The Art of Finally Letting Go Of The Bully

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Despite my at times aloof disposition, I am incredibly sensitive. I get hurt by an off-handed innocuous comment and hold it in my heart for years, and I’ll never tell you how much it hurt me. I’m a masochist like that; I hold it in, hold it in, hold it in, until something triggers me and sets me off. It is a terrible habit I developed from my childhood, but that was just how I was taught to deal with feelings. “Suck it up, get over it, or pay a therapist to listen to it” is on our family crest. When I drank, I would bubble over with feelings that flung from my mouth without any inhibition. I would lash out at people with no filter or consideration for the other person’s feelings. I would mask my commentary as a joke at times, but everyone knew it wasn’t a joke. It was truly awful. Now that I’m sober, I have made it my mission to express how I feel and articulate myself when I am hurt, without letting it boil over into a much bigger deal than it needs to be. I have been pretty good about it so far, or so I thought, but I was tested today. Today I encountered a person I honestly hoped I would never see again, and often times fantasized what I would say if I ever saw them again.

After 7 years since graduation, I saw my high school bully.

Everyone has some type of childhood nemesis, and although I had plenty of people I didn’t see eye-to-eye with, this person put the rest of my nay-sayers to shame. To make an incredibly long story short, this person hated me the minute they met me, a loud, outspoken girl, because they too were loud and outspoken. Unfortunately for both of us, we were both loud and outspoken about hating each other. I remember it like it was yesterday, the guy transferred into our high school, and I had no idea who he was, but everyone kept telling me there was this person who says that I am the “ugliest, most annoying girl he’s ever met”. A tad dramatic, but I’m not bullet-proof. It hurt. I didn’t even know this person, but I was instantly rejected. So, like any sensitive high schooler, I fought fire with fire, and came up to him and confronted them. It was the start of an endless battle that lasted well through senior year. He would say or do one thing to hurt me, I would say and do another to hurt him; it came to a point where I would fear crossing paths with him, because, like me, he did not hold back, and he knew what would hurt me, just like I knew what would hurt him. It was, in a word, so very high school.

The worst part was that he became friends with my friends, because he was a very outgoing, charismatic, funny guy. I see what others saw in him. He had the whole mean girls thing down to a T and boy did it drive a wedge in my social life. Slowly over the years my once close friends began to pull away as they became closer with him, because he was more fun, and, well, he would make sure no one liked me. Some months I remember he would try to be nice to me, and I would do something to mess it up by shooting a friendly fire, and that would just make it worse. Sometimes I would purposefully annoy him just because I knew it would, and now in hindsight I just see how innately stupid and childish that was, but I was desperate to look like I had the control in our ongoing battle, and I’d be damned if I waved a white flag. It was, in a word, so very fucking self-destructive.

Once Senior year came, I was on the final strings with a lot of my friends, and I felt that we were all going different paths. We just didn’t have much in common anymore, but I wanted to have groups to go to parties with, groups to say hello to in the morning, a group to go to Homecoming with…I just wanted to be included, even if the group didn’t really like me that much. It was just survival, as I’m sure many of us can relate to senior year when we look around at all of our friends and go “wow…I don’t have anything in common with you”. Little did I know none of this would matter in a couple of months, but at the time, it was devastating feeling left out. And I am not going to pin it all on this one guy, but he did not help with my friends feeling uninterested in maintaining a friendship with me when it pissed off their friend they like more than me anyway so much. It’s basic psychology. I get it.

Then there was the final moment that I should have waved my white flag, but I didn’t, and it ruined my entire Senior year (dramatic, but accurate in the eyes of a 17-year-old). My friends were all going to a concert that I didn’t care about but bought a ticket to specifically because I knew it was the place to go that weekend. I also knew there would be drinking, something I had done a grand total of 1 1/2 times (essentially 3 times I took 2 swigs of vodka when I was 15 and was “hammered”), but that was what the cool kids did, and like any high school flick, I wanted to be cool, A-DUH. I remember taking maybe 2 shots at once and the rest was a blur. I blacked out and woke up outside of the concert, with one of my closest friends all through middle and high school, and him. I had no idea what happened, and they told me I was kicked out because I was falling and a mess. I started bawling immediately, because alcohol + embarrassment = ALL OF THE TEARS. He took my phone and called my Mom, telling her what happened so she could come get me, and my Mom went absolutely insane. I had a trip to New York with her the next weekend, and I knew she would cancel it if she found out I was drinking and got kicked out of a concert. In hindsight, I realize that would never happen, because the tickets to our Broadway show were already purchased and our hotel was long booked, but knowing her, she would find a way. My Mom sent my Dad out to pick me up, and I was continuing to be hysterical, mostly yelling at the guy who was helping me. This guy, who has been nothing but mean to me, was helping me out when I needed it, and sacrificing his concert to help me, and I was screaming at him. I was screaming at him for being so mean to me, for calling me ugly, for hating me for no reason, the whole 9 yards. I reached my boiling point and Burnetts let it all pour out all over the one person helping me out in my time of need. He didn’t yell at me, he just took it, and tried to calm me down, but never denied that he hated me. I always found that funny and in hindsight respect him for that. My Dad picked me up, and it was time to do damage control. Little did I know, I was going to make things 93576 times worse.

My Dad was furious in the car, and as I was sobering up, I began to realize what was at stake. My New York trip, my fun, the rest of my Senior year…I had to think fast. The first thing that came to my drunk mind was to blame the one guy who my parents know has “had it out for me” since day one. I told the biggest, most bullshit lie I could muster up, and that was that my bully stole my phone and lied to my parents about being drunk and kicked out of a concert to get back at me because he, well, hated me. I don’t  know what was more insane, that story, or the fact my parents, without so much as skipping a beat, believed it. I texted that very person I threw under the bus for my own selfish needs and thanked him for his help. He told me I should pay for his ticket, which I agreed. I was still in a ton of trouble anyway but the fire was put out, that is, until that Monday.

That Monday was the worst day of my entire grade school career. I came in, and everyone knew what happened. I was hammered, a shit show, and made out with some weird dude (apparently he was super old? I have no idea what happened, but I don’t doubt that happened), and my bully-now-super hero was fucking furious with me. Everyone stared at me and made comments when I walked through the hallways. I knew that everyone knew, and they knew that I knew. It was absolutely horrifying. I got it that the guy who helped me was mad, but I thought we were cool when I apologized and offered to pay for his ticket. We were all sitting at lunch, and I remember seeing him fuming as he came up to me. I said ‘hey, here’s your money’, and he turned to me, and screamed to the entire lunch room “You keep your money, since you told your parents that I fucking lied to them when you were wasted and making out with old guys”.

My secret was out. He found out because my dumbass brother posted on my facebook wall about how my parents bought my stupid story. It was in print, and there was no denying it. I was exposed. I admitted what I did and apologized, but the damage was done. My other friend who helped me that night was sitting with me, and I looked at her, and she was so upset. Everyone was staring at me. I mean, literally, everyone. The guy stormed off, and I just was alone, surrounded by stares and whispers. It took every fiber of my being to not cry, and I calmly got up, grabbed my lunch and walked off into the bathroom where I ate my lunch alone and cried, a la Cady Heron in Mean Girls. It was fucking awful, and I deserved it.

After my depressing toilet lunch, I spent the rest of the day hiding in the guidance office, sobbing for hours, missing the rest of school. I was inconsolable, and I had no idea what to do. I was exposed and that was the final nail in the coffin with any of my friends who were on both sides of Team Suzanne, Team Guy Who Helped Suzanne and She Fucked Him Over. I was done, he was officially the good guy, and I was the villain. The Senior year I was so worried about ruining by not making the effort with my friends was ruined just by me trying to be cool and drinking. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself.

The rest of the year was pretty bleak. I was tainted with “that girl” reputation and the bully now had all the power over me. He could say whatever mean thing he wanted to say, because I finally gave him a real reason to hate me. No one ever officially took sides, but seeing that my social life was just me going to work on the weekends being friends with people who didn’t go to my high school pretty much sums it up where I stood on the social food chain. I was a social pariah ’till graduation. No one was mean to me, but no one was especially friendly, either. It was a sea of apathy or hatred, and no one was buying what I was selling. It was so lonely, and it scarred me with my friendships and future friendships ’till this day. I was overcome with loneliness and guilt, and there was nothing I could do except wait until college to start all over again with people who may not know so much about my not-so-great high school resume.

Over the years post-graduation, I would hear through the grape vine of the horrible things my bully would still say about me, the Facebook statuses he would post at my expense, you name it. I tried to move on from my high school baggage in college, but as I drank it would bubble over and affect my friendships, and even relationships. I would think I was ugly and not worthy of any guy liking me, because that was what I was told all through high school. It is sad but this person had such a hold over me, even years after the fact. The back of my head just played a monologue of the things he said to me, that I knew other people thought of me as well, and it seriously messed up my psyche. I would fantasize of what I would say to him if I ever saw him again, how I would shut him down and shove in his face how great I am doing now, how I graduated with this and got a promotion in that, how some dude at a bar said I was beautiful once…just a pathetic list of accolades that for some reason I would think would show him what’s what! It was pretty lame, to say the least.

After years of therapy (for other reasons, not just a bully) and getting sober, I started to let go of a lot of my baggage, and he was one of the biggest pieces of carry-on that I had trouble shaking off. This past year I felt a lot more at peace with my past, realizing how I contributed to our war, and how he had a lot of demons that he was battling as well that contributed to lashing out at me, just like how I would lash out at others from my demons. He was dealing with being gay in a completely anti-gay environment, which I can’t begin to understand how hard that must have been, and I know he had family issues that I am not going to air out on the Internet. I had my family issues and mental health issues, too. We actually weren’t very different. I always accepted that I would hold on to that part of my past and it was a part of me, that shame, that guilt, that loneliness…until today.

I was at work at one of my part-time jobs, when all of a sudden a guy came up to me and was talking about a David Yurman bracelet he was returning. He just talked to me, and thinking he was just another unhappy customer, I tried to just lend an ear and listen. I made a joke about the bracelet, and he half-laughed, as much as the joke warranted, and then I looked into his eyes and realized who it was. It was him. THE PERSON. I was mid sentence when I finally realized who it was, and my heart began to race. In my head I was like “Holy shit!!! It’s him! He’s lost so much weight, holy shit I didn’t even recognize him…wait, is he going to beat the shit out of me like he threatened all the time? Am I safe? Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, what was that one cool line I had saved from 2010 that I wanted to say to him? FUUUUUCK WHAT IS HAPPENING” and then literally as I was mid-thinking of something to say, something I always wanted to say to him, to confront him on how much he hurt me, etc etc… I drew a blank. Then I just had a clear head. There was nothing in there. I was completely calm. He was just a human I used to know 7 years ago. I asked him about his job, and he teaches special ed now, and seems really happy with it. I genuinely told him “good for you!”. I meant that. He asked me how I was doing, without a mocking cadence, and I told him what I was up to, and he was nice about it. We made nice small talk–small talk you don’t make with just anyone–and as we wrapped up I just blurted out “you look good!”. What? Huh? This person who made me feel so insecure and ugly looks GOOD? Suzanne!? COME ON! LET HIM HAVE IT!…but no. I genuinely thought he looked good, and I wanted to tell him. He lost a lot of weight and I know how hard that is to do. He said I looked good too. Now, that was probably a lie, but the fact he said it speaks volumes. I couldn’t believe it. We both had an incredibly pleasant conversation, catching up on each others’ lives, with no ulterior motive or putting each other down. We even complimented how we fucking LOOKED, the one thing we constantly ragged on each other for over the years as petulant teens. It felt completely freeing. We parted ways and I just sat down and said “holy shit” to myself as I let out a huge sigh of relief. I couldn’t believe it. All this time I had so much pain and all of these plans of “revenge” by living a super great life, and here he was, just being a guy helping out kids in special ed, being happy with himself as an out gay man, and here I was a girl being happy with myself as an admitted addict, having lots of odd jobs and working on this ole comedy and writing thing. It was better than hitting my one year sober, because instead of getting “revenge” on each other, we just both found what made us happy and went for it. We both were at peace. We could finally move on from being hurtful to each other because of our own pain that we may not have shared with others at the time.

I feel like everyone has some type of bully, weather it’s being their own worst enemy, their loved ones, or even just a bully from grade school that has affected our psyche in some way today. We all know it’s harmful to hold on to such toxic feelings, but it’s easier said than done. Now, I’m not saying go and reach out to everyone who did you wrong and ask what special ed class they’re teaching, but maybe take the time to realize how much those feelings of anger and or residual feelings of insecurity they left on your heart are holding you back in life. Forgiveness is the best revenge. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. Forgive me for being preachy. Take a deep breath and let it go. You’ll be better for it.

Maybe the entire conversation my bully and I had was fake and I fell for it, but I don’t think it was. What I can say is that the freedom from letting go of the bully I built up in my head is very, very real.

Take care, Jared. I hope you find that apartment you were looking for and got a refund for that tarnished bracelet.

Until we meet again,

x

#TotalHonestyTuesday Feature in “The Financial Diet” Vol 3

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Here’s another feature of ‪#‎totalhonestytuesday‬ in The Financial Diet! I have always been self-conscious of my thighs, as I’m sure many women can relate, and I decided to show them off to the world. The feedback has been overwhelming and awesome (from women, of course!). Love yourself and love your thunder thighs, ladies! Skinny, curvy, flat, voluptuous: you’re all beautiful. Stop rolling your eyes, it’s true!

Welcome to the #‎SummerofSuz‬!

#TotalHonestyTuesday Feature in The Financial Diet

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I participated in #totalhonestytuesday and was selected to be featured in The Financial Diet! It’s a website about financial literacy for millennials and is co-founded by one of my Maryland writer heroes, Chelsea Fagan. I fangirled out when I saw that she selected and enjoyed my piece about how I’ve been feeling since I hit my one year sobriety mark. I loved this concept and was moved by what people shared. What would you like to be totally honest about next week?

Check out the first installation of #TotalHonestyTuesday!   
Here’s the caption I wrote for my contribution

  

Governors Ball NYC Outfits 

Some come to Governors Ball for the social media glory, some come for the bands, some come for the Molly: I come for the fashion.

Not that I don’t look forward to seeing Conor Oberst, Atmosphere, Death From Above 1979, yadda yadda DRAAAAAAKE yadda, but I love seeing what New York’s finest put together for the music festival to end all music festivals. I know I looked forward to what I put together.

 

Friday Festival Outfit: “Pass The Chambray”

 

Now, just because I love the fashion inspiration of Gov Ball doesn’t mean I’m gonna put on a flower headdress and a paisley peasant top. This look is perfect for a first day. We have the fun pattern of a casual Lush sundress, paired with my favorite Halogen chambray denim button down with cool embellishments that always catch my eye in the mirror. Since I’ll be on my feet in dirt all day, the shoes have to be comfortable and able to get muddy. See: Sam Edelman chain sandals. I got them for a steal and they feel like air, despite the weird toe ring, they really do bring an outfit together without sacrificing comfort. Last but certainly not least, it’s time for the panama floppy hat to make its debut in NYC! This hat took a lot of courage to try; I usually steer clear of a trendy accessory, but I love the sun blocking and chic touch it brings to any outfit.

 

Saturday Festival Outfit: “The Only Time I Can Wear A Romper And No One Can Say Anything About It”

Ah, the Romper. I took the plunge and gave it  try. Like I said, I’m not super big on trends but decided that this is the time to really go for it and try out anything! The romper was a steal from H&M and I always envied how they looked on my other friends, so I gave it a go.  Aside from the obstacle course it takes to go to the restroom in this thing, it’s a super comfortable, easy chic outfit. I added the Lucky Brand flannel because it might rain, and also I just had to throw some grunge on it to make it more “me”. I may or may not nix it, I know I should, but I just can’t let go. The galaxy vans are my favorite random purchases I made last fall and they will not miss the opportunity to make an appearance at Gov Ball. To top it all off, I added a House of Harlow necklace that’s edgy but bohemian. Boom.

 

Sunday Festival Outfit: “Basketball Wife Meets Alimony Hearing”

I am obsessed with this outfit. I know a lot of people hate wedge kicks, but I am not one of them. I love my Baublebar Courtney Bib Necklace like a child, and it takes any simple outfit to another level. I got a black and white dress on eBay and it has pockets, so, I mean… And the Kut from the Kloth denim jacket is my favorite jacket–if you ever need a denim jacket, this brand is your best friend. They have stretch, comfort, and durability that just can’t be beat. It’s a little steep in price, but I’ve worn it so many times it pays for itself.

I am really excited for the weekend ahead and it feels great to be back in NYC. I know I will be moving soon and I can’t help but smile every time I’m here. I look forward to making this city my home in the future, but for now I’m going to sit back, slab on some SPF 50, and enjoy some of these sick beats.

Most of these items can be found at NordstromNordstrom Rack, or My First Love, eBay

Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara: Yes or Noir?

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Some days, mascara works better than coffee when it comes to waking yourself up. Slick on some black or brown, wiggle to reach each lash, and voila–you look like you got a full night’s rest, and your eyes look defined. Who needs 8 hours of sleep when you can wake yourself up in 8 wiggles of a wand? Don’t answer that.

So, any woman, from tomboy to girly girl (why do descriptions of women’s personal styles have to be related to children?…I digress) can agree that mascara is a great, no fuss way to put some pep in your face, but there’s always a debate over which mascara we should use. Covergirl churns out Cover Girl models cycle after cycle that tell you to buy their latest mascara innovation, but you’re mostly paying for the packaging and endorsement instead of a quality product. But, at 8-10 bucks a pop, who can complain? It does the job, it doesn’t leave you black rings under your eyes that make you look like a drunk hamburglar, and you’re fine. It met the status quo.

Look, I’ve settled a lot in my life. I’m sure you have, too. I’ve taken mediocre jobs, I’ve made mediocre test scores, and you betta beiliiieeeee I have taken many-a-medicore lover–but why?! Because it’s easy, convenient, and isn’t that big of a commitment if you’re only putting $10 on the line, right? Well, I think that is ridiculous. It’s time to treat yourself to the better things in life. It’s time to peek into the treasure chest that is luxury beauty products. It’s time to meet your new fabulous, fancy, albeit cliche best friend, Chanel Inimitable Intense Mascara.

Say hello to your new best friends

Say ‘bonjour’ to your new best friend.

“It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance,” Chanel Mascara says, puffing perfect O’s from her long cigarette, eating some type of negative calorie salad, or something. Meanwhile next to her is your old party girlfriend Covergirl, who is smoking a Newport and stuffing her face with cake a la Sweet Dee in Sunny. We loved that party girl, but we’re getting older, and cake and cigs just aren’t a good look anymore.

This mascara rings in at a sweet n’ pretty $32.00. Drug store mascara is usually $8.00. It doesn’t take a genius to see that single digits are less than double digits in price, but hear me out! Mascara is used every single day, and has the life span of about 4-6 months from opening. So, at the very least you are using this item for 122 days (about 4 months) at .26 cents a day. Not so bad, huh? Just don’t do the math for your 3 month maximum lifespan of your $8.00 mascara. Math is hard. Let your mind relax.

Meet the frenemy, Covergirl's Lashblast Mascara.

Meet the frenemy, Covergirl’s Lashblast Mascara.

Here’s another fun math problem! If you can just swap making your own coffee instead of grabbing a Starbucks for a week, you can afford the best mascara on the market for about 4-6 months. Doesn’t seem too painful when you think of it like that, right? I understand the importance of coffee. I believe in coffee. It’s the single most important staple in my food pyramid of chicken nuggets, protein shakes that are curdled with powder, and Diet Coke. If I can brew some coffee and throw it in a thermos instead of strolling over to a Barista named Pistachio, you can, too.

Look, I understand, money is tight for everyone, and I am no exception. I am incredibly frugal and saving as much as I can, as I hope many of you are, too. I admit I do not have as many bills as my friends. I do not have college loans, and I don’t pay rent because I pay it in being mortified that I live at home. I still have bills, but they just don’t compare to the bills my friends in NYC and LA, or anywhere else, have. I get it. $32 is a seemingly dumb amount for a simple beauty product, but try to look at the cost benefits here.

This mascara not only volumizes, but it separates each individual lash with one small wiggle of a wand. I prefer black mascara, but it also comes in  Brun (brown) and Purple. On top of that voluminizing, mascara tends to get very clumpy and make your look like a spider, but this mascara is also light as a feather. *Puts mic out to audience* How light is it? It’s so light you can put it on your bottom lashes without worrying about raccoon eyes or clumping. The look can easily go from casual to dramatic with just an extra coat, which is a huge plus for those of us who are not the best with eyeliner smoky eyes. Sounds typical, right? Well, let’s look.

Left, Chanel Mascara, Right, Covergirl Lashblast

Left, Chanel Mascara, Right, no mascara

I apologize that my eyes are red. Allergies are killing me, and I just got home from a long day of work. I don’t think I need to tell you how different each eye looks. You, like me, have eyeballs. I never put mascara on the bottom lashes of my eyes because I already have dark circles under my eyes from sleeping 8 minutes a day. See? I’m as dramatic as my mascara! Hear me groan! My mascara looks perfect, and like it was just slicked on. I put this make up on 10 hours ago, in the car, while driving to work. See how I only have a little bit of darkness under my eyes? That could be mascara, or it could just be my face. We will never know. What we do know, is this stuff not only works, but it looks flawless. All. Day. Long.

Chanel Mascara accompanied with her friends Estee Lauder 24-Hour Coverage Foundation and Kat Von D Underage Red Lipstick with a slick of Maybelline Lilac Rush on top. All after 10 hours. Not bad, not bad at all.

Chanel Inimitable Mascara in Noir accompanied with her friends Estee Lauder 24-Hour Coverage Foundation and Kat Von D Underage Red Lipstick with a slick of Maybelline Lilac Rush on top. All after 10 hours of work. Not bad, not bad at all.

Now, removal. Ah. Is there anything better than taking off your make up after a long day? Mascara is always the hardest to take off, because it is just so stubborn to stay on forever and let the party continue even when it’s time for bed. I have so many pillowcases ruined by mascara, and it isn’t only from me flailing my face into them to muffle my crying. I expected removing Chanel from my face would be pretty difficult, especially because my lashes have taken such a liking to her, but it wasn’t too hard at all.

Makeup removal is easy!!!

Makeup removal is easy!!!

Ok, please tell me you at least giggled at that. No? Whatever, I thought it was funny. Anyway, that was one haphazard slick of Clinique’s Take the Day Off balm and I looked like a clown that checked into rehab. I will admit removing was not as easy as application, but god forbid you have to splash water on your face several times to remove dirt, oil, and make-up from your face, am I right?

A small smear of Clinique's Take the Day Off Balm, 3 generous splashes of water, a sturdy wipe of a dark face cloth, and voila. Au revior, Chanel.

A small smear of Clinique’s Take the Day Off Balm, 3 generous splashes of water, a sturdy wipe of a dark face cloth, and voila. Au revoir, Chanel/makeup.

Verdict: TREAT YO SELF. Buy it. Nordstrom has a sale this Memorial Day weekend with “Mascara Madness” where you can buy 2 mascaras and get one free. That’s a year and a half, 18 months, 540 days, of impeccable eyes for around $65. It is a bit painful to take that first plunge, but it will be so worth it. Hit up Nordstrom this Memorial Day weekend and get in on this deal! There’s also a half-yearly sale lasting through the 31st boasting up to 40% off of items throughout the store. Or just buy it online at Nordstrom, or any department store. That’s the beauty of Chanel. She’s ubiquitous with beauty, and any retailer is eager to sell her, and any customer is happy to have her.

One Year, 365 Days, 8,765 Hours, 525,948 Minutes Sober

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A year ago today I got out of the most toxic relationship in my life. It was not easy. Actually, it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. There were good times shared with my love, most of which were outweighed with disastrous lows. There were fights, stealing, lies, but above all else, there was delusion, as most relationships create over time. After 8 years, the ride had ended. It was time to crank up some Taylor Swift and stuff my face with fast food, because I ended my relationship with alcohol, and I had no idea what was going to happen next. Little did I know, everything was going to change for the better–it just took hard work and time to get there. My first step was leaving Los Angeles to move home to start over, so-to-speak, in Ellicott City, Maryland.

A year ago I was on a plane from LAX that was delayed several hours, giving me plenty of time to think about just what I’m doing with my life. I was half-drunk the night before when I told my best friend as I nursed my, what is now my last, drink called “Baby’s First Bourbon”, and said to her out loud for the first time, “I think this is my last drink. I’m quitting. I’m really scared”. Now, we all have been there when a friend groans those 4 little words “I’m never drinking again”, and we are always there for them, especially when they snap out of it come Friday at 5 PM to bring on another round of liver roulette, but this time was different. My friend could tell. I could feel it, too. We knew this was the end of not only my time in Los Angeles, but the end of an era. My life was going to completely change forever. We called it a night and went home, fell asleep together, woke up first thing in the morning, and hugged goodbye. Neither of us were ready to accept that it was really over, and our skin-tight friendship was going to change. It had to. My other friend drove me to the airport and tried to hold my hand, to show support, but I bat it away, because feelings are bad, bad, bad. He pulled up to LAX, where I once landed with a dream and a cardigan, to drop me off with a sobering reality and my very last hangover. We hugged goodbye, I stole a loner cart to carry my bags because I secretly wanted to be caught and delay my return home, and I was off to Maryland to live with my completely unaware parents. They knew I was moving home, but they had no idea what was going on with me in my head. No one really knew, or at least knew how to deal with it. They just knew I was always on the verge of tears and explosively angry all of the time, a common result of alcoholism, but they didn’t really know why. I didn’t really know why. Now was my time to figure it out, and boy, was it clear as day when I put the drink down to figure it out for myself.

One of the last nights in Los Angeles. Beer in one hand, friends in the other.

One of the last nights in Los Angeles. Beer in one hand, friends in the other. “I AM HAPPY!! SEE THE BEER AND THE FRIENDS!? THIS IS JOY!!!” Oh, no. I forgot how heavy I got, too (NO I DIDN’T)

The emotional baggage that comes out of the closet when you decide to no longer drown it with whiskey quickly fades away when you’re sobbing in your parent’s guest room for no reason aside from thinking about where you life has gone. I was at a low that I would love to wish on every person who has wronged me, because it was a terrible experience. I didn’t see any hope in the future, and I was so weak emotionally and physically that I found no joy in life anymore. My parents had to go on vacation while I was alone in an empty house, and I just sat in bed, contemplating what I wanted to do. I was scared. No, I was terrified. The murky waters of alcohol drained and the pieces of my life were clogging up the drain, waiting for me to scoop them up and examine just where it all ‘went wrong’. But nothing went wrong, I just went about coping with what wasn’t right in a completely incorrect way.

I did sobriety my own way, which involved moving home from Los Angeles, simply choosing “not today”, writing for sober blogs and maintaining my own blog, therapist visits, and psychiatrist visits. I struggle with depression and manic anxiety, and the therapist/psychiatrist visits went hand-in-hand with recovery and getting back on medication. The anonymous programs weren’t a great fit for me, but I attend them on occasion to support friends and to be around people who understand what it’s like to compromise your happiness and life with a drug. One of the best parts of this experience of sobriety is I can only really thank myself, because only I could make this choice on my own, and only I could stop numbing my feelings with the easy escape of drugs and alcohol. That beats any high a drug could attempt to offer. I absolutely had professional help and support from my parents and friends along the way, but no one held a gun to my head and made me put the bottle down. That was all on me, and only me. That’s an incredible feeling of pride I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy because they don’t deserve to be happy, of course.

The first 100 days of sobriety are the hardest, and it’s not because of alcohol cravings. It’s not the alcohol you crave, it’s the escape. You realize how bored you are, because you aren’t drinking to waste time and energy. You also realize you don’t have any hobbies or or a life outside of partying, and that can get downright depressing. That’s where the therapy really helped, because I was at a complete loss as to who I was and what I wanted. I was able to redirect my map of life and figure out what I wanted, which was exhausting to even think about. I wrote every day for a sober blog to share how I felt, hoping for anyone who was in the same boat as me telling me those magic words “I understand how you feel”. I was shocked at the support I got from people of all ages from all different walks of life. There are so many people who quit drinking, and they were all looking for exactly what I wanted: a community. The writing helped me navigate through my muddled thinking and figure out what was bothering me, what I wanted for my future, and if it was normal to feel so incredibly lost yet optimistic at the same time. I felt accepted. I felt loved. I felt like I was going to be OK, even if I didn’t quite feel OK. Sobriety, real sobriety, anyway, needs a community. You need support. You need to talk about it. Whether you choose to go to a meeting or write like I did, the support was what got me through those heart-wrenching first 100 days. In those 100 days you will lose all of your friends just about, you will lose a sense of who you are, you will lose a ton of weight (the only thing that kept me going at first), and you won’t sleep a wink, so you have plenty of time to think about good ole alcohol and how he’s doing just fine without you. Those 100 days were the best, hardest, most painful 100 days I’ve ever had to experience, but once I passed that threshold, I lit up a cigar, ate some Chinese food, and kicked back, because I knew in my heart I could finally do it. I could beat this habit. I am better off without him. Without them. Without all of that toxicity that made me that miserable person I once knew. I could really do this. I was doing it. I did it.

Sometimes all you need is a flashy iPhone app to remind you how far you have come

Sometimes all you need is a flashy iPhone app to remind you how far you have come

I moved from LA for many more reasons besides wanting to get sober. Sobriety was the least of my worries. I realized that it was not my dream to work in production anymore, and that I just really don’t fit in with or like the West Coast mentality. I don’t even like the beach, for God’s sake. Los Angeles is a ton of fun, don’t get me wrong, but it is filled with self-aggrandizing people who don’t stimulate me, especially in the entertainment world. It just isn’t for everyone. But I stayed for my friends, I stayed because I don’t quit anything, I stayed because moving was a huge, exhausting hassle, the excuses go on. But then I realized my only reasons for staying were for other people, and none of them were for me. I love comedy and I never performed, nor did I want to because I was so depressed that leaving the bed to shower was an ongoing battle. I was working incredibly long hours at jobs I didn’t care about to pay my bills, and I knew they weren’t leading me anywhere. I never wrote anymore, and I began to resent everyone and everything, all because I was miserable and not doing anything for myself. I would date guys who were actually really good people (???? Not clear) and brazenly use them for meals, going out, and a punchline. I still feel gross about it, especially because I know how it feels to be used. Most of them are dating nice girls now…probably?

I also was the group jester that people relied on to make them laugh and have fun, and I filled the role, as most comic folk tend to do. It takes two to be resentful, and I for sure dug my own grave, right down to my crunchy, bitter core. I don’t harbor those resentful feelings so much anymore, but there are some people I had to let go of when I got sober simply because I knew our friendship was a sham outside of alcohol. I was far from a perfect friend, but I was also not treated well by a lot of people I used to consider close friends. With that being said, I chose to never stand up for myself. I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by pretending to be OK and their friend. I did that way too much and that would make the friendship end in a much worse way than it needed to over the years, simply because I didn’t have the courage to end it or express how I felt. I’m sorry for hurting people when I was trying to relieve myself of the burden of needing to confront a friend. I guess I just assumed I would be treated perfectly, which can’t really be achieved unless I set the standards of how I expect to be treated. I let it seem OK, and thus people did whatever they were used to doing. It is as simple as that. I know those people aren’t reading this, but in case you are, I am sorry for taking the easy way out. I know you’re fine without me, and, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m fine without you, too. That doesn’t mean I don’t harbor guilt from being immature. I hope you’re well.

At our friend's Improv show. We all look so happy, and yet, maybe 1/4 of us talk to each other. BUT AT LEAST WE LOOK HAPPY! That's all that mattered to me; as long as social media makes me look happy and with a lot of friends, then maybe I can trick myself into thinking I'm happy? Filed under the good ole 'delusional' category.

After our friend’s Improv show. We all look so happy, and yet, I talk to maybe 1/4 of the people in this picture. I don’t even know some of their names. BUT AT LEAST WE LOOK HAPPY! That’s all that mattered to me; as long as social media made me look happy and look like I have a lot of friends, then maybe I can trick myself into thinking I’m happy? Filed under the good ole ‘delusional’ category. I have no bad feelings toward anyone in this picture, I hope they’re all well. This was just to prove a point, not to point fingers.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, I empathize with you and also implore you to talk with them honestly and without hypocrisy or judgment. That is a tall order, but expressing your concern in a caring way can at least make them evaluate how their actions have been affecting you and others. If you are looking for advice on recovery or anything, please message me. I would love to talk about my journey with you if it can help you get sober or at least consider it. However, when it comes to your friends using, it’s unfortunately a very slippery slope that can easily cost your friendship, especially if you aren’t sober or have gone through recovery yourself. I’m by no means saying I can now officiate interventions because I am sober, but I know if my friends who were black out the night before told me I had a problem, I would resent them and definitely not feel comfortable being around them. At the end of the day you’re dealing with a very sick person who is at a debilitating low in their self-esteem, and they will be extremely sensitive to what you say. If the situation seems too extreme for even a decent conversation, there are a lot of resources you can find on sober websites that can be a better guidance.

I wish I could tell you that the user “will figure it out” but most of the time it takes a devastating rock bottom to want to get sober, especially at our age. I was very ‘lucky’ to have what happened to me to lead me to seek sobriety and change my life, and I still struggle with coping with those events every day. Toxic relationships don’t end the first time something bad happens; they end when you’ve had at least several months or years of misery to really drive the point home that YOU ARE NOT GOOD TOGETHER, JUST STOP TALKING TO EACH OTHER AND MOVE ON. But I was in love, and love is as blind as it is drunk, right?

When you’re sober, you face everything that you numbed, and I was numbing a lot. I was still vehemently upset over things that happened in 2007. There were a lot of repressed feelings that came out of the dark after I got sober, and you will have to work with a professional (in my case) or a sponsor to dissect and cope with them. It will be the hardest and most painful thing you will have to do, but the end result will make you feel so free, there is literally not one person in the world who regrets it if they take it seriously and commit 150%. That is a fact. I am not perfectly happy and I have bad days, but I can face them like a normal human instead of a petulant teen who didn’t get her way. It’s liberating to act your age…sometimes.

read: not found at the bottom of a bottle! Taken in NYC

Read: not found at the bottom of a bottle! Taken in NYC

Life will always be difficult and challenging. You can’t control that, but you can control how you react to it, who you allow in your life, how you teach people to treat you…I learned the hard way, but sometimes that’s the most effective way to learn. Choosing sobriety cost me a lot of ‘friends’, relationships, jobs, living situations, independence, but I couldn’t be happier with my decision. I can handle my struggles with my mental illnesses with so much more grace, and my crippling sensitivity and insecurity have become humbling blessings rather than hindrances. I can see the people in my life for who they are: some bad, some good, some saints. You will cut out at least 75% of the people in your life, not because they don’t support you (everyone will for the most part) but because you love so much more that you can’t fit anyone who doesn’t mean the world to you into your life anymore. The fair-weather friends will arrive out of the woodwork and they will say they’re proud, which they are, and you can graciously accept their kind words, but you don’t feel anything else for them. They’re human and couldn’t handle you at your worst. That doesn’t make them bad people, but it doesn’t make them your friends.

Like many people in the comedy world, I am incredibly sensitive and pretty insecure about a lot of things that no one who likes me notices. I’m also introverted. I have trouble being around people and especially if I’m not making jokes to get through it. I am also cursed with excellent social skills, and people tend to confuse being good at talking to others with extroversion. It makes no sense unless you’re a gregarious introvert. There should be a group for us, where we talk a bunch then withdraw completely to our cell phones at the end of each meeting. When I left my bed when I was depressed, I was punching in at a shitty part-time job, pasting a smile on my face so people don’t ask the worst question for a depressed person, “what’s wrong?”. I over compensated with alcohol and drugs because for once I felt “on” when I used. I felt like I could talk to anyone about anything, and I didn’t fear the rejection. I felt extroverted, for once. I certainly couldn’t of dated without it, being that I still felt like that gangly middle schooler that lives in all of us. It also didn’t help that my friends were what guys wanted to fuck and I succumbed to being the designated ugly fat friend (ie: the ever-sensitive acronym, DUFF), without the invite. I’m neither ugly or fat, and I still got plenty of attention from guys, but I carried myself like a duff, and thus was treated as such. It’s funny because I always blamed LA for not “getting attention” from guys because I’m not a petite actress, but when I came back to LA in February, I felt completely different. Guys were all eager to buy me a drink or talk to me, and I really didn’t look much different, but I carried myself in a way I never did in LA. I was just happy. I was with my same petite actress friends, I was confident, I was sober, and people notice a smile in a sea of frowns and botox. What I’m saying here is shut up, you’re beautiful, you’re just feeling insecure and ridiculous, and that’s normal. There are plenty of writers and producers who think you’re hot (at the very least), and who on EARTH thinks hot guys are attractive? Oh, everyone? Ok. My bad.

I have to bat boys off of me now! Geez. (ilu Zach)

I have to bat boys off of me now! Geez. (ilu Zach)

It’s funny that I relied on alcohol to make friends or talk to guys, because I am astronomically better without it in every facet of my life. I am a much better friend, a better worker, a better teammate, and a WAY better date. I feel freer than I did with alcohol or drugs because I know that this is the real me talking, and if someone doesn’t like it, then they just don’t like me. It’s not “oh I was drunk and annoying and that’s why they didn’t call” or other dumb excuses, and that has absolutely re-defined my social life. I have been complimented on how radiant and happy I look more than I ever have in my entire life within just one year. I also have been bought way more drinks than I ever did when I drank, which is such a drag, because I really just want them to buy me mozzarella sticks. I never really felt beautiful before, and now I feel fucking gorgeous. Some people may not agree, and I don’t care, because I know that I feel great and I’m trying my best and at least all my girlfriends tell me I’m pretty on Instagram so WHATEVER. I go out with my pretty friends and I feel like I belong, not that I have to put on a show to fit in. It’s a way I’ve never felt before when I drank. I never realized how much I felt I had to over compensate until I took away the crutches of alcohol and fell on my face. I dusted off the dirt, knocked the mud out of my ears, and voila: who knew self-respect was hiding just below that layer of adolescent insecurity? I still have my insecurities for sure, but now I have self-esteem that I really worried I would never be able to build back up again.

The numbness you experience when abusing drugs and alcohol takes away the pain, but it also numbs you to how it’s depleting your self-respect and self-esteem. It begins to numb you as to how you want to be treated by significant others or friends. It numbs you to realize when you should have ended a friendship years ago, but hold onto it because you believe you aren’t worthy of a good friend. It makes you call people friends over the years and they don’t remember to wish you a happy birthday, and you cry yourself to sleep, and brush it off the next day like nothing happened. They will hook up with a guy you had a rocky history with and tell everyone not to tell you, and when you find out, they mock you for ‘still caring’ instead of apologizing, and you just agree with them that you were out of line. You’ll surround yourself with people who gossip about you constantly, under the guise of ‘concern’, and yet never bring that concern to your attention. You’ll put all your eggs in baskets that never return your favors when you need them most. And it sucks. But that’s what happens when you use: you don’t earn many real friends. It makes you gravitate toward people who show they care about you as little as you do. It numbs you to anything good about yourself, and bleeds out all of your weaknesses. Toxic people are attracted to it. They can smell it from a mile away. The good people slowly slither out of your life because they know there is nothing they can do, and they’re wise for pulling away. The user won’t notice that; the narcissism envelopes and cascades over them with self-loathing. Users only become susceptible to those who treat them the way they like to be treated: like shit.

Those of you who stuck with me after everything are in my life forever. I am thankful and appreciative. I now don’t look at who I lost, but now I look at what I’ve gained. Who was there. Who made me smile. Who went out of their way when it wasn’t convenient for them. That’s what matters now. That’s what makes me so happy and so lucky. It’s obvious who you are, because I’ve told you in some way or another. The even better part is that I don’t feel angry toward people who weren’t there for me, either. They just aren’t people in my life, and that’s ok. I never felt that way about people before. Here lies reason 34967 why quitting drinking and drugs was a great moment for me.

Back in LA, 9 months sober. Surrounded by friends, some that have been there for me every step of the rocky way, and some who haven't. Either way, I was so happy to see them and they were happy to see me. There was a lot of love in The Den that night.

Back in LA, 9 months sober. Surrounded by friends, some that have been there for me every step of the rocky way, and some who haven’t. Either way, I was so happy to see them and they were happy to see me. There was a lot of love in The Den that night. That drink in my hand is a big ole Alka Seltzer, by the way.

I had a lot of fun times but most of them were forgotten or become distant blurs of what we considered to be fun. It became more of a Stockholm Syndrome, if anything. “This is what we are supposed to do while we are young, right? This has to be fun. THIS IS FUN!” well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have fun some times because I did. Then I turned 22. The ride had ended. The high couldn’t be reached. It was smooth depressing sailing from here on out.

Today is a great day. I’m thankful to my parents for helping me by letting me move home completely unplanned and without warning, because I was too proud to tell them how I was feeling and what happened to me. I’m thankful for my therapist and psychiatrist for helping me dig into what got me to this breaking point, and what to do to cope and be the best I can be. I want to thank myself, me one year ago today, as I was nursing a drink the night before, realizing I needed to quit if I ever wanted to be better. Commitment is not my strongest suit, and I am glad to see I can commit if I find the right person to love. I just never thought that person would be me.

Dressed to kill for work instead of killing brain cells. Just look at this pretty little bae. (too much self-esteem?)

Dressed to kill for work instead of killing brain cells. Just look at this pretty little bae. For someone taking a selfie in her childhood bedroom, I sure do have a lot of self-esteem.

Just a recap, in 365 Days, 8,765 Hours, 525,948 Minutes Sober, I have done the following:

  • Moved across the country to live with my parents #humblebrag
  • Worked in customer service for the largest Sports Apparel franchises, and now as a stylist at one of the largest Luxury Department stores in America
  • Had over $50,000 in restaurant sales as a waitress
  • Started performing Improv and re-started Stand Up Comedy
  • Made new friends from all walks of life
  • Lost 35 pounds and can run 11 miles (unfortunately I need a lot more work on my health…french fries, man)
  • Started my own freelance styling and eBay boutique with over $2,500 in sales
  • Launched this professional website with a launch of over 250 visitors in one day!
  • Traveled to Boston, DC, New York, Raleigh, San Francisco, The PCH and Big Sur, and re-visited Los Angeles
  • I bought Taylor Swift’s 1989 and I don’t care who knows it
  • Had some interviews for jobs that didn’t amount to anything, but opened future doors
  • Have built great relationships with my parents, family, and old friends
  • Went to doctors!!! (big phobia of mine)
  • Rekindled my love for writing, comedy, and fashion again
  • Read BOOKS. READ, people. READ!
  • Saved over $4,000 in drinking costs (alcohol, drinks at bars, Ubers, ‘I’m sorry’ brunches)
  • Built a savings account, a CD, made investments, and became financially literate
  • Saw Ace Enders and Brand New live in concert (again)…Attending Governor’s Ball in June. Remembered how much I used to love listening to music and playing music
  • Quit drinking, a-duh

And, most importantly…

  • Found out how to have fun and be happy (sp?)

Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading and your support! I’m doing what I can to keep it up, and some days are easier than others, so your kindness does not go unnoticed. Hopefully there will be a 2 year re-cap next year, but I just have to take it one day at a time. Here’s to another 365 Days, 8,765 Hours, 525,948 Minutes Sober!

Stay tuned. I’m just getting started.

BEHOLD! Me, 365 days sober, and wearing a hat at night. A true sight to behold.

BEHOLD! Me, 1 year sober, and wearing a hat at night. A true sight.

The Rawal Report Podcast with Raj Rawal Film Review of “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck”

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This week I was welcomed on to The Rawal Report podcast to talk about the controversial film “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” now streaming on HBOGo and HBONow and HBOTheCableNetwork. Since I was a petulant teen bursting with my own ‘teen spirit’ (please forgive me), I have loved Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. His posters hung in my room, and I devoured every article I could ever read about him and his tragic life. He was a walking contradiction, where he hated attention, but wanted to be successful, he wanted to be lazy, but he would write a song or create art every day while unemployed, he wanted a family, but pushed away his own family, he hated drug addicts, he became one, he hated phonies, he married Courtney Love….need I say more? Even his journal entries (shown in the picture above) show his self-awareness of just how contradictory he can be.

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I admittedly don’t watch movies, but Raj watches enough for the both of us, and it shows. I had a lot of fun talking about one of my favorite rock legends and the best rock documentary I have ever seen. Nirvana fan or not, you have to see this film. From the home footage, the interviews, to the animation, it’s a masterpiece that even Cobain would appreciate. Give it a listen, and I hope you enjoy it! Please do yourself a favor and see this film, but don’t skip on the tissues.

Sober, As A Matter of FAQs

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Lord help me, I am using an inspirational Instagram quote as a picture, but bear with me. I have been sober from alcohol since May 13, 2014. Since I am so young, my sobriety is usually met with some raised eyebrows, and I understand. The world we live in revolves around alcohol and drugs, whether you choose to use or not. I was interested in sharing with you, whether you’re just curious about sobriety in your 20’s, how I do it, or maybe if sobriety is something you’re looking into, some frequently asked questions I get so it can help alleviate the elusiveness that is sobriety at twenty something.

1. Are you able to be around alcohol/is it cool if I drink around you?

Even though I’m sober, alcohol is still a huge part of my life, just for different reasons. I wait tables and I have to pitch a Grand Marnier Margarita to customers and act like I want to sit down and join them when I serve their bowls of lime slurpee delight. I perform in bars and go to bars to hang out with friends. I live with my parents and they drink every night, and we have an extensive collection of bottles of wine throughout the house. Although it was scary at first to face alcohol 24/7 when I chose to quit, I am so glad I have to face it every day, because it makes me so much more confident in my sobriety when I am finally off of the training wheels of my recovery. I don’t mind if my friends drink, and they don’t care that I don’t drink. It really isn’t a big deal to anyone, as long as you don’t come off judgy. No one worthy of being in your life is threatened that you don’t drink. If anything, it makes you much more interesting! People love to ask me questions and I feel real connections with people as opposed to when I drank and ripped shots with random fake friends while commenting about the weather. Do people talk about weather? Is that still a thing?

2. What was your rock bottom?
The beauty of recovery is that although you don’t have a lot of control over your addiction, you can control in deciding what is your rock bottom. I was very ‘lucky’ to have chosen to quit when I left Los Angeles. I absolutely had bad moments with alcohol, but like a bad break up, it can take a year(s) of misery before ending the relationship. I was contemplating quitting for a while, but I kept making excuses as to why I couldn’t possibly quit because _______, which is a common tactic that I don’t know anyone, addict or not, who hasn’t done that before.  When I was continuing to feel hollow, unhappy, and projecting my anger on everyone and everything around me, I knew that if I was going to move from LA to live at home, I would have to change everything. I wanted to feel better and fix what was making me so unhappy, and knew that the depressants of alcohol, among so many other things, were a huge factor in my unhappiness and string of unfortunate events. I chose moving back home to my parents as my rock bottom, and I have to say, it is one of the cheeriest rock bottoms out there. Rock bottoms shouldn’t be looked at like limbo in ‘how low can you go’, because trust me, no matter how bad it gets, it can easily get astronomically worse.

3. So are you, like, never drinking again?
Please excuse the cliche that you’re about to read. Ok, are you ready? Here it comes. I am taking sobriety one day at a time. GAH, I can’t believe I said that out loud. Even writing it makes me cringe, but it’s the most honest and healthiest way to look at sobriety. If you look at it like you are never going to drink or use again, you will be so overwhelmed. The rest of your life, God willing, is a very long time to go without a libation. But if you take it a day at a time, or sing it a-la Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s “Take it 10 Seconds at a Time”, it makes sobriety so much easier. When I got on the plane to move home and was slightly hungover, the flight attendant asked me if I wanted a drink, and I seriously considered getting drunk on the plane and just start the ‘sober thing’ tomorrow, but I just said, “no, I don’t want to drink today”. It was amazing to me, because not only was I really low emotionally, but the flight was delayed for hours and everything was setting me up for getting drunk to numb the annoyance of a day spent at the airport. I just chose not to do drink in that moment. And I didn’t the next day. And the next. And 357 days later, here I am. I don’t know if I will ever drink again, but I do know there isn’t one thing I regret about not drinking anymore. I could never say that when I did drink. That means enough for me to see this out for as long as I can. Pass me the Pelligrino, I’ll be fine.

4. Did you go to rehab/do you go to AA meetings?
No, and sometimes. Ironically I was ‘lucky’ to see my family members go to rehab and go to AA, and it truly was wonderful for them, saved their lives, and they are so glad they did it. I am by no means a professional when it comes to sobriety and I will never tell people that being sober is just so easy you can quit and *poof!* you’re fine! That is absolutely not true. I have always been a lone wolf and I prefer to do things my own way, preferably alone. I detoxed in my bed for a week, and was probably the most depressed I have ever been since I had a bad lapse of depression when I was 14. I struggle with manic depression, and have struggled with it since I was diagnosed at 11, and I usually managed it decently and over compensated with humor (duuuuuuuuuuuuh), but this emotional low was completely different. I detoxed and wrote a sober blog every single day for 100 days through the 100 Day Challenge, then sporadically ever since. Writing truly helped me a lot, and I gained a large following in the sober community. I would contribute to other publications as well and that would help me, too. By the 2nd week I made an appointment with my therapist, and saw her twice a week for about 2 months, then saw her every other week. I now see her about once a month. By the end of my 100 days I still felt pretty depressed, and decided to go back onto medication, where I set an appointment with my Psychiatrist. I was prescribed my ‘usual’, and what do ya know, I felt better!

The true sickness of addiction is not that you’re addicted necessarily, but what got you to use in the first place. The therapy was absolutely CRUCIAL to my sobriety. If I didn’t tackle what was hurting me emotionally, I would just be white-knuckling it, and would absolutely relapse or just be unhappy in my sobriety. That’s why rehab and AA are great resources, because it helps dig into why you used in the first place. I met a friend through Improv who was a year older than me and 3 years sober, and he invited me to an AA meeting. I went to celebrate his third year of sobriety, and it was a surreal meeting. It was incredibly overwhelming for me and I cried the entire time and during the entire ride home. Everyone was wonderful and were actually some of the funniest people I have met in Maryland, but man, it was not for me, for now, at least. I am glad I did it, and I have gone to a meeting here and there, but I cry each time. I like crying because it’s cathartic for me, and I relate to the feelings shared and the stories divulged, but holy shit. Your life is really blessed and really great. I am the Queen of being over dramatic about how tough my life growing up was, and I felt like a fucking idiot in those meetings. Not because anyone made me feel that way, but just in comparison, I had it so good. Even not in comparison, I have it pretty good. Perspective is crucial when you’re newly sober, and I’m thankful for that. I also read some books about alcoholism and addiction: “12 Smart Things to Do When the Booze and Drugs Are Gone: Choosing Emotional Sobriety through Self-Awareness and Right Action” available on Amazon and “Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics” available on Amazon. Writing, therapy, and reading helped me recover. Maybe it will work for you, maybe it won’t. I strongly believe it can be anyone’s path, as long as you are dealing with what drove you to drink. Just being dry for a month and hoping for the best will always end in relapse, one way or another. That’s one of the few times I will ever generalize about addiction.

5. I think I want to quit using, but I don’t want the stigma of being an ‘Addict’ or ‘Alcoholic’
The world can be a cruel, judgmental place. Just look at Bruce Jenner. He did the bravest thing I think anyone can really do, and although I am overjoyed with how many people are supportive of him, there are plenty of closed-minded people who have turned their nose up at him. Those people are the least important people in the world. There may be stigmas with being an addict, but you know what else people judge? When you’re wasted at a party and no one else is really drunk. When you’re coming to work with a broken ankle and can’t answer how it happened. When you wake up and have to worry if you still have any friends in the morning. So, if you’re worried about being judged, congrats! You’re already judged, alcoholic or not. Even if you never touch a drug, someone somewhere is going to judge you, just like you have judged someone before, too. I’d like to think I’m a pretty non-judgmental person, and yet I catch myself judging people all of the time. It’s a filthy habit, but it’s human, and sometimes it’s necessary. I am too open to a lot of people and have welcomed toxic friendships and relationships in my life all because I just didn’t judge when they would say or do something that absolutely should be judged. But hey, that’s what drugs were for, right? To numb those crappy friends and boyfriends with whom you have nothing in common, and kind of hate. Sigh. It’s a toxic spiral, my friend, but if you worry about being judged for being sober, you are truly doing yourself a disservice just because you want someone to not judge you.

6. How do you make friends/keep friends/date while sober?
Easy! I have actually made some great friends in my short time in Maryland. You know why? Because they like me for me, and I like them for them. There’s no cloud of alcohol diluding anything. I either like them or I don’t, and vice versa. I also find myself liking a lot more people now, probably because I like myself a lot more now. Funny how that works, huh? As for keeping friends, well, you are going to lose a lot of friends. The true friends will come out nearly instantly, and sadly, the fair-weather friends will reveal themselves as well. That doesn’t make the fair-weather friends bad people, but it doesn’t make them your friends. It was probably the hardest part of sobriety, losing my old friends and making new ones, but now I am so much happier with who I have and don’t have in my life. I still hold on to a couple people I probably shouldn’t, but nothing compares to the pain of being surrounded by people and feeling utterly unloved and lonely. Now I am around a few people and they love me and I love them. I also have much better relationships with my parents and my old friends now. A lot of them reached out to me and we connected over this past year, and I can’t express how happy it has made me. I will always have a bit of a struggle with my parents, but we have reached a point of understanding that I never would have achieved if I never got sober (and…er…was their roommate for a year). Real friends and a close family–that’s all anyone can really ask for in life.

As for dating, well..In AA, they do not recommend dating for an entire year, for good reason. Relationships can cause a lot of pain and can throw you off of your goal to better understand yourself and what makes you happy. I used to seek out relationships all of the time when I was at my lowest. I would date guys I didn’t really like so I could just feel someone care about me, or I would obsess over someone who clearly wasn’t that interested in me, once again, because I was so desperate to have someone love me since I truly hated myself. I broke the rules a little bit and have attempted to date a little since March, but I have been extremely wary of it all. I am really happy being myself and being alone right now. It’s also difficult to meet a guy who doesn’t get hammered or high all of the time at my age. I don’t care if you drink or get high, but it does get really old really fast if that person is your significant other. There’s nothing sexy about a drunk person on a date, man or woman, and I have tended to end up on dates with people I recommend going to AA. Of course I’d never tell them, but they can tell I am thinking it. There’s that judgy voice again! See? You can’t escape it. I just have a bleak track record with dating, mostly from my doing if we are being honest, and I want to get in a relationship with someone I think is awesome and they think I am awesome. Maybe I’ll date someone who is also sober, maybe I won’t. I just don’t see myself with a drinker in the future. Also, Maryland boys are just not attractive to me. I haven’t been tempted to date at all. I’m looking forward to getting back out there this Summer. If you know anyone….let me know…just don’t show them this just yet! As for now, you can see me hating losers on Tinder. I have yet to go on a Tinder date, and with good reason…Seriously, if you know a guy, let me know. Nothing is as bad as the spread on free dating apps. And shut up about your one friend who found her boyfriend on Tinder because she’s the exception, not the rule.

7. Do You Miss Drinking/Using?
Not. At. All. I’d be lying if I said I don’t think about it, because I do miss certain types of nights out that are just so wild and fun, but that happens like 4 times and then never again after 22 (for me, anyways). I was just always chasing a high that was never going to happen again. I am happily sober and yes, life can be hard and boring, but I am fine with dealing with the not-so-fun times sober. If anything I miss the fun of a pre-game, like getting dressed up with your girlfriends and getting ready to go out, but I think I just miss something that any girl who went to college misses. Getting ready, gossiping about boys, asking if a certain outfit makes them look dumb or not is the best part of any night out. I think I just miss my girlfriends from college.

So those are just about the most common questions I get from my sobriety. I hope that cleared some things up and gave you a better insight into what sobriety is like as a twenty-something. It truly can be done by anyone, and I am proof of that. I strongly believe if you truly want something, it will happen, and I truly wanted to be happy. Once I made that my priority, the rest fell into place. Drinkers or not, I hope you are all as happy as I am.

Is there anything happier than this picture?

Is there anything happier than this picture?

Buy, Borrow, or Avoid: GlamGlow Super Mud Clearing Treatment

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The thing about skin problems is that it’s on display for everyone; you can’t gloss over it with your personality, or mask it with an impressive job. It’s there, and it doesn’t care who sees it. My biggest skin problem since I was bustling with puberty and headgear is acne. Unfortunately for me, my skin has continued to be acne-prone well into adulthood, and I have tried everything, and I mean e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. From the celebrity-endorsed Proactiv to the fetus-mutating Accutane, if it promised to make my skin clear, I tried it, to little to no results to show for it. My visits with the dermatologist would be border-line aggressive, as he too would get angry with my skin, grabbing my cheeks with his thumb and index finger, turning my face back and forth like a pimply-bobble head, disgusted with what he saw time after time. I didn’t really mind the Dermatologist in grade school, I was missing first period for appointments either way; however, once I got to college, it just became another doctor to deal with on holidays. I told my Dermatologist on the phone “I’m cured!” and I swear a white head blossomed on my nose as a result of my white lie, but I just was done with the charade. I just wasn’t going to have perfect skin, and I am not interested in going to another doctor during winter break. Out-of-state college kids, can I get an Amen?

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No filter/No kidding!!! Girl, you don’t need make up, but you definitely need a better acne care regiment

I came to ‘peace’ with my skin and just invested in expensive cover-up to make my scars and bumps look like some type of mild-skin condition that only I would notice. My friends always assured me they never noticed my problem skin, which was nice and appreciated, but if they knew the lengths I went for them to not notice, then they would understand why I was always self-conscious about it. After 15 years, I ‘accepted’ that I just was never going to have good skin, and looked forward to the novelty of not having to deal with wrinkles since I haven’t outgrown pubescent zits yet. That being said, I still give any new acne product a try, but I never expect it to really work–just as long as it makes some slight difference, I am on board. That is, until I came across GlamGlow Super Mud.

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This little 3 ounce silo of charcoal and a bunch of  fancy buzz-words packs in at a whopping $69 at Sephora, so I never even imagined giving this miracle mask a try. It has won every beauty award from every magazine, from every race, from every species. They call it “the best mask you will ever use” and people swear on their children that the product works. Either people are liberal with child-swearing, or this stuff really does the trick for problem skin, but I just wasn’t going to dish out that kind of money. Then I found it on amazon for $45, and thought “what do I have to lose?”, and found myself becoming a real-life infomercial spokeswoman. The packaging for this product is worth at least $25 as it has “HELLO, SEXY!” on the front of a pop out pamphlet describing all of the amazing benefits of this product. Once you get through all of the schmoozing, you come to the little container, and realize all you have to do is slab some black goo on your face, let it sit for 20 minutes, and wash it off. But this mask is different.

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Seems like a simple charcoal mask..so why is this so expensive?

It goes on smooth at first, with a little bit of the Teoxi Leaves that apparently rebuild collegen proteins in my face or something strewn across my face, and it smells great. Just sit tight. Wait for, say, 3 minutes, and you’ll see. The mask begins to dry, and in turn it shows all of the dirt-clogging GUNK that has been trapped in your pores that you never realized were brimming to the rim with bacteria and dirt. I shower every day–sometimes twice, depending how gross I feel after a meal–and the drying GlamGlow made my skin look like my face was dragged in asphalt. “Suzanne, stop being dramatic. it didn’t look THAT bad”.

IMG_0434See those black marks everywhere? That’s a cemetery of dirt, grime and oil. Who needs a colonic when you can just flush out pounds of toxins on your face? With a thin layer of super mud, my face could hardly move as it dried. I would try to talk to my parents who just stared in disgust, which usually only happened when I shared a bit I was working on as opposed to my skin care regime. 20 minutes had passed, and I washed the mask off with a Clairsonic Mia 2. A simple rinse just will not do for this mask. You will need a sander to get this off, but that’s a testament to just how well this mask works.

annnnd this is how I look now!!

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Ok, I wish I looked like that at all times without make up and some photoshop. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all lived with a photoshop face? Anyway, here’s how it turned out–

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After I sanded the mask off and put some oil-free moisturizer on my red face.

I wish I could say I patted my face dry a-la a Clean and Clear commercial and revealed perfectly photo shopped skin, but when I looked in the mirror, I did see a difference in how my skin looked immediately. My skin, although it still has acne, is–dare I say it–glowing. It has a radiance that seemed to only happen when I see my server carrying my food to my table. The size of my blemishes have significantly shrank and the redness is mostly from the result of the Clairsonic scraping the mask off my face.

My verdict: BUY, BUY, BUY! This series of masks also come in Anti-Aging masks, Hydrating Masks, and Dual-Cleansers that can cater to any skin type. In my experience the mask has made me initially break out a little, and then eventually the acne goes away to a much more manageable amount. It has not healed my chronic acne, but it has made my entire face glow to the point where I am running on 45 minutes of sleep and I am still complimented on my skin. They also sell daily cleanser versions of GlamGlow, but I have not found a cheaper version than Sephora’s $69 price tag. GlamGlow has an entire array of skin care that I can’t wait to get my hands on when I have some more disposable income, but if you want to find the masks at an affordable price, Amazon.com is the way to go. If you have Prime, you are 2 days away from the best skin of your life. I am like the wise bearded man from Men’s Warehouse when I say, “you’re gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it”.

Here’s a link to all of the GlamGlow Amazon products, including Travel sizes for $10, perfect for first-timers via Amazon.

Has anyone tried the GlamGlow Cleansers? The Eye Brightening Pods? Or is anyone else a GlamGlow addict? Leave your story below!

Something Gold, Something Taupe

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I had a client who was looking for something to wear to a Summer wedding in Napa Valley. She is 28, a guest of the bride, and wanted to make a statement without out-shining the bride. Her personal style was described as classic, but she wanted a bit of a twist. She was a dream client, because I myself love classic, timeless pieces that have some *oomph* with a statement accessory.

My lovely client gave me her sizes and a budget of $350 to put together an outfit that she can wear to the Napa Wedding and to future cocktail events. With a slightly larger budget, I was able to go for more quality, timeless pieces, which, once again, is my personal wheel-house.

1. Ann Taylor: Classic Sheath Dress in Taupe $128

Ann Taylor All-Season Cap Sleeve Sheath Dress $128

Ann Taylor All-Season Cap Sleeve Sheath Dress $128

What we came with is this classic A-line dress with a slight V-neck in a neutral Stone Taupe color at none other than Ann Taylor. Ann Taylor gets a bad rap because it has a muddled clientele, and it can either be cubicle shabby or office chic. It’s a mixed bag, but I found this dress and knew it could not only be worn at future summer cocktail events, but can be worn in the office. Win-win.

2. What Goes Around Comes Around NYC: Vintage Hand-Made Black Sheer Cardigan with Gold Embellishment $45 (Originally $450!!!)

Gold Embellished Vintage Cardigan re-gifted from yours truly $45

Gold Embellished Vintage Cardigan re-gifted from yours truly $45

Ok, I have some explaining to do. This cardigan was an amazing find that came my way at a shopping fundraiser event I planned in 2013. What Goes Around Comes Around NYC is a luxury Vintage boutique that has the most beautiful, luxe, and, well, expensive one-of-a-kind pieces. They graciously donated several pieces to our event for us to sell, and this cardigan for some reason never got sold. I gladly accepted the cardigan into my closet, and wore it about once to a Christmas party. It’s not that I didn’t love it, and believe me, the compliments were endless when I wore this, but it just never fit with my personal style. It was so gorgeous I couldn’t part with it! That is, until I realized this cardigan would be exactly what my client needed to amp up her cocktail attire. I sold it to her through my eBay boutique store for $45, and I am happy to pass this beautiful piece to someone who will give it the proper wear it deserves!

3. Halogen: Gold Skinny Belt $28

Halogen Skinny Gold Belt found at Nordstrom $28

Halogen Skinny Gold Belt found at Nordstrom $28

Don’t know how else to pitch it. It’s a gold, skinny belt, and it gives a nice touch to the neutral canvas of the taupe. I love belts and dresses, and I always think it pulls an outfit together. My client also isn’t big on jewelry and doesn’t even have her ears pierced (!?! so #normcore), so this is a perfect way to add some “jewelry” without over powering the statement cardigan.

4. Sam Edelman: Nude Pumps $104 (Originally $130)

Sam Edelman Nude Heels on Sale at Nordstrom $104

(Similar) Sam Edelman Nude Heels on Sale at Nordstrom $104

When it comes to a neutral palette, there just isn’t anything better than either a pop of color on the shoe, or going nude. I prefer going nude, especially when you already have a lot going on up top. In order to bring all the gold tones together, this heel compliments all the accents together, and has a heel that isn’t so high that you will be teetering around the banquet hall, dying to sit in a chair. I am notorious for taking my heels off the second I get into my location, and it completely defeats the purpose of dressing classy. No one looks classy with heels in their hands, trust me. My client and I agreed on a solid 2.5 inch heel, and this was a perfect fit. Poof! Outfit complete.

Total Outfit Cost: $305, $45 Under Budget

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