Voice

Yesterday we went to an AA party celebrating a friend’s 25th year of sobriety. Because of schedules, children and animals I haven’t been able to get to the meetings I used to, and in truth, my focus is making sure Moose gets to meetings regularly.
He’s the one who relapsed, and frankly there are too many people I don’t like who would suddenly have more time than me if I relapsed and there’d be the “haha” from them that I can’t allow, so some part of me stays sober purely from resentment. (you’re supposed to laugh there)
So anyway, it was nice seeing people I haven’t seen for a long time and talking to folks.
But there was one gal there who left me feeling a bit “wtf?”
I got sober the day after my 21st birthday.
Was I scared? No.
I was hopeful. Anything had to be better than praying to die every night because the only reason you don’t commit suicide is because you’re terrified of burning in hell.
(I will give complete credit to Fundie religion for that. Had I not been so scared I would’ve succeeded the  first time I attempted suicide at 9.)
I knew somewhere deep inside that my life was not going the way it was supposed to, that I was “better” than what was happening if you will.
But I had no self-esteem and my self worth had long since been flushed down the toilet except for the tiniest smidgeon of arrogance that told me “You were NOT raised to live this life.”
So when a friend took me to my first meeting, yes I was nervous…isn’t everyone when they’re making a life changing decision?
But the smiles on the faces of the people around me…I wanted that.
I got early on that their lives weren’t suddenly perfect, and that they still got mad, they still had shitty days, things still went wrong.
In short, Life Still Happened.
The difference was that they approached their problems with a clear head and at least a touch of serenity.
So that was me…
Anyway, this gal-who came in when she was in her 40’s-was talking to me yesterday about how she was so scared and nervous when she first came in and she remembered me sharing at meetings.
She remembered how I would just “lay it all out”.
If I was mad I shared about being mad. If I was sad, the same thing, grateful, etc.
In short, everyone knew how I was feeling.
(Which is something one of my sponsor’s had told me to do.
She said “people can’t read your mind, unless it’s something you think should stay between us, share it at group level because newcomers need to know that we get mad, sad, happy, furious…they need to know that life happens, you just don’t drink.”)
I wasn’t sure how to take that…she wasn’t saying “good job”, if anything it felt like she was wondering if I’d learned to control my emotions yet.
I always tried to mention that if it wasn’t for my sobriety I wouldn’t have the ability to express my feelings realistically, and I tried really, really hard to make sure I wasn’t coming off as “victim” which I’d done when I was drinking…
(I was a terrific drama queen when I was drinking, I was confused, depressed, terrified and really I just wanted to die.)
Anyway, I still feel odd about the conversation yesterday.
She told me how she’d talk about me to her sponsor-one of the mellowest women I know and who I love dearly-and she would be shocked at how I shared raw emotion.
She told me her sponsor would respond with “imagine what she was like drinking”…
That really, really hurt me. Largely because her sponsor DID see me come in.
No, I wasn’t a girly, scared little mouse who needed protecting from the “big, bad, world”.
But I was a complete mess at 21 who couldn’t find her voice.
I knew no one could protect me, and by that time I realized no one would.
I knew that I needed to protect myself, and with time I learned that you can’t trust everyone just because they’re sober.
But I was never afraid to share at meetings because I was told to do so by my sponsor.
There are different paths to sobriety.
I was never a quiet, mellow person.
In my household I was already on precarious ground as the daughter.
Even more precarious because I was an unattractive daughter.
Then when my brother got sick it was harder.
Quiet and mellow would’ve gotten me forgotten.
I used my voice out of fear.
One I was forgotten there was nothing more to fear, and once I got sober I was reborn without that fear.
Will I still share my feelings at meetings? Absolutely.
It is important that newcomers understand that getting sober doesn’t suddenly make everything okay, but it allows you to deal with life much more constructively.

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