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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Knight in Shining Armour

The last 3 posts were done in order to explain a situation that happened last week.  As I have mentioned, I was working the Steps and completely out of the blue feelings overcame me.  Writing those posts helped and I appreciate your sticking with me.  This blog helps in so many ways.  I am happy that people read it and I truly hope it gives strength and support to others.   For me, there are good days and not so good days.  Last week was a string of several bad days in a row, all brought about by an innocent contact from someone that rescued me from the abyss I had been living in back in 1978.

Spring

The procedure I had in New York kept me out of the water for a couple weeks and there was a significant blood loss that really wiped me out.  But I swam anyway.  Not particularly well, but I did swim.  I went to practice and went through the motions.  After a month or so, I was physically back to fighting speed.  Since I am a documented asthmatic, we told everyone I had been having a rough patch with asthma and again people accepted it and forgot about the strangeness of the situation.  I stuffed it deep inside. Until just recently, I realized how deep it was.  I learned early how to “fake it till I make it.”

My Brother

My brother is 2 1/2 years older than I am.  The “offender” was his age and one of his high school friends that he had left behind when he went into the military. At the time, he was serving at a base about 5 hours from where we lived.  I told him nothing about what had happened and neither did my parents.  It was not uncommon for my brother to show up with friends from far away places at our house or camp for a home cooked meal or at camp for a party.

In the late summer of that year, on one of his trips to visit my parents and I were at camp.  He showed up with a car full of buddies.  It was a great time of cribbage games and laughs.  I was still swimming and under age, there was no alcohol for me but it didn’t matter, we played guitars and had a great time.

After that trip, my brother showed up with one of the friends he brought to camp at one of my swim meets.  It was great to see him and after that visit, we started writing letters.  Then talking.  I had not been involved in anyone since that Spring and this man was kind, quiet and extremely caring.  Many times, I thought he knew what had happened to me.  I continued to burn up the pool, get through high school and think about college.  My new friend was very supportive, showed up at the occasional meet (after driving for hours) and sat next to me on the bleachers, cheered me on. I always felt safe.

An Item

It was known after a while that we had bloomed into a couple.  Kisses and hugs, no sex.  To think back on it now, I don’t know he did it.  The last thing on my mind was sex, but I could crawl up into his arms and he would hold me close.  One day we were riding in his car somewhere and I just blurted out a very small abstract of what had happened to me before I met him.  I don’t remember what it was exactly but I remember  him saying, “I knew someone hurt you, I felt it.  I want you to trust me, I would never hurt you that way. Ever.”

Geyser

I sat in his car sobbing and trying to apologize for being so damaged. I couldn’t stop crying.  I didn’t unload the whole story. But once I had started, I needed to know what I was saying wasn’t going to cause him to leave me too.  I told him about my father calling me “Whore.”  All he said was, ” Everything is going to be all right.  Just as long as I never, ever meet this guy.”

I started slowly to rebuild my trust and he was the reason.  We dated for 3 years.  There was no sex, he treated me like a china doll.  It was my Higher Power helping me heal, helping me to grow up.  This part of the story is over but there is more that will be told later on that had come to light during my Step work.  The Good News is he isn’t angry at me now and didn’t feel like my apology was necessary.  More on that later.

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…

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!”

Ever Wonder Why???

It wasn’t long ago that a man named Andy Rooney opened up his segment on :60 with “Ever Wonder Why?”  Kinda sounds like a child, ever wondering about this thing or that thing.  Ever wonder why people with alcoholism are and need to be “anonymous?”

This is just MY OPINION

I have read the Big Book, Living Sober and a host of other – AA publications.  And I must confess I have read many recovery publications that are not AA publications or approved, whatever.  Since I started my recovery more than 4 months ago, my reading habits have changed dramatically – along with a few hundred other things…

Cancer

When people get cancer or some other life threatening/altering illness there are walks to raise money, swim a thons, bike races and all kinds of benefits for research and support.  Ever wonder why they don’t have the same compassion for alcoholics?  We got a disease too and we need help too but we have to be anonymous.  Diseases suck.  Diseases are bad and when these diseases attack your mental state and you drink, drug or otherwise just addicted to whatever, nobody wants it out of the closet.  Hell I know I want it in the closet – along with the REST of my skeletons.  I didn’t and still don’t want 99.99999% of the world to know I am an alcoholic.  So the only thing we can count on is ourselves and our own network.

The People that “Get it”

Obviously those of us “with it” know that each case and vicitm is different.  Some alcoholics constantly relapse.  When someone in cancer treatment doesn’t respond well to a certain treatment or has a recurrence, everyone rallies around them and makes sure they have support.  When “one of us” has a recurrence or relapse, people roll their eyes, shake their heads and unless they are an alcoholic or are very close to one, they have no idea that we cannot help it either.  When we relapse to alcoholism it is just like cancer.  The disease (or addiction) is living in your head and just fights back and sometimes the alcoholic can win the battle and sometimes they cannot.  And all too many times the disease wins the war and  kills one of us, just like cancer.

How About Your “Bucket List” ?

When was the last time a non-alcoholic asked an alcoholic “Is that on your bucket list” in relation to a successful daily fight against alcoholism?  My bet is never.  But when a cancer survivor has success this is often a question asked, it is perfectly acceptable and the lists are just as different as the survivor that has made it.

Dumping on Cancer Victims

I am not dumping on cancer victims.  Cancer Sucks. Alzheimer’s Sucks, ALS Sucks, the list goes on. Alcoholism sucks too.  And I am remembering that my AA family understands me, gets me, loves me as I love them.  Because even though there is a stigma outside the AA Walls, there is not a stigma inside them.  We are all fighting together and we are on our own team.  I am not alone and I never will be as long as I let AA live within me.

 

The Plug Was In the Jug

There are a lot of things that have been hidden away inside me for years.  I never realized it.  I also never realized that my head was crazy or now someone said “wild mind”  or “monkey mind.”  Now I haven’t been called crazy before and I never really thought that my thoughts were crazy ones.

Been This Way My Whole Life

I didn’t start drinking until I was in my late teens and even then it wasn’t much.  I was an athlete and the first few times it was just because everyone else was at the time.  The crazy drinking times came much later but there was a significant “numbing” and “stuffing” that happened since I was a child.  I am just realizing it now.

She’s Creative

I hated math, I hated my math teacher.  She called me stupid in front of the whole class more than once.  I do not plan on putting her on my 8th step list and making amends at this point any way.  She made it clear to me in the 7th grade that I was a misfit.  I was exceptional in English as well as many other subjects but my poor aptitude in math brought me down in everything.  And I wasn’t an “artist” per se – couldn’t produce something that people could see and tell me that I had talent. I buried all that in my head and developed a personality and learned how to work with people, so I was popular in AA I have heard it as being a “People Pleaser.”

Mom

My Mom was relentless in telling us kids to never tease someone that wasn’t “like us.” Always treat people how we wanted to be treated.  She showed us values, morals, discipline and of course guilt.  Mom was brought up in a Pentecostal environment.  So HELL, fire and brimstone was what she understood.  My grandfather was not a church goer so the religion came from the “women folk” and we stopped going to church when we were in our teens.  But the foundation was there to be guilty for just breathing.  Mom was never violent or overly disciplined us.  Anyway not making fun of other “misfits” in school or otherwise wasn’t something tolerated in our household. You “made fun” of no one.  I learned curiosity about differences and not fear or superiority.

Stuffed Full

My dreams were in color, I didn’t tell anyone.  I knew things were going to happen before they would, I learned that wasn’t something that you talked about at school or the teacher would call home, I really didn’t like that because that would create conflict and I hated that.  Still do.

Where It Ended Up

Alcohol dulled my sense of wonder. I forgot to use colors in my decorating, my dreams were still in color but all the hues were trapped in my head.  This along with everything else is starting to bubble up and out. There is no anesthesia now.  Everything is raw.  Sometimes there are tears and I am not sure why.  I did cry when I was drinking and I didn’t know why then always either.  But then there was a lot of things I didn’t know when I was drinking and when I “came to” and decided not to drink anymore the guilt was unbearable.

And so goes the life of an alcoholic…“One Day At A Time.”

If YOU Only Knew

People have said to me for years, “You know how to work a room…” or “You can walk right into a room full of strangers and make all kinds of friends.”  Boy I am a good liar aren’t I?

The Truth

I think as it is for most of us, our inside selves are desperately afraid to come out and be discovered.  I would rather hurt myself than to let someone else do it to me.  So I did and I did it often.  When I learned that drinking slowed things down and stopped the hurting it was even better.  I wasn’t a person that cut myself or did things that other people could see, so it wasn’t obvious to most people that I was hurting myself but I was.  I wasn’t looking for attention.  What people saw of me was what I wanted them to see of me.  I was a chameleon.  I became what others wanted and not necessarily what I wanted, only until JUST THIS MINUTE as I type it, I didn’t realize it. One of the arrogant style “Old Timers” once said to me, “Google: Self Centered Fear.”  I still think he is arrogant but he is also right.

Being Honest

My idea of being honest was not outright lying to someone. Not telling someone something that I knew not to be true.  When I got in a tight spot I would not answer the question most often saying, “You will have to ask _______, that is their own story and I am not the one to tell it” or something like that.  I don’t tell other people’s secrets, I just don’t.

You Don’t Know, What You Don’t Know

Okay all you students of truth and righteous thought may roll over on this one but here it is.  I have not known the depth of the meaning of truth as I think I am learning now.  I say “Hell Yeah!” to being truthful to people, tell the facts and don’t make sh&t up to either make someone feel bad or make someone feel good.  Don’t tell someone you are going somewhere and go somewhere else and had that plan in your mind from the start.  Basic.  But the chameleon part of me knows inside that I am only one thing.  One being.

Is True Honesty Over Rated?

Again roll over on this one.  I doubt (and I may be wrong) that there will be a day that I will feel that walking around naked (emotionally) and letting everyone see who I really am isn’t where I am willing to go.  I don’t believe that most people deserve to know me or want to know me that way.  And yes, I like to manipulate situations so they work for me sometimes.  BUT being honest to myself and making sure I preserve my sobriety (Day 140 today, but who’s counting…) in order to protect myself, damn right I may not be totally honest.  “Willing to go to any length…” and that is where I am today.