This morning I went to my favorite women’s recovery meeting. It’s a decent sized group – not so big that I feel lost, but also not so tiny that I feel like I have to speak up every time I go. There are women with long sobriety, and also newcomers. It might not have the same edginess and drama as meetings I used to attend in San Francisco, but it shares the same element that drew me in the first place – no matter how I am feeling, there is at least one other woman in the room who has felt that way, too.
For most of my life, I’ve felt different. Too shy, too anxious, too bookish, too awkward. I wanted to fit in, but I wasn’t sure how. I didn’t start drinking to fit in, but when I drank I felt like I did – or at least I didn’t care that I was different. For a while, alcohol worked for me. It worked really, really well. Until it didn’t.
Even so, 90 days sober, there have been many times that I’ve doubted that I’m an ‘alcoholic’. I’ve had consequences of my drinking, but they all could have been worse. I’ve not lost a job, a house, a relationship, family members. Did I really need to be in recovery?
Today one sentence in the reading stood out to me. When I enjoyed my drinking I couldn’t control it, and when I controlled it, I couldn’t enjoy it. A small voice in my heart said ‘yes, this is you.’
Sometimes I drank normally, socially. A beer or two or three with family or friends at dinner. A civilized glass of wine after a hard day. But when I drank the way I felt I needed, I drank to feel the ‘click’ in my head where everything turned way, way down. The anxious voice in my head? Silent. The feeling that there was something ‘else’ I should be doing? Gone. Restless, discontent, lonely? Not anymore!
It took more and more to get the ‘click’. I was careful not to drink when I had the kiddos, because sometimes the click lead to blackouts. No problem if I’m on my own, but if the kids needed help in the night I had to be available for them. On nights the kids were with their dad, all bets were off. It took a little while to realize, this wasn’t actually working. In the morning all of those crappy feelings were still there, along with some guilt and shame for drinking so much, what I might have done while I was drinking, and an ass-kicking headache too.
Sobriety is a journey and I’m just at the beginning. I’m not making forever statements, but for today, I am not drinking. I’m learning about feeling my feelings and doing things anyway. Learning that we all feel anxious and awkward and weird and that’s fine – just keep moving, keep following our hearts. I’m working on building a community of women who can see me in all of my weirdness and join me with their weirdness. We’re all in this weird world together.