Thursday, October 25, 2012

It's not so funny in the beginning....

A few weeks ago a newbie spoke up at a Saturday morning meeting. She was full of herself and was laughing and joking about how this "not drinking stuff wasn't going so well". She proceeded to give a drunkaloge of her first few days in AA. I was watching the reactions of the people around me as she continued on and I could tell it wasn't going to turn out well. After ten minutes of continuous giggling and jokes an old timer cut her off. You can imagine what happened next. How quickly a room divides. She got a dose of reality and she left the room. Some people followed and some people stayed. I chose to stay neutral and reflect upon my early program with a friend over lunch.

My friend D and I both took a glance back at why we came to AA. For him he had nothing left to loose. He had lost it all. Flipping the couch cushions over looking for change to buy a bottle when his entire life was pretty much in pieces. Myself because I was desperate. Did we use humor to hide those first few months? Yep, its a great avoidance to step one. For some silly reason I'm not sure why I thought being funny would allow me to not have to admitt that I was powerless over alcohol. But it did, and I did make jokes at my expense. But what I didn't realize or want to realize was how out of control I was. And if somethings funny then it can't really be so bad can it?

We also talked about the first few doses of reality. When someone whose been there knows this isn't a laughing matter. That since you really don't know anything perhaps you should shut your mouth, open your ears, and listen to people who've walked this path before you. We come in so full of ourselves that we've darn near eliminated any room for growth. We know it all. We know shit! I had huge doses of reality within my first three weeks. It sucked. Many times I wanted to run out of the room, many times I cried, in anger and frustration but it helped break my ego down so I became teachable. So I gained some humility.

As an alcoholic I know I used every facade and escape from humor to tears to avoid the real problem: that I was completely powerless over alcohol. It wasn't funny. It was serious and serious was an emotion I wanted very little of. I could be serious and very in touch with my feelings when I was drunk. Liquid courage can do that for you. But looking at my disease sober and head on there was nothing funny about it. I had to have a few more 24 hours of sobriety under my belt before I could say that.

As with all things in life we want to go from A to Z. We want to skip over all the hard work and get to the results. It just doesn't work that way. There is no "easier softer" way around it. Its work. Everyday work. Life just keeps piling it on and there are days when I can't find anything to laugh at, not even my dysfunctional self. And yet there are times when thats all I do is laugh. Not too long ago I was driving a van full of 5th and 6th grade soccer players home from an away game. It was a cold autumn day, the sun and the rain were sharing the sky and the fall colors were spectacular. As I glanced toward the setting sun one of the kids put in a Christmas CD and they all started singing "Jingle Bells". This is my life today. Full of chaos and noise. A reason I would have drank. A reason I know celebrate sobriety.

If you don't do the work, none of the simple pleasures in life will be yours. You will miss out on moments like this. Giggles and laughter, and singing off key while the rain splashes over the sun. You will laugh again, maybe not right away, maybe not the first few months, but you will. You need to be serious for a while. You need to take your life back. You need to show alcoholism that this disease in no laughing matter. It destroys, it kills, and it has the ability to strip any kind of joy from your life forever. Don't let it steal your smile, it just isn't worth it.....


  1. i feel you...i think this is why stories are important...and us remembering we were there too once....and letting them know that...but sometimes people wont like the truth either...and you know what...we cant change them...

  2. what a great post. so full of truth. thanks xxxx

  3. Agree that the things that used to make me want to drink are now the ones I appreciate the most. Which isn't to say they don't still stress me out, but they're also the most enjoyable. Go figure. Also a great reminder of what many of us are like when we first stop drinking. I like that you stayed neutral and reflected on your own experience over lunch.

  4. wow that was beautiful. thank you so much for writing this. i am in love with the idea of being sober for moments like the adorable singing children. i had one last week when i took my six year old to central park where we climbed rocks all day. then we got hot chocolate and sat on a bench. so simple, right? but when he put his little hot chocolate down, came over to me, gave me the mushiest hug ever, and said "mommy, thank you for everything about this day ~ you are the best mommy ever" (exact words!), I thought i'd just melt right into the air with joy. this never would have happened if i were still drinking. never. i totally cried with gratitude right there on central park west.

  5. Enjoyed this post, it really made me think. I haven't been to a meeting in a while, but I do remember my first awkward weeks, which seemed to go and on and on as I slipped a few times before it seemed to click.

    My shackles raised a little bit when I imagined people laughing and giggling at the newbie, though I can understand it and human nature. If anything, what a reminder to all of where we were (where many of us still are) and where we could all end up again if we do not stay active and vigilant and engaged with our recovery.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, I'm glad I dropped by!

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