Fives years ago today (okay five years and two days ago but let's say today), I showed up at a company party in Austin. I carefully avoided all the people I'd mentioned my sobriety to, and took enough whiskey shots to eventually forget that I cared what they thought. I followed the CEO, who was also my sometimes fuck (and the man I'd at one point imagined marrying), from that company party to some bar down what I can only imagine to be 6th Street, or some other famous street in Austin that I'm supposed to know exists because I'm in that demographic of humans that is supposed to know enough intimate details about Austin to prove something. At that second place that night, I watched as my very drunk former lover/sometimes still-fuck was hit on by other women who also confused fucking powerful men with their own power. At some point he and I both snuck out to rendezvous at his hotel.
I remember going through the same motions I had gone through in so many cities over so many years, walking to the front desk of the hotel and claiming the room key that had been left in my name, slipping into his room and out of my clothes. That's where the memories always end; my preferred sex in those days, my preferred sex with him, was most always the blackout kind. When I woke up that next morning, in pain from the usual things - too much alcohol and too little of him - I knew I was done with both those toxic substances. I did my last walk of shame back to my hotel, packed up my things, and I flew out of Austin, flew out of a 17-year relationship with alcohol, flew out of a three-year relationship with him.
On my first soberversary, four years ago today, I was unemployed and living in the spare bedroom of my friend Geoff's house. I'd secured the Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook handle for Hip Sobriety, and I was preparing to leave for a two-month trip to Italy. It was a Sunday and I blew off my Kundalini yoga teacher training, feigning sickness, which was a lot at the time because I was certain the Kundalinis could read my mind, and lying to people you are certain can read your mind is quite the thing. The newest unavailable man I was desperately in love with sent me a text message, "I'm so proud of you." I took a naked picture of myself to send to him, and then I made a meme out of it with whatever photo app I was using at the time. The naked-selfie-turned-meme simply said "365," and I posted it along with an announcement that I was now one year sober on my Facebook page. I am certain I ate two chocolate croissants, but only because in those days, I ate two chocolate croissants. Every morning was a fucking miracle, I was certain that birds were telepathically communicating with me, anything and EVERYTHING was possible, I delighted in the simplest things - the grass, the air, the sky, life. I was the most me I thought I could possibly be.
On my second trip around the sun away from booze, I woke up in my apartment on Bush Street in San Francisco. I got ready and made myself pretty, and took another naked selfie for the same unavailable man. This time I used VSCO to crop the picture, because by 2015 I was using VSCO, and I posted that photo to Instagram, again announcing this magnificent thing, this grand achievement, the thing I still am most proud of. Sobriety. Because I was desperately sick from the ramifications of those years sucking down booze and joints and cigarettes, and then those months that followed, in early sobriety, where I just sucked down chocolate croissants (really all types of pastry), I was working with a nutritionist. This meant I was not eating gluten or dairy, and I'm pretty sure I just celebrated with a lot of black coffee, potentially some fizzy water, and an Instagram post. But who can really remember such details. I was out of money and out of time and out of faith, I couldn't afford new (Gap) underwear. I still remember buying new (Gap) underwear some months later, because those memories - the ones where you can finally afford new shitty briefs - you don't lose. I was a few weeks away from launching my first Hip Sobriety School. I am certain I felt like the biggest loser in the entire world, most mornings I woke up asking God to kill me already because painful death some how seemed more appealing than building a company, or at least the one I'd decided to build. Life started to feel not what I had bargained for, I was certain I'd made some wrong turn somewhere, had made a stupid decision to stake my entire life on a recovery company when I couldn't recover myself fully. Still, I was more me than I had ever been.
On the third anniversary, I was living in Los Angeles, I'd just come back from a 10-day silent meditation retreat, was just launching the third Hip Sobriety School. I curated a list of 103 things that had happened in my life since I'd stopped drinking (all the good things because I was still on this major kick to up-play everything great about sobriety). I'm not sure what I did to celebrate but I'm pretty sure it had something to do with Chicken Wing Fries and Game of Thrones. I had no social life, no sex life. But I was no longer bouncing my rent checks and *only* $40k in debt, so that was something. I spent most that time assuring myself that I was rooting in and down, convincing myself that LA was my home. I was, for the most part, buying my own bullshit. It was still hard to get out of bed, but really actually not at all as bad as it was to get out of bed in 2015. And yet even still, I was more me than I had ever been.
Last year on this day, my fourth year sober, I got pretty for the camera again, but not to send a nudie pic to Justin (though let's be honest I was still sending nudie pics to Justin), but to post the Instagram post, as in the one I'd come to anticipate posting, as in the one where I get to say HEY GUYS LOOK AT ME FOUR YEARS SOBER LOOK AT THIS GIRL HERE (which is basically the equivalent of posting a picture of you and your four Nobel prizes). My mom and sister forgot to congratulate me (for my fourth Nobel prize), I was still growing out the worst haircut of my adult life (okay I'm still growing that out), they'd just changed the lights in Rome to white LED lights (this is a very big deal in my life), I'd just bought an Audi (which I'm still really excited about), I still wasn't having sex, I couldn't stop getting tattoos. I had started to believe that maybe LA wasn't my home, I was becoming restless thinking about the growth trajectory of my company, things were not moving fast enough, I was not doing enough and was not enough and I was somehow wasting this perfect potential. I was obsessed with writing a book I didn't know how to write, I didn't have a book agent, did I mention I hated my hair and still growing out a shit haircut from 2016? Getting out of bed was hard, but not as hard as 2016. I was more me than I had ever been.
And so here we are. Five years later from that fateful night on maybe 6th Street in Austin. Not the last time I had sex for certain but basically as close to that statement as one can get (sorry I'm obsessed with the fact that I'm not having sex). I moved to Brooklyn less than a week ago, I raised that money I kept talking about, our fifth employee comes on board tomorrow, the sixth in a few weeks, the seventh and the eighth and the ninth are in the pipeline. I have more people than I have the capacity or time to express gratitude for helping me pull this shit off - an army. I'm on Tinder again, at 39. I'm 39!
Just a few weeks ago, I thought my life was moving forward in San Francisco, I didn't expect to be here in New York. Also: I moved myself and my cat to New York on three weeks notice. My book proposal is a monster and it terrifies me and it's never felt more urgent I get her out of me. My health still isn't optimal, I still drink coffee, too much of it, so much of it. I recently started vaping tobacco (I don't care what the fuck that means I am and at some point I'll stop - I'm not perfect). It still feels like I'm not doing enough, not going fast enough. I still tell God some mornings to please just kill me and end this because She picked the wrong girl to do this work. I wonder sometimes if I made the stupidest decision in the world, if I completely obliterated my chances at pure happiness and contentment by starting this company or stepping into a leadership role (and yes, that is what I've done, I am a leader and I'll own that because for fuck sakes women need to own their power not just their wrinkles and I'm not going to downplay one bit of what I've done).
I miss Rome almost every day, and I know in 10 years I'll have a home there and that I'll spend part of my life there. I practice Italian every day, I do yoga almost every day, I meditate almost every day. I am more in my bones, more adult, more realistic. I'm not flying on a pink cloud of wonder, but my wonder and my joy and my happiness are more significant than they have ever been in my life, more accessible. I love so deeply it hurts me physically. I have standards with men, true standards, and rejection, somewhere along the way, stopped being about me, or hurting me, almost at all (though it totally confounds me because who wouldn't want this ass). I still haven't found my partner, and as of this writing, that's okay, because I've at least come into contact with men that resemble something close to one that deserves me. My credit score is 750, from 500 just a few years ago. I've fixed my teeth and my finances and all my mail is open, all my bills are paid. I don't go to bed without brushing my teeth and I don't flake on meetings or social events unless it's an absolute necessity -- people can count on me. I've learned to say no, to not respond to every text message or do things for the sake of other people's expectations of me above my own expectations of me. I've gotten better at letting people leave my life, and blocking people from my life. I don't fuck around for the sake of what I should do.
My life is rich, and fantastic, and beautiful. Is it what I expected it to be at this point? I mean, that's like asking someone living below the poverty line who then won the lottery whether they expected it to be what it is. It's everything more than I could imagine for myself, and in some ways less and different. It's bigger and I know things I never thought I would know and I think things I never thought I would think. But I will tell you the part that's the most certain, which is that today, this woman I am…she's the closest version of me that's existed in real life to the one I've had buried in my soul. I'm so proud of her, so proud to be here. I'm the most me I've ever been.