Day 55: Found at the Ballpark


I went to a baseball game this weekend — not the little league kind, but a minor league game, complete with hotdogs, cotton candy … even mixed drinks in the swanky area where we had free passes. I’m no sports fan, but we had good friends visiting who are, and they had invited us to hang out with them.

I knew this would represent a challenge to my sober path, and I do not take challenges lightly this time around. Had they not been great friends who we rarely see, had it not been an afternoon game, had I not been able to leave at any point, I would not have gone. In the past, I have over-accommodated other people to the point of drinking with them so that they would not feel awkward around my sobriety. What a great plan for how NOT to stay sober. Still, I followed this plan to the letter for a long time.

I’d had a lot of caffeine on our drive to the city and was jittery by the time we made it through the gates. The blaring sound system and crowds didn’t help. I knew that feeling: being in a strange environment, feeling a little anxious, needing to relax.

I needed a drink. I could feel it in my bones. It would counteract all of things I didn’t want to feel. It would make everything OK.

As we walked through the crowds, however, the sun came out and my spirits lifted. The smell of popcorn and the kids running around felt like we were at a carnival. It was fun. It was a celebration! People were smiling and laughing and the slanted afternoon light made everything seem surreal. I was at ease and having a good time, but my eyes kept lighting upon the frosty beer mugs, the glowing amber liquid that people held to their lips and drank. I could feel how it would taste … how cold and satisfying, how the bubbles would tickle my nose, how I would gulp it, because it was only beer, after all. But I couldn’t have one. I wasn’t allowed.

A deep sadness washed over me. This isn’t good, I thought. I need to change this. I felt bereft, but it was more than that. It was a physical pain. It was a yearning that hurt my heart, with the same feeling I got when I was trying not to cry.

And then someone in the universe threw me a lifeline with this thought: A meditation book I had been reading suggested separating yourself from your emotions, the theory being that you could maintain some level of control. You are not your emotions, it claimed. Experience the feeling, but from one step removed.

So I let the feeling continue to wash over me and tried to analyze it. Why was it so powerful? It was nothing like yearning for ice cream or food or water. I stepped back mentally and observed myself like I would a child, because that is where the feeling brought me. There was no adult element in this feeling. It could not be reasoned away and it could not be ignored. What was it? I needed to know the power behind the liquid that had flooded my life, that made me still want to open the floodgates, even after the pain and anger and depression and havoc it had caused.

The feeling was heartbreak. And it hurt.

OK, I had named it. Where did that lead me? When had I felt this before?

It was losing my mom in a store when I was young. It was running away from home at five years old and not being able to find my way back. It was accidentally dropping a puppy in the sixth grade and watching it whimper and crawl away. It was knowing the boy I liked but was too shy to talk to liked someone else. It was watching happy groups of people walk around a college campus and not knowing anyone myself. It was being betrayed by a lover. It was watching my own first child struggle to fit in. It was realizing the battle was over, divorce was inevitable, and wondering how to tell my kids. It was loss and grieving and guilt.

It came from a place without words and without reason. And I understood the powerful draw it had on me … on everyone. I honored that feeling for a minute and forgave myself for wanting to drink because I felt like I was losing something irreplaceable and precious … that I was fooled into thinking alcohol was a friend worth keeping.

I breathed in deep and then let the feeling go. And after a few minutes, it was gone. My eyes welled up and I felt an insane gratitude for everything — the crowds, my friends, the sunshine. It was all good. And I was one step further along the path.

Day 42: Paranoia


A lot has been written about smoking pot and paranoia, but I think heavy drinking, with its secret handshakes and hidden agendas, is similar in its effects.

Witness this:

To set up this anonymous blog, I first set up a fake gmail account with the pseudonym of a gymnast I admired from gymnastics camp in the fourth grade. Just try to link me with that one, Homeland Security!

This gmail account was set up under the “private browsing” feature to further cover my tracks. I then used only the “free website” features of WordPress so that I didn’t have to give a credit card. A paper trail could have eventually pointed to the blog. The Feds are tricky that way.

I deliberately gave no real personal data, so that even if someone who knows me relatively well discovered the site, they would have no hard data that it was me lurking behind Finding a Sober Miracle. (Hence, never giving my dog’s real name.) And if anyone ever points the finger, deny, deny, deny!

And why all the subterfuge? I am not a famous movie star, if that’s the logical conclusion you have reached. I don’t hold any high-level job that I would risk losing by my online confessions. I am really not anyone in particular. I am you, more than likely. Just someone trying to get it all out there in the hope of finally finding the key to ending the shame and secrecy caused by active addiction.

I’ve always admired those people who came out with a bang, neighbors be damned! Those people who refused to wear mourning clothes and self confidently took center stage in the war on alcohol. I admire them, but I can’t see making that leap, ever. I am amazed that people put their actual photo on their blogs! Anyone could identify them! What are they thinking??

Part of this is just a natural reserve when it comes to “sharing,” even with people I know well. I blame my Yugoslavian* parents.

(*not my real parentage. I don’t even know any Yugoslavians. Are you seeing my point here?)

But after watching that damn video on courage I posted yesterday, I know that I am being called to go there. I’m going to have to come out of the closet. All the way, not just peeking out to see if anyone’s looking. This makes my blood run cold with a fear you can’t begin to imagine. Or maybe you can.

Any who, I am thinking of doing this like a “Where’s Waldo?” game to delay my inevitable debut. All 18 of my followers would stay up day and night, piecing together clues to come up with my identity … maybe even start a blog about it. It could be called “Where is Margot?”*

(*That’s the gymnast’s name. Ha!)

Well, enough about me. I am off to volunteer at the homeless place I committed to in my famous blog a Karmic Miracle on paying it forward. What’s funny about this is that I will be working with addicts and alcoholics. How long before I will feel compelled to offer my own wealth of experience, having achieved 42 days of sobriety?

Stay posted.

xx, Margot


Day 40: It’s Complicated


I feel like I should change my Facebook status. I have just gone through a major break up and want people to know. I can’t believe I stayed with that asshole for so long.

Because drinking is like an abusive relationship.

It starts out with glorious promise, opening up a whole new world of possibilities. It solves every problem at once by becoming a sought after reward for the blah-ness of everyday living. Bored? Have a drink. Life will become fun, and friends will naturally gravitate to your newfound joie de vie.

But eventually, it becomes the focus of everything. Your job becomes something to do while it’s too early to drink and your friends are at work. Plus, you need money for your dates with alcohol. But it is so worth it! It eventually takes the place of all hobbies … unless the hobby can be done while drinking. Everything that can’t be — exercise, reading, learning — fades away because there is a new kid in town that promises instant fun and companionship. Nothing else quite measures up.

And neither do other people, except for drinking buddies, and they are only there while they’re drinking. It’s your common interest in alcohol that makes them friends. All other friends are shuffled to the side. They’re boring now. They don’t belong with the new, improved you. You are in demand among the “in” crowd. These other people just weigh you down. They don’t get it.

Eventually, drinking demands you give up more and more. You don’t even really notice it because you are so united at this point — you and drinking. You have the same goals, even if you don’t know what they are. Drinking wants to become your true love, a love that you will give up everything for. It’s too smart to ask this in the beginning because you are not yet captive. It waits with deadly patience for you to slowly come around to its way of thinking.

Step by step,  you follow its lead, leaving everything else behind. Finally, you come to believe that it is the spark of your existence. Without it, you have nothing. Relationships, even with those you love most, become afterthoughts. But you are now wearing blinders, and can get only a glimpse of what’s happening. There’s a vague notion that you are failing your children. A drink will solve that problem though. Just get them to bed early. Your job sucks. It’s killing you really. You can barely drag yourself out of bed in the morning and you are half-asleep while you’re there. People begin to wonder about you. They might even comment on your relationship with drinking. This makes you mad and you defend yourself — and it — because you want to continue. You have to continue.

This half-life can go on for as long as you live because time no longer has meaning. It’s just something to slog through until happy hour. Alcohol has won, as it always does. And it’s an abusive master. It chips away at your self-worth, your mind, your ability to think, and then presents itself as the answer. It’s the perfect narcissistic friend, telling you what other people say about you, turning you against them, showing itself to be your only friend. It’s the only one who is always there for you and never leaves. And after all, who else would stick by some one like you?

But then one day, it goes a step too far. As always, it begins by telling you that you are nothing without it, you need it, but as you look at yourself in the mirror, something clicks. You see what’s happened to you. Then you look at the drink in your hand, and you hurl it with everything you have. It breaks into a million pieces. “Fuck you,” you say.

You finally see it for what it is. Poison, packaged as a magic elixir. No different than any other addictive substance. Not prettier or cleaner or healthier. Not better because it’s more socially acceptable, not OK because of the billions of dollars invested in its success. It’s ethanol, flavored to disguise the reek of its chemical smell, and you are its willing victim.

And you finally put the blame where it belongs. Even if you listen to its voice again, even if you get back together, just to talk, just to hear what it has to say, things will never be the same. A part of you will always see it for what it is. The magic is gone.

And you have better things to do. You have to get your life back! You need to get in shape, buy some new clothes, and get a haircut. You are back on the market, and ready to start over … and you will never put up with that shit again.


Day 37: On Waking Up


This morning I woke up with the strangest feeling. Something was missing.

It took me a while to assess the situation … I had had pleasant enough dreams. The gulls were wailing outside the window, like they had all week. But I had no urge to jump up and get my first cup of coffee … my usual routine. I was perfectly content to just loll there, vaguely remembering a dream here, a dream there. I didn’t toss and turn, trying to get  more comfortable in the squishy mattress.

And then it dawned on me … nothing hurt.

Nothing hurt. I tested the theory by moving a knee here, a wrist there. Nothing hurt anywhere. I can’t remember this feeling ever. Not in the last 30 years, anyway.

I blamed all of those aches and pains on aging. I’ve had back pain and general signs of ill health for a while. Guess what? Back pain can be caused by aching kidneys and an overworked liver trying desperately to rid the body of a constant stream of poison. Body aches? All of the organs are affected by alcohol and are fighting an inner war to sustain life. Aging? Alcohol consumption causes premature aging, as the liver is unable to filter out toxic substances that then course through the body, damaging it throughout.

Sobriety? Sustained alcohol-free living allows the miracle of healing to take place. Trillions of cells can redirect their energy from filtering poison to doing what they are meant to — sustaining life. Real, vibrant life, not life by  default. I feel welcomed back to life among the living. Everything seems new today. I am happy to be here, and that’s a significant change from waking after drinking.