Last week I went to a club. Oi! It was for a good purpose, though- a non profit fundraiser for 600million.org, which is trying to create an oral sterilization pill that will sterilize stray dogs, thus ending the plight of stray dog’s overpopulation. I hadn’t been to a club in years, and it brought back memories from a time I had nearly forgotten.
I remember the process of ‘going out’- getting ready, doing the makeup and throwing clothes around, trying to find exactly the right thing to wear. I had to have a few drinks while getting ready, as it is an anxiety provoking endeavor. (And because I am an alcoholic and any reason is a good reason to drink.) Then there was the arrival. I never drove; my friends knew better than to let me drive. We’d walk up wondering if we would be let in or have to wait, which we wouldn’t. That alone set up a small panic- Am I cool enough? Am I too old? Meanwhile there is this idea running in the back of my mind that something is about to happen. I am not sure what exactly; I always felt that all the preening and strutting would result in something amazing happening. In fact, every time I drank I thought something would change, be different, be better somehow. Behind that expectation was the nervousness that something amazing wouldn’t actually happen and that I would end up disappointed. And in order to neutralize the possibility of disappointment, I would act like I didn’t care at all. We would walk up to the door, and I would act like I was bored out of my mind and not like all the others, who cared. And really, by that point, I just wanted to get in there and get my drink on- my final layer of protection against the inevitable disappointment that the evening would yield.
Once in the club, I was always assaulted by the music, the smell of bodies, cologne and perfume, and desperation. I started drinking as soon as possible, to deaden my fears, heighten my expectation, and help me tolerate the onslaught of noise and smells, people crushing up against me, and the inevitable men who I proceeded to ignore. My friends were not ignoring them, however, so they would all end up talking to men and I would be there with my drink, looking bored and unapproachable. A few brave men would approach, and the more I drank, the friendlier I got. Until that last drink, when I would probably throw a punch.
When I walked into the event at the club on Wednesday, all of this came back to me. I hated clubs, and yet I went anyway. I hated everything about going out to places like that, and I used my drinking to make a substandard situation seem attractive. And then I used it to deaden my senses so I could tolerate it. The expectation I felt was the same promise that I felt the drink was making me- something would be different, something would change, be better. That was the lie of the drink, and I believed it for years. I hated my life, and I numbed myself to this fact. That was the only magic of drinking- it kept me embedded in the great lie, kept me from waking up to the reality of myself, which would not have been tolerable.
I usually ended up leaving the club very drunk and surly. I wasn’t promiscuous, but I was violent. I’d pick fights or yell at cops or go home and call the wrong people. I’d be so disappointed that the magic didn’t happen that I’d try to score, or at the very least, go home to my vey own bottle and drink until I passed out. I did this for years. Until I decided to skip the club and just stay home with the bottle.
As I walked into the club where the 600MILLION.ORG event was held, I was astonished to recall all of this. People were asking me if I’d like a drink and I’d say, “Water, please.” They would give me a little bit of a look, “Just water? Are you sure?” “Yes, just water, thank you.” I’ve learned that we don’t have to give a whole history or make excuses, just leave it at that. People seem to want an explanation, but we don’t have to say anything. It was a really awesome event, but there were a lot of people drinking, and I couldn’t help but be happy I wasn’t one of them.
On my way home, I reflected back on the way I used to live. It was so out of alignment with who I really and truly am, but I had no idea who I was or what I wanted. Alcohol blinded me and told me I needed something else, something MORE, always more. I don’t like to dress up, or get hit on, stand in line for a bathroom, or shout over loud music to be heard. In sobriety, I have learned who I am, what I truly want from my life experiences, and how to go about creating what it is I want. I have a value system that is in keeping with the principles I have learned in recovery, and that is really who I am. When all those things are in alignment, there is a smooth flow to life, and the struggling stops. Not that challenges go away, but I am directed through them gracefully by paying attention to the next indicated action in front of me. I love my life, and the relationship I have with my Higher Power. I am blessed beyond measure.
However, if you had told me, back in the day, that the life beyond my wildest dreams would be based on principles and a relationship with my Higher Power, I would have been APPALLED!!! I thought I wanted sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Everything in my life informed me that excess was best, and there was never enough of it to satiate my appetite. I could never have understood my life as it is now. If you told me then that my life would be like this now, I would not have wanted it. It wasn’t in my system to want it. I think about this when speaking to newcomers, especially young ones. Who wants a sober, spiritual life when they still idolize Hunter S Thompson?
That is exactly what ‘life beyond your wildest dreams’ means. Never in a million years would I have dreamt of this life, because it simply wasn’t in my consciousness to dream of it. You can’t know what it feels like until you have it, and its nearly impossible to convey with words. A newcomer will simply have to pick up on what is being offered and want it more than anything, want what you have because there is a gleam in your eye and a spring in your step and you always pick up when they call.
We are here to be torchbearers for those still groping in the dark. That is where we get our magic. It was important for me to remember the lies I told myself, and what it felt like to be blinded by the lies. The disease is the King of Liars, and it fuels the Monkey Mind, ever chattering away. I have the utmost compassion for those who are still writhing in the pit of despair, and endless gratitude for those who helped guide me out of it.