Friday, December 18, 2009

If you've been in recovery for a few 24-hour periods, you've met them in meetings: alcoholics whose drinking has brought them to a fork in the road of their lives: stop now and keep everything they have or continue and lose it all.I know all of us faces that prospect, but I'm talking about people for whom alcoholic destruction is no longer a theory, like a woman I met I'll call Meg.

Meg is a former army officer (one of the few active-duty women who have actually staffed combat missions). She has a bachelor's degree in a technical field. She is physically attractive. She drives a late-model sports car and owns a home in the nicest area of town. She married another army officer, and they have an adorable toddler together.

A couple of years ago, Meg lost her military career when she tested positive for cocaine. She quit that habit to focus on (more legal) alcohol. Here's what that's gotten her, just during the past year:
  • A driving-while-intoxicated arrest and conviction
  • A divorce
  • A Child Protective Services investigation into her parenting
  • A custody battle
  • Bills putting her near the verge of bankruptcy
Meg started coming to 12-step meetings once her husband moved out, wanting to get sober in order to maintain custody of her daughter. She got a sponsor, got a Big Book, worked with her sponsor every week for several months, and went to at least one meeting a day. She picked up a 6-month chip a few weeks ago.

Child Protective Services got out of her life.  Her soon-to-be-ex was ordered to pay child support. Her DUI was dismissed after some time on an occupational drivers license. Everything was looking up for Meg!

She spent yesterday very drunk.

And so, the $64,000 question: why? She could lose everything she's worked for! It could get even worse for Meg if she keeps drinking!

Page 24 of the 4th edition says this, and it sums up for me the nature of the disease:

We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousnesses with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.

So often I hear in meetings "If you don't take the first drink, you won't get drunk!", usually followed by guffaws of newcomers and the easily amused.

That's not in the Big Book, and for good reason (stated above): I'm without defense against the first drink! It's not that I didn't realize that alcohol is intoxicating.

If someone like Meg can look at all she has to lose and still drink, can't any of us? If her self-will could have prevented her relapse, surely it would have yesterday.

Robert Frost described two paths before him in a forest, and he chose the path that had carried fewer travelers thus far. He concludes that "... made all the difference."

 I hope there's a road less traveled ahead for Meg.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

It still sucks, even with gadgets

If you're fighting to the urge to drink, make sure you do it away from any electronic devices, for society's sake. Case in point? Gizmodo's post on the subject

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Gift ideas for those in recovery

Here's some ideas, big and small, for the 12-stepper in your life, complete with an Etsy link...

Reusable beverage sleeve
For some reason, we tend to start guzzling gallons of coffee once we get sober - make it a less dangerous, more comfortable habit for us!
Always useful.
Personal ash tray
Don't fight our smoking habit - it richly beats the alternative!
Reading is an important part of our lives - can't have too many bookmarks!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Length matters little

I talk about my sobriety date once per year - when I pick up a chip.

I was "raised" in a group that took sobriety dates very seriously. When we introduced ourselves at meetings, we gave our sobriety date. Old Timers heard the soft ooohs and aaahhhs of newcomers. Newcomers received smiles of encouragement as they recited that they had now made it another day. I ooohhhed and aaahhhed as needed and smiled encouragingly as warranted. At first, I had days of sobriety, then months. Most of the people that got sober around the time I did vanished. Then I had a year, then multiple years.

One day, as I introduced myself in the customary fashion, I mentioned that I had been sober almost 5 years. In the beat of quiet between my introduction and the next person's, I heard it - softly - but I heard it still:


And then began the churning of my magic, magnifying mind: Yep, all hail the badass. Betcha want to be like me someday, huh?

It took one whispered word to activate my ego. My ego began to whisper back that I no longer belonged at that group - or any meeting actually, because there was something good on TV that night or I was tired of hearing Woe-is-Me Wanda recount her latest dope-fueled drama (again). So I stopped going to meetings as much.

When it occurred to me that I wasn't going to meetings as often, I then recalled members who often said that they always called people who had quit showing up. This activated the indignation cycle: where was my phone call? Didn't they care about me?

Cue righteous indignation: after all I've done for that sorry place!

These are the sounds of my spiritual condition eroding. I am now focused on me, rather than on my purpose. All over one whispered word of admiration over my sobriety date.

When I was growing up, my father refused to tell my brother or me how much money he made at his job. If we asked, he'd say "Enough." or "Why? Did you have some allowance to return to me?"

He didn't tell us because he didn't want us to blow it out of proportion: to think we were rich (we weren't) or wonder whether we had enough (we did). We didn't need to dwell on that issue.

Today, I rarely even think about how long I've been sober. Yes, I tell newcomers, but only when asked. I don't need to dwell on quantity. We all have today, and regardless of whether you've been to one meeting or a thousand, that's enough.

Friday, December 4, 2009

100 Ways to Screw Up Your Life

Love this post - ditch the concept of New Year's resolutions and instead, internalize what's written here as needed!