The Power of Ten Minutes

Yesterday, one of our cats died. While we expected it–the kids not so much, but me and my wife–it was still hard. I’ll spare you the details except to say he died naturally, not from being hit by a car or anything like that. It wasn’t how I imagined a holiday morning to start, but it’s good that we were home. It would have been so much harder for me to return from work and find him dead on the dining room floor.

Anyway, as I was in the backyard digging his grave, my hands started to shake, and not from using the shovel. I really want a drink, I thought, but the thought didn’t last more than a few seconds. It was replaced by I’ll just drink extra coffee today. I turned to my wife and said, “Don’t be surprised if you see me guzzling coffee” (not that she would be, but still). My third thought was I need to go to a meeting.

About this time a year ago, we lost another cat, and I was an emotional wreck. I drank as I dug her grave and continue drinking that night. I would have been drinking anyway, but I figured I could also numb the pain. And I did. Sometimes, drinking made me more prone to crying or getting upset or yelling, other times it made me a “fun dad,” and more often than not, I just sat in my chair and babbled about questionable existence of God and recited random lines of poetry. Occasionally, it just shut off the bad feelings. As a wise friend pointed out, though, we don’t get to choose what to block out when we drink. If we shut off the bad, we also shut off the good, even if we tell ourselves otherwise.

This time, I met my emotions head-on. I cried when I kissed my cat and lowered him into the ground, and I wasn’t ashamed for my kids to see my grief. I treated myself to a root beer when we went out to lunch, the drink serving the dual purpose of being a reward and giving me the feel of holding something like a beer bottle in my hand. And I kept a lot of my feelings and thoughts to myself until I got to my meeting at 5:30 when I shared what had happened with my recovering brothers and sisters.

And–this is a big one–I actually hung around after the meeting to talk with people. I usually make a bee-line to the van when a meeting is over, convincing myself that I need to get home and help with the kids, when the truth is that my family can afford to have me away a little bit longer, especially if it helps me. I was nervous standing outside the meeting, even though I feel like I know the people who came out to smoke and talk. One woman hugged me and said she was sorry about my cat, and that made me feel better. Another guy told me he liked my Dark Crystal t-shirt, and I told him I liked his Mr. Bungle t-shirt. We talked about music for a while, and I thought, This is what normal human beings do. We talk and relate. After ten minutes, the conversations began to wind down and folks began drifting off. I told everyone goodbye, and then I drove home.

Ten minutes. That’s all it took to feel like I belonged in the Fellowship just a little bit more. I’m going to my home group on Wednesday and will try the same thing. Until then, it’s time to start my week.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I hope you all have a good Tuesday.


About Robert Crisp

Just a lad who likes to create.
This entry was posted in AA, addiction, alcoholism, early sobriety, recovery, sober, sobriety and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Power of Ten Minutes

  1. abbiegrrl says:

    That’s so good. I mean, that you FELT such awfulness and MADE IT THROUGH!! Victory!! And, I feel like you should have at least one of these (not exactly why, this, but): “ATTA BOY!!”
    I’ve mourned my furbabies probably as much or more than a lot of I did some humans I cared about. I still can tear up about one, even 5 years later. It’s an important lesson, imo, about not getting to choose what we feel. You did well, especially going to the meeting & staying after.


    • Robert Crisp says:

      Thanks! I’m out sick from work today, so every little boost helps. I’m just glad it’s legit sickness and not hung-over sick. I could have gone in and taught, but that wouldn’t have proven anything. I struggled with the decision a little bit this morning and then asked what I would tell my wife if she felt ill and didn’t want to go to work. Of course, I’d tell her to stay home and take it easy. So I took my own advice (that’s progress) and though I worked a little from home, I also napped and relaxed.

      I know what you mean about mourning for animals more than people sometimes. We have two other cats and a dog, and the kids love them, too, so it’s not like the house is devoid of pet love. Still, our cat Big was one of a kind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. newcomer12 says:

    Good for you! I know my husband still feels uncomfortable at the idea of sharing in the meetings, but he has started to make an effort to stay and talk afterwards, too, which is a good thing. Keep posting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert Crisp says:

      It’s not as hard for me to share in meetings because I tend to blab when I get nervous and I over-share with people who don’t know me that well. Encourage him as you can; I know how difficult it can be for some people to share. And good for him for hanging around for a bit after.


  3. me-fixing-me says:

    awww. feeling big for you being a cat lover. great work getting through it this way!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. KimiAnne says:

    I am a few years sober and I still have that first thought when something happens that I want to dull. And I am a pretty emotionally well person today. I just wanted to say that you did a wonderful job, took all the right steps, and all that stuff. But more than anything, you were willing to work through those feelings. Grief is the most difficult emotion for me to work through sober. Having just lost my Dad a couple of months ago, the grief is still kinda fresh for me. At times it’s my first thought, to drink. At other times, it’s just fleeting. I really hope that one day it will always be fleeting. My condolences on your loss….my fur babies are extremely important to me and I would be an absolute wreck. I suppose I’m babbling, but I just wanted to show you and your wife support in all of the above things!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert Crisp says:

      Oh, you’re not babbling…thank you. I continue to receive incredible support from the sober community about this. I’m glad to hear from someone who’s further down the road than I am; your encouragement means a lot.

      Liked by 1 person

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