lost weekends found

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To all my people who know where your wallet is this morning, put your hands up!

All my people who woke up in their own beds, put your hands up!

All my people, who didn’t have to read their sent text messages to remember their weekends, throw your hands up!

I mean not to invoke every terrible, cornball hiphop 90’s song ever but if you are sober and accomplished those things over the weekend, bra-fucking-vo. I mean it. Staying present during this nightmare happening in slow-motion is some badass stuff. What a time to be über conscious! Like of all the eras I picked to not check out and live in my own chemically enhanced alternate reality, I chose this one. I’m just thrilled.

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Heavy sighing and bitchy remarks aside, I am actually glad that I’m sober right now. Incredibly so. Believe it or not, I’ve tried to drink my way through difficult times and I just wasn’t that fabulous at it. The problem is you eventually wake up (perhaps covered in puke or not knowing where your phone is. Throw your hands up!) and you are still you and the world is still the world that you were trying to obliterate. So here we are sober as fuck with a front row seat to the world’s crappiest real-time reality show. Pass the popcorn. popcorn-gifdream-of-jeanniebarbara-eden.gif

When people ask me, “How was your weekend?” I’m always a Debbie Downer as I usually work weekends. These best weekend ever weirdos are the same ones who are giving themselves aneurysms trying to have the best Halloween ever and the best New Year’s Eve ever. Exhausting. The best weekend ever for me involves a decent night’s sleep, tacos and plenty of pop culture. So yeah I fail miserably at that question. I should probably just have prerecorded messages like, “It was awesome! I went wind surfing!” that I can press play on and walk away when asked. Nevertheless, my weekend was great. All the boxes were checked including tacos plus bonus deep dish pizza with friends. In general, I’m winning at life (as long as I don’t read any current news or look at Facebook for extended periods of time.)

It has been on my mind recently that I do have it really good. I’m not rich by any means but I have a roof over my head and regular employment (things I didn’t always have, even in sobriety). My health is better than ever, despite being dealt a whack immune system and a delightfully Scandinavian set of mental health challenges. But mainly the big freaking gift here is I am not in a constant state of chaos like I was for so many years. And I’m not being alcoholic-dramatic when I say “many years”. My drinking, drug abuse and its subsequent fallout happened from about age 14 to the tender age of 36. That’s roughly two years longer than the run of Gunsmoke and just eight years less than The Simpsons, to put it in television terms. Therefore not living like a lunatic for several years at a row is  something that never stops being cool.

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Remembering entire weekends is something pretty special too. There are large chunks of time that are fuzzy at best for me. You don’t do as many drugs as I did to not lose whole portions of your life. Hello. That was sort of the  whole point. Mission accomplished! Now, knowing where I am, what I said to people and how I got home is my new normal. While I still have to apologize for being a jerk (All. The. Dammed. Time.) I,at the very least, remember being a jerk and can clean it up fairly quickly.

Last week, I recorded a new episode of Sloshed Cinema about the 1945 film The Lost Weekend with Ray Milland and Jane Wyman. The story centers around a man, who fresh out of rehab, relapses and falls into a weekend of alcoholic insanity. It’s a terrifying film that is trying to have an evolved conversation about alcoholism in 1945. Director Billy Wilder, whom I adore like most movie nerds, does a fantastic job of portraying the disease as a real nightmare. Yet what really resonated with me is the film’s ability to tap into the chaos and insane thinking. I had so many weekends (and weekdays for that matter) filled with alcoholic despair and downright insane actions that I just got sort of used to living in terror. My last few months drinking, I had a series of heart pounding anxiety attacks which really felt like the end of the world and the only thing that would make it go away was drinking more. This is exactly the horrific predicament that Ray Milland finds himself in the movie. He either drinks and stays miserable or he ends his life. It’s a chilling place that most of us wind up and the fact that a movie so old was talking about it is amazing. Films like The Lost Weekend and the conversations they have are precisely why I do my podcast. Movies have this ability to tap into things that maybe we haven’t ever talked about out loud (Moonlight is currently doing just that in theaters across the country). When I research these films, nine times out of ten, somebody on some message board posts, “Watching this made me realize I had a problem” which is incredible.

In addition to being a plug for my podcast, I do have an actual point in post this. No, it’s not just the Jeannie eating popcorn gif. It’s that I need reminders that things are actually good today. I need to remember that I’ve come a long way and that no amount of racist, baffling headlines refutes the miracle that I am sober. I need to stay grateful, no matter what. So all my other grateful people out there, throw your damn hands up.

 

viva the smartass revolution!

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Hours and hours of laughing. How dare they. Didn’t they realize the state of the world? Didn’t they notice that the planet was slowly hurling itself into a vortex of shit? Hadn’t they been paying attention to the last year and a half of jaw-droppingly horrendous headlines? Surely they must have. But here they were. My two coworkers the day after the Inauguration laughing their heads off. Not just polite, ladylike laughing either. That kind of laughing where you can’t breathe and have to take breaks to wipe the tears from your eyes. How dare they.

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It annoyed me because I knew it’s where I needed to be. I needed to be laughing. After all, laughing and rolling my eyes is my preordained destiny on this planet as a smartass since birth. Yet last weekend, I simply couldn’t rally. I was,for lack of a better word, mopey. Like really mopey for the better part of a week. Like dress me in black and turn on some Morrissey mopey. Like that sad white blob in the depression medication commercials mopey. It wasn’t until Wednesday when my sponsor and I had our weekly conversation wherein I own all of my crazy/toxic/weird ass behaviors and actions that I was able to really laugh. It wasn’t I until then that I realized I got wrapped up in groupthink misery and forgot Rule 62.

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Ugh. How could I? I always prided myself on being able to see the sassy, sarcastic side of life but for about five days, I just couldn’t muster that shit up. The irony here was that I am always the first in line to roll my eyes at humorless twerps and here I was among them. Yet upon consorting with my Twitter posse, I learned I wasn’t alone. A lot of us we’re struggling to see the light at the end of the current events tunnel. There was general malaise for days, honeychild and it felt pretty bleak. Even extremely funny folks whom I always relied upon to help not turn Facebook into a graveyard of depressing “The End is Nye!’ status updates were now posting things that made Sylvia Plath feel like Preston Sturges. After days of this mopey marathon, I’d had enough. Yes, there are things in life and in the news that should be taken seriously. But Sean Paul Mahoney is not one of them. As person who has also been given the gift of diagnosed massive depression (Oh! You shouldn’t have!) living in blah is a fucking terrible place for me to be. I had to snap out of it and the people closest to me sensed it too.

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My husband, the person who unquestionably makes me laugh the most, showed me the above image right before I went to bed last Friday night. He did so with a caveat, “Look I know you’re not looking at the news today but I think you’ll enjoy this.” He was right. Look, I’m a gay man with a heartbeat so OF COURSE I thought a white lady with bad hair dressed like a cracked-out nutcracker was funny. That sort of thing transcends political lines. It’s just funny. Thus my journey to be less mopey began.

By Thursday, I was back to laughing at work. After hearing the thunderous clang of a poor person who didn’t realize our large glass doors were in fact not open, I shared my story of how I did the same thing. It was when I first started and I was sent to run across the street. Ever the people pleaser, I set out on my mission and darted out the door– or into the door rather. My head hitting the glass made a dreadful sound that stopped the chattering, packed lobby cold. Before the even more humiliating choruses of “Oh my Gawd! Are you okay?!?” began, me and my bloody nose ran out the door and across the street. My coworker who is fairly new and not around at the time, was laughing her face off as I recalled the story and I was laughing too. I occurred to me then, like earlier with my sponsor, this is what we do for one another. This is how we help each other. We laugh together. And if you think about it, being a smartass in this current climate seems pretty punk rock.

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When I first started writing a lot as a teenager, I really wanted to be serious. I wanted people to know how dark and profound I was. Yet time and time again, the critique I always got–and still occasionally get- was “You’re writing is better when it’s funny and honest.” 30-some years later, message received. I was booked to speak at a twelve step meeting once not because my deep and inspiring journey was going to change lives but because, in the words of the person in charge of booking speakers, “You’re just really funny.” So I’ve leaned into being a clown and am honored the my goofy dipshit antics can benefit someone else, even for just a few moments.

Therefore, having a sense of humor right now feels particularly powerful given that the current administration is one of the dumbest and most humorless ever. Even Bob Dole, with the face of one of the evil trees from the Wizard of Oz and who walks through like he’s got a porcupine up his ass, reportedly enjoyed being parodied on Saturday Night Live, something What’s-His-Face is perpetually butthurt about. This is unequivocally a group of people who can’t laugh at themselves, who didn’t get the Rule 62 memo. We are living in times when inflated fragile egos and dour brainless bragging are trying to flatten wit and creative expression. The reality is crusty honkies in ill-fitting suits with no sense of humor are now running this joint. When I stop laughing, these assholes win. If I wanna resist and hang onto my sanity, my recovery and my soul I have to laugh. Moreover, I have to make others laugh. And If that means running into another glass door for you, I’ll do it.

 

Handle With Care

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It’s a recipe. That’s the only way I can describe it. I’m sure that has something to do with the fact that I’m ravenously hungry every single time I sit down to write but it’s the only metaphor I have in my writerly rolodex right now. The ‘it’ I’m talking about is self-care, in case you were wondering. Those two words were a head scratcher back when I was on my tequila soaked kamikaze mission. The closest I ever got to self-care back then was going 24 hours without lying or avoiding a blackout for an entire week. So now that I’m this sober adult and shit, I still regularly tinker with this recipe on doing actions that help this love cruise of mental wellness stay afloat.

Last Thursday, I figured I better scramble to get some sort of self-care recipe in action. For starters, I logged off Facebook and Twitter and I avoided news headlines. Listen, everybody everywhere was talking about this world event happening, one that I find horribly depressing, and I honestly didn’t want to engage. Besides, what could I possibly add to a conversation with so many voices? I detest redundancy and more than that I hate being beat to the punch when making jokes about current events therefore I passed on reading and commenting. Intuitively something told me that hanging onto my serenity was more important than obsessively reading and wringing my hands over this train wreck in slow motion. It turned out to be a good move but it wasn’t easy and had a lot of steps like making a paella and macarons at the same time. Mmm macarons.

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In addition to not reading the headlines or being on social media, I had to take it one step further, I turned off my phone on Friday. FOR THE ENTIRE DAY! This deserves all-caps and an exclamation point because I’m undoubtedly my smartphone’s bitch and I know this. Hi. I am an addict so of course I cradle and obsess over the damn thing like I’m Gollum with a piece of shiny jewelry. I always laugh when people in recovery come to meetings only to spend the whole time playing on their phone. Boo, you are in the right place, you freaking iPhone junkie. So that was difficult but not impossible. I knew if I didn’t want to know anything, I’d have to cut off my pocket-sized link to the outside world. Next, I brought a book to work. Sounds simple but replacing the fondling of my phone with something more tangible was key in order to keep my mind off of that stuff that was happening. Books have always been my touchstone to my higher self so reading turned out to be a godsend.

The day was chill and clipped along at a normal pace. I engaged with a few visitors who were there just to see something beautiful and get their mind off of things. One in particular was so kind and clearly upset that our conversation made me teary. Like run to the bathroom just in case I totally lost it teary. Moments of tenderness aside, I couldn’t wait to get the fuck out of there and go home. But before I went home, I stopped at the bookstore. As I’ve mentioned before, libraries and bookstores have always been sacred places to me where I can manage to center myself. After about 20 minutes of perusing the fiction section and picking out a few titles, I wasn’t okay. I got sweaty and hot and felt like I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t  panic attack but I needed to go ASAP. I realized in that moment of feeling like crap in the bookstore that despite all of my wrapping myself in bubble wrap, something was still broken. I was fucking depressed and devastated.

I walked home with my books (along with some burritos for dinner) like a zombie. No sacred place, no amount of precaution could disguise the fact that I currently felt like I didn’t belong in the country where I was born. The country, that I believed when they told us in Catholic school we should be proud to live in, now wanted totally different things than I did and that really fucked with me. Which is fine. I’m one of those prone to butt-kicking depression types so to think that I wouldn’t occasionally get my ass handed to me by emotions would be like thinking that McDonald’s will just one day decide to stop making Big Macs. Ain’t gonna happen. For what it’s worth, I don’t think “getting over it” is the answer. I think that sort of “don’t deal with it” thinking is the reason we’re all hooked on drugs and drinking our faces off. I no longer shoot to get over things. I shoot to move through things, regardless of how long it takes or how much it hurts.

Nevertheless, I got home, had dinner with my husband, watched an episode of Top Chef and was actually in bed by 8:30pm. I’d had it. The final step in the recipe was, “if all else fails, go to bed” so that’s what I did. By Saturday, I’d glanced at a few headlines and was shown a picture of White House staffer in a nutcracker uniform but otherwise I was still off the grid. We saw a play, had dinner with friends and generally moved to a more light-hearted place. There was a lot of laughing going on which helps me immensely. Undoubtedly, the winner of the weekend was prayer and meditation. I’ve been gently directed to do more of those things lately and have been sort of practicing a half-assed spirituality for months. I only turn to these things when I’m in bad shape so suffice to say, I was praying and meditating like it was going out of style. On Sunday, I started peaking my head out again. Tweeting, processing events with coworkers, texting program friends, more laughing. I read a little more news and spent more time on Facebook, two terrible ideas. I quickly moved back into self-care and had a great dinner with my husband followed by another early bedtime.

I share all of these boring-ass details of my weekend because that’s what the recipe looked like. Handling myself with care took a lot of steps and to my surprise I still felt shitty. As I started to get down myself yesterday for still being a raw, emotional wreck, a little light came on. I didn’t drink all weekend nor did I use drugs and I also didn’t hurt myself or others. So in my mind the recipe was a success. Sure, I would like to feel magically fabulous with all of my hurt gone but staying sober and relatively sane was good enough. Hell it was a miracle. I recently talked to a sober homie of mine and we both agreed that drinking right now and being “out there” right now would be a nightmare.

As far as me and this country goes, it’s one day at time like everything else. It’s acceptance, like everything else. It’s love and tolerance, like everything else. And it’s also plane tickets. Late Friday night, my husband purchased our flights for a long-brewing trip to Europe. Because when the going gets tough, the tough make a recipe for self-care and the tough also get going to Paris.

she’s got the power

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Some battles just aren’t yours to fight. Sometimes the best you can do is cheer from the sidelines. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little excited about the march on Washington this Saturday. With over 1,800 bus permits issued (about 1,600 more than that tragic ass event happening the day before) and over 100,000 people expected to attend, I will admit to having serious FOMO. As man with three nieces, one sister, oodles of female friends, cousins and coworkers, I love women. In fact, growing up it was always, “Sean and the girls.” I had found my allies at an early age and it didn’t matter that we were of different genders. What mattered is that we liked hanging out together. Girls always had my back and protected me and I, in turn, would make them laugh. It was a simple and mutually beneficial agreement that lead to beautiful friendships starting around the age of 5.  Couple this with the presence of badass women in pop culture of the 70’s and 80’s (everything from Pat Benatar and Jem to Wonder Woman and Debbie Harry and She-Ra and beyond) and I was as girl crazy as any boy who didn’t actually like girls could be.

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That’s why right now in history seems pretty darn special.  So yeah we don’t have a woman president. I noticed, dammit. But energetically, maybe that doesn’t matter. There’s something bigger going on. Pardon the joke but a force perhaps? I felt it last week when I was watching Rogue One at the movies. I don’t need to explain why a 44-year-old man was at the first showing of a Star Wars movie on a Tuesday. I’m grown up. I do what I want. Suffice to say, me, a guy who looked like Larry David and a man with a lumberjack beard all seemed to enjoy this little matinée. Besides being an awful amount of well-paced, well-constructed fun, Rogue One stood out because of its casting. With relative ease, it put people of color, people with accents and a woman in leading roles. Translation: something we’re not used to seeing in a Hollywood blockbuster. It wasn’t a stretch or something that felt forced having a female lead character propel the action. After all, this is the franchise that gave us Princess Leia. And excuse me, when I was a kid we also had Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver regularly kicking ass. But this feels timely and kind of punk rock especially for a country currently hell-bent on rewarding untalented, straight, white assholes.

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Clearly, I know that having a female lead in a blockbuster sci-fi series isn’t the same as the government staying the fuck out of women’s bodies and equal pay but it’s a message. One of thousands right now, as a matter of fact. Without getting all corny here, I’ll say that I’m a big believer in the more twinkling lights of hope from as many sources as possible, the better. Consider Queen Sugar, a series for OWN with every episode directed by a different female director. Or Hidden Figures with its predominately black female cast, which is currently number one at the box office for the third week in a row. Or perhaps the fact that even my beloved Wonder Woman is finally coming to the big screen. I talk a lot about how the presence of recovery storylines in the media is important for my podcast as well as in my gig over at AfterParty Magazine. When people see folks getting sober on television in their living room, a spark happens. It feels relatable and real even if it’s only coming from a sitcom or movie. It’s the same with representation. As a gay man, I think I know this as well as anyone. (I mean what was the last movie with a gay lead character that wasn’t tragic or in the closet? I’ll wait.) All of these films and television shows are a start but yeah it isn’t enough.

Some 700 words later, I’ve changed my mind. Maybe this is my battle too. Despite lacking a vagina, I get it on a cellular level. And I’m thrilled that they’re pissed off, that we’re pissed off. All good things happen when we finally say, “I’ve  finally had enough.” Just ask any sober addict. In times like the ones we’re approaching, I honestly think the only way we’ll survive is by saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurting. I understand and I’m hurting too. And fuck them.” Mainly that last part. We need one another more than ever. Know that me and others like me are marching next to you. If not in person, certainly in spirit and for the next four years too. So for all the times you had my back, women of the world, now is my hour to have yours. For the honor of Grayskull, as my girl She-Ra would say.

New Year, New Sloshed Cinema Episodes!

under-the-volcanoThat podcast that talks about movies that talk about drinking, drugs and getting sober is coming back with brand new episodes in 2017! We’re kicking off this fresh batch of episodes with listener requested movies like Under the Volcano, Trees Lounge and an all-time alcoholic classic 1945’s The Lost Weekend.

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Plus recent movies like Krisha, Genius and the Adderall Diaries. I’ll also finally cover the movies that people keep telling me, “You should really do a show about….” like When a Man Loves a Woman and Rachel Getting Married. 

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So grab your popcorn and fizzy non-alcoholic beverage of choice and meet me in the lobby for 30 minutes of film, pop culture and recovery. Ooh and while we’re here– please sound off in the comments section about other drinking/drug classic films you’d like me to discuss and check out vintage episodes here!

here’s to the ones who dream

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“The Dream” by Henri Matisse

Creativity takes courage or at least that’s what Henri Matisse said. But does it though? I mean really? Are we sure? Because courage? That’s a heavy ass word. Just typing it I shake my head and go, “Uh uh. No way.” The thing is if creativity does take courage then that means I’ll actually have to make the stuff I dream about! Also? I’ll actually have to let people look at it. So then it will take even more courage to deal with people hating it or worse than that- totally ignoring it’s existence. Oh fuck no.

Thankfully, it all has to start with a dream. Preferably not the dream I had the other night where I was high on drugs and trapped at a Christian themed amusement park run by sadists but a dream nonetheless. When I’m in dream territory, there’s no holds barred. It’s all “maybe I should” or “hey wouldn’t it be cool if” or “I’ve always kind of wanted to” type of ideas. They don’t need to stick. They don’t need to find budgets or time or audiences. They can just be dreams but I should be nice to them and take care of them like tiny, fuzzy baby birds. And the more of them I have at any given time, the better. I feel like my little old brain that’s perhaps been bitch slapped by chemicals one too many times needs a high concentration of dreams and crazy ideas. This is maybe why I consume films, television shows, books, magazines, music, visual art etcetera like I’m trapped in a never-ending game of Ms. Pac-Man(the superior Pac-Man and I will hear no other opinion on the matter!). I need a stream of ideas and inspirations running all day long so my brain and the dreams it produces doesn’t dry out. Creativity, or at least mine, has always been collaborative in the sense that it needs to be fed constantly and from dozens of sources.

Right now my brain is particularly well-fed thanks in part to the high density of terrific movies out right now. Saturday night, for example, I watched Hell or High Water, a modern western which is not my genre by a longshot. The film is so jam-packed with thought-provoking ideas and crackling dialogue that it didn’t even matter. We also watched Bright Lights on HBO, the new documentary about Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds which given my love for Fisher was immediately heartbreaking and inspiring. Earlier in the week, we watched Manchester by the Sea. It simultaneously tore my heart out and made me laugh while reminding me how powerful great acting can be. Add to the pile recent viewings of Moonlight, Arrival, Sing Street and a few oldies thrown in more good measure and my head is overflowing with film dreams and inspirations.

Yet no current movie tackles the idea of dreams and the power to pursue them like La La Land. The film, which has become my litmus test for haters and negative people, is pure cinematic magic. It conjures up the beauty of classics like Singing in the Rain while somehow managing to feel totally fresh and original. It’s the sort of film that kids will watch in 5 years and fall in love with acting and the movies because of it. But to me it’s deeper than that. The central message of the movie is that pursuing your dreams is hard and heartbreaking but worth it. Emma Stone’s character sings an audition which feels more like a monologue (songologue anyone? I clearly can’t stay away from that pun) that utterly took the air out of the room in the packed theatre we watching it in on Christmas Day. In it, she tells the story of her aunt whom she loved and looked up to because she was a free spirit who followed her dreams. The story–spoiler alert– doesn’t wind up that great for her dear old aunt but she at least lived courageously. Which brings us back to what our buddy Henri said at the top of the post.

So terrific. I have a dream– cue the ABBA song. Now what? Well, some are just hanging out in the bus station of my mind, smoking cigarettes and drinking lattes for a short period of time. They’re funny. They’re charming. But they’re not built to last. They’ll leave but some of them might come back in the shape of something else later. It’s the dreams that won’t leave me alone that I have to take care of. These dreams are like pesky houseplants or whiny puppies. They need to be coddled, nurtured and looked after. But mainly they take large, daily amounts of courage. It takes some pretty big balls to pursue these nagging little dreams because it’s scary and there’s a really good chance that I’ll make something and nobody will read it or give a shit about it. But if the dream is persistent enough, it doesn’t really matter. This courage that felt impossible to muster up suddenly shows up simply out of necessity. It’s not a struggle. It’s not a should I or shouldn’t I moment. It’s a “I have to.” I need to remember that when this whole courage thing feels too hard or too heavy, that all the good changes in my life have happened because of courage. Fucking duh. I mean “the courage to change the things I can” is kinda the whole reason I’m no longer a tequila swilling, coke snorting vacuum from hell.  So I freak out and feel uncertain but find the courage anyway and take care of those little dreams and give them a fighting chance.  That’s where I am right now. I’m pursuing dreams and trying not to think too hard about how terrifying it all is or what a badass I’m going to have to become to make said dreams happen.

It’s also an incredible relief when I let myself off the hook for not always having courage. Courage, much like that tricky little devil honesty, isn’t something that comes second nature to me. It takes me a minute to get there and with some dreams, I don’t know if I’ll ever get there. But the point is to keep dreaming and keep praying for courage. And here’s to you if everyday you try to do the same.

8

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Here’s something crazy: 8 years ago today, I stopped drinking and doing drugs. Even crazier? I haven’t started again. As in 2920 days in a row without a day drinking, night drinking, late afternoon drinking– any kind of drinking at all. Oh and no drugs either which is really something because I like drugs a lot. Designer drugs, designer imposter drugs, over the counter, under the counter–whatever. I’m like Oprah with bread but with drugs–I LOVE DRUGS! But for some weird reason I haven’t done any, not even a shady Benadryl to help me sleep, in a 8 whole years. Like I said, fucking crazy.

A few days ago, my husband said, “That’s right- you have a birthday coming up! How has year seven been?” To which I replied, “Uhh. Ehh. Um. Interesting. Hard. But good. But like I wouldn’t want to do it again.” This is a fairly accurate response. As I’ve lamented on these very pages over the last nearly 7 months (thank you for reading them, by the way!), I feel like I’ve been in an intense game of emotional blackjack for the last year. Each day brought on new challenges and new emotions who showed up to the party like some crazy ass long-lost relative. It got to the point by September where I found myself thinking, “Oh. Even more emotions? Fabulous.” There have been long periods of sadness and feeling uncomfortable as well as extreme moments of joy where I stop and look at my life and can’t believe how good it is. Suffice to say, I’ve identified a lot with the character Maeve on Westworld  , the robot who wakes up in chaos and struggles to deal with reality and having emotions. So that’s how year seven has been—sad, chaotic, bizarre and beautiful. Yet if I’m gonna get really real here, there’s something else that turning 8 helps a lot with: fear.

Back in February, I came clean with my sponsor. After a few weeks of acting cagey and distant, I let it out. I was in a lot of fear about being seven years sober. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy of course. I mean anytime sober for a person like me is amazing. But I couldn’t help it I was scared shitless. A few months before I turned 7, someone in my extended sober family with 7 years relapsed and then killed themselves. A few more months before that I had received word that somebody with days more sober than me from my old home group had relapsed and had vanished. Couple this with even more friends who had turned seven, relapsed and never came back. I was really freaked out that my fate in year seven would be exactly the same. My sponsor, this sweet man who helps me for free and listens to my bucket of crazy on the regular, told me it that this was a healthy fear.  Like not wanting to die or relapse are pretty legit things for sober people to be afraid of. He then asked me what I was going to do about it. Sigh. You mean I have to do something about it too? I couldn’t just wallow in fear and hope for the best? Ugh.

So I did exactly what I did back in 2009, I did the 12 Steps and am still currently in the work. I won’t ramble about them here because it’s a well tread topic that I don’t have anything new to add to. But they’ve saved my life and I’m a happier, more honest less shitty person to be around because of them. The point was, this fear, this urgency to not feel awful turned out to be a miracle. I think wanting to not stay stuck in destructive states of mind and wanting to keep changing/growing instead means progress is still happening, even 8 years later. I hear over and over again that recovery is something you don’t graduate from. I guess I believe it but I’d be lying if I said that I’m not holding out to meet that person who graduated from recovery and now can drink like a normal individual. They haven’t showed up yet but when they do, I’ve got some questions! Anyway, I think this unconformability has turned into an asset. It’s put a fire in me to try to face life head on and to stay open for personal growth. Note that I use the phrases “try” and  “stay open” because  wanting to get better is still not automatic.

I marvel at people who have had everything just click into place once they’ve gotten sober and poof! All of their old crappy behaviors just vanish. This has never been my experience. Each tidbit of emotional and spiritual growth I’ve had has taken for fucking ever and many of life’s lessons are ones I need to repeat about 60 times before they sink it. Not only is this poetic and hilarious karma for an instant gratification junkie like myself, but it is also okay.  When I first got sober the people who helped me the most were the ones who shared about life being hard and not feeling great all of the tine but who miraculously stayed sober anyway. I feel like I’m one of those people today: somebody who’s life is real and raw and not perfect but also somebody who stays sober, no matter what.

So here I am walking into year 8 with less fear, more hope and a shit-ton of gratitude for a life that I could have never dreamed possible. Like I said, crazy.