I may not be back, but, in a sense, I never left. Party girl was always me. Hiding behind the facade of an image I never meant to curate. I was hollowed and alone because of the people who surrounded me with their expectation. I allowed myself to be defined by their idea of who I was, and what my potential meant to them. Now, this party girl is me. 30 years into defining myself, I will not allow this* to be my legacy. I am more. I have been more. I will continue to be something you have yet to experience. That, that is genuine.
Well, I suppose it’s safe to say that it took me a little longer than I initially anticipated to return to this blog. A large part of me wasn’t really ready to explore the new life that was unfolding in front of me with much introspection. I let go. For better or worse is for me to judge. I can say that overall, I am happy, and living the life of my dreams. Not my wildest dreams, by any stretch of the imagination, but in the sense that I never imagined feeling so free and happy. Genuinely happy. I wrote a lot about my struggle and personal growth, and truly made strides personally and professionally. I achieved goals I never felt I could achieve. I went from feeling lonely, isolated, and depressed, to becoming a confident, independent, and honest woman. A large part of me feels like I wasn’t experiencing much more than your average post college – mid twenties – what the hell am I going to do with my life? – young adult, but it was obvious to me alcohol was clouding any clear path I had that would lead to finding a life of happiness.
In the last year and a half, I’ve done so much. I’m sitting here attempting to take myself back to where I was when I started drinking again, and stopped writing Party Girl. I was the executive assistant to three C level executives. I am connected to a product that is connected to Star Wars. It may have been post George Lucas, but it was still a pretty big fucking deal. I was living in Boulder, in a beautiful home. I made good money. I ate well. I was thin. I felt and looked healthy. The truth is though, for all the growth I experienced, despite the great sense of pride in myself and what I had accomplished, I was miserable. I was so disappointed by my misery, too. Thus leading to more misery. If I’m being completely honest, I wasn’t living my life in a way that was making me happy. I had traded a life that didn’t make me happy for another one. I was following the model of what it means to be a responsible adult. Which I believe a part of me needed to do. I needed to start over, and especially for an alcoholic, that meant sticking to the basics. I needed to focus on my health, career, and heal the parts of myself that were hiding behind drink specials. So I followed the basic 101 of adulthood. I wanted to find success professionally. I wanted to prove to myself and others that not only could I live a healthy life, but I could live a life that most would envy. I wanted to rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and yadda yadda, you get the idea.
The truth is, I had no idea what I wanted. I just knew what I didn’t want, and there was still a part of me holding on the my dependant behavior, but in different ways. Once you admit you have a drinking problem, you usually discover that you seek out people who enable you. They provide comfort and justification in an otherwise turbulent life. Assisting in the perpetuation of the same behaviors, just in different forms. Co-dependency being one of them.
(To be Continued)
Thanks for reading.
Party Girl – 2 Days Sober
64 Days To 30
I’ve missed writing and sharing my life with all of you people I feel a profound connection with. Life, as is turns out, doesn’t always go according to plan. It’s surprising sometimes to think back over whom you have been, where you thought you were going, and who you’ve hoped to become. When I think back to where I was a year and a half ago, I don’t recognize that person. She’s the same woman looking back at me when I’m staring at myself in the mirror, but her mind, my mind is so different.
I realize now, that everything I wanted to accomplish centered around me. It was more than an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, it was an unhealthy relationship with myself. I didn’t value, love, or respect myself, so instead I avoided myself, and my life at all cost. The greatest cost was me. It felt as though I had lost myself forever, and there was never going to be a time in which I was going to find myself again. The truth is, I had never found myself. I didn’t know who I was, or where I was going. I was a young girl navigating a life that had been handed to me, instead of cultivating my own.
You read those motivational quotes people post on the internet. The articles about 25 things some woman deemed to be the keys that opened the door to her success and happiness. They say things like, live your life for you. Don’t have regrets. Find what brings you happiness and follow it relentlessly. I think we all know the concepts people are attempting to portray, but applying these techniques to your own life can seem so impossible. How do I change my life, and find happiness? Behavior is learned over a lifetime, and changing your behavior takes time. You have to condition yourself.
I look back at what feels like monumental accomplishments I’ve made in life. Here’s my list of 5 things I’ve learned through the last year and a half.
1.) You can change anything about yourself. Anything. You just have to take the first step. Even if you have no idea where it’s going to lead.
Being open about sobriety wasn’t as much about sobriety, as it was about accountability. I’m a pretty prideful person, and my fear of failure has driven me in a positive and negative directions. Deciding to be open and vulnerable about something I considered to be a flaw or failure was not easy. It may have been the most difficult decision I had made at that point in my life. It did teach me that being open and honest is usually always well received. Accepting love and guidance from friends, family, and strangers is a very powerful feeling. It allowed me to finally push myself in all the areas I knew I needed to change. Knowing that I had support allowed me the confidence I needed to charge full steam ahead at changing my life. That my failure didn’t change who I was, that it only molded aspects of who I am. With each baby step in a direction guided solely by my OWN intention and motivation, I became the person I wanted to be. I came into my own.
2.) Feeling like shit is ok, as long as you don’t allow yourself to wallow in self pity for you too long.
When I initially attempted to get sober, I was at an emotional rock bottom. I had backed myself into a corner that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get out of. It felt like my support group was gone, because I had done all that I could to push them away. I felt like choices and decisions I had made left me a terrible person. There was a part of me that rejected the idea that I had anything to offer my friends, family or the world around me. I didn’t feel worthy or deserving of love. Then I got up off the couch, and marched forward. I decided that my past was just that – my past. I can’t change who I was, or the choices I made. I can’t undo all of the shitty things I’ve done. All I can do is move forward in a life guided by my conscience. I CAN control my future actions and behaviors. I can create the life I’ve always wanted. In order to do that though, I had to believe it. With each step I took I realized I was capable. My friends helped me see that despite the actions of my not so glamorous past, I was deserving of love. Not only that, but that I positively contributed to the lives of those around me. I learned that kicking yourself when you’re down, is no different than doing the same to someone else. Nothing changes until you pick yourself up off the floor and start moving.
3.) You can’t say you love yourself, you have to actually love yourself.
Self love is a struggle for some people. It was for me. It may be the hardest aspect of my personal journey. To know that I am capable of love, and that I am deserving of it’s receipt, is hard. When I falter from my desired path, or make a mistake, or do something I’m not proud of, I am my own worst enemy. I hate myself – I beat myself up. I am a perfectionist. When you read about people who suffer from addiction, you find, more often than not, that they share a common thread – perfection. This desire to live up to an unrealistic expectation of themselves. An unattainable status of perfection, that when not reached is answered with sharp criticism and self destructive behavior. I’m still learning to love myself. To allow myself to feel proud of all that I have accomplished in life. To allow myself to love myself despite my faults. To console my own soul when I’ve “failed”. To not be my own worst critic is difficult at times, but learning to love myself is alway going to be my ultimate goal.
4.) Cutting the negative relationships in your life is hard, and sometimes not the clearest decision, but so worth it.
Everyone enters your life for a reason. I believe that. Maybe that reason is to hand you a sandwich from a drive through window and smile or compliment your nails, but hey, there they are. I tend to hold on to relationships far longer than necessary once I’ve formed a bond or attachment to people. I personally attribute this to issues of abandonment I have from my childhood, as I feel it’s encouraged me to accept any relationship or a negative relationship, over the idea of not having any at all. I think it’s important to recognize the people in your life who contribute to the betterment of who you are. The ones who understand that it’s not about a million memories together, but the few that leave your heart so full that you can’t imagine love to leave you more fulfilled. There are those friends who you’ve struggled with. The ones who have cared and loved you enough to work through issues you’ve had over the years. Those are the ones that stick by your side through the thick of it. There are also those friends or lovers you need to let go of. Sometimes a relationship has run it’s course. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to let go, before you’re forced to. Those big, explosive ends to a relationship are often because we have chosen to hold on to them for too long. Bottling up emotions, and neglecting that part of your heart that has been pained one too many times. Letting go doesn’t mean you can’t talk here and there, or want nothing but the best for that person, it just means that you’re ready to move them down on that totem pole of priorities I love to talk about. My life has come full circle in a lot of ways. Many of the relationships I let go of are the strongest I have now. I attribute that to not holding on for too long when life’s journey was pulling us in seperate directions.
5.) Only you know what is best for you, and only you can change your life. Don’t sit around waiting for something to happen, make it happen.
You have to be happy. Living your life favoring everyone else’s emotions over your own will only leave you disappointed. I don’t ever want to be the cause or reason for anyone else’s pain or disappointment, but I am not responsible for their expectations of me. I’m free to live my life, because I know that who I am is a good person, with good intentions. I know that along the way I’m going to ruffle a feather. I’m going to be inconsiderate. I’m going to make a decision that leaves someone else feeling something I didn’t intend. That’s true for me too. That said, only I know what I want, and I’m going to die knowing that I did everything in life the way I felt was best for me.
I knew my life needed to change. I wanted to be successful in my own eyes. For a long time I lived my life comparing it to other people’s. There was a point when I felt like life dealt me a bad hand, and that was all she wrote. I was never going to win. Then I decided to say fuck it, and stopped caring about the odds, or the cards, or the game. I just wanted to play. I wanted to be an active participant. It’s like that saying “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Now, if you say that to me when I’m playing a competitive sport, I’m going to tell you you’re stupid. I’m here to win. In life, I am here to win, but my idea of winning is playing the game well. I don’t need to be the best at anything, my name settles that, but I do want to know that I gave life my damn best shot. That I poured every ounce of energy into it. I want to be tired, sweaty, and worn out when I die. Right now I can tell you I am. I am trying my damnedest to give myself the life I know I deserve, because I love myself, and I would do anything for me. I know that as long as I keep following that moral compass on my journey, everything is going to be just fine. I am going to be just fine.
I’ve missed writing. 🙂
You’re living anyway, you may as well live a life doing what you love – what makes you happy.
Life = Infinite Possibilities
“I had to sort of reinvent painting for myself. It seems sort of more or less impossible. But if you’re just determined to keep going, you don’t need to give up. If your subject is your experience, then as long as you’re having an experience, you have a subject. And that’s proven to be true, even into total blindness.”
Do you ever have one of those long exhausting days that seem to drag on for weeks, but when you look at the clock only ten minutes has gone by? Time just seems to trickle by at the pace of a sailing stone. I haven’t had one in a while, but when I first started down this path of transformation it felt like each day was an eternity. I would lay awake at night while the thoughts inside my mind ate away at me. Like vultures picking the last bit of flesh from a rotting carcass, my brain seemed to be feeding on itself. It’s hard for me to remember what it was that plagued me when I should have been sleeping. I only remember the feelings of hopelessness and doubt. There wasn’t a part of me that knew what to do with myself, or where I would end up. So in turn, when I could sleep, I slept for hours. It feels like I slept for weeks, and not at all.
Imagine a man in a glass tomb. Inside he is banging on the glass. Screaming. He is rattling his cage, desperately attempting to alert someone to his pleas for help. Wishing that the glass would just shatter. Now imagine that man, and his tomb, live deep inside your chest. Just beside your heart. While no one else can hear him, his demands for freedom are so disruptive you can hardly concentrate. Your heart palpitates, your mind races, your blood pressure rises. It astounds you that no one else can hear or feel him.
That’s what my anxiety felt like. I felt like I was that man trapped inside this glass box, buried deep inside my chest, and at any moment the glass was going to break. Then with a violent and intense blow the glass did shatter. The man was free. I was free. This voice was finally heard, and I was forced to listen. Everything I had trapped inside came to the surface, and there I was. Staring myself in the face, wondering who I was, and what exactly it was that I wanted. When I asked myself the question I had no idea how to answer. I had focused for so long on just obtaining the freedom, it never occurred to me what I planned to do with it once it was a reality. So there I was, with no idea what to do next. Trying to provide myself any direction just led to what seemed like an endless cycle of insomnia, introspection, and confusion.
I imagine it’s similar for anyone trying to integrate back into society after they’ve reformed themselves in some way. The old me was so conditioned to living my life the way I had been living it. I had to learn how to navigate this very new, yet familiar place. I took the smallest steps. Like an infant learning to crawl, then walk. The first thing lacking was my basic need for human interaction. I realized that so much about drinking for me was the social aspect. My Mom always referred to me as a social butterfly, and that I was. I need and crave those opportunities to engage with people. It brings out a side of me that I’ve never understood, but it makes me happy, more complete. I dwindled down my friendships, and focused on reestablishing relationships with people, meaningful relationships. I was done with the bullshit, superficial stuff. I wanted to engage. I’ve said before that there is a loneliness that accompanies sobriety that I do not think most can or will understand, unless they’ve been there too. That said, allowing that loneliness to drive you into people or situations that don’t really bring you satisfaction, fulfillment or joy, will leave you feeling more lonely than when you started. So I established relationships with my lovely friends. It provided me an outlet to voice so many things I’d held on to. Thoughts I held privately, stuffed into that glass box. It also gave me the opportunity to feel loved and appreciated. It showed me how much I love and value my friends. I found myself opening up, and letting people in – less concerned about what ifs and whys. It helped make me feel like I had a purpose while living in this transitional middle world. It showed me that even though I felt like I was going through this monumental change in my own life, that most everyone I know is battling their own demons. We all struggle with different aspects of ourselves and our lives. It helped me feel “normal” again.
Then I focused on time. What do I do with all of this time? Between being more selective about who I spent time with, where I went, what I was doing, and not being drunk or hung-over, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. Time I didn’t really want to spend letting the thought vultures feed. That’s about the time I started writing again. Not just this blog, but others. I started writing poetry again. Short Stories. Ideas. I would just write for hours. I still do. Sometimes I just sit here and write and write and write in circles. All the while I bring up all of these things on my mind that I haven’t quite figured out how to articulate. I fill my journal with all of these thoughts that I get to look back over, recall emotions associated with life events I probably wouldn’t have remembered otherwise. When I look over my blogs and journals I’m taken on this emotional journey. Like a mental movie theater playing back these moments in time that compelled me to write. I’ve noticed the shift though. I used to only write when I was sad. When I was drinking, I only wrote when I was an emotional wreck. I wrote about my Dad, failed relationships, the hopelessness. It’s actually some pretty sad stuff. There’s a part of me that needs to read that stuff though. Be reminded of who I evolved from. As of late, it’s nice to read the stories, poems, and journal entries I’ve been writing. They convey the optimistic, positive, and driven person that allowed herself to focus on the dark stuff for far too long. I’ve never touched on it, but I’ve always been this way. It was a facade, and I didn’t really believe it, or find the motivation to follow through with things, but I’ve always been driven and optimistic. There’s no way I would have done, experienced, and survived life to this point had I not been. It’s just that now I’ve made life a little easier for myself, and use my powers for good instead of partying.
I rediscovered interests that I’ve always enjoyed. Bike rides, wood working, writing, reading, museums, long walks, people watching, sitting alone with myself, concerts with music I actually want to listen to, as opposed a scene I wanted to drink around. I stumbled upon myself for the first time. It’s always like that though, we’re constantly evolving, but sometimes it’s takes a minute to realize you really are becoming the person you’ve e been striving to be. With this new move, career, home, life, I’m kind of rediscovering myself again. I’ve never been this person on my own. I’ve never been away from everything I knew or felt familiar to. I’ve always had the comfort of “home”. It leaves me with a lot of time to reflect on my life and where I’m going, but it’s different this time. The vultures are up there, they still circle looking for something to feed on, but this time there’s nothing for them. I like to think they may fly away soon. I let the man out of his tomb, so there’s no anxiety plaguing my head or heart. I’m honest with myself and the people around me, so I have nothing to hide.
There’s calmness to my mind and thoughts. I don’t feel manic or anxious when I think about my life or what I’m doing. I don’t feel like I’m not doing enough. I feel perfectly ok with who I am, and the direction my life is going in. Looking over the last year of my life, I realize that the person I’ve always wanted to be is me. I’m still striving to grow and develop. There are aspects of myself that I’m actively attempting change, and nurture. Then there is a part of me that I admire. I always wanted to feel empowered. To know that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. I’m proud of myself for finally listening to the advice I’d given so many friends. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the everyday stuff that can seem so monumental. Work, relationships, money, time, stresses… but when you step back, look at the grand painting that you’ve created – your life. It’s astonishing isn’t it? You lived that. You created this. All of those projects, relationships, contributions. The shadows and the highlights. The brightest yellows and the darkest blues. You created those.
Just like those sailing stones in the desert. While they appear stagnate, they are in motion. Moved by nature, the elements, and the world around them. Over years they slowly migrate across the desert surface, their journey creating these beautiful phenomenal designs in the earth. Only appreciated when we take the time to step back and look.
AEB’s World 11 Months – 5 Days of Transformation
It’s amazing what can trigger a memory. Something so simple can fill your heart with emotions, recalled from what feels like a mirage of a life experience. It’s winter here in Colorado, and while I type this it’s probably 0 degrees out. There’s been an especially cold front that’s just starting to creep out of the Boulder Valley. With snow on the ground, it’s quite common to walk into anyone’s home and see a sea of shoes, boots, and house shoes sprawled out near the door. This is to prevent cold, wet snow from seeping through your socks, as you walk on the hardwood floors. I feel this overwhelming sense of comfort when I walk through the door to find this collection of footwear. A nostalgia associated with that feeling of home. Perhaps it was growing up in sandy California, or having an extended family of Chamorro descent, but I always remember walking into my grandmother, auntie, or friends’ homes as a child and thinking to myself “Remember to take off your shoes!”. We didn’t do this in my own home. My Texan and Californian parents disregarded this common practice, but every time I walk into a house, to see shoes piled up, a part of me reminisces of home, my childhood.
Today when I got home from running errands in the cold, to find my own shoes lining my living room walls, I thought about how interesting it was that this simple act of removing my shoes is associated with that feeling of home – despite the fact that I never did this in my childhood home. Emotions and memories are constructed from the architectural blueprints of our mind. I cultivated this memory, tied it to this emotion, and associated it with this image. We are the curators of our reality, whether we chose to believe it or not.
When I started this blog, as anyone who’s followed it from the beginning will know, it was a journal and emotional sanctuary to get me through a dark time in my life. Overwhelmed by an onslaught of manic emotional episodes, and an unparalleled despair, I found solace in this internet oasis. I suppose a part of me found it easier to hold myself accountable for my actions, knowing that people, who I didn’t even know, knew what I was attempting to accomplish. Especially since most were tackling the same obstacles themselves. As I progressed through the journey of sobriety and self awareness, it became clear that I was in fact the architect of my life. Working within the ever expanding confines of my mind, I adapted to build a new life for myself. When the time came to share my blog with my friends, and openly admit to the dark secrets I’d kept to myself, I was terrified. There was a part of me that was so sure I would be outcasted for being open about such a taboo subject, and moreover ridiculed for writing something that could hardly even qualify to be found in some lowbrow – self help section of the internet. If I’m being honest, I was scared that my peers, people whose opinions mattered to me at the time, would reject, think less of, or judge me. I didn’t want to admit that I was using alcohol to negatively fuel a self destructive, unmotivated, and (in the truest sense) unhealthy life. I now realize that my greatest fear of all was being viewed as a failure.
Failing is negative, right? If you failed in school you were destined to a life of flipping burgers. If you fail in relationships, well, you’re destined to be alone. If you fail at controlling your drinking, your an alcoholic, with no self control. No one wants to be an alcoholic. Even after all this time, I struggle to say “I am an alcoholic.” It’s as if I’m admitting failure. Admitting to a lack of self control that, while some people can, most people will not openly admit to. Once I opened pandora’s box of unknown, an amazing thing happened. I felt relieved. I was finally aligning the dark side of myself with the light of my other half. Who I was projecting to the world and who I actually was could be found with a page click. My first post published to facebook was read by almost 800 people in 48 hours. Now I’m not sure who actually read my blog, or how far back they chose to read, but I was finally letting people in. (In probably the easiest way possible) After that first shared post people started writing to me to talk about their own personal experiences with drugs and alcohol. Instead of telling me I was a failure, people came to me to tell me how proud they were of me for turning my life around in so many ways. I felt this overwhelming sense of comfort. Surprised by the outpouring of support and well wishes.
I continued the blog even though I didn’t feel as if I was having a continued issue or desire to drink. The Party Girl inside me felt reformed. The reason I continued to write was mostly to document the major shifts in my own self awareness. As well as the personal triumphs, victories, and pitfalls that accompany any 20 something venturing out of their partying days. I wanted to help other’s see how possible it is to change your life. That it is possible to find happiness within yourself, as you long as you’re willing to allow it. I fought tooth and nail to deny myself this basic human right, and boy, I’ve sure found it.
Now comes the hard part. I have been struggling for the last month with what initially felt like a personal failure. I drank alcohol this month. Not just once. On more than one occasion. Sharing that with you, whoever you are, leaves me feeling the same way I did, if not worse, than when I shared that first blog. I don’t know what it means to have allowed alcohol back in my life. I haven’t regressed into my old self. I do not intend to. I don’t feel differently about the unfathomable accomplishments of the last year. I did feel guilty. I removed every shred of anything that connected me to my blog on social media. Took it down from my Instagram, disassociated it from my facebook account. I removed myself from PGGS, because I was no longer “sober”. The fact of the matter is, I walked a fine line with sobriety. While I did remove alcohol from my life completely, I still allowed myself to indulge in substances that were mind altering. I let myself take escapes. Wasn’t that what I was trying to get away from? Avoiding life, myself, and my unhappiness. So, I drank. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve processed it as best I can and at the moment, I’m ok with it. I don’t feel particularly bad about it. The difference between my drinking this time around from before? Honesty. I have to be honest with the people who have supported, encouraged, and followed me along this journey. I owe that to myself, and to anyone else who cares.
I don’t know what this new chapter of my journey holds. I don’t know what my relationship with drugs and alcohol will be. I do know this. I made the decision to change my life 10 months ago. Since then I’ve accomplished every goal I’ve set for myself. I landed my dream job. I moved to a new city. I found a self confidence and humility that is as removed from my own ego as possible. I have a tremendous sense of self worth. I’ve learned the difference between compassion, empathy, and enabling. I’m proud of myself. For the first time in my life I’m happy with who I am. Most importantly, I’ve found honesty. Who I am and who I want to be – my two halves – they hold each other’s hand, as we make this journey together.
On this last night of 2014, I had to close out my blog with the truth. I’m Party Girl Gone Sober, but I’m a party girl who has found herself. This architect is constructing a memory of victory, courage, strength, humility, honesty, and new beginnings, but never failures. There are no failures in life.