Today’s guest post comes to us from Anna. She’s opinionated, smart, cute, accomplished and a big old alcoholic. I thought she’d be perfect for Don’t Get Drunk Friday and when I got her post, I was not disappointed. You can check out her cool blog which is here.
“My drinking career was hard and fast, applied to the point of obsession, like everything I do. I was never a daily drinker, but I never saw the point of drinking without getting drunk, either. I would rather have stayed home than to have tried to control my drinking, and this is why my early adulthood is best described as a long period of intense boredom interrupted by periodic episodes of insane and horrifying blackouts.
There came a time where I knew that I had to quit drinking. So I did it on my own, because that is the way I’ve always done things. Several times I did this, once for two years straight, white knuckling it through social events, dates, the dreaded New Year’s Eve, rather than admitting that I needed help. Years later I would say that I managed independent “sobriety” by watching a lot of TV and not leaving the house — sobriety via Ally McBeal. But it always failed. There was always some reason why I had to drink again, or an example of how it wasn’t socially acceptable to give up drinking altogether, for the rest of my life, because society expected it of me, and what was I supposed to do?
When I finally made it to AA for good, I would learn that there is a special name for alcoholics of my type — “periodics” — which was exactly the kind of thing that I needed: a special distinction for myself. I have spent most of my life feeling that I am different, and that the rules that apply to everyone else should not apply to me. And even if I knew that the periods in between my drunken rampages were getting shorter and shorter as time passed, I still needed something separating me from everyone else. Even in recovery I needed to be different.
It was galling to me to have to go to meetings where people were proud to string a few days of sobriety together as if it was some kind of massive accomplishment, gripping onto their 30 day chips as if they were life rafts in the open sea, or crying through a speech after they received their one-year-of-sobriety birthday cake.
I hated — hated — that I had to come to these people for help. I hated the thought of having something in common with the prematurely hard-faced drunks in my women’s meetings. I was insulted when former heroin addicts would lecture me on how I should be feeling at 20 days sober. Most of all, I hated introducing myself in meetings as a newcomer, because it suggested that there was something I did not already know, that there was something that these people could teach me, and that beneath all of these superficial demarcations of age, class, experience, and gender, we all had something in common.
But I am fortunate that I am so stubborn, because even if I hated everything about AA’s brand of sobriety, I knew that my own way was not working anymore. If there was anything in the world that I hated more than the idea of needing AA it was the thought of ever again feeling like I did on the morning of June 3, 2001, when I tried to kill myself after a particularly bad bout of drinking and insane behavior the night before. After that, I knew I was fresh out of ideas and that anything I did my own way was never going to work. And that’s the only reason, eight and a half years ago, I chose AA.
I did everything they said to do: I went to 90 meetings in 90 days, took phone numbers of people I had no intention of calling, found a sponsor, worked the steps, found another sponsor, worked the steps again, took commitments, became a sponsor myself. I did it, cursing “God” under my breath and shaking my fist at the sky the whole way. I would get into debates with people at meetings, separating myself from the “big book thumpers” and arguing about whether alcoholism could rightfully be called an “allergy” or a “disease.” I was difficult, annoying and snotty, but I was consistent.
And somewhere along the way, the hatred started to fade into the background. Along with it went the need to intellectualize all of the questions about God, and finally one day I decided that maybe it wouldn’t be so terrible to have something in common with “these people.” Because here in this crazy motley crew of drunks was something more like family than I had ever known before. I could tell them anything, all of my most awful, embarrassing thoughts and feelings and exploits, and they would nod and tell me something they had done that was just as bad or embarrassing, and we would laugh about it. And through each other there was something kind of like healing.
Today my life gets so full of beautiful things that sometimes I forget that I’m not different. But I don’t ever want to go back, and my life today could never exist without sobriety. So if you’re out there reading this and thinking that maybe you’re different, don’t worry — I am too.”