So thinking about the old drinking days...... first of all I am so grateful that I am not there anymore. I think it is clear that I drank for a sense of belonging. After high school and after Jimmy and I broke up, I just continued to drink. I thought I was going to marry him and I was devastated when it ended. It's not necessary to go over everything and its all a blur anyway. Suffice it to say, I drank all the time after that. I felt released. It had nothing to do with belonging anymore. It was about selfishness and freedom. Went to bars, discos, afterhours bars, the whole nine yards. I played a lot of softball but that was mostly for the party too. We were actually sponsered by a bar where we got free drinks afterwards. Used to love the flaming shots. I didn't drink much at home but I was out all the time.
I went to college after a year of the workforce and minimum wage and wanted to be a social worker. I lived at home so I never became a part of the college scene (with the exception of the bars.) I started waitressing at the same time and that started a whole new party scene. I was proud that I was in school and I felt noble about my career choice but I couldn't effectively help others to help themselves when I wasn't willing or even able to recognize myself. I certainly wasn't able to keep up with the classwork and internships with all the partying I was doing. By my senior year I dropped out because I was drinking too much, going out too much and I effectively had a nervous breakdown and flunked the fall semester. I told myself it was because I loved kids too much and couldn't see them hurting. I really should have gotten professional help at that time. That was the first time I thought maybe I was an alcoholic and I did go to an AA meeting but I wasn't ready. I couldn't identify with anything. And I had my Dad saying that I wasn't and that I shouldn't wear my heart on my sleeve and that was the cause of my emotional problems. It was easier to believe him.
When I left school I had to get my own apartment. That was when the fun really began. There were just so many drunken moments. We'd bar hop. I would drink in one bar, throw up and start all over in another. I met guys and brought them home. Once I was driving home alone, drunk of course and flirting with the guy in the car next to me like you see on the commercials and ended up in my bed with him. I don't even know how that happened. I remember he got up early to go fishing and I never saw him again. I didn't even know his name. I have never said that out loud to anyone. Does sharing it on the blog count? Can I hide that again? Crazy, pre aids stuff. It's amazing I survived. Half the stuff I don't remember and half the stuff makes me shudder. I thought it was fun but I wasn't having fun. I wanted to love someone. I wanted someone to love me. I was looking for love in all the wrong places and mostly because all I did was drink. One guy I did get serious about ended up leaving me for my best friend. That was pretty devastating and I went and cried drunkenly on his mother and sisters shoulders. Disgusting. Another time I was driving home drunk and smashed into the light pole on the onramp of the highway. I was knocked out for a few minutes and when I came to a guy was staring in my window. He actually really saved my ass as he drove me home, made sure I was okay and covered for me with the cops (this was well before stringent drunk driving laws). But I didn't know him from a hole in the wall. I rewarded him for his good samaritanism by refusing to see him after that. I still have a scar on my face from that one.
I met my husband in a bar. It was my favorite hangout. I say now he met me under false pretenses because he wasn't a drinker. He was visiting his roommate who was the bartender. The bartenders and the waiters at this place used to get their kicks by spiking drinks. I found out they were putting shots of vodka in my glasses of lambrusco. Then they'd watch me inexplicably get shitfaced on 2-3 glasses of wine. It was one of those places where everyone knows your name and you think they are all your friends. But they are all just a bunch of drunks, like you. My husband and I began our early years dating in bars. He was always taking care of me. But I settled down a little. I didn't drink as often but when I drank I always overdid it. Couldn't stop, until I passed out, threw up or both. But I still felt like I was just like everyone else. I didn't think I had a problem. I had managed to stay out of legal trouble. I had a job, my own apartment, friends and now I had a relationship.
You don't have to read this. But as I progress through my sobriety I can't help but try to figure out how I got here. And as I work on my fourth step inventory, I thought it would help me to chronicle my drinking history. For so long I denied that I had a problem or realized I had a problem and ignored it.
The first drink I remember having was with the boy who lived across the street and his friend. His parents weren't home. I was new to the neighborhood and desparate to be accepted. I was 14 and they were 17. I think it was whiskey or scotch and we drank it straight. I remember I got really drunk and they had to walk me around the neighborhood before I could go home. I was lucky they weren't looking for something more. I actually had a huge crush on one of the boys so I guess maybe I was trying to impress him. Some impression.
The rest of my high school years are really a blur. We used to drink before the dances. We'd get spaghetti jars and mix up all the liquors in the house and mix it with orange juice or coke. Then we'd guzzle the drinks down and go to the dance. I usually threw up. One friend's parents always had cases of cold duck in their basement so we used to steal those. And once the boys across the street turned 18 they could buy for us. We drank great things like Tango, Boone's Farm Apple Wine & Strawberry Hill, Quarts of Budweiser. I just remember guzzling alot. It was all about the buzz. This was before drugs entered the picture. Drugs were a lot easier to get than liquor so for my sophomore and junior year I smoked a lot of pot and experimented with psychedelics & speed and they didn't make me throw up. Once I turned 16, we used to try to get into bars. The drinking age was 18 and fake ids were easy to get. The first drink I ever ordered was a rye & whiskey. The waitress looked at me like I was crazy. I had no idea what rye was. We used to go to the 95 Steakhouse and drink tequila sunrises and dance to the band.
Our school had 2 campuses and a path with woods between them. That's where the potheads hung out. That was me. In my flannel shirt, jeans and workboots. I was new to this school and I'm not sure why but the kids I met first were the kids who did drugs and drank. Had we not moved, I'm not sure I would have been influenced in this way though I'll never know. It was the seventies after all. We'd hang out on the path and smoke cigarettes, go in the woods to get high or drink. Bummed lunch money from people to buy joints. I used to trip AND go to class. I never got caught. I even got A's & B's, sometimes. I did get caught smoking cigarettes in the bathroom once and got suspended. But that was great because I got 2 days off of school and I drank all day. Somehow I don't even think my parents knew. After school we used to go in the woods to get high. I hung out with mostly boys. I had a few girlfriends but they didn't "party" like I did. I wasn't a tomboy but instead I thought my way to a relationship was to be one of the boys.
For me, going to school was about copping, skipping class to get high and bumming enough money to buy. I had brains. I got kicked out of the advanced classes so school was easy for me and I managed to get decent grades. At least grades that did not alert my parents. When I did get bad grades I was able to rationalize them to my parents. I have no idea where my parents were. I don't remember much family life. I was out and about at night. Driving around. In the woods. Parties. Came home when I was supposed to, watched TV and went to bed. I did get caught once stealing my Dad's muscle relaxers and I remember him crying. I used to get grounded alot. But for stupid stuff not for what I was doing. They had no idea. And certainly if they did, nothing was EVER talked about.
Once I stumbled into the cafeteria during a dance. That's where the "straight" kids hung out. I started talking to the star of the baseball team. He was really cute and 2 years older than me. I remember it being nice and he kissed me. Of course I fell in love and of course he never called me. That was my big effort to be a part of the straight kids. Of course I was tripping on mescaline at the time.
I just remember never really feeling a part of any group. I never felt like I belonged anywhere and I think that came from being uprooted from my peer group when we moved. I did feel as though I belonged there and when we moved it was so different I just became completely insecure. So I did whatever it took to belong.
There are so many little incidents that happened that make it clear to me now that I was in trouble. Too many to remember and too many to write about. At that time though, I was having fun. I didn't care about anything or anyone. Well, I cared about certain boys. But I never had a boyfriend. That always bugged me, too. It made me feel completely and totally unlovable. So I became the girl who could get the most fucked up and make people laugh. I was the good friend, the sidekick.
By my senior year, I had calmed down a little. I had 2 girlfriends that I was tight with and I wasn't doing drugs anymore except for smoking pot. I don't remember it being a conscious decision, I think I just grew out of it and I wasn't hangin with the kids who had it anymore. Still drank and always to excess, I just didn't drink as much. I had a boyfriend and had sex for the first time. It did nothing for me except make me feel insecure. But I did it because I thought that was what you did to have a boyfriend. But that got screwed up by the spring. He had his own apartment and he cheated on me, although I didn't know it. I just knew he didn't want me around anymore. So back to feeling unloved. I met another guy by graduation and he was pretty straight. So I got straight, at least when I was with him. He drank sometimes but never got drunk.
At this point I had done absolutely nothing about going to college. I lived in the moment and never thought about the future. I don't remember the SAT's. I don't remember applying to schools. I don't remember any of it. I'm not sure I did apply to any schools. Once I started dating Jimmy I certainly didn't want to leave him, so I got a job at the department store in the big city of New Haven for minimum wage and I thought I was on my way. It was all about Jimmy and nothing else mattered to me. I was looking for love.
I ran into my friend who just lost her husband last week. I've seen her twice in this last week and I hadn't seen them in a few years. She brought her girls to the soccer game on Monday and I ran into her again at Marshall's. She didn't see me and my old alcoholic self would have avoided the situation, put my head down and pushed my cart the other way. Too uncomfortable. But yesterday I was able to talk to her. I told her she was amazing. That I would probably be hiding in my house. She said she was just putting one foot in front of the other. Getting on for her kids. She knows that she has a lifetime to deal with her loss so for now she is just trying to get on with the day to day details of life even though her husband cannot share. We looked at each other and we both took a deep breath and she said "Serenity". She did not need to say more. I did not need to say more. But we did. She is redoing her daughters room. My daughter is in college. myspace, facebook, computers. The usual mother small talk we have in stores and on the sidelines of sports fields. A few months ago I would have just cried and that is exactly what she did not need. I am so grateful that I was able to be present for my friend in the rug aisle of Marshall's. That I could understand where she needed to be and what serenity truly is. I am so grateful that she is at peace.
Today my boss was going on and on about whether or not we should create binders or indexes for a client. (We already have indexes which of course I reminded him.) He was going back and forth rationalizing the case for each. Working himself into a regular frenzy. He is the king of folders. Lawyers tend to be that way and he is a super intense lawyer who loves to complicate matters. I was just shaking my head to everything he said and I guess it was the look on my face. He turned to me after a time and asked sheepishly: "Am I overanaylizing this?" And I said, "Oh Yeah! This was a huge acknowledgement for him. I could not stop smiling.
Without this program, I never would be in this place right now. I would have no understanding. I get to be present now for my life and for others. And I am able to convey what I am learning and feeling sometimes without a word. This is a gift, my friends. One for which I am truly grateful and one that I pray I can hold onto.
Well, its that busy time of year again. And now I add meetings to the mix so hence long time no post.
I spent the weekend camping with my girlfriends. Before I left I was a bit anxious as this had been a drinking event for me in the past. Wasn't sure I could handle it. I appreciated the support here. My sponser advised me that I pray about it, turn it over, make sure I had an exit plan, etc. I am so grateful that I went instead of avoiding the situation. I found out that my girlfriends love and support me, falling down drunk or 3 months sober. They knew that this was the best thing for me. I discovered the true meaning of friendship on this trip. And that was because of a power greater than myself. Had I used my own will, I would have clenched my fists as they sipped around the campfire. Instead I had my herbal tea and laughed my ass off. And once again, I learned that my drinking was different than theirs. My not drinking was not the center of attention. I just didn't do it and had some good one on one conversations with those that wanted to talk about it. I just really feel as though the desire to drink has been lifted and I am so grateful. I must admit however that I did smoke a cigarette after we took camp down with the 2 smokers of the group. Not sure what that is saying. I just wanted to do something bad. And it was. It was awful. Glad to be done with that habit!
And now for something completely different.
I just lost a friend who was only 50 years old to cancer. Lovely family, giving member of the community, an excellent example of a businessman, etc. In talking with another friend we agreed that it just SUCKED, that he was gone. My friend was really angry and trying to figure out why. I was able to share with her my feeling that perhaps we are not meant to know why but the peace lies in knowing that it was God's will. I ran into his widow at a soccer game the other day. She looked tired but strong. She looked at peace and grateful for the hugs we offered her. We have no idea what that Gods' Will may be. Men have struggled for centuries trying to figure that out. What makes us think that we should know what that is?
I am grateful:
For my growing faith. For my daughter who shared her life on campus with me yesterday. For my son who shared nothing but was home studying last night. Does my heart good. For my girlfriends some who love to camp and some who would much prefer a B & B:) That my moments of stress over my totally messy house are getting smaller and smaller. For marathon watching of Grey's Anatomy now that the 3rd season is out on DVD.
Well, maybe not quite like it. I'm getting close to my 21st wedding anniversay. I love my husband and I love being married. I am happy with the life we have built. It is not always a bed of roses and we have a lot of "stuff" but I wouldn't have it any other way. At least for today. That said, what I have been missing through the years is that falling in love feeling. When everything is new and wonderful and there is just nothing wrong with the world. I haven't felt that way since I started dating him (although I looked for it certainly).
But it occurred to me as I drove to work from my morning meeting today that I have that feeling today. I can't stop smiling and feeling good. I like everybody. Singing along to the music on the radio. It's disgusting really:) Pollyannaish but its how I am feeling. I think it is just that I am in love with this new sober life I am living. Last night as I got ready for bed I looked in the mirror and for the first time I liked what I saw. I wasn't disgusted. I didn't hate myself. (My ass did look big in my pajamas though, yikes!:)
And this feeling arms me. I am going camping this weekend with my girlfriends. It will be some much needed down time. I was worried for awhile how the alcohol aspect of the weekend would affect me but I'm not anymore. I will partake of the kayaking, the swimming, the cooking, the eating, the reading, the companionship, the laughter, the sun, hopefully, and I will not partake in any artificial attempt at fun. There will be drinks there but I have no desire. Three months ago I thought it would be okay to smoke some pot instead but now I truly feel as though I'd be "cheating" on my new life. So I now feel good about going. I'm taking my own car so I can leave if I need to. And I am looking forward to sharing my sobriety with my friends. If that should change any of these relationships then that will be for the best. I will pray that it doesn't though.
Anyway its cool to feel good.
I am grateful:
For my morning What's Good About Today Group. For Richie who helps me to appreciate the small and simple things in life in his appreciation of freedom and sobriety after 44 months of incarceration. For Kevin who always adds humor to his shares and has left me with an image of he and Doug in tutus. For Steve, who helps me understand what embracing the program really means. For Sonia who allows me to help another alocholic For Ruth who makes me feel nurtured. For Charles who reminds me what the view from the bushes looks like. For Chickie who blesses me with her radiant smile. For Jack who gives me an intelligent, level view of sobriety. For Richard who in his pain and hard edges allows me to see his vulnerability. For the Journey.
Not sure where to go after my last post. I know this is one of the things that has cropped up from working my fourth step though. I feel like I need a month long retreat to deal with this stuff.
I had a great meeting with my sponser last night. After three months I think I am finally understanding what this relationship is all about. She really helped me work out alot of stuff I've been dealing with. I talked to her about having a back up sponser and she had no problems with that. In fact, she validated the feelings I had about needing more help with the steps. She acknowledged that is not her strength. What's really crazy is that she is going to need a new sponser and maybe sooner rather than later. Guess who she was thinking about asking? Same woman I did. This woman is a great speaker and really exudes the program. Maybe the whole purpose of my sponser struggle was to put these 2 together.
Anyway, I am grateful
For my sponser who is a great sober mentor For my 3 month chip that I was able to give to my son. For my son, who thought it was "cool" For Ben & Jerry's pistachio ice cream, my new vice For the knowledge that I have no ability or right to understand God's Will. For the phone call from my daughter who is overflowing with joy at her new life.
I had a revelation in the shower the other day. I have been struggling with my weight for the last few years. Basically, I ballooned. I have never been waifish but I was never FAT...until now. Although, as many women do, I always thought I was fat. Anyway, after I had my son I did lose weight and got myself down to a nice size 6. Had never been there and I loved it. Although, even then I still felt fat and wasn't happy with my body. But I loved the clothes I could wear. I basked in the compliments I got. And I was flattered at the attention I received from men.
I wasn't receiving attention, sexual or otherwise, from my husband and I'm not even close to the why now. It's still a problem and I'm not there yet. Leave it to say, we were busy with making ends meet, raising our children, and all that comes with a domestic household. "A Judgemental Whore" left this comment on "Vicarious Rising's" blog: "Most women wouldn't just go out and seek a casual fuck quite so easily, but might find themselves getting emotionally close to another guy - and that's probably when they'd be unfaithful." And that is exactly what happend to me. I met my "best friend", my "soulmate" where I worked. He noticed me. He listened to me. We talked. We had fun. He touched me. And then we had sex. Was that satisfying? Actually, no, but what led to it was.
And oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I was drinking. A lot. How did I lose the weight? I didn't eat during the day. I worked nights and I drank all night after work. Escaping, I suppose, the reality of my life. Days, I was wife and mother. Nights, I was free. It was fun. No responsiblities. And guys liked me. I was enjoying the newness of a relationship. The butterflies from a first date, the excitement of a first kiss. Desire. I missed that after years of marriage and small children who demanded all of me. No demands. Just me. Talk about self centered.
Anyway, back to the revelation. I ended up having this relationship. Cheating on my husband, my commitment, my vows. I never dreamed and still can't believe that I would do such a thing. I still haven't quite got over it. The guy, yes but the cheating, no. And if I look back on when my weight started balooning, guess when? Yes, when the relationship ended. And it was very very gradual. And became more and more acceptable. And my revelation, I was protecting myself. If I made myself as undesirable as possible, it could explain why my husband wasn't interested and stop other men from being interested. And I became complacent. Thus protecting myself from myself.
Well, who needs therapists when you have showers:)
I am grateful: For the Big Book meeting this morning. I need it. For the rain that took away the heat and humidity of yesterday. For Rick who did give me something I needed when I needed it. For my husband who tries. For Joan who will allow me to help another alcoholic. For showers, that not only clean my body but my soul.
ps: Question for you all: How does one keep certain poeple from commenting on one's blog? Namely our friend Micky. I am tired of deleting. Is there a way? Thanks.
I read in a book last night that 2 common traits among alcoholics are perfectionism and idealism and I suffer from both. My perfectionism paralyzes me and my idealism disappoints. I have handled both of these defects by drinking. Now I need to handle them differently. I am not sure I can eliminate them completely and maybe they are not always defects. Sometimes idealism can be refreshing. And perfectionism can be rewarding. BUT they are also both extremely dangerous to me. I am learning that as alcoholism is progressive so is recovery. I cannot expect the miracle in a day. That would be idealistic. There is no necessarily right way to do it, that would be perfectionism. I just have to keep it simple, and let go. Let God.
Like right now, as I write this I received a phone call from a woman I have been thinking about asking to sponser me but havent' called. I have a sponser. And I like her. But this woman has 40 years of sobriety and I think may work more directly with me on the steps and the Big Book. She may be able to give me more time. I don't know, it just feels like I need more of an oldtimer approach. Can you have 2 sponsers? I know what I need to do and I will. I need to call both of them. Whoa!
I am grateful: That it is Friday. That I am sober. That I am serious. That my boss stepped out so I could write this. That I don't freak out if I don't finish my list. That I didn't freak out when blogger lost my whole damn post and I had to start over.
My first baby is gone. Moved her into college last weekend. I feel as though something is missing. Like my heart. But it is very hard to be sad when she is soooooo happy. And she has called. I honestly did not expect that. I had resolved to leave it to her to make contact and she did. See what happens when you let go:) I have prayed for her safety and good sense. And she told me she made a choice to stay home Monday night instead of going to one of those smoking bars. See what happens when you let go:) (Of course she was losing her voice from the previous 3 nights of fun.) But she seems to be making friends, she likes her classes, she likes her job. She likes everything. I am lucky because she is not far. I could hop in the car and see her in an hour. I won't but I can.
And my son. He is 17 today. He's 6'2". He is sooooo handsome. And while you've got to work for a smile, when he gives it to you it feels worth it. Once a year I get some one on one time with him. We go shopping. For clothes. Its so funny shopping with him. I usually get 1 out of 3. No way, you wish, and then.... okay, I could wear that. I love that. And I am scared. We are letting him get his motorcycle permit for his birthday. That's what he wanted. He's also getting a motorcyle safety class as well. And conditions. Chances are he'll rarely ride and when he does it will be with his father. I have prayed on it and prayed on it. And he'll do it anyway next year so I might as well get it over with. Talk about letting go.
I could not experienced all of this without being sober. I could not have expressed these feelings. They would have been way down there. Yeah, I love my children, drunk or sober. But sober, I can experience that love. Drunk, it just passes me by. It's taken for granted. I am so grateful to be sober today.
I am grateful:
For finally hanging out "after the meeting" with my sponser and a few other women.
That I was capable of making cinnamon swirl bread this morning for my son's birthday.
That my husband and I had dinner Saturday in the same restaraunt where we celebrated our daughter's conception. (Well, when we found out about her conception, don't be getting crazy thoughts now!)
That by just acknowledging that we are not on the same page puts us on the same page.
For coffee chocolate almond swirl ice cream.
For a clear head.
ps: Red headed gal, Irish Friend and Johno... consider yourself tagged:)
Louie, who is an oldtimer in my area, says this alot. I think I get where he is coming from. The solution for not drinking is found in AA. But the solution for my marriage is probably not there. I am no longer hiding in an alcoholic haze. I am going to have to face issues that I have suppressed for a long time. My husband is going to have to face issues that I have ignored for a long time. We are "having words" a lot lately. I am crying. He is angry. I am scared. He is angry. I am stressed. He is angry. We usually end okay. AA has helped me there. I am expressing myself better. I am trying to share with him the idea of serentity, living in the day and that helps sometimes. But our relationship is requiring a lot of work that I just don't have in me right now. It's all I can do to work on myself.
We moved my daughter into college this week, hence my absence from blogdom. I am sad and happy at the same time. Her last words to us "Have a Nice Life". I hope that we can and I am grateful that I can pray for hers.
I am grateful: For my daughter who is launched. For my son for allowing some rare one on one time today to shop. That today is a holiday and I can catch up. That I am sober. For my morning group. For the book "1000 Splendid Suns" which I will finish today. That I finally understand why I need to do a gratitude list every day.
"But the first salt wind from the east, the first sight of the lighthouse set boldly on its outer rock, the flash of a gull, the waiting procession of seaward-bound firs on an island, made me feel solid and definate again..."
-Sarah Orne Jewitt
From the Bondage of Self Going Sober: June 11, 2007
To live a spiritual life we must first find the courage to enter into the desert of loneliness and to change it by gentle and persistent efforts into a garden of solitude. --Henri J. M. Nouwen
So Far Away by Stain'd
And So It Continues....
"There were in her at the moment two beings, one drawing deep breaths of freedom and exhilaration, the other gasping for air in a little black prison-house of fears. But gradually the captive's gasps grew fainter, or the other paid less heed to them; the horizon expanded, the air grew stronger, and the free spirit quivered for flight." Edith Wharton