Lululemon was my first job outside of a bar or restaurant. When I was hired, I was 28 years old, fresh out of college, and had just moved from my hometown of Waco, Texas to The Woodlands in North Houston. I’ve proudly been rocking my high-end yoga pants for nearly three years now - both in The Woodlands and New York City. This job has been a consistent support system for my sobriety and my coworkers have been some of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders. Here's how the unique work culture has played a key part in my recovery:
As much as I love New York City, I love getting away from it, too. Last week, I traded 30 degrees on the East Coast for 80 degrees in Mexico. I even set a sassy auto-reply for my email account: “Soaking up the sun and binge drinking virgin cocktails in Mexico." And binge drink virgin cocktails, I did. I drank my weight in Mexican Coke and limonadas - no hangovers, no blackouts.
"I’ve always been a 'solve your own problems' kind of gal." - Carrie Bradshaw
Therapy didn’t come to me as an option until August 2016, when I was just over 9 months sober. During the first 9 months of my sobriety, or as I like to call it - BT (“before therapy”), I talked about what I was going through to anyone and everyone who was willing to lend an ear. My go-to person was my therapy-advocating roommate. She listened to me, gave excellent advice, and found gracious ways to sneak in the whole “you should see a therapist” message. I’d get annoyed, but then after the 100th time, it finally sunk in. I realized that my neuroses weren’t so cute after all.
At 14, I was struggling with some family issues and saw a psychiatrist. She diagnosed me with depression and put me on antidepressants. I tried Prozac. Then Zoloft. Then Effexor. I hated them all. I was a stubborn kid who knew everything and I didn’t need medication. At 16, I found what I thought I needed: weed and Smirnoff Ice (#classy, right?). At 18, I took myself off my meds without telling anyone; who needs antidepressants when they’ve got weed and booze? Obviously, I was wrong.
The first time I got high was the best feeling in the world. Calm and relaxation washed over me. Nothing else mattered other than the cloudy bubble I had just created. From that moment forward, I subconsciously decided that cloudiness would be my medication of choice. Smoking weed turned into popping pills… which I stole from my grandmother. Drinking a few Smirnoffs turned into chugging whiskey and hooking up with strangers. This was my life for the next 13 years.
Smoking weed turned into popping pills… which I stole from my grandmother. Drinking a few Smirnoffs turned into chugging whiskey and hooking up with strangers. This was my life for the next 13 years.
With time, my current therapist has helped me identify the underlying issues that led to all those years of self-destruction. Through this experience, I’ve found that I have agitated depression/ high functioning anxiety. This means that I feel like I have to solve every single problem, and if I don’t, I see myself as weak. It also means I fill every moment of my life with “busy-ness,” so I don’t have to feel my own depression. I subconsciously self-destruct - even in sobriety.
But hey, there’s no cure for my own stubbornness. I still choose to self-medicate instead of take antidepressants. Every morning, I’ve prescribed myself 20 minutes of meditation and Holy Basil (an herbal anti-stress supplement). Once a day, I drink Kava tea (an anti-anxiety herbal tea) as needed, and little to no caffeine - I’ve found that caffeine exacerbates my anxiety.
Therapy has really helped me figure out who I am, who I’ve been, and what I’ve been dealing with all along. I am NOT my depression, I am NOT my triggered behaviors, and most importantly, it’s NOT my responsibility to save the world. I wish I’d have taken my mental health more seriously long ago. But if I did that, where would all my stories come from today? (Just kidding!)
I am NOT my depression, I am NOT my triggered behaviors, and most importantly, it’s NOT my responsibility to save the world.
Tawny Lara is a Texan who currently resides in New York City. Her blog, SobrieTeaParty, documents her continuous evolution from a drunk party girl to a sober woman. She feels most alive when she’s exploring activities outside of her comfort zone. When Tawny isn’t writing, she’s studying Spanish, working out, eating tacos, interpreting song lyrics, or all of the above.
Back in my party girl days (years ago), I went to a few concerts. Well, dozens. Okay, more like hundreds. I loved getting drunk and singing along with my favourite bands and musicians. I’d think to myself “OMG! Mick Jagger is like, right there!” Or when I was stoned, I’d think “Man… I’m breathing the same air as Dylan.” While my passion has always been rock n’ roll, my taste in live music has ranged from bubblegum pop to intense hip hop. There was just something about being around live music that made me alive. And by “alive,” I mean “intoxicated.” I’d drink before, during, and after each concert. Since the lines for drinks were so long, I’d often order two beers at once, proudly “double fisting.” Depending on what artist I was seeing, I’d throw weed or coke into the mix too. I’d get so drunk and/or high that I could barely remember the actual shows. I’d forget the songs they played, the people I met, and how I got home. Apparently, “feeling alive” meant feeling nothing at all.
As I go into my second year of sobriety, I decided to follow my passion of personal growth. I chopped my hair off, enrolled in Spanish classes and sketch writing classes, and even went on a couple of dates (that’s a pretty big deal for me, but more on that next time).
Last Friday, I worked 8 hours on my feet at my retail job in SoHo. As much as I love people, it’s emotionally taxing to be “on” for an entire day with a smile on my face. Towards the end of my shift, I was pretty grumpy. On my train ride home, my grumpiness continued when I realized the train had no seats left. I had to stand for 20 more minutes, shoulder to shoulder with stinky strangers in a crowded little box. I stood there, with my eyes closed, picturing myself taking a bath while drinking a big glass of wine. This delusional thought was so relaxing, I may have even smiled. When the train slammed on its brakes, and I had to get off at my stop, it brought me right back to my reality: I. Can’t. Drink. Wine was never even my drink of choice, I was always more of a Jack Daniels straight from the bottle kind of gal (#classy).
This past Friday night, I attended a Yoginis Only (aka Women Only) yoga class at SWEAT Yoga in TriBeCa. This vigorous, heated flow was taught by the lovely Sarrah Strimel. She guided a diverse group of students through an hour-long practice while we rocked out to an all-female playlist: 4 Non Blondes, Madonna, Meredith Brooks, Lady Gaga, and of course, Beyonce.