Monthly Archives: December 2016

Choose You

I remember the first time I saw you. I stopped in my tracks, turned around and headed for a couch where you couldn’t see me. That was in my second week of sobriety. The first time we talked was ten days later. You had noticed a sticker on my car, and we talked about our mutual love for bluegrass. A few days later, you stopped me on my way out and gave me a hug. You told me “there’s nothing I hate more than seeing a woman cry”. I had cried the entire hour we were in the meeting. No one said a word to me. My sponsor rubbed my leg, and let me sit there crying. No one needs to ask questions, so long as you’re in the room, you’re not out there drinking or using.

That week, about two weeks after we had first talked, we met up for coffee. We made jokes, we got to know each other’s story. You had moved up from SC to get focused and clean. This wasn’t your first time through the program. For me, it was. We ended up spending three hours walking around our town. We walked by the river, we walked all the way down to my apartment and back. I knew by the time we had finished our first cup of coffee that nothing would be the same again.

From that moment on, we were inseparable. We talked all day long. Texting, hanging out at meetings etc. You didn’t have your license; it had been revoked due to your past criminal record. I would drive you to meetings, to the gym, anything to spend time together. You would put music on and change the words to offend me. Or make me laugh. Every now and then you’d hold my hand. Often times you would lean over me and wave at random people just to see how they would react.

We could talk for hours and never get tired.

In you, I found hope. I found someone that my soul connected with. We were working our programs, we were doing all the right things.

Then in mid-April, you disappeared. People started to ask me were you were, why you wouldn’t answer a call or a text. I knew it was in your nature, sometimes you’d be talkative, other times you weren’t.

You called me in the middle of a meeting. I didn’t answer, told you to give me 30 minutes. I called as soon as I got out of the room. You asked me to pick you up. You got in the car, you were drunk. You had been drinking for the past 7 days.

I asked why you didn’t call me. Why you didn’t reach out to someone. You said you wanted to drink and no one could change your mind. Fair enough. You still should have called.

I took you to get something to eat. I took you to my apartment. We ate. We laid on my bed and talked. I didn’t and couldn’t understand, but I listened. I cried. You kissed me, and I cried more.

The next morning, we met up again, your dad was kicking you out of the house. I offered to take you to one of the guys houses. You didn’t want to do that. You didn’t want to hear their preachy bullshit about getting clean. You wanted to go back to SC. You didn’t have any money. You had left your job. Ironically, you were a substance abuse counselor. I bought you a ticket home and gave you a day to pack your things.

I picked you up and drove you to the train station. Your dad called. You went to the bathroom, took a couple of shots and cried. I was so numb in those moments. I sat with you, held your hand. I should have told you all of the things I would later tell you. I walked out with you to the other side of the station a few minutes before your train arrived. I hugged you. We held on tight to one another. I wanted to stay there with you. Wanted to tell you to not get on the train and stay with me. I wanted to protect you. I still do. I walked away before your train pulled in to the station. I couldn’t handle being there to say goodbye. I walked away and couldn’t turn around. The tears streamed for days.

It took weeks. I couldn’t believe my best friend had left. We still talked. Every day at first. Then you vanished. You began to reach out once every few weeks. Every month…and now it’s been four months.

Every time we talk, you tell me you block me because you don’t want to hurt me. That I deserve better. That you couldn’t handle making me cry or hurting me. That you want to be with me, that you love me and yet. I love you too. You are my best friend. You are the one whom my soul loves.

Every week I check the local news, police reports and obituaries. Scared that I will see your name. Relieved when I don’t. My soul gives a sigh of relief. I pray for you every day.

We haven’t talked in four months. Every time I think of you I get a lump in my throat. My heart aches and the tears form in my eyes.

You chose alcohol over a well lived life. You chose alcohol over love. You chose alcohol over relationships. You chose alcohol over peace. You chose alcohol over every good thing in your life.

One of my fears is that I will enter in a new relationship with someone and you will reappear. What do I do then? Stay where I am? With someone who is right for me, except that they are not you? Do I tell them that I’m sorry and enter in to a relationship with you? One that I know will be fragmented by our choices of alcohol and drugs over everything else?

Today, I chose myself over you.

Today, I chose to let myself fall for someone else.

Today, I have to give up the ghost.

Today, and every day I will pray for you. Today and every day, I will love you. Today and every day, I have to choose myself over the dream of what may have been or what could be.

Living in those dreams is what will cause me to drink again.

I will not drink again. I cannot drink again.

I will love again. Maybe not as fiercely, or madly or as beautifully.

But I will.

– Written by a 28 year old woman, 9 months sober

*Editor’s Note: It is not the policy of the Recovery at Cokesbury Network to condone entering into romantic relationships within the first year of sobriety. That time is for you to figure out who you are and where you’re going – to work on your stuff. But we understand the power of this experience. Thanks for sharing.

Also, the person pictured above is not the author of this post nor a representation thereof.

People, places and things

People, places and things.

If you’re like me, those words transport you back to elementary school. I can hear the teacher asking, “What is a noun?” Hands shoot up across the room, but the teacher, with her back to the classroom, says, “Just shout it out if you think you know it.” From across the room different children holler out: “Person!” “Place!” “Thing!” In the quiet while the teacher writes on the board, some brown-noser in the room whose older sibling has been feeding them information to make them look smart timidly ekes out the words, “and ideas.”

People, places and things.

People are triggers. Places are triggers. Things are triggers. Some people, places and things are always going to ‘make us’ act out. It’s something they said or how they make us feel or what they remind us of. It’s that this is just how I act or who I am when I find myself with them or whenever I go home to visit my parents or before I go participate in this activity or in conjunction with this or that. It’s like how some people “only smoke when they drink.”

At least, I feel like it started that way.

I needed an excuse. Of course, that excuse could be as simple as that I was home alone and could get away with acting out. It never did take much. Nonetheless, people, places and things became an integral part of who I was and why I acted out and how I acted out and where I acted out and when I acted out.

That’s true of so many of us. It doesn’t matter what our addiction or compulsion of choice or fix or hit or poison is. Addicts, alcoholics, codependents, gamblers, workaholics, those with eating and emotional disorders, and everyone in-between – we all have something in common:

People, places and things.

That’s why many singer/songwriters have written lyrics about what it means to remove ourselves from people, places and things. If we want to be new…if we want to be different…if we don’t want to keep living that way…we must change the people, places and things in our lives.

Van Morrison expressed it this way in his song Don’t Go to Nightclubs Anymore:

Don’t get around much anymore
The smoke has driven me out the door
All night I used to walk the floor
Don’t go to nightclubs anymore

Don’t see my old friend Mose
I don’t run into Mr. Clive
I cut out all that off the wall jive
I don’t go to nightclubs no more…

Alcohol was too big a price
That why I said hey no dice
When it comes to men or mice
Don’t go to nightclubs no more

I had to cut ties. I had to sever relationships. I had to stop doing certain things – going certain places. I had to change the way I saw and interacted with the world. I’m still working on me. In some ways, I miss those people. I miss those places. I miss those things. They were a huge part of my life. It’s like something that was a part of me for so long is missing. I grieve that loss. Just thinking about everything I left behind makes me feel sad. Vulnerable. Inadequate.

I think about what was, and then I realize that I’m looking at it through rose-colored glasses. I’m glorifying my disease. I’m looking at it the way I look at past romantic relationships. All I see, all I remember, all I want to remember is the euphoria. The good times. The boost. The pick-me-up.

I don’t want to remember the grief. The guilt. The shame. The sorrow. The depression. The withdrawals. The lies. The deceit. The cover-ups. The manipulation. The pain. The hours wasted. The false hope.

The truth is that euphoric feelings was negligible. It lasted such a short time compared to how much time and effort was put into getting that next fix – that next hit. If it came at all…

People, places and things.

To get away from my demons. To begin to figure out who I really was. If there was any hope that I was going to change – that I was going to get better – that I was going to become a different person, then I had to be willing to make sacrifices, make different choices, and make changes in my life. Most of all, I had to come to terms with changing…

People, places and things.

– Alex Walker