Tag Archives: 12 steps

Welcome to the doll house

21 Oct

1:06 am

I like that title, never saw the movie, and it only pertains to this post in that, I’ve been going through my old collection of Barbie dolls and really getting into it again–remembering why I loved them so much as a kid.  I was going to put them all up on eBay, but um, most aren’t worth that much because they are super-used, and, I do NOT have the patience to spend HOURS picking through my dolls and clothes and trying to figure out if this was Dream Date or Loving You or Peaches N Cream Barbie and then, after posting to eBay, having to field collectors’ questions!  I thought I was pedantic (which is what makes me a good collector/historian…!).  Still, THAT was actually fun, going through my dolls; I think I’ll probably keep the special dolls and clothes (I had the dream house and car and camper van, too, back in the day; I kind of want to hold onto something of my collection!).

What wasn’t as much fun was going through the other stuff.  And, I have been avoiding writing about it and I guess I should write about it, is all I have to say.

About what? Well, everything! Haha. Life, getting older, my dog getting older, my mom getting older, um, discovering via all this sorting of old stuff–writings, mainly, and photos–that my life seems to have been not an adventurous, freewheeling trip of courage and coming of age; but more a meandering path of mental illness.  That, all my writings are not a gold mine of material but a testament to mental illness over the years–and how to live with it while also not even acknowledging that it is there.  What an iceberg I feel like this realization might be; no wonder I threw this shit into storage a decade ago, moved to the island to start over, and never, EVER thought about looking back literally, at this stuff.  I didn’t want to confront it, and I couldn’t.

One good thing about getting older is that, for me anyway, I can see my own life and choices and path and behaviors much more objectively (it also helps that I am not drinking and wine is no longer exacerbating my issues or masking them!).  What mental illness am I talking about?  I’m talking about depression and social anxiety, sure; but also, things like being on the autism spectrum, borderline personality disorder, maybe even some form of paranoid delusions of grandeur (schizoaffective disorder, something of that nature).  I am not saying I suffered from these things; but, that, there may have been some element of all of them in my past.

It’s not easy, and it’s a slow unraveling.  I’ve kind of wanted to drink past few weeks, but more out of boredom than avoidance or fear of confronting this stuff.  I mean, I’m OK, no one is going to die, but…it’s a bit scary and daunting to remember just how effed up I felt back then, as a teen and 20-something (and 30-something!).

So much has happened the past few weeks, too.  After my mom’s visit–and seeing in action what I would call pretty obvious mental illness; where do you think I get it from?–I am just a bit burnt on all the self-analysis.

My mom’s visit was hard, to say the least.  I don’t think we’ll be spending anymore time alone (without the buffer of other family members), I hate to say.  Before her visit, I spent what felt like an eternity sorting through photos from 20 years ago and beyond.  I hadn’t looked at the scrapbooks and piles of prints from grade school all the way through my early 30s (about the time digital cameras took over, thank god) for years; I mean, we’re talking, I hadn’t looked at some of these photos but ONCE since I printed them at a Walgreens in 1995!  At this rate, I won’t look at these again until I’m 70 (um, in 25 years–holy CRAP, that sounds terrifying); what’s the point in keeping them?

And, that is where my mom comes into the picture.  In looking through the old photos, I saw who she was then more clearly, and I saw who I was then more clearly.  She is different now, but not that different!  All this time, I’ve been thinking that somewhere along the way, she just BECAME super-irritating to me; but, she’s always been herself.  So, what’s changed?  It must be me!  I have changed, a LOT, and especially around how I view my upbringing and how I let it and my stressors affect my life now.

Without really going in too deep around her and me and our issues, one of my big takeaways from our weekend is that, she does not want to hear the “objective” truth; she’s not ready to truly look at her own role in her unhappiness.  The ONLY reason I can say this is that I’ve lived it; as an alcoholic, as we all know, a HUGE part of our recovery is coming to terms with the following life FACTS:

it’s not all about me

stop taking things personally

it’s none of my business what others think of me

let it go

These basic “tenets” of sobriety seem to be what normies just know, or what other people learn as they mature without having to go through recovery first!  Why, at 73 years old, is my mother still seeming to refuse these universal mantras?  Like, I know that it’s really hard to choose to not take things personally, but I also know that continuing to do so causes me pain and that pain is greater than the effort of practicing new behavior.  I don’t know, it was like talking to a wall.  She knows all this stuff, too, but for some reason, she seems to be clinging more and more to choosing patterns of behavior that are negative and take up all her time.  Who knows?  I sure don’t know it all, and I can’t spend much more time trying to figure another person out (I am enough work!).

After talking a bit more with a few people close to me, I realized, if she’s not ready to try to see her role in relationships that are not working for her, and if she’s not ready to do a little self-analysis, then…I can’t take on the sadness and guilt that I do feel because she seems terribly unhappy (unless she isn’t really all that unhappy and is just being dramatic or passive aggressive–another story for another blog post).  I just have to let it go, and allow myself to do what I can for her but to then be happy, unapologetically and fully.  And I do, and she wholeheartedly wants me to (consciously, at least).

At this point, I’m like, who knows?  I have to let it go, and I will…

On that note, my brain is a bit fried, I am burning up tonight (again, who KNOWS what’s going on with my hormones, why one week or day I’m fine, the next my torso is on fire, and the next, it’s only my legs!  WHO KNOWS?), and I really just need to close up shop and turn the light out (in my brain).  I had a great day taking my dog to the beach–she’s “elderly” now, sweet girl, and that is painful; but, the twinges are counteracted by the fact that she’s still out there, frolicking in the water, and truly loving life.  What more could a girl want for her “daughter?”

We are moving in less than FIVE short weeks, and of course, my pedantic self has sold off quite a bit of our furniture.  I have this strange desire to get rid of EVERYTHING, to have no bleepity bleeping stuff anymore–maybe I’m just tired of carrying the weight of the past, feeling like I owe it something that I don’t; maybe I’m just tired of caring about keeping stuff.  I’ve never been one to be truly obsessive about not having clutter, but lately, I’ve been dreaming of a truly clutter-free existence where no stuff is going to trigger me, where the only thing that surrounds my field of view is white light, an open space of present-future, silence to meditate and dream…

Anger, Buddhism, and the 12 steps, oh my!

6 Jul

1:11 pm

As I posted yesterday, The Fix published a piece I wrote about blogging myself sober. Obviously, it’s not the ONLY thing I’ve done to “get and stay sober,” but that’s beside the point. I think connecting with others who share your problem, and who can help you DEFINE its gray areas, is the key. So, thanks to all of you out there who continue to help me stay the course.

There were some negative comments posted in response to the piece, which I found, for the most part, to be instructive (thankfully!).

Why are some people so angry about a seemingly-successful recovery that either does not involve meetings or the 12 steps, or does not involve “as much work as someone else” or “the way that they did the work?”

What can I glean from the 12 steps, and why do I keep coming back to them, feeling like I’ve got some unfinished business? Maybe I AM a dry drunk?

If it wasn’t the personalities in AA, or the sharing, or the group therapy aspect that bothered me all that much, it must have been the steps, right? What am I afraid of? What about the steps hangs me up?

It’s those words: powerlessness, God, higher power. To me, the 12 steps are not rocket science; in fact, in order to get sober, EVERYONE has to do some version of these “steps,” I’ve come to believe. You might not KNOW you’re doing the steps, but you are. We admit we can’t drink anymore; we accept this fact. We feel remorse and say we’re sorry. We work on our relationships, we question our sense of purpose–why are we using booze to avoid or hide from what we know, deep down, we should and could be doing? I used wine for YEARS to avoid writing; yet, it’s the one thing I knew that if I just fucking DID it, I’d be free. Free of both the urge to drink away my fear and sensitivities surrounding “putting it out there” and possibly failing, and free from the self-loathing brought on by not doing it!

I wondered, how do atheists approach the steps? Do Muslims go to AA? What do people who come from non-Judeo-Christian backgrounds and worldviews think of AA? I mean, people all over the world have drinking problems–how do they approach the steps if they don’t, actually, believe in “God,” per se? What–or who–IS God? A quick Google search made me realize that the concept of God is extremely broad, and can range from an overlord or all-knowing being to, well, “being” or “existence” itself. Huh. As a scientist, I am not a theist, but neither am I convinced that “being” or “existence” does not hold a higher order. The whole is, most of the time in the biological sciences anyway, greater than the sum of its parts. Systems biology takes advantage of the FACT that studying systems of genes, or proteins, or cells can lead to surprising insights into how things actually work when we’re not reducing them to their parts.

At the beach yesterday, I felt the need (and this is usually accompanied by a lot of gesturing and loud talking to myself, so my apologies to the boyfriend–LOL) to tease out my “official” definition of these words. And, here’s what I came up with:

Powerlessness: To me, this is simply my desire (key word) to drink more than just one. I can never drink one. Why? Because I don’t WANT to. And this, I think, is where the neurochemistry of addiction comes in: my brain is wired–at the moment, at least, because I’ve abused wine for so long–to want more than one. It’s an urge that is VERY strong. And, already after one, my “rational brain” is starting to become overpowered by my “irrational brain.”

This is actually the opposite of the general idea that most people, including myself, have of powerlessness. I have a choice, yes I do; and that choice is to drink a second. Whether or not that choice is a good choice, well, morals aside, the powerlessness lies in my reward system being fucked up.

God: Well, since I do not believe in a deity or any sort of omniscient creator being, I would say that “God” is the order of the universe, being, life itself.

Higher power: I’ve always thought that this is simply my higher self, a literal higher consciousness. In fact, I now believe that when we “bottom out,” or hit our lows, we’re actually becoming our most self-aware. Our wake-up calls are just that: we snap out of it, we awaken, we’re fully conscious of just how bad it is. We’re at the top of our game then, not the bottom. This higher consciousness is our most aware selves–the self that knows better, wants the best for us, sees our potential, follows that “order” of the universe, or at least, of being human, which is to protect our bodies and minds from harm, to sleep when it’s dark, to wake when it’s light.

Defects of character: This was a hard one, but I figured it out on the ride home, with the help of my boyfriend. My biggest problem in this whole nightmare has been learning how to forgive myself. I realized that IF, in fact, I viewed my higher power as myself–the best version of myself, the mindful, awakened version–then, couldn’t asking myself for forgiveness be the same thing as asking “God” to remove my “defects of character?” YES, it really could.

In my research last in night, I came across Kevin Griffin, who founded the Buddhist Recovery Network, who has written some excellent pieces for HuffPo on the Buddhist approach to recovery, and whose work I can’t wait to read more of. It sort of helped to confirm some of my new ideas, which, apparently, I’m not the first person to have. 😉

I guess maybe a step meeting could’ve helped me wade through the murky semantics of the steps, or a Google search earlier in my recovery, but so it goes. If I look at the steps with my new definitions in mind, they might read as such:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
(I am powerless to not want that second drink…and then, it’s all downhill because my rational brain turns off the warning and my irrational brain turns on the “It’ll be different this time, it won’t hurt you, you can drink as much as you want, forget about last time, there is no last time…”)

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
(That power is myself–my aware, awakened, mindful self; the one who’s looking at me when I’m jogging in the hot sun thinking, Good job, and, You deserve to be awesome.)

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
(Wonderfully explained by Kevin here.)

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
(Among a lot of other things, this would include shit I did that I still haven’t forgiven myself for…because I have offended others and hurt myself.)

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
(Admitting to ourselves, really, the things that we haven’t forgiven ourselves for having done. I have a few select people who know EVERYTHING, and I’m grateful that it’s been easy, in a way, to “unburden” myself to these friends.)

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
(Ready to forgive ourselves, to stop caring if others have or will forgive us, to really let it all go, and to start moving forward in our emotional lives. Self-actualizing?)

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
(Asked ourselves for forgiveness, and the power to let it go.)

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
(Being aware of our thoughts and feelings, of our actions and especially, REACTIONS, to these thoughts and feelings. To live in the world without taking anything personally.)

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
(Staying aware, practicing mindfulness.)

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
(This one, I’m not sure about. Maybe just helping others see their problem is not necessarily about moral flaws, it’s about fear of living and fear of self-discovery–and, the truth (your personal truth) will set you free…?)

What do you think?

Moving on from thinkin’ about drinkin’, or, life after 90 days

12 Jan

1:54 am

Yes, folks, I’m actually not thinking that much about drinking. Say WHAT? I’m just kind of grooving on living, drink-free, and not wanting what I “don’t have” or wishing that “I could have fun.” (In fact, when I look around now, and see people on Facebook, for instance, lugging shittons of booze on like, ski trips with their significant others, I have to wonder WHY…but that’s another post.) It really is a rational thought *process,* convincing your brain–or re-setting it back to NORMAL–that being drunk does not equate to having fun. Much of my process of quitting drinking has actually been quitting relating drunkenness with fun, and stopping equating chemically-induced numbness with calm.

The other day in AA, I heard some woman lamenting the fact that she was still a “lunatic” until she started doing the steps. Well, if it takes you 11 years (as it did in her case) to realize that being drunk is not, actually, all THAT much fun (compared to having real conversations and doing real things with your friends and family), then… I don’t know. I don’t want to hate on AA again/anymore, but my 90-day chip meeting will likely be one of my last. At least for now. Meetings make me cringe; I feel very uncomfortable inside “the rooms.” But, I’ve realized that some people simply need that “tough love,” that rigidity, that almost thoughtlessness of approach–deviation from the formula can pretty much guarantee relapse, I think, for some people who simply want to stop drinking but can’t immediately (or ever, let’s face it) process the motivation(s) behind getting shitfaced on the regular. So, yeah. Check ya later, AA.

Anyhoo… So, I’m working on an editing project on memory–everything from how memories are encoded in our brains to memory and trauma–and I came across something that made me pause: problems with substance abuse and addiction, some researchers say, are actually problems with memory. For instance, associations, i.e., memories, take over when you think about drinking, which makes it hard to untangle the the associated memories from the getting drunk memories. How can I not want to drink when I’m at the beach, for example, when that’s what I’ve always done? When that’s what’s been encoded in my brain–thinking about one makes me remember the other, and vice versa. It’s why drinking becomes an obsession, I guess, because EVERYTHING makes you think about drinking. Like, I can’t forget all those times I drank at the beach so it makes it hard for me to go there and not drink, or not want to drink…unless they find a way to either erase those memories or replace them with something new or different. Therefore, can I truly be relieved of the obsessive thoughts while at the beach sober if I don’t work at minimizing or repressing these old memories? Interesting to read about an entirely new paradigm (that’s the word they used in the article, so I had to, OK?) regarding addiction.

It’s been a pretty slow past few days, which has been, literally, wonderful! Lots of dog walking, coffee drinking (decaf!), and reading/editing. I went running yesterday, and it was better than the first time. I liken my legs right now to baby giraffe legs–when I try to stand on them, they crumple. (While cute, it’s rather pitiful.) I think things should even out once I get on a normal (read: non-vampire) schedule, reign in the sweets (especially Diet Coke), and continue to push my legs a little longer each day/every other day. ‘Tread lightly’ is my mantra, and don’t worry about how far or how fast (“run” and “running” should be put in quotes until further notice).

Thanks, all, for your encouraging comments to my 90-day post! I honestly could not have done it without your support. Rock on, 93 days!

60 days of calm, smooth, grateful waters

10 Dec

2:05 am

60 days sober as of today. AGAIN. YAYs, though, to me, for getting here again, living real life along the way, and not really struggling with the cravings as much as I did (they were horrendous, I cannot lie) the first time around this summer. And, yays in that I’ve never gone longer than 60 days and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s lying in wait on the flipside!

And, this time around, there’s nothing that’s going to turn my car back down Drinking Drive. I feel strong, and easy in my sober skin–still hard for me to grasp let alone believe (I’m waiting any day now to feel crawl-y again, but that seems to have disappeared). I don’t want to drink, really; I guess I am healing. Much more than that, though, I don’t want the nonsense, the illness, the weight gain, the remorse and guilt and sense of defeat that comes with drinking. Fuck that! All for a pretty bottle of grape water? Silliness. (Yeah, you should have talked to me when I was walking around [cold west coast city] at midnight in the fog-rain, feeling like the only thing between me and a bottle of wine was time (when the wine stores closed) and staying in literal motion.)

These next few weeks will be busy with work, friends, new friends (I’m trying to reach out more; it’s not easy to want to do that, especially anticipating being sober in social situations), AA meetings, and hopefully, a Christmas tree! I don’t think I’ll have time to drink, thankfully, so no time to think about drinking either.

A random thought: As I was reading the Big Book the other night, I came across a part that was talking about the 5th step, admitting your “drinking shit” to another human being. For all this time, I thought that you had to admit your shit to your sponsor, and to your sponsor ONLY. Um, no! The Big Book says you can do this to/with “another human being.” That could be anyone, right? Yes! And, I’ve done that. I have, to more than one person, actually; which is why AA bothers me so much, because I think, Wait, what? Do I have to go through this again? Really? AGAIN? Maybe that’s why I don’t feel that taken with or beholden to the steps or AA.

Another thought: Is grateful the opposite of envious? As I was walking home from a run/walk the other day, I was thinking about drinking–when the chance comes up at parties or gatherings, and how that makes me feel NOW versus how that made me feel before I quit. Before, my entire experience would have been clouded by “I want what I don’t have” or “I want what they’re having.” Now, I can look at peeps getting drunk on the beach, at a party, and I can see the progression from fake hilarity to fake grandiosity to fake dejection, and I am able to think, “I don’t want what they have” and know it–feel it–to be true. I am content with what I have, which is calmness, a clear head, a genuine sense of time and place, a real (albeit, not as gregarious) smile or laugh. I am, in fact, not envious; I am grateful. I am grateful for WHAT I HAVE, in my head and heart and hand (soda, water, iced tea). I am grateful for this change of mentality, most of all. I really was sort of living in a prison of the mind; a prison of envy, of wanting what I didn’t have, which was to be drunk.

Am I grateful that I can see the clouds and the blue sky but not understand them? Hmm… No. Not yet anyway. 😉

Oh, AA… Don’t make me hurt you!

2 Dec

11:04 pm

The past few days have been great. My “desire” to drink is subsiding, and I have to say, I’ve either pushed it WAY out of my mind, or I’m actually realizing that No, drinking does not change anything and is simply not that much fun. It does not work anymore. It really doesn’t.

In fact, these days, I feel safe. Early days, back in June, I did not feel safe — best word I can think of. I felt unsafe in my day-to-day world. Around every corner was an unknown: would I be able to resist the craving, and would I be able to sweat it out without, I don’t know, breaking my teeth or exploding into a thousand pieces? That’s how…existentially challenged I felt. I think they call it, *crawling out of your skin.*

Today, almost six months later (not six months sober, but counting all the days since June 13th, pretty close), I feel safer in the world, with the world, with passing time. Somehow, I’ve created this room of my own inside myself where I can now go and sit and wait and just chill, instead of drinking, when I feel existential anxiety (like, What to do? When will I die? What is all this?). I’ve been eating better (trying to, at least), swimming in the mornings (trying to, at least); my sciatica is mending, which is a HUGE relief. I’ve been getting my work done, hitting the beach with my boyfriend, and in general, settling in and feeling significantly more at home in my skin here.

YET…

AA has been a dark spot. It agitates me. The worst part is, it doesn’t have to. Why do I think that AA is the only way? Hmm. It’s also like a challenge that’s been presented…and now I HAVE to go for it, beat it, win and not lose. That’s ME; maybe it’s precisely the wrong program for someone whose reasons for drinking include an overly competitive nature?

Anyway, while it helped at first, it’s now become a sort of thorn in my side. I’ve felt judged — I was harassed the other night by someone I would call a “Big Book thumper” and had to hold my tongue (I ranted to my boyfriend for hours after I came home, though) — and like, I’m doing it wrong. The egos, the neuroses; the cliques, the male peacocking and female…who knows what! It’s overwhelming sometimes, mainly because I don’t want to deal with 50 other drinking problems! I HAVE MY OWN, thank you very much.

And — I stand my ground on this –I don’t have to. Neither does anyone! I have a friend who relapsed, who seems to be trying, and her sponsor told her that if she’s unwilling to commit 100 percent, she’s wasting her (the sponsor’s) time. Jesus. Fuck off, is what I’d say.

So, I’ve decided that yes, I like the meetings, but no, I don’t like everything about them or the program. And, I don’t have to. I don’t have to throw the baby out with the bath water, in other words. I don’t have to share. I don’t have to like everyone in the room. I don’t have to get a sponsor, take this Big Book nonsense all that seriously, or do the steps. All I have to do is stick to my sobriety and my ideas of how to not drink, which to be perfectly frank, I don’t believe to be all that unenlightened.

Hmm…

It’s a shame, really. BUT, I don’t have to drink over it! I don’t have to let it push my buttons, which include a perfectionist bent. I can NOT CARE — and make up my own mind — and this is a good thing. I’m taking it as a form of additional therapy: practicing NOT caring when I tell myself I SHOULD; practicing letting go of the “have to be a good student or I’m worthless” mentality, which has gotten me a lot of degrees and high-paying jobs but which came at a huge psychological cost!

(On the bright side, I’ve discovered that a/my “higher power” does not have to be a deity, or deity-related. This higher power, I’ve concluded, could very well be a literal HIGHER thinking — like, ABOVE both rational and irrational thought. This, then, I can understand, and it means that I can also grasp the meditation step (#11) as a way to commune with it — *I* am it. I am of the divine, I am the one who I can access, I am the god-voice within. Of course, a very Buddhist mentality, but I’ve connected with this in the past a lot more than deity-based religions anyhow.)

I’ll keep plugging; I’m not giving up. I’d like to finish the Big Book — and keep going to meetings — so that I have some ammunition to throw at these people! I do feel like I NEED to distance myself a bit, though (maybe attend less meetings, maybe try some non-AA recovery programs); it’s not worth drinking over because I feel agitated at meetings. It’s not. And, I won’t. There is NO WAY I’m drinking before 90 days. One 90 days at a time. 😉

AA: it’s not just about me! Say what?

29 Nov

9:06 pm

Yup. You heard me. Who IS this person, and where did you stash Drunky Drunk Girl? (Btw, I just cleaned my trunk, so no blood stains, please…)

I know, I know; I can be VERY self-oriented. I’m introverted, I’m a writer by passion and by trade, and I’m very analytical. I tend to be in my head a LOT, thinking my thoughts and thinking how awesome they are. Ahem. They are, aren’t they? 😉

Today, I went “back” to AA after about a week wondering and ruminating about what purpose it was serving in my sobriety (of 7 weeks today!). Why? Well, after all your comments — which I SO appreciated — I realized that one, I have some great, grounding friends online and that impressed me a heck of a lot more than a few douchebags in AA making it seem like they’re the only game in town; and two, well, as I told L. tonight, as she and myself and two other women were walking up the steps of the church downtown after the meeting, “I missed you guys.”

Yes, I missed my AA peeps! I missed hearing about their lives, what they were up to, whether they were still sober for crying out loud! I missed checking in with them; so far, they’re all wholeheartedly sincere in their desire to help little old me who, up until a few weeks ago, was a complete stranger to them.

Most importantly, one of my favorite women, C. (L.’s sponsee), fell off the wagon yesterday and ended up going to the hospital last night (I think she was seeking anti-anxiety meds and they hesitated and gave her something for her blood pressure. Which is bizarre, imho.). Anyway, she and I met about a month ago at the Tuesday night women’s meeting. We’re originally from the same part of the country, and we bonded over the fact that we were both new to the island, both at our first meeting (relatively speaking), AND, both had about the same length of sobriety when we met.

This afternoon at the beach (rough life, I know), I heard that *someone* had fallen off the wagon via a text from E., another lady friend who has about 17 years and is VERY cool in how practical she is toward AA and sobriety. She gets it, as far as I’m concerned. Anyway, it ended up being C., and it sounded bad. This woman does “John, Jack, and Jose,” and based on a short conversation with her, I could tell that many drinks were drank. Many, MANY drinks.

When she came into the meeting late tonight — we were all expecting her, but I didn’t text her out of respect, I suppose — my heart lurched! She looked awful; haggard, tweaked, and frail. Tired. Hungry. Lost. I actually felt a lump rise in my throat and had to look down, to hide the tears that briefly welled in my eyes. This IS a disease, I thought. It really struck me then: C. is not trying, at least consciously, to do this to herself.

I know that I have been quite childish when it comes to ranting and raving about AA. (Of course, I have; I needed to be.) I realized a while ago that meetings help everyone, and only everyone, if EVERYONE shows up! It was, however, a theoretical concept until today, when I heard about C., and then tonight, when I saw her. I can’t promise to come to meetings for her, but I can promise to come as often as I can. I can text her, call her, respond even if she sounds “OK.” I can make myself more available. I realize that part of my problem is isolating myself; it’s partly my nature as an introvert, partly habitual due to years of doing just that out of feeling insecure and worthless, to a certain degree.

At the beach today, as I was thinking about C. and about my own role in “not getting AA,” I actually picked up the Big Book and started reading it. NO, my friends, I have never even read the damn thing! And you know what? Some of what I read is not unreasonable! Especially holding onto anger/resentments, and drinking over them. I’ve done that. I lived in that, for a long time, even though I thought I wasn’t. I still live in that, even though I’m not drinking anymore.

I could even tolerate the God stuff, mainly because the God stuff seems to fully address the fact that most of us aren’t born with a concept of God, and are sort of freaked out by it. (Jesus freaks need not apply. JUST KIDDING.) However, the Big Book directly addresses the fact that we are humans, on a planet, in the middle of the cosmos, trying to perceive a reality that may or may not exist! There is a creative force, whatever that might be; even if there isn’t, who are we to fully grasp this? Anyway, it’s all sort of written like that in the Big Book. Huh, I thought. Maybe I can dig this? Some of this is precisely why I drank…

I think AA appears outdated; it’s why a lot of people, including myself, shun it. What a horrible thing we’ve been taught, really, which is to disregard the past, our elders, our ancestors. Their knowledge, their having gone before, their practiced living — why do we toss it away? It’s a problem in American society, especially among “white people.” I won’t go too far into that, but it’s a toxic byproduct of our culture, and it manifests in ways big and small, conscious or not.

But, I digress. I hope C. realizes that drinking just fucks EVERYTHING up, and that it is no longer working for her. Unfortunately, I can’t make her not drink. I can’t solve her anxiety problems. What I can do, though, is be there for her if she calls, and show up, even when she doesn’t.

If AA was a class, would I be failing it?

28 Nov

2:20 am

Gosh, it’s late. I have so much to blog about, but right now, all I can think about is how I’m failing AA.

I went to about 20 meetings in 20 days, and then took a week off. It felt GREAT. To take a week off, that is. I felt like I was skipping class! I see how AA has helped me, as well as the good it can do — is doing — for my fellow alcoholics (these people are my friends now, so I’m not dissing them here), BUT, every time I hit a meeting, I feel like a failure.

It’s like, I’m pretty sure I’m getting something like a “C-” in AA. Worse, I think I’m heading for an “F” if I don’t get my act together.

No one is explicitly saying that I should do this, or do that. In a way, though, they are. And, every time I go to a meeting and don’t embrace the program like “they” do, I feel like an outsider. I sort of dread meetings; not because I don’t enjoy sharing, and not because the sharing hasn’t helped me to vent what otherwise has, actually, made me feel ashamed and eaten away at me, but…AA seems so much less about not drinking than it is about everything else. I don’t want the everything else. And so, I feel like a fraud, like I’m “using AA,” like I’m letting my AA buddies in the rooms down when I keep coming back but refuse to share and/or get a sponsor and/or rah rah about the 12 steps, let alone actually start on them.

I’ve tried to want what they have, but all I want is to not drink. And, I feel like, damn it, I’ve done pretty good at that for the past nearly 7 weeks! Yet, after every meeting, I just don’t feel like I want to become more a part of that clique — it’s a clique, and I simply don’t feel the need, desire, or willingness to dive in and “drink the Kool-Aid.”

No, I don’t want a sponsor. I don’t want to talk about my drinking, I’ve done that ENOUGH. Really. And, I have nothing to really complain about except the program, which in essence, is not necessary to remain sober — meetings do NOT keep me sober; I keep me sober. There is no other way I can understand the concept of a “higher power” except that it’s simply ME doing what I should have done a long time ago.

No, I don’t want to share during meetings. I just don’t. No offense.

No, I don’t want to “work” the 12 steps. In fact, I feel like I HAVE worked quite a few of them. And, there are a few (like all of them that include “God” having a hand in my not drinking) that I simply Just Don’t Get.

I don’t believe in this “god shot” stuff; I really don’t. I believe in something along the lines of embracing the random goodness of the Universe, but attaching significance to events and/or personifying nature just doesn’t seem helpful, in the long run, to a mature understanding of reality. Whatever.

I don’t want to rant about AA anymore, and that’s why I’m thinking of just stopping going to meetings. I really want to keep going, but I feel like if I keep going and keep refusing, in a way, to participate, resentments are going to start building up. There was a woman who admitted during a share how she resented people who just used AA, and didn’t do anything to give back to the organization, like sharing, or chairing, or whatever. Whatever.

(I’m using my newfound “power” to simply not care. Let it go. Yeah, the meeting bugged me — and bogged me down — tonight, but you know what, I don’t have to hold onto my ideas of any of this OR my ambivalence OR the program, even. It’s my choice, and I’ve thrown my “should-ing” and “shouldn’t-ing” out the window with my drinking shoes!)

Off to bed, and can’t wait to swim tomorrow, work on my writing, and just enjoy the passing moments — getting office furniture tomorrow and hoping to start on my juice fast (yeah, we’ll see about that). It’s a full moon tomorrow night, and it should be astounding! I’ll definitely post a picture of the view from our deck of the moon rising over the water, reflecting the sun almost as strongly as the sunlight itself! We are all made up of *star*light, people. Imagine! (Why, hello, Unicorn with Sparkly Teeth! It’s been a while, shy girl…)

Stay strong, soberites!

(For some reason, I have NO problem talking to you all, on a nightly basis. Maybe all this is just an excuse for not wanting to commit, truly, to being sober; to clinging to being a dry drunk. AA makes it seem like if you don’t do the steps, you’re not really sober. I hate that. AA also says that you’re never recovered; I believe in not only solving my problem, but rehabilitating my relationship to booze. I have to.)

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