You Must First Know Where You Come From (audio 70 / day 281)

I wish it were different but the truth is that my recovery is breaking my bones all the way to dust right now. It is very crushing. It is very nerve wracking. It is very real. It is very deep. And to live through an honest recovery, a deeply holy and authentic recovery, the only guide you actually have – when the noise quiets, when the chips are down, when the dust settles – is yourself.

Perhaps I had been afraid to get sober for so long because something in me has known all along that getting to the truth would mean, ultimately, getting to me. Who I really am. What I really believe. What I am really made of. What my truest desires, wants, and dreams, as well as fears, are.

But it isn’t just the getting to my core that will make my life authentic, aligned, sincere, integrated. It’s arriving at my center, seeing it for what it really is, and then choosing it over every single other thing in my life. Over money. Over family. Over attention. Over outward validation. Over career. Over fitting in. Over marriage. Over societal norms. Over conventional thinking. Over the easy way. Over my reputation. Over the image and expectations of me that others hold.

And given all this, now I see and feel and know in no uncertain terms one thing: a true recovery is as radical a path as can ever be chosen by a humble human creature who dares to believe there is so much more to the story than has yet been revealed.


*All of my Sobriety Audios are collected for you here (or go to the top of this page and click “Sobriety Audios (Free Downloads).” You can listen as often as you want, anywhere, anytime, for free, forever.

Not Like Everybody Else (audio 67 / day 269)

Today is the very first day of building a very new life for myself. Well, I guess technically the “first” day would have been the day I got sober on January 1, 2022. But up until now I haven’t asked anyone to make any special accommodations for me in order to help me truly recover. I stopped drinking but I still hurt (I’m still messed up) in ways that need much deeper attention and care. So in that regard, today marks the first day I have to file actual paperwork in order to officially and very outwardly disrupt the pattern of my rather destructive old life in order to establish the foundations of a new one centered around sobriety. One where integrity comes first and only. Which sounds very lofty and lovely in my head but is rather disconcerting and a bit scary to execute in actual real life.

Today I will take a leave of absence from my day job. While I am surrounded by good people there, while it is a good company to work for and I have been there literally my entire adult working life (21 years), while I have it privileged and blessed and lucky and better than most by far, none of that being true can negate the fact that staying in that position, in that environment, in that way of life that requires me to pretend to be someone I am not, has been making me sick for almost a decade.

It’s sad in the sense that it’s so cliche. You get some money and proximity to power and even though you say it’s crushing your soul to give up your whole day (week/life) in service of an industry that means absolutely nothing to you, you keep doing it because you like that people like you for having money and prestige and security and fancy shit. It’s so stupid and yet it’s the foundation of just about everybody else’s life, too, which makes it all appear normal which makes it even worse. Collective delusion is still delusional.

In any event, this has been one hell of a year, man. Jesus baby christ. And even though it feels jarring and strange to sit here on a Monday morning and not go into an office, it’s more than that. I’m not pretending I’m fine. I know I need to fix some things and everybody else knows now, too. Because I stopped. I stopped faking. I stopped my life from bleeding out all over a false narrative. I have a chance now to make it right according to my truth, my desire, my dreams. It’s so good I almost can’t believe it. Almost. But I do believe. Because now I know one thing better than ever before: if I don’t believe, no one else will either.


*All of my 60+ Sobriety Audios are collected for you here (or go to the top of this page and click “Sobriety Audios (Free Downloads).” You can listen as often as you want, anywhere, anytime, for free, forever.

A Regular Sober Evening (audio 66 / day 265)

It’s the softest, sweetest time of day. The early evening. Trees moving in the autumn wind. Me alone in my writing room, nestled in blankets and a hoodie. Cappuccino next to my keyboard. And actual silence. Mercifully, not a single neighbor is mowing or power tooling or screaming at their screaming kids. All I hear is the traffic sifting by off on the distant highway which glides along beneath the railroad tracks. The silence has a kind of spirit, a kind of breath, at this hour. I can unwind from my day before the husband gets home and we get all involved with the making of the dinner and trading stories about what happened at the office and talk about how it’s not even worth talking about.

I used to guzzle the wine when we hung out making dinner and talking. Christ. I can feel it in my mouth, the fucking cool glass on my lips. It’s insane to me now. To be able to sit here and “remember when” I would drink wine. It’s so absurd it is honestly hilarious. I mean, I was enslaved to wine. We danced that stupid dance every single goddamn night. I missed them all. I was half baked every single night. I don’t even know if that’s the correct term but it fits. And it’s all in the past now. How did I do that? One day, man. One day over and over and over. One day at a time until time passes more than you can believe.

One day, three days, then twelve, then 20, 30, 60…. 200… 265. That’s how many days between me and the booze. 265 unbelievably real days. And the thing is those days would have passed either way. Wasted or clean. Sick as death or clear as a beautiful bell. But I chose clarity over poverty that’s all. The richness of presence over the devastation of addiction.

I think that’s what people often get wrong about addicts.

They may think my alcoholism or addiction was about gluttony, imbibing too much of what I wanted, taking more than I deserve. Greed. But it’s the opposite. It was about punishing myself for wanting anything at all. It was my attempt to bludgeon any feelings inside of desires I didn’t believe I was worthy of having.

It’s so sad to me when I really think about it. Because my desires weren’t bad or filthy or greedy or wrong. I just wanted comfort, love, acceptance, non-judgement. Freedom from self-inflicted pain. When you put down the bottle you drop the knife you had been holding to your own throat. You stop chasing the cruelty with drinks. It’s a good life, this sober one. Who in the hell would have ever believed it. I can tell you this…. now, I do.


*All of my 60+ Sobriety Audios are collected for you here (or go to the top of this page and click “Sobriety Audios (Free Downloads).” You can listen as often as you want, anywhere, anytime, for free, forever.

How to Do the Next Right Thing (audio 65 / day 263)

I can’t handle anymore stress and in an astonishing turn of events, I actually tell my boss this. Well, not my boss-boss but his second in command, to whom I also report. I say it not very bravely or strong-ly or matter-of-factly but rather staccato through some very embarrassing, persistent, inconvenient tears. I have this recovery thing going on, I tell her. This is why it’s been really tough and a strange year for me. She is completely understanding and even brainstorms with me ways to better my situation. I am immensely grateful and also more than a little bit stunned.

When you get sober they tell you: Do the next right thing. This is a lovely idea but in actuality it stops me in my tracks. The next right thing? Who the hell am I to know what’s right? Or what comes next?

For me what it means really is: Tell the truth. Tell the big ones and the little ones, each time they come up. The truth always rises to the top and it is our job as sober people to let it come forward. We are the gatekeepers of the truth of ourselves. We have to let it come forward, let it lead. In this way, if you just tell the truth, the true thing will come out in front and you just follow it.

We hold back our truth because we think it will hurt others or make them mad at us or whatever. But holding it in is a lie and lies destroy every hope we have of ever healing. It’s a trust thing. Do you trust the truth? What would happen if you did?

In active addiction mode, I spent so much time lying about being okay when I was not okay. But I did it because I felt trapped. I felt frozen in this place where I feared the consequences of truth telling so to try to spare myself the pain of holding the truth in, I told myself the truth was not real. That’s some fucking fucked up shit. That is some master level game playing. And ultimately it made everything worse because it severed my connection to myself.

You see – you are the truth. The reason you must tell it is because you are real. And every time you refuse to say what is true for you you create an unreal world where you do not actually exist. It’s like an attempt to live your life as a ghost. Something without weight or voice or substance. No wonder you can’t figure out where you fit, you haven’t spoken aloud your edges. You have to speak the truth which is that you have weight and take up space, which is that you have a voice that must be used, which is that you are made up of many, many deep complexities which all deserve to be explored.


*All of my 60+ Sobriety Audios are collected for you here (or go to the top of this page and click “Sobriety Audios (Free Downloads).” You can listen as often as you want, anywhere, anytime, for free, forever.

Where We Live Now (audio)

The vision you have for your life is valid. Give it time and attention to come forward. You don’t need to rush. But you don’t need to be intimidated either. Take steps toward what you know is true for you. That you are worthy and precious and your life – your experience of your time here – matters. Make it good for you. And by good I only mean sincere. That’s all. Doesn’t have to be strong or flashy or loud or successful or correct. Just sincere. Sincere is where the truth is. And truth is where we live now.

I wrote this in my journal just now during meditation. Just thought I would share it because it felt like a message for all of us. The ones in active addiction. The ones trying to crawl out of the pain and the fear and the hurt and the loneliness. No matter what we are up to, we are seeking to know ourselves. And love ourselves. We just don’t know how. Or maybe, correction, maybe we do know how but we have been steered so wrong for so long that it just takes a lot of quiet and a lot of focus to get back to who we know we are. We always were.

Anyway. I’m 239 days sober today which is just a random number but isn’t everything. My husband told me this thing the other day that made so much sense the way obvious things do when you finally realize them. Don’t make the finish line the goal so that you are always losing until you get there. Make the small steps the goal so you are winning a little bit all the time. I like to substitute the word ‘joy’ for goal. And the word ‘content’ for winning. Make small steps the joy so you are content more of the time. ODAAT, etc.

I don’t quite know yet what this blog is about to become but it’s already different because I am different. Eight months sober is a fuck lot of time spent on rewiring myself. And it’s funny because what happens is you intend to save yourself from so much goddamn misery, you know what I mean. There was so much booze drenched pain inside and all around constantly. And day by day, evening by evening, I peeled off that wretched skin suit. I was so tightly wrapped in it. Suffocating. Afraid to move, afraid to speak, afraid to just be. What I am has changed forever. What I thirst for now is just the honest to god truth. Maybe that’s all I ever drank to get to. Ironically enough. Tragically, but sincerely.

Maybe all we need to start from is a place where we can honor ourselves for real not for show. To keep reminding ourselves over and over as we sip our morning coffee: The vision I have for my life is valid.

Wish I Could (audio)

I am not chasing anything. I am not trying to impress anyone or even myself. I’m not trying to be better just trying to be not false. I don’t need more attention. I don’t want more words. I don’t want anything to define me or try to minimize what I am experiencing right now because what I am experiencing is quite beyond words, beyond language, beyond description.

My recovery continues to evolve, deepen, twist, turn, and surprise. What feels like I am coiling back on myself isn’t exactly that, or at least I don’t think it is. But there are no words in most of my recovery space right now. I meditate a lot. Read non-stop. Currently: Martha Beck’s The Way of Integrity, and David Hawkins’ The Map of Consciousness.

I’ve been dealing with a fuck lot of anger, I notice. Perhaps a level of all out rage that I have never before let myself feel. It is very, very real. It spews all over the pages of my journal, in private. I try to keep it from coming out in the times when I am supposed to be nice to people. But it is really hard. The tears come hot and they push, push, push against my chest. I am so very angry. The way women are not allowed to be. Ugly. Undignified. Vengeful. Like a million mountains all on fire inside my cells. In my stomach, in my brain.

There is a sense I have these days that something massive has already shifted inside of me and I am rather quiet because I have not caught up with it yet. My whole body, mind, spirit, soul, feels so new. So vastly and entirely different from who or what I used to be. Or should I say maybe, different from what I used to chase or value or believe. I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t think I ever really knew. Now it’s all I’ve got. This new story unfolding about myself. And all I can do is feel it. I can’t speak it or write it or make it pretty or palatable or linear or concise or poetic. I can’t teach it or preach it or tell you about it. Because there are no words.

And So It Is

You learn to use the voice inside you that you tried drowning out with booze. You begin to say the things out loud that you told yourself you should never, ever say. And those things sound like:

What I need is….

What I want is…

What needs to stop is…

What needs to change is…

What hurts is…

What brings me joy is…

And you come to realize that you are the only one who can decide to fight for your own life to come forward and be seen, heard, and lived. The ripple effects of that are not up to you to try to control or hold back or spare people from. And so it is…

You Can’t Hold Me Forever

There is a lot to think about in early sobriety. Maybe that’s part of what starts it all, the over thinking, the addiction to the substance that can kill that off for a little while. Went to the Elton John concert last night in Philly. It was the perfect evening surrounded by people I love and cherish and adore inside out. He was phenomenal, of course. It’s his farewell tour, last time to perform in Philadelphia, on his way to perform his last time in any American city. It’s called his Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Tour. It was my first time attending a concert sober.

When he played Candle in the Wind, silent videos of Marilyn Monroe flashed all across the jumbotron screens behind him. There were numerous sequences where she was drinking white wine from a long flute. There was always a hand pouring her more. She was so impossibly beautiful. In her anguished expression, you could feel her falling apart. She laughed and danced and winked. She smiled, or tried to.

I don’t have a lot to say at the moment except that I woke up sober this morning, just like I went to bed sober very early this morning. And I remember every single song he performed. I remember the chills that ran up my spine and the tears that fell down my face when he sang Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me as clips of photos and videos of his amazingly creative and wild life played out, one after another after another, all around him as he sat on stage in the spotlight, playing the piano as only Sir Elton John can. This giant of a man, in the sunset of his giant life.

We watched the sun go down over the stadium. We watched the supermoon glow burning orange over the river all the way home. I think of Marilyn and the beauty that lit her up and crushed her out. Of saying goodbye to the old road. Stepping on to a new one. He closed the concert with Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. And then it was over. Waving, in his gorgeous fuschia floor-length robe and signature rhinestone studded square glasses, the Rocketman disappeared offstage into the darkness.

If You’re Gonna Play the Game (audio)

As pale peach light creeps along the leaves of the trees, a small bird can be heard fluttering past the window, swooping on the humid morning air to land on a telephone wire which slinks up and down our quiet street. The coffee grinder whirrs to life downstairs in the kitchen and I click off the alarm on my phone in the dark. Too much stress in my mind. Too much worry about how my day will go. I dream of being someone else with someone else’s life. A life where I am not tied to anything. Not a job. Not money. Not the east coast. It’s all a gamble, this life, even if you stick to what you know. Even if you cling to the familiar there’s still chance involved. The chance you’ll miss out. The chance you will die with regret.

And I know there’s old people out there who will lecture us and say ‘don’t waste it’ or ‘you only get one life, this is it’ and yadda ya, but they only think that way because they have squandered everything, too. They know the feelings they warn you about because they have them and you don’t yet. It’s the fact that you don’t yet that makes them mad or sad or whatever. In any case, I wonder what it is we are all looking for and cannot seem to find. I have a hunch it’s our own hearts.

I wonder if I have found it, here and there, and if I should try to get better at recalling those times so I can recognize them in the future. Today, for instance. Hot sticky gross July day in the middle of the week. Will I transcend the monotony of this day at least a few times during it? Am I playing too small, as they say, whatever the fuck it means? Am I to gamble bigger, more dangerously, daringly, recklessly? I cannot help but think that gamble was part of what I loved about drinking. It was stupid, yeah obviously, but after a whole day spent wishing just about everything was more beautiful, as the evening opened up wide in front of me, I wanted nothing more than to toss myself into the waiting arms of oblivion. To throw caution to the wind and myself out the window of the same bloodless scene and into the free fall of come what may.

Come what may after drinking was never pretty, of course. But I’m not drinking anymore. And what’s funny is the gambler in me is still alive and kicking, apparently. What is it inside that wants me to take a chance on myself? The chance of staying present. The chance of letting go. The chance of finally, once in a lifetime, taking a chance.

But Oh How Close We Came

I busted up my hand trying to open a window that didn’t want to open. Apparently. Whatever I did really messed up my knuckles and now holding a pen is painful as is lifting my insanely oversized coffee mug because the damage done is to the right hand. The most precious, the most necessary. This matters little if at all to you, it would seem, except that now instead of scribbling trails of wandering thoughts in my notebook, as I normally would before I started typing up a blog post, I can only scribble by typing. Typing is less painful than writing with a pen or lifting coffee, though only slightly. I very much hope this doesn’t last more than a few days. The irony is that I was just telling my son the other day how I keep giving myself the stupidest injuries completely by accident. How does one destroy her knuckles by opening a window, it’s so dumb.

I came across a small quote by Clarice Lispector which goes like this, “It’s inside myself that I must create someone who understands.” I thought how true that is and how it’s a little bit sad. I feel that way and I am sure so many other creatives do, writers, poets, artists. We find fewer and fewer people around us who understand the depth of our feelings, the breadth of our souls. It is impossible, it seems, to find another soul who meets you where your soul is. Like satellites drifting by one another in the dark vastness of space.

Perhaps the whole truth though is that we don’t actually want anyone to get too close. To be able to undo ourselves we need our own space, our own time, our own universe. So we can breathe. Remember our own minds, our own consciousness. People are noise, people open their mouths and it’s all static and distraction from what we have going on inside of our own world.

The world around us is collapsing it seems. I read a blog post by a woman who said she isn’t surprised because in all honesty, how else could this go? And I get that. We have been too brutalized, too abused for too long to have this unravel any other way. The way we have been living with our anger and outrage in each others faces constantly, this kind of arrogance and simulated interactions instead of real flesh and blood ones, it breeds all kinds of human devastation. We have lost something we never quite had but oh how close we have come to goodness at times. It is that hope to get close to goodness once again that keeps our little hearts thumping into yet another day. Thinking we may just find it in ourselves to make it, maybe not to rise above but at least to carve a new and more beautiful way through, to find the kind of magic we’ve been looking for all along.

Meanwhile, my hand is not happy with me for typing so much and my brain is wishing I had a point to make which was clever and clear but I haven’t the slightest of either. I would love another cup of coffee but I don’t look forward to lifting it.

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