Last week I celebrated 8 years of sobriety from alcohol and cocaine. If you follow my Instagram, you saw that I took a time out to reflect on what that all means to me by celebrating with some adventures in Venice Beach and Santa Monica, California.
Yesterday I did an interview with Shair Podcast about my sober journey and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I hung up from the call feeling energized and reacquainted with myself. In that moment,
I realized that walking through where I came from and why I started is such a powerful practice.
Whether you are sober or not – we all start things, make significant changes and begin new journeys because at some point in time, the pain of remaining the same becomes stronger than the pain or fear of changing.
After taking a trip down memory lane and retelling the stories of my demise, I felt myself reliving them as the words spilled from my lips.
I spoke of a party girl who had transitioned from a case of casually “having fun,” into a habitual addiction full of destruction, depression, anxiety, shame and feeling utterly uncomfortable in my own skin.
I recognized it was sheer luck, or what I now know to be God’s grace, that kept me alive and here today to share this miracle with others.
As I reminisced about what my former life felt like, I was reminded of all the reasons that brought me to my knees as I begged for help 8 years ago.
As I stood back inside the inner workings of benders where I didn’t eat or sleep for days, with black circles and an emaciated body to show for it, I can see how fragile I was truly was.
Overdosing on a lethal concoction of party favors that sent my eyes into the back of my head as I crawled to the bathroom over and over to throw up, only to be left feeling like if I fell asleep there was a very strong chance I wouldn’t wake up.
My looming inability to sit still with myself that terrified me into panic attacks on the regular.
Selfishness. Oh my goodness, how careless I was on my reverent missions to perpetuate my toxic relationship with the white stuff.
I can remember actually saying: “If you want to come great, If not, smell ya later.” Ewh.
Spiraling out of control at full speed with no hesitation to keep the party going regardless of the costly tolls it was repeatedly taking on me.
Allowing a substance to have such a hold on me that I was consumed with making sure I had it at all times.
Being completely disconnected from reality no matter how much I tried to cling to things I thought would bring me happiness.
Having no sense of a spiritual practice because the noise in my head was far too loud to hear any sort of semblance of faith, or hope for that matter.
Spending so much time convincing myself that I didn’t have a problem and subsequently trying to persuade myself that I wasn’t a worthless POS as my withdrawals would have me to believe.
Running from every single negative emotion that ever tried to impress itself upon me, which fueled the chase for that high I was always seeking to quiet the shame running rampant through me.
The false sense of connection I thought I was gaining as I blew an 8 ball up my nose and watched the sun come up. When the only thing I was truly connecting with was my swift descend further down the rabbit hole.
The exhaustion that I felt like I was being a warrior against, only to later discover that I was the one actually taking a beating.
My ego and pride that seemed to applaud as I fell deeper into my bad habits and love affair with cocaine.
The comedown packed with so much self-loathing punch it could essentially rip a heart out.
Just as much as I celebrate my recovery, I remember exactly why a celebration is in order.
When people ask why I’m sober, there is clearly so much tucked into the answer.
And when I think about drinking again or pursuing the rush of a fleeting high, I always come back to these reminders.
It’s easy to forget the pain when you get some time under your belt. To have a crippling amnesia about why you started.
The beast inside us that got us to remain stuck for so long will try to trick us over and over again. It wants us to believe that maybe we can be “normal” now. The one that says:
Maybe you can moderate now.
One drink won’t hurt.
Maybe you’ve matured after all this time.
Maybe it was just a phase and now you can drink like the grown ups do.
Aren’t you curious what Belgium-waffle-with-chocolate-syrup-and-a-cherry-on-top and the oh so many flavors of beer taste like?
Or that Fireball stuff everyone seems to rave about?
Wouldn’t a glass of wine be nice with dinner?
The voices from the dark and forgotten side will always try to find a way to creep back in. That is why, no matter how much time has passed, it is so important to check back in with ourselves.
In these times where forever feels heavy, I force myself to remember the grueling times of addiction’s past. Like when I blacked out and woke up not knowing where I was. With my shirt tattered and no recollection of what happened as I then proceeded to puke my guts up for hours on end in dire need of hospitalization. But refusing to go because I apparently had some strange, masochist affinity for enduring the fight I put myself in: the real Fight Club.
I remember all the times I white-knuckled the comedown afraid to take sleep aids as I grinned and barred the mental and physical war I had waged on myself.
The shame of addiction is something I never want to experience again. It was a horror show on repeat that to this day I would cover my eyes from seeing ever again if it flashed before me on a screen, just as I do with scary movie commercials.
And although the shame of addiction was bad, I can only imagine what the shame of returning to it would be like.
Instead, I urge us all to return back to the days where we were desperately seeking something better and let that serve as the perfect antidote of sustainability towards lasting transformation.
We don’t have to live there, but we can revisit it as often as needed to keep us grounded and rooted in where we came from.
When you feel that beast voice gunning to have you long for those days or get you to fall off track, you can politely tell it: No thank you. “I’m not homesick for hell,” a sentiment one of my sober sisters Sasha Tozzi blew my mind with today.
No matter what you are doing, remember why you started and when you do, you will know why you must continue.
I can attest that 8 is, indeed, great. Namaste.
*The photo on the left is me on a bender laced with MDMA, cocaine, weed and absurd amounts of Red Bull/Vodka in Amsterdam, from February 2008 – 6 months before I got sober. The photo on the right is recent of me happily sober at a dinner in South Beach remembering that I’m not missing anything.