Why fix what isn’t broken?

Imaging: Drew Beamer

I’ve been sober for 11 months and I’ve been struggling with attending my regular AA/NA meetings. There are days when I feel too lazy and other days I don’t want to be bothered, despite having that voice in the back of my head that tells me, “it’s only for an hour, just attend. Do it for yourself.” Not going to meetings while experiencing this sort of thinking can be a slippery slope. I’m well aware it’s beneficial to my sobriety and helps to keep me grounded, but there are times when I become too apathetic.

As I write this, I’ve realized I’m not feeling worthy of meetings. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s how I feel. There are other areas in my life where I feel I’m lacking and though I’ve managed to stay sober, I’m disappointed in myself for lack of success in other areas. When I go to my meetings, after a brief discussion, the floor opens up for anyone who would like to share, giving them a chance to talk and receive support. I feel I’m too repetitive and am genuinely embarrassed to continue speaking. These aspects of my life that I’m struggling with are things I should be able to handle on my own, yet I feel I have no strength to keep pushing myself. It feels like one hurdle after another with no end in sight. I think I’m emotionally exhausted. Between handling my sobriety day to day, as well as forcing myself to stay focused in school, other things seem too tiring to deal with. It makes me want to throw my arms up in the air.

I know my group is there for me, no matter what is going on, but I despise feeling like I’m bothering them with my nonsense. Now that I’ve written all of this out I have a clear mind and options to choose from: I can either continue complaining and wait for nothing to happen, which puts my sobriety at risk OR I can reach out, acknowledge I’m deserving and continue moving forward so this negativity can be a distant memory. I’m going to aim for the latter.

At the end of the day, I have to stop allowing depression and my addicted brain from sabotaging my progress. I’m still in recovery, I’m on the Dean’s list, I’m finishing school in a few months, my relationship with my boyfriend is great, and my bonds with family are getting stronger than they have in years. Those things are worth celebrating and remaining optimistic for what the future holds. The question I need to continue asking myself is, “if meetings helped me immensely throughout my entire recovery, why fix what isn’t broken?”

Dear Alcohol, enough is enough.

Imaging by: Andrii Iemelianenko

We were so close, you and I, it felt like it would last forever.
Through the good, bad, laughs and grief, you were the one I could always depend on.
You never let me down, until you did.
It took a while to catch on, but I see you for what you are.
All you did was lie, made me believe you were the only solution.
Rather than listening to myself, I turned to you for insight.
I became someone I didn’t recognize.
Someone I grew to despise.
You led me astray. I allowed you to.
I listened when you said you were all I needed, that vicious lie consumed me.
That lie that almost destroyed me, but now I know the truth.
You’re nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
You deceived me and made me think I was using you, yet it was you that was using me.
Until there was almost nothing left.
Like I said, it took me a while to catch on, but I see you now.
You’re nothing but a poison that was slowly tainting my body and mind.
I gave you too much of myself.
Enough is enough.
I’m recovering all I allowed you to have.
I refused to give you anymore.
This is your last call.
We were so close, you and I, but now this is goodbye.

Healing from mixed-race wounds

It has taken me the majority of my life to accept my reality of being mixed race. Despite taking part in therapy over many years, I couldn’t get to the root of why I felt the way I did. At least, that’s what I would tell myself. Deep down, I knew what was wrong, but I didn’t acknowledge it until I got sober and became reacquainted with the little girl that was still wounded inside.

I was born to teenage parents at the start of the ’90s. My mother is Latina and my father was African-American. As my mother worked hard to complete high school, obtain her certification, and worked two jobs, my father was an absent parent. My grandparents were the ones who raised me. While I love them wholeheartedly, it was a challenging way to grow up. My grandparents were born and raised in South America, where colorism and racism was/is alive. They loved me and gave me the world, took better care of me than they did their children, but some of their comments made lasting impressions.

In Spanish, they would tell me, “when you get older, we will pay for you to get a nose job to make it a little smaller” or “curl in your lips a little, that way your lips don’t look as big.” Those are awful things to say to a child, but those weren’t the only things they would say. They would also call me their beautiful, gorgeous, pretty girl or ‘Mi Morena’ which translates to my dark-skinned girl. It would leave me confused. Were my “Black” features an issue or were they charming? Why did it appear to be an issue one minute, and not the next? However, when it came to certain individuals of my extended family, I knew where they stood since they disowned me for being the product of an African American man.

As I got older and went to school, I became exposed to how “different” I was. One day, my mother picked me up from pre-k and a classmate approached and asked her, “You’re Thalia’s mom?” She smiled, “Yes, I am.” He replied, “But you’re white.” I looked at him and my mom, then at myself, and realized I was different from them. To others outside of my family, this wasn’t “normal.” My mom kept smiling and replied, “Well, my skin is white, but her daddy is Black, and that’s why she has her color.” With that said, he understood and went back to playing. After that, I noticed how different I was from my family. I was the only dark-skinned one.

When I got older and went to elementary school, it became worse. I didn’t fit in with the Black kids because I wasn’t Black enough and “talked white.” I didn’t fit in with the Spanish kids because I was Black. The only kids that made me feel welcomed were the white kids, so they were the ones I mainly interacted with.

The older I became, the more I would get harassed with “you’re an Oreo,” “you’re desperate to be white,” “you’re the whitest black person I know,” “are you sure you’re black?” “You can’t be Spanish and Black.” I felt like I had no identity. I wasn’t white, wasn’t accepted in Black or Spanish communities, I didn’t interact with my father’s side because they didn’t bother with me. I felt alone. So, after years of confusion and uncertainty, I began to party hard, fell in with questionable crowds, became promiscuous, and found a new type of reality. It’s called an illusion. I don’t recommend it.

The confusion surrounding my identity is only a portion of why I fell into the misery of addiction. There are moments I hate having gone through what I did, but a part of me is glad I had to endure the anguish. Once I became sober and analyzed these parts of my past, rather than ignoring them, it made me realize that just because I am a woman of different colors, it doesn’t mean I have to fit in with any community. I can create my own. And no matter how big or small, it will be enough because I am enough. I always have been and will be, no matter what other people may think or feel.

What Pink Cloud?

When I first got sober, I heard a lot about this thing called “the pink cloud” or “pink cloud syndrome.” If you don’t know what that means, it refers to a feeling of ecstasy and acute confidence in your unseasoned recovery (that is the short, packed explanation). I wondered if I would experience the so-called life high, but it never came. I’ll be eight months, clean and sober, in forty-eight hours. I’m thankful that I didn’t have that honeymoon phase. 

From the time I entered rehab to when I left and came home, it was nothing but raw emotions, dark thoughts, and rough inner battles. I couldn’t use to self-medicate, I couldn’t drink to escape my reality, I had to deal with everything head-on and there wasn’t any excitement about it. I went to meetings almost seven days a week, sometimes twice a day, and a shit ton of therapy. I was angry, depressed, anxious, irritated, but in-between all of that mess within me lied some hope. There was hope I would get through the darkness that surrounded me since the route I had been on was gradually killing me. I wanted to live. 

I fought like hell through the wickedness of my thoughts and negative feelings I’ve suppressed for years with the help of opening up. Being honest with myself and others was the biggest struggle I faced in my thirty years of life. All I did was hide shit, suppress things, and shove everything down. I allowed myself to feel, acknowledge my history and realized I was keeping myself stuck in the cemented past.  

In future posts, I will go deeper into my past, but for now, all I can say is if I encountered the pink cloud, the overconfidence and “high on life” feeling would have made me careless and avoid the seriousness of getting to the core of my addictions.  I wouldn’t have fought and clawed through the muck to where I am today. Even though I will be eight months clean and sober, it is still daily warfare. It just happens to be easier with a clearer head and an open heart.