Tag Archives: sober

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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Freight Trains & Growing Pains

Old_abbandoned_freight-trains

For the past two weeks I have been nannying a 10-year old girl.  That’s a lie; for the past two weeks she has been nannying me.

The first morning I was hyper.  Four cups of coffee before 7am will do that.  Bombarding her with questions, I asked about Benjamin Franklin, (I know this was important to the kid in “Big Daddy” so it must pertain to her), I observed her soccer gear and asked about her affinity for sports, the first tooth she lost, what the weather would be that day, if she wanted to play tic-tac-toe, (she didn’t), and basically everything except for her social security number.  Finally I calmed down enough to read her facial expression that said: pump the brakes, Lady.

I dropped her off for school and thought to myself, FaithAnonymous you are such a weirdo.  No doubt she was thinking the same thing.

The second morning we played basketball but the game came to an abrupt halt when I got excited, threw the ball too hard, and it landed in an algae infested river thing, or a stream of contaminated water…hard to tell.  Nevertheless we got to work MacGyvering a device for “Operation Save Basketball.”  This rescue mission was a pivotal point in our nanny-nanny relationship.

By the third day, we were head-banging in the kitchen, blasting Led Zeppelin on the way to school, and yelling “OH YEAAAH,” in a voice similar to the Koolaid man or a WWF wrestler.  Then she had to remind me to remind her not to forget her soccer stuff.  “Oh yeah, don’t forget your soccer stuff.”

The hour before school is the only time I get to spend with “Miss. Anonymous,” we’ll call her, and the block of time troubled me at first.  I knew this gig would be taking precedence over my morning meetings and on days I wake hating the world, myself, and everyone involved,  a dose of AA is the only restart button at my disposal.  What I have learned is that this morning interaction has a new pathbreaking impact on my day.

In addition to teaching me how to shoot hoops, she has reeducated me on multiplication times tables, informed me (just in time) that olive oil is not the same as Crisco when it comes to waffle batter, and that cake is not an acceptable breakfast.

This morning as I practiced my newly acquired culinary skills, she supervised from the end of the counter.  Something caught her eye right before my flawless fried egg flip.

“Woah!”  She said, standing in front of the toaster, looking at her reflection in the silvery stainless steal. “I used to have to stand on my tip toes to see my reflection on here, and now I don’t have to!” She exclaimed as she looked at her own face at eye level.

Something about this moment made time stand still in a beautiful way.   It was like watching life in slow motion. She was elated at her discovery on the toaster and the physical proof of growing up.

I am a “grownup” but I will never be  grown up; that implies that I’ve stopped growing.  Every single day there are new bits of knowledge thrown my way and I have to be open to receive.  Sometimes they are something small, like how to make waffles; sometimes it’s character building, like witnessing and acknowledging a kind gesture that gives me faith.  And sometimes it’s a freight train blaring across my path, screaming, you’re an alcoholic, and it’s okay to ask for help.

Maybe for a kid life is like a high-speed rail with information whizzing by so fast that they don’t even know they’re trying to catch up.  If I remember correctly, 10 is the age where information slows down enough to begin processing; except I guess it’s not slowing down; it’s just the kids growing up.  Catching up.  Suiting up for the freight trains and knowledge bombs. I wish I could tell Miss. Anonymous that once the train starts it is full speed ahead.

Or, on a lighter note, I could tell her this.

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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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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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Sacrifices Must Be Made

There are things in sobriety I love; like the mornings.  Morning time has become the best time, whether the orange sun rises across the creek, or rain pours down, or humidity is about to spread like a sweltering blanket across town.  Nothing feels more serene than looking over the estuary, and calmly proceeding to start the day.  It’s my mental stretch.

Then there are things that break my little sober heart; like the fact that hot wings have no meaning without beer.  Sigh.   

I guess it’s a small price to pay for my life and happiness, but, whatever. 

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Boycotting Meetings 2013

AA Hate

On Saturday afternoon I leaned my head back against the cement painted wall on the inside of yet another church. The itchy blue upholstered chairs were almost as irritating as the topic: service.  I wished the speaker would do us all a service and shut the %$^& up.

Resentments against AA have been culminating since last week and I can’t exactly pinpoint where or why; suddenly everything sounds excruciatingly stupid.

Who cares about how many big books are in publication?  Who gives a flying &*#& about what kind of sponsee someone’s been for the day?  And why do I have to listen to some whiny-wet-pants grown ass man talk about his most recent bout with liposuction? I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.

“It’ll pass,” everyone says.  And I agree, it will pass…by taking a breather from AA.  Boycotting meetings 2013.  Bam.  It’s been 3 days which feels like 3 months and so far so good. I’m not giving in, or giving up…I’m just inside the safety zone of denial aisle.

*My sponsor has not approved this message.*

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