My Story of Addiction + the Road to Recovery
When I was In college at UC Santa Cruz, a typical Friday night looked something like this:
But by the time I got into recovery - My life looked something more like this:
and the best part - A general sense of impending-doom.
Each day felt like a year. Every breath felt tortured. Every moment felt like it was never going to end. For the longest time I endured thoughts that said, "You're never going to be happy", "You suck", or my favorite "You're never going to do anything useful with your life." But the most deadly thought I had at the time was, "I'm not an alcoholic." What I know now, that I didn't know then is that:
DENIAL IS A POWERFUL DRUG ALL ON ITS OWN.
I always knew that I had something "different" about me. But deep denial wrapped it's devilish arms around me for many years - especially after I graduated college in 2011. I somehow had made it through and graduated, (despite being very literally hungover the day of my graduation). But I was left looking at my peers and constantly feeling a sense of inadequacy - and what I now know as terrible case of comparisontis. I kept watching my photography/art peers traveling the world, moving to Los Angeles and New York to follow their dreams of becoming successful professional photographers - and there I was - still living in a beach party-town, living on my parents dime, spending all their hard-earned money of booze and drugs.
THE MADDENING CYCLE OF ADDICTION.
For 4 more years I would continue to repeat the same tortuous cycle. A cycle that goes something like this:
1. Get loaded
2. Fuck shit up (friendships, relationships, strangers, cars, health, mental clarity)
3. Wake up the next morning in deep, blood curdling regret.
4. Spend the next 3 days ridiculously hungover, in deep anxiety and depression - wondering why I can't seem to get my life together.
5. Profess to my room mates to, "never drink again"
6. Feel a little better on the 4th day
7. Rinse and repeat.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY
At some point I decided to do a yoga teacher training. I thought to myself that yoga alone could save me. I'd achieve some spiritual guru-ness and be healed! Hah! Wow, I was so wrong. However, I will say that stepping into the yoga community began to open my mind to a better way of life, I began to realize that there may truly be - an easier softer way...
Through my yoga classes and teacher training I began to slowly take better care of myself, and settle into the idea that perhaps mindful movement was a better solution to my problems (not that I was an alcoholic and needed to find recovery)....
I had grown up as a dancer, and all through high school I stayed clean and sober and dedicated to my dance practice - it was my passion and my dream, after all. So I decided that the answer to my problems was to take a burlesque dance class. And this is where the story gets interesting as I begin to realize that...
GOD (UNIVERSE) SHOT #1
A phrase we repeat often in the recovery community is, "We begin to realize that God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves" (you can insert "higher power", "universe", "unicorns" or whatever you believe as your "God") - and I can look back now and say that this began to happen for me when I met Jennifer.
Jennifer was a petite-badass, heavily-tattooed, awesome-sauce, kind, generous, talented, gorgeous burlesque teacher - who I found out had 13 years clean and sober. Jennifer was happy, and one hellavu dancer - so at this point it started to click with me that maaaybe, just maybe, there was something to this whole "recovery" mumbo-jumbo.
Despite all that - I keep drinking.
GOD (UNIVERSE) SHOT #2
As I continue on my spiritual journey, I fall into into a Sunday night young people's meditation meeting.
Kyle, the teacher who generously creates and shares the meditation/meeting is tattooed, joyful, and has an energy that emanates happy-as-fuck. Kyle is sober. AND an addiction recovery counselor. HMMMMM.
I speak to him after a meeting about what I'm going through. He says to me, "Well, if you can not drink for a year then maybe you're not an alcoholic."
I want what he has. So I respond, "Awesome! I can go a year, no biggie."
I proceed to get drunk that night - I keep drinking.
GOD (UNIVERSE) SHOT #3
I'm living in San Diego. I've done what we AA'er's like to call a "geographic". My mom used to say to me, "honey, wherever you go, there YOU are." But again, I'm an alcoholic, and I run from city to city, tearing shit down, fucking shit up, and running away from myself.
So not only am I in a new city all by my 5'2-self, trying to "create a new life and a new me!" but I've decided the best spot for me to land is Pacific Beach. (For those of you who don't know about Pacific Beach, it's an even bigger party city than Santa Cruz).
Here I am - an alcoholic in denial living in party-town-USA.
For me - Pacific Beach in 2013 is full of bars, bros, and bad decisions.
I even pseudo-date a pilot who tells me he thinks I'm an alcoholic. YEAH- A PILOT TELLING ME I'M AN ALCOHOLIC. At this point I start to think: Shit, I got problems..
One night I go out, get hammered, and my friend leaves me. (I don't blame her, because I'm a hot-ass-mess).
So here I am - in a new, big, scary (and sketchy, might I add) town - and I'm all alone. No Santa Cruz friends to have my back, or give me a ride home from the bar....
I woke up in my bed the next morning wondering how I got there.
I turn to check my phone and see a barrage of text messages from a man who apparently gave me a ride home. He proceeds to tell me that he gave me a ride because I had stumbled down the street (a busy ass street, mind-you), wasted, and tried to get into the bar where his buddy was the bouncer. In his story, he's the hero who get's me a ride home.
Until this day I'm not sure what happened in the 4 hours I blacked out in public in a busy-bar-town. I could have been taken advantage of, or raped. I could have been killed.
I decide that enough is enough, and I move back home.
BUT STILL - I keep drinking.
an easier, softer way...
When I moved home I was broken. Broken enough to finally take some action and do what a few awesome people had been suggesting to me for years.
Jennifer had recommended it.
Kyle had recommended it.
My therapist had recommended it.
So I decide that I'll give it a shot - and I've been in recovery ever since. 5/27/15 to be exact. It hasn't always been easy. I had to concede to MY innermost self that I had a problem - that I truly am an alcoholic. No one can tell you what to do. No one can make you go to a meeting (whether it be AA, NA, CA, or any other "A" or program of recovery). You have to be WILLING to be willing to be willing to do some work to have a better way of life.
A new addiction
Coffee. Lots of it. Friendship. Fellowship. Step work. Being of service. Essential oils, meditation, and lots and lots of yoga. Oh and zombie movies.