Here is a post from the Speaker Meeting last evening, some of it is a reblog from a year and a half ago, the rest is pretty self explanatory:
What It Was Like and an attempt to share, “Experience, Strength and Hope”
The last year of my drinking was intolerable. And 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 I would pour myself some vodka, search for something to mix it with. 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.” Slo gin, weird brandy.
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 friends 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 them now. One of my very good friends got pulled over by the police but didn’t think anyone would find out. She 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 directly. She lost her license and somehow managed to keep driving and keep that hidden while it was pulled. Seeing this from afar and never talking directly to her about it still didn’t stop me from doing my own drinking.
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 somehow getting home safely (HP was protecting me) before dinner to avoid questions. I would pour a glass of wine and another 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 2013
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 and several drinks later, 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 anyway. 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, Thank God, it was less than a mile away.
Thursday morning, I sat on my couch crying and whimpering but there were no tears. I felt dead on the inside and looked dead on the 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 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.
About two years before, a friend of mine from Boston that I dated in college looked me up on Facebook and sent me a message, “I have to work in Bangor today, would you have time to grab a coffee?”
I was really excited, I texted back, “Absolutely!”
He said, “Good, I have some long overdue amends that I need to make.”
I had no idea what he was talking about.
It wasn’t long into that day, when we were sitting at Geaghan’s, (a pub and restaurant), he had a coffee and I had an iced tea (pure coincidence), I cannot even image that I ordered that.
We caught up on the 30+ years, it had been since we had seen each other and finally he said, “I need to make some amends.” Even as he spoke about what he was apologizing for, I didn’t remember it and certainly had no ill feelings toward him. I just was so happy that he was sitting across the table from me.
26 Years and Counting
He told me he had been in recovery for 26 years. I told him I was proud of him and we parted ways both of us happy to have seen each other. That was the first time the “seed of AA” was planted in my head.
The day before I went to my first meeting I called him. He offered to drive up and take me to a meeting. I knew he was serious. When we got off the phone he said, “Please call me if you go to a meeting, I want to hear your voice and even if you don’t go, I want to hear you anyway. I love you.”
That is how it was. And to talk about how it is now is ironic in a way. I went to Derald’s anniversary last night. I was touched and moved by his share with 28 years in recovery. Still raw and fresh. When he asked me to Chair I really didn’t want to, but I have a hard time saying “No” to a program that has given me the opportunity to take my life back.
3 Years Ago
Ironically, 3 years ago, before I got sober, I remember sitting in the parking lot drinking a diet coke with lots of vodka in it, in my car in the parking lot of the Nursing Home my father lived in. I used to call it “Irish Courage.” I would grab a hand full of Altoids and sneak in to see him. (My stepmother hated my guts and didn’t want me to see him – I didn’t like her much either.)
But I would go see him “in secret” we would visit – it would be brief because neither one of us wanted his wife to show up.
Last Year 2014
At exactly this time last year 2014, I was holding my Dad’s hand in a nursing home. He was dying. Since Labor Day 2014, I made many “flying trips” to see him at the Nursing Home. If I had been actively drinking, I doubt I would ever have been able to make those trips,
But last year was different. Just prior to Labor Day, Dad had pneumonia and when he came out of the hospital and back to the Nursing Home he was put into Hospice Care. At that time, the Wicked Step Mother (whom I had not seen nor talked to in 5+ years – AKA when I was still drinking) felt that she needed to call me and let me know what was going on with my Dad.
I listened intently. I thanked her for calling me. I asked permission to visit him. (I still can’t believe I asked permission either.)
She said, “Yes, you can visit him. He is conscious but even tho I thought I would never call you, I just had to let you know.”
So that began the story of watching my father die. It was interesting because all the dirty laundry that I feared was going to appear, didn’t. My first few visits when my stepmother was there weren’t easy- not easy for her or for me. When I was drinking, I used to say things to my friends like, “She makes me want to tear my hair out and eat it.” “I am one heart beat away from ever seeing that bitch again.” I meant it.
And even when I got sober, I refused to put her on my amends list.
The Sounds of Silence
There was a lot of silence while we sat with him. She often let me sit with him alone and I would help him with his dinner, read to him, play some of his favorite old songs, look at old photos. When he was feeling up for it, we would talk. I watched the angry and frightened child that was inside him trying to come to terms with what was to lie ahead.
I could see how Dad reacted when my stepmother or I would enter the room and the other was there, he felt the tension too.
At one point when he was sleeping, I said, “Linda, I know this isn’t easy for either one of us, but I just wanted to take responsibility for some of the living hell you have lived through being married to this guy. I am very sorry. I hope that we can help each other through this sad and heartbreaking time.”
Power of Prayer
I prayed. I prayed a lot. And I went to a lot of meetings. I called my sponsor. I didn’t know what else to do, I couldn’t think, I was on autopilot. I called it “GOD-O-PILOT” but I didn’t drink. I actually didn’t even think about drinking once. I didn’t realize that I didn’t have to know what to do.
God did for me what I could not do for myself.
And on the night of the clocks changing last year, my father died at 1:10 am. My stepmother was with him and I was sleeping at my Mom’s house. Linda called me when he died and I drove over in the driving rain and wind to say “Goodbye.” And as my stepmother and I left the nursing home together, I asked the nurse what time he had died, she looked up at the clock and her face went pale and she said, “Right now. Exactly now.” They had changed the clocks back so the time was exactly one hour from when he died.
I realize that this isn’t the traditional, “What it was like, What happened and What it is like now.” but it is where I am today.
The last couple weeks, I have doubled up on my meetings, I have told some of my AA friends where my head is at, I have talked to my sponsor more. I have taken opportunities to do longer meditations (:45 minutes/ day) than normal. I have tried to get sleep-even though I haven’t been that successful. And I really don’t feel like drinking. I am sad. I am supposed to be sad. This idea of feeling my feelings and dealing with them is all new territory. I am not angry, frustrated or resentful – those are the feelings that I need to watch out for. Especially the resentments.
I am not alone. I have you guys and I am so grateful for that. I never have to be alone again. My Higher Power is always with me I know, I just have to notice. Coming here tonght telling you where I am at, “Living Life on Life’s Terms,” sober has been more helpful than I thought. And not crying myself through this has been a surprise.
Thank you for listening.