Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sobriety check: Day 12

Close to a fortnight without substances or drink, I'm feel disoriented and heartsick.  I've taken more sober falls in the last two weeks than I have in my life.  My knees are black and blue.  My elbows and palms are skinned.  I tripped on the sidewalk outside a bar tonight as I was walking by and everyone in line laughed about how drunk I was.  Yeah.  Sure.

AA sure puts it's participants through the fucking ringer.  I went in expecting to find distractions to drinking-- eating lollipops, chewing gum, avoiding the liquor store (although I swear several times my car has tried to drive me there on my own), cutting off from non-supportive friends.  But no.  None of that has ever been suggested (well, my newly found sponsor, Angel, told me that since alcohol is something like 80% sugar eating lots of candy helped her during her first several months). 
Their mission is clear, it is a program for those willing to do the work to quit drinking, and they adhere to that promise.  This is a somewhat ambiguous promise until you begin to submerge yourself into the steps and you realize that not only am I going to be depressed because for once in whatever amount of time I can't drink whiskey in the tub, but also because after you accomplish step one (simple! I have admitted I am powerless over alcohol and unable to manage my life on my own), you start to step two and three and so on and it seems like the deeper I am getting the more I am regretting entering the program.  It's not that I am even having that difficult a time not drinking, it's just this shit I have to sludge through.  I have to map out my resentments and realize that I don't drink to drink, I drink to cope.  I never drank to have a good time, I always drank to tolerate my body.  The heaving lungs get lighter with every swig and I fondly remember my days of trekking San Francisco just how fucking fast I would fly up Lombard with a half a bottle of bourbon in my system.  It is little moments of forgetting the pain of getting out of bed in the morning, forgetting that my kidneys don't understand their function, forgetting that my lungs are filling faster than I can manually clear them...  forgetting that I am real, that I exist, that I am alive and mostly, that I am dying.

A slow death, I can say for certain.  So many people in these meetings have said that they were waking up in the morning during their darkest days as addicts and alcoholics and they would curse their higher power for allowing them to wake up that morning.  I thought after hearing that several times it was positive I haven't often felt that way until I realize my reaction to waking up every morning is often, Of course I'm alive.  Of course I'm waking up.  I'm destined to live the life of a fucking vampire.  I'm going to live with this shit for-ev-er.  Somehow I think that's not much healthier than wishing death.

Back to this whole step four, mapping out resentment.  AA treats the drink by making you dig so deep into the soul you'll end up wanting to die before you make it through.  I think that's the deal, at the very least I have spent the last three days laying on my couch all day wondering why the fuck I am who I am and why in the fuck I've been such a selfish cunt for so many years.

I don't resent people.  Well.  That's not entirely true.  I do resent my ex, J.  Not for who he is or even what he did but how his actions changed my view of my disease.  I thought I was over being angry about my disease when I happily left my teens for my twenties.  That shit, I thought, was buried in dust along with Sta-Prest Levi's and hipster moddy square toed shoes.  I left it with the days of missing curfew and telling the world to go fuck itself.  Slowly it crept back though.  J resented my disease.  He resented, still presently does as far as I know, what it was doing to me emotionally, what it was doing to my body, and mainly what it was doing to him.  It completely disabled him from any capable human emotional reaction.  Hospital visits were few and far between.  My vest machine would move from one end of the living room to another, far less visible and much more inconvenient spot.  My nebulizer cups would be put away faster than they could dry.  After each move my medications were always given their own neat little shelf-- hidden away behind a cabinet of some sort.  I recall once, after a particularly noncompliant couple of months, I opened the fridge to find my Tobi and Dnase missing.  He'd thrown it away for "more space".  You never used it anyway, he said.  And who was I to argue?  The expense of the medications seemed a joke because he was right-- I didn't ever use them and who am I to tell him he's wrong throwing out something I didn't ever touch?  

My cough is what bothered him most.  Eventually we stopped going on dates to movie theaters.  One particularly cold first of January we were driving to the bar to meet a few of his friends.  Looking forward to meeting them, I felt fine but was having a terrible coughing fit.  That cold air set it off and I couldn't seem to stop.  Are you going to cough like this all night?  Are you okay?, he slowed the car.  Amidst a cough, a gasp for air, another cough and a sort of laugh, I said, I'm fine, let's go! and that's when this horrible secret came to light.  He turned the car around and said that my cough made people in public uncomfortable.  He was ashamed of it and nobody knew I was sick.  Not his mother who I'd met on several occasions, not his best friend who I'd shared many stories with over beers.  Not his brother who I was growing somewhat fond of.  Nobody.  It was a shameful, secretive thing that only we were to know.

That changed everything.  I loved him deeply still and decided, despite the guilt I had knowing I'd always be his disfigurement, to move across state lines with him.

J made me resent my disease like I never thought possible.  It brought up everything I'd ever felt sad because of relating to illness.  It made me feel shameful, as if my illness were my fault and something that should be kept hidden.  I hated it.  I hated him for making me angry with the biggest problem I am ever to face especially after feeling like I had cleansed myself of any confusion or ill will regarding it.

So, Bill W., one of the founding members of AA, believed that people drink or abuse drugs because they have resentment.  Some people were molested, some were abused, some had too much too young too fast.  I have this shitcocksuckingmotherfucking disease that I can't get rid of.  It's eating me up inside and now it's eating my brains too, and my soul at a whole new level seeing as I'm supposed to battle this shit David and Goliath style until I can overcome it and lose the urge to drink.

What the fuck?  What the fuck am I doing?  I would rather drink and ignore this shit.  And if that makes me a bad person, a selfish person, a tiny person so be it.  I will be fine with being the worst piece of shit fatherfucker in the universe as long as I don't have to face this shit.

Well.  Maybe I won't be.  I'm lazy.  I'm an alcoholic.  I don't drink to numb pain, I drink to survive.  And stepping down from this will make me lazier that I've ever been in my life.  It will make me more of a coward than I thought even possible.  Stepping up and taking this challenge is going to change my life, I know it will.  It's not the drink I miss at this point, it's the beauty of the ignorance I've held in my heart, mind and soul for years passed.  

I'll attend another meeting.  And another.  And slowly I'll creep through these steps.  I just can't believe it when someone says they got through these steps in less than a month.  I have a faint grasp on the idea that I can have some sort of peace if I follow through with this.  I have a strong inkling that I'm forever the shell of a dead person walking if I don't.  

And no, I haven't found God yet.  Don't fret!  Hail Satan! 


whatsherface said...

J sounds a lot like my x (who we are calling simply, x). We've compared those notes before though - it's what first let you and I know we might have a bit more in common than just the bitch of having this shit disease.

The physical deterioration of the body doesn't hold a candle to the emotional destruction caused by being forced, however unwillingly, to accept that very physical demise.

Do we ever really accept it?

Shannon said...

I hope you find what you need in AA, or somewhere. As a person whose car also tends to drive her to the liquor store, I admire your courage.