I Won’t Ruin Your Barbecue. You’re Welcome.

solo cups.jpgFor the eighth Fourth of July in a row, I will not ruin your barbecue. As much as I know you’d like me to show up at your dignified, patriotic while still being kitschy backyard fiesta, I will not. This means I won’t arrive at your function already buzzed even though it’s only 2pm. Ditto I won’t fall down in your entryway at 5pm. And, finally, I won’t sneak away from the party to send a series of crazy text messages trying to find cocaine. I know you’re disappointed but that’s the way it is.

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See, the summer of 2008, I used up more than my share of “Hot Mess In The Middle of The Afternoon” coupons. There was a series of backyard summery jamborees hosted by my best friend and at all of them I was the biggest mess in the room. This is a feat because outside of a Hemingway family reunion never has there been a group who can drink their faces off like this group. Nevertheless, this was the summer where my drinking went from festive to horribly sad in about 60 seconds. A friend at one of these get-togethers even remarked,” Wow. Sean, every time I see you at one of these things, you’re pretty drunk.” This was a friend who’d been jailed on drug charges so she knew what she was talking about.

Now, I was a good guest on paper. You’d invite me for my witty banter. You’d invite me for promptness and ability to help out in the kitchen. And even if you didn’t love me for my personality, you loved me for my potato salad. Which, by the way,is pretty rock star. I take particular pride in my white person culinary abilities to nail all of your mom-type mayonnaise based salads (chicken, egg, potato,what-have-you). But as the shitstorm of alcoholism becomes a category 5, it ain’t all cheeky jokes and deviled eggs. Soon after a few drinks, you were always checking your watch and wondering when I’d leave. Now, to my credit, I was never a yeller or a drunken crier. I was more the politely drink myself into a coma type of guest. Messy for sure but contained messy. Well at least until that summer. One barbecue, which could have been Fourth of July but who knows really, stands out as the deal breaker. As I was trying to leave, knowing that I was wasted and had to get out before it got even worse, I took a tumble-down some concrete stairs. The hangover, the scraped up hand and the throbbing, bruised tailbone were unbearable. I woke up more humiliated than usual. It was painful on lots of levels but mainly because I had five months sober. I say had because until May of 2008 I had patched together five months of sobriety with no help, no support and no clue that when life happened (which it did and always does) that I would go to my only coping mechanism– booze. By later in the summer when my literal fall from grace occurred, I was still writing things in my journal like, “I’m drinking again but it’s really not a huge deal.”Well it was a huge deal and by January 2009 the party, backyard or otherwise, was finally over. I asked for help for the first time ever. I did all the stuff a lot of other people did to get sober. I felt bad for a long time but I didn’t drink or use drugs. Slowly everything improved. Oddly, that tumble during that barbecue that could have been on the Fourth of July was a big catalyst in me getting sober. I mean it took a few months. Like I said, slowly.

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So no, I won’t be able to make it to your daytime drinking, grillin’ and chillin’ Fourth of July extravaganza. It’s better off this way. I’m better off this way.

But I’ll totally make potato salad sometime if you want.

flight or fight (or write)

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The answer is usually right in front of my face. The answer is usually something I knew all along. The answer is usually standing in the waiting room tapping its foot and saying, “Hello? I’m over here, you big dumdum.” And this is how I’ve ended up posting endless links to new things I’ve written over the last month.

Let me explain: intuitively I knew I had to get back on a regular writing schedule. Now I’ve continued to write for clients and work but doing my own projects? Not so freaking much. After completing a script last year and battling some health nonsense, writing for me felt like something energetically I just couldn’t swing. The problem was, however, that without writing regularly, I started to feel nuts. I was explaining to another alcoholic just yesterday that I’m often jealous of people who can maintain their sanity and sobriety by just being physically sober or doing very little work. I, on the other hand, need a lot of help and from all kinds of sources. It’s like mind-blowing mole, you know that dark spicy chocolate sauce that comes from Mexico that when done right can be a religious experience.  The real deal, make-you-wanna-smack-your- mama mole requires at least 3 days and 30 ingredients to achieve poetic heights. And my sanity/spirituality/humanity is much the same. I can’t just do meetings. I can’t just exercise. I can’t just meditate. I can’t just have a digital support group. I need to be firing on all cylinders to make myself consumable for the human public. Now when an ingredient is missing, I begin to feel icky. A regular writing practice was missing so this is how I’ve ended up bothering you three times a week with new posts.

Suffice to say over the last month, my life has gradually changed and a light has gone on. I’ve written a few things that lots of people have read. I’ve written a few more that no one has read. All of this is fine. I am not doing it for internet pats on the back or sparkly comments. I’m doing it to stay alive. As I’ve mentioned, the news in June kicked my ass and made me feel devastatingly sad. Old me would have felt a blip of sadness and doused myself in alcohol or cocaine. Today, I feel all the feels as the kids say and it’s uncomfortable and real and intense. Thank god for writing. Writing helps we exorcise whatever is banging around in my head. June also saw some gnarly personal conflicts come up that previously would have resulted in neck crooking finger waving name calling confrontation better suited for Bravo than real life. I’ve somehow been able to avoid being a dick while not running away. I’ve stayed present, calm and authentic and I’ve kept writing. Who the hell knew any of this was possible? I made simple commitment to blog three times a week in addition to things I’m collaborating on and my professional stuff. That’s it.

Now, those of you who know me in real life or follow me on Twitter(which I was recently informed isn’t real life! Mind. Blown.) know how much I detest self-helpish, click baity ‘You’re living your life wrong if you don’t do this” type of posts. I hate that we’ve somehow cultivated a culture that gives the thumbs up to people who’ve stopped being an asshole for like 2 minutes and now they should be experts and tell us how to live. Eww. So in lieu of dishing out the kind of unsolicited advice that makes me gag: I’m simply offering my experience of the last month. I felt yucky and emotionally jumbled before I got back writing regularly again and now I don’t. Whoomp there it is. If there’s something that you love, something that helps you feel better, something you want to get back to (writing, knitting, walking, baking, meditating, volunteering, other positive activities that end in ‘ing’.) why not take a month and get back to them? It can’t hurt. Fuck. It might even help you. And maybe for you, like me, it’ll be the answer you’ve been looking for this whole time.

*please feel free to leave sparkly comments below.