Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Who am I? What am I doing here?

I am at a loss this morning, so I will just go back to the start.  In the immortal words of Admiral William Stockdale, "Who am I? What am I doing here?"

I am a 56 year old woman.   I will be 57 in December.  I was born in Pittsburgh, PA.  I grew up in a small town in eastern Ohio, named Poland.  I moved from there when I was 14 to a suburb of Chicago.  When my parents told me we were moving, and that I would have to attend public schools for the first time in my life, I made a conscious decision to start drinking and doing whatever the heck else I felt like.  I made good on that decision.

I started drinking in July 1966.  I didn't stop until July 24, 1984.  In that time, I got married and had three children.  We moved from Chicago to New Mexico to the mountains of Colorado.  I did things that drunk people do.  I became increasingly depressed and desperate.  By 1984, with three small children and a husband who needed me, I drank daily, all day long and had for years, and all I wanted to do was die.  I had no friends.  Not one.  When I needed someone to talk to, I got on the phone with my therapist, and then got a bill for the time we spent on the phone.  

When my husband told me we were moving to Denver, it shook my world and I think I made the bookend decision to the one I made in 1966 - I wanted to get sober.  It took 3 weeks.  

I called AA on the morning of July 24, 1984 and I have not had a drink since.  I jumped into AA with everything I had.  They told me to go to 90 meetings in 90 days, and I went to 180.  They told me to get a sponsor, I got a sponsor.  They told me to work the steps, I worked the steps.  They told me to pray, and I prayed.  They told me to get active in service work, I did that.  In 1985 I celebrated one whole year without a drink.  In 1986, 2 years.  In 1987, three years.... and on and on.  In 2004, I got a coin  with "XX" on it.  Twenty years without a drink.  My last coin has "XXIV" on it.  XXIV.  

In the time I have been sober, I went back to school and got my bachelor's and master's degrees.  I got a job at 10 years of sobriety which I still have today.  My children have grown and now I have two grandchildren.  I bought my first house in 1998, and my second house in 2001, in which I still live.  

I have gone from being a 32 year old woman who wanted to die to being a 56 year old woman who is doing everything she can to stay alive for as long as I can.  I participated in my first triathlon in 2004, and have done five since.  I ran my first half-marathon in May 2007, and am now training for my fifth one which is in January.  I am so grateful that by the grace of God, I was able to quit smoking 17 years ago, and have not had one cigarette since.  

AA gently led me back to the church of my youth and I have found my home there.  I am currently in the middle of my second year of a four year program of Biblical School.  I love it.  

My life has changed dramatically.  It did not happen overnight.  It happened slowly.  I did not get sober and get perfect.  I messed up - a lot.  But I did not drink, and I kept doing what I was supposed to be doing.  

I was done drinking.  I had enough.  I was desperate.  I didn't have any great ideas left. I didn't have any friends left.  I believe it was the hand of God that got me to AA, and the grace of God that kept me sober.  I believe I had to follow the few directions given me to just cooperate with the freely given gift.  I don't believe I stayed sober by any great "work" on my behalf... just some cooperation.

I started this blog to converse with some other blogger, long gone, who was bugging me on my other blog.  I realized he was a recovering alcoholic and I wanted to talk about that, but my other blog was political in nature and used my full name and picture, so I would not violate traditions by talking about my membership in AA there.  So I started this blog. After a couple of months, a blogger, sadly now long gone from the blogging scene, came along and then told a  bunch of you about my blog and the rest is history.  I have loved the fellowship of the sober blogs.  It has been wonderful.  

And now I have to get dressed and face this day sober.  I will attempt to do it with quiet humor and grace.  I will definitely need God's help today, as I do every day.  

Let's go into this new world sober together, shall we?


dAAve said...

Cheers, mate.

J-Online said...

And because of you and God, I am experience a wonderful life I never knew existed without alcohol. Thank you

kel said...

You are one, beautiful, inspirational woman and I feel blessed being able to read your words each day.

Scott W said...

One of my biggest joys in getting sober was the thought that I had the chance to write the last chapters of my life as I wanted them to be. No longer under the grip of alcohol--I was set free.

Syd said...

Thanks for sharing that MC. XXIV is a long time. And your willingness is inspiring to me. Every day holds something wonderful if I just keep my mind and heart open.

Pam said...

It's funny to me that I thought I just wanted to stop being a screw up. I thought I just wanted to stop hurting people. I too am so grateful for our beautiful program that tells me anything is possible with a loving God.

wendy said...

I ask those two questions constantly. Thank you for sharing your answer Mary. Hope you have a peaceful day.

Kathy Lynne said...

Wow MC! I grew up in the Pittsburgh area. We moved when I was 14 to Connecticut and I too began drinking and doing whatever the heck I wanted (though maybe not a conscious decision). And I too have thrown myself into AA...exactly as you describe and then some. I've got a ways to go to hit the 20 year mark..and I'll be much much older..but I thank you for setting an example and a high bar...(no pun intended:)

AlkySeltzer said...

Reading this blog left me identifying, humbled and without words. Thank you.


I can so identify. Thanks!

Zanejabbers said...

Thanks MC. Another fine example of working to stay sober. You obviously let go and let God.

Shadow said...

you are an inspiration!

Mary LA said...

A very moving post.

It is strange that although you have carefully and deliberately refrained from any overt political comment, I can think of no other blog where the intensity of political feeling is so strong. The pressure of the unspoken comes through louder than words --

Love and thanks