Category Archives: Sanity & Lack Thereof – Blog
November 15, 1997 was my first day without a drink. I haven’t had a drink since.
There will be no celebrations. No cake. No friends singing. No applause.
See, I’ve relapsed twice on drugs. At 9 months, I did a whip-it. It was a knee-jerk reaction to seeing my roommate’s can of glorious Reddi Wip in the fridge.
(I still can’t have a can of whipped cream in my house as I don’t trust myself with it. I blame my first job at Dairy Queen. More on that later.)
My last relapse was at 15 years sober on a hit of pot. Yes, just one hit, but that one hit gave me a yearlong obsession to drink again.
And I was suicidal at the time so I know I wouldn’t have survived a drink.
That’s hilarious. I’ve never had a drink. My goal was always four. Just have four and leave the bar.
I succeeded maybe twice.
People ask me if I can have just a glass of wine. I see no point. That would be like waiting in line for a roller coaster for two hours and then going down a kiddy slide instead.
I want to ride the roller coaster. And once I’m done, I want to ride it again. And after that – well why stop at two? And then I don’t know where my clothes are and why my boyfriend just broke up with me.
I’m a member of a 12-step program – it’s how I got and continue to stay sober. I’m very grateful for the program. But a lot of members are very wrapped up in “sober time.” As in how many days, weeks, years IN A ROW you’ve been sober.
I was proud of my years. My friends threw a huge 10 year party for me. My mom came into town. It was a big fucking deal.
By the time I turned 15, I was so depressed I could only stand for 5-minutes. There was still cake, less friends and celebration.
The problem was I became more impressed by the years than grateful for the days.
And the only amount of time any of us have is today.
And that’s how I live my life now. My sobriety date is the same as any day sober, but I reflect on where I was mentally, physically and spiritually however many years ago the decision to live (yet again) was made.
And the reflection brings gratitude, as it should. But here’s the flip – now it brings humility of how powerful alcoholism is in my life instead of a feeling of accomplishment.
I’m not proud of my sobriety. I’m fucking grateful and humbled by it.
That was NOT my attitude when I had many years sober. (Even saying “I had years” sounds weird to me now. I have today. I don’t “have” yesterday or the guarantee of a tomorrow. It just seems cocky to “have time.”)
Remaining sober for many years made me cocky and complacent. I believed all those the years “I had” were a safeguard against relapse. Alcoholism is very patient and it waits for us to think we’re safe, immune or above a relapse.
I thought I was safe because the most common reasons people relapse are:
1. They stop working with other alcoholics.
2. They stop taking commitments at meetings and then stop going to meetings.
3. They think they no longer have alcoholism.
Here’s why I was totally fine:
1. I was sponsoring four women and had a sponsor. And a grandsponsor. And so on and so forth.
2. I went to four committed meetings a week (all while I had a baby at home).
3. I have never, ever – for the past 20 years – ever thought I didn’t have alcoholism. I’m so clear that my body and brain chemistry does some funky shit when I ingest alcohol. And that ending up naked and peeing in public is not what normal drinkers do after a glass of wine.
Why did I relapse then? I was in year three of a four year battle with crippling postpartum depression and I wanted relief from the pain. Every waking moment was pure torture mentally and physically and I was at my breaking point.
I ended up taking the wrong medicine for my ailment. And it wasn’t prescribed to me.
But I didn’t drink. And I wanted to with every molecule of my body. And I wanted to die. All of the time.
What I didn’t know was that I didn’t want to drink or die – I just wanted relief. For me, when my pain gets so great for so long, I want out.
I am celebrating quietly today. With every breath. Because I’m alive. I have today. It’s all I have and I’m so grateful for it.
Because we all just have today. If we’re lucky.
I turned 44-years-old today and it hit me. I’m still here.
I’m. Still. Here.
After three hospitals, an outpatient program, the countless support groups, the alcoholism, the bone-crushing depression, the grandiose manias, the coma fatigue, the suicide plans, the suicide plans, THE SUICIDE PLANS, the deaths of so many I love, that fucking childhood, the trauma on repeat… on repeat.. on repeat, the rapes, the molests, the bullying, the drugs, the alcohol, the sex – I’m still here.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Lindsay isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Shaila isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Diane isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Dan isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Liz isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Dorothy isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Doug isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Guy isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Linda isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Amy isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Steve isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Eric isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Greg isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Stan isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and Tony isn’t.
I don’t know why I’m still here and my own father isn’t.
But I do know I’m not here to hide. I’m not here to be quiet. I’m not here to be inauthentic, pandering or afraid.
This year I’m more fearless than I’ve ever been. I’m finishing my tattoo. I’m being an awesome mom to my son. And I’m auditioning for America’s Got Talent not because I want to be famous, but because I want to tell my story of hope to as many people as possible and be as helpful as possible to those suffering with invisible illnesses like mine.
Oh, and I will make you laugh. I will definitely make you laugh.
And I’m going to keep laughing. And not just chuckling, doubled-over-crying-maybe-even-peeing-a-little-bit laughing.
I will not become who I think I need to pretend to be to further my career. I will bow to no one. And no, I won’t suck your dick.
I am showing up for my life because guess what?
I’m still here.