Good morning my loves! I am back! Changing my stripes has definitely done wonders to heal my badly battered, hardly beating heart. I had no idea I didn’t have pain meds. I had no idea that I just overdosed and that I came a lot closer than I would like to acknowledge, to dying. I’ve no issue with dying…none at all. I won’t lie, I’ve got a different idea of how I’m leaving this world…me having a drug overdose, of any kind, has never even crossed my mind. I am a sober woman who literally just inadvertently overdosed herself on narcotic medication.
I do want to talk about how that feels for me, for just a moment, as I Segway into the healing room this morning. Being sober, especially for an alcoholic, is hard some days, at least for me it is.
For me, my experience of having a potentially near death experience, as a result of a drug overdose is incomprehensible, as I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink alcohol, and haven’t for over four years now. I haven’t ever done drugs, illegal and not prescribed, unless I’ve used them as they were prescribed, for me. I must admit, the only way I feel that I can express to you how it feels, is really to say, that being vegan, also for over four years, that I do not eat animals. I would fucking die a little inside if I did by accident. I mean a chicken taco, instead of a jackfruit taco would fuck with my very soul. The taste of one of my dear friends, in my mouth, it would fuck me up a bit. Also, because I cannot process animals in my body anymore, it would also make me very physically sick. Our bodies learn to purge what does not belong. You already knew that though, didn’t you. So, for me, Coral, a sober woman, who has had to work at staying sober, extra hard since my Mom got sick and died on me, alcohol, a progressive disease, would probably fucking kill me, even in small doses, if I were to take a drink. Eating a chicken would make my body sick and torment my very soul, just the same. My drug overdose has done this as well…fucked with my soul and caused me to purge, violently, what does not belong, what makes me sick and what compromises my sobriety. I ate my last animal on my little Brothers Birthday, March 9, 2014, in the form of my favorite ground beef enchiladas, my Mom always made them on the most special of occasions. My little Brothers Birthday dinner..I made a compassionate choice. I made a choice that my soul is at peace with and I am so thankful. I don’t eat animals because it makes my soul and my stomach and my heart sick.
A drug OD for anyone is their own private Hell, isn’t it? I just found out for myself…and hell may not be the word for you. For me though, as I said, I had no idea, in the moment that I was overdosing, that I had overdosed. I didn’t know what the fuck was happening but it was scary and ugly and out of control. Airplanes and giant bumble bees buzzing through my brain and poison, once pain management, coarsing through my veins. Falling and stumbling, or did I fall all the way down? Puking and shitting and holding my guts in, because the vomiting was violent and I was all stitched up inside. All over me and our bathroom, were the evidence that something went wrong. I just had no idea, none at all, for a couple of more days, post op with my surgeon, that I had in fact experienced a narcotic drug overdose. That poison, those feelings, brought back for me, many a drunken nights, where I almost died, at my own hands directly and at others hands indirectly. Our poison comes in different forms and many of you, like me, have ingested a butt load of poison, in whatever form that poison suits you, in some form or another. I didn’t stop drinking because I don’t like to drink. I did not stop eating animals because I didn’t like the way they tasted. I made choices that resonate and fit with my soul. This drug overdose has really been a catalyst for me, in terms of changing the way I look at things, and watching the things I look at change.
Once a story about how I was wronged and what negligent behavior has done TO me, I write my story from a standpoint of what this lesson has taught me. This lesson, already turned blessing, has taught me that we are all just walking each other home. We are all practicing our crafts. We are all, whether we know it or not, whether we like it or not and whether we believe it or not, a mirror for one another. We must be conscious and we must be aware, and we must hold hands and love each other through our trials and tribulations. We must be the change we wish to see in the world. We cannot say the words and not invest in the time and the blood and the sweat and the tears of actually being in action, doing the work.
I take this experience and I turn it into a beautiful gift for us all. We all have much to learn. We all have much to teach. This experience has inspired me to share my sober story with all of you. My story, for us all to learn and grow from. I gift my story, and a piece of my journey with you now. I extend my hand, outstretched toward you, if you are on a similar journey now and need a hand. I have gone from being anonymous to being wide open and available to you, so please reach if you need to. I am right here.
Days where things have gone particularly bad, I would love to have me a few beers. Damn straight…and I don’t ever use the word “straight”….days when things go really good, of course I want to go celebrate and tie a few on! My sobriety is because I am sick, not because I do not like the taste or the feel or the social interactions of alcohol. I fucking love me some beer…okay, okay, I love me almost ALL beer. Beer, for me, my very dearest and closest friend, my confidant, my medicine…my drug of choice. My go to in the good times and more so in the great times. My escort to every social event or engagement. My date to every outing. My go to in the bad times and more so in my worst of times. My pain management for all things physical and emotional. For all things real…to real..and way too hard to handle, alcohol carried me through. Alcohol was my courage and my rock. Alcohol was my mask and my laughter. I did not stop drinking alcohol because I didn’t like it. I stopped drinking alcohol because one evening, supporting a dear friend, going through a very difficult time, I went to an AA meeting, my first AA meeting ever, on my way to happy hour. I paused, to support someone I loved, on my way to happy hour, in to an AA meeting that I shall never forget. We met two of her friends there, I met these beautiful ladies for the first time. One woman was many years sober, like my friend. One woman did not drink at all. “What the fuck do I say when they get to me?” I asked her, very nervous and more ready than ever for some fucking happy hour. To which she replied, “Just say, ‘My name is Coral and I am a friend of AA”. Easy enough, right? Easy peasy…then why was I shaking and sweating and nervous and wanting to get the fuck up out of there? I did not know. I truly did not know. I’ll tell you what though…it sure as hell was getting to be my turn pretty soon. I was nervous and sweating and rehearsing in my head…”My name is Coral and I am a friend of AA”…I can fucking do this. Fuck….fuck, fuck, fuck…it is already my turn. Fuck. My friend put her hand on my leg and gave me the “you can do it, nod. You know that nod, right?) I can fucking do this. My name is Coral, and I am an alcoholic”….What in the fuck just happened? That was not at all what I had been rehearsing. Fuck! What in the hell did I just say? Why am I convulsing a bit inside myself? Why did the whole fucking world just disappear, and where the fuck did it go? For Christ’s sake…I just said my lines wrong!!! Fuck! I don’t get a do over…I said it wrong. My friend put her hand in my sweaty and shaking hand. There were no words, just a crushed Oreo cookie, and lots of sweat and shaking going on.
My name is Coral and I am an alcoholic. I never made it to happy hour that night. I never went to happy hour again. I realized in that God-gifted moment, that I was not well. Not consciously….I damn near went down. I didn’t know how my life was about to change. I didn’t know that AA meetings and iced tea would replace Happy hour and my beloved beer. I didn’t know my friends circles would change and shift so drastically and in some cases, even disappear entirely. I had no way of knowing, being an alcoholic, since before I can even truly remember, like before I could even speak at all, that I was sick. I didn’t know that I needed help. The moment I realized I was indeed an alcoholic, I set it down. I said I am done. I fucking meant it. I am still an alcoholic. I am sick and DISeased. I have made a choice as to how I have to manage my sickness…the only way I can…I have to not drink alcohol, at all. i have to not be in the presence of alcohol very much at all. It’s not you…it truly is me. If you are drinking more than a drink or two, I cannot and will not be there. It’s not because I don’t want to hang out with you. No, you see it’s not that at all. What it is, is…I want what you are having. I can’t just have what you are having and be okay, so I don’t go. I also have the DISease of more and one drink is never enough for me. I don’t go hang out anymore because, as an admitted alcoholic and a committed sober woman, I am no longer at home, in the presence of things I love and cannot have. Not when my world blew out and I lost everything, not when I didn’t have any money, not when I lost my house, not when I sat in the room with my family and realized that my Mom was dying and not when my Mom died. Not when my baby brother whose Mom just died also, turned 40 and threw a bash. Not when I’ve had my worst days. Not when I’ve had my best days. I am Coral and I am an alcoholic.
Is everyone ready to head into the healing room? Does everyone have their coffee hot and ready to go? Okay then, grab my hand and let’s go!
I am Coral and I am an alcoholic. Alcoholism is a disease. Dis-Ease…for me anyway…I spell mine like this…DISease and here is why:
…dissed with ease, over and over and over again. Disconnected. Disenchanted and disenchanting. Distanced and distant. Discombobulated. Discomfort. Disappointed and disappointing. Disturbing and disturbed. Disrupted and disruptive. Discharged and charging. Disorders piling up on top of one another and Delusions. Dismissed and Dismissive. Disbanded in Death a time or two and nearly dead a thousand times more. Disheartened and broken hearted. Disbelieving. Disgusted and disgusting. Discussed a lot and discussing. Disdained and disdainful. Diseased. Disfigured and dismembered bit by bit. Disorder. Disorganized. Disinterested. Displayed and displaying. Disposable and disposing. Disappointed (did I already say that?) and disappointing. Disarmed and disarming. Dissolving. Disappearing. Dissent. Distracted and distracting. Distended. Distorted and distorting. Distant. Disused and misused, and used. Discouraged. Disowned. Disbelief. I am Coral and I am an alcohol and these words help me to define the DIS in my Disease.
As for the ease part of Coral’s disEASE…there really wasn’t lot of ease. Alcohol gave me the illusion that I desperately needed, of easy and easy…manageable and tolerable…OK and fine.
Merrium Webster’s medical definition of disease is as follows: “an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions, is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms, and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors.”
First learned in terms of a plant or an organism, for me, in middle school science class, which I detested, by the way. Required to participate. Replicated in pitre dishes and glass tubes in lab class. I go back and read it now, and I put me in all of the spaces where I envisioned a diseased plant. Apply the words to you. What is the DIS in your DISease?
Whether we like it and whether we are truly able to admit it or not, we all have DISease. We each have something that causes at least some of the feelings that I felt. Depressed and dismissed. We get stuck there when we stay there for too long, don’t we? Our DISease, whatever it is, it is ours to manage, to battle and to feel, to fight and to struggle with…whatever it is…it is our demon and we must slay it alone. We cannot do it for each other and we cannot do it because of one another either. We must reach for those who will help us to navigate our new and uncharted terrain. We must feel fight like hell on some days and bask in our sobriety on others. DISease is not a one size fits all situation, and my remedy won’t be yours. My salvation comes differently than yours will, and just like our stripes…Our diseases are different shapes and colors. We are all just walking each other home.
I want you to know that I am here. I really, really am. I put some hard stuff out there and I’m a tiny stick of dynamite with the power to ignite the world, and with the willingness and the resilience to light us and lift us all up.
I take my hard stuff and I lay it raw and open and unedited for you, so that we can unwrap together, our packages, examine their contents…take what we need, be thankful for it all and to leave the rest.
I know that a huge part of my calling (just came to me in this moment) is to take the ugly and allow it to be as ugly as it needs to be, for as long as it needs to be, and to be silent until I can internally process it and deliver both the story and a remedy for us all, of some kind. I’ve tried to do that and I will be more diligent moving forward, to always close the hard stuff with he good stuff. I love you and I am so glad you keep coming back.
Please take hands everyone and let us say the Serenity Prayer together this morning, before we head out into the world;
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.