What has she DONE? She looks gorgeous! When we met she was so...mousey!
I was a little shocked when Derek told me what our girlfriend has said. It'd been four years since I'd seen her last at SXSW. Apparently, sitting across from me in her living room, I looked like a completely different person.
She didn't know it. When I met her back then, I was:
-hating what I saw in the mirror
-sneaking flasks of moonshine into my own gigs
-running myself ragged on the road
-using wine or sleeping pills to fall asleep at night
-living out of a suitcase
-intensely insecure about my music, constantly seeking approval
-almost completely consumed by stress and anxiety.
Over the years, I’d tried slowing down. I made promises to myself to ease up on my drinking and be better to my body. I’d make it a few days and then somebody would invite me to a party and I’d throw in the towel.
One year ago, I made a decision that no matter what - I was going to change my life. What led to that decision was a series of breakdowns.
It’s really easy to convince people everything is fine if you’re “busy.” But I was sad. Then a friend of mine got sober and I realized I was completely envious of her. Scratch that. I was jealous.
In retrospect, I realized I wasn’t jealous of her. I wanted what she had. I knew then that I had to stop drinking because I didn't think I could.
I’d made it a few days sober, and then a friend introduced me to someone I really hit it off with. I was too embarrassed to tell him I didn’t drink, so I had A glass of wine. Then one turned into three. The next night, we went out on the town and I easily doubled that. I woke up in bed next to him dehydrated and sleep-deprived, with that terrible sinking insecure feeling - does he like me, did I go too far, do I offer him breakfast or just hide in the bathroom while he puts on his shoes?
I walked him out, and he didn’t ask for my number. I felt so pathetic.
I had my premiere in Interview Magazine that morning - and on a day I should have been celebrating a huge milestone, I just sat on the grass at Zilker Park crying. I felt like dirt.
Two weeks in, no alcohol. I relapsed again on vacation because I was too ashamed to tell my girlfriends why I wasn't drinking.
Then, I just got tired of breaking down.
I realized I couldn’t do it on my own, so I started going to meetings. Then I kept going. I slipped up, and went back again. And again.
May 21, 2013, I stopped slipping. Today, I'm celebrating my first year sober. No bulimia, no drinking.
What happened was that I committed to start living my life from a place of love. I recognized that touring constantly without rest, drinking nightly, controlling my body with food - they were all forms of abuse. I kept getting depressed because my body (understandably so) was FREAKING OUT AT ME.
I wasn’t born a super hero. I'm the kind of person who signs up for a course or a program and then gets really afraid of flunking. Like, dropping-out mid course. It's happened so many times. This time - IT DIDN'T. I took it a day a time, I gave myself time and space to rest (off the road), do nothing, get really sad, and then have a great fucking time.
I went rock climbing. I started going to Samba Dance Parties where men in their 70’s swept the floor with me. I started weight lifting, and instituted a "no-body shaming" rule with all of my girlfriends. I declined conference after music conference that I just didn't have the energy for.
I started glowing. I laugh louder now and make more inappropriate jokes than ever. I'm like the drunkest sober person on the face of the earth. Sometimes I stand on the subway platform with my headphones on and dance like a crazy person, and it's more fun than I ever had sitting at a bar trying to forget all the reasons I was overwhelmed.
Am I perfect? Hell no. I still get insecure. But now I value my body enough to get through the uncomfortable stuff.
There have been so many times in the last year I’ve wanted to throw in the towel. I’ve caught myself standing in the junk food aisle at Duane Reade wanting to binge & purge, or staring down a glass of scotch on the kitchen counter. I’ve had total emotional breakdowns and eaten until I was sick, and then forced myself to go to bed just so I wouldn’t throw up.
I’ve learned to be really gentle with myself. Only handle what is immediately in front of me - and when shit gets really hairy, reach out. I’ve had friends call me at 1AM while I hid out in the back of gritty music venues and rescue me in Indiana to take me to AA meetings. All of this has taught me that I don’t have to endure this stuff on my own.
Instead of drinking to numb my emotions, I chose to take my struggles and turn them into fuel. I started sharing these stories with you.
So sitting on my girlfriends couch, I DID look amazing. I was 8 months sober and finally really proud of the choices I was making. I’ve gotten up every day for the last year and made the decision not to drink.
I know this shit won’t ever go away, but I’ve made commitment to stay on a positive path. No matter how times I fall. I trust and love myself enough to know that I will not stop.
For that, I am so incredibly grateful.