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I Doubled Down in Year Two

I’m too competitive. I always have been.... stems from caring too much about what other people think of me and my weird up and down ego stuff. I wasn’t going to drink ....or die........so the only alternative was to change. When the pain is great enough, I'll try anything.

 

In year two I started going to two meetings a day, started running, started going to church in the morning before work and started taking classes at a community college. Why start slowly and ease into it......Nothing I did in my life at this point was in balance....I was either all in .....or completely out. But somehow the combination of these four actions seemed to semi-balance my brain, level my emotional instability and began to ease the pain. If I could manage to do two or three of them on any given day......it was probably going to be a good day.....and a day without a drink. I began to feel kind of / slightly / sort of ....…..not awful.

 

I had spent the first year “around” the meetings....I came and went when they started and when they ended. As a consequence, no one really knew me and I only knew people from what they shared. I never shared. Except for once. One day I was minding my own business when I decided to raise my hand and share for the first time. Time after time the meeting leader would not call on me. Finally, I looked at the guy next to me and said.....what’s up? He looked and me and whispered under his breath....“haven’t you shared enough?” and then glanced towards my waist. Apparently the zipper on my pants was down in the entire meeting and my “ short term sobriety” had been showing. I decided right then and there that I should probably wait until I had something better to share before I raised my hand again. I didn’t raise my hand for another 11 months. To this day, I still check my zipper before speaking.

 

Shortly there after I moved to a completely different meeting room .... It was probably best for everyone.

 

I began forcing myself to stay for few minutes after the meeting had ended. Once the meeting was over I would go outside for a couple of minutes and pretend I was reading something.....not a great way to meet people. So then I decided that I had to smoke at least one cigarette before I could leave....and this is the clincher.....I could not bring a lighter or matches....so I was forced to speak to at least one person. This worked only slightly better.....but it was a start.

 

People are creatures of habit.....it’s no different in the meeting rooms. Everyone sits in the exact same seat almost every day.....it makes it pretty easy to spot the new people. I found a vacant seat in the new meeting room and claimed it as my own. Every day the same two guys sat on either side of me. They would, on occasion, say hello....or something like....can you go sit over there. One guy was a weightlifting steroid user who couldn’t string together more than a few days without using cocaine or going to jail.....the other one was always dressed in tennis apparel....head bands, sweatbands the works.....he shared all of the time ( think Chevy Chase in Fletch crossed with Spicoli in Fast Times).

 

In the meeting rooms it’s easy to feel very close to people who share a lot.....people open up.....and you hear almost every detail of their lives. It is very easy to feel like you know somebody very well......like you are friends. But in my case, they were all one sided friendships......I never shared. I never spoke to anyone. They never heard the details of my life. And since none of these people knew who I was, I referred to these people as my “imaginary” friends.

 

So for the next 10 months my “imaginary” friends (a steroid using weightlifter and a tennis coach / tennis pro / tennis apparel model....not sure which) and their sheer acknowledgement that I existed in the meeting room....…is all that stood between me and a drink. That’s how fragile my sobriety was in the beginning.....and sometimes in the middle......and sometimes after 20 years.

 

I also found a cure for loneliness in year two. I started dating a girl I met while taking some college classes at night. We dated for what must have been at least an hour ....maybe an hour and half....and then we decided to move in with each other. Her mom never quite came around to the idea of her only daughter moving in with a newly promoted mailroom supervisor, recovering alcoholic or a 25 year old guy who had to climb into his own car through the passenger side door before letting his date get in. Her mom once said that I wasn’t a good compliment for her daughter..... She was right. Moms are always right. That relationship lasted about 2 months into a 12-month lease.

 

I did learn a lot from that relationship though. I had my first kiss, in a very long time, where I wasn’t under the influence of alcohol. That was neat. We also ended that relationship on good terms.....I didn’t cheat on her, do things to make her leave me or lie to her. We both just simply agreed it should end.... We hugged.... and then I packed everything I owned into the 1982 Honda Prelude and drove away .....not that far though.....I slept on my buddy’s floor for the next 10 months.

 

For me, that relationship marked the very beginning of transitioning from not drinking to getting sober.....a process that I’m still working through today.

 

To the weightlifter –Thank you. For in the midst of everything that was going on in your life, you occasionally took the time to say hello. I went to a lot meetings that year just to see if you would come back each day. I hope you are somewhere in a meeting room sitting in the first seat of the second row over to the right. I love you.

 

To the tennis player / coach / model – Thank you. You totally cracked me up and made me laugh.....and you showed up a lot more than the other guy on our row....and for that..... I love you.

 

To my ex-(roommate) – Thank you for understanding everything about me at that time in my life and making it easy on me when it ended. I love you. I loved that beagle named Morgan.....and tell your mom that I love her too.

 

Stay Tuned....or Don't

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