Skeletons Part 2.12 – My Recovery Relaxed

Relaxed (past) – “Don’t quit before the miracle happens.” – phrase used in AA.

I distinctly remember the first time I decided I wasn’t going to go to meetings for a while and didn’t know if I was going to come back after I gave birth..  I was VERY pregnant, sitting in a meeting with my legs spread wide open and a human being beating the shit out of my insides. I was done. I was done being pregnant and I was done with AA.

My meeting attendance in early recovery was relatively consistent due to the fact that I needed signatures. After A2 was born, I went on my terms. I was now 3+ years without a drink and back to my recreational usage of MJ. I still harbored the same resentments towards AA and remained one foot in, one foot out. I simply wasn’t ready to work on myself because I didn’t think I had to.

I was self-will run riot and unwilling to accept what I couldn’t change (people, places and things) or have the courage to change what I could (myself!) and God wasn’t having it. My relaxed recovery was about to get an overhaul and I had no idea it was going to look how it does today.

But God did and stuff had to happen first.

In August of 2017, I hit a wall that brought me to my knees, only this time, I wasn’t drinking. In the months that followed, I was living in a perpetual emotional hangover that gave me the desperation I needed to hand my will back over to God.

You wanna know what happened, don’t you? I know, I know, I would too. Fine, I’ll tell give you the condensed, vague version in the form of…that’s right…a list:

  1. Certain aspects of my existence had become unmanageable.
  2. I started to pray and meditate like my life depended on it…because it did.
  3. I saw the need for change and decided it was officially time I defect from AA, announced it in a private recovery group on social media, and sought professional help for my outside issues that had nothing to do with drinking.
  4. Considered drinking AT my issues a couple of times and went to a meeting right away instead.
  5. One of those times was when I decided to tell a bunch of strangers my BBS and walked away with a glimmer of hope for my place in AA.
  6. Confessed to women I DID know in a house meeting and walked away with even more hope; enough to compel me to seek out a temporary sponsor while I “figured it out.” The woman I asked said yes under conditions I wasn’t willing to adhere to.
  7. Attended meetings off and on, getting more and more annoyed at the “all or nothing” mentality, suggesting that people in recovery are not really sober if they are using marijuana – medicinally or recreationally – and that they would need to start their date over if/when they decided to quit.
  8. Started this blog and was doing recovery without a sponsor or meetings, using all the tools I had learned in AA the past 6 years (as of March 30th, 2018) and was still in therapy.
  9. Found a private FB community and support group for people who also use cannabis in recovery – recreationally and as a harm reduction tool.
  10. Things happened that would not allow me to close the door on AA for good. For example, I found out that the maid of honor I talk about in Skeletons 1.9 had been reading my blog and that she’s ALSO in the program. Are you kidding me!? She instantaneously became Birdie #6. B6, you know WTF you are.
  11. Was met with nothing but support when I told her about my BBS. That same day, B3 strongly encouraged me (again) to stop judging myself and come back to the rooms.
  12. 2 days later, after a long sabbatical from meetings, I got honest in my former home group and claimed my seat; offering to be of service in any way that I could and that I was praying for a sponsor.  

Can you guess what happened next?

I’ll give you a hint…

..a miracle.

#morewillberevealed

P.S. Oh, yeah, I should probably mention what else happened these past 12 months: I smoked, vaped and ate cannabis products the entire time. I also cried…a lot!

Skeletons 2.11 – My Remorse

**Disclaimer: This is an unusual recovery blog. I am presently in the “what happened” portion of my story, which focuses primarily on my drinking and recovery in the past. Whether this is your first time here or you are a returning reader, I encourage you to visit my About page before reading further.**

Remorse (past) – Our friend is still victimized by remorse and guilt when he thinks of yesterday. (12 x 12, Step 3, pg. 39)

Like most problem drinkers and alcoholics, I did and said things I would never do sober.  There were always consequences – big and small – but the ones that did the most damage were the guilt, shame and remorse. Why?

Because that was the cycle – drink, do or say things I would regret, wake up, feel bad for said things and then drink the bad feelings away.

The feeling of remorse was a constant. The longer I drank, the worse I got, the worse I felt, the more I drank. I was even remorseful for drinking when I DIDN’T do anything stupid. I knew I had crossed the line into full-blown alcoholism and made many vain attempts in getting my shit together. Chapter 3 of the BB offers a list of some of the methods people try in order to gain control of their drinking so they don’t have to quit for good. Here’s the list, what I tried and the result (over an approx 10 year period:)

  1. Drinking beer only – nope, didn’t drink beer unless it was the only thing available.
  2. Never drinking in the morning – yep, failed.
  3. Drinking only at home – nope, in fact, I far more enjoyed drinking socially even though I did most of it at home.
  4. Never drinking alone – yep, failed.
  5. Never drinking during business hours – yep, failed.
  6. Drinking only at parties – nope, refer to #3.
  7. Switching from scotch to brandy – literally speaking, nope. But I DID try using MJ to help me drink LESS and that DID work…for a little bit soooo, that’s a fail.
  8. Drinking only natural wines – nope, wine is wine and my drink of choice. I never discriminated.
  9. Agreeing to resign if ever drunk on the job – nope, I was never put in this position but should have been fired a gazillion times for how alcohol affected my job performance.
  10. Taking a trip or NOT taking a trip – nope, taking a trip meant uninhibited alcohol consumption and the only reason I wouldn’t take a trip is if I was told I couldn’t drink on it.
  11. Swearing off forever (with and without a solemn oath) – yep and yep, failed.
  12. Taking more physical exercise – yep, failed.
  13. Reading inspiration books – yep, failed.
  14. Going to health farms and sanitariums – kinda? I went to a holistic nutritionist at one point. I tried. But not hard enough. So, yeah, fail.
  15. Accepting voluntary commitment to asylums – yep and you can read about it in Skeletons 2.3 – My Reckonings.

The book says next “we could increase the list ad infinitum” and that is most definitely true for me.  Here are a few (and very common) other methods I personally tried to manage my drinking:

  1. Limiting the number of drinks I would have in a social environment – “I’m only going to have X many drinks tonight.” More often than not, I failed.
  2. Only drinking on the weekends – always failed.
  3. “Personal detoxes” – Swear off alcohol for a determined or undetermined amount of time. I (almost) always succeeded, felt amazing, and slowly fell back into the same patterns once I started drinking again.
img_2219
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, page 30

It was a deathly cycle that I simply couldn’t change on my own and I needed help but didn’t WANT to ask because I was for too prideful to admit defeat.

So God did for me what I couldn’t do for myself. A “concerned motorist” called me in, the cops were already looking for me. I ended up in handcuffs for the second time.

I felt total guilt. Terrible shame. Tremendous remorse. Remember what I did when I got home the next day? Yep, that wine from the night before was calling my name and I answered.

Today, I still feel remorse over things I do or say sober – I am human after all. I just don’t drink to run away from it anymore.

I don’t use MJ either.

#morewillberevealed

Skeletons 2.10 – My Recovery Revealed

Revealed (past): It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. (BB, pg. 85)

I remember the first time I learned that smoking pot was a no no in the rooms of AA. I was sitting in a meeting watching a woman take a 1 year token after “smoking a little weed” when she had 11 years of sobriety. I distinctly remember a part of her share when she received the coin and it went SOMETHING like this:

“I really don’t want to be taking this token but my sponsor is making me.”

I thought it was ridiculous that a woman with long term sobriety would be “told” she had to start over.  I still do and that’s why I kept my “marijuana maintenance” a secret for so long.

Revealing my chosen recovery path here isn’t the first time I have “outed myself.”  I came clean to 3 friends a few years ago and their response was this:

“So? The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking.”

I couldn’t believe my ears and was really happy they were so accepting.  It was a game changer for me and I started going back to meetings. But not regularly. Even though no one else in the program knew, I still felt like an outcast and “not worthy” to be an active member of AA. Down deep, I really did want to be “a part of” but I was convinced I wouldn’t be accepted if I fully “got honest.” I felt like a fraud and it was killing me inside. I could NOT let go of the idea that I didn’t belong because I WAS doing it “my way” and if they knew, they’d shun me. Why?

MY ego.

MY pride.

MY will.

I was IN self and entering the danger zone, distancing myself further and further from the program.

I’ve heard countless times that people who smoke weed in recovery end up leaving AA altogether and eventually turn to the drink when life gets really hard. And guess what…

…it did. I left AA and then shit got real. And guess what…

…the thought to drink DID occur to me a handful of times. But did I?

#morewillberevealed

My “Relapse” – Part 4

July 4, 2013 – 1 year, 3 months and 3 days clean and sober.

It was my second sober 4th but I wasn’t pregnant anymore. While breastfeeding was an excuse I COULD use, the other two breastfeeding mothers present were drinking sooooo, let’s just say the struggle was beyond real…AF.  

Everyone was drinking.

Most were passing a joint around.

Except for one person…me.

I was now throwing a self-pity party of 1 and everyone was invited.  Someone asked me which was the lesser of two evils – booze or bud – and I said there was only one evil for me and it was the former.

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Opportunity.”

“Opportunity who?”

“Opportunity you’re not gonna pass up, that’s who.”

5 years ago today, I said yes to what is commonly referred to as the “marijuana maintenance recovery” (MMR) program.

I had no idea what MMR was when I took that first puff off the joint. All I knew in that moment was all my anxiety had dissipated and I felt “a part of;” I was able to relax and enjoy myself the rest of the time that 4th of July beach day.

Remember the BBS I mentioned when I first started this blog? My “big bad skeleton?” Well, now you know. But there’s still a lot that you don’t know that I want to say…and I will…but not today.

And there’s still a lot that I don’t know and need to learn…and I will…but not today.

However, what matters today is what I DO know:

  1. I am an alcoholic who lost my ability to control my drinking long before my last drink on March 29th, 2012 and I haven’t picked up a drink ever since.
  2. I am an alcoholic with a desire to never drink again and help others recover from the disease of alcoholism &
  3. I am an alcoholic who smokes pot, still attends AA and I no longer GAF what anyone in the fellowship thinks or says about it.

The best part?

I’m not the only one.

#morewillberevealed

My Relapse – Part 3

Relapse #3: I don’t remember what I had but I want to say it was another ½ mini-box of wine? Or maybe 2 mini bottles from a 4 pack? Weird I don’t know specifics because this was the least I had drank of all the relapses since my DUI.  Hubs came home earlier than expected. Since it was such a small amount, I really didn’t think he’d notice.

But he did. He asked. I lied.

H: “Why do I not believe you?”

P: I don’t know because I haven’t.

H: Okay then. Let’s go to your car and you blow in your breathalyzer.

P: (yep, I’m screwed) Okay, let’s go.

H: (sigh) nooo, it’s alright, I guess I believe you.

ANOTHER bullet dodged and man, was I sweating!  I decided right then and there that I couldn’t risk it again because the next consequence would be him leaving me – even though he never once said that he would.

See, that’s where my brain can go sometimes. Immediately to the worst case scenario with nothing to back it up. Like a hypochondriac (which I can also admit that I am to some extent) thinks they are at death’s door when they experience unfamiliar symptoms they cannot explain, I was foretelling the death of my marriage. It’s just so dramatic (eye roll).

My new date was now March 30th, 2012

I decided I’d wait a while.  I’d complete the 6 week outpatient rehab program, the dust would settle and I’d drink again when it fizzled into something we just didn’t talk about. You know, sweep it under the rug like it never happened. Story of my life.

But I haven’t.

Today is July 4th, 2018. Alcohol has not touched my lips in 6 years 3 months and 3 days.

#morewillberevealed

My Relapse – Part 2

Relapse #2: I decided I’d do one final “test.” It’s a common test we lushes like to take and it’s rather quite simple for normal drinkers to do: have just ONE drink and that be all. Since I had a suspended license, I walked up to the liquor store and bought 2 of those mini fridge size bottles of vodka and pineapple juice.

Yes, that’s one drink – a double bay breeze, sans cran, duh. Why would I drink a single? I’ve never known an alcoholic to order just ONE single shot cocktail and call it a night. And I know a lot of alcoholics. I’m no different. But I REALLY wanted to be.

Of course I failed the test because the “phenomenon of craving” came on strong right away and before I knew it, I was walking back up the hill to the shopping center but to the grocery store this time.  I couldn’t return to the same place I was just at. I thought they’d think I’m alcoholic and I couldn’t stand the thought of that kind of judgment. I purchased 1 of those mini-boxed wines, hustled home and got to drinking.  I drank…maybe ½?…before H got home. And not soon after, he figured it out and left. I went to finish the box, but a strong sense of conviction came over me and I poured it out.

My new date was now March 24th.

#morewillberevealed

Skeletons 2.9 – The Relapse Series – Part 1

Relapse (past): The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death. (BB, Chapter 3, pg. 30)

Here’s the bottom line: I don’t remember my very first sobriety date because I wasn’t done drinking. All of the harsh consequences I had already brought upon myself weren’t enough to convince me I was a real alcoholic. I still needed more proof, hence the final 3 “legit relapses” and I will relive all 3 of them for you today in a series of 3 posts.

Relapse #1: I talk about it in My Recovery Rewind – Part 2 and Skeletons 1.9. It was a basically a true “relapse before the relapse” situation.  I had just gotten 30 days prior to a wedding weekend. When I was handed that token, my mind was already in Bend, OR, fighting off that trigger that I knew I wasn’t going to even try fighting.

I wasn’t excited about it. I didn’t rush home to show H or text pictures of it to my family or friends. I was also terrified of anyone knowing about it that weekend because, well, a) my prideful, alcoholic brain didn’t want them to judge me but more importantly b) if they knew, they’d try to tell me not to drink and I couldn’t have that. But at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. I had relapsed in my mind before crossing state lines.

H did tell our friends, I still hid it, I still got caught. I said I had one mimosa and I stuck to that story – with my sponsor, my counselor and everyone else who I told.  If you already read the posts mentioned above, you know that was not truthful at all and I still can’t believe I drove after the reception.

Insanity.

My new date was now March 18th.

#morewillberevealed