I had heard in meetings that ‘recovery ruined my drinking’, but how, I didn’t quite know. I had to do the research, and my findings confirmed that little nugget of information. I was sober a few years, playing with the program like it was my own little set of Legos. I made up my own colorful little steps, which appeared quite sturdy until they melted when heat was turned up.
I did not plan on getting drunk. In fact, my plan was to drink diet sodas all evening on a blind date in a nice little restaurant with an even nicer large bar. No problem! I had not been to meetings in months, did not have a sponsor since my relocation 6 months earlier (my Legos were sponsoring me), and life was going along just FINE. In fact, I was not drinking, and things had started to go so well, I figured I never really even had a problem. The people who said they went out for more research always said things like, “a belly full of beer and a head full of recovery,” never sunk in at all. WHY would you be thinking about meetings and slogans if you were having a great time partying, I thought? I still knew all those sayings, but that evening, though they were probably somewhere in my head, I had moved them to the section marked “returns’.
After a few glasses of soda, my date, who knew nothing more than that I “did not really drink,” said, “Are you sure you don’t want a glass of wine with me?” He had already had a few and seemed perfectly fine. Without any pause, any thought, any neon sign flashing WARNING! or any of those supposed ‘tapes’ playing, the only logical answer, and the one that instantly came out of my mouth was “Sure, why not?” The night went great. I rode off in the moonlight with a complete stranger, dabbled in some dry goods after a quick stop in a sketchy neighborhood to see his ‘friend’… sprinkled the midnight hour with many more drinks, drove home trashed, and….NOTHING BAD HAPPENED. Aha! I was fine after all.
Free and clear to drink normally again, you crazy freaks! I laughed.
That went very well. The date never called me back, but he was a total jerk anyhow, I reasoned. On to the next Internet match! 9 days later, I fell in love with a wonderful guy rebounding from the love of his life. We were meant-to-be because he loved to drink and so did I. 6 weeks later he let me down gently to get back with his ex…and me to cling even more fervently to my bottles. Still, I heard no voices in my head chattering about the “definition of insanity,’ no moments of clarity saying it would only get worse. My Legos even made nice coasters!
Then it happened. 122 days after that first night of research, I found myself alone at a bar, gathering an army of fun strangers to lift my spirits. Before I knew it, I was living the dream…riding in the back of a slick black and white limo across the sparkling late night waters beneath the Bayside Bridge. My sharply dressed chauffeur was taking me to a swanky hotel on Forty-Ninth Street. My silver bracelets looked stunning as I entered the lobby to check in. I sat waiting for the concierge to snap my photo for the membership ID, and watched the lively crowd of colorful guests swirl around me. This place was really popular, so I had to wait a while. I asked the bellman where the powder room was — after all, I had to look good for my ID photo.
I was taken aback that the bellman was so rude to me when I inquired where the ladies room was located. I felt this was quite unnecessary, and asserted myself proudly. Finally! I recalled a phrase I had heard in meetings, and loudly announced while standing up, “DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”
He obviously did not. In fact, he had the audacity to tell me he did not care WHO I was and to sit down and shut up! My dream evening was quickly being ruined by his complete disregard for my presence, and that phrase I had heard in meetings. I reported this to the manager promptly, who was kind enough to compensate me with a really boho chic white rubber robe and an escort to the ‘Maximum Suite’ — a private room for no extra charge.
I stayed there all weekend, and as it turned out, the plumbing was terrible, and there was an obvious need for a new chef. My private room was far too cold, and the staff was not very friendly. I did not sleep well, either — the bed felt like concrete. I was awakened that first morning, startled by the paper-thin walls…oh the noise in that place! To top it all off, I could clearly hear a woman’s voice from a few doors down reciting words I had heard before…something about, “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path…” WOW…. What a buzz kill she was!
My second day there I was finally able to voice my complaints to the Bigwig, and despite his fancy robe and expensive watch flashing over the video monitor, he did not seem to care or attempt to address my issues with this place. Disbelief!
I checked out later that day, and thought about how those recovery people and their lines and phrases really DID ruin my party weekend. I figured I had better get back there to those meetings and inform them that I would not be taken down by this nonsense. I may as well warn them about this nasty hotel while I was there, too.
Oddly, they understood my warnings and criticisms, and even told me to keep coming back. Dang, another silly slogan, I thought. But I did go back, mostly because that crazy Bigwig made me do it.
It took a little time, but I realized I was in the right place. I threw out my Legos and found a real sponsor. I have been building a foundation to a beautiful new home, complete with meetings, my sponsor, service work, reading and learning, helping others, and finding a Higher Power. There are the slogans and sayings, too, which no longer ruin my drinking… I don’t drink. Those sayings and slogans, in fact, support my recovery. Finally! –They know who I am…just another garden variety drunk, staying sober one day at a time.