I’m sorry I didn’t post Monday and Friday of last week. Transitioning to natural thyroid hasn’t been easy after 10 years of synthetic. The fatigue is often mind numbing and I haven’t had the brain power to do much.
I’m going to try to keep posting Monday, Wednesday and Friday as long as I have the energy. I think documenting this process is important for my own healing journey and for countless others.
Thank you all for reading and supporting me on this journey. None of this would be happening if it wasn’t for you! Xoxo, Court
. . .
My friend Kristen just turned one-year sober. You many remember her from this post she guest blogged about being a BeePea mom. I love her for many reasons, but the most recent reason is the metaphorical mud run.
Kristen is an English teacher. Everything has meaning. So in lieu of birthday hats and singing, she decided that hauling our butts all the way out to Temecula (a 2.5 hour drive) on a Saturday to run in the mud would be the logical method of celebrating her first birthday.
She suckered Rachel and I into going and I, in turn, suckered my ski-buddy Karen into going as well.
Like good alcoholics, none of us trained for the race and we got there so late that we were in the last group to run – I would like to blame the two girls who had to pee every 5 minutes or my Starbucks obsession or the Subaru wagon that shook when we got above 65mph, but it was probably because we were laughing so hard that the time just slipped away.
There were no numbers left to pin on our chests, so we fumbled our way to the starting line and stretched, facing the wrong way, of course. Then we found out this was the kids race. At least we had some advantage. Or not.
I had no idea what I was doing when I went to my first 12-step meeting on November 18, 1997. Of course, I pretended like I totally knew what I was doing and of course I didn’t raise my hand when they asked if anyone was new.
We decided to start off running so we wouldn’t look like total tools, since the starting line was in the middle of all the action. At least, I assumed people were watching because it’s all about me, right?
I considered myself a local celebrity (in Reno – I know, I know) so of course everyone was watching me, wondering what someone as awesome as I was was doing there. Or so I thought.
The starter pistol shot and we were off! And immediately going uphill.
Quitting drinking was just the beginning. Life didn’t stop for me to get sober. I almost drank at 3 months, got the chicken pox at 4 months, moved to LA at 6 months and wanted to die at 7 months.
We ran until we got to the other side of the hill because people were watching.
Or so I thought.
Then it was easy. There were no obstacles for a while. We thought we were out of the woods.
At 7 months, I got a sponsor and found my posse. I met my best friend in a house meeting sitting next to each other on the floor. I got used to life without hangovers and really started to enjoy being sober.
Until we were in front of a river that we had to cross if we were to proceed. And, if we stayed on the path, we had to jump into it.
My sponsor started to take me through the steps.
Of course, I found the easier, softer way around, just a little bit off the path, but I still got wet.
I did my fourth step, but kept my worst secrets to myself.
Next were sprinklers. Cold and wet. And mud, thick slippery slimy mud. And random puddles.
I identified my character defects and committed to surrendering my shortcomings.
I got through the thick of it and turned around to find Rachel stuck up to her belly in a puddle. We turned back and helped her up. We weren’t leaving her behind. We were doing this together.
At 9 months, I fell apart. I kept going to that Monday night meeting and the women carried me through the tears.
Then there were small mud lakes of varying deepnesses followed by mud hills to crawl up and slide back down into more small mud lakes over and over again. Rachel ended up neck-deep in mud. Then Kristen decided she wasn’t going to do the last one.
“Quitting isn’t an option on the metaphorical mud run!”
She did the last one.
They didn’t let me quit.
We rinsed off in a less muddy lake and continued on to a stupidly steep mountain we had to climb. To lose our footing would mean serious injury. It was pretty treacherous. Halfway up, the mud on Rachel’s tank top started to harden and chafe her skin.
I was wearing a swimsuit under my shirt, so I gave her the shirt off my back, literally.
They loved me until I loved myself.
We forged ahead. It got steeper and steeper. I was struggling to keep my footing and strength – after all, I’ve been sick and weak for months.
Karen noticed me struggling and decided I should run up the hill with her. Umm, resting would make more sense than pushing even harder. I didn’t question it, I ran all the way to the top of the mountain as she encouraged me.
My sponsor pushed me to push myself to really look at my life honestly so I could stay sober.
That is what we call contrary action.
Going downhill was just as hard as going uphill. Karen decided to run downhill. She’s super smart. I let fear win and slid down slowly, which caused more muscle strain and exhaustion than necessary.
I surrendered to that Monday meeting, but I didn’t like any other meetings, so I fought the fellowship. I judged from the back row and found reasons to separate myself rather than jump in.
Next was my nightmare – crawling through muddy metal drainpipes. I have nightmares often about being stuck in a drainpipe. I wake up gasping.
The idea of not drinking for the rest of my life was terrifying.
Instead of acting cool, I told my friends I was scared. I could’ve gone around, but I went through, because the only way to not be conquered by fear is to walk through it, not around it.
Until I learned that the only way to quit drinking was a day at a time. A step at a time.
I emerged from the pipe to three happy cheering faces and a feeling of big accomplishment.
A few more turns and we would see the finish line. They saved some of the hardest obstacles for the end, but the end was in sight. The first one looked so simple. Karen, who was barely muddy and is the sportiest of all of us, forged ahead through what looked like a field covered in thick mud.
A few steps in and she was stuck. Before we knew it, we were all stuck. Karen took off her shoes, or shall I say the mud took them off for her, and she made it to the other side.
Kristen and I took off our shoes and forged ahead.
Then there was a scream.
Rachel was stuck up to her ass in mud. She couldn’t get out. And every time she came close to getting out, she’d fall back in the mud and it would make a huge farting sound.
So, of course, we were laughing hysterically.
Laughter was one of the first things that kept me coming back to meetings. I went to a Friday night speaker meeting for 10 years because they made me laugh. I hadn’t laughed like that in years.
Kristen was finally able to pull her out and we made our way to the other side.
“What’s on my foot? What is that?”
Kristen had something hooked onto her foot. I turned around and saw a fish hook hanging off of her big toe. She was wearing socks – how she managed to keep them on I will never know – and I couldn’t tell if it was poking through her sock or her toe.
I went into full serious pants stealth mode. Although my writing tends to be more serious, I’m very rarely serious – so everyone took notice.
“Do you feel any pain?”
She still didn’t know what I knew – she had been hooked.
She sat and I was right – a HUGE fishhook had pierced the big toe of her sock. It had a barb that prevented me from pulling it out of her sock, so I took the whole sock and fishhook and carried it the rest of the way like my very own Awesome Friend Trophy.
Many times in that first year I wanted to drink. A few times I even walked into the liquor store. If I took that drink, I probably wouldn’t be here today.
It wasn’t over yet. I had another fear to overcome – there was a trash bag waterslide complete with cold water hose, mud and straw – and here’s the kicker – we had to go down face first. I was scared to go down a waterslide face first, so much so that I’ve never done it.
Karen finally got to face some fears too – she hates being cold, and by hate I mean super grumpy mad face hates being cold.
All four of us went down together face first, screaming and laughing all the way.
That entire year was face first. Living face first.
There were a few more drainpipes, a huge mud puddle and a big mud wall and we were done.
We did it. The metaphorical mud run. The first year of sobriety.
There were only two medals left – we got the last two. The race was only a 5k, but it took us over 2 hours. That first year felt like 100 years to me.