September 24, 2013

Meeting at the Detox

I had a privilege this week to be a part of a group of volunteers that brings AA meetings to the local detox center where I live. It was an amazing experience and it brought out many memories of my own visits to detox, although I have never been to this one. As people introduced themselves around the room, there were quite a few visitors who have been there previously and who have been struggling with alcoholism or addiction for years. This was not like any meetings that I am used too. These people were in the first few days of getting off whatever they were on and still in the daze. What could I possibly say that would help them get sober?

I tried to remember how it felt when I was in detox and what came to mind was the "jumping-off" place, the place where you can't stand drinking any more yet, at the same time, you can't imagine your life sober. I was stuck in that place for a long, long time. And I remember at some point reading this passage and being filled with sudden hope for my future.

This is from Chapter 11, A Vision For You, page 152 in the AA Big Book.
Now and then a serious drinker, being dry at the moment says, “I don’t miss it at all. Feel better. Work better. Having a better time.” As ex-problem drinkers, we smile at such a sally. We know our friend is like a boy whistling in the dark to keep up his spirits. He fools himself. Inwardly he would give anything to take half a dozen drinks and get away with them. He will presently try the old game again, for he isn’t happy about his sobriety. He cannot picture life without alcohol. Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do. He will be at the jumping-off place. He will wish for the end.
We have shown how we got out from under. You say, “Yes, I’m willing. But am I to be consigned to a life where I shall be stupid, boring and glum, like some righteous people I see? I know I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?”
Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.
“How is that to come about?” you ask. “Where am I to find these people?” You are going to meet these new friends in your own community. 
I love this passage! I sure wish that it was placed earlier in the book because this to me is so powerful and depicts the state of the "jumping-off place exactly how I felt. But reading this gave me hope, because it said that there is a substitute - there is a solution - the fellowship of AA, and right in my own community! And that was so true, these "new friends" gave me hope and strength to finally, after many years of struggling, to finally get sober!

To find meeting in your area please visit the Alcoholics Anonymous website: How to find AA meetings. 

September 14, 2013

Everything Changes Sober

"XXXIII. Forever grateful." That was my sponsors Facebook status this morning!

Is that freaking amazing!!!?? 33 years sober! If you ask her how she does it, she will still say one day at a time. Wow, that's many days. She is a wonderful woman who has always been there for me and has been a crucial part of my recovery! I am so grateful for her!

I remember in my early days in the rooms hearing someone having 20 years and me thinking, really, why!? how!? Then later the thought changed to ok, maybe 10th years but 20? - you should be cured by then I think. Then again the thought changed to wow, that is incredible, how did they do it? And now, I feel like wow, that's very cool, that could be me!

So all this got me thinking how things continuously change. My thoughts are so different than they were even a year ago! Things that seemed like catastrophes at the time, today seem like just some rough times that I got through and experienced huge growth.

I know in early sobriety I had many nevers and always type thoughts, I will never get sober for good, I will never be happy, I will never get married or have kids, I will never have a family, and I will always be a drunk, I will always be alone, I will always have a crappy life.

Things that I thought were unattainable at some point, well, it seems that they are right in front of me and i believe that it has all happened only because I am sober!

September 9, 2013

Normie Friends Update

I wrote back in April about our new Normie friends, and how excited I was to make friends beyond our 12 step circle. You can read about it HERE.

You have to understand a bit of our (me and my husband's) backgrounds to really appreciate this strange excitement about making Normie friends! We both had such a hard time getting sober that we have been totally immersed in the AA fellowship - way beyond meetings! We have gone to all the special events, dances, picnics, celebrations, bonfires, countdowns, sober-thons and conventions! Not to mention that we met in AA! So basically all the people that we socialize with are in the program, or sober. So, really, having friends outside of that circle is like stepping into the wild unknown! LOL!

Well, things could not be better with our new friends! We have seen each other a lot lately, our kids have been hanging out at the pool together and taking turns coming over for play dates. We have many things in common, our daughters were both born in September, our husbands have the same first name, which at times can be quite confusing (LOL), and both of us moms are not native to the USA. Last weekend they even invited us over for a cookout! Things are just grand!

My husband and I decided that we were going to tell them that we were in recovery, just to make sure of course that they were not going to push a drink our way. As we entered the backyard area, the husband offered my husband a beer, to which he plainly said - No thank you, and I added - We don’t drink! - you know just in case, but the conversation quickly went to the list of all other beverages they had to offer. Huh!? No pushing it on us, not trying to convince us to have one? Cool!

Then we sat around the kitchen table after chatting up in the backyard. I looked around the area and noticed that they had a lot of alcohol around their house - well they had a “standard” liquor cabinet, a full wine rack, and a random bottle of vodka on the kitchen counter - for cooking? Hmmm. Of course I always notice these things! LOL! All that really got me thinking… Is that a lot? Maybe they are alcoholics? Oh shoot, and they are not in recovery so that’s a bad place for us to be. But maybe that’s not really a lot, maybe that is how much Normies ordinarily have? Then out of the blue, I had that moment, oh, they are party people? Then, I actually imagined that if we were drinking all together, we would be having so much fun! OMG. Are you kidding me!? Did my mind really go there? Sheesh! I know the ending to that story, and I am not going there!

Anyway, back to those alcohol amounts! After pondering for a while if that was normal, it hit me like a lightning bolt! I never had alcohol around my house in those amounts! WHY? Because it never stood the chance to sit on my shelves, or in the wine rack or in the liquor cabinet, - kitchen counter? - hell no!! If it was there I drank it! Yep, I drank it! I had to buy alcohol every day, I didn’t collect alcohol – if someone brought me a bottle of wine as a gift I drank it that night!

So there you go, I am still an alcoholic, I still have some odd thoughts that I know separate me from the Normie -- contrary to my thinking, there was no crazy party, and no one got drunk! We all had iced tea and grilled chicken, and we carried on and laughed like old buddies. So once again, I am reminded that yes, when it comes to alcohol, I am different! But I am glad that I can now laugh about it all, and be OK with it, because there was a time when I though that I was never going to have any friends in sobriety!

September 2, 2013

Weekend With Family Sober

My family has descended on our house this weekend. This was not planned at all, as matter of fact we had a low key weekend planned with just few activities so that the kids would be rested and ready for the first day of school. But instead my family come over on Saturday and my husband's family on Sunday. I am absolutely exhausted, my back burst and I am still trying to get the house back in order!  - but, enough whining. :)

I was actually thinking how different these times are now. First of all, when I was drinking, no one was allowed to just show up at my house, uninvited and without calling way in advance. I mean, I had to do lots of prep work, clean the house, get rid of the empties, and get my self semi-sober so I could function and pretend that everything was perfect. Than I would buy a bunch food from the fancy gourmet store,because that would give that appearance that I had money! (of course I didn't, but there was always a credit card in my pocket!) And then there was the trip to the "beverage" store!

Yes, I spared no expenses to keep up the appearances. LOL! And I did it all this by myself; I was the hostess, the bartender and the chef all in one! I would also stress out about it all, to the max, actually I couldn't even sleep at night and drank way more just to "cope." I had to be perfect, the house had to be perfect and the "party" had to be perfect. This had to be the event that everyone talked about for days!

Of course all that was just a facade. This was not the real me or anything about me or my life. I was a mess and my life was a mess but I was definitely not gonna let any of my family members know. So ultimately, I didn't have many gatherings with my family. :/

This weekend was an absolute opposite! People showed up, people left. We made food when we were hungry and snacked on things I had in my pantry. There was no alcohol served! - it never is in my house anymore, and I think I am going to keep it that way. We drank lots of ice tea and coffee, and we grilled up a storm. Kids laughter and adult chatter filled the air. The house was semi-clean, then messy, than really messy, then cleaned and then... messy again! It felt like home! Our home! It felt like I always imagined my home to be!

This is sobriety in action for me. I remember when people were telling me this is how it was going to be when I go sober and I didn't believe them. But it is happening, right now, and right before my eyes. This is once again, another awesome example of why I continue my sober life!

I have a new blog on WordPress called Sober Courage - check it out!