For the last 20 years, I’ve spent every December 31st thinking about how I can become the healthiest, best version of myself. Realistically, I’ve probably been doing this for longer than 20 years, but I think that the last 20 are the years that stand out the most. January 1st is a false promise of a new beginning, a new you, especially for women. Many of us buy new journals, new planners, and a new set of pens to chart out exactly how we are going to become that perfect version of ourselves. Feeling called out? Trust me, you’re not alone. …

If you know a person who has experienced deep trauma in their lives, they likely have a story (or several of them) that they tell about themselves that keeps them locked in a destructive pattern of self-inflicted abuse. Most of these stories will involve addiction, and then if they’re lucky, recovery. Sometimes, the story will remain, even after the drugs and alcohol are removed. This has been true for me.

I used to tell a story about myself regarding my lack of college education. Every time I thought about pursuing something that I wanted, I didn’t think I was worthy. Take writing, for instance. As long as I have had the ability to form sentences, I have wanted to be a writer. Yet, I have never permitted myself to label myself as such because I had a belief about my lack of education that inhibited me from pursuing writing as a career or even as a hobby. I wasn’t allowed to do it, because I was an uneducated, lazy, undeserving person. These are things I told myself —even after accumulating things that would make most people proud. Five years of sobriety, ten years of employment at one of the best companies in the world, a solid 401k, and a library of books read that would make even the most educated literature snob drool. …

For the first five years of my 20’s, I worked as the manager of a mall information booth in Austin. I had a handful of employees and a random list of duties that changed depending on who was managing me. I reported to the Marketing Director of the mall and they reported to the Mall Manager. It was a strange job, most months were incredibly boring and tedious, but summers were busy and the Christmas season was insane. Without an education, it was a dead-end job, but I made a pretty decent paycheck for someone my age and I was good at it. …

On this morning ten years ago, I woke up and said goodbye to my best (and my worst) friend. After 12 years of attempting to drink like a lady, I was finally willing to surrender to the fact that I was a slave to alcohol and that it was ruining every good thing about my life. I was unwilling to say that I was giving it up for good and told everyone in my life that I was willing to try AA for a year. I even found a sponsor who told me that she would buy me a drink if I still wanted to have one on my year anniversary. Not only do I love a good challenge, I always think that I am the exception to the rule. I was convinced that there was a loophole in AA for me. I was convinced that I wasn’t as bad as everyone else. …

It has been exactly four months since our last meal outside of our house. If you had told me then what our life would look like today, I may have packed my bags and left then. I like to think that I’m not a runner, but deep down in my heart I know that I am. My work schedule tells the truth.

March 9, I sat devouring wings and pizza, instead of taking delight in what would be our last night out for a very long time. I ate my feelings and tried my best to hide my worry. …

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Bike trail in Burlington, VT

When this is over, I want to go to a concert. My last concert was February 28. I sang songs that I loved twenty years ago at the top of my lungs with one of my oldest friends. We were at the end of an era, on the brink of something so wild, and we had no idea.

When this is over, I want to be free of the desire to spend money on things and spend money on experiences instead. I want to wear every piece of clothing in my closet until it falls apart, instead of feeling like I need another black jumpsuit or another pair of shoes. …

All of the empty hotel parking lots and empty airports are getting to me.

I want to lay on the floor of every airport that I’ve hated in my traveling life -

Pray a pleading prayer to whomever is listening to please send back the people.

I will not complain.

I will not roll my eyes.

I will not even let my feelings be hurt by their lack of respect.

None of that matters anymore.

You can have two ice cubes not touching,

you can have four hot chocolates,

you can have three cans of whatever you’d like.

Please come back. …

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Let us pray for moments like this again.

I have to change my password at work every four months. Since 2011, I’ve always tried to pick a password that is a manifestation of things I want. At the end of last year, my password was FREEDOM2020. I was anxious about turning 40 in December, so I chose the word freedom to remind me that there was a whole new world in front of me. A new decade for me, a new decade for the world. 2020. In early February I learned that my friend Amy was calling 2020 “a year of balance, a year of vision.” To which I replied, “Yes! love that. Me too! …

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I take a lot of pictures of the clouds these days.

So much has changed this month. It felt like it happened overnight. Each day gets weirder and weirder. Of all the days that I’ve spent on an airplane in 14 years of flying, yesterday was the strangest of them all. This is a hefty statement because I’ve had some wild days. I’ve given CPR (more than once), I’ve used an AED, I’ve donned an entire PPE kit to clean up the lavatory after an unfortunate bathroom accident involving an adult diaper and a trip to Vegas buffets. Like I said, weird.

Truthfully, the lack of normalcy is what I’ve loved the most about my job. There are bad days, of course. Most of my bad days are usually a reflection of something off within me. As a person in recovery, I’ve come to know myself and be self-aware about things that are bothering me. Usually, if I’m unhappy at work, it has to do with a lapse in taking care of myself. When I find myself not getting the right amount of sleep or not exercising, my ability to let small things go tends to waiver and I find myself taking a lot of things that have nothing to do with me personally. Most of the time, I shine at work. It’s where I am my best self. I hold babies (even though I’m not supposed to), I make friends with anyone who makes eye contact with me. I am an extrovert. I get commendation letters from passengers that tell me I am “exceptional” at my job. …

My name is Lori, and I am an alcoholic. I’m also a flight attendant. I’ve been flying since April of 2006 and I’ve been in recovery since November 1, 2010. I got sober because I was in danger of losing my job. By the time that you read this commentary, I’m sure that many of you will have read the article by Natasha Frost that was published this week on Personally, I was sent the article seven times in less than 20 minutes by friends in the industry and outside of it. People in my recovery circles always ask me if the job is a breeding ground for alcoholism and while I don’t know the answer to the question, it’s something I ruminate on often. To me, it’s much like the question about what comes first…the chicken or the egg? Are you drawn to the job because you have alcoholic tendencies and the freedom of the job makes it easier to hide that part of yourself behind the veil of glamour and secret hotel drinking? Or does the inevitable loneliness of the job sink in, making you believe that you are chained to the issues of alcoholism and depression that the column by Ms. Frost details? Personally, I believe that I was drinking alcoholically long before I got my wings, but the job certainly didn’t help my tendency to over-imbibe. …


Lori Light

I am short and I like coffee.

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