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
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
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
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
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
What if I told you that every single relationship that exists in your sphere - from your cheating ex-boyfriend, to the girl that bullied you in the 3rd grade, to your deadbeat disappeared father, to the boss that backstabbed you and stole your idea, to the flight attendant at the Houston airport that kicked you off the airplane and called you racist because you took a picture of her when she was refusing to upgrade you back to first class after you had been laid-over in Honduras for 48 hours, to the co-worker that seems endlessly and confusingly competitive, to the sibling that seems to know exactly how to make you a raving psychotic anger monger - were there by design?Part of the universal plan to give you exactly what you need, exactly when you need it? There to show you the parts of you that you have forgotten to see, or have refused to see? There to build you into the most beautiful, kind, forgiving, loving version of yourself, one encounter at a time? Read More
I had my last last drink on April 13, 2013.
There is no way to describe what has happened in those months since. As far as I'm concerned, my life can be cut up into two boxes. The life before I learned what it meant to not drink, and the life after. The former a slow progression through a tolerable life with a severe longing for something more and a clear sense of never having or being enough. The latter not just the escape from that…the latter truly the having of things that I had always assumed were just not for me.
What unfolded was something beyond my wildest dreams. What unfolded was what happens when you decide for you and only you, and when you clear the space to make YOU happen.
Whatever benefits alcohol seems to provide I assure you they are trite in comparison to the possibilities of the life that stands beyond. Saying goodbye to the junk was saying goodbye to the life I had accepted as good enough and hello to a life that continues to unfold in magical, reality defying ways.
If you are looking for a little inspiration of what is on the other side...read these 19 things I have done in 19 months.
In the past five weeks: I killed my cat, overdrew my checking by some $15,000, STUPIDLY saw that guy that treats my like crap yet again (surprise, he treated me like crap, yet again), gained ten pounds (it's muscle?), commenced my fifth month of couch surfing, a boy in my yoga teacher training yelled at me in Starbucks that he doesn't like me because I'm a drama queen who never stops crying, the girl leasing my apartment broke the antique table that took me two years to find, all my plants died, and my mom dropped my brand new computer - the one I failed to buy insurance for - on a tile floor. Read More
I don't think I've ever had a relationship that ended with a handshake. I'm not the type. I've heard of people who just fall out of love and walk away. Like Tipper and Al Gore. That's not me. At least, to date it hasn't been. My break-ups are decidedly of the Whitney Houston/Bobby Brown genre. Maybe not that bad. Read More
Tonight, I got my first piece of hate mail, of which I'm sure there will be so much more to follow since I haven't even begun to open my mouth about how I really feel about many things in the world of addiction - a space that is full of high emotional charge to begin with. It was from the leader of a buddhist meditation group about one of my meetups. "Hmmm. So you stopped drinking and doing drugs. Too bad you're an ageist smug bitch. Should be interesting to see how many 'like-minded' show up. It would make the meetings much more effective without you. Read More
In the last three years, I’ve had some fairly significant shit happen on Mother’s Day. 2 years ago, my aunt – the one who hated me and never learned to spell my name right – passed away very close to mother’s day. I can’t remember exactly when because I was really too busy with work, eating a lot, throwing up, and being high and numb. Anyway, I remember it was around Mother’s Day because that’s when I realized that I might have been blaming the wrong parent for fucking me up (to be clear, I absolutely don’t blame either). That Mother’s Day – Mother’s Day 2011 – I came home to my apartment from a yoga class. My mother was visiting, we had special plans to go to brunch and museums, and I walked in to find her packed, tight lipped, ready to flee my apartment, ready to flee from me and my awful poisonous energy and sad pathetic life. I remember pretty much dying inside (my mother LEFT ME on mother’s day), but then being excited because I had found a bonus day to get high and watch 30 Rock. Read More