I quit

Not sobriety. AA. I’m an AA drop-out. 

It was going well for me, though I’ve always had my annoyances with it. The cliches, the cult factor, the condescending tone in a lot of the members’ voices. But still, the program has turned so many lives around, including my own. I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to sit in the rooms and hear others telling me that it’s all gonna be ok.

So what happened? Steps 8 and 9. Or really, they didn’t happen. My sponsor’s side of the story is that I am unwilling to go to any lengths for my sobriety. My side of the story is that I’m a new person, and I’m done dwelling on the past. I have no one to put on my list of persons I’ve harmed that I’m willing to make amends to. No, seriously. I have no one. 

I’m making living amends daily to my husband, kids, friends, and family. I’m working hard on being present in people’s lives and watching my motives. I’m being as honest as I can be. I’m praying daily, morning and night. I feel at peace the vast majority of the time (unless my kids/husband are driving me nuts, but even then, I realize it will pass.)  I sincerely don’t feel there is any obstacle at this point between me and maintaining my sobriety, as long as I keep God first and realize it’s all my Higher Power that’s doing this. 
I understand my part in my past effed up relationships, and I’m working on not repeating them. I don’t necessarily feel guilt or shame about them, though. I just feel like I did the best I could at the time, and now that I know better, I do better.
I knew my “unwillingness” would sever the sponsor/sponsee relationship, and it did. We’re still friends and I attended a meeting this past week to watch her pick up her 9 year chip, but that’s the only meeting I’ve attended in over a month and the only one I plan on attending at this point. I’ve promised myself and my husband that I’m willing to return to the rooms if need be, but at this point, I’m pretty disappointed in the inflexibility of it all and I’m staying sober with the help of God, my people, and online support.
One more week and I’ll have 11 whole months!!!
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Nine Month Musings

1) I really like this purple chip.

2) Emotions pass, both negative and positive. I don’t have to try to hang onto them with all my might or get rid of them as quickly as possible. Just because I feel like a stick of dynamite ready to explode, or a recluse who doesn’t want anyone near, or a socially awkward dork who can’t seem to go out after dark without fear of a dramatic breakdown, doesn’t mean I’m going to feel this way forever. This. Is. Amazing.

3) My whole being can change without it reflecting outwardly. I live in the same house, am married to the same man, have the same kids, but hot damn, I’m a new creature on the inside.

4) When I still feel like a piece of shit mother/wife/sister/friend, I know #2 and #3 are still true.

5) Not everyone at social events drink. Amazing.

6) No one really gives two shits whether or not I drink at said social events.

7) Confronting character defects ain’t child’s play.

8) It’s okay to confess that I’m restless and bored sometimes. 

9) It’s okay to call it a day and be comforted in the fact that I can start over tomorrow.

10) And suddenly, God appeared. And I like it.

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Free, joyous and the third thing.

Fourth and Fifth step, complete! Hot damn, I’m glad to have that over and done with. And you know what? I do feel better. Much, much better. Different, too. I went in thinking it’d be all about shame and guilt (and there was plenty of that) but I came out realizing that a person I’ve harmed deeply is myself.

I was telling my sponsor a story about how I pay someone monthly, and have been for the past 9 1/2 years. I’ve been totally consistent in these payments, and I’ve always felt both shamed about doing it yet also validated in a sense, like, “See this?? See how responsible I am???” This person is an ex-boyfriend’s father, who lent us (ex and me) a shit ton of money in which I wouldn’t have had to pay back a dime if I’d stayed with the son. Praise God I had some little bit of clarity in the midst of the chaos of being with him (and the booze and drugs) to realize I had to get the fuck out ASAP (like a burning house on fire–DANGER! DANGER! GET THE FUCK OUT!). Anyhoo, I’ve been paying this actual and emotional debt for years and years. 

So, after sharing this with my sponsor and expecting her to say something like, “Well, good for you for paying him back. That’s being responsible and you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread and the best AA-er ever” I got instead, “The fuck?! You are done paying him! You can let this go!” Wow. Nevermind that my husband has telling me this for years. Her words as an outsider broke through to someplace deep inside me, someplace called “Mama’s Self Respect.” She was absolutely right. The ex-boyfriend owed his father, too, and Lawd knows his entitled ass isn’t paying back a penny. I was paying this man back to make up for the fact that I had hurt his son, but I’ve long ago paid my debt and I could move on.

I got home and immediately sent off an email to the father, letting him know that I appreciated his past generosity but that I felt I’ve paid my dues and he will not be receiving anymore money from me. I BCC’d The Mister on this email and got back a reply immediately from him saying, “Yay, 4th step. Free, joyous and the third thing!” Bless his heart.

The following day I received a reply from the ex’s father, basically validating my decision and wishing me well. 

Yes, I really am happy, joyous, and free.

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Holy shit, I’m done with the Resentments part of Step Four. Since my last post, I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed some more, and talked to my sponsor and read y’all’s replies. I sat down and made out my list and I have 30 people/institutions/principles listed. 30! This is a bunch! But I did the four columns and feel a little bit of weight off my shoulders. Like, maybe 3 lbs. This is out of 300 lbs. It’s a start.
I’m about to start in on my Fears, which still seems frightening, but no where near as scary as Resentments. I realize I’ve yet to get to the Sex Conduct. Gulp.

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Step Four

Hi, I’m Mama, and I’m an alcoholic who is terrified of Step Four. I don’t want to dig up my past resentments and fears and things I’ve done and the damage I’ve caused. I feel like a trapped animal or defiant child and I want to stamp my foot and refuse this shit.

I’ve never ever had to trust my God like I’m doing right now. I know that what I learned in the previous steps will get me through this. I’m still scared.

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That Whole God Thing

Step 3, you’ve arrived. So far I’m not feeling as comfortable and confident about this step as I did the previous 2. I’ve gotten to the point where I understand that my Higher Power can be anything I want it to be. I feel like I have an ok handle on my conjured up image of God, sorta. I like to think of my HP as meaning, “the best I can be.” I’ve always heard that God is good, but it clicked one day in a meeting that God is Good. God equals Good. My HP is Good, and Goodness is what I’m trying to achieve with my every thought, word, and action. I got this part.

The part that makes me squeamish is “turn our WILL and LIVES over.” I’ve been struggling to figure out what it is about these words that freak me out. You know what keeps coming to mind? A memory from my childhood. I remember praying at night, “Please God, PLEASE don’t call me to the mission field!” I had heard missionaries speak at my fundamentalist church and they said something like, “You never know if God is going to one day call YOU to leave your family and travel around the world to live with cannibals and sleep on the dirt and get strange diseases like leprosy  All for His Glory!” Yeah, fuck that. Maybe if I just ignored this so-called God, he’d skip over me and I could stay in America and sleep in a real bed forever and ever.

So, this is the glitch in my Step 3. The fear of being asked to do something that I just don’t want to do. But then, I realize that I’ve already done that when I gave up the booze. That was (and some days still is) the very last thing I wanted to ever let go of. But I’ve done it. And I’m becoming better at it all the time. It hurts sometimes, but I’m able to see the light peaking through the clouds more and more. 

Right now, I don’t truly understand the meaning of turning everything over to my HP. I’m meditating on it and trying to understand it, but I don’t have a grasp on it just yet. That’s ok, though. I’m sober, and I’m attempting to learn and grow, and that’s all I can do right now.

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So, no one-person beach side cottage in my future

The Mister and I have talked. Rather, he spoke eloquently, and I stuttered and stammered along. Somehow my ability to form coherent sentences went away with my redneck vodka/Sprite Zero concoctions. 

He knows about Divorceland, and is understandably hurt. But you know what emotion he spoke of that I admired the most? Anger. I realize anger is a secondary emotion, meaning, his hurt is the primary one and the anger is perhaps a defense mechanism, or some psych shit like that. But, the anger is what made a light bulb go off in my head. Why? Because if this man didn’t love me, he wouldn’t have such a strong emotion toward my divorce fantasies. 

During our talk, I was told that I really do suck at communicating. I already knew that, but it was eye-opening to hear my introverted husband make so much sense and open up so much, while I sat there scared out of my mind. What am I so afraid of? Why am I afraid of anything changing if all I want is a change in our marriage? These are questions that I can’t fully answer right now, but I know I’ll be able to one day.

I’ve decided to make the conscious decision to make my marriage the best it can be. I can’t change the way my husband does things, but I can and will change the way I live. I can work on communicating, even when I’m scared to death. I can let him know how I’m feeling and give him little “check ins” often instead of assuming he knows what I need and should be providing it. I can trust that he truly does love me and doesn’t want to be anywhere else but here with me. I don’t have to build a fantasy life to protect myself from the intimacy that I know we can achieve. I can open myself up to it and be raw with this person, my life partner.

My fantasy world is just one more thing I’ve used to not confront life head on. As these things are exposed for what they are (escape mechanisms), I know I’m growing, however painful the process may be. 

All I can do is go to meetings, pray, call my sponsor, communicate my needs clearly, listen, and be grateful for the life I’ve been given. 

So this shit gets easier at some point, right? RIGHT?! 🙂

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