Friday, June 05, 2009

What it was like: Year Four

Just to clarify:  My fourth year in sobriety was in 1987-1988.  Although I am not a big believer in needing to tell everyone just how long I have been sober every time I open my mouth (or write a paragraph), I did find it disconcerting that someone congratulated me on 3 years today.  
I celebrated 3 years on July 24, 1987.  I was loved in my home group, I was sponsoring women, I was active in service.  I was looking good and feeling good.  I was earning a decent wage doing stuff I loved.  My kids were doing well.  I was grateful to be sober and I was starting to "get" that God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.

So, what did I do with that situation?  I had an affair with a married man from my home group.  If I could have TRIED to dream up something to ruin my life, I probably couldn't have done any better than this situation.  His marriage fell apart.  He was married to a young woman and had a couple of small children.  I was suddenly dealing with hostility in the one place I needed more than anything, my AA group.   My friends wouldn't speak to me.  I was getting told off in meetings.  It was truly dreadful.  It was my first real trial in sobriety.  And it was so pitiful because it was self-will inflicted.  I ruined his marriage and my life.  He moved to Arizona to get away.  (We are friends today and he absolutely denies that I ruined his marriage... he says it was already over... but I know there was a ring on his left hand.)

I moved from my beautiful little condo to a larger townhouse in a town far, far away from where I worked.  The rent was too much and I was spending at least 2 hours a day on the highway.  The commute from Lafayette to Southeast Denver even 22 years ago was not something that anyone would want to do on a daily basis.  But I was doing it.  There were benefits for my children in living in what was then a small town (now a big suburb).  There were not many benefits for me.  It was damn hard.  

One night I went to the club for a dance and decided to pick up a young man I had known.  He was very attractive... and 11 years younger than I.  He was straight off the streets of East L.A.  He wore his red bandana and all the rest of the stuff a guy straight out of East L.A. wears.  I just wanted to have this gorgeous man for one night.  So, I invited this 24 year old man into my home.  And he ended up staying for a year or so.  

This created some serious complications with my children, my ex-husband,  and my extended family.  Do you think it probably wasn't such a good idea for a 36 year old woman with 3 children to have a 24 year old man from East L.A. in her home?  Really?  Oh.  Gee.  I guess I didn't think of any of that!  

In retrospect, I can see why everyone was freaked out about it.  But I also know that Tony was a wonderful young man and loved me totally.   My kids, to this day, love him.   It was a strange "family," but it was something.  

I wasn't getting to enough meetings.  I wasn't getting enough sleep.  I didn't have enough money.  There was not much that was right about my life at this point.  

On one Saturday morning, my best friend told me she would come over to watch the kids so that I could get to a meeting.  She didn't show up.  I got so angry that I couldn't get to a meeting that I made what I thought was a logical decision... I was going to just get drunk, dammit!

I drove to the nearest liquor store... I don't know why I could leave my kids alone to drive to the liquor store, but not to get to an AA meeting, but somehow this made sense to me.  I got to the liquor store and sat outside in my car.  I didn't know what to buy.  I didn't know if I wanted some Jim Beam (my fave) or some beer.  I didn't know whether I wanted Old Milwaukee or Coors Extra Gold, those were the beer signs in the window.  I started crying... sitting in my car.  I just said "God help me."  I truly wanted an answer from heaven about WHAT I should drink.  Instead, God worked the way he does... I looked over and saw my son, then 12 years old, on his skateboard,  coming out of the convenience store next to the liquor store. I was suddenly so embarrassed and drove quickly away before he saw what an idiot his mother was!  By the time I got home, I knew that God had once again answered my prayers.  And I was still sober.  

After a while, my job started going south.  I do believe I spread a rumor that had been fed to me to see if I was talking too much.   I passed that test!  I lost my great position in the marketing department and was sent to work in the huge risk management department instead.  I hated it.  I was starting to spend whole days at work crying at my desk.  

I totally did not know what to do.  I kept going to meetings - not as many as I needed, but I was going.  I stayed in touch with my AA buds who would still have anything to do with me.  I was no longer in service in my home group because it had gotten too uncomfortable after my affair.  I was a big fat mess but didn't know what to do other than just keep on keeping on...

On my 4th birthday, I wrote this:
"I just got back from my wonderful birthday meeting.  It was wonderful.  I feel happy down to my tippy-toes.  Tony and the kids came and we sat right in the front row.  Oh, I just feel good, and I want to write when I feel good so that I can remember what it feels like when I feel bad.  I do tend to read these things when I feel real bad.  It's kind of like saving some happiness for a rainy day."  

I would later need to read that...


Steve E. said...

"I would later need to read that..."

Like today!!!

Mary, thank you for year #4 (sounds like "door #4"). Hey girl, you really believed in "love". Right? (That was a question!)

I remember my group turning away from me during critical times in my "love" lives. It's NOT fun! But in retro., I opened all the cans of chaos with my own Pride and self centeredness...shit, I didn't even know those words before AA!

That's when friends are separated from non-friends. Real friends will tell me when I'm wrong, but they won't then LEAVE me floating upside down in the river.

Please, please keep it up.

Steve E. said...

Number 2: Double Dipper Returns:

And that "God" moment, while you sat in front of the liquor store.

I had one "special" moment like that, which I should blog...hope I remember, it'a also a good one.

Hey girl, I love "looking back with you" into your life past. It shows all who read, that if I do not drink No Matter What, all will turn out better than I could have planned...EVER!

Mike Golch said...

the fun thing about meing me is that I enjoy sticking my foot in my mouth.
the biggest thing is that we stay sober with the help of our friends and God.

garden-variety drunk said...

I just wanted to say thank you for your blog and for your recent posts on your first years of sobriety. I'm in my fourth year and while reading your post thought "ok no affairs and I should be good this year." More seriously, I had a very similar experience with almost drinking a few months back and am so grateful for a G-d who keeps me sober even when I'm taking actions to sabotage that help. I'll take grace over "just don't drink no matter what" anyday.

dAAve said...

The liquor store stroy is very interesting.

Scott W said...

Got any pictures of Tony? LOL!

Michael said...

Hi Mary what a story full of twists and turns but one thing i dare not do is have a relationship and I feel sad with myself sometimes that I aint got no lady partner.
Maybe I am safer staying this way, sometimes I reckon I walk a fine line in AA between belief and disbelief, i think I am becoming more believing if u know what I mean.
I think the complexity of a relationship could knock me over the edge, but you stayed sober throughout with Gods help and it makes me feel good that he is everwhere in them little things.

Ed G. said...

At 3->4 years, I moved away from my home group from day 1 over LUV and it almost cost my my sobriety.

We have some things to talk about someday in God's time...

Blessings and aloha...