sobriety Archive

My Experience With Leaving AA and Successfully Staying Sober

Trigger warning: mentions of alcoholism, relapse, and sexual violence

Failure is built into the punitive, guilt-ridden fabric of AA. An archaic framework of Christian dogma marketed as the only way to get sober. If you fail it’s your fault. If you succeed it’s God’s miracle. Every meeting we recited that those who drink after AA are “naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.” According to AA honesty in confession to unscrupulous strangers will keep you from drinking. That and the will of God.

My Experience with Wicca and Pagan Spirituality

When they asked us in rehab that March of 2013 what our spirituality consisted of, I said that is was “Somewhere between yoga and fireflies.” I was getting very into yoga. I felt that the states of greater transcendence I reached while practicing to be closest to the spiritual as I, a die-hard atheist, could get. I felt that the grandeur of nature and expanse of the universe was a higher power, but I couldn’t get behind the idea that the universe would have anything to do with me or want to help me. I felt insignificant in the galaxy, a mote of dust, a sheep, as AA professed.

Identity

I have pretty much always identified as female. Cis-gender. I have never thought about anything else, really. I have never been aware that there are other options out there, much less considered them. But I’ve also been on the tomboy side of female, right from the get-go. I hung out with boys, I beat up boys, I followed boys into the bathroom and watched them pee. I really really wanted a penis, and I tried as hard as I could to grow one. I remember when I was little I’d sit in the passenger seat of the car as I went with one of my parents on an errand-running mission, and I would feel a certain friction between my legs or against my groin from the way I was sitting on the seat, the way the seatbelt fit or my pants were tugging, and imagine a penis growing between my legs.

End of an Era

Tomorrow is my seven-year anniversary of sobriety. Well by the time it’s posted it’ll be ‘today’ or ‘yesterday’. But y’know what I mean. It’s weird. Seven years. It’s a long time, and then it’s also not. It also goes very fast when life passes by and one is not mindful or living in the present. I can honestly say that most of my recovery has been one big, long panic. Will I get loaded? Will I find a job? How am I going to pay the rent?

Make Recovery Your Own

I always say ‘I’ve been in recovery for…’ and then either go on to say ‘Just about two months’ if I’m talking about my eating disorder or ‘Just about seven years’ if I’m talking about alcoholism. I’m not sure why. I guess because I have come to believe that recovery is only recovery if I’ve been ‘clean’ for a length of time. I’m not sure why; I do not hold others to that standard. I’m pretty much alone in that category.

A Different Approach

Once upon a time, there was me. I was a drunk. I wanted to die. I couldn’t handle the way I was living anymore. So I went into a recovery house. I failed. I went to another one. Three years into sobriety I had a mental breakdown. Things have been fucked ever since. But through it all I’ve also had this eating disorder, see. So it’s not enough to try to get my life back from mental illness. I’ve got an eating disorder too.

My Experience with Detox and Outpatient Rehab

My alcoholism reached a head in spring of 2013, brought to desperation by the death of my wife and my subsequent despair. By this point I was drinking from three pm onward everyday, first wine and then vodka, whiskey or rum. Nothing would bring her back, but I could annihilate myself. It was starting to dawn on me, though, that this was making me nothing but miserable. I wasn’t going anywhere or doing anything. I wasn’t socializing or running errands. I could barely cook. Being on disability, I wasn’t working. My full-time job was getting to the bottom of the bottle.

Sobriety & Resentments

No one ever said that this whole sobriety thing would be easy but I have found that it gets a whole lot harder the longer I go. I went to AA, I got a sponsor; I did everything that they told me to do. I even managed to go to a meeting a day. Yet at the same time the longer that I stay dry the more social situations that I find myself in where I am saying to myself, maybe one more would be okay. Take for example last night, I was asked over for a social occasion and it inevitably lead to me picking up, a beer in this case. But that beer lead to Tequila shots which led to, etc. etc. I got scary drunk, more drunk then I have gotten in a long time and while nothing bad happened, and I made it home safely and managed to crawl into bed. But see my alcoholic mentally ill mind tells me that because I did that, because nothing “bad” happened that it must be okay for me to drink again.

My Recent Suicide Attempt

Trigger Warning: Graphic account of a suicide attempt

I recently attempted suicide. At least I think I did, does it count if you don’t pull the trigger, so to speak, rather you try to get someone else to do it for you? I think it does, so I’m going to count this as an attempt rather than a para-suicidal gesture. At least in a rather sick way, I suppose, it makes me rather happy to count this as an attempt as it means I have tempted the fates and I am still alive and kicking.

My Experience With Alcoholics Anonymous And Early Sobriety (Ava)

Sobriety is a different forest, and one I am picking my way through carefully. The level of commitment that AA seems to require is daunting, as is the god issue. But I have seen people speak there that moved and affected me in a way that was more beneficial than any serenity prayer. Balancing cynicism and nihilism with the all-to-clear possibility of death, I’ve relapsed this month but I’m trying to embrace the program without losing myself. When I relapsed, my wife yelled at me to give her the rest of the bottle of vodka, and all I could say was, “I want something to myself, that is mine.” I gave her the bottle. I want to believe I have other things to hold onto, but the glacial heft of a glass bottle is a hand held.