I Was There; Now I’m Here…

1972 – I’m born.

1972-1980 – I live mostly with my grandparents, who shower me with affection and make me feel absolutely safe and loved. My guardian angels.

1980 – I’m delivered back to the hands of my parents, who, one would have hoped, had grown up enough to take responsibility for their child.

1980 (2 weeks after being put back with my parents) – I am raped for the first time by “J.” The abuse goes on for years.

1980-1983 – I live every day in fear and self-loathing. The abuse continues.

1983 – I take my first drink.

1986 – I start high school. I already have a dealer. I have used pot, pills, booze.

1988 – Cocaine. I start cutting. Physical pain lessens the emotional pain. I can deal better with the physical pain. I’m almost immune to it now. A suicide attempt. A feeble attempt at best. The proverbial cry for help. None comes.

1990 – I graduate high school. Take 6 months off to figure out what I want to do with my life. I think they call it “finding yourself.”

1990 – I start college. Despite my continued and increasing drug and alcohol use, I am wildly successful in college. I write for the literary magazine and school paper. I write my first play, which the college produces my junior year.

1993 – I write my first screenplay, at the behest of one my favorite and most inspired English professors. It’s awful. Really, truly, embarrassingly awful.

1995 – I have a degree, ambition, and a raging drug and alcohol problem.

1995 – I collapse, I assume from exhaustion, in front of a restaurant and am brought to the hospital. I am diagnosed during that stay with HIV. I choose not to process the information. I am released from the hospital and the liquor store is my first stop. Then my dealer’s place. I am pretty well constantly loaded for the next month or so.

1995-1999 – I get my foot in the publishing industry, working first as an associate editor and then a development editor for a large publishing company in Boston. For the last year of my employment there, I bring vodka in my thermos every day for lunch. I have extra bottles in my car in case I work late and run out. When I go out for client lunches, I often make detours to meet my dealer.

1999 – Jaded by the publishing world, I look for something else to do that will pay my bills and be somewhat fulfilling.  I land a job as a journalist at a company that will be my home for the next 11 years. For 2 of those years, I work in-house at the company in NY. When I decide to return to Boston, I continue to work as a freelancer for the next 9 years for the same company. This same year I start an editorial company, working with many talented authors. My own writing takes a dark turn and becomes my albatross.

2000 – I have a nearly completed a manuscript and send out 10 queries to agents in Boston and New York, hoping to get a bite from at least one. Seven respond. I sign with one in NY and he starts shopping my manuscript. Later that year I fuck that up by blowing every deadline I’m ever given. I’m starting to self destruct.

2001 – 9/11. I lose a friend in the attacks on our country. My anger at the world is exponentially increased. So, too, is my self-hatred.

2002 – I have little recollection of this year, actually. There was an arrest for DUI at some point. My health starts to deteriorate toward the end of the year. I am angry all the time.

2003 – I overdose twice. Brought back once by friends and once at the hospital. Fearing I’m going to die, my friends, led by my former pastor, stage an intervention. I surrender.  I get clean. Sobriety sticks.  I start what will turn out to be a 7-year run of sobriety. I work hard at it every single day. I work the program. I am grateful. I am embracing life. My health improves. I enjoy wonderful success, editing for others, selling my own writing. I have phenomenal friends. I buy my first house. Then my second. I get a dog. Then a second. Life is good. I meet a guy. We get married. Two months into the marriage he hits me for the first time.

2004-2005 – The abuse intensifies. A broken collar bone one time. Two broken ribs another. Bruises, cuts. I stay clean. Work is what sustains me now. The old demons start to stretch and claw their way back in.

2006 – My beloved grandmother succumbs to breast cancer. I am devastated. My heart is broken.  But I do not resort to my old habits. Yet. I do, however, garner the strength to kick my abusive prick of a husband to the curb once and for all. I file a restraining order when he tells me he’s bought a gun and that I better watch my back. Don’t have to tell me twice.

2007-2010 – I work non-stop. I continue with the editing work, because I love it, but most of my income for several years now has come from my own writing. I’ve written several plays that have been produced in and around Boston. I start my third screenplay.

January 2010 – My health starts to deteriorate again. I am frustrated, angry, scared. Meanwhile, the sleeping monster within me stirs, letting me know he’s still there. And he is hungry.

April 2010 – I make a call. The call that will change everything. The monster awakens.

December 2010 – My best friend dies.

2010-2011 – There are several large chunks of time I just can’t recall.

August  2011 – After almost 90 days clean, I use. Hard. Shortly thereafter I suffer a stroke and spend a couple of weeks in the hospital.

October 2011 – My cousin dies in front of me from an overdose.

October 2011 – I am hospitalized with pneumonia and put on a ventilator for several days.

October 23, 2011 – Day 1 sober.

February 2011 – My grandfather dies. I am lying in his hospital bed with him when he passes. It is both beautiful and devastating.

2012 – I turn 40. Jesus.

2012 – My health continues to deteriorate, thanks in part to my refusing to go back on meds. It’s a decision I struggle with on a daily basis. Mostly I ignore it and focus on writing, trying to finish this last project.

May 2012 – I have some decisions to make.

May 20, 2012 – 211 days sober. Stay tuned…

Death Be Not Proud

I awoke from a fitful sleep around 6:00 tonight and walked outside for the first time in days. The cold stung my face and there was a deep ache in my lungs as I inhaled the painfully fresh air. I squinted hard against the sun, which was still high in the sky, though descending quickly, preparing to be engulfed by the impending dark. The impending dark. That’s what the recent past has been for me. Gloom and angst and despair and hopelessness, dealt with in times past by yours truly by ingesting whatever was on hand that promised to shield me from such unpleasantness. Of course, we all know that that particular solution brings with it its own set of consequences, no? While I don’t like to admit it, that solution is temporary, and ultimately far more horrifying than just dealing with the realities of one’s life.

So the past couple months have been rough, and I’ve been mostly absent from this social media thing because (a) I didn’t have the energy, physical or otherwise, to sit and write, and (b) I just didn’t give a shit. Some friends say I’ve been isolating. They’re right. I have been. They’re worried I’m using. I’m not. Or at least I haven’t yet. I have no idea what the next 5 minutes will bring. But as I type this I’m 160 days clean and sober. But, fuck, I’ve wanted to use in the worst way. I’ve wanted to use so bad it hurts. I could have used some numb these last couple of months.

What’s been going on? First this happened:

[Written in early February]

I’m sitting in my grandfather’s house. The house in which I lived until I was 8, next to the man who, along with my beloved grandmother, raised me until my parents came back to claim me. I’m lying next to my grandfather in his hospital bed, provided to him about a month ago by hospice. He and I are the only ones here. The house is quiet, except for the whirring of the machine supplying oxygen to help him breathe. The machine, mercifully, is drowning out the occasional moans and sighs coming from my grandfather. I take those sounds as indications of pain and I am stricken each time I hear one. I want to take his pain. He has been unconscious for 2 days. They have him on high doses of morphine to stem the pain that racks his body when he wakes. The cancer is beastly and is consuming him from the inside out. Selfishly, I want him to open his eyes, to look at me, to smile, to tell me he loves me, to squeeze my hand. Anything. I’ll take anything. Just a brief response, and then a return to peace. It’s selfish, I know. But I’m desperate for it. I’ve been by his side since Monday. It’s devastating to be here. But it’s where I have to be. It is the greatest gift I can give him, and it’s the greatest gift he can give me. To be here with him, by his side. Holding his hand, stroking his forehead, wiping his brow. This is his final journey. And I am part of it. I am here. Present. He is peaceful. I want this to be peaceful for him, above all else. Meanwhile, there’s a storm raging in my gut, in my heart. I am losing him. I am lost. Exactly two people in this world ever loved me unconditionally: my grandmother and my grandfather. I lost my grandmother 5 years, 9 months, and 19 days ago. It’s time for my grandfather to join her. He is ready. I am not. There’s a pillow under my grandfather’s legs. The blankets are pulled up to his chest. His hands lie by his side. His mouth is open, his breathing labored. I spend most of the time with my hand placed gently on his chest, rising and falling with the cadence of each labored breath. The breaths were coming more evenly earlier today. Now they are halted, far less rhythmic. I can feel his heart beating beneath my hand. I never want to take my hand away. I need to feel his heart. My own beats in time with his. We are connected on a level far deeper than I can understand or convey. I can feel his soul, his spirit stirring, restless. I can hear our hearts beating in time. I talk gently to him. I don’t know if he hears me. I think he does. The sights, the sounds, the smells of this house. The memories. They envelop me. I am a child again. I am safe. I never want to leave. I want to stay forever in this exact moment in time. I would crawl into my grandparent’s bed as a child. After a nightmare, or when I wasn’t feeling well. It provided an instant measure of comfort. I melted into their arms, their embrace, and knew I was safe. I was loved. I was protected. I’m 8 years old again. Only instead of me being ripped away from them, he is now being ripped away from me. Heartache is a real and true thing. My grandfather. Gramps. Grampy. I miss his voice already. I heard it for the last time 2 days ago. I already long to hear it again. The throaty southern accent. At once gruff and soothing. Please. Just one more word. A lucid moment. One more thing I can lock away to remember. To hold on to. We always think there will be enough time, don’t we? But I can feel the time racing away even as I push against it with all my strength and will. It’s no longer years or months or weeks or days. It’s hours or minutes or seconds. Passing and passing and passing, cruelly, before I can catch my breath to pray and beg and plead. Just a little more time. To lie here with him, my hand on his chest, my cheek against his. He is warm. He hasn’t taken food or liquid in 3 days. His organs will start to fail soon. It won’t be long. And I will be here, next to him, holding his hand. I am on this journey with him. His journey is my own now. Because it is the greatest gift I can give him, and the greatest gift he can give me.

And then this happened:

[Written two days later]

Gramp passed away at 2:18 this afternoon. I was lying next to him, holding his hand. His breathing had become shallow during the course of the day, and then he took one final breath and he was gone. Just like that. The journey that had started for this man, this World War II vet, this husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend back in 1921, ended peacefully before my eyes 90 years later. I have witnessed the very beginning of life and the very end of it. The first brought me immeasurable joy; the second, immeasurable sorrow. Still, I feel blessed to have been there with him. But how my heart aches this night. I’m exhausted. Physically and emotionally. I feel empty. He is at peace. There is no more pain. He’s back with my grandmother, where he belongs. For these things, I am so grateful. I’m back home now. I was going to spend another night at his house, but I couldn’t bear the silence, the stillness, the emptiness. It took the funeral home an hour to come get my grandfather this afternoon. I never moved from his side. I wanted to stay with him as long as I could. It was so surreal. To feel the warmth, the breath, the essence of life leave and be replaced by such stillness. I felt his skin grow cold, watched the color drain from his face. At one point I thought I felt his chest rise with a breath. I know it was my mind playing tricks on me but it sent a chill up my spine. I couldn’t bring myself to leave his side. Finally, though, I had to. The funeral home came to get him. I kissed his forehead, hugged him tight, and told him I loved him. And then I was alone. Alone in the house. Alone in life. For the first time in my life, there is no one on this planet who loves me and has my back no matter what. My grandparents were my rock, my protectors, my life. Now both of them are gone. I am fighting with everything I have not to let my sadness morph into despair and desperation. I can feel myself on the razor’s edge of self-destruction, wanting so badly to just be with my grandparents again. Wanting so badly to just end the pain, once and for all. But I know that anything less than living my life clean and sober and in some meaningful way would be doing a huge disservice to my grandparents. These wonderful, loving people who raised me to respect life, not spit in its face. I can be sad. But if I let it consume me, I will be dishonoring them. So I’ll get through this night. And the next one. And the one after that. And I’ll do it with the strength they instilled in me during the first 8 years of my life. That strength has pulled me through hell and back. And I can take some comfort knowing that my grandparents are together again, holding hands, watching down on me, pulling for me still. Always.

———

Anyway. That’s what’s been going on the last couple of months.

Also, I came off my meds. The pain in my gut is almost intolerable. And the seizures are coming more frequently. I don’t know if I’d given the meds enough time to work, but my viral load hadn’t come down and my T-cells hadn’t improved much. Plus? I stopped giving a fuck. So there’s that.

I have a bad attitude. I know. I’m working on it.

It’s snowing tonight. It’s a light snow, and it’s dancing around in the light from the back deck. It’s really quite magnificent.

I just opened the widow beside me a crack to get some fresh air. My dog, who was curled next to me on the couch, jumped down in protest to the invasion of the cold. A snowflake just came in through the screen and landed on his nose, dissolving almost instantly. He licked his nose and jumped back up to nuzzle me. I’m happy for the company.

I am desperate for sleep. But I’m terrified to close my eyes. Nightmares. They started the day of my grandfather’s wake. Perpetuated, no doubt, by grief and sadness. But the loss wasn’t the catalyst. Not precisely anyway. The catalyst was the horror that followed. Having to deal with my bat-shit crazy family, sure. But worse still? The encounter at my beloved grandfather’s funeral.

But I can’t write about that now. In fact, I’m done writing altogether this night. I’m going to sit outside for a bit. I need some fresh air.

Two Roads Diverged…

I got a text from a friend earlier. “Where are you,” it read. I laughed to myself as I read it and wondered for a moment whether she meant literally or existentially. I wondered because the question could be taken either way. If she meant it literally, then I was (and am) sitting at a desk in an outrageously overpriced hotel in the great city of Boston. Its rooms are hardly reflective of the exorbitant cost, but its relative proximity to Fenway Park command it, I suppose. If she meant it existentially, well, then I was (and am) in the ninth circle of my own private Idaho. Damn. That metaphor worked better when I whispered to myself. Where I am is in my head. And it’s a fucking jungle in here.

Had the question been asked last night, the answer would have been altogether different. Last night, I communed, quite literally, with the dead. I spent several hours at my grandmother’s graveside, propped up against her headstone, talking endlessly about nothing. Not nothing, I suppose. Rather, everything. Everything I couldn’t talk to her about when she was alive. Everything I can’t bring myself to say aloud to anyone with a, you know, pulse. Don’t worry, she didn’t answer me back. I’m not completely delusional. Still, I felt a modicum of comfort sitting there. I’d planned on leaving after I poured my heart out to her. Instead I laid down and just fell asleep. It was a brief slumber, but a fairly peaceful one.

A week or so ago I tweeted the following Erich Fromme quote: “To die is poignantly bitter; the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.” Those words resonated with me. I quoted Fromme, and then wrote my own [expanded upon] version of his thoughts: The courage to love is what sustains me now. But if I don’t live to be old, don’t think that I couldn’t have made something out of my life. My only regret is that I will die without having left my mark. At 18 I was prepared to take on the world, to suck all the marrow out of life. Now I just want to hold onto it for a while. I just wish the fear would go away.

Two roads diverged. Which will I take? I’ve no idea, really. I don’t know much, but here’s what I do know: So far I’ve been given 39 years, 8 months,  11 days, 19 hours, and some odd minutes to make something of a life I don’t understand in a world I don’t comprehend. I’ve spent a lot of time questioning my existence. I’ve also spent a lot of time in awe at the world around me and for that I am grateful. I think maybe our reward for putting up with all the other crap is all that having a heart, mind, and soul brings with it. I have been alive to see the sun rise and set roughly 14,486 times; I have stood at the edge of the ocean, looking out into the seeming abyss, and stared with wonder at its vast beauty and mystery; I have read words by poets that have touched my soul, and listened to music that has, at times, moved me to tears; I have felt love and hate, and I have tried to understand the dynamics of both; I have known despair as well as joy, and have tried to live my life with some sense of purpose. I have often struggled to find that purpose, but I have never denied its ultimate existence. Now, in the face of a decision that I’m not sure I have the right to make, I want desperately to understand that purpose once and for all. Only my heart and my God can help me with that one.

Two roads diverged. It’s time to pick a path. But for right now, I have 23 days sober. And I have today. I can’t ask for more than that.

The One With 38 Days…

Hi, my name is M. and I’m an alcoholic and an addict.

I haven’t said those words in a long time. About 14 months, actually. That’s when I relapsed. After 7 years of sobriety, some things started going wrong and I fell back into the trap of dealing with life by not dealing with it. It was a habit I formed early in life when it just became too unbearable to deal with certain things. At 8 when I was raped by “J,” that’s when it started. I remember quite vividly the very moment I collapsed within myself and could no longer deal with things in a normal way. I took my first drink at 11, just before the abuse stopped. I smoked my first joint 2 years later, and by 17 it was balls to the wall in terms of substance abuse. I was in it. It almost killed me, but back then it’s what kept me alive. Being numb. If not for that, I’d have surely swallowed the business end of a gun long before I even reached my 20s. I’m now at the tail end of my 30s and though the vast majority of this decade of my life has been spent not only sober, but happy, successful, and productive, I find myself once again on the precipice, thrashing wildly between madness and sanity as I try to escape the grip of this insidious disease.

Truth be told? I’m far more afraid of my addiction than I am of my HIV. And at this point I’m far more likely to die from it. When you’re in it–I mean really in it, that addict head space—it is so dark and hopeless and lonely and scary that it makes it difficult to breathe. Being in that head space creates an indifference, an apathy, so deep within you that fighting for anything, including life, doesn’t seem worth the effort. I’ve been in that head space a lot lately. And it has taken its toll, emotionally, physically, spiritually. But here’s the good news: I’m 38 days sober today. Thirty-eight days doesn’t seem like a lot, but what it means is that I’m 38 days removed from the overwhelming feelings of shame, despair, grief, desperation, sadness, and loss that led me to isolate myself in a long-abandoned cabin in Maine for an extended period of time, contemplating whether or not to just end my life and get it over with. Slowly, over these 38 days, I have scratched and clawed my way out of that blackness that was so suffocating. Slowly, over these 38 days, I have come to once again embrace life and I am more determined now than ever to hold on to it as long as I can.

The cabin. The place that holds my heart hostage. The cabin belonged to my grandparents. It holds many fond memories for me. I felt safe there, a feeling that was all too unfamiliar to me as a child. My grandparents raised me until I was 8, and I spent a lot of time at the cabin with them during vacations and weekend getaways. I was happy there. We all were. When my grandmother died 5 years ago, the cabin became a safe haven for me. I had lost one of the only people who truly loved me in this life. The only person who ever protected me. She was my heart. I was broken. I needed then, more than ever, to feel her love, her nurturing, her protection. I found myself retreating often to the cabin just to feel her presence. I was calm there, and all the love she had for me enveloped me like a warm blanket when I was there. It has become my escape. It’s fallen into a bit of disrepair over the last 5 years. No one had been there for quite some time before my grandmother’s death, and I’m the only one who goes there anymore. Still, it remains my sanctuary.

It’s not easy to be at the cabin for any length of time. There is no electricity. No indoor plumbing. It’s hard-living, to say the least. But there’s something about being up there, steps from the placid lake, surrounded by silence, that tends to bring me back to life. That’s what I was hoping for this last time when I made my way up there: that single moment of clarity that I could grab onto, that would make me believe that giving up was not the right thing to do, that living was a viable option, that living sober was the only viable option.

So I went to Maine, to the cabin, and I did what I do when I’m there. I let the memories wash over me, I thought of my grandmother, I sat on the porch and stared long and hard at the exact spot where the water meets the sky, I embraced the solitude, the stillness. I read. And I wrote. Always, it comes back to the Words.

I had brought several books with me to the cabin. Two were biographies of women who have dealt on some level with some of the same demons I have and have not only survived, but thrived. These are women I admire, women who inspire me, and by reading their words, their stories, I imagine I was hoping to glean the Jedi fucking secret of how to keep your head above water after you’ve encountered pure evil, drowned yourself in booze and drugs, and are on the razor’s edge of insanity, if not death. I suppose I was hoping on some level that reading their words would infuse me with the courage I needed to continue voicing my own.

Tatum O’Neal and Mackenzie Phillips. Those are the women whose books I brought with me. As I sat with Ms. O’Neal’s book, I was amazed by her courage and her honesty. She spoke beautifully, hauntingly about her struggle. Some of her words could have come directly from my own heart.

“No life, particularly one in which a child is traumatized, is ever perfectly resolved.” God, if that’s not the truth. Life can be ugly sometimes. The scars left on our hearts can be jagged and so painful, but the resiliency of humans is also quite astounding, and I do believe that there are life lessons to be learned from every experience; we just have to be willing to see them and accept them.

She talks about her inability to bond with people, keeping them at arm’s length, trying to process everything alone because that was “the only way [she] knew to endure the grief and anguish [she] was suffering.” She speaks about the challenge that intimacy presents for her, and the difficulty she has trusting people. She speaks candidly about suicide attempts and, failing that, having to rely on drugs to endure. Her words moved me to tears, as words so often do. I wanted to hug her through the pages and thank her for fighting as hard as she does. Her continued determination to fight this disease is what lights my own path right now. It gives me hope.

In reading “Found: A Daughter’s Journey Home,” I discovered that Ms. O’Neal had been sexually abused as a child. I hadn’t known that about her. She writes: “In forgiving even my worst victimizers, I was deciding not just to survive but to move forward.” That sentence struck me. Forgiving your worst victimizers. Surviving. Moving forward. Things I have not been able to do. I remain haunted by the things that happened to me as a child. And then as an adult, the final assault left me infected with this virus that threatens to cut my life short. How do I forgive the people who stole so much from me, who took who I was meant to be and created this shell in her stead? But how can I not and expect to move forward? I don’t know. It’s still a question I’m working on. It’s a work in progress. I know only that there needs to be a confrontation at some point. I need to confront the man who ended my childhood at 8. Perhaps then I’ll find some closure. But that can’t happen yet. The fragile structure of sobriety that I’m building for myself would surely implode if I took on that monster right now. Some day though. Some day.

Ms. O’Neal has been sober since June 29, 2010. I have been sober since June 19, 2011. May God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; courage to change the things we can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

I haven’t yet finished Ms. Phillips’ book. I left the cabin before I got a chance. I’m making time now to read it though, because the little I’ve read so far, has been equally inspirational.

Ms. Phillips talks about being a person who starts things and can’t finish them. “As a junkie, as an actress and musician, as a mother—it’s been hard for me to complete even the simplest cycles of action,” she writes. I understand that all too well. My understanding of that sentiment is in part what this blog is all about. More on that in later posts.

She also speaks of demons that haunt parts of her life and herself that are painful and scary. “Facing them, revealing them, makes them too real,” she says. I get it. In our mind’s eye, they are as horrifying to us as adults as they were as children. But I’ve come to realize that being paralyzed by fear is letting the bad guys win, and it’s also as sure a way as drowning in absinthe and despair to bring our lives to a screeching halt.

This passage, especially, resonates with me: “I think of all that happened before, between, and after. The rest of the story. It is time to sort out a life that too often I left blurry, unprocessed, unreal, hoping that in doing so I would be leaving it behind me forever.”

It is time. These women, their words, will be with me on this journey I’m on. Their stories have emboldened me to do the unthinkable: believe in myself. I will don their determination and courage like armor as I wind my way through this chaos I’ve created.  And I’m thankful as hell for it. I will come out the other side.

So here’s the deal. I’ve been back a couple of weeks. It’s a slow process. And by slow, I mean fucking torturous. But it’s a process, nonetheless, and I’m working it and I’m committed to it. I have to change the way I do things. Clearly what I’ve been doing isn’t working. Obviously I need to start working the program again; that did right by me for 7 years, and there’s no reason to think this time will be any different. But there’s a lot of fallout to clean up, and I need to deal with it.

My life has been very strange for the past 14 months. A little surreal. Soon after I relapsed I was introduced via the wonder of the *Interweb to a man who I probably would otherwise never have met. He’s become a good friend over the past year. He’s been sober over 2 decades, and though our lives now could not be more different, we share a similar painful background that quickly bonded us as we navigated the early stages of our friendship. Since writing is how I’m most comfortable communicating, our friendship has been mainly an email one. We’ve shared hundred and thousands of words. He and his wife have been a great source of support and encouragement for me. They are busy folks and I don’t hear from them much anymore, but we still check in with each other, make sure each of us is still standing and breathing….such has not always been the case over the last year, for either one of us.

Some of the words I write in this blog are taken from emails I’ve written to my friends. At times, I will sit and look over the emails and put them together in blog form so I have a timeline in front of me of where I’ve been and what’s been going on. It’s interesting to go back to that, especially during moments of clarity, and see just what the hell has been going on this past year. It’s been a scary ride, one with too many close calls. I’m ready for the ride to end. I’m ready to say Fuck You to the demons and thumb my nose at all that haunts me by once again becoming the fun, passionate, active, strong woman I was for 7 years when I was sober and able to deal with my life. I want that back now. And more. I want more. There are things I want to do, things I can only do if I’m sober and healthy. It’s time for me to take the power back.

Last month, I met another new friend, D, through social media. He, too, is sober. And he, too, is someone I would likely never have met if not for the wonder of technology. But in talking with him over the last few weeks, I realize he is someone I can totally see myself sitting next to in any meeting in any city across this great nation. He has a number of years of sobriety under his belt. He met me at what probably has been one of my lowest points since my sobriety came to a crashing halt last spring: just before my self-imposed isolation in Maine. The details of our introduction are actually a bit fuzzy, but I know I spoke with him on the phone a few times while I was so out of it I had slept on the streets for 2 nights.

Last week, after my return from Maine and during a very transitional stage for me, I spoke with D at length about the future. It wasn’t a concept I had been considering much lately. But something clicked with me during that talk. He spoke of taking this opportunity to reinvent myself, to grab life with both hands and not let go. I deserve that. I think I do, anyway.

That conversation led me here, back to this blog. Writing isn’t just what I do, it’s who I am. It’s how I express myself. Writing is cathartic. It’s invigorating. And it’s where I feel safest being completely open and honest and vulnerable. The thing is, I’m at a critical point in my sobriety right now. I know that a strong wind could blow me to one side of the street or the other. It’s crucial that I make all the right moves right now, because anything else will be my ultimate undoing, of that I am quite certain. I’ve done a lot of damage to myself this year. It’s time to repair it and move on. But I can’t do it alone. I need to be held accountable. For everything. I need to stay the course, and the only way for me to do that is to be accountable for the things I do. I’m going to be writing on this blog as often as I can, talking about where I am, what I’m doing. I’ll be writing a lot about my sobriety, my health, my work. This will keep me focused. I need that right now more than anything. The journey begins…