Now here’s a first – came in a little while ago and put some coffee on. I don’t think that’s ever happened before on a Saturday evening. Even as I did I was painfully aware how it would normally – or always, rather – be opening the box of wine and pour a huge glass of Sauvignon Blanc with soda. Now my wine glasses are huge, I love them, they’re some sort of wine glass shaped pint glass and at a guess I would say they hold two thirds of a pint. Funny – any time we go to Sweden and stay at my dad’s little retreat there’s one thing that pisses me off: there are only small wine glasses. What a pain in the arse! You’ve barely planted your backside back on the chair before you have to get up and fill up again. My own wine glasses don’t present me with quite the same problem, but having said that, you could argue that I still fill up often. Anyway. Back from another meeting and although I can’t deny there is part of me – fine, a LOT of me – that wants to have wine not coffee, I feel good about my choice of drink tonight.
The lady I’ve been in touch with most was chairing the meeting and she’s a hoot. Despite all the pain and shame and seriousness of her words, she’s such a great storyteller that you can’t help but chuckle at the same time as you nod in recognition. For the purpose of this blog I’m going to call her Red. To me, she’s much like the colour – bright, strong, bold and most of all real. I sat to the side this time, thinking I could hide but the other lady running the meeting came over, asked my name and asked me to read the preamble. Fuckety-fuck-fuck. Then I remembered I was wearing my big girl pants so decided no more of this nervous nonsense. My brain did its usual hahahahaha you’re going to screw up and I think there was a word I pronounced wrong plus I stuttered a little in one place, but given no one pointed and laughed I’m going to assume there was no one but me in the room who thought I was a screw-up. And when I put the sheet of paper down, I got a little smile from Red and once again I felt a little bigger. Hah! It wasn’t even that scary this time. A little, but not terrifying.
So once again I sat in a room surrounded by people who are all just like me. And again I was amazed at the kindness, love and genuine concern everyone there shows to each other. And already I’m starting to recognise faces and instead of sort of hiding I feel so much more able to say hello. Would you know it, this evening I initiated conversation TWICE. Sober Me is very, very unlike… ..me. Or maybe it’s who I was meant to be and always was all along but was too drunk to know. So anyway, this other lady whom I’ve seen now a few times and who I always enjoy listening to when she shares told me as I was leaving “nice to see you again, keep coming back!“. And that’s just it. I have to keep coming back. I grinned like the Cheshire cat, because I look up to this woman and I felt acknowledged – it was like getting approval from one of the cool girls in high school. And I find I look up to and admire all these people I meet in those rooms.
It’s in those rooms, with this fellowship in which I belong, that I am finding courage and strength and I know it’s what might – so long as I don’t pick up a drink and keep coming back – will make the real Sophie finally find her feet and fucking go for it. It’s a miracle, really. Every time I look around me in those rooms I know it’s a miracle and that Higher Power there’s so much talk of – that’s it right there, in each smile, in each encouraging word and each time we share our stories.
I’ll tell you what else is a fucking miracle: that I’m not drinking on a Saturday night. It almost makes me want to open that super fancy bottle of bubbly someone gave us on our wedding day, but then I remembered that oh that’s right, I’m an alcoholic and opening that bottle will lead to a bunch of things I don’t like – oh, you know, like DEATH – so coffee it is for lil’ ol’ me.
To anyone else out there who might be struggling with alcohol, I can only say this: I’m no expert, I don’t have all the answers and I have only been sober just shy of two weeks. But there are people just like you – and me! – and there is a way. In those rooms you will be welcomed with open arms and everyone will be so, so pleased to see you there. You just need to get yourself there and keep coming back.