Yesterday was supposed to fun. An after work get together at the pub across the street from us was a good idea.
We ordered pizzas and I had my trusty club soda with cranberry and extra lime.
But then Bobby started talking to Sydney over me, and there was no place for me to move, no place to go. Bobby and Sydney had to speak loudly in order to be heard. I felt trapped, and my brain got all fuzzy and fiery with the loud volume of voices stretching to be heard.
Then the martinis came, the lovely martinis with extra olives in them for my colleagues, Rita and Wanda. At that moment those martinis became the most beautiful things in the world to me. I could sense the ease in which I could grab both, and finish them off in a swish.
Bobby was nudged up against me talking to Sydney, who was on the other side of me. Sydney’s voice was in my ear. I could not move, and there were two beautiful martinis in front of me.
There were only two choices in my brain in that moment, and neither was discreet.
I shot up from the bench, and said, “I gotta go! Sorry guys!” That got Bobby’s attention, and he moved so that I could move, and when I was able to move I scrambled for that door like my life depended on it.
Only one of you knows that this weekend is my five year sobriety anniversary. I wish I could explain to all of you why I behaved so strangely, but I know that it would not be wise to share that bit of information with all of you.
I ran out of the pub, and cried because I wanted to be in there with the rest of you. I wanted to be like the rest of you, but I’m not. I’m a person in long term sobriety that is still figuring out how to navigate the world as a sober person.
I needed an AA meeting at the moment, and I was within easy driving distance of one.
And that’s a whole other story …
You, my fellow colleagues, are not the only ones who don’t get me.
In my infinite wisdom I decided to be straight forward with the group. I shared what had just happened, and the fact that I don’t get AA. I so badly want to get it, but it’s like my brain rebels against it. I truly wish I could love AA. It’s the negativity towards ourselves in the group that turns me off instantly. I’ve been trying to learn how NOT to beat myself up on a regular basis, and coming into these meetings seems to be a return to that way of life for me.
But here’s the frosting that frosted my ass last night. I can try to tolerate the way people beat themselves up in there. But I will never be okay with the way we attack each other. We had someone in our meeting talk about how they previously had decades of time sober, but picked up a drink a few months ago. Since then she has not been able to put together any amount of time sober. This person with so much pain and struggle was so brave in admitting this to all of us. My heart just went out to her because I do not think I would be able to admit what she admitted to all of us.
Then some judgmental gal with a fancy dress spoke up, and wondered aloud what this person learned in the rooms with 20+ years of sobriety, the implication that she must not have learned anything since she picked up a drink. Well, Ms. Fancy Dress, I should hope that you don’t meet someone like you if you ever pick up a drink and come back to the rooms to admit it. I should hope that, but I don’t.
Fellow colleagues, I am not sure if I will attend our next outing to the pub. I assure you that it’s not a reflection of how I feel about you guys. I wish I could tell all of you this so that you would know that it’s really about me, and not you. Sure, Bobby and Sydney were loud, and I felt trapped, but it’s my brain that gets me keyed up in these instances. I recognize that. Please know that I love you guys, and wish I could hang out with you more often.
P.S. I will be ever so grateful if you don’t talk about my Friday weirdness on Monday.
Thank you for sharing your stories. I understand that feeling when you get in the place where everything becomes overwhelming and I have to excuse myself. I have not done it well many times in my 25 Plus years of sobriety.
As for the meetings, I quit going to the 6:30 AM meeting because of the constant self-criticism that people say. I want to my regular Saturday AA men’s meeting today and the speaker started off by saying “Joel is the problem, and I’m Joel and i’m an alcoholic.”
As long as we continue to shame ourselves, we will never get healthier. I admire and respect you for seeing what you see and doing what you
I replied to your comment, but I don’t think the reply registered as a reply to your comment. Just wanted to be sure that you see the comment. Thanks.
Thanks for the supportive comment. I so appreciate it, especially today because I have felt strangely low this entire weekend thus far. I feel as if I’ve not progressed at all. I’ve no idea why I feel this way. But thank you.
I’m sorry you weren’t able to stay but way to go for taking care of you. 🙂
I have had drug addictions in my distant past and there was a time when AA/narcotics anonymous philosophy were my life saver. Meetings were never a particularly positive experience. I have often come across people like Miss-Fancy-Dress…. she is the reason why I found other ways to get me clean. Some people within that environment become so caught up in the harshness of an “honest inventory”, they can forget to focus on the more positive aspects of recovery.
I loved your story and can totally understand your experience with your workmates. You did well to get yourself out that situation – I guess that’s part of what sobriety is all about. Maybe one day you will be able to remain in that sort of situation. It’s positive that you recognise your limits.