I’m still waiting. I’m four days shy of it being two months since I quit drinking and I’m STILL freakin’ waiting. Where is it? It’s getting a bit tedious now, to be fair. I sat once again at the women’s meeting last Thursday and once again it was announced that no matter how long we’ve been sober we have to keep coming back to “stay safe“. Someone also said, with everyone around me nodding affirmatively, that you can’t just “pick and choose” – you have to follow the program, you have to do the steps and you have to do all this in a way that I suppose your sponsor (although I’m not sure who decides or how this is measured) deems correct, otherwise you won’t make it. The statement of how you can’t – CAN’T – take what works for you and leave the rest made me shrink a little in my chair, because it’s exactly what I’m doing and so I felt I shouldn’t be there. You’ll end up worse and those who are stupid enough [insert knowing chuckles here] to go it on their own will relapse and, well, die. I hate to say it but I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Yes, I needed to get home to my son and yes, hubby was collecting me so was parked nearby but I made a swift exit mostly because I felt my life elixir slowly draining out of my body.
I don’t like that – I want to like that meeting and want to come away thinking YAY and feel part of it! I just haven’t over these past few weeks. The result is that I come away feeling guilty that I can’t return the sentiment “sobriety is hard“, that I can’t join in those chats in those little cliques that form following a meeting, much less share when all I have to say is that the only thing that pisses me off (if I make a concerted effort to feel bad about something related to alcohol) is that it took me so long to see it for what it is and stop. It’s really difficult! It would be so much easier if I could say I’m dreading hubby’s birthday weekend, or that I find it hard to cope without wine or that I am fearful in every which way. I think, anyway. As it is, any conversation that starts quickly fades the moment I’m asked how long I’ve been sober and how I’m finding it. The moment I say it’s been wonderful I’m told that THIS is precisely when I need meetings (and probably an exorcism too) and the moment I truthfully account for the on average two per week I end up going to, the exchange invariably comes to a complete halt and whoever did speak to me for a brief while quickly finds someone else to chat to. Stood there for a little while after the meeting as I would have loved to have talked to someone too but nope, cliques nicely formed, my inability to push in and be part of one non-existent so I just left.
For a while I wondered if I should just pretend I find this super hard, that I’m struggling and that I’m fearful of the future, simply because when I once told Sparks I felt great and didn’t want to drink she questioned whether I was honest with myself. And I feel like that in the meetings. There are times when I really do want to share but it just feels wrong – like the time someone was dreading going to Paris and I wanted to say how I’m off somewhere for a romantic weekend and I just cannot WAIT to be able to do that without all the crap that comes with drinking wine. Or when someone shared about going to an amazing country but needing “all [their] literature” and I wanted to say how I’ve never felt more free, how I now can’t wait to explore all these amazing parts of the world because it’s only now that I’ve kicked the booze that it’d be worth it! Why go on safari and miss out if you’re so hungover you can’t take it in? Or be too hungover to enjoy the carnival in Rio and the colours and drums giving you a headache instead of a dizzying high that comes from being present in the moment?
I once missed out on all the beauty of the night time sky at Whangapoua Beach because I was fucking plastered. I remember they moved (because I was too drunk to focus my eyes) but imagine if I’d been sober – not only could I have fully taken in the moment and appreciated that magical night but I would have at the same time been able to take in the trembling roar of the waves. I don’t feel I can share any of that. It just seems wrong, even though my problem is in essence the same as everyone else’s: I’m an alcoholic and if I have one drink I can’t stop. But how can I share that I find being sober as easy and natural as breathing (because, let’s face it – it is!) and that I feel calm, happy and more content than ever, when several people have just shared how death once seemed a better alternative to sobriety?
My drinking would have killed me had I not stopped. I’m pretty sure my body could have packed in with Very Short Notice – you just can’t drink the amounts I did as often as I did and keep going. In fact, I’m surprised I’m still here given I kept it up for over a decade. It is also true that I’m an alcoholic if the definition of one is the inability to stop if you have that first drink – I’m not ashamed to call myself an alcoholic but in all honesty I don’t care about the label no matter what it says because all I know is I can’t drink and what that makes me is much less important. I’m also a human being and I have flaws and shortcomings like everyone else but just like most people I try to be the best I can be. Lastly, I wake up each morning and feel happy. Well, I almost always did but since I quit drinking it’s with almost overwhelming joy and gratitude. These things I know to be true.
What I know right now is that I’m happy and feel right in my mind and body – this is a direct result of laying off the booze. I don’t find it hard, I find it a relief. Right now there isn’t a part of me that wants to pick up a drink – even that sea view balcony in Lipari now lacks the wine bottle in the ice bucket I would in a past life have had trouble picturing it without. Well – if it’s there or not doesn’t bother me, I’d be quite happy to pour hubby a glass of something bubbly and cold if he wanted to. It just doesn’t worry me.
Why do I feel the need to analyse this at all? Because I feel like I should. Do I go to any more AA meetings? Over the past two or three weeks I’ve kept thinking oh, I’ll give it a few more shots. I’m just beginning to think that it’s the kind of thing you have to do fully as opposed to pick’n’mix like I have. I really don’t know. Perhaps tomorrow. I feel so good today and the idea fills me with dread a little, don’t want to come back home deflated and low.
Fate is always reliable however, and at the weekend it served up exactly what I needed at the exact time I needed it. Never fails, trusty ol’ fate!
Friends over from Sweden and I brought up that I’ve stopped drinking – it’s quite a big change and I’m happy to embrace it, even the A-word should there be a need for me to do so in order to make people understand. I just don’t feel the need to hide it, despite the fact that I initially freaked out a little over what I might say in situations when I’d normally be the first to suggest a drink. Turns out L’s husband doesn’t drink either, pretty much for the same reasons as me (= didn’t like where it was taking him) but don’t think he ever drank anywhere near as much as I did. AA never came up in the conversations (and we did talk about it for a good hour when we were sitting around on the Friday after I collected them from the airport), it was just about drinking and how we didn’t like what it does to us.
“I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t just stop drinking“, J mused.
Precisely! He summed up exactly how I feel and so finally there was that sense of identification and being able to relate that I’ve been searching for – because I can no longer see any point in drinking and have no desire to do it, coupled with how wonderful I feel now that I don’t, I wonder why anyone ever drank in the first place. What a relief that was! There was no mention of AA, no sense of lurking danger or impending doom, just freedom and genuine joy over being free from something negative that brought nothing positive with it. It was a breath of fresh air and just what I needed – hear someone talk like that, feel like that and come away from the conversation and moment feeling strong and uplifted. Perhaps that sums it up.
Perhaps the answer is to once again give AA meetings a few more shots – head to the Tuesday meeting and one more during the week – and if I once again end up feeling bad about something I’m happy about (i.e. the non-drinking) perhaps I’ll just have to accept that AA will only ever be for those who work the program. Hey, the pick’n’mix section was always my favourite so maybe that makes perfect sense.
Well. Happy Monday and hopefully yours is as good as mine! (Oh, and obviously I’m not going to drink today – why would I?)