Two years ago, on April 1st, I hit publish on my first post here on this blog that you're reading now. I have since gone back and added earlier links to posts that helped to complete my sobriety milestones series, but it was on April Fool's Day 2015 that I decided I didn't want to hide behind the safety of the moniker of my old blog address, Sonoma Coast Weekly, or write about my family publicly any longer. My kid was growing up and I needed to respect his privacy and let's face it, what middle schooler wants to let on that their mother writes and shares with the internet world about having a drinking problem? I wanted to protect him and it finally hit me that he never really had a say about me writing or sharing images of him. I never asked. It never occurred to me, as crazy as that sounds.
In shedding my old blog, I was also shedding the old stories I knew were hiding just underneath the surface of my words and images. I had originally started that old blog after a night out at a local bar/restaurant in town in October 2007. As I re-read the entry this morning, it evoked a feeling of deep sadness in me that I hadn't expected. In that first blog entry, I was poking fun at a woman who was drunk and brazenly stole the fried chicken right off my plate during dinner. I proudly write that I had her 86'd from of the bar. I had to stop reading. It was making me sick. That woman could have been me at that time. Why I went home and wrote about it publicly and made fun of her is a question I'll need to think about for a little bit longer.
I share at the end of that post that "Strange things happen to me here on the Sonoma Coast and this blog is going to help keep track of mi vida loca." You know what that's code for? Allow me to translate: Strange things happen when I drink at my wine bar all day and go out on the town afterwards. This blog is going to help me keep track of the weird situations I keep getting myself into when I'm drunk. My life is becoming a crazy fucking mess.
After that initial post, I think I thought it would be fun to chronicle my small-town living (population of Valley Ford: 126). I'm not exactly sure why, but as the years went on the blog morphed and became a safe place for me to deposit my thoughts on motherhood, home improvement projects, my community, all of the different things I tried on for size - like gardening, canning, baking, library hauls and my son's childhood forays. To put it simply, my blog was my proof of life. An aid to my failing memory. My way of neatly holding onto the past.
Drinking was definitely an undercurrent to my writing process. I used to wake up almost every single morning at 2:20 a.m. in a pool of my own sweat with my heart beating out of my chest. I would then quietly shuffle into the living room to try and piece together either what had happened the night before or beat myself up for continuing to drink the way I was drinking. These early morning hours are when I would simmer in my own incomprehensible demoralization as it related to my drinking. I punished myself for hours on end and then once I felt like I had adequately beat myself up, I would reach for a good memory or some part of my day that gave me hope or brought me joy and then I wrote about that.
Years and years of blog posts about my life could have the potential to appear rosy or fake with this new confession I just shared, but I promise you it's all true. Heavily edited and shined up, but it is the truth. It's just that I couldn't tell you the deepest darkest truth of my life - how miserable I was or how much I was really drinking. I couldn't because I thought who would believe me? who would care? And, I think, more importantly, it took me close to a decade to finally believe it myself.
The act of being seen and heard has been key in my own recovery from alcohol. Writing about my experiences, sharing my journey, owning my shit and telling the complete unedited version of the truth has helped me to see the beauty in my life. Connecting with others and hearing them say "Me, too" has been such a gift, the greatest kindness.
Today I woke up without a hangover in a hotel room in Ukiah. I came downstairs to write so that my fellas could sleep in. My good friend, Natalie, is getting married today. I met Natalie through Holly Whitaker's Hip Sobriety School last year and since then we have cultivated a very good in real life friendship. I can't remember the last wedding I attended (and that's not a drinking joke). It's been years before I've celebrated someone taking a chance on life with another human being. It's so hopeful and optimistic.
Today also marks one year since I started a gratitude circle with a small group of women who are also in recovery. I've featured a few of them here, here, here, here, here and here on the blog. One of those women, Sondra Primeaux, has since become my creative soulmate.
Yesterday, I interviewed Sondra for our most recent creative collaboration, The Unruffled Podcast, which we are aiming to launch in the next few weeks. We've been daydreaming about it for almost nine months and this baby is about to be born! Chris Aguirre, founder and creative force behind the Since Right Now Network, has consulted with us on the pod and used his graphic design brilliance to turn my hand-drawn artwork into a professional looking logo for the show. Isn't it beautiful? I can't stop staring at it. More on this soon, but I was just too excited not to share!
On this April Fool's Day, my life is no joke. Two years ago, when I posted here in this new space, I couldn't have known how much my life would change. I didn't yet know that my best friend would be diagnosed with cancer and would succumb to her disease in just 18 months. I didn't know how many sober friendships I would form with other women in recovery. I didn't dare future-trip or obsess about the fact that I would never have another drink. It seemed impossible.
But here I am - sober for almost 26 months, finishing up my second year of college and embarking on creative projects that push me out of my comfort zone and make me incredibly happy. I quit drinking coffee and that has helped to reduce my anxiety by about 80%. I've gone through airport security eight times in the last few months and next month I travel to New York City to attend the She Recovers in NYC event with several of my sober sisters. I know there will be no drama associated with this air travel or paralyzing fear over hanging out with people I have never met before. Recovery has spread to include my recovery from anxiety, too.
My life just continues to get bigger and brighter and I credit all of it to the fact that I finally removed alcohol from my days (and nights) once and for all. I finally gave myself a shot at doing life minus the anesthetizing effects that alcohol gave me. In removing the booze, I can now see it as an act of desperation on my part. It was a long, winding road to get to that point and it was so freaking hard, but not that hard. I'm so grateful I thought I was worth it because I understand and believe that I absolutely am.
And that's no joke.