Monday, April 30, 2012

Expectations of Sobriety

I am sponsoring someone who reminds me of me when I was early in sobriety.  When I see her name show up on my phone, honestly I do not want to answer.  I know there will be hysterical crying, accounts of what happened - heavy on hyperbole, and the worst way to interpret every circumstance.  Yesterday she called and told me she had just had "the worst day in my life."  It is so hard to talk to someone who has these experiences on almost a daily basis.  But I recall being 6 to 9 years sober and going through an abusive marriage, and being hysterical half the time.  I thank God for the people who were willing to hang in there with me (there weren't many).

I frequently warn her against comparing her insides to others' outsides.  She thinks she is the only sober person who has difficulty.  She goes to a meeting where people tend to be financially very stable and affluent, well-educated, mostly happily married, and don't seem to be dealing with the wreckage she is.  I tell her that first of all, we don't know if that is really the truth about these folks - and it isn't our business to figure out if it is.  Secondly, it is not a good idea to compare.  Third, we all start on our recovery journey in a different place.  She is making her kind of progress, it just doesn't look like other people's progress.

I remember a time when someone told me that if I was an example of five years of sobriety, he would rather be drunk.  Well, he died drunk.  I didn't wish it on him though.  I have told people that maybe sometimes I am a good bad example.  There is a use for those too, you know.

Later I had a friend who would say "Sobriety for sobriety's sake sucks."  I would argue heartily with him on this point.  He thinks it is ironic because he thinks I am one of the finest examples of making the most of your sobriety.  Well, I didn't do that overnight.  And if I thought I had to have great accomplishments, money, happy relationships, and great healing all the way around to have my sobriety mean something, I couldn't have thought I was successfully sober in my first ten years.  Thank God I hung in there and worked a program and stayed sober.

I have often said that if I could have made a list of what I wanted from my sobriety when I was newly sober, I would have gravely short-changed myself.  But some of the things I cherish the most are completely intangible.  Being with my father as he was dying.  Being present at the birth of two of my grandchildren.  Being a trustworthy grandmother.  Going back to church, painting icons, graduating from Biblical School.... I could go on, but you get the drift.

Some of the accomplishments others value a lot are:   going back to college when I was 43, and having a master's degree by the time I was 50.  Getting a "good job" and keeping it for a long dang time.  Buying a house.  Buying new cars.  Etc.

But I still have the same brain.  By the grace of God most days today you would never know that I used to respond hysterically to nearly everything.  But I do still suffer from depression.  I take meticulous care of myself to try to keep that serpent at bay.  If I vary much from my life style I seem to open the door for it.  Changing jobs earlier this year seems to have done that.

The thing I would like to say is:  I am going through a depression. I know that I will get to the other side.  I have many tools in my toolbox.  I have faith that I am where I am supposed to be.  And I have remained sober.

That, to me, is a hopeful message.

And I am not sure I can continue to blog through this - I can't imagine why anyone would continue to read when I am a broken record every day.  I will pray about this.


Mimi said...

Long time reader, first time commenter. Your blog is a joy to read, even if you are writing the same thing sometimes. I am sorry about your depression and I hope you are able to find ways to ameliorate the discomfort. I am always rooting for you.

dAAve said...

Whew Boy!
You're hot this morning and right on!

Daisyanon said...

You tell it like it is MC and you have the gift of writing. I don't find it repetitive or boring or pointless.

It is all a big help to me.

Anonymous said...

Mary, I have reached a point where I really feel like I'm writing for myself. Comments are nice, validation in good, but I don't care about that like I used to.
This is your space, you are a good writer, you have found your "voice" (sounds trite, but it's true). Do what is helpful, and feel right to you.

Sometimes a few days away rekindles the satisfaction of blogging for me. You can take a few days off, or not, whatever YOU need to do. What person is "on" all the time? It's not possible, and it would not be our real lives. Further, you do not need to explain yourself to your friends because we stick together!


Sober Identity said...

We continue to write because one day a new reader shows up and loves what we said. Today that person is me.

Looking forward to following your blog. Too often I read hype, news flash, and flat-out drama. I adore straight-forward honesty. Quality sobriety requires work, whether you have one day or one decade.

Will be sharing your blog on my blog today. I love solution, especially when it's mixed with a little depression. That's REAL life. REAL sobriety (at times)

Thanks to those who walk before me. You make my path clearer.
Lisa Neumann

Syd said...

You have accomplished a lot. Your blog is a place that I stop every day. I value what you have to say.

Mary said...

Hello from Ireland...
I also stop at your blog every day, and I always receive a lot from doing so. Thank you for sharing your wealth of experience and great insights.

SoberMomRocks said...

You rock. You keep me just a little more sane than I would be if you didn't write whatever you want...I'll still tune in to read it.

Have you read "Potatoes Not Prozac"? It helped me.


RachelGoezRawr said...

I agree completely lou!! With that being said repiditive or not sometimes when a person is seeking knowledge it takes hearing/reading it a few different ways to really GET IT.

I go to a meeting with people alot older than myself (im 25, they're old enough to be my parents/grandparents) and your description of your sponsee is just like theirs. I hope when i find my sponsor im nothing like that. Haha!

Great post though! :)

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

I read because you inspire me to keep on this chosen sober path, Mary Christine.

Whatever you decide to do I will support and be here every day to see if any words have flowed from you to us.

Best to you in this time of transition.

Pammie said...

These new women are wearing my out Mary....really.
Lovin' you from afar this morning.

Kary May said...

You were one of the first blogs I read those many years ago, you and Pammie and Syd and Attitude of Gratitude. I wasn't ready to hear the message though, I spent years trying to tame the dragon before I was finally able to listen. Thanks for repeating your message in so many ways and so faithfully, that I finally heard it.

Annette said...

Oh MC...depression sucks. Literally, sucks the life right out of us. I
'm a day behind and I hear that you are feeling better today.....I am glad. You are loved.

Anonymous said...

Ms S
I found your blog a few months ago and i have really got a lot out of your posts, especially the way they reflect whats going on for you- long reflections some days, short and pithy at others. I love to hear the detail: beloved flowers, cherished granddaughter on your knee, the view from the bus, painted toenails in new sandles, tears at work, struggles to process the people round you, asking advice on what to wear to a business meeting, your fierce commitment and love for your fellowship. it all shows you are a real person in her everyday life. I'm a baby al anon from london who draws hope that alcoholics can heal and kick ass. God bless you

ScottF said...

you've said so much here... I'm glad I was hear to read it all!

Mike said...

Mary Christine, this is the first time I've read your blog and I admire your writing and your honesty. Depression here too - in and out of it - with a tool kit of my own that works as long as I use it. Want and need to stop drinking too. This morning I asked myself what I expect of sobriety, a question I should have asked in the past. Hmmm.... Typed that in and got your blog. So glad I did. You're no broken record to me. You've said what I hoped to hear and couldn't articulate myself. Thank you.