Sober since April 6, 2006


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

road of happy destiny

Today, I came across the closing words at the end of the last chapter in the Big Book:

"We realize we only know a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven't got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.

"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. May God bless you and keep you -- until then," (p.164).

Wow, this part is like a simple version of the 12 steps: "Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find."

I needed to read those instructions today. I need to be more aggressive in working my program. I haven't been concentrating on that. I've been too busy working, catching up on lost sleep, and finding inventive ways to waste time. I haven't been "trudging the road" -- I've been too comfortable.

"Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs," (p. 20).
"At the moment we are trying to put our lives in order. But this is not an end in itself. Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us," (p. 77).

I want to be helpful, but I can't share what I don't have. It's worth asking, "Have I abandoned myself to God today, or have I abandoned God to go my own way?"

I'm very grateful to be sober today, to have such wonderful AA friends, to have a family that loves me, and a God who will never leave.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

an allegory: my relationship with alcohol

Note: This is a allegory (I suppose the proper term is allegory -- or metaphor/analogy) that I started writing last September. In every AA story I've heard, alcohol started out like a "friend", but became an abusive "enemy" over time. The premise of this story was to describe that transition and answer the question, "If alcohol was a person, what would our relationship have been like?" This is how I would describe that relationship -- how it started, how it evolved, how it is today:

The first time I met this guy, I didn't know what to think. I liked the way he made me feel about myself, but something about him just gave me the creeps. Being so busy with other things at the time, I quickly forgot about him and ran along with my life.

Years later, I bumped into him again. And again, I liked the way he made me feel about myself. But this time he didn't seem quite so creepy. So I spent more time with him.

We got along great together! Soon we were best friends. We hung out on the weekends and shared many fun times. We started having so much fun on the weekends that he started visiting in the evenings too.

I would often think about him during my day. I would wonder how he came to know me so well after such a short time together. It amazed me that he always seemed to know how to calm me down whenever I felt stressed out or upset. When we were together, all of my emotional insecurities disappeared. He made me feel good about myself. I couldn't wait to see him again!

Things were great between us. There was nothing he didn't understand. There was no problem he couldn't fix. He was my best friend.

But somehow, things slowly started to change. He started showing up earlier in the evenings, and staying over later. Soon he was barging in during the afternoons. His appearances during the wee morning hours seemed intrusive. Let's just face it -- 3am is too early!

I started wishing that he wouldn't come over quite so often. I enjoyed sharing some of my time with him, but I didn't like how he started to take over my life.

So I gently resisted him, trying to make him feel less and less welcome. But the more I resisted, the more forceful he became.

I suddenly realized that he was no longer the great guy I thought he was. He seemed to be transitioning into some sort of bully. I didn't like the way he was treating me.

Although I resisted him, his forcefulness eventually overcame me. He was bigger and stronger than I was. I couldn't outrun him. I couldn't stop him. I was completely powerless over him. Over time, my whole life slipped out of control, and I was filled with fear. I felt like a prisoner in my own home.

Gone were the happy days when he made me feel good about myself. Now he made me feel like the scum of the earth. He no longer helped me to calm down. Instead, he intentionally stressed me out. He no longer helped me to have fun. Instead, he constantly made me cry.

He would never leave. Whenever I tried to escape, he caught me.

I longed for those good, happy days. I mourned as time passed, because my former friend was growing stronger, meaner, and more ruthless by the second. Those happy days would never come again.

I felt my life shrink away as he took a stronger hold of it. The more I resisted, the more domineering he became.

I lost what little hope I had. I only had room for one emotion: despair.

Finally, he was particularly cruel one day. As I wrestled with the last bit of strength I had, I knew deep inside that it was all over. I closed my eyes, asked God for mercy, and braced for the inevitable impact that I knew would end my life.

Suddenly, a bright light flooded the darkness and forcefully knocked him into a shadowy corner. Where did that light come from? A window covering had fallen during our scuffle.

During this moment of clarity, I noticed for the first time how dark it had become in my home. As he cowered in the corner shading his eyes from the light, I discovered that each and every window was covered in a thick black cloth. Why hadn't I noticed before? I had become accustomed to living in darkness.

I studied him in the corner. He nervously fidgeted in the dark shadow, seemingly terrified of the light. After all, it was the sudden burst of light that knocked him away from me.

Then I finally realized: He couldn't enter the light -- it repulsed him. He could only stand in the shadows. No wonder all of the windows had been blocked -- the darkness gave him full reign over my home!

The one open window provided a path of light leading to the next covered window. I glanced in the direction of the next window, and back at him.

His furious eyes pierced my soul as I strode over to the window and tore down the curtains. He shrank even further into the shadow as more light filled the room.

Finally, I was no longer hopeless. I was amazed to realize that I didn't have to let him kill me.

But I needed help -- I didn't know what to do next.

Fortunately there was a group of people who knew how to deal with this kind of unwanted intruder, and they were willing to help me.

How did they know? They had the same experience that I did.

They sympathized with me when I shared my story. They explained that this unwanted friend would be with me for the rest of my life and would grow increasingly abusive if I didn't take immediate and continuous action.

My heart sank at this news. I was hoping there would be a way to either get him out of my home permanently, or to fix him so that he would be back to his old friendly self. Apparently neither option was possible. I allowed him into my life so many times that he became a permanent fixture.

But they said there is still hope: I can't fix him or eliminate him, but I can prevent him from appearing. All I have to do is get rid of ALL the darkness in my home and continually fill it with light. I must live in that light.

They explained that my light source can be whatever I want it to be: the sun, lamps, ceiling fixtures, wall lights, candles, whatever. I just need to take certain steps to renovate my house to eliminate the shadow.

I also needed to take certain steps to fix myself as well. I had become so accustomed to living in darkness that I needed to learn how to live in the light.

It all seemed so difficult, but I didn't have to do it all alone. They offered to help me. After all, they had to do this themselves.

They shared with me their stories and experiences, and all were similar to mine. Hearing their experience, strength, and hope gave me the encouragement I needed to take action.

Since then, I have learned how to renovate my home and fill it with more light to keep my unwanted friend at bay. There are still a few shadowy corners here and there, but I'm working on those. I'm still learning how to live in the light. This will be a life-long endeavor, but it beats the alternative.

Sometimes I start to feel bad about myself. I think back to those "good old days" when my friend and I had such good times together, and I sometimes wish to experience those good times again. Sometimes I feel like I can trust him again.

But one glance at a shadowy corner brings me back to reality: My "friend" no longer likes me. It creeps through the shadows seeking to dominate my life. It tried to kill me. And if I extend my hand, it will try to kill me again.

On my bad days, I can see it lurking in the shadows. But I can always get rid of it by letting more light in. This has become a daily task, sometimes an hourly task, or sometimes even a task I must complete every few minutes. But success comes one moment at a time, by living in the light.

There is hope today, and for that I am grateful.

Monday, July 09, 2007

a fine example

The post below this one is a fine example of what happens when you get caught up for too long in your own head.

"Catastrophic avalanche of mindshit" doesn't begin to describe it ... but it's a start.

Thank you to all of my homegroup chicas who called and texted and helped me to stay sober over the past couple of days. I'm amazed and deeply touched by the support extended by the ladies in the program ... I cannot thank you enough.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

don't like these feelings

I don't like how I'm feeling today. Rejected, unwanted, deficient, used, etc. And because I don't like how I'm feeling, my impulse is to change it ... that's not a good place for an alcoholic to be.

Rejection is one of those really difficult feelings to work through.

Rejection means that there is something wrong with me -- I'm deficient ... I'm inadequate. If only I was better in some way, then I wouldn't have been left behind.

There are so many "If only's ..."

"If only I was prettier ... "

"If only I was smarter ... "

"If only I was more successful ... "

"If only I had (this) or (that) ... "

And the list goes on and on forever.

I'm starting to hate the word "acceptance", because that's the answer -- but it's a damn ugly answer. I want the answer to be "Here, drink this and those feelings will go away." But no. It doesn't work that way.

The answer is this: I have to accept that something good is over. I don't want it to be over, but it is. "Why" doesn't matter. "How" doesn't matter. It's just over.

"Deal with it" ... but it hurts too much to deal with it ...

Monday, July 02, 2007

monday blues

Today was tough.

First, my boyfriend is leaving town because he got a better job in a city 200 miles away. Although I'm very happy for him that he's been blessed with this opportunity -- and I've encouraged him to take it -- I'm afraid. I don't like uncertainty. We're going from being 1 mile apart, to being 200 miles apart. Although he sincerely assures me that he wants to continue our relationship, I can't help but wonder how much longer he will feel that way after he's been gone for a few months. On one hand, I'm preparing myself for everything to end. On the other hand, I want to believe him, but I'm afraid to get hurt again. Cynicism feels safer. But cynicism so damn depressing ... Again it's uncertainty. I either have to get over it, or I won't.

Second, "Aunt Flo" showed up this morning -- making me nauseous, weak, dizzy, and feeling as if I had been shot, stabbed, and run over. It's like having the flu ... It made everything else that happened today much more difficult to handle ...

Third, I started a new job at work today. But it was frustrating because even though the appropriate paperwork was submitted weeks ago, I didn't have access to the computer programs and accounts that I need in order to do this job. They didn't even set up my phone until 4:30 in the afternoon. There is so much work to do, but I'm useless for now.

Fourth, there was an incident while taking some coworkers out to lunch today. I offered to drive them. When we parked in the parking lot, one of the ladies could not unfasten her seatbelt. It was stuck. She tried, I tried, another coworker tried -- the seatbelt would not budge.

While I tried to help her out, an idiot in an SUV insisted on parking in the space next to mine -- but my car doors were swung open into that space while we worked on releasing my coworker's seat belt. My "free" coworkers moved out of the space and watched, so I was the only one helping my stuck coworker now.

Never mind the fact there was a perfectly clear space on the OTHER side of my car -- he wouldn't take it because it would mean walking five paces farther than he wanted to walk. The idiot sat there and glared at me for not getting out of his way, and he waited impatiently for me to close my car doors to make room for his fat-ass SUV.

I looked at him, looked at the empty space on the other side of my car, and looked back at him incredulously, wondering, "Is he really that stupid?"

Yes, he was THAT stupid. He inched into the space a bit more and became angry that I wouldn't get out of his way.

There wasn't enough room for him to park where I was working. He could see that I was trying to help someone out of the car, but he didn't care. I was in his way.

I started to panic. The stupid seatbelt wasn't budging. I pushed the button and tugged this way and that, but the buckle was still stuck. My coworker tried to slip under the belt, but instead it tightened around her so that she couldn't move at all.

Then the bastard inched closer to my open door because I wasn't moving out of his way fast enough. I became very angry. There was a free space on the other side of my car -- why wouldn't he take it? Because he was a stupid lazy bastard who believes the world owes him a parking space that's five feet closer to the door -- that's why!

I wanted to yell at him. If he was in my position, I would have offered to HELP him, not run him over. But I didn't say anything or make any gestures to him. I was too scared to stand up for myself. I've always been that way. I'm a bully's favorite pissing target.

The seatbelt simply was not coming off, and I could tell my coworker was starting to panic a bit when it locked tight around her. I opened the scissors on my swiss army knife and cut the seatbelt off. Then I closed the car doors and got out of the idiot's way.

He swung into the space crooked and far off-center -- the typical rude and inept fashion common in this area. Asshole. Not that I have a resentment about this or anything ... (hahaha)

The kicker is that during the drive on the way home, the seatbelt buckle would disconnect and reconnect effortlessly. No problem anymore. But the seatbelt itself has been cut and is useless now ...

But this incident pointed out to me (again) that I need to learn to be more assertive. Otherwise I might go postal on someone one of these days.

Regardless of all the stupid little things going on, I have so much to be grateful for ...

  • I'm 452 days sober
  • I've shared the past seven months of my life with someone special
  • I have a job ... I recently got a promotion
  • I have a car that can take coworkers to lunch (although it tried to trap one of them today, lol)
  • My seatbelt BUCKLE works. Now I just need a new belt ...
  • My coworkers WANTED to go to lunch with me (wow)
  • My family still loves me
  • I can still write when I need/want to
  • Independence Day (US) is coming up. One of my favorite holidays.
  • I'm sleepy, and I can go to bed now ...
  • God, because he's got this stuff figured out in some kind of strategic plan