the hell wrong with their car, he’d start signaling to pull over as soon as he saw them. He never sped past someone needing assistance, no matter how he was dressed or where we were going. It was just what you did.  Oh, and how children loved him. He put the fear of God in many a grown man, but children would flock to him like lepers to Jesus. He’d pull a magic trick, tell a joke, or have a piece of candy in his pocket. He was FULL OF IT, so of course kids and (most) adults loved him. He would spin a yarn  and have everyone’s rapt attention-he was a master storyteller. He would do most anything for a laugh and adored a good prank. He once balanced a bowl full of water on the ledge of my cracked bedroom door to catch me coming in late on my curfew. Upon tip-toeing into the house thinking I was home free, I gently pushed my bedroom door open when the bowl toppled onto my head, soaking me in the process, and sending a shocked scream into the night, notifying my Father of my late arrival. Lucky for me he was so tickled that his snare worked, I didn’t even get in (much) trouble.

I could write until dawn and I wouldn’t run out of anecdotes. It’s done my heart good just to jot these down, and my eyes brim with proud tears at these happy memories. I think of him often and a giant grin always spreads across my face.  My husband says that my eyes light up when I talk about my Daddy.  Of course they do. He was larger than life in every way, he was immortal, and he was the bravest and strongest man I had ever encountered. Now though, I want you to know the gentleman that he was, for that side is equally as important, now maybe even more so.

He was my Father, and he was a gentle man. Happy birthday, Daddy. Your shitbird sure misses you.

Milestone

 

 

I’m not sure where to start.

Staring at the above picture sends a ripple of mixed emotions through my veins. I could go all triumph over tragedy on your asses, but I won’t. I don’t feel that way. . .not today, anyway. This picture fills me with quiet hope and solemn pride but also really packs a ruthless and sickening gut-punch.*

Jesus take the damn wheel did that green shit really and truly come OUT OF ME?!?!

Yes. Yes, it did.  The other fun fact about the above photo is there is yet another pitcher of neon green goo to the right of the FULL one.  Swear.  I remember asking the technicians in the laboratory if I could take a picture, and how they looked at me with soft eyes, staring blank stares at each other.  I also remember thinking back then that they probably just couldn’t believe my bravery and my exemplary sense of humor, but since then I’ve realized that they were staring at me because I was dying.

1,000 days.

For the last one thousand days I have chosen life.  Life with all of its imperfections and flaws, as well as its joyful surprises and rewards. I’ve chosen love, and I’ve experienced unconditional love as well.  I have witnessed grace and forgiveness. I have screamed at the skies and collapsed in sobs.  I’ve experienced terror and uncertainty, and shame and humiliation.  I have formed bonds with a tapestry of humans  that linked their arms together in unison to catch me when I threatened to plummet into the seemingly hopeless abyss of my own self-created destruction.

I know I’m usually the first to make a joke of things or go for the easy laugh, but not today.  Today is a day of reflection, pride, and yes, some triumph. But some days it’s just still so raw.  The wolves still circle at my door, y’all – don’t get me wrong. But these days, if I do the next right thing and keep my intentions true, they’ll lay down for a spell and stop their anxious and restless pacing. I have to live in my truth and some days are easier than others.  I know this is the same for many of you and I honor the warrior in your spirit, as well.

They say that without the darkness, we wouldn’t see the stars.  Well, I can see the stars now, and they shine with an ethereal brilliance that sometimes blinds me.

They’re lighting my way, you see.

 

 

*My sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of you for letting me share my story with you.  And now I have to make one itty bitty joke because after proofing this post I couldn’t help but think that “gut-punch” is totally what I should caption the above picture.  GET IT!?!?  It’s the “punch” from my guts! WHO WANTS A MARGARITA?!?  See?  I really just can’t help myself.

 

Hear me roar

I admit, these days I’m playing a wee bit loose and fast with my posts while searching for gainful employment that doesn’t make me want to drink myself onto another transplant list and/or hang myself.  Blurgh. However, I must pull my cranium outta my rectum and get on the bus for the month is closing in on us and I still haven’t covered Step 4 in my monthly series.

To recap, we’ve covered honesty, hope and faith so far – step four, simply put, is courage.

COURAGE IS NOT THE ABSENCE OF FEAR, BUT THE TRIUMPH OVER IT.

Nelson Mandela

I’ll be the first to admit that when it came to courage in MY story, I’m not sure that I possessed it, but I wasn’t really given a choice.  One could argue I was given a choice and I could’ve chosen to continue to drink myself to death in the summer of 2015, but I guess the universe had a different plan for me.  I guess I also had a different plan for me – I really didn’t want to die. I don’t know if that’s courage or survival instinct or just stubbornness, but I do know that giving up wasn’t ever an option and I’m genuinely not saying that because I want a slap on the back, I’m saying that because it’s the truth. Also, in absolute candor, I don’t think I realized just how sick I really was back then. I know – you would think that lying in a hospital bed having your abdomen drained repeatedly after having a shunt inserted INTO YOUR LIVER that you’d think perhaps a problem was afoot.  Not this dumbass. You couple a slow learner with a late bloomer and you’ve got…well, me.

Of course, courage doesn’t always have to be so grandiose and epic. Courage can just be getting out of bed some days, amirite?!?  I recently shared a fantastic life-affirming breakfast with a dear friend who I don’t see nearly enough.  We covered the usual topics, i.e;  what we’re reading, our current president quite possibly being the antichrist, and incorporating trans fats and avocados into our daily diets. As we were chatting she expressed some anxiety over a new water aerobics class she had just signed up for. We both commiserated about just how nerve-wracking it can be to try something new. Especially alone.  Now, let me just remind you that we are two grown-ass accomplished women, as if that matters. I shared with her a recent story from my own experience.

Since returning home from my GOLDEN JUBILEE (read:  50th birthday extravaganza) my yoga practice has been reinvigorated and it’s really about time. I had let it slip down the priority chain as finances are abysmal fleeting these days.  In an effort to try different types of yoga and additionally save money, I found a hip and highly regarded yoga studio in my city that offers donation-based “Karma” yoga. Perfecto!  Well, kinda.

As I drove up to the studio I noticed a gaggle of young and taut gals decked head to toe in trendy yoga wear heading into the building.  They were smiling and laughing and EVEN THEIR PONYTAILS WERE PERFECT.  Instant insecurity made my stomach plummet and my throat tighten. I started sweating and pitting out in my generic yoga-wear.  I quickly glanced at the clock HOPING that somehow I was late for the class and therefore it would be RUDE to interrupt it and I’ll just come back some other time when I’m feeling a little better. Like in fourteen years.

If you know me in real life you know that I have never been late in the entire capsulation of my existence. I’m dead serious, and if you DO know me in real life feel free to comment below with one of the times I made you damn near murderous because of it.  So, I knew before looking at the clock that tardiness was not going to be the case so I quickly began reciting the litany of other reasons I could tell myself why I wasn’t going in.  As I started to spazz out I realized my reaction for what it was;  fear – plain and simple.  I’m too old, too fat, too uncoordinated, too farty and entirely too out of style to join that yoga class.

I looked at my reflection in the rear-view mirror and I could see the miserable and familar panic in my own eyes, and just like that, I was sick and tired of being afraid. The reality of the situation hit me and in a flash of mock bravery I opened the door to my Jeep and before I knew it I was standing in front of yet another beautiful gal with cheeks the color of pink rose petals and eyelashes like the open wings of angels, asking me for my name and donation.  “Jesus Christ, what is this . . .yoga for supermodels?!”, I asked, only half-way joking.

“I know, right?”, she replied. “You should try working here, it’s enough to give anyone an inferiority complex!”  I let THAT SHIT sink in for a moment and said, “well then, I’m obviously in the right place”.  She nodded vigorously in agreement and we both laughed.

Guess what happened?  NOTHING.  Well, yes, something DID happen – I went to said 90 minute yoga class, met some other kick-ass gals, LOVED the teacher and walked out of that hip and trendy bonsai-zen-incense burning studio with my head held high and my body energized. If only I had a mic to drop, I would have dropped it. That’s how good it felt to conquer that insecure and scared voice inside of me.  I can only imagine how it might feel to live your LIFE that way, and I’d like to think that some days, I’m on that path.  I relayed this story to my sweet friend and she and I too shared a laugh at how NO ONE feels completely self-confident and cultivated and proficient and has their SHIT TOGETHER all of the time.

I received a note from her yesterday. She went to her water aerobics, despite the voices in her head that tried to convince her otherwise.  She admitted she was fearful but she plundered forward and you know the rest, don’t you?  She enjoyed the class, met some other fantastic ladies like herself and can’t wait to go back. COURAGE, guys.  It doesn’t have to be thunderous and monumental. It can be the quiet and sometimes fragile voice inside of you that is just one damn ounce braver than your fear. Courage is changing your trajectory.  Courage is being honest with yourself, and your addiction.  Courage is facing down your demons and confronting what needs to change, head on. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Courage is recognizing the patterns in your life that aren’t serving you anymore.

So, if you have a chance sometime soon, step out of your comfort zone.  I promise you won’t regret it.  You may even have fun, or learn something, or discover something new and wonderful about yourself, or the world.

But remember, there’s a very fine line between courage and stupidity.  Please don’t cross it.

 

What dreams may come

Follow your dreams. Unless they’re trying to kill you.

Recently someone in one of my recovery meetings brought up “drinking dreams”.  They’re pretty common among the newly sober and I myself have them almost weekly, even approaching three years of sobriety. I don’t really mind them or give them much credence, I mean, it’s a dream.  I know they can seem real, but when I awake, I’m usually just super grateful that it was a dream.  In my crazy ass night scenarios, I am already intoxicated in said dream and then some good but nosy samaritan reminds me that I’m an alcoholic and I am paralyzed in terror and panic and immediately wake up – I assume before my black shiny liver shoots out my asshole and skids down the hallway.

The person in the meeting was disturbed by his dream, so much so that he brought it up as a concern. In his dream he said he knew he was drunk and didn’t really care and wondered what that meant about his inner resolve.

Some twenty years ago I had a dream that I was trying to shove a baby into my garbage disposal in my cheap Hollywood studio apartment but the baby kept crawling out before I could hit the switch.  In this horrific dream I dutifully grab a broom from the closet and hold the baby down with it while flipping the switch to grind it up.  Um, yeah – I know. . . but come on folks, I may not be smitten with kids, but I don’t (usually) feel like chopping them to bloody pieces in my kitchen sink.  The point is, it was a dream.

Fast forward to Sunday morning where at 4:12am I awoke with a violent start and what immediately followed was such bone-crushing sorrow I could barely lift my head off of the pillow.  I was standing across from my Mom, whose face was wet and shiny with tears.  She was crying to the point of hiccups.  I was shaking my head in disbelief, saying “No, Mom…I promise I didn’t know – I thought I just have a couple and it would be okay, I’m so so sorry.” I  was having a terrible dream where I had just found out that my liver was shutting down as the result of my “sneaking” a few here and there.  In my dream I was genuinely remorseful and surprised at the news. It was such a helpless and gutting feeling – standing  there in front of someone who has believed in me, admitting that I had failed her, and myself.  I awoke with a heavy heart and crippling shame.  OMG IT WAS SO REAL YOU GUYS. It sounds somewhat ridiculous but the after-effects of that dream stuck with until lunchtime.  I could NOT shake the feeling of uncertainty.

It’s coincidental that I have just started a Tibetan Lojong class on compassion and awakening AND KARMA so I guess one could say I’ve already gotten a little ahead in my studies and had a valuable little lesson in karma this weekend.

The Universe is vast and ageless and infinitely mysterious, but it also has one ridiculous sense of humor.

Sanity vs Safety

You guys I am currently working at a temp job in the projects and while there is nothing inherently wrong with the projects, per se, it has really been an eye-opening experience for me this last week. I’m an adult (technically) and know that poverty exists and I’ve certainly had my fair share of exposure to sketchy neighborhoods and whatnot while living in Los Angeles and downtown Albuquerque.  And of course, as a raging alcoholic, I’ve also had my share of experiences with various and assorted drugs, and encounters with law enforcement.

None of this, however, prepared me for this assignment as I am, as they say, in the belly of the beast.  Now, I don’t really *fear* for my life while on assignment but I’m also keenly aware that I could catch a stray bullet at any time while walking to my car. I have been placed as an office assistant to the leasing manager of a Section 8 HUD housing complex. One that has been somewhat synonymous in the past with drug and gang-related mayhem.

Now, on the more humorous side of things, I am LEARNING SO MUCH STUFF you would not believe it. First off, I’m older than my supervisor by TWENTY-FIVE years.  She is African American, and the mother of three,  so by default she is definitely the “adultier” adult in this situation.  She is unflappable and truly, why wouldn’t she be?  She’s seen EVERYTHING in her tenure there and having a new wingman (as more of an unqualified hinderance than anything) has been kind of fun for her, I hope.  She told me first off that the residents would no doubt equate ME as the new boss because of my skin color.  Sad, but true. Remarkably, she was cool with this in that she doesn’t mind that they are a little timid with what they deduce to be a new “sheriff” in town. Of course this is utterly ridiculous because if I have to actually talk to an actual person I might wet my pants.  The exchanges with the residents that I have been part of, however,  have been somewhat noteworthy, in my opinion:

Three things I have heard while on assignment this past week:

  • “Gurl, she always smell like salmon patties”
  • “You straight up in the ghetto and you act like you ain’t never seen a roach”
  • “She could open a can of corn with them toenails”

Three things I have NOT heard:

  • “I’ll have the Pinot”
  • “Checkmate”
  • “Would you care for some hummus?”

I’ll be honest though, this assignment doesn’t leave me when I leave it, unfortunately. For the last two weeks I have lost sleep and even shed tears over what I’ve witnessed there.   I aim for the funny bone in almost all scenarios but at the end of the day, it’s been difficult to find the humor in this bitter reality.  I physically became sick while attempting to “walk through” a unit with some movers, I shit you not.  I found myself gagging in a hallway from the stench and the sights and scrambled towards the blurry rectangle of light which was the doorway leading outside, and vomited into the shrubs with such force that my glasses flew from my face.  There is a family with children living in these conditions.

It’s the kids that get me. The children came to me first out of curiosity, and now they flock to me because they know they’ll find cookies in my shoulder bag.  It all but it rips my heart from my hyper-ventilating chest.  There is one in particular they call “Grandpa” that I think will fit snugly INTO my purse because I truly just want to bring him home with me and snuggle him for eternity.  Grandpa looks and acts like a tiny old man, hence his nickname.  He walks slowly and deliberately and doesn’t speak. His round brown eyes  watch everything with an ancient essence I can’t quite explain. Grandpa is just two years old.

I don’t want to spark a socio-economic debate or diatribe on the causes and effects of poverty, the bitter consequences of drug-addiction, inner city stressors, what’s wrong with our schools and/or government assistance programs, or what as a society we can do about it.  That’s for another time. Right now I’m trying to focus on my sobriety and what I can do WHERE I’M AT- right here, right now – because if I don’t, my tender sober heart won’t be able to leverage the burden of what I observe day to day.  I know that this is a temporary situation for me, but it’s a way of life for them, so I’m doing what I can to be an ambassador of sorts; a person of peace, and kindness.

Now, I am certainly not saying there’s no time or place for shenanigans. There is a golf cart at our disposal and that has been completely ridiculous. We “off road” in that rickety thing throughout the complex and I hit every speed bump sideways, and on purpose. We received a call on Friday regarding some rats outside a unit that “don’t give a damn”. Naturally we had to investigate.  When we pulled up outside the building, sure enough, there were about 4-5 black rats standing around, running around in the grass, some on their hind legs, truly not giving a damn.  Even the rats are middle finger in this place.

Life’s an adventure and sometimes you just have to roll with it to see what’s next. I’m approaching this temporary situation with that in mind. I truly do not know what each day holds for me, but how many of us really do?  We can speculate, but life has a way of doing things on ITS terms.

Thing is, this assignment STILL beats working for the Trump supporters. I’ll gamble my safety over my sanity any time.  Stay tuned.

The Ritual

these asshats cost me countless hours of serenity this weekend

 

In this blogging endeavor I have sworn to myself to write with humility, authenticity, and if I can manage it, fearlessness.

This is the part where I admit I’m a fucking lunatic.  Notsomuch fearless as authentic.

This past weekend I snuggled up with Netflix and decided to queue up a thriller. I adore scary movies and the new British flick, The Ritual popped up as a match, so I decided to give it a go.  What a rare treat!  An empty house, a full cup of hot tea, an asshole cat snoozing by my side, and a horror movie at my disposal. Life is good, no?

No.  Well, yeah, but it’s complicated.

Within the first ten minutes of the movie my shit went pear shaped, as they say in England.  Fuck.

The premise of the story is that there are five lifelong  friends and one of them gets killed in a robbery gone wrong (in a liquor store, I might  add) and it was his dream for the five of them to go back-pack across Sweden or Norway or some crap so they decide to do so to honor his memory, and of course, there’s some evil shit in them there woods. Duh.

Anyway, one of the first scenes in the movie is the four of them (above) atop a mountain with a picture of their fallen friend on some makeshift rock memorial and they pass around a black leather covered flask and they all take a swig out of it in remembrance of their mate.  When they had all drank, they poured out (are you fucking kidding me?!?) some on the ground for their pal, made a toast,  and subsequently, the movie moved on.

BUT I DID NOT.

I suddenly transported myself to a situation in the wreckage of my future where I am faced with the same dilemma and I wondered to myself if there’s a window in recovery for something like this.  I mean, the consequences  of my drinking have already cost me gravely at the expense of my liver and Cirrhosis, and I don’t often think about drinking ever again, save for an occasional short-lived craving. When I do notice “normal” people drinking in movies I just think to myself “well, how nice for you to be  able to drink like a goddamned average and ordinary person, you buttfucker”, and I move on, like the mature and sophisticated adult that I am. . . but I couldn’t this time because I became OBSESSED with the scene above.

Let’s invite my crazy down into the parlor for a spell, shall we?

The first thing that occurred to me was that of course I would take the fallen comrade’s drink for him/her in a show of solidarity because obviously I would love him/her the most over all of our other friends. Then, I jumped to the fact that one little teensy weensy shot of whiskey would not even resurrect a buzz in me these days and as far as I knew, they only had that one flask so WHY COULDN’T I have just one somber little whiskey shot at the makeshift funeral of my fake and non-existent best friend who tragically just hypothetically died?!?!  LIKE I AM AN INTERNATIONAL BACKPACKER AND COULD BE FACED WITH THIS PREDICAMENT ANY DAY NOW.

But in my head, it could and what the fuck would I do?!?  I mean, all of my current friends already know that I’m a raging drunk so they probably wouldn’t let me even hold the flask in the first place but COME ON PEOPLE it’s not like there’s a liquor store in the background, is there?  They are like DAYS away (well, I won’t spoil the ending but suffice to say they don’t have to worry  about the evils of civilization for very much longer) from ANY type of city and/or liquor store.

I had to shut down the din my head. My reaction was borderline Pavlovian. The scenario kept playing over and over in my crazy-ass circus of a brain until I could somehow justify a situation at some point in my life on this earth where I can rationalize having just ONE MORE DRINK before I die.  Isn’t that dismally ironic?  Isn’t that pathetic?  Isn’t that delusional, demented and deranged?!  Yes, it is.  They talk about the insanity of alcoholism and here it is in black and white.

Not drinking is SO MUCH MORE than just not drinking.  I had to finally circle back to the part where the guy got killed in the liquor store in the first place.  So, if he hadn’t gone into the liquor store, he would not have interrupted the burglary in progress, and he would still be alive today so clearly the message here is that vodka is nefarious and malicious, and will kill you in ANY WAY THAT IT CAN.  Okay, that *might* be a little bit delusional and somewhat far-reaching, but IT IS MY POST ISN’T IT?  This is what it’s like, in my head, all. the. damn. time.

And truth be told, if you had seen me in the last few months of my drinking, I was far more terrifying than anything in those woods.  Those Brits got off easy on their camping trip.

where did that pepsi come from?

So, feel free to share YOUR insanity with me. Come on, share your crazy!  Do you obsess?  Create scenarios in your head?!  I won’t judge.  Well, maybe a little but only because it’ll make me feel better about MY insanity and really, isn’t that what healing in community is ALL ABOUT!?!   I’m practically Mother Teresa over here.

oh no you do NOT underestimate Oprah

There are few things in life as pure and powerful as my love for Oprah Winfrey.  I have often referred to Oprah as my higher power in recovery and that no longer garners laughs in my meetings anymore because now people are leery (and damn straight) to do so, lest they incur The Wrath of The Crazy Drunken Trainwreck Obsessed with The Divine Ms. O.  And truly, if people can make doorknobs and ceiling fans their higher powers, THEN SHUT IT.  I would consider Dolly Parton as a back-up if need be, but for now, Oprah serves me well.

Oprah surrounds herself with smart people, and she listens and learns.  She’s spent a lifetime doing this and then she in turn, shares what she’s learned. One of these mentors was the incredible and amazing Maya Angelou, whom I had the privilege of hearing speak at an engagement years ago. Quite simply, it was a momentous evening.  Maya Angelou was/is an earthly treasure and I thank Oprah for bringing her message to many that may not have heard her otherwise. One of Ms. Angelou’s most famous quotes reads;

In a last ditch effort this weekend to avoid reality and escape into ANYTHING else than a bottle of SKYY vodka, I went to see “A Wrinkle in Time” at the movies.  Don’t even get me started on how much ass Oprah kicked, but here’s the real kicker, I have never read the book nor seen the original movie. Now, it IS a Disney movie so there wasn’t any hypodermic drug use or anal sex or anything so in that regard it WAS a snooze fest, but what really struck me as how now, more than ever, it’s a perfect tale for our current times.  Good vs Evil.  Light against Darkness. Love vs Hate. Believing in yourself. Authenticity. Speaking your truth. Trusting the Universe. Love is love is love.

As I left the theatre in the drizzling cold rain, I couldn’t help but grin. A few years ago, I thought I knew better. I thought I had all the answers, I really did. If you were to ask me, I’d have sworn up and down that I possessed an open and somewhat awakened mind. I knew who my authentic self was, and I was unapologetic about her.  I’m like Cilantro; you either love me or hate me – and back then, I didn’t really care which.

And then, in the summer of 2015,  I woke up at ground zero of my alcoholism and my whole world exploded and imploded, simultaneously.  Not to be overly dramatic here but unless this type of thing has happened to you in some capacity, there’s nothing I can write on this page to give you an accurate glimpse into that harsh and unforgiving reality.

Have you ever had to question everything you thought you knew? Have you ever looked into your own reflection in a mirror and not recognized the person staring back at you?  There was no light, no brightness of being left in me.  Who had I become?

In four months I will celebrate 3 years of sobriety. And I’d like to thank Oprah for setting the stage for me. You wanna know how I did it?  I surrounded myself with smart people and I listened to them.  I listened to their experiences as they shared what worked, and sometimes, more importantly, what didn’t. I marveled at their strength and nodded along in sympathy at their weaknesses. When they extended their hands out to help me, I grabbed their fingers in a death grip, and truly, that’s exactly what it was; I was fighting for my life.

And now, I know better. Instead of running to the liquor store, I just go for a run. When I need to escape reality, I know I can pick up a book, not a bottle. When I feel stressed out and anxious, I focus on my breathing. I’m learning to meditate and listen to myself, and the Universe.  This didn’t happen overnight, of course – you have to want it, and you have to work at it – because your life depends on it.  Like they say, the only thing that has to change is everything, and naturally, that’s terrifying. I’m still new in this journey but I can promise you, if you start it, you’ll be amazed at what’s revealed to you along the way, and that’s not just some ex-drunken existential bar-talk bullshit.

I guess what I’m saying is that you don’t have to have the answers, and you certainly don’t have to go it alone.  We’re here to help each other, at least I think so.  So, while I don’t have all of the answers, I know where to go when I need help.  And maybe that’s Oprah’s greatest gift to me – letting me know that it’s okay to be vulnerable, and that we can heal together, in community.

Now, I know better, and guess what?  I’m doing better.  A LOT better.

I’m going to leave you with another quote.  This one is directly from Oprah, so you can assume it’s pretty much the gospel truth.

I don’t know about you, but I think that this is Oprah’s way of saying, “one day at a time“.

 

March Madness

wtf?!? is she lying face up? or down? are those boobs? omg this is so my life right now

 

As the previous post would indicate, faith is important in recovery.  This post will document that sometimes it’s very difficult to practice these steps in all of our affairs.  HOLY SHIT BALLS.  I know I posted about faith just scant days ago but I also think accountability and honesty are important so I’ll admit that I’m having some difficulty in ACCEPTING what I cannot change right now . . . and struggling with faith in that the universe has GOT THIS, in the interim.  Motherfucker.

As you may recall, I’m currently between jobs.  I was laid off last Fall and have been temping intermittently since. Naturally, it’s a nightmare.  So I’ve been trying to CALM THE F DOWN and apply for jobs I’m way overqualified for and even grovel for the occasional interview on Craigslist, because it’s officially come to that.  Jesus.  I know, I know, what a “great opportunity” for growth and starting over, and how refreshing to “re-invent” my career path at this age, but COME ON PEOPLE right now it’s just a huge pain in the ass for this bitter old drunk trying to revamp her resume AT FIFTY.  Is Snapchat considered a skill these days because I don’t freaking have it.

Anyway, I had an interview yesterday at an industrial company. It’s some sort of administrative position, they all blur together these days, but as soon as I pulled up to the joint and glanced about the parking lot I knew I was in trouble. I spotted a Trump/Pence bumper sticker right off the bat and a sparkly little snippet of hope inside me died. I opened the door to the office and FOXNews was blaring forth from inside*.  Oh, no.  There’s a moment in the wild where this type of phenomenon happens, and I think it’s called “flight or fight” or something, but in reality, I did neither . . . I just kinda floundered at my predicament. The Big Boss himself interviewed me, and for the love of Barbra Streisand, I kinda liked the asshole. He was a burly guy with an easy manner and a dynamite smile. Besides not having any respect for him whatsoever and disagreeing with the core of his humanity, he seemed like a cool enough guy. . . but not one I’d want to work for, but there I was. . . nodding along and wondering how much of my black shiny soul I’d have to sacrifice for health insurance benefits.

The whole experience was humbling and soul sucking but there was a total DROP THE MIC moment in the warehouse when I correctly identified the song “Thunder Kiss ’65” by White Zombie blasting from the boom box (no shit y’all it was an actual old school boom box) and two of the guys by the forklifts clapped and laughed.  Now, if you’ve EVER in your life heard White Zombie’s song “Thunder Kiss ’65”, you KNOW the damn song so it’s not that perceptive or amazing or anything but I guess when you’re a 50-something sharply dressed woman applying for a shitty admin job in a rundown industrial park across from the shooting range, it’s somewhat unexpected when you dump that knowledge on some unsuspecting dock workers.  Judge not, boys.

renaissance man, Rob Zombie of White Zombie

Anyway, I came home and took off my bra and laid face down on the floor in front of the tv.  This seemed like the appropriate conclusion of my afternoon.  When I awoke I was in the midst of a Lifetime movie starring Lisa Whelchel (YES, Blair from the tv show The Facts of Life) and I started to get sucked in and that was the moment right then and there I decided that I was going to have to fight through the despair and general malaise that this day has brought upon me.  But it was fucking Blair (!) so it was super hard to turn it off, and you know in retrospect she has really aged well save for some puffiness around her eyes, and really, who am I to throw stones – but I DID turn it off and decided to promptly go to my little neighborhood yarn shop where I get most of my advice (solicited and otherwise) and sage wisdom because surely to God the company of real honest to goodness people would be better than holing up in isolation with Blair from The Facts of Life.   The next movie up starred WINNIE COOPER from “The Wonder Years”, I shit you not – so in effect, I had to flee my home like a scalded dog lest you find me going fetal in a fuzzy blanket wondering if Tootie has any movies under her belt these days.

After knitting for a spell I decided to go to my local meditation group and I’m new to meditation so I have no idea what I’m doing but I feel like I damn sure should be doing it so let’s keep an open mind, shall we?  I figured if ANYONE needed some Zen it was certainly me and even if I don’t “get it” I’m still sitting in silence for an hour and *attempting* to listen and that’s got to be good for the world as a whole.  So, I wanted to post this post as an accountability post in that I do NOT always practice what the fuck I preach. I don’t have the answers.  Yes, now I have tools at my disposal, but I don’t always use them. Sometimes you just want to freak out and be terrified and apocalyptic and wallow but you know what?  THAT SERVES NOTHING, NO ONE, NO POINT.  Except that I want to sometimes. Badly.

So I sat in silence. I tried to keep my mind tuned to the present. I struggled not to think about my impending bankruptcy and consequent homelessness, or compose a grocery list in my head, or worry that I’ll have some weird facial spasm and appear to suddenly be having a stroke while surrounded by all of these nice enlightened folks.  And you know what? In that quiet hour, nothing about my situation changed, but when my boots hit the parking lot, I felt lighter – inside AND out.

Like I’ve said – faith, my friends, is like a DUI checkpoint – just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there.  I wrestle with it often, fight with it always, but impossibly, the net catches me anyway.

 

*I first typed “blaring froth” instead of “forth” and I almost left it

** this really has to be the only missive in existence that mentions Lisa Whelchel and Rob Zombie in the same post and for that, YOU ARE WELCOME.

Whiskey Business

my first St. Patrick’s Day – 1968

Nowadays if my Mother posted this on Pinterest she’d probably get arrested, or at the very least, an online smackdown.  I have to admit, the one time having a child ever entered into my vodka-soaked brain, it was because of the appeal of dressing it up, so I have no problems whatsoever with this but then again, I have never been known as a Beacon of Appropriateness.

My other favorite thing about this picture (besides the airplane whiskey) is that my Mother had GIVEN BIRTH forty days prior to this picture being taken and she and my Dad were not going to let a thing like the arrival of a fresh new leprechaun jack up their party schedule.  IT WAS THE SIXTIES, people.  My Mother probably didn’t even remove her dangling cigarette from her lips as she was positioning my wee pipe.

One could say that I never had a chance by looking at this, one of the very first pictures ever taken of me. Can you be destined to be an alcoholic? I don’t know, but the one thing I do know is that the one thing I DID inherit from my parents was a exemplary sense of humor and that’s gotten me through everything so far which also begs the question why my Mother is NOT GOING TO FIND MY POSTING THIS FUNNY AT ALL.

I love you, Mom.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!