Of old flames and text messages

In less than a week, Boy & I will be setting off to sit in a field for 4 days listening to a bunch of obscure bands. This is also known as going to Bonnaroo. For those unaware, it’s arguably the largest music festival east of the Mississippi River. One of my (many) ex-boyfriends is big into obscure music & introduced me to a lot of the artists playing the festival. I was curious to see how many of the acts he had recommended to me and if there were any I missed. I have a bunch of my old texts from previous phones saved in my email (thanks to Boy for figuring that one out for me). Along with musical advice cached in those old texts, I found a girl who offered a very, very sobering view of early to mid trauma recovery.

A history of my drinking goes something along this timeline. I graduated from college in 2007. By that point, I was already a heavy drinker. My abuser and I were in the same year. He moved back to New Orleans and I stayed behind. I was just out of college, so it wasn’t weird. I kept up my heavy drinking habits until 2010. By that point, most of my friends rarely drank unless it was a bachelor / bachelorette party. I did my first stint in AA for about 9 months starting in 2010. I bounced on and off the wagon from the summer of 2011 through 2012. I finally broke the cycle last year. For reference, this ex and I met in 2009 and broke up after about 5 months. We reconnected again for reasons I don’t remember in 2012. As I read through the old messages, I got a painfully stark view of who I was. I only outright mentioned a hangover once, but I knew I was omitting many more. I would text him at all hours of the night. If he minded, he never said anything. If anything, he encouraged the behaviour. He’s 15 years older than me with 2 kids. I know he got a contact high off of having a party girl ex sharing pretty much everything. That’s not a jab at him even if it sounds like it. He knew just how hard I could party and how much detail I was willing to share. If I ever see him again, he’ll recognize the outside (I’m pretty damn hard to miss). The minute I open my mouth, though, he wouldn’t recognize me. There was a time where I would have been horribly embarrassed to read those texts, much less openly share the basic content. Until recently, I had the hardest time looking back at that girl and forgiving her actions, mistakes, and shortcomings. Now I look back at her and only feel sympathy and sadness. You know that piece of paper with the target that says “bang head here until pain stops”? That was her method of trying to stop the pain. Then the numbness wears off and it’s back to drinking, disordered eating, and fucking anything with a penis and a pulse. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Given both the stereotypes and literature sent to us by the Bonnaroo organizers, there will be no shortage of alcohol and drugs. The 2009 me would have spent the whole time completely wasted looking for aforementioned penis and pulse and ditching whoever I was with, scaring the hell out of them in the process. The 2014 me will slather myself in sunscreen, pull up a chair, and enjoy the music; all while staying properly hydrated. As nutty as it sounds, I’m glad to have that perspective. I don’t kick myself for what I did. Rather, I can bask in what I do today, the memories I’ll get to actually remember, and appreciate someone from my past who introduced me to a whole genre I would have otherwise missed. 

I’ll try to remember to set everything to auto-post while I’m off. Let’s see if I’ll actually remember it.

XOXO!

Of sobriety and the joy of not being my own boss

Happy (almost) end of the week fair readers. Today’s post is another aspect of my healing:

I’ve been sober for a little over 14 months now. I’ve lost weight and gained a hell of a lot of clarity. While I was drinking, I was a crappy worker. I would show up late, call out because of a hangover, and generally resent my 8 hour days. I dreamed of being my own boss doing something (writing, making jewelry, starting a hippie commune) that would allow me to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. Read – drink and not worry about having to get up until I slept off the hangover. I actually hated drinking. It did nothing for me. It’s not like I stopped to savor the wine or cocktail in front of me. I downed that sucker as fast as I could and reached for the next one before the first one hit my stomach. It was a crutch. It was a loud and clear signal that something wasn’t right between my ears. I knew it. I had two unsuccessful stints in AA to show for it. I still hung on simply because it was how I coped while I was with him. Much like he was my first love, booze was my first “out”. It took a DUI, then an epilepsy diagnosis for me to let go.

I was given a very simple choice. Did I want to drink and risk having another seizure? Or did I want to stay sober and vastly reduce my chances of another seizure? Like hell I’m intentionally going to put myself in a situation that would increase my risk. Now I’m on time to work, give it my best, and call out only when I can’t even get out of bed. I function best in a structured environment. I don’t have to drag myself off the couch to write a blog post or the next chapter in my novel. I can go home, put on sweatpants, and plant myself on the couch for a marathon of True Blood.

I can’t put into words how grateful I am to all my friends who stood by me through the drunken tirades and poor life choices. They certainly didn’t have to. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they walked away. All in all, I only lost one friend over it. I said something intentionally hurtful and she stopped talking to me. I apologized, she chose not to accept it, and we moved on with our lives. I’ll periodically see things about her on Facebook. In my head, I wish her the best. It’s said you’re a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. If that’s true, then I’m way more awesome, forgiving, and patient than I give myself credit for. Whatever unhealthy coping mechanism is holding you back; be it drugs, alcohol, cutting, or an eating disorder, it doesn’t have to hold you back forever. Your healing won’t be the same process as mine. I certainly don’t recommend 7 hours in jail and a significant health issue.  You may be handed an easy decision which allows you to give it up easily. It may be a long, hard road before you wish it a fond farewell forever.

XOXO!