I am still here. I am still here. I am still here. It’s been over 3 weeks now of sobriety.
The regular chorus this morning: I am so tired of all the things I think I need to be doing daily that I can’t seem to get much of anything done, even the things good for me or that I want to do. I have been thinking of writing here (self-care) but haven’t been able to get myself to do it because of the weight of all I need to do.
I have been to a few AA meetings now and I’m just starting to understand how the flow of the meetings work, at least for a meeting of 4-6 people meeting in a coffee shop. They are super supportive and it does help to listen and it does help to share…but I feel like my sharing doesn’t come out right most of the time. It’s largely because I don’t know how to thread together a share around my drinking, reasons for drinking, whatever in a coherent way.
With that said, I’m ambivalent about AA. I found myself yesterday searching through Google stories against AA: how outdated it is and resistances to medical advancements for addictions, not a good fit for women, harmfully too narrow with its abstinence only pathway. I did that after my first lunch date with my new sponsor. Yes, I got myself a sponsor. I think I’m doing what I often do: try to research my way out of trying something new that will make me uncomfortable and have to do some work I don’t want to do.
Back to me being so overwhelmed with my work and self-made expectations. Can I take on meetings, check ins, one-to-one meetings with a sponsor as well as do the step work? Where is the time and more importantly the emotional and mental space for all of this new stuff?
My homework from my sponsor is to write my drunkalogue, to get honest with my drinking history. I have to capture 20 years of drinking?? I did start this last night and already I have recalled events that I not thought of in years, which is the point. This is good for me. I know this is good for me.
I got the blues. I'm in the dumps and don't know how to pull myself out besides to go to bed and start over tomorrow. It's before 8pm and I'm counting down to when I can just call it in. It's Friday, it's my birthday, I'm sober, I have a great life, so much to live for, why am I stuck right now? Outwardly, it could be because its my birthday and I'm home with the dogs, a little pathetic that I have no friends to celebrate with. Husband is at a basketball tournament then out with the coaches. But my birthday isn't something that I'm comfortable celebrating so that's not really it.
I went through the motions of Foot Massage Friday, I took the dogs for a walk, and now I can't muster up the energy to do anything else: no crocheting, practicing the viola, yoga, or even feeding the fish. I don't have a tv to dive into, no drink to blunt the edges, no pot suspend me. I'm bored, I'm boring, I'm self-pitying and it's so depressing. I'll never get this day back and I'm just wasting it feeling sorry for myself instead of relishing what I have. I have so much and just can't tap into any of it right now.
It's also depressing to read my previous blogs, two years ago from now I hoped that I was "past" temptation and just myself without the drink. Obviously not true. I'm almost at 3 weeks again, which is something. Yes, it is something. But I have so much self-criticism.
I'm 42. My mom died when she was 62. My dad died when he was 66. If that is any indicator, it means I have a little over 20 years left. One third left and I'm wasting it away tonight pacing and crying into dog fur.
Is it the stress of work? I feel no relief from it on the week-ends. Am I just frazzled and exhausted? Is it my old wounds cracking open a bit? Is it that I feel isolated and alone? Is it that sadness is just part of living?
**********************************One hour later**********************************
My self pity party has settled down. Another example of "this too shall pass!" Part of what helped was actually looking back at some of my old blog posts (I'm such a narcissist) to see the work that I put into being sober and living a present life.
It's my birthday. At 39, with a few months of sobriety, I committed $390 to charity and gave 39 hours of service to the dog shelter in Egypt. For 40, I continued that for another year. For 41 I have no idea what did to celebrate and give back. But here I am again with another opportunity to celebrate by giving back for the life I've been given. All 42 years of it. I'll start planning on what to do.
The AA group didn’t have a 24-hour coin to give me, which I didn’t really mind. My dear Husband decided I needed one, so he made one on his 3D printer for me to have. I am so lucky.
I went to a meeting on Sunday and it didn’t ruin me. To continue the momentum and make me feel more comfortable more quickly just walking in and sitting down I decided to go a second day in a row. And so I went again. When I arrived there was only the guy who would lead the meeting. We chatted for about a half hour and I thought we were having the “meeting.” At 7:30pm another guy showed up. Then the Serenity Prayer was read among the other parts of starting a meeting. My first thought was, shit, I now have an hour from now and was annoyed by it. I realize how much I allot my time. I was ready to give the meeting an hour (and all the commute to get there) I wasn’t prepared to give 1.5 hours. But I did. The guy who showed up late announced that it was his 1-year sober birthday. He was excited about it but not really as well. He still misses drinking and confessed that he was bummed that on his “birthday” all he had to look forward to was going to this meeting. The social isolation is hard on him since he finds it hard to be around any alcohol at all. He told his story, then it came to me, and talked about how I related to his story and added a bit, then it was the other guys turn. I bring this up because I don’t know what I’m doing when I’m there. I’m not used to launching into a monolog while others listen, not interrupt with follow up questions or to relate and redirect. So for an hour and a half I mostly listened, I didn’t feel comfortable just talking as I pleased for a long period of time.
I don’t know how to tell my story as I want it, for what I need, without catering to an specific audience and to spin the past dark with the positive improvements. These guys, when telling their stories, share the dark parts of their drinking with all the bits that I can’t imagine sharing with anyone. They seemly talk about what has been troubling them, they bring out their shame; they get it out and others listen. It’s not so much of a share but a release. I’ve been guarded for so long I don’t know what that release would look like.
After so much anguish I went to my first meeting. It was the scariest thing I have done in a long time, even scarier than quitting drinking. I cried a lot yesterday and this morning before going, I didn’t sleep well and woke up too early. I talked with Husband about it last night and a good friend this morning. It was even hard to talk to them about going or not going. I wasn’t able to fully articulate my fears, I can barely do that to myself, but I felt supported by my friend and my husband if I decided to go or not. At some point this morning I turned off my brain and just started to get ready.
So I went. It was at a coffee shop, just some tables put together in the main room. At the end of the meeting I heard how it is hard for foreigners to rent a space for some privacy, but they are working on it. It was so much better than I thought it was going to be, there was 8 of us total and I guess there usually aren’t so many people. There was a range of people with a variety of lengthens in their sobriety, there were people from all over the world: New Zealand, England, America, China, Indonesia and an even split of men and women. I was the newbie and so they held a newbie meeting for me and shared their stories of what has happened and where they are now. All I could muster to share was that I had 2.5 years of sobriety when I moved to China and quickly relapsed and now I have two weeks since my last drink. And like I feared and liked I hoped: I related to something in each of their stories.
Another fear was true too: I knew someone at the meeting. But by the end of the meeting, I felt okay about it, actually comforted by his presence. And that was my biggest fear: running into someone I know. But he has been going to this meeting for years and he said there are others from our school from time-to-time, and in those many years the anonymity has never been broken and he feels safe at school.
After the meeting I went with two guys out for some Schezwan noodles then to get some ice cream. They gave me “the books” and apologized that they didn’t have a 24-hour sober chip on hand to give me. Next time. There will have to be a next time for that.
I came home completed wiped out and had to take a nap. I feel wrung out by all of this, still anxious about what it means. I am drained and still have a big knot in my stomach.
But one day at a time: I went today. I was afraid and walked thorough it to get to the other side of my fears. I let people know that I needed a seat at the table and they welcomed me in. The meeting helped, facing my fears helped, those people helped. I will have to go back. I hope I can get myself to go back.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp