Category Archives: Old Enough – To Be An Alcoholic

26 Things I’ve Learned in Second Year Sobriety

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Day 452

 

  1. My best thinking still gets me into trouble.
  2. Last year was animalistic survival mode: eat, sleep, flight, fight.
  3. This year I’m in touch with being human.
  4. Flaws are inevitable components of mortality.
  5. My shares aren’t going to be verbal sculptures of wisdom, nor do they have to be, nor will they be.
  6. I am not perfect, thank God.
  7. Willingness is fleeting, but my foundation is stronger than before.
  8. When I think I know everything, I remind myself I know nothing.
  9. More listening, less talking, more praying, less victimizing.
  10. Everything changes.
  11. Life gets full. Things come and go.  People come and go.
  12. Decisions get bigger.
  13. Estimable acts equate to confidence and connection with my Higher Power.
  14. Judgment is hideous.
  15. The world is at warp speed.
  16. Relationships take work.
  17. Where there is pain I can help.
  18. Where there is happiness I can join.
  19. Bitterness is removable.
  20. Fears are tentative.
  21. This is a disease of perception.
  22. “Having time” makes sense all of a sudden.
  23. I remember what it was like to think 1 month sober was long-term sobriety.
  24. Self-will is quickly identifiable and extra painful.
  25. Steps 1, 2, and 3 are crucial reminders, and must be visited often.
  26. “Make a message out of your mess.”

 

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Powerlessness


“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.
Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.

Day 405

“We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force
the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.
We are without defense against the first drink.”

– Alcoholics Anonymous, p.24

For Step 1 my sponsor asked me to write two lists:

1.   Generate a list of examples displaying your powerlessness over drugs and alcohol.

2.  Create a list for past and present examples of unmanageability.

The assigned task wasn’t in these words, but you get the gist. Initially nothing came to mind.  “Powerlessness” was not a word in my vocabulary until Alcoholics Anonymous.  I gave my sponsor (at the time) an answer in the form of a question, still unsure of what exactly the powerless word meant.

“One time two years ago I went to Vegas with all my girlfriends and I hadn’t seen most of them months, if not well over a year.  From the second the airplane landed I practically vanished, sparsely going back to the hotel room to do more coke and take a shower….More coke and more drinks were the only things on my mind.” I waited for her response.

“Exactly.”  She said. So I proceeded.

I gave her the disjointed bits I could remember.  I remember being alone most of the time. Really alone. I remember aimlessly meandering around the casinos by myself, talking to random men and doing coke in places so foggy I can’t even picture.  Most of my memories (if you can call them that) are snippets—except for the end.

On the last night I remember looking at all my friends dancing in a club, and feeling like I was in a separate world.  Without saying a word I turned around and walked away, invisible among the sea of party-ers and strobe lights.

Once outside the club (but still “inside” because Vegas is weird like that) I sought out a bar without many patrons. I remember thinking it was so strange that the casinos are carpeted.   A man sat next to me, asked where I was from, and I said Humboldt County.  Immediately he asked, “pot farm?” I said yes, and he sparked conversation, but I couldn’t reply.

It was like my jaw was frozen or rusted at the hinges, and even though he was right next to me I felt like there were light-years between our bar stools.  I had one-word answers, and even those sounded distant coming out of my mouth.

It felt like my body was shutting down.  And probably it was, after 4 days without sleep, food, only consuming unearthly amounts of cocaine and booze, booze, booze.

I am not exaggerating when I say my brain and voice couldn’t coordinate to communicate.

He took pity on me, not that I really deserved it.  He walked me to the cab line  and must’ve paid someone something because he got me to the front.  Making sure I was in the cab, making sure I could utter the single word that was my hotel name, he gave me money, since I had none left, and saw me off; my flight was in mere hours.  Who knows what time it was…must’ve been around 5am.  Time had no meaning.

In the hotel room that I hadn’t slept in once, my roommates and best friends who I barely saw, talked to, or partied with, lay sleeping.  I had not one dollar bill; not in the bank account, not in my wallet, not in any pants pockets.  I probably spent over $1,500 on those 4 Vegas days by myself.   The rest of my money was on the pot farm, in cash.  Never expected to blow through a grand.

Here’s the cherry on the shit-show cake:  I still owed $300+ for the hotel room. I did the worst thing a friend or person could do.

Like a coward, I packed my bag in silence–and left.  The room was quiet.  Someone might have said something to me but I can’t recall; because my only foggy fucked-up notion was “I need to get out of here.”

I got in someone’s cab that was going to the airport. Let them pay.  The sun was up.  I got to the airport when my phone rang, and my dear childhood friend on the other end was screaming about everything.  The hotel I didn’t pay for, the thanks I didn’t give, the disappearing act I pulled, and I could not deal.

Like a helpless child I burst into tears.  I told her I had the money for the hotel, and I “just forgot” to pay it.  She said I had to come back and give it to her.  I continued to lie.  Then I broke down further and just said I’m sorry, but I was sorry for me, not what I had done.  There was no such clarity in my mind.   The entire trip was me, me, me, more, more, more.

Every time I turned around on that trip it was like I couldn’t get fucked-up enough.  Each thought in my mind was consumed and centered around the “fact” that it was time for another line, another beer, another scene.  It was like my head was spinning and stopping on the same thing over and over again: More.

With the phone still against my ear I slumped against a wall of the airport and put my head in my knees.

I wanted to die.

I called my mom.

Like a true addict I told her my version of the story.  “Everyone is mad at me for no reason,” and I told her “I have to pay money I don’t owe.”  I asked her to put money in my account so I could pay my friends just to get them off my back. I overshot my money request to compensate for the parking I would need to pay at SFO airport, and the gas money I would need to get back to the farm.  She felt bad for me, for all false reasons.

Two excruciating, sobbing flights later I landed in San Fran.  The feelings from Vegas had followed me and they were exploding into shame.  “I’m never drinking again.”  I said repeatedly to myself.  “I’m never drinking again.”

I got my car out of long-term parking, drove 5 hours north and caused near-accidents the whole way. My body was shot.   I finally reached the windy mountain road to the farm. Up I went, and once my tires crunched under the dirt road I felt freer–but not better.

My friends in the typical drinking house, playing a typical drinking game.   PBR’s and Jameson caught my immediate attention, and a pack of Parliament Lights were perched on the counter.  Someone was taking a bong rip with a sitting casually next to a pound of weed.  “How was Vegas?!” He asked with his voice muffled as he blew out smoke.

I used humor to deflect my brokenness and mask my complete loss of dignity.

“I did things my mom wouldn’t be proud of.”  There were some laughs.  “Sounds like it was a good trip,” someone added.

“Yeah it was so fun.”  I actually managed to sound convincing.

Someone handed me a beer, I hesitated, opened it, and blacked out that night.

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Once You’re a Pickle, You Can Never Go Back To Being a Cucumber

 

I mean come on...does it have to say white?

I mean come on…does it have to say white?

I heard the other day that men think about sex every 11 minutes.  It occurred to me last night at the rock climbing gym, as I  reached into my chalk bag and saw cocaine, that I think about drugs and alcohol just about as frequently.  It’s not that I’m triggered every 600+ seconds, but I smell, and taste, and see coke and booze everywhere:

1. When I reach into my chalk bag

2. When I eat hotwings

3. When I see football

4. When it’s 5:00

5. When it’s any-o’clock

6. When I see Metro-North

7. When I smell coca cola I smell rum

8.  When I smell red bull I taste jager

9. When I hear country music I want whiskey

10. When hear the word “ski” I think of coke benders

11. When I hear the word “happy” I think hour

12. When I hear MacDre

13. When I eat celery I think bloody mary

14. When it snows I think Baileys

15. When I smell BBQ I think keg

16. When I hear cucumber I think about how I’m a pickle

The list goes on, and on, and on…….and on…..

RIP cucumbers

RIP cucumbers

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So I asked some friends I trust about trust…

Day 359

I base someone’s trustworthiness within the first 30 seconds of interaction. My immediate reactions are either a) you don’t like me so I don’t like you, or b) I trust you with my life let’s be friends forever.  Lots of room for let down in there.

This past week I’ve been lost in my mind in regards to whom I should trust, who I shouldn’t, and how to decipher the code of human conduct.   Last night my mom called me “guarded.”  This got me thinking…am I guarded or smart?  Am I my own worst enemy?  Am I being rational or are most people shit heads?

My thoughts can spin in circles faster than a neurotic hamsters on wheels, so I turned to my friends for help.  As usual, getting outside my head was the best place to find clarity. I asked them what trust means to them; its basic definition, if it comes naturally, if it’s easy to come by or hard to come by, how you know you can trust someone, etc…The responses have helped immensely.  Here they are, and I’ll keep them coming:

1) “Hmmm…Never had to put it into words.  I guess it involves a bit of surrender, some blind faith, some experience.” -Anon 1, sober 3 years

2)  “I threw trust in the garbage disposal a while ago.” -Anon 2, sober 30 days

3) “Going on a bender…knowing there is someone who will always pick up your call if you’re in trouble.”  -Anon 3, not in the program

4) “When you’re willing to let go…just because someone tells you it’s okay…that’s trust.”  -Anon 4, not in the program

5) “Trust is the outcome and peace of mind of a relationship completely fear-free.” -Anon 5, 1 year

6) “Woof.  I may not be the most intuitive when it comes to that.”  -Anon 6, not in the program

7) “I boil trust down into faith overcoming fear.  And my struggle comes down to internal/external fear/trust.  External trust is believing that others can know who I am and accept me for me.  That if I admit that I am struggling that they can and will help.  That if I expose where I am weak I won’t be betrayed.  Internal trust is what eludes me the most because I have lied to myself more than I have ever lied to other people.  I struggle in trusting my thinking, my emotions, and my motives.  That’s the shit that blocks me from opportunity to put in my trust in others.  I do not trust myself.”  -Anon 7, newcomer

 

8) “I read somewhere ‘trust no man, fear no bitch.’ I think that’s my motto from now on.” -Anon 8, 41 days

Oh sure, like it's that easy...

Oh sure, like it’s that easy…

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Twenty things that scared the crap out of me before getting sober

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  1. The future
  2. DUI checkpoints  
  3. Sounding insecure
  4. Small talk without a drink in my hand
  5. Checking my call history and outgoing texts the morning after.  (The worst was when I got “smart” and started deleting my outgoing texts during my blackouts)
  6. Losing my cell phone
  7. Looking people in the eye
  8. Being alone
  9. Not being alone

10. Failing as everyone around me succeeded

11. Eating.  My motto was often: “Eating’s cheating.”

12. Fear of letting myself down, and my family

13. Scared of getting caught in my own lies 

14. Fear of leaving the pot farm

15. Not being able to afford the material possessions that felt crucial

16. That everyone knew what I was thinking

17. Missing out

18. Maladaptation

19. Monotony

20. Extreme fear of never having enough–especially drugs and alcohol.  There was nothing more terrifying than that last line of coke, the last beer or bottle, and the knowledge that the strung out feeling of reality was about to hit again. 

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Just Keep Swimming

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April 29, 2013

“I’ve been rethinking California.   I don’t want to live in fear of a bad “relationship” that I’m not even in, and I don’t want to live in fear of a drinking problem I may not have…I just want to live.

I want to make money to travel.  The ranch = funding for my passport. It’s not backwards, it’s just going back so I can move forward.”  (The ranch = the pot farm.)

Today: Day 326

The entry above was written seven months ago, at three months sober.  Reading passages like this make me smile, because I feel like I’m in on a secret that my past self didn’t know.  The writing reveals notions that were oblivious to me then; and I’m sure in months when I read this, I’ll see what’s oblivious to me now.

If I could go back in time and tell myself what I know now, I wouldn’t; the lessons I’ve learned have been hard earned.  I feel a confident sense of accomplishment reading old thoughts, like, “I need money,” or “I don’t want to live in fear.”

I was living in fear, especially of what others thought.  My insecurities were so intensely binding because everyone surely had the same opinion of myself as I did.  If I felt stupid, they thought I was stupid, too. I felt ugly, therefore everyone else saw me as ugly, too.  When I felt isolated, it was because no one was letting me in…It’s a huge relief to know that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

My fear of financial unsustainability was pretty sad, to be frank.  The amount of money in my pocket determined my worth because I couldn’t find valuation anywhere else, certainly not from my “relationship.”  The man in my life used me like a doormat and I made it easy; his negative attention was better than his indifference.  The weight of my importance was weighed by everyone but myself.

In the “grand scheme of things,” (I don’t really like that phrase) ten months can be considered the blink of an eye, but the past 10 months have been the most literal a “journey” has ever felt to me, and it’s been by physically staying in one place.

My mind, on the other hand, has come light years further.  Recently I haven’t been bound by negativity, and I’m less afraid of the “uncomfortables.” (Scientific term there). I have unguarded moments all the time, and they’re okay.  I haven’t fallen apart at change or lost my mind in monotony.  I’ve coped at the loss of life; I’ve gotten better at recognizing which lives I need to walk out of.  I respect myself by doing estimable acts.  I’ve also learned that my self-development comes most from helping other people, which is the backbone of my growth and destroying self-centeredness.

I hope the old Faith doesn’t hijack my brain, and I know it’s possible.  I’ve learned these lessons but I know I can forget as soon as tomorrow.  My recovery relies on living in faith, not fear. Staying sober means knowing that I’ll never stop learning,  that I need  to keep going to meetings, help others, ask for help, and writing down where I am on the “journey.”

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Poco a Poco

Story of the past 310 days...

I need decent chunks of time for my blog posts, which I haven’t been able to find until now.  Writing for me is like exercise, and I’m out of shape creatively. (Bear with me.) The good news is I’m in shape spiritually.

Spending nearly three weeks in Argentina for my best friend’s wedding was…como si dice…fantastico? Life changing? Super cool? I can’t find the words in English or in Spanish to describe the past twenty days.

My flight got in Tuesday morning and I’ve been to a meeting here in Connecticut everyday since. At a speaker meeting last night someone said, “The first year of sobriety lays your foundation for the life ahead.”

There’s no way I can make promises that I’ll never drink again, but by staying clean in a country abounds with wine, cocaine, and discothèques, my foundation does feel stronger than before. Ten months in AA has taught me that cockiness is a dangerous sentiment; I’m wary of over boldness, but I don’t want to deny or forget the growth through my experiences abroad.

The people who I traveled with taught me about myself through their openness, and supported me without question. Gratitude from their behavior alone was enough to make me see the bigger picture…whatever that is. Maybe the “bigger picture” to me is The Promises. All the bullshit’s disintegrating and the good shit is emerging. My outlook is changing.

I was able to help everyday; uselessness disappeared. I lost interest in myself; remembering the priority in my life is to help others. I found my attitude shifting and uneasiness disappearing. There were a few times when I wanted to retreat during events, but for the most part I’d stick it out long enough to enjoy company and think, holy shit! I’m having a conversation!

Despite seeing the parties, the flowing wine, the free drinks and dozens of opportunities to rage, I want all of them less. I have come back from Argentina with more self-assuredness than when I arrived, and 100% certainty that I had an amazing time because I didn’t waste one minute disconnecting from reality with drugs and alcohol.

Que freakin’ bueno.

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I’m Probably Jealous of Your Blog

I WILL DESTROY YOU TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER RAAAAR

I WILL DESTROY YOU TO MAKE MYSELF FEEL BETTER RAAAAR

Day 282

My defects of character are always one step ahead.  By the time I catch up to a situation at hand, the alcoholic part of my brain has already decided how to spring into action, or isolate into oblivion.  Any notions that run on defects, naturally, are not the best.  A fault that hijacks my mind with the force of a Jedi night is jealousy; an emotion anyone with a steam of consciousness is familiar with.

For me, jealousy is the size of Godzilla.  Maybe that’s why they call it the green monster of envy…Anyway, pre AA; there were no tools on how to harness my raging ill will.  My gut reaction was to take the feeling and destroy it by belittling whomever I viewed as a threat.  Unfortunately a lot of the time my first thought is still the same.  Instinctively I want to judge as quickly and harshly as possible, thereby coddling my wounded ego.

Fortunately, now I know how backwards my thinking is, was, and can be. Now, something wonderful happens just before I generate a laundry list of invisible imperfections for someone…I stop.

My bat shit crazy brain comes to a halt, because I know now that the set of instructions I was following for life never worked.  Judgment made me feel shameful, more alone, and dragged me further into the darkest place of my pity partying mind.

Sure, the same feeling of jealousy still bites me in the ass when someone has what I want, whether it be looks, success, family, ambition, slippers, whatever. That’s okay though, because AA has taught me that envy is just fear, and fear is something I’m learning to recognize, face, and erase.

It comes naturally to torment myself that I’ll never have what you have, I’ll never be pretty like her, or happy like him. It’s easy to judge the shit out of you, and assume that you had a leg up that I missed, and therein lies the reason you have what I don’t.

The hard part has been learning that none of those things are true.  The hardest part has been finding the pause button, and following a new set of instructions.

Through powers of example and with the help of my HP, I’m learning to be truly happy for people, and it feels good.  When I ask for envy to be removed, it is–I might have to ask 20 times a day, but it’s becoming easier to redirect defects.

I used to dislike for the sole purpose to make myself feel better, but now I’m doing the exact opposite and finding that is where the solution has been all along.  To commend others for their success and try to help where they fall short breaks down the barrier between everyone and me.   Helping others is what’s made me more confident.

The best thing about my new set of instructions (aka the steps) is that the better I get at following them; the more I have to offer.

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Had to Write 377 Words To Come Up With Three: “Keep It Simple”

OH MY GOD THE PRESSURE TO BE BETTER

OH MY GOD THE PRESSURE TO BE BETTER

The Internet is FULL of prescriptions on how to live life.  There are one zillion articles, slogans, and suggestions, such as,“10 Ways to Make Yourself Happier,” “40 Ways to Live Your Life Without Regrets,” “30 Ways to Live Life to the Fullest,” or “11 Habits you MUST Give Up to be Happy.”  When these self-help-do-it-yourself posts pop up on Facebook or pervade my Gmail account, I read them.  Ugh.  It’s the worst.

It’s not that I don’t want to read them; that’s the problem.  I find myself thinking entirely too hard about what an unknown Internet author has written in regards to life management.

These “guides” are everywhere, and as a person who feels like she needs all the help she can get, it’s exhausting.  I somberly bookmark certain pages, or even write some tidbits down to reference later…except I never do.

Initially my intention was to finish this post with disdain for the columns, but I just realized I don’t hate them at all; they are the same principals of AA, and there’s no longer a need to swamp my consciousness with the lists because I’m practicing them everyday.

The suggestions for betterment are exactly what AA has been teaching me:

“Quit being ungrateful.” (I’ve been advised to write a gratitude list everyday, if not several times a day.)

“Quit running from your problems and fears.”  (“Keep Coming Back.”)

“Quit regretting the past.” (AA promise: We shall not regret the past nor wish to close the door on it.”)

“Quit talking down to yourself.” (AAism: “Put down the bat”)

“Quit criticizing others.” (Agreed.)

The Internet’s pointers were probably so overwhelming because I only had a vague idea of where my flaws were stemming from.  The difference now, is I’m taking it day by day.  My version of bookmarking a page is going to a meeting to be reminded.  And, there’s one AA suggestion that calms me down every time:  Keep it Simple.

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Frozen Yogurt or Something

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Day…Month 9 and change.

I’d be lying if I said I had my sh*t together right now.  My emotions in the past 48 hours have ranged from hysterical laughter, hysterical crying, extreme sadness, lethargy, mundaneness, rage, contempt, contented, fatigued, and spasmodic…and this is me on a mood stabilizer. The posts I started to write but deleted with fury were just as disorderly. This has been going on for two days.

Yesterday my attention was focused on researching the tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  I intended to relay a scholarly, articulate interpretation of my past drunk version of Hyde, and the present sober Hyde in me who is still very alive.  I thought that’d be a good time to write about how I was threatening to sue IKEA for a dresser I built incorrectly, but that was a dud, too.

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(This is how I look right now)

I confessed my writer’s block (more like writer’s spaz) to a friend.  Together we tried to generate metaphors on life and frozen yogurt.  This is what we came up with:

-Today is like a gummy bear…transparent and sticky.

-My mind is like a clogged frozen yogurt dispenser.

-My ideas are the crumbs that everyone drops because those stupid spoons are too shallow.

-My fingers are like gummy worms.

-Frozen yogurt is like a blank canvas.  The toppings mean so and so…

So far nothing has been able to reassemble my discombobulated thoughts.  I feel like the creativity portion of my brain is Humpty Dumpty; in pieces and can’t be put together again.

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(sorry to be so graphic)

I even tried to provoke my archenemy for material, but the fight didn’t progress much past, “fuck this guy,” and something about grudges in small huts.  I guess writing about disdain isn’t exactly a sober topic anyway.

The worst part about this shit-show is that the problem is obvious and the solution is one step away.  My pal “Dan” said he was a crazy person during Steps 6 & 7, and now I understand why. In Step 6 I came to terms with the defects of character I’d like to be removed, but they’re still there because I’ve been unwilling to get rid of them. After being in limbo for 3 weeks I finally willingly read Step 7. It was an extreme ah-hah-clarity moment.  Hey look I’m actually writing about something.

“Our crippling handicap had been our lack of humility.”

Humility as I understand it is: “not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

My lack of humility explains this neurotic scatterbrain state I’m in.  My actions inside the AA room have been “A” material but outside, getting an “F.”  Road raging, threatening to sue IKEA over a dresser, buying things I don’t need, and thinking of myself are traits I’ve been working to eradicate, not enhance.

“Instead of regarding the satisfaction of our material desires as the means by which we could live and function as human beings, we had taken these satisfactions to be the final end and aim of life.”

I live in a town where material possessions prevail, and my insecurities make it real easy to forget that they don’t matter.  Standing in line at Starbucks sometimes makes me feel like I’m the only person at a fashion show wearing jeans and flip-flops.

What I’ve forgotten in between Step 6 and 7 is that my confidence and happiness aren’t going to come from acting more selfish, less grateful, and insanely insecure.  I forgot to remember that I have to work at this everyday, because one bad mood makes me behave like I’m being victimized by the world.  Self-centered fears starts running my show and I start losing it, in more ways than one.

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(victimizing as usual)

So I guess if I was to compare myself to frozen yogurt right now…kidding, totally kidding. I’ll keep coming.

The End.

The End.

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