I woke up early this morning–which is no surprise, since my sleep is messed up unless I take Trazadone, which I forgot to take last night–and went to a new AA meeting at seven o’clock. I followed Katie’s advice and kept an open mind, just as I did yesterday morning when I went to another new meeting place (which was a bit crazy, crowded, and loud) For that matter, I went to a meeting last night at my home group, so that’s three meetings in 24 hours. I needed that.
I’ve recounted the events of yesterday which had me up and down and all over the place emotionally. Going to the crazy, loud meeting didn’t help me much, so I suspected I needed to got to my home group meeting, even after talking with Katie. So I picked up my kids, got home, started supper,,,
…and the urge to drink hit, and it hit fucking hard. I used to drink when I made dinner, and I found myself staring at the spot on the counter where my wine glass used to rest. I felt myself pulled toward the fridge where the beer would have been; I almost walked back to the sunroom where I once had stashes of alcohol hidden.
I knew there wasn’t a drop of alcohol in my house, but that didn’t stop my alcoholic muscle memory from gnawing away at me. And on top of that, other emotions I’ve been trying to keep at bay flooded over me just as the kids started arguing.
I’m losing my mind, I thought. Apparenlyt, to some extent, I am. As Katie said yesterday, “Look, you’re in acute detox, no matter what Charles told you. You’re ridding yourself of years of alcohol. It’s going to be very hard for a while, and then you’ll feel better. This isn’t you. You don’t know who the real you is, but this isn’t it, and it wasn’t you when you were drinking.”
That all sounded well and good at the time, but as I stood in my kitchen, trying desperately to hold onto hope with the sound of my children yelling at each other making my brain literally ache, I thought yet again, I can’t do this. I just can’t. Katie’s reminder sprang into my mind that some statistics state that only 25 percent of alcoholics make it successfully into recovery and manage their disease, and I was paralyzed with the thought that I would be in that 25 percent.
I texted my sponsor, but he was busy at work. I looked through my phone and found only one other number of a guy who’s been in recovery for some time, and I called him a blind panic. As I blurted at my concerns to his voice mail, my youngest son dashed into the kitchen and smacked his head on the island, Of course, he began screaming, and I made a hasty apology and hung up the phone.
My wife came in from work, and I said, “I have go to to a meeting tonight. I can’t handle this.” I knew my sponsor would be there and some other people I was growing to like. My wife agreed, so I white-knuckled it through supper and then she and the kids dropped me off at the church. Off they went to occupy themselves for an hour, and off I went to see my people. My tribe. My fellow recovering alcoholics and addicts. The closer I walked to the church, the better I felt. When a girl recognized me and said she was glad I was there, I smiled and said I was, too.
I found my sponsor and we talked for a while before entering the church and starting the meeting. Hearing the 12 Steps, Traditions, and Promises read aloud used to irritate me because a) I could never hear the people chosen to read, whether because I sat too far back in the room or they just didn’t read aloud well and b) I didn’t understand how the Traditions and Promises related to the Steps and what they had to do with me. At Katie’s suggestion, I listened for carefully and let the words soak in, and it helped that the folks last night reading them had clear, strong voices.
I went back to the new-comers’ meeting and was glad I did. The room is lit with Christmas lights, and it’s quite peaceful. The group was small, which I also liked. When we began sharing, I began sensing a power in the room. I also sensed a connectivity between all of us that I’m sure was also there but, but I hadn’t been attuned to it. When the last guy, Jimmy, shared his story, I felt the energy peak and settle throughout the room. I recognized that our common purpose–the desire to get and stay sober and help each other with the process–was indeed the Higher Power at work. I began considering that it was the Higher Power that had allowed events to unfold in my life that led me to the point when I wrote down that crucial phrase on a doctor’s paperwork: I am an alcoholic and I’m not in treatment. I need to be.
I haven’t claimed the Higher Power for myself yet; I just finished Step One. However, I’m open to the possibility in ways that I haven’t been before. My Higher Power won’t be the traditional Christian God in which I was raised to believe, and that’s fine. My Higher Power will manifest Herself in ways different to others, and that’s fine, too. And yes, I believe the Higher Power summoning me and encouraging me through others and in my own journey manifests as the Divine Female. I’ve had enough of the patriarchy and crap that comes with certain people’s interpretation of God as the Divine Father. I’m seeking my own way, and I believe I’m taking the right first steps.
I’ve already had a day of ups and down. My children and fighting because they’re brothers. I’m learning to manage my emotions and make connection with other human beings. It’s still damn hard, and I’ll probably crash later today, but I’m meeting with my sponsor at five. That will help. Maybe I’ll work on a story I’ve been fiddling with Maybe I’ll write some music that isn’t all doom and gloom.
Maybe there’s a light switch in my internal room that I haven’t turned on yet, and maybe I’m getting the courage to reach out and flick the switch,