Monthly Archives: May 2012

Losing the World, gaining the Universe

I had a great weekend, went out of town for my eldest son’s soccer tournament, spent some quality time – just he and I.  Left home on a good note, it was our 15th wedding anniversary and the wife and I had some calm peaceful discussion about the nasty events of last week.  Had a nice anniversary day even though I didn’t think it would be possible.  For the most part I took a much needed break from my recovery obsession.  While I know it is good to think about my journey, one of my defects is overanalyzing everything – even the good stuff – and I needed a break.

Having said that, Alcohol and drinking still haunted me, and it needs to be discussed.

The wife called and updated me on the middle child’s baseball tournament, and also mentioned how my Little League associates were indulging in some beer pitchers at the game (it was a non Little League tournament where drinks were served), she mentioned they were asking about me.  I felt sadness, sadness that I would never be joining them again, sad that “fun Lance” was no longer there for them, and not just physically.  The next morning I started receiving some texts from an old drinking buddy neighbor.  I knew what they were doing and I miss it, but he is supportive so I gave him a call – turned out to be a big mistake, I just cannot stop going back….  While talking to to him I could hear another “friend” in the background, making sure I could hear, telling me about how my wife had come over and he had served her a “really good ice cold Corona,” he knows my situation.    What a fucking asshole prick I thought, not that he had done it, but that he felt the need to taunt me with that information.  I tried to tell myself that he didn’t understand and meant no harm, but the resentment hit me like a ton of bricks.  I took some action that I had read about in one of the stories in the Big Book for dealing with resentment.  I prayed for him, prayed for my higher power to give him everything I wanted for myself.  It helped, but thoughts kept creeping back in all day.

On the other side of the coin, my sponsor was checking in with me to make sure I was ok.  He was urging me to stay connected and go to a meeting down there, I looked up some meetings but didn’t go.  I found it a bit overbearing, but he was just trying to keep me connected and I have to admit that he probably had the right idea.  I also had 2 dinners with the soccer parents.  Out of 20+ parents only about 5 drank and nobody had more than one glass of wine or 2 beers (yes, the alcoholic is still counting right now), the coach had an O’Doul’s.  Normal drinking, good time, good meaningful conversation, no after party at the hotel pool.  I reflected on how the old Lance would have taken it further, matched their 2 beers and maybe squeaked one more in without sticking out.  If they had joined me great, I could take it even further, to the place I liked to go.  I had mixed emotions.  Once again I was sad, sad that in the past I could almost never drink like them, and therefore cannot ever again drink like them.  But mostly I was relieved, relieved I could be in a place where I felt comfortable, where getting shit-faced drunk was not the goal of the occasion, relieved that I could not drink and still feel like I belonged.

The contrast of the different situations in the two above paragraphs is slowly hitting home with me.  I realize that even in my sobriety, I need to leave that old place behind.  I must minimize my involvement with the old place and the old people and I honestly am not yet ok with that, I am still seeking it out, trying to prove I can conquer it with sobriety, but I have the realization that I cannot and I am mourning the eventual loss.  I am fearful to leave the past, and I feel guilty that I am taking their friend from them.  I need to connect with new places and new people, things that feed my new way of life.  I once thought it was just about going somewhere and not drinking, but it isn’t, and it is hard – I cannot tell you how hard it is.


The Call

This is going to be a hard post to write, and it’s likely to be a long one as well. I can easily take it to a really bad place for me, a place full of anger, resentment, accusations, unfairness and bitterness. I can also make it about learning and growth and find the positives, which is what I am going to attempt.

It was the eve of my 90 day milestone, and I was feeling great.  I had gone to a meeting that morning and spoken with a guy who had shown some interest in working with me. Because of my guardedness, I resisted labeling him as a “sponsor”, but I said I would be interested in “working with him”, leaving myself an easy out.  I did have a realization that I needed to deepen my work in AA. I was feeling a bit too comfortable, not wanting to drink, but really afraid of the next big blowup at home and whether I was really able to handle that situation. I knew I needed to get off the “plateau” but was unable to take any action.

Early evening found me at an English Pub, a going away party for some friends.  I think it met the qualification that “I had a reason to be there”, I felt comfortable, didn’t want to drink, had fun conversing with my drinking friends and had a nice conversation about my journey with another friend – which helped balance things out. I thought I was in control, but would soon learn how wrong I was. Being at this event put me in a situation where I had to take someone to another place to pick someone else up. I was already feeling anxious as I had a couple of kids home alone and my cell phone battery was low.  When we arrived at this other place (a party at a house) everything started to unravel. Everybody was really drunk, not just drunk, but really, really fucked up. Any social graces that would normally make people understand that I REALLY didn’t want a drink were long gone.  A guy (yes I knew him) threw grapes at me and sat in my lap.  People were staggering all over and saying the stupidest shit. I try hard to not have “holier-than-thou” thoughts in my sobriety, but it was really disgusting. Seeing this made me NOT want to drink, but I really started freaking out and I HAD TO GO.  My need to leave, immediately, was not taken well at all. I later realized that it was my fault, there were no boundaries and I had greyed the lines of what people could expect of me, by acting (and believing) that I was still in control.  Had I also treated that first event with more respect, and not believed that only my actions could control the outcome, it also could have all been avoided.

So, the situation had arrived, the one I was fearful of, the true test.  I was sitting in my car, having been asked not to come home, chain smoking and thinking that I had 2 choices:  I could go home and finish the argument, and actually become the bad guy that I already was, or I could go get a motel room and get really fucking wasted and forget about this shit.  Ninety days was starting to look a bit further away than it had in the morning.  Fortunately I didn’t act right away, because after a while a third choice came to me:  I could fucking call that guy I met this morning and see what would happen.  Ok genius, people have been telling you this for months, yet it didn’t even pop into your brain as an option at first?  Even then, my finger hovered over the touchscreen for what seemed like an eternity. Maybe this is just bullshit, maybe he is busy, maybe he doesn’t know shit about my situation, maybe he didn’t really mean for me to call anytime, maybe I can just handle this myself if I sit and have a few more smokes…..

I finally did it, I made the call.  We met, we talked, we read from the book, he helped me get grounded. I found a place to stay and avoided the first 2 choices that had come to my mind. I woke early, attended a meeting, announced my 90 days, and shared.  I am forever grateful to this person and have lost my unwillingness to label him a “sponsor”.

I spent much of my 90 day milestone changing my thinking about what I once considered a horrible, horrible situation. I had grown, and been able to reach out to another person for help.  I was also given a catalyst to get off the plateau and deepen my efforts into my recovery program.  I was reminded that even when my behavior is clean that I am not in control. Finally, and most importantly, I was reminded that I am powerless over alcohol, that it still owns me completely, even when I am not drinking.