Conversation with Nancy Carr
Located in Naples, Florida, Nancy wrote and released “Last Call, A Memoir” last year, which is also the name of her blog (link here). The purpose of both is to share her recovery and help others. She has been sober since 2004 and likes to blog and let others know its ok to be scared and ask for help.
Blog here: Last Call
Kitchen Table Conversation
Hi Nancy, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed! I’ve read some of your posts over the last year and have found them so inspiring! Thank you for taking the time to sharing your journey at Liv’s Recovery Kitchen’s table.
Liv: In your story (link here) you talk of that first time you drank – age 13 at a teenage drinking party in Avalon, NJ – and that you were forever chasing that buzz thereafter. As an alcoholic, your drinking progressed, and you describe the first time you used both alcohol and cocaine as having arrived – what do you mean by that?
Nancy: Yes, those two drugs were the best combination for me. I didn’t feel boozy drunk and I felt normal. As I think most alcoholics and cocaine addicts will attest to – the cocaine made us feel great and it let us drink more. I could go for a day or two on a bender and still feel ok, when in actuality is was the worst thing I could do to my body, mind and soul – but at the time I didn’t care and if I did care and want to stop, I just didn’t give it much thought as the those were the two substances that made me the most happy. It was a vicious cycle.
Liv: In your bio (link here), you talk of writing during a time when you knew alcohol was having such a negative effect upon your life —in which you felt it was spinning out of control, but you were lost in terms of what to do and ruled by an overwhelming sense of fear which paralysed you — and this formed the basis of your memoir. For those who haven’t read your book, what were some of the things you wrote about at the end of your drinking days? And just what did the writing give you?
Nancy: I mainly wrote about how I was feeling during the last few months of my drinking, mainly how I felt after I got my 2nd DUI. I knew that my life was falling apart and I was told to go to an AA meeting, (by my attorney) but I didn’t want to. I wanted to sit in my apartment and drink my box wine, smoke my cigarettes and watch “Sex and the City” reruns and bemoan my sad sack of a life. I was too scared to really tell anyone my truth. I was in too much fear for sharing my fears with anyone else. It wasn’t until I went to my first meeting that I really started to take a good look at my life and how I could get help.
When I started writing my Memoir, I didn’t know I was writing my story. I was writing in my journal at night, before I got sober, and complaining about how F’d up my life was. It was during the process of getting sober that I started writing out my first step, which then turned into this hodge podge of a manuscript, which then turned into my story/memoir (after working with an Editor for a few months).
Liv: Your turning point you described as receiving your second DUI and undertaking the advice of your attorney, to attend a meeting to enable the judge to look favourably on your case before the hearing. You say that you didn’t look back. Was the DUI consequence sufficiently devastating enough to swing the scales away from destruction and toward recovery, or was it something else?
Nancy: I truly was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was 37 years old and I was just spent. After my first meeting I ran home and drank 2 bottles of wine. I didn’t go back to AA for a full week and in that week I had my moment of clarity and I remember that meeting and I felt HOPE from that one meeting. And for whatever reason, I didn’t drink one day and went to a meeting and as scared as I was, I just started doing what the women told me to do. Get a sponsor, 90 meetings in 90 days, work the steps, and keep coming back.
Recovery & Hope
Liv: A year later, and one year sober, you had written 250 pages and formed the memoir we know as Last Call; which you describe as a raw and honest account of your alcoholism. What I love about your book is its mission: the sharing of your story to help others, specifically young woman, so they too know there is HOPE – what did hope look like to you then?
Nancy: After one year clean and sober hope to me was freedom. Freedom to be who I was meant to be and Freedom to love myself and be okay with who I was. I did the steps in my first year and kept working on myself and each day it got easier. Hope for me was never giving up and keep going forward.
Liv: And what does hope look like today?
Nancy: Hope today is different than 12 years ago, in that I’ve learned so much about myself through therapy, step work and others that have walked before me. I’m finally fully comfortable in my own skin and I can share my truth with others and be loving to myself and others around me. Hope is much more of a verb to me today vs.12 years ago as it was more of a feeling and encouragement in hearing others stories.
Liv: Is there a particular reason why you mention reaching out to young women?
Nancy: Great question and yes! Because if someone had told me in my younger days that a life without alcohol and drugs does exist – I may have listened. But I didn’t have any sober role models or people in my life to show me there was another way to live. Not everyone I hung out with were alcoholics, but they all drank. So knowing there was a whole other sober community out there that was fun and understood me was a big discovery to me. Knowing that could have saved me a few years of misery. I think there is a plethora of young women today drinking, drugging, sleeping around and hoping to get saved by Him, or the new car, or the geogrpahic. That was me. I wanted to calm down and get married and have a normal life – like everyone else. I just didn’t know how to do that without drinking and drugging.
Liv: You said that you went back to that first meeting a week later – have meetings formed the basis of your recovery? What does your recovery look like?
Nancy: Yeah, I am one of those AA folks. I got sober in the program, and I still manage my program of recovery in the rooms. I sponsor girls and I have a sponsor, and I go to 3-4 meetings a week, and I also go to Al-Anon, which helps me take care of me, and not everyone else. People pleasing is a defect of mine, so whatever it takes. I just started doing TM (Transcendental Meditation) and I’m incorporating that into my life today, in addition to prayer and step work and being of service – it’s been great.
Liv: I love the phrase you used about your ego not being your amigo – can you explain this phrase and what you have learned about your ego in recovery?
Nancy: EGO= edging god out. I first heard that phrase when I was living in San Diego and I didn’t really know what that meant until I was a couple years sober. But I never knew how ego driven I was and how much that affected me and my responses to life. Today I try to take my ego out of the equation and ask myself, “How would god want me to act?”
Liv: You wrote an article about Sobriety Delivering What Drinking Promised (link here), just what has it delivered?
Nancy: More than I ever could have imagined. I had no idea that getting clean and sober would make me happy. The freedom I have today is like no other. I have moved around a lot in sobriety, I’ve met amazing people and I’ve been able to travel and accomplish things I never thought possible. I was able to get married (to another alcoholic) and I get to share my journey with someone else that gets me. I used to always want to go and “do” things before I got sober. I never left the barstool because all my money went to booze and drugs. Today I get to travel and have choices on who I want to be and where I want to work and I get to be accountable, and also be a woman with dignity and integrity. I never had any of that before sobriety.
Liv: You talked of the amazing online blogging community which supports your recovery – what do you think differs in the online community to, say, fellowship in a meeting sense?
Nancy: Gosh, there are just so many more perspectives and different opinions and resources that are available to you in the cyber community. More so than sitting in a 12 step meeting. It’s a different feeling when you are reading someone’s story and hearing their angst and learning about them as a person. It has a more intimate feel to it and you get connected to others that you ordinarily wouldn’t know. We all have this very cool bond, because at the end of the day we all just want to help one another. Which is also true for 12 step meetings- but it’s a different way of connecting. I think both ways offer a varied sense of a sober community.
Liv: How does blogging enhanced your recovery?
Nancy: It enhances it from the standpoint that I’m sharing my recovery in a more tangible way and how it’s impacting my day to day. It’s given me a new outlook on how I feel and think about my recovery – more so than in years past when I wasn’t blogging. It’s a way of me getting in touch with who I am and having that spiritual bond with me, and then in sharing that message with others I get a sense of feeling more complete.
Liv: You recently wrote a post on women and alcoholism, which was really interesting (link here) – can you describe what unique needs women have in their approach to recovery?
Nancy: I actually didn’t write that post, my guest blogger Rose Lockinger wrote it, and she did an amazing job! As far as unique needs for women in recovery, I personally think it’s really important that we do a lot of self-care and stay close to other women when we are in recovery and realize that we need to be gentle with ourselves.
Sobriety and Weddings
Liv: A subject which is topical at the moment as we’re approaching summer is weddings! You wrote an article about how to stay sober at weddings (link here) – what would be your top three tips to someone new in recovery and attending a wedding where alcohol will be flowing?
Nancy: 1 Bookend the event by calling someone before and then again after and even call them during the event if need be.
- Bring a sober friend with you (if you can)
- Drive your own car, stay for as long as you can and leave when you start feeling uncomfortable. You are the only one that takes care of your sobriety, so it’s important to safeguard, especially in early recovery.
Top Recovery Tools
Liv: What are your top five recovery tools?
Nancy: One of my motto’s: A drink isn’t going to make anything better
- Pick up the 100 lb. phone and call someone (sponsor, sober friend)
- Pray and give it to God
- Get to a meeting
- Work the steps
Thank you so for taking part in Kitchen Table Conversations.