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I got up bright and early this morning to hit a 7 a.m. meeting in my ‘hood.  I love this meeting because it’s on the patio of a coffee shop and a bunch of drunks with a long time clean and sober show up and some show up that smoke cigarettes and some show up that are brand new and still shaking, and everyone’s bleary eyed and drinking coffee and it just makes me feel sooooo good to be a part of it.  And that’s how I felt when I was new (sort of.) I wasn’t worried about lung cancer or whether or not my clothes were clean and well-matched. I was raw and irritable and as soon as I defrosted enough, I just wanted to be a part of it (although I didn’t let you know that for a long time!)

Alcoholics Anonymous has always accepted me. And I used to hold that against you.  After all I reasoned, any group that wanted me for a member must be pretty desperate.  But from the moment I arrived they told me that the only requirement is that I have a desire to stop drinking, and from that day to this one, I have had that desire. In the beginning it was like 51% wanting not to drink/49% thinking drinking was still probably a good idea.  There have been times in sobriety when I didn’t want to drink and didn’t not want to drink. That’s a scary place. That’s the jumping off point–I can’t live with or without alcohol. And I used to get to that place a lot. When I lost my first sober apartment I was there. When I totaled my car on Sunset Blvd., I was there. When I got my teeth knocked out of my mouth, I was definitely there, and that time I actually did decide (yeah, I said it, it’s a choice. No excuses) to drink and use–which led to my current sobriety and everything that’s different about my program as a result of having gotten loaded.

But as the years have gone by, I have been blessed to not really view drinking or using as a solution for most of my problems. I don’t claim any credit for that.  I think it’s a combination of habit and learning how to use spiritual tools, and of course, a power greater than Nina.  But the pain that drove me to drink can still manifest easily when I’m least expecting it. I was reminded of that in the meeting this morning.

The disease is in my head, and my head has a mind of its own.  The pain starts between my ears.  It’s the things I think, and the things I don’t want to admit that I think that will really have me on my way out of the rooms.  And the end of that road, for me, is a drink.  I always drank essentially because I could not accept life on life’s terms. I drank to change the way that I felt. In sobriety, I learn other ways to change how I feel.

It’s realizing that the whole deal is ultimately between me and God, but I might be struck with a little bit of the confusion when it comes to knowing exactly what God’s trying to tell me. That’s why I need you. I need to hear you say your mother died and your siblings aren’t doing what their supposed to do and your father is broken-hearted and you feel helpless. I need to see tears stream down your face at 50 years old and drop effortlessly through the steam into your coffee.

Why do I need that?

My father was an asshole. I wished him broken-heartedness (just sayin’)  If I grieved when he died, it was because of the eternal lack he created inside me.  My mother is worse. I doubt anyone will even tell me when she dies. But I know I’ll grieve when I find out–over what I didn’t have, what I always wanted.  But when I grieve, I will remember you on the patio, at 7 in the morning. I’ll remember the tears in your coffee.  I’ll know that it’s not the differences in our lives that are important, it’s the similarities. And I’ll know that I have options when it comes to changing how I feel.  This thing we have is magical.   I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

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