Edgy? Hell, I was OVER the Edge!

Telling those you love that you are going to AA is a real challenge for the “newcomer.” (At least it was for me) I didn’t even want to say it to myself much less to someone else!

Not So Edgy…

My mom and I have a great relationship.  I know I am fortunate and I must say it wasn’t always that way.  (That is a subject for another day).  As the years wore on my mom and I started spending more time together.  We live two hours away from each other and have a family camp that we meet at often.  So even though we do live a distance from one another we do see each other and talk on the phone almost every day.  She has seen quite a lot of me in these past 70 “chem-free” days.

Stopping the Lies

Since I spend so much time with my mother, I have been “sneaking around” for years.  Stashing my booze in places she wouldn’t find it.  Kinda felt like I was in high school!  If she found my booze what would I say? “No Mom, I am holding it for a friend.”  Say what?  We would drink together at dinner or a celebratory drink when we saw each other at camp.  So it wasn’t like she cared if I drank.  But I knew if she knew, HOW I drank and HOW MUCH I drank and HOW OFTEN I drank she would be horrified, disappointed and VERY anxious.  I never wanted that.  But I digress.  I decided relatively early on, I needed to tell her it was AA Meetings I was going to and not just taking off to go to some bar (which could have been the case).  She didn’t ask much at the time but what could I expect?  I honestly – even now believe that she had no idea that alcohol was running my life.  I am sure she felt that I drank too much but what equals “TOO MUCH” ?

“THOSE” People

In her “Mom sort of a way” she did her on research on what AA was.  She has a friend that is a nurse and I think she has asked her about it.  I would rather her not tell her friend I am in AA, because she is somewhat of a “Chatty Cathy” but if talking to her friend that is a big AA supporter apparently gives her some peace as to my new habits then, hey that is a good thing!  Every once in a while she may drop a “those people are good to each other,”  “they really support each other”, stuff like that.  I answer the questions she asks me honestly and there are more of them now that time has gone on.  This past weekend as I had to do a “command performance” for work-and she was there, she said, “I am so proud of you.  I am so proud that you are doing AA.”

After we got home

We were talking about the day and I asked her if she thought I had changed since I started going to AA or just that I have stopped drinking all together.  She said, “Well you LOOK better, so healthy and content.  And not so ‘edgy.’ ”

I found that interesting that she used the term ‘edgy.’  NO DOUBT I was edgy.  Edgy was becoming my middle name, I felt paranoid all the time, almost like someone was going to shoot me out of a cannon or was watching everything I was doing in order to criticize me.  Or worse yet, find out I was a drunk and completely spiraling out of control.

Every Day is a New Day, A Fresh Start

In our early morning meetings there is a man that frequently attends and is new in the program like me.  He says that almost every time he speaks and he is right.  I am so happy that I don’t feel like people can see my heart pounding from outside my chest anymore because it isn’t.  And when I do find myself getting a bit “squirrelly” I just stop and think and slow down the madness and don’t run for a drink!!  It is a new day, BRING IT.

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Wolf Pack

Dominancy and superiority is everywhere.  There is always some “tipping point” where some people are trying to jockey for the top of the heap or “King of the Hill.”

Mother Nature

Being a person that has raised dogs and been around nature all of my life, I watch how animals act. How they act when they are alone, how they act when they are with others their own kind.  It never seems to fail that “somebody” is looking to be “in charge” or “bigger than”  “better than” “smarter than” the rest.  In the animal kingdom there are no doubts how the dominate one is determined.   In some cases this process ends up with the weaker one being killed.  It is much more complicated with humans and far less honest.

My Own Singleness of Purpose

I don’t want to drink today.  That is my one goal.  If I can do that, then I have been successful.  Everything else I may accomplish today is icing on the sobriety cake. As I am still very new in the program, I am starting to see new things at meetings I never noticed before.  Some of these things I don’t like.  I tend to shrug it off because I am not at meetings to concern myself with other people’s politics or their showboating.

We Are All “Bozos On the Bus”

I have heard this term used before.  It means we all are the same.  We are all working to be “One Day At A Time” successful.  Perhaps this is my way as a newcomer feel equal to someone with long term sobriety?  I do believe that we are all equal.  Recently, we have heard, there has been a string of people with long term sobriety, 15 years or more that “went back out.”  So this is a serious reminder that I have to be diligent.  NO. MATTER. WHAT.  Always remain teachable. Always be thankful for the treasure of sobriety. Never think that I am  better than anyone else in the room.  For I am just a “Bozo on the bus.”

Old Timers

These folks are great resources, great people, great friends.  But some have let that “old timer” label go to their head.  “We are not saints.”  Nope, not even someone with 35 years sobriety, that person knows only what works for them and can provide experience, strength and hope just like I can, from their own point of view.  When there are a couple in the room at the same time, sometimes it happens that there is a “holier than thou” attitude, lots of feathers ruffling, etc.  But that cannot matter to me.  I am focusing on my single goal of sobriety, not getting lost in other people’s drama and working on being the best person I can be-one day at a time.

He Said “WHAT?”

I have been to 77 Meetings in 62 days.  Certainly not an old timer.  My father always said 80% of success is just showing up, I wonder what “success” is?

She Cried

A woman that often sits next to me, we will call her Alice M.  Lately, we have gotten to be a bit closer, I have given her rides to meetings because she lost her license.  She has had to deal with a lot more than just getting sober in her life.  She has had to stop drinking, deal with her driver’s license loss, potential jail time for a first offense and a risk on her professional license.  None of which have I had on my plate.  She shared that with the group and she and I have talked about it.  She is sober 9 months. (7 months more than me.)  She is quiet.  She is a very nice person that encourages others. Yesterday when she shared, it was like a dam broke. She really cried. I am not sure where it came from but since she was sitting next to me and I put my hand on her while she told her latest challenge.  I had never heard her share like that before, even when it was just she and I in my car together.  She was really down.

Charlie Brown’s Christmas Tree

Remember when all the kids in Charlie Brown’s Christmas went over to a bigger tree, undressed it and then dressed the sad looking tree and it turned into a beautiful tree made with love?  Well, that is what it is like with our group when someone is sad, everyone gathers round and lifts the person up and they feel loved.  No one fixes their problem but the person feels accepted and supported.  As our friend quietly sobbed there were lots of hugs and numbers given to her and later on in the day she and I talked and later that night she sent me a text of thanks.  I think we both felt good at the end of the day.

Today

It was a big meeting (at least by our standards at 7:30am) and the reading really sparked a lot of people’s hearts and heads.  There was lots of sharing.  My friend again shared and once again she was being honest and though it was not as emotional as yesterday, she really was being very open with the group and I was happy to see that she was making progress.  Another long sober man, we will call him Steve R.,  shared and many of us newer people felt like we were all in the same boat, fighting the demons together.

Raining on the Parade

Then it happened.  One long sober old timer, we will call him Bill J. , decided it was his job to start ordering people as to how they should feel and how they shouldn’t share with the group, what should be shared with a sponsor or one on one with a contact.  He proceeded to sound judgmental and preachy.  I didn’t know where that was coming from but I just chalked it up to other inappropriate bossy shares of his and discounted him, (I know this is probably wrong but it is how I handle boundary making.)  The whole room shut down.  My friend Alice M., was horrified at herself.  She took his comments (Bill J.’s)  as directed at her.  The other old timer (Steve R.) was also floored, thinking perhaps his share was out of line.

And  I Thought I Was Safe Here

I found Alice M. and told her I didn’t think for one minute she was inappropriate in her sharing. I was glad she did. The leader of the meeting approached her and assured her that she felt the same way I did.  And just because Bill J. has been sober for a long time (since 1977 he constantly mentions), doesn’t give him the right to tell anyone how they should feel. And as a long sober individual it didn’t make him a good role model necessarily. AA Meetings of our type are discussion meetings and nothing that she or anyone else shared today was “off limits” or “inappropriate” except maybe the sermon from Bill J.

Where there is people, there is imperfection

Chapter 5 of the Big Book says and we read it in How it Works “…Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. Neither the newcomer or the old timer.  “Take what you need and leave the rest.” I have heard that said and I will – one day at a time.

Self-Centered…HUH?

Today was a big day for me.  It was “Yellow Chip” day.  60 Days and no booze.  I was especially happy to snap up that chip today because I have had some challenges recently.

Sunday Mornings At the Shelter

Any day you go to a shelter, it can be a real crap shoot.  I mean this with all respect possible but the reality is, an emergency shelter is just that – and the folks with the emergencies can have emergencies that some of us can’t even fathom.  Sundays, the AA Meeting  is at 9am and there are a lot of folks that attend the meeting that are not patrons of the shelter but we integrate with them.  Many of the shelter patrons would not otherwise be able to attend a meeting if it wasn’t held there. 

Lots of Sobriety

Another new term that I have come to know.  There are many folks at that Sunday Meeting with many. many years of sobriety that us “newcomers” can listen to and get strength from.  And from what they tell me, the newcomers remind the “old timers” just how fragile sobriety is and that working for sobriety is how you keep it.  

The 12 and 12

Today’s reading was about the 12 and 12 – which is a book that is about the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions.  The part we read out loud today was Step 5.  Step 5:  “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  Well, if you have been reading my blog, then you will know that I fired my Sponsor and don’t have one today.  So even though I have heard about Step 5, read it through several times I haven’t done Step 5 work.  I haven’t finished Step 1 and 2 yet!  But today was Step 5.

Sharing

As usual, people shared around the room.  And as usual, the information shared was all over the place.  But one thing was paramount. A person needs to “unload or get loaded” was the term used.  Meaning that a person needs to confess all that they can in order to move on. Or risk sobriety.  I like to think about what causes my bad choices. Alcohol being one of them.  Am I going to be able to do this? All of a sudden something popped into my head.  TRUST.  How can unload anything when I am just this minute saying in front of all these people that I have problems trusting people, much less telling my secrets to “…one other person the exact nature of” MY “wrongs?”    

“I’m Sorry But We Are Out of Time”

I was last to share and still sort of buzzing in my chair of the revelation that just happened.  I am very good with secrets, lock them up inside me, I believe someone’s story told to me is GOLD and is to be held as priceless.  NEVER to be told to anyone else.  I think I feel like that is because I expect that in return. In fact, I have dissolved friendships when someone has violated my trust and lost friends in my life because I have refused to spill my guts about someone else.  Maybe I will learn through this process that that expectation may be unfair but we will see what happens when we get there.  As in every AA meeting, I have been to, the chips were laid on the table and described and I was able to go get my 60 day yellow chip.  A roar of support came from the group as I picked it up, I got hugs and handshakes. THEY were with me.

Fear

As I was leaving, one of the old timers came up to me and said, “Congratulations I am proud of you and here is some homework, go look up Self Centered Fear.”   Once I got home I looked it up.  Here is what I found.  As I said above, I like to know what causes things, why I do things.  What is the real reason.  Looks like I have more homework to do.

The Messenger

To me, there is nothing worse in the world than listening to someone tell me how to live my life.  It is my life and I am an adult and I don’t want to be told how to live it.  I also want to make sure that my new life doesn’t get stuffed down anyone else’s throat.

My Old Friends

I understand when people in meetings call their friends, “Drinking Buddies.”  I have some of them myself. Many of these stories from others in the meetings say, “they really weren’t my friends after all.”  I am sure this is true in their case and I have no reason to disbelieve these stories.  My story is a little different.  I do have “friends” that are just “drinking buddies.”  But I cannot say that all my friends are just “drinking buddies.”  It is kinda like Facebook.  All of my Facebook friends are not real friends, in fact, some of these people I don’t even know at all!  But just because some of them are strangers doesn’t justify generalizing that they all are. Same goes with “drinking buddies.”

Some Don’t Know

I don’t feel it necessary to post on Facebook or anywhere else that I am going to AA.  That is what the anonymous means.  I also haven’t driven up and down the road proclaiming it to the neighborhood.  I have told some family as well as some friends.  Some of those friends are drinkers, a few of them heavy drinkers.  We have talked since I started going to AA but we haven’t talked about AA or the meetings.  We talk about our lives, we talk about what is happening in them.  During these visits I am not drinking.  Most of the time they are.  We don’t even discuss the fact that I am not drinking. There is a lot more to our relationship than what we are drinking.

I Have Hope

I have hope that I will keep living life one day at a time and without booze.  I hope that I can keep my eye on the prize and focus on the triggers that cause my alcohol escape hatch.  I hope that I will stay humble and not evangelize the “evils of drinking.”  I hope that if and when anyone of my friends that knew me in my party days need help, know they can come to me because of how I am living and not how I am talking.  I pray for them as I live one day at a time.

Calm Before the Storm

Earlier this week, I found myself in a very contented place.  My head was clear and my heart was light.  I was even singing my way to a meeting.

The Music Stopped

Yesterday started like every other day.  I have been sleeping alot better than I was just a few weeks ago.  You see, before I quit drinking my sleeping was just horrendous.  I would sleep for a couple hours, wake up and have am impossible time getting back to sleep.  My friends said it was menopause, I would be sweating in the night and my head was turning ’round and ’round, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Then of course I started having a little “something” to help me get back to sleep.    My earlier blog posts (linked above) address this whole situation.  Anyway, I slept through the night, it was a cool morning, I got up, did my normal routine, went to the early meeting.  Felt okay.  It had occurred to me the day before yesterday that I was wandering around in euphoria.  Just happy about everything and took everything that came my way with a smile.  That wasn’t yesterday.

Got Down To Business

Went to work, no big blow ups, worked on a project with a workmate and that went well too.  But as the afternoon rolled on I started feeling deflated for some reason.  I then unpacked some boxes (I moved a while ago.)  Opened up some boxes and there was my past. Photos of happy times with my then husband.  Photos of me with my dogs, times before alcohol started running my life.  My face was so free of the pain and of course it was younger then.  I stacked up the photos and put them aside but my heart had sunk and I was sad.  Like really sad.  Remorseful actually.

Alcohol Was My “Drug of Choice”

One of my favorite saying is “Everyone Has their own SH*T!”  And we do.  Living isn’t easy, LIFE isn’t easy.  There isn’t one person that has the same life as the next one.  As I had experiences, good and bad, I dealt with them.  As life went on, my dealing it was choosing alcohol to dull the pain.  And that means that I wasn’t dealing with anything.  I was just postponing my feelings, the situation and sometimes things work out, other times things piled up and I really didn’t notice, because I would have booze on board or not far away.

Rubber Meets the Road

So the time is now.  Almost 2 months sober and I have reality knocking. These feelings  happened 3 days ago (I started this post yesterday) and just now, 3 meetings later,  today I am figuring it out!  Now that I understand WHY I am sad, then I will deal with it, without the booze.  At least so far!  But I am going for today.  Another day sober and it is another FRIDAY.  Oh yeah!

Where is the Line Between Passion and Addiction?

Passion or Addiction?  Which is it …or can it be both?  I wasn’t sure so I threw it out onto Google and here is what I found:

Addiction:  (N) The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

Passion:   (N)  1.  Strong and barely controllable emotion.  2.  A state or outburst of such emotion.

Once Again, the Grapevine

We had a reading that discussed addiction.  And after all the chatter about a certain golfer and a certain politician we all have recently heard about sex addiction.  I personally think of something that alters your being, either mental or physical that keeps a person from being in control is an addiction.  Thus, why we are alcoholics.  We have a drink, we keep drinking and we cannot stop drinking.  Our minds go wild and the rest is history.  But that is my definition.  As I sat there listening to people share their stories regarding addictions, the lines seemed to blur between addiction and passion.

Wow!  Confusion

People say, “Follow you passion!”  So to me that says, “If it feels good, do it!”  Is passion the thing that we addictive personalities try to find when we are powerless over “that thing” that we have to quit all together?  We see every day people that are addicted to food, gambling, exercise, even tanning, because it gets to a place where it passes the feeling good part, to the point of no return.  I think many of us miss those wonderful days of merriment and cheer but unfortunately, we cannot go back.  One drink and we are destroyed, the game is over.

I Need My Passion

Okay so now what?  Each day I tell myself, no drinking today. Does that mean that Quaker Meeting has begun, no more laughing, no more fun?  I know that going to meetings helps me, keeps me busy and fills my time that I may otherwise be drinking in a bar or at home where no one is watching.  The meetings give me fellowship and comfort. Often in meetings I knit but I wouldn’t say that I get my “passion fix.”  I know now why creative people paint, writers write, musicians play, etc., it scratches the itch that is left unscratched -with alcoholics, we need some healthy substitute.

Exercise

Next week I head back into the gym and maybe back to the pool.  I get bored at the gym.  I like the feeling good part but it isn’t a passion by any means.  In fact some mornings it is just a pain in the a$$.  We’ll see, I also love to hunt and fish.  Ski season is on it’s way, I have plenty of interests I just need to move something into the empty passion category that my addiction left blank. One Day At A Time.