If you’ve been in recovery for a while, it will come as no big shock that I finally figured out that the alcohol was merely the vehicle I used to be a bitch -quicker. Without the alcohol and without continually working on seeing my blind spots, I am still a bitch. I’m not sure where I got the notion that when I quit drinking my life would fall into place rather seamlessly.
I liken the steps in sobriety to pregnancy the first time. No one REALLY discloses all the bad stuff and you have to figure much of the ups and downs as you go through the gestational period week by week, day by day. At first, the excitement of new life is ever present. Like a baby, I felt I had a new lease on life. I was being reborn. The innocence could be restored. That wore off. Then, I got morning sickness. I missed my booze; I grieved for its absence; I resented not being able to have what everybody else had (in my mind, it was FUN.) Soon, I moved into the settling in and accepting part.
Well, so I thought. I was particularly snarky this weekend. I honestly stopped and checked my motives more in the past 48 hours than a crook checks the locked doors in a heavily trafficked parking lot. Acceptance. What does it mean? Does it mean I screwed up the past, my youth I can never reclaim? Does it mean I have to recognize that so many times- too many to count- I have been at fault? Why was I anxious, mind racing, blaming anyone in my path?
I have a trip coming up with my husband and his company that I am locked into. It’s freaking me out. Six days in the sun, no kids, all-inclusive resort. We’ve been on a similar trip eight times (each winter) so my expectations are very real. ALCOHOL is central to this vacation. It is not unusual for the drinks to start flowing at 11 a.m. I know, because in the past, I have been the one rounding everyone up to go to the tiki bar. A good friend in recovery asked me what I am freaking out about.
“Are you afraid you will drink?” No. I really am not. But I am also not naive enough to think this is NOT a possibility. People with far more time than I have relapsed. My feelings, though, are for a different motivation. And, I have to honor those feelings to get to why I am anxious, fearful, and snippy.
So, I had to think and to talk about what was the motivation for my fear. It boils down to acceptance. I will not be drinking which will inevitably invoke questions from the group. I do not want to make up an excuse nor do I care to give full disclosure. But what I do have to do is accept that I was the drunk girl everyone talked about. I was the “talk of the breakfast table” as I would stroll in, sunglasses on, acting as if I wasn’t “that bad” the night before. The barrage of questions would ensue: “How are you feeling?” “Oh, you better get the hair of the dog in ya!” “Oh my gosh! I’m surprised YOU are up so early.” And on and on.
So, this year will be different. I will not be drinking so what’s the problem? Well, I have to admit to myself that I am an alcoholic. I have to be ready and willing to understand that the person I was last year will not be paying a visit on this trip. I also have to get the hell out of my head and do a few things.
1. Get the hell out of the past. It’s over.
2. Get the hell out of my sick thoughts. I know it’s time to shut the voices down for they are destructive and useless.
3. Get over what the hell everyone else thinks. I have spent many hours consumed with this. The bottom line is what they think of me is none of my business.
Nobody said being sober was easy. Nobody. But what I have heard is that miracles happen, life is better, and that when I work the steps, my life will improve. Just because I will be away from home doesn’t mean I have to abandon what I have been working towards.
Fearing the future robs me of the possible great moments I may have. Accepting who I am and loving myself despite my disease makes me stronger and better equipped to live life on life’s terms.
So like a woman in her final days of pregnancy, I can look forward to a new life: Challenging? Yes. Rewarding? Yes. A new way of thinking, being, living. Toss in some self-care, nurturing, and love and the sleepless night and crying aren’t so bad after all.