Euphoric. That’s how drinking always made me feel.* (Until it didn’t.)
The trouble with euphoria, though, is that I didn’t really feel anything. I just kind of existed in this heightened buzz of emotion. So, something as still & quiet as intuition… yeah, I couldn’t use something as subtle as intuition at all. Everything seemed like a good idea when I was drunk. And drinking made me bulletproof–so I could do anything. Which really meant I could sit on a barstool and talk about how easy it would be for me to do anything.
The actual doing? Yeah, it never got done.
I’m a bit more capable of honing in on things like intuition now. Like when I got the nudge about AA. I felt it. I tried to ignore it. But I felt it alright.
And I kept feeling that same nudge over & over again. Until I finally pulled my shit together and showed up at a meeting today.**
The topic? Helping others (skillfully). Which boils down to this: it doesn’t matter how much I want someone else to get sober. They ain’t gonna until they’re good and ready. Sure, I can beat someone over the head with my sobriety. I can shame them about their behavior. I can point out the fact that they are RUINING THEIR LIVES.
But that’s a bunch of sanctimonious bullshit. And I know it.
I remember every cutting, cruel comment people made about my drinking during the worst of it. And I was an awful drunk. I cried. I puked. I slept with other people’s significant others. I hurt everyone around me. People were fed the fuck up with me. I get it.
But I also know now that the level of shame a drunk feels about their own behavior far surpasses what anyone else can pile on.
So, if shame didn’t work, what did?
But I do also clearly remember my boss (yes, I held a job. Yes, they should have fired me. No, I don’t think they did me any favors by shielding me from the consequences of my drinking. But I also get that it was hard to know what the right thing was in that time and space. Nobody likes to see someone else self-destruct in front of them) telling me stories about the insanity that transpired when she was drinking. Funny stories. Stories I could whole-heartedly relate to. And then she’d invite me to an AA meeting. Real chill like. I always said no. In fact, I didn’t get sober until 5 years after I’d left that job. But she kept inviting me. And she kept living her sober, happy life out loud in my presence.
And when I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired (the AAs LOVE to say this), I knew where to go.
That boss that stuck it out, that never shamed me, that just kept inviting to meetings… she’s a huge part of my sobriety. Not because she’s in my life now. But because, without shame or judgement, she offered me a lifeline.
She couldn’t get me sober. She couldn’t save me. No one could. But her kindness–her gentle, super-chill invitations to AA meetings–showed me that she believed I was worth saving. When my time came, I believed her, and took the first steps toward saving myself.
*At least for the first hour or so. After that, all bets were off. One of Simon’s infamous one-liners was “It’s HAPPY hour, not crying hour.”
**Totally glad I went. Will probably go again even. WHO AM I?!?
***Need one of these shirts? Of course you do. Head over here to get one. Want a different design? No worries. There’s other rad stuff there, too.