Rigorous Honesty and a Day Count Reset ☹️

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I have finally owned up to the fact that I can no longer say that I have 1213 days of sobriety.  This has been a tough one for me.  Since I quit drinking on 11/30/13, I have taken opiates four times, an addiction I don’t readily own up to. I took them for the same reasons I used to drink, to not feel something that was painful.  It is the same behavior as drinking to mask my feelings,  I took the pills to make something less of a THING. To make it go away, however briefly.

I have gone back to AA and am giving it 100 percent effort this time around. When I first got sober, I did it online for the first three months, white knuckling it with the WordPress sober community.  I then decided to try an AA meeting. I found one where no one asked anything of me. No coffee making, no greeting, no commitment. Also no offers of sponsorship, nor did I asks. I just went one night a week, sat in a chair, said nothing, then went home. Just going through the motions.

I had a sponsor, but she lived in a different state, so we weren’t connected geographically, and were unable to attend meetings together. We weren’t able to get together in person and discuss my new sobriety the way I can with my new sponsor.

My current sponsor is tough, she expects a daily telephone call, and she expects me to show up at meetings, regularly. No half assing it this time.  I have been doing that, because there has been a hole in my sobriety. Without the meetings, I was back to white knuckling it, and just going through the motions. I wasn’t drinking, but if given the chance or the opportunity, I would happily gulp down a pain pill.

What I have found by attending meetings for the last three months is that  I was missing was the rigorous honesty. When you don’t have to be accountable for your behavior, you give yourself a pass and rationalize away anything.  And I have. I have done that four times when I have chosen to take opiates.

I have attended a lot of meetings in the last few months. I have been listening, and I have heard people tell on themselves repeatedly. I kept hearing the phrase rigorous honesty. It has stirred something deep in me, I have not been honest with myself, or within the program, and now it was time to own up to it.

In my mind I had kept my two addictions in separate places, never admitting the pills were as bad as the alcohol. I was sober because I didn’t drink. I kept up my day count. Nothing was going to stop my streak. Somehow, I discounted the pills, they weren’t my REAL addiction, so I kept going after each pill relapse as though nothing happened.

Except this time it was different, I had a new sponsor, I had to tell on self. That is what we do. When I first asked her if I should reset my day count, she said she felt that I was a bit too fragile and new at the program to do that, and we could let it go. But I can’t. The more meetings I go to, the more I realize that I have to reset my sobriety date. As I have relapsed, not once, but four different times. The pills and the alcohol are the same, they are both an addiction and they belong in the same bucket.

This morning I told my sponsor that I felt I needed to reset the date. The continued talk of rigorous honesty was getting to me. I am not being honest, I am a liar. I have not been sober for 1213 days, I have been cheating.

It is time to own up to it. I don’t want to, in fact it makes me cringe and cry. I can’t even think about getting another 30 day, 60 day, 90 day chip, it just makes me so sad. I am told I will feel better once I admit this. It will be a weight off, it will be the beginning, again, this time with rigorous honesty.

 

 

 

DRINKING DREAMS

relapse

I had my very first drinking dream last night.  I have read a lot about people having these types of dreams in early sobriety, I never did.  I was taken by surprise by it, given that I just celebrated 16 months of sobriety on Monday.

When I awoke this morning, the dream was still very vivid in my mind.  As I lay in bed, making sure all my parts were still working, I began to delve into what made me have that dream now.  Especially after all this time.

I have a trip to Maine scheduled for the end of the month.  It is a celebration for my step mother being elected the state President of a women’s charity group she is involved in.  My grandmother was a member, my step mother is a member, and for me to be able to attend her induction, she made me and her daughter members.  When I was first asked to attend the state convention where the award would be bestowed, it was four years ago, and I said “of course I will come”.  I figured I had four years, a lot could happen in four years, it was easy to say yes without real intentions behind the yes.

It is now four years later, and the convention is upon us.  An event that I thought was going to be small, intimate celebration has now blossomed into a full on party.

It is my impression that my step mothers installment as the President for the state of Maine in this charity has become an event.  It has become a THING, a rather large thing.  The small gathering has blossomed into a semi large family reunion of sorts.  My brother, his wife and two children are flying in from Missouri, and my step mothers son is making a special trip from Massachusetts.  None of these people will get to see the honor being bestowed, as it is a women’s only group, and you have to be a member.  The only people in attendance will be me, and her daughter.  The other family members have been invited for a post convention celebration.

My step mother is very excited about this position, and has worked hard to get it.  Because she wanted me there, she offered to pay for my airfare and hotel.  I picked out my flights, and she booked the hotel.  As you can imagine, there was conversation regarding these arrangements, just not full disclosure.

As the celebration got larger, I  was asked to include my daughter, who is only a two hour drive from Portland. I was more than happy to do that.  She is my heart and soul, and helps keep me grounded.  I figured this adventure would create a few trigger moments, and it would be easier with her by my side.  Plus, I had the paid for hotel room for her to stay in with me, great plan right?

Wrong.  I was informed, yesterday, that my step mother has booked to share a room with her daughter,  a woman whom I have not seen in 25+ years, and who is a black out drinker.  It was then casually tossed in that she and I will also be sharing a bed, because step mom was sure I wouldn’t mind.  I do mind, I really, really mind.

I have been under an extraordinary amount of stress over the last four months.  The stress has led me to question my sobriety regularly.  I have had far to many white knuckle days for comfort, and feel like I have been distancing myself from both my sponsor, and my meetings.  My mothers death has been an emotional challenge, and now we are packing our home and moving.  All catalysts to my old way of thinking, drown all discomfort with copious amounts of white wine, it will go away.

I also have a horrible time sleeping, crazy bedtime rituals, and hotel rooms are where I am at my craziest. (I travel with electrical tape for all of the little lights in the room.).  I have shared a lot of crazy with my family, but I really don’t feel the need for full disclosure.  Suffice it to say there are nights my husband doesn’t even want to be in the same bed, let alone room with me.

Needless to say, this information sent me into a tail spin.  I finally hit that wall that had been coming closer and closer. I had a major meltdown.  A crying, hyperventilating, rocking back and forth on the floor meltdown.  I would say that this has been lurking inside for quite some time, but the room and bed share were the straws that broke the flood gates open.

Once I composed myself, I immediately got on line, and booked my OWN room.  Easy fix.  Normal people would have just gone and done that without all the neurotic histrionics. Instead I got myself so worked up, that I no longer want to attend, my own room or not.

When my family gets together, every one drinks, it is what we have always done.  I don’t do that any more, and I have yet to find my comfort zone with not drinking around my family.  Old habits are hard to overcome.

With all of this fresh on my mind, I dreamt that I joined in with the drinking and the partying in Maine.  I was at the table having dinner, downing glasses of red wine, one after another, just like the old days.

All of this is disconcerting.  I know I need to be sober, but there is still a part of me that doesn’t want to be sober.  That girl wants to drink.  I hope she isn’t in Maine in May.

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AND THEN THIS HAPPENED…

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In my last post I was excited to begin a Big Book study with my Yoda of sobriety.  We worked together for 3 weeks. In that time, we had shared a lot of stores, feelings and emotions.  We had gotten close quickly.

We set a time for Wednesday at 1 pm to discuss Chapter 3, and the elusiveness of a higher power in my life.  I was excited. I was ready to embrace the concept, I was interested to hear how he had found God, and used him to guide his life and sobriety. I really felt like I was on a train pulling out of the station, and picking up speed.

Then the train derailed.

Tuesday afternoon I received an email from him.  He could no longer work with me.  Huh?

This person who had been guiding me, whom I trusted, shared my intimate thoughts, and alcoholic secrets with had just dumped me. Not only was I dumped, it was via email.  Seriously?

The reasons for no longer being able to continue our work together were lame, in my opinion.  Apparently there is a jealous girlfriend lurking some where who is not in the program, and clearly doesn’t understand the twelfth step.

To say I was hurt was an understatement.  I don’t know if it would have been less painful at a different time in my life, but I felt like I had been gut punched.

My reaction to this situation surprised me.  Then as I thought about it, I realized that I was as upset as I was because this was another loss in my life. He is some one I had gotten close to very quickly, some one who knew my secrets, and decided that they didn’t want to know me any more.  I felt like I had given him the keys to my diary, he read it and ran off.  I felt like he was just another person passing through my life with their own hidden agenda, and was it was disingenuous in the end.

If this happened at a different time in my sobriety and emotional life, it probably wouldn’t be bothering me as much. It comes at a time when I am struggling.  It comes on the heels of losing my mother, whom I shared all my secrets with.  It comes after spending a wonderful spring break with my daughter, and her leaving to go back to school 1700 miles away.   All of my emotional nerve endings are sitting on top of the protective layer of armor, and suppression I normally wear.

I know AA discourages people of the opposite sex from working together.  I broke the rules.  I thought that I was different, and believed that he was too.

I was wrong, and now I am paying the price.

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BIG BOOK STUDY

I have been attending AA meetings for about a year.  I have 15 months and 14 days of sobriety yet I still don’t feel the serenity. I am not happy, joyous and free.  Life has been a little rough the past few months, and I have maintained my sobriety throughout, but am I just white knuckling it, or am I truly sober?

I have yet to read the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous from cover to cover.  My rationalization for this is because it is too dated.  When I went to my first meeting, one of the men said to me, get the Big Book and read the first 164 pages.  I may have read the first 64 pages, then it went to the bottom of the reading pile.

I still took the book with me when we went away last summer, and to Florida this winter.  I did not open it once.  It could actually double as a paperweight right now.

Two weeks ago, an interesting “old timer” came to our little home group meeting.  This person is intriguing,has very long term sobriety and that sense of serenity surrounds him.  I was drawn to him, I needed to find out how he got that and has maintained it for 24 years.

We became Facebook friends, and immediately started using the chat feature to discuss alcoholism, AA, and the Big Book.  I outed myself, and told him I have not read it.  I got the usual reaction when I tell anyone from AA that I haven’t read the book; WHY NOT?

I knew the only way I would actually pick it up and read it is if I was held culpable.  I suggested we do a Big Book discussion group, all two of us.

Yesterday, we got together to discuss Chapter 1.   I was explaining to him that I still have not found a Higher Power, nor can I really commit to the concept of a Higher Power, the whole process seems to still illude me.  I have moments of YES iI think I have this, but it is not a constant ribbon running through my life. I do not feel it daily.

I then disclosed, that frequently when things get to emotionally painful, my go to thought is : DRINK!  Or DRINK + PILLS!  That was when he said, maybe you aren’t done drinking yet.  Followed by, frequently people need to relapse to really be ready to embrace this program.  There was also discussion about putting my sobriety first every day.  Do I do that?  I don’t know.

All of these months of ups and downs with being sober, and maybe I need to relapse to get this program?  How does that make sense?  Is relapse a prerequisite for finding serenity and letting a higher power guide my life?  Will I find the answers to all of this in the book that I have been using as a paperweight for over a year?

I guess I will find out.  Chapter 2 on Monday

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24 Hours After Someone Dies by Saul Seibert

24 Hours After Someone Dies:

Someone will ask you if you would like paper or plastic and the phone will ring because someone doesn’t know that someone has died or maybe they do and you think you know what they’ll say so you silence the call through your blue jeans and feel for your lighter…..it’s always in the last place you check.

The hymns that were sung moments ago are filled in with made up words that you can’t quite make fit.

One of your relatives says something stupid like, “It’s just a shame.”

I’ve said some dumb things before so I nod my head and look for an easy exit out of the small talk.

Everyone asks how you’re doing and so you lie.

There’s a lot of lying going on when someone dies but I don’t blame anyone. I lie a lot on good days so I feel a bit more justified when I lie on the bad ones. So there you are, a bunch of liars in a room where truth screams out at you from a lifeless body.

You have to be brave to touch a dead person, (because that’s what they are)……to kiss them and know they can’t feel it or smell your skin and then all of the sudden “love”, true unadulterated, pure, violent love is felt…..hard, like a slap against the face, knuckles and all. Your eyes dart around the room studying the surroundings, wondering if it’s time for you to take the stage with napkins in your pockets and that tight feeling in your chest. The lucky ones are too broken to care where the spotlight lands. But you’re not one of them, so you sing along to a song you don’t really know the words to……kind of like the hymn. It’s an irony, a bad joke in my mind.

What I mean to say is that the last memory you have of a person is when they are incapable of interacting with you. It’s one of the few things in life you experience alone.

So there I am, standing in line at Starbucks, loaded with lies and a six month old hangover.

The woman making my drink appears to be brand new at this and is taking way to long to simply make me a damn latte. I hate impatient people which puts me at odds with myself most of the time. She spills my drink and gives a nervous laugh and casts an anxious glance at me. “I’m so sorry,” she says.

“It’ll just be a minute. I’m so sorry.” A million and one smart ass remarks came to my mind but my grandmother had just died, so I said, “It’s no bother, I’m in no hurry.” But I kind of was.

There’s nothing anyone can really do that wouldn’t end in shit ton of guilt and regret. That’s why so many people drink.

There’s no guilt in involving other people, that is, unless you’re the abusive type. Sometimes I got a little nasty myself, but I’m not drinking now, and I remind myself to be nice to the coffee girl.

24 hours after someone dies everything is basically the same to almost everyone but you. But it’s basically almost the same with you, too.

But you hope it’s not. You have to do that alone as well. All that soul searching bullshit you see in the inspiration section at a Barnes and Noble. You gotta do that alone, as well, because the old woman standing in the aisle next to you is doing it alone and this stuff happens every hour of every day.

But I’m trying to believe in God or something. So all of this could be in question. And I guess I’m ok with that. I won’t read any of these sorts of books, I’m probably too proud.

The coffee is good, even though it’s not really all that good. I think that 24 hours after someone dies is the easy part in a way. You get to be broken, doing what is right in the days that follow, learning from a person you’ll never speak to again is the beautiful absurdity of it all.

I do hope I am becoming a good student.