One year ago

sober

 

I really didn’t think this day would matter would me. May 13th. It’s just another day on the LONG list of days that I will not be drinking. Why count when there’s no end to the counting? But it does mean something. 365 days. 12 months. 52 weeks. 525,600 minutes. However you want to say it. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but you can do so much in one year. You can write a book. Lose weight. Start school. Make a baby… For me, you can save your own life. When I was little, the idea of  waiting one whole year was impossible. Bright eyed, young Jess couldn’t fathom an entire year. It was a lifetime. Forever and a day.  Fast forward to middle aged, recovering alcoholic Jess and boy did the year fly by. A blip on the radar. It was marked by hospital stays, transfusions, infusions, scans, doctor’s appointments and a pandemic. The year was the hardest, most challenging, eye opening, scary, life-changing thing I could ever have imagined. A year ago, I couldn’t walk across my house, take my dog out, even walk up the five stairs to my apartment. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I was in a nightmare of my own doing and I had given up. On this day last year, I knew I was dying and that I had to make a change. So I finished my last bottle of vodka and never took another drink. I never really thought that would be the last time I picked up a bottle. When I took that last drink, I didn’t really believe that I would stop. I had tried so many times before and I always disappointed myself and always ended up feeling like a giant piece of shit. Well I guess being at death’s door has a way of making sobriety stick. I’m grateful I almost died. I’m sitting here a year later stronger, smarter and happier. I don’t miss being drunk. I don’t miss the routine of it anymore. I still think about it. Mostly when I realize how stupid I was and how it completely took over my life. I’m still mad at myself but I think I probably always will be. I’m always much harder on myself than anyone else.

Yeah, May 13th is definitely just another day but it’s MY day. The day I chose to take my life back. I’ve felt A LOT of feelings since this whole journey has started. Fear, shame, pain, anger…but today I woke up with another weird, foreign feeling. One I haven’t ever really felt when it pertained to myself. I think you call it pride. So even if my birthday is long past, I’m going to celebrate myself today. And I’m going to let myself feel this “pride” thing, just this once.

Happy Soberversary to me. I actually deserve it.

Officially retired

Like many people during this lockdown I have used this time for deep personal reflection and real soul searching as I am sure you all have been doing too, right? It’s taken me 40 years on this earth to finally come to the realization that its very hard for me to let people be stupid. I have an intense burning desire to correct their stupidity with, I dunno, facts and logic. I could argue with someone all day long and I want to because you shouldn’t be able to get away with being so dumb. It offends me to think of people walking around unaware of how idiotic they are. I have taken it as my personal mission in life to be Chief of the Stupid Police. 

Stupid 2

As you can imagine, there are many problems with this. For one, I am vastly outnumbered. I knew when I took on this very important, self appointed role that I was fighting an uphill battle but somebody’s gotta do it. I performed my duties with gusto “devils advocating” my way into every stupid conversation hoping against hope that people would work it out for themselves. I have spent countless hours attempting to extract intelligence from even the most hardened idiot. No conspiracy too big, no wives tale too small. I took it all on like the social justice warrior that I am. Out on the streets, stupid was everywhere; infecting our schools, taking advantage of the elderly. A real plague. I declared an all out War on Stupidity. Intelligence was the law and idiocy would not be tolerated. It soon became apparent that, like other “wars”,  there would be no winner. There would be no glorious moment where I could stand on top of logic mountain, victorious. There would be no accolades, no commendations. A truly thankless job with virtually no benefits whatsoever. No medical, no dental. Just a headache from trying to reason with morons all day. The cases piling up on my desk faster than I could look at them. It is simply too much for one person to handle. 

So with all of that in mind, it is with a heavy heart that I am officially announcing my retirement from Chief of the Stupid Police. I hate to do it but I think it’s time. It truly is a sad day but all good things must come to an end. Effective immediately, I will be handing in my imaginary badge and relieving myself of my duties after 40 years of faithful service to my country. It has been both an honor and privilege to nobly take on this challenge and while I may not have succeeded, I’d like to think I left this world a little less dumb. I may not be serving in an official capacity but rest assured, I will still be fighting the good fight. For all you stupid people out there, this is far from over. I will still be here lurking in the shadows…a pocket full of logic to drop on you when you least expect it.

Some heroes don’t need badges. 

 

I’m over it

This is an unprecedented event in history. Nobody could have adequately prepared or expected this to happen. NO country, no matter who is leading them or how wonderful their healthcare system is, was fully equipped to deal with this. This is not political. This is just facts. It’s very easy to sit where you are and look at all the failures of our system but you are whack if you think that every other country is a bed of roses right now. I’m happy to be American. Yes, sometimes there is a leader who was picked by the people that I don’t always agree with. But I am an American and I support our country regardless. We are not a perfect system by any means. It bothers me deeply to hear people disrespect the office of the President for the last 3+ years. Yes, he is not what everyone wanted (even though we are the ones who elected him) and yes, he is abrasive and not “presidential” but I believe there are times for criticism and there are times for unity. And I feel like that time is now.

I’ve spent the last few weeks devastated over this epidemic just like everyone else. Uncertainty and fear are something that we are all learning to deal with on a regular basis. Some countries live with that reality every single day. We are lucky. Yet I wade through post after post from friends and strangers alike who do absolutely nothing but complain and criticize our country and the person who leads it. And it gets me thinking. Why? Why care soooo much about something that you have no control over? Yes, you can vote and try to get your voice “heard”, but you, one single person is this vast sea of humanity, is not going to get Trump out of office. No amount of bitching and crying about the state of our country is going to change your personal situation. What exactly do you want to happen? If the President locks us all down by force then we all cry because our “rights”are being taken away (ha, like our right to go to the mall I guess) and if he relaxes guidelines so as NOT to make people feel like that then he’s an asshat who’s not taking things seriously. So, people who want to complain, what is your solution exactly? I hear a lot of bitching and not a lot of discussion on what you geniuses would do in this situation. Enlighten me. Watching people fight over toilet paper and hoard household necessities is not exactly instilling the greatest confidence that we could run this shit on our own.

That’s the problem too. In a perfect world, we would all be helping each other and loving each other and creating a beautiful utopia where there was peace and harmony right? But please, look around you at the world. Look at humanity. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we hoard, we harm. We are imperfect. We can’t work together. We can’t all just love each other. We’ve proven that. It doesn’t work. Americans are selfish. We live in our own bubbles and unless those bubbles collide we don’t really have a sense or care about what’s going on in the other bubbles. It’s instinctual to look out for you and yours. I have to say if my family is starving and there’s one piece of bread, I’m not splitting it with a stranger. I’m sorry. You can call me a horrible person if you want but I worry about myself. I don’t rely on others to make me feel good, to put food on my table, to pay my bills. I don’t see anyone rushing to my aid when I can’t afford something or I’m hungry. I’m not beating back the hoards of helpful people when I’m in a bind. I don’t know where they hide for the rest of you, but when I’m in need all I hear is crickets. Just saying. And that’s fine. That’s humanity. I’m okay with that. I’ve accepted my lot in life. But I guess there are still some dreamers out there who think the world can work that way. I dunno, I just truly love realism. It’s where I live.

I don’t know where I was going with this. I guess I’ve just kept my mouth shut through all of this and I needed to vent. I guess I don’t understand how criticizing our government and leadership right now is helping at all. But I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised because I haven’t STOPPED hearing about it since Trump was elected. This is just more ammunition. I wonder if it ever gets tiring complaining about a situation that you can’t control and holding onto it soo hard that it almost suffocates you. I don’t like to bang my head against a wall. It hurts so I don’t do it.

This is an impossible situation for any country. Nobody has come away from this pandemic unscathed. It’s horrible. Italy had one of the best healthcare systems in the world and look at what good that did for them. Still thousands and thousands of people dead. I believe we are doing the best we can. I believe in the country that I live in and I support it. And if that means sucking it up and taking one on the chin when my guy doesn’t win the election, then that’s what I’ll do. And that’s what I’ve done in the past, numerous times. I hear too many people complaining about America lately. I still don’t see anyone going through the appropriate channels to be a citizen in another country. See, it’s not so easy to just move somewhere else. Other countries don’t just welcome you with open arms and let you live there and take advantage of their benefits without being a citizen. There are processes. Just like there should be here too. Perhaps it’s precisely because of that reason that they are able to take care of their own citizens so well. Anyway, I digress. If you are sick of it here in America and don’t agree with our practices then I implore you to move elsewhere and let me know how that goes. I hear Italy and Spain are nice this time of year….

Birthday lockdown

So it’s almost here. In 3 days I will celebrate my birthday. My first sober birthday in like, ever. It’s the last “holiday” left that I have yet to experience sober. 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, NEW YEAR, St. Patrick’s Day. All beautiful excuses to get wasted, but I didn’t. And then comes my very momentous 40th birthday (Eww). And usually on my birthday I would buy a bottle of my very favorite alcohol, Patron Silver, and I would celebrate another year of my existence. This year I really wanted it to be special. Jess’ First Sober Birthday. Break out the cake, party favors and non-alcoholic beverages because it was about to be lit. But of course, since life LOVES to shit directly on me, a global pandemic comes. An actual shitstorm of epic proportions. No Jess. You won’t be going to Vegas to celebrate another year of life. You won’t even be going out to dinner because… screw you.

When I turned 30 I actually think I had my midlife crisis. It was devastating to say goodbye to my 20’s. I loved being young. I made some really stupid decisions and I wouldn’t go back to making the same idiotic choices, but I really was sad to say goodbye. I figured my 40th would be horrific. I actually spent this whole time trying NOT to think about it. But then I found myself in the hospital last year. And I had to endure a struggle like I never imagined. And I had to fight for a life that I didn’t think I even cared about. I had to make some choices. And so I Carpe Diem’d that shit and embraced the moment. Instead of making my fortieth year of life something dreadful, I was going to look forward to it. A new start, it’s never too late to take your life back. Inspiring shit right? Yeah, I thought so too. I was really feeling myself.

Queue global hysteria. Queue lockdown orders and quaratines. Welcome to 2020. Welcome to my 40th year of life. Let me give you a rundown: There is mass hysteria as everyone is terrified of a killer pandemic. Toilet paper and hand sanitizer are in short supply and are being bartered like gold. The world has been told to “shelter in place”. Government is at a standstill. Millions are left without jobs. “Social distancing” is now a household term. Drive-by birthday parties, driveway dinners, family members gathering with windows in between them. It is not a movie, this is our lives. Locked inside your house, hiding from an invisible plague. Yes, this was a fantastic time to get my life together and get sober. My timing is always impeccable. Finally kick the alcohol only to die because people can’t wash their damn hands. The tragic and wonderful story of my life. When I die from Coronavirus will someone please at least put “But she died sober” on my headstone?

So I will be spending this fabulous Forty sequestered in my house like it’s the end of days. Instead of partying in Vegas or going out to eat at my favorite restaurant I will be sitting at my computer reading about death tolls, my Patron bottle replaced with some Purell. Counting how many squares of toilet paper I have left before I have to venture forth into the contagion…

Happy Birthday to me! Cheers! 😉

Hop aboard the struggle bus

This has got to stop. I just can’t take it anymore, it’s driving me crazy. I am bored. There used to be a time when I was okay with this fact. When I was too busy drinking or being hung over I was almost never bored! You don’t have time to be bored when you’re busy being an alcoholic. I had important business to attend to. I had a liver to destroy and that takes work! Try it, I dare you. But now that I am very much sober I find that I’m lacking something to do and this is extremely…boring. What is it that I’m supposed to be doing? What does one do with an entire day? I’ve already spent a fair amount of time on Reddit reading other people’s struggles with alcoholism. It’s become my new obsession. Man, there’s no shortage of people making a strong attempt to drink themselves to death. The club is much, much bigger than I thought. Much to my surprise, I am not a special snowflake. I’m one of many selfish, self-destructing snowflakes in the giant rolling snowball that is alcoholism. I realize this now after spending hours reading story after story of people just like me. SO many people. People who struggle with their own will every single day. People who struggle to drive past the liquor store instead of stopping in. People who struggle after a hard week or a life changing event, or a birthday, or an anniversary. It makes me realize that very soon I will celebrate my birthday sober for the first time ever. Wow. Sounds fun. It also makes me realize that I don’t have the same struggle as everyone else. I don’t have the luxury (if you can call it that) to stop in at the store on the way home and buy that bottle of vodka. I don’t have the option to drown my sorrows after a shitty day, or pop one open to celebrate my birthday. And I guess that my struggle is that very fact. My struggle comes with knowing that there isn’t that choice for me. I actually, weirdly enough, even feel lucky that it came to this. See, I know myself. I suck. And if I had that option, I would take it. It would be so much harder if it weren’t so very simple: Drink and possibly die. That’s pretty cut and dry. I actually think that the people who choose to quit are far stronger than I will ever be because I wasn’t strong enough to quit on my own. I needed my body to stop functioning properly for me to even entertain the idea. That’s just wrong man. So I don’t know whether it makes me stronger or just dumber. My doctors have assured me that it isn’t as easy to quit as I’ve made it out to be. Apparently, people get told the same thing all the time and continue to drink. The thought never crossed my mind. I KNOW that alcohol can no longer be in my life so I didn’t fight it too hard. I just embraced it. I’ve accepted my life without it.

This is life now and it’s really not so bad. I’ve had some great moments and some hard moments. But every single day is a struggle for all of us in some way, right? I’m learning more and more that it’s really about how you deal with the struggle. You’re never going to get rid of the bills, the stress, the worry, the anxiety. It’s part of life. And I’m figuring that out. Spending my life drunk was not making any of those things easier for me. It was a bandaid at best and a death sentence at worst. So here I am, bored on a Thursday morning. Reading  alcoholic’s stories on a sub-Reddit called /r stopdrinking. Seeing a little of me in every single person. Misery sure loves company. I’m not alone. I try to make a habit of visiting there every day and posting a positive message or two to others who are fighting the good fight. It keeps me motivated and it reminds me of how lucky I am to even be sitting here complaining. I also learned something new. IWNDWYT. It looks like mumbo jumbo, I know. When I first saw people posting it my eyes bled and then I had to look it up because I had no clue what it meant. IWNDWYT. I Will Not Drink With You Today. I will stay sober, and so will you..it is a statement of support, and a recognition that no one does this alone. So here’s to all the people who are struggling. I see you. You got this. You can do it. If my hopeless ass can do it, so can you. In whatever life throws your way.

Another thing that I realized while perusing the alcoholic forums and message boards and chat groups is that us alcoholics are selfish. For real. And pretty self-centered. I was a shining example of this the other day. We were getting ready to go to my mom and step-dad’s house. Now everyone should already know, I still partake in marijuana. Shocking I know. But it’s honestly helped me deal with everything, I would be lost without it. We’ll save your judgements and my justification for another blog. Anyway, I won’t smoke over at their house even though it’s legal and my mom is okay with it as long as I’m banished outside (we’ve come a long way baby). I told my mom that I just wanted Erick to keep a certain image of me so I won’t smoke weed around him. Really? The recovering alcoholic is worried about her image?! The truth of it all was just too damn funny. It was the picture of an alcoholic mind. Here I am with two hospital visits under my belt and a half functioning liver after admitting to the world that I’m a raging alcoholic and I’m worried about my image? Are you kidding me? Yes, please don’t sully this sterling reputation… It’s hysterical! I couldn’t stop laughing. Oh the irony! I am truly a work of art.

So I’m learning a lot of things in this new sober existence. It’s not been too terribly bad. I haven’t really had any strong urges to drink at all. It kind of makes me sick to think about being drunk again. I truly think that I haven’t needed to be drunk because being sober is so foreign to me. I was so used to being inebriated that sobriety is actually more mind altering to me at the moment. Being sober is the new drunk! Put that on a t-shirt and sell it…

I’m just taking my life day by day, moment by moment. I’m discovering new things about myself and who I really am without all of the alcoholic haze. And I kinda like me. I’m still learning and I know that I don’t have all of the answers but I can tell you one thing for sure

IWNDWYT

 

The Chronicles of Papa Part 2

Papa’s new jeans (and Yoshi, the dog I try to steal daily)

First of all, for those of you hanging onto the edge of your seats, Papa did in fact get new jeans and they are a vast improvement over the old ones. I know you must get to an age when you really don’t care much about the way you look (I’m pretty much there already) but the old jeans were about 3 sizes too big and 4 inches too long. And he liked them. So much so that he had them for 15 years. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Anyway, the new jeans look great. He looks like he’s dressed up to go out somewhere every day. A real man about town.

I had dinner with my mom and Papa last night as a matter of fact. (And yes, in case you were wondering, the chicken was way too dry and there wasn’t enough sauce. He “should have gotten something else”). So we’re having a conversation (well I’m yelling at the top of my lungs) and somehow we get on the topic of how old he is and how he really didn’t plan very well. See, apparently he had this whole thing planned out and he was not supposed to live quite so long. He was supposed to move in with my mom and have just enough money to gamble and have fun before he died. His words. Well, he moved in with my mom and gambled and had fun alright. And now according to him, he has “outlived his money”. Here he is 96 years old and still “feeling good”. Imagine being so old that even you are surprised that you’re still alive! He has definitely come to grips with the fact that he will leave us soon, though. When you get that old there’s no hiding the inevitable. But he is just so funny and matter of fact about it. I’ve shared this before elsewhere but it reminds me of the fortune cookie Papa got at dinner a few weeks ago. He can’t read the fortune so he has us do it. “Good things are coming to you in due course of time”. His response you ask? “Well they better hurry up”. That’s Papa for you. I wish I could be so good natured about my own demise. Perhaps I need to adopt more of this grandpa attitude and apply it to my own life. It seems to have served him well thus far.

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Dear Alcohol…

Dear Alcohol,

You have been a constant companion to me over the years. Through good times and bad times you have always been there to lean on. I have looked to you more than any other person or thing in my life. I have depended on you and held you close. Up until 8 months ago, I could never imagine not having you in my life. You were my crutch and my excuse and you prevented me from so many things. You gave me a false sense of security and you made me complacent in my own life. I spent hours thinking of you and thousands of dollars on making sure you stayed around. I grasped onto you when I felt like the world was swallowing me whole. You were the one thing that never let me down. And we had some good times, didn’t we?  I could ignore all of my problems when were together. You had this way of making everything always seem okay. And I loved that about you. I invested everything into you until I had nothing left to give. You consumed me. You were my best friend and my very worst enemy. I put my love for you above everything else, even myself. They say love hurts, but you almost killed me. I thought we would be happy together forever because you robbed me of my ability to see anything beyond you. I realize now, by leaving you behind, that it was my weakness that you preyed upon. You knew I felt broken in some way and you took advantage of that. And I let you. I didn’t see my worth because I was too wrapped up in your false sense of comfort. You wanted me weak so you could continue to control me.

I know now that our relationship was toxic because even today I miss you. I think of you every day and I miss the warm feeling of being in your embrace. I hate that. I hate what you did to me. I hate YOU now. I thought I needed you but you hurt me too much and now I need to say goodbye to you forever. Maybe if I were a stronger person I would be able to have you back in my life one day but I know the strength of the power you had over me and I cannot allow you to hurt me any longer. You have been a part of my story for far too long.

So goodbye. I know I will miss you and it will take a long time to get over you but I know I can now. You stole far too much of my time and now I need to take my life back. I need to reach all of the potential that you tried so hard to keep me from. I need to figure out who I am without you. I need to learn how to be happy again. So I’m going to keep moving forward because I’m doing just fine. In a sick way, I know I’ll love you forever but I’m better off without you.

Goodbye,

Jess