What Effect Does Alcohol Have on the Body? (Copied from Sober Nation)

What Effects does Alcohol Have on the Body?
Alcoholism is an overwhelmingly present issue. It is a very powerful and damaging disease that is very capable of taking your health for a horrific downfall if left untreated.

With the consistent abuse of alcohol or someone suffering from alcoholism, there are short- and long-term effects on the body. But what someone may not realize is that the short-term all too often turns into the long-term and then you have reached an entirely new obstacle.

So what happens when you drink alcohol? Sure, it all seems well and good until you over drink. Who has ever had an experience in which you drank too much, became ill and swore off drinking all together! I know I have.

However, one thing is certain: Continuing to consume alcohol will bring upon uninhibited feelings tied with possible dizziness, slurred speech, possible aggressiveness and violence, emotional ups and downs and a sense of false well-being. Then you can look forward to the next day…the infamous hangover. A typical hangover which results from too much alcohol will cause headache, nausea, and fatigue.

While many people consume alcohol and willingly endure these short-term effects without having any sort of trouble or difficulty stopping, some aren’t so willing to stop and become addicted. However, there are still short term effects that should be noted.

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Short-Term Effects

Alcohol is absorbed into our system through the walls of our stomach and intestines, which is why people get intoxicated more quickly on an empty stomach. Alcohol is processed by the liver, which is the only organ that produces the proper enzyme. When a person is drunk, they generally go through different “stages.” Starting with euphoria, as a person drinks alcohol they move into a stage of lethargy, followed by confusion, stupor, and coma or death.

Here is a list of some of the common short-term effects of alcohol on our bodies, which worsen and can become severe or life-threatening as more alcohol is consumed.

Flushed face or red blotches on the skin
Impaired fine motor skills
Sedation
Impaired memory
Lack of muscle coordination
Poor balance
Blurred vision or other impaired senses
Impaired ability to speak
Dizziness
Numbness to pain
Nausea or vomiting
Unconsciousness
Inability to create new memories
Decreased heart rate
Difficulty urinating
Respiratory depression
Long-Term Effects

For people who drink a lot of alcohol on a regular basis, the effects on their body can be quite significant. The liver is the part of the body that’s most affected. Long-term alcohol use can lead to a fatty liver, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and inflammation. The liver will not work as well and fewer nutrients and oxygen will reach the liver cells, which will eventually lead to liver failure.

Here is a list of more parts of the body that are affected by frequent alcohol consumption and how they’re affected:

Heart: Heavy drinking can raise blood pressure and lead to heart arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy, and stroke.
Brain: The brain’s communication pathways are impaired, which causes many of the short-term effects of alcohol, such as lack of coordination and memory. With heavy drinking, some damage to the brain and its communication pathways can be permanent.
Pancreas: Alcohol makes the pancreas produce a toxic substance that can lead to a swollen pancreas and swollen blood vessels in the pancreas, which impairs digestion.
Kidneys: Alcohol enlarges the kidneys, impairs their ability to function, and can lead to kidney disease and kidney failure.
Immune System: Heavy drinking lowers the body’s defenses against disease and infection.
There are many other ways that alcohol can affect the body in the long-term. Frequent, long-term alcohol consumption can also lead to these diseases and conditions (directly or indirectly):

Cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, breast, liver, and colon.
Gouty arthritis
Pneumonia
Tuberculosis
Hyperglycemia
Hypoglycemia
Malnutrition
Nervous disorders like dementia and neuropathy
Obesity
Psychological disorders like depression, insomnia, and anxiety
Fetal alcohol syndrome
The long-term effects of consuming alcohol will most definitely lead to some sort of damage to vital organs such as the liver and the brain. Oftentimes, alcoholism will lead to permanent damage. Other long-term issues entail a lack of good nutrition, as the alcoholic is focused on the drinking rather than eating properly. They also may suffer financially, as it is very difficult for someone to balance the disease of alcoholism and a commitment to employment.

There is a thin line between drinking alcohol in moderation and having it consume your life. Alcoholism often begins with casual and social drinking and then turns into a long-term lifestyle. No matter what your decision, to drink or not, the best thing you can do is be as aware as possible of all the dangers of alcohol running rampant.

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How do you feel about Anonymity in AA?

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This was the topic of the meeting Monday night.  The moderator chose it.  He is from Canada, and he had printed the story of Rob Ford’s return from rehab.  He is running again for Mayor of Toronto, and has stated that he can’t promise he will stay sober.   He is quoted as saying, “I’m taking it one day at a time, I did not drink yesterday, I haven’t drunk today.”    Is that an abstract reference to AA?

Bill Wilson refused an honorary degree from Yale because he did not want to break his anonymity.  He is quoted as saying, “If I don’t take this it will act as a terrific restraint on big shots and power seekers in Alcoholics Anonymous.”  

The eleventh tradition states that recovering alcoholics should,  “maintain personal anonymity at the level of press radio and film.”

Another principle of AA is service to others, you can’t keep your sobriety unless you give it away.

It is stated in AA literature,  “It is important that we remain anonymous,” the founders wrote in the preface to Alcoholics Anonymous, “ because we are too few, at present, to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which may result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional folk, we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event.”

But, in this age of instant information, 24 hour news cycles, and the pervasive presence of paparazzi, how does one maintain anonymity in recovery, and is it still important?   If it is, how do we give away what we have, and remain anonymous at the same time?

I spoke about the movie The Anonymous People, and ManyFaces1Voice.org, both of which are trying to “engage and mobilize the newly emerging constituency to transform public attitudes and policies affecting people seeking or in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs. Whether behind the scenes or on the front line, every recovery voice is needed.”  

Kristen Johnson, from the television show 3rd Rock from the Sun is a very vocal advocate of taking the stigma and anonymity out of recovery.  She believes that the shroud of anonymity keeps the negative stigma perpetuated about recovery.

Most of the group Monday evening did not agree with this theory.  A lot of the old timers kept quoting  “We are to place principles before personalities”.

I know that my fear of being recognized, or recognizing someone at an AA meeting kept me from going for the first 3 months of my sobriety.  I live in a small community where there is a local meeting.  I was afraid to go, but I knew if I had to drive any further, I would never go.

My fear was realized as I struggled to get through the door and sit down.  Across the table were two people that I had worked with the previous summer.  I was mortified.

That was then.  Today, I am less shy about my membership in the group, yet I still do not readily share the information.  I still feel embarrassed that I let this situation get so out of control.  That is my own shame that I will have to work through.

Recently we have seen headlines about Robin Williams,  Portia de Rossi and Zac Efron all attending rehab.  They are not afforded the cloak of anonymity due to their profession.

How do you all feel about anonymity in recovery, and specifically in AA?  Please discuss.

 

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I don’t know what to do….

 

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My husband has been away since April 18th.  He went to see his 98 year old father, check on his health and attempt to get him to understand that it is no longer safe for him to drive.  For some reason, the state of NY allowed him to renew his drivers license for an absurd amount of time, and it doesn’t expire until 2017, at which time he will be 102 years old.  If he is still alive, and moving around, he will still think he belongs behind the wheel of a car.  Stubborn, selfish man.

My husband and I have been in a really rough patch of late.  He retired, my college age son moved back in with us after graduation, is under employed, and I quit drinking.  Life has been stressful, to say the least.

I feel the majority of the stress comes from my husband.

Prior to retirement, he was depressed that he felt he still HAD to work.  He is a cardiologist, and his job was very stressful.  Since retirement, he has been depressed because he feels as if he has no value any more.  He is upset, stressed and depressed that my son is living with us while searching for a job.  He is depressed because he feels that he suddenly got OLD.  He is stressed over the situation with his father, and trying to manage it while living 1700 miles away.

His biggest stress and depression comes from money.  Not having enough money, setting up living trusts, changing his will to take people out, put people in, and the constant monitoring of the stock market.  A lot of his daily mood is tied to the NASDAQ.   He lives his life in the past, I shoulda, I coulda, if only I woulda.  Ebeneezer Scrooge does not hold a candle to this man.

He allows the situation with my son living here to ruin any given day, for no apparent reason.  My son realizes how my husband feels and makes every effort to stay out of his way.  The situation is temporary, but we have no end in sight.  I am not happy about it either, but he is my child, and I love him.

I am walking on egg shells constantly.  I am trying to keep peace, meanwhile feeling like I am always sitting in the calm before the storm, or the warm spot in the lake.

In short, my husband is sucking the life out of me with his moods, and the fact that he will not admit to and deal with his depression.  I can not talk to him as he is in denial, and we just go around in circles.  I am at his mercy as he controls the purse strings, and I do not have an income.  (Plus, despite all of the above, I do love him.)

I am working hard at being sober and staying sober.  I am attending meetings, and I have a sponsor.  I am trying to find peace within myself, searching for a higher power and working toward serenity.  I  have done a lot of work on all of this while he has been gone, as it has been easier.  My moods are not on a constant roller coaster depending on what comes out of my husbands mouth, or how miserable he looks when he gets out of bed in the morning.  I am trying to find the wisdom to realize I can not change this.  I feel like I need more time.

My husband comes home tomorrow.

I wish I could say that I am looking forward to this, but I can’t, and I am  not.

I don’t feel that I have had enough time to set a good foundation for realizing I can’t change this situation.  I am a fixer by nature.  I am a middle child, I am a Libra, I have always worked so hard at maintaining balance.  I have done it all my life, it is hard to let go of trying to control things, even though I really have no control.

Intellectually, I have accepted that I can not change him, or our current situation with my son.

Emotionally, I have no idea how to hold onto the wisdom of that and not keep trying to fix everything.

I feel I need more time, more tools, and more practice.

I have 24 more hours.

I don’t know what to do.

 

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120 Days

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To be honest with you I thought I would feel much better by now.  I really thought the cravings and difficulty of going  out where people are having drinks,  would also be gone.  I was hoping that I would have stopped avidly watching others drink, and wondering WHY I can’t.  I thought I would stop counting people’s drinks,and  being hyper aware of all of the alcohol in my environment.  It hasn’t stopped.  I don’t feel comfortable.  The minute I go somewhere that alcohol is being served, I feel my skin begin to crawl.  

It isn’t that I want to drink; I just don’t want to be around people that are drinking.  I don’t want to go to restaurants or bars.  I don’t want to look at lovely glasses of wine, frothy beers or beautifully colored frozen drinks.  It is sensory overload, and I don’t like it.

My husband has a drink every night, while he watches the news, that doesn’t bother me at all.  Maybe because he puts it in a plastic cup and I can’t see it.  Maybe because it is vodka, and I don’t like it. 

I am also disillusioned about my husbands response to my being sober.  I though he would be more involved, happier for me, and keep track of when I hit major milestones, like 4 months.  He was hyper vigilant about the amount of money being spent every month on alcohol, but I get no congratulations for NOT spending that money anymore.  It was a HUGE thing every month when he balanced the check book, now, not a word, not one, ever.  And, let me tell you, he knows, he watches every friggin penny that is spent, how hard would it be for a pat on the back a shout out?  Hey, in the 120 days you haven’t been drinking you have saved us about 1200 dollars, thanks!  You are really doing a fabulous job.  Nada, zilch, nothing.

He also keeps saying things like, I feel guilty having a drink around you.  What the fuck and I supposed to do with a statement like that?

I feel like I am pushing a boulder up hill right now.

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Isn’t this supposed to get easier?  It seems like it is just getting harder.

Book store score

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I got all of these at the used book store for under $30.00.  Big score!  Although, I should have looked a little more closely at the “Food for Thought” book.  It is for over eaters anonymous, but the inspirational thoughts translate to alcohol easily.  I started my morning with the daily readings in both of the inspirational books.  Positive thoughts are a nice way to start the day.

My husband went to the book store with me.  As with most spouses of a newly a sober person, he seems to not know what to say, when to say anything, or how to express his feelings.  He was curious as to why I wanted to get the books, which I misinterpreted as negativity.  When I told him my sponsor recommended them, I felt as though he was giving me a impugning vibe.  I asked him if there was a problem, and  he said no. He just doesn’t know what to think.

We went our separate ways in the book store, which is huge.  I found the books, and wandered over to the fiction isle.  I had set my stack of AA books on a shelf as I was looking at fiction author trying to determine if I had read the book.

He came into the isle, and asked if I was ready to go.  I said sure, and proceeded to pick up the six books.  He just looked at me with this sadness in  his eyes, and said, “Oh honey.”

I came undone.

Tears started streaming down my cheeks, and I asked him if he was ashamed of me.  He just hugged me, as I tried to get myself together, and said NO, he is just so sorry it is so hard for me.

Sometimes the support I don’t think he has for my process is just stuffed away because he doesn’t know what to say.  I misinterpret his silence as condemnation when he is just as confused and heavyhearted as I am.

Guess who is coming to dinner?

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My husband and I don’t socialize much.  We moved to a retirement village, unknowingly quite a few years ago, and just don’t fit in.  Up until August, the hubs still worked part time as a physician, and most of his patients came from our community.  I am quite a bit younger then the general population here, therefore, I don’t have any female friends.  It has been difficult to find other couples that have similar interests, and haven’t been a patient of the hubs.

We met a couple through the hubs golf group.  They are more in his age group then mine, but we seem to have hit it off.

They are nice enough, although she can be a bit overbearing, but we both really liked him.  They both drank, a lot, so we enjoyed their company, most of the time.

We had them to our house for Thanksgiving, along with my 22 year old son.  She had quite a bit to drink, as did I.  During the after dinner conversation, she began a long monologue about sex and dildos.  While she was speaking she was directing a lot of the comments to my son, along with touching his arm, and leg.  It was uncomfortable to say the least.

I tried, many times to change the topic, but to no avail.  After that evening, I made a decision to not socialize with them again.  We liked him, but she was over the top, too much.

Not socializing with them, or with anyone for that matter has worked well for me in my new found sobriety.  I don’t have to dodge the land mines of why I am not having a drink.   I have my at home routine, and it works, and I am not drinking.

I guess I couldn’t stay in that cocoon forever.

Last week the hubs and I were discussing our abysmal social life, and trying to figure out ways to engage with people and  to make more friends.

The telephone rang, and it was the woman from Thanksgiving  inviting us for dinner at their house.  The hubs and I had a long discussion about going or not going.  The pros, we were invited out, the cons, she is a pain and talks to much, and always mentions sex.

We decided to go.

Once the decision was made, and the evening arrived,  panic struck.  My first sober dinner evening.  With people I used to drink with.

How will I politely decline a drink, they know I drink.  I really didn’t want to get into my personal stuff, she talks too much, she is a gossip.  Not that anyone is interested, but I don’t want to be hair salon fodder.  I had come up with the idea of telling them I was training for a road race, they know I am a runner, so that should work.  Dishonest as it was.  I ran it by the hubs, and asked him to have my back.  He suggested honesty might be a better way to go, but let it be my call.

I haven’t been having too many cravings to drink, that all changed as I  started to get ready to go out.  That was when I normally would have my first glass of wine, my pre-game glass.  It was then that I became really uncomfortable with the idea of going out for the evening.  I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to be put on the spot.

I started to freak out.

This is the email I sent to my sober pen pal:

Feeling a little freaked out about tonight. 

I will hang in there, but I just wanted to tell you.

For some reason, I can’t talk to the hubs about this stuff, sad and weird.

I need to remember to tell you about the AA situation.  I am going back to that meeting, changing now would be another whole THING for me.  I need less things right now.

I have to go get dressed.  Can I wear my pajamas?  Seriously, why can’t I?  Comfort zone…

I am so overthinking this; I looked up the date of a race I could be training for.

I really don’t like these people that much.

 I just puked in your email. J

When we arrived, I was offered a glass of wine, I said no thanks, seltzer water please.   She looked a little surprised, I followed up with, I have quit, and that was the end of it.  She did try to delve a little deeper later in the evening, but I brushed it off quickly with comments about my health. End of my story, I deflected the topic by asking something about her.

The evening went fine.

As I have been told SO many times, no one cares or notices that I am not drinking.

I went with the honesty route.  Even though it was awkward for me, I felt it was the best way to go.

I wasted a lot of time and emotional energy on something no one but me,  even cares about.  

This  morning I woke up feeling great and  clear headed.  I had survived, and honestly what was I so worked up about to begin with?

Sober dinner party, I didn’t drink, and no one cared.

Another first checked off the list.

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Recycling; No longer bins of shame

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img_8945Due to the “extreme” weather we have been having here in the southeast, meaning about 5 inches of snow, our garbage and recycling were not collected on our usual day.  I was proactive and got the garbage to the curb yesterday afternoon, but not the recycling.  I figured that I would have plenty of time this morning to carry up the recycling, because with my rocking new sober sleep schedule I have been up by 7 every day.  Of course, not today.

I awoke at 8:15, and to my amazement, the trash and recycling trucks had already been through the neighborhood.  Damn!

We live in a nosy neighborhood.  Retired people who have nothing better to do than watch your house, and look at your trash while walking their dogs.  One day while I was working in my yard a neighbor stopped by, and actually commented on the amount of wine bottles she saw in our weekly recycling.  (I know, really, she must have already watched all of her grass grow and paint dry.)

This comment, of course, irritated me.  So I began to rearrange the recycling in the bin before I took it to the curb.  Wine bottles on the bottom, paper on the top.  That was 6 years ago, when I was drinking in “moderation”.

As the years have passed, and my drinking has escalated, we added an additional bin.  I told my husband and myself, it was due to all the junk mail, and medical magazines he get, and of course my goal of reducing our carbon footprint by recycling everything possible.  We were the only people on our street who filled two bins each week.

The recycling bins became bins of shame. download (2)

Each time I finished off a bottle of wine, I would take it out to the bin, lift up all of the junk mail, and other assorted things, and plop the bottle at the bottom.  I was hiding my drinking from my husband, and the dog walking neighbors.  I was also trying to hide it from myself.  If I didn’t have to see all those empties, they didn’t really exist.  I think the only ones who were tricked were the dog walkers, they may look, and count, but they don’t dig through trash.  (At least I  hope not.)

We have always had two full recycling bins every week.  Stacked tall next to the trash can.  These bins contained my dirty little secret, all of the weeks empty wine bottles.

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After carefully covering up the evidence, I would haul the two bins to the top of the driveway for pickup.  The bins were always overflowing, and heavy.  I  knew when the    recycling truck was in front of our house, I could hear all of the glass clanking into the truck.  It sounded like we had hosted a party, every week.

This morning, when I realized I had missed the pick up, I went to the garage to see what  I was going to have to do with all of the overflowing recycling during the next week.

Only one bin was full, it was tucked neatly inside of the empty one beneath it.

I never thought quitting drinking would be the real thing that would seriously reduce my carbon footprint.

Just one more reason to remain in my sober car. (Thank you for the car ride Belle.)

My Father’s Affairs’s, My Mother the Doormat, Part II

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My father moved out or our house for the first time during my first year of college.  He moved into an apartment in the town he worked in, about 25 miles from our home.  He lived there for about 4 months.  Then he had second thoughts, and it was around the holidays, so he and my mother “reconciled”, and he came home.  Merry Christmas everyone!

I don’t know how long he was he stayed that time, because after Christmas I went back to school.  He moved out again, and this time, moved in with his girlfriend, Ann.  His problem with this relationship was that Ann had two small children, 7 and 4 years old.  My father had two in college and one in high school.  He was torn, he loved Ann, but really did not want to raise another family.  This lead to a large amount of conflict, unfortunately, for all of us.  There was also the age gap, he was 45, and she was 27.  Only 10 years older than me.  She was 10 when my father was having his second child….

I was dealing with the mess my father left behind, my mother.  I would come home from college on weekends, and she would just sit and sob.  Of course when she found out I had known that Dad had planned on leaving, it did  not sit well.  It created a chasm in our already strange relationship.  Mom had never really “liked” me.  She had always felt that I was competition for my father’s attention and love, but I was all she had during this terrible time. So she took the comfort where she could get it.

I can’t really say how many times my father moved in and out. I wasn’t there for a lot of it.  I can remember him using our home as a hotel.  He would have a fight with Ann, and storm out of their apartment, and come back.  He would let himself in, get into bed with my mother in the middle of the night, and surprise us at breakfast.  Sometimes, he would sleep on the couch in the den.  I do know that when he was home, he was either shitfaced, or passed out from having had too much to drink.

The craziest (loosely worded) part of all of this was that Ann would call our house looking for my father the morning after one of these events.  My mother would invariably answer the telephone, and actually hand the phone to my father.  As a teenager, this emotional triangle was too confusing, and honestly too fucked up for comprehension.

I used to ask my mother why she didn’t change the locks, and not allow him access.  After all, he had chosen to move out.  Mom got very angry and screamed at me, telling me, “I don’t understand”.  She was right.  I didn’t understand then, and I still don’t to this day.

My father had two women, and could not choose between them.  He was attending counseling with my mother, but would leave the sessions to go back to the apartment he shared with Ann.  During this time, he had changed jobs, and was relocating to another state.  He took both Ann and my mother house hunting, on two different weekends.  I was the one who ended up telling my mother what was going on.  I did not want to see her leave her job, friends and home to move to a new state just to have the drama continue.

The last episode in this ongoing drama played out while I was home on winter break.  I was invited to my boyfriends house for dinner, and had accepted.  When I arrived home, the front porch light was off, this was always and indicator of trouble.  As I entered the house, my father was sitting on the stairs,waiting in the dark, another ominous signal.  He started screaming at me.  He wanted to know why I hadn’t been home for dinner, as that was “Family time”.  I was never one to back down from confrontation, so I gave it right back to him.

I told him he had a lot of nerve.  He was the one who had been gone for two years, had installed a revolving door on the front of our house.  He was in, out, in, out.  I told him he was miserable to be around, mean, and nasty.  I said that none of us wanted him there, so he should pack his bags and  go back to Ann,as it was  obvious that was where he wanted to be.

An hour later, he did.

He packed and left.

During our loud confrontation, my mother hid in the laundry room.  I am sure my father must have spoken to her about him imminent departure, but I was not privy to that conversation.  Later, after I had gone to bed, my mother came into my bedroom and had a complete breakdown.   She began screaming and yelling at me.  She asked my why I made him leave, and why I had to say what I said.  It was a very ugly and painful scene.

Dad moved to a new state with Ann and her little children, my mother began sleeping around like the town whore, and I went back to drinking, drugs and added a huge dose of therapy.

It took me 15 years to reconcile all of my crap with my father.  I finally found a therapist that gave me the best advice ever.  She said, you don’t have to have a relationship with your father that causes you pain.  If he were your neighbor, and you didn’t like him that much, how would you treat him?

That is where we are today, I talk to his wife, but rarely to him.  It no longer bothers me, and obviously doesn’t bother him.

My relationship with my mother is another story.  She is a nasty, bitter drunk.  She tries to suck me into her dark hole every time we talk, but with my new found sobriety, I find that I have more tools to deflect her negativity with.

I also have lost a lot of time, and have drank a lot of wine to fill the emotional holes that were created by these relationships.  I never thought that it would be easier sober.

Feeling Feelings again, and M&M’s

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I have read so much about getting sober, being sober and early sobriety.  Something that was mentioned frequently was experiencing  feelings again, good, bad or other.

Up until this week, my feeling have not been at issue.  I was happy to wake up feeling good.  I was no longer feeling guilt about my drinking.  I finally got rid of all the anxiety that I felt every day about everything.  In summary I was feeling pretty happy and pleased with myself that I have made it this far, and haven’t had a really, really hard time.

That was until this week.  All of a sudden, I feel like all my nerve endings are exposed to the world.  Anything or anyone that brushes by me seems to hurt my feelings.  I am sad, mad, but mostly hurt, everything this week seems to wound my tender feelings. I am hypersensitive, and it does not feel good.  I have had tears in my eyes almost every day, and I rarely cry.  It is only Wednesday, and I have been in weeping off and on every day.  I don’t like this, even though it means I am getting better.

I have read that my brains neurotransmitters have been disrupted by all of the alcohol I was drinking.  I also understand that it takes them a while to recover and heal, but did they ALL have to reconnect this week?

I know there is nothing I can do about this, other than feel the feelings, take a deep breath,  try not to deal with everything all at once, and realize that this too is a phase that will pass.

I  know that this is part of recovery, and that my body is healing, and that it is a good thing.

I don’t like feeling so raw.

Even M&M’s aren’t making me feel better.

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First AA meeting: Day 73 of my sobriety

I have been very resistant to thinking about or going to Alcoholics Anonymous, for a variety of reasons.  First and foremost, I hate the word alcoholic, especially when referring to myself.  I prefer addict or drunk.  I guess it is just my personal preference.  Second, the higher power component is difficult for me with my religious beliefs, which are agnostic at best.  Also, I have always associated AA with people who are at the bottom of the bottom.  Homeless, jobless, broke, and broken.

I have been reading sober blogs, emailing a sober friend, and reaching out to sober people for the last 73 days, and the majority have said to at least TRY AA.  It may not be a good fit, but attend a few meetings and listen.

I have gone on line and looked at the meeting list numerous times in the last month.  I have picked meetings, said to myself, I am going to that one, and then as the day and time arrive, found so many reasons to not go.  That worked until I found a meeting less then five minutes from my house, I really had no excuse.

Other then the fact that we live in a small community and I know a lot of people here, and I might know someone at the meeting.  Oh yeah, but they would be at the meeting for the same reason I would be there, so that really wasn’t a valid reason.  And there is that whole anonymous aspect to it…

I could not come up with a VALID excuse not to attend.

So I went, with large amounts of trepidation.

I walked up to the classroom and looked in, the moderator said, “This is the place”.  It was a small room that had eight men in it.  I went in and sat down, and the man to my right said, “Hi kiddo, I haven’t seen  you in a long time.”   Another man across the table, said hi, and explained to the room we used to work together at the golf course.

At least I got that over with quickly, I knew some people, and I didn’t drop dead of shame.

The meeting started, and the moderator asked my name.  Hmmm, what happened to anonymous?  I told him, and then asked if I had read the list wrong, was it an all male meeting?  No, the women would be there shortly.  Nope, not last night.

Because I had never attended an AA meeting before, they changed the format.  To help me understand the first step in AA,  some of the attendees shared their stories.

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

As I listened, I could relate to a lot of what was said, but I also had another feeling, one of comparison.  I sat there thinking, well, I am not that bad.  I have never gone to rehab, had a DUI, or had my license revoked.  I never drank in the morning to keep my hands from shaking, I never hid alcohol in my car for my morning drive to work.

Then some stories hit home.  I told my spouse I quit drinking, but hid a bottle so I could continue to mix my drinks.  I passed out every night, woke up every day and said, no more.  I got in fights with my spouse, said things I didn’t mean, and couldn’t stop drinking even when I knew I should.  I belonged there, I was one of them.  Maybe not exactly like them, but I have my own story.

I didn’t realize there was hugging and hand holding, and the Lords Prayer.  ( I will have to learn the words to that.)  These things are not in my comfort zone, but I can work on it.

I did receive a 30 day chip.  I was bummed they didn’t give out 60 day ones also, but I will get one for 90 days.

The best part of the evening was the feeling of acceptance, no questions asked.   And they had treats, eclairs.

When the meeting ended, and everyone had left, the man I once worked with sought me out.  We talked for 20 minutes about alcohol, being sober and getting sober.  It felt good, really good, I felt accepted.

I am going to go back next week. Maybe the women will show up.