Reconnecting

Well it is officially the first of September and I haven’t blogged in SO LONG! Don’t worry- I haven’t forgotten about SATC or the wonderful world of blogging. I just seemed to have gotten caught up in living life! Sometimes, that is not a bad thing at all. Work has been pretty hectic lately, headaches are still a daily occurance and I’ve been traveling almost every weekend since the end of July. I also seem to be a social butterfly with something going on almost every night after work, it does not feel like my life, let me let you that much…

Living life is a good thing, but I have recently become concerned that my “real life” is getting in the way of my recovery. I haven’t been hanging out with AA friends as much, my meeting attendance has declined and although I am doing service as treasurer right now that does not require me to be at a meeting on a weekly basis. I also have not been great about picking up the phone and calling people with more or less time than me. Awesome Sponsor Lady returned from her month long adventure overseas yesterday and we finally got to catch up over something other than email: cell phone! She reminded me that AA is a bridge back to life and that means that having a life outside the program is important. She also reminded me that AA does not have to be the entirety of my social life, but that fellowshipping is important and I need to make sure I have balance.

The truth is, I feel disconnected from the AA community I was once in the middle of but I also feel overwhelmed by all the other parts of my life that have been blossoming lately. Reconnecting is simple though – go to more meetings, pick up the phone more, send some more texts, set up more coffee dates. And just because I feel disconnected, doesn’t mean that I really am. I want to make sure that I never put anything else in front of my recovery and that means that I keep my network and my meeting attendance high on my priority list!

How has your summer been??

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Staying Sober in College and a Summer Update!

It has been WEEKS since my past post! How the heck are you guys?? I’ve been super busy doing all sorts of fun things – celebrating my Anniversary, Leo’s birthday, TWO Death Cab for Cutie Concerts, a Jack’s Mannequin / Guster Concert,  and a weekend trip to the Hamptons. I’ll summarize in pictures down below in a bit…

The main reason I am posting today though is I got an email from a woman from the Caron Foundation today about an article in the Wall Street Journal on Sober Living at colleges across the country that I thought might interest you guys. I got sober in college, and while I’m unsure about on my opinion of giving recovering addicts/alcoholics scholarships just because they are sober, I think it is 100% AWESOME that institutions are creating a safe environments for recovering college kids on campus!

Past few weeks in review:

Death Cab for Cutie @ Williamsburg Waterfront

Main Beach @East Hampton

Guster in Central Park!

Additionally, Leo and I were able to score tickets to a super secret Death Cab concert at the Brooklyn Museum care of the Artists Den last week. They were doing a live taping for a television show (and DVD). Hense, we were dressed very smart casual and no pictures were allowed. We were standing about two rows from the stage and I am officially in love with Ben Gibbard (lead singer). Oh boyyyy!

Hope everyone’s summer is going fantastically. I will remain busy for the rest of August and September with weekend trips to New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia and Rhode Island planned! Who ever said being sober isn’t fun??

What are you up to these days?

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***Four Years***

This Saturday, July 30th, 2011 will mark 4 years of continuous sobriety for me. Four years. That seems unfathomable to me. That means that today, July 29th, marks the 4 year anniversary of my last drink. It’s funny that we celebrate one of the worst times in our lives.

With flowers and cupcakes, cards and medallions. But it’s not our bottom that we celebrate, it’s the action of getting sober worth celebrating. That is the turning point. That one decision changed my whole life. 

Many of you know that July 30th wasn’t my first attempt at sobriety. In fact my original clean date was March 31, 2007. [Forgive me if the following is a repeated version of previous posts!] I was clean for 99 days and then I relapsed on purpose – believing that as a 21 year old living in NYC for the summer that I should be able to drink like everyone else, whether I was an addict or not. So on my 99th day of being clean, I woke up and decided I would drink that night. I went about my day as usual, went to my 5pm NA meeting, walked home with a relapsing addict who co-signed my bullshit and gave me some suggestion about drinking “moderation.” Yes, because that’s what I wanted to do. I called my sponsor to tell her I was going to drink (it was our agreement to have a discussion first if I was going to use) and luckily I got her voicemail. And then I drank all night, regretted it in the morning and came crawling back to the rooms sobbing. Another 11 days clean and I drank again at a work event. After that I stopped counting days because I didn’t think I wanted to be clean anymore.

I wasn’t near death at that point, or so I thought. I was drinking but not using drugs. It wasn’t enough though. Alcohol wasn’t working, I needed drugs, but I seemed to have lost the ability to find them, or perhaps my HP was doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself. I was screwing up at my internship. Life was miserable.

I remember my last drink relatively clearly. It was Sunday night on July 29th. Leo and I and Leo’s bestfriend went to Justin Timberlake’s restaurant Southern Hospitality on the Upper East Side because they were supposed to have beer pong tables. They didn’t have the tables for whatever reason, but we stayed for the beer and the southern comfort food. I have two pictures of us from that night – in both I am making inappropriate hand gestures. I wasn’t drunk though, I think I only had about 4 drinks. Nothing wild and crazy. Like I said, alcohol wasn’t working anymore. I don’t remember feeling all that self destructive that night, but I do remember not feeling OK.

The following Tuesday I had dinner with A, my first friend in recovery in NYC. She had just returned from her honeymoon and I told her that I had been relapsing while she was gone. She asked me if I had been going to meetings while I was drinking and admittedly I said no, that I had not because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be clean. I knew the program would work if I wanted it but I wasn’t sure I wanted it. I was near death in March, and this relapse didn’t seem to be killing me in the same way. However, I was still dying inside and I knew that drinking wasn’t my solution, it wasn’t going to be my way out. She suggested we go to a Young Peoples meeting the following night to see if I heard anything that resonated with me. A girl with nine months qualified that Wednesday and she basically told my story. I haven’t had a drink since. Thank you A for your incredible life-saving suggestion! Just one of many that have made me the person I am today.

It has been a roller coaster over the past four years. I couldn’t have done this by myself. I am eternally grateful for all the people in NA and AA who have helped save my life one day at a time. I look forward to many more years of sobriety! This Sunday I will be speaking at a 6pm meeting in my neighborhood and then celebrating at the clubhouse later that night. Send me an email if you’d like to come!! I can’t wait to embark on my 5th year of sobriety…it’s time to finally get my marbles back.

What do you like most about anniversaries?

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Days of Wine and Roses by Alicia

Another fantastic Friday Guest Post by Alicia! Enjoy!

When I really think about it, my biggest meltdowns in sobriety have not been about alcohol.  I’m blessed to say my obsession has lifted and I’m a member of the No Matter What club. Great right?  But, now when I’m faced with a problem my first thought is NOT ‘I need a drink.’ My first thought is ‘How can I change my identify and move to Spain?’  I want to run and hide.

The things that make me lay down in a ball and cry are my financial and career problems. My old MO was deny, deny, deny. I’d sit on bar stools and delude myself that my life was not spiraling out of control.  I’d ignore any proof that it was happening. I did not open bills. I did not answer phone calls that started in 800. I was full of fear.  My life was unmanageable and insane!

For example, right before I came in the rooms in April of 2010 I had not paid my rent for several months.  In fact I was having a hard time supporting myself since I lost my job back in 09.   I was also depressed. I could not get off the couch long enough to find a job.

Except for when it was time to go to the bar and drink. My job had become spending my unemployment on alcohol. I ignore my responsibilities. I could not deal.  My landlord started eviction proceedings against me. I thought, ‘How dare he!’  I developed huge resentments against him and I drank at them. That is just one part of my bottom. When I think about these events I become full of regret. I get really scared and sad. I want to erase it all. But, I know I can’t and I’m dealing with it.

The bitter truth is I squandered so many gifts when I was active. I saved no money and I drank away a lucrative career.  I loved Fridays when I would get paid and do some damage at Prada and catch up with my running buddies at a bar. We would prowl Manhattan in search of the perfect $15 dollar martini. “Bartender, I give me a  Grey Goose-career sinking-martini…keep-em coming and don’t stop till I’m broke and unemployed please.”   I never considered saving for the future because secretly I did not believe I had one or deserved one.  No matter how impressive my resume looked to others I always felt I did not deserve the job, so I would sabotage myself. I used alcohol as my weapon of choice.  I remember one time I was running this multi-media company I had a great day at work and I celebrated with a co-worker at a restaurant.  She went home at 2am. I went out till 5am. I woke up the next day at 1pm. That was the second time that happened at this job and I had no excuses.  I emailed the owner and quit. These memories remind me of how unmanageable my life was and how insane I really was.

But now, instead of closing my eyes and hiding under the covers little by little I am looking at the messes I’ve made and I am dealing with them.  This is hard stuff. The guilt, the shame, and embarrassment are nauseating.  Today I can see what I did without self pity and without blaming others.

I lived my life “…in a sea of booze…”  The character Joe in the movie Days of Wine and Roses said that.  You  know what else he said, “…the reason I’ve had 5 jobs in 4 year is I’m a drunk and I don’t do my job.” That line played over and over in my mind. It’s complete ownership of your reality. Complete ownership of your situation. When I had that a moment of clarity and finally saw myself, it was such a gift. It’s just in ugly wrapping. It’s humbling to know how easily I could have just closed my heart and mind to the truth and kept on drinking.

Sure I was a drunk and no matter how high up the ladder of success I had climbed, I did not do my job well.   The key word there is WAS… Today, I deal with these things no matter how hard they are my higher power and the program is helping me get through. When I was forced to move I found a less expensive apartment in my neighborhood because of someone in the rooms. When I went to public assistance my case worker turned out to be an FOB with 23 years.  When I filed for unemployment, I was sent to career counseling at unemployment office. A woman asked if she could sit next to me while we waited for our orientation. She was in the rooms. These little God shots remind me that if I just take the steps, show up, and try to repair the damage I’ve caused my HP will be there to help me get through.  With this knowledge I can deal with anything.  Yes, I’m sorry that in the past I’ve been careless with my security, safety and well being. I pray for the willingness to forgive myself and to continue living a sober life.

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Learning to Listen

I had a really long and powerful session at acupuncture last night. I can’t really explain it in words, but we talked for a long time before the needles even went in and then walked home together afterwards. I felt so much relief and today, although my headache is present, the pain is not as bad as usual. I’m beginning to really believe that my emotional and mental state directly impact my physical well being. To help the physical pain subside I will start listening to myself, to what is really hurting inside. Not so that I can fix it (which of course is my immediate reaction to a problem) but so that I can just be aware of reality. I’ve spent so much of my life avoiding or escaping reality, I have trained myself to believe things that have never been true. Even in sobriety. Especially in sobriety. I know my 4th step will help me with this as well. It’s nice to be able to breathe today.

Look out for a special guest post from Alicia on Friday!

What helps you listen?

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Stress Management or Lack There Of

Hi friends. Sorry it’s been a reaaaally long time since I last posted. My life has been the opposite of easy in the past week. Headaches continue to rage, work was beyond stressful last week and I’ve got my exam coming up on Saturday. Not to mention there is just a bunch of stuff going on in my personal life. AND I’m starting my fourth step. It’s not the cause of a great deal of stress at the moment, but you know…I am definitely a bit fearful about it. I just need to dive in head first. Tonight.

When I checked in with ASL on the phone last night she said she could hear it in my voice that I hadn’t been to a meeting in a while and she was correct. So we met at Chelsea Riverside for the 9pm speaker meeting. It was just what I needed! We then headed over to Whole Foods to hunt down my new obsession: Coconut Water.

A bunch of different brands make it, and I’m not partial to any one in particular yet. It’s just delicious and refreshing and I want it all the time. I’m such an addict…

Speaking of Coconut Water, I was so stressed out on Friday due to Migraines and an unrelenting amount of work and time pressure I couldn’t handle it. So on my way home I stopped by Walgreens to pick up a pack of cigarettes (I know, I know) I just wanted to calm down for 5 minutes. I decided I’d get a bottle of coconut water while I was at it. When I walked down the beverage aisle to get it they didn’t have any, but they did have a bunch of cheap wine and I really wanted to buy a bottle or 5. Of course I didn’t, but it was the first time in a while that I’ve felt like drinking.

I bought the pack of cigarettes and went home. I smoked the first one and initially felt relaxed. 20 minutes later I felt like vomiting and vowed never to smoke again. Thanks HP, for proving to me that I am in fact an idiot. My body is officially done with that crap. GOOD THING! What a waste of $12… that’s what my brain does to me though. It feels stressed and automatically seeks something outside of myself to make it better. That experience (like many before it) just proves that those outside things never make anything better and usually just make things worse. Like the tummy ache I had for the rest of the night.

Life can get really hard sometimes, even in sobriety. Especially in sobriety. Today I have the tools to help myself though. The tools I never had when I was drinking and using. It’s my choice to utilize those tools or not though. I can’t act like a victim in my own life. That’s pathetic and irresponsible – hense the Friday night incident. All I can do is accept things for what they are and do whatever I can to make things better, not worse.

How do you manage your stress?

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Being of Service with a Stranger

An interesting turn of events occured this morning. I was on my way to work after seeing my neurologist in Union Square. She prescribed me yet another new migraine medication to try since not one of the three I’ve tried so far have worked. Feeling defeated, I waited for the NQR (“the yellow line” as I like to call it). A woman looking very out of sorts comes up to ask me for subway directions. She was sweating and said she could barely think in this humidity. Ah, yes, a tourist. People who don’t live in NYC have no idea how hot it gets in the summer, especially in the underground tunnels that house the MTA.

I politely gave her directions and she was very grateful. I put my earphones back in and got on the train. Then we got stuck at 34th street due to train traffic and I got off to change trains so I didn’t have to wait any longer. The same woman got off and asked me if the train I was heading to would also take her to the right place. “Yes,” I said – “Just come with me, I’ll show you where to go.” And so we chatted for a bit on the train. She’s from San Francisco and has not spent much time in NYC. I love it here, so I’m happy to brag about it despite the oven it morphs into during the summertime.

We got off the train together and I told her I would walk her towards Rockefeller Center - her destination. We passed by my old office with its flashing video streams and I pointed to it saying I used to work there. It turns out she used to work for a different branch of same company! Weird! We continued to chat and I learned she was here to job hunt and was late to a networking meeting. She was so nice and overly grateful for my help. To me, it just seemed normal to help someone out like that. It is basic instinct for me to help out people in AA because help was so freely given to me when I was a newcomer. We keep what we have by giving it away. So why not help out a lost stranger? Finally we reached the corner where we would part and she asked me if I wanted to exchange information. I was kind of surprised by the question, but figured why not? I handed her my card and told her to email me whenever – and good luck on her job hunt.

After having a disappointing neurology appointment filled with no answers and a new prescriptionyet again, I wasn’t expecting anything good to happen for the rest of the day. And then – HP puts someone in front of me who needed my help. Helping people makes me feel better. It makes me think about something other than my own problems for 5 ,10, 20 minutes, an hour. That stranger changed my perspective this morning. My life could be worse. I could be in a strange city, lost, sick with heat-stroke and swimming in the uncertainty of looking for a job. Luckily I’m just battling daily headaches and on my way to my air conditioned office.

Thanks HP, for giving me the opportunity to be of service today.

Have you ever gone out of your way to help a stranger?

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More Down than Up

This weekend had its ups and downs. Friday night we saw Horrible Bosses which was anything but horrible – it was SO FUNNY! Best part of the weekend by far.

Saturday I woke up with a raging headache which calmed down for about an hour with the help of meds and then raged again for the rest of the day. I had to run a few errands and then go into work for a but, but instead of taking a practice exam I sat on my couch for 6 hours before Leo got back to the city. It was miserable. I couldn’t even nap my headache was so bad. Finally the 2nd round of meds started to work and I could be mobile again. Around 8pm, Leo picked me up and we headed to Hill Country Fried Chicken. Holy moly it was good. We were both exhausted, so we spent the rest of the night in – watching various things on Netflix until I had to get to bed before my head exploded again.

Sunday I was determined to take my practice test since my headswelling had made it impossible the day before. My brain was feeling relatively clear, so Leo went off to hit golf balls in the sunshine and I headed to the office to take my exam. It didn’t turn out quite how I would have liked, but I really haven’t studied much lately. Exam retake is in weeks and then I’m done with that thing forever. I will put my head to the books for the next 13 days. The rest of Sunday I was moody and cranky and unfortunately Leo caught the brunt of it. I always act out and say things that aren’t great when I feel like crap. No good excuses for my behavior, hopefully I’ll be better today.

Basically my weekend sucked. It’s ok though – not every day is a good day and I know when I have bad days they will pass. I see my neurologist tomorrow, hopefully she’ll actually pay attention to what I’m saying, read my lengthy headache diary and come up with a solution that actually works. Otherwise I’m changing doctors.

What do you do when things are crappy?

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Friday Find: Words with Friends

Have you guys discovered this game yet?

I don’t have an iPhone but have a free version on my Droid. And I am needless to say – OBSESSED! It’s a version of scrabble that you can play against anyone who also has the application on iPad, smartphone or the computer. I have always hated Scrabble because my vocabulary is less than stellar, but I am a competitive person, so I like this version. I currently have games going with my mother, sister, bestfriend and Leo. It’s addicting, people. The good thing is you don’t have to pay attention to it at all times – it will alert you similar to a text message if your opponent has made a move. There is also a “chat” function so you can smack talk, etc.

Hope everyone is looking forward to a FUN-FILLED weekend! Leo and I are heading to see Horrible Bosses with Caron and her Hubs tonight. It looks hilarious and we’ve been watching the previews for months now! Saturday I will take another practice exam and then head to CT to meet up with Leo and his dad for fireworks (belated) and a BBQ. Sunday will be spent at the pool getting my study on…two weeks away until Judgement Day Numero Dos.

Want to play Words with Friends??

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Onto Step Four…

I met with ASL (Awesome Sponsor Lady) on Tuesday night at my apartment. She had yet to meet Crazy and The Dark One yet, so it was nice to introduce her to them! They behaved more or less as we went through my third step and read about the fourth step in the Big Book. My assignment for the third step was to memorize the Third Step Prayer. It’s much more difficult than in NA!

AA Third Step Prayer:

God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always

NA Third Step Prayer:

Take my will and my life. Guide me in my recovery. Show me how to live.

We addicts like to KEEP IT SIMPLE, no? Haha…anyway, I did memorize it the AA way and we said it together in front of a beautiful sunset. I am excited to move on to Step Four. I never moved past the beginning stages of Step Four in NA, so I am excited to continue my journey and get this thing cranked out in the next two months or so.

For all the normies out there, the Fourth Step is: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

My first assignment for step four is to make a list of everyone I’ve ever known. Seriously. Of course some of those people will come off the list eventually, but it will be an interesting task just to look at how many people have really impacted my life and perhaps my disease along the way. And then the next steps will be to see what those people did and how it made me feel and what my part in it was among other things. It takes a lot of stamina to write a fourth step, a lot of focus and time. I am looking forward to the process and the outcome though, because most people have told me that they have a much better understanding of who they are afterwards. My sponsor will help to point of the patterns in my relationships with others. I suspect that most of my resentments towards others are out of fear, but we shall see what is revealed.

Have you ever done a Fourth Step?

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