Then it hit me: I can never have another drink for the rest of my life. What a depressing thought.
The other day in a meeting, a newcomer shared that sentiment. Anyone who’s been in recovery for any amount of time can certainly appreciate that moment when the realization hits you like a truck: You can never have a sip of alcohol again. Ever.
The panic associated with that thought is so prevalent, it is no doubt one of the inspirations for the famous saying, “One Day At A Time.” The expression cautions the alcoholic: Don’t worry about not drinking for the rest of your life, just worry about not drinking today.
Three years into sobriety, i had a different reaction this time when the speaker said, “Shit! I can never have another drink for the rest of my life!?”
My first thought? “I should be so lucky.” Quickly followed by, “God willing.”
The idea that the sadness i’d made of my life as an alcoholic was over forever, put me in a good mood for the rest of the day. That the debilitating pain i felt in my bones and spread to others in my life has been eradicated as long as i don’t pick up, reassured me. The concept that i can never have another drink for the rest of my life filled me with hope.
i’ve stopped drinking–not for good, but for better.
i’ve recently been anxious and stressed out by others acting out in my real virtual world. The situation has left me incredibly tense and feeling less than adequate.
A few years ago, i would have dealt with this using the only tool i had at my disposal: alcohol. Now it’s more daunting because i still feel the same dread but i don’t have the option of drinking over it.
Fortunately, i have more than one tool in my box now, and i’d like to share them with you here in case they might help you, the next time you get a little wound up.
The Serenity Prayer
i stand by this old standby. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change (which means other people’s behavior), the courage to change the things i can (myself), and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Where are you now?
i say this to myself when i catch myself falling down the rabbit hole of my thoughts, because eventually i get so far deep that my ideas start chasing their own tails and i lose my sense of the real world. Asking myself “Where are you right now?” forces me to focus on the real world and my physical place in it.
Once one of my biggest defects of character, now i let myself postpone worrying. When i notice the anxiety ramping up, i tell myself to put off thinking about the situation until tomorrow. This is nice because i’ve noticed time and sleep have a great way of diluting pressure.
The Happy Ending
When the problem ends–and it has to end eventually, it’s just a question of time–the ending will be happy because i won’t have drunk over the stress. i’ll have won, and that feels damn good.
i’m Puzzled. Puzzled in the sense i feel like i’m in pieces, with rough edges trying to force myself to fit in. Yet no matter how hard i push, i’m still out of place and if you look closely you’ll see i don’t measure up.
It’s been a while, but i’m updating the GlosAAry page with a new definition:
An alcoholic who’s sober but still an asshole. Someone who put down the booze but still clings to the issues that put it there in the first place.
In my last couple of posts i talked about how well i’m doing and i’m doing pretty damn well, thank you. Now, this does not mean i intend to rest on my laurels our even find out what a laurel is, far from it.
As someone fighting to remain brutally honest with myself, i know there are still several areas of my life that need work. Like it says in the Big Book, we claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.
Here, then, are my rooms for improvement.
- Procrastination. i have made great strides in that now i check my mailbox every day and balance my bank account every evening (during my drinking days, i was so afraid of both of these that i ruined my finances, among other things). Still, the book i promised to send Celeste E Hall has been sitting on my dresser for months, and i still put off…
- Cleaning. My improvement here its noticeable because i now make my bed daily and wash dishes before i go to bed (usually), and i actually don’t mind doing my laundry and ironing every Sunday evening. But i’m supposed to clean the bathroom weekly and vacuum at least once a week and that’s less than regular.
- Comparing. My biggest personality defect of the moment. At work i’m unable to go a full day without worrying i’ve been given more work than my colleagues or that the boss prefers them. It really does take some of the fun out of my work day, and leads to the Poor Me syndrome.
Fortunately, i’m not beating myself up over these things, but i’m hoping to put these in my past and find out what my next set of challenges is.
What about you? Care to share any signs of improvement in your recovery or areas you’d like to continue to to improve? Leave a comment, we’d sure like to hear what’s going on with you!
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.
- Woke up to change the towels sopping up the plumbing leak in the bathroom, hallway and kitchen
- Was carrying my spill-proof coffee cup, two breakfast bars, my satchel and my backpack when i opened the front door to discover it was raining
- Had to drop/unload everything to get my umbrella out of my back pack
- It stopped raining 5 minutes later
- i realized my pants were falling down because i forgot my belt
- In the subway i was sweating so profusely because of the humidity that people started building an ark as i toweled myself off with a bandanna
- i knocked over my coffee and learned my spill-proof mug isn’t
- i mopped up the spill with my sweat rag and commenced sweating harder
- i got off the subway in a downpour that stopped the instant i struggled to open my umbrella
- i arrived at work to discover my watch had stopped.
Despite all this, i didn’t drink from the bottle of wine on the table at lunch. So yeah, when all is said and done, it was a damn good day.
i love writing this blog because i’m a hell of a lot more eloquent with the written word than i am when i speak. When i talk, i trip over my tongue and get emotional and my voice cracks and i forget to breathe…
Tonight, as i was setting up the coffee for AA, the secretary asked if i would share. i agreed because in AA i always say yes, but i wasn’t looking forward to it. i’m not much of a public speaker and i know the stress i demonstrate detracts from my message.
My share was kind of babbling and rambling but at least i didn’t get too shaky. However, while i was tripping over my own tongue, i stumbled on a truth.
As i was talking about all the challenges that i’m facing at the moment, i heard myself say,
It’s not easy, but i won’t let it get to the bottom of me.
As soon as i said it, i knew what i meant.
In the past, difficulties provided me a perfect platform off which i would throw myself into the depths. No more. Thanks to sobriety, i now have in my core something immoveable that life’s storms cannot move. i may feel rough on the surface, but deep down nothing will get to the bottom of me.