At Nine Months Sober the Truth Comes Out (audio 68 / day 273)

Here is a wild story about where I am right this minute at my nine month sober mark. If you had told me this is where I would be at nine months sober, or even told me last year that I’d be sober this year, I’d have said you were a fucking maniac.

The funny thing is, I have wanted to be here for a very long time. Like, over a decade. I fantasized what it would be like to be sober and in my wildest fantasies I simply sat in a darkened coffee shop sipping my cappuccino alone at a table during happy hour on a random weeknight in winter time, as a light snow fell soft and glittery outside the frosty window. I was writing away on my laptop, doing work I treasured, listening to the chill music they always play low and smooth at coffee shops. I don’t know why winter. I think I just love the idea of the holiday season and twinkle lights on pine trees indoors.

Flash forward to: I get sober on January 1st of this year (2022) in a way that feels very real but also very, extrememly highly unlikely. Like a big wind turned me around in a completely new direction and even though I welcome it I am also not fully convinced it can push me all the way down the street and into the new life of my dreams.

Flash forward nine months to: I broke down at my big fancy office job just last week. Although it surprised me how fast it sort of all happened, it also felt like a dam had burst. Or, one could say, it felt not unlike when my water broke and rushed down my legs suddenly in the middle of a cold afternoon in late January of 1998 right before I gave birth to my son that night. It was a sort of out-of-body experience as I sat there at the big fancy conference table, hot tears streaming down my perfectly made-up face, as I told my boss that I had been sober all year and that the truth was, no I could not see myself staying in my current position. No, I could not take more ‘responsibility’ because to be honest I’m barely holding it together as it is. And even though I was tactful and respectful, the truth I held tight to in my chest was that I should have left years ago but I was too ashamed to admit it. I was too scared to own it. I was too intoxicated every night to allow myself to feel it, let alone fix it.

But something in me had had enough of my own lies. Something in me that was finally crystal clear enough to rise up and out of my body in the form of my own voice said: It is not safe for me here. I am still in my first year of sobriety so I am still learning but one thing I know for sure is that my triggers are acutely apparent to me now. My number one job, above all else, is to respect myself which means to respect what I know and follow its lead.

Here is what I know, and knew in that moment as deeply as I know my own name: If you can see your triggers so clearly you could reach out and touch them , if you can feel them breathing down your neck or hear them knocking on the other side of the door – they are too close. Overwhelm, burnout, sacrificing your dreams to service someone else’s, none of that is compatible with a healthy sober lifestyle. I may have sucked it up before, lord knows it wasn’t the only thing I swallowed down that was killing me. I was addicted to alcohol which is another way of saying I was addicted to the false illusion of security.

My boss was poised and compassionate as everything I tried to hold back and keep hidden for so long just came rushing out of me in tears of sloppy wetness.

I told the truth. I don’t belong in here anymore. It’s familiar which gives the illusion of comfort. And where at one time it was nourishing, now it’s too tight. I can’t stay. I’m too grown.

That is the wild story. Thank you for listening. Now here I am on a leave of absence which is a health benefit most women use as maternity leave to care for a newborn child. At exactly nine months sober, I gave birth to a new life, too. One grounded in the brutal, honest, cold light of reality, but I am warming in blankets and soft feels, too. Painful and miraculous at once. This wild divine human life is at long last in my own hands, my own arms, caressed to my own bare chest. The new life that was ready in its own mysterious time. I couldn’t have rushed it. But as I kept growing it one day at a time inside of me, eventually, inevitably, there was no more holding it in.

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*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.

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.

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*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.

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*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.

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*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.

The Power In Walking Away (audio 64)

Sometimes there is power in walking away from a fight. We rarely hear about this, of course, in our battle obsessed culture. Because we are taught to be strong and by strong they mean: fight back, stand up for yourself. They mean: be stronger than the thing you are fighting with. We are taught never to back down. We believe that in order to be powerful we must fight to the death. If we admit defeat we must be cowards or losers or just not trying hard enough.

Each day for many days during many years, I would hope to have a chill drinking experience. I didn’t want to fight, I just wanted to mess around a little. You know like the kind of good go-around with the drinking they advertise to you with the glass of crisp white wine and the smiling, sexy, sophisticated lady and her lover sharing dessert in an outside garden or the laughter and cheer as she frolics about with her girlfriends as they live their best lives in some Tuscan vineyard and all that shit. What a great time wine always is! How relaxed and cool it makes us all. Except that wasn’t it. It was, in fact, the opposite of that. Because after the fifteen minute happiness, it became more dull than chill. And then after the first two or three glasses, an almost imperceptible agitation would slither in and as the wine kept flowing that subtle irritation just keep blooming and blooming larger and larger like the flower of a nuclear explosion.

I poured wine on my anger and anxiety like gasoline. On a good number of occasions, I was completely out of my mind by the time the bomb went off. Didn’t care. Didn’t even know. I had to come-to the day after and feel the pain of realizing some of the destruction caused. Assessing the scene. Piecing together fragments of what I could remember. How often it was a hell of a fight before I inevitably got knocked out. Wine glass left half full on the coffee table. Me, face down on a mattress and the wine quite literally still standing. As long as I could pry my eyes open and peel myself off the floor, the wine was ready to go another round.

The power in the face of that scenario is not obvious. Or should I say, what seems like the one with the obvious power is the wine. The alcohol, when I crawled into the ring with it, “won” so to speak. I get that now. It shreds my heart to pieces to think about, but I get it.

But to say I was powerless to alcohol, while true and while very necessary to admit, I agree, is not a full enough statement for me to leave at face value. Women are relentlessly reminded of their powerlessness in this society. This culture reminds us incessantly that we should stand down, watch our mouths, bite our tongues. Our human rights are under constant threat. It is exhausting, being bludgeoned over the head again and again with our “powerlessness.”

But in a much broader sense, there are many kinds of power. The power to destroy is alcohol’s kind of power and the only one it inherently possesses. But there is power in walking away from a battle you have no business engaging in. This is true if the opponent is far stronger than you, but it is also true if the opponent is beneath you. If the opponent doesn’t deserve to engage with you in the first place. In my case, the power exists in my ability to lay down the fight entirely. I do not fuck with alcohol. I do not answer its calls to get in the ring just one more time to see if I can finally get the upper hand.

We are done here. This ends here and now. No more fighting.

There is power in the peace of that. To lay down that fight is to stand in a kind of power that is entirely my own. No shame. No guilt. No fuckery. There are many kinds of power: the power to destroy and the power to rebuild, recreate, resurrect, reorganize, reevaluate, regenerate. Alcohol only has one. But I have them all.

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*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.

**I originally posted this article on June 11, 2022. I have re-release it today as an audio. I do think it is worth the reminder, even if only for myself.

Voice Command (day 251)

The tiny waitress walks by my table with a giant martini. That martini is sexy and beautiful. I think to myself. How could that have been me before? How can it NOT be me now? A mini tantrum fits and punches through my psyche.

I look away.

I turn my attention to my delicious food and my lovely husband and the conversation we are having with my brilliant son who is about to take a trip to San Diego for work. He loves the work he does and he is very much looking forward to seeing the west coast for the first time in his young life.

In under a minute, I have forgotten about the parading martini entirely.

At just over eight months sober, I’ve been having these random inner shit storms that basically sound like this: Well, this sober thing was a huge waste of time, wouldn’t you say, my dear? Guess this wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be – like, at all. Game over, yeah? We’ve lost the point of this little experiment, haven’t we? Why are we not joining in the drinking fun, again? Jesus mutherfucking CHRIST WOMAN can’t we just have one???????

And so forth.

The strange thing is, for many months there, I did not have this mental flip happening inside. I don’t think. I just know that now I am finding the ‘just drink one and drink it now come ON!’ voice is back and sounds just the way it did the first month of my sobriety in January. I am surprised by this – though, logically, I should not be. They say (They? Whoever They are) it’s one day at a time and that the voice never entirely dies off. He was quiet for a long time, though. And he’s quiet mostly now. But once in a while…

There’s no point in sharing this other than to record it for myself in real time. To remind myself that all I am doing to stay sober is working and is 100% necessary and it’s worthy work. And in case anyone else out there can relate.

Overall. I’m good. I’m solid in my sobriety. I know that the glasses of booze I can’t help but notice all around me are just a mirage. Illusions of euphoria, glittering and sweet, seducing me with fantasies of a kind of endless pleasure that doesn’t actually exist.

What Getting Sober Really Means (audio)

I think what getting sober is about is getting into alignment with your truest deepest self. And learning how to integrate all of yourself – mind, body, soul, spirit, environment, thoughts, beliefs, commitments, goals, dreams, creations, prayers, words, actions – so that as you move through your day, your night, any given moment, you feel an inner peace. That peace becomes your anchor. Your center. That peace keeps you true. True as in: faithful to yourself, your sobriety, and true as in: in perfect balance. Your steady state is one of humble confidence. Not competing with anyone. No conflict between what you say or do and what you believe. So it’s a bit heavy I guess you could say, because sobriety encompasses everything. But if you can let go of the weight of self-doubt and the burden of keeping the lies and hiding the truth in addiction – your existence, your joy, your experience of the ups and downs of this crazy life – becomes light. Or you can hold it all lightly. More gently. You remind yourself over and over every time you don’t pick up, every time you choose your truth over false outside beliefs: I can take care of myself. I’ve got me, I’m good. I’m okay. I’m safe. I can breathe and be in this moment and I do not have to rush it along. /

I’m Eight Months Sober Today (audio)

I’m eight months sober today. Not a whole hell of a lot to say just feeling very humbled and tremendously grateful. It’s been a wild eight months. So much is clear to me now. About myself. About the energy within me and around me. The sacredness of my existence and of the existence of all things. I don’t know – never have known, never may know – what to say about God or the Divine, but I can promise this. There is something out there. Something which moves powerfully and effortlessly through time and space, light and shadow. And it is grace and fulfillment. It never lies. It aches and it rescues. It whispers and destroys the things – all the merciless things – that have ever, ever hurt us.

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.

High Jump (audio)

There’s endless distractions out there. Everybody is after something. Even me, don’t get me wrong. I was dying to write something to share just so I could speak to you. That’s nuts right? Who knows. The internet is full of liars and trolls and scammers but I think mostly it’s just us, you know? Just regular people out here all alone wondering what the fuck to do with ourselves. Why do people always try to tell you what to do. Why do they think they have all the good answers to questions you never even asked.

The sun is so high in the sky at 5:56pm it pisses me right off. But in any case, I want to say to you: if you can sit in a room and just feel what you are feeling and not do anything to deny it or fix it or chase it with some kind of chemical numbing agent you are a mutherfucking hero. I think. Nobody will see you and nobody will know but I see you, I know. I see my own reflection in the mirror when I wash my hands like I still do too often. And I like some things about me and I don’t like others but either way it’s fine. It is what it is. If you just be quiet and sit there, all alone in a room, as the sound of the cars sift by down the street outside your window, and you just breathe, man. It sounds so stupid but it’s true. Don’t write anything, say anything, whatever, just sit.

I sit and I smoke a cigarette. I sit and I feel the crushing grip of menstrual cramps. I open the window even though it is way too hot to open a window because it’s August and August absolutely sucks. And I feel the heat sink into each of my bones. I sip on cappuccino and check the spam folder on my blog. “buy viagra” has left me a message to tell me I inspire them and that I should keep going. lol okay but I am already there. Why are people always saying that, keep going. No thanks. I’m just gonna be here. For now. Against all the odds. Against all the fucking distractions about bettering myself – tryinna make me lose my goddamn mind.

It’s Friday night. It’s everyday of your life right in this one minute. Where are you rushing off to? Where have I been trying so hard to get to all this time when I could have spent evenings alone with myself. Writing whatever words I wanted to. Being quiet as the dusty walls. Speaking to you. Whoever you are. You ever notice just how beautiful it is to be here at all. You ever notice you don’t have to spend all your time trying to alter what is. You don’t have to talk at every idea or reason through every problem. You can just let what is be. The breeze coming through the screen. The warm summer wind pushing the plant leaves around for no reason at all but softness and light and the way it is.

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