I remember my first AA meeting.
I was 18 at the time, and at the urging of some friends who were growing weary of my booze-induced antics, I grudgingly let a friend’s mom, who had been enjoying the benefits of sobriety for decades, take me with her one night.
We made our way through a quiet Orange County neighborhood, and as we turned onto a street named New Hope, the irony eluded me; I was too busy seething in self-pity and anxious to get the stupid meeting over with, so I could, you know, go out and get a drink
Clenching my jaw, I prepared myself for a night of lectures. I was surprised when instead, I ended up captivated by at least a half a dozen or so stories; stories of pain, stories of loss, stories of recovery and redemption and possibilites.
There were young women who had already been in prison, or lost their children in a custody battle. Some were on their third DUI, some still smelled like liquor, and still others were perfectly coiffed and manicured, professional women, doctors, lawyers, a woman who sang in her church choir and brought freshly baked brownies to the meeting. Once strangers in the outside world, now within those walls, they, we (though I wouldn’t have admitted it then if you had held me at gunpoint) were all equally diseased, each one of us in various stages of its manifestation.
When we got back in the car, my friend’s mother asked me what I had thought about what I heard that night.
“Some of those women are really screwed up! I’ve never been arrested, or taken to jail. I’ve never cheated on anyone or lost my entire family.”
“Yet.” was all she said to me.
On June 9, 2006, I downed my last beer, the shame and denial coating my throat for the last time. I was a month shy of my 29th birthday.
It’s not hard to do the math.
Over a decade after walking into my first meeting, I finally had had enough.
It didn’t matter that my family, my loved ones, had had enough many years before me.
Nothing was going to change until I. Was. Done.
And that night, or more accurately, that next morning, I. Was. Done.
Last night I had, as I have been for the past week or so, another drinking dream. In these dreams, my conversations are blurry, my tongue is fuzzy, I stumble past people I do not know and avoid the ones I do. I am a liar again, and it feels so easy and familiar and I’m always missing something; my wedding ring, an article of clothing, the way back home. I wake up in a haze of doom and relief and it always takes a few minutes to sort out what is real and what has once again, been imagined by a subconsious rife with stress and anxiety. I don’t know why they happen and truthfully, I don’t really care.
The only thing that really matters is that each day
I am given another chance
to wake up in a reality that doesn’t include the lonliness, the guilt, the self-hatred anymore
Each time I awaken from one of these dreams
and realize that I didn’t drive drunk again
or break a promise again
or break my husband’s heart again
I hold onto the peace that floods over me
the serenity that surrounds me despite the chaos of the outside world
I try to count my blessings but there are so many and I have to get breakfast on the table
and as I bathe myself in gratitude
I surrender myself once again to the simplicity of it all
the comforting knowledge
that this time, it was Just. A. Dream.
that i am still just one drink away
*What? You didn’t know that I’m a recovering alcoholic? Where have you been? Read my very first post about it, the one that gave me thousands of pounds of relief, here.