(This post is for a series of posts run on My friend Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s blog Baby on Bored. She has a section called Don’t Get Drunk Fridays. While I have to say I am being shamed into doing this (kidding!), seriously, hers was the first blog I read in my “research” in doing what I needed to do, which was STOP drinking. I am forever grateful for her sobriety and her openness about it. She saves lives)
There are a lot of people who do not understand the internet.
Frankly, I could be lumped into that category myself. While I have improved in my skills the last few years, on Thanksgiving Day 2010, drunk at 10 am in the morning, sobbing and knowing, KNOWING finally that this could not possibly be good, I did know enough to google.
I knew about blogs and so I started my search typing in “drunk blogs”. This blog, Baby on Bored, was the first I read. And it led me to Crying Out Now. And that led me to continue. because in those first few blogs I read I saw myself, heard my story and didn’t have to leave my house where I felt safe and protected and alone. Reading these blogs made me feel NOT alone, which was scary but also a revelation. I thought I was the only person like me, the only person who could not get a handle on her drinking who drank every single day, a shit-ton, who thought about it day and night, planned for it, obsessed about it and finally, who would rather sit in her house alone, drinking, than participate in life at all. I KNEW I wasn’t an alcoholic, because those people got DUIs and lived under bridges and had hopeless lives and tons of tattoos (I only have one!).
My next stop was the BFB…Booze Free Brigade (it’s over there>>> on the blogroll, join!) An online community of people, mostly women, who wanted to stop drinking. The women on that board told their stories and I identified down to my bones. On the board I learned the first rule of recovery, which is to look for the similarities vs. the differences. I am a widow, and when my husband died I searched the internet and found on-line support, so it was not such an odd concept for me. I felt safe on the BFB, first to lurk and read, and then to start, tentatively, talking. I was still drinking, but I was there and slowly learning. A lot of people on there were in AA and one day, March 1, 2011 to be exact,without my knowing it (maybe I was drunk?), I asked if there was anyone in my area of the country who knew of a good meeting. I got an immediate response from sweet Jane, the co-founder of the BFB along with Stefanie, and the next Saturday I found myself, arms crossed, mind closed,angry as a hornet and sitting in the back row of a meeting filled with women. Seriously, FILLED, must have been a 80 or so. It was freaky. It was scary. It was home.
Over the next few weeks I went to several different meetings armed with the only sane thought that would filter though my anger and sadness and hatred of all things AA (One day at a freaking time? Keep it simple? the Big Book? and my personal most hated…GOD????), and that was the constant reminder in my head to look for the similarities and not the differences. Me being who I was this was a sea-change in my thinking…I was always different, for better or worse, but never “the same”. I found myself gravitating towards certain meetings and high-tailing it from others, both perfectly normal responses. All meetings are NOT the same, and I was often told we need to find our “tribe”. I was still drinking, had been drinking since that horrible Thanksgiving day, but it was different. Once I knew the truth there was no comfort in the alcohol, though, truth be told, I didn’t even start looking for help until it no longer worked for me anyway. But those 4 moths before I got sober were the worst for me because I knew I was an alcoholic and was helpless to stop drinking. Hell. When I started going to meetings I started to drink a little less, only because I wouldn’t start until after the meeting, where before I usually had a lovely cocktail in my hand by 5 (well, 4..ok, maybe 3!). Oh boy though, I could not wait until I got home to crack open a bottle of wine and think about anything BUT the meeting. Until one night, March 21, 2011 to be exact, I came home, watched some TV, answered some emails and it was 10 pm and i hadn’t had a drink. And the weird thought occurred to me that if I went to bed right now, then I would have a full day with no alcohol (which probably had not happened in 20 years). And somewhere, deep inside, my better self scrambled to grab onto that thought and I went to bed. And the next day I went to a meeting during the time I would start drinking and came home and made a decision to not drink that night. Day 2. And then there was another decision made, and another and another And on Day 9 one of my best friends died. And I had the thought that my having a drink wouldn’t help. So I didn’t, and I strung together more days and then, as I got more sober and LESS comfortable I realized that maybe I ought to try these “steps” they were always prattling on about in meetings, so I got a sponsor full of grace who had the best laugh I have ever heard and there you go.
Today I am just about 20 months sober as we come up to Thanksgiving day once again, and I am so very grateful that I am not in the hell I was in 2 years ago. I was hopeless. I remember the thought going through my head that day… “ok, this is it, I am going to just keep drinking and die”. Hopeless. The truth is that without hope you DO die, and today I have hope. My life is very much like it was then from the outside, but inside I know better. I know that one day at a time I have the choice not to drink and that, as a dear friend says,” tomorrow I can get fucking trashed if i want to”. I don’t want to though. I want to keep that hope for myself, and I want to, hopefully, pass it on to others.
There is hope. You are not alone. It gets better, I promise.