Three Years

I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.
— Joan Didion
 Provence, France circa 2016 - Photo credit:  David Silpa

Provence, France circa 2016 - Photo credit: David Silpa

Joan Didion's words about self-discovery and how she processes life through writing totally rings true for me. When I write or make art or take pictures, the story of my life unfolds and starts to remind me of its importance or significance; the lessons and meanings take shape and as I write, my life speaks to me.


I wasn't sure how I would feel about this third year sobriety milestone until the day arrived and now that it's here, it all just feels...normal. I know that probably sounds boring, but it's true. Over the last 1096 days, I have systematically dismantled old habits and worked so freaking hard to create a new normal in my life. Being sober is my new normal and it's the thing I had wished so hard for in the early days of not drinking. Now that this new normal has crept in, it feels comfortable and deserved. I'm grateful for every minute of it, especially...

All the meetings.
All the podcasts.
All the self-care.
All the texting with sober women.
All the writing and the art-making.
All the gratitude lists.
All the sharing.
All the tears.
All the anxiety.
All the reading.
All the workshops.
All the fizzy waters.
All the yoga.
All the steps.
All the time with my sponsor + sponsees.
All the women in my life.
All the tea in the world.

All of this work has helped me return to myself and, as a byproduct, my family.


I used to think waking up at 4:45 a.m. was waking up at an ungodly hour. I no longer think this way. Waking up at 4:45 a.m., or any time before the sun rises, actually feels like the godliest of hours to me now. It's when I have the house all to myself and I commence my morning routine of self-care with a cup of hot tea, reading, writing, listening to the sweet voice of Sarah Blondin's guided meditations and jotting down a few words on paper.


As I was approaching this three year sobriety milestone, I noticed I didn't really have a lot of feelings about it. When I wrote about my first year, I had a lot to say and I was definitely on a pink cloud. I was mesmerized by the concept of rigorous honesty in all of my affairs. My second year was all about radical self-care and cementing the concept of all that rigorous honesty. I worked the on Steps 1 through 9. But this year? This past year has felt like a lot of things and like nothing, if that makes any sense. The obsession to drink seems to have been completely lifted and drinking has been the least of my worries. By the time August 2017 rolled around, I had finally finished the 12th step and was working with a sponsee of my very own. The cycle of the 12 steps would continue for me, but through my working with others.

 I left these on Kacy's bathroom mirror after spending 10 days with her in Los Angeles while she underwent treatment for her brain tumors at UCLA Medical Center.

I left these on Kacy's bathroom mirror after spending 10 days with her in Los Angeles while she underwent treatment for her brain tumors at UCLA Medical Center.

My emotional sobriety, on the other hand, was where I found I needed more help. I focused the majority of my energies on this work over this past year. Drinking used to be the solution to my emotional woes. Without it, I would have to work painstakingly hard to live life on life's terms now. I finally understood that this is what AA meetings were for - to help me maintain my emotional sobriety.

 My tiny altar to Kacy in-the-making.

My tiny altar to Kacy in-the-making.

After losing Kacy last February, grief became my constant companion, but I wouldn't let it surface much. I pushed it down, brushed it off or only allowed it to ride shotgun in silence. I speak Kacy's name in conversations and on my podcast, but I won't allow myself to go to deep with my grief. I've kept myself busy and received the love and friendship of women like never before. I have allowed women into my world through social media, as well as in person. I've had more tea and coffee dates over the lat year than ever before in my life! Phone dates? Yes, please. Skype with women all over the world? Sure. Travel to workshops and fly to another state to connect? Why not? Anything to not think about the one person I so desperately miss.

Today, I'm engulfed in my grief. It's been like a rising tide for almost a year and the levy is about to break. I can feel it. Even as I sit here in this coffee shop, I have to fight back the urge to curl up on this bench where I sit, let out a low, guttural cry and unleash a primal scream and Not. Give. A. Fuck.

But I won't. Or, rather, I won't allow myself the indulgence. Not yet. But I know it's coming. 

My bathroom shower is the one place where I allow my grief to come out in tiny increments and loosen up a little bit each night. I have a good, hard cry as I stand underneath the scalding hot water, washing away the feelings of another day without her. This water ritual has become my favorite way to be with her now. The shower stall feels like a safe container in which to let my hot tears fall and to regroup with myself. It is in here that I pray that she'll visit me in my dreams. She appeared in my dreams twice last week. It is the best (and sometimes the worst) when this happens.

 Photo credit:  Laura Schneider Photo

Photo credit: Laura Schneider Photo

So this is where I'm at at three years of continuous sobriety.

I feel sturdy in my recovery from alcohol.

I feel less sturdy when it comes to my emotional sobriety. This is the work I focus on now. My recovery from the loss of my best friend is the work I'll tend to next and, maybe, always.

 I like to quit things now.

I like to quit things now.

I'm grateful to have worked the 12-steps with a Sponsor over the last two years. It took me a little over 21 months, from start-to-finish, and it was the perfect amount of time for me.

My sponsor likes to say more will be revealed when I'm stuck or at an impasse with a feeling or emotion. And, I think that's true. More will always be revealed. I just need to do the work and wait for it.

 Me circa early 1970's 

Me circa early 1970's 

It turns out that I really like the person I am today.
I'm becoming more comfortable in my own skin.
I'm rigorously honest in all of my affairs.
I'm learning to get over myself on a daily basis.
I practice grace over drama as often as I remember.
I'm so grateful my family stuck by me through the nightmare that was my alcoholism.
I'm legitimately happy, joyous and free.
I still accessorize like this little girl did way back when.
I practice self-care like it's an Olympic sport.

 A gift from my sponsor.

A gift from my sponsor.

At three years, I am my own ray of light.

Being a woman AND being sober is my super power.

I guess I did have a thing or two to say today. This is what I think and how I feel. Thanks for the inspiration, Joan Didion. I needed this.