Making it happen

It is harder this time.

I know that everyone white knuckles it sometimes, but it’s been days now. Weeks really. And my better intentions have been getting their asses kicked.

So last week I did what I never, ever thought I would do: I asked someone for help.

I called a friend in recovery. I told her my story: two stretches of sobriety; very little understanding from friends or family; overwhelmed at work; panicked about the state of the world; my love of isolation + couch; etc.

She listened without judgement. Asked a few questions. Clarified one or two things. Then she said: “You need a three-point plan.” And here is the plan she gave me:

  1. Engage your husband. Tell him. Make him see.
  2. Approach work slightly differently.
  3. Reach out to more sober people.

I love a plan. And a three-point plan, well, that is the best kind.

So: 1) Later that day, I sat my husband down. I told him I was hiding liquor bottles (I’ve never gone back to wine, tequila is my jam), sneaking drinks. I told him I needed him to SEE ME. (Just ask me what’s in my fucking glass, you know?!) He’s not used to me needing him. I am a military wife. Historically, I take care of all my/our shit, and he just shows up for the party/event/our life. When I told him I needed him, he seemed surprised (both at my request and at my admission), but not shocked. He is slowly getting on board. (This is a work in progress, for sure.)

2) Work is tricky. I am a consultant. I can’t ask for help – I AM the help. I am deep into a two-year project that is more complicated and nuanced than anything I’ve ever done before. (Lots of IT stuff that does not come intuitively to me.) The approach my friend suggested includes asking for clarifications, rather than explanations. (This is also a work in progress.)

3. Where to find more sober people? The truth is, my fear of people is fairly deep-seated. I am really unsteady around most humans. I fake it, but I hate it and do my best to find a quick exit. As for finding sober people, well, I don’t live in Canada, where all the cool sober people live. I know I need some local, American peeps. (But, I need them to hate Trump. This is a non-neogitable.)

I have been going to AA for a few weeks now, but it’s really only half-hearted, and I know I need to fully commit and engage a sponsor, work the steps, etc. There is a woman at AA who I think could be my sponsor. I really like her. I will contact her this week and ask her to meet for coffee. (Hopefully, she will like me and hate our president.) …. And then, last night, at an AA meeting, I ran into a neighbor. Someone who I have always liked in that neighborly way, and who I HAD NO IDEA drank alcoholically. This morning we went on a long walk together. She is as honest and as troubled as I am. (This did not seem like work at all. This was just nice. And, yes, she is also horrified by DJT.)

So, I am making it happen. As best as I can, trying to do the next right thing.

And there is also this hard truth; the one mistake from previous attempts I see very clearly now: I did not value my sobriety as much as I should have. I did not see it as the precious gift that it is. I did not treat it with the respect and protection that it deserved. No one in my established circle of friends and family seemed to care about it, so I decided their opinion was more important than my own and I drowned my sobriety gift in a bottle of tequila.

That is not happening again. This is fucking hard. Three times up this mountain is enough.

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11 thoughts on “Making it happen

  1. OMG… your ability to speak the truth Is not only inspiring but also refreshing. In a few days (Sept 4th) it will be 3 years clean & sober for me. Before coming to AA I would not have understood the magnitude of my addiction(s). I was a very social person before, so I thought. Now a days I sit alone b/c I don’t want to or can’t be around people who don’t “get it”! What it leads to is loneliness but more importantly deeper understanding of who I am. I used to feel bad about not be out there, doing all the “stuff” but have concluded that my time is better served finding out who I am. I still don’t know, like most of time, what I like! Ok except tv & reading, lol. I think running on everyone’s ideas, plans and expectations left me hollow and burnt out. I do go at least 2x a week to AA and I do have a sponsor who we are working the steps. I do volunteer for AA (secretary of my home group & answer phones once a month for our local chapter), so I stay connected BUT still don’t have any sober friends. I have already decided that my next year of recovery is to bridge the head/body gap. You see I suffer from a disease of stress, called eczema. Now on the list of “bad” things to have it is minor yet living with it, it doesn’t feel minor nor easy. Anyhow… recently visiting family I found myself incredibly “sick” again. Before I went I was pretty clear of an outbreak (except I found I also developed alopecia again!) but very shortly at being with family I was getting covered with the rash that is basically 100% stress related (I still argue this fact with all the doctors!). I didn’t necessarily feel stressed BUT the obvious signs were there that I couldn’t ignore. So I cut my trip short, by almost a week. Sad as I have no family (other than my son) close. I most likely won’t see any of them until next summer. But what could I do… I have learnt I have to take of myself even though that is very foreign to me, sigh! My sponsor told me, once I returned that, you are getting healthy and can no longer live in chaos”! Wow I was expecting something like, you should have stuck it out or you are weak, but no… nothing but love & support (not what I was receiving from my own family!). My hope for you is that you ask the woman to be your sponsor, you do not have to have the same political views or even like her, you do have to listen and do as she says (not liking her but be easier, lol)! For me my friend to drink is to die… maybe not in the physical sense but in the spiritual way. I came to AA with nothing left of myself except one very small light that was just about extinguished. So then to drink (or in my case, use drugs), would be to blow out that flame and be gone, surrendered to the darkness. Keep seeking, asking, trying and never ever give up, do not let the darkness win! With all my love & gratitude; Roberta (blissball) Hyde!!!

    >

    • Roberta! I am so sorry about the stress-reduced illness. The body is amazing – and your’s is definitely trying to tell you something. I am glad you listened to it – and very glad you’ve got a supportive sponsor – i loved her response.

      I’ve thought a lot about the “to drink is to die” concept, which is something that comes up in AA about. I agree 100% with you – it’s not necessarily that I was physically dying (altho i was definitely trashing myself on a regular basis, with terrible consequences), but the more immediate “death” was spiritual…I was killing my spirit.

      I read an interview with Mary Oliver, the poet, who said the spirit is something you must create “Trust” with your … that your sensitive creative self (which I interpreted to be the soul) – that you only really get to know it when it is safe to do so. She said it is “elusive, cautious, as you say, cautious part. And that if you turn up every day, it will learn to trust you.” That resonated with me.

      When I am isolated on my couch, drinking, I am definitely not showing up.

      We both need sober friends in real life, but is so nice to be together “virtually.” Hugs to you my friend!

  2. Letting people in, not having all the answers, not knowing what to do next….that is some scary shit! Looking at it head on, first with one eye open, peeling back my fingers, then with two eyes open, were my first tentative steps toward living an honest life, toward being vulnerable, toward saying outloud, “we (I) are a mess and I’m scared to death about it!” It led to my freedom…scary as it was, and I’ve never regretted it! Bless your heart as you venture out into new territory. Recently I had a medical procedure and I needed my husbands help afterward. We have been married 32 years but like you, I am the doer and he shows up. I don’t like “needing help” but I watched him pay such close attention and tend to everything. He loved being needed and there was another layer peeled away for me to look at….I had set our relationship in a specific direction, established our roles and insisted that it stay so. I couldn’t see another way, I couldn’t trust another way…but here we are figuring it out. All of this is to say….keep going you brave soul!! Good things are on the other side of these connections and open heart space.

    • Thanks so much, Annette, for your kind words. I love the story about your husband. I think it is easy to “settle” into established roles that do not really reflect our true desires.

  3. It is hard…but things that are worth while as always hard.
    You made some huge steps there.

    I found being really honest with my husband shifted thing. Part of it was me saying out loud that I was struggling and hiding booze and pretending I was ok when I wasn’t. What a relief to let it out and not be struck by lightening!

    And the neighbour. That is actually the best part of AA. It allows us to find friends.

    Try the sponsor. You can always change your mind. It’s not a legally binding relationship!

    There is so much hope and action in this post! You are on your way!

    Anne

    • Thanks so much Anne. I am so grateful for your comments. And yes, saying these things out loud – and also seeing them here in print – makes them more real. Forces me to see things that I need to see, but don’t want to.

  4. I don’t know where you live sweetie, but if it’s close to me I fit the requirements. Email me. I don’t have any other in recovery friends either, I’m sober and I loathe DJT. I have never ever felt so ashamed of someone pretending to lead our country. I don’t have the same issues with husband and work but I remember climbing the mountain. Take care of YOU. It was smart of you to reach out, keep it up.
    Sharon

  5. As a professional mountain climber, I’ve been where you are, for decades actually. In fact, I’m writing about it now, and it’s eerie — I’m going through journals from 10 years ago and I am writing exactly what you are saying here — that I need sober friends, that I might ask someone to be my sponsor. (I did, and she was wonderful! I didn’t listen to her very well, however.) I am so hoping you take a shorter path than I did. Seeing it all in retrospect makes me wish so badly that I had treasured the attempts I made at sobriety as sacred. There was no more loving thing I could have done for myself and my family.
    Hang in there! 💕

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