I’d been battling constant fatigue, energy swings, inability to focus for long periods of time, or sometimes at all—as though there was a thin, cloudy film around my brain—for too long. A month ago, I decided to go grain and sugar-free, and it worked.
I’ve learned to do the most important things in the morning: write, sweat, journal, meditate because it’s when I’m most clean and clear and sharp, by far. If I wait, the chances of those things happening falls drastically. And if those things don’t happen, my mind and life fall off track astonishingly fast. It’s practical. And practical every day equals profound. This is how you make your bones.
The phenomenon has revealed itself over time. In the beginning, traveling was nail-bitingly stressful and not fun at all. It took time for me to appreciate the concept of traveling without imbibing, to rewrite all those tracks in my brain that said the only way traveling would be a full experience was if I was drinking my way through it. For a while—like a couple years—I equated new places with the uprush of intoxication. It felt sad, boring, and incomplete to even imagine a vacation unpunctuated with cocktails, let alone actually do it.
I don’t like what’s happening with women online right now, particularly in recovery, spiritual, and so-called feminist circles. It appears there is a growing contingent of people who I would assert even six months ago had no awareness of the word privilege, and now feel compelled to call out other women on theirs at every turn.
I remember so looking forward to drinking again once I had her. I missed the release, the inclusion, the socializing, the softening. Almost immediately after she was born I went back to it, joining in at parties with my husband and baby in tow, having my girlfriends over or going to their house for wine like we had been doing for years. One time, just a couple weeks after she was born, I walked in a snowstorm to my friend’s place a few blocks away, just to try and feel like my “old” self for a few minutes. I barely drank one glass of wine before I felt so ill I had to trek home. I had mastitis.
Now, for various reasons, I’m not sure I want to do it anymore. I’m not sure it’s a good fit, and I feel like other things are becoming more important to me. But I’m afraid to stop because 1) what will God think? And 2) what will other people think? I have many religious friends an I worry that they will judge me if I leave. I also hate calling attention to myself and change will do that. But I don’t want to be a prisoner of other people’s judgments.
I was 28 when I got my first Ambien prescription. I'd just moved in with my boyfriend—the man that would eventually become my husband—and I sat in our bed one night holding half of the skinny peach-colored pill (I was too nervous to take the full one) in my palm. Both of us wondered what it would do. How long would it take to kick in? Would I remember falling asleep? Where would I go?
Since November 2015, I have completely changed my life. I’m nearly 3.5 years sober, I made the leap from my career in advertising to write and teach, I live in my dream location (basically, as close to the ocean as I can get without actually living on a boat), and I’m publishing my first book this September. My life is by no means perfect, but it is mine. It makes sense. It feels like home.