All The Jingle Ladies

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or well at least it used to be when I was drinking.  I used to LOVE attending holiday parties back in the day.  The excitement of dressing up and celebrating the holidays over cocktails was something I always looked forward to in my 20’s, until it got to a point where I blacked out, embarrassed myself, and regretted something I did when I woke up the next morning.  That’s how it was towards the end of my active drinking.

This past weekend I attended my sister’s final holiday party in Brooklyn.   She’s been hosting this party for the past 15 plus years, but I haven’t attended since I stopped drinking.  These parties are always a hardcore booze fest with a cast of characters from her life-some of which I’m friends with, and some of which I’ve never met.  Since my sister is moving at the end of the month, I attended this year’s party.

This was a big deal personally for me since when I lived in Brooklyn, I was at my lowest point.  It’s still hard for me to visit friends there because I constantly have reminders of my past life and how horrible it was while I was drinking.  I’m just now comfortable enough to attend parties where there is heavy drinking involved, but even now I have to mentally and physically prepare and know that I can always leave if I don’t feel comfortable.

The day of the party I almost decided not to go, but figured I would go, and see how I felt knowing I could always leave early.  I actually ended up having a great time seeing old friends, and meeting new people.  I also was able to witness some very entertaining things during the night which I will elaborate on in a bit.

During the course of the evening two people came up to me and told me how proud they were of me for being sober.  Both of these women are good friends of my sister, and I actually was very appreciative of what they had to say.  They had both seen me when I was an out of control drunk, and they both mentioned how it was so great that I still had a sense of humor and was able to hang out.

I also met the token drunk dude who I had just been introduced to that evening.  He was very boisterous, and while I was heading to the kitchen to get a glass of water, he tried to get me to chug a drink with him.  I said no thanks, and when he continued to push me, I told him that I’m actually in recovery.  The look on his face was priceless-he didn’t know what to say, and he apologized and I just laughed and said, don’t worry I support you chugging, I just can’t.

I love having these interactions now that I’m comfortable in my sobriety.  Now don’t get me wrong, it’s taken me over five years to be able to be straight with people in these kind of situations, but it’s hilarious to turn the tables on someone who is being obnoxious and pressuring me to drink.

The final icing on the cake was when I went back to my friend’s place to go to bed.  I got there about an hour before my other friends came home, and they were hammered.  I was laying in bed while my one friend was making up the air mattress and my other friend went to the bathroom to change.  My friend in the bathroom was in there for quite some time, which I found a little strange, so I went to check on her, and she was passed out on the toilet.  This is very unlike my friend, and I’ve never actually seen her that drunk, but the kicker was that when I opened the door she was passed out on the toilet with a sweater on that said “All the Jingle Ladies”-as opposed to “All the Single Ladies”.

Although I was dying laughing, I think part of the reason I was laughing so hard was because this was something I totally would have done when I was drinking, and I was just so glad it wasn’t me!  It has definitely taken many years for me to enjoy the holiday season again.  For the first few years I dreaded this time of year, and was hesitant to attend any parties.  It still takes a lot of planning on my part, especially making sure I have good people around me, and an exit strategy, but I’m happy that I can now enjoy this time of year once again.

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Too young to die

This past weekend I attended a celebration of life for one of my sister’s best friends who passed away at the age of 42.  This was an unexpected and shocking death to everyone.  I’m still in shock as it doesn’t seem real.  I had just spent time with her and her family this past summer in Maine and we had a great time together doing yoga on the beach, talking about her upcoming travels, and eating lobster.

She was extremely close to her family, as I am to mine, and I think the thing that hit home the most was that it made me realize what it would be like to lose one of my own siblings.  I can’t imagine having to fill that void of having one of your best friends with you one day, and gone the next.

The celebration was attended by more than 300 people and it was a great testament to the person she was.  She was a big deal in the music industry, and although I knew this as I had interned for her in college, she was so humble and never named dropped.  She truly enjoyed being with her family and friends, and it made me realize how lucky I am to have close family and friends in my life.

The thing I was most grateful for this weekend was that I was able to celebrate her life sober, and be there for my sister who was grieving and needed me.  It also reminded me how important it is to live every day to the fullest,  and spend time with those people who are most important to me.

This journey through life is challenging and has it’s ups and downs, but if it has taught me anything, it’s that even in hard times as long as you surround yourself with the right people you can make it through anything.

 

It’s been a minute

Hi there!  I haven’t posted here in almost a year which is crazy, but the good news is I’m still sober.  Life has just been busy.  In the past 6 months I’ve started a new job, and completed a yoga teacher training course which has helped me immensely.

In the past I’ve talked about things that helped me along my recovery journey, and I do this as a way to share what’s worked for me.  I’m coming up on my 5.5 years sober anniversary, and I’ve personally tried many different avenues to stay sober, but the one that I keep coming back to is yoga.

I’m sharing this because when I was first in recovery I was told that the 12 step program was the only way to stay sober.  This may be true for some people, but recovery is not a one size fits all journey.  Don’t get me wrong I think 12 step meetings are a great way to become sober and meet other alcoholics, but some meetings can be very tough especially for the newly sober, and especially for women.  I struggled with sobriety for 3 months attending 12 step meetings and seeing an addiction counselor and eventually I fell off the wagon, and I fell hard.

After having a horrible 6 months of drinking and eventually hitting my bottom, I agreed to go to rehab which was very helpful from and educational perspective and helped me to learn about the disease.  It was also a scared straight program for someone like me because I will do anything to avoid ever having to go back there.

Being an athletic and physical person, the main thing I couldn’t wait to do when I left rehab was workout.  Although there was a tiny gym at the rehab, I was only allowed to use it 30 minutes a day which was not enough time for me to feel I had accomplished anything physical.

When I completed rehab, I went to live with my Mom who belonged to the local YMCA.  I had been there in the past to use the gym, but had never taken any of there classes.  I looked at the schedule one day and saw something called “Crystal’ates” which was a combination of yoga and Pilates taught by a woman named Crystal.  Although I wasn’t sure about it, I decided to give it a try.

I ended up becoming a regular at the class and part of the reason I kept coming back was the kindness that Crystal,the instructor, showed me.  It was a safe space for me to come and learn something new without being judged.  I ended up loving the class so much that  when I moved I searched for something similar but could only find yoga, so that’s what I ended up doing, and I’ve never looked back.

During this time, I was still attending AA meetings, and going to group therapy.  Although both were helpful, I didn’t get the same sense of relief I felt after completing a yoga class. Yoga is also the only time of day that I truly am unplugged from technology and not thinking about anything but myself.  My mat has become my safe haven and also helped me evolve spiritually.

I recently completed my 200 hour yoga teacher training, and that was probably one of the best things I’ve done for myself since becoming sober.  It forced me to really take a look at my life and make some important decisions about what I want for my future.  I also made some great friends along the way, and although when I signed up for the training I never intended to actually teach, I’m now teaching a few times a month, and I love it.

In conclusion,  the point I’m trying to make in this post is that yoga can be another avenue that may help some people in their recovery.  Although it’s not for everyone, the healing I’ve received from deepening my yoga practice has helped me immensely, and I encourage everyone to explore other avenues that might be helpful to their recovery.

 

Still Figuring it Out

I was at a party last night and had some good conversations with people I had just met.  Often times when I speak with new people, it makes me realize I still don’t know what’s next to come in life, which is somewhat scary, but also exciting.

When I was drinking I always felt like I had to prove something in conversations with people I was just introduced to.  I guess it was part of keeping up the facade of having it all together, when in truth, was not the case.  Now I’m open about still trying to figure things out, and although I feel like this gets mixed reactions, I always find it interesting to hear what people have to say when this comes up in a conversation.

For instance last night I had a conversation with a guy who has been sober for 20+ years and I told him I was looking to meet someone.  He of course had advice for me, which is typical of older men, especially when they find out I’m sober.  He also had advice on my sobriety, which is fine, but I was actually annoyed when I first left the party last night.  Although he was very open about his sobriety, I personally find it unnatural to tell someone I just met everything about my journey to sobriety, and how I got here.  I find that people in AA love to give unsolicited advice, which they think is helpful, but for me is just annoying.  I honestly feel like he was just trying to be a nice guy, so today I’m not as bothered by it as I was last night, but as a sober person I don’t want that to be the only thing that defines me.  I often feel like when I meet another sober person who is in AA, they automatically want to compare their level of sobriety, and then it turns into this conversation about how many meetings you go to, and who your sponsor is etc.

The thing I can best compare it to is when I was unemployed and everyone had advice on what I needed to do to find a new job.  People think they have the answer to everything without really knowing your background, and what you eventually want out of life.  I like my job right now, but I also think I eventually want to live somewhere warmer, so I’m still figuring that out which I’m open and honest about.  I feel like in many ways that makes people uncomfortable, so they automatically get into advice mode.

I have now learned to listen to this advice- and then think of what, if anything, I can apply to my life.  If it annoys me and there’s nothing that I find helpful, that’s fine, but overall at least I’m doing the one thing I never did when I was drinking-acknowledging how it actually makes me feel.

 

Not So Drunk Lisa?

Why is the title of my blog Not So Drunk Lisa?  It all goes back to college….where I really began my career as a raging alcoholic.  I loved drinking.  I lived for happy hour, and ladies night.  I would get black out drunk on a regular basis and became know as Drunk Lisa, which I HATED.  Even though I hated this nickname, it didn’t stop me from continuing to drink like a crazy person.

Although I knew I drank a lot, and did some stupid things while drunk, I did not consider myself to be an alcoholic.  All of my friends drank as much as I did, and the college I attended was knows as a party school.  You were somewhat respected for binge drinking at a party on a weeknight, and then making it to class the next morning.  I also managed to do well in school, graduating with honors which shocked many of my peers. I still remember the looks I received from a few people when the honors program members were asked to stand up during the graduation ceremony. One friend actually thought I was joking and then whispered to me, “should you be standing up?”.

I was honestly lucky to be at graduation considering I partied so hard the night before, my best friend and I didn’t wake up to our alarms blaring.  Luckily my roommate had to work that morning, so she woke us up.  I changed quickly and we ended up making it on time, although still drunk.  My family was not happy.  I was supposed to leave the tickets for the graduation in the mailbox the night before, but never did.  When I rushed outside to get to graduation, they were waiting there annoyed.  I realized on the way to the ceremony I had dozens of missed calls from different family members, but in the end we were there, so I felt like there was no problem.

After the ceremony we had our families to our house, and my Mom was very, very upset with me.  I actually ended up crying because I felt so bad, but not bad enough to stay sober.  We continued our celebration through the night.

A normal person would possibly take a step back, look at the events of that weekend, and question his or her drinking.  Drunk Lisa on the other hand, did not!  This was my final weekend in college, and I honestly thought I would grow out of this phase of binge drinking.  Unfortunately this cycle would continue for another 9 years before I accepted that I had a problem with alcohol.

This is one of many stories I will share in my blog in hopes that there are women and men out there who understand the struggle of finding the path to sobriety.