Monday, February 28, 2011

Get Thee to a Meeting

I remarked to Chelle this morning that it’s been a while since I went to a meeting. I know that’s a bad thing, according to the conventional wisdom. It seemed like, for everyone I met in rehab who has relapsed, their relapse was always preceded by stopping going to meetings. And I see the value in going to meetings. They remind you of how difficult it can be to stop drinking and stay stopped. I know the addict’s brain: once you start to get complacent, once you start thinking you’ve got this thing licked, you drop your guard and the self-talk starts. “Look, you’ve been sober for over a year now. Clearly you have no problem.” “Obviously you can stop if you really put your mind to it.” “Now that you know how to stop if you get out of control, what’s the harm in a little drink every now and then?” And so on.

So, I probably should get my ass to a meeting.

Still, I haven’t gone. I’ll probably get a lecture from my sponsor about this. We also need to go to keep working our program. I speculated to Chelle that maybe I don’t feel such an overwhelming need to go and keep processing my disease and the steps because I blog about all of it. I put it out there. I also know that if I were to relapse, there are quite a few people who would be bummed out for me. It wouldn’t be the end of the world—I know folks are forgiving; people would no doubt understand and just support me in getting back on the wagon. Still, I hate disappointing people, and that is honestly a deterrent.

But the thing is--and here’s what I really wanted to write about—I sincerely have zero desire to drink. I don’t know what has caused such a colossal shift. When I think about drinking now, I just see it as a royal pain in the butt that isn’t even worth the energy it takes to drink. Alcohol has become like cigarettes for me when I quit smoking. On my 30th birthday, I quit cold turkey. It was tough at first and I was a basket case for a few months, but then even the smell of cigarette smoke became distasteful to me. I haven’t smoked for almost 19 years. I don’t miss the stinging eyes, the stench, the stained teeth and fingers, the chronic cough, the disapproving looks of my non-smoking friends.

Booze is like THAT. I don’t miss the hangovers, the mood swings, the misperceived slights and paranoia, the anger, the blackouts, the constant drama, the morning-after humiliation, the disapproving looks of my non-alcoholic friends.

Chelle leaves beer in the fridge now, and not once have I been tempted to touch it.

Life has continued to happen—but I’m not one to avoid my feelings anymore. I just feel them. They go away. I don’t like feeling the uncomfortable things: anger, jealousy, and the like, but I’ve felt them all and realized they won’t kill me. I know one day something colossal might happen and I might find myself in a mood to just drink it all away. But somehow that seems unlikely to me. I have reached a place where I just don’t think alcohol does anything good for me at all. All it does is make every last little thing worse.

I don’t WANT to feel buzzed. I want to keep my marbles and my senses.

Maybe it’s just that, wanting the sanity more than wanting the escape.

That could be worth sharing at a meeting. I'm resolved. I'll hit the noon meeting tomorrow. Because the point isn't to just get help for yourself. It's really to help out the others, and thereby help yourself.

UPDATE: Well, I didn't get a "lecture" from my sponsor, but she did caution me about not getting too smug. I hope I didn't sound smug; I certainly don't FEEL smug. I guess what I'm just trying to say is that it's a marvel to me to not even feel the slightest inclination to drink. Nothing short of a miracle, in fact. Perhaps I'll try to elaborate on that in a later post.

The other thing she said that make me stop to think was that the truth is, I DON'T know that a relapse wouldn't be a genuinely big, awful deal. I minimized the impact of one above. She said I can't know what would happen. One "little" relapse, I could drive, I could die. And of course that is true, too.

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