I was having a conversation with a friend the other day and she was surprised by a story from my past I was telling her. While I feel like I’m an open book I realized there is still so much I haven’t shared with you and how many learnings there were from my past, so buckle up, because it’s storytime.
I haven’t shared much about my past in DC with you guys because the last thing I want to be is a Debbie Downer. But if I’m being totally honest, the three years I spent there were filled with pain, misery, frustration, extreme isolation, and deep loneliness. I kept these feelings hidden for so long. I would never want to drown others in my deep sorrow.
As painful as my experience there was, the lessons I took away have been a constant reminder of my growth, perseverance, and resilience.
Lesson 1: You can’t relive your past
When I moved back to DC in 2016, I wanted to make friends, build community, find love, buy my first home, and plant real roots in a city that always felt like home. I had spent 10 years living in the District (from age 18-28) and enjoyed some of my happiest moments there as a young adult. I remember driving around Columbia Heights admiring historic town homes, watching old movies at Screen on the Green, and always having lots of friends to go out with. I fondly refer to these times as my “glory days” – filled with fun and endless amounts of red wine.
In my early 30s, living in DC was exactly the opposite of what I had experienced before. I found it extremely challenging to make friends and truly connect with people. I had no community. Online dating was a nightmare. I turned to alcohol to numb my pain… which only aggravated my situation. Even though my drinking was occasional, my blackouts were getting worse and worse. Red wine, a quick fix I constantly relied on, wasn’t cutting it anymore.
Lesson 2: What was fun in my 20’s was a problem in my 30’s
As a “functioning alcoholic” I appeared totally normal to the outside world. I could hold down a job, pay my bills on time, and look completely put together. On the inside, my world was quickly shattering. I was living in a constant cycle of self-harm and always putting myself in toxic relationships, toxic jobs, or toxic living situations. My frequency was always attuned to chaos.
After about one year of living in the city I once loved, I decided to get sober and voluntarily put myself into recovery. It was, by far, the hardest and best decision I have ever made for my emotional and mental health. I wanted to stop drinking because my deepest desire was to create a successful, thriving feng shui business. It was a huge sacrifice that was not only going to change the course of my life, but also change the course of my career.
Getting sober in DC was a tumultuous ride. I was shocked at how many people tried to force me to drink alcohol, after I had told them I didn’t drink (especially men). There was an insanely high amount of judgment when it came to my sobriety…people just couldn’t fathom that I didn’t drink. When I made myself vulnerable and opened up to some people that I was getting sober, I was always asked why I had to go to AA…why couldn’t I just stop drinking? It became very apparent that the people around me had no education on how to treat addiction or alcoholism.
Lesson 3: You’ll come out stronger on the other side
Looking back, I know these were tests from the universe to make me stronger. I also realized that my persistent feelings of isolation and loneliness were not normal. I was stuck in my DC past. I moved there trying to relive my glory days of getting wasted at Wonderland Ballroom and left sober, healthy, and filled with more compassion than I ever could have imagined.
So while DC wasn’t the right fit for me I’m finding my stride, my community and feel like I’m becoming the truest version of myself here in NYC.
Have you guys ever tried to relive your glory days? Or felt drawn to the past because it was a happy time? Send me a message, I’d love to learn more.