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.
Tomorrow is two weeks. I’m listening to podcasts. I’m blogging. I’m listening to my audible book Recovering. I don't know if it is enough this time around. I’m considering going an AA Meeting tomorrow and have so many fears about it. I’m nauseous over it, literally sick to my stomach. There is a meeting tomorrow at 11am not far from my house. When I look up information about AA online there are so many stories about why not to go, but I know it helps so many people.
Why I’m sick over this decision:
I don't know if I will have the strength to show up and be me, right now, in front of people in a public space. But if I don't, I don't have anyone to talk to besides the dead air of online. I did it for 2.5 years before, can I do it forever now with the new "lessons" I learned from my trying to drink again? (that I already knew before I started drinking again?)
Yoga and beer. I have heard of yoga session being heard in breweries as well as yoga with goats, I have taken part in fun runs that involve beer at the end, but this advertisement is a little heavy handed, right? Holding a dancer’s pose while drinking sounds terrible.
As grown ass adults, why does it seem so rebellious, cool, fun to insert alcohol into everything? I can’t answer this myself completely and I too have tried to insert alcohol into many activities that were just fine without it:
I like to listen to the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. It’s a show that mostly offers ways to know yourselves better in order to successfully make positive and healthy habit changes. I have taken on many of the tips she suggests and feel I have a better grasp on what works for me.
One quote she frequently uses is, “It’s a secret of adulthood: [wise insight].” I think it serves well to appropriate this to not drinking.
It’s a secret of sobriety:
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. I like myself better for it and have a full life because of it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp