I made it. I was dreading Friday night. That was my usual unwind time. Stop and get a couple bottles of wine or Vodka and a mixer and by ten oclock I was well into relaxation land. Well since I no longer drink I would no longer have the reassurance that I could end my week with a lot of alcohol. I was cold turkey. I went to the 5:30 AA meeting and decided to let the meeting set the tone for the evening. It was only my third night but I feel like I have old friends there already. One man was celebrating his eight months of sobriety. You receive a medal coin that says 8 months and has the serenity prayer on the back. Someone who has walked the long 8 months with you says a few words about you, then gives you the coin and a hug. Then the person celebrating the anniversary gets to tell how they've done it so far, and passes their coin around for all to see. I left feeling good like I always do. I called Al on the way home and he wanted me to pick him up before we went to Target. We did a little shopping and then went to my parent's to pick up Grace and Sam. Arriving home a little after 8:00. The kids put their pj's on and went to Sam's room to play. I made a healthy dinner, and had a delicious glass of fresh lemon water. After I watched the latest episodes of Parks and Rec and 30Rock. Then Grace and I headed up to bed and I read for about an hour.
Saturday morning greeted me with the sunshine. It was the first Saturday in two years that I had not consumed a bottle of wine the night before. My eyes opened, no self-induced hangover. I made the bed, opened the blinds, and let the sun in. Showered, got ready and set out to do errands. It's amazing how good it feels to not be hungover. I had forgotten. I stopped at my favorite bookstore to pick up a copy of Codependent No More and afterwards headed down the street to stop at my favorite florist shop to just take a look around. When I walked in I was greeted by a very nice salesperson who asked if she could help me, we exchanged a few words, and then I looked down to see the sweetest flowering plant. It was filled with tiny pink and white happy flowers. "It's a primrose and you can enjoy it now and then plant it outdoors later" the lady said. I bought it and as we exchanged conversation while she was checking me out,I kept thinking of the perfect spot for my new plant. The lavendar that I was trying to save in our bedroom had taken a turn for the worst. That lavendar represented me, sick with life and alcohol, and this new plant was expressing what I was feeling for the first time in a long time. The salesperson handed me my package and I was on my way. As I was stepping down to the sidewalk, I noticed that the proprietor had sprinkled red rose petals all over the sidewalk. How beautiful and unexpected in the middle of winter! In AA we are told to look for the "signs". This was a sign, an assurance, that yes the road will be long, hard, and painful but the result will be glorious. I went to the 11:00 meeting which was aweseome. One man celebrating six year, someone else 8 months, and myself one week. They treated my one week like it was ten years. People who try to quit drinking without AA do not know the difference between getting sober and sobriety. I wish I could show you these wonderful people. Some have reached serenity and it shows, some are their for the tenth time, starting over, some are stuck and not moving forward. But there is a love, an acceptance, a safe zone that I have never experienced before. Total strangers came up and hugged me after the meeting, gave me their phone numbers to call, encouraged me to keep coming back. It's not about the alcohol. It's the journey. It's growing up and taking the chance to trust God and let him mold you into the person he wants you to be. Its no longer and I, but a we. Together with God. Each day I have discovered more about myself. I have so far to go. Much pain lies ahead. I have to dig through all the years of denial and pain to get to serenity. One man told me today as we were walking out, "Thanks for your tears, it's great. The good news is you're getting your emotions back, the bad news is you're getting your emotions back." I'm ready. I'm going to take the advice I heard the first night: "Face this head on and be fearless.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Today I woke up and felt like I hit a new low. I had a headache (for once not caused by drinking the night before) my body ached and I was exhausted. I have noticed in the last few days that my memory is terrible. I do eradict things, I can't finish a sentence. I went to the grocery store last night and forgot a list worth of things I knew I had to get. So I listened to my group and picked up the phone and called one of the numbers that was listed. A great woman whom I met last night called me back and assured me that what I was going through was normal. I'm in a fog. I've been out of reality so long that being sober and not chemical induced I'm going against the very nature of my every day habit. Forgetfullness is right on target. This may last for a while before things clear out and I come out of the fog. Old habits die hard. I'm on my fifth day of sobriety. It does feel good. The weekend will be a test. I always knew before that if I started to feel stressed out by late afternoon I could start to relax with my old pal alcohol. Now I have to find another way to relax. To deal with life. And boy have I been good at avoiding life!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wow! If you ever want to be humbled before the grace of God attend an AA meeting. I almost for a second chickened out. I thought, maybe I'll go to the 7:00 meeting, and then No! I need to do this. Pulling up to an old church, walking accross the street and pulling the door handle made me almost want to throw up. The inside is dingy and dirty. The smell of cigarette smoke fills the air. I wasn't sure where to go so I peeked inside the double doors and someone looked and said ,"Come in, you're in the right place". I took a seat and started to absorb my surroundings. People of all ages and walks of life were occupying the chairs and tables. The smell of strong coffee filtered over, but my stomach was to nervous to consider a cup. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be there. It reminded me of a family reunion. The meeting started promptly at 5:30. The usual new business, anouncements, reading of the twelve steps, the Serenity prayer, and then the question, "Do we have anyone new tonight?" I raised my hand and a chorus of voices replied "Welcome". At this point everyone goes around the table and says their name "Hi I'm Liz and I'm an alcoholic". Since it was my first time I was presented with a small silver coin that reads: Please Come Back and on the flip side it has the Serenity Prayer. You are also given a copy of the AA Big Book and a pamphlet of meeting times with the numbers of the women in the room who truley want you to call them any time of the day or night. When these are presented to you, the person presenting them gives you a big hug. This was very hard for me because the dam broke and I started crying very hard. When we were seated again the leader of the meeting suggested we talk about the first step since it was my first time there. People immediately jumped in and told their stories. Stories of heartbreak, stories of loss, stories of triumph, healing and peace. I learned very quickly that alcohol is the painkiller. The real problem lies with dealing with all your personal demons. Drinking is the easy part. Learning to be sober and walk through your problems, and face the pain is the difficult part. People were so welcoming, encouraging, offered as much advice as they could. One woman shared the story of a beloved family member who recently passed away from alcoholism. She was shaking and I just wanted to jump up and comfort her. A man sitting near me, praised God for letting me grace his presence and remind him that the program works for those who want it. He also said something that really stuck in my mind ,"Do not regret your past, your past gives you empathy for those around you". What a beautiful thought. After all the stories were shared and many tears shed, we stood, held hands, and said the Lord's prayer. As I was putting my coat on, person, after person, came to hug me and tell me to please come back. How could you not want to be in that safe environment?! I never felt judged, just pure acceptance of a total stranger who has the same illness they do. God's grace at its best. Chris, I can't thank you enough for coming, and waiting, talking and praying. You are an awesome gift from God. Its suggested that you do 90 meetings in 90 days. Sometimes two or three a day if you have to. But that is not possible with my schedule so I made a committment to make as many as I can. I am going back tonight, and I will go this weekend. We are never to focus on more than one day at a time. So today I feel emotionally drained but confident that this is right where God wants me. One of the members told me to "face this head on and be fearless". All things are possible with God. I saw that first hand. Serenity is not an unattainable goal.....
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
It's the day before my first AA meeting. Work was rough. Not feeling the best after a few days of flu (yes, actual flu not hangover). Stopped to visit with my parent's after work and finally told them I was going to get sober. Not the kind of news you just drop over the dinner table. "Hey mom and dad, guess what?! I'm an alcoholic! Bet you never thought your kids would be one of those did you!" Mom was happy. The mother instinct knows. She said she noticed I had been drinking a lot more but didn't want to say anything. My dad was quiet but relieved. So once again even at 41 they still get to worry about their youngest child. Was frazzled when I walked in the door and started the lunches, backpacks, picking up etc. Yes I really wanted a drink. Good thing there's nothing in the house. Took some deep breaths and tried to relax. Opened up a 7UP and took a big swig. I pretended Vodka was in the can. It didn't relax me but at least I felt a little better. Now I will get the kids to bed, take a hot bath, and start reading the Shack. God, don't leave me now. Tomorrow it all starts....