Hear ye, hear ye!
Wow, you guys.
I was *the* #2 fundraiser in all of Washington, D.C. With YOUR help, I raised $2,001! Kind of a perfect number, actually--HS graduating class of 2001, baby! I had the most donors out of all participants (36) and helped shatter the stigma of addiction on Friday, September 25 in Washington, D.C. as I rappelled off Lafayette Tower. This is something I hope to continue doing every day (um, shattering the stigma, not rapelling off 12 story buildings. Just sayin ;)
Recovery is possible. It's amazing! And it's real.
None of this would have happened had it not been for the bravery of Gary Mendell, founder of Shatterproof. Gary's son Brian lost his battle with addiction on October 20, 2011. Something that would truly shatter most parents, friends, siblings, spouses instead took on a transformation--tragedy turned into hope. I am so honored to now be a part of the Shatterproof family and to have met the man himself.
And yep, that's a nifty GoPro camera mounted on my helmet. There's video! In my adrenaline fear/excitement and just general OMG-ness, I totally forgot to thank someone who's been a wonderful and amazing presence in my life the past 1.5 years: my BF, Whitney. Thank you for all your support and love, W <3.
In no particular order, I'm going to thank my donors. Cuz, you know, I do what I want ;)
Mama and Papa
Dana, top donor and new friend!
Gwen, breast cancer crusader and friend of my late Aunt Jane
My cousins Melanie and Lisa
Stacy and Tim, gym buddies
The Dr. Cocolis Fam
2nd Cousin Jeff
Jill, my 9th grade science teacher
Jen and Jenny, HS friends
Jackie, Avon 39 BFF
Krystal, Karen, Jenn, and Scott--former colleagues
And now, from the #RecoveryFriendlyWeb:
Karen from @narconon
Matt from @therealedition
Mike Smith from @surrenderfriday
MOI aka @wearesober (of course I donated to such a great cause!)
Stay tuned for pt. 2...photos of me and my Mama, video of the descent, and more.
I can still taste the juxtaposition.
The cool Pinot Grigio, slightly dry, slightly sweet, fully refreshing—and yet warm as it melted down my throat, into my bloodstream, and settling in that happy place of Tipsy Land. I was never the biggest fan of red wine, but don’t get me wrong, I can smell the tannins and earthiness and feel my cheeks get redder and my voice get louder just at the thought of that, too. I could call it a one glass night—but that meant filling the biggest wine glass I could find to the very brim; sometimes, I could fit close to ¾ of a bottle into one glass. Still one glass!, I’d tell myself. I’d curl up on my bed, with that monster glass of wine on my nightstand, and as the tipsiness washed over and the generalized feeling of anxiety quieted down, the need for connection grew stronger, like a giant magnet. And so I’d whip out my flip phone and play my favorite game: texting anyone, anywhere.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Laura.
It all sounds very romantic—to a point—in retrospect. Quarterly wine shipments from the quaint vineyard near Charlottesville. Wasn’t this the sign that I had arrived in Yuppyville? I was a member of a wine club! (And a book club—which was really just an excuse to drink wine and wax philosophical about a book I had only read a few chapters of). A bottle of white, red, rose, and some delightful seasonal treat. I’d go through those bottles pretty damn fast. And of course, I kept the empties in a trash bag in my bedroom. Because hey, none of my housemates needed to know my rate of consumption. It was a little secret I’d keep to myself, from myself, for myself, me me me. Lest I be blamed for discrimination, I drank plenty of other stuff too—beer (I could take it or leave it, but who are we kidding? I usually took it), rum and Diet Coke, a fancy cocktail or two (or three or four or five--count with me, everybody!), margaritas—oh, margaritas. Or tequila shots. Those never ended well. Jello shots, vodka cranberry, etc. etc. But I kept coming back to w(h)ine. I had it; it had me. We made quite the team.
If I’m giving you the impression of an isolated, lonely existence, that’s not the case by any means. I was a social drinker too, life of the party, everyone’s drinking buddy. Dancing on bars, chatting with strangers. Up for anything with anyone. It was a win/win for me. I melted away my anxiety and persistent, nay, unrelenting OCD--and I became the me I wanted people to perceive. Plus, I was (supposedly) having fun fun fun! Until I passed out early. Or threw up all over [insert furniture type, name of person, etc.). Or had to be monitored with such a CIA-like vigilance so I wouldn’t go home with Guy X, Y, or Z (but I did, and many times at that).
Eight years after my last drink (well, multiple drinks, really), all of that is still familiar—yet feels like a movie reel. I remember it well, but it doesn’t feel like my life. I can romanticize drinking because I’m so far removed from it—wouldn’t it be nice to have a glass of wine with dinner like a normal person? I mean, normal people can leave alcohol still in the glass. They get tipsy--the point where I usually was just revving up--and call it quits for the night. Not me. I did (and still do) look at unfinished glasses because why would you waste such precious nectar? And so even if I think, with all this time elapsed since I last drank, that it might be safe, I remember that it usually wasn’t a one glass of wine night. Or maybe it would be, this time. What would happen the next time I made myself a very public limit? JUST TWO TONIGHT, YOU GUYS! Maybe I’d be wheeled off in an ambulance after being found passed outside of a bar I was forcibly removed from. (True story). I had absolutely zero control; I was powerless over alcohol and yes, my life had become unmanageable. When you think someone else will take care of you because you can’t be held accountable for your own actions, something’s not right.
So as much as I can wax nostalgic about my love affair with wine and its tipsy, deliciously tight embrace, all I have to do is remember why I got sober. Because I can’t safely ingest alcohol. I’m not responsible when I drink; I’m not my own best advocate. Sure, one night I could be fine, at a dinner party or happy hour or work soiree, living the good life. But the next I might drink myself into oblivion and then god only knows what would happen. I’ve already been to that casino; already folded my hand more times than I can remember. That’s not a gamble I want to take now--or ever again.
And that’s the best insurance I have for choosing sobriety today, and every today after that.
Life is beautiful. Messy, but beautiful. I've been super busy with my regular 9-5 but also with The Sobriety Collective's efforts and with my own goals of helping our joint cause. More details on that to come. Point being, Nancy sent me her story in late May--yes, May! And I thank her for her never-ending well of patience. I'm so thrilled to bring her tale of resilience to you and I'm super excited to read her memoir! Yay for new additions to my Kindle!
I got drunk for the first time at age 13 at a teenage drinking party in Avalon, NJ. There was a large punch bowl filled with grain alcohol jungle juice and I was eager to try alcohol, as it was a constant in our household growing up. I wanted to be cool and I wanted to fit in. But it was never the taste that made me chase it, it was the alcohol buzz. The effect that it produced was one that I loved and craved. Then, when I tried cocaine at age 16 for the first time and that combination together, it was like BAM! I’ve arrived! Within a few years I was dating a drug dealer and my usage increased. My 20s were a bit of a blur and wild, but by 30 I had become a “recreational” weekend cocaine user and a daily drinker. I also had a thriving career so I was considered a high-functioning alcoholic. I was able to make my weekend drug use and daily drinking work within my lifestyle as I only hung out with others that drank and used the way I did. I thought I was a typical “party girl” and weekend warrior. By 32, I had racked up my first DUI. I also moved over 22 times during these years and kept jobs for 3-4 years until I knew they’d find me out. I was able to maintain pretty well. But I knew I had a problem, I just didn’t really care. Alcohol and cocaine were the two things that made me feel normal and happiest.
In November 2003, I was drunk and typing in my journal about how messed up my life was. I knew I needed help, but I was too scared to ask anyone. A few months later, at age 37, I received my 2nd DUI in San Diego – a town I had been living in for the past few years – and sitting in that jail cell for 11 hours really made me think that I needed to do something different. In May 2004, I walked into an AA meeting. I left that meeting and quicker than you can say alcoholic, I went out and drank for a week – during that week I had my moment of clarity. My first real A-HA moment; I realized that everything bad that had ever happened to me during my life was from drinking and drugging. I may want to give the sobriety thing a try. So, that’s what I did. I had heard Hope in that first meeting and I clung onto that hope and walked into recovery with complete blind faith. I had no idea what to expect as I knew nothing about sobriety. I got sober the AA way; 90 meetings in 90 days. I got a sponsor, I worked the steps and I did what the woman in recovery told me to do. I didn’t want anyone in my family or corporate life to know what I was doing, so treatment wasn’t an option for me. I’m grateful I got sober the way I did and I’m so appreciative of the Fellowship where I got sober. I wouldn’t change a thing. AA doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s just what worked for me.
I’ve been able to live life today free from the bondage of alcohol and drugs. I don’t hang out in seedy places, I don’t get DUIs, I don’t wake up in stranger’s beds and I don’t have to wonder what happened the night before and who I pissed off. I have been able to get married in recovery and share my journey with someone else who gets me and who is also in recovery. I rescued my constant companion and dog, Lucy, and she brings me so much joy.
I have been able to maintain and make new friendships – I get to live and participate in my life today. The freedom I have today is just amazing and the fact that I get to live my life today without lying, manipulating, cheating and stealing is all just gravy to me. I am just so happy that I don’t HAVE to drink today. I am a strong supporter of AA and helping others and being of service. I am grateful I don’t need a drink to manage my life and that I get to have choices today – healthy choices on who I want to be, not who alcohol and cocaine want me to be. As Sir Elton John once said in an interview, “My biggest accomplishment in my life is getting sober, it’s not the Grammy’s, the money, being Knighted or how many records I’ve sold, it’s my sobriety!”
That drunken journal entry turned into a Memoir that I recently launched via Kindle, “Last Call, A Memoir”. It’s a story of my experience, strength and hope. My hope is that I can help someone - anyone - that may be able to relate to my life as a “social party girl” and realize that they too have a chance at a better life. A life where they will be able to wake up in the morning and have dignity, integrity and self-love – because that’s what living a clean and sober life has given me.