day 586 – remembering what it’s like to be me

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.”

Oh. Okay.

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.

savemyself_4.15.18

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.

Love,
Kristin
xo

**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.

7 thoughts on “day 586 – remembering what it’s like to be me”

  1. I’m in AA and I find some of the things hard to accept, but I’ve also found that there are things I can accept. But I also believe that there are things that work for people and there are things that don’t. And judgmentalism rarely works for anyone…
    That’s just my tidbit at just barely over 60 days…lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And your tidbit is insanely valid, my friend.

      I recently left this comment as a response to some feedback I received on my IG post, but it seems it applies here as well, but like everything else — take what you need, and leave the rest. — “At the core of it all, I feel like most of us already “practice their principles in all of our affairs” and let’s be honest, the twelve steps are (mostly) things we work out in our own way, without strictly abiding by or following in the directed format, as specified by AA. I think for most that it works for, it’s wonderful, but I’m not supportive or believe in the way the messages from the big book are sold. I don’t want to sound condescending, but it is possible for LOTS of people to keep on the straight and narrow and hold their own, without doing it the way AA specifies. The whole process is nonlinear, and it does/did become depressing listening to *some* of the members after a while. I went as instructed, but knew once I know longer had to go, I wouldn’t be a familiar face in my “home group” anymore. I met a lot of BEAUTIFUL souls in the rooms I visited, but knew deep down early on, that I wasn’t marching to the same drummer as they were.”

      That being said, I truly meant this as no slight towards the program or its members, at the end of the day if you, me, they are sober, THAT is what matters. If you can go to bed each night knowing you did the best you could, THAT is what matters. It’s not precisely the whats or hows you did it, it’s that you did no harm to yourself or others, did the next right thing, and are keeping true to who YOU are and YOUR truth.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One thing to maybe try is to put yourself in a AAers shoe. For example, I am in AA. 5 years sober this time around. Last time, I stopped going to meetings and I drank. I see other people tapper of their meetings and they drink. Its what I tell my sponcees because I know from MY OWN experience, it’s a very real possibility.
    All I want to convey is that, AAers say shit like that because they don’t want you to relapse and die. Period.
    Stay sober long enough in the recovery community and you will start to attend a lot of funerals for people who relapsed. It’s heartbreaking. So yes, I will continue to tell newcomers to get their butts to meetings because I don’t want them to die. I have found a way to live (AA) and I want every newcomer to be able to experience what I have.
    AA works for me and I can’t imagine MY life without it. However, that’s not to say that YOU can’t stay sober. You are you and I am ME. 🙂 We don’t know each other but we both know the struggle. Much love and respect for the 576 days!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First off — thank you for reading, commenting, I am sorry for any losses that have been brought into your life as a result of people like us relapsing, and congratulations on your five years of sobriety this time around. Furthermore, I appreciate your honesty, and insight. Immensely.

      This commUNITY is full of all sorts of walks of life, in every stretch of the imagination, which has its pros and cons but so long as sobriety is maintained and people continue to do the next right thing, do no harm to themselves or others, and can go to sleep knowing they did the best they could that day — THAT is what recovery and sobriety is all about.

      I met plenty of people during my times spent in the rooms, that attribute their sobriety and life to AA, and I think that’s fantastic for them. But just like everything else in life, what works for some or many, does not work for everyone — and that difference shouldn’t result in the responses I (and many others) have received when we inform others within this commUNITY, that AA is not for us. It is further discouraging for those in early sobriety, who know the program of AA is not a good fit for them, yet they continue to go “to any lengths possible” to ensure and maintain their sobriety, but know when THEY go to bed each night, that program is not a good fit for them or their way of life. Sobriety complete aside, if something isn’t intuitively sitting with somebody, but their intentions are good (re-enter sobriety), and they want to do the next right thing, if they disclose this to someone they trust or look up to, they shouldn’t be met with responses like “if you don’t do it this way, you won’t make it.”

      That whole logic does not make sense. I understand many AA members have seen people go back out “there” and seen some of them wind up dead, which is very unfortunate, but there is no scientific evidence or correlation, period, that AA could have or would have kept them from winding up in relapse OR dead. Same thing goes for any other way of recovery.

      I suppose I’ve gone astray, but my point is, there’s so many other ways of recovering and maintaining sobriety, and to have your own motives, intentions, way of life, or path of recovery be questioned or verbally told “you won’t make it” is flat-out wrong and goes against A LOT of principles in AA and applicable to other social values and relationships. There’s more than one way to do damn near everything, and just because somebody doesn’t agree with you, doesn’t give them the right to think it’s okay to be vindictive with their response. Speaking ill towards others does not make for a healthy person, especially one claiming to be in recovery.

      That being said, NONE of these things are directed at you, your beliefs, or your comment (which I again thank you for taking the time to leave). I’m just personally fed up with reading about, experiencing, and witnessing others being wrongfully chewed out by AA members and/or having their sobriety journey doubted because they aren’t adhering to the way of life taught in the rooms.

      Whatever keeps you sober, healthy, happy, and growing — is what it’s all about. Sorry for the long response… I’m very passionate about recovery as a whole, and have a tendency to fully voice myself, so as to avoid the “less is more” approach and risk something getting lost in translation. Much love to you though, and thank you again for reading. xo

      Like

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