Day 1: Something About Pills and Booze

Today is December 1, 2016 and I have been sober for 30 days.

I didn’t plan to quit drinking. Don’t get me wrong – I needed to. And hell, if I hadn’t quit November 1, I’d likely have been drunk for the next four years.

And baby, I ain’t young enough to spend the next four years drunk.

So, where the hell have I been?

Well, I think it’s pretty safe to say I’ve been awesome. Awesome or drinking. Basically, I’ve spent the better part of this year either in a show (which is awesome), in rehearsal for a show (also awesome), at auditions (awesome X3), or drinking.

So, here’s a picture of where I’ve been.

awesome or drinking

And when I looked at that picture (in my mind), I realized that if I took away drinking…

I had a lot more space for awesome.

awesome-1

And to be honest, it feels weird to feel like this. Like I do. Like, right now — up at 5:44am and productive AF.

I don’t know if you know what this is like, but I’m going to put it out there and see if it sounds familiar.

Here we go…

So, when you’re 17, you go on the pill from a clinic and let’s just say you didn’t get to the clinic because you woke up one day and said, “Hey! Is that a clinic? Maybe they have lollipops and hugs inside!”

As you get older, you want to hide more. See people less. Your sofa is your most meaningful relationship and you’re eyeing Snuggie and Slanket ads like WTF THAT IS BRILLIANT BECAUSE IT’S A TRAVELING BLANKET FORT. And 28 years down the line, you read a report that links those little pills you’ve been on for FUCKING DECADES to depression and you’re like, hey – my ovaries have pretty much already gone to Tahiti anyways and we’re just on these things for our “complexion” (because acne is real in your 40s, y’all, because the universe is pretty much an asshole). So you stare at the bottles of pills you’ve been taking and the times you start breathing fast and those couple of times you considered (and tried) kicking off this mortal coil for the Land Elsewhere Because It Has To Be Better Than Here and the days you haven’t wanted to get out of bed for the past 20 years and you think, fuck it. 

What have I got to lose?

So you stop taking the little pills you’re supposed to take to prevent babies and regulate your (relatively nonexistent) menstrual cycle and help your “complexion.” You email your doc and you FULL STOP.

I mean, you just stop.

Like when I quit smoking. I quit.

And yeah, birth control pills aren’t really addictive unless you’re talking about being addicted to not wanting a small human planting itself in your abdomen for 9 months rent-free when you’re a sexually active woman because being sexually active isn’t a crime and it’s my fucking uterus and not up for vote, yo.

***Side note: Women have been taking the pill for years but men won’t take it because they don’t like the side effects. INTERESTING.

So, I quit the pill. And I ended up quitting other pills, too.

And about a month later, I realized…

I hadn’t had a single panic attack.

I was sleeping without sleeping pills for the first time since October of 2010.

I was HAPPY when I woke up in the morning.

I was losing weight (Fuck yeah ladies – right?! All these goddamned pills.)

And the best part of it all – I wanted to make things.

With words. With pictures. With people.

Stories. TV pilots. Short videos. Relationships. New friends.

The Sex with Clark Kent.

I finally felt creative again. And not anxious. And excited and happy and curious and…

Well, I felt.

And there was a day a few days ago where I sat alone when Clark Kent wasn’t home – on the sofa with a Small Dog on my right side – and wept.

Because I couldn’t remember the last time I wasn’t anxious. That I slept without pills. And that I’d felt creative.

It was like…

It was a lot like ending a long-term relationship. I mean, you’ve been in that shit for years and you know where your socks go and where he’s going to leave his shoes and what’s going to be eaten first (the fucking Cheez-Its that you bought for yourself) when you put the groceries away. You know what shows you watch together and when he’s going to laugh. You know how his kiss used to feel when he kissed you goodnight but hey, that shit the bed about three years ago and it’s merely ether in the grey cloud that is the remains of your relationship. You both talk about things you want to do (but never will). You muse about going places together and seeing things (but you won’t). And there’s not a day that goes by that you don’t wonder if things come in a brighter shade of grey than this monochromatic palette that your life has become and you somehow think is all you deserve.

And then one day, it happens.

Some random guy in a North Face puffy jacket smiles at you at just the right time. Your girlfriend gets engaged to the guy she met on Tinder, like 7 weeks and 3 days ago. You pay off a credit card and your job asks you if you want to move to London for a year and all of a sudden, always becomes never and you hit the Fuck It Button because, hey.

What do you have to lose? 

And you wake up a bit disoriented because there’s a hole in your life now. Where HE used to be (or she…or they). Or in my case, IT.

IT: Grey

IT: Anxiety

IT: What I felt like every goddamned day and had accepted as status quo

When my life became a swirl of monochrome – greys and more greys – I just wanted to feel something.

Anything.

And if I’m being honest, feeling buzzed or drunk was tangible as fuck. And it was something.

It’s for real real…

Buzzed and drunk are bonafide, legit feelings and they might not feel good, but they sure feel different.

And when your life is filled with greys, different is pretty fucking exciting.

Which is why I quit drinking.

Because suddenly, there was this hole I had from where the anxiety and depression and GREY used to be and I used drinking to brighten up the grey. Well, with the grey gone, I don’t need the drinking.

And I don’t miss it.

Okay. I haven’t completely lost my damn mind because THAT statement above about missing it is a total lie. I miss the smell of olive brine in a perfect dirty martini and I miss the crunch of an olive and the taste as my tongue hits the blue cheese inside. Also, vodka was perhaps one of my longest adult relationships besides coffee. And I miss raising a glass to toast with friends or even sitting down to chill with a drink at the end of one of my days where I’m doubting I have anything good to give this world.

I miss the ritual. And celebration. But I don’t miss it enough to ever take another drink again.

Because what I’ve missed all these years is the brighter version of me.

The me that wants to write things I’ve never tried to write (like TV pilots – I’m writing two).

The me that laughs and laughs.

The me that has so little time for the pettiness of others and has actually come to the conclusion that opinions aren’t like assholes. They’re like a yeast infection because you can either let them stick with you for awhile and wait out the impact while the 3- or 7-day treatment does its thing or you can opt for the 1-day treatment and say, y’know – it’s twice as expensive but I AM DONE WITH YOU.

***Men, this analogy is lost on you. I’m open to ideas.

And the me that’s able to embrace all three of those things above without a drink in her hand because she’s trying to feel something enough to have something to say.

So, day 30 sober. Sexy.

But it’s more like day 60 for feeling like…THIS.

Instead of anxious – I feel free and excited.

Instead of depressed – I feel inspired and curious.

Instead of out of booze – I feel full-up on creative and ready to fuck something up with my fierce ambition and unapologetic self.

And I guess it’s all because I said fuck it to those little birth control pills. Maybe. Is it? I don’t know.

Sooooo, are we done talking about the pills?

This year, on December 10th, I turn 44. Which really sucks because for most of this year, I honestly thought I was 42 and thought I had a whole YEAR left to get shit done before I turned 43.

Which was totally wrong and I’m an idiot.

And I’m looking forward to 44 like I’ve looked forward to no other year.

And it’s all because I’m living in color now.

And hey – maybe it was kicking the birth control pills. Maybe it was ditching the anxiety meds. Maybe it’s quitting the booze.

Maybe it’s all of it. Maybe I just really needed to quit drinking.

And not every day is flowers and unicorns. Far from it. But the bad days are less dark and the good days are brighter. Arguments are fewer and I’m a lot less cunty. I’m much more social and working on being a better friend.

But there is color out there, even when you think your world is grey.

Today, make your own drawing like mine above (you know, the artful representation of AWESOME and DRINKING).

AWESOME goes on the left. What’s on the right?

Whatever it is, find a way to take a bit away from that grey space and give it to awesome.

Maybe it’s as simple as setting up a coffee date with a friend that’s long overdue.

A call. To that person.

Finally cleaning out your fucking closet because you haven’t worn it in 2 years and it doesn’t love you back because it’s a SWEATER.

Just do one thing.

One.

Uno.

And whatever it is you decide to do, you’ve done it.

Which means tomorrow, you can do the same.

In fact, make a list. Set it by your bed and before you go to bed each night, write down ONE THING you’ll do the next day to chip away at the grey.

Because if we can do anything, it’s one thing. One. Because by the end of the year, that’s 365 things that move you towards awesome.

And that’s a pretty damn good year.

 

OR

Oh, and the next 29 posts are going to be a lot less personal and a lot more about shit we all deal with. This year had to start with THIS post.

See you tomorrow.

**Special and SUPER IMPORTANT note: If you are on meds for ANY mental condition, DO NOT read this blog post and say, “Hey! I should kick my meds! I wanna live in color, too!” If you’re curious about your meds, talk to your doctor (I did). Hell, get a second opinion (I did). Talk to SIX doctors (Me: three). But my love – YOU are important and needed on this place called earth and there are medical professionals who want the same and can help because chemical imbalances and hormones ARE DICKS. Mental health is legit and not magic even though it is elusive and inexact – don’t let anyone EVER tell you otherwise. But if you want to stop drinking, I think it’s safe to say you can do that. You might even find you like it. And you’ll have space in your fridge AND heart for more awesome.

4 comments
HadassahHoll
HadassahHoll

♡ and hugs to this. Making the decision to quite is a hard process. Congratulations on coming into your own on this one. I'm 4.5-5 years dry, sober, non-drinking or whatever word to best describe it. I realized I didn't need the crutch anymore. The hardest part is other people’s reaction and shunning because of the decision. Alcohol definitely permeates a lot of our culture. Finding your happy space once you make that decision takes time. Here's a cheers to you in your newest chapter.

John Cloonan
John Cloonan

Congrats. I'm 5 years in without a drink, and like you, I just decided to stop. The early effects are great, but what I've found most amazing are the things it frees me from. I discovered that I really don't like Mexican food all that much - that I only went for the margaritas. I never have to sit through another sporting event - I'd go to them just to drink with my friends. Dining out has become so much cheaper! I don't feel like a hypocrite when I talk about fitness anymore. 


It also has made me realize how much of our culture is based on alcohol and its effects. The longer you don't drink, the more apparent this becomes. 

AJasonP
AJasonP

Thanks for being personal and opening yourself up. This is why we stuck around even though you weren't posting anything because sooner or later we would get something special. I am joining you in the getting close to the mid-40's as I turn 43 (I think) on Sunday. Will be an even better December with your new found creativity and it will rub off on me.

bflentjept
bflentjept

Thanks for sharing. I applaud your courage and vulnerablity. I am looking forward to the future with you.