Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My best day drinking . . .

Ever awakened feeling like Fido? She was apparently so drunk when she passed out, she forgot to take off her party necklace. I remember waking up some mornings so hung over that I thought my head was going to explode. I hadn't removed my makeup the night before so my eyes, usually with my contacts still in (and we're talking hard lenses here), were glued half-shut. I've been in a bit of a funk for the past few days, so remembering what it was like for me is an excuse for gratitude.

I went to my normal Monday noon non-smoking meeting yesterday. I can't go to smoking meetings anymore. I find since the transplant, the smoke makes me sick. I used to attend this meeting about every noon until after the transplant; now I only go the two days it's non-smoking. But that whole issue is for another rant, not today.

The topic of the meeting was the desperation of that final bottom that brings us into the rooms. I so vividly remember mine, which is a gift. (They say if you forget your last drunk, you may be destined to repeat it.)

I came to out of a PCP blackout of epic proportions. I was so sick that the room was spinning and although I tried to get out of bed, I couldn't walk. I was sans bathrobe, so finally, after the room slowed down a bit, I crawled out of bed and made my way through the house, looking for my bathrobe. I finally found it in the back yard, covered with dead grass. Had it been a full moon? I wondered. Was I out back communing with mother nature? What did the neighbors hear? I had no earthly clue. I got my robe and went back to bed.

I was selling cosmetics then, having left the insurance industry to preserve any good reputation I still had left. I was supposed to give a beauty show to the wives in my roomate's band. I remember him opening my bedroom door a crack to look in to see if I was awake. I was too ashamed to face him so I pretended I was asleep. I heard the door close and his car start and, if I live to be 100, I will always clearly remember that pervasive flooding of shame I felt. I knew there was no hope for me.

Now I'd been out there for years and I was one tough cookie. I never cried, unless it was to get me out of a traffic ticket, and I only said "foxhole" prayers, but this morning I lay face down on the bed and wept brokenheartedly, saying "God, you have got to help me; I cannot live like this one more day!"

I lay on the bed for a few minutes after I stopped crying, expecting a burning bush to appear or some voice from the heavens to give me some guidance. Instead, there was only silence and my German shepherd, Sabra, looking at me with those soulful eyes that said "If I could only help you, I would."

'Damn,' I thought, 'I'm too hopeless even for God.' After awhile, I finally mustered up the strength to visit the refrigerator. I don't know why I went there, probably for the bottle of Maalox it contained, usually its only occupant. As I shut the refrigerator door, I saw an old NA meeting list taped to it. I had a moment of clarity and remembered "I can go back to NA." I had been to a few after I went through a 30-day treatment program to kick methadone, but had relapsed soon after.

That was a Saturday and I was too sick to go that night. But the next night my roomate, ever the faithful codependent, dropped me off at a Sunday night meeting in Peoria, AZ. (The cops had confiscated my car, a cool '72 Le Mans sport coupe, and I lost it at trial. I hold the distinction of being the first test case in Arizona for vehicle confiscation; quite an honor, no?)

The room must have had 40 addicts, all chattering and talking and running around laughing. I sat quietly throughout the meeting, thinking, 'I can't relate to any of these lames.' I felt too far gone for help from this group, anyway. But the leader of the group had a peace about him, clear grey eyes that seemed to pierce me when I identified as a newcomer. I heard him share about having two years clean and I thought that was a miracle.

Meetings then were usually an hour-and-a half long and there was only one meeting per night. At the end of the meeting, he asked if there were any burning desires. I raised my paw rather timidly and blurted out "Fuck it; I'm a PCP freak!" The whole room, including my new grey-eyed hero, burst into laughter. I felt so ashamed (I hadn't yet heard the saying "We're laughing with you, not at you"). But I managed to stick out the Lord's Prayer, which we said in those days before NA members decided to ditch it for other slogans. When we stopped hugging, I literally ran from the room and toward the safety of my roomate's car.

My grey-eyed friend followed me. "Wait a minute," he said. "Do you know why I was laughing?"

"Because you're an asshole," I said, as I continued stalking away. Anger was my only emotion then. "No," he replied. "I'm laughing because I'm a PCP freak too!"

I was stunned. In those days in Arizona, only the die-hard southsiders, of which I was not, were smoking "the sherm." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. We talked for a few minutes and he told me to "keep coming back." Over the next year-and-a half of my frequently loaded start at recovery, he was to become my best friend and mentor, introducing me to my sponsor and entertaining me by putting me to work counting literature for the various groups (he was the Phoenix literature chair) when he sensed I was leaving a meeting to go hang out in the bars, the only life I really knew. "I'm not going to use," I would say. "I'm only going to hang out."

"Bullshit," he would reply, and tell me to go with him to help count literature. I finally realized after a few years clean that no group needed all the literature I was counting. He only did that to keep me occupied.

It was a slow process, my coming to and coming to believe. I was in and out of the rooms with the regularity of a metronome. But I knew, if I was still alive in some form or fashion, which it appeared I was, that there was a God. What I couldn't see was the unmanageability of my life, the second part of the first step. I truly believed I wasn't hurting anyone other than myself. If my parents, the police and the people who stuck with me through my addiction (and there weren't many) would leave me alone, I would be fine. Of course, through the steps, I saw with more clarity the wreckage I had created.

Like I said earlier, I've been in a bit of a funk. I didn't get the job I was so hopeful for; I still don't know where I'm supposed to be living, although it appears at this time it's Missouri; I'm still about two days away from financial disaster; my book is not only not picked up by a publisher, it's not even finished; and my furniture is still in Arizona so the house is a disaster. Poor me, pour me another one. (Sorry if I sound like a walking cliche here; cliches are cliches because they're true.)

If I avoid self pity, work with others, work the steps and make decisions in conjunction with my sponsor, not with only my "best thinking" as a barometer, I know that things get different and better. I also know that I'm right where I'm supposed to be. That's clean today by the grace of a God that surpasses my understand.


SCoUt said...

Today I am thinking about what I was doing a year ago on THIS very day -- my LAST day of USING.....
I was sitting in my car, in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the city, looking out the window into a gorgeous park, watching for cops, while I tried to not spill my dope on my leather seats as I fixed and tried to find one last remaining vein in my foot.....
And you just told my N.A. story.
Thanks for the post. I am grateful we both are clean today.

woof said...

We have all done things we are not proud of. The important thing is today we are no longer that person. Today we have a choice. Most of us would never know the Grace Of God had we not been through the hell that got us to the fellowship. When it comes to helping others, we that have experienced the horrible self inflicted pain, are the most able to understand and pass along the message. The lie we often believe is that we can't be forgiven...but it truly is a lie. When we wrap ourselves in self pity and self loathing it is difficult to let others love us. God's greatest commandment was love. He said we should love our neighbor as ourselves. We all know what that means but it can be something that we have to turn over and over and over...We have all been given countless second chances. What gratitude that should give us. Isn't it interesting that in spite of ourselves people still love us?