I didn’t get sober on purpose. I wasn’t crawling into an AA meeting saying I can’t stop drinking, my life is horrible, I can’t stop shaking and so on. However, I couldn’t stop drinking on my own and my life was horrible and I only got the shakes a few times during my drinking career. So there. It was after my 2nd DUI that my attorney suggested I get to an AA Meeting, so I went – like the good little solider I was because I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me. Even though at this juncture in my life I was falling apart – mentally, emotionally and physically. I needed a band-aid quickly.
After my first AA meeting, it hit me like a tequila shot thrown in my face – I could get sober and have a good life – especially if all those other people in the meetings could. Maybe I should give this thing a try. I had no other options.
I was so naïve to recovery, getting sober, AA, alcoholism – all of it. I knew nothing. All I knew was what I saw in the movies. Those movies that always made me feel a little bit superior to the lead character. Those movies that I couldn’t wait to see when they’d come out in the theatres as I had to make sure my life wasn’t being showcased in any of them. This way I could keep rationalizing how I was living my life. When I saw Leaving Las Vegas, I knew I wasn’t like him. When I saw When a Man loves a Woman, I knew I wasn’t like her. But when I saw 28 Days – I said, huh, I could be like her – but she wasn’t doing any blow – so I couldn’t relate to her story. I could relate to the drug movies though, but eh – I wasn’t that bad.- I was a recreational user whatever that is.
So when someone told me to read the Big Book, the first 164 pages, I did just that and I was flabbergasted at what I read. Did these guys have a microscope into my brain? Did they know what I was thinking and feeling? How is this possible? I was relieved to know that my disease was just that – a dis-ease. It wasn’t willpower and it wasn’t bad morals – I had a three-fold disease of mind, body and spirit. Ahhh….OK, this made much better sense.
I soon learned that the more sober I got the more I realized how bad of an Alcoholic I was. In my first few weeks I was angry, tired, irritated and annoyed. I was mad that my family could still drink. I was mad that they didn’t tell me what a royal fuck- up I was. I was mad that no one ever threw me into treatment. I was mad that others in my life weren’t leading me to the door of sobriety. I soon realized however that it wasn’t anyone else’s responsibility but my own. I needed every last drink and drug I ingested so that I could understand that I wanted to get sober for me. No one else.
In working the twelve steps, with a Sponsor and the Big Book, I soon learned that I had to be accountable and responsible for my own actions. Sober actions. Sober words. I had to bite my tongue a lot. I wanted to tell others what I really thought of them or how I thought they should be living their lives, but I had to learn restraint. I had to be mature – which was a big adjustment and I had to get centered with being who I was at that moment.
The steps taught me a lot about myself and each step was an A-Ha moment for me. I started a relationship with a Higher Power, I started praying and meditating, I made amends, and I gave back with service work. Helping others is the best way for me to get out of my self, because I learned that I’m selfish and self-centered to my core. That one was a tough one to digest. Living life sober is all very easy actually – however, its just hard to do it each day, every day. I’m lazy and I just wanna skip around on the beach and have fun – but yeah, life doesn’t work that way.
Here is my quick list to share on what I learned in my First year sober:
- That Alcoholism is a disease.
- That other people want to help you – you just have to ask for it.
- That no one can make you get sober – you have to want it for yourself.
- That AA isn’t a cult.
- That I’m a responsible and accountable adult and my actions matter.
- That helping others makes me feel good.
- That living a life of recovery is a daily process.
That first year in sobriety taught me more about myself than I ever could have imaged. The last 10 years – well that’s a whole other story.
Inspired by writers she admired for their honesty and grit, Nancy started writing more and more and by early 2005 had compiled a 250 page manuscript for her own Memoir, “Last Call”. Nancy’s work has appeared on numerous recovery and addiction websites and blogs. She also has a blog lastcall2015.blog.me where she likes to ramble and rant about recovery, alcoholism, addiction, family, her sober husband and her four-legged child, Lucy. Nancy enjoys a full-time career in another industry, while she and her super cool husband reside in sunny southern California where they frolic on the beach with Lucy and don’t take anything for granted.