My ex-husband asked me how when we suffer a relapse we are welcomed back into AA with open arms. I turned the question around on him and asked, why wouldn’t I go back to a place that would welcome me back even if I did falter? God knows my family wouldn’t do that. In most cases all they feel for me is anger. In the rooms I’m welcomed back because I’m just as broken as the person sitting next to me.
We are all just one drink or drug away from relapse and ultimately death. That’s what this disease wants to do, it wants to kill me. It wants to scream in my ear all of the bad things I’ve done to make me so covered in guilt and shame that I pour myself into a bottle and die.
A normal person doesn’t think this way. A normal person doesn’t drink this way. And a normal person can not understand the power of surrender in AA. Admitting to this surrender is the only way I can win.
“I remember that feeling of skin. It’s strange to remember touch more than thought. But my fingers still tingle with it.”-Lucy Christopher
My pulse quickened as Matt enclosed his left hand around my right. The intimacy of his actions brought a blush to my cheeks. Confused, I wanted to pull away but I craved the contact. Instead of retreating, I allowed his hand to engulf mine. My mouth went dry, as his thumb repeatedly caressed the palm of my hand.
I yielded to his touch, my heart slowed its thready beat, and I allowed myself to enjoy the closeness of my dear friend. He asked for nothing but my hand. He told me he loved me and how glad he was I came into his life. We grew silent, as his thumb continued to make lazy circles on my palm.
His was the first intimate touch I’d felt since I’d become sober. It wasn’t a sexual touch. I wasn’t sure how to label it, and honestly, I didn’t care to. In that five minutes, I felt more protected and loved than I had in a long time.
With our hands clasped, my friend silently asked nothing of me, but to love every broken, raw and damaged part of him. And in return, I asked him to do the same for me.
I am 32 Flavors and then some
I’m nobody, but I am someone
The last year of my addiction to alcohol had killed my love of music. Every time I listened to any song I would feel it so deeply that I would be left sobbing. If I couldn’t listen to music, I damn sure couldn’t write either. So in the last six months I fed my need for words by listening to NPR and the great Dave and Chuck the Freak morning show on 101.1 The WRIF in Detroit.
During detox and rehab we weren’t allowed to have our phones, so I was starved for information, morning radio shows, and finally, music. The few songs I did get to hear during that time made me cry, but there was no longer any deep seeded pain connected to it. The pain I felt was the itch and burn of healing to my tattered and war torn soul.
On the day I walked out of the Brighton Center of Recovery, the sun of early fall was shining. It lit my hair and my spirit on fire and I knew I was on the path to rebirth. I threw my suitcase in the backseat, and placed my ID and insurance card back into my wallet. I slid the keys into the ignition, turned the engine over, and rolled the windows down. As I drove out of the parking lot, I turned the radio up to 11, the wind caught my hair and I sang the words to whatever song that was playing on the radio.
I finally felt at home in the music, no matter if it was upbeat or a ballad. The words helpd incredible power! Not to hurt me, but to help me heal. Everyday I get closer to fine with the help of my IOP group, my AA community, my other Brighton alums, my friends and family and my music. Oh my fucking God, I am so incredibly blessed!
May you find peace and serenity today, and may you find joy in the little things in life.
‘Let us be willing to release old hurts.’- Martha Smock
The last three years have been especially harrowing, yet you’ve persevered. I always knew you were a strong woman.
I want you to forgive yourself for the last ten years of drinking. I want you to love and accept yourself and know that you are a beautiful spirit.
You are not your past, and it does not need to define you. Your future and your community are the sober people, the perfectly broken.
Your children love you. The longer you are sober, the more their trust will return.
Do not look for love until you can find it within yourself.
Go to meetings.Work with a sponsor. Keep busy. Dive into work and become a stellar employee again.
Be kind to yourself and know that you alone are enough.
Let go of your past. Let go of love that is not evenly returned and move forward.
Find love from within, and the brilliance of it will flow to everyone you encounter.
Forgive yourself, and put your trust in the future.
(This is a letter I wrote to myself the last night of my stay at the Brighton Center for Recovery. My addiction counselor told me to save doing this section of my homework after everything else was done. I read it to my community the day I ventured out of the Brighton Bubble into the sunlight of new future. I’ll share of my journey when the time is right. For now, I have another story brewing about a wheat farmer and his wife. I hope to post it soon. This girl is getting her sparkle back for sure. Thanks for following me on this journey.)
“Fear is stupid. So are regrets.” – Marilyn Monroe
Step 1: I admitted that I was powerless over alcohol that my life had become unmanageable.
Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him.
Step 4: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself.
Ay, there’s the rub, catch, or whatever you want to call it. The searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. It’s not easy for a procrastinator like me to park my ass in a chair for a couple of hours and list all of my resentments. My flaws. Wrongs that I cannot right. Pieces of my past I gloss over. Only to bring them up again so someone can point out how fucked up I am. It’s unnerving and it makes angry. It’s why I gave up going to AA the last time I got sober. I became what you’d call a dry drunk. I didn’t drink, but I didn’t do the work to stay sober either.
31 days ago I’d had enough. I bought a Big Book and began reading it. I even got a sponsor. Of course being the pig headed woman I am, I tried to move ahead and do some of the other steps before completing Step 4. Super Sponsor called me a cowboy and told me to do the program by myself if I was so damn smart. Thing is, I’m not smart. I’m frightened beyond belief. When I finally admitted that to myself, the work began.
My sponsor told me to remember that I wasn’t writing prose. I’m a writer though, and it’s what I wanted to do. I wrote my list in a way that maybe someday my words could be used as a soliloquy if I ever got to do a big Share at an Open AA meeting. Of course I look at the sentence I just typed and laugh at my arrogance. That’s not what Step 4 is about. It’s about letting go of resentment and all that other junk that weighs us down.
Last night I sat at the kitchen table and completed parts I and II of Step 4. With all the courage I could muster, I texted my sponsor and told him I was finished. His response, only three little letters, ‘ILY’. It made my night to know that he was still in my corner. Still cheering me on.
There’s more work to be completed, but I’m closer than I was two days ago. I’ve been sober for 31 days. I’m not going through withdrawal anymore. I can sleep through the night without having horrific cravings and nightmares. I don’t want to beat the shit out of everyone I come in contact with. I’m generally a happy person to be around again. I’m snarky, sarcastic, fun loving, a smart ass, sparkly, and basically a raving lunatic. So yeah, I’m pretty much back to normal.
What I find most difficult to do at the moment is find my muse. She or he is hiding in plain sight I’m sure. Pray, keep your fingers crossed, dance naked in the moonlight, or whatever you need to do to help me find it again. I’ll be sitting at a table, working on part III of Step 4.
Love and kisses,