I found this wonderful article. It’s about what she learned in her 2 years’ sober. I hope she stays sober much much longer so she can see how many more things she’ll learn!
On “Thanksgiving Eve” I felt pretty sick. I needed my meds from the pharmacy and opted for drive-thru service since wading through the crowds at CVS was something I wasn’t up to.
A white car idled at the window in front of me and I pushed around the debris in my purse to get my wallet. I could hear the muffled lady’s voice yakking with the Pharmacy Tech at the window. I thumbed through my wallet and pulled out some cash and my CVS Care Card. Thunder bellowed through my bowels. I wanted to get home to the bathroom, to the safety and certainty of being NEAR a bathroom. The white car continued to idle at the window. The lady accepted the clipboard from the Pharmacy Tech, left her signature on the appropriate line, and handed it back. My stomach grumbled menacingly. The staff handed her the blue & white bags. Happy this transaction was over, I waited for the car to pull forward. It didn’t.
I could see the driver’s profile smiling at the man in the window. Through the low music of my radio and over the hum of my car’s idling engine, I could hear the lady’s words. I picked up on bits such as “big plans tomorrow?” and “I hope you’re not working.” She tilted her head to the side and smiled, telling the man about a pie she plans to bake. My stomach, as if alarmed by this, belched inside and sputtered. Glaring at the white car ahead of me, I was dreaming of ramming her back bumper. I was telepathically screaming “GO! LEAVE! BE GONE!!!”
A male voice murmured from the window and the lady smiled and nodded. Her arm slipped through her open window and hugged the car door as she leaned toward him, listening and smiling. My stomach lurched inside and I clutched it, promising if it behaved it could unload in just a few minutes. Just a few minutes.
The banter continued. A car pulled up behind me. I glanced at the clock. I had been sitting here for nearly ten minutes.
“…. yeah, pecan,” she smiled.
She talked about her meds. It wasn’t a question about how to take them or anything having to do with the transaction. It was about the medication she had been taking before and how it made her tired. I was getting tired. I thought about pulling to the front and waddling through the mob I imagined inside, judging by the cars parked out front. It just wasn’t worth it to sit here and be aggravated. But then I was afraid of the potential for diarrhea. I was afraid I would be trapped in a longer line. This lady HAD to be done. Surely deliverance was on the horizon. Surely she had glanced in her side-view mirror at some point and saw people were waiting.
Mentally I was screaming, “Can’t you see you’re not the only f**kin’ person who needs their medications before Thanksgiving?”
Nodding and smiling, her head bobbing like a fishing lure that caught something big, she continued babbling about pies and expired medications and now her bunion .
I closed my eyes for a second and prayed for her. I could almost hear my sponsor’s voice advising it. I had my cell phone. Maybe I ought to call someone from the program. My mind racing, I mumbled the Serenity Prayer and mentally took inventory of ……. the meds I had at home. Maybe this could wait til Friday. But I couldn’t be sure and some of them were for my son. He was going out of town.
I opened my eyes. White car still sitting there. Driver still yapping. My fingers tightened around my steering wheel. I started silently judging her: selfish, self-absorbed, oblivious, stupid, chatterbox…….. all these angry, ugly words spewed in rapidfire grunts.
I was dimly aware of the radio announcer announcing what had been and what was to come: Eleanor Rigby by the Beatles. The music blended in and the announcer faded out.
“Ahhh, look at all the lonely people. Ahhh, look at all the lonely people……..”
Just then? I realized I was possibly looking at all the lonely people. Certainly there was one in the white car. Possibly one in the CVS window. Perhaps, on this Thanksgiving Eve, this would be this lady’s last interaction until the holiday was over. Maybe there would be a hasty visit from a grown child who was eating a small turkey breast with her out of obligation and little more. Perhaps she has a spouse with Alzheimer’s and being with him and his dim recollections is worse than being alone. Maybe she was just lonely.
And I sat there. My grasp on the wheel loosened and I listened to the song. My stomach rumbled periodically and I admonished it to shut up.
On Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving Day, I stayed home with my thundering stomach while my family went out and enjoyed a big feast. I knew they would be back. I knew they were sorry I wasn’t there — that I was wanted somewhere. I was thankful for this, for my house being a home, that I have Chicken & Rice Soup for the tum’, and …….. that I could hear my Higher Power speaking to me through the radio. My hastily mumbled prayer had been answered. I was also thankful for that patient and kind Pharmacy Tech whose name tag read “Josh” for doing more than dispensing meds to this lady and making her evening a little happier and meaningful while the cars piled up behind her. He had all the time in the world.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this in this here blog before, but I have Lyme Disease (I have another blog about that called Bloody Lymey). I was diagnosed in 2008 and the specialist I ultimately saw thought I had it for 2-3 years by that point (based on the progression). I was reflecting today on how lucky I am for this, as lucky as I am to be an alcoholic.
I always used to hate it when people said they were grateful to be an alcoholic and I might have been darned near homicidal if I heard someone say they were also grateful for another chronic illness.
1. Why I’m grateful to be an alcoholic: Well, it brought me to A.A. And A.A. gave me a new skills set, coping mechanisms, tools for this journey we call life. [I’m cringing as I write this since it sounds so hokey, but …. it’s also very true]. Because I’m an alcoholic, I’m far less judgmental. What’s that they say about casting the first stone? Something about being without sin? As an alcoholic, I’ve just about done it all. It’s hard to frown upon other people even if their life choices might be glaringly obviously BAD mistakes. I’m more tolerant. I’m more patient. I’m more kind. I’m more understanding. It’s given me a new caliber of compassion. It caused me enough pain to ask for help and I learned alcohol wasn’t the problem – I was. And in seeking help for my alcoholism, it made me seek treatment for being ME.
2. Why I’m grateful to have Lyme Disease: Already fairly established in A.A. with a foundation built in the steps, it deepened my program. I learned more about staying off the pity pot and removing the victim mentality. It helped me with another facet of compassion, mostly with people with physical problems. It taught me even more about self-forgetting, how to think of others and “get out of myself.” It taught me the importance of service work and staying useful. Today I work with people with disabilities of all sorts. My alcoholism helps me understand the ones with mental disabilities. My Lyme Disease helps me understand those with physical ones. I also have a deeper understanding of the mental toil that chronic pain puts a person through. I had no idea the peculiar thought processes that go with it. It taught me even more about patience and God’s Will. It deepened my relationship with my Higher Power as I understand Him. It strengthened my faith. The experience taught me to live life more deeply, to love more fully. When I’m feeling GOOD, I don’t put off doing something fun so I can laze on the couch and lie to myself, telling me “I’ll do that tomorrow.” I am way more about seizing the day. Carpe Diem. Because I honestly don’t KNOW with a capital K if I CAN “do that tomorrow.” I might not have a chance again for weeks, months, years. Or I might have a 10-month remission like I did in 2009/2010. There’s no knowing. Procrastination was a nagging character defect, and Lyme helped me with it. I still have work to do. I still have to work on household chores and such – I can blow that off. It’s easy after being sick for some weeks to need to “get in the swing again.”
So why I’m grateful today: if I hadn’t gotten help with my alcoholism, I never would have gotten help with Lyme Disease. I wouldn’t have had the skills to advocate for myself. In some twisted death wish, I might have “let it go.” Particularly when it was going for my heart. I might be laying crippled on the couch right now, depending on someone to do me a packy run and using guilt or whatever tactic to coerce them into meeting MY will. I also probably would have been a pill-seeker. Honestly, this combination of different pains would have brought in quite some med-cocktails.
Thank God it’s not like that today. Turning a different corner some years ago, and I might be a vegetable today. As bad as Lyme Disease SUCKS sometimes – the fatigue is epic, the pain is immeasurable at times, and the fear I sometimes feel for the future feels unconquerable – I believe it is necessary for my spiritual growth. And I say that on days I’m in very bad pain.