I am trying to think of a really witty introduction to this week’s Recovery Rocks interview with Danielle Stewart. But I’m not going to be able to think of anything better than what she’s written herself:
I am a stand-up comedian, writer, and ex-girlfriend to countless unemployed “men.” I enjoy isolating, binge watching Law & Order SVU, and eating popcorn. I host a weekly podcast called #TheDaniStew Experience and have a blog that I update regularly called Prayers and Medication. After hitting a gnarly bottom in sobriety back in 2009, I have become quite passionate about recovery and have become a contributing writer for AfterPartyChat.com.
See what I mean?
I obsessively stalk Danielle on Twitter because she is ‘piss your pants’ funny and I think you should too.
1) Describe your ‘rock bottom.’
I like to say that I hit bottom and then skidded there for a few years. But the catalyst for my first outreach call, which led to my first 12-step meeting, was in November of 2003. After a series of lower companions, I began dating a guy who was very promising. I didn’t want to make the same mistakes with him that I had made in previous relationships. After 2 months of cautious dating, seeing him about once a week for dinner, I drunk dialed him. And I don’t mean I called him at 10 pm with a buzz on, I mean I called him shitfaced at 3 in the morning looking for answers as to why we hadn’t had sex yet. To his credit, he handled it extremely well, kind of laughed it off, but when I woke up the next morning I was mortified. It was not a side of myself I wanted him to see, in fact, it wasn’t a side of myself I was particularly interested in seeing. And even though this non-event wasn’t in the ballpark of a deal breaker, I saw the signs that I was beginning to lose control. I knew it was only a matter of time before I was in his passenger’s seat, with urine soaked tights, trying to make my vomit go out the window. So I called an old friend who suggested I join them at a meeting. The rest is history.
2) What were your first 30 days of recovery like?
Not bad, kind of pink cloud-ish. I am a task-oriented person so once I made the decision to not drink for 30 days, which was my initial commitment, it became a task-at-hand I was determined to accomplish. I remember I had this calendar, one of those 8 ½ x 11 ones that go month by month, and I began marking each day I didn’t drink with a big, black “X”. This made me feel like it was some kind of a game and I enjoyed tracking my progress. However, at 90 days I had full-on breakdown. That pink cloud turned dark and stormy pretty quickly.
3) What are the best things that have happened to you since you got clean/sober?
There are three amazing things that have happened to me as a result of sobriety.
The first is that I was finally able to get up the courage to try stand-up comedy, which I ended up pursuing as a career. My whole life people told me I should be a comedian, and deep down inside I knew that was my calling, but I was completely controlled by my addictions and my fear. The grandest of esteem-able acts, getting sober, gave me the strength to walk through the experience of getting on stage for the first time, and then one night at a time after that. Which brings me to the second best thing; I found myself through the pursuit of stand-up comedy. For that, I will be always be grateful. Up until that point I had been mediocre at everything –school, sports, work, relationships, family—but with stand-up I had found something I was good at. It gave me self-esteem, something I had never had before—ever. It was life changing for me. The third best thing that has happened is the gift of serenity. That sounds a lot hokier than I am comfortable with but it’s just the honest to God truth. I have had my ass kicked in sobriety—life on life’s terms has pulverized my ego into a shit pate. There have been so many tears, so many days spent in debilitating fear and countless nights spent in fetal position, but the end result has been a complete surrender. This is what it took for me but I am grateful that I stuck it out because I now know what serenity feels like. Not that I feel that way all the time, but it’s safe to say I feel that way half the time, and from where I came from, that is more than good enough for me.
4) If you could go back in time to you when you were drinking/using what would you tell yourself?
For the love of God, smoke opium! Because one day you will get sober and forget you never tried it. Also, have more threesomes and sleep with at least one black man.
5) What have been the most useful things you have learnt about yourself since getting sober/clean?
That I am an alcoholic and that is the reason I made so many of the choices I have. I am not an evil person, I am not stupid and I am not a total pussy, I am just an alcoholic who gets sick if I don’t stay on top of my disease. That has made life make so much more sense.
6) Tell me about something wonderful that happened to you recently that never would have happened if you had been drinking.
Over the past year, I have written for two television shows and shot a comedy special with a few other fantastic comedians. When I was drinking I couldn’t accomplish flossing on a regular basis. Ok fine, I still can’t, but I can safely say I would not have had the privilege of experiencing much beyond the invention of Heineken light if I was still using.
7) What are your favorite recovery slogans?
“My ego is not my amigo” and “two sickies don’t make a wellie.”
8) And lastly, why does ‘recovery rock?’
At the risk of sounding brainwashed by some new age cult, being in a 12-step recovery program has not only blessed me the gift of choice but it has given me a much-needed structure and design for living. I was relieved of the craving to drink alcohol years ago but my lack of coping skills and inability to live life on life’s terms would be completely unmanageable if it weren’t for tools like 12-step meetings, step work, therapy, other alcoholics to talk to, and the ability to be sober and show up when I need to. Life freaking terrifies me but thanks to the recovery community I have been able to walk through most of it with grace and dignity.
And that totally rocks.