Visiting Vermont: Where the world of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll got me Sober
"How is there a Rock Girl that's so straight edge?" someone asked me recently. I laughed in response- "I don't claim straight edge. I'm the exact opposite. I'm an addict, so I need to be." It's something that I get asked fairly often over the years, working in the world of rock and roll, and my answer has seemingly become so natural.
I'm an addict, coming up on 4 years of sobriety. As a sensitive but all too common topic in today's culture and media, I was hesitant to write about addiction, however I want more to focus on the power of rock music, or music in general, the unbelievably strong influence that it has, and why I love being a Rock Girl so damn much.
A little over 4 years ago, I was at an emotional bottom. What had been a social life of drinking with friends eventually turned in to a nightly routine of pills washed down with booze, and a whole lot of misery. I'll spare you all the details, but on one particular day, I was so low that I found myself moments from suicide, something I had contemplated a few times before. And in that moment, unplanned and miraculously, a song popped up on the radio that pulled me back from the abyss. The lyrics of the song that I had never before heard gripped my body and pulled me out of the darkness, and gave me just enough strength to call my sister for help. By 2 pm that day, I was sitting in my doctor's office.
Music saved my life that day, absolutely. But it continued to do so day in and day out, and still does. Not just for me but for many people that I speak with.
I had recently moved Vermont months before my "bottom," and was working at a music venue that I had previously worked at through some of high school and college. At a time where I was vulnerable, lost, and often feeling judged, uncomfortable, socially anxious, etc. while coming to terms with accepting that I was an addict, I found an escape at that venue. I had a group of coworkers in music who never judged me, and accepted me for who I was. Musicians and the staff were people who had seen it all, who would listen, who made me feel normal and OK in a time when I wasn't.
At the hardest times, particularly in early recovery, I would watch videos on YouTube of David Bowie talk about being an alcoholic and getting sober. I would read about Eric Clapton and recovery. I remember the excitement of seeing Nikki Sixx post about his recovery group on Instagram (@nikkisixxpixx). I watched Oliver Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon talk about going to rehab in his APMAs acceptance speech over and over and over, and writing the album "Sempiternal" from that experience (YouTube: Alternative Press). In times that I felt I had no one, I had song lyrics that helped fill the void. The expression of others who had been through my struggles helped me to understand what I was going through.
At a time in my life where I felt I had nothing and no one (a mix of self-pity and a mix of my depression), I had music. My addiction is a disease that I have to work on day in and day out. It didn't just go away or get better one day. I work with my doctors, support groups, have daily routines, and more, but the biggest savior to me was and still is music. In a place where everything else can fail, music is there.
For that, I absolutely LOVE being a Rock Girl. I'm heading back to Vermont for the day, to attend an event for the old venue I worked at- where I used to go to try and spend at least an hour or two just to stay sober in the only place I fit in- and it's crazy to think about how much life music has brought me. I've been to large rock arenas and rock festivals where I've attended support groups backstage, I talk to artists and music lovers day in and day about addiction, and I get to enjoy each and every day as a Rock Girl.
How has music helped your life?