The Well-Versed Mom:

(Tomorrow, on October 16, 2012, I will celebrate four years of sobriety. I was reminded of my “last drunk” this weekend, when I attended the same music festival that sparked my very last drinking binge. This year, as for the past three years, I was able to enjoy that festival fully sober and hangover-free. And what a gift that is. Here’s to another year sober — achieved one day at a time.)

Originally posted on A passion for jaywalking:

Drunk debris ©2009 all rights reservedA little more than a year ago, I got drunk for the last time.

I didn’t know it was going to be the last time – not that it would have made any difference. I mean, I don’t think I would have drank more or in a different manner or have chosen a different venue or beverage, had I known it was going to be my last binge. At least…I don’t think so.

Now, it wasn’t my last time drinking, but it was my last episode of binging. I was at the final day of a weekend-long music festival, and my drink of choice was wine sold in opaque plastic bottles. (I avoided beer, as it would have induced too many trips to the less-than-antiseptic porta potties.) Most people would make one of those bottles of wine – which holds about four glasses – last a few hours…

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Looking out to sea

[note: I'm reposting this because May is Neurofibromatosis Awareness Month. "Doodle Day USA" raises money for NF research by auctioning celebrity doodles on eBay. They've got doodles by Meryl Streep, Gene Simmons and Neil Gaiman, to name a few. Even Jeff Bridges. Yep, the dude abides...and DOODLES. Go have a look. My daughter and I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks!]

When my youngest daughter, E., was about two years old, she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, also called “NF.”

NF is a genetically determined disease that affects many parts of the body in many ways. It causes tumors to grow along the nervous system, and these can be benign or cancerous. Even the benign ones can be dangerous, as they can develop in a manner that interferes with or envelops vital tissue and organs.

There are three types of NF.  My daughter has NF-1, which is surprisingly common: it occurs in 1 in 3,000 births. NF-1 can lead to disfigurement; blindness; skeletal abnormalities; dermal, brain and spinal tumors; loss of limbs; and malignancies.

NF also has all sorts of other disorders associated with it, from small stature (which E. has) to scoliosis (which she also has) to learning disabilities (which she may have – not sure about that one yet).

There are two things about NF that are particularly troublesome for me:

1) There’s no cure…yet.

2) It’s extremely unpredictable, and there’s no way for doctors to know with any certainty just how or when the disease will manifest itself in E, who’s now nine years old.  We simply have to see each of her six specialists on a regular basis, get her annual brain and spine MRIs and her bi-annual x-rays done in a timely fashion, and then…see what happens.

She could be mostly fine for the rest of her life, and just have to deal with her scoliosis and some associated spinal problems.

Or, we may discover that one of the Unidentified Bright Objects (UBOs) revealed by her last brain scan has developed into a full-blown tumor. Or that the protective sheath surrounding her spinal cord — an abnormal swelling of which her 2007 MRI revealed — has ballooned out even more, causing her vertebrae to weaken and her scoliosis to worsen.

We were told by E’s pediatric orthopedist last week that, given her condition at this point, this second scenario is fairly likely, and that corrective surgery will probably be necessary at some point in the future. Trouble is, the surgical procedure typically done in such cases would be complicated and risky, because of this swollen spinal cord sheath.

Sitting in the examining room with E. and her dad as the doctor discussed this, I had to muster every ounce of concentration and willpower to STAY IN THE MOMENT and not go traipsing down the path of “What if?”  I didn’t want to imagine E. in the near or distant future on the operating table, or recovering from major surgery, so very small and helpless and vulnerable.

So I stopped myself. I stopped the tears from welling up in my eyes and I looked at her and consciously appreciated how spunky and vibrant and very, very okay she was RIGHT NOW. I didn’t want her to see me upset. After all, there was nothing to be upset about at that moment. At that moment, everything was okay.

After the appointment, I chanted the Serenity Prayer over and over inside my head as I walked to my car, E.’s small hand clasped in mine. I hugged her tightly when I dropped her off back at school.

And then I cried for a little bit in my car as I drove to work. When I parked, though, I wiped my cheeks dry and took a deep breath.

I knew that I wouldn’t use this situation as an excuse to drink later that day. I knew I wouldn’t drink after our appointment with E.’s geneticist next week, either. Or after her next MRI, in the fall.

No matter how overwhelmed and powerless and scared and worried I was, I wasn’t going to drink. I didn’t have to drink.

I used to hear people say that in AA meetings and not understand what it meant. “You don’t ever have to drink again.” I’d never really thought of myself as having to drink. Just really, really wanting to drink and…not being able to stop.

But at that moment last week, I got it. I got it. I understood what those people had meant. I now had the tools and resources, thanks to the AA program, to get through whatever life handed me. I didn’t have to use any current troubles or potential problems as reasons to pop open a bottle of wine. I could stay in the moment — completely sober — and I would be fine.

And my worries and fears about E.? I can offer those up to my Higher Power, and ask for help. So I have. And I will continue to do so.

This is not to say that I won’t be plagued with periods of worry and stress and fear about E. and her future. I’m a born worrywort and control freak, so this is a given. But at least now I feel know that I have somewhere to turn besides the bottle  — and something to do besides drink.


People can be really funny when they’re drunk.

They can also be obnoxious, annoying, morose, belligerent and dangerous. Just to name a few descriptors.

When I drank, any number of moods or personas could emerge. I think I typically vacillated between maudlin moper and make-out artist. Although I couldn’t tell you for sure, as I blacked out so many times.

Now, I’m just content to be in whatever mood I’m in, without having alcohol to amplify it.

And that’s a good thing.


Of all the things I’ve had to re-learn how to do in my sobriety, dating has got to be the toughest.

I ended my almost five-year-long relationship with B. last year. I’m still hurting from that; I think it’s going to take a long time to heal. But I don’t want to sit around moping. I live in a wonderful, vibrant city and there’s plenty going on. And there’s nothing like keeping busy to distract me and keep my alcoholic mind from obsessing over the demise of my relationship.

Now, I’m fine doing things on my own; in fact, I often prefer to experience some events independently. I also have a wealth of good friends with whom I do all sorts of activities. I enjoy their company and I’m pretty sure they enjoy mine.

I sometimes worry, though, that I’m getting on their nerves, hanging around them so often these days. I feel like Bobby Brady in the back seat, tagging along with Marcia or Greg on their dates. After all, I’m in my 40s, and I don’t have that many single friends, so I’m typically the odd woman out. And truth be told, I miss having a romantic partner. When my kids aren’t around — and even when they are — I want someone besides Daisy to snuggle up to (no offense, Daisy!) and to enjoy experiences with and to share goals and joys and sorrows with.

Since I was about 17, however, I’d never gone on a first date without having at least one alcoholic drink. I believe that most non-sober friends of mine could probably make a similar declaration. It’s just what people do, to loosen up and relax and help with nerves and the conversational flow.

So not only had I not been on a first date in more than five years, I’d never been on one completely sober. And I had no idea how to do it.

Of course, I had to meet someone first.

In the past, I hadn’t really looked at bars as places to meet people – they were more a setting for socializing with friends, and to meet their friends. I’m not opposed to the occasional happy hour now that I’m sober, but it’s not a big draw for me. Even if I did drink, the noise and crowds aren’t appealing to this 40-something. (Yeah, I’m getting old.)

What’s more, I’m a single mom who works outside the home, so I’m busy. My job is good and interesting, yet I don’t meet too many new people through work.

So I ventured into the world of online dating.

The site I chose gives members the option of listing their drinking preferences – both noting their own habits and what they’d like in a partner. I angsted over this for quite some time.

I worried that if I listed “not at all” to describe my own drinking behavior, potential dates might think it was for religious reasons, or that I was some sort of stick in the mud. And what of the men who put “often” or “every day” as their drinking style? Should I even consider someone who drank frequently?

I finally decided to be honest, figuring that I’d really only want a partner who wouldn’t form an opinion based on one aspect of my profile. And I decided to be open to dates whose drinking habits differed from mine.

Admittedly, I was drawn to the men who listed “not at all” as their drinking style. I assumed that meant that they were sober like me, and there’d already be a bit of shared experience and understanding between us. As expected, the sober men who contacted me brought up the issue of sobriety fairly early in our communication. What really surprised me was that the “regular” guys didn’t even seem to notice what I’d chosen to put in my profile. And here I had been so concerned…

I tried to keep first meetings limited to coffee dates for a number of reasons. A coffee meeting required minimal time and expense; if we didn’t feel some hint of compatibility, we could easily cut our losses. It also meant I didn’t have to worry about explaining my choice of sparkling water over wine or cocktails with dinner.

And so, eventually, I went on a date and didn’t drink.

I was nervous. I felt awkward. I chugged my coffee and got all jittery. I chugged my water and badly needed to use the restroom. I didn’t like the guy. I felt disappointed. But I made it through my first date without relying on alcohol. I had survived.

And then, I went on another first date and didn’t drink. This one wasn’t a match, either, and it was okay. When I started to feel discouraged and began to long for B., I didn’t reach for a drink to numb myself to the sadness.

Very few of those first dates led to second dates. But some did, which of course led to anxiety over yet another Reason Not To Drink: A First Kiss.

And that, my friends, is another post for another time.

 

 


From my 12Steps iPhone app...

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It’s my birthday.

Today I celebrate three years of sobriety, achieved one day at a time, in the Alcoholics Anonymous program.

It feels like a very short time and a very long time all at once.

Last night I went to our monthly citywide AA meeting. The speaker was a gentleman who got sober the year that I was born. That’d be 1965, if you must know.

I went to a meeting this morning, too, but had forgotten that it was perhaps the one meeting I attend where they don’t give out chips. I was a little bummed, to be honest. But I guess that’s just incentive to attend a meeting tomorrow…

Note: After I published this post, I received a notification that this was my 100th post. There’s a certain sort of beauty in that, I think…


Last year, an Apple employee lost an iPhone prototype in a San Francisco bar. Recently, according to a report by CNET, another iPhone prototype was lost, again at a San Francisco bar.

Both times that I heard the news, my first thought was, “D’oh!

My second thought was, “Was the Apple employee drunk when it happened?”

My third thought was, “Jeez, how many things have I lost while drinking?”

The answer to that one: probably too many to count.

But I’ll give it a shot, anyway. Here’s an incomplete compilation of things I’ve misplaced, left behind, dropped, abandoned or just plain lost while under the influence:

  •  A Canon digital camera = $300
  • A Coach handbag = $150
  • Cash in said handbag = $120
  • A major piece of the bumper of my (at the time) 2-year-old Volvo S60 = $250 (insurance deductible)
  • Various earrings, necklaces, bracelets = undetermined $
  • Down jacket = $75
  • Cashmere sweater = $110
  • Timex watch = $45
  • Various books/magazines = $50
  • Various shoes = $82
  • Ten pairs of cheap sunglasses = $99
  • Contact lens = $5
  • Chili’s gift card = $25
  • Various cocktails, glasses of wine, mugs of beer = $600
  • My dignity = priceless

Amazingly, I never lost my car keys, though there were plenty of times when it definitely would have been better if I had.

Considering that my drinking career spanned three decades, I’m sure there’s much more that could be added to this list. Plus, I didn’t even count the hundreds of hours I lost searching for things I’d misplaced in my alcoholic haze. When I dropped that Coach bag, for example, on the streets of New York City, it ended up in the hands of some sort of identity theft gang. By the time I woke up with a horrific hangover, my driver’s license and major credit card info had been transmitted across the country and used to set up new charge accounts with six different retailers in Minnesota. That one took many, many days to straighten out.

The last few years that I was drinking, I would make very strategic decisions about what to wear or bring on a night out. If an accessory was valuable, it was verboten. For example, I would deliberately not wear my charm bracelet that tinkled with silver mementos that I’d collected on various trips over the years – what if I should lose that wristful of memories in a drunken fog somehow? It was unthinkable. So I stopped wearing it, except during the day.

I stopped buying good sunglasses, watches and purses. It was just too risky.

The other day, though, I found myself in the Coach store at an outlet mall. There I saw the perfect little black bag. On sale.

I bought it.

I intend to have it for a long, long time.


I just “stumbled” across this short film while perusing my Twitterfeed.

I’m sure there are folks who may be offended, and I’m sorry if they are. I know portraying a baby with alcohol isn’t politically correct, but damn if this video isn’t laugh-out-loud funny. I’ve been chuckling in my cube all morning – and forwarding it to my fellow AAs.

It made me think back to all the times I’d gulped down drinks like the toddler in the film, staggered through a bar, and knocked over furniture/plates/glasses/etc.  For some reason, seeing drunk adults behaving badly in person or on screen makes me wince. It’s not funny to me because it cuts too close to the bone. Been there, done that.

But there’s just something disarming about the juxtaposition of the child with the alcoholic behavior that makes it comical. Obviously the baby’s not drunk, and the director’s not suggesting we let our kids get liquored up, nor am I (see my last post).  I think I enjoy the video because it’s so obviously surreal, and allows me to laugh at myself – and perhaps to recognize how childish and silly and irresponsible I became when under the influence.

Or maybe I’m overanalyzing. Maybe it’s just damn funny.


Along with the rest of the country, we’ve had a serious cold snap here in central Texas, with record lows and – surprise! – snowfall that actually accumulated and stuck around for more than 30 minutes.

Now, I was born in Michigan and lived there till I was ten, when we moved to Colorado to live for four years before we ended up in Virginia for my junior high and high school years. Thus, I’m no stranger to cold weather, but living in the Lone Star State for almost 20 years has made me a bit wimpy when it comes to the cold.

When our city called a snow day yesterday (we had a whopping 3/4 inch, folks!), I enjoyed watching my friends’ Facebook updates with pics of their kids rolling about in the snow, many of them for the first time ever. My daughters were at their dad’s house this week, so I had to be content watching Daisy frolic in my powdery backyard.

It made me think about my childhood in Michigan, when my sister and I would get all bundled up to play in the snow, and stay out until we were nearing the early stages of frostbite.  When we came in, my mom would make hot toddies for my sister and me, to warm us up.

For those not familiar with the drink, it’s made of hot tea with lemon and honey and whiskey.

Yes, my mom served me alcohol at the ripe old age of eight.

It wasn’t a one-time thing, either. We got hot toddies on a regular basis during the Michigan winters, and the tradition continued when we moved to Colorado and would go night sledding at a hilly golf course near our house.

When I look back and think about this, I’m appalled. I know that in some cultures, kids enjoy sips of wine and other alcohol at dinner. But we live in America, which has at best a troubled relationship with booze. What’s more, my family has a long and full history of alcoholism: both of my parents and at least one grandparent on each side suffer(ed) from it, along with myriad aunts and uncles and cousins, from what I’ve heard. So it seems to me it wouldn’t be the wisest thing to serve up this sweet concoction to your little ones. No matter how well it worked to warm us up. What was she thinking? Why not hot chocolate?

I don’t blame my mother or my father for my alcoholism, any more than I could blame them for my scrawny legs or poor eyesight. Yet in pondering this and subsequently writing this post, I came to realize that I harbor some resentments around this issue. Obviously I have work to do. And hot chocolate to buy — for my girls and me.


Back in my drinking days, I used to dread the end of a dining-out evening, when it came time to tally the bill and I’d have to pay the piper because of my (un)healthy appetite for alcohol.

All those martinis and glasses of vino really added up.

So what’s a gal in recovery to do when she’s out with a group and the bill comes, and someone suggests they divvy it up evenly? Even if I’d sipped a single bottle of Perrier ($4.00), while they’d downed a round of pricey cocktails ($12 a pop) and two bottles of even pricier Pinot Noir?

I’ve felt awkward, to say the least, pointing out my teetotaling when totaling the tab.

Luckily, I wasn’t subjected to this sticky situation when I recently visited my two best friends for a girls’ weekend back East.

During a trip to NYC, the three of us took our friend (and hostess with the mostest, since she let us stay in her comfy Upper East Side apartment overnight) out to a neighborhood Italian restaurant. When the check arrived, my friends – who’ve been undyingly supportive about my sobriety – quickly noted that I hadn’t ordered drinks or wine, and tallied their increased share accordingly.

I can’t tell you how thankful I was. It spared me the discomfort of having to pipe up and make note of the fact that I didn’t drink. Even among friends, I’ll admit, that still can feel weird. And like many alcoholics, I suffer from financial insecurity, so I’ve been known to pinch a penny or two. The times that I’ve gone ahead and paid for much more than my fair share haven’t numbered too many, I’m happy to say. But when I do that, I end up with a lot of resentment. And as AAs know, resentment can be the death of us.

I’m wondering if this is a common experience with my fellow alcoholics out there – and if so, how have you handled it? Or is it just not that big a deal?

Just sign me:

Penny Pinching and Teetotaling in Texas


Time was, a birthday was the perfect excuse for me to get drunk. Not that I needed much to coax me to indulge, but birthdays were a given. Added bonus: the booze was free and people tended to overlook any lack of moderation. After all, IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY! PARTY ON!

At forty-something, I’m long past the age when getting drunk on your birthday isn’t that bad. Not to say that it’s perfectly okay to get sloshed while celebrating, but a stumbling, slurring middle-aged woman is particularly embarrassing and unattractive.

This year, I’m looking forward to celebrating and waking up on June 12 feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I’ll be spending the evening at a friend’s house by the water with some of my best girlfriends and our daughters.

This is only the second birthday in nearly three decades that I’ve celebrated without alcohol. It feels weird to think that, and then type that, but it’s true.

And I’m really looking forward to it.


Relapse

06Apr10
Despite enduring some “personal turbulence” in recent weeks, I’ve never felt the urge to drink. Well, not really.
I’ve had momentary failings in my thinking – nanoseconds where I imagine what it would be like to indulge in a glass of wine or a cool cocktail to calm my wild mind. Thankfully, I am always able to imagine beyond that first sip, and remember what it always, always led to. That’s enough to stop my imaginings cold.
I’ve also made sure to call my sponsor or another AA friend if I find myself thinking along those lines. Or, I’ll pencil an AA meeting into my schedule and try my best to make it. This seems to work.
This morning, while surfing a poetry site (It’s National Poetry Month, y’all!), I came across this poem. Quite fitting, I thought. And quite the cautionary tale, for someone like me.

.

He tells me that
Sobriety makes him feel tawdry.
I laugh. But he’s not joking.
He doesn’t feel tawdry anymore.
You can see his relapse
In the way he won’t make eye contact.
In how he holds his coffee
Tenderly, like alcoholics hold their whiskey:
Like he holds whiskey.
Like he holds cocaine.
Like he holds his wife.
His eyes seem a little less green lately,
Less fertile, more empty.
Like ashes and dust.
He sits across from me
Looking like the patron saint of lost causes,
And I forget how to pray.
I know how he wants to be some kind of beautiful catastrophe,
And all I can think is that addiction isn’t a language I speak
At least, not the way he does.
He tells me how he almost died last night,
His heart almost stopped beating;
He’s too calm about all this.
I see him and think mythology,
Think Icarus,
Think Eden
I see the white powder Caesar saying
Veni Vidi Vici.
It’s just something in his hush that makes me think of falling,
He says he’s just trying to be human again.
But looking in those eyes,
I wonder if he remembers what that means.

Booksinprint ©2009 all rights reserved

These days if you’re a writer who wants to get published, here’s one surefire way: choose an activity (the more off-the-wall, the better) and do it for one whole year. Write a blog about it, and then turn that blog into a book — maybe even into a movie.

Recently there’s been a spate of writers chronicling their yearlong endeavors, which include:

Cooking all the recipes in a famous cookbook.

Reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica cover to cover.

Living strictly by the rules put forth in the Bible.

Reading a different novel each day.

Learning to play the apparently very challenging French horn.

Eating only locally grown or produced foods.

Buying nothing but absolute necessities.

Following conventional wisdom on how to be happy.

Attempting to live without making a net impact on the environment.

Reading the Oxford English Dictionary cover to cover.

Following only the advice of self-help gurus.

Giving up one habit a month.

I haven’t read any of these, though I did just see “Julie & Julia,” the film that resulted from the cooking blog/book.

And as most of you know, as of Friday I completed one year of not drinking — and blogging about it.

I’m not expecting a book or movie deal, though. Mainly because what I’ve accomplished, while groundbreaking in its importance to me, isn’t really that unusual. Millions of people in the Alcoholics Anonymous program have done it, and continue to do it, on a daily basis. What’s more, they don’t just do it for a year – they do it for multiple years and decades.

When you think about that, it’s pretty amazing. In AA, we don’t have an ending date in sight – there’s no final day of our great endeavor that we’re working toward. That might be enough to drive some crazy with frustration, as they contemplate giving up drinking for all of the foreseeable future. I know it drove me to distraction at first. I just couldn’t fathom living without this thing that had been part of my everyday life for nearly 30 years.

That’s why AA encourages us to take it “one day at a time.” For the next 24 hours, I will not drink. If I need to think consciously about not drinking, it works best to concentrate only on that period of time. Or, if need be, I can break it down into even smaller bits. An afternoon. An evening. An hour. A moment of not drinking.

I have now accumulated 365 days of not drinking.

8,760 hours.

525,600 minutes.

31,536,00 seconds.

If my experience were made into a book, you might call it…The Sobriety Project.

or…

My Year of Living Non-Alcoholically.

or…

The Great UndertAAking.

All in all, I’m proud and happy about what I’ve done. It’s made a world of difference in my life. And of course it doesn’t end here, with a year.

To anyone reading this who may be thinking they might want to give AA a shot, I highly recommend it. It’s not easy, but so much easier than you might think.

And to everyone who’s been along for this journey, whether you hopped on board at the beginning or somewhere along the way, thank you. Your comments and support and encouragement have helped immensely.

As we say at the end of every AA meeting, keep coming back.

C.


WinebookIt’s been two months since Diane Schuler drove the wrong way on New York’s Taconic State Parkway and the resulting crash killed Schuler and seven others, including her two-year-old daughter and her two young nieces. When the news broke a few days later that Schuler’s autopsy had revealed large amounts of both alcohol and marijuana in her bloodstream, my stomach lurched.

In the days following the news of this toxicology report, Schuler’s husband denied that his wife was an alcoholic, or that she had been troubled.

We may never know the truth, but there’s been plenty of conjecture, and no small amount of outrage regarding the situation.

The many articles and blogs that subsequently commented on the tragedy expressed shock that any mother could do such a thing, and disbelief that close friends and family members wouldn’t have known if Schuler had suffered from alcoholism.

Others, however, have written that it’s actually quite possible that friends and family of alcoholics aren’t aware of the extent of their loved ones’ drinking. Perhaps even more troubling, the friends and family are often in denial, or resist addressing the issue for a variety of reasons.

As a high-functioning alcoholic, I can vouch for the truth of this. Even when my drinking gave me blackouts on a regular basis, had me driving tipsy all too often, got me into a fender bender that I barely remembered, and led me into at least one slightly embarrassing evening per month, few around me knew. If they did, they never mentioned it.

My ex and I discussed the issue a few times during our 13 years together, and I even gave AA a try, but not for long. And though my drinking continued, I guess we collectively denied it was serious enough to merit any real, dramatic change.

I talked a few times with my sister about it, too, but my secrecy and the fact that she lived 1,000+ miles away prevented her from knowing how bad I’d gotten, so she didn’t press the issue.

It was B., my boyfriend of three years now, who finally provided the catalyst for the change that I needed, and I’m beyond grateful for that.

But the other people close to me never approached me about it. Again, as a high-functioning drinker, I believe that I concealed it well. And the few times that I did broach the idea that I might “have a drinking problem,” I was met with dismay and doubt, if not flat-out denial.

I’m not blaming them, mind you, I’m just making the point, based on my own experience, that it is very possible indeed for an alcoholic to to go about her destructive drinking life with little or no notice or interference from those close to her.

Of course, the biggest controversey of this tragic story centers around the idea of a drunk mother with children in her care. How could any mother do this? so many writers have asked. Yet, as some responses to this blog pointed out, it’s not as if giving birth automatically anoints a woman as a responsible, mature, saintly creature void of any mental defects or moral afflictions.

Did I stop being an alcoholic the moment I had my first daughter 12 years ago?

Not at all, though I did abstain during the nine months I carried her, and drank only as much as the doctors and baby books said was allowable while nursing her. I had a second chance with my second daughter, ten years ago. Yet her arrival didn’t stop me from drinking, either. In fact, once I stopped nursing her, it escalated.

Alcohol helped me (or so I thought) be a breadwinner, a wife, a mom and a homemaker. It got me through being laid off, seeing my then-husband suffer a stroke, and witnessing the slow, sad disintegration of our marriage.

mnac-pink-tank-380-rounded

From babybrewing.com

My fellow work-outside-the-home moms (and a few stay-at-home moms) joined me all too often in reaching for a cocktail or glass of wine while we commiserated about the trials and tribulations of modern motherhood. It was wholly acceptable to drink during our playdates. And judging from the books, the blogs and the booze-related paraphernalia that’s cropped up over the years, we weren’t the only ones parenting under the influence.

No doubt, there are plenty of mothers who aren’t alcoholics who can enjoy an adult beverage responsibly. For them, the idea of mixing alcohol and parenting isn’t a bad one, and those books and tee-shirts are all in good fun.

But I’m not one of those moms. And I used our society’s permissive attitude toward maternal drinking as yet another rationale and argument against my sobering up. As might be expected, the Schuler incident has led to a backlash against the whole “drinking mom” trend. Maybe some good will come of it.

I won’t list the potentially tragic things I did as an alcoholic mother, but suffice it to say, when I first heard of Diane Schuler’s accident, I felt sorrow and shame and guilt and…relief. “There but for the grace of God…,” I thought.

In a recent AA meeting, I talked about the amends I owed my two young daughters, and how I wasn’t sure how to handle that. Many were quick to remind me that I was enacting “living amends,” by getting and staying sober, and thus being a more responsible and loving mother. I hope I’m also setting a good example for them, so that they can avoid following in their mother’s footsteps — at least the path I stumbled down the first four decades of my life.


Looking out to sea

When my youngest daughter, E., was about two years old, she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, also called “NF.”

NF is a genetically determined disease that affects many parts of the body in many ways. It causes tumors to grow along the nervous system, and these can be benign or cancerous. Even the benign ones can be dangerous, as they can develop in a manner that interferes with or envelops vital tissue and organs.

There are three types of NF.  My daughter has NF-1, which is surprisingly common: it occurs in 1 in 3,000 births. NF-1 can lead to disfigurement; blindness; skeletal abnormalities; dermal, brain and spinal tumors; loss of limbs; and malignancies.

NF also has all sorts of other disorders associated with it, from small stature (which E. has) to scoliosis (which she also has) to learning disabilities (which she may have – not sure about that one yet).

There are two things about NF that are particularly troublesome for me:

1) There’s no cure…yet.

2) It’s extremely unpredictable, and there’s no way for doctors to know with any certainty just how or when the disease will manifest itself in E, who’s now nine years old.  We simply have to see each of her six specialists on a regular basis, get her annual brain and spine MRIs and her bi-annual x-rays done in a timely fashion, and then…see what happens.

She could be mostly fine for the rest of her life, and just have to deal with her scoliosis and some associated spinal problems.

Or, we may discover that one of the Unidentified Bright Objects (UBOs) revealed by her last brain scan has developed into a full-blown tumor. Or that the protective sheath surrounding her spinal cord — an abnormal swelling of which her 2007 MRI revealed — has ballooned out even more, causing her vertebrae to weaken and her scoliosis to worsen.

We were told by E’s pediatric orthopedist last week that, given her condition at this point, this second scenario is fairly likely, and that corrective surgery will probably be necessary at some point in the future. Trouble is, the surgical procedure typically done in such cases would be complicated and risky, because of this swollen spinal cord sheath.

Sitting in the examining room with E. and her dad as the doctor discussed this, I had to muster every ounce of concentration and willpower to STAY IN THE MOMENT and not go traipsing down the path of “What if?”  I didn’t want to imagine E. in the near or distant future on the operating table, or recovering from major surgery, so very small and helpless and vulnerable.

So I stopped myself. I stopped the tears from welling up in my eyes and I looked at her and consciously appreciated how spunky and vibrant and very, very okay she was RIGHT NOW. I didn’t want her to see me upset. After all, there was nothing to be upset about at that moment. At that moment, everything was okay.

After the appointment, I chanted the Serenity Prayer over and over inside my head as I walked to my car, E.’s small hand clasped in mine. I hugged her tightly when I dropped her off back at school.

And then I cried for a little bit in my car as I drove to work. When I parked, though, I wiped my cheeks dry and took a deep breath.

I knew that I wouldn’t use this situation as an excuse to drink later that day. I knew I wouldn’t drink after our appointment with E.’s geneticist next week, either. Or after her next MRI, in the fall.

No matter how overwhelmed and powerless and scared and worried I was, I wasn’t going to drink. I didn’t have to drink.

I used to hear people say that in AA meetings and not understand what it meant. “You don’t ever have to drink again.” I’d never really thought of myself as having to drink. Just really, really wanting to drink and…not being able to stop.

But at that moment last week, I got it. I got it. I understood what those people had meant. I now had the tools and resources, thanks to the AA program, to get through whatever life handed me. I didn’t have to use any current troubles or potential problems as reasons to pop open a bottle of wine. I could stay in the moment — completely sober — and I would be fine.

And my worries and fears about E.? I can offer those up to my Higher Power, and ask for help. So I have. And I will continue to do so.

This is not to say that I won’t be plagued with periods of worry and stress and fear about E. and her future. I’m a born worrywort and control freak, so this is a given. But at least now I feel know that I have somewhere to turn besides the bottle  — and something to do besides drink.


clouds-over-lake-mcqueeney

I’ve got a thing for poetry, which means that today finds me especially happy, for April is National Poetry Month.

I’m also happy because it’s spring, and absolutely lovely in my neck of the woods these days. During times like these, when life feels so damn good, it’s easy enough to cruise along and let things slip. Like going to AA meetings. Working my program. And maintaining conscious contact with my Higher Power.

I was reminded of this last part at my morning AA meeting today, where the discussion centered around Step 11. I’ve only been praying and meditating haphazardly, so this morning’s discussion was a good kick in the pants to get me doing it on a more regular basis.

Now, being the geek that I am, I had already planned to share a poem with the group, in honor of National Poetry Month. Amazingly enough, the one I had chosen also fit the discussion topic. Huh. Go figure.

Thus, I’m happy to share this poem/prayer of thanks, from one of my favorite writers. It is a wonderful expression of the gratitude that I am feeling today, for many things.

i thank You God for most this amazing


i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

-e.e. cummings


ad iconsIn the advertising world in which I work (and which no doubt harbors many an alcoholic), it’s well-accepted that the best tag lines are simple, easy to say, and easy to remember.

“Good to the last drop.”

“Where’s the beef?”

“Drivers wanted.”

The ones that stick are also often inspirational or empowering.

“Have it your way.”

“Don’t mess with Texas.”

“Just do it.”

I’ve written before about the many slogans of Alcoholics Anonymous, and how at first I thought them corny and old-fashioned. They’ve endured for about 70 years, though, which is more than I can say for most brand tag lines. So I figure there must be something to them. They’ve certainly managed to grow on me since I joined AA five months ago.

“Let go and let God.”

“One day at a time.”

“Easy does it.”

Granted, they’re not really lines that define the whole AA organization or brand, but are more like pithy reminders of its guiding principles. Honestly, I think it’d be pretty tough to encapsulate AA in just one line.

Yet I can’t help wonder what might have happened if the AA organization chose to practice promotion — rather than attraction — as its strategy to grow membership. Indulge me, if you will, as I ponder how AA might have utilized some of the most popular ad campaigns of the last few decades…

“Got serenity?”

“A life is a terrible thing to waste.”

“AA. Because I’m worth it.”

“Like a good neighbor, AA is there.”

“AA. We bring good things to life.”

“You’re in good hands with AA.”

“I want my AA.”

“Nothing comes between me and my sobriety.”

“AA. What happens here, stays here.”

Perhaps the best line would be a version of Nike’s compelling classic, with a slight change that reminds us of our simple, single-minded goal for the next 24 hours.

“Just don’t do it.”


Third Step

The "Third Step Tree"

 

I wasn’t reassured when I first heard those words, “You are not alone,” uttered as a reassurance.

To be honest, it kind of creeped me out. It sounded like something The Smoking Man would tell Molder on “The X Files.” As if aliens or (even scarier) the government were constantly watching me, tracking my every move, examining my every thought. Chalk it up to an overactive imagination and too many pre-teen afternoons spent with old issues of “Fantasy & Science Fiction” on my grandmother’s sunporch.

The phrase was meant, however, to let me know that as a newcomer to sobriety and the Alcoholics Anonymous program, I was going to be okay. That my case wasn’t unusual. That there were many others like me out there struggling with alcoholism. And that I didn’t have to go it alone — there were plenty of resources at my disposal, if I just knew where to look and whom to ask.

I posted earlier this week about my difficulties seeking and asking for help. And on Friday, I did something very alien to my control freak nature: I let go of everything and asked for all the help in the cosmos. I took the Third Step and surrendered to my Higher Power.

It was quite a lovely experience – my AA sponsor and I had a picnic and took a hike in a nearby state park. The afternoon was bright and hot, and the park very serene and empty — except for an amazing array of flora and fauna that seemed to be greeting and guiding us. (There goes my overactive imagination again…) A Texas spiny lizard scurrying along the rocks paused to watch us as we first embarked on the trail. Then I spied a magnificent red-tailed hawk watching from its perch in a nearby tree. A. and I both stopped and stood looking up quietly. It flew off when I moved closer to get a better look (with thoughts of snapping a picture, because of course I had my camera with me). But it wasn’t the last we saw of it.

As we continued on our journey, we saw shy turtles, a brilliant cardinal, a pair of woodpeckers, and a bevy of butterflies fluttering from blossom to blossom among flowering trees. We reached a bend in the path, which led us up a hill. At the top was a clearing with a smooth-barked tree — I think a crepe myrtle — just beyond. At this spot, by what A. & I shall hereafter refer to as “The Third Step Tree,” we stopped and sat to say the Third Step Prayer.

God, I offer myself to Thee–to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always.

And then, we just got quiet.

I listened. I looked around. I lived in the moment.

A. & I saw that hawk again — or at least we figured it was the same one, circling overhead, making lazy loops in the big Texas sky. Standing there in the sun, I didn’t feel alone at all. I felt connected, part of the universe, happy and loved and reassured.

I was not alone.


Obama papers

I loved President Obama’s inaugural address. Absolutely loved it. I thought it was just what our nation needed to hear. It was thoughtful. Strong. Smart. And yes, sober.

In fact, when I Googled the word “sober” today, at least three of the top 20 results were news stories about Tuesday’s inauguration. From what I’ve seen, I estimate 75% of the headlines about his speech use the word “sober” or some variation of it.

It’s certainly one of the adjectives I’d use to describe his address – and I think that’s a good thing. However, the way most writers use it, the word carries a negative connotation.

David Axelrod, President Obama’s top political advisor, called Tuesday’s address a “sober speech but also a hopeful speech,” as if the two were mutually exclusive. Jerry Seib, Executive Washington Editor of the Wall Street Journal, also called it sober, noting how the tone contrasted with what he described as Obama’s typically poetic and inspirational speeches.

The thing is, I found it not only poetic and inspirational, but very hopeful.

Maybe I’m particularly sensitive to the descriptor “sober,” becase it’s what I’ve been for the past three months – in the sense of abstaining from drinking alcohol. And while getting and staying sober is indeed a serious undertaking, it doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it, or not having fun, or that I’ve lost my sense of humor.

On the contrary.

I’ve chuckled and laughed my way through many an AA meeting, enjoying the quips and quotes and self-deprecating humor of my comrades in alcohol-freedom. And though I feared my wit might slip without a wineglass in hand (and wine lubricating my mind), I’ve found it to be even sharper in its unaided-by-alcohol state. And let me tell you, my sober mornings are a happy and wonderful improvement over the suffering, somber, sedate hungover sort.

In my last post, I made an analogy about our country being like an alcoholic embarking on recovery – sobering up after years of excess and lack of direction and purpose. So I was pleased to hear the President speak of our country’s need to rally together, to take responsibility and do the hard work necessary to get America back on track. Like alcoholics who truly want to stop drinking, we’ve got to get with the program.

Today, thanks to my program — the AA program — I am sober…and lighthearted. And happy. And hopeful. And inspired.

To me, sober is a good thing – and a good, positive word. Maybe someday others will see it that way.


2 month chip

On Tuesday, I went to an AA meeting and collected this chip to mark my second month of sobriety — 60 days of not drinking.

When I type that, the length of time seems so…short…minor…insignificant. Yet it also seems huge, and like an eternity.

At this particular AA group (one of several I attend), each person who has a sobriety “birthday” that month writes it up on a chalkboard in the meeting room. There are names up there with dates in the 1960′s, before I was even born. To have 40+ years of sobriety seems unfathomable to me. I can’t imagine going to a meeting in 2048 and getting a 40-year chip. I’m not sure if such a thing even exists. If it does, what does it look like? Hmmm….I’m thinking platinum, with two ginormous, diamond-encrusted “A’s” in the center. Yeah…something to make even the most blinged-out rappers envious.

Now, I know it’s just a number, and I know that no matter how many hours or days or years or decades of sobriety each of us AA’s has, we all start each new day in the same place. “One Day at a Time,” right?

But I have to admit that with every addtional day of not drinking that I have under my belt, I seem to become that much more determined not to screw up my “record” thus far. I don’t know why I feel that way, or if it’s even a good way to look at it. After all, I’ve heard “Progress, not perfection” enough times, and I don’t want to set myself up for a big fall, if I should ever fall. But this idea is working for me right now, so I’m gonna go with it.

So I’m determined to keep on collecting those chips. ‘Cause damn if I don’t want the entire set.


laughI love NBC’s “The Office.” And this Thursday’s show had me laughing out loud.

If you’re not a fan, I won’t try to defend the show to you. You either get it, or you don’t. For the writers, no subject is too taboo for source material: Homosexuality. Racism. Sexual discrimination. Cancer. Obesity. Even alcoholism, which just happened to be the inspiration for this week’s episode.

“Moroccan Christmas” has Meredith, the resident alkie, getting smashed and lighting herself on fire during the Dunder Mifflin holiday party, prompting manager Michael to stage an intervention.

Now, I’ve been drinking for almost 30 years and I’m just edging up on 60 days of sobriety. And while I’ve never lit myself on fire, I’ve done enough equally stupid things in my alcoholic career to be able to recognize some of myself in Meredith’s over-the-top character. And you know what? It made me laugh. A lot.

Mainly because that old cliche about “I had to laugh, otherwise I’d cry” just held true for me in this instance.

I laughed when Michael likened an intervention to a surprise party. I chuckled when the Dunder Mifflin shotglasses planned as staff gifts got nixed. (I’ve got my own collection of shot glasses that in my sobriety now seems at once ludicrous and funny.) And I giggled while watching the end of “deleted scenes” clips online, where you can see Michael label himself a “chocoholic” and propose that maybe he needs an intervention, then reconsider and remark, “Alcohol is very serious…and chocolate…just tastes good.”

It was all in keeping with the show’s style of humor, which trades in the awkward, uncomfortable and politically incorrect. And to me, a card-carrying alcoholic, it was funny.

By the way, if anyone knows where I can get a Dunder Mifflin shotglass, it’d be a nice addition to my collection…


cranberries

Today, I am thankful for:

my Polish grandmother’s pierogi recipe.

words.

my family, even with all their angst-inducing nuttiness.

my sense of humor, which helps me deal with the above-mentioned family.

my friends, who also help me deal.

my daughters and their exasperatingly, exhilaratingly different personalities.

sprigs of rosemary fresh from my garden.

the lovely aquamarine of the lake just outside my window.

the chocolate milk that lets me turn my regular coffee into “mocha.”

having met and loved B., no matter what happens.

my wise and wonderful sister.

my sobriety.


Angle robes & wings

I heard this story (or something like it) at an AA meeting the other day. Back in the day, it was the sort of thing that would have inspired a fair share of derisive eye-rolling on my part. And now? I think maybe it’s a little corny, but a nice enough reminder to count our blessings and give credit where it’s due, whether you’re an agnostic or an angel aficionado.

A visitor to Heaven is walking down a hall with his angelic tour guide, who stops in front of two closed doors.

The angel opens the first door for the visitor, who beholds a hubbub of activity. Inside an enormous room that seems to go on forever, an infinite number of angels are busily opening mail, answering phones, typing on computers. Not a single one sits idle.

“These angels are in charge of receiving all prayers and requests,” says the guide. “They toil around the clock.”

“Wow,” says the visitor, taking it all in, amazed by the multitudes at work.

The angel smiles and gently closes the first door, then moves over to the second door. She turns the knob and slowly reveals the room beyond.

The visitor sees it is just as enormous as the first room, but instead of a bustling throng, there is but one lone angel, sitting still at a desk.

“Why isn’t this angel working? Doesn’t she have a job?” the visitor asks, puzzled.

“Oh indeed, she has a job,” responds the guide. “She’s in charge of receiving all the thank you’s.”

I’ve sent out an ungodly heap of requests these past few weeks. So today, I made an effort to send out some thank you’s.

Just doing my part to keep an angel off the dole.


Ella street danceFrom p. 37 of Alcoholics Anonymous, The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, Fourth Edition, copyright ©1939 (a.k.a. The Big Book)

Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jaywalking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jaywalking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.

On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jaywalking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn’t he?

You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism for jaywalking, the illustration would fit us exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It’s strong language — but isn’t it true?


Yo Pops

Dear Dad,

You’re coming to visit today, and I’m equal parts happy and anxious.

Your granddaughters, who get to enjoy your company for a few days each year, are giggling and giddy with anticipation. They’ve made a “Welcome Opa” sign, decided which board games you’re going to play and in what order, and have even set aside some of their hard-earned Halloween loot to share with you. This makes me happy.

My big sister K., whose home was first on The Opa Comes Stateside Tour, tells me you were drinking openly — but also having furtive, late-night drinks — while there. This makes me anxious.

I know you’re not on the wagon anymore, and I don’t think you have been for several years now, though it’s not something we’ve talked about recently. I sent you that email a few weeks ago about my being in AA, along with my request that you respect that.

At this point, I’m not sure what “respecting that” might entail…maybe just being okay with my not having any booze in the house and not bringing any in, not overdoing it if you drink when we go out to dinner, stuff like that… I’m hoping you’ll help me in this way, because I’m feeling quite protective of my sobriety right now. It’s a delicate, precious thing, and I want to keep it at all costs. I’m going to be quite the fixture at AA meetings this week, of that much I am certain.

Speaking of AA meetings, knowing that you were in the program in the past, I’m kind of tempted to invite you along to one with me, but I’m not sure if that’s okay to do. I’m kind of fuzzy on Sobriety Etiquette. Since there is no “Dear Abby” for recovering alcoholics, it’s a good question for my sponsor.

I also want to ask about your alcoholic history. I remember spending my childhood seeing you passed out on the sofa downstairs, reeking of booze and cigarettes and urine. I recall the shame of my junior high and high school years, when I couldn’t have friends over for fear of being tragically embarrassed. I met my dates at the curb and had them drop me off there, too. No hanging out in the living room or sneaking a kiss at the door. It was just too dangerous.

I want to know how you were able to stumble through 15+ years, inebriated and irresponsible and mostly uninvolved in my and K.’s formative years.

I want to know how long you were in AA, and how many times you tried to get sober. And why you aren’t now.

I realize this all sounds pretty accusatory and angry. Clearly I still have work of my own to do. I know this. But I also think that knowing more about you might help me understand my own thoughts and behaviors and inclinations.

After all, I love that I inherited your bright blue eyes and your way with words and your sense of humor. But when it comes to drinking, I do not want to be like father, like daughter.


stop handThank God I’m not a radio host. I’d have incurred some hefty FAA fines tonight.

After dinner, I completely lost it with my 11-year-old (a.k.a. Control Freak Jr.).

She got frustrated while doing her homework and I got frustrated at her frustration.

She started yelling and I started yelling about her yelling.

She started charging up the stairs and I started channeling George Carlin.

The Foul-word Usage Count (FUC), to my best recollection:

“Goddamn”: 2

“fuck”: 3

“shit”: 2

Mind you, I didn’t say anything abusive to her or about her. My outbursts were more along the lines of “stopping this shit right now” and “that goddamn book.”

After she had tearfully retreated into her bedroom, I felt like…well…shit.

I promptly called my AA sponsor and got her voicemail, so I left a message explaining my situation and asking her to call me ASAP. There are three mini-bottles of white wine in my fridge right now — part of a four-pack I purchased to use in risotto the other night and in next week’s Thanksgiving cooking. It was all too tempting to break one open in the name of soothing my nerves.

I didn’t, though. By the time I left the voice message, I had calmed down enough to head up and talk things over with my daughter. She had calmed down, too.

I apologized and she apologized and we talked about getting frustrated and angry and how it all happened. We both vowed to try harder next time we sensed something like this coming on, and to not let it get so crazy. I feel that in spite of how it began, it ended well.

Back downstairs, I called my sponsor again to let her know I was okay, in case she’d gotten my message. She answered and we chatted. She told me it was a really good thing I’d done — calling her and not drinking. And, she said, by talking things over with my daughter and owning up to my angry feelings and my part in the fiasco — as opposed to just hitting the bottle and glossing over that uncomfortable incident, I had actually been a good role model.

Role model? Role model?

Fuckin’ A.


I woke up this morning, the day after Halloween, feeling different than I had on the day after Halloween in years past.

I felt a little woozy, with a funny taste in my mouth. No throbbing headache, though. No unquenchable thirst. No shaky hands.

See, I hadn’t toured the neighborhood last night with a plastic cup o’ wine in my hand while my daughters rang doorbells and gathered loot. I hadn’t sat on the porch refilling my glass from a bottle of cabernet while I waited to hand out KitKats and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I hadn’t gone to a party and helped myself to drink after drink, late into the night.

Instead, I had enjoyed the evening sipping nothing more than a Sprite and a few glasses of water. Oh, and eating about a dozen pieces of various kinds of chocolate candy. Well….maybe two dozen.

But a candy hangover beats a cabernet hangover any day.


Drunkeness and despair...

It can be pretty frightening to walk into an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for the first time. Or for the second or third time, for that matter.

At the very first meeting I attended, there were all sorts of scary creatures. Weary-eyed old men. Worn-out women. Sullen 20-somethings. Holy-roller housewives. Flip-flop-wearing frat boys.

Equally scary were the stories I heard. Tales of arrests, violence, drug addiction, neglected children, lost jobs, broken homes…you name it.

The thought of standing up and telling these people I was an alcoholic (which would mean admitting I was just like them) and then sharing some bit of my true self was fearful beyond words.

I didn’t go back to another AA meeting for a year. When I finally did venture out again, I only attended two meetings before I decided, yet again, that I had nothing in common with these alcoholic creatures and there was nothing at AA for me.

I wasn’t down on my luck. I hadn’t “hit bottom.” I wasn’t haggard and in bad health. I wasn’t religious. Heck, I wasn’t even really an alcoholic. After all, plenty of my friends told me I didn’t have a drinking problem – I just went a little overboard sometimes.

I talked myself out of it. Again. And again. And again. I could control this thing. I was a successful career woman. I was a mom. I was a multitasker. I could manage.

Until I couldn’t.

Two weeks ago, feeling nervous and very afraid, I walked into yet another AA meeting — about 13 years after I sat through that very first one, the one where I saw all those frightening creatures.

And there they were. Again.

The old men. The weary women. The young ones. The housewives.

But something was different.

Me.

I had come to realize that I was just like them. I was an alcoholic. I was out of control. I wanted what they had. I would do anything to get it – even if it scared me beyond belief.

And so I went to that meeting, holding within me the one requirement for AA membership: a desire to stop drinking. I was welcomed with open arms and hearts.

Turns out it wasn’t so scary, after all.


Happy Hump Day.

02Mar11

I had to share this because it epitomizes my thought processes. And it’s Wednesday. And it’s funny.

I live inside my head soooooo much. I constantly obsess over fears, relationship dynamics, perceived slights, financial insecurity, you name it. I analyze the shit out of stuff and make up the most incredible stories in my mind, only to find out that – 99% of the time – they’re just that: stories.

In my AA meetings, I hear others relate tales of how they do The Exact Same Thing. It helps to know that I’m not the only one doing this. I’ve also heard suggestions on various actions to take to get out of my head and into experiencing the moment in a healthy manner. How to get over that hump, as it were. Prayer is one way. Service work is another. I’ve been doing a lot of praying lately, and it is helping. I’ve yet to get back into service work, and it’s on my list.

This morning, my sponsor suggested I try doing something completely different – an activity that was a real, physical change for me. Something like scuba diving or horseback riding. Something that would challenge me and have me thinking about entirely different processes, and have me focusing on the moment out of necessity. I really appreciated that suggestion. I love to snorkel, but I’m a bit claustrophobic, so scuba scares me. It could be just what I need to jolt me and my mind out of this pattern of obsessing and overanalyzing.

It might be just what I need to get me over the hump.




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