Last Friday i got lucky. (No, the other kind of lucky.)
i went to a meeting i don’t usually go to, that starts at 10:30 pm and finishes at 11:30. When i got there, there was only one other person.
We had a small meeting, just the two of us, and in that meeting she said we alcoholics have a “weakness for devastation”.
i loved that expression because i understood it on a deep level the instant i heard it. i was the kind of alcoholic who drank because i had a crush on destruction and drinking was the fastest way to get into destruction’s panties and screw it up.
We got on this subject because i realized something in our tiny meeting.
Here in Yeaman–because of some fluke alignment of religious and war holidays–i had a 5-day weekend last weekend and, even better, my ex had the kids. i had 5 days left to my own devices and there was a time a few years ago that my own devices would’ve been bottles of wine and cocktail inventing, fast food binges, internet porn, no sleeping no showering no leaving the apartment…i would’ve viced out.
Sharing with this young lady, i realized that i’d been to an art show, two movies, discovered a cultural walk here in Yeaman, written some good stuff, started riding bicylces, wrote fiction on café terraces with a founatin pen, cleaned, ran several errands i’d been putting off, woke up at 6:30 on a day i didn’t work to go to an 8am AA meeting and then hit a 10:30pm meeting that same evening, just because.
i didn’t tell her that then and i’m not saying it now to get pats on the back or collect brownie points…it’s just sometimes i forget how far i’ve come in 2 years.
i got lucky that i decided to go to a meeting just for the hell of it, because talking with another alcoholic in recovery helped me see that my life, while far from perfect, keeps getting better all the time.
When i was abusing alcohol, i often felt i’d earned the right to drink.
If something good happened, i got to drink to it and if something bad happened, i had to drink through it.
Now, i’ve lost the right to drink but have earned the right to be happy.
i came out ahead, because i’m finally getting what i deserve.
My big ass bottom is no longer a shock to any of my regular readers, but what you might not know is that i love it. Why? Because without it i wouldn’t be here.
When i was drinking, i was very cavalier about my drinking problem. True story, i used to take the AA test hoping for a higher score. When i say i was a practicing alcoholic, i honestly was literally practicing to be a better one. i started the Bar None blog as a way to revel in my alcoholism, i elected myself Functional Alcoholic Slurperson, i embraced my disease as the one thing that made me unique.
The Miracle Is Around the Corner wrote a wonderful post about Step 1 in AA and reading it i realized i took that step when i admitted i could no longer be cavalier about my drinking. This is entirely thanks to my big ass bottom. Even if, Higher Power forbid, i take up the drink again, i’ll never be able to do it with the same carefree attitude i had before because of where my big ass bottom dropped me.
To those of you with tiny little bottoms, allow me to tell you how much i admire them and heap all kinds of props on your wee bottom. i have the luxury of never being able to go back to the shit storm my big ass bottom made of my life. But those of you who don’t have that excuse… i respect you enormously because you’re stronger than i ever was and i pray out loud right now that you will stay on track and never know what it feels like to have a big ass bottom.
A quick disclaimer.
While i attempted to pen this post with a certain degree of levity, i do want to acknowledge very clearly that for those in my entourage, there was nothing at all even remotely amusing in all of this. This is especially true for Celeste E Hall and my son who found me the next morning and had to call the EMTs, as well as dear friends who were called in from out of town to be at my bedside in case i died.
In the beginning, i died. i died and i crawled inside a bottle.
Thirty years later i emerged and i was reborn.
Happy Easter, everyone, i’m glad we could make it.
When i was 18 i started a journal, but the problem was i went into so much detail that i was writing more than i lived. So i decided that to save time i would only write down three sentences at the end of the day: 1) My best event of that day, 2) my worst event of that day, 3) something that i learned that day. i’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and do it with my children as well, stopping only momentarily with my son after he reached his 18th birthday until he asked me to continue a few weeks after.
i went to an AA meeting yesterday and saw my sponsor there. After the meeting we were in the hallway talking about some Step 8 & 9 stuff and when we were through he asked me for a hug. He told me that sponsorship was a two-way street and that working with me helped his sobriety because he saw how much i’m getting out of mine. He said that i inspired him.
It’s like the above picture…who is helping whom?
Guess what i wrote down as my best event of the day last night…
i’m sure i’ve told this story here on these pages somewhere but as this came up in my 8th Step work (Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all) and i also can’t be bothered to search through my posts to link to it, i’ll just retell it as briefly as i can.
One Friday night here in Yeaman, after the weekly cocktail party where i work, i followed some of my colleagues to a Scottish pub for the pre-after party. i was not drunk, i was totally shitfaced. i spoke very rudely on the underground, embarrassing my friends because i didn’t think anyone spoke English in the subway car, until a young woman standing nearby informed us in no uncertain terms that she did.
At the bar, i went to order a beer and noticed the barmaid was attractive (i was single at this time), so i decided to say something out of the ordinary, something edgy, to catch her attention and stand out from the crowd. i don’t remember what i said. The next thing i do remember is the barmaid was in tears, my coworkers were leading me outside, and the furious barman/owner was telling me i was barred for life.
Jumping ahead to tonight… At the meeting, a young lady in her mid-late 20′s was celebrating 5 years of sobriety and was talking about how she had lost everything (her job, her apartment, her family) to her disease before realizing she needed help.
When it came my turn to share i said:
When i was drinking, i felt like a broken toy. Like those toys under the bed in the evil kid’s house in Toy Story where the heads are on the wrong bodies. And like them, i knew i was beyond repair. That was my destiny. i had to accept the fact that i was alone and living in the dark and there was nothing i could do to get fixed.
The most amazing thing for me when i entered the program was realizing i was not broken by nature. That i could be repaired. All i had to do was to follow the steps. And as i took those steps and followed the advice, i slowly came out from under the bed and into the light.
As i spoke, i glanced up at her and saw she was crying. She was not crying because i had humiliated or hurt her, but because my words resonated with her.
If anybody tells you that using is better than recovery, they’re full of Schlitz.
Years ago, when i was still drinking, on a Friday night much like tonight, my kids and i were in the living room watching TV. Suddenly and without the slightest warning, a loud crashing noise, like a body falling from a hiding place, tumbled out of the bathroom. We all looked at each other, unsure. We were the only people in the apartment.
i ran to the bathroom to find a shelf my father had hung months before over the door was now on the floor. The paint cans it had once held had opened during the fall and vomitted their oily white lacquer all over the blue walls.
i stood there in a daze for the longest time, just staring at the devastation, incapable of understanding. Here was a disaster that was in no way my fault. It was not the result of a binge and i wasn’t even the one who’d placed the shelf. A bad thing happened that i could not have foreseen or prevented no matter what i’d done.
This event crystalized a general apprehension i’d always felt vaguely lurking in the dark places of my mind. Except now i had a word for it. The Shelf of Damocles was the term i assigned to all of the bad things that were waiting to besiege me when i least suspected. i feared the shelf and the omnipresent threat it represented.
Last week, after i noticed i’d stopped waking up suicidal, i also realized the Shelf of Damocles no longer hung over my head. Yes, of course bad things will continue to happen to me for no reason– i have not yet mastered control of the universe (though i haven’t given up trying). But i’m not afraid of bad luck anymore.
Because there is no problem i can have that sobriety cannot solve .
There was a time i would wake up in the morning and the first thing i would do was put my feet on the floor, my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands while i let the sadness wash over me, drown me, pull me deeper.
i would start off my day on the wrong side of the bed, no matter what side it was i woke up on.
Today, i realized i don’t do that anymore. This sadness that was my “default” position is so far in my past that i’ve forgotten about it. Mind you, i don’t jump out of bed with a song in my heart—i’m not insane—but i get off on the right foot and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
One of the many great things about being sober? The darkness fades so much, i sometimes forget how lost i was.
i know a guy more sober than his 5 years. During a more emotional than usual share, he described the relief he felt upon desperately entering the program, saying through his tears, “The difference between a sliver of hope and no hope is huge.”
That you have chosen to visit this blog shows you have not given up. Your reading this proves you still have hope, and this is huge.
Now, continue to do the next right thing.
i’m not only a binge drinker, i’m a binge lifer. In my years of active drinking, i binge drank, binge slept, binge ate… Once i began there was no halfway so there was no end and i would only stop until i blacked out, threw up or bled from it.
At work the other day i was talking to a Normal (non-alcoholic) and i showed him what kind of peanuts i’d snacked on at lunch. When he saw the half-eaten bag he said, “Wow, I could never do that. I can’t not finish a bag of food. Once I have one, I have to have them all.”
Silly me, it was only later that evening at an AA meeting that i realized what progress i’ve made in the 2 years since i went sober.
And that…that is not Peanuts.