Sunday, April 12, 2009

what's so special about three months?

I am!  I got my three-month chip this morning.  I've been thinking about a lot of stuff, and have a post sitting waiting to publish about it all once it stews a bit more.  It's really the first big thinks I've done seriously since jail, and I think I'm getting ready to start really being serious about sobriety.  I'm starting to accept that it might just take me longer to do everything, and that it won't be a problem unless I get impatient.  Anyway, a big cosmic thank you to everyone at LL&LL and to Hope for going with me and Steve for driving us and Jasper and Leslie for pep talks and everyone who cares and my whole family for just being there.  As someone in my group says, "This chip belongs to you; all of you, because I couldn't have done it without you.  But I'm taking it home with me."

saving my life

Photo by C. of A Passion for Jaywalking.  Click photo for link-thanks so much for permission!
It's become increasingly obvious to me that the past ten years, and my escalating drinking/self-destruction had exactly one point:  to cause me enough pain to make it alright for me to die.  There were lots of peripheral reasons, and I had no idea at the time that that was the point.  I thought I was having fun.  Or maybe I thought that it looked like I was having fun.

That's a complicated thing to say, though.  I hear people share about "when drinking stopped working" but for me it was always about pretending:  that I was like the other people in the room, that I didn't hate what was going on and where we were, that I could be whatever it was I thought I had to be 

Right here I could point my finger at a couple of people and say it was all their fault for making me think I was having fun, or for pressuring me to be something I'm not, but that's a lot of bullshit.  

I was the only one in control of my actions, and I chose to do what I thought other people wanted from me.  I knew.  It might have been subconscious a lot of the time, but it was there.  I knew it really wasn't fun, and that it led to bad places that I had a sick desire to be in.  I knew I was hurting myself and other people.  It was my place to refuse to do that, to stick to my guns and protect myself and to BE the person I knew I was.  

I just didn't want to.  I wanted to wander a little way down the primrose path and see.  I wanted to see if I could let it all go.  To literally let it all go--to inch far enough toward the end of my rope that it was permissible to let go.  To die.  To hurt bad enough, and to throw away enough of myself that I could make it okay to throw away the rest, to make a job of it.  To stop hurting forever.  I thought that was the way to be safe.

And it didn't work.  I was totally shocked about three weeks ago by the fact that part of me is really pissed off about that.  I had left class (a nearly 3-hour ASL class) for a little break, and went into the bathroom.  As I was sitting down on the toilet (I know, TMI, but that's where it happened) I just had this flood of emotion; regret, wistfulness, longing, and I heard my voice say (out loud) "I can't believe I don't get to drink myself to death and I have to do all this."  I felt a little betrayed, even.  It beggars the imagination, even mine, but I think if I had the balls to bring it up in a meeting I'd see a lot of nodding heads, a lot of people who know exactly what I'm talking about and lived through it.

Here's the thing, though.  A big part of the power of A.A. is in the fellowship, the letting people get close to you.  "G-D works through people," and all that.  There is so much help and care I can pick up just by being there, and just by listening, and living on the fringe of it all.  It helps so much.  But there's no way of getting around the fact that to really get weller I have to jump in, make friends, socialize and get into service.  Or at least get brave enough to get a damn sponsor.  And I can't.  I just can't.

It's bullshit, and a stupid reason, and I just can't.  I'm too scared.  People just aren't safe enough to trust my heart to.  I'm just too damn scared.  And that scares me.  Part of the reason I started drinking is because drunks are shallow, and you don't have to let them in.  They're happy with acquaintance-ship and, "Oh...I'm fine..." and not having any responsibility to each other.  I know that these people at my meeting are wonderful, loving people who are helping each other and supporting each other, I know that.  I WANT that, deep in the core of me, to be with them and be like them.  I also know that they're flawed human beings just like me, and they'll screw up, they'll hurt me and they'll let me down, just like I sometimes do.  Like everyone does.  I even know that for me to be happy, joyous, free, fearless, thorough and honest I have to learn to be okay with all that.  

And it's not so bad...I've made it three months now.  I got my chip this morning, and despite being so scared I almost passed out on my way to the front of the room to take it, I made it.  And the attention was awful, and wonderful, and I felt the love through the tears.  I want this, and I want it badly enough to keep doing something that every fiber of my being says is wrong, bad, scary and dangerous.  It's the best, safest and most productive place I've ever been this scared.  So that's my dilemma--I'm too alive to die, and too scared to live.  That's all.  I'm working on it.  I'll let you know how it goes.  

Thanks so much to C. of A Passion for Jaywalking for graciously letting me use the three-month chip picture above.  I was frantically searching the entire internets for a picture of one that I could use and found this one, which is so beautiful.  I consider it a triumph that I wrote and asked a total stranger for permission at all, and the fact that C. was willing to let me use it for just a credit and a link was gravy.  Incidentally, it's also a great blog about sobriety, poetry, life, etc.  Definitely worth reading.