I had a moment yesterday.

I don’t know about anyone else, but the challenge for me in writing this blog is finding the balance between honesty and scaring the crap out of people.  For the addicts and alcoholics reading this blog, I would give every salacious detail in my struggles with anything addictive, except for the fact that I have many non-addict readers, and I am afraid they would go running for the hills if they knew every thought in my head on any given day.  So I do the best I can to share, if not every specific detail, at least the raw emotions that accompany the details.

Back to yesterday.  I am currently 15 months and 4 days sober, and I can honestly say that yesterday was the first real and true experience with temptation.  It lasted, in real-time, about 10 seconds.  But those 10 seconds stayed with me for the rest of yesterday, and it was not pretty.

Again, with respect to the general population, it went something like this… “wouldn’t it be nice if…” followed quickly by, “are you fucking nuts?!?”  Really, that was the nuts and bolts of the incident itself… pondering the possibility, then discarding it.  So the mental anguish I suffered had nothing to do with the 10-second incident.  Rather, I was beside myself (and I mean it, really, really upset) that I considered it at all.

So what happened next?  Well, in the moments directly following, I was in the company of people, so I plowed through those interactions as best I could, trying as much as possible to stay present.  Afterwards, I had someone at my house, and again, gave it my best shot to listen to her life struggles.  In retrospect, I believe I did a decent job being there for her.  I considered breaking down and sharing my mental anguish with her, but I did not, for two reasons:

a.  she is going through something herself, and

b. she is not an alcoholic/addict, and I was afraid she would not understand.

After about an hour, I finally said to her, “I’m sorry to do this, but I need to get to a meeting” (and never have I meant those words more than I did yesterday).  So etiquette be damned, get out of my house, because I’ve got to deal with these feelings.

Off I went, and at the first opportunity, I shared my story (all details included for that audience).  I did this because it is what I’ve been taught to do in AA… you have a thought about drinking/using, you get it out of your head immediately, if not sooner, and that is how you get rid of the feeling.  The real struggle for me yesterday was the absolute and complete disappointment I felt in myself… why, why why, would I ever entertain that thought, even if it was for 10 seconds?  So I cried, and I shared (and to make the humiliation complete… I was the only woman at a meeting full of men).

Here’s how it helped.  First, absolutely no judgment… I shared a humiliating, painful truth, and all I got back was compassion and understanding.  That alone would have been enough, but there was so much more.  Next, every person in the meeting was able to share a similar story, and each ended with something along these lines:  “Wow, what a concept, you are an alcoholic and you thought of taking a drink?  DUH!  Of course you did, it would have been stranger if you did not, that is why you are an alcoholic!”  It’s like the V-8 commercial, I almost did hit myself in the head after listening to these men speak to me.  Some of their stories had me laughing by the end of it, and what kind of a miracle is that… to go from crying to laughing within an hour’s time?

But the best gift I received from this meeting:  the chairperson said to me, “Are you giving yourself credit for actually coming to a meeting and sharing about it?”  And it hit me… this is the honest-to-God first time I ever did that… resisted a temptation and shared about the raw feelings that accompany it, in the present.   I am doing what I have been taught, and it is working, because I really felt better when I left the meeting.  So much so that I went back to the person whom I kicked out of the house, apologized, and shared the entire experience with her.  My fear that she would judge me was completely unfounded… she told me she has an even deeper respect for me because I shared this painful truth.  The miracles just keep on coming!

Today’s Miracle

Today’s miracle is the gratitude I have for being 15 months and 4 days sober.


Posted on May 1, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Wonderful stuff, J. I was going to say the same thing those people at the meeting said – you’re an alcoholic…of *course* we think of drinking. I would be worried about someone who hasn’t had a stray thought or picking up. Of course, it’s different when you’re a few days sober and when you’re 25 year sober. But we get those quick thoughts, those flashes, those out-of-nowhere-where-the-hell-did-that-come-from ponderings. I had one last week and I had to swat it out of the way, but it still had me thinking “I haven’t had that in a while…what’s going on here?” and that is usually a sign that I might be lacking in something – prayer, meditation, working with others, etc. Most likely the last two for me – haven’t had a new sponsee in a while, haven’t gone through the book in a bit, and have been lapsing on my meditations. So while I can’t force a sponsee on me, I can spread the message, hit some meetings (I haven’t been going to as many of those either!) and dammit, meditate more! So I have the solution there, but I have to do it…we don’t rest on our laurels.

    Anyway, you did fantastic. And it’s a great learning lesson – non-alcoholics can start to understand a bit when we start sharing a bit. I don’t tell everything to non-alkie friends and family, but I share with them how I might be feeling or where I am in that regard. no gory details, but at least they understand what it;s like to be me in my skin at times.

    Wonderful post – glad you were able to take away from it. I know I did!


    J. Patterson


    • I read this comment yesterday on the fly, laughed for an hour, just opened it back up, and am laughing again! Thank you so, so much for that levity, and, as always for your inspiring words! And, to your point, a gentleman in the meeting I shared this at had 22 years sober and could still identify with my feelings at 15 months… the Fellowship is a miracle in and of itself!


  2. Hi J, great post! I love that song too.

    I have a really diverse group of readers, so I always try to balance the alcohol stuff too. But here’s what I’ve learned… We’re all really not that different, we all have our habits/secrets/obsessions/demons etc., nearly every single one of us has been affected by addiction–either personally or with a friend or family member, and we all respond instinctually when someone else shares openly and honestly with us.

    Some of my posts with the most comments have been when I talked about cravings and triggers and fighting the impulse to drink.

    I’m so glad you got to a meeting! And I’m so glad to be sober with you. 🙂
    Love, Christy


    • Amazing that you would make this comment… in a continuation of my story, when I shared this painful truth with the friend who is not an addict, she had a parallel analogy from her own life that she shared with me. You are so right, and that is a major reason I started my Friday series “The Steps in Everyday Living,” because I truly believe all human beings would benefit by working the 12 steps of recovery.

      Just recently I mentioned to you, your post about the dentist office was SO powerful, and you are right, you had about a zillion comments!

      Thanks Christy! And although I am not a runner, I have aspirations to be one, and as soon as I get my butt in gear, I am downloading every suggestion I get from your blog!!


      • I’ll cheer you along every “step”! 🙂

        There’s a link for the Couch to 5k beginners running program on my blog list. When you’re ready, give it a look and let me know!


  3. These panic-inducing, random thoughts of drinking do remind me that I can’t drink. That is about the only good thing I can say about them. I had my first (and worst) about 6 months sober and it scared the hell out of me. My sponsor (at the time) was like “finally! I can’t believe you went that long.” Heluva club, but welcome to it 😉

    I’m glad you shared openly about this and hope it helped to know you’re far from alone.


    • Panic-inducing is so correct, it still twists my stomach to think of that moment. I am hoping that I look back on it and relish it as another milestone in my journey, but it is still too close for me to feel that way. Thanks for commenting, because it absolutely, positively helps to know I am not alone.


  4. gives me chills to read this … what I think of most when I read your post is that we make the hugest changes in the tiniest moments … so, so happy you found your way to your safe place and today is 15 months and 4 days and not day 1

    I adore you more than you know … a perfect post to start my day
    thank you for the small peak into your mind…. xox


  5. Yep and that’s how it works, right!? I always have to remember that when I have those thoughts they are not the thoughts that make me weak, they are there because I am an alcoholic, I want to drink! I absolutely love that you lived in the solution; you went to a meeting and shared about it. This is so very important no matter how much sobriety you have. There are times, even now that I tell my husband, “I need a meeting!” and off I go. Taking care of your self is so important, one hour at a meeting can do so much damage control, and have you coming out laughing! 😛 Thanks for the great post!


  6. That is what I truly did not understand before the meeting. I spent the rest of that morning beside myself that I had those thoughts. When I got to the meeting, they all practically laughed in my face (in a good way) and said, “don’t be stupid, of course you would have those thoughts, we all would have!” And in that instant, I felt better. That is why they call it the magic of the meetings!

    Thanks for the validation, it helps as much as the meetings do!


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