What It Was Like Then

I go to a lot of meetings.  Every now and then I am asked to chair.  My home group I often chair, it is a small Grapevine Meeting and there is no qualifying. Recently, I have been mixing it up with different meetings and probably within the last month I have chaired at 2 meetings that ask the Chair to qualify.  I realized that I never had actually written down “My Story,” and I figured that it was time I did.

Our meetings are pretty informal up here but rather than to just ramble on about “My Story” I figured I would write it down so I could actually read it over as an exercise to better understand it myself.  This blog has discussed a lot of the details of my feelings and experiences in recovery, this post is what brought me to recovery.

What It Was Like

The last year of my drinking was intolerable. The last 6 months I had a burning stomach, my terrible sleep patterns over the past 15 years got even worse. At the end, I wasn’t sleeping for more than an hour or two, when I would get up and pour myself some vodka, search for something to mix it with so I wasn’t a complete barbarian often it was water.  The last couple weeks if I ran out of vodka I would search the house for something, anything, that was in a box, considered something that “nobody drank.”

Returnable bottles were hidden, put in my car inside plastic empty grocery bags and thrown into unattended trash cans, often at fast food places or at “Do it Yourself” car washes. I stashed vodka in my car and showed up at meetings and peoples homes with a “Go Cup” of coffee or a diet pepsi in a plastic bottle laced with vodka.  I spent a lot of time making sure I had booze. Thank God I never got caught, never got pulled over, no jail or hospital.

Many of my friends were doing similar things and I believe they are still doing it now.  One of my very good friends got pulled over by the police but didn’t think anyone would find out, was convinced that her name would not appear in the Court News Section of the paper. Obviously, she was wrong.  It was in the newspaper, I got lots of comments from people we knew but she and I never talked about it. She lost her license and somehow managed to keep that hidden while it was pulled.  Seeing this from afar and never talking directly to her about it, still didn’t stop me.

Every day I functioned, worked and interacted with people, managing my shakes, getting to lunch on time so I could “catch up with my friends” and drink of course, sometimes finishing out the day at the bar and getting home safely (HP was protecting me) before dinner to avoid questions. I would pour a glass of wine and another…

I was haunted and possessed by “The Beast” alcohol that had taken over my life.  I learned to avoid everything and everybody that posed a threat to my relationship with booze.  I had to make sure I had it when I needed it and every day I needed it more and more.

The First Day of Summer

About  3 days before I went to my first AA Meeting, I promised once again I was going to stop drinking, it was going to be different this time.  By noontime, I felt so horrible that I met my friends for lunch and by 3:30 I felt “better.”  The day continued as usual.  I slept about an hour at a time that night each time waking up in a sweat.  I paced and tried not to drink but I did.  Finally I decided to get a shower and look for a place to “take the edge off” and by 9 am I was off and running again.  By 1:00pm, I was falling asleep in the parking lot of a well known establishment in my car.  I couldn’t believe that I drove home it was less than a mile away.

Thursday morning, I sat on the couch crying but there were no tears.  I felt dead inside and looked dead outside.  My cheeks and eyes were puffy, I brushed my teeth and cut my gums because the shaking was so bad.  I looked up an AA Meeting on my computer and there still was one listed at the homeless shelter across town.  I couldn’t even think anymore, I got in my car and went to my first AA Meeting.

That was 297 days ago.

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24 Hours A Day Book

Around here some of the Old Timers are ROCK solid on things.  It is possible that they are right in their beliefs, recovery being different for everybody, for me, the “black and white”  “AA Literature Only” individual would not be the best fit for my recovery.  I heard one of the “Traditionalist” mention that the Hazelden  series of literature wasn’t real AA and that it was wrong to read it.  Well personally, remarks like that make me want to read it all the more.  Defiant alcoholic that I am.

What It Was LIke

As I have mentioned numerous times here, a friend came up to see me to make amends just about 2 years ago. (Actually 2 years in May.) BUT it took me another year to realize where I was in alcoholism and to do something about it.  In that year that I was doing “research” controlled drinking, whatever you want to call it, I bought the Big Book and the 24 Hour Book.  I bought them and downloaded them onto my Kindle and tried reading them.  On the Kindle, it is easy because no one sees what you are reading.  I would get on the exercise bike at the gym and read.  Like everything and since I didn’t start EXACTLY on January 1 like the book does, I decided to read up until the date I started reading, which I think was some day in late February.  I really didn’t get it, all the references I didn’t understand and there was just too much “God” in there.  I was pretty sure this was a ploy by religious freaks to prey on alcoholics.  The whole thing completely missed me, I wasn’t ready.

What a Difference A Year Makes

Now, I read the 24 Hour Book pretty regularly, I do mostly read it on the DATE it shows and I read it on my Kindle, just like before only COMPLETELY different.  I cannot believe how my life has changed since then, mind you, I am still struggling, trying to make the puzzle fit together.  Some days I can do it easily and I feel good.  Some days I feel like my head is a bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I am also reading other books.  When I was drinking I didn’t like to read at all, I read at the gym, which was pretty much the only time I read.  Unless it was work stuff. I hate working out still and have taken somewhat of a hiatus, I have to get back to it.  Recovery is a workout, meetings is a commitment.  I hate working out and at the present, I have swapped yoga and meditation for that – for now.  I am easily overwhelmed and I am so protective of my sobriety, I cannot overload myself and expect positive results.  I don’t believe this is a cop out, I believe it is the realization that it took years to break myself in to tiny pieces and I cannot expect to glue it together in 10 months.

So here we are, “Another Day In Paradise.” And without a drink, it surely is.

Deja Vu…All Over Again

My last post was about a person that I know that seems to be trudging the same road I have been before I hit the bottom.  That desperate crap black hole of deadness I was in before I was willing to “Throw in the towel,” “Wave the white flag,”  submit and admit to powerlessness over alcohol and the unmanageability of my life.

Services

An old friend of mine that I have spent many drinking and non-drinking hours with,  just lost her Mom.  Her Mom had a long term illness and my friend was a great family support in a journey that lasted several years.  The family is a big catholic family, lots of kids and grandkids.  The Mom still lived in the house my girlfriend grew up in.  The wake and funeral was large, lots of people.  And there is lots of stress in a family of 8 kids as you can imagine.  Lots of laughs but lots of resentments, hurt feelings, etc.

My Senses

A few months after I stopped drinking I noticed a few things about myself.  Slowly senses that I never realized had dulled over the years were returning. At first they were quiet and in some cases they were loud.  My emotions were first, mostly tears.  I would well up when I would normally be able to seal it up and not cry.  I found myself not getting angry so much it was expressing itself as loss and sadness, not frustration as it had before.

My sense of smell seemed to have come back and I had never realized that it had gone.  I was noticing people with garlic breath and of course alcohol on their breath, like I never had before.  My creativity has slowly returned and my need to vent it is becoming more and more apparent.  These are things I seem to notice more and more, making me realize how long withdrawal symptoms can last and how fragile the recovery process can be.

Greetings

Going through the receiving line around an open casket was sureal.  My emotions were running high as I was thinking of my own mother and how grateful I was to have her in my life still.  As I approached “the pack” of siblings several of them reeked of alcohol and a few of them of weed too.  None of this should have surprised me, these are people I know well.  Very well.  I have partied with them over the years.  It wasn’t the fact that they were still active, it was the fact that I could smell it so vividly, it repelled me.  I felt like my Higher Power was reminding me of gift of sobriety by the stench of stale alcohol and pot.  Whatever it was, it WAS and I stopped and thought about it for a minute.

Out of the Woodwork

At the funeral, several of our old friends showed up.  I saw the look of recovery on a couple of them and the look of struggle on one or two.  These are folks I have not seen in a couple of years and the difference in them from the last time I saw them was remarkable. Two friends I know have struggled for years and relapsed several times.  They, like me, have retreated from the “old routines” and have obviously changed their lives.  One of them in particular, looks so at peace with herself, I barely recognized her.  Another on the other end of the spectrum, had to introduce himself to me, I did not recognize his bloated face and bloodshot eyes (the funeral was a 10am), but I did notice he disappeared halfway through the service and then reappear.  If it were me, I would have gone to my car and gulped a coffee with a hefty shot of something and grabbed a tick tack on the way back.  But it wasn’t me.  Thank God.  And I don’t honestly know it was him for sure either.  I do know he is still active, I smelled it.

Gratitude List

Who knew that I would have lots of items to list on my Gratitude List the night after the funeral?  I am in no way “throwing stones” at anyone, I am just observing things I would have missed if I was still drinking.  I am just feeling some growth and being thankful for it, in the meantime, concentrating on keeping my own side of the street clean.