Posts Tagged ‘Recovering Alcoholic and Addict’

stressRecovery meetings are a big part of staying clean and sober because they get us out of our heads and out into the world and sometimes we just really need to be around people who are as bat-shit crazy as we are.

In case you are wondering what some of the signs might be for getting your ass to a meeting, here’s a few clues (feel free to add any):

  • Who knew the laughter of small children could be so irritating?
  • The dog’s incessant tail wagging is really pissing you off, why does it have to be so happy ALL the time?
  • You think you don’t need a meeting, what you need is an evening in watching TV.
  • You find yourself shouting obscenities at the cartoon octopus on TV – the one  on the commercial promoting household air fresheners – it just doesn’t make any sense!
  • You tell the Girl Scout Cookie seller to go shove the cookies where the…you get the idea.
  • You find the line in the ‘fast food’ restaurant isn’t fast enough and you take it out on the 16 year old serving the fries.
  • Taking recovery tips from Lindsay Lohan seems like a good idea.
  • When the check-out person at the grocery store tells you to have a nice day, you tell her to go f**k herself.
  • Someone cuts you off in traffic and you think it’s a good idea to  follow them to their house.
  • It’s been 4 hours and you’re still trying to come up with an interesting enough status for your Facebook page.
  • You’ve  listened to The Eagles’ Desperado 10 times today.
  • Watching Titanic just doesn’t make you laugh like it used too.
  • You’re on Twitter and there’s no time for meetings, you’re too busy twittering and tweaking (I mean tweeting).
  • What’s so cute about kittens anyway?

And last, but not least,

  • You find yourself writing a blog entry about going to a meeting instead of actually going to a meeting.


itchyscratchy2Unfortunately for this drunk, 90 days of sobriety usually signified both an achievement and the beginning of the end. I got quite a few 90 day chips in AA, it was what came after 90 days that was the problem. I’d start to feel better, mentally and physically and I’d start to get things back that I’d lost in the latest episode of screwing my life up. My job would be going good, my son would be spending more time with me or I’d decide to date again. In fact, when I think about it now, I realize that when I started thinking that I knew what was best for me, it was a sure sign that things were about to go to shit.  

When I’d first get sober, I’d eagerly go to meetings, get a Sponsor and start on the 12 Steps. I called my Sponsor every day, took time to read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and developed a network of friends who were in the same boat as me.  But, as the weeks went by and things got better, my life improved and I found that I got busy, I went to less meetings and I lost momentum in my recovery program. I was working on the 4th Step and it was just too much fucking hard work to write all my resentments down, after all I had a job to go too, a son to look after and a boyfriend to keep, all this other stuff could wait. Besides, no one was making me do the 12 Steps, it was up to me and I’d decided I was well enough to make it on my own. I didn’t need all this tedious recovery crap anymore.

It’s amazing, how when I adopted this viewpoint my life came undone very quickly. You’d think I would learn from making this mistake one or two times but I went through getting 90 days sober four or five times before the penny finally dropped. Finally, I learned that my way wasn’t working and the last time this happened I decided that NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENED, no matter how great I was feeling at 90 days, I was going to continue working my recovery program.  

So, as the dreaded 90 day itch started to rear its ugly head, rather than succumb to what my disease was telling me, which was the usual, ‘recovery is boring, your all better now, there’s so much more to life than this, you don’t need this shit’,  – I  worked harder on my program, finished that ‘dreaded’ 4th Step and before I knew it I was way past another 90 days and still sober.

These days, if I continue to do what I’m doing and work on a program of recovery, I’m hopeful that I won’t have to do another 90 stretch again. In fact the only time I really think about those days is when I’m explaining to my Sponsee how I continually fucked up because I thought I could ‘handle it from here’. My Sponsee is at the ‘I’ll take it from here’ point and all I can do is point her in the right direction, tell her what worked and didn’t work for me and the rest is up to her. 


young-lady-holding-head-from-binge-drinking As amateur night (New Year’s Eve) is fast approaching, I’m reminded  of some very sound advice that is given to people in early recovery:  Stay away from people, places and things that may  push our buttons  aka ‘triggers’.  That was easier said than done for me because when I  was a new in sobriety, it felt as though EVERYTHING was a trigger.  Waking up in the morning – trigger, Monday through  Sunday – trigger, ex-husband – trigger, having a good day – trigger,  having a bad day – trigger, well you get the idea…

I’ve since realized that everything seemed like it was a trigger to me  because in early sobriety, all of my feelings and life experiences reminded me of drinking – because up until then, that is all I had ever done. I drank when I was sad, glad, happy or mad, I drank in the mornings, in the evenings, alone and in bars – drinking was my life so everything reminded me of it and in my mind, steered me right back to it. All that being said, this time I was serious about my sobriety, so I decided that I would listen to the people who told me that I should avoid people, places and things that might be a trigger to me.  

People – It turns out that people are hard to stay away from (unless you live in a cave).  Like most people, I had an ex who had the knack of sending me into a tailspin by simply uttering the right (or wrong) words. These well placed comments had the effect of altering my mood from already precarious to ‘fuck you’ and before I know it I’m on the way to the liquor store. Avoiding speaking to my ex was not feasible because we have a son together. At the time, I had my son on the weekends and I called him on the phone every night when I didn’t have him so I had to talk to my ex on a daily basis. I handled this by keeping the conversation to a minimum and always directing it towards the arrangements with our son and his well being. If I got upset (which invariably happened) I would get off the phone, go to a recovery meeting and share about what was going on or call my Sponsor. What I tried to avoid was getting drawn into a fight that I knew my ex could easily walk away from but would leave me seething and looking for a drink to ‘calm me down’.

I also avoided talking to certain family members that had the tendency to wind me up. Like most people, I didn’t want to completely cut myself off from my family so when I did speak to them, I kept the conversation simple and direct and in the here and now. My life was all about what I was doing TODAY in my recovery– not how I had screwed up in the past or making more promises for the future.  Some of us still have friends and family that we drank with – at this stage in my drinking career, I had lost most of my friends and there was no one in my life that would actively participate in drinking with me; my reputation definitely preceded me, so I didn’t have this problem. If you do have drinking buddies and family that drinks, keep your distance as much as you can – you can’t afford to be in an environment where people are actively drinking around you – (more on this below.)

Places – In early sobriety I avoided bars, clubs, pool halls and some restaurants that I had drank in and also most parties. Sure, there might come a time where I could go to these places to eat or to a get-together with friends, but in early sobriety, I really had no business being in a place where I was so easily within reach of my fix. Staring at the liquor bottles lined up behind the bar, watching people sip on cocktails was akin to torture in my mind and I had no place being there. As the old timers in recovery say, ‘hanging out in bars is like hanging out in a barber shop – sooner or later you are going to get a haircut whether you went in there for one or not. ‘

Things – Some  ‘things’ that were triggers for me were things like concerts, certain movies that I may have seen while drinking, looking at old photos, reading old letters and cards and generally holding onto the past and my former life as a drinker.  I was no longer a drinker and with that came a sense of relief that I no longer had to wake up feeling deathly ill, unable to recall what I had done, unable to face family and friends and avoid looking at myself in the mirror. Sobriety is a new beginning, a time to forge new memories that are crystal clear, not fuzzy or fragmented and filled with self-loathing and when I looked at it that way, it definitely seemed more doable. And what helped me to stay on track in the beginning of sobriety was to stay away from people, places and things that had the ability to put my sobriety in jeopardy. 

rockTo me, the saying that someone is ‘stuck between a rock and a hard place’ sums up perfectly my addiction to alcohol because I couldn’t live with it and couldn’t ever imagine a life without it.  Needless to say, it’s not a great place to be. I met with a new sponsee today, she has 35 days sober and she’s in that place.  The fog is beginning to lift and she’s very nervous, anxious and desperate.  

It was our first real chance to get to know each other as we just met 3 days ago. It’s truly amazing how the program of Alcoholics Anonymous works, that by one alcoholic talking to another about  how it was for us when we were drinking, what happened and what it’s like now, – we have the ability to make a connection. By telling someone what a complete and total f**k up we once were (and sometimes still are) we can let a person know that if we can get sober there’s no reason why they can’t either.

We talked about our drinking histories – she started very late in life and I started very early. We talked about how each of us drank -she was a maintenance drinker, drinking every day and I was a binge drinker – holding off for a few days at a time until my body screamed for alcohol. There were other differences too, she has grown up children who have left home and I have an eight year old son who is very much in my face on a daily basis. None of that mattered though because we found that even though there’s a 2o year age difference, when it comes to our disease – there really is no difference.  

For both of us, we got to a place where we were physically unable to stop drinking once we had started. We had both tried at many different times to control our drinking, only to get to a place of complete and incomprehensible despair.  It was obvious when we were done talking that our disease isn’t choosy – it wants the same thing for all alcoholics and addicts and that is death – the slower and more painful, the better.

I didn’t tell her that it’s probably a good thing that she has got to this place. Because for me at least, the more desperate I was, the more willing I became to try anything to stay sober – even AA.  Sometimes, being stuck between a rock and a hard place can be right where we need to be in order to get us started on the journey of recovery. 

miserable_cat My thoughts are on a constant merry-go-round at the moment, over and over, just like a hamster  spinning in it’s wheel. I’m worrying about the future, I’m over thinking the past, I feel restless and  irritable. I haven’t been to a meeting in over a week, I haven’t talked very much with another  alcoholic, Instead, I’ve been inside my own head, full of self-pity and alone with my disease.

 My Sponsor once told me that no matter how new I was to sobriety, even a couple of days or a week – no matter how bad I felt, chances are there was someone in the rooms of recovery who was worse off than me. (At first I didn’t want to hear it because as far as I was concerned no one had it like I did.) Thankfully that idea was squashed when I followed the suggestion of my Sponsor and went up to a person at a meeting I attended who had just got their 24 hour chip. I only had a week sober, but it was six days more than this person had and I was able to talk to them about what I’d been doing in the last few days. I even offered to meet them the next day at the meeting so we could sit together. The woman smiled briefly and said ok, then she went on to say how nervous she was because she didn’t know anyone, I told her that I felt the same way too and we could be nervous together. I gave her my number and took hers too and the next day I called my new friend to make sure she’d be there.

I walked away feeling like I may of actually made a little difference in that persons day and for a few minutes I had completely forgotten about myself (which turns out to be a really good thing). This stuff actually worked and I found out that a sure fire way of getting off the pity pot is to be of service to another recovering alcoholic or addict. No matter how small that service might be, it can make all the difference to someone who is just as scared and lonely as we are.

The only trouble with all this is, I have a short memory and when I’m knee deep in my own shit, it’s really hard to want to step in someone else’s. Even though, time and time again, this is something that’s been suggested to me, it’s still a stumbling block until I actually get up and do something about it. The good news is that when I do get off my ass – the blue mood is miraculously lifted, even if it’s for a brief moment.

Yep, I think it’s about time to get off my ass and go to a meeting.