I thought getting sober at age 22 was a death sentence, but growing up in sobriety has been the biggest honor & privilege I never knew I wanted.
“I need to drink to have fun.” A sentence that plagues so many of us. At 22 years old, being sent to drug and alcohol treatment was, by far, the worst thing that could have happened to me. How does a young twenty something millennial, living in Los Angeles, survive after suddenly realizing that her life depends on never drinking again? I’ll tell you – she survives PRETTY DAMN WELL.
I grew up in an incredibly loving household with amazing parents & a younger sister. We lived the private school, golden retriever, white picket fence life. I am incredibly lucky. I know that. I was, for all intents and purposes, a very “normal” child.
In my late teens, I started experimenting with alcohol & drugs and it was love at first sight. I spent my late teens and early twenties in an opiate induced downward spiral. Although I thought I was having the time of my life, the reality was that I was completely alone, isolated, lying, stealing, spending every night in my bedroom watching reruns of old TV shows and pushing everyone who loved and cared about me away.
At age 22, after turning my back on everyone I knew, I realized it was time to make a change. I called my parents and asked them to please help me. I woke up on June 19th, 2011 in the small fishing town of Astoria OR, barely remembering how I got there. I had been checked into Astoria Pointe Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center and so began my journey.
My first memory at Astoria Pointe was sitting outside the first morning I was there. I was incredibly sick, couldn’t stop shaking and was buried in an oversized sweatshirt. I was terrified, completely alone and had no idea how I had gotten myself in this situation. All of a sudden, a deer walked up to me. Growing up in the bustling city of Los Angeles, I had never seen a deer before. My only thought: “where the hell am I?!”
After phone privileges were given to me after five days, I called my dad and begged him to bring me home. I promised him I would transfer to a treatment center in Malibu…Oregon was just not my speed. “No one here gets me”.
Of course, he told me NO and made me stay in what I thought was going to be 30 days of hell but ended up being the most life changing and incredible 4 months of my life.
At the top of Astoria
After 90 days of inpatient treatment and 30 days of sober living in Oregon, it was finally time to make my way back to La La Land. I was terrified. Oregon had become my safe haven. I had been reborn there, made lifelong friends there, made memories there, found out who I was there. But Los Angeles is, and always will be, home. The moment my feet landed in LA, I immediately jumped head first into a sober community. Being a woman in recovery in an honor and a privilege and it is the most important thing in my life.
With that said, though, I still found myself being a 22 year old who wanted to have fun with her friends. From October 20th, 2011, the day I came home from Oregon, living a “normal” life has always been incredibly important to me. I was determined to not let sobriety keep me from living life to the fullest and experiencing every moment that 20-somethings get to experience.
No, you do not need to drink to have fun. In the past 8 years of sobriety, I have gone to parties, done Vegas, danced on tables, tailgated at football games, gone to Coachella & Stagecoach, traveled on bachelorette trips, visited Cabo, dated, survived heartbreak, gotten married, honeymooned, etc etc. All these moments that people so often think they need to drink through. I have also had every single one of these experiences without a hangover the next morning, being the first one awake and ready for the day ahead of me.
Are there times that being “the sober one” is isolating? Sure. I have found, unfortunately, that many people do not like the idea of being around a sober person. Maybe it makes them uncomfortable? Maybe it makes them question their own drinking? Or maybe they just don’t think I will enjoy myself being out with them. Whatever the reason, there have been many nights out that I have not been included in over the past 8 years. But that’s alright. Because being alone, hiding my using, and living a double life was a hell of a lot more isolating.
Los Angeles is a huge city, full of so many exciting things to do. Why would I want to not LIVE through it all? Experience everything? See everything? Hike every trail, see every concert, visit every beach?
Me, hiking to the top of Malibu, because I’m not hungover and I can.
Finding out I’m an alcoholic was not the death sentence I once thought it was. It has made me love every moment of this life, be grateful for every situation I am presented with and strive to live every day being the best version I myself I can possibly be. I live in gratitude each and every day for this life I’ve been given. It’s the only one I have, I might as well love every second of it.
Hanging upside down at The Giggling Marlin in Cabo, with a water bottle in hand. Completely sober. BECAUSE LIVE YO DAMN LIFE.