Saturday, February 26, 2011

Strength & Hope

4 Years ago today - February 26th, 2007

I woke on that Monday morning, still feeling awful.  My whole being hurt.  I dressed in an outfit that took a minimum amount of effort and got on my way to work.

I got off the train and plodded to work.  I felt heavy hearted, heavy minded and not myself.  I started to make it through my day.  I hung up after speaking with a difficult client and was shaking,  I thought that I'd just breathe but I couldn't catch my breath.

I remembered meeting with a friend of mine the previous summer over dinner.  He had made an amends to me over my glasses of wine, but what I remembered in that moment was that he had stopped drinking.  I called him.  I left a message saying I knew it had been a while, but I think that I have a problem drinking and I wondered what I should do.

He called back a few hours later, he was out of town but gave me the address of his favorite meeting.  5'o clock hit and I left work & headed up town.

I paced outside the clubhouse for about 10 minutes, watching people come & go, I thought OK, well what could this hurt.

I buzzed the door.  It clicked.  I walked through and started to climb the stairs.  At the second landing there was a grey metal door with the AA sign over the window. I stood outside it thinking, okay....if you walk through this door, your life is going to change.....then I thought NO,  I can't do this....I backed up...then another thought came: you buzzed the door silly, they know you're out here and they are waiting for you....and with that i pushed the door and walked in

I remember a lot about my first meeting.  I sat in the back.  I listened to someone tell their story, I hadn't done the same things, or been in the same situations but I had certainly felt everything he spoke of - everything.  When the break came I raised my hand, stood up and said: My name is Jeremy and I am an alcoholic, this is my first day.

In that moment my life changed. In that moment I gave myself a chance. In that moment I had a glimpse of something better. I gave myself a shot at something different and have been doing that every day since.

The beauty is now, when I don't know what to do, I can ask, I can watch the people around me in the fellowship, see how they go through it without drinking, I can listen and learn.  What a gift.

Another lyric from that show I was doing:   "If I show you the darkness I hold inside,  will you bring me to light?"   AA certainly has and I am so grateful

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dragging On....

Four years ago today:  February 25th, 2007

I begrudgingly woke at 11am. My head was pounding, my stomach aching, my throat dry dry dry.  I sipped some more water as to not upset my stomach.  Sitting on my chest was a 2-ton brick of shame, disappointment, hurt, anger, resentment and fear. The resounding voice in my head kept saying: "Again?!  YOU did this again!".

I showered, dressed and left the house for my hour train ride to Brooklyn.  I passed out on the train amidst thoughts of constant berating & self-scolding.  I mean any Irish man such as myself should be able to control his drinking,  I have a high tolerance and am proud of it!  What is wrong with me?

I moved like molasses through our show.  It was miserable. We got to our first group number in the show,  on of my favorites called 'On My Way'.  I loved singing it, it has a great beat and there's no way you can't smile while singing it, no way that is unless you are completely hungover and in your head.  My favorite song, in our last show and I couldn't even be present for it. I sat there on stage during the subsequent scene and thoughts flowed through me:  "This is not the dream you dreamt" "You can't pursue your dream like this"....

The show ended, I was more happy for it to be over than anything else.  I headed over to a friend's house to watch the Oscar's a few blocks away.  I walked in the door and was greeted with hugs & a vodka/soda on the rock...yes, just one. It was my poison, my regular and it was poured the minute I rang the bell.  I had the thought "YES!  The hair of the dog - finally I'll feel better"...after all it worked so many times before

I took a sip and something somewhere in my mind or body revolted slightly, and then I felt worse.

I sat down on the couch & put the drink in front of me on the table. It sat there the next four hours untouched.  I can still recall watching the sweat dripping down the side of the glass and wanting with almost every part of my being to pick up that drink, to prove I could drink again, to prove I could do it normally...

That sip was my last drink.  I left my friend's house and returned to the apartment I was calling home. I was confused, scared, ashamed and hadn't the slightest idea what to do so I went to bed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What It Was Like

Four Years ago today- February 24th, 2007

It was a Saturday. It was the final week of our show.  My first show in New York since moving here to go to an acting school in 1999.  It might also be important to note that this show was the first real audition I'd been on since leaving school in 2000.  Why?  I was very busy drinking and being 'fabulous'.

I was thrilled to have been cast in this show.  A month prior when I started rehearsals I left my boyfriend of 5 years after another spectacular bender and I was convinced that he & the relationship were the problem and the reason of why I couldn't stop drinking once I started.

We did our show.  I don't remember much of the performance except that we had a sold out show and a great time on stage.  I loved doing that show it was fantastic.  As a cast we decided to go out to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant around the corner. My dinner consisted mostly of margaritas and they free chips & salsa on the table.  Most of us had to take the train back into Manhattan that night as the show was in Brooklyn. 

One of the cast members asked if I wanted to join him and some friends out in Hell's Kitchen for a 'nightcap'.   Of COURSE I replied!!  Nightcap for me = vodka/soda, vodka/soda, a couple of shots of whatever someone else was buying and a vodka/diet coke - for the caffeine of course.  Keeping in mind at this point it's probably around 12:30 or 1 am. I have to be at the theatre which is about an hour's ride from where I was staying.....(note, not my apartment, but friends who were kind enough to give me a place to stay after leaving my boyfriend).....but I STILL wasn't done.  Hell's Kitchen has a litany of gay bars & clubs, so I figured why not check 'em out.  I remember going to the first one, drinking my budget booze - Budweiser.  It was what I always switched to in order to make my money go longer and stretch out my drinking spree.  I know I visited at least a few other bars that night.  I have glimpses of coming to in different places, beer in my hand....meeting someone named Patrick, who by the grace of God drove me home.

I stumbled into the apartment I was staying in.  It was light out.....somewhere around 6:30 or 7am...The scene all too familiar.  I dragged myself to the bathroom, threw up, took out my contacts so I could see less clearly....I remember squinting into my own eyes and thinking...'not again'..  Drank some water, took some vitamins, crawled to bed and closed my eyes.....

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Perfect Day?

It happened again, one of those days where I realized that this life, the one I have today... is very much indeed beyond my wildest dreams.

It was Saturday.  I woke at 7:30am for no other reason than wanting to have some coffee, write on here and get out of the door on time.  Off to my Intensati class led by the fabulous Lindsay (http://www.lindspiration.blogspot.com/)  , in class we're yelling affirmations like: my past is perfect! I let it go - it taught me what I need to know....I get what I expect, I expect the best - I love myself! I have self-respect!  during and after class I thought - how true! I'm not fakin it til I make it, I'm feelin it cause it's real(in) - felt like that should rhyme.

Anyway, I then went to an audition, got there early, warmed up, brought my best, and got a call back! Looked at the clock, there was a meeting right around the corner at my home group.  Great meeting.  Sat next to a woman who was clearly drunk, but she was there and for that hour, she was safe.  It made me VERY grateful that I haven't felt like that in almost four years.  Back to my call back, did my best - let go of the results!

Then off to a beautiful concert and The Allen Room which is this gorgeous space in Columbus Circle where you look down onto the stage and the back wall is actually all windows that look out on Central Park, 59th St. and the lights of the city. EXQUISITE!  Listened to one of my favorite singers holding the hand of the man that I love, the man I'm going to marry. 

None of these realities were even closely in my imagination when I was staring at an empty glass waiting for the refill.  I am blessed & grateful.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cunning. Baffling. Powerful

I was at a meeting last night where the speaker spoke about a recent relapse that started with prescription pain killers.

The alcoholic in me thought, well that was never my thing. Sure I loved taking them when I was drinking.  I can still remember the first time I got a hold of a friends barely used prescription of vicodin because 'my back was hurting'.....at age 20.  I remember mixing my oldest friend alcohol with my newest friend, pills.  The effect was exactly what I desired, total obliteration & escape

Anyway, I don't know about you but my higher power has a  huge sense of humor.  I wouldn't have it any other way. I left the meeting and went to a movie with a friend without another thought.  Had a glorious time, came home.  Chris & I were getting ready for our days today which includes setting out our clothes for the next day & packing bags...my day today consists of: Intensati class, work meeting, audition, AA meeting then off to a concert with nary a chance to come home in between.  

I decided to switch from my big duffel bag to something a little more manageable, Chris's tote bag.  I'm cleaning out his various papers and things and say  - 'oh,  you have a prescription bottle in here'....and look closer and it has MY name on it.  It was from when I had my tooth extracted and didn't need it all.  I also made Chris the one to dose me (through suggestions in this program).  I guess he'd been carrying them with him this whole time.

It's the next morning and there's that little voice in my head saying 'those pills are in this house', ' they weren't your drug of choice'....but there is a stronger voice in my head remembering the speaker last night, his story and knowing that I am no different.  My disease of alcoholism wants me dead, and it will use any means to get me there.  I am grateful that I have a higher power who also looks out for me.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Week of Miracles

My week started with an amazing gift.  I happened into a meeting I don't always get to and there at the front of the room as a fellow who I've always though of fondly.  He has just celebrated 15 months in this program and I SAW the change.  I felt like Bill W. (on page 9 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous) "the door opened and he stood there, fresh-skinned & glowing. There was something about his eyes. He was inexplicably different. What had happened?"

He was clear, direct, happy and I could SEE & FEEL that he had shifted.  It was a beautiful thing to witness. The next night I got to hear another friend of my qualify on his year anniversary. Such Miracles.  They are all around me. All around us.  The miracle is now and I am grateful to be a part of it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We Won't Regret the Past, Nor Wish to Shut the Door on It.

My incredibly astute & intelligent friend Lindsay, said something that really resonated with me in her Intensati class on Monday about our past.

When you meet someone for the first time, you meet them as they are in that moment. You do not know thier past, theri struggles, their trials, thier battles.  I started thinking that when I go through my day, I carry those things with me, my interactions are colored by them or my perceptions of them. It all lives in my head, the 'unworthiness'

I think true freedom comes when we loose the bondages of our past and greet our days, our moments, fresh and unaffected.  As I write about it it strongly resonates to me of Steps 6 & 7.  Letting go not only of our past, but of the way I let it color my present, which in turn colors my future.  To quote one of my favorite songstress's Laura Berman:  "I think it's time for the letting go"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How It Works

Prior to my meeting last night I was having a discussion about the enormous relief found in 'How it Works'.  (Chapter 5 from the Big Book - pg 58-60 4th edition) 

When I was counting days the meetings I attended at my home group at the time did not read this passage.  I did however attend a another meeting elsewhere where this was the very first thing read after the preamble.  I can recall back then and even to this day how each time I hear this reading something new pops out at me, or rather I hear the same thing but in a different way. 

Last night it was the ending:
a.) we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives
b.) that probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism 
c.) that God could and would if he we sought 

It really is that simple for me. Steps 1, 2 & 3.  If I think of them daily and work to connect with my higher power (as I choose to define it) every day is a success and the best of all I don't drink!   What a gift. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sometimes Quickly, Sometimes Slowly

I attended a great meeting last night where the topic was changing ideas

I thought a lot during the meeting about those ideas I had in early sobriety that have shifted:
 - that I could one day drink normally
-  that I was okay going out with the same friends I was active with, and not drink
 - that I was worthless
- that I could do it alone

Time and step work have changed these:
- I'm an alcoholic, I am unable to drink 'normally'
- I can show up for my friends, but leave when it's time. No one misses the sober guy :)
- I have many attributes & gifts and my higher power helps me to share them with the world
- I don't have to do it alone

There are so many more, deep rooted beliefs about myself as a person that need to change now that I've been sober a while.  What I trust in is that if I keep digging and keep working the steps, with the help of my higher power they will be removed, changed, morphed.  I am truly blessed.

One of my favorite 'recovery' songs - Everyday by Rascal Flatts

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gin! Scotch! and Vodka! oh my

It's my anniversary month!!!  As part of my way of celebrating I intend to write every day as a form of sharing my experience, strength & hope.

One of the jobs I have is with a catering company.  I have a very understanding boss when it comes to sobriety, I'm never put behind the bar (thankfully) and I'm able to show up thanks to this program. Rarely though it does happen do I think or fantasize the alcohol.

Last night I was at work and pulling from stock, our liquor list. This consists of pulling however many required bottles of liquor, beer & wine that are going to be used for whatever upcoming party.  As I was doing this, I was marrying a few bottles here & there to make complete bottles.  Gin. Scotch. Whiskey. Vodka.  It was interesting cause even though I wasn't purposely doing so the aromas of these floated up to my nostrils and took me back. Memories I'd long since tucked away or moved on from were there. Like the time I thought I'd show all the straight guys at a wedding how cool I was.  I did shots of scotch & followed them with a stout chaser.  They loved me and I LOVED the attention....a few hours later I was puking my guts out and spent the next day hiding from the family I was staying with and of course tried drinking to feel better.

Anyway,  I had a flash last night of my former self last night.  There I was standing in a closet FULL of liquor with the appeal of a candy store to a 5 year old.  My former self would have taken a nip or two (or more) and kept working or some form of that.   Instead, I just kept working.  How apropos