For the past almost year I have drafted and trashed about one thousand posts on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the 12-steps, each time telling myself that the point of this site is to provide more options and not to criticize the ones that exist, and further to steer clear of that nasty AA debate trap - leave it to sites like The Fix to tackle and keep this site to the meat of Hip Sobriety's mission which is to offer readers a place to explore paths to sobriety in a positive, optimistic, hopeful, beautiful, modern space minus the rhetoric and minus the infighting. To empower and build and to leave each to their own devices and own conclusions (with a lot of my loud opinion thrown in, of course.)
But time and again it comes up, and time and again, I find myself searching for the right thing to do and the right words to say. Because while my experience in AA was a shit-show and my resulting opinion of its efficacy - both from those first-hand accounts and the amount of time spent researching it over the past few years - is less than dismal, I strongly believe that arguing whether or not AA works distracts us from the real problem at hand. Read More
51 days ago today, I gulped down my last $6 quad latte. (Yes. I said quad.)
It wasn't an easy decision to come to. Coffee has been my best friend, my lover, my everything since I can remember - since high school times. And it's become even more important to me since I stopped drinking alcohol. It's been my special drink, my little privilege. One of my last fucking vices like sexting and saying really bad words a lot.
But somewhere along the way, because it was so important, because it was one of my last vices, it became a terribly unhealthy relationship.
Here is how, and why, I quit. Read More
The first time it happened was in Italy, 3 short months after I had stopped drinking altogether. A hot little Italian waiter (who I'd later make out with - fuck yes, Italy) and I were flirting as I ate my way through two entire pizzas. Near the end of the meal he told me he had a special treat for me, and returned with a glass of dessert wine.
It sat there. I stared at it. He stood there. He stared at me. He smiled, and did that thing with his hands that is the international symbol for "please go ahead and drink it." I blinked. Time stood still. The first thought was crap, I don't know how to say "alcoholic" in Italian. The second thought was, I wonder if I can ask him for a cappuccino instead. The third thought was not a thought at all, but that aching I get in my tummy when I am afraid I'm going to hurt someone's feelings.
Me: "Non grazie."
Me: "No bevo alcol."
Me: "No bevo alcol!"
Him: Sad face.
I smiled politely, thanked him again, and told him I'd take a cappuccino. He persisted. "Not even a little?" No. Not even a little. Read More
One of the biggest parts of my healing, one of the biggest blessings I have found on this path, is the art of understanding that all that came before today was simply there to bring me to today - exactly. Is the art of understanding that these perceived blocks on my path and these perceived faults in my journey, were really JUST THE PATH, were really JUST THE JOURNEY. It cannot be broken down into good or bad, dissected into failures and losses and the good stuff. It just is. And coming to terms with the fact that it just is, has freed me of my past, freed me of my pain, freed me to be here now reap the reward and the lessons of those perceived failings.
Here are five big things I could regret and feel a ton of shame around, that I have instead accepted as just part of the beautiful package that is our unfolding. Read More
As I was moving through my own recovery, working with multiple therapists and coaches, I kept encountering a practice that I completely resisted: going back to where the memory started, to "undo" it or "recreate" it. It felt formulaic, and not unlike the part in Law & Order when they bring in the Asian psychologist and he gets the child to play with a Barbie and all of the sudden the child remembers her brother killed her auntie.
It would go down something like this. I'd tell coach/therapist/doctor of a block or a terror I had, they'd ask me to close my eyes and go back to the first time I felt this way, and my answer of "always" didn't satisfy them. So I'd fish in my mind and normally end up pulling a memory that would make them happy and stop asking me to go back in time. Sometimes I would lie just to get them to stop. Read More
A little less than a year ago, I got what I would describe as the WORST email someone in recovery from substance abuse could get.
"Dear Holly, You are fucked up. You will always be fucked up. And you can't yoga your way out of how fucked up you are. You may have fooled all your other friends and the people you work with and surround yourself with, but I know the truth." Read More
One of my favorites for calming me down and restoring balance when I feel out of control emotionally and raw. The Sunian Antar is the Kundalini Meditation I turn to when I'm on the verge of saying hate words. When I'm tired and want to cry and just need a hug. When I feel like curling up in a ball.
It brings balance through stimulating the glandular system and normalizing the breath and balancing the mid-brain (survival brain). It’s EXCELLENT at calming you down and bringing a feeling of safety and root. The best part? I can be done in less than 3 minutes. Read More
A few days before Christmas last year, I sat in my therapists office, sipping in the lavender flavored air and her warm sage advice. I was in a good place. My job wasn't killing me too much, I hadn't had a hangover in what seemed an eternity, I was in yoga teacher training and continually becoming a more dedicated and regular practitioner, I knew what self love meant (really!), and my apartment was clean (this is a really big benchmark for adulthood for me). I actually remember sitting there across from her feeling…together.
We were talking about my upcoming trip home for the holidays to my mother's house. I told her that while in the past these holiday gatherings had tended to undo me in the worst possible way, and that I was actually looking forward to this time home and this big holiday affair. I was severely optimistic because this time, I was a grown up. A spiritually progressed grown-up by Oprah standards.
This year would be different because I was different.
So three days later as I sat in my childhood home living room in a ball on the floor sobbing uncontrollable hate tears, a string of "fuck-you assholes" hanging thick in the air somewhere between my mother and sister and I as they continued on unaffected in their game of cribbage, their normal "there she goes" giggling eye roll routine only stoking the hate fire further - I couldn't help but wonder.
What. The. Fuck. Happened. Read More
The first Kundalini yoga meditation I found was the Siri Gaitri chanting meditation. There are no words to explain how much practicing this meditation showed up in my life, how much it transformed me, or how much it carried me through and pulled me through some of the most difficult periods of my life. If you are just starting out on your path or going through any type of healing (from addictions, from a break-up, from a death, from an illness - anything), or if you just want to explore one of the more beautiful Kundalini practices that I have found, try this. Read More
This piece should be called irony. Because the thing I am most nervous to make a statement about is the exact opposite of the one I was afraid to as I began this journey.
Years ago I was terrified of the stir I would create and rejection I would face if I ever had to admit that I couldn't control my drinking. Admitting I was an alcoholic seemed to be the most terrifying thing I'd have to do. And now on this side of things, a non-drinker who not only refuses the alcoholic label and identity or that it is an "incurable disease" and thinks the word should be put to death, I find myself quietly skirting the issue entirely, terrified.
The funny thing about terror though, is that it normally shows you where you must go.
And oh, here I go. Read More
For almost two years now, I've turned to Kundalini meditations to cure specific issues. From needing to sleep less, to overcoming anxiety, to strengthening my commitment, to opening my heart, to developing confidence, to overcoming addiction, and on and on and on and on.
This particular meditation is my go to for quick relief of panic states or release of freak-out level anxiety. It's incredibly hard to do (it's not advanced, but it requires holding the breath out for extended periods of time, which makes you feel like you might die, so...), but it works quickly and the results are undeniable: it stops panic states dead in their tracks, and does it in under 4 minutes.
This is the one I teach my friends and clients when shit is going DOWN and any old meditation just won't do. Read More
I wanted to talk about this down the line. When it was neat and tidy. A story of where I used to be and how I made it through as opposed to a story of where I am and how I struggle. But the point here is to be real. The point is to encourage you to be able to talk about your dark parts so you can bring them to the light. The point is to encourage everyone to talk about our collective dark parts. So we stop putting on a fucking show. So we stop feeling alone and different and less and afraid. To tear down the picture-perfect-social media façade so we have an equal playing field and stop competing with each other with things none of us actually has anyway.
We have a tendency to talk about things once they are pretty or at least prettier. But for us to all heal, for us to address the things that are true to us, the things that make us human and unique and special, we need to be able to talk about them as they are. Not as we wished they were.
So here is a whole lot of shit about the thing that feels the least pretty in my life: my relationships with men. Read More
If you follow me on Instagram, you may know that this past Monday I started - for the second time - May Cause Miracles by Gabby Bernstein - a 40 Day fear cleanse based on the principles of A Course In Miracles. This post is meant to help you understand how it helped my overall recovery process, and give you an overview on how it works so you can decide for yourself if you'd like to try it. Read More
We often don't realize how many fears we have, or how much we allow these fears to run our lives. Because they are uncomfortable. Because they are FEARS. Because it's just so much more comfortable not going there. Because what can we do with them anyway?
What I discovered that day and what remains to be true is this: What we don't own, owns us. And if we want to live a fearless, empowered, free, happy life, we must start owning our shit. Because you don't slay dragons by pretending they aren't in the cave.
Here is a list of fears from my first fear cleanse in January 2013. I share it today for a few reasons. First, to assure you that you're not more fucked up than I was. Second, to illustrate how severely possible great change is when we are ready to do the work. Read More
While this post is intended for the newly sober at Thanksgiving, it's actually a great post for ANYONE looking for a more peaceful, healthy, and flowing Thanksgiving holiday - sober or not - and is also a great post to keep in your toolbox for any high-stress social situation. Read More