My Wost Day Sober is Far Better than My Best Day Drunk

Over the past two days I have had a terrible stomach virus and head cold with a gnarly cough. While at first I was quite upset about feeling like I had been dropped off the top the empire state building, now I feel immense gratitude.

When I was in my active drinking days there wasn’t a cold, virus, or flu symptom that would keep me away from a drink or drug. In those days my illnesses typically lasted about a month or more because I refused to give my body the rest and time to heal. I remember so many occasions where my head was pounding, nose was running, body was aching and I still went out and shut the bar down.

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Yes, I did actually post that on instagram.

That day I felt so terrible, and I actually thought that the only thing that would make me feel better was alcohol. I was convinced that a few shots were exactly what I needed to clear my sinuses. I was under the amazingly misguided impression that if I dressed up and looked “pretty” by some stroke of psychological genius, I would suddenly be healed.

At the end of that night I was slurring my words from not only drunkenness but physical illness as well. I couldn’t breathe out of my nose, my pockets were overflowing with used up tissues, and I could barely walk in my 6 inch tall red pumps because I was so woozy from medication and alcohol.

What started out as a logical thought, to go home and hit the sheets, turned into “why should I let this awesome night end?” So I flung myself behind the wheel of my chevy, flew over to the corner store for some nasal spray and made my way to my coke dealers house.

That is the insanity of my disease.

Today, instead of planning out what bars I would be traipsing myself around later on in the night, I planned what time I would go to sleep, what food would best nurture me back to health, and what medicines would keep me as right minded as possible while still somewhat masking my symptoms.

Today I can love myself enough to give my body the rest and respect that it deserves.

I would say thank God for restoring my sanity, but it is clear that I’ve never had that. So instead, I say “Thank you God, for opening my eyes and giving me a little bit of sanity for each and every day that I stay clean and sober.”

That is just one of the many amazing gifts that I have received from the wonderful program of Alcoholics Anonymous… The ability to take care of myself, and better yet, the ability to ask for help from a power greater than myself to take care of me when I am unable to do it myself.

Thank God for this program.

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Body Image DOES NOT MATTER

Today I was home sick and decided to spend the entire day watching documentaries. While normally I love watching/reading/listening to thoughts on body image, I found myself thinking, “who cares if you’re not beautiful?”

As someone who used to significantly value my physical appearance, I was slightly taken aback by this thought. For I used to spend countless hours in the gym (almost three hours every day) and spend hours and hours gazing in the mirror convincing myself that not only I think I am beautiful, but the rest of the world does as well. I always overdressed for every occasion waiting to scoop up all of the compliments from who ever was willing to give them to me wherever I went.

Not only did I value a beautiful exterior for myself, but I believed everyone else needed to hear how beautiful they were as well. I thought everyone needed that validation of outward beauty.

Today, those thoughts and actions seem so… silly.

When thinking of the personal traits and strengths within myself.. my outward beauty does not even cross my mind. I value my intelligence, wit, silly sense of humor.. my giving nature, the love that I have for everyone around me, the relationship that I have for my higher power.

If someone today, told me that I am beautiful, it would be nice. But it certainly would not raise the levels of which I value myself.

I know that what makes me valuable is not anything physical. What defines that value is the way that I treat myself and others, my spirit, and my mind.

 

Worrying about outward appearances now seems so much like judging the food in the fridge by what Tupperware container it resides in. I wouldn’t ever say “Look at that plastic wear! It may be old and have wrinkles from the microwave, but it is still beautiful!” I would immediately disregard how the container appears and look at its inner contents. The same way I look at humans, I don’t care how you look. I want to know who you are.

Whether we are aesthetically beautiful or ugly, it does not matter. We do not have to try to be anything but healthy. For I don’t want a lover or friend to think that my worth is derived from my appearance… I want person in my life that sees who I am as a human with thoughts, ideas, and emotions.

 

I cant ever expect the entire world to suddenly realize that it doesn’t matter, and if that does happen it certainly wont be overnight. But what I can do, is go out of my way every day to give someone a compliment, not on how they look, but comment on the innovative ways of thinking, or their positive leadership, or their viewpoints on scenarios, their funny jokes, or the kind actions they have taken.

 

 

Maybe if we all start talking about and affirming who a person is rather than how they look that day, our world will finally start to change.

Loving Life In Recovery (4/24)

Somehow my posts are being removed and put into my drafts all chopped up. Has this happened to anyone else on here?

Anyways, here lies a piece of how I was feeling two weeks ago:

Today, like most of my days over the past 7 months, was very quiet.

I woke up at 6:30, went to a meeting, talked to my sponsor, took care of a few personal responsibilities, watched documentaries, and baked cupcakes for my co-workers. As I was finishing up in silence and began to climb the stairs for bed at a startlingly early 8:30 pm, I had an overwhelmingly warm feeling in my chest. A feeling of gratitude, happiness, peace, and love for my new life.

A typical Wednesday off for me 8 months ago would have consisted of either me laying in bed all day feeling like shit from the night before trying to muster the energy to get up, ready, and out to a bar OR passing out in my basement because I was drunk all day long and didn’t want anyone to see me.
TODAY was peaceful. It was productive. It was simple. Three things I never experienced during my active addiction.

It is in these seemingly meaningless moments, like washing my face and putting on moisturizer before bed, or cleaning the kitchen and shutting off the light before I walk upstairs, or when I’m quietly tidying up my room before I go to sleep, that I can stop for a moment and truly appreciate this new life that I have my higher power has created for me.
Those moments are the ones that bring me to joyous tears. That remind me of all the amazing gifts I have received from the program of alcoholics anonymous.

It is in these moments that I am thankful to be alive.

On being 21 and in recovery

“Was I really that bad, or am I just a normal partying young adult?”

This simple question has been coursing through my brain for the last few years. Sometimes several times a night, sometimes with months or years between to separate them. In the midst of my drunken blur of early teen years this question would pop up now and again and I figured this was the life everyone lived (or at least wished they did).

When I was 18 and received my first DUI charge I was asked this question by many mental health professionals, judges, lawyers, my family, and probation offers. At this point I’m drinking more than a half gallon of spiced rum to myself a day and the logical answer in my mind is was still, “no.” I was just having fun in the wrong place at the wrong time and figured the cops in Lebanon, PA had nothing better to do with their time.

At 19, I was spending every single night in a bar until 2am drinking a minimum 6 straight vodka on the rocks per night, and received my second DUI with a lovely .275 BAC. I was under the impression that I was just mature for my age. I didn’t see a problem with my bar fly lifestyle because “that’s what most 21 year olds do, and I might as well be 21.”

At age 20, I was spending every night and many afternoons (even the ones before work) in dirty hole in the wall bars that were characterized by old men, the smell of urine, and a distinct since of loneliness and despair floating through the air.

God, did I love those bars.

There wasn’t a chance in hell that anyone would recognize me in there, and being the only woman meant it was even easier to get free drinks. When the bar finally closed I would drive myself home with one eye shut, stagger into the basement of my home and proceed to pour myself full glasses of straight vodka and get upset that I could no longer even sense that pungent liquor taste that I had loved so much. I would continue to drink until I thought I would fall over, then crawl to the bathroom and force myself to vomit so that I could drink until I was able to pass out without the spins. Needless to say im experiencing signs of withdraw most mornings at this point.

It was around this time that I finally accepted the fact that I am an alcoholic. But accepting it didnt mean that I was ready or able to stop. I promised myself every night, that I would give myself until September 7th, 2013, exactly one week after my 21st birthday, and then I would be done for good.

Spring and summer eventually passed and I knew this dreaded date was approaching.

Finally its September 1st and I’m transitioning into being 21, stretching my arms out and feeling good about this newfound freedom. No longer could the many many bars that had banned my presence for being underage, refuse my service. The world was mine. A fact that exhilarated and terrified me.

But I couldn’t shake this sinking feeling that something bad was about to happen. I felt in the deepest parts of my always on point intuition that I was going to get pulled over. And since I was always drunk, and had my license suspended, you can imagine what a horrifying speculation that was for me.

On September 6th I was pulled over for my 3rd DUI. The moment I saw those lights turn on to a blinding flash, I felt an eerie sense of calm. It was the first spiritual awakening of many that I would receive over that week. It was the moment I realized that God was giving me what I had been wanting for almost a year. In many ways, he was doing for me, what I could not do for myself.

The following day I drank.

The day after that I told a friend I was going to quit drinking, like the good alcoholic I was, I decided to go out with a bang. I went to 7 different bars and had at minimum two drinks and two shots at each. By the time I got home, I was so disgusted with my past, present, and quickly approaching future, that I decided it was time to end things.

I grabbed a clever from my kitchen and headed to the bathroom where I had plans to finally be done with life.

As silly as this next part sounds, it is actually a moment that I find to be so profoundly godsent that it still gives me chills to think about. I had a nagging whisper in my mind that kept saying you need bubble bath, you can’t do this without bubble bath, it won’t be poetic without bubbles.

Crazy, I know.

I tore my apartment to shreds looking for some damn bubble bath. I tried all sorts of silly bath and body works products, bar soap, whatever I could get my hands on and I just couldn’t recreate the sudsy effect that standard bubble bath creates.

So I drove to my neighborhood Walmart on a mission to find the perfect sudsy soap. Under that beaming fluorescent light I realized the insanity of my thoughts, of my life, of my addiction. In one swoop it all became soberingly clear.

I started crying hysterically in the body soap aisle. Not one of my finer moments, but the most important of my spiritual awakenings occurring over that week.

I bought the bubble bath (cuz hey, it is a nice thing to have), and headed home.

When I awoke I felt that normal sinking feeling that I had become so accustomed to, and wallowed and cried for about half an hour.

This is where my 3rd spiritual awakening took place. I abruptly stopped crying, got up and out of my bed, and for the second time in 24 hours tore my apartment to shreds, searching and finding every single drop of alcohol and every bit of drugs and poured it down the drain or flushed it down the toilet.

I am fully aware now (and most certainly was at the time) that those actions were not made by me. That was surely the god of my understanding. When I was opening and pouring out fresh bottles of wine, beer, and vodka all I wanted to do was dump it into my mouth and not the drain, but for some crazy reason, I just kept pouring it out. I thought that I really should save this and give it to one of my friends, but I just kept pouring it out.

That night I had one beer, and the next morning went to my first meeting. I got s sponsor within the week, moved out of my apartment and into my grandparents house, quit my job at the bar, started my first 90/90, dropped my classes, and threw every single fiber of my being into recovery.

So now that you know my sorry, I can get in to telling you what its like to be 21 and sober.

The first few weeks I really spent a lot of time defending my decision to abstain from drugs and alcohol, which was the last thing I was expecting to have to do.

One girl that I worked with at the bar asked me what I was having to drink that night and when I told her I was quitting, she replied quickly and sharply, “you just turned 21, that’s f***ing stupid!”

Or the young man who thought he should explain the benefits of why I should quit smoking cigarettes instead of alcohol, because its quite silly that I’ve chosen to kick the latter.

Or the guy who was quite confused about why I’m not drinking so I went on to tell him “I just picked up my 60 day chip and I’m happy to not drink.” he followed by buying me a beer and said, “60 days is too long, how bout you start up again tonight.”

While at the time, I thought these people were the problem, that they were ignorant, uneducated, and frankly just rude. I realize today, that I was the problem. I was trying to live the life I always had but sober. I thought I still belonged in a bar. Rather so, I wanted to prove that I was still fun. Those people who made those comments to me were baffled that I had stopped drinking, because they saw a normal girl who happened to party. They didn’t see the girl who I just described to all of you. They saw the façade I had carefully engineered. And even if they did see that girl who I tried desperately to keep hidden, it wasn’t their responsibility to keep her sober. What they said to me, I cannot be offended by. I shouldn’t have even been there to hear those things. I should have been home, working on my steps, or frankly, anywhere else but those bars. Thankfully, I didn’t drink when I was out those nights, but I am grateful to have learned from those experiences.

When I got sober I realized that I needed to begin doing things that I had never done before, and quit doing all the things that I once thought were okay. While this idea seemed daunting at first, I listened. And I made those changes the old timers told me to make.

Finally deciding to get into recovery was the greatest thing I’ve ever done. I love my life today and every day that’s passed since September 9th, 2013.

Sometimes, even through sobriety, even last week, the question will pop into my mind, “Am I really an alcoholic, or am I just a normal 21 year old that likes to party.”

The answer is clearly no, but sometimes my disease doesn’t let me see it that easily. It reminds me of all the great times I’ve had with alcohol. But when I really sit down, and take the time to remember how I felt during the days that followed September 6th, 2013 I am fully aware that I am not just someone who drinks, I am an alcoholic. My disease progressed extremely quickly, as it does with many alcoholics, so to even think about going back is to think about death. I know that I will die if I drink again. And when I think about it in those terms, in the real life terms, not the romanticized drunken movie that plays in my mind from time to time. I know that I’m in the right place, and that there is no better 21 year old me, than the sober one.

Cunning, Baffling, Powerful

When I first started attending AA meetings and heard people saying that alcohol is a subtle foe that is cunning, baffling, and powerful I assumed that those people were weak. I thought they just weren’t very good at being sober. What I didn’t realize was that my disease would sit and wait in a corner for the absolute best moment to creep back into my mind.

I have seven months clean and I am not feeling so sober. This disease amazes me more and more each day. I feel it building my ego back up, isolating me from my support system, making me more self-centered, and focusing my mind on tasks other than my step-work. This has been happening for days, if not weeks, and I have just now realized what’s happening.

I once heard a man share that alcoholism and drug addiction (which if I might add have no differences at all) are like a dragon that sits in our stomachs. It gets there the moment we first take a drink or a drug and it grows with every one that follows. When we finally put the drink or the drug down the dragon gets pissed.. but with more and more recovery the dragon finally goes to sleep. Emphasis on sleep, this dragon never leaves our body. We can put this creature to rest, but never ever expel it from us. The harder we work our program, the deeper sleep it goes into, slowly becoming encased in stone. But this mummification can easily be reversed, the first step backwards can me a multitude of things.. may it be not going to meetings regularly, not praying often, visiting old people places and things, etc. Whatever first step we take, it chizzles off bit by bit the sleeping mask we have put on our disease, allows it to open it’s eyes and stretch out a bit, get nice and cozy in that tummy of ours. I like to think that the feeling I used to get when I desperately needed a fix was that dragon getting comfy again because it knew it wasn’t far off from its miracle grow solution. Because what kills me, makes him strong. What breaks me, mends him. What takes me to a place of desperation, gives him hope.

My dragon is stretching. My dragon knows just the words to whisper through my mind. And I’m scared. I’m scared not necessarily of the dragons words, but the sound of its voice, Because its indistinguishable from my own.

Because of alcoholics anonymous I should not be afraid of this voice, because I have hundreds of people who know which voice is mine and which is his.. all I need to do is pick up the phone and ask. But my dragon tells me they are busy, and that my thoughts are too “silly” to share. My dragon tells me that I’m doing great, so its Okay to miss the meeting across the river today. That its okay for me to sleep in instead of listening to other alcoholics tell me about the sweet nothings the dragons in their guts have whispered to them.

 

My disease is cunning, baffling, and powerful. But I make the choice to stop it in its tracks or let it creep until its too late.

Today I will stop it. Today I will pick up the phone. Today I will pray to have sanity restored. Today I will choose recovery.