Sunday, July 31, 2005

My name is Jeremy and I am a Drunk - Volume 2

My prayers to God and my hopeless rage and confusion were not totally unanswered on what to this point would be the last night I have ever drank. I wasn't exactly relieved of any of my alcoholic confusion, rage, or remorse, but I was given something that I didn't think would have been possible at the time. I was able to fall asleep, and I was able to wake up with enough knowledge to immediately get on my knees, in my jail cell, and beg God for whatever it would take to keep me sober for the rest of the day. I wasn't asking about help on the arraignment, homelessness, the 100 or so apologies I had to make, just please give me the gift of not having booze in me damnit! My head was like a NASCAR race, and I was still in complete and utter shock over what I had witnessed last night. I was horribly hateful toward everyone who had been telling me the truth about me all these years, because up until last night, these stories were common, but I had never actually been there to witness them.

The arraignment was simple enough, there were no violent charges against me, because no one would come forward, simple "disturbing the peace" and "public intoxification" which were a 5th and 8th for me respectively. My pride over never having driven drunk, was starting to get mired in all the other drunken offenses I had accumulated. The last charge of resisting arrest and assaulting an officer were for the most part dismissed because the officer in question didn't fell it was necessary to pursue them, so I only had a 250$ bail with the 12$ personal recognizance on top of it. It was my shock and dismay that followed when my room mate showed up with the bail. His only stipulation was that I leave Dover, like I had promised, and never come back to "HIS" apartment again. This was a normal thing for someone like me, as I had left a rather large trail of burnt bridges behind me, it was always the easiest way to find me in the dark after all.

Everything I owned fit into one Shaw's Supermarket paper bag and was waiting for me when I was leaving the jail, and with that I was off to Manchester, with a new place, a new job, and very little hope.

Now for anyone out there who doesn't understand what a bottom is, let me explain to you where I really was at this moment. I was moving an hour away from any streets I even knew the names of, to go work in the Stoneyfeild Yoghurt Factory. When you work in a Yoghurt factory, you have officially hit bottom. It is disgusting, it pays really bad, and when you couple this with the fact that it was the only job in the entire state of NH that would take me, it is lonely. My first night in Manch-Vegas, I made a phone call to AA, and I just wanted to get to a meeting, and hopefully one that I could walk to. I was in luck that there was one, exactly one street over and the woman on the phone said that it started at 7. I white knuckled my way through the entire day. I had DT's really bad, and my entire skin crawled with what I often described as spiders, and I could feel them in my throat and my belly as well.

When I walked into the meeting, I was well aware that I was in the right place, and not in the right place. There didn't appear to be any men at the meeting, and there were well over 40 women who were already there. I didn't have a chance to bail, because the woman at the door took one look at me and said "Welcome. I can see you need to be here, so sit down, shut up, and this hopefully will be the last time you ever go to a women's meeting," and she was right about that at least. I was given a raffle ticket, I was given a seat right up front, and the topic of the meeting immediately became, step 1 - 2 - 3. The raffle was held, and after calling out 8 or 9 numbers, they finally reached mine, so I was given a Big Book. Third edition, hard cover, and already full of phone numbers (as it was the tradition of this group to put the phone numbers of the members in every Big Book). Change had happened. I had crawled to my first meeting, and I was listening to a bunch of women, and I felt ok about it.

I made it though an entire day sober, and when I woke up the next morning, I was on my knees, sick as a person who just went through a bought of pneumonic plague, but I was thanking God, first of all, and begging God second of all. It somehow worked the day before and I was going to try it again. The phone rang, waking up one of my new room mates, and she brought the phone into me. "It's Joe," she said as she let out a rather nasty sounding yawn, and although I could never remember knowing a Joe my whole life I very weakly said "Hello."

"My wife came home from the meeting last night and told me I was your new sponsor, so I have to set some ground rules right off, ok?" was the voice that came over the phone. Once again, I had no idea who this person was or even who his wife was, it could have been any of the ladies there last night I suppose. The only thing I could do was say "uh huh" and he finished, "First of all, and most importantly, YOU WILL, be going to two meetings a day," bear with me that I knew nothing of suggestions my first year, it was all, you will, or you won't, and that was fine by me, I was finally sick enough to listen for a change. "I know your boss, and I told her last night that I will be taking you to the Londonderry Nooner and bringing you back, afterwards. You can then work an extra half hour, when I will pick you up from work." which shocked me because I didn't know my new boss yet, much less that she was a woman either.

Well come to find out my new boss was indeed a woman and she was at the meeting the night before, her best friend who happened to be my new sponsors wife, and her developed this little scheme to get Joe, and me together. Joe apparently had retired the year previous, and Mary (his wife) was damn sick of him already. You see how we were all starting to get what we needed. For the first 90 days sober, I was going to the nooner everyday, leaving work to have dinner with my new family, and heading out to a meeting in a minivan full of alkies every night. I was a little dim as it did take me about 2 months to finally realize that the biggest city in NH did have night time meetings. Joe took me at least an hour away to every nighttime meeting, and I had AA rammed up my ass each way, by the Yiddle Bus O Drunks.

I made a conscious decision to move my sorry ass back to the seacoast, and perhaps go to college if I could finagle my way in by the time I had 90 days, and I had the blessings of my new family, but I had to do one thing before I left. My sponsors anniversary, was approaching in October, so I was going to give him his medallion. I had NEVER asked him how long he had been sober and he wasn't one of the people to just wax on and on about things that didn't involve the present, so I was shocked when I heard him speak at the meeting, believe it or not. I found out that he had 39 years, and hadn't been to a meeting or celebrated an anniversary in the last 5. His Higher Power, whom he called God, had brought a new alcoholic in his life that gave him the much needed kick in his ass to get back with the program, despite his self loathing that he felt over abandoning AA, fo whatever reasons he had so many years before. He also made it a point to say, "I am just a drunk, who managed to stay sober despite the committee in my head who tries to get me drunker everyday" and that has always stayed with me.

Upon coming back to the seacoast I had no place to stay except for an ex (and becoming present again) girlfriends condemned cottage in Wells Me. which wasn't all that humbling for me, as I was a very accomplished street drunk who slept in crypts for Gods sake, but it was very cold as fall was starting to set in. I was still going to two meetings a day, and the humility was stemming from having to talk to everyone about my brilliant relapse, as people who actually knew me started looking for me in the halls again. I did 2 meetings a day everyday regardless for my first two years. I was going to College, playing Hockey, running a lab, working full time, and doing my meetings. Sleep was limited to about 2 hours a nite whether I needed it or not. Stepwork was limited to 1-2-3 whether I needed it or not, and I was just muddling by on what little serenity I had, but I still hit the knees every morning, because I wanted to keep what little I had as well.

During this time, I had a pretty bad week when I discovered that a girlfriend of mine, had miscarried, but she was going to get an abortion anyway without telling me. I lost my job, because I wasn't able to keep up without sleep, my grades in college (now just starting year 3) were going into the toilet, and to top it all off, I was having a really raging case of the "guilties" over my lack of step work. I did the only thing that any normal person would do, and I locked myself in my room (which by now was an apartment above my fathers house) and started starving myself to death. The human body can go about 7 days without food, and when my friends from AA came looking for me (because that's what happens when you go to 2 meetings a day everyday, and just stop) I was on day 6 and I was hysterically crying over running out of Cigarettes and diet Pepsi.

Off I went to the oogie boogie ward. I was almost 3 years sober and I was a total wreck. I hadn't asked God for anything except death for over a week, I hadn't eaten, and I was desperately in need of some mental help. In the oogie boogie ward I had learned some fascinating things about myself though. There was probably a chance that absolutely everything bad that ever happened to me was not completely my fault. I had a large part in some of it, but sometimes I am a victim of my own environments as well. I was actually reminded of what was really keeping me sober this time around, and that was because I am a DRUNK, a falling down, stinking, filthy, violent, drunk when I drink, and I don't have to just be that anymore. I don't have to be passive, because all I know is violence, and I don't have to always laugh at what stupid things I do. Although I learned that gratitude is being able to laugh at the stupid things I do. I was no longer just an Alcoholic, I was a human being, who had to start working the steps, before I was officially cured of Alcoholism once and for all, through death. The hard process of step work was about to begin.

Upon leaving the oogie boogie ward, I decided that step 4 was going to happen no matter what I truly thought of myself or what pain was involved. My sponsor (Rocky) was willing to do the whole process with me on a few conditions of his own ... The first was that I redo the one I first showed him because he said "Step 4 is not about beating yourself up and taking your lumps, It's a moral inventory, and nobody is really all bad", but of course I thought he might be all bad for making me redo the damn thing! Of course I understood his point and started again, by being clear and concise about what I found to be my morals in an inventory format, with hardly any examples, because that was supposed to be coming in step 8.

The day I was ready to finally give this whole pile of Jeremy over to my sponsor, I waited at our favorite hang out, until his room mate showed up. Gloria was such a wonderful woman, she had known me since the first day I had stepped into rehab, and was always the smiling face of AA I tried to remember throughout all of my "out of AA" adventures, and relapses. She wasn't smiling, and she wasn't at all comfortable with what she was about to tell me either. Rocky had died the night before, and she knew I was here waiting for him because he had left a note on his desk saying "Don't forget lunch with the kid" and everyone knew ... Jeremy was the kid. My flood of emotions was probably priceless, as I blamed everyone in the world, Rocky, Gloria, God, Me, for what was going on. How dare HE chicken out of this, and leave me here to have to face the world alone. It's amazing looking back how self centered I had FINALLY become.

The 5th step was done with a Catholic Priest who happened to be in the program, it was Rocky's sense of humor that made me realize that if he were in my shoes he'd want to kill two birds with one stone also. I have always made it a point to address myself as "I'm a drunk and my name is Jeremy!" whenever I am to speak in front of other Recovering Alcoholics, and yes it has made some people uncomfortable, even after I have been in recovery now for 16 years, but as often was the case when I was newly sober (any of the times I was newly sober) that it was more important for me to remember that I am first and foremost a falling down, stinking , filthy, violent drunk, that crawled into AA completely ruined for drinking before I ever had the opportunity to walk up to a bar with a legal ID, and buy a drink. The Alcoholic in me is what still tries to get me, when the Committee who meets every three days and tries to vote me off the Island (16 years strait of winning the immunity Idol thank GAWD) and will win if I am not afraid of what I am when I drink. Today I am capable of being a Human Being, instead of just a Human Doing, and I try to remember what I can do today. Quite simply put by so many in AA .... I do the next right thing, to the best of my ability. ;8o)