I am sitting here in my hotel room, up on the ninth floor, looking out over the city as the rain lazily falls and steam faintly rolls past my window, after completing re-watching the Joan Didion documentary, The Center Will Not Hold , and have decided I can’t take it anymore.
I can no longer stand to listen to the whispers that penetrate my mind, as the whispers have now turned into yelling, because I’ve tirelessly silenced myself, something I’ve done very well for a while now. There’s this relentless intuition of sorts, persistently streaming through my head, shouting, “you really should write more”, “this needs to be documented” or, “if you don’t preserve this moment by putting your thoughts into a more tangible form, they will evade you,” and things of the like. I’m learning to adjust to have faith in what I feel in my gut and hear in between my ears.
Alas, here I am curled up, having a poetic experience and feeling this magnetizing urge to let loose all these thoughts and feelings, allow them to flow down through my fingertips, and project all I’m keeping inside out into the world.
Having said all this, which sounds like it has nothing to do with the central core of this extension of my digital diary (which is predominantly focused on sobriety and recovery), I will respectfully beg to differ — because I’m very adamant that sobriety and recovery are not merely limited to the confines of exiting a life of addiction, and transcends into so many facets and spectrums that is the human condition, and exploring so without running away in fear, horror, or pain. It also means having an expanding awareness as to what’s going on in the world around us –outside of our neat little bubbles that we try to delicately live in– as well as learning how to find and use our voices with a sense of empowerment, not entitlement.
Sobriety and recovery are both about courage in every sense of their respective words, and odds are you are more courageous than you even realize. Especially those of you who suffer(ed) from addiction or substance abuse, and have woken up to the fact that something needs to deeply shift inside of you, so that you can fully live to the best of your capabilities, and no longer hide out of fear, shame, discouragement, or any other negative connotation attached to the stigma and current perceptions so many have towards those known as (former) addicts.
So here I am, pulling all these things out from inside of myself, so that I can start verbalizing and sharing my experiences, discoveries, and musings on the subject I am getting to know best: me. All the components that add up to make the whole of who I am, what I think, learning to trust these thoughts and to have the prowess to assert myself, and not buckle under the fear that somebody might not like or agree with what I have to say, standing up for what I feel and know… “Remembering what it is to be me — that is always the point,” as Joan Didion said.
Today I had the opportunity to discuss sobriety and how I keep sober/in recovery with a gentleman contracted to help with the project I’m currently working on. We were shooting the shit very early into the installation of this project, and somehow he got on the subject of how much people within our industry drink, which he quickly quipped “I don’t do the things the other people do, because I don’t drink — I’m sober.” You know I got all bright eyed and bushy tailed at that little (but really massive) statement, and I immediately replied with, “Me, too! I just celebrated nineteen months sober earlier this month!” He smiled and said, “Really? That’s amazing! I’ll celebrate nineteen years in August!”
And with that, I will do a cliché Zack Morris time out by stating that — in my experience and opinion — I have found it to be such a knee-jerk reaction, for most people who identify as (recovering) alcoholics to immediately ask you, “Do you go to meetings?” or inquire about “your program” once they find you’re sober as well.
(DISCLAIMER: There is nothing wrong with that, at all, but if you don’t attend AA, abide by the big book, work the steps, get a sponsor, and all that jazz, this question can get a tad tiresome. What’s even more exhausting, is the look of disappointment that almost always crosses their face when you tell your truth — that AA is not for you — and then the impulse of feeling the need to explain yourself. There is something wrong with that.)
I don’t really fault or blame these types of people, they’re just very enthusiastic about their program, however, I will stand by my opinion that whatever it is you’re doing that’s keeping you sober isn’t totally any of my concern, it’s nothing you/I should make somebody else’s business if we don’t feel comfortable opening up about it… The TL;DR version: If you have found something that works for you and it is keeping you sober, it doesn’t possess any harm or threat to yourself or another human being, then FUCK YES MORE POWER TO YOU, BECAUSE FUCK YEAH SOBRIETY AND ACCEPTANCE, UNDERSTANDING AND COMPASSION FOR ALL. WE SHOULD ALL LIVE FOR LEARNING FROM ONE ANOTHER, FOR BETTER AND FOR WORSE.
But just so we’re *crystal clear* one more time: I have no ill will for anyone that attends AA, or the program itself. It’s the Big Book thumpers and people who do a shit job hiding their judgmental facial expression that reads “if you’re not going to meetings, you’re a walking relapse waiting to happen” (or in some people’s cases, they’ll straight up say this verbatim to your face). THIS is what I have a huge problem with, and it’s what makes me THAT much more grateful for communities such as the one Hip Sobriety attracts.
And today, when I was asked about my program and how often I attend meetings, I contemplated being passive aggressive and said “That’s not really any of your business,” or being polite and saying “I don’t get to go too much, but I enjoy going” or something else to make him not judge me and how I maintain my sobriety. But I didn’t. I was open and honest and unapologetic instead.
I straight up said, “It is not for me. It wasn’t for me when I went, and I haven’t really wanted to go since I quit going. It shouldn’t matter anyways, because while I know I’m still in my sobriety infancy, I know that I never want to go back to the life I lived before I got sober. I never want to be that person ever again. There’s no one way to remain sober, and at the end of the day, it’s not about what program anybody’s working (nor should it be) because so long as they are staying sober, continuing to do the next right thing, and not pushing an agenda — that’s all that should matter: they. are. staying. sober.”
I was met with the response of, “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re still new into sobriety, and I’ve yet to encounter one person who didn’t relapse as a result of not going to meetings.”
I calmly told him I do know of people who went/go to meetings regularly and STILL managed to relapse. I looked him in the eye and said, “You know what? In my opinion, if somebody wants to drink, there is no program, person, place or thing that is going to change their mind, and that’s all there is to it.” And I meant every word of it, because I believe (and in my heart, know) it to be true, and I wasn’t going to back down because somebody wasn’t agreeing with me about what I do… or don’t do… to maintain my life of sobriety and in recovery.
However, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel awkwardly uncomfortable, especially after he said to me with a decent amount of vitriol, “The people who don’t go into the rooms are the ones who go back out there.”
And with THAT, instead of clamming up and doing the same song and dance like I usually do, I REMEMBERED WHAT IT IS TO BE ME, and I though I did not overly explain myself or try to justify why I don’t go to meetings more often, I did lovingly stand up/by what keeps me sober.
I don’t think my response was received very well. He grimaced and was obviously very set on this idea that people who don’t regularly attend AA… because a few more lines were muttered in my direction, he became silent, and walked away until it was required for us to regroup and continue working on our current task.
But you know what? For once (again), I REMEMBERED WHAT IT IS TO BE ME, and I didn’t apologize for my beliefs, answer, or actions. If you know me, you know I’m an overly apologetic person, and it was genetically inherited at birth. So for me to keep in this very unfamiliar territory, by myself, was extremely foreign to me, but I refused to bow down in order to make the atmosphere more pleasant.
I’m proud of myself for that, because I wasn’t going to chalk up how hard I’ve worked on myself and attribute my sobriety “righteousness” to a program that is not a good fit for me. I also know that as of this very moment, after 586 days into my sobriety infancy (despite having enough growing pains to feel like it’s been closer to eighty years), that I can valiantly say: AA did not save me. I did.
Having made such a bold statement, I’d like to address that another massive area I’m avidly working on is building up my inner strength, and despite the fact I sometimes cry at the drop of a hat (or at something stupid cute… same difference), it is something I’m laboring towards by making baby step sized progression in the conspicuously identified areas I’m aware of and want to evolve in. And I know I couldn’t do any of this without my sobriety and openly recovering out loud about the trials and tribulations of what it means to me.
But before I sign off on this entry, I MUST, MUST, MUST also state that after I made through the first six months of my sobriety and recovery, I am graciously cognizant that the sobriety commUNITY I have found and fallen in love with on Instagram has been an increasingly influential and empowering source of inspiration. The people I’ve met over the last year or so, since setting up my IG account, can be attributed to helping me through some dark times as well as being there to help celebrate small victories and milestones. I do not believe that had I never found this community, my sobriety could’ve been potentially compromised, but I do believe they have helped strengthened so many positive but buried things I’ve been steadily unearthing within myself… and the community is truly unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed in my entire life. If you found this entry based off following me on IG (bonus points if you read this far, seriously, thank you) I have this to say to you: I love you, you fellow magical misfit, bodacious babe, and heart of gold. You mean the world to me, and you might now even know it. But not you do. Thank you.
**EDIT/UPDATE: This post was written on day 586, not 576 as previously titled. Apparently being a supermom of two, working too many days in a row, switching time zones, reoccurring insomnia, and LIFE will cause your brain to not be able to *math* (basic addition), and you miscalculate + lose track of what day you’re *actually* on.