3 months, 11 days

Aaaaarrrrggghh!!

Sorry. I needed to get that off my chest.

It’s been one of those days. Nothing much has happened, to be honest. In fact, nothing at all has happened today, and that’s the problem. I spent the day waiting for an important parcel to arrive in the post, and it never came. I tried contacting the company sending the package and couldn’t get through to them. It was supposed to arrive between 9am and 5pm; by about 4 I was losing my mind with boredom and worry. I’d taken the day off University specifically to be here for the parcel. I could have got loads of work done at home regardless, but because I was so bored I couldn’t get myself to do anything useful all day.

By the evening it was clear that the parcel was never going to come, so I forced myself to go out to the AA meeting that I usually go to on Fridays. Normally I like that meeting a lot but today I wasn’t in the mood for it. I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want to see or speak to anybody. I just wanted to go home and wallow in some more self pity. To make matters worse I was rather tired for some reason, and the room in which the meeting was held was exceptionally hot, so that halfway through I was beginning to fall asleep.

For most of the one and a half hours I was so lost in my troubles I could hardly raise my head and listen to people; at various points, however, I would catch someone saying something that seemed relevant to my situation. I heard other people saying that they too didn’t want to be there tonight; they were simply forcing themselves to speak as they knew it would help. As it started to draw to a close I knew I had two options: I could finally open my mouth and admit to the room how I was feeling, or I could go home as miserable and angry as ever, completely isolated by my own actions.

Despite knowing the former option would be better for me, I simply couldn’t think of what to say. So I pulled my coat on as soon as the meeting had finished and walked straight out, saying a quick goodbye to a couple of people. I was in a rush to get out partly because I knew that if I’d stayed a moment longer I would have given into the temptation to go for coffee, and in that state I almost certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed the social gathering tonight.

The first thing I did when I was out of the vicinity of the building was phone my sponsor. I somehow knew what to say to him, telling him that I’d had a shitty, pointless day and felt crap at the end of it. I didn’t need to say anything more. I guess I’d hoped he would have something ingenious to say which would miraculously make me feel better; unfortunately he seemed busy when I called and we could only speak for a few minutes. His advice to me was to go to a meeting tomorrow and share about what’s happened today. It was nothing unexpected. I don’t want to go to a meeting tomorrow, but I knew before I got to tonight’s meeting that I’d probably end up needing to attend another one tomorrow.

My sponsor reminded me not to drink before hanging up the phone. I suppose the one positive about tonight is that I don’t want to drink. I did a pretty powerful Step 1 in the beginning – I know I’m powerless over alcohol and that it makes my life unmanageable. In the past three months there’s only been one occasion when I was seriously tempted to drink, and that passed in the space of a night. I haven’t got to worry about being hungover tomorrow, so you could say my program is still working well, even though I feel like shit. I think, unfortunately, that when I’m feeling this way I’m actually being a dry drunk. In AA they talk about being ‘dry drunk’ all the time and I think I’m experiencing that tonight. I’m not physically drunk but the feelings I’m going through are the exact same feelings I used to have all the time when I was pissed.

The reasons for me being dry drunk right now are quite clear. I haven’t done the right things today. I stayed indoors by myself all day, I didn’t do any work, I went to a meeting and didn’t speak to anyone, and I didn’t share with the room when I really needed to. I didn’t hand it over. Of course, by writing all of this down I’m doing something positive, but I could and should have said it all earlier on. Maybe I won’t want to drink ever again but I keep coming back to the fact that being sober is about more than just not drinking. Whilst I’m living dry drunk I’m not living sober. My head isn’t clean at the moment. I desperately want to do the program properly and hand all these things over as soon as they come up, but the act of handing it over, of talking to somebody honestly, still isn’t natural to me. When I have to tell someone truthfully how I feel it’s like being in the driving seat of my life and letting go of the steering wheel. By trusting others in this way I stop taking care of myself and let them take care of me. And I know I keep going on about how much I hate feeling vulnerable, how much I need the love and support of others but can’t accept it because it leaves me so vulnerable, all the while failing to make any progress with the dilemma. Most of the time it’s impossible to see myself making any progress, because with just three months of sobriety behind me I cannot help feeling as if I have no sobriety whatsoever, compared to the vast majority of people I know in AA who have years and years of it. They talk about the same anxieties and issues, even those who’ve been sober for ten years; part of me wonders what the point really is if I’m still going to feel like this in ten bloody years from now.

Occasionally I might take an objective look at the difference between my life now and my life three months ago and I’ll spot some important changes, such as the lack of hangovers, the exceptional amount of writing that I’ve been able to do, and the new friends I’ve made; but most of the time I just can’t believe it will last. All I have to do is look to the near future, to remind myself of how hard it’s going to be to get the other things I want out of life, the really important things that take years of hard work. I’m not expecting life to suddenly become perfect, but it would be nice to think I could leave University next year and get a job relatively quickly, before I’ve sunk even further into debt. At the moment, I’m fast losing faith in the possibility of everything being all right next year. I have no idea what job I could do, let alone what I’d like to do. To start building a life for myself and set off down the road to achieving my dreams, getting a job will undoubtedly be the first and most vital step for me. For reasons which are probably obvious, I’ve never held down a job for more than a month. I haven’t a CV to speak of and the vast majority of employers scare me. All I want is a job that I can do and enjoy at the same time, but for many people my age, the existence of such a thing is apparently coming to resemble gold dust.

Is it unreasonable to want a normal life? Am I crazy to wish for a good paying job, a loving partner, a home of my own? Am I just torturing myself by looking for perfection in an imperfect world? The AA promises speak of dreams coming true in sobriety, following the successful completion of the 12 steps, and so I’ve embarked on those steps with fervour and enthusiasm, counting the minutes until I begin to see changes taking place with my own eyes. At times I see the small changes, which I mentioned before, but as I pile up more and more sobriety it gets clearer and clearer that my dreams, the ones that I’ve had for years, are going to require very, very hard work. And it terrifies me.

The craziest thing is that it’s all in my head. Fear isn’t a real, tangible thing; it’s just an emotion. How can it have such power? How can a mere cognitive process amongst so many others cause one person’s entire life to be halted at the age of eighteen, before the mature changes of adulthood begin to take place? Every time I tell someone that I really think my life stopped at eighteen, they wave it off and tell me not to be silly – of course I’ve changed since I was eighteen, of course important things have happened to me in the last six years – well, yeah, my life has changed vastly since 2001, but not in a good way. Not in the way I wanted it to.

I don’t know what else to say tonight, really. I hope I haven’t bored anyone or said too many inapproptiate, personal things. I know very well that by engaging with the negative thoughts I am torturing myself, and I know what to do to make things better. So I’m not asking for advice. I guess it’s just nice to know there are people out there listening, understanding me.

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5 thoughts on “3 months, 11 days

  1. Hi J,
    Hope you are having a better day today. Though to be honest, yesterday wasn’t as bad as it felt. You did the best you could; got to a meeting and shared your thoughts the way you could, on your blog.

    Recovery is not about perfection, it is not about applying yourself in pursuit of The Promises. However your steps are going, it is worth remembering that at Step 3 we ask for relief from the bondage of self, and the power to carry out our Higher Power’s will for us. May Thy will, not mine be done.

    The promises are a function of recovery, not the goal. My experience has taught me two things:
    1 – I am very impatient.
    2 – that when change, the Promises if you like, happens it is all I can do to hold onto my hat while it happens.

    Life gets very busy. It may sound patronising, this is not my intention, but try to make the most of the relative peace you have now and not to drag malign fantasies of the future or regret for the past into today.

    Having faith is being able to accept that life is giving you no more than you can handle right now. You are doing well, hang on in there. Olly.

  2. Thanks for the words of support. Needless to say, I am feeling better today. I got to another meeting and was able to share, for the first time since Tuesday. The words were ready to burst out of me and I ended up talking for about ten minutes. I’ve always thought of AA as being the best therapy I’ll ever get for free; someone tonight actually said it’s like group therapy on a grand scale.

    I agree – recovery is about progress, not perfection. I imagine if everything was perfect then I wouldn’t be an alcoholic and I wouldn’t need the programme. I can see that the tough time I’m having at the moment is necessary, so that I can build up strength for the future.

    I was talking to someone tonight about the possibility of trying out CODA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) alongside AA; my experience in the past three months has taught me that I have a tendency to form slightly unhealthy attachments. It’s natural; I was abandoned by my father at birth. What I’ve heard about CODA seems to suggest that it could be as good for me as AA has been. My sponsor thinks I should wait a couple of months and deal with the alcohol addiction first, get a few more of the Steps out of the way. So for now I’ll be keeping the CODA option at the back of my mind, though I do think co-dependency could be a core issue in my life.

  3. Also, although I said yesterday that ‘handing it over’ felt like letting go of the steering wheel, I realised today that whenever I open my mouth and speak in meetings, I’m actually taking hold of the proverbial steering wheel, for the first time in my life. I’m taking control of my recovery by being honest in sharing – I’m finding my voice.

  4. Keep on talking, J. And enjoy the good feeling that’ll come from setting the tone for the meeting when you’re doing the ‘meet and greet’ role tomorrow (Sunday). tx

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