Taking Responsibility ……

So I’ll bet you read the title and thought this would be a Ninth Step kind of post. Or maybe I did my searching and fearless inventory and am taking responsibility for some newly discovered dark thing about me.

No. No. Alas, no.

What I write about is this kind of responsibility one should not take. Taking responsibility for someone else’s shit.

Yes, I’m an alcoholic and addict. But don’t we all have someone in our lives who, too, is an alcoholic or addict? And don’t they do to us what we did to others?

What I’m getting at is when a loved one relapses. I go to that “I should have seen it coming” place. I scrutinize the events and interactions leading up to the other person’s relapse. I put the days after they started using under the microscope. Many “aha” moments are enlarged there. The sleepy, glossy eyes. The fingers in the mouth — this person ALWAYS puts their fingers in the mouth when they’re using. Like a baby who rebels against sleep just as much as he or she wants it.

Somehow the whole feeling “duped” thing is something I’m taking responsibility for. Why am I responsible for being duped? Why isn’t it HIS responsibility for lying? That’s right. It is his responsibility.

And I can’t make him take responsibility for that. I can’t make him stop using. I can’t make him admit to using — been there, done that.

I put myself under that microscope as well. I squint and enlarge and probe. Was I in denial? Or was I giving a heaping, happy, healthy , loving dose of “benefit of the doubt?” Here I am going back to that place…….. I should have seen it coming. Or maybe I did see it coming but didn’t.

So I’ve been doing all of these things. But I’m going to stop. Just for today. Just for today I’m going to sit and be with me and accept that things are the way they are and that I’m powerless. Of course, I’ll have to see what happens when a counter-intuitive train of thought comes clacking and rattling into the station at top speed. I often get into a positive, powerful “just for today frame of mind” and unwittingly hop on these trains when they arrive. I have the power to watch them thunder past me, papers and dust flying in their wakes. I don’t always execute that power.

Good night.

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Pissing on Your Foot & Telling You It’s Raining

“No, I’m not drinking,” I would protest or whine or insist or yell or mutter or slur or shout or maintain or report or say or mumble or sputter or whisper or hiss……. or belch or snicker. Depended on the day and who was doing the asking.

“I only had a couple…….” I would counter or insist or demand or swear sincerely or ask or state earnestly or attest or report or mumble or sputter or whisper or hiss…… or belch. Depended on the day and who was doing the asking.

No matter how I said it, one of two things would happen:

The person would call me out on my lie — this was verrrrrry occasionally.

OR (more likely):

Their lips would flat-line, their eyes would squint, their eyebrows would furrow, and – almost invariably – they would fold their arms. Sometimes there would be an additional gesture such as an impatient foot tapping or an irate eye-roll. But usually the lips would straighten into a thin line and the eyes would squint.

People just didn’t have the patience to play the “yes you did”/”no I didn’t” game. The alcoholic or addict always can hold out longer and pull out evidence that would never be admissible in a court of law, typically beginning with the sentence-starter: “Even ask _________ [so-and-so].”

Yes. We had proof positive. And reliable alibis. And charrrrrrrrrrrrm. And puppy eyes.

When I saw the lips flat-line and the eyes squint -or ……….. no, let me derail that train of thought. I would also insist on my abstinence to sometimes two people. Did you ever do that? And BOTH their lips flat-lined and they would make eye contact with one another? Silence that said SO much. That made me feel instantly ganged up on, outnumbered, pissed off, and willing to double my efforts to persuade them to believe me.

Sometimes I would see shoulders slouch back down, eyes soften, a smile ease into the flat-lined lips and warming them. I won them over. But this was rare and I knew it. But I fought that fight every time. Trying to win them over.

I’d take the proverbial piss on their feet and tell them it’s raining. I’d tell them to ignore the temperature – ignore the sunshine and there being NO clouds in the sky – and ask them to ignore the color yellow. It’s raining. It’s supposed to be happening. You’re supposed to have wet feet. Everyone has wet feet this time of year! And they would walk away with their wet feet ska-winching in their soaked sneakers, smiling and thinking this was normal. I persuaded them. Sometimes.

The squint. The flat-lining lips. I kept insisting.

Those empty bottles under the table cloth of the end table? They are someone else’s from before. My staggering? I stood up too fast and my blood pressure is low and how DARE you pick on me about a medical condition I can’t control. The smell on my breath? You’re imagining things.

Oh, yes. I’d boomerang any evidence so they would question their own judgment and sanity, and in the end they would feel guilty for having tinkered with such a nice lady like me.

“You’re as sick as your secrets,” they are wont to say in Al-anon. And they’re right. And I had a million secrets stacked on secrets shoved in drawers between secrets shoved in closets of secrets inside attics of secret basements…… I didn’t know where I kept them all and couldn’t keep them straight.

I realize just exactly how free I am today. I am relatively secret-free. Except the occasional appropriate secret such as what I got you for your birthday (you’re going to love it) and what I did the other night ……… ’cause nice girls don’t kiss and tell. And sometimes they do nothing, but they don’t need to advertise that either.

I am free. I can look people in the eye. I don’t have to hesitate before answering questions, trying to remember what I told them last time or what I told this person’s spouse because I need the lies to be consistent…………. I am not accused of anything. I don’t need a defense today. I’m free. I’m out of the prison of my own making.

They say to “live like someone left the gate open” (and the saying is superimposed over a spritely little puppy in running joyously in midair). I hope to do that. But for now, I’m just happy that I left the gate open and I’m out and about. Free.

Money, So They Say …. Is the Root of all Evil Today. Todayyyyy. Today.

You are short on your rent by $400.  It’s due in the mail Friday to get it by the first.  Pay day is Thursday, but you’re a waitperson.  You can hope your check is $125……….  roughly.  Your head spins with earnings potential.  If Tuesday is busy (for a Tuesday), you might make $40.   Wednesday night there is a big reservation – BIG – but there’s another staffer on.  Hopefully you can make $80-ish.  So now we’ve doubled that check, but we’re still short.

It would make sense to not drink for the rest of the week and scrape up as much funding as possible.  But if you’re an alcoholic like I am, you’re not able to abstain.  Not for money.  Not for the love of your home.  Not for family and friends. Not for anything.  That monkey on your back is no longer just picking lice off of you and grooming you and seeming useful – it’s yelling and pounding on you most savagely until you get to the package store or bar or medicine cabinet or whatever it takes to quiet it down ……..

So it might make sense, at least, to purchase alcohol at the package store where there is less markup than at a bar.  Harm-reduction, right?  If you’re an alcoholic who loves the bar scene, this isn’t doable either.  You might miss something, after all.  You already spend your life feeling isolated everywhere you go and you seek crowded rooms in which to feel alone.  Somehow you feel even more alone in these crowded rooms, but you keep insanely seeking companionship there. 

So one solution is a cash advance on the credit card.  But you know they’ll hit you with a surcharge for EVER if you don’t pay it back right away.  And you won’t.  You already know you won’t.  So how to avoid this …… as a person who waits tables, you bring your credit card to work.  You take the BIGGEST bill that is paid in cash and “treat them to dinner” with your credit card and pocket the cash.  Cash advance.  Free of charge.  And ……  you didn’t tip yourself, right?  So that’s less to report to the IRS, less that will be taxed in next week’s paycheck.  You do this a couple of nights.  You have money for the bar, money for the package store because you’ll want to drink after last call – perhaps more urgently than before you started, AND you have your rent.  Nice.

You go to the bar and you justify drinking every night by telling yourself, “Hey. It’s alright. My bills always get paid.”

You do this night after nauseating night.  $30 one night.  $85 the next.  You bring $20 to the bar vowing that is ALL you will spend.  You leave the bar twice to hit the ATM.  You stand next to the bartender’s five dollar tip she hadn’t noticed – she grabs the fiver, looks at you and says “another ___________[insert name of your favorite drink]?”  You nod.  She rings you up.  It’s not stealing, right?  Just a misunderstanding.    And you let her keep the change. How noble of you.  You take out the crumpled $10-spot hidden in the recesses of your wallet.  It’s for a cab in case you’re too shitfaced to drive.  You drink it all up.  You weren’t going to use it anyway.

Money.  Makes the world go round, doesn’t it?

So night after nauseating night, you do this.  Your bills will get paid.  Your rent is paid.  Your electric is …. a little behind …. but if you send them SOMETHING they won’t shut you off, right?  It’s alright.  You get the credit card statement.

Balance:  $9,076.97

Charges this Period:  $856.23

Minimum Payment Due:  $75.00

You send them $75.  You’re happy.  It’s not making the balance any smaller, but you’ll make more money soon.  You’ll get more hours – they cut them because you were late a few times. Pssssh.  They KNOW you work nights!  That’s what they  GET for putting you on mornings!  They should KNOW you can’t handle it!  So?   This whole thing is on THEM and your being denied your full time hours is bullshit.  Isn’t it???  You’ll get more hours and then you’ll get a better job and you won’t be in this rut.  That apartment is hard to afford with the utilities and the electric heat.  Who wouldn’t be broke?

Then this month is identical to last month with the struggle to make ends meet, racking up debts on the credit card, and justifying it with “my bills get paid.”    You have TONS of beer cans.  Garbage bags full. You vow to return them, but it’s getting to be too embarrassing.  You slip them in your trash can on garbage day.  You have a recycle bin …… but filling it with this heap?  And putting it at the end of YOUR driveway when you live on a busy street?  UH-uh.  No.  So you throw them out, the incriminating rustle-rattle acting as an alarm as you lug them hastily down the back stairs to your garbage.  Headlights head toward the driveway and you want to drop the bag and run.  The car passes.  Your heart is pounding.  You throw them violently into the garbage can and cover it quickly before anyone’s the wiser.  You just threw away $18.  Eighteen bucks bought you some pride.  Just a little.  But the nagging feeling is there.  Those cans were less than a week’s worth.  AND you drink at the bar.  It’s hard to see that expansive garbage bag and not realize how much you drink.  Oh.  And there’s another upstairs from the same time frame.  But this is why you go to different package stores every night.  So the staff won’t know you drink EVERY day.

The money.  Something’s gotta give.  Something’s GOT to give.  You need a roommate.  You start looking.  You’re not at all fussy at this point.

The Voices in My Head ………

So ……. why did I drink?

Obviously I had full-body cravings, an epic lust, that just could not be ignored.  But there were times when I didn’t feel that way.  Empty nights when I came home and knew deep in my heart I didn’t HAVE to today.  Regardless … I always did.  I was a daily drinker and didn’t know how to NOT be.

Have you ever had someone come in the room, someone negative and obnoxious and rotten, and you just wanted to get up and walk away?  You see them coming, you shift your eyes, and rise to make your exit before they see that you see them and have made the connection.  Every word they utter – even if it’s not directed directly toward you – is like an assault.  They bitch incessantly and it’s such a buzz kill.  Well?  I was that person.  Even I wanted to get away from me.

Other people LIKED me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I could be funny, witty, smart, sweet … anything you wanted me to be.  But  that’s because I didn’t always have the audacity to voice the negativity that was spinning unchecked in my head.

“This sucks.  Why does SHE have to be here?  Man, I hate her.  Why me?”  This is the kind of stuff that churned inside like a brewing hurricane.  I’m actually surprised no one could see it.  It was a category 136 storm.

“I have to get out of here.  OH man, how much longer do I have to be here?  This sucks.  I hate my job.”  This was me at work.  The silent me.  The verbal me was cracking jokes and smiling, desperately trying to hide the part of me that detested where I was.  Detested WHO I was.

“This is f***king boring.  This sucks.  Why me? ”       This was me at home.      Alone.        “Life sucks.  This blows.”

So how could I possibly see this girl coming and sneak out of the room without her seeing me?  How could I avoid being taken hostage from this hostile, rotten wretch?

I drank.  I quieted her down.  She didn’t CARE if life sucked after a few.

For the most part, it was cravings.  It was a magnificent hunger I couldn’t ignore.  But on the days when the hunger was quelled, it was to shut me up.   Of course there were still other reasons.  But this was the biggie.

First Sober Concert

Sober for two weeks, I went to my first concert.  I felt vulnerable. I felt naked.

Why did I take on such a big drink fest so early on?  I had the tickets already and was determined not to miss it.  I had seen Guns N’ Roses before.  And this wasn’t even the full band!  It was Axle Rose and Bucket Head and whoever else.  Waiting for my ride to arrive, I paced.  I was usually getting “started” now.

(I get up around seven 
Get outta bed around nine
And I don’t worry about nothin’ no
Cause worryin’s a waste of my, time)

In the car and en route, I was thinking I’d be drinking now – yep. Open container law et al.  Approaching the city the concert was in, I thought that we passed a store I would normally stop in for a refill.  In the concert hall, I passed concession stands with long lines waiting for some golden sudsy splendor.  A lump grew in my throat and threatened to strangle me as it expanded.

I shoved my hands in my pockets and fixed my eyes on the floor  – or the little I could see of it in this teeming mob.

(The show usually starts around seven
We go on stage at nine
Get on the bus at eleven
Sippin’ a drink and feelin’ fine)

A big scoreboard/clock/advertising thingy hung above the floor seats of the arena.  I stared at the clock.  7:41PM.  In five minutes, I vowed, I would get a beer.  7:46PM.  In five minutes, I vowed, I would get a beer.  People giggled in front of me, swilling theirs.  A man had a pint crammed in the back of the waistband of his jeans. Yukon Jack.  I salivated and looked at the clock.  7:51PM.  In five minutes, I vowed, I would get a beer.  Someone nearby lit a joint and I could smell its pungent blissful stink wafting in smoky curtains in front of my face.  I exhaled hard, busting its skunky cloud.  Turning my head from it, I breathed through my mouth – that won’t help.  Glancing at the clock, I saw it was 7:56PM.  Five minutes.  8:01.  I’ll get a God damned beer.

(We been dancin’ with 
Mr. Brownstone
He’s been knockin’
He won’t’ leave me alone)

No.  No I won’t.  Not yet.  Five minutes.

The show didn’t start.  At 8:30, people were getting restless.  The big scoreboard/clock/advertising thingy displayed girls in the front few rows giggling and lifting their shirts or making out with a guy.  People cheered.  Two girls kissed.  The arena roared with baritone cheers.  The canned music that “GNR” chose grew louder.  People stomped their feet in stampeding unison.  8:33PM.  Five minutes.  I can do it.  FIVVVVE minutes.  I lit another cigarette and sucked hard on it, holding in the smoke like I was smoking a joint.  I sipped my soda, feeling like an outsider.  8:38PM.

(He won’t’ leave me alone…………no, no, no)

Should I leave?  I was starting to believe I would get a beer.  I started thinking that the concession stand was about a five minute walk, so instead of giving myself empty promises such as having a beer in five minutes and knowing it will be another five then maybe I should start walking NOW so that the beer will be in my HAND in five minutes!!!

(I used ta do a little but a little wouldn’t do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin’ ta get a little better
Said a little better than before
I used ta do a little but a little wouldn’t do
So the little got more and more
I just keep tryin’ ta get a little better
Said a little better than before)

The lights dimmed.  The stage lights buttered the stage  yellow.  Music.  My salvation.

I can’t recall now if it was an opening act or not.  I can’t recall how long I endured the show, but I made it til the end – sans alcohol.  I started to cry at one point and I laboriously dragged myself to a concession stand …. and had an ice cream.  It was the best one I ever had.   I felt self-conscious having ice cream at a concert – such a wholesome and even childish treat, certainly not the gritty badass type of treat I thought I wanted.

(We been dancin’ with
Mr. Brownstone
He’s been knockin’
He won’t leave me alone)

If I could do it all again, then I guess it doesn’t matter because I’m sober today.  But I tortured myself.  I really did.  And it was a close one.

(Now I get up around whenever
I used ta get up on time ……….)

The only thing that stood between me and that promised five-minute beer was the dimming of lights.  That’s a pretty thready thread to dangle from.

(………………..  But that old man he’s a real mutha****er
Gonna kick him on down the line……………………………)

(Lyrics:  Mr. Brownstone by Guns N’ Roses …… and while I know Mr. Brownstone isn’t about BOOZE, it’s about addiction and I relate……….)

Gateway Drug? Gateway to Rape……..

“Are you f**kin’ confused about why they call it Blow?” He demanded, jerking the mirror over to his side of the table to re-calibrate the lines.

I felt stupid for a second, but the drunken “I don’t care” mechanism mercifully kicked in.  I was too drunk to inhale on cue.   I was horribly drunk, horribly uncoordinated, and whenever I hovered near the mirror  air gushed through my nose and the white powder would splay into specks all over.  I didn’t answer him. I didn’t have an answer.  The guy he was with sat quietly, staring at the table.  He was stoned.  It was in the 80’s that night, and the little black-haired guy kept his black leather jacket on.  He didn’t sweat a bit.  I  never met him before now.

“You can’t HAVE any if you do it again.  $#!t’s expensive.”  His ashy blond eyebrows were furrowed, meeting deep creases at the place where the top of his nose and his forehead converge.  It looked weird.  I was fixated on it.  That and the boil on his chin thinly veiled with the peachfuzz goatee.

“Ok,” I muttered, folding my arms.

This wasn’t my first time and I didn’t like being spoken to like I was some amateur.

But how did I get here?

I went to school in the ’80’s at the height of Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign. Believe me when I say the education was there.  Did I say education?  How about:  Scare tactics.  Try heroin and you’ll drop dead.  Try cocaine and you’ll drop dead.  LSD?  You’ll walk out a window.  A 10th story window.  Smoke pot?  Welllll, you won’t die, but life will suck.  That was it in a nutshell.  And saying “no” is such a simple alternative, isn’t it?

I internalized this.  I did believe that sudden death was possible – and I don’t mean the bonus round in a game show.  What I thought was more likely was an instant baboon on your back followed by a life of crime.  So when I was buzzed one night and they were passing stuff around, my inhibitions were down.  It didn’t seem so bad.  Some guy chuckled at my reluctance and said, “It’s not what they tell ya.”

Then?  I didn’t die.  I wasn’t stealing old lady’s purses to feed my new-found hunger.    In fact?  There WAS no new-found hunger.  I walked away unscathed.  So?  The next time they passed it around? I did it again.  And again.  And again.   And I loved it.

Now, ‘mind you …. I didn’t bug OUT if so-and-so wasn’t home and I didn’t scramble to get to _______’s (insert name of local bar with a “powder room”) before last call to stalk some drug dealer.  I didn’t start barking at everyone and I didn’t start fretting about who else might have it and inviting myself to people’s houses unannounced so I could score ….. but I loved it.  And I usually accompanied these freaks who would ultimately drive me out of town – with the caveat that they BETTER have a bottle for me.  Humph. I didn’t understand their fixation on the stuff.

Ultimately I didn’t know what I was putting up my nose.  One night I had some stuff that wasn’t the shade of white I was accustomed to.  Beige isn’t the right word …. but it’ll do.  And it made me itchy and sleepy.  Some other stuff burned the inside of my nose one night and made me freakishly paranoid – did I instantly become [in that one night] one of those people with the skin burned/melted out, the skin that cordoned off one nostril from the other?  I kept tenderly twisting a finger around in there to make sure it was all still there.  I’d frantically look in the mirror and then hide when I heard an unfamiliar voice.  One night there was stuff :  kind of a golden tan with a more velvety(?)  texture …. it knocked me OUT and felt all warm and sleepy like a winter Sunday morning in a fluffy big blanket.  It was a nice big dose of “I don’t CARE.”  If it was what I had been looking for, it would have been bliss and probably an instant habit.  But I wanted to be up there [pointing to the ceiling], not down there [pointing to the floor].

However:  With the exception of a few unpleasant surprises, I thought of it as fun.  I could drink more – way more! – and stay up until the darkness gave way to that periwinkle morning light and that sliver of pink in the distance.  I would go home tired and crash.  I hated sleeping for as long as I did and never being sure if I would wake up in time for my evening shift …. but I loved it.

Getting raped changed that.

A cute guy asked me out.  In the late ’80’s looking like Keifer Sutherland was an outstanding perk.  He wasn’t much of a conversationalist –  with the clarity of hindsight, I’d now say he was dumb.  But at the time, I thought it was cute and perhaps meant I made him nervous.   I only wish he had been more nervous.  He had a house party at his mom’s.  His mom was there in her room upstairs save an occasional swaying stumble to the bathroom; she was a notorious lush.  She would stagger unkempt into traffic in broad daylight.  Everyone knew her and I was unpleasantly surprised to find out she was his mom.   She wandered down in a house dress to have a drink with us.  Her hair was in a compact gray bun with strands of hair fraying out from the sides.  She slurred some unintelligible stuff before pounding a beer and staggering suddenly upstairs for the night.

His friends left one by one.  We had smoked some potent weed.  We drank a lot, mixing drinks with not a care in the world.  It churned menacingly in my stomach, but snorting some coke took care of that.  My thoughts sharpened, but it didn’t pair so well with the weed.  I miserably wondered “why do I always wind up like this?”

I never meant to.  I just meant to feel good and always overdid it.  The switch was on and I could never stop.

When his last friend left, I was glad to be alone with him and get to know him better.  The quiet of the house was pleasant, and I was taken with his shy half-smile.

In an hour, I was running out of the house stifling tears.   My head was extremely clear.  The buzz was GONE.  I knew what happened.  I ran. I stumbled. I slammed the door. I clutched my button-fly shorts which now had the top three buttons missing, ripped off.   Through the screen to the open window I heard his slurry voice chuckle, “Come onnnnnn.  Where ya goin’?”

My skin was red and raw in the shower as I vigorously and almost violently scrubbed my skin with a big bar of Dial.  I sobbed snottily slobbery with hot water pouring down my face.  I could still taste his repulsive kisses.   I wasn’t going to the police.  What would I tell them?  I mean, which illicit illegal ill drug should I START with?    And the underage drinking.   That was a nice aside.   And why the hell didn’t his mother wake up?  She really didn’t hear that? I FOUGHT him.  And then that made it worse and it was happening anyway.  And that made me feel more ashamed – that I quit fighting.  It wasn’t until years into sobriety that I made peace with my instinct for self-preservation.  In that moment I thought he could kill me.  He just hated me and was so powerful.   It started with a kiss that went from zero to passion in three shocking seconds.  I pushed him away.  Smiling, I started with “knock it off.”  And it was all downhill from there.  With all of that Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” in my head, that night I found it sometimes was not an option – no matter how loudly you screamed it and no matter how much you kicked and punched.     But I never said no to anything being passed around when the party was in full swing.

I loved to hate him.  For years, my hate intensified and I loved it.  It felt powerful – like another drug.  The rape happened when I was 18.  When I was 28, I happened upon him in some dive bar I frequented.  I had a friend – a guy  who was always cracking his neck and looking for a fight.  I went over to him and whispered what that guy did to me, and he took care of it.  I took pleasure in watching this eruption of violence outside, pleasure in the bouncer closing the door to the bar with a shake of his head.  He did this when he was going to ignore it, and he would for my neck-cracking/looking-for-a-fight friend.  They were buddies.  So the fight went pretty far and I took such pleasure in watching him stagger stunned down the darkened street with blood and mud all over.  The pleasure was fleeting and was soon displaced with the same hatred I always felt.  I thought revenge would fix this feeling.  I thought the balance of power would shift.

I had to work hard to overcome that resentment I felt for him – and that’s probably a whole OTHER blog, but I’ll say it’s possible.  And that’s something I did for ME and not for HIM.

My point is how tinkering with chemicals not only led to me being with a bad mix of people.  It led me to having clouded judgment and misinterpreting nonverbal cues – such as the look he gave me.  It seemed shy at the time, that half-smile.  Now it seemed more menacing.  Or maybe my memories are changing history – and the facts are fixed.  It’s my access to them that changes.

Drugs led me to resisting pressing charges and seeking justice – real justice, not parking lot justice, not street justice.  I’m not blaming myself (and I hesitate to use the term “blaming the victim.” I am not a victim. The victim mentality is ultra bad for my sobriety).  But I think it’s good for me to feel that much more empowered by sobriety knowing that the likelihood that it will happen again has been fantastically reduced.  I am less vulnerable.  I am not a victim.

Alcoholic’s Anonymous ……

Do I dare write about A.A.?  Sure.

In keeping with their traditions, I am going to remain anonymous.  I do not consider myself to be a spokesperson of A.A. I am not their poster-child. I am just a cog in the wheel.  But it’s hard to talk about my alcoholism without addressing my means of recovery.  So as long as we understand each other, I should proceed.

The life I have today is beautiful.  I never imagined I would have such a beautiful family, such a rewarding career, such love, such contentment …. I can sit in the room with myself and be okay. My life includes spirituality.  I put down the drink a kicking and screaming atheist, so it’s a miracle that my heart has turned.

The life I have today could only be possible with A.A.

I know there are other means of quitting drinking.  Personally, I have met people who just …. stopped.  They maintain a healthy respect for their addiction and they stay sober for eons.  Trust me. It’s possible.  But it didn’t work for me. I needed support.

In AA, I was taught that drinking was not the problem; it was the “solution” and the “solution” stopped working for the problem which was me.  This is where the twelve steps come in.  This is what I needed and this is why I couldn’t do it alone.

Alcoholic’s Anonymous is confusing.  They have meetings.  They have people “sharing” at these meetings.  It appears to be a form of group therapy.  Yes.  A support group.  It IS that, but it is a 12-step program.  For a 12-step program to work, one must work the program.

Initially, I got the support – and I still do.  Here are the suggestions they offered me that I took them up on (and they say A.A. is “suggestions only”):

1.  I have a sponsor

2.  I have a home group

3.  I attend a step meeting

4.  I have a network

5.  I go to meetings

6.  I work the steps

7.  I sponsor people

8.  I pray – “please” in the morning,”thank you” at night

 

This works for me.  A little bit at a time, I have “recovered.”  I don’t like the term “recovered,” because it implies I became the person I was before.  “Recovering” something means to find something that was lost or to restore something to what it once was ….The person I was before was a bitter and angry person who detested herself.  That is not who I am today.  Thank God.

What I Hated About A.A.: 

1.  PRAYER

2.  Higher Power / God

3.  Gratitude (“What the hell is there to be grateful for???”, I mentally screamed whenever someone used the word “grateful.”)

4.  Seems like a CULT (I really thought this, but let me assure you no one asked me to stay away from my family, no one made me do anything I didn’t want to do, and as for brainwashing?  Well, I do think differently today and I assure you it’s an improvement.  They pass a basket and most people throw in a buck.  If you don’t have it?  No judgment.  It’s not some scheme – the money goes to renting the church basements, buying coffee & styrofoam cups, and to A.A. services such as books for newcomers, etc. )

5.  It seemed like a cliche of itself

6.  People helping me!!!  (I wanted to know everything already, I wanted to be independent and not need people!!!  Blehhhh!!!!)

What I Love About A.A.: 

1.  Faith

2.  Friends/Socializing – it’s like what I thought I used to have in the bars, but didn’t really.  If I was upset, the best any of them would do was buy me a shot and secretly wish I’d shut up because I was being a buzz kill.  In AA?  People LISTEN and support!  I can’t get over it.  And if you happen to get to know people and mention that you’re moving?  There are scads of people there.  It’s amazing.

3.  Serenity

4.  Gratitude (gag!!!  I can’t believe I’ve been converted!)

5.  The life skills they gave me (I did not know how to be assertive, how to take care of myself, how to have relationships with other people …. countless things)

6.  A peaceful way of life (the chaos I used to experience constantly is gone.  I can relax today.)

7.  Learning how to have fun without alcohol – and it’s possible!

8.  The steps

9.  My sponsor who is like a new father to me

10.  Getting to know a new me and loving her

 

I’m just feeling like I ought to talk about my own personal experience with it because it’s what helped, but I want to make it clear that I’m not going to push it down anyone’s throat and I’m not considering myself their spokesperson.  I love it and felt like I owed it some more mention.