Tag Archives: change

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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3…2…1….Self-destruct.

The topic last night was relapse.  The woman who spoke was pretty harsh and brutally honest:

 “This is a progressive and fatal disease…what is your story with relapse?  What are you doing to fight it?” 

 

Her lead was 100x more direct, powerful, and articulate than how I just paraphrased.    

 

We started going around the circle.  One newcomer with less than 6 months shared about the two funerals he’s already been to in a very, very short amount of time.

 

A kid younger than me shared his experience with relapse:  “I wanted to experiment one night…and wound up experimenting for 3 years.”

 

This past Monday a member of our home group died.  He was young, had a wife, and a 3-year-old son.  A member who went to the funeral gesticulated with his hands to describe the agonizing look in the wife’s eyes.  “I don’t want my family to have to bury me.”  He said.

 

The leader of the meeting told the group she had a sponsee who wanted to go out for “just one night,” and wound up killing two kids via vehicular manslaughter.   

 

I suppose this is what’s called “keeping it green,” which used to be an expression I linked to packing a bowl; now it’s what I need as a constant reminder for my sobriety.

 

Sometimes I still want to self-destruct.  Sometimes I want to see myself at the lowest point again, where I was in the basement of a stranger’s house with blood on my face and no idea how to get home.  Sometimes I even want it to get worse than that, and I have no idea why.  My thinking previous to AA was geared towards “party hard and die young.” Even after over a year, that death part still sounds appealing.

 

“I learned in rehab that the longest a craving can exist in your brain is 15 minutes, unless you continue to dwell on it.”  The leader said.  “So you pick up the phone, you go on a run, you watch TV, whatever it takes to move a muscle change a thought.”

 

I said, “I know all about those 15 minutes.” 

 

I’m sure we all do, because whether or not we work through the discomfort determines whether or not we’ll pick up. 

 

Sometimes I regret having not tried heroin, and I KNOW how moronic that sounds, but it’s the way my mind works; the self-destruct button is never far from reach.  

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You Got Goals?

What have I gotten myself into

What have I gotten myself into

Hindsight is 20/20.  Hindsight in sobriety feels like 20/10; reality and memories infiltrate with no buffers, up close and personal. I feel like Tommy Boy being whacked in the face by a 2×4 a lot of the time.  Today, after writing “A Losing Battle,” I realized that chasing a high doesn’t have to be repeatedly returning to a substance, it can be a place.  For me, it was the pot farm.

The first year on The Ranch was my high, and it’s what kept me going back.  Glorifying my past is a stupid thing to do because it very quickly becomes a resurrected reality within reach. That said some of the best memories of my life were on The Ranch.  There were undeniably sublime times…in the beginning.

Midafternoon on August 23, 2010, I arrived half way up a mountain at the mouth of a dirt road.  Trees covered in lichen towered over as my driver began driving the bumpy one lane route.  The first gate we got to, I got out of the car and was given a combination for entry.  The second heavily padlocked gate we got to, I was told which rock to find a key under, and by the third gate a half hour later I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

A giant house that appeared to be made mostly of copper and glass sat on top of a clearing on the side of the mountain, and beyond the clearing there were rolling Redwoods as far as the eye could see.  My qualifier for the farm had me sit down on a beautiful patio facing what looked like all of Northern California, and we waited for the owner of the property to come out.   He was a small man, and older than I expected, but fit.   Grey hair, grey shirt, black jeans, dark sunglasses.  Sitting down next to me, he lit up a joint the size of a gorilla finger.  Without speaking he offered it to me,

“No thanks, I don’t smoke anymore.”  I could see his eyebrows rise just above the Darth Vader glasses.  After a long inhale and exhale he asked me,

“Do you have goals?”

“Um, yeah, I want to be a writer.”

“Good.  It’s good to have goals.  You start today.”

**I’ll have to consider this the intro…To be continued!***

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A Losing Battle

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Day 238

A light bulb went on in my head the first time coke hit my brain; I remember everything about the moment like a lost lover finding their soul mate.   Someone handed me a bullet in a crowded club in New York City.  It was NYE, 2007.

“Sniff this,” they said over the pounding mass of inaudible music.

“Okay,” I yelled back without thinking twice.

It was instant elation, like everything lit up and slowed down at the same time. The club transformed from a confined, sweaty, claustrophobic hell into good beats, pretty lights, and a dance floor; there was no pushing or shoving as I moved my way through the crowd with a confidence I’d never had before.  Cigarettes tasted amazing.  Alcohol felt hydrating and the drinks could keep coming all night without a worry of typical stumbling sloppiness.

The first time I heard about addicts “chasing the first high,” aka the perpetual return to a substance hoping to duplicate the same euphoric experience, I realized that cocaine wasn’t the same after that New Years night, and never once in the following six years.  It’s a chase that every addict will lose, and it’s hard to stop running.

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Here Lies Faith Anonymous

sobriety1

There’s a section of town I try to avoid at all costs.  If the route is absolutely inescapable I hold my breath until I’m through, like a kid would when passing a graveyard.

In the most dramatic sense, that part of town is analogous to a graveyard.  My headstone would read:

Here lies Faith Anonymous

Who Woke up One Morning

And Realized She Couldn’t

Do it Anymore

1987-2013

The dawn of that “One Morning” was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen.  My hung over eyes opened and blurred vision focused on one tiny window in the corner of what appeared to be a basement.  The winter grey light flatly illuminated the scene.  Unfamiliar surroundings were no novelty, but this was different.  Waking up in the basement of a stranger’s house wasn’t what perturbed me, or the inability to recall how I got there.  There was an emptiness..it felt like there was nothing left of the person I once was.  Generally my specialty was spinning these scenarios into humor because it was the only way to mask my misery; if I could laugh at myself I could lie to myself.

There was no pretend laughter.  It was a white flag surrender in an excruciatingly painful moment of clarity, I can’t do this anymore. Alcoholics Anonymous had never once crossed my mind as somewhere I thought I belonged, but there I was; 6am, ass planted on an ice-cold curb, waiting for my Knight in Shining Taxi, and a message louder than my hangover blaring inside my head: AA is the answer.

After what felt like eternity Knight Cabbie found me at no address in particular.  It took me 3 tries to to find my car. Third time’s the most shameful.  I paid the man, prayed that I’d never see him again, and went straight home to  google “How to tell if you’re an alcoholic.”  The overwhelming yeses from the generic questionnaires weren’t enough.  Now what? I needed someone to talk this through with; not my mom, not my dad, not even my closest friends.  I think I was worried they’d tell me it was fine, which I knew I wasn’t.

A couple minutes later a text came in from my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. We’ll call her B.  She is someone I know a little and love a lot.  Whatever your understanding of God is, it was one of those moments, a divine intervention, whatever.

Blacked out or not, drinking had become trivial without coke.  The second a beer was in my hand, I wanted something up my nose and I didn’t care what lengths I had to go to, or what bridges were burned.  B was furious, and rightly so. I had called her boyfriend who was trying to get sober at the time to help get me blow the night before. Not cool.  And for the first time ever, I didn’t want to victimize myself to into a way out.  This was my chance.  “You’re absolutely right,” I wrote back, “And I need help.”   I ended up on her couch that morning which was a foreign place for me.  B and I were never friends on the level of “come over and sit on my couch,” or “what’s your favorite color,” but there I sat.

“Do you think I’m an alcoholic?”  I asked fearfully.

She paused in thought and said,

“I think you’re struggling with addiction.”

needed someone else to say it.  Half my mind was telling me I was overreacting; that this was just one more reason to really start controlling my drinking. The other half wanted to hear exactly what B verified.  She brought her laptop to the floor of the living room and we searched for meetings.  A friend ended up navigating us to a site and I went to my first meeting that night.  I’ve been to one almost every night since.

When I pass that section of town I can still see myself sitting in the cold dead dawn.  They say when you hit rock bottom you have no where to go but up; so in a fucked up way I am glad my disease kicked me to the curb.  Just not glad enough to comfortably drive near, through or around the scene of the crime.

I wonder what would have happened if B never sent me that text message, or if I hadn’t blacked out that night, if I didn’t end up on her couch that morning.

More importantly I wonder what wouldn’t have happened.  Two hundred and thirty two days later I am no longer the shell of a human being. At the age of 26 I have finally started living.  Maybe a better message carved on my headstone would be:

Here Lies Faith Anonymous

Who Died and Came Back to Life

Just like Jesus.

KIDDING. Totally kidding.

But really.

2013-Present Day

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Holy Emotional Upheaval

Day 228

Step 4 and 5 kicked my ass.  I’m glad to be just another bozo on the bus, but this bozo was running out of meetings practically weeping. The emotional upheaval of step 4 aka Pandora’s Box of Pain, aka grievous fortification was an anguish I didn’t even know existed.

My insides wanted to collapse; something no one should have to witness–so I ran.   I ran outside, took a left, right into a graveyard.

Between my tears and peoples’ graves and the metaphorical rain cloud above my head I decided it was all a little too intense.  Knowing what would help most was the experience, strength, and hope of another alcoholic; I headed back up the stairs just as a friend was coming down.  She told me I was in a safe place and I knew she was right.

Step 5 was almost as amazing as people said it would be. It took almost 4 hours to go through the resentments I had against myself.  At the end my sponsor put her hand on my shoulder and said, “You never have to be that person again.”

Fast-forward a couple hours.  I’m standing in the kitchen eating a salad, nighttime, late dinner as usual.  All of a sudden my throat started closing, breathing was shallow and breaths were broken.  I looked down at my salad…almonds!!! I’ve developed allergies as an adult before and despite the fact that I’ve never been allergic to nuts, I figured that the allergy gods were rearing their ugly allergy heads.

To avoid an untimely death I went to the walk-in ER and told them I was having a fatal allergic reaction.  The doctor saw me almost immediately.

“This is not an allergic reaction,” he said calmly.

“Yes it is.”  I said shakily and dumbfounded, you stewpid doctor. 

“Have you gone through anything emotional today?”

I paused.  Shut the fuck up.

“Yeah, Step 5.” I answered

“What’s step 5?” He asked, I was almost offended that he didn’t know.  This is all about me, dammit.

So I told him.

“Jesus, yeah, that’ll do it.  You’re having a panic attack.”

Classic, the only panic attack I’ve ever had was after the 5th step.  My resentments almost took me out!  Literally! The next day at a meeting I demanded $537 out of the basket for my ER visit due to step work.  I was only half serious.

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Top 10 Reasons To Avoid the Grocery Store

I’ll go weeks without grocery shopping for these reasons:

1. The parking lot is the worst.  How many times have you pulled halfway into a spot just to find there’s a shopping cart hiding?   Some people may get out of their car, move the shopping cart, get back into their car, pull into the spot and go about their day of errands.  I turn into the Hulk with a license, throw my truck in reverse, turn green, (because I’m the Hulk), and drive 25mph to the end of the lane.  Screw you, sneaky shopping cart.

2.  The pedestrians in the parking lot, ALL of them. Especially the ones meandering down the middle of the row, pretending to be oblivious to my 3,000lb steel machinery with wheels inching behind them at 0mph. Then they’ll casually glance over their shoulder, and some will start ebbing their way to the right or left.  WALK FASTER. Or I will bitch slap you, with my truck.  Twice.

3. Can we talk about the hellish heat that radiates from the asphalt of the parking lot in the summer? It’s like living in the desert scene of “Fievel Goes West.”

4. You can’t go anywhere but home after going to the grocery store in the summer, because we all know what happens; wilted lettuce, melted goop, warm milk, puke.  You’re stuck.  See a friend on the way home, want to stop and chat?  Too bad, your groceries are mere seconds away from perishing.

5. While we’re on seasons should I mention how much I abhor getting blasted by cold air after exiting the grocery store, and when there’s SLUSH on the ground? And the cart is all squeaking and halting because it is not snow proof. Omg forget it.  I’ll eat snow from the front yard, thanks.

6. The grocery store is fucking worst before any weather malady; blizzards, thunders, hurricanes, “tropical storms,” you name it.  There WILL be those crazy bitches stocking up on enough bread for the next 10 years and there will be daft macho men buying $600 snow blowers and building bomb shelters telling everyone the world is going to end.  Take it easy, pal.

7. Being inside the grocery store in general is enough to send me into a pandemonium panic.  There are about 40,000 items in the typical grocery store.  FORTY THOUSAND.  This means I have to spend 20 minutes scanning 50 different brands of granola bars. I would rather collect oats from the ground and mash them together with my adhesive saliva.  I realize that sounds disgusting. I don’t care.

8.  I refuse to go to Siberia aka the freezer section.  Is it really necessary to reenact the ice age in aisle six?  Plus, you know if you buy anything frozen you’re going to get home, open the freezer, and there will never be enough room, because it’s jam crammed with all the shit you never use, usually stuffed in the back which you may never see again.  Freezers are stupid. Then you’re faced with the stuff-and-shove-and-shut-the-door-quickly routine.  This may not be applicable for everyone but it is for me, and ice cream ain’t worth it.

9. One word: Checkout….Don’t even get me started.

10. The drive home from the grocery store you’re exhausted from all the idiots and shopping carts and coupon clippers holding up the line.  Your eyes are probably burning from shifting your stare between 20 different kinds of soy milk.  Once you finally get home, you spend even MORE time putting all this stuff away.  Of course, realize you’ve forgotten the one most important item.  Probably cereal or bacon.  You curse yourself and the grocery store and it prevents you from ever going again.

Granted, I suffer greatly from anxiety, culture shock (having come from a pot farm in the middle of the woods where I lived with a cooler, not a refrigerator), and I’m in the anxious ridden state of early recovery; but I’m pretty sure all grocery stores should excavated, bulldozed, or wiped from the face of the Earth…at least one of those. Or all of them…Stupid grocery stores.

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Accept, Change, Carry On

“If nothing changes then nothing changes.”

What an obnoxiously on-point and impactful quote.  The first time I heard this my reaction was, “thank you Captain Obvious.”  Then I paused.  Change is everything. Ugh, I still want to say “duh.”  After giving time time in this program I have learned that my mind, body, and soul need complete reconstruction, and that’s putting it lightly.

My mind is a tear-down. Every notion I had about myself needs to do a 180.  Where I used to say I’m stupid, I have to say I’m smart.  Where I say I’m ugly, I have to say I love myself.  When I say I want a boob job, I have to tell my insecure thoughts to take a hike, because I’m beautiful the way God made me.

When life used to bitch slap the bejeesus out of me (still does) and the only solution I could find was at the bottom of a bottle, now I must pick up the phone, pray, ask for something greater than me to remove the obsession, and write a gratitude list because being ungrateful is old behavior. When I used to feel discomfort in my own skin so extreme that I had nowhere to go except mental and physical isolation, I must now bare-knuckle the unease until it passes.

The way I view people must change.  Passing judgment was a way of life and it took many forms; belittling someone in my head, talking shit on a person who has done nothing to provoke my personal space.  I know now that when I am judging someone else I am judging myself. When I judge others I am envious and I must derogate the person who has more than me; whether it be money, happiness, or security.  Jealousy was too hard to admit.  It was better to make myself feel bigger so my ego wasn’t in jeopardy.  The ego had to go, too.

They say the same alcoholic will drink again and sometimes I feel like the same person who walked through the doors 227 days ago. I’ll ask myself what the hell I’ve been doing this for and why the fuck I’m still here. Then I look back at my journal entries (which I wrote in TextEdit because I had no Word Document, so ignore the typos), and the steps I’ve taken cannot be gainsaid.

On March 9, 2013 when I had just a little over 30 days I wrote about my share from that morning:

  i spoke and said I was glad that he said that because the topic was “elation.” i said that when i feel elated i hold on to it for dear life.  holy shit, i’m happy and it’s not from drinking, and that is what i want.  i said i see triggers everywhere. i can’t listen to the radio anymore, it’s a trigger. commercials, songs, all triggers. north korea is a trigger. and not because i think they’re actually going to nuke us, just because i can’t stand it when someone doesn’t like me.  but here i am completely unlikeable. i’m such a bratty walking pity party.  i said i was walking around last night, seeing the train go back and fourth to NYC. i was thinking about how awesomely ironic it would be if i were to be hit and killed by a drunk driver.  not normal thoughts.  i said i can pretty much look at a pile of dirt right now and see a line that needs to be chopped up. i said i know it’s only been 30- something days but i feel like i’m regressing. i said all i feel is anger.  when i see someone celebrating i don’t think, oh i want to celebrate with you, i think, i hate you.  and i want to be drinking.  i said i have nothing to drown my depression and i have nothing to mask my insecurities and the whole world is trying to get me to drink. except for AA. i said i remembered one guy in a darien meeting who said, i just want to get over myself. i said that is exactly how i feel. it resonated at the time but i didn’t understand it till now. the world is not all about me.  it really is not.”

This was my most recent entry, on August 31, 2013:

“Sometimes I question my alcoholic legitimacy.  If I am an alcoholic, then why haven’t I relapsed yet?  Then I think, why would I ever leave this? Sobriety is the best thing that’s ever been mine.  It’s been the most important decision of my life.”

Amen, past self.

Ignoring reality was easy before I knew I was an alcoholic because I had one phrase conveniently engrained whenever I needed it: “deny, deny, deny.”  That has changed. (There’s that word again).  Now my mantra is: accept, change, carry on. 

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Leap(s) of Faith

 

leap of faith

Day 224

“The opposite of fear is faith.”  

For me, hearing this for the first time felt like gaining access to a blueprint I had been missing my whole life.  Fear was the source of so much of my pain; fear of failing, fear of feeling feelings, fear of rejection, fear of finding out what I had feared all along, fear of people, fear of situations, fear of lack of connections.  Drinking subdued all those trepidations because the thoughts were drowned by liquor and blocked by the release of inauthentic serotonin.  Shit, whiskey was the most loyal friend I had.

Faith was just a word and a meaningless one at that.  If you had asked me 7 1/2 months ago to provide my version of a definition I probably would have recited parts of the LimpBizkit song.

Today faith is something I truly feel, (hand over heart), it’s how I know I’m on the right path and it’s what fills a room of strangers with hope.

Some days it is harder to find than others, and I know I can’t do it alone.  That’s why my fellows are my lifeline.  A woman spoke a few weeks ago on taking leaps of faith, we took a leap the moment we walked through the doors, because we didn’t know where we would land; we just hoped it would be better than where we had been.  In sharing her experience she said:

“The only thing I could admit was that my life was unmanageable.  The first step I got, the rest was impossible.  But my sponsor said she had faith for me.  She got me through when I didn’t know if I could.”

On days I want to pickup and breakdown, I remember this: that even if I don’t think I can make it, someone else knows I can.

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Me? An Alcoholic?

Who Me?

Day 222:

People of the rooms often say “you’re lucky to have found the rooms at such a young age.” Looking back, I wonder, what took me so long?

What took me so long was a skewed definition of what an addict/alcoholic looked like.  In my eyes alcoholics were besotted bums on the street, they were old men and women who’d lost everything.  They were the pathetic boozehounds who drunkenly pleaded for no one to leave the party as they  sloppily held onto a door frame.  (Okay, okay, I’ve been that person).  They were holed up somewhere, bogged down elsewhere, nursing a warm 40oz concealed in a brown paper bag.  Me?  An alcoholic?  Not possible, right?

Wrong.  It’s hard not to cringe at those past notions.  Alcoholism does not discriminate and certainly doesn’t care that I was born in a town wrapped in money and safety nets…can you believe it?

My image of what constituted an alcoholic in comparison to myself didn’t match up, because my belief was surface level.  Mass media’s portrayal of alcoholics was my go-to.  “I’m not an alcoholic because…”  Unfortunately and fortunately I was sold on the whole alcoholic thing on the first meeting. (Hated referring to myself as such for several weeks).

It was a cold night in February (as most east coast nights in February are), and the air smelled like winter.  Early that morning was my full surrender, a complete defeat, and self-hatred so intense I could feel it in my bones.  A series of coincidental, or destined events, (still not sure), took place and directed me to a church several towns over.  Pages could be written on that first meeting – how the room was circular, inviting, and had those festive, fake, but warming, luminescent candles in the windows.  Fear wanted me to bolt but I think faith kept me seated; something told me I was supposed to be there.  Not sure what I was expecting to hear, but it wasn’t what I heard.  What I heard were my thoughts.

Expecting a drunk-o-log, where alcoholics forlornly attempted to reconstruct their ruined lives, I was taken aback.  My most inner thoughts were being expressed through the mouth of a stranger.  The man talking said he was the party person, he was gregarious, affable, and had good friends, but in a room full of people he could feel completely alone. That’s where alcohol came in, an alcoholic’s panacea for all connection problems.  He spoke of the self hate that I’ve felt my whole life and right then I knew it was my thinking, not my drinking, that defined alcoholism.

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