Sober, but Still a Fool

A year ago, I expected to spend this weekend in Germany celebrating the marriage of a lovely friend at an outstanding winery in the Pfalz. By September, it was clear that a vineyard-soaked European adventure was no longer in the cards. I had stopped drinking, and my world fell apart.

The line about sobriety is frequently something about putting your life back together, or saving what is left of it, or moving out of a hole so deep you cannot imagine seeing the sky again to find that the Earth still exists and that you are in fact a resident. None of those are really my story. I worked in the wine industry. I had an amazing dream of a job selling beautiful wines and working with talented and passionate people. I was stimulated, excited, and deeply devoted to my work. I was pretty happy. But alcoholism does not care if you are happy, nor does it care if you have your life together. It will endeavor to separate you from the things you love, and it will keep you in a place so dark that the joys you do have are unreachable. I was able to stop, to get help, and to begin a journey to wholeness. But I lost everything I cared about. The only thing that remained was my very existence, which was hard to be thankful for without the trappings to which I had become accustomed. 

This weekend I will be planning and packing for Spirit Weavers, an event I didn't even know existed and would have had no interest in when I was drinking. But, almost nine months after putting down my gin and tonic(ssssssssss), I am heading to the Redwoods near Mendocino, CA to meet women from around the globe and share deep medicine and healing. I lost my life, but I was gifted a new one.

My first awakening came as the result of reading too many fantasy books, particularly The Mists of Avalon. In fifth grade, I devoured Marion Zimmer Bradley’s classic retelling of the King Arthur legend from the point of view of the women. The book was - and is - intoxicating. It’s sexy, feminine, powerful, and full of magic. The magic didn't seem so far off from reality, and was certainly less out there than some of the things that would soon enter my world thanks to Harry Potter. The idea that there was a Goddess, that my female nature did not prevent me from having a divine representation, was da bomb (circa 1998, please be kind). I wanted to be a witch. I wanted to study magic, to use healing herbs, and to create ritual. Puberty came and made me desperate to be attractive, which did not include carrying crystals in my Trapper Keeper. I started to keep my fantasy beliefs in the realm of fantasy books. 

By the time I was in high school, it was over. I spent 15 years trying to be normal. And my normal was ugly. I fucked anyone I could. I cheated in school and life. I drank. I drugged. I blew cash I never had on things I’d never need. And I got away with it. I never lost a job due to my behavior, I didn’t get kicked out of school, I did not get caught. I most certainly did not live a magical life.

Then I stopped drinking, and I woke up. Again. It was virtually instantaneous. One moment I’m at a bar on Sixth Avenue downing beer in lieu of lunch and the next I am overwhelmed by sounds and vibes and thirst for a relationship with the Divine Mother and her incarnation in myself. And once I woke up, there were two options: I could embrace this new world, or I could drink it away until I died. There are no other roads for me. If I am sober, I am awake, and with that comes responsibility. I have been given a second chance to live, and with this life comes tools to serve others in need. I am not intuitive and empathetic for my own benefit. My gifts with Tarot and energy and other fun friends are not just to amuse myself. I have a life so I can help others. 

I will venture to the Redwoods instead of the vineyards. This morning I tuned in around Spirit Weavers and the feeling that this event is somehow the culmination of my initial steps into a sober, magical life. I pulled a series of Tarot cards, and The Fool dominated my reading. The Fool is an invitation to leap, to jump, to act while in the full graciousness of the Goddess. The Fool can do no wrong because he is completely supported by the Universe. So, I leap with the full faith that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I've always spent a lot of time around wood, but it tended to be dead and stained with whiskey. Now I will go to the source and learn from their deep roots and continue my climb out of the ditch of my own creation. I will take this trip, I will learn and grow, and I will share my experience so that I may be of service to others in need. And if carrying crystals makes me less attractive to you, you can go fuck yourself. 


Sarah Chappell