Organizing the Demons

I had quite the demon collection back in the day. Terrbile, horrifying nasty little creatures that I carried around and kept hidden. The fear these demons produced was a warped,long playing record. On one side was the obvious fear of these little buggers getting out and ruining my life even more than they already had. On the other, the fear was more confounding. I was afraid to loose these demons. I knew that once they were gone, I would be left without any horrible nasty creatures to blame my misfortune on and it scared me to death.

Now dear readers, we can see that I was screwed either way and the best thing would have been to suck it up and face the bastards head on. Easier said than done. Telling an alcoholic like me to “face your problems” is like telling a hoarder, “you should really tidy up in here.” That is to say, the task seemed daunting, even impossible. For years I drank and used drugs and fooled myself into thinking I  didn’t deserve more and then worked double time to convince the world at large that I was fine and the life I was living was more fabulous than yours. Clearly, the warlord of my demons is a beast called Delusion. The powerful and evil scumsucker ruled me for decades. Delusional is commonly described as”maintaining fixed false beliefs even when confronted with facts. ” Sounds like me for sure. And Delusion kept me from dealing with my other demons for years.

But the thing about demons, at least mine, is that you can only keep them contained and in pretty little rows for so long and once they’ve escaped, look out. As my demons became totally out of control and unavoidable three years ago, my life collapsed. Or that’s what I thought at the time. In reality, as these demons were being slayed one by one my life was being rebuilt. But in order for this to happen, I first  had to say to my demons, “No more. You don’t scare me. I can change.”

These nasty little devils have been on my mind recently. I’ve heard grumblings of old demons wanting to rear their heads and wreak havoc.  Lately, I’ve been pulled into selfish directions and I know that it’s my old stuff at work. Thankfully, I have a set of tools and skills to use to shut them up. Praying helps. Helping other people really helps. And telling the truth about where I am and what I’m feeling gets me closer to silencing Delusion and his friends for good.

Which Came First- The Drunk Chicken or the Gay Egg?

I’ve heard it hinted at in meetings and have seen people struggle with being both gay and an addict or alcoholic. And we’ve even talked about here before a little.  But I have often wondered if the two have anything to do with one another. Am I an addict in response to my gayness or was I an alcoholic long before I realized I was gay or vice versa?

I am positive that the exact order of these traits is not really important but still I can’ t  help wondering if one made me more predisposed to the other. Now, I am certain that I have a century of alcoholism in my family tree. Does having an alcoholism in my family make me an alcoholic automatically? No but it certainly made it easier to become one. By the way, I’m a freelance writer, playwright and publicist so take my sociological and psychological babblings for a grain of salt. But studies from non-goofballs have linked genetics and alcoholism so let’s just assume I was at the very least at risk for becoming alcoholic before I was born.Now being gay boils down to genetics too, I believe anyway. I feel like I didn’t choose either one and maybe that’s the answer to my question right there.

Right before I had one year of sobriety, I was with my parents in Arizona. My mom asked me if there was anything they could have done as parents that would have made my life easier. It was a legitimate, albite loaded, question considering the year I had- getting sober and finding out I was HIV positive. I had to think about it and had to think about her feelings. Were there times I felt unloved when I was a kid? Sure. Were there situations I wish never happened in my childhood? You bet. But would I change any of that? And my answer to her was “No.” I honestly feel like being an alcoholic and contracting HIV and surviving abusive relationships and facing my demons were just what I had to do. No it hasn’t been a non-stop hilarious party and big chunks of my life could even accurately be described as shitty. But I have to believe it has all been for something. Maybe I’m here to help other gay drunk HIV positive people have a laugh. Maybe I’m here to keep learning and facing demons. I don’t know.

I do know that we all have to work with the “gifts” we have, regardless of what order we got them in. And if I’m really lucky I’ll have a lot of chances to become the best possible gay, HIV positive, recovering alcoholic that I can be.

 

Oh Cookie, Where Art Thou?

After 8 days, 3 bunches of kale, 4 different homemade vegan soups, 1 bag with Swiss Chard in every color of the rainbow and 7 bananas, it happened. I made sweet passionate love with a piece of chocolate mousse cake last night. And I loved it.

So yes that giant thud you heard last night was me falling off the Sugar-Free Wagon. But don’t worry that one mighty delicious slice of decadence didn’t send me into a tailspin. I didn’t wake up at 3am and wait for the donut shop to open nor did I take multiple breaks to shove peanut M&Ms in my mouth. Mainly because there isn’t a donut shop near my house and I currently don’t have any M&Ms. Kidding. No, the cake in question was a sweet reward for braving the snow and freezing cold to run a crazy errand for the husband. The crazy thing is that since I haven’t had sugar in over a week, it tasted special like something to savor, eat slowly and enjoy. That’s exactly what I did.

As I’ve mentioned, my ride on the Sugar Free Express is motivated by feeling better and wanting shed a little weight. I have food addicts in my family and I know how hard that addiction is. For me, my occasional tendency to over do it with food is just part of my obsessive, addictive, alcoholic nature. So it behooves me to keep my relationship in check. I’m a foodie, avid cook, restaurant follower and food blog reader but I know to enjoy those things I need balance too. And oddly enough this is how I know I’m an alcoholic. I could never have one drink without it unleashing a shit storm of more, more and more.”Balance”, “every now and then” or “a healthy relationship” are words I could never apply to my drinking. Normalcy with alcohol was a thing I was able never to achieve and I’m so glad I don’t have delusions otherwise.

Today, healthy me was back on track. I had fruit for breakfast. I cooked a lentil soup. I had a spinach salad with homemade dressing and walnuts. Did I joke about eating a plate of cookies for dinner? Sure. But that was the end of it. And that’s fabulous. A day not spent chasing cookies or drugs or alcohol or sex or shopping is certainly a day well spent.

That Cat Blog

It’s either a desperate descent into internet popularity whoredom or a sign that I might actually be running out things to blog about (already) but I can’t help myself. I need to write about my cat. Don’t judge me.

maeby

Today I snuck away from Ye Olde Home Office and went to a meeting. A guy shared about his dog who died over the weekend and the fact that he didn’t drink over it. This heartfelt and devastating share opened the flood gates for others to talk about their loss and the lives with animals.I can’t speak for other alcoholics or addicts ( and the minute I do , please call me on my shit) but I am so awkward around people and worried about saying the right thing that being with animals is a relief. They don’t care about what I’m wearing or what I do for a living or who I know. They want food, some petting and they want to sleep which oddly enough sounds like a lot of alcoholics I know too. Anyway, we could all identify and I was thinking about how sad I’d be if I lost that little lady  in the photo with the toy lobster.

Maeby (after Maeby Bluth on Arrested Developement) came to us through my husband’s old roommate. The condensed version is she couldn’t take her  to her boyfriend’s condo where she was moving and we had hung out with the cat a lot so we said, “Sure.” Fact is we had already fallen in love with her and her ridiculous ways. Without sounding like insane cat person (too late), she’s just the quirkiest and cutest cat on the planet. She meows day and night like she’s talking, she sleeps on the refrigerator and she knows how to play fetch (thanks to hours of practice at Ye Olde Home Office). Hilarious and adorable. Mainly, she’s become a companion as I work and write from home. But loving her and having her in our home is also a living amends to the dog and cat I had to give up when I  first got sober. I heartbreakingly had to leave two furry faces behind when I embarked on my journey to get better. At that stage I couldn’t even take care of myself so my ex and another friend stepped in. I missed them but knew animals would stay constant in my life even if I didn’t have any. And boy did they. In my first year and a half of sobriety, I turned into the AA pet sitter to the stars. In 9 months I looked after 4 dogs, 3 cats, and 2 chickens. And then I moved to Colorado to be with my future husband and Maeby snuck into my life.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is everything comes back and love comes from all kinds of places. Even in the moments when I thought I was all alone, I was surrounded by animals. Or family members who cheered and prayed for me from distant sidelines. Or program friends who brought me groceries when I was broke. And it’s amazing that a  blog about a little cat who meows too much can make me realize how lucky I am.

Sweetox: Saying Sayonara to Sugar..for now

Like a typical junkie, I tend to overdue everything. Over the last month, I chomped down  cookies, cupcakes, brownies, pie and candy like I was Pac-man nibbling my way around a maze filled with desserts. And as with my other vices, sugar makes me feel good but it doesn’t last forever and soon I’m hungover, lathargic and feeling worthless. So The Mister and I decided after the holidays, we’d take a sugar sabatacle.

After getting sober from drugs and alcohol, I know that kicking a habit takes willingness and honesty. I had to ask myself, am I honestly willing to say goodbye to sugar and all it’s lovely bi-products and to try to stay sugar-free one day at a time? My answer was uh, for now. Having relapsed and not following through on everything from cocaine to The Artist’s Way, I’m realistic about ending my romance with sugar. I know that I’m going to want gelato or a brownie at some point and I am not going to kick the crap out of myself for it.   Besides, a bag of Oreos never made me take off my clothes in random places.  I’m mainly looking to balance my relationship with sugar and feel better in the process.  I take it moment by moment and so far it’s been good. The husband and I are eating more veggies, not going out to eat and have exorcised the sugar demons from our apartment.  There’s lots of kale, legumes and beets in this house which means all kinds of crazy things are happening with my body so that’s exciting. Plus, without sugar I’m having crazy, vivid dreams and sleeping more soundly.  We’ve also decided we’re trying it for a month and seeing how we feel. He, as always, is  wonderfully supportive and will indulge me when I whine about wanting cake and I do the same for him.

Mainly, my experience in recovery has taught me that with a spiritual program and willingness all things are possible. So the sweetness in my life, both figurative and the kind that comes from the kind people at Reese’s,  are gifts to enjoy and it’s up to me to do so with both gratitude and boundaries.

Like me? Like me!

In addition to being a writer, I also have clients for whom I run social media campaigns. Much of our time is spent figuring out how to get their pages “Liked” on Facebook. This strikes me as amusing since much of my own life has been spent strategizing about how to get more people to like me. This is what, I guess, makes me so perfect for the  job.

I wish I did get paid spending countless hours trying to get what-his-face and that-one-girl trying to be my best friends. No, I got paid in “experience” and “life lessons” another type of currency that would be valuable if I could exchange it for actual cash. But I digress. The thing is I was usually successful at taking relationship hostages, brainwashing them into being my friend and then inevitably stabbing them square in the back later. No matter how much people liked me or how many friends I had, it was never enough and I wasn’t ever really happy. I collected friends for awhile too. People who were more fucked up then I was or people who had something I wanted or people who thought I was hilarious were the most prized of the collection. People who told me the truth and people who held me accountable were decidedly less popular.

Naturally, as I’ve pulled my head out of my ass I don’t worry too much if people like me.  I mean, I don’t got out of my way to be a turd but I’m not wrapped up in the obsession of being popular and well liked. I have a handful of people I love and trust who tell me the truth. Today the only time I actively try to get “Liked” is for my clients and that is just fine by me. Besides, they pay me for that kind of thing. I know. Ridiculous.

Hey speaking of liking stuff, I’m on Twitter and Facebook if you do that sort of thing. If not, don’t worry. I’ll still like you.

Expert Advice Wanted- Especially My Own.

I don’t believe in experts. In fact, I sort of detest them.  Now people who are knowledgeable in things I have no idea about, I can respect. But self-appointed chuckleheads who know more about everything than you do make me nuts. As usual, it’s because my own know-it-all  tendencies drive me bananas. If you give me just a glimmer that you need me to tell you what to listen to or how to dress or what to think, I’ll take it and run with it like some sort of soul-sucking makeover show from Hell. There’s an extremely controlling part of me that wants to pull the puppet strings behind everything and everyone and God help us if it all doesn’t go my way. So it’s a good practice for me when, like today, someone actually asks for my advice.

More than experts, I hate unsolicited advice. So it’s a unique sort of hell that I’ve found myself smack dab in the middle of the never-ending fountain of unwanted advice coming from the mouths of all-knowing experts: a 12 step program. Everyone in meetings has some idea how you should stay sober, how long everyone’s share is supposed to be, where the chairs should be placed but my ideas about those things are just naturally better. I kid and over time I’ve learned how to take advice, how to listen to other’s valuable experience and how/when to simply nod, smile and scream-pray in my mind for the grace to listen to some whackadoodle’s opinion about how I should look for a job. Seriously, people in the rooms have saved my life so I try to be open for suggestions.

But back to today’s stint as Dear Abby. So a friend from the program asked me for advice about how to deal with a soul-sucking person who demanded too much of her attention. How she thought I know anything about that topic, I have noooo idea but I “dug deep” and drew upon my own experiences as soul-sucker who demands too much attention. We had a great chat, a few laughs and I felt inspired when we left. I have no idea if I helped her but I felt better just spending time with someone who needed somebody to talk to. I was able to tell her stand up for herself and not to worry about it too much because this crazy person probably thrives on drama and conflict (again  I have no idea about what that’s like whatsoever) so by not engaging the problem would take care of itself. What was remarkable about this whole exchange was I cared about what she was growing through and it wasn’t just me spouting off controlling advice that she didn’t ask for. I realize non-soul-suckers without addiction and alcoholism are probably capable of giving heartfelt heeded advice all the time. What can I say? I’m just special.

So let’s hear from you what the best advice you’ve gotten in recovery or in life? I’ve already shared one here and now it’s your turn!

This Just In! Being Sober is Sexy!

Omg! Demi Lovato spills the beans about getting sober in the new issue of Seventeen magazine!

And if you’re like me, that is to say way over the age of 15 and barely under the age of 40, you have no idea who that is. For those of you who grew up in the 80s, from what I gather she’s like this generation’s version of Debbie Gibson or Tiffany except she’s from  a Disney channel show and she punched one of her backup dancers right before she was carted off to rehab. The lovely Lady Lovato gives all of the details of hitting rock bottom, her up and down friendship with Miley Cyrus and talks about the benefits of being sober. “I’m not gonna lie. I was self-medicating. I was doing things like drinking and using [drugs], like a lot of teens do to numb their pain,” she tells the magazine. After what she calls an intervention from her parents and a year in recovery, Lovato says “”I think sober is sexy. It’s cool. I think it’s way cooler to be above the influence than under the influence.”
Even though I’m a zillion years older and a few million dollars poorer than her, I have to say I identify with her story. Sure it all sounds a little After School Special-ish but at least she’s honest about having a problem and getting help. I was 19 when I first tried to stop and I lasted a few months and started again. I was self-medicating to avoid dealing with who I was.  Would hearing someone like Lovato’s experience with recovery helped me back in the day? It’s impossible to say. Probably not since I was more of a Cyndi Lauper/Siouxsie Sioux fan than a Tiffany fan but it may have made an impact. Either way it takes guts for this chick to honestly talk about it and who knows someone of her generation might really get something out of it.

As far as the sexy thing goes, I totally agree. I mean have you seen me or the people who read this blog? We’re some sexy beasts for sure!

Cry Now

I’m a crier, I’ll admit it. When my husband and I were first dating and he came to visit me in Los Angeles, I took him to see Waiting for Superman. I spent the last ten minutes of that film softly crying. Poor guy probably thought he was dating a person who forgot to take their meds. As he got to know me, he  discovered I’m just a crier. That’s who I am. And thank God.

Two years ago, I was spending a lot of time going across town on a bus to get to school. I would listen to my iPod and cry the entire 60 minutes it took to get from downtown to Santa Monica. I was in school five days a week and there wasn’t a day during that first semester that I didn’t cry. My relationship had ended but we were stuck living together at a friend’s cramped apartment and I was trying to stay sober. Sometimes, the tears spilled off of the bus. One day, I called my mom from campus. Naturally, I cried about my life and about how hard it all seemed. She listened and cried too. She got it. My mom lived through an alcoholic marriage and two alcoholic children. But she encouraged me and cheered me on during that phone call. It was raining that day and I felt like I better get off the phone and head inside. We said goodbye and I started to descend the steps I was standing on. Upset and disoriented, I wasn’t watching myself and I slipped and fell on the slick steps. I bounced and landed on the pavement. A trio of hipper-than-hip black girls who looked like they should be in a magazine and not at a community college rushed over to my crumpled state. “Are you okay?” and “Oh my gawd! Did you hurt yourself” is what they cried out, generally concerned given the dramatic nature of my fall to Earth. And I meekly mumbled something like “Yeah. Thanks.” I pulled myself up and ran inside the library for more crying.   That day, I remember wondering if I was ever going to stop crying or if sobriety meant I was doomed to a life of tears and falling down in front of cool people.

The whole thing seems comical now and embarrassingly perfect for that time frame of my life. And today crying is a release and shows that I’m alive and able to be emotionally moved by things. Like when saw Hugo on Christmas day, my husband and sister both saw me crying and sort of nodded to one another. They know I’m crier. That’s just part of who I am.

I Want It That Way

Here’s a fun thing to try: punch the word “sober” into Google news and see whatcha come up with. Well, maybe it’s not that fun but I’m easily entertained. Anyway upon doing this exercise yesterday, I read the following amazing headline: BACKSTREET BOY A.J. MCLEAN PROUD HE MARRIED WHILE SOBER. Normal, non-drunken hot messes must be like “Well, duh” when they read such a headline.

But for those of us in recovery or trying to get sober, getting through your own wedding without being bombed seems like something very remarkable indeed. Personally, there wasn’t an event-major or otherwise- that I didn’t  try being loaded for. Concerts? Check. Going to the laundromat? Check. Work? Check. Easter brunch? Check. Sunday brunch? Check. Disneyland? Check. Cher concert, thrift store shopping, movies? Check, check and ch-ch-check. But for an alcoholic like myself the “big” events were really carte blanche for getting drunk. My brain would rationalize mass consumption of alcohol with a dialogue like this “Well, weddings/funerals/job promotions are reasons to celebrate and they’re kind of stressful. So I might as well have a few drinks. Isn’t that what everyone does to celebrate their wedding/funeral/job promotion?”  Oh but the thing about me is that I don’t know how to celebrate with alcohol. I never did. I know how to drink alcoholically until I throw up, pass out, cuss you out, score drugs, or wind up doing something stupid/dangerous/crazy.

As I’ve talked about before, it’s nice to have milestones and to be able to actually remember them. Like AJ, I recently got married. I too was awake and present for every special and beautiful moment. I remember looking into my husband’s eyes while the sun was shining in Central Park and thinking “Wow. I’m so lucky and I’m so glad I’m sober for all of this.” Unlike AJ, I didn’t have Nick Carter at my reception. But either way, if you’re a boy band member or a freelance writer or a Burger King employee and you’re sober than everyday is a special occasion indeed.