1 ginger beer, 1 glass cyanide-looking tarragon flavored Russian soda pop, 1 glass vanilla orange Russian soda pop, 2 glasses liquid raspberry kompot, 1 shot bitters, 3 cups hot black tea, 1 non-alcoholic beer (to wash down the salted fish). No water. Not one sip of the beer, wine, champagne, vodka or cocktails that flowed for six hours straight.
Now that I am consistently attending the same recovery meetings with the same core group of people, it is becoming increasingly clear that, as much as I love the changes that have occurred in my life since I committed to a specific program for recovery, I remain somewhat ambivalent about the logistics of that program. I haven’t formally “worked” the steps (although I feel comfortable saying I’ve done some version of the first three). I don’t have a sponsor. I don’t do service work. I’ve never picked up the phone. I haven’t shared my story with another member (except in bits and pieces at meetings). I just started reading the Big Book.
I don’t have any philosophical reservations about these aspects of the program. I don’t question that I could seriously benefit from them, and maybe even need them if I want this run at sobriety to stick. Even if I don’t need them, I want them. I do.
But I am scared to do them. I am scared that if I immerse myself in the program, delve into the literaure, open up to the people in it, I will discover that I don’t belong. I fear that my nagging insecurity that I am not good enough, or, in this case, that I am not bad enough, will be confirmed.
Every time I read or hear something that challenges my belief that I am truly like other people in the program–in the Big Book, on the internet, at a meeting–old anxiety rises up, squeezing my chest, constricting my throat.
It is the same feeling I got when Nick G. said that members of the LDS church who support gay marriage aren’t really Mormon.
It is the same feeling I got when I read a comment on a feminist website saying that Mormons aren’t Christians.
It is the same feeling I get every time somebody questions the reality of my experiences or the accuracy of my perceptions (especially the ones that are already fuzzy):
When Sarah and Ben referred to my being raped as a “fling”;
When Stephen said that men and women are equal recipients of the “can’t have it all” rhetoric;
When John said it was sexist for me to be nervous about being alone in a dark alley with a man but not a woman;
When my therapist said “but it doesn’t seem like you drank that much.”
I don’t care for this feeling, but I am strong today, so I finger the bruise, push a little harder. I learn that this particular wound is shot through with shades of hurt and rejection that are not unlike:
The feeling I got when the Millers passed me and my daughter in the grass on the way to Heidi and Bob’s house for dinner, having never been invited over ourselves;
The feeling I got when Jake asked if my daughter was going to a birthday party that we’d heard nothing about;
The feeling I got when I realized I was dropped from the group text that’s always going back and forth between the moms in my neighborhood;
The feeling I got when a man at the LDS church let a door swing shut in my face as I was carrying my daughter through and then denied it happened when his wife pointed out how rude he was;
The feeling I got when a woman at the Unitarian church told me I should have taken my wiggly girl outside during the service because we were a distraction.
What am I afraid will happen if I tell my story at a meeting or to a sponsor and someone thinks I don’t qualify for a seat in the rooms?
At first I thought I was afraid that I would drink again. That is sort of true. I really don’t want to drink again, but that’s just how I feel today.
What’s more true is that, with or without the program, I can’t go back to how I was. It is not an option. What I am really afraid of is having to do this thing–learning to live a sober life–alone.