Monthly Archives: March 2013

AA conventions bring life lessons

I attended my second AA convention this weekend. It was an overwhelming experience this year. Unlike last year (when I was like a kitten on nip, running all over the place, excited and hyper) I felt there was more of an emotional impact.

There are many reasons why this past weekend was difficult. The convention is always an amazing experience, regardless of what I take from it. But this year, while there was definitely excitement, there were emotions and trials, things I was forced to face AND manage.

While there is something phenomenal and magical about conventions, it goes way deeper than a room full of alcoholics. The biggest and most emotional aspect, this year, was the words and experience, strength, and hope, I listened to.

Without breaking anonymity, simply put, one of the speakers this weekend shared a story, almost parallel to mine. And the biggest impact for me was how she shared about living in the solution.

When it comes down to forgiving an assailant, releasing the anger and resentment — how do you do it? This was the question I have been asking myself for a long time. The answer? It all came down to one alcoholic looking at another sick person across the room.

The behavior? Sick. The mentality? Sick. The action? Ill. The practice I need to figure out is me, being a sick addict/alcoholic in recovery, looking across the room at an even sicker person, and acknowledging that sickness.

I’m not great at this. This is a new concept for me, that I had to take from the convention. But it’s definitely forced me to stare at an incident in my life that is painful and hard to move through. But it’s been forced to come to the light and now it’s all around. Along with the anniversary coming up sooner than I’d like, of the assault, I’m hit pretty hard. It’s time to find a way to apply what I learned at the convention. What I heard and to listen to the words, today, not just that Friday night.

“When you hate, there is only one end result — harm. Sometimes, that harm can be horrendous. Don’t let yourself ever, ever, be talked into anything like that.”

“When you hate, there is only one end result — harm. Sometimes, that harm can be horrendous. Don’t let yourself ever, ever, be talked into anything like that.”

I was covering a speaker for an assignment story I was writing for work. A Holocaust survivor spoke to middle school students about his story and one of the biggest impacts I saw was this quote he said about hatred.

It’s true. I just want to encourage everyone to always take a minute to pause when you have the thought to offend, belittle, or bully someone, know that the more negativity you put on others, the more the fire of hatred builds until all you can do is harm the person — with words or physical abuse.

Because of what you said, “I’m an alcoholic”

I witnessed a really amazing thing last night at my home group AA meeting. I have three home groups now: my original where I came to get sober and only attend every once-in-a-while, my steady home group on Sundays, and then my new meeting that I took over and run every Monday night.

I came very close to giving the commitment up, only after leading one meeting. This was mostly because I was exhausted all the time and I just did not feel like being in charge of a meeting. Finally, I got into the flow of it, and my meeting has been going really well. I must say, if I did not take on this commitment, I may not have helped a newcomer.

Last night, this man was attending his first meeting. I shared about myself and how I went everywhere looking for the answer and how I came to say “I am an alcoholic.” At the very end of the meeting, the newcomer raised his hand to share. He said his name was — and because of what I said, he is an alcoholic.

Wow. Acceptance and helping a newcomer by just existing and speaking.

What I am learning

Coming back from Tuesday has definitely not been easy. But, I think I am doing it, or at least I am trying. While the “slip” of my purge behavior is hard to move on from and upsetting to me, I think I’m getting there. What I’ve learned from my experience is more about myself and what I want for my life.

When I made the decision to use my voice and say, “It’s time to go, I want to go home,” or “let me drive, I’m driving,” I learned that had I been drunk or high, there’s no way I could have taken care of the other women and myself. Most likely, I would have gotten myself into a worse situation, dangerous, and also, been putting other girls in a dangerous situation. I also would have gotten in the car so drunk, I would not have cared that I was not driving, and that someone else was highly intoxicated and driving me home.

I also learned by watching the behaviors of random people at the club that there was a deeper sadness to myself, being assaulted years ago. I realized a more intense level of how I was defenseless and vulnerable. I’m not there, yet, to letting it go, but I am at least able to feel things differently.

From purging that night, I learned that when I was feeling helpless, afraid, scared and guilty, I took control by purging and also punished myself.

There is so much more I shared about during a recent AA meeting and I am learning that I am getting better in ways. It’s just a little discouraging, still, to rebound from a painful experience.

Bouncing back

I’m finding that it is really difficult to bounce back from this weekend. I think more than the actual experience, I am struggling with the fact that I slipped. Last night I slipped again and it felt horrible. I’m trying to be honest about it and it is not a sense of denial, but a sadness of struggling after six months of having not used that symptom.

Yesterday in itself was hard for me, however I pushed through and then suddenly, when I got home I told myself: Okay, prepare dinner like an adult. So I tried, and before I knew it, I ate it all, was way full, feeling guilt, and the next thing I knew, I was over the toilet.

I had not felt that enslaved in so long and I pray that God removes, not only the guilt, but the obsessive need to use that behavior, when I truly don’t have to. I remember when I used to feel like I was going to die bent over a toilet. But I felt so freed knowing I had beat down those purging behaviors and all I had to fight for was recovering from my anorexia.

Now; I try and pick up the pieces. I try and let go. I understand why it happened, but it makes me feel deeply sad and while I focus on trying to be skillful and not become trapped in black or white thinking, it’s hard to let go that I messed up after so long of being free from it.

But, I am not giving up. I just need to find a way to let it go, and give myself grace.
It’s so much harder said than done.

Sober girl in a club – what is the truth about mistakes?

I’m trying to listen to the words: “it’s not a mistake if you learn from it.”
But I wonder if that is even accurate or redundant because then there are these words: “No one is perfect, we all make mistakes.” So it appears to be an unending circle.

I messed up last night and I don’t know what to do with my head, my heart, my inside feelings, all of it. There’s too much and I feel like I am going to erupt and spill over or explode because I can’t handle it so I figured I would try and put everything in words. But it simply does not feel great at all. In fact, I feel awful, disappointed and just sad.

I went out last night with a couple girls with the attempt to have fun, let loose and just dance. Being sober, i did not care and learned to appreciate having all my senses and really understanding how alcohol is a pure disguise that blurs all decisions. This is something to be grateful for but this in itself stirs up a lot of feeling.

While the two girls around me were getting more and more drunk as the night went on, I was aware of the various behaviors these women fell into. Clearly, the alcohol, beyond causing drunk fools, creates this sense of vulgarity or unnecessary sex-capade. I am not being negative on those who enjoy a drink, socially go out, like to have fun and dance. Hell, I love dancing. I’m referring to these people who cannot control their drinking or behavior.

I also became completely overwhelmed with the fact of the sleazy men. I know that a club is a black hole, attracting men who prey on girls or women whose inhibitions have been slated from alcohol, and often drugs. Seeing the two women I was with, I could clearly see how judgment is completely impaired and there is no truth in making decisions.

While we were out, I felt extremely uncomfortable and sad. Suddenly, these older men were feeding the girls I was with mixed alcohol. I whispered to the one girl I was with to be careful and don’t take open drinks from strangers because you have no idea what they could have slipped in the drink, what they are mixing, or any other plausible possibilities.

Sitting there, I watched the moves these men put out there, clear to a sober person, but completely not to someone highly intoxicated or high. The man then offered us cocaine. At that point, I turned to one of the girls and said, “Hell no. I am not okay with this.”

I got up and walked away. And was able to pull the young women with me. At this point, I was having a panic attack, keeping my sobriety, having bad things around me, so I said I needed to get out and breathe in some air.

At this point, I texted one of my friends from AA because it was after midnight and I knew that she would be awake. After all this, I felt the men staring at me, some trying to pick me up or dance with me, and I just had no interest.

Eventually, I was ready to leave after only being there for two hours. We went outside to smoke a cigarette and a loud scream, “Put your hand behind your back!”

Police officers were all over this man loud and almost violent. I’m not sure what the man did but at this point, after witnessing something like that, I finally said that I wanted to go home, I was at my wits-end. As we were walking out the two girls were slurring, and stumbling when they walked. No surprise — one was the driver.

She tried to tell me she was okay to drive but I said absolutely not, I’m driving us home. And I did.

In the midst of all this miserable experience, while I was completely sober and clean, I realized that I am not this person anymore. Sure, I like to dance, but this scene, it’s not me. While I felt so stupid even trusting people again and trying to have a good time (My therapist points out that I could not control or predict what happened) that there was a difference this time. Last time, i was drunk and stranded. This time, I remained in control and solved every situation I could and used my voice. This is the new me. But the part that pains me is this: I had a slip and purged for the first time in about nine months. I felt like an animal, cornered, trapped and scared, and not knowing what to do, I did the only thing I knew how.

I’m sad about this. I’m sad I put myself, once again, in a not-so wise situation. I’m sad because while I watched all these girls and women in the club, I saw the 19-year-old me trapped and scared, in the club next to me.

I saw her (me) so wasted and what happened, again, four years ago. I relived the sexual assault again, but this time, while I could not protect her (me) I was able to understand deeper, the fault did not belong to me. It’s hard to remember that. But reliving things sober surfaced painful feelings of helplessness, sad, fear, anxiety, quiet. trapped. But looking at myself, i could see that I felt these things because I was completely taken advantage of and that man hurt me. I’m sad, because I do feel like it ruined me.

So it brings me back to the beginning of this entry: Are mistakes actually mistakes if you learn something or are mistakes something that does not even exist? I’m not sure. I do know I am struggling with the repercussions of an awful night.