Today’s blog post is from my friend Cynthia. I met her in Los Angeles on the comedy club circuit. She’s funny, smart and complex in the best way. Let me tell you something else about Cynthia. She gets it. Go check out her blog when you’re done with her story to hear more about her bipolar disorder and possible attempt at becoming a yoga goddess.
“As far back as I can remember, I never felt comfortable in my own skin.
I started drinking when I was about 12 years old. Alcohol soothed all of my insecure thoughts, and feelings of inadequacy. I didn’t worry about my weight, my attractiveness or approaching people with a little buzz on. After graduation, my high school sweetheart broke up with me and soon became involved with crystal meth. I did too, as a way to keep close to him and hang out with the same people. At that time, I also became friends with a dealer who hooked me up on the cheap. I began losing lots of weight and getting a lot of positive feedback on how thin I was.
During a close call involving the police, I decided to quit cold turkey. Although I had stopped doing drugs, I was drinking up a storm. And because I hadn’t dealt with any of the feelings that I had been numbing with alcohol or speed, I soon began using food to cope and began gaining weight. People began to comment again, but with very negative responses. All of my doubts, fears and insecurities came rushing back. I panicked and became bulimic.
Bulimia was a cycle of binging to stuff the feelings, extreme self-loathing and then the release of all of those feelings by purging them. But for anyone who’s experienced it, after each purge is the promise never to do it again, then the inevitable cycle repeats itself. Much like my drinking.
I moved to LA to try and make it as a comic. I went to OA meetings and managed to stop the bulimia without committing to the program. My career started to prosper and I went from a struggling stand-up comic to an employed professional writer, something I never would have dreamed possible. My drinking at that point was somewhat controllable. I always drank with people who drank as much as I did, so my drinking didn’t standout. My outer world had changed, but I hadn’t. My emotional life was a mess. My drinking patterns stayed the same, and I knew I was an alcoholic.
I got married, had a daughter and I thought that motherhood would automatically tame my drinking problem. But the anxiety and fear of motherhood, and the loneliness of moving to a small town made it worse. I had severe bouts of depression and drinking more and more.
When Stefanie ‘came out” I had the courage to accept my alcoholism. I think because back in the day, not only was she a good friend, she was one of my drinking buddies. I attempted sobriety in June, but I felt awkward in AA. I hadn’t truly surrendered to the fact I was powerless over alcohol. I accepted the fact that I was an alcoholic, but I felt I could “outsmart’ it. I didn’t want to give it up entirely, my life was too stressful. My plan was to have 30 days of sobriety and then I could have a “day off,” as long as I was by myself.
I had about 45 days and then I decided to get drunk. I was by myself at a conference and I thought that I could drink alone. My daughter called and knew that I was drunk.
After that, the thirty days off, turned to two weeks, turned to weekends, turned to every other day. I had so much guilt, shame and self-loathing over my drinking, yet I felt powerless to stop it. And the moment that I truly realized that I was powerless to stop it, I gained strength. I knew I could not control my drinking, but I could control my path of recovery.
As scared as I was, I drug myself to another AA meeting. I broke down and cried and a woman talked to me after the meeting. I called her during the week and forced myself to talk, even though I felt awkward and needy. I had isolated myself for so long, and I was so lonely, but I was terrified to reach out for help. I had to give up my ego, which had always told me that I was smarter than alcoholism and the people that filled those rooms.
A few weeks ago, we had a huge snowfall but I braved the snow to get to my Saturday morning meeting. I parked at the side of the road, but I wasn’t sure how to find my footing across the parking lot. I looked for the footsteps of those that had gone before me and walked where their shoes had made an imprint, knowing that if I followed in their footsteps, I would make it inside.
That’s what AA means to me now. It’s a path I can take, where others have walked safely before me and I know that I am not alone.”
*Check out the Booze Free Brigade if you need support*
In reading Mary Pipher’s Writing to Change the World I have a reminder to myself to re-read Reviving Ophelia. It’s a great read on the plight of teens today (well, it’s a bit dated now), maybe there is some insight there.
.-= Brooke´s last blog ..rubies and love songs =-.
I LOVE the footstep comparison!! So right on, I’m gonna tuck it away in my brain for future use. Thanks for sharing. You are brave and we are lucky to have your story to help us along the path to recovery.
.-= robin´s last blog ..shoelaces =-.
Thank you for sharing this. I can really relate to knowing I had a problem with alcohol, going to AA and then vowing that I would lick this on my own. I just wasn’t done yet. I tried everything to control it – now with the additional motivation that I never wanted to step foot in another AA meeting. I failed. Once I surrendered, realized that this was waaay bigger than me and it was kicking my ass, I went back to AA and asked for help. It saved me. I went kicking and screaming, but eventually I wanted to be there, I wanted to stay sober for ME.
I can also relate to the not feeling comfortable in my skin, to the wanting to self-medicate the bad feelings away. Motherhood escalated my drinking a TON. It is the amazing friendships with other women who are just like me, and you, who are out there fighting the brave fight that keep me sober today.
Thank you so much.
.-= Ellie´s last blog ..Coming In For A Landing =-.
I hate the basic addiction question…what’s next?
Well in my entire 8wks 5days sobriety, I hope it’s exercise!
Very well done Cynthia!
I love Don’t Drink Fridays, these stories of strength help me so much.
I have a hard time going to my meetings…I have some of the same thoughts about it that you did. I always feel better after I go, so I try to dwell on that when I am feeling lazy and scared beforehand.
Thank you for being brave, sharing your struggles and giving me hope.
.-= seekingclarav´s last blog ..53 days and deep =-.
Mommy on the Spot said,
I can’t tell you how much I love your blog. I really like your Don’t Get Drunk Friday posts. I feel like I am always getting closer to understanding those in my life with addiction. And in a family where we aren’t really allowed to talk about it, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this insight. Thank you.
.-= Mommy on the Spot´s last blog ..Thank you and then some!! =-.
I, too, love the footstep imagery at the end of your post. It’s just such an apt analogy. We follow those who went before, and left our own for those who come after us . . . and then, we travel back the same way, revisiting the same tracks again, and again, in an effort to stepping off course and falling on our asses.
I really loved the thoughts that paragraph brought me! Thanks, Cynthia!
.-= Caroline´s last blog ..Dear 10-Month Old Bitlet =-.
Thank you to everyone ( and Stefanie) for letting me share!
.-= Cynthia´s last blog ..Yoga Girl =-.
Your story has me crying. I still feel that way when calling people in AA when I need help. In true form I thought I was the only one who felt awkward and needy when reaching out. I have been isolated for so long that it is comfortable to me. Reaching out and admitting that I can’t do it on my own is hard every day. Thank you for your story and strength.
Lisa Rae @ smacksy said,
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your footprints analogy will stay with me.
.-= Lisa Rae @ smacksy´s last blog ..Smacksy Sunday Link: Nature Boy =-.
David Broadwell said,
Hi, please view our site: http://www.forantonia.wordpress.com I need your help in spreading the word. I only know a handful of people and I desperately need your help.
A concerned Dad and Husband
Daily Cup of Jo said,
I stumbled on your site from DadGoneMad. So glad I did. I’ve been sober a long time and I always thought those who came in and were much too comfortable at their first few AA meetings, usually didn’t stick around. It’s awkward and humiliating in the beginning — and then, it’s not and life changes. The footsteps in the snow was perfect. Nice job.
.-= Daily Cup of Jo´s last blog ..Tuesday tidbits: I can see clearly now =-.
Maggie, dammit said,
This is so lovely. It really is. And there is so much I can relate to.
Thank you for this.
.-= Maggie, dammit´s last blog ..What it’s like now =-.