Monday, March 28, 2016

I'll Get The Non-Alcoholic Drama Please

I celebrate 30 days of sobriety tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty grateful for my strength and determination. I literally take it day by day and I find it to be a lot easier to handle that way. Life has certainly challenged me, though. If I didn’t have this gorgeous child to focus my attention on, I may have lost my shit a few times and been a little more tempted to say “fuck it, dude. Let’s go drinking.” 

My meeting tonight was interesting. The topic was God. Or as many people in the program look at it, Your Higher Power. I quietly chuckled to myself... such a sense of humor your so-called Higher Power has... 

The sharing began. One by one, I heard stories of God. Some women shared about growing up in religious households. Others shared about having very little exposure to religion in their lives. A few talked about being God-fearing women. But everyone came together in giving their God credit for their sobriety. 

It’s a good sized group and with under an hour designated for sharing, not everyone has a chance to talk. As the time winded down, it looked like I was in the clear. I mean I could always pass but that's not really my style. But not getting picked to share to begin with? I was probably better off this week...  

As one woman finished, it was announced that there was only time for one more share. 

“You know who I’d like to hear from?” the last sharer announced, “Tina.” 

Guess I should’ve seen that coming. 

* * *

“Hi, I’m Tina. And I’m an alcoholic. I’m also an Atheist. 

“I’m laughing because it’s so appropriate that this subject would come up this week. You see, I made the cardinal sin of social media this week: I gave my opinion on something. Even worse, it was on religion. A work colleague, who has recently been exploring a newfound love of religion, called me out on my beliefs and after a conversation that started out as fairly adult turned snarky and passive aggressive, things ultimately ended in an unfriending. 

“Probably the worst part about being an Atheist is that when a situation presents itself where it’s appropriate to announce my beliefs, I typically get looks of sympathy. Like people feel so sorry for me that I don’t believe in God. 

“I grew up going to church off and on all the way into my early twenties. My parents weren’t overly religious. My alcoholic grandmother was very religious. She said I was going to hell because I wasn’t baptized. That was some of my earliest exposure to religion. And alcohol for that matter. 

“The older I got, the less church and its teachings made sense to me. I studied a few different religions but it all seemed to be one big made up story designed to make people feel better. And that wasn’t enough for me. So I turned away from religion and put my faith into things I could see, feel, touch and believe. Science made sense. Proof made sense.

“At the risk of sounding cold, there was really no love lost in this unfriending situation although I’ve had to run some interference at work as there is now a suspicious rumor going around that I ‘hate Christians’. Luckily, people I am truly close to have more respect and understanding of my beliefs and vice versa. However, it reminded me of the concern I had when I first considered attending these meetings. I avoided them because I figured everyone would ‘God’ me to death and I would feel alienated. Not only has that not happened, but this particular meeting has been one of my favorites and I’ve genuinely enjoyed listening to everyone’s shares. 

“I may not believe in God, but I think I can understand the concept of a Higher Power. For me, it’s my son. He just turned six months old. He is definitely the reason that I started coming to these rooms. However, what I’ve come to realize throughout these past 30 days is that the reason I keep coming... is because of me. Because I deserve it. 

“So thank you all for sharing and for being here. It makes me proud to have chosen the same path. 

“And no, I don’t hate Christians.” 

* * *

I drove home with a smile on my face. A real one. Which felt nice as there hasn’t been much to smile about lately. Home is rough. I’m sad about our situation and am not sure we can recover. I’m already working on a budget so that I can afford to stay in the house by myself. I have a shared-baby plan in my head. I’ve moved into the nursery and have been sleeping in there. Yeah, that kind of rough. 

But I’m still celebrating 30 days tomorrow. And there is still a lot to be happy and hopeful for. My son is still my everything and I know every decision I make is for him, even if it’s hard for me. 

I still don’t believe in God. But I do believe that my son was given to me for a reason. I was too stubborn, angry and depressed to do anything productive with my life before him. Now, I have every reason in the world to be great. It’s way more difficult, but that usually results in higher rewards. 

But I know I can't please everyone. And as far as those that don't like me or are uncomfortable with my beliefs, with 454 friends still left on Facebook and countless more in the real world, I don't believe I'll be missing that particular drama.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

I'm Tired of Being Tired

Last week at this time, I was getting ready to make dinner. We ate together before a friend of ours came over to watch Xander so we could get out for a few hours and play some Golden Tee and unwind. Date night for mom and dad. I’d been looking forward to it all week. 

Unfortunately, we showed up to the bar and immediately started drinking scotch. I mean, really? Why not just have a few beers? We’d been on a scotch kick for the past few weeks so I guess we figured, why stop now. 

I got wasted. I picked a fight with Johnny. He left me at the bar (because I refused to get in the car) and I walked home. It was only across the street. But still... I walked my drunk ass home. 

It wasn’t the worst I’d ever been drunk. Not at all. I didn’t black out like I did a few weeks ago when I got drunk at the bowling alley and Johnny had to carry both me AND Xander into the house. It's not the first time he's had to carry me. I didn’t get sick and then wake up next to the toilet, surrounded by vomit that didn’t quite make it in. That’s happened many times. And I didn’t start talking to someone else at the bar, end up going home with him and not remembering much after. That’s definitely happened before. It’s been years... but it’s happened. 

I like drinking. But I’m tired of being drunk. 

Any readers been here since the beginning? When I first started this blog almost six years ago, I was getting ready to go through a life change. I was turning 30, I was miserable and I wanted to try something different. If you go back and look at my first handful of posts, they talk about quitting. Quitting everything. Drinking, gambling, smoking and sex. I was going to quit everything for a full year and see how much more full my life could become. 

I lasted less than a month. 

The longest I’ve ever gone without drinking since I turned 21 was when I was pregnant with Xander. And when he got here, one would hope I would just continue not drinking. Get my shit together and be this awesome, sober mom. But, I didn’t. Part of it was a little of a “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” thing with Johnny as I resented him for continuing to drink so much, even though I kept asking him not to and everyone assured me he would change once Xander arrived. But really, I like to be drunk just as much as he does. So how could I really be that mad? 

But, I’m tired of the fights. I’m tired of the walks home. I’m tired of the hangovers and I’m so very tired of how much I hate myself the next day. 

I’d love to drink socially. But I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I can’t.

I’ve avoided 12 step programs for many reasons. I never wanted to admit the kind of problem I had. I also had a pretty negative association with these groups as I’ve always understood them to make you a victim. Admitting that you are powerless over alcohol. I mean, I’m in complete control, nothing is more powerful than me... she says as she takes another shot

But mostly, it’s the fact that I’m an atheist. Everything about 12-stepping is God, right? All that “God grant me” stuff and the Lord’s Prayer. Certainly I wouldn’t be accepted. Geez, if an alcoholic isn’t welcome in one of these groups, then I might as well just say fuck it. 

But I can’t. He needs me. Almost as much as I need him. 

In the past, I’ve talked myself out of quitting because I didn’t want to be boring. Drinking made me interesting. It made me funny. It made me confident. It made me feel sexy. 

All lies. It made me angry, sad and more depressed than ever. And I no longer feel the need to impress anyone. Except him. And boring is totally fine if it means I’m alive and present to be there for him.

So I went to my second meeting on Friday. I went by myself to a meeting close to my house. Actually, it was held at the hospital where I gave birth to my perfect little man. I was hoping it was a sign that I belonged there. My friend wanted me to go with her to another meeting but after an emotional week, I was feeling a little judged, a little like some assumptions were being made. I wanted to be somewhere no one knew me. Where I wasn’t afraid of being completely honest. 

I was so nervous and uncomfortable walking in. But as the people trickled in, one by one, and created this intimate group of ten or so (the normal, apparently, for this particular meeting), I started to feel like I had made a good call. I shared. I talked about my concerns as I’ve written them here. They were all so understanding. I got a 24 hour sober coin. It got passed around the room so everyone could touch it and give me their positive energy. They came up to me after the meeting and told me not to worry about my beliefs. I was reminded that the only requirement to be there was the desire to quit drinking. An anonymous member even bought me some literature for my journey. They hoped I would be back the next week. 

I cried in my car before leaving. I was so relieved and touched. 

I’m going to go to another meeting tomorrow. It’s at a church so I’m hoping I don’t burst into flames upon arrival... but it’s an all female meeting. I was told I was welcome to bring Xander as a few of the women have brought their babies before. One woman told me her kids were raised in the program as she joined at 20 years old and was now well into her 50s. Sober for 30 years. And still showing up. 

Things at home are still strange. Johnny is not tired the way I am. He is helping in that he is waiting until I’m asleep before he drinks or sneaking drinks when I’m in the other room. It’s okay.. I’ve decided to quit worrying about anyone’s battle except my own. I can’t change anyone but myself. And while I don’t like to look at myself as a victim, I’m not too proud to admit that I can’t do it on my own. 

So, I’ll keep going. I’ll probably work on the steps. Anything to help. Because while I may be tired of being drunk, picking up a drink is a very, very difficult habit to break. 

And I’ll keep sharing. I imagine my blogging will increase. I hope not to alienate or lose too many people... but again, my battle is bigger than those who wish to go on without me. 

We get the one life. That’s it. At least that’s what I believe. I don’t want to spend the rest of it tired, hating myself, wishing I had a way out. I want to be happy when I wake up, satisfied with the woman I am. Proud of the mother I’m becoming. I want to walk out into the world every day and say, “yeah... I got this shit.”

I want to be better. That's my journey.