plans

driving my dad to work

the sounds of NPR

and elephants from the Detroit zoo.

along for the ride,

i didn’t make plans then.

i spent years stacking so many

small, precious stones.

now the ground is uneven

and the plan doesn’t work anymore.

i bury the stones and hope for rain.

there was a plan

but now, in its place,

a story.

i listen for sounds

clues

maybe an elephant or

a car pulling up.

updates and changes

First of all, what are these awful ads with terrible indistinguishable close-up photos? I’m so sorry if you’re seeing those. I tried switching to a really simple layout in the hopes of getting rid of that. I’ll keep on it. (UPDATE: I fixed it.)

Second thing: hi. I feel like I’ve been away from posting and writing and basically all forms of creative expression. Not beating myself up, because these things come in waves. And I’m excited and scared to say that a very new wave of life is starting next week when I leave my full time job and go from part time to full time grad classes. I’m getting my MSW with a focus on Addiction Counseling. 11 years of working in corporate education was enough, and now it’s time to look at other parts of my life. Getting married and becoming a stepmom has been a bigger shift than I expected. Managing my anxiety has been more work than I expected. Grad school is basically what I expected. School was known territory. Sobriety? Again, more work than I thought, or at least not something I thought would be so front of mind almost 3 years in. “You’re a newbie until you’ve got like 10 years” someone said to me last weekend. I liked that.

So I’m giving all of this stuff more space. Leaving room for whatever needs room. Relying on others for help, which feels very odd. Wracking up that student loan debt like a champ, which feels familiar. Writing to you all, which is just my favorite damn thing.

More soon.

Alexis

Loose grips and dusty stories

One day, and then another and another day I woke up and saw that there was nothing constant, and change is the only way I’ve found magic or felt alive, and while I may say I hate it, it is the place where my heart breaks open and lets in the next wild idea and then heals, larger, oddly shaped, and burning. Just the way I like it. This takes practice and can be extremely frustrating.

I had a story that I told myself. It was a story with timelines, and characters and places, and it was the story of my life. I had been writing it for awhile, in the future tense of course, as that’s how we often dictate fantasies to ourselves. There was one about art school, and Paris, and Chicago. There were ones about falling in love. Some were about late nights, feeling wild and free, and danger and summertime. I held it quite tightly.

Some of those things happened. Most of the events, the details, were unexpected. Where I went to school, who I fell in love with, what those trips and moves looked and felt like, what was and wasn’t worth romanticizing, were counter to the original script. There was no subplot about alcohol, gut wrenching heartache, change, motion, boundaries, discomfort, more change…These do not get written in, which is why they cause the most upset. We don’t leave room for them. There was no plan for deviation.

When I was in my early 20s, I felt like things were not going the right way, and I felt helpless and confused but I charged forward because I was scared of boredom and failure. I lived life, and I had goals, and felt joy and went places and felt things and fucked up about 100 times and literally and metaphorically smashed my face into the concrete, and then I turned 30 and all of the pieces fell apart and I ran away to Michigan to recover. Like a little wounded animal, I hid in my cave for a bit (which is fine to do, by the way). I tried desperately to piece it all together, to make it all fit. When it felt mildly safe, I ventured out and life was like bwahahahaha helllooooooo and the wildness of being a part of the world swept back in.

I started a new chapter of life recently, in a odd little town, with a family that existed before I came along, married to a person I would never have expected to meet, trying a completely new kind of job and…all of the unexpectedness has stopped me in my tracks. In the last few months, I’ve been thinking about how things do not go as planned. No matter how beautiful the present is, there is some path that was left in favor of the one we’re on, paths that still live as shadows cast on the back of our minds. I used to fight the questions, and confusion, like it was threatening the present. I’ve begun to loosen my grip. Enter non-attachment, aparigraha as the yogis say, the practice of not holding so tightly. I really like the thing that Francis of Assisi says, to “wear the world like a loose garment” and the idea of having a loose grip on life that people talk about in AA. A very strange set of concepts, that seem to go against everything I’ve heard about fighting and working and never letting go of what you want, but that previous method did not lead to anything resembling calm, so we’re trying something new.

As always, I don’t have the answers. I have more questions, but not fearing “what’s next” is looking like the best path to take into this wild and unexpected story. Not holding so tightly, makes this whole concept of “letting go” easier, and physically, it keeps my shoulders farther from ears, which is where they tend to go if I’m not paying attention.

In full transparency, I find this process infuriating, because I am very happy with the stories that I created, and find it maddening that they all diverge in odd and unintentional ways. I do not like the phrase “everything happens for a reason” because I don’t think there is some magical force that is orchestrating this life. I think we’re that force, and we don’t get to know what’s coming. That’s our challenge in all of this uncertainty: loosen your grip and move forward through the shadow and the light. All of the good stuff is in front of us anyway. I’ll try if you try.

Some possible missions

I was talking to a friend the other day, about sobriety and breakups and other things that feel like getting punched in the guts. We were comparing “what have YOU done sober” stories. I have gone to more weddings sober than him, but he has gone on road trips with friends sober, while they were drinking, which I thought was impressive. He was amazed that I had traveled to Europe sober, and I was in awe of how he was going through a break-up without booze. It felt like we were comparing badges of honor. We were stocking up on sober experience, to make it to the next level. We were going on these impossible missions, and coming back alive. So now I’m thinking about sobriety as a series of missions. The question we ask ourselves is “Am I going to be able to make it through this xx without drinking?” and even if we’re feeling confident that we can do that it’s like “What will it be like doing xx sober?”

I will admit that viewing sobriety like a video game may feel like I’m trivializing the emotional energy this whole thing takes. I’ve been sober for two years, and last night I had to get up and walk around my dark house, breathing, remembering that I was here now, because I was running “here’s how life would be different if I had quit sooner” scenarios through my head. Then I went to sleep and had a drinking dream. That’s just a note to say that I still feel it, and it rarely feels light. But. This mindset around specific activities being missions on this crazy sobriety journey, I like.

I don’t know if you’re sober, or you’re a little curious about the sober thing, or if you’re my mom and you read all of my blog posts just to make sure I’m OK. Regardless, you’re doing hard things all of the time, and I bet you feel like it’s all normal and you don’t deserve to celebrate it. You’re an adult, and of course you should be able to xx. You should be able to go to a Christmas party where you’re ex will be, and you may additionally think you should be able to do that sober. Sure. You totally can. But that doesn’t mean that the loosely tied sober community out here doesn’t think you are goddamn amazing for doing so, and I bet there is a member of your current support system who would like to have the chance to congratulate you on doing that hard thing. It’s easy to forget, especially in sobriety, that you’re facing hard things head on, and it’s making you stronger. Every sober wedding, every sober trip, date, fight, lonely night, hard day at work, every SINGLE day you get out there and did what is hard to you, is a mission completed. And in theory, at least in my experience, knowing I can do that thing one time makes it easier the next time.

I got married about a month ago. I asked that there not be alcohol at the wedding, for one because it was at 10am, but also because large groups (40 people is large, OK?) plus booze make me feel anxious. I didn’t think of drinking once- we had so much coffee…it was dreamy. I felt like asking for that and feeling confident that my guests wouldn’t be terribly annoyed with their weirdo sober friend was a mission in itself. However, if I hadn’t done all of the mini-missions before that, like a sober bachelorette party, drinking sparkling juice the night we got engaged, celebrating with friends over tea, and on and on, this sober wedding mission may have felt impossible. It didn’t. There were moments, but I got through it. It’s pretty much the best surprise ever then, when the hard thing becomes enjoyable. That is undoubtedly some next level shit.

What kinds of missions are you going on? Does it feel easier every time or not? Tell me! I’m always interested in what you’re figuring out along the way. Keep up the good work, friends.

xo

Half superhero, half witch, and doing hard things in sobriety.

Last night I felt like a huge witch lady and not a cool witch, like a mean, nasty wicked witch kinda situation. I was telling Ben that it wasn’t FAIR (foot stomp) that I had finally figured out how to take care of myself, gotten sober, made good choices left and right and now, here was a thing that I had no idea how to do, and that I kind of feel like I suck at: step-parenting. I did all of this stuff, to get rid of stress, and then life was like “good job, here’s something else really challenging” and I KNOW that it’s this beautiful gift and I’m probably not ruining their lives with my presence, but it sure feels like everything got harder. “I’m out of patience and don’t know how to get more”, I said, as I fell asleep.

There has been this weird part of recovery for me where I feel like I should be able to handle everything, because sobriety makes me feel like I have super power. If you compare, for example, this morning, Saturday morning, with a morning while I was drinking, it’s night and day. My stomach didn’t hurt when I woke up. I didn’t worry that people were mad at me. I didn’t start trying to piece the night together. I drank coffee in bed. I made pancakes. Other things were different, and not because of sobriety. I found a teenage boy in the guest room, and kicked him out so my step daughter could do the Saturday morning cartoon thing. This house is just strewn with teenage boys. That’s different. I did laundry for other people. That’s new. Dishes, throwing stuff into the closet, taking care of our zoo of pets. I like these things, but it’s different. I wouldn’t be here, in this uncharted land, if I had kept drinking. But it’s also harder. Not hard like waking up on the other side of town with a pounding headache realizing you texted your ex and spent all of your extra money at the bar. This is hard like I snapped at the 10 year old last night for her attitude and now I feel like a Disney stepmother and I’m worried that she hates me. Old me is like “I don’t even understand that hardship sorry bye”.

Sobriety doesn’t fix everything. It puts you back on solid ground so you can take on the world. I get pissed when a new hard things comes up because I’m like “but I’m super and can handle everthing unless the world just keeps giving me harder and harder things which is appears to be doing wtf”.

This sober life is a new adventure. It’s like a whole other level in a video game (just read Ready Player One, and got a little obsessed, pardon me) and it’s easier and harder at the same time.

Maybe it’s not becoming a stepmom of four kids that is your hard thing. Maybe it’s that sobriety gave you the strength to get a new job that drunk you would never have been able to handle. Maybe you’re planning a trip you never could have done before. Maybe you’re going to a wedding today, and you aren’t going to drink, and it’s hard as hell. But you’re doing it because you can now, and you know it’s forward motion. You know it’s positive and you know you’re my hero for doing it. If you don’t know, let me tell you: you’re my hero.

Super powers don’t always look like winning. Last night, my super power was just not drinking, being willing to talk when I wanted to scream, and going to sleep. It was waking up with the ridiculously simple answer to my question of where patience comes from and how to get more: sleep. Coffee and pancakes. The realization that your job is never to please people, just to love them. I don’t have enough energy to please people because it’s not a renewable resource. The other stuff, I have an almost endless supply. Because I’m sober, and I’m on a level playing field for once. It’s still hard. It’s just not impossible now.

Stay tuned for my next incredible feat: college sober. Grad school, friends. Pray, send vibes and spells. One more week til that adventure begins. I’ll keep you posted.

xo

What’s your new hard thing that came at you once you kinda got your shit together? Tell me all about it.

Travel, weddings, and other typically boozy fun

“What’s the most important part of your wedding?” my Dad asked. I had just lamented aloud my choice to buzz and bleach and then color my hair, less then 2 months before my wedding. I knew the answer, of course, and it has nothing to do with my fuzzy orange head. “Getting married”. My Dad nodded, and went back to his over-priced airport sandwich. We had just finished an amazing week long trip to Montana. We were exhausted. We were all day dreaming of sleeping in our own beds. As my sister eloquently put it, while pushing her fries around her plate, “I am unraveling”. Travel is one of my favorite things, but towards the end and sometimes even in the middle, it can challenge us. I felt this physically and mentally from the jump. I learned on day one that my body was deeply offended by the change in altitude, and refused to be a team player for most of the week. Whatever the challenge, we look for a source of comfort. As a newly sober friend of mine put it, a security blanket. We’re uncomfortable at the airport, on the plane, in the new city or country. On top of that, most of us are acutely aware of how lucky we are to be traveling, how much we wanted to be here, so we now feel like we should be having fun. It’s not surprising that we drink. We’re offered booze at every turn. And so booze enters into the story of travel, weaves it’s way into the wanderlust narrative, because it’s the easiest was to comfort an adult while taking their money.

As I write, I’m nestled between my sister and Dad, on my flight back home. I’m watching new parents snuggle their baby, taking turns making funny faces, in an effort to make their little dude feel comfortable. Booze used to be my funny faces on an airplane, at the hotel, and at the end of the day at a conference for work trips. All the wine, please. I am a business lady and I am uncomfortable and want to appear very comfortable so I would like that cheap red you have there. Thanks.

I could tell you stories about hangovers at Heathrowe and chalices of Sauvignon Blanc at the Applebees in Dallas. But the story is always the same: I wanted comfort. I was anxious and I wanted to fix it. I was celebrating and I was sure that drinking could only make it better. And sometimes it worked! But it was always a gamble. That was a big reason why I quit in the end. It wasn’t always bad, but it was bad often enough to make life harder.

Sitting in seat 20B, sipping my new favorite drink (airplane coffee), I started putting some pieces together. Travel wasn’t unlike the other “how can I do that sober” things. Other fun things that carry stress with them. Dancing. Weddings. Then it hit me. I wanted to drink when things were fun and stressful. Social situations are fun but I get anxious. I honestly barely realized I felt that way until I quit drinking. I want to have fun. I should be having fun. Here, booze will help. Travel. Weddings. I’m sure there’s more. But those two really stuck out. They were the two things I feared the most in early sobriety. To the “normal” drinker, having a glass of champagne at my own wedding might sound harmless. This sobriety magic doesn’t work when I half-ass it though. I did that for the first 6 months after I quit. A sip here and there. But you don’t get over your ex if you only make out with him sometimes. So it’s always a no. Not on the plane, not at my wedding, your wedding and not when I’m feeling homesick in a cabin in Montana and just learned that the root celler holds liquor. Vodka is kind of potatoes, I guess.

There are good ways to make it through both travel and weddings (or parties or work happy hours, etc) without drinking. I wish I could say that you just keep doing what you normally do, without alcohol. That wasn’t true for me. I leave things earlier now. I cling to my cup of coffee or La Croix like the baby in front of me is currently clinging to some sort of stuffed elephant/sock. I feel weird sometimes still. You can’t bring your weighted blanket to your co-worker’s birthday party (but why?) but you do get to decide how long you stay or if you go at all. It does get easier, and you do learn how to self-soothe. That’s a baby thing, right? Imagine yourself, cooing at strangers, drool bubbling down your face, but in the metaphorical sense.

Two years of weddings and birthdays and travel have taught me what I need to feel calm. We don’t always get handed what we need to feel safe in the moment, because reality doesn’t work like that. Booze is the quick fix. If you’re one of the lucky ones, for whom this quick fix makes you feel like trash, you get to take the DIY route. And it doesn’t always work. I tried for 20 minutes to meditate in the car on the way to the airport and I ended up having a imaginary fight with someone in my head. So chill! But you get through it. And you don’t have a hangover on the other side. That’s basically my sober mantra.

It’s different for everyone, but I would imagine that when we remove that harmful comfort in whatever form it takes, we grow. By grow I just mean figure our shit out. It’s awkward, for sure, and it doesn’t always feel like forward motion, but it’s real. There was a moment last week, when I had just finished a nerve-wracking ride up the mountain to be greeted with soda water while everyone else drank a beer. I feel like my eyes were replaced with cartoon flames. I was not playing it cool. I openly pouted. But I made it. And I have that experience now. I know now that I would like to know in advance when there’s going to be booze or I get really anxious and I also do not like climbing to 6000′ feet on a rocky mountain road. That’s fine. Those are valid ways to feel. I can tell my people that and I’m sure they will respect it. See? Seems tiny but when you add all of those moments together, you’re building comfort in and building up your tolerance for discomfort. Right? I hope so.

That plane baby is gumming a striped plastic blob within an inch of it’s life, now. He is my self-soothing hero.

That’s what I got for you. Taking your sobriety out into the world is scary, but so is any situation where you have to be brave and depend on yourself for comfort. No buts, it’s just hard. And I’ll keep doing it, you’ll keep doing it, and plane baby will for sure keep doing it. As my non-baby hero Glennon Melton says, we can do hard things.

It’s true. Safe travels.

I was an island on fire once.

MeShortsWhy the slow dreamy image of an island keeps returning, I can’t say. It’s the picture that forms when I close my eyes, clumsy attempts at meditation or at least a softer gaze inward. I have felt like an inhabitant of an island for years, or more accurately, the island itself. It was on fire for awhile, until I realized I was the one starting fires. And even then, I let it burn for a while. And then I began to stop. I went underwater for a while, to make certain that every burning ember had been soaked. Now, that I’ve emerged, drying out in the sun, with other islands, lives, people, specifically new people, drifting in, and locking onto my shore, I feel like a new shape. New shorelines. My new neighbors barely know the history. It was before their time. The secrets are buried under this fertile soil. I think that happens after a fire, right? It takes time though. So I’m here, and I’m afloat, which is due to that being how islands are built and also the pull of the sun I suppose, and this jungle is growing, uncontrollable life, wild, unplanned newness.

With all of this life, and newness, why then, do I feel the need to dust off these old maps, old stories, and revisit them? Why don’t they fit neatly in a tomb, deep at the center of the island, untouched. I want to reclaim places and stories. I want to retell them to myself, or replace them. I don’t know why, so I look for answers in this soft gaze inward, to the island that I call home. Is it part of rebuilding? Is it a desire to not have places I can’t go to, without a dark cloud closing in? I did it with Chicago. It took time to reclaim all of the old blocks as ones I could amicably share with the past. Street by street, I tiptoed in and made sure they were safe for this new person. I lived there, so it makes sense that the memories were long, and undefined in some ways, one rolling into the next, mixed up dates and times, but a strong general sense. New York is different. My visits there were short, and sharp. The hottest self-made fires burned quickly there. Over the years, this was a place I went and felt no self-control. I felt alive, but, like many amateur fires, set in the wild, it got out of hand. But I could always return home, and pretend nothing had happened.

In this place, the embers have been replaced by new grass for the most part, some patches of smoldering earth remain of course, some is still damp. But far off, maybe on the horizon, there are these other islands. Places that I visited. Places I went to have an experience. I’ve been back to Paris since I first went there, setting fires everywhere. I sat on the balconies, sipping coffee, quietly, reclaiming that story. You wouldn’t know from watching me. It’s subtle. It doesn’t happen immediately. But I knew it had happened, and I wasn’t scared to go back, because nothing was haunting me. There were no ghosts. It was clean. Just like with Chicago. So I planned a trip to NYC, because it’s still on fire for me, maybe a little ways out from shore, but I can always see it. I don’t need NYC to do anything for me, just like I didn’t need Paris, or a few blocks in Chicago to change. I just need to be there. I need to form a new memory, that isn’t so hot. I need a story without so much fire. And then I’ll push away, head back to my island, tend to the vines and the newness that lives there. But before that, I need to pour myself out a bit more, cool the embers, and then come back someday, to see what’s grown.

Spirits doing human things, without masks.

Anxious happy lady taking all of the deep breathes and eating toast.

I’m in a pretty steady up and down pattern right now. Two weeks on, up, positive, and clear. Two weeks wrestling anxiety like two feral cats fighting over a cardboard box. That box is also my head. It’s tricky. I mean, I’m in the good two weeks right now, so I use words like tricky. Tricky is a pretty cute word, as opposed to words like “debilitating”. That is one of my favorite words in the down swing. It’s weird to say that I feel joyful then, right? I am just feeling that joy through a lens of anxiety or not, depending on the week.

In the midst of last week’s mega anxiety fest, I was PISSED about sobriety. After almost 2 years without drinking, the sight of a cold glass of white wine in the sunshine was making me feel a type of way. A type that people do not find enjoyable to be around. A way I haven’t felt in maybe a year or so. You know how it feels when you’re annoyed with yourself? That is how I feel when I get crabby about sobriety. It’s like watching a child act like a brat when they open a perfectly lovely present and chuck it at the floor because it’s not the toy their baby-friend has. Sobriety is the gift, I am the brat.

And then, on top of all of that bratty anxiety, I suddenly feel like going to AA? I have never been to AA. I have yet, as I type, attended an AA meeting. I am vehemently opposed to the idea of sitting around and telling people that I’m always going to be a broken addict. Is that what AA is like? Asking for a me. So this AA thing is nagging at me, like a sign from the universe, which are usually not the easiest messages to accept. The universe doesn’t tell me to go treat myself to a cup of coffee or take more naps. It tells me to rip my life apart in favor or something better, and other such dramatic stuff….hello quitting drinking, thank you universe…I heard you. Anyone else just think AA sounds awful but then you wonder if maybe some real flesh and blood sober community might be nice?

Speaking of the universe, and things that come swirling out of it, I talked to a friend who I think of as being from “another life”. He’s a friend who I haven’t seen in sobriety, but who was wildly important to me before. By chance/social media, I found out that he and I had gotten sober within a few months of each other. We tread lightly, sending good vibes and hellos. It’s a gift, really. Maybe from the universe. Here is a friend who I thought I had lost, and I did…but he came back in another form, in this other life, as a new friend. And of course, he goes to AA. Because the universe is kind sometimes, and tries to soften the blow of these harsh messages with kind messengers.

Here’s the thing: Sobriety, or rejecting your specific mask, opens up all of the wounds. It was the way I healed the parts that hurt the most. But once you open that door, your mind, to the possibilities, they can be raw and scary. I think there is a chance that this is just what it feels like to have a “rich human experience”, as my friend says. Rich isn’t happiness necessarily, it’s just full. It’s not bad, it’s just vibrant, and kind of blinding, and dizzying. Some weeks feel like total shit, but I know it’s better than staying in the dark.

xo

Take care of you.

My best friend’s mom left this comment on a picture I posted years ago. It was a picture of my face, with a giant scrape on my nose. I had fallen on my face. “Take care of you”, she said. It took a bit, but I’m trying harder than ever to do that. You too? It’s hard, right?

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share a mess of thoughts. I’m not a professional at anything but being me, but I have learned a few things in the last few years.

It’s ok to not feel ok. You are not your feelings. There is no shame in asking for help. Don’t lie to your therapist.
You don’t need an online test to tell you that you need help. You can just need help. If you don’t like your therapist, find another one. Allow yourself to be annoyed with the whole fucking process. Feel mad if you need to. Don’t rely on your partner to fix it.

Here’s why I know this: I had a drinking problem. I stopped drinking because I couldn’t stop blacking out and my insides burned all the time. I have anxiety. I’m coming off Zolof this week and it’s awful but it was making me too apathetic. I might try something else. I have tried 3 different therapists in the last 5 years. The first two told me that I didn’t have a drinking problem. The third one validates my sobriety and my anxiety. I have a partner who encourages me to voice my feelings and isn’t scared of them. I have to fight the desire to restrict my eating when my anxiety gets bad. I have family members who are suffering from mental illness. I love my life. I’m not ashamed of ANY OF THIS. Help is out there.

Thank you for reading my mental health brain blurb.

I love you.

Not a chill girl.

chill

“At first I felt these drawings were accidents, then I realized they were a part of me”. Beverly Pepper. Pepper was a sculptor and a decidedly not chill girl. Here’s me trying to dive into her sketches with my eyeballs.

I am retiring “laid back” from my list of “ways I want to be”. “At peace” is a way I want to be. But “laid back” is way too close to “chill” which is just another bullshit way of saying “lower your standards”. I’m too sober and alive for that shit.

This desirable state of chill got stuck in my brain at a young age. I like to blame Teen magazine, for reminding me that boys like girls who are laid back and wear “natural” makeup, aka look conventionally beautiful and don’t ask for much. I solidified that by watching Reality Bites a million times, and brainwashing myself into believing that the best kind of guy was a loser like Ethan Hawke’s character, and the best kind of girl to be was a chill waif who was cool with whatever.

I cannot even begin to explain the trouble this mindset got me into. I can blame culture, but my own teenage insecurity is the thing I can’t put on Winona Ryder and her stringy bangs. I wanted to be liked, and the path I took towards that was being as easily consumable as possible. Which I’m not; none of us our, if we’re being our true self, right? I fought myself for years, trying to push myself into this state of chill. This place where I was not difficult. If you ever wonder why people start drinking so much, one reason may be that they don’t want to care so much. Living with intense feelings is hard.

Today, I am not chill. I get emotional about things I care about. I have deep pangs of insecurity, which I tell my partner about unapologetically. I’m trying to stop forcing my body into a certain shape. I’ve done this before, since I quit drinking, and I always chicken out, and go back to diets. That Winona waif thing got stuck really deep in my mind. Today I ordered new jeans, to fit my growing hips. They are not chill. They are trying to grow into the space they want to inhabit. I’m going to do my best to let them.

The scariest thing about getting sober was being alone with myself. The first few months were numb, and boring. The next few months were euphoric, but I didn’t want to be around people. Things went up and down like this for the first year and a half. In the last few months, I feel like I’ve cautiously stepped out of my cave, and have started connecting with friends again. I still have nightmares about drinking, and spinning thoughts of guilt while falling asleep; I still hear the past. But I feel clean. And I feel safe. But not laid back. I care too much, love too hard, and shine too bright to chill.