14 Months

Share the message, not the mess.  

I heard someone say this in an AA meeting earlier this month and it stopped me cold.  Share the message, not the mess.  Hmm.  Now there's an idea that I could sit and meditate on every morning.  And so, that's exactly what I've been doing.  My morning routine has shifted to make room for this statement to guide my day.  It hasn't been easy and I wasn't always successful with sharing the message, not the mess, but it was a solid and consistent way to keep me as close to center as I began each day.

I've been coming here to this space and writing these posts every month for the past 14 months as a way to catalog my journey with sobriety.  I'm inspired by so many women who tell the truth with their writing and put it all out there for others to read and learn from.  I noticed that oftentimes I like to dwell in the mess more often than not.  Why?  Because that's a safe place, familiar and comfortable.  It's the stories I've told myself for decades and I've come to believe them as my truth.  But, upon reflection, I think it could serve me a little more if I would just focus on sharing the message and not all of the carnage, the worst case scenarios, the sins of my past, you know - the mess.

These last 30 days were a mixture of a lot of darkness and self-realization.  I wallowed in self-pity and spent a lot of time questioning whether or not I'm truly an alcoholic.  I've stalled in my step-work, confronted my anxiety in a few big situations and reached out to other sober women when I needed support.  Sometimes I feel super into my AA recovery and other times I feel like I want to find another way, my own way.  I guess I'm on a slippery slope and just trying real hard to figure out where I stand and what exactly my program of recovery is.

Recently, I've lost connection with my higher power, only to find it again with the help of a friend from AA.

I'm still attending four AA meetings a week.

I'm dragging my feet on Step 6.  

I just dropped out of my AA gratitude list circle.

I'm completely submerged in my college courses and a little overwhelmed with the course load.

I haven't taken a drink, but I sure have thought about it quite a bit.

See?  I'm doing it again.  When I want to be transparent, I share the mess.  But there has been so much good that has happened and I feel like I need to start giving equal time to that stuff, too.  Otherwise, I'll just sink into pity party-mode and I know that will turn into self-seeking and that will be my demise.  

So, I'll stop and redirect myself.  This is one of the side effects of all of this self-reflection.  Redirection is key.

I text almost everyday with a friend who is also sober. I feel like she's my other sponsor.  She's become such a dear friend and confidante.  I rely on her.  I trust her.   I've never met her in real life, but we've just crossed over from texting to having a couple of phone dates.  I can't believe how lucky I am to have someone like her to reach out to.  I'm grateful and made better by our friendship.  She helps keep me sober.  Everyone should have a friend like her.

I've been reaching out to women in and out of the program lately, offering advice about sobriety when asked and going out of my comfort zone to make others feel welcome and accepted.  I'm sharing the message of strength and hope when it seems right.  I'm slowly dipping my toes back into socializing with my close friends, friends who drink.  They've been so patient with me over the last 14 months and it feels nice to be able to share space with them again without my anxiety getting the best of me.  I'm so grateful for these relationships and the ebbs and flows we are allowed to experience within the parameters of our friendships.  These friends are total gifts to me and I know it.

These words singed my soul when I initially heard them.  The 79-year old woman who shared them encouraged me to go to meetings even when, and most especially when, I didn't believe in God. 

These words singed my soul when I initially heard them.  The 79-year old woman who shared them encouraged me to go to meetings even when, and most especially when, I didn't believe in God. 

I'm experiencing tremendous spiritual growth.  It feels weird to type that, but I just can't deny that it's happening.  I'm like a sponge right now, reading books, learning new concepts, seeking another way to solve my problems that doesn't involve alcohol.  

I have enough sobriety now to compare each new day with last year's early sobriety.  I can feel my confidence levels rising.  I intuitively know what to do in more and more situations.  I'm not hiding anything.  I'm taking care of business and tackling icky things on my to-do lists.  I'm apologizing when I need to.  I'm slowly restructuring relationships with my family and friends.  And while none of this is perfect or easy, it's very much a beautiful work in progress that I'm so, so grateful for.  Even when things go awry, I have the ability now (in sobriety) to handle it with a little more grace than I used to.  

Today will mark my seventh month in AA.  I've done sobriety 50% on my own and 50% in the rooms.  I feel like I'm at a crossroads, of sorts, and I'm ready to do the next right thing for me.  I know that I'll continue on my AA path, but I'm ready to consciously create my own program.  I'm working on setting boundaries (something I struggle with) and strengthening the routines that keep me grounded and sober.

The only thing I know for sure at 14 months of continuous sobriety is that I'm not going to drink today.  And if I can do just that one thing, I know with every fiber of my being that everything else will fall into place.  That's pretty god-damned comforting.  And right now, it's enough for me. 

That's the message, not the mess.