She was the bottom.

She was the bottom. The one that finally held up a mirror and I remember sitting on the cement floor, in the garage and staring into the bottom of the glass, knowing I was done.

I would never tell her this… because she would think it was her fault and I would never want her to carry the burden. If anything, I am thankful. She was only the reflection- the final broken piece of the mirror, and I know now that rock bottom isn’t really a bottom–

it’s a mirror.

It’s the moment where you truly see who you have become and where you’re going so clearly. I was looking into her face and hearing her words– so angry and judgmental and hurtful and I recognized parts of myself in her. It was an incredibly sad moment of reckoning–

A reckoning on a cold cement floor, 3 bottles of wine deep, watching your soul leave your body temporarily, allowing the demons in… the black and white checkered floor became a reflection of my own struggles and when I sat, looking through the smoke filled haze that resembled oil meeting water in my mind…

THERE’S THE LINE. I can see it so clearly now…

I cannot exist in both.

I cannot exist in both.

I cannot exist in both.

 

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How Alcohol Gave Me Anxiety- From Breakdowns to Breakthroughs

I’ve never understood what anxiety was or the ways in which it could cripple your life. I’ve never been an anxious person, nor have I suffered from anxiety in the way some people do. Whenever people spoke to me about their anxiety I couldn’t really connect because I simply couldn’t relate. As a child I was always moving and talking but I don’t remember having social anxiety or feeling like anxiety was affecting my life in any way. After almost 3 months sober I am finally able to see the ways in which my anxiety was a direct cause of my drinking.

Anxiety came rushing into my life about 4 years ago for the first time. Being completely ill-equipped to deal with it, I didn’t even recognize it as anxiety at first! It would come in waves and started gripping me during social situations. Being a traveler you are constantly meeting new people and making first impressions, being asked to sum up your life in 10 seconds and explain who you are and what you represent to people you just met. I’d always identified myself as an extrovert so when I started getting to the point that social conversations with new people because stressful, I started drinking more. Drinking was a HUGELY socially acceptable part of not only every other facet of life but especially the diving community and was the number one way to network with other instructors or people involved in the industry. Booze fueled my travels and social interactions, it helped me make friends and even got me job offers in the middle of the evening, completely sauced. This all gave me the illusion that drinking was helping me make connections and get to where I want.

About a year ago I started feeling hyper sensitive to energy that was surrounding me and became extremely susceptible to picking up and carrying the negative energies of others. I wasn’t healthy spiritually, mentally or physically so I wasn’t able to protect myself from any of this, nor did I have the awareness to identify it was happening. I started having these completely random moments of panic where I felt like something terrible was about to happen, where it consumed me and I found myself in the midst of my first panic attack.

In March of last year I had my first emotional breakdown. You know those “mid life crisis” breakdowns everyone speaks about but mostly in a joking manner? Yea, well… at almost 30 years old I had a alcohol induced emotional breakdown that left me completely scared, lost and alone. This moment became my first tipping point. I recognized this encroaching anxiety as a cry for help from my body. I realized it was time to do something drastic but I wasn’t ready yet to pinpoint exactly what I needed.

I sought out sobriety first to get my life back under control, seeing the ways in which alcohol lowered my self esteem, caused a whirlwind of shame, kept my brain cloudy, and forced me to seek refuge again in the very thing that was causing me to feel this way in the first place. I did great for 6 weeks, really dived into my yoga practice and started actually exploring my own spirituality for the first time. Things started to fall into alignment and once my self esteem went back up and I felt in control, I went back to drinking again.

Guess what happened? Nothing changed! I slipped right back to where I started. I would balance my life for awhile until I would get a bee in my bonnet, go back on a bender, and then start my self depreciation and self loathing cycle all over again. This resulted in huge anxiety that I was unable to control. When I felt all these feelings my first instinct was to have a drink to get my anxiety under control. The thing is, I always knew in the back of my mind that all of this could be controlled and eliminated if I simply quit drinking, but that seemed way too dramatic. I couldn’t and wouldn’t admit that I’d failed! I had failed to control my drinking and substance abuse 10 years before and ended up in rehab, the ultimate mark of an addict! I didn’t want to admit my own failure again. I simply wasn’t ready and I was scared of not being able to do it.

I had to BREAKDOWN to BREAKTHROUGH! This was 2018 folks! Not only for me but the story I’ve heard from so many loved ones! Maybe you had a breakdown, or maybe you had a breakthrough or maybe both! Energetically this was an extremely difficult year. If you are relating to any of this, or if this resonates with you, I hope that you’ll seriously consider making some changes for 2019.

In a few days I will be 3 months sober. My anxiety is completely gone and although I have anxious moments about normal things that happen in life, I no longer suffer from panic attacks or emotional breakdowns. The thing is, introverts or people who suffer from anxiety typically tend to drink more- feeling the need to relax during social interactions they reach for a beer to calm the nerves and believe that this is actually helping them. The reality is that we’re all a little anxious, that sometimes human interaction is difficult and that’s okay. I’ve had to learn to be my bubbly self without alcohol, I’ve had to learn to dance and laugh and be silly without having any “liquid courage” to do it! Although introverts usually seek alcohol out to make them feel more extroverted, my extrovert personality paired perfectly with drinking and partying and in turn give me anxiety. A different route but the same result.

One of my biggest fears about quitting drinking was losing my “party girl” persona. I didn’t think I’d be as much fun and I was afraid people wouldn’t view me that way anymore! I know now that I’m just as much fun, that my interactions come from the heart, that when I connect with people it comes from a real place. I don’t fake small chat anymore and I don’t stay in situations or around people that give my intuition red flags- before I could ignore my own signals by consuming more booze, now I listen to what my body tells me and invest in the people and moments that bring me joy.

I still have INCREDIBLY awkward moments sometimes out at bars and in basic interactions. But I’ve learned to laugh it off because I know that I’m being authentic and we all are trying to connect in the same way. I see now that drinking added so much anxiety to my every day life. If I wasn’t anxious while I was drinking, I was anxious afterwards while I suffered from a hangover and a load of shame, when I felt bad for all the things I wasn’t accomplishing and the way in which I was wasting my time and wasting my life. Because of that anxiety I would just reach for the one thing that gave it to me in the first place and tried to fix A MILLION other things about my life first, instead of starting with the most important step.

You don’t need to be an alcoholic to stop drinking! I know, I know, crazy right!?! You don’t need to label yourself in any way! I for one, don’t like the term alcoholic. It makes it seem like I’m doomed to spend my life wanting something I can’t have. That doesn’t sound like freedom, and I no longer want something that caused me so much misery! I think most of us can agree that drinking affects us in negative ways, but we simply can’t imagine a life without it. If this is you, I hope you hear me- it is possible! And WAY easier than you think! I am happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve found purpose and true joy. I’ve learned that I can handle anything life throws at me sober and that I do not NEED to rely on any substance to live happily! I have never felt more free knowing that I no longer want to poison my body with a substance that has literally never given me anything in return, but remorse.

The cycle of alcohol and anxiety is huge! It affects so many people and we have all been fooled into thinking that alcohol gives us more courage, makes us more funny, lessens our anxiety, calms our nerves and does a MILLION other things!

STOP! Quit lying to yourself and quit letting the rest of the world lie to you too! There is no black and white! There are no “good drinkers” and “bad drinkers”! There are soooo many in-betweeners like me! The grey area drinkers that woke up and realized that alcohol was a waste of money, time, and energy. I’m happy to have myself back and I’m blessed to go into 2019 free from something that used to consume me. From breakdowns, to breakthroughs, I’m telling you, I’ve been there. Bring it, 2019!

full stop.

9 days ago everything i know came crashing down. put on the back burner on hold. i guess that sounds a bit dramatic but the severity of this temporary situation is starting to sink in now. i was driving my motorbike with my friend on the back when we turned the corner very slowly into the taxi stand so he could catch one back to his hotel. as we turned the corner my back tire went flat causing the bike to jump forward, and all of Eddy’s weight came down on me along with the bike at the same time. my knee completely twisted under the weight and upon trying to stand up my knee buckled and i knew. i’ve watched my brother go through 2 knee surgeries, and i just knew… that’s what he must’ve felt. 

it didn’t even really hurt when it happened. but when i tried to stand up and walk i felt a popping sound and my knee just giving way. it wasn’t stable and i couldn’t stand on it at all. i decided to go into the hospital right away. the doctor’s in Patong are idiots… they x rayed my knee and told me nothing was broken. then after wrapping it up they sent me on my way and told me to come back in 2 days. i couldn’t walk and had to beg them for crutches, they gave me one. one crutch? what do you do with one crutch? 

the next morning i went into Bangkok Phuket International Hospital to get the low down on what was really going on. the doctor was friendly and honest and told me i needed an MRI. great i thought, but i already kinda knew the results. i used my Thai insurance and it took 4 days for it to go through so I hung out at home for a week before I actually went in and got my MRI. this was 2 days ago. 

my friend Ian was nice enough to drive me to the hospital, and after our break for lunch he took me back to hear the results. as he dropped me off he said, “it’s judgement day” and i laughed but he couldn’t have been more right. the results were a fully torn ACL and a fully torn lateral meniscus along with a bone contusion or “fracture” on my knee. i was starting to be able to bear weight on it the day before but he told me because of the bone fracture i would have to stay off it or accept a cast. in this weather, i think the cast would be the most uncomfortable thing in the world so i whole heartedly promised to be a good girl and stop jumping around my house on one leg like Tiger on speed. i promised i would use my crutches. then out the door i went accepting my new fate.

with a 6 month recovery time post surgery and unable to drive my motorbike one legged, i accepted that the best place for me to go and recover would be home with my family. i was advised not to fly for a few more weeks and my visa happens to run out on the 20th. so i’m booking my flight back to Minnesota for the day. it has only started to sink in what i’m about to endure, and i have so much of my life to pack up and sort out before i leave. and i’m obviously not in the best condition to be taking care of all of this. 

my heart feels heavy and i’m beginning to feel like i’m constantly on the verge of tears. i’m going to miss my diving and Thailand. i know i’ll come back in October but that’s a ways away, and i have a lot of growing and healing to do before i make it back here. it’s only 6-8 months of my life, but it’s going to test my character, challenge me, and teach me to slow down. 

i was throwing around the idea of taking a low season off and heading back to Minnesota to live up north with my family for the summer. i haven’t lived there since I moved out just after turning 18. now i guess i have the opportunity to do just that. connect with myself and my roots again, gain a bit of strength and insight before moving on in the world, celebrate my 26th birthday living at home, like i did 8 years ago. maybe i need to go home, hug my parents and be humbled. they always bring me back to Earth.  

this has always been a travel blog really, but now it will switch to a recovery blog. i’ll keep everyone updated on my journey from beginning to end: the pre physio, surgery, recovery, first steps afterwards and all the milestones i cross in between. writing will help keep me sane and help me find strength in the words. 

if anyone is reading this, i want to thank all of you for the text messages, calls, facebook messages and emails i’ve received in the past 9 days. so many of my friends here have came by daily with food, cigarettes, water and beer or just simply to visit. i appreciate all of you so much. i didn’t realize i had so many friends that cared and i’m feeling like one BLESSED human right now. 

anyways, onward and upward. let the journey begin!