Travel for Tokens

If you have been following my blog, you would know that my local meetings do not give out many sobriety chips. At first I was very frustrated by this. I had to drive to a city two hours away to get my 30 day chip. I got my 90 day chip while on vacation in another city. I found it nice and convenient that I was to be traveling again for my 180th day.

I made plans to have dinner with an old friend. He and I have bickered about a lot of things in the past. When I first got sober, I stopped talking to him because of his comments about alcoholism.  He does not believe it is a disease. It is a choice.  I couldn’t handle that in my first 30 or even 60 days. I think it was near 90 days sober before I unblocked him and started to talk to him again.

He wanted to invite his roommate and roommate’s girlfriend to dinner with us. The problem is his roommate is my ex-boyfriend.  I told him I did not want them to join.  He said they might get upset if they are left out and I said “I don’t fucking care.” This guy was horrible with returning phone calls and text messages. He did not care when that hurt me. And the way we ended things was he called me about some papers and then said “you know that whatever happens, we will always be friends.” We never talked about it. We never had closure. And the last time I was in town, he canceled dinner plans with me to go see this girl. So I really did not want him and his new love joining my evening. I did not want closure with his arms wrapped around her. I could not handle that sober.

Thankfully my friend did not invite them. He and I had a great dinner. We talked and caught up. Afterwards, I felt bad that I seemed to monopolize the conversation with my recovery. He said a few times that he does not think I need to quit forever. I told him I know I do. He kept saying he thinks I can control it. If we had this talk a few months ago, I would have got angry. Instead, I just explained to him that I do not want to drink. I do not need to drink. He came up with his excuses for drinking and I told him that is fine.  I have no problem with other people drinking. I have a problem with my drinking.

After dinner, I started to drive him home. I was planning to go to a meeting. He even looked up meetings for me near his home. I was about to turn towards his street and he asked where was I going. The meeting is straight. “You want to go to the meeting with me?” He said sure. This was the first time I had someone go to a meeting with me.

It was a beginners meeting. The topic was higher power and God. I thought he would enjoy this because we discuss/debate religion and religious issues a lot. I got called on and felt like I was in school and had to write an answer on the chalkboard.  I have never been to a meeting before where they randomly call on people. But I spoke about my feelings of spirituality and using energy and the universe as my higher power. (Maybe one day I will get around to make a blog about my spirituality.) After the meeting, my friend thanked me for what I said. He thought it helped balance out all the God and Jesus talk. I think he might have enjoyed the meeting even if he does not believe everyone in that room has a disease.

There was a few minutes left and I did not see anyone with a box. I whispered to him “I guess no chip.” But then the chairperson asked for a volunteer to pass out chips. A huge smile crept across my face. They started out with 18 months. Then 12. Then 6. I jumped up like it was the lottery. I was the only person in the room accepting a chip. My friend kept clapping after everyone else was finished. It felt so wonderful.

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And then I thought I really hate my local meetings. Why do they deprive people of this awesome feeling of accepting a chip? Only 90 days and yearly chips? That does not seem like enough reinforcement.  Maybe I am just Pavlovian dog.

Mistake 182- Many years ago, I was at a party at the house of my friend that joined me at this meeting. I do not remember much (as usual). But I cheated on my girlfriend with some guy at the party. In most lesbian relationships, that is the worst betrayal. I do not remember much of the incident. The images of it are fuzzy like it didn’t really happen. Another guy witnessed it which is how I discovered what I did. Our group of friends made a joke out of it. I felt such shame because of the betrayal and the fact I had to be told by someone else what I did with my own body. Drinking controlled me. I finally gave up the losing battle of trying to control it.

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Memory Lane

I arrived by airplane yesterday to start a roadtrip with friends to visit another friend’s new baby.The trip was supposed to be 4 adults and one child. It will now be two adults and child. I was upset yesterday about the two guys canceling. But I guess things could be worse.

I picked up my rental car at the airport and drove around. I drove to different memorable sights. I lived here for 7 years. I spent most of my twenties here. I turned 21 here. My first apartment was here and this was where I lived when married. It is also where I got my two DUIs.

I drove by the municipal courts and the jail. I looked up at the windows and wondered which one was my cell. I had bad flashbacks of coming here for court dates. I drove by the bus stop that I had to wait at when I lost my driver license. I cried a little and told myself I never want to go through that again. I thought of the woman I once met in AA who said she was sober for years and the one night she decided she could drink again, she got her 4th DUI.

Then I found an AA meeting. It was a small, women’s meeting. I was ten minutes late. But I enjoyed it. We read from the book the chapter “To The Wives.” While I was reading, it made me think of my mom and I started to cry so I passed the reading off to the next person. The highlight was they gave out monthly chips at the end. I GOT MY 90 DAY CHIP!

90 days Sober!

90 days Sober!

It felt so good walking out of that meeting with that in my wallet. I was so happy. But I was also scared thinking of a woman I met in the meeting. She was sober for 16 years. Then some tragedy happened to her family in January. She started to drink again. Just when I was getting sober, she was relapsing. She picked up a white chip right before I picked up this green chip. She also looked very familiar. I think we used to work at the same place. I thought “that could be me.” It scared me to think that no matter how confident I feel in this sobriety thing, relapse is always possible. This disease might go dormant but does not die.

I went to dinner with my friends. I told the two guys they are losers and I am mad at them for not joining the roadtrip. They kept apologizing. I told them they need to find time to go visit our friend and her new baby on their own. They said they would try. I shared with them my green chip. They all high-fived me. My one friend said she needs to get me a gift and she promises it will not be a bottle of wine.

We ordered dessert. I really wanted to order an almond rum cheesecake. I do not think the rum in it would affect me nor mess up my sobriety. But I got worried about ordering it in front of my friends. I wondered if I would have ordered it if I was alone. Then I thought I most likely would not because I would agonize too much about it. I got a coconut 6-layer cake. It reminded me of the coconut cake I had for 50 days but so much better!

I also ordered almond cappuccino. Then I panicked when drinking it because I thought it tasted like Amaretto. I asked my friend “taste this! Is that Amaretto? Is that alcohol?” He looked at me like I was crazy. Then I felt I was acting crazy. I told him nevermind. I looked at the desert menu and saw an Amaretto latte at the bottom with the alcoholic coffees. No, this was almond syrup in here. They would not have done that to me. Man, that would really suck if I lost my sobriety over a screw up on my order!

This morning, I went to another meeting. I was gonna try to get a 60 day chip. I realized one thing I really like about meetings in this area is that they have a lot in buildings dedicated to AA meetings. They are not all in a church basements. Some are in strip malls and others are small houses. I do not have to search and feel lost like I do when searching for the room in the churches back home. Also, they have more times here. They have 10:30pm meetings. They had a 7am, 8am, 9:30, 11am, noon, 1pm and a lot of different evening meetings. I felt more and more I really do not like my area meetings!

This meeting did not give out 60 day chips. I declined to get a second 90 day one. I really enjoyed this discussion. One of the first people to share talked about an accident she caused earlier this week while drunk and she is not sure why they did not test her BAC at the scene. She went to the hospital but got away from receiving a DUI. I shared about my DUIs and how it took me seven years after my last one to seriously attempt sobriety. Unfortunately, she left the room by the time I got to share. But there were many people in that room with less than 30 days who thanked me for my story afterwards and said it helped them. One guy said that he thinks 90 days is a dangerous time. Too much confidence. That made my eyes widen. Yep, that is how I feel right now. I also feel I have tools. But I am gonna keep his words in my head. I am glad I have this blog.

Mistake # 94- A friend was coming through town. She was visiting family but set aside a night to party with me. I was actually closer friends with her husband. He and I were “friends with benefits” many years ago. She did not like me when they first started dating due to my past history with him. But ten years later, she and I were finally friends.

But that night, we both got trashed. I was sore the next day because I wrestled with some girl which I don’t remember. I do not remember making out with that girl’s boyfriend before the wrestling match. And I only slightly remember having sex with my friend. She made me promise not to tell her husband. I kept that promise until 6 months later when I confessed to him during a blackout. He said he was more mad that he had to hear it from me instead of her.

Pump It

The heating in my house went out. My landlady told me she needs to order more oil. Instead of spending the day freezing at home and reading like I planned, I took the opportunity to visit a nearby city to get some errands done. And to search for my 30 day chip. I seriously drove two hours for this quest.

I spent two years of college and the last few years of my twenties living in this city. A lot of partying and drinking occurred here. I finished my errands at 4 pm and found an AA meeting that started at 5:30pm downtown. I spent 30 minutes looking for a parking spot. After I paid the meter, I realized I parked next to one of my favorite Belgian bars. I fell in love with hops there. This was gonna be a challenging evening.

I searched for a coffee shop. I wanted to avoid Starbucks because I prefer to do business with non-chain places and local companies. I am still trying to finish my Unwasted book. (I am not liking her relapse fantasies.) I found a place called Coffee Bar. It had coffee and alcohol. Lots of microbrews lined the walls. I got a latte, read some, and then walked to the meeting.

It was a nice meeting in a church side room. There was a speaker. I felt I related to her story a lot. But they did not offer chips at this meeting. Afterwards, I grabbed some dinner and search online for a later meeting.

I found one starting at 8:00 and then another at 8:30pm. I had to walk back to my car to put in more time in the meter. I wanted to put enough in to cover the 8:30pm meeting, just in case, but accidentally put in enough money only for an hour. I started to curse at the meter. It was the type that gives a ticket of your expiration time so I couldn’t just add more money. I pulled out my credit card and put enough money to cover parking until 9:27pm. Spent $11 on parking tonight. My hands were frozen because it was 25 F degrees out. “I better get a fucking chip tonight” I muttered. “And no parking ticket.”

In the 5 minutes it took me to walk to the 8:00 meeting, I started to get upset. I thought of the Belgian bar. “If I don’t get a chip, I am gonna go have one beer. Just one and I will drive home after. Just one. Fucking chip.” I started to cry. I was walking across a park and crying and freezing. The cold wind smacking my face was not helping the tears. “I don’t need to blog about this. One beer will warm me up also.”

I got to the meeting a few minutes early. I walked right to the coffee pot. Then I bitched at myself for forgetting my travel coffee mug. The man who was chairing the meeting walked to the coffee pot. I asked “do you give out chips at this meeting?” He said “no, we don’t. Are you looking for a chip meeting?” I said I was. He said “well we have coffee and big cups.” He smiled and tried to hand me a cup. I said “I hate Styrofoam.” I walked out.

I kept picturing a tall IPA in my hands. Fuck AA. Fuck their chips or not-giving-chips. One beer after 36 days won’t kill me. Maybe I can get a 24 hour chip tomorrow. If that 8:30 meeting doesn’t give out chips, I am getting a beer!

I walked through my old party neighborhood. The one bar had up the ropes for people to wait in line already. I think Wednesdays used to be 18 and over or karaoke night. I was kicked out of there a few times. Another bar I used to frequent has been closed down. My old afterhours club is still there but with a different name. I have the old name on a membership card hanging on my keychain still.

I get to the building and located the meeting. It was in a gay community center. I walked in the room full of men. I smiled thinking I might have more in common with them then I do with most of the women at my local meetings. But I worried they would notice I have not plucked my eyebrows in a long time.

I saw a box of chips. Is that my prize? Do I get it finally? I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. I didn’t want to ask and seem greedy. I would sit through this meeting.

They started and announced it was a beginner’s meeting. Anyone want a desire to stop drinking chip? No. They then explained the chip system. A grin started to appear on my face. Anyone have a month anniversary to celebrate? Me! Me! Me! I got up and FINALLY got my red 30 day sobriety chip! It felt so good.

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We all introduced ourselves. I admitted I had 36 days. I was sitting next to a guy celebrating 9 years. I was the baby of the group. They asked all newcomers with less than a year to speak. I was the last newcomer to talk and I talked through more tears. I laughed while I cried and explained how I have been searching for this chip for the past week. I thanked them and was so grateful I did not go to that Belgian bar.

Walking past some of my old haunts helped fight off my beer thoughts. Would I have had a beer if I didn’t find a chip? I am not sure. I think I would have went to my car and cried it out. I would have been too embarrassed to ask for a beer with wet, sobbing eyes.

I titled this post “Pump It” because the song by the Black Eyed Peas was on my Google Play as I walked out of that center with the chip in my hand. I was beaming and happy and wanted to skip back to my car. I will think of that moment whenever I hear that song now. I will think of it as my sobriety song.

Mistake #30- The bar I walked by that is now closed down: I woke up on my sister’s couch one morning. I was out with some friends the night before or maybe alone? I did not remember a thing. My brother comes down the stairs and asked how was my head. Huh? Why was he here? He then tells me he got a phone call to come pick me up from that bar. I passed out and some girl called him from my phone. Thankfully it was a newish phone and his name begins with B so she found him soon. He said I cried the whole ride to our sister’s house. He thought it was hilarious. He has his own battles with alcohol but loved that the “perfect” sister is a drunk too.