Sober since April 6, 2006


Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Sober another day :)

Today, I really wanted to drink.

It was a sad and stressful day today. Sad from the pain of losing my best friend/boyfriend last week, and stressful for reasons related to finding a job (and I MUST find one -- I put in two weeks' notice at my current job) -- but especially for knowing that a beloved family member is going to have surgery tomorrow. This kind of stuff makes me want to drink.

Went to two AA meetings today. In fact, I've attended two meetings every day for the past week. The meetings seem to help. Simply talking with other alcoholics and getting to know them better helps me to feel less ... "freaky". They say that during the first several months of sobriety, you go a little crazy (well, in the words of an old-timer at a meeting tonight: "you go absolutely bat sh*t crazy"). Mentally, you still think like a drunk person thinks, and you respond to situations in similar ways that a drunk person would respond (though with a tiny bit more control). But emotionally, you feel as if you are allergic to your own skin. You don't know who you are anymore. You don't feel comfortable existing -- which is exactly how I've been feeling since I stopped drinking in January.

And all this time, I thought there was something wrong with me personally. There were several times in which I thought I was literally having nervous breakdowns. It helps to know that all of the emotional/mental discomfort I've been experiencing is completely NORMAL and will PASS.

Getting through these past few days without a drink has been pure hell. Heck, I've somehow lost 10 pounds over the past week through remorse, guilt, worry, etc. But I'm SO glad that I abstained from the drink. Thanks to God for helping me through.

To anyone else out there struggling, just remember: "You don't have to drink today."

The Music in You

"Don't die with the music still inside you." -- Unknown

Lyrics: "You only get what you give" -- New Radicals

Wake up kids
We've got the dreamers disease
Age fourteen
They got you down on your knees
So polite
We're busy still saying please

Who when you're down ain't your friend
Every night
We smash their mercedes benz
First we run
And then we laugh 'till we cry

But when the night is falling
And you cannot find the light
you feel your dreams are dying
Hold tight

You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget we only get what we give

[I'm comin' home baby]
[You're tops, give it to me now]

Four a.m. we ran a miracle mile
We're flat broke
But hey we do it in style
The bad rich
God's flying in for your trial

But when the night is falling
And you cannot find a friend
You feel your tree is breaking
Just bend

You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget
We only get what we give

This whole damn world can fall apart
You'll be ok follow your heart
You're in harms way I'm right behind
Now say you're mine

You've got the music in you
Don't let go
You've got the music in you
One dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don't give up
You've got a reason to live
Can't forget
We only get what we give

Don't let go
I feel the music in you
Fly high
What's real can't die
We only get what we give
You're gonna get what you give
Just dont be afraid to live

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Grateful for AA

I'm so happy to express my appreciation for Alcoholics Anonymous. The unconditional support and acceptance I have received there is simply amazing.

When I walked into my first AA meeting on January 11, I didn't know what to expect. I was afraid of being judged or turned away. I was also afraid of being smothered by fanatics. Well, neither one of those fears came true.

Even after I had been sober for 70 days, then screwed up and drank again -- I was afraid to tell anyone at first. I was afraid they would judge or criticize me. But they didn't! Instead, they just conveyed the simple down-to-earth message: "You don't have to drink today. In fact, you don't have to drink ever again." There were no egotistical "Shame on you!" speeches. They simply responded by offering more help.

Outside of the "World of AA", there is another world full of tasks that you need to complete, objectives you need to reach, and responsibilities you need to fulfill -- but just trying to stay sober takes up so much energy and effort, these other tasks seem absolutely impossible. All you know is that you've been repeatedly getting your rear-end kicked by a bottle. When dealing with a simple BOTTLE is so overwhelming for you, how on earth are you supposed to deal with bigger problems? It makes you feel so inadequate and stupid for having so much trouble doing what everyone else does.

The mental whirlwind of finding a job makes me want to drink. It's HARD to rewrite resumes, write cover letters, and fill out job applications when I feel like a completely inadequate individual, that the entire world is against me and wants me to fail. It's also difficult knowing that if any of those employers knew the TRUTH about me being a recovering alcoholic, I'd be rejected instantly.

At least when I go to AA meetings, I don't have to worry about being rejected. Nobody there wants me to fail. It's a breath of fresh air to know that there really is a group of people somewhere that wants to watch me succeed -- one day at a time, one hour at a time, one minute at a time. And right now, that's the best I can do.

It's a huge step up from where I was weeks and months ago. At least I believe there is hope now.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Observations on Step 3

1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol, that our lives have become unmanageable.

2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Okay, I think I'm done with steps 1 and 2 now. They seem so simple -- like they should be completed automatically. It's harder than it seems though.

Now it's time to proceed to step 3:

3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Oooh -- turning our will and our lives over to God. There are few things more terrifying than letting go of EVERYTHING important to us.

Me? I like to control things. Here's a good example: I love playing a video game called The Sims 2. In that game, you control simulated people (called "sims") as they live their daily lives. They have a variety of needs that must be fulfilled to stay alive -- and they also have aspirational wants that must be fulfilled to keep them happy. You control what sims eat, how they dress, when they shower, which characters they become friends with, etc. You control whether they live happy lives, or if they die in misery. The game has this built-in function called "Free Will". If you give your sims Free Will, they will try their best to fulfill their own needs. But sometimes, they really suck at it.

I once had a sim who had so much fun playing the piano that he forgot to go to the bathroom, so he literally wet his pants. I've also had sims who got so hungry, they wouldn't stop ranting and raving "Can't you see I'm hungry over here?" that they literally starved to death in front of the refrigerator. As you can see, sims aren't exactly the epitome of intelligence.

Neither am I.

God gave me Free Will, and I know what my needs are. But sometimes I get so distracted pursuing other things that I ignore my needs. Sometimes, just like the hungry sim in front of the refrigerator, I simply complain about my needs until the situation reaches critical mass and implodes on itself.

Perhaps if I was thinking more about God, and less about myself, the decisions I make for myself wouldn't be so ... stupid.

Obviously my decisions haven't been exactly stellar. I kept picking up bottles of vodka over the past two years and drinking myself into blackouts -- even though I knew I needed to stop. I'm an unemployed college graduate (graduated with honors for goodness sake) who has not been able to get "a real job" since graduating 15 months ago. Worst of all, I caused someone I love to stop loving me. Leaving myself in charge of my life has resulted in a miserable existance.

Let's go back in time: if I hired a personal manager two years ago, and his decisions put me where I find myself today, I'd fire him.

But the thing is, it wasn't a "personal manager's" decisions that put me here today. My own decisions put me here. I'd fire someone else for it. Am I willing to fire myself and put God in charge?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Is it Hug-A-Llama Day yet?

Because it's fun having this song stuck in your head while you're trying to go to sleep:

[Click here for the World's Most Beloved Llama Song]

Letting Go

"Letting him go" so that he can be happier without you is a painful thing to do. I said I'd let go ... but I guess I haven't -- because if I had really "let go", it wouldn't hurt so much.

I feel like part of me is dead. Even if I could "get involved" with something else -- a new hobby, a new job, a new anything -- there's a huge gaping hole left behind.

Bitterness is tempting. The futile desire to go back in time and redo EVERYTHING is overpowering. Frustration with myself is overwhelming. Downright hatred alternates with sad memories of lost love and the realization that things simply "didn't work out". Whatever consolation that's supposed to bring ...

I existed before meeting him. I have no idea how.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Why Nobody Should EVER Work in Retail

Some of the things I have observed over the years while working in retail:

Your company hates you. Who? You. You who? Who are you? And why are you tresspassing on company property? We're going to call the polic--- err, wait a minute. You work here? Why aren't you WORKING? GET TO WORK!

Your bosses don't trust you or care about you.

Your childish coworkers are intimidated by you and do whatever it takes to publicly humiliate you so that they feel better about themselves.

You are expected to be on your feet on a hard concrete floor for 9-hour shifts every weekend, but you're only allowed one unpaid 30-minute break during the day to rest, eat, and use the bathroom.

If you get hurt while doing your job, your bosses tell you to suck it up and get back to work. If they really like you, they will let you get back to work after the bleeding stops.

Your company routinely advertises items at INSANELY low prices and won't allow rainchecks or substitutions -- but it only ships you two items to sell -- which leaves customers pissed off at YOU PERSONALLY when you don't have any left.

Your company inflates prices the day before something goes "On Sale" -- so the "Sale" price is actually the regular price. Then you feel like a dirty scumbag when little old grandmas on welfare come in and think they're getting a good deal. You know they aren't, but you'd get fired if you told them the truth.

Your company completely ignores market trends -- so even though hundreds of customers come in asking for a particular item every day -- you will NEVER carry that item. Why? Just because.

You are expected to run your entire department with no help -- never mind the fact that there are five customers needing help at any given time, and the phone is ringing off the hook, and you have 26 more things to complete on your bosses "To Do" list before you close in 10 minutes. You can't stay late to finish your checklist, and if it isn't finished, you will suffer "corrective action". The customers are still glaring at you. The phone is still ringing. You have ten minutes ...

You are expected to lie to customers and convince them that they need overpriced accessories for their purchases -- even when they don't need them. If you don't meet your scam quota for the day, you are ridiculed.

If you can't sell a $25 extended warranty on a $50 gadget, your boss will bring it to the attention of all your coworkers, who will take turns laughing at you -- because apparently they have no problem selling $25 extended warranties on $50 gadgets. You're the idiot.

Your customers treat you like dirt. They ask for your advice, then turn around and say "Heh, what does she know? She works in retail! Hahaha!"

If you're lucky enough to be working during bank hours (Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm), you might catch a glimpse of someone in an expensive suit from the "Corporate Office". He will stiffly glance down at you on occasion, and without a word, sweep his white-gloved finger across the backside of a shelf (which nobody can see) to show you the dust that you haven't cleaned. He glares at you, and then your boss jumps to mimic him and glares at you too. Obviously, the dust on the back of the shelf caused the company's stock to tumble 3% last week. Shame on you!

You get paid minimum wage to slave for these jerks every weekend and holiday.

Given all of the above conditions: You are expected to be chipper, upbeat, energetic, and enthusiastic every MINUTE that you are at work. Forget to smile to one customer, and that will be the ONE customer out of a million who will notice and decide to complain to your manager ... who will administer corrective action, and expect you to return to work with genuine enthusiasm.

And I *swear* that all companies automatically blacklist any job applicant with retail in their work history: "Oh! You have a college degree in just what we were looking for -- errr, OOPS! ...... I'm sorry, but you worked as a grocery store cashier in September of 1992. We have no positions available for losers like you. The security guard will escort you off our property. Have a nice day." Then they spray everything you touched with disinfectant after you leave -- as if you're some sort of leper.

Plastic smiles powered by caffeine, aspirin, and gallons of Prozac.

I'm sick of it and I want out, dammit.

Take my advice:


Stuck on Step 2: Rationalizing The Nature of God?

A belief in a "Higher Power" or "God as you understand him" is a cornerstone of AA. It's the second step: "We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

I think the existence of God is obvious to anyone who studies the complexities of the universe. Check out biology, astronomy, or physics. The deeper you go into those studies, the more apparent it becomes that some all-powerful, meticulous being set everything into place and prevents it from all collapsing into itself. (If you don't see it, you haven't gone deep enough yet).

I was raised to be a Christian. I spent most of my life loving God, praying, and worshipping God. I never stopped believing that God existed, but I think I stopped believing that God cares. What happened? I don't know.

I've been drilling into my head recently the part about a "power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity". It's stupid to believe that God is too puny to restore my sanity, since I believe He's powerful enough to create and sustain the universe. That's just silly and egotistical. It's illogical, but that's exactly what I have been believing ... and I don't understand WHY I'm stuck on it.

In Chapter 5 of the Big Book, it says:

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a)That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b)That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c)That God could and would if He were sought.

I'm stuck at the second half of part C. I know that God "could" ... but "would" He?

After thinking about it more and more, it has been made clear to me that rationalizing God's basic existence is possible. But rationalizing our conception of His nature is difficult, if not impossible. But I'm going to try anyway ...

We could believe that God is a loving, wonderful being who heals us all and makes everyone happy ... but ... God simply doesn't heal us all or make everyone happy.

We could believe that God is a hateful, spiteful, angry being that wants to inflict as much pain as possible ... but ... there are too many happy people in the world for that to be the case.

We could believe that God is completely emotionless and calculating -- a being that simply created the universe and administers its existence ... but ... if he had no emotion, he would not have created emotional human beings.

So where God's existence can be rationalized in science and nature, His personality is not readily observable.

The Bible portrays God's personality in many lights:

He destroys, but He also creates;

He gets angry, but He also shows mercy;

He allows injury, but He also provides healing;

He allows evil to exist, but He also provides deliverance from it.

Sounds alot like a human being.

No human being is ever "100% completely angry" all the time. We get mad, but even the most grumpy will be happy on occasion. No human being is ever "100% completely vengeful" all the time. Even the most hateful people will show mercy when they see a good reason to have compassion on someone. No human being is ever "100% completely emotionless" and calculating. Even the most stoic human beings have at one time cracked a smile or shed a tear.

So thinking that God is "100% (insert emotion here)" is most likely incorrect. As human emotion and disposition vary dynamically according to situation, then wouldn't God's temperament also vary dynamically?

Sure, a person will get angry on occasion, but that doesn't mean that they are "An angry, vengeful person", right? So if God gets angry on occasion, then it is inaccurate to say that He's "An angry, vengeful God".

So that brings us back to the nature of God in general: What is God like? Or more important for the alcoholic -- "Would God be willing to help me?"

The more I think about it, the more it seems rational that He would be willing to help.

(Sorry for this long, senseless ramble. Sometimes it just helps to "think out loud".)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Grace and Dignity?

It was brought up in an AA meeting today, that it takes many months and even years before we regain a sense of "who we are". The first several months of sobriety are like having amnesia. They also said the people with only a few months of sobriety are the most at risk for relapse. It's difficult (if not impossible) for an alcoholic to handle stress without drinking when they have no sense of who they are, and no sense of pride or self esteem. (As proven by yours truly. Yippee. I got to learn the hard way.)

One girl told about how when she was 30 days sober, she really wanted to get out of a relationship, but someone had advised her to wait a few more months. The advisor said that as an active alcoholic, we lose our sense of grace and dignity, and that it takes many months and years to gain a sense of it back. (Of course you lose your sense of grace and dignity when you repeat the cycle of "drink > get sick > swear to never drink again > drink > get sick > swear to never drink again > drink > get sick > swear to never drink again > drink > ... " for years. You lose confidence in yourself as that cycle wears on.) So the advice was to wait, that breaking up immediately would most likely result in relapse or an embarassing or distateful "breakup".

Well, the girl didn't take that advice. Ready to end the relationship and confident in her 30 days of sobriety, she was fortunate to end it without relapse, but the actual breakup itself turned out quite nasty due to her own immature behavior. At that time, she had no sense of grace or dignity, so she handled herself with neither. And when she looked back on it months later, she was humiliated of the way she handled herself. She wished that she had waited to break up, so that she could have left the relationship with some grace and dignity on her part.

I feel much the same way now. I know what grace and dignity are, and I know that I don't have them. So months from now, when I start to regain a sense of esteem, will I look back on MY recent breakup in embarassment? While breaking up, we offered to "be friends" and he says he wants to help me through this, which is very sweet. But I've already relapsed, and I have no idea how to prevent further humiliation. I have no dignity right now. I want some.

Now that the breakup is over and done with, but we're still "friends", I wish I knew what to do to scrounge up some dignity and grace somewhere. On one hand, I just want to get in my car, find a cave somewhere, and hide away there until I get better. On the other hand, I know I shouldn't run away ... but it's just so confusing right now.


Last night, I posted a blog entry that hurt a few people's feelings -- people who are very important to me and that I love very much. I'm very sorry for posting what I did, and that entry has been removed.

The thing I intended to share is that after 71 days of sobriety, I drank again.

I didn't need to mention anything or anyone else. And I shouldn't have. I wrote the entry while I was still drunk. In general, drunk people say incredibly stupid and cruel things. I'm very sorry for what I wrote.

I can start over on the path of sobriety, but I can't start over with the cruel things I said and how they injured you. For that, I am very sorry.

Monday, March 20, 2006

71 Days

I've been sober for 71 days now. Is it getting easier? Well not really. Some stressful events have crept up into my life, and I've spent the past few years coping with stress by drinking. Now that I can't drink, it simply makes me want to drink MORE.

It has kept coming into my head over the past few days: "Stop by the store, get a bottle of wine ... it's ONLY wine ... it can't hurt ... "

But the Big Book says: "No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. Therefore, it is not surprising that our drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove we could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death (30)."

Okay, so even a tiny bit of alcohol would ruin me. Then why -- when I know it will ruin me -- am I still tempted to drink? Why do I want to drink? My outlook of the future is pessimistic enough as it is, but the future isn't doomed to failure UNTIL the first drink is taken. BEFORE the first drink, there is still some hope left. But even now that I'm writing this, I still want to drink. I just don't understand ...

Perhaps the stress from feeling our lives "out of control" makes us feel hopeless. In the past week, I've had two disturbing dreams that left me with feelings of hopelessness:

1) I dreamed I was in my house, and I was looking out the window into a big field across the street. I just so happened to be looking out the window when I saw two skydivers jump out of an airplane. They fell and fell and fell ... but they didn't open their parachutes until right before hitting the ground. I knew for sure that they were both hurt, or maybe even killed. I grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911 as I ran out into the field to try to help. As I arrived on the scene, a man was there already, mourning, beating his chest, and tearing at his hair at the sight of the two mangled bodies of his sons. (How did I know they were his sons? It was just a feeling.) I felt uncomfortable there -- like an intruder as he greived. But I wished he had not seen the bodies in such a mangled and gruesome state. I wanted to cover them to spare him the horrific sight, but it was too late.

2) I dreamed that I was standing on a street corner. There were many people walking up and down the sidewalk. Suddenly one person caught on fire. Nobody else noticed, and they just kept walking down the sidewalk. I couldn't move to help. She simply caught on fire and desperately tried to extinguish the flames by rolling on the ground and beating her clothes. But they burned off, and soon her skin melted away, exposing muscle and bone to the flames. She just kept burning and struggling until she died. Then someone else caught on fire -- and like the previous person, nobody noticed.

I have no idea what these dreams mean, but they both seem to be about hopelessness, powerlessness, and very gruesome types of death. I hope I don't have another one.

Surely our own lives are not so hopeless. We can make decisions, although they sometimes seem insignificant. But the decision of whether to drink -- in the case of an alcoholic -- is a major decision that either removes all hope, or sustains what little you have.