Sunday, June 21, 2009

What it was like: Year Twenty

In the summer of 2003, I had to take a business trip to Las Vegas.  By the end of the trip, I had a painful swelling under my left ear.  When I got home I went to see my physician and was diagnosed with a parotid gland infection.  It was like mumps.  It hurt like hell, my face was swollen, I had a fever, and I was very sick.  

I had taken a couple of days of vacation to go to the State Fair with my sweetheart the cowboy.  I didn't want to go because I felt like hell, but I felt that I had to honor my commitment to go with him.  He was rather put out about my trip to Seattle without him, and I think even a bit jealous of the trip to Vegas.  

So, he showed up to pick me up, he reeked of cologne, and he was talking very loud - which was all out of character.  It only took me a minute to realize he was drunk - and we weren't going on any trip.  He had promised me that I would never see him drink, and until this day he had honored that.  He was being obnoxious and I couldn't get him out of my house.  I told him he could "sleep it off" in my basement.  I failed to anticipate that he wasn't going to be getting sober because he was still drinking.  I sat in my bedroom and cried.  He sat downstairs getting more and more drunk.  For the first time ever I was afraid of him.  He was 6'5" and buff (and beautiful).  At the end of 36 or so hours, he left.  It was the end of the relationship for me.   I was devastated.   

The next day, I knew I needed to do something drastic to keep me alive and so I started running again.  At that time I could only run for 5 minutes - downhill.  After a while, I could run 10 minutes, then I knew I could run a mile.  I would run a mile and feel so happy!  It took me a long time to get up to a mile and a half, and I stayed there for a while.  

Sometime early in 2004, I met a woman who was training for a triathlon.  I told her I would do it with her!  I started training early in the year for an August triathlon.  I needed all that training because I did not even know how to swim properly.  I learned.  I registered for a triathlon in August 2004.  

The running and the tri training really went a long way to help me to live through losing this relationship with this man I loved so dearly.   

My sponsor was sure that God had someone out there for me, and she thought she might know who it was.  I was dubious, but I did meet him.  In July of 2004, we went out on our first date.  We dated and everyone was so excited.   He was sober 15 years, I was sober almost 20. He had a master's degree, I had a master's degree.  We looked like we belonged together socially.  We had the blessing of our AA peers and our sponsors.  I figured I had found out where my own choice in "love" got me - a drunken cowboy - so I could listen to others.  We kind of considered ourselves set up, like an arranged marriage.  Not to say that we didn't enjoy each other, because we did.  (There haven't been too many things I haven't wanted to write about, but this is one of them....)

Anyway, another year had passed.  I was now running, training for a triathlon, and feeling very buff.  I had a "nice" boyfriend.  I was sponsoring a couple of women and meeting with them regularly to do the steps the way I do them... as the big book says to do them... word by word.  Things seemed to be on the upswing.

My 20th birthday was an incredible experience.  Here is what I wrote about that:
"Twenty years today!  Imagine that!  I have been humbled and slightly freaked out about having 20 years.  I feel unworthy.   I am such a crappy AA member.  I think for the first time I know that it is an honor to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.  What a blessing."  


Trailboss said...

Each year that you write about seems more incredible than the last. This is an amazing journey that you are blessing us with.

Steve E. said...

Mary, I cannot imagine why you do not wish to write about this, your "20th-yr" guy, sober 15 years...and N.I.C.E.

Actually, to bare your soul as you've been doing here could not be without pain as you've described.

These annuals of yours have helped me immensely, to re-examine my own chaos-studded AA "career"...don't know if I could ever blog those years of mine...could possibly hurt wayyy to many people!

Thank you again for your 'giving' of yourself to your Peeps...and me, too!

Willa said...

And here you are, being of service to the program and us by sharing your experience, strength and hope with us all.

Thank you, Mary Christine. These chapters have been riveting...and fascinating, and sobering, all at once.

Tall Karen said...

I wanted more (imagine that) and read some of your older posts. I love your writing and gratitude. What an amazing journey. It just keeps getting better. Thank you.

Ed G. said...


Just thanx...

Blessings and aloha...

Gin said...

I lost track of your blog when I was on vacation and I MISSED IT! I am so happy to see you are still writing this series. Now I've got to go back and read the ones I missed!

Lou said...

I began running as an outlet when my problems started with Andrew (approx 10 years ago). I completely understand this post.

The running is the one thing that got me through in the earlier days.

Pam said...

It seems like all the really perfect men, could not find your phone number.
I was wondering when you were going to get to the year of the first run.
lovin' ya

Steve E. said...

Tall Karen wrote "I wanted more..."

That IS the story of MY life, before AA, and during AA, in three words--and I'm not the "only one??? -grin!

Scott W said...

I hope you get to an acceptance with the unworthy feelings. I think it is the saddest things I can hear when someone says they are not deserving to be sober. Why would we be created in the image of God if we aren't supposed to be happy? Would someone not want their children to be happy?

♥Shann♥ said...

sober life year by year no matter how sober we are life keeps happening... Im glad you share yours with us MC. you have always been an inspiration to me

I will have 16yrs in a couple weeks... wow wweeeird

Mary Christine said...

I have been to the funerals of many drunks I am sure God loved just as much as He loves me.

Syd said...

Year 20 seems to have more ups than downs. I'm sorry about the cowboy but glad that you took care of yourself by running, going to meetings, staying sober and working with others. You are awesome. And so very worthy of a good life.