thoughts on connecting to my higher power & another thirty days sober

We interrupt my story to bring you: my thoughts on thirty days of sobriety.

I’m picking up a chip tomorrow. Again. I probably have close to as many thirty day chips as I do desire chips at this point; that is to say, enough to make a fucking charm bracelet or two. But somehow, someway, something is different this time. Or at least, it feels that way.

I’m not sure I could pinpoint for you the exact moment I could tell something was astray from past attempts at sobriety, but I can tell you at which point I had a break through in a relationship with my higher power, which I believe to be essential to recovery. This happened at some point in the beginning of my third week of sobriety.

I had been at the Magdalen House (Maggie’s, as it is affectionately called) for around three days when I first heard Caroline speak. Her talk annoyed me to high hell. I couldn’t quite pin point what about it bothered me so much, but I went outside after her meeting, puffing on a cigarette, bitching. I knew, even then, that there was something wrong with me if I found fault with her, but I still had no clue what I even saw wrong with her. I discovered the next day that the thing I had found so irritating, so irksome, was her continual use of the word God. You see, I had been raised to ‘know’ God. In fact, my father is Mormon and my mother is a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher (they are very proud of their alcoholic, lesbian daughter) so I had every opportunity one can possibly have to know God. I tried and tried, to no avail, to build a relationship with this mystical, magical being, and eventually gave up on it all. In fact, I had what would be considered one or more grudges against God. After three years of AA, the help of multiple sponsors, and countless third step prayers (“God, I offer myself to Thee […] May I do Thy will always!”), I seemed to be making no progress on the God-front. I was no closer to God than I had been when I’d first decided to swear off drinking for good and all.

On my ninth day at Maggie’s, (I’d been admitted at seven days sober, so I was around sixteen days sober) Caroline came back to speak again. Her talk was similar. She used the word God as many, if not more times. I took two pages of notes. You see, something happened in those six days at Maggie’s. I listened in those four or five meetings we were required to attend, to those recovered (yes, I said recovered, a taboo term in most AA circles) alcoholics. They had what I wanted, without a shadow of a doubt. They had recovered from alcoholism. They were sober, and happy about it. Their lives had purpose. They had few things in common, but what they did share was huge: they had all worked the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as they are outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, and they all believed that the steps were a pathway to a power greater than themselves rather than a pathway to sobriety.

So, in those six “magical” days, I stopped trying to get sober, and started trying to get to God. I got a new sponsor. I did another third step prayer, and this time, I gave it all the effort of a dying person- which is exactly what I was. When it came time to do my fourth step, I dug deep, finding something like seventy one resentments compared to the thirty five I’d listed on the fourth step I’d done a little over a month before. I poured my heart and soul into my fifth step, literally got onto my knees for my seventh step, and am giving my ninth step everything I’ve got. I’m reaching out to God with every ounce of my being. It’s a complete 180 from where I was when I got to Maggie’s twenty one days ago, and I wouldn’t trade where I am now for anything in the world.

Advertisements

my story (part two)

I’m writing a lot today, in part because I’m bored at work and in part because I realized I don’t think I’ve ever fully written out or told my story, and now I’m hungry to do so. We left off at my first drink (and first drunk). Continuing on, (and again, contact me for absolutely anything at byebyebelvedere@gmail.com):

After my first drink/drunk, I started looking for any and every excuse to go to Miss Betty’s overnight. I knew I couldn’t sneak a few drinks and go back to my parents’ house, so it was overnight or nothing. After a few months of white zinfandel nights, I discovered a bottle of Jack Daniels under the kitchen sink. I remember one day in particular, somewhere between fourteen and fifteen, that I was taking little capful-shots of whiskey and I, as per usual, couldn’t stop. I sent my grandparents outside under the guise of a ‘fashion show’- I would run inside and change outfits, take several mini-shots of whiskey from under the sink, then parade down the makeshift runway- in actuality, a sidewalk leading from the back porch to the detached garage. I managed to make this last for a good while, wearing several outfits twice, I’m sure, until I, quite literally, hit a wall. I ran, face first, into the wall beside the door. It was then my grandparents figured out something was going on. I hadn’t gotten close enough to them in that time period for them to smell the whiskey on my breath, but after I fell back onto the concrete with a hard crack, it didn’t take them long to figure out what was going on.

Miss Betty swore up and down that she wouldn’t tell my parents what had happened, as long as I promised not to do it again (in my little alcoholic mind, I convinced myself she meant as long as I didn’t repeat that exact scenario again, we were square), but I ended up telling on myself. I wrote in my diary about drinking the whiskey; at fourteen, I used the word ‘crave’ to describe how I felt about wanting more and more of the stuff, elaborating about how I loved the way the burn felt as it went down. I wrote about how hungry I was for the next time I could drink some more of it. My mother promptly found my journal, and though she was grateful for Miss Betty and the role she played in my life, I was banned from visiting her for a month. This was my first bout of sobriety, and the longest I would stay sober for at least five years.

The whiskey incident was soon forgotten, and I was allowed to get on my merry drunk way. Miss Betty started watching me a little more closely, but I came up with tricks to make her think I was drinking less than I was (she still let me have a couple of glasses of wine with her because she’d rather I drank with her than out with friends since she figured it was safer that way). My favorite trick was to have a glass or two of wine with her, then get a Diet Coke. Sometimes I would drink the whole Diet Coke, but more often than not, about half way through, I would fill the remainder of the can with wine. Every time Miss Betty got up to go to the bathroom or anything of the sort, I would put more wine in the Diet Coke can.

Around this time, I started to transition off of my ADHD medicine, after begging my mother for years. It had done nothing but spur on my eating disorder (another issue for another day), and I wanted OUT. But, back to drinking.

My first big black out came when a German foreign exchange student, Vicky, came to spend the night with me at Miss Betty’s. We found a bottle of 80 proof liqueur under the sink with the whiskey, something vile called Drambuie, and drained it in a matter of hours. I don’t remember that night, only waking up to an empty bottle with a pounding head and a woozy stomach with a sick German laying next to me. This was my first horrific hangover, and it also marks the first time I promised myself I was “never gonna do that again,” even while planning the next time I could do just that, again. I wore sunglasses all day, ever the drama queen, and brandished my hangover proudly. After all, I’d decided at age eleven that I wanted to be just like Karen Walker from Will & Grace- a beautiful, rich, hilarious alcoholic. This hangover was a badge of honor- I had arrived. I was en route to Karen Walker land before I’d even turned fifteen! I was so fucking proud of myself, even while Miss Betty and Mr. Jake were incredibly disappointed in me. I didn’t understand why they weren’t proud of me for doing a ‘grown up’ thing. I thought that getting drunk showed maturity.

I continued to drink without any real consequences for several years. I would drink at Miss Betty’s, mostly, because I didn’t really have friends. I was very involved in the theatre program at school, and those kids, unlike the cheerleaders and football players, didn’t tend to have ‘pasture parties’ or whatever, or at least, if they did, I wasn’t invited to them.

When I turned eighteen, I got a job at a sushi restaurant in my town, and that’s when my drinking career really took off. I discovered the joys of vodka, and despite knowing I was primarily interested in women, I found that I lapped up the attention of men like a thirsty dog. After my awkward teenage years and almost no romantic attention of any kind, almost overnight I became a hot commodity; I figured out how to dress like an woman rather than a child, and learned how to (kind of) properly apply make-up. I had zero self-esteem, but liquor helped me to quickly forget this fact. I loved to be the center of attention, but unfortunately, positive reinforcement usually caused me to take a joke or a story just far enough past everyone’s comfort zone so as to make the situation incredibly awkward. Soon I snagged an older boyfriend, Dylan, (whose qualifications were primarily that he was funny and that he had four different brand of vodka in his freezer), who encouraged my drinking, and before long I was drunk before, during and after work. I drove drunk for the first time when I was with Dylan, kissing him sloppily before I did so, crying, whispering, “If I die, know that I loved you, and if I don’t, know that I like you a lot.”

But that is just the beginning.

my story (part one)

My story is no different than any other alcoholics’ story, in that I drank, it kicked my ass, and I ended up in Alcoholics Anonymous. But my story has the unique ability to touch another woman (or man- who am I to judge)’s heart and soul in it’s telling, and so it is my responsibility and privilege to put it out there for all to see (or in this case, read). I hope that someone, somewhere, benefits from this grand retelling of what I used to be like, what happened, and what I am like now. Inquiries of all kinds, including requests for someone to vent to, requests for temporary or permanent sponsorship, or clarifications about my story can be sent to byebyebelvedere@gmail.com. -Andi

And so, we begin.

Growing up, I was one of two daughters. My biological father never married my mother, because she, later on a Baptist Sunday school teacher, refused to convert to Mormonism. Luckily, my stepfather came into the picture when I was two. He’s a great guy; was always there for me- was the best Dad anyone could hope for. I didn’t begin speaking until I was two years old, and then it was in complete sentences.

My younger sister came along when I was three, shifting the spotlight off of me, which was tough. I was used to being the only child on my mother’s side of the family- the star at all the family events; the center of attention. After her, an influx of babies were born, and I became sort of nothing special. I was always the oldest, but I always wanted to be even older- I hated being a child. I sat with the adults at every opportunity.

I was constantly in trouble at school, going to the principal’s office six times in kindergarten alone. In first grade, I had a wonderful teacher called Mrs. Herrington. She introduced me to a love of reading that would encourage me and stay with me for the rest of my life. In fact, it was in reading I found solace for most of my drinking years. But, that’s skipping ahead. As a young girl. I was precocious, always reading, and was consistently shocked when I was told that my thoughts or opinions didn’t matter because I was “just a child.” I was too smart for my own good, or so I was often told.

Moving on, most of elementary was pretty tough for me. I was obnoxious, not well liked, and an outsider. I tried and tried to be well liked, often to no avail. I had one or two close friends, Sharon and Starla, who, like me, kept their heads in books more often than not. I was diagnosed with ADHD in fourth or fifth grade. I was given medication, which essentially turned me into a zombie. This seemed to help my social life, because more people wanted me around than ever had before. This was my first experience with having chemicals ease social tension. (Note: I am not one of those AA-ers who is against psychiatric medication. I believe that the marvels of modern medicine are at our disposal, and that we’d be absolutely ignorant to ignore them. I simply feel that it’s important to mention that this is when I first started to rely on substances which did not work properly to ease social tension).

I continued to take this medication on through my junior high years, even though the only signs of ADHD I showed were related to hyperactivity, and only in spurts. My grades were above average (in fact, I was in the school’s gifted and talented program), I was able to focus on books and things in situations when the average ADHD person could not, etc. Around this time, my grandmother, who had been the main person to raise me (while my workaholic mother made her way up the corporate ladder), passed away from Alzheimer’s. I was devastated. I met a lady called Miss Betty Bradford (hence the pseudonym I’m using) at our church library one day, and we hit it off. She had recently lost her father, so we bonded over our feelings of loss. And books. We definitely bonded over our love of books.

I began spending a lot of time with Miss Betty and her husband, Mr. Jake. They kind of became my pseudo-grandparents. Sure, I had my grandparents on my biological father’s side, but, as Mormons, they had a bazillion grandchildren and in addition to that, lived four-to-five hours away. Since my maternal grandmother had just died, and my maternal grandfather had died a diabetic alcoholic when my mother was eleven, Miss Betty and Mr. Jake were exactly what I needed.

I had my first drink at Miss Betty’s house. Alcohol was taboo in the Campbell (my stepfather’s name) household. It wasn;t talked about, and it certainly wasn’t around. I had several glasses of white zinfandel with dinner, and I was hooked. I was thirteen or fourteen, and when Miss Betty wasn’t looking, I kept refilling my glass from the box in the refrigerator. She had no idea how much I drank that night. Neither do I, really, as I blacked out after about the fourth glass (t’s important to note that I weighed somewhere between seventy five and ninety pounds at this point in time, so it didn’t take much). All I know is that I woke up a) feeling like hell and b) wondering when I could do it all over again.

I can’t tell you exactly what happened that night. I mean, I could break it down and tell you what scientists have told me happened, but I couldn’t really put it into words. All I know is that, immediately after I took that first drink, for the first time, I couldn’t get enough. For some people, it takes years to reach that point, but for others, like me, it’s instantaneous; I had to have more and nothing would stop me from getting it.

intro

Oh look, another blog. This time under a pseudonym. Not that I expect anyone to actually read this, or to get any sort of attention from it, but on the off chance it does or I do, I’m covered on the anonymity thing.

This is a blog to document my journey to recovery, or my journey on the road of recovery, since according to my sponsor I have joined ye elite masses of Alcoholics Anonymous who proudly brandish the title ‘recovered alcoholic’ like a badge of honor. I’m not yet sure whether or not I buy into all this ‘recovered’ ideology, but it does say recovered multiple times in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, so who am I- but a single victim of alcoholism- to argue with a title while has rocketed hundreds of thousands into the fourth dimension of existence? But, I digress.

This is a blog about recovery in all forms- the good, the bad, the depressed, the happy, the joyous, the free, the struggles- all of that shit. This is a place where I can rant about wanting to jump off of a bridge one day, and be proud of a sponsee for completing her fifth step the next day. Chances are, there will be little rhyme or reason here. There will be many rants, on various things. There will be boring, filler type entries that are basically internet journal entries. Come one, come all, we’ve got something for everyone.

This is my outlet to share my experience, strength, and hope.