What I’ve Learned on My Cross-Country Road Trip – Part 1

road trip recovery

I used to believe that I was free, inherently. By being born into a middle-class American household, I was born with a certain amount of personal rights – I was born a free woman. My parents instilled in me the idea that I could achieve anything I set my mind to (within reason, of course), so long as I applied myself academically and constantly strived for self-betterment. I could attend any college that I wanted, pursue any career that my little heart desired. This immense personal freedom landed me at UCLA, where I chose to study playwriting. That’s what I wanted to do and so I worked hard and I did it. I was truly free. Wasn’t I?

Well, no.

Active Alcoholism Is, Like, The Opposite of Freedom

Before I went away to college, when I was about 15 years old, I tried alcohol for the first time. I was at a standard high school party with a friend. Someone handed me a red plastic cup filled with lukewarm keg beer, and that was it. Without even knowing what was happening, I immediately agreed to years of psychological servitude. Booze was my master. By the time I left for school, I had signed my life over to cheap vodka, boxed wine, and Natty Light in full – without even reading the fine print. The mental obsession and physical craving worked hand-in-hand to dictate my every move. I skipped class, failed finals, slept with strangers, lied to my friends and family members, and willingly completed whatever other tasks alcohol laid out for me. I asked no questions. I was whipped.

I was totally and completely enslaved.

Never underestimate the power of denial – I still believed myself to be a free woman. It wasn’t until I completely surrendered and accepted the fact that I could never drink successfully that I had my first taste of true freedom. It was delicious.

Since surrendering to the reality of my situation and turning my will over, the freedom I have experienced has been something beyond my wildest dreams. I am no longer a slave to alcohol – to the mental torment, the emotional devastation, and the physical pain I awoke with each and every morning. I am so free, in fact, that I can travel the country and actually enjoy it. I can travel the country without constantly worrying about obtaining a DUI, or missing out on literally everything the nation has to offer because I am either too drunk or too hungover to pay attention.

My plan is to attend meetings in every state I pass through (which will hopefully be quite a lot of them), and detail some of the lessons I learn. Now that I am free from the spiritual stagnancy, relentless self-loathing, and utter inability to live which is active alcoholism, I am actually able to absorb and enjoy things. Imagine that.

What I Have Learned So Far

Pensacola, FL – We can convince ourselves of anything.

An alcoholic in the throes of his cup is an unlovely creature indeed – a creature that can convince himself of literally anything. A creature that can convince himself that drinking 5 Apple Rita’s for breakfast is fine, because there is probably some apple juice in them, and apple juice is kind of a breakfast-y thing. A creature that can convince himself that so long as he is blacked-out by 8 and stops drinking by 10, he still has control. A creature that can convince himself that driving drunk with the kids in the back is totally kosher, so long as it’s just to soccer practice and back. As alcoholics and addicts, we can convince ourselves of anything. It is important that we don’t forget that. This is why having a solid circle of sober supports to run our insane ideas by is absolutely vital to long-term recovery. Left to our own devices, we will ruin our lives in like… 5 days.

Tuscaloosa, AL – A man who accepts the truth about himself is likely to stop getting drunk.

The truth is hard to accept, and of course it is. The truth is, we have lost the power of choice in drink and drug. The truth is, if we continue living the way we know how to live – the way that is comfortable and familiar – we will wind up dead, in jail, or institutionalized for the remainder of our sad and lonely days. The truth is that to drink is to die, and to use is to die, and that death would actually not be the worst option if we were to continue living the way we had been. Once we acknowledge the truth we must accept it, and once we accept it we must start to take action. Acceptance is the answer to all of our problems today. But like, really though.

Franklin, TN – There is no ‘chilling’ in AA.

You are either progressing or regressing – you are either growing spiritually or you are dying. If you take an honest look at your life and find that you have become complacent and emotionally stagnant, it is fair to assume that you are actually moving closer to a drink than to spiritual enlightenment. Part of the deal is the whole seeking thing. Seeking does not entail sitting in the back of a meeting every day while scrolling through Instagram and texting funny memes to your friends. Seeking entails trying new things – experimenting. Evolving. Exploring crystals and Buddhism and different ways to connect with a higher power. Helping others in creative ways. Volunteering. Talking on the phone to newcomers; relatives. There is always room for evolvement. And if we are not evolving, we are probably backsliding.

Freedom and Addiction Recovery

What is freedom, really? The ability to make decisions based on your own healthy desire to grow spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Technically speaking, freedom is the ability to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. Active addiction is both a restraint and a hinderance, and it will do absolutely everything it can to convince us that it is not. It will do everything it can to convince us that is a close friend; one we cannot live without. In reality, the freedom we acquire with continued sobriety is far beyond anything we could even imagine while bound by the shackles of drinking and drugging. Give yourself the opportunity to experience true freedom. And as they say, don’t quit before the miracle happens. Because it will happen. And that’s a promise.

What have you got to lose?