Somewhere, I had crossed an invisible line. “Five o’clock somewhere” was more frequent than just weekends and the morning headache was happening more often than I like to admit. A few Tylenol usually did the trick for the headache, but the emotional hangover ~ the guilt, the shame, the self-loathing ~ that took more than some aspirin.
“But, I can stop whenever I want. I can. I can control it.” I repeated this statement over and over and over again, every day, hoping it would actually stick.
But, I couldn’t.
I really wanted to be able to control my drinking. Like a lady. But every time I would limit my drinking, whether for a day or a week or a month, I’d go back and I was off to the races. Each time getting worse.
"I can do this”, I said to myself. “I'm a smart girl. I'm a good Christian. I've got God and I go to church, so I can do this", reciting another Hail Mary. "I've got this."
So, damn, why can't I get this?
"Maria, I'm worried about you. This is getting out of hand. Why don't you try AA?" my husband begged.
"What? Are you kidding me!? I'm not THAT bad." I mean, look at me. Do I look like an alcoholic? AA is for people who are, like, really messed up and I’m not like them. I'm just a little bit messed up.
Just a little.
Certainly, not enough to go to AA! With THOSE people. I mean, those people have problems! They need help.
Not me. I'm fine.
I just need a little bit more will power. Yeah, that's it.
Oh, the time that I wasted trying to find my will power instead of simply admitting that I needed help...even if it was from AA. No matter what I tried, including will power, I couldn't seem to pull off getting sober.
Walking through that door would be so embarrassing. What if I know someone? OMg, what if someone talks to me, or worse yet, wants me to talk!?! Nope. I'd rather just stay here...where it's safe and no one will judge me. After all, I'm not one of them.
But it's like my dear, dear friend, Clay always says: "I hope that whatever got you to these rooms was the sh*ttiest thing that ever happened to ya!". BOOM! That's what it takes to get people in the rooms. That's what it takes to get people to STAY. A rock bottom and a lot of humility!
What finally broke down my ego and got me to walk through those doors involved mostly some ugly nights of drinking and a furious and very frightened family. That was my "sh*ttiest thing" like Clay talks about. My bottom.
Today, I go to my AA meetings almost daily. It's my life insurance against relapse. It's where I go to be reminded me that I have been given a gift, and that I can so easily lose that gift if I don't stay on top of my program. It's where I go to breathe...to be with others who "get me" and I get them. It's where I go when I need to hear God speak through others.
The thought of what I put my family through many years ago, breaks my heart. So, I go to meetings also to settle their hearts. So that they can see that I am willing to work to be the version of myself they need me to be. I go as part of my living amends to my family. My living amends to show them that I need and will continue to work every day to earn my sobriety. To earn my seat in AA. A program from which I'll never graduate. I'll just keep going and growing.
Today, as I sit here, venting and reminiscing about the past, I can't help but feel such a profound depth of gratitude for those rooms. The rooms that saved my life. My family. Myself. The rooms that gave me back to me. Today, I am a very grateful alcoholic.
A what? Grateful alcoholic?
Yep, I am grateful for all of those people in those rooms that have guided and loved me when I couldn't love myself. Those people who kept telling me "keep coming back". Those people who will always call me out when my ego sneaks up and pokes its ugly head. Those people who are an example of "God with skin on". Those people who gave me the courage to live my life one day at a time. Those people who taught me that I could have a life beyond my wildest dreams. Those people who helped me learn what it is like to really have a higher power, whom I chose to call God. Thosepeople who help me live a life that is happy, joyous and free!
Yep, those people.