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It’s not easy being married to an addict in recovery

A year into this sobriety and I feel like the journey has only begun.  AA has helped me to live a sober life and the steps are a way to continue working on myself.  I want to talk about recovery and those feelings that I buried for so many years. Unfortunately, my husband and I are at a crossroads because he doesn’t.  We are in couple’s therapy and it has uncovered emotionally charged topics that my husband says are unnecessary to continue talking about.

To keep talking about it focuses on the negative, he said.  He’s done, he said.  This talking is mental abuse, he said.  I can chose to be unhappy but he is going to do something fun today, he said.  It doesn’t involve me because I’m emotionally detached and I want to be negative, he said. 

You sound angry, I said.  I’ll be here when you want to talk, I said. I told him I feel sad.  I want to talk about this, I said.

I’m done talking, he said.

What will happen if I keep talking? I asked. 

I’ll walk out the door, he said.

He walked out the door. 

This just happened.  I sit here contemplating my next step.  I decide to read about AA and marriage and I come across enlightening words that I need to hear.

Chris M. Tatevosian, author of the book, “Life Interrupted: It’s not all about me”, struggled with MS and not alcoholism but his words ring true for me.  He writes, “my problem was that I acted like my problems outweighed the importance of any problem or concern she had….I felt the world owed (me) everything.”

That got me thinking.  My addictive personality can show itself as self-centeredness.  I see this right now.  I’m trapped in my painful past and my recovery.  My husband is right. I can’t let go of the program and balance it with rebuilding the marriage in positive ways. 

I’ve got to find a way to balance my life with my family so that my needs are not overshadowing everyone else’s. 

Right now I’m going to find my husband and suggest we both let the negative go and get out from behind my shadows. 

♥ Fern ♥

Married female with a male sponsor

I’m struggling in recovery right now.  Big changes are occurring in my marriage and in the relationship with my sponsor. Just when I think I got this there’s a seismic shift in my world. 

The dynamics have completely changed regarding the role my husband wants in my recovery.  For the past year, he didn’t show any interest. (This could rightly be because I was formerly his distant alcoholic wife.) I’ve been chugging along, having my ups and downs, and sharing the emotional journey with people in AA and on my blog. Fast forward a year, and now he appears to be jealous or envious and/or feeling plain old left out.  He requests to know everything, from the meetings I attend to the conversations with my sponsor. This change has left me unsettled.  Husband has been asking a lot of questions about my sponsor, J, who happens to be male.  He repeatedly compares the time I spend at meetings and speaking with J to the time I spend with him.

This is where I feel troubled.  I was going along fine reaching out to others but now my husband has introduced this feeling of guilt into what I’m doing.  We are having countless heartfelt conversations but what he wants to know or get from me is just not possible.  It’s the gift that AA gives to those in recovery.  People on the outside can’t possible understand it.

So, my husband would like me to express my feelings.  He wants to be in the space that I share with AA. It’s become a nightly ritual that we have long conversations before bed. I am trying to accommodate this need but it’s like oil and water. I honestly don’t know how I can share what is happening to me in AA, for two reasons: 1) AA is a spiritual program that one has to live to understand and 2) it’s hard to share emotions with my husband because he is so practical.  He can make anything have a simplified solution.

When I use words like “journey” or I explain I’m going through the “process” of recovery, he admits to bewilderment.  For a guy in the field of business management, a “process” is a series of activities that relates to the planning and monitoring stages of the business process.  When he and I went to therapy, he felt “better” after 2 visits and wanted to be done. He is pragmatic and goal oriented.  I am not sure what I am but I know I’m neither of those.

I spent so many years numbing my emotions with alcohol that it’s not as simple as flicking a switch to have emotional balance.  I struggle internally with shame, guilt, unworthiness, and an inability to know exactly how I feel in any given moment.  That’s where AA comes in.  AA helps me recognize and talk about my emotional self.  The 12 steps, The Big Book, the Daily Reflections, meetings, and a sponsor are channels to aid in my growth along spiritual lines.

AAer’s stated right from the beginning that women should have women sponsors. I thought it was because of the difficulty in setting boundaries between the two alcoholics but in my case, it is the effect a female/male sponsorship has on my marriage. I could be avoiding a lot of issues with my husband right now if I had found a female sponsor.

My husband has never felt good that I have a male sponsor who I call on for emotional support.  Even though he claims to be okay with it, I see it as a huge issue in the marriage and it keeps rearing its ugly head.  My husband met J and the three of us sat down together and chatted about my recovery.  The meeting reassured my husband that J is forthright and sincere in his role of sponsor.  There isn’t anything inappropriate about the sponsor relationship; but my husband continues to have misgivings over that which he cannot understand.  This alters how I feel about my recovery.  I’ve developed a sense that the relationship I have with my sponsor is wrong because my husband has questioned it far too often.  The negatives are beginning to outweigh the positives because I feel I’m being censored.  Husband has questioned how long I talk on the phone, the amount of texts J and I exchange and the conversations we have.

The issue, according to my husband, is not my sponsor relationship. He says it’s the distance between us after I talk to my sponsor. I have no way of knowing which is more accurate. I want to argue that recovery is a personal journey and my husband cannot entirely be part of this process. But, regardless of the cause, I want to address the issue.

I told my sponsor yesterday that I would no longer be calling him because I need to protect my marriage. This is not an easy decision because J has helped me immeasurably.  It appears, however, I have to make a choice so that I can relieve this ongoing sense of emotional distress.  I feel compelled, even though my husband insists it’s not necessary.  Here are my reasons for making this drastic change: my husband doesn’t understand the relationship I have with J.  He can’t understand how his wife needs to call another man to discuss deeply personal emotional issues.  If the roles were reversed and my husband was depending on a woman I would feel insecure, too.  That is the truth.  (What I would do with that truth may be different than my husband’s reaction but that is not the point).

I don’t perceive my relationship with J as a threat to my marriage.  In fact, he has been the person who has taught me how to trust.  Only another alcoholic can know how low we feel about ourselves. J walked me through a lot of negative crap, helped show me my self-image was faulty and he opened my eyes to a world of love and trust.  These positive emotions were buried deep from years of drinking.  Layers of shame, guilt, and remorse were blocking me from discovering my inner light.  J helped me find myself and now I can take these positive feelings and use them to build a stronger marital relationship.  That is, once I settle in to this new phase of my recovery.

Right now there is a sense of loss that I’m giving up the sponsor who has helped me so much. I hope I’m doing the right thing. When I look deep into what I feel is right, it’s to switch perspective a bit and bring my husband into the loop. Emotionally I want to keep things the same and work on myself as I have for the last year but intellectually I realize that is selfish. Alcoholism is a family issue and the time has come for me to deal with the fall out that occurred with my husband. My husband wants to be a part of my sober life and the love I’m discovering. I have talked about my circle opening with the support I get in AA; well, now it’s time to broaden the circle more and let my husband into my journey.

♥ Fern ♥

The benefits of sobriety just keep getting better

My life is coming more into focus with each day that I’m sober. Right now I am sitting at a park along a river, surrounded by trees, listening to the chirping of birds and feeling a cool breeze. I’m accepting this moment for all it is. I am one with the universe. My sensations have awakened after many years of depressing them with alcohol. This is a blessing for which I’m grateful.

The paybacks of sobriety were immediate but as I gain more days, and now a year, I reap more and more benefits. I can still recall the genuine relief I felt in the early days, waking up without feeling dread from a hangover. That sense of liberation has not gone away. Good things can’t help but happen if sober days pile on top of each other. Today is one year, one month and one day since I stopped drinking.

Life just keeps getting better. I’ve consistently been waking up feeling physically good which has allowed my mental and spiritual health to improve, too.

It’s happened because I admitted my life sucked when I was drinking. I had to give up the façade that hid my pain. I dared to trust in others by going to AA meetings and expressing my inner demons, those negative thoughts and feelings that self-berate and criticize. I repeatedly exposed myself in order to debunk the falsehood I was living inside my head. My life was not good. Drinking kept me in denial and perpetuated the vicious cycle of pain, drinking, and shame. Every day was the same story until I surrendered.

My saving grace was finding a trusted person; in AA they call it a sponsor. I learned to fully trust another and began to expose my lack of self-worth and, by what I can only explain as a miracle, I saw through my sponsor eyes that my self-image was faulty. It was a real awakening for me.

Not only did I see more clearly but trusting in AA taught me to surrender and that’s when I discovered Love. Love with a capital “L”.

Love is God. God is love. It is in all of us. Thy will be love. 

My marriage has been transformed in sobriety. My husband and I had become increasingly distant because I drank and hid with alcohol. I truly didn’t realize how much my drinking affected my marriage. I now see that I wasn’t emotionally available to give or to receive love.

The greatest benefit in sobriety is I don’t argue with my husband. By living sober and accepting my feelings, I’ve settled into being a calmer, more open person. Over the past few months, when he would fall into our old ways I would recite the Serenity Prayer and consciously choose not to join in the fight. Over time my husband recognized I changed and he has begun to make positive changes, too. It’s a beautiful thing.

We went to couples therapy and cleared some lingering resentments. I took the high road and realized I had to make-up for my drinking years. I listened. I offered empathy. I accepted my role in the marriage and another miracle happened. My husband chose to make changes and accept personal responsibility for his role in our relationship. Yesterday at therapy my husband began the session by saying he likes the person I’m becoming. He mentioned having met my sponsor and sees that my sponsor has helped me a lot. My husband is now ready and eager to be an emotional support for me, too. He and I are both willing to clean the slate, let the past go and begin anew.

Good things are happening. The greatest of these is Love.

Sobriety opens the window of your heart and surrendering allows love to come in.

♥ Fern ♥

Back from Hiatus

Just in case you missed the action, my blog went private and I was missing in action. I convinced myself this blog is more of a public forum than its original intention of being like my private diary. I questioned is benefits, especially after my husband read it.  An interesting question, that I have yet to answer, is even though this blog is posted publicly on WordPress should it be treated like my journals? Should my privacy be respected and just as you wouldn’t read my diary without feeling guilty, should the same apply here? My answer is yes.  Unless, of course, you found it on a public website than the answer becomes grayer.

Regardless of the privacy issue, the helpfulness my blog offers to me has not changed.  Irrespective of how many followers or readers, writing has always helped clear my head; by putting my thoughts and feelings out there they lose their power to overwhelm me. The mere fact that what I feel can be put into words and understood by another helps me feel I’m not unique.  The same idea worked even when I wrote privately and my words weren’t read by anyone.  The public nature of blogging has morphed my writing into a place of support which has become an added benefit for me.  I believe it’s a win-win situation.

I remember hearing this quote (back in the 80’s)…

Mr. Roger’s was a children’s TV show host, as well as an educator and minister.  I identify with Mr. Roger’s sentiment. Writing makes my life more manageable.

My husband is suddenly interested in my recovery.  I think the catalyst could be the fanfare I received on my one-year anniversary in the middle of July.  I returned home from a meeting with a balloon, leftovers from 2 cakes, a medallion, and a card with personal notes from a dozen people.

I think my confidence is growing, too, and there is a “glow” about me which sparked attention.  This led, I suspect, to my husband becoming mistrustful of my activities because he didn’t know what made the change.  He accused me of hiding things, such as the dependency I have on my sponsor and my blog writing.  I felt obligated to share my blog because of his suspicions. I believed neither my blog nor the relationship with my sponsor are deceitful so I wanted to be open and show that I wasn’t hiding things.  Following my small disclosure he went online and read all my posts for the last 7 months.  I don’t know exactly how many but enough for him to get the idea I’ve been unhappy and I’ve found emotional support outside of the home, through AA and its fellowship.

Therein lies the problem because my husband feels like I’ve not shared my feelings and hence, he is unaware with what’s been going on with me during my first year of sobriety. I completely understand why he is feeling like an outsider.  The last year has evolved without me knowing what was going on.  How could he possibly know?

What’s radically different is his renewed interest in me and how I feel.

Historically, my husband never complained when I was seeing a therapist at different times for the last 30 years.  He didn’t want to join me in therapy and rarely showed an interest in my emotional journey.  In fact, he was adamant that it did no good to look back at the past.  So, when I started going to AA, the same pattern held.  I went to AA and worked on myself.  I didn’t share much with my husband because I believed it wasn’t of interest.

The big difference could very well be that all the years of therapy didn’t have the same results as one year of AA meetings. Individual counseling kept me isolated because I stayed wrapped in my own thinking.  Any alcoholic knows that’s our problem.  We make everything all about ourselves!  AA is different because it is a group of like-minded people sharing their experience.  Going to meetings has been transformative with helping me discover my spiritual side and learning to accept myself within a greater social group.

The effects of my sobriety touch everyone in the family.  I’ve often heard it said that recovery is a family matter and now I know why.  When one person changes, it causes a ripple effect.  I go out to meetings at night and this affects my husband the most.  He liked me at home, even if I was drinking.  My family also needs to heal the broken trust and the disconnection my drinking caused in the family.

My past experience has been to hide things that may reflect poorly on me or my family.  But, in order to grow in sobriety I am ready to acknowledge the issues.  My husband and I are going to marital counseling, he met my sponsor and for the first time he attended an AA step meeting with me.  I am making an effort to share how I feel because one of my habits is isolating myself.  I’m invested in my marriage and want to work toward healing my family and keeping addiction out of our lives.

I think this blog serves a positive purpose in my life and so I plan on sticking around.

♥ Fern ♥

Truth in sobriety

The past week was crazy-busy with so much going on I hardly know where to begin.  Let’s start with the craziest of all the shit.

A boyfriend, who I have not spoken to for 30 years, came out of the woodwork to connect with me.  He lives 600 miles away, near my brother, who gave him my home phone number. I honestly thought the guy might be calling to make amends because we had a sordid past with good times, as well as bad.

Man, was I wrong. Just because I am taking responsibility for my actions doesn’t mean everyone is doing the same. I foolishly called the guy on my cell phone and the shit hit the fan. The calls and texts I received went from bad to worse in a matter of days. I was called a slut, he told me I was going to hell; he wished I would go blind, get Alzheimer’s and die. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The guy obviously was in a mental health crisis and I was the focus of his madness. It got really ugly and it confused me that an old boyfriend who loved me so deeply could have such ugly thoughts. This really messed with my head because I’ve carried a great deal of shame from when I was ages 16-20 and this guy, who was part of this time, was reiterating what I already felt.

My husband was rightfully upset and took action. We made reports to the police, changed my cell number, and canceled our home phone line. Fortunately, for now, the harassment has ended, mostly because the old boyfriend can’t make contact.

While this is going on my husband’s mistrust is growing. He discovered I have long phone conversations and frequent texts with J, my sponsor. Husband says he is not suspicious of the relationship with my sponsor but he’s feeling distance between us. He began to ask questions about my blog, too; and the old boyfriend came back to haunt me, which did not help things. The texts from my old boyfriend made Husband so distraught that I didn’t share the last one right away which caused further damage to the whole trust issue.

I decided the best tactic to take was full-disclosure. Husband and I went to a neutral place for coffee and I brought my phone and computer. I shared everything and tried so hard to attend to his concerns. The only way I could do this was to shut up and listen to the ways he felt betrayed and disappointed. I blankly stared straight ahead as he brought up our past from 30 years ago and these things in the present. I ended up crying and feeling like I was the worst wife ever and I would never be good enough. This reaction is my default. I tend to go to what’s comfortable and familiar which is to blame myself.

Well, Husband saw firsthand I haven’t done anything wrong. In fact, I think my blog triggered this desire in him to be more supportive. He vowed to give me the emotional support he offered in the early days of our marriage, before life became complicated with jobs, kids, and home ownership.

Husband had taken the past week off because we had family visiting for a few days. After the company left, he concentrated on spoiling me. He gave me undivided attention, talking, listening, and fully loving me. We went for walks, I got a few foot-massages, he hung out and waited while I got a manicure and he bought me my favorite candy. This was the guy I married long ago. He said he also felt like we were teenagers in love again. We did a lot of fun things and the week was overall pretty good.

During the week husband asked a lot of questions about the past that I guess he never felt he could ask before because my drinking kept me separate and guarded. I tried to be honest and this honesty brought us closer. He was under the illusion that when I was sleeping around (we’re talking back in college) I thought it was fun. I explained that period of my life was the hardest because I kept getting into situations that emotionally hurt me and left me feeling dirty and used. He said he didn’t know I felt that way and, for me, disclosing that information lifted a huge burden I’ve been carrying around.

Sobriety is a gift because I’m able to get in touch with buried emotions and work through them. Husband is blowing me away with how supportive, loving and compassionate he is being right now. He is encouraging me to go to meetings, to call J, and to write in my blog. J was away all week celebrating his 30-something wedding anniversary and this was a gift in disguise. I leaned more heavily on my husband and soaked up the ability to feel emotionally supported and completely loved by the same person. Wow, talk about feeling safe and secure. I also laid off a few meetings because I enjoyed the time with my husband. As for this blog, I do know my husband wanted to be my emotional support so I held back from writing during the tough periods throughout the week. I’m glad I did because it forced me to directly deal with issues in my marriage around trust and feeling unworthy.

I pulled back and retreated into my comfortable space of isolation at the later part of the week. When my husband reached out I was quick to push him away and give him the cold shoulder. He was so hurt and I wouldn’t take responsibility for it. Selfish-me came into play and I insisted I needed my own time and privacy. I wanted to be alone, which in itself is fine, but the only way I knew how to express that was to make my husband feel he wasn’t needed or loved. No hugs or friendly words, just me retreating into my world where I am alone and feel hurt.

It’s a strange behavior that I don’t really get. My husband didn’t understand it either. Here he was showering me with love and attention, which I was reciprocating and enjoying and then, bang, all of a sudden I’m the ice princess.

In the evening we spent hours talking about how he felt when I emotionally shut down. I understood why he would feel hurt and I cried that I can be so mean-spirited sometimes. I don’t exactly know where that comes from but that feeling is the exact thing I drank over. Or I drank to feel okay being distant and devoid of emotions. Whatever it may be, in that space of isolation is where my problem lies. I am alone. Unloved. Unworthy. Even a sympathetic husband can’t help me escape my own sense of shame and pain.

It’s sad, really. My husband loves me but I don’t love myself. I think he recognized that it isn’t about whether I love him or not. I do love him but during those times when I hate myself I can’t show it. Husband wanted me to lean in and hug him and I said, “I can’t. I’m shut down.” He reassured me that he loves me and I quieted my inner voice that tells me to stay alone and unloved. I reached out to my husband and cried into his shoulder. He held me for a long time and I felt loved. I told him I have to love myself in order to give it away and sometimes that is a huge obstacle for me.

♥ Fern ♥


Fall-out at home

My husband is reacting to my sobriety in new ways.  I could focus on how I think his reaction is unfounded and “wrong” but who, really, am I to say how he should feel? 

This past week I had two one-year anniversary celebrations with my AA home groups. I returned home with cake, balloons, brass coins and cards.  Not to mention a smile on my face and a feeling of gratitude that I have people who love me.

My husband is sad and feels I’m leaving him out.  I can reassure him up the wazoo that I’m doing all of this to make me a better person so our marriage will be healthier.  But, none of that matters in this moment.  He is alone and feeling abandoned.  Last night he was tearful and expressive.  I tried to reassure him but a part of me also knows I can’t fix how he feels.  He must go through the emotions.

The fact is I am changing.  I’m finding my inner voice and a new found sense of love in the greater community.  For a long time it was just me and him, stuck in our dysfunctional ways.  Me with my isolated drinking and him with his hobbies.  We were at home but distant. The change is now, I’m out of the house and my husband is feeling more insecure about the distance.

There seems to be a lot of jealousy and insecurity coming from him. I’m sorry he feels a lack of trust for me and I accept some responsibility for that.  30 years ago when we first met, you could say, I was a “player.” I cast him aside for old boyfriends and even short flings.  He remembers everything as if it were yesterday.

Shit, I wish I never told him about all the relationships in my past.  It’s coming back to haunt me. I should have just kept my big mouth shut but I was needy and I wanted his love and forgiveness for the things I had done in the past. 

Unfortunately, damage was done to him during this selfish time in my life.  I told him I’ve been true and faithful for 30 years. All the things he is re-living were from back in college.  I’m not that person.

I don’t want to take on his problems with me when I’m flying high on my one-year-of-sobriety cloud.  But, I believe I have to deal with it.  My drinking for all these years kept this problem buried. My husband doesn’t trust me.  I’ve got to regain his trust.  I’ve read enough of AA’s Big Book to know that this is normal and will take time. I can’t dismiss his feelings. God knows I want to, though.  It would be much easier to be selfish and say, “Get over it!”


Today I will try to be grateful that my husband expressed his feelings to me.  He is showing me his vulnerability and I can embrace the honesty and treat his fears with respect and kindness. He rightfully points out that I have acceptance for everyone in AA but he doesn’t feel he’s getting that at home. 

Hmmm? This sounds like it’s time for me to take personal responsibility.

That’s not easy for a selfish, willful, self-centered addictive alcoholic thinker.  But, times are changing…

♥ Fern ♥


Hard to accept my one year coin

Last night the members of my Wednesday night meeting celebrated my anniversary with 2 cakes, a congratulations balloon, a card and, of course a one-year medallion. One guy brought a carrot cake and plates and J showed up with a big Mylar balloon and a raspberry icing cake, he referred to as a “pink cloud” cake.

I didn’t want to make a big deal out of my one-year sobriety date. However, I don’t know how I feel well enough to know exactly why. I suggested J give me the one year coin in the parking lot and I was only half-joking! My intent was to minimize it because I didn’t want the attention. Man, that’s the truth. I didn’t know I would be so nervous. I very near had a panic attack in the room before the meeting began.

My anniversary date was 2 days ago so leading up to receiving the coin with my “home group” I did a lot of nice things for myself: haircut, nails, and a little shopping spree where I bought myself a couple of new shirts. These independent activities caused little stress so I thought I was going to be fine at the meeting. My day started out well and I was actually excited about seeing J at the meeting. I feel safe with him so I trusted that all of the attention paid to me would be fine. I also was grateful that I have someone who is so genuinely caring and nice. This night would be an opportunity to be happy and accept love from others. But, that’s not at all how it panned out.

My anxiety rose after I expressed my positivity to J in a text. I said, “I’m looking forward to tonight.” And he wrote back, “Cool, joyous and free!” Those words acknowledged my happiness and I tail-spun into a state of panic. My body had a visceral reaction that was out of my control. I felt fear and mistrust with the idea of exposing myself. I knew the group would want me to share my story at the beginning because it’s an open discussion format and the birthday person always shares. My stomach began to flip and my heart was beating hard in my chest. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to express myself. I considered not going to the meeting because I was fearful. This went on for so long that I really wondered if I was sick. My head told me to stay home but, if you know me at all, I am determined to follow through with commitments, especially if I know deep down the outcome will be a positive growth experience if I can push through it.

I occupied myself by making a homemade card that I would give J at the meeting. My card was to be a tree. J suggests praying to trees or even hugging a tree as a good way of praying to something greater than ourselves. Trees don’t change or reflect anything back that could be misconstrued or deemed judgmental. I agree that a tree is grounded and strong and I relate to J’s idea. So, I cut different shades of green paper into triangles and made a pine tree that was intentionally irregular in form. After that, I glued the tree to a couple other pieces of paper and put them on a folded piece of paper. When it came time to write, my hands were jittery and my handwriting was shaky. I knew rewriting it wouldn’t be any better and I wished I’d made the card earlier. Oh well, the meeting was in an hour so, there was nothing I could do but accept the unsteady writing. I titled the card, “J’s Tree” and wrote my name and the year on the back. I also included a small coin, which had one side imprinted with the words, “The strength of a tree lies in its ability to bend.” The other side had a raised image of the “Tree Of Life.” I wrote a few kind words and an excerpt from my blog a year ago, when I posted about J reaching out to me for the first time.

August 17, 2013 Blog Entry (One Month Sober)

My consistently all-time favorite AA member walked over to me and gave me a hug. I honestly feel such warmth from this guy that I want to keep him with me forever, like a child clinging to the safety of their mother. I have started texting him (and others) in my Wednesday group. I hugged back fully accepting his support. He said, “I love you.” I paused an instant before responded, “I love you, too.” I wasn’t going to answer back but I do feel love for this guy. How incredibly amazing is that? My heart is opening. The one person who is the most giving, thoughtful, kind and knowledgeable person in the rooms reached out to me? … I love this man’s pure heart and giving spirit … Having a person say they like me, despite my problem with drinking, is an amazing experience. I hope he knows how deeply he touches people by being so kind when we are in the thick of struggling with our negative sense of self in early sobriety. The experience is restorative beyond what words can describe.

I called J to tell him I was nervous but I don’t think he knew how panicky I felt. I pushed on bravely. I got to the meeting and everyone was standing around outside. My hope was no one knew it was my anniversary but they all did. I got hugs and congrats and one cake arrived and then another with J and his balloon. My eyes were downcast and I tried to shrink from the room. I told one guy who is unemotional that I was nervous and since he didn’t know what to do with the information he alerted everyone. By this time, there were ten of us or so seated around a hard wood table in heavy wooden chairs. The girls sat on one side and I was with them. I said that I did not know what to do with all this attention on me and a long-time guy next to me said, “Just say thanks.” Everyone laughed that he was teaching me how to be grateful. It wasn’t really funny to me and I took his suggestion and basically responded with “Thanks, so-and-so” all night long.

Someone suggested the cake get cut before the meeting officially started so I cut the first piece with shaking hands. I asked the same guy who helped with the “thanks” to help me serve the cake. He agreeably took over and it reminded me of how I depend on my husband to handle a lot of situations that are emotionally overwhelming to me. I try to become as much as a wallflower as possible.

Last night I really wasn’t given a choice in sharing my story so I did. I started at age thirteen with my first drink and pot smoking experience and I described my journey into isolated drinking for the next 20 minutes. AA says you should share your experience, strength and hope with others. Well, I feel regretful that all I shared was my experience. I talked about difficult moments in my life and how I drank to get through them. My story was basically that I didn’t do anything outlandish I just hid from life and drank in the evenings to avoid the emotions that I felt during the day.

I’ve observed others tell their story and lose perspective, run off topic and end abruptly. That was pretty much me last night. Oh, how I wish I spoke eloquently, with a clear beginning, middle and end. I woke up 3 times last night with my heart pounding, reliving how I told my drinking story. It still has a lot of power to scare me because I haven’t learned to deal with my emotions very well.

I picked the topic of gratitude and others shared their thoughts. I think every single one of them spoke directly to me and said, “It was good to hear your story.” For which I said, “Thanks, so-and-so.” One woman said I was full of grace and she could not tell I was nervous, another woman shared she’s been inspired by my honesty. A guy said he wasn’t sure if I was going to make it in sobriety because some weeks I was really low. He made an analogy to my moods being like an airplane in an air show, taking nose dives and then flying back up again. I totally understood what he meant because that is how my one year of sobriety has felt to me. No surprise that it looks that way. Another guy shared that a change of thinking is critical. He tries to replace positive thoughts with negative ones and on bad days he and his wife have a joke, “It could be worse.” I smiled and understood it’s all about perspective.

A woman who eagerly and enthusiastically received her one year coin last month congratulated me and said she wasn’t sure why I felt my story was so different that I had to explain it or convince others that I belong in AA. I think I saw J nod at her observation and it made me nervous. I don’t do well with cross talk or anything that I perceive negatively. Her words threw me a bit. In fact, I believe her small comment is the reason that I’m second guessing my entire story. She also commented that she loved getting her one year coin; even after 7 others had said they were uncomfortable at the one year celebration.

The last guy told me he had a similar story to mine, as he drank at night and didn’t think he bothered anyone. Until his drinking started to effect the family because his drinking escalated. He was so kind when he told me he didn’t feel worthy at his one year mark. I appreciated his warm gaze on me and I should try to hold on to the kindness he was offering.

A favorite woman of mine joked that she wanted to drink on day 364 just so she could say “Fuck you” to AA because she didn’t want to be part of any group! She had us all laughing by her frankness.

Lastly, there’s J who presented me with my one year medallion. I wish I could remember all that he said. I tried to focus but my emotions were kind of shut down. I know he said he thinks he’s gotten to know me pretty well over the last year and he was happy to be a part of my journey since I am shy and bashful. Those words do have a negative connotation but when they came out of J’s mouth I felt like he was simply stating the obvious. I know he said other nice things but I can’t remember. He kissed and hugged me and handed me the card and coin. The coin was passed around so everyone could put their mojo on it.

I took one quick minute to look around the room at everyone and thank them for always being there. I smiled and said how they all know it hasn’t been easy for me to feel accepted and I have appreciated how they all loved me when I couldn’t love myself. That’s how the program works. The meeting ended with The Lord’s Prayer and I got a lot of congratulations and hugs.

I shouldn’t be second guessing what went on but it’s the nature of my thinking. I didn’t say anything specific about J and I felt bad for that. However, the truth is I don’t think I could have expressed any emotions. I was closed and not emotionally available. In hindsight, I think the only way I could manage such strong fears was to cut myself off from feelings. It’s okay because I still heard what everyone said to me. But it’s also not okay because I am disappointed that I couldn’t fully enjoy the occasion. My heart and soul wern’t there.

Damn me and fuck, fuck, fuck. I am angry with myself.

I know that’s not helping anyone. In fact, it’s the exact thinking that I must change in order to allow God into my life and begin to accept myself for who I am right now. Love cannot grow where there is hate. And I hate myself.

Today’s Daily Reflection reading, which I read at this very moment, speaks to me. It gives me an answer to my problem thinking and how to deal with emotional sobriety. I am not surprised that this message was in the book for me to see today. 



My stability came out of trying to give, not out of

demanding that I receive.

Thus I think it can work out with emotional sobriety. If

we examine every disturbance we have, great or small, we

will find at the root of it some unhealthy dependency and its

consequent unhealthy demand. Let us, with God’s help,

continually surrender these hobbling demands. Then we

can be set free to live and love; we may then be able to

Twelfth Step ourselves and others into emotional sobriety.


Years of dependency on alcohol as a chemical moodchanger

deprived me of the capability to interact emotionally with

my fellows. I  thought I had to be self-sufficient, self-reliant,

and self-motivated in a world of unreliable people. Finally

I lost my self-respect and was left with dependency,

lacking any ability to trust myself or to believe in anything.

Surrender and self-examination while sharing with

newcomers helped me to  ask humbly for help.

 Lastly, J is planning on presenting me with another coin at our Saturday morning group. Let’s just say, I’m anxious about that one, too; but, I will go, accept the coin, and show others that the AA program works.


♥ Fern ♥




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