Owning the Label: Why I identify as an alcoholic

Last night, I stumbled on an article by a sober blogger who doesn’t believe in the term “alcoholic”. Hmm. Tell me more. I kept reading.  Turns out, they think the term keeps people stuck in a story, that most alcoholics are actually just heavy drinkers and that the term creates fear. That was the gist of the piece. I won’t link it here because the author has enough publicity without my help but if you Google it, it’s easy to find. It’s an interesting argument and I could see where they were coming from. Maybe the term does get people stuck in a behavior. Maybe the term is out of date. Maybe calling yourself an addict or alcoholic would be a self-fulfilling prophecy for relapse. I thought about all of this as I tried to fall asleep. It made me wonder: I’ve been sober for nearly 7 years and after all this time, am I still an alcoholic?

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The resounding answer I came up with at the crack of dawn this morning was, “Fuck. Yes.” No, I don’t want to drink anymore. And no, I don’t arbitrarily go up to people and introduce myself as an alcoholic. “Hey! Nice to meet you. I’m an alcoholic!” Nor do I list “alcoholic” on my resume or social media profiles. But in a meeting? I’m Sean and I’m an alcoholic. And if a friend or a friend of a friend asks about my drinking, I’ll tell them I’m an alcoholic. Why? Mainly because at this stage of my sobriety, it isn’t about me anymore. It’s about helping other people. Look, we’re in seriously fucked up times when it comes to addicts and alcoholics. People are dying at alarming rates all over the US. The recent numbers are jaw-dropping. Alcohol related deaths topped out around 88,000 last year and it looks like it’ll be even higher for 2015. We’re at an epidemic state with drugs and alcohol so arguing the semantics of terms (like I’m sort of doing here) is fucking ridiculous. As is criticizing recovery programs. We’re officially at a “whatever keeps people alive and sober is a GOOD thing” state of emergency. We can’t afford the luxury of denying people help based on what they call themselves or what they believe. We have to do whatever we can. So If somebody somewhere knows that I’m an alcoholic and that helps them get help, then terrific.

The other thing is identifying as an alcoholic does is it keeps me grounded. When those words come out of my mouth, it’s like an exhale. Each time I say it, I’m living in the truth. As an alcoholic, I lie to myself. Like a lot. And like all of the time. So saying, “My name is Sean and I’m an alcoholic” helps me combat my lifelong penchant for living in denial and delusion. Likewise owning that I’m gay, HIV positive, the child of an alcoholic and a person who suffers from depression. These are all parts of who I am and I gotta say I’m proud of it. All of it. I’ve worked hard on overcoming a lot of shit (and still have even more stuff to work on) so hell yeah I own being a drunk and all of the other labels attached to me.

Lastly, introducing myself as alcoholic reminds that I still need help too. That I don’t have this shit figured out. That I’m not some expert in sobriety who can fix the drinking problems of others (thank fucking God). Basically, it opens the door for some sort of humility to creep in. Those words tell me I’m not better than or more sober or more amazing than any other alcoholic or addict and I need that. So yeah, I’m Sean and I’m an alcoholic.

But tell what you think. Do you identify as alcoholic? Did you ever? Why or why not? There’s no wrong answers here, kids and I’m fascinated by this discussion. Let me have it in the comments section!

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baby, it’s crazy inside

According to my phone, it’s a balmy 16 degrees outside but it feels like 10 degrees which actually feels like, “Someone please stab me with an icicle because it’s so !@#$ing cold!” (By the way, how does my phone know what it feels like? Don’t you tell me how to feel, iPhone!) I am an absolute wimp when it comes to this weather. I know, I know. It’s weather. I mean talk about the ultimate in accepting the things you cannot change. Me bitching about the temperature is proof I sometimes just like to have something to complain about. Ugh. Complaining. A character defect I’m working on.

Anyway, this weather is actually a blessing though. After 15 years of living in the “Forever 85” temperature of Los Angeles, a little freezing my face off is good. It builds character. Because, you know, that’s what I need. More character. Also, acknowledging seasons is healthy for a sober person like my bad self because it confirms I’m alive and participating in my existence. In LA while drinking and living in “kinda hot” to “holy-shit-I’m-melting” hot, every day was the same. Same tequila. Same cocaine. Same blackouts. Same fights. Same hangovers. Rinse and repeat. It was a gayer and more depressing version of Groundhog Day. My life was in reruns, enjoyable maybe the first 10 times but boring, tiresome and toxic after that. Like old episodes of Full House.

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Today, I get to have new experiences and feel my whole life. But feeling all of my life today means feeling all of it. Crappy weather, depressing world events, grief, sadness, that-douche-with-bad-hair-running-for-President-whose-name-I-will-not-mutter-on-these-pages. I get to feel those things. But I also get to feel happiness too. After a recent bout of depression and general itchiness brought upon by my upcoming birthday, I was directed by my sponsor to pray and meditate more. If I’m honest, this task always sounds exhausting. Like I have to bust out a singing bowl, light 40 candles and sit for in perfect stillness for 2 hours. I mean isn’t there some app that can meditate for me so while I eat cookies and peruse Twitter?

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Still, I took the advice and started praying and meditating everyday. (Look, I know the internet gets it’s panties in a bunch when you talk about spirituality but I sort of don’t care. I’m not on a mission to convert anyone and I myself have no religious affiliation. Nevertheless, if me talking about prayer bugs you, feel free to leave. Or go read a post inspired by Madonna. These are your choices.) This time around, I eased myself into this sit down with God thing. For the last several days, I’ve set the timer on my phone for ten minutes. In that time, I pray, I read something alcoholism related not Jack Kerouac but maybe like The Big Book and I sit in silence and meditate. Pretty easy. Okay. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes I walk away and feel refreshed and spiritually in tune. But sometimes it sort of sucks. Like I can’t get my brain to shut the hell up and I squirm around and wait for the mystical chimes on my phone to go off so I go drink coffee instead. And this okay too. I used to beat myself up when this happened in early sobriety. Like I was doing this meditation thing wrong and someone would find out and kick me out of recovery. What I’ve learned talking to other crazy people people in recovery that this normal.  It’s not always going to be some scene from a Shirley MacLaine book. And a lot of time it is going to be a bit of slog. The point is I need to keep going regardless of how sucky the last time I prayed/meditated was.

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So far, I’ve felt results! And felt them pretty much right away. This is fantastic for my alcoholic self. I like fast results and I’d like them right now, thank you very much. The rattling I was feeling in my brain. The uncomfortable batshit craziness that screwed with my psyche. The overall I’m-gonna-cut-a-ho sensation I took with throughout the day? All gone. My crazy can be kept at bay if I do a few simple things. Prayer and meditation are part of that. Because of this tiny practice I feel actually happy and more relaxed. Not that stuff hasn’t come up because, trust me, it has but this practice helps me weather those things too. The moment I stop treating prayer and meditation like this impossible task, it gets easier. Just 10 minutes a day? I can do that. Twitter will still be there.

 

If you need me, call me

Note to self: always bring a choir and wear sequins. Always.

“Just pick up the phone. Just reach out.  Just call.” These are simple directions but when I’m a shit storm of self-pity and feeling like I’m the worst person on the planet, picking up the damn phone is impossible. Besides who’d wanna listen to my crap? No. I’ll just sit here in the corner and silently bleed to death. Don’t mind me.

This is what my brain tells me when I’m in pain. Over the years, I’ve gotten better about calling or texting or sending an SOS that says, “Hey I’m really out of my effing mind! Please help!” But as we’ve discussed a zillion times, my pain threshold is pretty high so it usually takes me being horribly miserable to finally reach out. Sponsors, siblings, my husband, friends of mine- all of them get frustrated at how long I can feel miserable and not say anything. Lately, however, I’ve seen how vital reaching out can be.

Last month, I was walking back from the bank and I thought,”I could have a margarita.” This thought morphed into, “I DESERVE a margarita! I mean it’s the middle of the day, who would know? Just one wouldn’t kill me. It sounds fun!” Thankfully, I quickly remembered that one margarita has never existed for me. It’s usually 6 more,  followed by blow,  followed by several beers and wanting to die. Yeah. That sounds really fun. Well, I knew that I’d have to tell on myself and tell somebody I was having these thoughts. Sitting alone with wanting a margarita, regardless of how passing the idea was, is something that I as an alcoholic can’t get away with. The urge to drink after almost 7 years? I gotta be honest– it scared the crap out of me. It wasn’t something I should keep to myself and yet I did! For a few days! Finally, I reached out to my sponsor who informed me that, “Congratulations! You’re still a drunk.” Getting the thought out of  my head and in front of another sober person took the terror out of the moment. Plus, we figured out I hadn’t had lunch and disastrous ideas always happen when I’m hungry. Now, I’m not saying I would have drunk had I not reached out but how long could I keep secrets or lie about my program until drinking or using sounded like a good idea? Not very long, as proven by past personal field research. Opening my mouth and picking up the million pound phone isn’t easy or even something I like to do. But I gotta do it if I want to stay sober.

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Telling the world, “I’m fine. Actually, I’m great!’ just because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone with my pain is utter garbage. Not to mention the fact, it’s some of my oldest and most toxic behavior. Around this time of year in 2008, I’d talk to my family and sell them a load of how happy I was when all the while I was on the verge of eviction and alcoholic collapse. It was all “Merry Christmas!” when it should have been “Please help me.” Needless to say, the people in my life were surprised when I admitted right after New Years that I was fucked and needed help. This practice of asking for help and picking up the phone is just that. And I frequently fail at it. But eventually, I come around and I call someone. This is certainly progress for person who really enjoys bleeding in the corner.

If you hang out in the rooms of recovery, we see how terrible sitting on your pain can be. Over the last few years, I’ve witnessed a lot of lovely folks who don’t share in meetings or talk to people afterwards or even make their presence known simply disappear. Or relapse. Or die. It fucking sucks, mainly because it happens a lot. This isn’t a theory or something sober people say to scare each other. I’ve personally seen friends and people I love sit in meetings and smile, all the while they’re hurting inside. It’s happened a couple of times lately in my circle and it’s horrible. Horrible because seeing people you care about in pain sucks. Mainly, it’s horrible because it’s so unnecessary.

However, as they say, the phone works both ways. If I see someone in pain, I can get off my ass and call them too. Not like I’m so magically sober that I can keep other people sober. Thank God I don’t believe that. But reaching out–calling a new person or someone struggling- can’t hurt either. And it might just save my life too.

 

 

 

Weird but okay

I guess I should warn you, I have no premeditated game plan sitting down and writing this morning so if shit gets weird, I apologize. Or maybe I don’t. Maybe you like it weird. In which case, you’re welcome, you big weirdo. Sometimes I feel like I just need to write without some clever witty destination in mind and I guess this Tuesday morning is one of those times. Currently, I have nothing to bitch about and for normal non-addicts, this is a good thing. But for weirdos like me(yeah, I’m one too) it makes me kinda itchy. I know it sounds insane. My life is fantastic. I’m on the other end of scary health trauma. My family is good. I mean nuts but good nuts. Like cashews not like I don’t know, Brazil nuts. I’m employed. I’m feeling creatively inspired. So yeah the fountain of things to whine about has run dry. I should be dancing in the streets.

Growing up in an alcoholic home and being a dramatic hot mess drunk myself, I have a lingering other-shoe-is-going-drop anxiety that simmers on my emotional stove even now after years of recovery. Calamity was a warm cozy comforter that I cuddled up with for a few decades so shaking it off isn’t exactly easy. Fountains, stoves, comforters. Jesus. What? Did I write this at Bed Bath and Beyond? Mixed metaphors aside, the point is I lived in crazy for so long that I frequently forget that I don’t anymore. At a few weeks shy of 7 years (in a row!!) of sobriety, I still need a lot of help remembering that everything is actually alright. Waking up in panic was something I did for years drinking and a habit I probably picked up long before that. Rolling out of bed and feeling like I was already doomed was a horrible way to live. Even in my first 2 years of sobriety, I’d still find myself waking up like that. All the things that they yammer about like prayer, meditation and gratitude lists have helped enormously with my ingrained “Holy shit. Everything sucks” programming. But it hasn’t happened over night. Even just the other day, I found myself chanting, “You are okay. Everything is okay” after a moment of panic.

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Thing is around this time of year, I am prone to moments of emotional PTSD. I bottomed out in the winter of 2009 and it was pretty darn gnarly. An eviction, a breakup and a bitch slap that my way of living was not fucking working was what I needed to get sober but I’d be lying if I said that don’t feel a little woozy every year when December rolls around. Total delusion and panic was my norm in those days. I specifically remember a meltdown in my bathroom just days before the shit hit the fan where my cocaine induced panic was so bad I felt like I was going to collapse. I am far enough away from this life that the memories can’t hurt me but they’re still powerful enough to rock my core. Which is probably a good thing. I mean if I ever start thinking, “It wasn’t so bad!” please come to my house and kick my ass. Because it was bad. It was bad enough to freak me out even 7 years later. And honestly, I’m grateful for that. The truth is I can weather emotional wooziness today, pray my way to my anniversary on January 2nd and wake up thankful that I’m no longer killing myself. Also, fuck if the other shoe drops. Let it and as long as I’m not making it drop, I’m okay. And you’re going to be okay too. Actually, you already are.

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fear itself

When I hauled my pathetic butt into the halls of recovery, I heard everybody talking about fear. Like at every meeting. “I’m in a lot of fear about my job,” they said. “I had to let go of fear about my relationship,” they said. “I’m struggling with my fear inventory,”they’d complain. Honestly, I had no fucking idea what any of this had to do with stopping drinking but seeing I was kinda dying and out of options, I played along. Months later (and it did take months) when my cocaine and tequila fog started to clear, I heard what people were saying: Fear was a bad enough muthafucker that it could keep people in misery, it could ruin ambitions and it could keep people drinking.

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Nearly seven years later, I really get it. Fear, that tricky bitch, still creeps up on me, paralyzes me, ruins plans and generally pisses me off. The trick today is seeing it when it’s happening AND taking action. The second part of that is important because I can be in fear and know it but not do anything about it because misery is a hot tub I like to soak in for hours. Like the rest of the folks on this planet with a soul, I could not make sense of the horrific events in San Bernardino last week. Senseless. Horrible. Fucking sad and redundant. But I kept the details at an arm’s length. Engaging in hours of 24-hour news torture porn was one of my old drinking activities and I choose not to do it today. I’m good with the headlines, praying for all involved and not getting obsessed. Besides, the other 65 billion voices on the internet screaming about Islam and gun control have it pretty much covered I think. Yet I did stumble on an article on my phone which not only discussed the events ad nauseam but talked about, you guessed it–fear.

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Basically, the piece touched on the fact that while the mass shooting incidents themselves haven’t increased (depending on which report you read) our fear has skyrocketed. USA Today writes, a “Congressional Research Service report on mass public shootings found that 2012 was a particularly brutal year — seven mass public shootings, compared to an average of four per year — and suggested that the horrific year had a lasting impact on public opinion. ‘Several such mass murders in 2012, seven incidents by most counts, compounded a fear among many people that, ‘this could happen to me’,’ the authors of the report wrote.” Ah ha! Out of all the sadness, ignorance and talking heads of the last week, this little tidbit from that newspaper you only read on an airplane made sense to me. Fear. Making trouble again and putting the planet in a tailspin. The idea that yes these mass shootings are incredibly awful and fucked up but our fear that we might be next isn’t exactly helping matters was a revelation to me for some reason. Although it shouldn’t have been. After all, I’ve been listening to drunks and drug addicts for years talk about how fear has wrecked their lives.

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The truth is, I am truly heartbroken over San Bernardino. And Paris. And Tulsa. And Waco. And Charleston. And Detroit. And Columbus. And Paris. Again. And Aurora. And Sandy Hook. Still. And me being in fear isn’t going to heal any of this. But maybe being compassionate to the average person on the street or trying to be of service or just not being a self-involved twat for an afternoon might help. It certainly can’t hurt and I’m willing to give it a try.

 

the skinny

I don’t think I believe in a God who over the course of a week made this whole world like a big Play-Doh playset. But if I did, it would tick me off that he went to all the trouble to create walking, talking thinking humans who all in some small way or the other hate their bodies. Whether it’s our noses, our asses or our feet everybody has some issue with the way they look. Mine recently has been my weight.

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Given the reaction I got when I walked into a room after getting out of the hospital last month, I knew I was skinny. Like Calista Flockhart in the 90’s skinny. Like human Pez machine skinny. Like someone call Feed the Children skinny. My clothes were a lot baggier. My wedding ring looser. My ribs poking out like they were thinking about leaving to go fulfil their destiny at Chili’s. But I was sort of focused on not feeling like hell so being skinny wasn’t too much of a concern. Until other people started talking about it and asking me about it. Look, if I drive my narrative car over into the whiny lane during this post, I apologize. That’s not really my intention. The issue, my issue–on newsstands now!– is how weird people are about weight loss. Clearly it wasn’t a “Wow! You look great!” comment I was garnering. It was a “Oh my god, are you okay?” comment. Which is fine and appreciated. We’re nosy creatures so mainly the ballsy folks who asked about my weight wanted to know the why, how and what’s going on of my dramatic weight loss. How dramatic, you ask(you nosy thing you) ? I’m a skinny dude without my pal pneumonia so I didn’t have much to give to the weight contribution basket to begin with. So  me losing around 15-20 pounds was admittedly shocking to folks. Some random neighbors who don’t always say hi to me wondered if I was okay. Weird people I don’t really know at my day job asked me how much weight I had lost. Folks who I maybe don’t bond with usually in “The Rooms” suddenly were interested in why I looked the way I looked. It made me surprisingly self-conscious and made me long for the days when white people would be concerned but do the polite thing and talk about behind your back.

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When they’d ask, I’d tell them an abridged version of my pneumonia battle, they’d say they were glad I was feeling better, I would thank them and take my emaciated ass out of the situation as fast as I could. It was awkward and I tried to be gracious but on days where I felt like shit answering questions about my weight really pissed me off. Like we don’t do that when people gain weight, right? As I struggled with sizes the other day at H&M, it hit me what a fucking drag body issues are. While trying to decide if was too fat for a small or too tiny for a medium, anxiety swept over me. Now, I am lucky that I’m not a person who’s struggled with anorexia or bulimia or body dysmorphia but in that moment I felt pretty shitty. It could have had a little something to do with the bad techno and my heavy coat which was making me hot. But I felt like I was too skinny, too old and too sick looking to buy the sweaters I wanted so why was I even bothering?  What happened there in the mall, however, was something bigger. I remembered I’m a human being who is not always going to love himself or how he looks, regardless of how many affirmations he’s got posted to his mirror. I grabbed two smalls without trying them on, had a nice conversation with the sweet supermodel behind the register and left.

When I got home, I took a deep breath and tried on my sweaters which fit fabulously. My temporary mall-induced fears of not being enough had passed. I have realized in the days since that the road to loving myself-fat, skinny or whatever– is a long one and handled one day at a time like everything else. And just for today, I’ll try to love myself with my giant head and tiny body and that’ll be enough. Because I’m enough.

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Where Do Broken Hearts Go?

When people die, we say stupid things. We are so ill-equipped here in the good ole US-of-A to deal with death that we either say nothing or say something stupid. And I think that’s okay. Death is the ultimate awkward situation, grief is the tornado that flattens every house on the block and we the people just don’t know what to say when someone dies. Particularly when that person is an addict.

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“Well, what did you expect given who her parents are?” “So tragic but not exactly a surprise.” “You’d think she would have stayed away from drugs after what they did to her mother.” These are just a few of the gems I saw on Twitter after Bobbi Kristina Brown passed away late last month. Brown, the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown was, like myself, born into the disease. Kids like us have an uphill battle and increased odds of being addicts ourselves. But I don’t believe we children of addicts and alcoholics are “doomed to be killed by the disease” as many people said on Twitter. Look, the heartbreak that poor kid must have felt after her mother died in 2012 must have been unbearable. If we’re to believe the reports, her drug use spiralled almost immediately. This makes sense to me. With no example of sobriety in her life, she turned to the tool she’d seen her parents use–and get destroyed by. This is how we cope with everything. And as kids who’ve seen the wreckage it can cause it DOES sound crazy that we’d gladly turn to the substances that we know might kill us. I was told from age 11 that if I drank or did drugs, the chances were good that I’d get addicted. My attitude was always, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ll see about that.”Low and behold, the disease kicked my ass and I barely got out alive. It’s a testament to the power of the disease that I knew what the outcome would probably be and thought I could outrun it anyway. Like I said—crazy. The real tragedy with Bobbi Kristina was that despite having millions and famous parents she died without giving herself a chance to change the story.

Earlier this summer, the husband and I were in some trendy home furnishings store. The above song was blaring and two adorable salespeople, who I guess should have been working, were dancing and lip-synching. Their joy was palatable. The pair burst into laughter when they noticed we had seen them. “By all means, continue,” I said. “You HAVE to dance when this comes on.” The lanky hipster guy of the duo said, “You can’t resist it.” And they continued having their at work dance party. This is what Whitney Houston has left behind for us: the joy of infectious pop song delivered by that powerhouse voice. And for an addict who suffered for so long, this is an incredible gift to leave behind. So to answer that question in the headline- maybe broken hearts, like Bobbi’s, never go away. Maybe the hurt of a loss just lessens over time. Or maybe if we’re lucky and work really hard, we can exist on this planet with a broken heart and still have a happy life. And maybe even dance.

That One Time At That One Meeting

I drank and used drugs everyday for a really, really REALLY long time. Therefore, my thought in 2009, and I think it was a good one and yet it was probably someone else’s thought, was I should do something everyday to help me not drink or do drugs. One of those things is going to 12 step meetings. Look, every bad TV movie of the week with Markie Post or the mom from Family Ties has very dramatic scenes of folks tearfully sitting in meetings and admitting they have a problem. And after a few commercial breaks, this person has their shit together. A billion movies, a billion more books and endless other forms of media have covered the idea of meetings and how they help addicts so many times that even non-addicts have a somewhat solid idea of how 12-step programs work. So I sort of don’t talk about meetings all that much. I figure that people who need them go to them and the ones who don’t, can watch it on TV. Nothing I say will make people go to a meeting. There’s not, like, Yelp reviews for this kind of thing. Like, “great meeting but I wish the coffee was French roast–3 stars.”

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Also, meetings and the literature you find in them, have been effective and around for a long, long time and there’s nothing I can add that would be fresh.  However, I feel sort of compelled to write about them today because a.) they have saved my life (although it took a tad longer than a commercial break) and b.) because sometimes they’re really, really hilarious. Without breaking anonymity of others or giving out addresses or specifics, I can say the very idea of a room full of emotional disasters ripe with varying degrees and flavors of mental illness is inherently hilarious. And today’s meeting was the perfect example of that. The chairperson at today’s meeting ignored the format, cross-talked like she was on Meet the Press and got lost several times. She went rogue and off book much to the chagrin of old-timers in the meeting. The attendees murmured to themselves and shared entirely too long. The whole thing went off the rails and started to get surreal. And after 45 minutes of all things crazy, your’s truly couldn’t stop giggling. I blame the girl next to me. She started it. Her shoulders moved up and down and she laughed to herself and I joined in. When things get awkward or weird or just random, I think it’s really hilarious. It’s so human and goofy and I have to laugh.

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Once upon a time, this kind of wackadoodle meeting might have ticked me off or made me leave early. In the early days, I looked to meetings to lift me up and tell me how to live without getting wasted. And when things got weird or real back then I couldn’t deal.  But not today. Today, I had to laugh because these are my muthafucking people. I laughed because I get it. I get them. These folks have what I have. These folks are showing up in the middle of a Tuesday to save their own lives. And for all their faults and hilarity, these folks are my heroes and I’m honored to be in their company.

boundaries, electric fences & cattleprods

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“I’ve got to set some boundaries.” I never understood when people said that. It sounded so self-involved and overly serious. However, as a person would routinely get drunk and tell you what I thought of your personality and how you live your life, the concept of boundaries is something clearly lost on me. I never had boundaries. My motto for two Clinton administrations as well as two with Bush was firmly, “I don’t give a fuck.” Being inappropriate wasn’t something I worried about. It was a life-goal. Now, with a few years sober, I have new life goals that, thankfully, don’t involve telling people to fuck themselves. And recently, I’ve found myself setting boundaries of my own.

Here’s the deal with this “boundaries” thing as I currently understand it. Turns out, they start with me and rarely do other people–you know, the inappropriate ones– even know this big dramatic boundary was even set! Go figure. My emotional sobriety over the last several months has put me in several situations where professionally, personally and even in recovery I’ve had to say, “Hey this feels crazy and I need to nip it in the bud.” This is progress for the guy who used to send drunken tirade text messages. But it’s an unfamiliar practice for me as a chronic people pleaser who also likes to get drunk and yell at you.

It’s helped to have spiritual guidance. The person I call my sponsor has guided me through these uncharted waters. I need a push occasionally from a person outside the situation and he’s always good for that. He’s showed me that boundaries like fences keep us safe and keep us out of sticky situations. I need to set boundaries for me. Other people, as it turns out, kind of don’t give a crap. With a work situation recently, I agonized over sending an email because I worried that I’d come off as a jerk or that I over-stepped. My boss wrote me back quickly and basically thanked me profusely for letting him know what the issues were. This boundary and the subsequent response blew my mind open. I’m in charge of my own self-esteem. It doesn’t matter how I draw the line in the sand or how dramatic a pronouncement I make. If I don’t take the actions and if I’m doing it for other people, it ain’t gonna work out. I couldn’t get sober for other people and I can’t stay emotionally sober for them either. Recovery has taught me that I can open my mouth when something isn’t right and more often than not that simple act can save my life.

Hello Stranger

Fancy bumping into you here. I’d love to share a cigarette with you or buy you a drink but I don’t do either one of those things anymore. Instead, please enjoy this Barbara Lewis track and we’ll get all caught up.

Not enough songs have shoo-bop-shoo-bop-my baby in them, do they? Anyway, the internet breadcrumbs have recently led me back to blogging. I live my life one day at a time so I can’t promise I’ll be blogging everyday for the next 15 years but currently it feels like a good thing to do. I’ve been wrestling with a new play which went from this seemingly fun, frothy piece into a deeply personal,”shit got real” kind of work. So like a good addict, I’ve been avoiding it. It’s too hard. It’s too personal. It’s too raw. It’s too me. Thing is, I can’t run from it anymore and it’s demanding that I finish it.  These sorts of projects usually sit on my chest in the middle of the night and say, “Look. Finish me or I will make your life hell!” So much for being a master avoider. Curses, foiled again.anigif_original-26198-1430253629-9

So bleeding on the page and finishing my script is something I’m doing this week. If you hear crying and howling and general bitching, it’s just me, your tortured playwright friend who really isn’t that tortured but insists on making his life more dramatic than it really is. I know. Exhausting.

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I’ve recently crossed over into a new realm of my life and recovery and it’s kind of freaking me out, in a good way. When I got sober in 2009, I’d hear these people talk about how they experienced a neutrality around other people and how  difficult life situations would come up but not cause complete havoc.  My usual response was something to the effect of, “Good for them but they’re totally lying.” As usual, they, that ubiquitous all-knowing “they” were right. At 6 years and 6 months sober, I get it. I’ve had some stuff come up over the last few months that would normally spin me the fuck out and yet it hasn’t. Instead, I’m accepting stuff, feeling my emotions and moving the fuck on. Ah-ha! THIS is what they’ve been yammering about in meetings for years. IT DOES EXIST!

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Oh but the journey is not over. Just yesterday when I was a total dick to one of my co-workers, I was reminded that I still have a long, long way to go. In order to continue to experience the magical Pegasus sobriety that I have currently, I’ll have to do the work. Which includes making amends to people who drive me crazy. Sigh. At least, today I have people, people like you, who know what I’m going through and know how to do this thing called life sober. I appreciate you and I promise I won’t be a stranger.