Tag Archives: 12 steps

Does anyone ever say anything bad about AA? Or, how I despise the peacocks in the room

14 Nov

9:37 pm

Yes, I’m annoyed.

I mean, WHY, oh why, does it feel like I can’t express my quickly declining interest in the steps, the thinkin’, the analyzing, the “learn to live” aspect of AA? Oh, right, because NO ONE in the room seems to allow it. I guess it might just be a matter of get on board or drown, but… That’s just not how it’s supposed to be! Quitting drinking is a process, and AA is simply not the only way.

Tonight’s meeting was the usual: five long-term sober males spouting off their “words of wisdom” and nearly getting off hearing themselves talk (to each other, basically) while the rest of us just sat there. Sure, I could’ve spoke up, but… It doesn’t feel right. I can hardly stand it anymore. Time to find a new meeting, methinks.

I’ve told my women friends that I’d LOVE to share my current thoughts about the program, which are: I don’t want to think about drinking even more than I have been doing. I don’t want to replace one set of “should’s” with another (I drank to escape self-imposed “should’s” and now I SHOULD follow the steps?). I don’t want a sponsor (well, not really, except to answer my questions and let me complain). I don’t want to look at my “denial,” my “horrible character defects,” my “lack of spirituality,” which is, of course, a result of not living AA (cough cough). I don’t want any of this, and I don’t want to feel guilty — or worse, like a wallflower, or like someone who is simply refusing to engage because she’s being a prick — about not wanting it. I just want to not drink.

I just want to not drink. Isn’t it OK to Just Not Drink?


This whole AA thing is fucking with my head. Maybe because I’ve done some of this work, maybe because I do analyze my drinking and the reasons behind it — a LOT. I mean, every single one of the old men rambling on about their drinking tonight talked about how selfish they were and how they never knew it, or how they never even considered that they had character defects.

Huh? The reason I drank — drink — is because of my “defects.”

I bought a bottle of wine on the way home — the first purchase of booze on the island this time around, 34 days later. As I was getting ready to walk the dog (which includes rubbing an inordinate amount of tiger balm all over my left leg, buttock, and hip = frustration nation, but I have faith that this sciatica flare-up has got to subside soon), I realized that today is day 34, which means tomorrow is 5 weeks.

I caved after 5 weeks the last time.


Still. Sometimes I can’t help but think, Come ON, DDG, isn’t this all a bit much? I mean, the abstinence, the black and white, the “never drinking again EVER?” It’s just a bottle of wine! It’s just grapes! And, then I have to remind myself that I don’t have to demonize the substance; I need to analyze my relationship to it and how I USE it. (I also have to remind myself that if I drink it, it’s my choice. Just like going to meetings. It’s all my choice, and none of this, including the rambling old white men, are meant to make things worse.)

I GOT THIS. 34 days sober and 13 out of 90 meetings in 90 days. NO STOPPING ME. (As I think about that cheap bottle of red in my bag…)

‘Letting go and letting God’ (cringe) means saying no

14 Nov

4:18 pm

No to a lot of things, at least for me at the moment.

I shared — finally — at last night’s women’s meeting, and the topic was letting go and letting God. Yikes. I get the first part of the sentence — to me it means stopping obsessing and living in my thoughts, which prevents me from doing things, or seeing the world as it is and not how I’m imagining it’s happening TO ME. It’s the second half that I’ve decided to well, let go. WHO KNOWS?

Letting go. Today, I realized that even reading magazines like Vogue triggers me. I’m sure I’m not alone, and I’m lucky to have a few years under my belt to know that douchebaggery and money do not buy happiness. Still, it sort of makes me think poorly of myself. To wonder, what if I had done this, or been that, would I be in these people’s shoes? “These people” meaning, all the people inside this evil book who are richer, thinner, and “happier” than I am.

Presently, “letting go” means letting go of my obsessive thoughts, which ensnare me. The ruminating, the overthinking. Giving up. It’s also as much about letting go of the conditioned thinking that comes with our cultural milieu, here in USA, Inc. For example:

I say no to being “successful.” I give up defining my success by other people’s standards and/or ideals.
I give up trying to stay thin.
I give up trying to stay fit.
I give up caring about your morality, as it compares to my own.
I give up wanting to have kids when I think it’s cruel and unusual punishment — to the kids.
I give up feeling bad about this.
I give up caring what my brother does or says, while he’s under the influence of his girlfriend.
I give up feeling guilty about giving up on this.
I give up feeling lazy because I’m not working 80 hours a week.
I give up feeling unproductive when I don’t get anything on my to-do list done.
I give up wanting a house.
I give up wanting to think buying a house is practical or even smart.
I give up thinking making my brain hurt by doing things it’s not good at is “challenging” and therefore, positive.

I could go on and on, but you get the gist. A lot of our obsessive thinking is a form of rebellion, and let me tell you, bucking the system, rebelling, is NOT EASY. It’s not easy on the mind, and it’s definitely not easy on the heart. It’s why, I’d say, a LOT of us drink/drank. The roots of my ennui, in a way, boil down to my absence of perspective on what’s a healthy way to react to striving/achievement, to success — and what’s NOT. Not to mention, it’s very difficult to make healthy mental and emotional choices when ALL AROUND YOU, EVERYONE IS NOT.

Look at our cities. Look at how people actually “live” in Silicon Valley. Look at what the typical American places value on, builds their sense of self around. You can say, That’s fucked up and I don’t want anything to do with it…but on the other hand, you also have to work within the system, at least for a while, in order to safely exit it.

I don’t know. I’m thinking too much now. When I say, I need to learn how to Turn It Off, it means turn off the TV, the computer, the phone, the city, the chitter chatter of people all around me — my friends and family, those closest to my heart — who are stopping making sense to me.

And, when all else fails, I turn on David Byrne because, well, I find his brand of lunacy more intelligent and more comforting than all the creature comforts and mental salves that I’m supposed to want, to hold on to, to fight for.

I give up!

All I have to do is not drink. Really?

12 Nov

12:07 am

Yes, really.

I’m SO tired, so I’ll make it short: today was a very good day, mainly because it was full, it was sober, and it was all OK. I never thought I’d see the day where I could get up at 7, make a meeting by 8, swim by 11, go furniture shopping and grocery shopping and cook and cook some more and talk to my entire family, ALL ON A SUNDAY (“every day is like Sunday, silent and gray”) — and be OK with not drinking during any of it.

MOI? I can’t believe it, but even for me, the mental cravings have diminished to the point of simply putting up with them, like spiders, rather than having to fend off the flailing, wet hands trying to pull me down to the empty grave.

So, yes. Tired, but good tired. And, not at all vexed; it will all get done, it will all work out, and if it doesn’t, then, well, something sure-as-shit-else will! 😉

Seriously. I never in a hundred lifetimes believed that I would be even close to being able to say, I don’t really feel like drinking. But, I don’t. Every day sans The Grape just reinforces that yes, I can make it through the days, the hours, the events, the emotions without drinking. And, I can do it fairly well, not just grinning and bearing it. I never thought the mental cravings would subside to the extent that they have, but, well, they have. Maybe I’ve just shoved them so far down that…? Or, maybe, the “wolf voice” is getting quieter and quieter in favor of the other, stronger “I need to get this done now so please shut it” Buddha voice within?

Rambling. Anyway, this morning, swimming with a new friend who is about 17 years sober, I was like, Ellen, isn’t not drinking enough? I whined, Can’t I just not think about not drinking for a while? Can’t I just not drink? And she was like, That’s exactly what you should do, and I think if you shared that at a meeting, you’d probably get applause. I’ve become tired of thinking about the steps, the confessions, the staring-down-of-self, the wonderings about God and a higher power and What It All Means. I have. So much so that I feel like I’d be bursting everyone’s AA bubble at meetings if I just came out and said, I don’t drink because drinking makes me feel shitty and hung over the next day. Isn’t that enough?

It is. I know it is. I’ll keep going to meetings, but for now, I’m just glad to FINALLY — after almost FIVE months of pretty solid sobriety — feel like I’ve reached the other side and am looking back over my shoulder, panting and breathing a sigh of relief.

Maybe I’ve given up on it working, on it fixing anything, on fixing anything/it? Good. Maybe I’m too tired, or vain (wine gut, hello?) to drink like I used to, which was alcoholically? Great. Maybe I’m just tired of fighting the urge — which actually stresses me out — that comes after the first drink and that I can’t resist so I give up before I try? Fine. Maybe one more hangover might actually, veritably kill me? Yes.

No matter what it is, I am not drinking and not really wanting to drink. And feeling safe in that. Looking back over the trail, marveling at how I got here. The wolf is at bay, licking the dust I kicked into its eye after running it down and stomping on its head.

Good night, friends, and thanks one and all.

Cravings and triggers…

9 Nov

12:44 am

are two separate realities. Who knew?

I feel like I’ve crested a hill that I never made it over before, and that is Craving Hill. Like, the cravings, rather than being a constant buzz in my ear, have become a semi-distant ringing. And, the cravings are distinct from the triggers. I always sort of thought that the trigger was the craving, or the craving was the trigger; not so.

(Bear with me; since I have been going to meetings and plugged into this “other world” of therapy and acceptance, my thoughts have been like massive explosions — expanding, convoluted, all over the place; shrapnel flying at me from all directions.)

My cravings are subsiding into memory. And if not, I slap my mental wrist so hard every time I think about giving up AGAIN before 90 days that they run fleeing, like a scolded dog, from my frontal cortex to the dark neuronal recesses where they fucking belong. That being said, I’m don’t want to jinx it. I keep waiting for them to come back, but they really haven’t. Yesterday, even when I was crying and feeling super-down and super-frustrated, I didn’t necessarily want to drink wine, i.e., I didn’t crave wine. I just wanted the feelings to go away.

Which brings me to my point: cravings are cravings, and they subside. Triggers are what’s behind the cravings, and they don’t! Well, I’m learning how to eliminate the triggers by doing something about them, OR, by learning how to take a deep breath, accept them, and plan to deal with them as soon as I can. For example, in order to not feel the trigger of existential inertia, I can send a pitch letter, or email someone at the university about a class, or make some headway on my long-shelved memoir (none of these things I’ve done yet, but that’s where the whole “plan to deal with them” part comes in!)…

At tonight’s meeting, I realized that most of my social angst comes from not being open, not doing the inviting. As an old roommate of mine used to say (this pertained to dating, which I was not doing any of in my late 20s), “You have to make yourself aVAILable.” She’d always emphasize and drag out the “VAIL” part, as if saying it like that would make me realize that I wasn’t doing so. I pretended to not know what she meant, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with actually answering my phone, or picking it up once in a while and making the call, or stopping driving around [cold west coast city] alone, aimlessly, when I could be like, sitting in on a class or having coffee or doing a million and three other amazing things in that town that I never did because I was so damned scared to make myself aVAILable.

I get it now, but it’s funny to watch my old habits rearing their ugly heads here. I feel a bit…voiceless…these days. Like, I’ve lost my voice in this getting-sober thing. Or, I forgot the words. What I think it is, is not having my usual points of reference: in the morning, wine to look forward to; at night, wine to actually drink. Without my sign posts, I don’t know the script!

I haven’t EVER socialized in a new city without booze. ALL of my new connections, whether professional or personal, have almost always started around “drinks.” I don’t know how to do it differently. Yet, I do. Pick up the phone. Grow a pair. Just do it.

Anyway, it felt good tonight to see that I’ve actually made a few friends at AA; like, these people are becoming my friends, more than just 2D cartoon characters whose sad faces don’t resemble mine. Here’s to some future social events where cravings and triggers are NOT invited! 😉

Btw, friends: 7 meetings down, 28 days sober! Woo hoo!

Hello, Higher Power, it’s me, Drunky Drunk Girl!

7 Nov

11:03 pm

Today. Jesus. I try, I really do, but I lose perspective when I’m PMSing. A’ll I’ll say is, the week or weeks before my period, I just go mad. Back pain flares, my sugar cravings intensify, and today, a week late, I’m crying on the hillside under a blazing sun in the middle of the day.

“God,” I commanded, with about as much serenity as a hammer, “fucking HELP.” Then, I stopped along the side of the road and cried. And, did I even make it look dramatic for, well, drama’s sake? NO. Did I sit down, hold my head in my hands, and weep uncontrollably? Nope. I just sort of mumbled and stumbled and decided to walk home because the tears and sunscreen were making my eyes burn.

Not three minutes later, as I’m descending the hill toward our house’s road, my neighbor drives up out of hers. So, my neighbor is one of the most “conscious” women I know, and at 29, one of the oldest souls I know. This girl is NEVER not radiating joy. I mean, it’s almost funny, and I don’t know if she was born that way or just works extra hard at cultivating nirvana — or both — but man, her energy is simple, direct, and uplifting. Anyway, I see my neighbor, and we chat for a few minutes, and then she drives away. Coincidence…or direct intervention by my as yet unknown HP? Hmm…

After that boost, I came home and was able to sit and just let my drama pass. And then I consciously chose to proceed with my day. It wasn’t easy, though. But, like someone in AA advised me to do, I allowed myself to experience the frustration (What am I doing here? What do I have to do that lends my time purpose?), agitation (Am I missing out on life in [cold east coast city]? I feel so far away from “things” there!), and sadness (Have I exited the ring for good? Can I put my boxing gloves back on and restart my professional life, or is it time to move on, at least to a different kind of writing?).

Anyway, the day got better. I spent a few hours at one of my favorite beaches, where I swam/snorkeled. It reminded me of why I’m here and what matters, which is appreciating the beauty of the water and coral, the ability to swim, and the bliss of being alone doing so.

And, I realized again that I am way too hard on myself. I get so down on myself for what I DON’T have in my life (kids, a house, a boring job). What about what I do have? Independence, intelligence, experiences galore, my life here, a budding (if I actually water it) freelance career, friends, love, AA, my sobriety and blossoming self-understanding beyond what I thought was possible even a few months ago. My present calm and acceptance. My future. I could like, go back to school for public health, anthropology, or marine biology; I could do some cool shit like research, travel, dig, dive along coral reefs. I could write, fund personal projects, rebuild a house, plant a garden, raise goats, volunteer and travel, have kids or adopt them! WHAT IS SO BAD ABOUT MY LIFE?

And, I had a somewhat strange realization (well, I had it after my AA meeting tonight, where I’ve decided to Take It Easy, come to meetings and not drink; and not beat myself up about not doing anything more than that at the moment): I am an alcoholic because I say I am an alcoholic. And, with the help of peeps in the meetings, who sound just like me, I am (almost) convinced of that. I don’t have to consult with others, compare myself to others, incorporate what anyone else says about me or my “problem” into my thoughts and reflections, dreams or goals. And, this is a good thing! I don’t have to feel bad about it because I’m not doing it out of spite, or as a way to cut people out; I’m doing it because I’ve arrived at a point along the way to enlightenment, which is, to me, a form of surrender = I can’t care anymore what anyone else does or thinks, and that includes what anyone thinks about my drinking and/or my being a drunk.

For a long time, up until, um, probably tonight, I’ve been wondering: am I really an alcoholic? I often look back and remember not ONE person except my current boyfriend telling me to go to AA. And, there were a lot of friends who either drank with me or knew I drank WAY too much, too often, and dangerously. I ask myself why was that? Was it because they were clueless, or had their own problems? Sure. Was it because they didn’t want me to get better as that meant losing a drinking buddy as well as losing someone who made them feel better about their own shenanigans? Probably. Was it because none of them really, truly thought I was an alcoholic, based on what seems to be a circulating presumption about the definition of “alcoholic” but what doesn’t come close to what it actually means? Yes.

You’re an alcoholic if you say you are, I’ve realized. And this, my friends, is a good thing to know! Before, I would have said, I’m NOT an alcoholic. Now, I know I am. What that means for me in the larger sense, I have yet to find out. What that means in terms of my future drinking habits, I have yet to find out. Meetings and hearing others like myself have made me see it for a fact. But, it’s my own conclusion that matters, and noting that will help me move forward dealing with it on my own without having to explain it to others, or involve them, on a certain level. I guess I’ve discovered boundaries. Yay!

Chocolate time. I’d love a glass of red wine, too. Le sigh.

AA is so neurotic; then again, so am I!

5 Nov

11:27 pm

It’s been too long since I’ve checked in. I spent about an hour the night before last writing a ranting post about how “AA makes me feel bad” and “AA makes me feel like a failure.” Humph. Glad I saved that one to draft.

In the past week, I’ve realized that AA is chock full of neurotic people, and NO WONDER we all drank! However, I can take what serves me and leave the rest, as so many people have told me. And, joining a 12-step group could be done simply for self-improvement’s sake; you don’t even have to be a drunk to benefit from the steps — it’s a way of life, a “moral-religious” philosophy that could be interpreted outside the context of drinking, I believe.

I’ve been to four meetings in four days (I plan to do 90; I said I would, and damn it, I will), and each time, the meeting has helped me. One of three things usually happens: I feel better after the meeting; I’ve met someone new or had a good convo (yesterday, I invited two new women friends on a hike with me after the morning meeting on the beach); or I’ve found yet one more reason to avoid fully engaging in AA, which is probably an excuse to drink (but, it makes me feel safer, so, for now, that’s OK!).

So, I like meetings, generally speaking. Like jogging, I feel better AFTER it’s over. 😉

On the other hand, I dread going. I don’t know why. Wait, yes, I do. I’d MUCH rather be going to an event, a social gathering, a party, to drink wine, ANYTHING but a group therapy session. Therapy is work. AA is work. I dread going, too, because it’s a lot of throwing around of platitudes. People talk in parables and platitudes and it makes me wonder, Do you really have any deeper understanding of these steps and your life sans booze than you did before you got into the program, or have you just adopted the program’s “language?” It’s hard to tell with most people at meetings down here on [beautiful island], as I’d say a good 70 percent are 10+ years sober. Yup.

Tonight, I was particularly irritated by the level of neuroticism in the room. Jesus FUCK, guys. Give it a rest! No wonder you drank! I mean, life is important, but it’s not THAT important. ESPECIALLY YOUR LIFE. God damn. And, the worst: the people who talk seem to have replaced shooting the shit over the bar with shooting it at an AA meeting. There’s a lot of ego in the room, ironically, and a lot of people simply LOVE to hear themselves talk, I guess. (Not to mention, it seems like 80 percent of the people at meetings here are from [cold east coast city], so EVERYONE has that accent…and some particularly [cold east coast city]-y life mantras, like, ‘The world revolves around me and my self-induced melodramatic frenzy.’)

Anyway, the topic was the 11th step, prayer and meditation. The discussion was interesting, but a lot of people subscribed to the idea of God infusing life with a sense of purpose. After thinking about why it vexed me so much, I concluded (for now): as a biologist at heart, I think that is actually short-changing nature! My “god” is nature, is the “is” around us, which consists of us, plants, animals, cells, protons, the galaxies, and all the physical and metaphysical forces within (like, the forces of gravity AND the “forces” of ESP, or synchronicity, or astral travel, or alien abduction). BUT, essentially, I don’t believe that because all this exists, there has to be a reason for it, let alone a sense of purpose for human beings. I think we create a need for one in our minds, and that’s why we also drink. But, that’s the problem with our big old brains, isn’t it?

On a positive note, I came to the realization of how important yoga/stretching is to me, or hiking. Yoga in particular allows me to focus out of my thoughts and into my body, which I also believe (thanks to my acupuncture session back in September — mind-blowing) is the source. The body is the holy ground, and only because you’re a living body can you connect to your higher self, to the higher reality that exists and that some people call God and that I am calling the “is” in this post. I didn’t share this, but wanted to. All in due time.

I could rant on and on, and I can say that I’m really getting annoyed by these meetings. But, I guess I want to see how it ends. I’m giving it 90 days, and then seeing what happens from there. And, I feel really good about that. I also have learned to simply let it fucking go. What happens in meetings stays in meetings, OK? Like passing rain clouds (I ran into one on my hike this afternoon), the meetings pass, the cravings pass, it all passes. And that’s a beautiful thing, actually.

Too much thinkin’ about drinkin’, says Drunky Drunk Girl!

31 Oct

5:29 pm

And, I suppose that’s better than thinkin’ AND drinkin’.

I don’t know about all this constant thinking — ruminating, actually — on drinking. Since I’ve quit, begun this blog, and started going to AA meetings, all I do is think about drinking! Sure, I don’t drink, but I still think about it. In fact, what’s the point of quitting if you have to continually THINK about it?

I’ve been somewhat overwhelmed by my thoughts the past few days, so I feel all a’jumble today. BUT, I wanted to say howdy and try to share a few of those thoughts, at least (warning: long post ahead).

On a positive note, I picked a sponsor today. Well, “picked” might be stretching it. It was sort of a random choice, and now I’m regretting it. I might hit up another woman, whom I feel more of a connection with and who goes to more meetings with me than the other (stranger) woman. I think I just got caught up in the moment this morning; or, I was impatient and wanted to stop sitting on the fence and JUST DO IT. In any case, she gave me some “official” reading material, and if there’s one thing I’m good at — besides overthinking — it’s reading material.

Anyway, based of some of the topics and shares at the past few AA meetings I’ve been to, I’ve been thinking about the following:

1. Bondage to self, or self-centeredness. It was a topic at one of the meetings, like many of these next points. My question remains: Where does self-centeredness end and self-effacement begin? Which is more or less healthy, and for me, a trigger? I am surely selfish and self-centered like the rest, but sometimes (maybe 50% at least), I drank to make myself numb to my doormat qualities, my inability to stand up for what I truly want, and my insecurity (I don’t feel like I deserve that what I truly want). I think some people drink more as the result of one versus the other, and in meetings, it seems that everyone who shares drank because they were selfish bastards. I don’t think my primary motivating factor was to be a selfish bastard, to party, to get high; I think it was to self-medicate.

2. Drinking to get drunk versus drinking to self-medicate. In meetings, it seems that a LOT of folks, especially the older men, drank to drink. To get drunk, to avoid their lives and problems and emotional blocks, whatever. I drank a lot of the time to feel better in my head. Sure, I drank to zone out, but I also drank to feel less static in my brain, to improve my mood, to make me feel like life was spectacular and not existentially ridiculous, to have something to look forward to because at that moment — in those moments — I don’t feel like doing or thinking or being anything. And then I feel bad (see point 1 above) about wasting time, and I feel even worse. But, it’s a particular need to not lubricate, but mend something inside. An existential rip in the seam of life, as it were. Now, I see that maybe I need not only a huge sense of purpose, but antidepressants. Endorphins of the highest order. Cookies and cake and loads of caffeine are not cutting it, I’m sorry.

3. Doing too little versus having an overwhelming sense of purpose and doing too much/what I “should;” unable to relax. Me, the latter, as you can guess. I am task-oriented, so it helps me to not drink if I have an 18-hour day planned. That’s why [cold east coast city] was so good for me. YET…isn’t that worse? Is being a workaholic better or worse for you than being an alcoholic? I’ve reconciled my need to “scratch that itch” with my desire to drink; I am what I am, and if my definition of “fun” and “productive” are unusually severe, then so be it. There is that work-life balance thing, though, which I never quite got, and am not sure I ever will. It’s very difficult for me to relax, to “not be productive.” I’m sure it is for many people, but they don’t consider it a problem. Is it, if it makes you feel uber-good about life?

4. Thinking yourself out of drinking versus giving your will “over” to a “higher power.” CONTRARY to what I assumed after going to all these meetings, everyone (based on today’s meeting) is like me in that they, too, have to think through it in order to convince themselves not to drink when they want to. I found this confusing, relative to what AA says, which is to give it up to “God.” If all y’all are rationalizing your urges away, then where does direct intervention and taking away of obsession by a higher power come in?

(I found it astonishing that quite a few people in AA said their cravings/urges/obsession disappeared almost immediately. You must not be drinkin’ red wine, is all I can think to say.)

5. AA meetings make me want to drink. And, someone said today: The only time I actually think about drinking anymore is when I’m here, at a meeting! Tell it, brotha.

6. “God” is what happens, what occurs, between and among other beings, whether human or animals. It’s not an outside force, per se, but something that comes from within and that is born through relating to and realtionships with other living creatures, including plants. WE are god, individually and collectively. Maybe I’ve just done a step here? 😉

Sometimes I think this whole thing is just overblown. Sure, I did some bad shit, but it’s grapes, people. Just grapes. Then again, I know that a sense of purpose is what saves me, that getting outside my head helps me, that staying in the moment through journaling and working and doing things like running and playing guitar improves my sense of belonging in the world. I know that swimming among massive swells at a local beach makes me feel strangely connected to a deep, abiding “aliveness,” that being a body of water which is large and ancient and powerful beyond what I can imagine — and that makes me feel, ironically, calm and safe and protected from myself, from my small ego.

Sometimes I want to conclude that I am a binge drinker who is depressed/obsessed by existential crises (choices, work versus play, meaning of life, death). Does that mean I need to work the steps and continue to ruminate, lifelong, on a problem? Can’t I simply solve it (don’t drink)? Then again, if I’m truly honest — and feeling good about life, which generally speaking, I have been since June 13th — I can see how those steps can only help me move forward. They can only help, if I’m humble and embrace them without my ego and mindedness getting in the way. And, then again again, DOES IT REALLY MATTER WHAT YOU “ARE” IF BEING SOBER, EVEN IF IT TAKES WORK, MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER AND MAKES YOUR LIFE BETTER? I would have to say, an obvious no.

And, dun dun dun: 21 days as of tomorrow! And, while I’ve thought about drinking a glass of wine, I really haven’t wanted to. Like, I haven’t felt like it. I feel calmer in the face of everything — work, moving, relationship, existential nonsense — that made me feel like drinking before. I feel calmer and more apt to say, Nah, instead of, OMG, YES. I don’t want to gloat, though, so I’ll sign off for now.

Here’s to all my sober buddies in the blogosphere — thanks to you all for being my support group and sounding board.

What to do on a sober Halloween? Try Al-Anon and a TON of sugar!

27 Oct

5:34 pm

NOT. Today, I totally crashed after my very first Al-Anon meeting. I really have got to do something about the amount of Diet Coke I’m drinking these days. I probably down at least a liter (4 cups, for those of you on THIS side of the pond) a day, if not more. Boo. I mean, it’s a different kind of craving, but I can describe it in one word: irritating. It’s distracting and absolutely irritating to feel the almost uncontrollable, and purely physical, sensation of *needing* sugar (or fake sugar, or whatever). Surmounting that soon. I don’t have enough energy to both consume sugar and then root around for extra-large-sized candy bars, too.

Anyhoo, I had a lovely morning at least. Woke up to another amazing day on the ocean — sapphire blue waters, a sheet of blue sky punctuated by big clumps of white clouds, a gusting wind cooling down the approaching mid-morning heat. Around 10, I went to a large Al-Anon meeting sponsored by Promises in Paradise, that sober conference which, btw, is also putting on an ICE CREAM SOCIAL tonight. I am literally starting to tremble just thinking about how much of my body weight I could eat in ice cream…

So, Al-Anon. It was kind of like an AA meeting in that most of the roster of speakers were also alcoholics and/or addicts. I got the gist of it, which is that these Al-Anon meetings help family members (and friends?) figure out what to do, how to cope, and importantly, how to just let go in the face of someone they’re related to or care about drinking and drugging.

(I can relate, I think. When it comes to my brother and his girlfriend, I’ve “given up” on fixing their co-dependent relationship. And, I can say, I really don’t care that much. It’s not my problem, for real.)

It made me see the toll that my drinking and blackouts and belligerence must have had and is still having on my family and friends. Like, it never occurred to me that anyone COULD be that affected. Why? Because they just didn’t care enough. At least that’s what I thought. It’s MY problem, so why should I have to worry about myself AND other people?, was what I’d always tell myself. Well, this meeting helped me to see — for some reason for the very first time in a way that sunk in — that other people need help recovering, if not actually coping, from the fallout of a drunk’s behavior while drunk. (Actually, I have been thinking about it ever since my boyfriend mentioned possibly wanting to go to one — What’s wrong with YOU? Why would YOU need help? Oh, right, because I’ve harassed you in a raging blackout about a million times.)

Sooooo, who’s dressing up for Halloween?

Oh, God. Last Halloween? Let me erase any ideas of drinking being entertained, my friends. Last Halloween, I decided to fly down to LA to visit an old college friend. Needless to say, I drank the night before flying down. AND, didn’t stop until I passed out (for probably a few hours, maybe not at all, I can’t remember). AND, woke up and continued drinking en route to the airport, AT the airport (beer in the morning, so tasty, right?), during the flight, and then AFTER landing at LAX. This was all before 2 pm. I was sitting next to some guy who was, for some reason (did he not see how drunky drunk I was?) flirting with me and encouraging me to drink more, and then I, flirting back in a drunken stupor, thought it a brilliant idea to ask him to have “one last drink” with me at a bar in LAX near our gate.

Fast forward two hours later, and I come to from my blackout. Apparently, I was wandering around LAX, lost, and my friend was trying to find me, texting me and calling me, to no avail. Somehow we linked up, and I barely remember exiting the airport, sitting in my wet (yes, I pissed my pants) jeans in the passenger seat of his car, and getting back to his place in West Hollywood so that he could leave me to “sleep it off,” which I did. What’s worse than all this happening between the hours of 2 and 5 pm in the afternoon? Pissing my pants in public. A new low. More shameful than shitting my pants (yes, that happened once), seeing how everyone could see my wet jeans, and if they couldn’t, I’m sure they could smell them. TMI, but hey, it’s kind of at least a little bit funny, right?

Oh, yes. Rock on, sobriety and bladder control.

We had a fairly decent weekend, dressed up and went out, all that. I was drinking by the next evening, much to my friend’s chagrin. It took almost a full year for this friend to forget — I knew he forgave me almost immediately, but his irritation, disappointment, and frustration would not allow him to forget. Thank God(dess) for these friends, who are few and far between; I have others who have not been so gracious and empathetic.

Anyway, think before you drink (or, dry drink, I guess!). Happy SOBER Halloween! 🙂

Anyone up for a sober conference? Promises in Paradise is where it’s at!

25 Oct

2:29 am

There’s a conference on [beautiful island where I now live] this weekend called “Promises in Paradise,” which is basically a weekend-long AA meeting. Not sure if I can swallow it just yet; I mean, I still sort of cry inside every time I think, island + wine + DDG = null set.

Ah, well. Maybe, like my boyfriend says, I should fill up my wine glass with chilled rooibos tea — my current obsession — instead of wine?

Today was OK; nothing Earth-shattering. Which, in a way, bums me out. (I think I just have to get used to having settled in, and not, like, continuously moving around and looking forward to being somewhere else — or do I? I’m already looking forward to trips to PR, D, and H!) I had an interview with a possible fourth client, and that went well. I must say, this freelance thing takes a lot of patience, as there isn’t as much measurable output as one might need to feel productive. AND, it just takes a lot of time linking up with people and arranging work. I feel somewhat blah about this next project, but I’m sure I’ll rally.

No meeting for me today — figured I’d be able to OD on meetings this weekend if I end up hitting that conference. (And, why not? It’s right around the corner and how cool will I be when I get to tell people that I actually LIVE in said paradise?). I ended up spending the evening cleaning and unpacking! It feels GREAT to have my closet a little bit more organized, to have the bags off the floor and the sheets and towels and underwear in their right place. Yet…

Always a yet. Why can’t I just be happy with what is? Settling in makes me feel unsettled, that’s just a given. I am a restless mofo, and I know this about myself. It’s one of the reasons I drank. Speaking of which, at last night’s meeting, one woman shared that her biggest obstacle to acceptance was that she didn’t like the 21st century! LOL I could relate; I mean, we all have our “head” issues, our perceptions of reality that make us feel crazy/weird being human. Mine is information overload and an inability to “see through” the physical reality around me. More often than not, I would drink out of anxiety and frustration surrounding these glitches.

Anyway, yup, always in my head! Oh, well, that’s what this blog is for. Anyway…I miss my stuff in [cold east coast city]. I miss…my life. In [cold east coast city]? I’m not sure. I feel…like I’m floating. Maybe it’s time for a “real” job; it’s cool to have reached my goal of earning a living as a freelance writer, but I know — have known for a while — that it’s not something that I find all that rewarding anymore, writing/editing, and there are other things I know I’d like to spend my time doing.

All in due time. One day at a time. I have trouble with this, so I’m just going to calmly shut my laptop and Turn It Off.

Oh, and: 14 days, kids! And, really, very little desire to drink; very large desire to keep working, moving forward, and keeping the “wine gut” to a bare minimum (I think I can safely transition to using the more aptly named “blueberry muffin gut” now).

Let go and let…God(dess)?

23 Oct

10:59 pm

Well, folks, I think I’ve actually found some solace in AA. Say WHAT?

First off, island life is grand. I’m getting a feel for how my days will pan out (structure is my friend), I’ve just bought a car (squee!), and I’m really looking forward to building on new ideas, new endeavors (this weekend, we’re going on a tour of the island’s new observatory, seeing a musical — no shit — and fingers crossed, starting to plant a garden on the hill behind the house), and my writing. That’s one of reasons I’m here, right? Mornings are lush, afternoons are languid, and evenings are musical. Why would I want to drink? (Craving red wine as I write this… Le sigh. Never going to change, eh? Gotta believe that one day I won’t want to drink to make the good better, the better awesome, and the grand, super-duper amazing. Shut UP, Drunky Drunk Girl! Back down, wolf!)

Anyway, I’ve been to a handful of meetings now — maybe four? — and, well, they ARE helping. Helping in that one, I usually don’t want to go but two, after I go, I’m really glad I did! Three, it helps to have people on your side. Even though I haven’t called anyone yet, I know that if I wanted to, I have like, 20 new friends whom I could. I know people outside of AA now, thanks to random connections that have turned up as admitted drunks; it’s hard to swing a wet towel on this island and not hit one, though. Still, their support (and my openness about being “in recovery”) combined with the support offered by random strangers at AA; well, it’s comforting to know that they’re watching out for me and caring if I drink or not. Like, really caring. Compared to how I think my brother and dad feel (couldn’t give a rat’s ass), this feels like…a relief.

At every meeting, there’s been one or two things that people have said that really hit home — and that helps. A lot. In a subtle way, I feel refreshed, more committed to not drinking, and well, distracted after meetings. Whatever works, right?

For me, they’re helping in another way, and that’s getting me out there on my own and meeting new people. Getting a feel for the island by getting to know some people outside my boyfriend’s inner circle of friends. I know joining things will help, too, but this first step into widening my social network is nice in that, people can’t really reject you at AA. 😉

(It helps that I have committed to at least 90 days, too; I’m resisting everything a lot less. Though, the more I hit meetings, the more I wonder, maybe it’s the meetings that are strengthening my resolve?)

So, remember how I was talking about this “God” thing last post? Well, I know it’s Step 3 and I’m not even sure I’m sold yet on the program of AA let alone the steps, but it’s been on my mind: how can you say that a higher power helped you to stop, resist, and/or not crave booze? Isn’t that stuff that only your mind, your will, your very body can do? I went to a meeting on Saturday night, and someone said something about having drunk through 15 years of AA meetings before he finally “let go and let God.” He said the same thing I was thinking: OK, all right, let me try this nonsense for ONE day, that’s it, and see what happens. He did it and it changed his life, he said. Could it be that I simply need to just fucking give this shit a chance? (Sorry, I feel like cursing tonight! Higher Power said it’s OK.)

I actually already believe in a higher power, a “glue” of sorts that holds the universe together, and this glue does shit that even the most enlightened mind cannot imagine. I studied biology, and well, some of the stuff I learned about the microscopic workings of the body and nature are pretty surreal; why not a higher glue? So, it’s not hard for me to say, OK, let synchronicity handle it — I’ve experienced things like meeting the right people at the right time, and once you begin to open up to these “invisible workings,” they start to happen more. HOWEVER, I never prayed for a direct intervention; au contraire. I don’t believe in any kind of direct intervention, that’s just religious nonsense to me. Yesterday, though, I was like, OK, let’s just suspend our disbelief for one day, ONE day, and like that guy, see what happens.

That was yesterday morning. We took the dog to the vet and as I was standing outside with him, waiting for my boyfriend to pay the doc — this was about 11 am — I said to God/my higher power, “Higher Power, or whatever, wherever, whoever you are, please help me today. Help me get through the day, but mostly, tell me what to do. I really, actually, am making it up as I go along, so please, guide me and I’ll follow. For real. I have no clue what I’m doing here.”

And from that point, the day unfolded almost ridiculously perfectly, with surprises and accomplishments and well, things just Falling Into Place. I found a car. Yes, a car! I was dreading the ordeal of finding and sorting through all the shit used cars for sale down here, all the while not really wanting to spend more than $3,000. Yet, yesterday morning, my boyfriend found an ad from one of his friends on Facebook selling a used car, we went to take a look, test drove it, and whaddya know, it’s a GREAT little car! And, we’re getting it for under $2,000! I would never have, I guess, embraced an event like this if certain things hadn’t been aligned and if I hadn’t been open to committing to the uncertainty but doing it anyway (how long will I be down here, I could probably spend that money on something else, blah blah blah). Higher Power was like, Shut it, DDG. You’re doing this.

Other stuff just kept happening, too. After the vet, and before the car, we went to look at someone’s moving sale stuff and found a few pieces of essential cookware, stuff I had been sort of worrying about finding down here. (Fretting about where and when you’ll find a medium-sized frying pan and a small saucepan at 1 am when you can’t sleep, from an entire coast away? That would be me.) We stopped at the post office and lo and behold, my boxes that I shipped to myself from [cold west coast city] had arrived! After we dropped them off at the house, we headed out to the beach. En route, we just happened to run into one of our very cool neighbors, so we all decided to hit the beach together. Then, Obama kicked Mittens’ ass in the debate… Dude, it HAD TO BE MY HIGHER POWER, I just knew it. 😉

I do think that things fall into place, and believe me, I’ve been planning and arranging and controlling and molding for a few months now. Which, I think, is why the day seemed to have this charged energy — I just let go. So what if the car’s not perfect? So what if I end up spending only a few months here and have to sell off all this new stuff? This and that, blah blah blah, wolf drunk head chatter. Who cares? I just embraced the uncertainty, I guess, of my new life; committed to it. That felt good. I haven’t committed to being somewhere since my last place in [cold east coast city], over two whole years ago. The whole time I was in [cold west coast city], I simply never committed to being there, so avoided things like buying cars. I also completely avoided getting involved in activities, getting to know people, stopping drinking, pretty much life. My life was drinking, if I’m honest. And that took away my ability to even tell certainty from uncertainty, let alone live with it and surmount it by engaging in an actual life.

Like I said, I do believe in a “force” we can’t see, but I believe it works between and among us, not from Higher Being to me. Direct intervention or relaxing into making chioces and following through? Either way, I think sobriety has played a huge role.

Since I’m counting weeks, I’m almost at two again! Woo hoo! (Day 12 today!) And, while Sunday was rough and I pouted for a minute or two, the thought of caving and not getting to the other side — that being the elusive Day 90 — never crossed my mind. NO WAY! I GOT THIS.


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