Being on the road had given me a sense of purpose. I took great care of myself (most of the time) because finally, in my adult life, I felt like I was worthy. At last, I had a career to be proud of, and it allowed me to put food on the table for my family. And while I’m actually grateful for the pause of the past year—I’ve never seen things more clearly— that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to wade through some absolute shit.
I was worried that my career, which had finally taken off after a decade of work, would become a casualty of the pandemic. Canceled work and the thought of missing years in my prime turned regular days into one long, lost weekend. My drinking ebbed and flowed throughout quarantine, as it always has through my life. I drank because I was worried about the state of the world, I drank because I was bored, I drank because I missed tour, I drank because I was unemployed, I drank because everyone else drinks. And I drank even though I didn’t really want to.
I took many long breaks, as I’ve always done, sometimes even months at a time. I told myself I was in control, because many times I was. But as my 30s rolled on, I felt run down, and I knew my drinking was fueling my depression. It was always there, below the surface, trying to say hello. I drowned the voice and continued to ignore it, just like the bystanders in my dream had ignored me as I sank in the banks of the mud and the clay.
So, on January 8th, 2021, I had my last drink. That was the day I sat down and opened a book—Quit Like a Woman, by Holly Whitaker. I started reading it with the thought that I would take a few months off drinking and clear my head. But as the book went on, I realized how wonderful it would be to just give it up forever. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was being told the truth about alcohol—a narcotic that is made from ethanol. I’d always known drinking was bad for my health, but this was eye-opening on so many levels. I can’t quite paraphrase it, so I’ll just say that it’s a powerful book for anyone looking to reassess their relationship with alcohol. (It’s also a powerful book on feminism and fucking the system, but I would recommend it to men and women and non-binary people alike.) And after reading Holly’s book, it wasn’t even hard to quit. I find that I don’t miss alcohol at all.
I’ve figured out a version of not drinking that works for me. I’m not attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, and I haven’t apologized to the people in my life. As women, we are always saying we are sorry. The only one I feel the need to beg forgiveness from is myself.
I don’t identify as an alcoholic, and I have no regrets for the decisions I’ve made in my life. I believe everything happens for a reason. But I also believe that quitting drinking has made parenting and work easier. I can’t wait to return to traveling and playing shows, but in the meantime, I’m enjoying life like never before. I feel so healthy and full of energy. My mind is clear and my heart is full. And while it’s no one’s business but my own, I am still smoking grass occasionally. I won’t apologize for that either.
Last night, as my family and I sat gathered around the dinner table, we took hands, we bowed our heads in prayer. Judah, my son, began: “Dear God, thank you for all of this food, for our house, for my baby sister Ramona. Please help all of the poor people and give them food and don’t let them be cold in the snow.” He added one more offering. “And please help the coronavirus end because we are strong enough now. Amen.”