“In silence there is eloquence. Stop weaving and see how the pattern improves.” ― Rumi


It was early, 5:40 a.m. to be exact, when I stepped into my second AA meeting today.The crowd was small but lively, welcoming, and kind. Normal, relaxed banter among the regulars and a few pointed- but gentle- questions my way. I heard most of them and responded briefly, my voice wavering and cracking as if I had laryngitis. I didn’t trust myself to project my voice in the way I do “normally.” Besides, my confidence was checked at the door.

In my head, my mind was taking over. “What do I say? Am I supposed to speak? Do I start at day two of sobriety since it’s only my second meeting, or do I get to count “time served” prior to AA? Does anyone know me?”

And on and on my Self went. Truthfully, I found myself exhausting.

The leader opened with prayer, announcements, the preamble, steps, traditions and reading of the day (I think). Then, around the circle the conversation started flowing. Holy crap. The conversation is only two people away. What do I say? Ugh. Heart beats faster. One person away. He says something about gratitude; I am not being flippant; I tried to hear him, I really did. But my heart was beating so loud I didn’t catch all of his words.

Silence.

My turn.

More silence.

The next thing I know, I hear a voice introduce myself, that I am an alcoholic. What came out of my mouth seriously shocked me.

“I am used to saying what I think people want to hear; so today, I am going to just listen until I find my real voice.”

And the continuum along the circle persisted. Just like that. No prodding. No begging. No judging. Sigh. The energy I wasted with worry. And this is only one day!

Learning to be silent is new to me. But, as I don’t trust what might fall out of my mouth right now, it’s becoming my friend.

I bet I learn a little more, too.

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“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ― Abraham Lincoln


Day 20. I woke up today way too early, fell back asleep and was then in a rush to get out the door with the kids by 6:30. Funny, though, I wasn’t bitter, agitated, or sharp in tone. In fact, I quipped to my husband that it was great to be in a rush without a hangover; I only had to put the toothpaste on the brush once and I never dropped my loofah in the shower because my hands weren’t shaking!

But, in all seriousness, the rush was great–for a bit. After I dropped the boys off  at the sitter’s and started my commute into work, I was still keyed up. However, something in me wasn’t right. This “rush” felt off. I didn’t want my whole day to be a race; I know where that mindset gets me: “Oh. slow down. Have ONE drink; it will relax you.” Yada. Yada. Yada. I tried Christian music, Catholic talk radio, quiet. Nothing was calming my heart. And then, a miracle happened.

I picked up my phone, called my brother, and told him I hit my bottom.  He said, “WHAT?!?”

So, I repeated myself more clearly. “It’s a high bottom, but I hit it.”

What he said next won’t surprise those who practice their recovery.

“Shit. I wish I were with you. Okay. No worries. We got this.”

Just like that. My whole world opened up in that very moment. I have my big brother in my corner loving me, not judging me, supporting me- all in an instant.

My brother has been in AA for 22 years, and he is spiritual about his recovery. I have admired him from the day he sought treatment for a variety of reasons. Every adversity he has faced (and because that is HIS story and not mine,  I will not go into detail.), he has done so with grace, thought, and sobriety. That doesn’t mean he isn’t irritated or angry; but his recovery time from such incidents is much quicker and much more genuine. I believe (for I am finding out I don’t KNOW much anymore as my truth has been distorted) on a number of occasions he has reached out to me in a roundabout way to get help, but he has had the wisdom and the grace to realize I have to be ready. Today,  I am ready.

My calling him was nothing short of a miracle. My Ego had to take a backseat to the anxiety that was creeping into my veins and setting me up. My Ego, my Pride, my Inability to Get Real, whatever you want to call it lost today.

I was driven to my knees hypothetically speaking. I had to admit I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. (I didn’t have to look that up, either. My mom drilled that into my head decades ago; And although I KNEW the step, I sure as hell wasn’t living it; I am a slow learner…)

So, the next 25 minutes were so full. Full of love, support, truth, and wisdom…but minimal; he promised not to throw too much out at me at once. And I sure recognize that he has the ability to go on and on and on. But he didn’t.

I have to commit to two things today:

I have committed myself  to go to a meeting at 5:15. I have two assignments: 1) Say it’s my first meeting and 2) Tell them I need a female sponsor- even if it’s temporary

This, I can do.

As recent as last week, I said, “Everything happens for a reason.” And I never believed those words really. But, today, I overslept which I haven’t done since choosing sobriety just a short 20 days ago. And maybe my sleeping in wasn’t The Reason for  calling my brother. I don’t know. And quite frankly, I don’t care. Calling him means I am accountable in person. Calling him means I have a buddy in my corner. Calling him means I am starting to just tip the bag over to see what’s inside.

And to me, all of this is nothing short of miraculous.

“It was impossible to get a conversation going; everybody was talking too much.” -Yogi Berra


This quote reminds me of my own head as well as my interactions with others. I was sitting around yesterday with roughly four different conversations taking place in my mind.. bills, Thanksgiving, papers to grade, life. I felt my breathing increasing and I literally started pacing around. It was then I put my tennis shoes on and hit the treadmill in the basement. My husband- God love him- texted and asked if I needed him to come downstairs. I respectfully declined as I had enough voices running an already crowded three-ring circus in my head. So I walked, jogged, ran- blasting my music until I calmed my head. Then, as my heart rate slowed, so did my head. I was able to shut some voices out and compartmentalize as needed. It sort of felt like cleaning my closet- clothes to keep, to mend, to donate, to toss. (Okay, the “to mend” part I threw in for balance; I don’t mend clothes…)

When I think back to conversations I’ve had in the past, I realize I rarely if ever listened. Not to others, not in meetings, not at the dinner table. The only “listening” I did was to hear the negative self-talk and we see where that got me. I made sure to stay quiet enough in groups to make it appear as if I were listening. The reality is, I was thinking about drinking, mainly. And when my opinion was asked, I would provide one of two things: either something so mundane and obvious, the contribution was really unworthy or something sarcastic and “anti” authority; again, useless.

And sometimes- more often than not- I assumed the role of “filler.” I felt it was my social responsibility to fill the air with conversation; I mean, if I weren’t going to amuse the masses, who would? I perceived that people found me funny, outspoken, downright absurd. In truth, though, I was drunk and the more I drank, the more I fueled the “conversations” with my ridiculous antics, often times, at the expense of others’ dignity and self-worth. My mantra was, “Well, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

Wow. I am thankful no one had a score sheet counting the amount of times I was insulting, hurtful, belittling, and rude over the past 30 years. If I really (through my numbed state so we know how accurate that perception was) felt as if I had indeed insulted someone or hurt their feelings I would sidle up to them and say, “Oh, I’m sorry. You KNOW I would NEVER say anything to hurt you. I was kidding.” And just like that, I was forgiven. People took what I said at face value. I was the poster girl for “consider the source”- a fun-loving, drunk girl who just wanted everybody to have as good of a time as she was.

The underlying problem, of course, is that the night generally ended with my husband ushering me out of the bar, party, family gathering, bon fire, etc. supporting my almost passed out self to the vehicle and me asking, “Why are we leaving so early? I have half a drink left!”

So now, I turn back to conversation. I have complained that I have lost my voice over the years. The funny thing is, I’ve never shut up long enough to hear it. I haven’t allowed myself sober time to reflect, to think and then to speak- if the conversation warrants a comment at all. I see this now. In the past if I happened to be quiet, people would inevitably ask me what was wrong. I had to be sick if I wasn’t talking. Often times, I would make things up to excuse why I wasn’t talking.

But I see now how that is all different today. I can actually sit among adults, listen to what is being said and not feel compelled to entertain, to comment, to analyze. I am far less exhausted at the end of the day; I am sure much of this is due to the fact that I am not the self-appointed entertainment anymore.

So as I continue to clean out my closet, I have a clown suit for sale. Any takers?

 

Ace is the place for the helpful hardware man.


So Day 15 is here and I am sitting here raw, exposed, pit in my stomach, hotness in my face. All triggers for me to go grab a drink and say f*&^ this all. (Don’t worry my few followers, I am at work for the next 3.5 hours and, “This too shall pass.”)

Last night, my therapist asked me why I still have alcohol in my house (22 beers, a half bottle of Captain, a half bottle of Crown. I’m not obsessive, doesn’t everyone keep inventory? Just don’t ask me what spices I have; for some reason, I don’t count them…) Today, my response irritates me. But last night, it seemed totally logical. I looked at her and said, “Because I am bigger than this. I KNOW how much I have screwed up, and there is no way I would go back there.” She’s a professional yanno so she sat there for what seemed like an ample amount of time for milk to coagulate into cottage cheese. I waited for her to pat me on the head, give me a gold star, clap wildly.

None of this happened. She sat. I thought. She sat. I thought. She sat. I felt a sharp pain in my chest; my breathing increased; my stomach a little pit of knots. Shit. I swear if she weren’t expensive and I didn’t have 27 minutes left of my appointment, I would have bolted for the door. Fuck me. I am bigger than this. I seriously wanted to reach down on that couch, shake myself, and ask myself who in the hell I thought I was. Today, I realize how ridiculous I sounded. God love my therapist. She told me she wasn’t going to tell me what to do; this is my path and I have to do what I need to do. But she did suggest I ask myself why I thought it was okay to leave that in my house.

Maybe I am not as committed on some level. Maybe I had this notion that will power alone would get me through. Maybe I think the more I say no the better person I am. Maybe I think the stronger I am the faster I heal. The bottom line is, today I know all of this is bullshit. If I were “bigger” than this, I wouldn’t be in this predicament.

So the feelings today are (I think ) largely due to the fact that I am starting to realize that being sober isn’t half the battle like I did a few days ago. It’s not even close. Being sober is the damn tool in my tool box I have to have in order to fix the leaky pipes. And  a wrench by itself ain’t going to do the trick either.

I need to go shopping for some more tools. I am ill-equipped for this renovation project. And, for some reason, I had the notion that I am the General Contractor.

“Accept who you are; and revel in it.” ― Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie


Today marks two weeks of sobriety for me. I was trying to think of what sounded longer: two weeks or 14 days. At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter. For me, it’s an accomplishment. Having been on a binge drinking roller coaster for all of my adult life, I am more than glad to be rid of that chapter.

I know not to throw the book out so to speak. I have too many lessons to learn from that lifestyle. Namely why did I do what I did and why was it so important to keep up the reckless cycle? What was/am I running from?

So, who am I ? I am a sober wife, mom, sister, daughter, teacher, friend, and alcoholic. I will revel in all of those titles because that is what defines me TODAY.

I am also honest. I have “outed” myself to my three good friends who are also coworkers. Each one of them hugged me and asked what they could do to help me on my journey. They are fantastic people and I am thankful I have let them in on my personal journey for they will surely play an important role.

I am also feeling a lot less guilty TODAY. I know I have made some terrible mistakes; I still have amends to make to many people. But for right here, right now, I can sit with myself and not cry over guilt or shame for my past.

I am allowing myself to revel in where I am TODAY. And, I hope others who are in a similar situation do the same.

“Say what you mean and mean what you say because the people that matter don’t mind and the people that mind don’t matter.” Dr. Seuss


Today is Day 13, and I am reflecting on truth, a word that is not new to my mind but is new to my action. So as I listened to the radio this morning, the announcer talked about the scripture of the day. Well it just so happens (uh huh) that today’s reading pertains to a guy named Eleazar. If you do not know the story, I’ll be brief and paraphrase.

He is 90 years old and the new law of the land is to consume pork which is against his principles. His friends get him a substitute and tell him to just act like he’s eating pork. It looks the same, and no one in authority will know the difference. He can go with the flow and not be punished for disobeying the law. Sounds like he has some nice friends who are looking out for his life. However, Eleazar is his own man and stands firm in his belief; he refuses. He will NOT eat the look alike because he says it will bring shame upon him and he will serve as a poor example for those who follow him. He wishes to leave a noble example for others to use as a guide in their personal lives. His friends are furious and just want him to eat the replica! However, he opts for the truth. In his heart, he accepts his punishment and knows that his death is willingly and knowingly serving the Lord. 

I thought about this for a bit and what my role has been in being sober. I am big on making a plan and having an idea of how I want the holidays to play out. (And when they don’t, because I am not naive to think things go according to my plans, at least I have thought ahead to how I am going to handle MYSELF around alcohol and family.)

Anyway, one of the “tricks” I have been told is to, in a social setting, bring a premixed bottle for myself so it looks “as if” I am drinking. Yesterday, I would have said great plan. However, after hearing this reading today, I really thought about what I want for me in my recovery. What is my Truth?

I don’t want to walk around with a fake drink and pretend that I am assimilating. I don’t want to hide anymore. I have hidden behind alcohol for 30 years. So far, my truth about my sobriety has been in confidence with my therapist, my husband, and online. That’s pretty limited and not living the truth as I want it.

So, as two of my coworkers and I were en route to the hospital to visit our beloved friend (who has terminal cancer and has hours to live) in the hospital, I told them I gave up drinking. I said, “This is particularly hard for me right now because I have not had a drink in 13 days. I am actually feeling  with my mind, heart, and soul for the first time as an adult. I am an alcoholic.” 

And you know what? They hugged me and told me how grateful they were that I made a healthy choice for myself. No shame, no guilt, no pork. Just love.