Monday, August 17, 2009

Day 1, Meeting 1: The tingling lets you know it's working

Looks like someone has a case of the Mondays.

Ooo boy, it's late. Feels a bit too late to write this actually. Need to get a jump on it a bit earlier tomorrow. Still figuring out this blog thing. I'm beat and worried that what I write will seem forced. So here goes...

Stopped by a good friends house that I hadn't seen in a while on my way home from my first meeting of my "90 in 90". These are friends that still drink and that I've drifted from a bit over the last months. It was nice to laugh with them and drink water;) I totally thanked them for that. The response was that there was no booze in the house, which was pretty funny and good timing on my part. Their roommates had just gotten back from Vegas and my friends told me they had been up for two days straight which made me a little nervous to be there but it turned out they were fine and sweet and made us dinner.

Today was easy to get to a meeting because I have a commitment there, I'm the coffeemaker. I go to this meeting after work on Mondays. The concept of having commitments totally works, by the way, especially on a Monday, because I so did not want to go to a meeting today but had to because I committed to making the coffee each week. This is my 3rd week having the commitment. And the second week in a row that I didn't want to be there. What's with that? I have to buy the supplies: cream, spoons, etc, and make sure the coffee is made and clean up afterward. I show up at the meeting early because I feel bad if coffee isn't made for first people that show up. There are some homeless guys too and some not-so-homeless guys and I work at a food bank and have worked in restaurants and bars most of my working life and like to cater well to everyone. It's pretty easy except today there were a ton of fruit flies swarming the back sink. It was really gross and totally irritating. For some reason, there are flies everywhere right now at this time of year, at my work, in most places you go to eat. They tend to gather right in the entry way, flying around just inside from the door of most places that keep their doors open. You get used to walking through them but these were here resting on the sink so when I came over they all flew up. The sink only has cold water, 3 smelly sponges and no hand soap or paper towels or cleaning products. No wonder it's a fruit fly nesting ground. Today was just a bit too much. I didn't even want to sit back there. While being the coffeemaker gets me to the meeting, it's a little isolating as my back is to everyone before and after the meeting making coffee or cleaning up. I have to get up in the middle of the meeting to make more coffee which seems a bit distracting and interrupts my listening to the speaker. So much for fellowship. Since I got this commitment, it's allowed me to actually not want to go to the meetings but still go and not like it. I don't have to like it, people say, which at first I was like, of course I like it, I've been white-knuckling this alone for the past year and change but soon that's shifted as the program actually starts to work and I start to get uncomfortable. And don't "they" say, the tingling lets you know it's working?

This meeting has been challenging for me to attend (the second time I ever went, a homeless guy faced me and muttered, "Fucking bitches, fucking bitches" over and over in my ear the whole meeting. It was kind of my worst nightmare and the whole reason I didn't want to go to meetings in San Francisco, in a city, period), but it's convenient and just over the hill from my work so I don't have any wiggle room of going home before going or being too far to make the distance. So I go.

I felt like such a sad-sack though today and did last week too come to think of it. And looking around, I wasn't the only one. Usually, this is a seasoned spirited crowd but even the old reliables were struggling today. So many people had their heads in their hands. The speaker was decent. Had gotten in the program through the marijuana version. Today I decided not to share. My sponsor had recommended I listen more, read the book. Though three-quarters of the way through, I changed my mind but didn't get called on. The speaker had said something about mediocrity. Right before I became sober, I used to proclaim that I was content with my own mediocrity. I just couldn't understand why no one else was. I wanted so much to be a happy alcoholic like so many of my friends seemed. I wanted to be blissfully ignorant of my own potential, abilities and privilege. It was so hard being me! It's amazing how my alcoholism put me on a pedestal. Or was being on a pedestal what made me an alcoholic? I'm find many chicken or the egg comparisons. (I think I have to wrap this up, I'm feeling a bit delerious).

In the last few weeks, I'd been really focusing on contributing and meeting people and kinda having a case of feeling like I was skipping to the 12th step when I was only at the first. I forget what they call this, 12 steppin or something (regulars seem to toss out all the terms and cliches with such ease). Pink cloud, they called it also. I fell off that cloud and then got back on and had been really putting myself out there trying to build fellowship as I saw this as important and making new friends sober was feeling so uncomfortable. After all, "this was a program of action!" and doing what doesn't come natural. I had felt really new and raised my hand early on to say how much I wanted to learn the tools, bawling my eyes out and all these people came running up to me afterward and gave me their numbers. Then as the weeks progressed, I wasn't quite as new and was still trying to build relationships but I was shy about answering my phone and well, not answering my phone so then people stopped interacting with me and stopped calling me. More self-sabotage. So I stepped up my fellowship game and started to feel like I was coming on a little strong, many of the feelings I had when I was in middle school which is crazy. More seasoned alcoholics were saying that the first year should be all about me. But I felt ready to take on the challenge of trying to make friends, forcing myself to make friends, go up to people, comfort them and introduce myself. I had heard the advice about doing what you don't want to do and I really didn't want to be making friends so that seemed like the right thing to do I thought.

Then, while in LA this weekend, I got totally shut down. I heard someone share, I resonated with what they said, I went over to them and introduced myself, shook their hand and she turned her back on me before I could even say anything else. I was devastated. I really was. People say I'm pretty personable and at work I don't really care if people don't like me but when I am putting myself out there, it was a little too much to bare. It was a wake-up call. It brought me back down to earth and kicked me off my pink cloud, yet again. (Turns out this woman was an actress. Oops but really who fucking cares? You like that resentment?) My new sponsor (I broke up with first sponsor early last week because she was unavailable which I thought would make things easy for me but realized that I wanted to be doing more work on the steps) said that we are all in the rooms with the disease of alcoholism and that it manifests itself differently for all of us or something. I'm not good at recounting. Shit, I'm tired too.

So today wasn't that big a deal. Strangely, this meeting there was a lot of people talking about contributing. Multiplying the joy and dividing the pain. So while my own path had told me to sit back and do my own work and reach out less, here were all these people talking about giving back. Maybe it's so I know that they are there for me. That I can reach out and go through my process of unraveling this disease and recovering.

My 1st meeting of my 90 meetings. Yay, me! I've tried it 3 times.'s the 4th meeting in 4 days that will be the kicker I think. But 3 times the charm:)

Good night, sleep tight! Don't let the bed bugs bite! (Is it me or is everyone around me having weird skin issues, including myself. Ew.)

1 comment:

  1. Katie,
    I'm all teared up, both because so much of what you've written resonates with me (my days are also shorter than everyone else's, and isn't it incredible how we can go from being centered adult women to quivering 12-year-olds in a lightning flash?!) and because I'm so damn proud of you for doing this!
    Here's some advice I give myself, which I'm sure you already know but it bears repeating. At least, I repeat it to myself every day! When other people react in ways that slight us (as at the LA meeting) it's not about us, it's about them. I know there are times when people have greeted me with enthusiasm and I've been so wrapped up in my own (to steal from David Foster Wallace) skull-sized kingdom that I've barely said hello. It had nothing to do with the person greeting me and everything to do with my own shit, yet I may very well have hurt someone's feelings, because, in their skull-sized kingdom, I have snubbed them. The actress, whomever she may be, had her own reasons for turning away from you and they had nothing to do with you! Maybe she hadn't seen her cat in three days and was preoccupied with Fluffy Muffin. Maybe you reminded her on some subconscious level of her cousin Sally back in Iowa who used to tease her and make her eat mud filled with cow dung. Or maybe she's so used to shutting people out (because how else can you even begin to function when you're in the public eye?) that it's her default setting. And maybe your default setting is to be hurt by it and to recoil. But what if you were to just feel really sad for her, because whatever closed her off to you is a symbol of her own pain?
    My first memory of you is this: We were all standing around in the airport, waiting to board a plane. People were frustrated and tired because it was late at night and it was a red eye and it had been a long week at work. Nobody was talking to each other, except to grumble about how miserable they were. The only exception was this beautiful woman with a big smile and a contagious laugh who'd struck up conversation with strangers. Although we didn't yet know that we were headed to the same place to see the same group of friends, I was one of those strangers. It was like you were this bright light and everyone in proximity keyed into that and opened up to talk to you (and you sure didn't need alcohol to do that!). Sometimes it's necessary to put up a sheild, and it's good to develop the skill to know when you need that, but we're friends now because of the openness with which you engage with the world around you. Don't lose that! Retreat when you need to, for your own sake, but never out of fear. Stay gold, Katie, stay gold!