Four Years (5.12.17)

sober

It’s still amazing to me that I’ve gotten to this point. God willing I will continue on this journey, and will find the accumulation of each new year just as magical as the first. I remain a work in progress, and hope to be a student of sobriety for the rest of my days. AA has saved my life, and I must continue to give thanks for all that I’ve received by carrying the message of hope to others. It can be done. Life gets exponentially better! Please stay while you are here.

4

I finally got my coin yesterday, as I left town on Friday and got back Tuesday. In a way, I’ve turned a corner on my recovery this year. Or maybe it’s just in my personal growth? I’m sure I’ve written here how I’ve struggled with my sobriety date. It’s a day of both pain and joy for me. The past three years I’ve absolutely dreaded the week of my sobriety date, because on the day before, I relive my car crash. Of course I don’t remember the crash, but I am wracked with guilt and pain because of it. Thanks to the intensive work I’ve done with my amazing counselor, this year I was at peace with May 11th. I see her again next week, and I cannot wait to tell her how I did last Thursday. Nothing I can do will change the events of that day, but it’s such a relief that I made it through May 11th this year without stirring up a horrible maelstrom of emotion. I acknowledged the past, I prayed for my victim and her family, and marveled over how I am alive today. What an incredible blessing!

Cheers, Friends!

 

Marty Dobbs

Do any of you watch the Netflix show Love? Despite it being created by Judd Apatow and having a main story line involving addiction, I struggled to get through season one last year. I remember warming up to it slowly, and finally getting into and enjoying it by the last few episodes. I finished season two a week ago, and was much more into it. I also  sometimes found myself identifying with the main character Mickey, the alcoholic-addict. I remember watching season one and being infuriated with her! Funny, right? God knows I was a right pain in the ass for a lot of years.

The episode that struck me the most was “Marty Dobbs”. In it, Mickey’s father is visiting from out of town. He’s an alcoholic, and they butt heads because they are so similar to each other. Mickey’s love interest, Gus, is invited to act as a buffer, but instead he blows her AA anonymity to Marty. The visit is a complete shit show, and ends badly. Mickey and Gus are fighting on the way home, and eventually Mickey pulls the car over and gets out because she can’t even handle being in the same car with him anymore.

Mickey: I’ll just give you a ride home so you can have a break from me.

Gus: I don’t want a break from you. (awkwardly hugs Mickey)

dobbs

I can’t tell you how many times that has been me. Navigating through early sobriety is pretty terrifying, as is the realization that you are relearning how to do life all over again. Even worse is learning relationships, especially because I never learned the first time around. I desperately wanted to connect with people, but didn’t have a clue how. I remember feeling that I was incapable of being a good girlfriend, because KC in active addiction was a terrible girlfriend.

But back to Mickey…that was me. Sadly, my fiance has often been on the receiving end of that sort of exchange. How many times did I try to push him away because I felt that I was too fucked up to deserve love? Or that I was an unlovable mess? When that rough day snowballs into a terrible week and those character defects start to come out again. Thinking how the hell could someone love this?  Why would they want to?

There was never a button that clicked, where I suddenly realized that I am capable and deserving of love. It just sort of happened. Life got easier and I stopped fighting it and other people. I know that my journey of sobriety will continue to unfold as will my journey of learning to love myself. In the meantime I will remain grateful for all the people who stood by me and hugged me and loved me when I hated myself. I hope in season three Mickey will get to experience the growth and love that I have been on the receiving end of in my own sobriety. Until next season…

 

 

Alcoholic Eating

I’ve battled food my whole life, but with the absence of alcohol my food struggles have intensified. I am now working with my counselor again (who helped me a great deal before my sentencing) to try to deal with my ingrained shitty feelings about myself. I seem to have several issues going on here: I use substances (food, alcohol) to deal with unpleasant feelings, I punish myself more for being “bad”, I have the self-esteem of a snail, and I secretly hate myself. I’m kidding about the last two. Sorta.

Sobriety and AA have helped so much with my self esteem, but I still have that nagging voice inside of me that tells me that whatever it is that I am doing, it’s not enough. My lifelong battle with myself is exhausting! And my inner voice would never in a million years be as critical to one of my friends as it is to myself. What is it that alcoholics call themselves? Oh yeah. Egomaniacs with an inferiority complex. I’m not much, but I am all that I think about! Ha.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had one heck of a sweet tooth. I’m pretty sure I blogged here about those sugar cravings going haywire in my early sobriety. I’ve also turned to food for comfort since I was a kid. At age 8, I chubbed out after my parents split up. True to form, I found solace in bowls of ice cream and spoonfuls of Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter after my car accident. In the 13 months following my accident, I gave myself the green light to smoke and eat heartily. I’m not drinking anymore, so I DESERVE THIS. What’s wrong with me smoking? I need to have one vice, right? I must add that I wasn’t a daily smoker, and if you are, then by all means DO NOT QUIT during your first year of sobriety.

In February I read Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. So much of what Sarah wrote rang true for me. In fact, I was photographing passages and sending them to people as I read the book. Here’s one that struck home:

comfort

I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt because people quitting the thing they love get to eat whatever the fuck they want. And that my friends, was my mindset. I continued to eat whatever the fuck I wanted after I was incarcerated for six months. Six months without fresh vegetables, most fruit, cheese, peanut butter, pizza, sushi, a good curry? I left jail 25 pounds lighter because I worked my ass off as a janitor, and because the food was wretched. I got out during December which meant I got to binge on rich holiday foods. But instead of eventually reining it all back in, my sense of entitlement kept kicking up. And as I gained my weight back, I started hating myself all over again.

I’m the type of person who when watching what I eat, will go on a “bad” food binge for a week after eating dessert when I shouldn’t have. Makes sense, right? Why can’t I just eat the cookie? Instead, I eat the cookie, hate myself, eat 200 more cookies, then hate myself a bunch more. I also know that I am addicted to sugar in the same way that I am addicted to alcohol. It takes time to wean myself off it, but once I do, I don’t crave it as much. However if I have a scoop of ice cream, my body cries more more more until I eat a pint. Until I am disgusted with myself. Here’s another quote I loved from Blackout:

selfdestruction

I’m a walking shame spiral! It should go without saying that I don’t really hate and despise myself, but I think my fellow alcoholics and addicts understand where I am coming from. I also have that same sense of guilt and shame following me around after I eat too much that I carried around with me for days after a bad night of drinking.

I was briefly doing well with my eating and the sugar intake, then I said screw it, and let the holidays steamroll over me. Now I am struggling with sad eating, as I call it. My fiancee is 9 hours away by car, and we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like. He’s trying to relocate here, but it’s proved difficult for him to make a lateral move within a company that he’s worked for for 17 years. Lately I have found it easier to not see him for longer periods of time, because it becomes too painful for me after he leaves following a visit. I’ll have a good day, will work out, eat healthfully, then waves of sadness will hit me after a busy day which leads to me sad eating the contents of my fridge at 10pm. And then I feel guilty and shitty for days after. And the eating continues.

So friends…this is where I’m at. I am working to create my inspiration spiral, to change my palate and crave something good for me. (thanks for the line, Sarah) OH! I did quit smoking at the end of January. So that’s one good thing. I’m hoping I don’t sound too insane with this post. With sobriety comes a lifetime of learning to better oneself. I’ve already changed so much in my life within a short time, so I need to be patient in my growing process. Thoughts? Anyone else get where I am coming from?

I’m Still Standing

Hi all! World’s worst blogger here, but I am still sober. I just looked online to calculate that I am on Day 1374. Not too shabby!

I know I have mentioned this before, but I often think of my blog and feel guilty. My life is great, but I am incredibly busy these days. My blog also didn’t go in the way that I had planned, and that stalled me for a while. I’ve been out of jail for two years now but I had intended to blog about my experience there. I had written for my blog while incarcerated, but the person who had agreed to help me only published once and never gave me the rest of my writing back. You can only depend on yourself, right? Right.

Last year was an incredible one for me personally and professionally. I got to travel to the Outer Banks, Virginia Beach (for a work conference), and Boston. I started sponsoring in AA, and gave a bunch more leads (speaker meetings). Giving a lead still terrifies me, but the payoff is so worth it. In June I got engaged to my best friend! We are getting married in October. Life is moving along at a dizzying pace, but I can remember all of it! No more hangovers, no more guilt, no more shame. Sobriety is and will remain the best thing I’ve ever done.

One of my best friends just joined the program, which was an answer to my prayers. I shared my blog with her, and in doing so, got to go back and relive these entries. I am still grateful for all of you who traveled on this journey with me, and offered encouragement during those early days. The pain is palpable in so many of those posts, and it is a relief to be more settled in sobriety, to have overcome the unimaginable in my life.I hope to be here again on a regular basis, and I will do my best not to let you down.

Amy

AMY

I saw the Amy Winehouse documentary “Amy” at an indie theater here in town on Saturday. Obviously, I knew how her story would end, but the film managed to break my heart anyway. Amy died in the summer of 2011, a little less than two years before I decided to choose a life of sobriety. It’s life or death, this whole sobriety business. And it’s hard work. It’s hard work for the rest of our lives, at least I know that’s how it will be for me. My disease lies to me constantly, telling me that it’s really not that big of a deal. But it’s a big fucking deal, and I can never safely drink ever again. Did I ever safely drink to begin with?

I am a fan of Amy’s music, and I find her to be incredibly talented. Her death leaves the mystery of what could have been, same with all the other members of The 27 Club. I remember reading about her disastrous nights out on the town, brawls with her husband, the complete downward spiral of her addictions. At the time, I was probably thinking the same as so many other people. What a waste of talent! Hot mess! Why can’t she get her shit together? Does she want to die?

Through the lens of sobriety, I was able to both sympathize and relate to so much while watching the documentary. Don’t get me wrong, our stories couldn’t possibly be any more different. But as addicts, we all have a lot in common. And I watched in horror as so much of her tragic story could have been prevented. As a celebrity, I cannot fathom how much harder life is. To be scrutinized constantly, followed by paparazzi. That is not normal life. Eventually she wanted to disappear, and I don’t blame her.  And she did disappear, thanks to the help of alcohol and drugs.

Towards the end of her life, she managed to string a month of sobriety together. She picked up again three days before her death. All I could think of while watching was “People, places, things!” That ALL has to change for a sober lifestyle to be maintained. Amy tried, but that piece of the puzzle was never there.

Amy, I hope that you’re at peace now, wherever you may be. Of course I hope the same for the countless people who die everyday from this horrible disease.

Have any of you seen the film? Thoughts?

Two Years!

heygirl

So I officially suck at blogging. Sigh. In my defense, I am crazy busy but it’s good busy! Since I was last here I turned 35, got a nasty case of food poisoning (well, that part was bad), started physical therapy for an ankle injury from my jailbird days, found out that I am getting sued (has to do with my accident – also bad, but there’s nothing I can do about it right now so I’m not stressing over it), finally moved my cat from my ex’s place into my apartment, got a promotion at work, and I am still juggling my mandatory four AA meetings a week. I also got my first sponsee last week, but now I think that isn’t going to work out. All I can do is wish her the best at this point. So yeah…I’ve been busy.

Oh, and as of today I’ve been sober for TWO YEARS.

Last year it was a huge relief to hit that one year mark. This time around, it snuck up on me. About a month ago, I had a couple days where I was overcome with anxiety and dread. It was triggered by an episode from Mad Men season seven. Don’s drunken behavior hit too close to home. Big surprise, right? Then I was going through a purse that I must not have used in eons because I dug out some old bar tabs. I quickly turned into a mess and called my sponsor. Instead of looking forward to being sober for two years, all I could think about was how this would be two years since My Accident. Since I went left of center while driving in a blackout and injured an innocent person. I guess this time of year will perpetually be bittersweet.

This blurb from today’s entry of the 24 Hour Book really struck me:

“Turn out all thoughts of doubt and fear and resentment. Never tolerate them if you can help it. Bar the windows and doors of your mind against them, as you would bar your home against a thief who would steal in to take away your treasures. What greater treasures can you have than faith and courage and love? All these are stolen from you by doubt and fear and resentment. Face each day with peace and hope.”

Progress not perfection, friends. I’m excited to see where this next year will take me.

Weak Spots

As most of you know, this past year has been a constant transition period followed by transition period followed by transition period. I am currently adjusting to my new life on my own, a new job, and another (partial) loss of freedom by being unable to drive. The past four weeks have been another “Look Ma, no hands!” rollercoaster ride emotionally. With change comes anxiety, vulnerability, depression and moments of weakness.

Life would be so much easier without Facebook, wouldn’t it? I wish I could sever the ties completely, but I can’t. Being incarcerated was both a blessing and a curse when it came to human contact. I was no longer a slave to my phone and to social media, but it was harder to get a hold of people via letters and expensive phone calls. There were so many periods where I was so depressed that I couldn’t write letters. And then I felt guilty for friends spending exorbitant amounts of money for 15 minute phone calls just so I could rant or cry to them. Towards the end, phone calls and visits were too much. I went through with them, but it seemed better to isolate myself completely. Hearing a voice over the phone or seeing a face through a glass window left me despondent and missing them more. It was painful.

What was I talking about again? Oh yeah, Facebook. Sigh.

Last night on Facebook, there were some photos of a few people that I love dearly. They were sitting on barstools at my old hangout, pints in hand, with big smiles. I had an overwhelming urge to be sitting there next to them, drinking away my anxieties, feeling that warmth and instant happy wash over me. To have effortless conversation, to not feel like the shy awkward one, to be with my friends in that setting again.

I was jealous. Jealous that I couldn’t be there, jealous of their fun, jealous that for most of them, they can go out and remember what they did the next day. It was a really shitty feeling.

Friends, I know what I need to do, but I also needed to vent with people who understand. Thanks for being here with me.