Great refute by Katie Macbride to an article bashing AA.
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.
I got sober 15 months and 28 days ago. Getting sober was an ending to my drinking, my hungover self-loathing, my afternoon naps, and diligently watching the time waiting for wine o’clock,so I could begin the ugly cycle again. Getting sober was the beginning of becoming healthier; mentally and physically. I began to be responsible for my actions, and feelings. I started to develop better, deeper and more open personal relationships with the people I care about. Getting sober meant I had to deal with life on life’s terms, and feel those feelings I had been drowning in alcohol and prescription narcotics. Although not always easy, fun or even something I want to do, getting sober feels like it was the beginning of me as a real person. In retrospect, I wish I had had the fortitude to do it much sooner.
I have had one heck of a sober first year. I have written a lot about seeking and believing in a higher power. I have had great difficulty understanding giving my life over to this unknown anomaly and basically not being a believer. Looking back over the last 15 months of my life, I now have a distinct impression that I have had a guiding hand on my back the whole time. I have been through a lot of personal and emotional turmoil in the last 15 months. There have been beginnings and endings and beginnings again. The timing of these events has been unprecedented, and on a linear aspect, quite amazing the way it has all played out.
My life has come full circle,an ending has come to the new beginning that started 7 years ago. We have just sold our house in Tennessee and are moving back north to New York.
New York is where my relationship with my husband began. We ended our time there for a new beginning in the south with my son. He has since grown up, ended his time here, and begun anew in Illinois. His leaving the nest was very painful for me. I knew my job was to raise him with wings to fly, yet when it was time for him to use those wings, I wanted to clip them and keep him with me, I was not ready for the ending to this chapter of my life. He is flourishing in his new beginning, he is happy, making great money, and becoming the person I always knew he could be, what a great beginning.
When I ended my life in Massachusetts, I left my mother behind, as my son left me, it was time for me to move my life into a new beginning with a new husband and a new home. Experiencing the beginnings and endings in my mothers life were fraught with emotion. In September of 2013, I moved my healthy mother from Massachusetts to Virginia. In August of 2014, I moved my moderately sick mother from Virginia to Missouri. In February, upon her death, I was tasked with the chore of culling through her things yet again. My brother and I distributed, packed, stored and threw away the contents of my mothers life. I was involved in all of my mother’s new beginnings. Overwhelmingly followed by her devastating ending.
Throughout this time, I have been o loop
bserving my father in law head toward his ending He is now 99 1/2 years old and still living alone.
Our new beginning is going back for the ending. We are moving in with him to help him. We both know this is the beginning of the end for him, that is why we have made the decision to return north.
We will again experience a new beginning, we are lucky, right now it is on hold, the ending has to come first.
[I’m] Frustrated, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional
Face Everything And Recover
Not Using The Steps
Edging God Out.
Don’t Even Notice I Am Lying.
[Don’t get too] Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.
Happy Our Program Exists
Honesty, Open-mindedness, Willingness
Sober Person Offering Newcomers Suggestions On Recovery.
Good Orderly Direction
Believing In God Beats Our Old Knowledge.
Sobriety Losing Its Priority.
Any Change To Improve Our Nature.
People Relying On God Relaying A Message.
Solutions To Every Problem Sober
Keep It Simple, Sweetheart
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.
Given the state of our country, this is just an awesome piece on how things should be.
“I turned around for a quick glance to check what race he was.
Yup, just as I thought, the human race.”
All I wanted was a jolt of ground bean goodness…..what I got was jousted by corporate campaign to barista my way into an open conversation about topical events.
“Welcome to Starbucks…how may I help you.”
She asked with way too much enthusiasm.
“Ummm….yeah…let me get a café Americana….black….with soy milk on the side…and a brownie.”
She repeated back my order and asked my name.
I smiled and replied-
Her sharpie marker stopped just short of the Styrofoam cup. She looked up at me through the piercing in her eyebrow and said-
“Bingo….Bingo Medley…..its my porn name……” I replied with a smile.
She wrote it on the cup and said it would be ready shortly.
While I waited, I wandered around, and checked out the items on display shelf and pondered….
“I wonder…..would Chai Tea be proper to drink before…..or after a session of Thai Chi…..Or would the…
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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
There is a movement to take anonymity out of recovery. The premise is that remaining anonymous is synonymous with shame. If recovery has faces attached to it, people will begin to realize that addiction affects people in all walks of life. There are 23 million people in recovery.
The “old timers” and “Big Book thumper’s” stand by the 11th tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film.”
My home group consists of mostly old timers. Most have double digit years of sobriety. There is a lot of knowledge around the tables in that room, and I have learned so much.
A year ago, a newly sober man started to attend the group. Within a week or two, I had named him Blow Hard. He came into the rooms with an air of “I got this”, he has never asked for help or a sponsor. My opinion is he is a lurker, counting days, and sporadically attending meetings. In my opinion, he never really adds anything, and always makes some self serving comment about himself so that we all get that he used to be “somebody”. I am not enamored, and prefer it when he doesn’t show up.
There are a lot of men at this meeting, and only a few women. One of the ladies is absolutely lovely. Very gentile, very southern, loves to bake, and is the go to desert maker for any sober birthdays. Intuitively I knew that she regards her privacy, sobriety and anonymity as sacred. Unfortunately this was not clear to Blow Hard.
Blow Hard broke the cardinal rule of AA, he opened his mouth and broke lovely ladies (LL) anonymity. Blow Hard shared LL’s story with his wife, who then approached LL at church and regurgitated it word for word. LL was devastated and angry to say the least. LL shared this story with us two weeks ago. Blow Hard had not been at a meeting in weeks, so LL thought that the breach might have made him find a new group. Nope.
We have another gentleman, X, who sporadically comes to the Monday night meeting. I have been intrigued by him since the first time I heard him speak. I knew he had a lot of sobriety, and was very knowledgeable about the Big Book and AA. Each time he had attended the group, he had added a unique perspective to the discussion. I always felt there was more underneath and wished he would attend more often, so I could get some more of what he had.
The planets aligned Monday night. Blow Hard, LL, and X all were at the meeting. I could see by LL’s face that she was quite agitated that Blow Hard was there, and seated next to her. Just as the meeting began, X came in the door.
The moderator began, and asked for a topic for discussion.. X immediately seized the moment. He had just seen a post on Facebook from someone announcing their 6 month sobriety. He was incensed that the 11th Tradition had been violated. This set the topic of discussion. Anonymity versus personal disclosure.
As the discussion continued, I could see LL getting more agitated. She eventually blew her stack. She let it all out, she called him out on it, and then went on to warn us all to be very careful about what we shared in that meeting because it could happen to any one of us. Our private stories could be broadcast to anyone by Blow Hard, he does not understand the anonymous in Alcoholics Anonymous.
I do not broadcast that I am an alcoholic or that I attend AA and am in recovery. I share the information with people I trust and I am comfortable with, people I choose. I blog anonymously, but there are some bloggers who know who I am, and a little bit about me. I believe it is a personal choice, and I get to make it I also know that if all bloggers were anonymous, I would not be sober today. This is where I came to get sober, so many people helped me anonymously and personally, with names, emails and telephone numbers. I thank each and every one.
I can also understand the “old timers” adherence to the Big Book and the 11th tradition. It has worked for 75 years, why change it now?
The choice should always be your own, no one else should get to do it for you.
Leonard Nimoy, Dr. Spock from Star Trek, died yesterday from COPD; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Smoking tobacco is the most common cause of COPD. Smoking is an awful addiction, just like alcohol.
Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking results in more than 480,000 premature deaths in the United States each year—about 1 in every 5 U.S. deaths—and an additional 16 million people suffer with a serious illness caused by smoking. In fact, for every one person who dies from smoking, about 30 more suffer from at least one serious tobacco-related illness.
Leonard Nimoy took to social media after his diagnosis to let people know how bad smoking is.
Smokers, please understand. If you quit after you’re diagnosed with lung damage it’s too late. Grandpa says learn my lesson. Quit now. LLAP.
When I was addicted to cigarettes I ignored good medical advice. Addicts have lying ears. LLAP
Cigarettes don’t make anything better. Nicotine taken in any form is addictive. Look into mindful meditation instead. LLAP
Breaking the smoking habit is tough. Worth the struggle. Save the lungs. Living with COPD is no joke. LLAP
Nicotine is the hook. Smoke is the dagger. LLAP
My mother was diagnosed on October 2, 2013 with Stage IV lung cancer. She also had chronic heart failure, emphysema, and COPD. She was a smoker for 60 years.
Over the years my mother had a series of surgeries. I was with her for intake processing for each one. When the nurse would get to the question of smoking, my mother would get irritated, and answer in an unpleasant tone; “Yes, I smoke, but not much, three or four a day.” This was a lie, a big one. My mother smoked close to a pack a day for 60 years.
As with most addicts, my mother lied constantly about her smoking. I could hear her smoking when we talked on the telephone, I would question her, “Mom, are you having a cigarette?”, she would always say no. My children and I lived with her briefly in 2007. We walked in after school one day, and the place stunk like cigarette smoke. I said, “Hey mom, were you smoking in here?” Once again she denied it, even when I told her I could smell it, and the kids found her hidden stash of cigarettes.
She never smoked in front of me, but she would in front of my older brother. He stayed with her two years ago, and told me her condominium smelled like a bar after closing time. I guess she thought she could hide it from me, as though my brother and I didn’t talk.
When my daughter and I packed her and helped her move in 2013, everything was coated with cigarette smoke dust, especially the curtains. It was awful.
She finally quit smoking when she moved to Virginia at the end of 2013. It was too late. As she had never had any preventative testing because none of her doctors ever knew the full extent of her addiction, we had no idea how much damage had been done. Not until the horrible day In October when we received the news of impending death.
I hid my sobriety from my mother for almost a year. I glossed over it by saying that I had to get some blood work done, and was taking a break for a while. Even when I stayed with her in August, she didn’t know I was attending an AA meeting every Saturday. On Saturday mornings I would tell her I was going for a long run, I would run to the meeting, and run back, I was sweaty, so there were no questions asked.
In November, I went to visit her in her new assisted living apartment in Missouri. It was the visit before I left for Florida for two months, I thought it might be the last time I saw her alive -it was- so I finally told her the whole truth. Yes, I have quit drinking because my liver enzymes were elevated, but there is more to it then that, I have a problem. I drink too much, I consumed a huge bottle of wine every night. I told her I was going to AA, I showed her my 3,6,8 and 9 month chips. We had a long discussion about our family history of alcoholism, and how I had the bad luck of having genetic markers on both sides. It felt good to finally tell her the whole truth.
As we discussed addiction, she shared with me that if someone walked in the door right at that moment and offered her a cigarette, she would want to smoke it, and probably would. Even knowing that she had ravaged her body with the killing effects of cigarette smoke, she still felt the pull of that addiction, and the certainty of giving in to it. I understood completely.
During one of our last telephone conversations, she told me that she was so proud of me for admitting I have a problem with alcohol and doing something about it. She also mentioned that she had really cut back on her alcohol consumption as well. I choose to believe that was not because she was so sick, but because she was making a conscious decision to make a change.
As my brother and I were undertaking the horrendous task of cleaning out her apartment, I asked him where her wine and bourbon were, she always had one she was working on and a spare. It was very noticeable that there was none there. He told me he had gone over very early that morning to remove it all, just in case the devastation of her death caused me to decide to pick up. I was overwhelmed with his thoughtfulness and thanked him for that. He then shared with me that she really admired what I have done, and he felt that if she had lived a bit longer, she too would have quit drinking. We will never know.
Cigarettes killed my mother on February 4, 2014. If I had continued to drink, alcohol would have killed me.
Addiction is horrible, addiction kills. I choose to live, no matter how hard sobriety is, it isn’t harder than no longer having a mother.
I am slowly making my way through the steps. I started AA about a year ago. It took me quite some time to find a sponsor. ( I did not know you had to ASK someone, I thought someone would just offer. FYI to any newbies.)
My year has been complicated to say the least. We have been up and down the east coast numerous times. My son moved to Illinois in January, and two weeks later my mother lost her battle with lung cancer. To say I have been distracted would even cover half of it.
I have been on the precipice of the Sixth Step for months, but every time I started, another distraction would arise, and it would get put on the back burner.
For the past week, I have allowed my sorrow and depression about my mother to flow through me. I have done nothing but go to the gym, shower, put my pajamas back on, get in bed and binge watch “Shameless”. Between episodes I was working on an inventory of my character defects, and contemplating my progress moving through them and working toward spiritual and mental health.
My life is so much better sober. I am amazed every day at how the things that used to derail my piece of mind are easier to handle.
So here it is what I have done in the past year of clear headed sober thinking.