Cleaning Out the Locker, Part I

As I started the step work with my sponsor, I was very aware of the fact that I started procrastinating when the “Going Got Tough.”  But because of my impatience, there was also the urge to rush through things just to say I had done them so I could move on to the next thing. This happened when I may not have been thorough in my thinking.  I could “say” that I finished even though I honestly didn’t.

Dirty Laundry

I have it.  Perhaps you do too. That is why I need to work the Steps to have a method in dealing with those things that caused me to drink, drug or whatever I used in an unhealthy way to escape.  Escape from myself.  Escape from you.  Now that there is no drinking or drugging, how do I live?

A Milestone

When I was 16, I started working.  As soon as I could legally work, I worked.  I met new friends from many surrounding towns.  Now many of these people I participated with on a regional sports team and competed around the state and New England.  Because of my athletic discipline, I was developing physically and had the curves to prove it.  The sport I did was swimming. Swimming certainly allowed for less clothes than let’s say, basketball, but I failed to see that my swim suit showed a young woman and not the little girl I was still inside.

The Job

Because of swimming, school and my job, everything was changing for me rapidly.  I developed some self esteem because I was a good swimmer, held records, friendly and popular.  I developed discipline to go to practice, go to school, go to work.  My friends and I were too busy to get into much trouble.  You may call us Jocks and perhaps we were but I generally view it as we had different goals than other kids and didn’t have a lot of time to get into much trouble.

Boy Meets Girl

At my job, I met a boy from the next town that was 3 years older than I was.  He was funny, he was in college and I liked him.  He wasn’t particularly handsome but he lit up my world whenever I saw him at work.  That was a new feeling for me. He had a car and a license.   I had the same name of a girl that he used to go out with.  They had broken up, he had told me the reasons but it seemed to me that he was on the “sad” end of the stick.

One day after swim practice he picked me up.  We went for a ride out to an island and watched the sunset and talked.  Knowing my father had a very strict curfew, we both knew the time we had.  On that day, our friendship turned into a relationship.  I went from being “one of the girls” to being “his girl.” He wasn’t overly possessive but we became a couple and I felt safe and loved and respected around the whole situation.  We held hands and kissed occasionally.

As our relationship grew, the summer came to a close and he went back to college.  We were still “an item.”  I was a sophomore in High School and he was in a fraternity at a University 2 hours from where we lived.  We only had house phones then,  lots of long distance calls and letters.  Fall meant an increase in swim practice.  Because of my ability as a swimmer, I swam on the Girls Team, practiced with the Boys Team and also with the regional team.  I swam and swam.

Fall Regionals

I qualified for the Thanksgiving Regional Meet to be held at the same University that my boyfriend attended.  I was the leading backstroker for that Meet.  Meanwhile, I was just excited to see my boyfriend, whom I had not seen since September.  Regional events drag on for days.  Lots of down time waiting for your turn. I snuck off to see my boyfriend, who’s fraternity house was just down over the hill from the pool.  It was a Saturday night and when I went into the house in my High School Swimming Uniform everyone was happy to see me.  The whole time I knew I was “sneaking around,” I knew I couldn’t stay long.  Breaking rules wasn’t my normal way of operating so I was pretty nervous.  They ushered me into the House and found my boyfriend.  He along with many others in the house had been drinking.  I had never seen him this way.  And as a swimmer I was not supposed to be around alcohol, much less out of the pool.  I would be ineligible to compete if anyone had found out.

After a big smelly hug and a “I am so happy to see you!!  How did you get away?”  My boyfriend and I left the main dining room and went to his room for a brief “one on one” visit.  The minute I got into his room he grabbed me by the arm and pushed me against the back of the door hard and pressed himself and his lips against mine. I would rather not go into the details of what happened next.  But let’s just say, I didn’t plan on losing my virginity that way.  It was rough and painful.  Even though I begged that he stopped, he didn’t.

He Passed Out

I put my bathing suit back on hoping that it wasn’t torn, the rest of my school uniform and ran the best I could, back to the pool crying.  My legs were shaking and I was aching inside and out.  I snuck back into the locker room hoping no one would notice that I had been gone.  I had broken a lot of rules that would get me in serious trouble but all I could think about was my broken heart and lost virginity.

More later…

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So Many Ways to Surrender

Being brought up in a religious, fundamental style home, I certainly was God Fearing.  In fact, I would sit in the back seat of Mom’s car after church, hoping I died on the way home. I felt that only then, I was pure enough to go to heaven.  The rest of the week, I was a sinner and doomed.

A Power Greater Than Myself

I had no problem coming to grips with that concept.  Giving my will over is not easy for me. From what others say in the program, it is difficult for them too. As I attend meetings (hit 2 yesterday and 2 again today), this surrender process is just that a “process.”  So many times I know, I just know that something has happened, someone has called me or I have seen someone that has impacted my day or more so, my life. It is not my doing whatsoever, it is certainly that of my Higher Power.  And I certainly have done my best to blame God. When my two best friends in High School were killed on the way home from a dentist appointment, I blamed God.  I am sure that there are times that everyone does.

Those Steps

As I worked through Steps 4 and 5, my list of character defects was long. It was a horrible process.  I felt worse and worse with every aspect of my character I admitted I hated about myself.  And while my sponsor was supportive and helpful, I felt tremendous guilt that I had become such a monster.  As Step 5 work began, it was a relief to turn it over, to say, “HERE!  I did it, now please take it.”  But it doesn’t go away.  Steps 6 and 7 are reminders that we need to give it up. While I was in the pit of it, I felt some relief.  As part of living, I get on my knees and pray about it, ask for help and be thankful, but 50 years of living the way I lived, doesn’t fix itself in 7 1/2 months.

Is HP My “HandyMan?”

If you are my age you remember the song, “Handyman” by James Taylor.  “….I’m not the kind that use the pencil or rule…” that one. This song is about someone with a broken heart and I have one.  I broke it myself.  And I am hard to convince (stubborn) to trust again. Trust myself much less to trust God!

Work In Progress

I used to say, “I have Trust Issues.”  I do.  Like many of us, people I needed and depended on have let me down, hurt me, broken my heart. It started when I was too young to be able to do anything about it, thus, I had never learned how to trust. As I got older, I learned I could only trust myself and then when I drank, I gave that away to alcohol. So here I am, learning the ABC’s all over again.

First Things First

I need to trust again, myself and my Higher Power.  Then continue to turn my will over, not “One Day At A Time,” one minute at a time, just like the day I stopped drinking.

Let’s Hope I Remember that I am Responsible

I know there are tons of words in the recovery and mental health game.  I know that they are real.  I know that still many people use things as crutches or blame their situations with choices they make onto others.  As an alcoholic it is how we think.

The Blame Game

Everyone’s recovery is different.  And everyone’s disease effects them in its’ own unique way.  As humans in the world, we have our own circumstances.  Some of us come from a long line of alcoholism and abuse and still others end up being the only alcoholic in the whole family tree.  We are all different.

When I was drinking, I often blamed people for the situations I found myself in.  Many of my friends would piss and moan about something someone they knew did or didn’t do and therefore they were angry with them.  I don’t mind saying, when I heard others complain about someone we knew, it made me wince knowing how ridiculous this blame game was.  It made me think twice when blaming people myself.

Just Another Meeting

The other day one of my AA friends came in to a meeting and I could tell that he had a lot on his mind.  While he seemed happy he was hurried and late to the meeting.  When it came time for him to share he started down one path and near the end of his share he mentioned (almost in anger) that his wife was partly to blame for his addictions.  She enabled him.  He said it with such intensity I was surprised.  I could feel myself feeling disgusted. Yes, perhaps his wife bought him alcohol.  But enabling?  C’mon, get real buddy!

Enabling

I have never looked up the word “enabling” and I am not going to right now because I have a definite opinion about taking responsibility for what I have done to myself.  If I was a child and unable to make my own choices or legally able to purchase alcohol then “OK.”  BUT to blame a spouse for what is normal buying of alcohol for an adult is a cheap shot.  Especially, since the spouse is not an alcoholic.  Double cheap shot.  How does a non-alcoholic even know what it is like to be dealing with the demons we deal with much less to be blamed for them?

Another’s Inventory

Shouldn’t do it and I did.  But I truly love this man as a brother and I needed to get this off my chest.  This diatribe happened nearly a week ago and it still makes me angry.  So I ask myself, “Why, does this matter to you so deeply to last in your head so long?”  I cannot answer that.  Once again I need to learn from this and not do it myself.  I wonder if my Higher Power is trying to teach me something here?

 

How Did THAT Happen?

It may not have been that long but I cannot help feeling that some things are happening that I never would have guessed.  It has kind have been a situation of getting a freight train going, though sometimes I do stop and roll backward.  For now, I am just putting it with something my Higher Power has in mind for me and even though I am trying to push it into place faster, I guess I am just not ready for too much of the “right” things to happen, yet.

Day 212

Gotta wonder if this is number is symbolic in some way?  Today, I have 212 days and until I looked it up on the app on my phone, I honestly didn’t know it was exactly this day.  212 degrees Fahrenheit is the boiling point of water.  That was where everything was in my life before I got sober.  Always at a boiling point just ready to overflow.  Often like a boiling pot, it overflowed and even if I cleaned up the mess there was still plenty of hot mess on the burner left behind. (*smell*)  So here I am taking in all what the Higher Power will let me have and like everything I don’t seem to have the patience to wait and I want more.

Changes

There have been tons of changes since last summer.  My life is much more peaceful than it was.  Work still sucks.  The situation with my partners hasn’t gotten any worse but it still is broken.  I am not taking it so personally nor am I blaming myself because I didn’t follow through because I was too drunk to notice. BUT status quo may not be a bad thing.  I still get a paycheck while I am healing.  I can work a flexible schedule and get a meeting in without having to “ask the boss.”  I can meditate as part of my daily schedule.  Meanwhile I do work and I am cultivating a new venture that is helpful to my business and doesn’t hurt it.  But I still live in the same house, my dogs are healthy, my life is ok.  As I list this out, I feel like God is watching over me, while I get my act together.

People

Because of this new adventure I have met some new people, got re involved with some old relationships, feeling energized.  I am sitting quietly once in a while and rather than becoming impatient, I am letting my Higher Power show me what he has in store and I think it is going to be exciting!  In His time, not my will be done.

Learning from others without taking inventory

I am learning that one of my traits (or character defects) is being a “Peacemaker.”  While that may not seem so bad, I was very good at apologizing to others for things I had nothing to do with or taking things to heart that weren’t mine in the first place.  All to keep the peace. It worked in the short term.  In the meantime, I was creating wreckage for myself.  Then of course, when I was drinking, I would take the blame so people had no idea I was drinking or how much I was drinking.

I have a tendency to plan my life around others.  Then get pissed at them because of it.

They were late, they were early, something came up at the last minute and they couldn’t be there at all. Meanwhile, I had changed my whole life around to make my end of the bargain, what was wrong with them?  This mushroomed. I am waiting with my cell phone in my hand, waiting for the text, while the rest of my life went on around me, only I was not there, I was too busy waiting for the “next best thing” and not being present in where or who I was with at that moment.  Mostly I was pissed because the people I was waiting for were supposed to distract me from ME!  When I was actively drinking, I was “Jones’n” for a drink and my drinking buddies were doing something else and taking me away from my bottle!!  Then when I gave up on them and went to the bar alone, I had to explain why they weren’t there!  (I know, it is pretty crazy, but that is how I felt.)

Taking Inventory Comes In All Shapes and Sizes

I have an AA friend that needed some help.  She asked, I picked her up several times for meetings, her car was in the shop, not inspected, etc. She also had this situation with this guy that is in the program that she wants to be with.  She is less than 3 months sober.  She stares down at her phone hoping he will answer her text, call her, whatever.  Maybe she can get a ride to a meeting with him instead?  This is distracting her from her single point of purpose to stay sober.

Who’s business is it?

Hers. After building up a resentment about the fact that “ole faithful” – me, would pick her up when she would text me at the last minute, she would be looking down at the phone the whole time we were going to the meeting hoping this guy would appear.  Or talking about it.  She wasn’t talking about what I wanted to talk about.  She wasn’t fitting into MY PROGRAM.  I am writing this out as a confession to you guys and now that my thoughts are out and I can re read them I can really see how twisted my thinking is.  How I can allow it to get.  Wasn’t I getting a dose of my own medicine?  Wasn’t I just seeing how I can be through watching someone else?  (Clears throat: Thank you Higher Power for putting this in front of me.)

Taking Anothers Inventory

As a newcomer to AA, terms like these were completely foreign to me.  I had not been in and out of AA like many nor have I had therapy so I did not understand the recovery jargon.  Hell, I was shocked that I was sitting in a Homeless Shelter wondering if  I had a problem with alcohol, wishing I didn’t, while at the same time, hoping I did.

Self Detox

That first day almost 7 months ago, I am not sure how I got to my first AA Meeting.  I mean I drove there.  I remember sitting on my couch wishing I were dead, looking for the earliest AA Meeting I could find on my cell phone.  I had never walked this path before.  A friend (whom I mentioned in this blog in other posts), had looked me up a year before to make amends. That surprise meeting from someone I hadn’t seen in 20 years, changed my life.  It got me thinking.  A year later, I decided to see if AA was something that could help my mixed up head and life.  In the coming months I learned that so many people around me had gone to rehab or several rehabs.  I probably should have too but I was so ashamed I was going to push myself to go it alone with the people of AA.  I felt awful.  I felt awful for a while but I say this because so much of the first few months are a blur now.  I know that by looking back at my entries in this blog I can recall a lot more because this blog is here than if I hadn’t written it.  So physically and mentally I felt a jumbled mess.

Code Words

People in AA don’t think they are “code,” and now I understand the words too.  One of the first terms of “Taking Another’s Inventory” was a term I had no idea what it meant.  Being a business person I had an idea what the word “Inventory” was.  But in regard to recovery, I had no clue.

The Steps

As I work through The Steps, I learned about my inventory, then the light went on.  I understood what my inventory was.  I wrote it down.  I thought about it.  I wrote down some more and thought about it some more.  So I got to the point at being pretty intimate with my “fearless, moral inventory.”

Once I worked through my inventory, I really knew the possibility of me as a person, to turn the tables on someone else without taking any ownership of their actions.  What my actions may be in any given situation.  And if I have nothing to do with it, then I need to stay out of it.  And NOT take someone else’s inventory.

Some days it’s easier than others but it is after all, “One Day At A TIme.”

 

Whoops, Sorry!

In my drinking days if I had written a post like the last one, riddled with non connecting thoughts and odd transitions, I would have…1) Taken it down immediately, 2) Been horrified at myself for writing it in the first place 3)  Hoped like hell no one had read it!

In recovery, I am beginning to realize the value of the JOURNEY.  All the twists, turns, ups and downs of life.  Without being “touchy” or paranoid – wondering if I made the screw up  it when I was drinking or coming down.  I had completely lost trust in myself.  And by losing trust in myself I stopped doing things because I didn’t know what condition I would be in for moment to moment.  I am leaving that post up because it reminds me I am not perfect, I am not meant to be perfect and the world isn’t going to end.

Here’s to “Keeping It Simple!”