Then and Now

I have just returned from a life-changing and restorative getaway with my three best friends, The Douchebags. I’m still processing and collecting my thoughts on all that I learned and experienced there, so in the interim, I offer you an another tidbit from my old (while I was still a “practicing” alcoholic) site, Girl, Corrupted. I had just returned from a trip with the gals in California. My drinking didn’t always end in misery, you guys, but if I was in misery, my drinking was always involved. This trip was one of the last we’d have before I got sick. This last trip was a trip of a lifetime and you know what?  I was there.  I was present.  And I remember. . . everything. 

 

I read once that the best trips aren’t going to somewhere, they’re going to someone.

That’s always the case when I get together with my three lifelong best friends. You remember the DB’s, right? Of course you do. Here we are then.

OMG I was a fetus

Yep. That’s the four of us, circa 1993, I’d say. Yes, we were smoking and OMG, look at the time in the background… it’s 10:45 pm. Nowadays I’m in bed with a kleenex tucked in my sleeve lying next to a dude sporting a “Breathe Right” strip by 9:30pm. Livin’ the dream, people!
Us, this past weekend.

Winos, clearly

That’s the DB4 at the Rubicon Winery and Vineyard in Napa, California. We jetted off to Cali for a whirlwind weekend of wine tasting, hot tubbing and fine dining. Oh, and lots and lots of laughter. We’ve been friends over 20 years now and boy, you can certainly tell if you’re ever unfortunate enough to be around us as a unit. We’ve had a good run, lately. If you’ll recall, we went to Cancun last March and then to Colorado and The Stanley Hotel in August as well. Now we can add San Francisco and Napa to our list of fantastic forays. It was ridiculous fun, I’ll be honest. Wine and more wine. Fine cheeses. Delectable dinners and absolutely decadent desserts.

Who cut the cheese?

Cheeses, apple slices, candied walnuts, nutbread and marinated onions. Delightful.

Also known in Napa as your first course. These people know how to live. And drink.
Mind you, this was my individual portion. The four of us were allowed to customize our own menu for the evening and it was exquisite. They paired a glass of wine with each selection so between that and my early evening martini, I was well on my way to one of the finest evenings of my life. Now it *may* also be said that the finale of this particular night was my doing the “chicken wing” dance to the Black Eyed Peas in a million dollar resort in Calistoga, but that would lead to my flying to various states and rabbit punching a trio of women right in their throats. AM I CLEAR, LADIES?!?
*ahem* Okay, where were we?
Oh, that’s right. Here.

Huevos Rancheros done right, y’all

I don’t get this delicacy often and Schell and I both took advantage of this opportunity coupled with a bubbly mimosa at brunch. Heavenly. Now Jane will tell you that I proceeded to burp this fantastic meal for the remainder of the day. And she would not be wrong. Blowing said burps directly in her face, *may*have been.
I digress.
We picked up a spare DB along the way. Stacy’s little sister, McKenzie has been an honorary douchebag for around five years now. She’s a DB in “training” one could say. She excels at her studies, I should mention. The below picture makes me so happy.

Sisters

We call her “sunshine” and I don’t think there’s any doubt why. Just look at her. She’s
bubbly and beautiful and smart and funny. If I didn’t love her so much, I’d totally hate her. I think this photo was taken right after I said something inappropriate about anal sex, but I can’t be sure. I think talking at all about anal sex could be defined as inappropriate but then again, these are my best friends and sometimes I will do almost anything for a laugh.
So, yet another photo.

Girl Corrupted herself at the Golden Gate Bridge

A very atypical gorgeous clear afternoon in the Bay. And as if I couldn’t be more clear myself, I’m one very lucky gal. I’ve always said that the best things in life are the simple things and this trip specifically drove that point home. Wine. Food. Friendship. Laughter. Soul mates. Did I say wine?
All in all, pretty simple things. But put together? Absolute magic.
The icing on the cake? The other thing I miss most about my Hollywood, California days/daze besides the cheap drugs and the carefree incredibly hot sex?
In and Out.

my kingdom for a double-double

Holy shit, this is good food. A burger, fries and a chocolate shake. Heaven on a red plastic tray. Like I said, sometimes it’s the simple things.
So, simply put…I love you – Stacy, Jane and Schell. And Sunshine. Still and yet. Again and always.
(you douchebags)
 

Next time I’ll be more specific.

I’m going to make Cortez wear a helmet, naturally.

For me, one of the challenges of early sobriety was finding other things that I enjoy doing besides getting black-out drunk.  When you take booze out of the equation, you suddenly find yourself with a LOT of time on your hands – at least I did. Now, there were a bunch of activities and/or hobbies I enjoyed WHILE drinking that didn’t really go together well.  Like reading. I cannot tell you how many times I have read the first paragraph of The Girl on the Train. Every single time I would pass out or immediately forget what I had read, and then would attempt to re-read it, yet again. I don’t think she ever got ON the damn train in the scope of my “reading”.* Now,  I also enjoy knitting, as I’ve mentioned before, but often drinking + knitting = my throwing a tangled skein of yard across the living room in drunken frustration and blaming it on Law and Order SVU and not the liter of vodka that preceded my attempt at being crafty in the first place.

Now, my husband enjoys his sports ball, of course, and he’s an avid reader himself. We both enjoy hiking but rarely find ourselves with the time or energy to hit the trails on the weekends these days, if the weather even cooperates.  We were a boozy couple so that factored in to a lot of our free time activities, before. A few weeks ago, while we were making dinner, I got a wee bit dramatic and  started complaining about the lack of time we spend together. I had become frightened that besides happy hour, maybe we didn’t have much in common after all. Of course this is grand hyperbole on my part, but it is what it is. We drunks like to obsess and spin and repeat things in our heads and make them even more miserable and apocalyptic, if at all possible. I could envision us as an elderly couple at our breakfast table years from now, silently digesting our morning meal with literally nothing left to say to each other. The prospect terrified me.

He listened to my concerns, and immediately reassured me that I’ll outlive him by decades anyway, so really, I shouldn’t fret. While that made me feel a little better, I still felt uncertain. Fast forward to my fiftieth birthday, last week. We were getting ready to go to dinner and my husband brought out some gorgeous flowers and a card. As I opened my card, I could tell he was visibly nervous. Now, let me interject here that my sweet husband swept me away last weekend for a getaway in the mountains that included a hot tub in our room and a Yacht Rock cover band so I had already HAD a wonderful birthday, for sure. I glanced up at him and smiled. I was 100% sure that envelope held another ridiculous surprise, I mean, come on, it IS my 50th birthday.

Well, I was correct. It was indeed a surprise, and indeed it was ridiculous.

What that envelope contained was thus: a sweet card and heartfelt written note from my husband that put a lump in my throat as I read it, a 3-hour cooking class featuring tamales, and (separately) a course in CURLING.  YES, CURLING.  You know, that sport happening RIGHT NOW in the Olympics that no one knows anything about?  That shuffleboard-on-ice shit?

Yes, that shuffleboard on ice shit. Now, these are for us as a couple, not just myself alone, so that makes it even more outlandish. My husband often refers to himself as The Great Indoorsman and you could say his athletic days are mostly behind him. I enjoy recreation but we are typically NOT that couple.  You know that couple. The couple that strolls around your neighborhood holding hands? Not us. That couple that jogs together in matching North Face jackets and heads for a kale smoothie after?  NOT US. The neighbors that get drunk and blast Neil Diamond while shooting off a BB gun in the back yard in their pajamas? THIS IS US.

When the shock and confusion of it all faded away, I saw my presents for what they were; the gifts of a sweet husband only wanting to make his wife happy. A husband who is trying to listen and do the next right thing. A man that is willing to risk looking like a circus bear on ice, just for me.  I also see that they are somewhat self-serving, I mean, the man LOVES his tamales.

I know nothing about Curling. Well, not yet anyway. So stay tuned and give me a few weeks and I promise to report back, hopefully with pictures. Probably from the local emergency room. What I do know is that I have a guy at home that is trying. And so am I.  And that, my friends, is totally worth sobering up for.

 

*When I finally did complete reading The Girl on the Train post sobriety, I found it amusing and somewhat ironic that the Girl, herself, was an alcoholic. Figures.

The original F-word

Inside: Happy Birthday from your best friend.

Today I am fifty years old.  FIFTY.

And, just as my high school yearbook predicted, I’m an unemployed alcoholic.

I KID. Well, it’s halfway true.  I have returned to temping while I wait for someone to pay me for being awesome. Too bad I couldn’t have just been a temporary alcoholic, huh?

The card up there was given to me by my best friend Ben twenty-five years ago, today.  Ben died from complications of his alcoholism last May and it has left a dark and abysmal chasm in my heart.  I have no idea how I’ve kept up with that stained and tattered beaten-up yellow thing for all these years. (Ben, I am still talking about your birthday card, you jackass) This will be the first time in over 25 years that I haven’t received my annual snarky birthday message. I find myself absently glancing at my phone to see if I’ve missed his call. It’s been almost a year and his absence still, at times, takes me off guard. I mentioned this to a sweet and wise friend and she replied, “good days can be when we miss them most“.  The simplicity of this truth surprised me. Of course I’m going to miss him today. We’ve celebrated half of my life together.

I’ve had grand birthdays, and lonely birthdays. My high school birthdays usually revolved around ice cream, scary movies, and me and my girlfriends agonizing over some terrible quiz in Cosmo. By my early twenties my birthdays usually involved hitting the bars in Hollywood full force with my posse and then ending with someone trying to pry my drunk ass off the back of a stranger’s Harley. Of course, that was pretty commonplace at the time, anyway.  I’ve spent many birthdays at the lake laughing through the night with dear friends, and even spent a birthday on Alcatraz. Ten years ago today there was an epic surprise party thrown for me at my favorite dive bar of all time and I’m surprised I’m not still nursing that hangover all these years later.  Now, before you balk and get all Ralph Furley on me with your “stop whining for the love of god, you’re still a young whippersnapper”, remember, I almost didn’t make it to 48.  I arrived at 48 much like the space shuttle when it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere – shaking violently with shrapnel flying everywhere and trying not to shit my pants.

Now, I’m not going to get all morose and somber on you, but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that this birthday has a bittersweet ring to it. The joy in this occasion is obvious but what else is glaringly obvious to me is how much time I’ve wasted in those fifty years. Maybe it would be better reworded; how much time I spent wasted. This, I know, is a game I cannot win and it would behoove me not to play it at all.

Yet I do. It’s usually in the wee hours of the morning when the shitty committee comes out in my head and runs a reel-to-reel film featuring all of my mistakes, discarded opportunities and regrets. Often, it’s a double-feature.

Does everyone get reflective with introspective bullshit when they approach a milestone birthday or it is just me obsessing? Sometimes while driving I muse  about what could have been. What I could have done. Who I could have been. What could I have accomplished in all those years while I was so raptly and selfishly engrossed with my reckless and audacious lifestyle? I overheard someone once in a meeting say “getting sober is basically growing up in public”. One could concur that I, too, have a lot of growing up to do. So, I look at the past fifty years. What I’ve done, where I’ve been, and who I’ve become.  And here’s the thing, don’t get me wrong; I’ve had a ridiculous amount of fun – too much, you might argue. Memories dance through my brain like an out-of-focus montage. I’m ashamed of a lot, proud of a little and lucky as hell. So that begs the question; what’s next?

Well, I’m glad you asked. I can’t dwell on the past. Like I’ve said before, I’m really good at tripping over things that are behind me. No more. I have to forgive, starting with myself. I am not the same person I was and sometimes the best apology is changed behavior. I am determined to make up for lost time, and if I can’t do that, I guess I’ll just try to live every day forward trying to be grateful, humble and authentic.  If I can help someone, I will.  I mentioned when Ben died last year that I feel like now I have to make my life count twice as much, like somehow I have to live enough for us both, as if I haven’t already. I still feel that way.

So here’s to the next fifty years.  I promise you, Ben – we’re just getting warmed up.

All in the Family

Congrats mommy!!! I love you.

A post shared by Anna Faris (@annafaris) on

If you haven’t tuned in to the series Mom, you’re missing out. It features the powerhouse duo of Allison Janney and Anna Faris as a mother and daughter navigating the waters of newfound sobriety, together. In its 5th season, it’s amusing, touching and pretty darn realistic. Well, as realistic as a network (CBS)TV series can be, anyway.

Allison Janney is nominated for an Oscar for her role as Tonya Harding’s mother in the new movie; I, Tonya. Anna sent out this congratulatory message and photo on her Instagram. Their chemistry is obvious and part of me wants to squeeze in right between them and be BFF’s with Anna, while Allison schools us with her salty and sage wisdom and the three of us giggle over Ben and Jerry’s Phish food. It makes me miss spending time with my Mom all the more, although she’s certainly not getting sober, thank god.

It’s not Masterpiece Theater, of course, but it’s a fun romp and you’ve got to admit, sometimes sobriety is downright funny. Plus, I’m a fan of opening up all lines of communication when it comes to addiction, no matter your poison. If this show helps someone start that conversation, all the better.  So, grab a beer (ginger) and binge (watch).  Enjoy!

I have cavities older than Brittney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday I had some errands to run just like I’m sure many of you do on your Saturdays.  Two of my errands were;  1. to purchase some ginger beer at my local fancy health food place, and 2. to pick up a crazy-ass specific light-bulb for the hood of our stove.  Lucky for me the hardware store is right next to our local fancy health food place.

Now let me pause right here to mention that if you haven’t tried ginger beer, I suggest you do. Now that my nightly martini(s) is no longer an option, I consider this my nightly “treat”, if you will.  You know, the drink you don’t drink with dinner, but beforehand while you’re puttering around  watching the news or multitasking and whatnot.  In most households this is probably a glass of wine or something else as lovely.  Well, for me, now, it’s ginger beer.  It’s yummy and spicy and (fun fact!) terrific for your digestive system.  Now you CAN say that about vodka as well except for the fact that vodka will sometimes clean you out but not in the way you’d like it to.

ANYWAY.  I purchased my ginger beer and decided to just bop over to the hardware store to grab my lightbulb without taking the ginger beer to my car first.  It’s just next door, after all.

I ran into the hardware and grabbed my lightbulb.  I placed the lightbulb and the ginger beer on the conveyor belt as I rummaged through my purse for my wallet.  I turned down a bag at the local fancy health food place because I didn’t want to take one for a purchase that actually CAME with it’s own handle.  The effervescent cashier at the hardware store was EXCITED to see me.  She was PERKY.   She was young.  I mean young.  Like basically a fetus wearing a name tag.  Her eyes lit up when she spotted my ginger beer.  I mentioned to her that I was headed to my car from the local fancy health food place when I remembered I needed my lightbulb.

She piped up cheerfully!  “OH. MY. GOD”, she gasped.  “Have you tried these with bourbon?!?  They are DELICIOUS!  You just mix the ginger beer in with some bourbon and then just pour that over some ice with a little lime juice and they are SO refreshing!”

*AHEM*

I’m pretty sure I looked exactly like this.

What I said:  “Really?  That sounds amazing!  I can’t wait to try it – have a great day!”

What I wanted to say:ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, Brittney?!?  WHAT DO YOU KNOW FROM BOURBON? What do you know, period? I INVENTED that recipe, not Pinterest. It’s all fun and games, isn’t it Brittney!?!  One minute you’re doing an athletic (yet sexy) keg stand and the next thing you know it’s been THIRTY YEARS. I bet nothing on you has even THOUGHT about sagging, has it? I bet you’re wearing a neon thong right now, AREN’T YOU BRITTNEY? Why don’t you just give me my fucking light-bulb before I punch you in your snap-chatting throat?”

See?  Progress. I am so thankful that I no longer have anger issues.

*wink*

Stack a hat on the cat. Or a tube of toothpaste.

As a sober gal I sometimes find myself with too much time on my hands and thank god in heaven now there’s an answer. Why the hell would I go to yoga or take a cooking class when I can just stay at home and STACK SHIT on Cortez? Cortez is that cat that owns us. We are not cat people, mind you, but he didn’t seem to care. He showed up at our house three years ago on the eve of Christmas Eve to which my 9 year old stepdaughter exclaimed, “Santa brought us a kitty!” to which I immediately replied “THE HELL HE DID”, but obviously the joke was on me because now I’m the asshole who gets up every morning and prepares him his breakfast.

Sleep deep, Cortez. I’m waiting.

Click on the link below and enjoy;

The Art of Cat Stacking

YOU’RE WELCOME.

All you knit is love

I’ve been working on a haphazard knitting project for some time now. They call this type of project a “stash-buster” because it’s the kind of design that very literally ties up loose ends.  You take a bunch of your leftover yarn from different blankets, hats, cowls or mittens and you knit them all together patchwork style for a unique scarf or throw.  My Grandmother Esther would have been so all about this because that woman didn’t waste an ounce of anything, trust me.          Anyway, I liked the idea of a colorful mis-matched snuggly scarf and I’m a mis-matched kind of gal as you may have guessed, so it was a perfect activity for me.

Anyway, I had eleven different types of yarn that varied in color and texture and I knitted them together just as they came to me, without a vision, one at a time.  I didn’t pay any attention to how the colors flowed, but I used everything from variegated earth tones to even a bright neon orange that I never could match to anything.  That’s part of the fun – weaving all these opposing colors and thicknesses together while connecting them to the next skein of errant and wild tendrils of yarn.

I took it to my yarn shop for critique and it was suggested to me to crochet a border around the scarf in order to connect each different panel to another with a consistent frame. A color that unites the scarf and all of it’s circus-like randomness.  So last Saturday night that’s exactly what I did. I had a sweet husband yelling expletives at a college basketball game so it seemed like a good time to border a scarf and create my own inner zen.

I chose a hand-dyed teal-ish colored yarn that was a gift from a friend and crocheted a border all along the scarf one crochet chain at a time. It was peaceful and dutiful work and as I worked along I couldn’t help but be hit in the face by the obvious metaphor that was literally LYING IN MY LAP.

Holy shit balls, I thought to myself. This scarf is actually my life. The new border I’m crocheting is my sobriety.  Before you ask me where I purchased the obviously stellar dank weed THAT SURELY I MUST HAVE BEEN SMOKING to get so reflective and cheesy over a sloppy scarf, stick with me for a sec.

My hands fumbled over the dark purple yarn appropriately named “grape jelly” for a friend’s baby blanket for her firstborn daughter.  I came across the ridiculously thick yarn that I learned to knit with and I swear, now it’s like knitting with rope.  My fingers lingered over the beautiful orangey-apricoty Alpaca yarn that I knitted my very FIRST scarf with, still just as soft as the day I bought it.  All of these different yarns have been stitched together as a tapestry, just like the last forty-nine years weave the scope of my life.

The contrasting and distinctive yarns reflect the different periods in my life; my optimism, and my despair.  And just like my life there are patterns.  Straight and tight stitches like typewriter keys lined in perfect order, knitted so closely together you could barely slide a safety pin through them and then there’s the wildly zigzaggy yarn that has no rhyme or reason or discernible pattern whatsoever and it’s absolutely chaotic. Then there’s a border that doesn’t truly match any of it yet somehow it binds one piece to another, and that, is my sobriety. My sobriety is the thread (or in this case, the actual yarn) that is holding this whole fucking scrappy scruffy scarf together. C’mon, I’m no Sigmund Freud but YOU SMELL WHAT I’M STEPPING IN, DON’T YOU!?! I’ve always enjoyed my metaphors but it truly did strike me as a sincere representation of my life, and more importantly, my life NOW.

We all know what happens when you pull on a loose thread, right? Well, it’s exactly like that with my sobriety. If it begins to unravel you might as well accept right now that you are going to find that scarf face down in its own vomit in a parking lot somewhere or worse yet, you’ll find that scarf holed up watching an SVU marathon drinking Fireball in dirty pajamas when it should probably be at work.

And with that, I’m off to work*, wearing my new snuggly and warm mis-matched scarf.

* I had to face reality and get a temp job whilst I wait for Oprah Winfrey to discover this little blog and offer me a book deal because really, ISN’T IT ABOUT TIME ALCOHOLISM STARTS PAYING ME BACK?!?

Ask for what you need

Waking up this morning to a grey sky with a crisp white snowy landscape was lovely. Unemployment doesn’t seem quite so terrible and inconvenient on mornings like this.  It was peaceful to sit in fleecy leggings while sipping tea this morning pretending to be some care-free gal who knows nothing about her car insurance bill coming due in two weeks.

Reality is still out there but today is about recharging my batteries and a little bit of self-care. I’m going to update my facebook status with updates including yoga and chai lattes but in the interest of transparency, I’ll admit to an episode or six of Intervention and a bag of cheesy poofs.

Self-care has become one of those annoying buzzwords in the last few years.  Much like “go-to” and “no-brainer”, which I both abhor, yet still use.  We talk about it a lot in recovery because it’s an essential part of self-preservation and doing what’s best for you. I try to practice it in theory, but like everyone else, I still have a life to keep up with and attend to and attention to oneself is often what falls through the cracks.  Often we don’t feel we deserve it and therefore not only is it not a priority, it barely registers on our radars.

Now, self-care means more than the stereotypical bubble-bath, especially to alcoholics. There are just as many facets to self-care as their are types of gin. There’s emotional, spiritual and physical self-care, not to mention mental and social. It can be as straightforward as setting boundaries with others to simply asking for what you need.

Asking for what you need is brilliance in its simplicity. The first time this was suggested to me I almost laughed at the ironic absurdity of the approach.  Why, asking for what I need?!?  No way. Surely it’s more layered and complicated than THAT?!?!

It’s not.

A few weeks ago my family and I had a holiday obligation to honor that none of us were especially excited about, specifically me. I had obsessed and projected and mentally spiraled the outcome of this said event into such a negative spin that I almost hyperventilated.  Yes, this event that HAD NOT EVEN OCCURRED YET.  I had to sit my sweet husband down and ask for help. I shared with him my concerns and fears and even when my hot molten crazy spewed forth from my insane alcoholic obsessive brain, he got it.  I’m not saying it will always work or you will always even be heard, but isn’t it worth the effort to at least try? My husband knows my foundation of sobriety is strong, but he also knows that those waters can get choppy and rough over circumstances like this and it’s not worth fighting a wake of resentment if it can be avoided.

And you know what? It worked out just fine. It wasn’t awesome, but it wasn’t miserable, and the people that mattered most were kept in focus. Isn’t it funny how the right thing to do is so often the hardest thing to do?  Why the hell is that?!  Sometimes just setting some boundaries and asking for what you need can get results that work for everyone, most importantly you. Recovery is hard work and I don’t think ANY of us need an EXTRA reason to get drunk these days.

Now this is not to propose that you get cocky and show-offy with your new found luck in communication.  For instance, after this last success I chose to exercise my newfound boundary skills by claiming to have come down with a terrible case of ANAL GLAUCOMA as an excuse to avoid a work function at my husband’s company.  “What the heck is that”? he asked.  “Oh, it’s nothing serious,” I replied. “It’s just that I can’t SEE MY ASS doing that” and then I laughed so hard I farted loudly at the same time.

It’s pretty awesome being married to me.

The Truth Hurts

I mentioned in the post below that honesty plays a HUGE role in sobriety.  Some folks have problems being honest with themselves but that was never a setback for me. Now, I *may* have a tendency to misrepresent the truth occasionally with others, but with myself I usually shoot pretty straight. As my journal entry some posts ago clearly showed, I knew my drinking wasn’t normal pretty early in my booze career. I call it a career because while I’ve never really had one of those, my boozing is probably the most serious long term commitment I’ve honored in my life, much like a career or relationship. Shoot, if ONLY I put that kind of time and dogged persistence into my jobs over the years, heck I’d be the CEO of some bullshit by now, certainly.

Instead, here I am. An unemployed alcoholic who is turning FIFTY next month. RIGHT ON TRACK with my high-school yearbook predictions there.  Didn’t YOU want to be an unemployed alcoholic by the time you turned 50?  No?!?  I kid.  Of course this is NOT where I expected to be at this stage in my life.

But here’s the thing;  I’m so very grateful.  And I’ll skip the obvious references to my not dying  and get to the recovery part. You guys, this life is SO much easier.  Now, don’t get me wrong, sobriety doesn’t mean you’re suddenly not a dumbass .  Sobriety doesn’t mean that you’ve suddenly figured out the secret to life, the perfect chip to dip ratio, or how to effortlessly make beach waves in your hair with your flat iron.  No. You don’t suddenly mature into a graceful and understanding human being.  This may be a common misconception of the early days of sobriety.  Yes, some things WILL get way better and easier. Some things will get much worse. You know the expression, “nothing changes if nothing changes”?  PREPARE TO EMBRACE THAT SHIT.

But first?  First is honesty. First is surrender. A guy I know tells newcomers into sobriety that he wishes them much pain, and while that sounds super shitty, he’s an old timer who knows that pain gets results. We may know the truth, but we obey our pain. Pain precipitates change. So, you HAVE to be honest. YOU. HAVE. TO.  I don’t care if you’re a cutter, a pill popper, a sex addict, an over-eater or a drunk. You’re in pain. You’re filling a hole in your soul that’s empty, for whatever reason. You feel like a fake.  You’re not enough. You’re a survivor of ________. WHATEVER IT IS you have to start chipping away at that before it chips away at the core of you and believe me, it will, and it will ultimately change who you are.

“Virgins don’t take pregnancy tests”,  is a joke we use in recovery when folks wander in to test the waters. A few times a month someone will show up and remark that they don’t really think they have a drinking problem and that more than likely they’re in the wrong place but they’ll check it out because you know, they’re already here and yada, yada, yada. If you find your ass in a folding chair in some church basement in a recovery meeting for the very first time my guess is that you’re either;  1. legally motivated (DUI, jail, etc) or 2. your life has become unmanageable and you are exactly in the right place.  Believe me, I’m not making light of the fact that people are reluctant to wander into an organized group of complete strangers to share their most personal and shameful secrets that they’ve harbored internally for YEARS but I’m also here to tell you WHY IT WORKS.

Because honesty is power. Honesty is liberating. Honesty is where you have to start. And you know what? Someone else has been there.  Someone else is still there.  Someone will share their story with you in hopes that their pain can help circumvent yours. But first, you have to OWN your powerlessness. You have to admit things that are embarrassing, shameful and prideful.   Whether you’re just experienced your first blackout or your third wife just left you, you have to come to terms with your drinking and relinquish whatever control you THINK you had.

Let me also throw in here that recovery is a program for those who want it, not always those that need it. If you’re drinking is still working for you, then have at it, with my compliments. Good on ya, as they say. Me? My time was up and I’ll always be thankful (and always astonished) that I was given a second chance. So with that, I hope my mistakes can help you steer clear of the same.      I hope my pain can circumvent some of yours. I hope my story will help your story.

I’ll close with something ridiculous because that is how my brain works. There’s a scene in the movie The Usual Suspects where Chazz Palminteri’s character, Detective Agent Kujan says:

First day on the job, you know what I learned? How to spot a murderer. Let’s say you arrest three guys for the same killing. You put them all in jail overnight. The next morning, whoever’s sleeping is your man. You see, if you’re guilty, you know you’re caught, you get some rest, you let your guard down.

This is exactly how I felt when I finally got honest with myself.  Sure, there was shame and reluctance and gut-wrenching terror but you know what else there was?  RELIEF.

Believe me, I’ve never slept so well.

Let go

As I started toying with the idea of starting this blog it was suggested that I define my purpose before venturing forward. My mission is two-fold. My first order of priority is to help anyone I can who is struggling with alcohol. I know there are other voices out there but everyone’s experience is unique and I feel that we all can learn from each other. Secondly, I hope to take some of the stigma out of addiction by sharing my story, warts and all. I hate that expression. . . warts and all. For us drunks it really should be bruises and all because I cannot tell you how many times I awoke came to only to find ugly purplish-green marks in the weirdest of places after long nights spent with my boyfriend, Jack Daniel’s. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I had fallen down the stairs or possibly slammed my hip into a door frame while busting a move in a Lady Gaga dance party.  One just never knew, but it happened a lot.

Anyway, it’s still my story. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes notsomuch. It’s life on life’s terms.

There’s almost as many ways to get sober as there are to get drunk. Well that’s an exaggeration but truly, there’s not just one way to do anything, is there? I’m not going to pontificate for one program over another because in my opinion getting sober is breath-taking and wondrous and formidable, no matter your method.

You have to start somewhere, though. Like Pinterest says, every journey starts with a single step.  A STEP.

UH OH – SEE WHAT I DID THERE?!?

C’mon, stay with me.  Don’t balk or sulk or shrug and exclaim, “oh for fuck’s sake she’s one of THOSE people”. Hear me out. During my multiple stays in the hospital during The Great Liver Failure of 2015, I heard one thing said many different ways, and that was this; it’s not that you drink, it’s WHY.  For me, this made sense at a period when NOTHING made sense. It was a foggy and muddy span of time and my barely dried out brain still searches for clarity when trying to access those memories but that one is as clear as a vodka martini. . . WHY!?!  It captured my awareness even in the state I was in, which brings me around to what many folks call Step #1 in recovery.  You do not have to work the steps to quit drinking, of course, but again, I’m just passing along what worked (or didn’t) for me. Step One is powerlessness, honesty and surrender all rolled into one big fat humble burrito that is hard to swallow and you freakin’ KNOW I’m dying to make a ONE BITE AT A TIME joke here but I’ll spare you the bad and obvious comedy in lieu of the better and more helpful point, which is to start at the beginning. DUH.

In my case, this was relatively easy because in NO PARALLEL UNIVERSE was lying in a hospital hooked up to multiple IV’s while undergoing a blood transfusion for portal hypertension in your liver due to alcoholic Cirrhosis NOT A PROBLEM.

Just sayin’, for me, the jig was up.  It was time to get honest with the only person that could do anything at all about my situation. . . me. Now, you certainly don’t have to hit any type of bottom to quit drinking. In my case, it took hitting a bottom for me to realize that the problem I had was in fact going to kill me. Many folks a lot smarter than myself would have wised up long before it came to that but one thing I heard recently really resonated with me and that is this;

“It took every drink it took.”  And that’s the simplest truth there is.  I am constantly tripping over things that are behind me, dammit.

That little sentence there has given me a lot of peace lately, but I’m jumping way ahead. January marks a new year ahead that COINCIDENTALLY has 12 months.  Hmmmm.  DO YOU SMELL WHAT I’M STEPPING IN?!?

GET IT?!?  I did it again with the “steps” thing.  I funny!

Keep reading this month and we’ll talk some more about powerlessness and surrender and I’m not talking about the fun kind like where you have a safety word. Sorry, wrong blog. Try The Party is Sodomy, perhaps.