things most people don’t understand.

I recently finished a 6 month commitment at being secretary at a weekly Friday night AA meeting in town.  It was a rather large meeting with at least 100 people in attendance each week.  It was a speaker/discussion meeting where I had to find a speaker for each meeting and basically lead the meeting.  I accepted this position before I knew I was pregnant and it was interesting timing, to say the least.  The first 4 1/2 months of my pregnancy were really rough and it was pretty hard to rally to go to the meetings, but I went each and every week.  As my pregnancy progressed, it had gotten more difficult to move about and sit for an hour in uncomfortable folding chairs, but I did it.  Hell, if I can stay sober for almost 3 years, I can most certainly sit still for an hour.  Anyhow, I am glad to be done with my commitment. 

Last week, as outgoing secretary, I had to share my story with the group.  I wasn’t really nervous, as I had been in front of these folks every week for 6 months.  I told them about my experience, strength and hope.  I just let the words flow out of me, not knowing what I was going to say before I said it.  I have shared at meetings before, but each and every time, something different comes out of my mouth.  It’s all my truth, but the direction of my share always ebbs and flows.

There are things in AA that I don’t like, but there are things that I do.  I stayed with the positive, though and didn’t go into any of my thoughts on AA.  Rather I just shared my experience.  My life is dramatically different now that I’m sober.  I now remember my days and my nights.  I know who is beside me when I wake up.  I know where my car is parked, how it got there and that it is parked straight.  I know that I won’t have to fight off any hangovers or go to work drunk.  I don’t have to sneak booze at work.  I don’t have to drink every night after work.  And those are just a few perks of me not drinking, there are many, many more.

I’m still working on getting my driving record back on track.  But at least any accident I get into now won’t be because I’m drunk.  Someone was sure looking out for me when I was drinking, though, because for the amount of times I drove in total blackouts, had minor accidents and lost the battle with a pole, I was never pulled over for a DUI.  Maybe whoever was watching me knew I couldn’t hack it in jail and just figured the DMV would take care of me, which they have with fines, increased insurance rates and several points against my record. 

People often ask me if I stopped drinking because of Hubby, who is also sober.  I did not.  I did it for me.  For my life and sanity.  If I was a normal drinker, I would never have had to stop, but I’m not a normal drinker.  Hubby took me to my first AA meeting, but it was up to me from there.  He had to put up with the worst of my drinking, especially the downward spiral at the end.  I don’t know that I could have put up with me if I was in his position.  But we  all take on different battles.

I’m definitely not a buzz kill, though, as I still have a grand time wherever I am.  I’m now comfortable with who I am and know that the liquid courage I was drinking wasn’t really courage after all, but just a cover up for all of my insecurities.  I still have insecurities, but I work through them in different ways.  I don’t need to see the bottom of a bottle to do that anymore.

And while I still have twinges of wanting a drink, especially when I smell scotch or gin, I know that I become someone I don’t want to know as soon as I take my first drink, so that discourages me greatly.  I also don’t want little miss peanut knowing a drunk mommy.  I had my time with alcohol in my twenties and drank more than enough to last me the rest of my life.  I don’t regret my past at all.  I would rather have had a drunken time in my twenties than have a breakdown in my forties and go nuts then.  Now, I’m not saying that can’t happen, but I’m glad I have at least experienced a lot of stuff so far in my life that I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything so far. 

I still flirt like mad, but I don’t take it farther than it should like I used to.  I don’t have regrets and live my life as it should be lived.  I try to be in peace and harmony.  Sure, I have tough days, but I know I will get through them.  I have a great network of friends, most of whom have been with me for years, so they know the real me.  I have an open mind and take opportunities as they come.  I try not to complain about too much, and if I find I am complaining more than normal, I do something about it.  Nothing annoys me more than people who constantly complain and do nothing about the situation they are complaining about.  Sure, change is hard, but you sure feel better when you do something to make things better for yourself.  I have learned to stand up for myself, even if it means being blunt or possibly hurting someones feelings, thought that is never my intention.  

At the meeting last week, someone commented that I was isolating because I didn’t call my sponsor often and don’t go to a lot of meetings.  For me, doing those things don’t keep me sober.  Sure, a meeting sometimes helps when I’m feeling down.  In the area that I live in, I just don’t relate to the people who are in the program.  They are either older and retired, or young and emo.  I don’t fit into either category.  There are some single moms on welfare and several really hard core people.  I know they all mean well and are all doing the best they can, as am I.  There is just an odd sense of disconnect.  It’s just hard when the only connection I have with this group is the fact that we have trouble with alcohol.  I am not saying I’m better than any of them, just different.  Hubby has agreed that where we live has an interesting mix of people and that there has been better sobriety in some of the other places we have lived.  I talk to my close friends who are not in the program when I am feeling squirrley.  They know me and understand me.  They don’t tell me to read a passage in a book to see my way clear, and they care about me.  They don’t tell me to let go and let God handle everything for me and things will turn out fine.  To me, this is all about me.  I am the one that is not drinking.  It is my choice to pick up a drink, not some higher power.  I believe in myself.  People in the program tell me they love me ~ which I always think is so odd ~ but they don’t know me, nor do they care to really get to know me.  My relationship with my sponsor is very strained because I am not hardcore like she is.  I respect that everyone works things differently, I just ask that they do the same for me, so for the most part, I just keep my mouth shut about how I am really feeling.  I have so much tough love around me in my life, I don’t need it from my sponsor as well.  I respect her and her lengthy sobriety, but I’m not at the point where I just listen and don’t comment back to how I am really feeling. 

I am glad that I no longer have to compete for attention at the local bar or brag about how much I can drink.  And I know that people like me for who I am and not because I am making an ass out myself while being drunk.  I can make an ass out of myself being sober, thankyouverymuch!!

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6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Doc on July 8, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    well said. I am majorly proud of you, & hope to see you soon or the next time you are in town which understandably might be awhile with LMP on her way.

    take care, bear and keep blogging. get yourself some ad revenue too. you’d be amazed how that can change your relationship with tweeker bosses.

  2. great post, shell…thanks for being so real and honest!

  3. thanks, doc. you started me on my way after we had lunch that one day. i still have that little elephant, too.

    and thanks, sally. that means a lot.

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this. {hugs}

  5. I just wish that i had your strength…. You are my hero and I am soooo proud of you…

  6. Argh! I hate the Big Book thumpers. They drive me nuts!!! And the ‘oldtimers’ who constantly take your inventory. Grrr. That’s why I’ll be glad when my stint in Intergroup is done and over. That’s awesome about the secretarial post. 100 people?? Wow. My home group only has about 30, but we get to sit outside (which means I don’t have to leave the meeting to smoke ;). My term as Big Book Study sec. ends this month. Having the commitment and service changed my sobriety by leaps and bounds, but it will be fabulous to have a break! And I understand about the ‘variety’ of people. For some reason I’m in the group with all the felons and construction workers ;). You know, you actually sound like one of my good buddies in the program. She struggles with the ‘cookie cutter’ mentality too. I always tell her to take what you need and leave the rest. Whatever keeps you away from that first drink! (ps.. Sorry I’m late! Somehow I missed this post).

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