Getting sober fucked me up.
Before I stopped drinking, I wrote prolifically for a number of online publications. I was briefly a staff writer for Scary Mommy, one of the most well-known sites in the parenting world. I was asked to interview for magazines and podcasts.
My essays were published in three actual books. Editors called me on the actual telephone. Being in demand gave me the opportunity to negotiate my rates – and I got what I asked for. I made money, sometimes a lot of it.
And then, I got sober.
Stopping my work in order to focus on recovery is the greatest gift I could ever give myself. Yes, I’m afraid I’ll never be successful again. I’m afraid I’ve lost my edge, possibly forever. There was a very specific drug and alcohol combination that fueled my work – a lot of creatives can probably relate to this – and when that combo went away, so did my inspiration.
The past two years have been full of growth and grief and renewal. I am afraid that I’ll never find my way back to where I was, but also, I also never want to go back to where I was.
School is almost out for the summer, and I will officially have a 6th grader, a 3rd grader, and a 1st grader living in my house. Pepper, who will be 6 years old in a few weeks, was barely out of toddlerhood when I entered recovery. She and Asher, my younger son, were too young to remember what it was like before I got sober, THANK GOD. That just leaves Maverick, who remembers everything.
“Did you drink when you were pregnant with him?” he asked us over breakfast one morning, nodding his head over to his brother.
Robbie choked on his coffee.
For the record, I did not.
This is the first year that I’ve had it together enough to order yearbooks for the kids.
This is the first year that I ordered school pictures on time and the check did not bounce.
This is the first year that I’ve taken my children to a school fair. Not only that, but I had cash in my purse to pay for whatever they wanted. A SCHOOL FAIR. BY MYSELF.
This is the first year that I don’t feel crippling anxiety when I see summer break looming over the horizon.
I am learning how to be okay, how to not ruin this moment by obsessing over the future or agonizing over the past. I am present in body and in mind, for the first time in my entire life.
When I say that getting sober fucked me up, what I really mean is that substance abuse steamrolled or exploded or otherwise crushed me into teeny, tiny pieces, and it’s been a very slow, deliberate process to rebuild from almost nothing.
After all, sometimes the best thing to do is to just knock it all down and start over.