My first drug of choice was weed in my 20’s but that disappeared with a spiritual awakening, those are always nice, being air-lifted out of your quicksand puddle. Alcohol didn’t become an issue until I ended up as a divorced single mom and just something for instant relaxation after long days of overworking but also to drown out the endless torture of real and irrational financial anxieties. Finally walked into the doors of AA in 2009 and threw myself at the program. Suddenly everything in my life changed, I had new patterns and new friends and loved the raw honesty and love and truth-telling. It all felt like a warm bath to my soul. Once again, I was air-ballooned out of my self-destructive rut and floating on such a high pink cloud that I wanted to take out billboards or sky-write I’M IN THE PROGRAM AND IT’S AWESOME!
As my sober journey progressed, I came back to mySelf in spades. The things that had never set well with me about the culture that has grown up around the AA program started to feel like brambles around Sleeping Beauty’s castle that were leaving me cut and bleeding. I had far too much “shame and negativity” scar tissue from growing up Catholic to look past or just laugh off so many of the things I was hearing and seeing that were just not in alignment with my own spiritual perspective or even the basics of positive psychology. I still burn incense on the altar of Bill W and Dr. Bob for giving birth to the recovery movement and for all the miracles that happen in those rooms, but I knew that fellowship was not the right community for me going forward. Walking away with my 3-year chip and moving into a self-directed Recovery 2.0 could have been a great thing had I not questioned whether I ever really had a problem. Maybe it was just a rough patch.
The following years of experimenting and moderating were low-level misery. I wasn’t crammed inside the bottle again for some real high-level suffering, but the wine bottle was still stuck to my hand. I didn’t like the taste of the first drink, that faded with the second one, and the second drink ordered a third, and that was enough to interrupt my sleep patterns and ensure that regret would be the primary emotion I felt the moment I woke up in the morning. All day long I would feel vaguely down and unmotivated and lacking energy. I could avoid drinking for a while but the price I was paying was no longer high enough to sustain the resolve I really needed to create brand new healthy neuropathways over the addiction patterns. I wasn’t giving my brain the time it needed to truly heal and allow me to be absolutely and completely and gloriously FREE from the struggle.
Clearly, this leg of the journey was not going to be an air lift but rather a slow climb through my own effort. Really? I’m going to have to work for it this time? I have to grow all the way up? I can’t just want to WANT to quit and then it happens spontaneously? I have to step into a more mature and disciplined way of being and doing and showing up in the world?
That’s when I started poking around the recovery community for tools and support and programs and books and podcasts and teachers and you-name-it. At this point I’m a walking encyclopedia of recovery resources. I’ve read the LifeRing handbook and attended one of their meetings, done all the SMART Recovery worksheets and attended a number of their meetings, investigated some other groups, been a part of online communities, paid for Hip Sobriety School and I’m still working through the world of resources and supports in that rich program, listen regularly to recovery podcasts, read a ton of books, stay active on sober support sites, write about sobriety, took up kundalini yoga. I was already an avid meditator and big fan of spiritual circles.
Most recently I discovered Refuge Recovery and fell so head over heels in love with that program that it feels like everything that has come before was part of the path that took me to that door. And even though I might be Our Lady of Perpetual Stumbles, I feel an absolutely certainty that I’ll move past this ridiculous point of heading off periodically into the weeds. I feel absolutely certain that I will indeed grow all the way up, and all the things I’ve learned along this meandering lazy path away from the Dark Playground into the Light will be helpful to others.
If you want to join me in real time let’s get accountable together. I’m through drawing lines in the sand and it’s time to etch my goals in fucking sandstone!
ROCK ON BADASS WARRIORS!
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