Day 30: Free at Last


Today, I woke up groggy, as usual, and was dreading having to pack for a long drive to Florida, with a stop at a funeral along the way.

I really don’t like funerals. I’ve only met the person who died twice. It’s more of an obligation, and I resent having to change my travel plans to accommodate it. I’ve been whining for days, when I am not thinking up schemes to get out of it.

Yes, I really am that selfish. And yes, it is what happens when you live as a heavy drinker. No one expects anything less from you after a while. They know you are a whiny (but entertaining, you imagine), self-centered person that cannot be counted on when it really matters.

But after some spiritual reflection, I had this rush of joy when I realized it had been thirty days since my last drink, and that I didn’t have to play this role today. I am in awe of the fact that I can be of use to the people there. I can pay my respects with respect! I need not harp silently on how this man’s death inconvenienced me. I can be a positive, praying influence on the shocked family. I can make it easy on my husband, who knows he is half-dragging me there. I can graciously and lovingly be a partner instead of a millstone. I can allow him to take his attention from placating his whiny spouse to supporting his friends and family, who have suffered an unbelievable loss.

And I am ecstatic about this! I know the feeling won’t last forever, but who cares? I am not fixated on the drinking that will be going on after the funeral — I have barely thought about it. I am free to be what I really am — a loving person, a child of God. The alcohol hides this about me. Love doesn’t come naturally when I choose drinking over actual human  contact. I have been among the walking dead. All I have to do is read my first post to see how shocking my state of mind was under the influence.

I can choose to be strong instead of weak. I can break these chains once and for all. I have never felt more free.

Day 22: A Karmic Miracle

child eating snack

The coolest thing is about to happen. It’s beyond cool, really, because I am about to make a giant leap in universal understanding. I am about to tip the Karma scales in another direction. I kid you not.

Listen and marvel:

Today, I am going to take the money I saved from not drinking so far this week (at least $50) and I am going to go to Walmart. I am not a fan of Walmart, but it’s where I can get the most for my money. I am going to buy the healthiest individually wrapped snacks that I can find and drive to a small building on the “iffy” side of the small town where I live. There, I will drop off these snacks to the nice woman who runs a program for homeless women and their children. The program involves a year-long support network and long-term housing for women who have experienced addiction, violence, joblessness, mental illness, etc.

Can you see the incredible symmetry in this action? Let me say this: I have never done anything like this except through my good intentions on the road to hell. Even those weak altruistic actions I have attempted in the past go by the wayside once drinking is back on the table. But today, I am going to take money that would have supported the local ethanol industry and transform it into take-home snacks for homeless families. The website says that these snacks are often all they have to eat for dinner.

OMG, the gallons of money that I wasted by dumping it into the polluted stream of indulgence and addiction! How much better will I feel knowing that the money went to a child? I am about to find out. Amazing.

But wait … I have taken this a step further. I have volunteered (via the website) to work one day a week in the childcare area of the building. Women often show up with nowhere for their young children to go and therefore cannot attend AA, fill out paperwork, etc. I love kids, especially now that my own are all grown up. I can help someone who needs it, for once. I no longer have to be the needy one, the one that constantly asks for support to get through the day, who is an open funnel for wasting money and time.

I could be someone else. Actually, I could be me without alcohol.

That, my friends, is a miracle.

— S


19 Days and Counting


An unbelievable achievement: I have not had one sip of ethanol in 18 days. (I call it ethanol now because that is what it is. The same thing you get at the gas station. It’s lethal, flammable, etc., but with enough sugar-coating, ingestible. That’s why it tastes so bad. It is literally poison.) I got all of this from a book called, “The Naked Mind: Control Alcohol.” Spoiler alert! The book is not about controlling alcohol. It convinces you on a sub-conscious level to think of it as poison. Which it is.

I am doing well. I am not obsessing about alcohol, mostly because I have had a relatively stress-free few weeks. But guess what? In the past, I have succumbed to drinking even more often at “happy” events — weddings, getting together with friends, holidays. I don’t need to avoid triggers as much as I need to realize that everything is a trigger, starting with the first thought. The minute I let that first thought in the door, the second thought will grab whatever situation I am in and make it an excuse to drink. It’s genius really. There is no circumstance that I can’t mold to my own secret wish to drink, if I so choose. (Even if I don’t so choose, the thought will choose me.) I need to stop drinking completely, and not hold out thoughts such as: “If I get a terminal disease, than I can have a drink.” In the past, I have actually wished for a health-related false alarm just to get that drink. That is sick.

So today, I am watching my thoughts. They mostly involve chocolate truffles at the moment. And truffles never leave me wondering what stupid thing I said or did after having a few.


Day 6: Midnight in the Garden


I’d never heard of an Ayurvedic massage, not before my self-imposed rehab at a mountain retreat that promised yoga, meditation, vegetarian food, and healing. No meat or alcohol allowed on the premises.

It was here on a table, on top of a mountain so high that we often walked through clouds, that silent women anointed my body — my forehead, my palms, my feet — with warm, fragrant oil. Their skilled caresses and the lull of soft Indian music made me feel like I was in another world. Like anything might happen.

I vaguely remembered something about the anointing of saints, of Jesus. I read later in the Ayurvedic literature in my room that it was a call for healing. For miracles.

I wondered if the silent women could feel how desperately I needed a miracle. I knew, though, looking in the mirror later, that desperation was a feeling that I could no longer summon up. Instead, a familiar numbness clouded my mind, obscuring what used to be concern for my own wellbeing.

“Miracles happen here,” claimed the retreat’s website.  I needed one for myself, no doubt. But also some to bless those I had damaged with my need to anoint myself with wine.

During my final days at the spa, I was anointed for the last time. Afterward, the woman wrapped steaming towels around my head and feet so that I was covered in a shroud of white, with a sheet wrapped tightly around my body.

Like a corpse I thought. The anointing of the dead.

It’s up to you, she seemed to say.

I could take this blessing from the gods and hold it tight forever. Or release it and turn away. Let the unforgiving tide roll in and take me out to sea.

I want to hold on.