A Positive I.D.

Here I sit, recovering from the whirlwind of one year cake parades, steeped in dissatisfaction. The point of taking baked goods in exchange for 365 consecutive days and nights of  continuous sobriety is for other people who are counting days to see the glimmer of hope from a birthday person that they, too, can do it. I am certain that part of my dismay has something to do with the “come down” after large amounts of attention were on me last week for reaching my flagship year. I love when I get the spotlight, even though most people’s opinions of me cause the nervous sweats. Being that I feel generous with my honesty today, I will say that attention is my #1 boo thang, as I readily admit my love for the rush that accompanies occasions where all eyes are on me. Barring that reason, I am quick to see that my shitty attitude could stand a significant change ASAP.

It is not as though I expected perfection, however last week was unusually difficult to accept. The politics of choosing who gives you a cake at a meeting is beyond me. As with this entire past year, I faced my criminally bad compulsion to please everyone and be as inclusive as possible. Inevitably, people were disappointed they were “not included” in the celebration, which was never my intent…not to mention those who quite unexpectedly did not participate at all. On the flip side, there were two days where I felt like I was smiling so big from happiness that my face would surely crack open. One group of sexy punk people set up projections of David Bowie and brought cake and coffee and gifts and hugs and kisses. To my absolute delight, a grown man from that same group wore a glittering spandex unitard in the name of glam rock and recovery. (I think he may enjoy attention as I do, no?)

  

What is left in the wake of the celebration is resentment. Because I am an alcoholic, my brain will always have an acute tone-deafness for reality. Luckily for me, I know that it matters little if I am justified in my anger and/or disappointment. My disease is so masterful at building a case against a person that it wouldn’t matter if they committed the crime of the century or forgot to say “hi” to me, my brain will process both equally in its skillful and punitive manner. What is required of me at this point is to address these resentments through step work, #4 and #10: what’s really bugging me, how does that affect me and what part do I play in the ongoing saga, real or otherwise. But most importantly: what am I doing about it?

My imagination tends to get the best of me. When I am building a case against a person in my mind, it is as inaccurate as a composite sketch an artist does with eye-witness accounts. It is damn near impossible to get an accurate view of what a person really looks like when another person’s account is typically unreliable, probably fear-based. When my mind’s eye is clouded with disappointment in what I believe should have been a person’s actions or words, my view of them always gets distorted, followed shortly thereafter by my attitude. 

So, here is what I am doing about it: meeting friends for a “step work” writing party. We will write our inventories and hopefully share with each other what is getting to us. In the meantime, I am praying for those who’ve been taking up space in my mind. Truthfully, my spirit could use a tune-up. It is much more heartening for me to live in a dream world of gratitude rather than waking up mad at people, as though I am blaming them for something they did in a dream. Reality bites sometimes, but at least there is a way to identify positivity rather than making those I care about reluctant dream suspects.

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TKO.

HOLY WHAAAAAT…I am one year and one day sober.

F^&$)?:@^{%~*<‘@!,;”#=+£€•}!

The most important thing I can say here (that is not an expletive) is thank you. Thank you to every single person who made themselves available to help me. Thank you to those who allowed me to be a part of your lives. Thank you to all of you for your support. Thank you to my Higher Power for giving me a chance to change.

I care more about this birthday than I have any other natal birthday in my lifetime. I spent all day yesterday with beautiful people who I love madly. I am humbled beyond any flimsy words that would try and fail to capture how great it feels to be in love like this.

Just a few days ago, a very good friend of mine imparted some wisdom about what it means for us moving forward in recovery:

“This is about letting those battlefields go and finding a new spiritual landscape inside that was once bare. It’s your true self and when you know who that is, you will know how to proceed with love in your heart. What others think and do will become unimportant and you will have the ability to choose.”

I once knew an ambivalence toward my own heart that always left me confused and defeated by the innumerable choices before me. It never occurred to me that by drinking like I did, I gave up my ability to choose best for myself. There was little difference between my way of thinking and a bantam heavyweight championship fight–I would become enraged that I couldn’t feel what my intuition was nudging me to do, so I would throw major right hooks at my emotional numbness, fighting my faults with negativity…to the psychic death. I took cheap shots (Jameson, especially) at myself, in the end. It was damn near impossible to keep fighting when I always knew the booze would win. As a result, my spirit began slipping into a slow and agonizing death from one too many punches thrown. 

Today, I am free to love myself because I gave up the fight. I have no power over my addiction to alcohol. Once I start drinking, I cannot control my alcohol intake, no matter how good my intentions are. By being in recovery, I am going against my body and mind’s natural state to self-destruct. Now that booze is no longer in my system, however, I get the chance to transmute all of that combativeness into care for myself, the kind of care that allows me to avail myself of others’ needs.

So with that, I leave all of my love to you, bloggers and readers, especially those who are finding it hard to be good to yourself. Be happy. You are loved. There is no use in fighting it.

xo

360 Degrees of Separation 

Today marks my 360th day of sobriety. Only 5 days stand between me and, well, just another standard issue, miracle-laced 24-hour period. All sorts of scary and wonderful thoughts have been coming to the surface lately. I am at once beaming with joy and terrified that I am accountable to a mystical and loving Higher Power, who I experience when I see my partners in sobriety grow each and every day.

This year, I finally learned how to commit. I put the bottle down long enough to discard my former fearful self in order to see how truly beautiful it is to have an unblocked heart. There is no metric to measure how amazing it feels to be a part of the world again, no matter what my brain leads me to believe. The space for insecurity, self-doubt, loneliness, self-centered fear and plain selfishness has been replaced by love, loyalty and faith. I feel like I know less about life and how I “should” live it than when I started. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I am grateful to be writing again. I am honored to know happiness can blossom from empathy and compassion for self and others. I see that forgiveness was my missing link. I am fulfilled because I have direction of purpose. It pleases me to no end that all I had to do was wake up in pure consciousness to see that it is not about me anymore. Thank you to whomever ends up reading this, because you are also part of my recovery.

I’ve learned how to stop treating family, friendships and romantic relationships like they are disposable. I have a better idea of how to cop to the fact that I don’t know how to do something, whether it is at work or while I fumble through transportation issues. I trust that there are a lot of events and people ahead that will change my life for the better, though none more important than who or what exists in my life today. It appears that humility arises by expressing my truth rather than comparing myself to others. I am able to learn all of these things because running away stopped serving me. It turns out that presence is the only way to let go of ego’s destruction…and there is nowhere to be but here.

I am one of those people whose obsession with alcohol manifests when things are going really well and I am happy. A few days ago, I was driving in my friend’s car coming from a get together with sober friends and I felt a strong tingling in my throat that I can only liken to the first sip of whiskey I used to love/worship. I called fellow alcoholics to tell them my latest status report and their replies were priceless: “Of course you have cravings, you are an alcoholic–welcome to our world” and, my personal favorite, “It’s ok to be happy”.  Of all the thousands of wise words I’ve heard this year, the ones that strike me in the most dramatic Fashion are always the most simple. Events and people do not need to dictate my state of joy and neither do fears. There is a state of grace that awaits me when I am able to be still and true to myself. I’m pretty sure that is what is means to be human–addicted or not.

My solemn vow is to remain grateful. So thank you to all of you who taught me I am part of something bigger than myself. I cannot be separate when I am connected to you.

xx

Photo courtesy of Coachella.com

Interview With a Vampire

On Monday of this week, I interviewed for a position in a field completely unrelated to my former political pursuits. I walked in that office as a confident woman, strong in my abilities to communicate what I had to offer to this new company. I have always appeared confident in the professional arena, though I know that for the entirety of my career, I led somewhat of a double life: hard-working 20-something during the day and early evening, blotto drunk party girl for the remainder of the night. Day after day: rinse, lather, repeat. I adopted the “work hard, play hard” mentality as a solid creed by which I could survive in a competitive and demanding field. (To this day, it is shocking to me how I lived that way for so long, suffering needlessly.) My work in politics gave me the notoriety as an organizer/aspiring political hack that I thought would replace the weaning confidence I depleted in order to walk into the job “confident” in the first place. In short, I faked it. Isn’t that what we are taught to do? Fake it until we make it?

I have such a vivid memory of the night three years ago when I got the call that I would be interviewing for what was, in my opinion, my dream job at that point in my young professional life. My first reaction was immediate terror. What does this mean? Do they really think I can carry out the duties of this position? What could I possibly offer this employer? Could I stomach such a rigorous interview process? How could I prepare when the interview was only TWO weeks away? Was I ready for this kind of job? These questions induced chronic and intense anxiety—the likes of which I had never experienced. In my Higher Power’s fashion of impeccable timing, that same night my best friend had just gotten word that she got her job in California, and it was a night to celebrate. I did not know how to give myself the space to celebrate an interview for a job I really cared about, let alone be present for my friend who was following her dreams, too. Regardless of how I felt—or because of it—we broke out the Freixenet, while I silently broke out into the emotional equivalent of hives.

I interviewed three times for what would become my job for three years. I worked hard and had great relationships with admirable coworkers and supervisors. Though I was able to be a part of a great movement, I can’t help but think about my attitude going into those interviews and the oppressive anxiety I continued to toil under for the duration of my stay with my employer. I did not trust that I could make a difference, nor did I see that there were people there with me every step of the way to help me contribute to the team. Everything I viewed was through the lens of imminent failure. I rarely slept, even while I worked double-digit hours through multiple campaigns, day after day. I lived a half-life of sorts; I was a veritable vampire who worked incredibly hard during the day, counting down the minutes when I could get home to live my night life, subsisting on alcohol and a 1,000 vials of fears.

By the grace of a power far greater than me, I crossed the glamorous West Coast version of the Rubicon when I moved to Southern California. Los Angeles proved to be the single best place to hit rock bottom and it continues to be the perfect venue for solid sobriety. The job I moved here for gave me invaluable skills that will transfer to whatever industry I find myself working. The confident, less exhausted, person who showed up for an interview on completely unfamiliar turf did not have to fake a damn thing. It is curious to me that after such a small amount of time, facing my fears of succeeding have diminished drastically. My feelings of self-doubt have slipped away, presumably into the empty Wild Turkey 101 bottle I corked on March 16, 2014.

I did not end up getting that job, after all. My former self would have immediately launched into a self-hating, overly critical inner monologue. Yesterday, I got to open the email with a fellow alcoholic who walked me through my feelings of disappointment. There was no handwringing to speak of, no bouts of tears. My friends and fellow alcoholics reminded me that my Higher Power has his own plan and that my job is to do the foot work while my fate unfolds. Today, like the last 354 days, I met with other alcoholics and I will be writing gratitude lists after I call someone who might just need to talk. Today, like every other day in sobriety, I have the choice to trust that my disappointments are fodder for faith. There are no more questions that cause me to doubt myself or my abilities. Today, I know what to do. Tomorrow, too: Rinse, Lather, Repeat.