8 months, 3 days

My sponsor says that I don’t need to worry about the alcohol content in my deodorant. I haven’t had a slip. As long as I get rid of the deodorant and check the ingredients on anything I buy in future, then I can keep my sobriety date of 15th July 2007. Phew! I knew he’d say something like this. It just goes to show, you can find alcohol in virtually anything. Though I knew I’d be in the clear, it was a worry nonetheless, and it made me realise how precious that sobriety date is to me. If I’d had to go back to one day sober, I might have killed myself. I’m being serious. This is why I don’t relapse, why I’m determined not to drink again. I don’t think I could bear to go through the first eight months again. I’d rather leave AA than sit in a meeting and announce that I’m a newcomer all over again. I know many strong people who’ve relapsed and come back to AA and done the steps a second time. I don’t want my recovery to be like that, I want to keep it as it is.

The new literature still hasn’t arrived for my home group. I was dreading tonight’s meeting, knowing I’d have to confront O about it at some point. He was supposed to phone me last week to let me know what was going on, but he didn’t. When I arrived tonight, he was there, and he told me he’d sent another order form off. Fingers crossed, our new literature will have come by next week. I’d rather have sent the order form off myself this time – JUST to be sure – but it’s out of my hands now. The truth is, it’s O’s responsibility, he’s the one to blame if the books still aren’t there in a week’s time. But I will undoubtedly continue to worry about this and feel responsible. I’ll probably lose yet more sleep leading up to next Tuesday, be restless and irritable that I can’t take control of the situation. It’s up to my higher power what happens next. I should be able to trust that everything will be OK, because logically it WILL be OK, in the end. But still I have real problems letting go of these things.

I wanted to share tonight, as I realised that I hadn’t shared in any meeting for over a week. But there were a lot of newcomers in tonight, and all of them had to share as the format of the meeting dictates it, which meant that there was only time for one non-newcomer to speak in the last five minutes, and it wasn’t going to be me. At the very end the secretary handed out sobriety chips as usual, and this week I was able to pick up my eight month chip. I’ve picked up all my chips bar one at that meeting, and this month while the secretary was hugging and congratulating me at the front of the room he said “I’m so proud of you.” It was a kind-hearted thing of him to say, but when I was going to sit down I couldn’t quite believe him.

I don’t know the secretary, J, that well for a start, and I don’t see what I’ve done to be proud of. Yes, eight months is a lot more than some people get. But in my experience, only a close friend would say that kind of thing to me, and J definitely isn’t a close friend. The only thing I can possibly think of that I’ve achieved, other than eight months sobriety, is putting the literature out every week at the meeting. Maybe he’s proud of me for that? Or maybe he was just getting carried away with the moment.

Even as I write this I feel silly. I know I’m wrong, I know he meant it genuinely. In my head I know it, but in my heart and in my gut, I don’t believe it. It takes a lot for me to believe anything deep in my gut. That’s where my progress in recovery should take me. On the way home after the meeting I felt rather tearful, because I wanted so badly to believe that J meant what he said, that he and everyone else there really likes and values me, but all I could think about was how little I’d done so far to be liked for. I thought of the literature table I’ve been setting up every week, how pathetic it looks now that there’s so little literature left. I thought of all the friends there at the meeting, the people I never talk to, the group I’m never part of. There was a moment at the beginning of the meeting when I was sat on my own in the corner, as usual, detached from everyone because I was so worried about the lack of literature, again. Is this a pattern doomed to repeat itself forever? Can I ever really feel part of things? Will I ever feel truly liked by people?

I’ve been reading through my old diaries again, the ones that I’m currently in the process of copying to the computer. I should have done this a long time ago, but I didn’t, so I’m typing every single word up, and it’s a long and somewhat surreal process at the moment. I’m up to late 2001 now, the time when I left home and went to University the first time. I’d forgotten just how exciting that period in my life was. How new and fresh and daunting everything seemed to me. I wrote about opening my first bank account, getting my first mobile phone, learning to cook and wash for the first time. Though that was such a long time ago, and so much has happened and changed for me in the last seven years, it seems I’m back at that same point now, in a way. Though I’m about to leave University for good and enter the real world of work, I’m like that naive 18 year old again, because everything that’s coming up is new and fresh, and very daunting, just like it was in 2001. I don’t know what’s out there, what’s going to happen, how I’m going to look after myself. There are so many challenges ahead and I fear that I could really screw things up, like I kind of did when I left home seven years ago.

Then again, back then I needed to screw things up, didn’t I? Otherwise I’d have never learnt. If I screw things up this time and end up having to rely on my mother for another seven years, maybe it’s because there are lessons I still have to learn. Hopefully, it won’t be that bad this time.

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