baseball, sobriety, and red lights

I watched my first baseball game of the season (spring training) today. I watched it sober, for the first time in my adult life. I noticed that something was weird during the game, but I didn’t know what was different. As soon as the game ended (10-6, Red Sox-Yankees), I immediately knew. I wasn’t trashed.

I always got trashed when the Red Sox won. I always got trashed when they lost. I was with them no matter what.

I started to freak out a little, and then I started to freak out A LOT.

I had to go to CVS to pick up some prescriptions. I cried in the drive through twice. I decided to take the quieter route back to my house. I wanted to attend an AA meeting, but I had a rehearsal from 7:30-9:30. It was 6:30.

My panic attack over losing my sobriety over baseball really kicked my ass on the way home. I was no longer crying, but I was not really paying attention to driving anymore. It did not cross my mind to pull over.

All of a sudden, everyone in my rear view mirror was stopped.

I ran a red light during rush hour.

I didn’t die.

I called my lover, he said it was okay. I said I want to go to a meeting but I have to go to rehearsal.

I went to rehearsal.

I called the police and told the policewoman what I did. She said it was okay. I am such a fucking self-narc. But she said I wouldn’t get a ticket.

And now I realize that “the great whatever” was looking out for me today. “The great whatever” wants me to go to AA meetings and connect with alcoholics like myself and make my sobriety feel like a solid foundation.

I have not been going to AA meetings.

Dis bitch is going to an AA meeting first thing in the morning.

Thank you, “the great whatever.”

Also, thank you baseball season for always giving me something to look forward to. I will be the best sober Red Sox fan of all time. That is a challenge.

And I really, really hope one of these job opportunities pulls through. I’ve been going at it 25/8 on the applications. Ya girl needs a call back.

Love always,

Martha

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6 Months of Uphill Sobriety

Personal Rock Bottom and Lurking There a While

Six months ago today, I was drunk at a gig. I was playing at a wedding in the middle of nowhere. It was hot, I was wearing a red floppy hat, and I was drinking to avoid conversation. I was sneaking cigarettes behind the Pinterest-wedding-barn. They had the nicest free gin I had ever tasted at their open bar. Free gin and tonic after free gin and tonic and the music got blurrier and blurrier. My playing got sloppier but I thought “Hey, it’s a sloppy big band and it has got to be 100 degrees in the sun and everyone’s toasting anyway.” I had grown jaded and disrespectful in my profession. At the time I was gigging several times per week — weddings, bars/clubs, for the elderly (where I was sober and played my best).

I was getting drunk every day. Usually this would happen at my local dive bar. Or at home on my balcony. Or at a party. Or in the morning. I drank too much before, but from May-August, I was trashed. I was alone. I left the lover I write of so often in May. I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder around my birthday in June. When I wasn’t drinking, I was fucking guys who did cocaine and got off on hitting me — way too hard for kinky.

I was used to the way I woke up near every morning: in a cold sweat, with a headache, fatigued, with a stranger, naked.

My meds weren’t working for me, because I was flooding my small body with alcohol. I drove under the influence of alcohol far too many times and I am ashamed of it. I once sobered up at a bar until closing and then fell asleep at the wheel afterward. My parents assumed I was drunk because, by then, they knew me. My car was in the shop for near a month, and I ran out of my antipsychotic. Rather than ask a friend to pick it up for me, I drank to make the chatter in my head stand still. Drinking is not a good substitute for Abilify. After threatening to jump off of my balcony or take all of my meds with all of my alcohol, a good friend drove me to a shitty psych ward.

Turning Point

That psych ward is where I first attended an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I went because there was nothing to do. But at the speaker meeting, I started to question whether or not I was an alcoholic. I related to the speaker’s dependence, his pain, his lies, his lows and his thirst that went beyond social norms. I had already lied about my daily alcohol intake to the psychiatrist who seemed to want to pry further into my drinking. I insisted it was just me being 22 and having fun. I denied that the worsening tremor was from detox (it was).

I thought about sobriety, but when I got out of the hospital, I kept drinking. I only knew I was an alcoholic at this point. I tried to drink less at times. Sometimes I’d have rules: no liquor. Never drink alone. But I always found a way to break every rule, and I was always drinking a beer or a mint julep by noon soon after my release. Near the end of August, I finished reading Marya Hornbacher’s Madness. I read another less stellar bipolar memoir. I researched being bipolar after I accepted it with less tears. Everything said that alcohol makes your meds not work, getting drunk spins you too high or low, just skip it. I was hospitalized in July, and I decided that the last day of August would be my last day drinking.

On the way back from my gin drinking gig, I thought about what a bore it all was. How I became such an introspective, existential, quiet wallflower when I was drunk at a social event. (At a bar, it’s another story.) New months inspire me, and September was a successful one. I quit drinking and, at the end of that month, quit smoking. I knew I had to quit both, because they fed each other. They made me feel pleasure in killing myself.

At first, I was so thirsty for a beer. Advertisements still get to me, and I have to look away or turn the radio station still. I find them offensive. I wanted to go back to my bar where every bartender knew my usual — or the bar across the street where I played trombone often. I wanted to go in one person and come out a little bit gone. Because I did not accept my reality and my lack of control. I still struggle to accept what reigns are in my hands and what factors guide my life (I’m looking at you, bipolar disorder). For the first two or three months, I was quite bitter about my sobriety. I was always making self-deprecating jokes about the monster I used to be and my lack of self-control. Now, I rejoice in it and the clarity I have found. Triggers are easier to blink my eyes and forget about. I must, however, remember that I am never invincible to them.

Now?

But 6 months later, I no longer wake up and think of opening a beer. I don’t dream of whiskey for dessert.

I often have nightmares that I get drunk and everyone becomes disappointed in me, or I drink and ruin everything. I always wake up and look through my texts to see if it happened. My sobriety still feels so, so painfully fragile, and that is why I have started to attend AA meetings recently. I want my sobriety to feel like a brick foundation, not something that I will wash away anytime.

My sobriety is my proudest possesion, but it constantly humbles me. I know that I can’t forget about my lows, because with one sip, I’d be lower still.

This journey has inspired me to take better care of my mind, body, and spirit. I now recognize other addictive behaviors before they become poisonous and swallow me. I could not have done it without the help of my psychiatrist, my father, my sister, my mother, my lover, and my closest friends.

Reward? I think so.

When I come into a bit of money, I intend to splurge on a fine piece of jewelry. I did that for the first three months to keep myself focused, and six months is a very worthy milestone.

My lover, with whom I reunited upon the start of my sobriety journey, is taking me out somewhere nice tonight to celebrate.

I also snatched up some Mario Badescu deals on Hautelook as a little treat to myself. Reviews on the rose+herbal facial mist and glycolic acid toner coming soon. 🙂

Thank you for reading something that is very close to my heart.

xoxo,

Martha

mani(c) monday + sobriety jewelz

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Formula X “Wunderkind” (dark dark dark indigo) and “Pedal to the Metal” (shimmery purple)

Why do I wear so many rings?

Onyx- Antique. I had just gotten out of my first psych ward stay and I believed that, at 20 years old, I was born new or something.

Topaz- 30 days sober, the day I fully committed to quitting smoking (I had a few days under my belt, but I had tried to quit so many times before that it didn’t seem to matter)

Garnet- 2 months sober.

Amethyst- Antique. 2 months smoke-free.

Opal/pink sapphires- 3 months sober. A gift from my mother, along with a matching bracelet (I wear it daily also). I had quit drinking before, but never made it to 3 months.

Spending, I realized, was a problem. In all the bipolar memoirs I have read, spending is a problem. I was saving ~$300/month from abstaining from alcohol alone, but I was running out of fingers. I decided to wait until 6 months until my next sobriety bling purchase. It really helps to motivate me. It was the only thing that helped my smoking cravings in the beginning as well.

Call me a quack, but I believe (in believing) in the healing properties of gemstones. The first one I bought for sobriety, blue topaz, helps with addiction and clarity. And here I am.

I used to get Angry.

Angry used to get me.

Even a month ago, I was a different person. The wine bottle incident from Christmas Eve(last blog post), for example, would’ve gone like this:

-come home to a bunch of half-full wine bottles open on the table, their odors driving into my weak alcoholic brain like nails

-read the post. I got through the craving.

-Christmas would’ve been ruined. I would have taken at least 6 months to forgive my parents for what was simply a shitty oversight on their part. Not malicious. Just an unfortunate accident. I would have been thinking “It is your fault for bringing me into this world with all of my demons and now you want to feed them, too?”

-But it didn’t go like that. I got through the craving, asked my sister to get rid of the wine, and I didn’t become “bitter, alcoholic Martha” in sobriety. God bless my sister.

I’m not a saint, but I forgave my parents on the spot. I was able to do this because I know that they love me. I did not know this (but thought I did) when I came home for Thanksgiving.

I told my friend, “I want to come out of my bedroom.”

And he said, “They wish you would.”

And they did, so I did, and everything was, well, splendid.

I have come so far, and I’m patting myself so hard on the back I might bruise.

But I don’t care. Realizing distance from [bad times] to [present times] on roads of love and family and substance abuse are miles to be celebrated.

Something Different — trigger warning (alcohol)

Martha’s Makeup will double as Martha’s Madness for a few. This is a celebration.

Came home for Christmas. Had to drive in the fog on old country roads. It was a drag, but when I made it I stumbled in and said “ho ho ho y’all!”

Then it hit me. Three opened bottles of wine on the table in the kitchen. 115 days of sobriety behind me, and I was a shark smelling blood. I try to be a vegetarian shark, but you let me at a school of fish when no one’s looking, and man. No promises to that school.

My mind was running and I tried, I really did, to stop it. When will mom and sister go to midnight mass, when will dad fall asleep? When can I just have a swallow? Will they hear the moment after the mistake? The bottle coming back down to the table? Will it wake them?

I texted my best supporters. I tried not to cry. I tried to “be strong.” I went upstairs to call my significant other.

“You did the right thing by going upstairs and calling me to talk”

sob sob sob “It is just so hard I can’t explain how I feel the presence of a fucking liquid all around me and in my nose and it wasn’t nice of them to forget to put the wine away before their fuckup alcoholic daughter comes back and it’s just so HARDDDD” and the sobs intensify and he tells me to breathe and I do, in and out, my chest rising and falling in quivers and shakes and then rolling like the hills of my hometown.

And all of a sudden it is not so hard. I am through it. The worst, most intense craving of my life. I want to go tell my family how happy I am, how I made it, but they would see my wreck of a face. My “holiday makeup trends” melted into a catastrophe of glitter and tears all over my red cheeks. There is snot all over my nose. I have made myself ugly with passion and it is truly stunning.

I look at the clock — past midnight. I tell a friend that I’ve made it through and I add,

“I’m a fucking Christmas miracle.”

Happy holidays and as always, xoxo,

Martha