Lisa F. Smith is someone that I had read about a few months ago as her new Memoir, “Girl Walks Out of a Bar” was about to be released and the early reviews were garnering some great attention. As being a sober author and writer, Lisa and I had also connected via email and have shared some of our experiences. I’m currently half-way through her book and its uncanny how many similarities we have in our stories and throughout our lives. I highly encourage anyone who is looking for another great recovery Memoir, to grab Lisa’s quickly. Lisa and I have made coffee plans to meet FTF at the She Recovers event in NYC in a few weeks, and I’m looking forward to meeting another writer in recovery that has been able to share her story in such a raw and honest manner. Its all about touching others through our voices, and she’s one of those voices to me.
What was your relationship with Alcohol/Drugs/Food before you got clean and sober?
Obsessive. Completely and totally obsessive. As a young kid, I started self-medicating with food what I now know was an undiagnosed depression and anxiety disorder. I found sweets soothing and would scarf down as much as I could whenever I could, usually in secret. Not much later, by the time I was 12, I had discovered that alcohol could quiet my brain even more effectively, so I lived for the opportunities to drink. Then the drugs, mostly cocaine, came along later. Progressively over the years, alcohol and drugs came to own my brain. I woke up thinking, “when can I drink today?” By the end, the only answer was, “right now.”
What is your relationship with Alcohol/Drugs/Food today?
I have been sober since April 5, 2004, so I’m on the outs with alcohol and drugs, hoping to keep it that way, one day at a time. Food will always be tricky for me. I’m very strict about what I eat because once I have that first brownie, it’s hard for me not to have five. Sound familiar?
How were your relationships with your family before you got clean & sober?
Great, if I forget the part about me completely deceiving them into thinking I was a happy and healthy person for the 10 years that I drank daily. We were close, but I was living in New York City and my parents and brother, along with his family, were in New Jersey. That made it easier for me to keep them in the dark about my alcoholism and cocaine addiction. I hid behind the excuse that I was always “working” and “so busy.”
How are those relationships today?
Actually real and no longer covering up a giant lie. The ability to be honest in all aspects of my life, particularly in my relationships with close family and friends, is one of my favorite things about being sober. I feel like I can actually be known for me now, instead of creating the fake persona I was trying to live up to. For the first time, I feel like being me is enough. And I’m hugely grateful that after learning of my years of lies, my family has stood by me and been a huge source of strength and support in my recovery.
Regarding your prior romantic relationships – how did your addiction affect those?
Disastrously. For the most part, I made terrible choices in romantic partners. And when I did make good choices, things never worked out because I was a terrible choice for a normal person to make.
What is your current relationship status today and how has this changed since being sober?
I’ve been married for 8 ½ years to someone who has never seen me drink. He’s an occasional social drinker who would be totally bombed if he ever drank what I used to consider breakfast. He’s one of those people I will never fully understand – someone who can literally take it or leave it. When I told him about my addiction and sobriety (after about five dates) he said, “Well, you’ll be a cheap date.” Seriously.
How did you feel your relationships with friends and co-workers are now that you clean and sober?
Like every other relationship, they’re just more honest. My friends have been incredibly supportive and thoughtful. But now we have lunch instead of dinners and I don’t go to parties where much drinking is happening, unless I have a really compelling reason to show up. I have different co-workers now because I changed jobs almost a year into sobriety. They’ve always known me as someone reliable and steady, so that’s a big change from before, when I used to call out sick and work from home whenever possible.
Do you have a relationship with a HP, God or Universe that guides you?
If so, how does that help you in your recovery?
Yes, I have a HP, which I think of as God, although not a specific religion’s God. Really just a force greater than myself. It helps me tremendously in recovery because it gives me relief from the notion that I can (and should) control things, from situations to people. I feel like if I show up, take the next right action and let go of the results, HP will take care of the rest. I may not like how it gets taken care of, but it’s not up to me, so I need to live in acceptance and never lose sight of gratitude.
Do you have relationships with pets and if so, how has that helped with your recovery?
No pets for me.
How is your relationship today with Society at Large? And what have you been able to contribute?
My relationship with Society at Large is pretty good these days, I think. My main contribution is the speaking and writing I’ve been fortunate enough to do in connection with my memoir, Girl Walks Out of a Bar. I was so lucky to survive my addiction, and then so fortunate in my recovery. Because I felt so alone and isolated in my addiction, even though I knew that it couldn’t be just be me, I really wanted to help the next person feel less alone. And that will only happen when we break the stigma around addiction and discuss it openly. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do my part in trying to chip away at that stigma.
Lisa is a writer and lawyer in New York City. She is the author of GIRL WALKS OUT OF A BAR, her memoir of high-functioning addiction and recovery in the world of New York City corporate law. Lisa’s writing has been published in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, AfterPartyMagazine.com, and Addiction.com. She is passionate about breaking the stigma of addiction and mental health issues. She lives in New York City with her husband, Craig.