|This is my personal 24 hour coin. My most valuable coin even after being sober for 10 years. I drilled the hole and carry on my key chain with me everywhere. LOUD AND PROUD, BABY!|
This is only my story, and people have many different ways of how they went about getting sober. For me, it worked and as much as I hated it at the time, it was exactly what I needed to get me where I am today.
After I walked out of 26th and California, the toughest jail in Chicago, for the last time, I went to my last rehab center. I stayed there for 2 months.
I was stripped raw, literally and metaphorically, of all my defenses. I hated my counselor because she knew my game. She make me stop wearing my cute little outfits and doing my make up every day. It was sweats and clean face for me. This place had one of those ropes courses where we were "building trust" and working on "teamwork", when I look back on that part of it now, it seems fucking bat shit crazy that newly sober folks were told to get their asses way up in the air and just don't worry about your shakes and coming off of booze or drugs. Just trust each other. What. the. fuck. Funny how I put myself in much more dangerous situations for years while drinking, and yet, THAT whole thing seems even more crazy to me.
After my counselor that I hated so much because she knew every one of my sad excuses said, "after treatment you should live in a Women's Halfway House" I said, "NO EFFING WAY."
I was real peach back then. This woman is a saint for dealing with me. But as we've spoken through the years, we laugh about it now because she's one of us. She did the same bullshit with someone else who helped get her sober.
I went to live in that damn halfway house for 6 months. Because as much as I was crabby about it, I was ready to do whatever it took to get sober. In the middle of nowhere Wisconsin, with 8 other women. Only two of us are alive and sober today. It was the first time in my life I learned to relate to other women, openly, honestly, in a dirty and real way. It wasn't pretty for any of us. And we went to meetings every day. Sometimes twice a day. And our big outing was going to Culver's for malts. That was it. I learned to crochet and make 846 scarves that are all horrendously ugly. But it kept my hands busy. We watched old movies all the time and smoked hundreds of cigarettes, drank buckets of coffee and gorged on barrels of ice cream. You crave the sugar when you come off booze. All the while dealing with feelings that we had all been covering up with booze or drugs for so long, we didn't know how to express a feeling, let alone deal with it.
We got Sponsors. We went to AA meetings. I wasn't allowed to talk that first year in meetings. And as hard as that was, it helped me enormously. What the hell did I have to say to people who were sober 20 years? I could talk with them after the meeting, but not during the meeting. We read the Big Book and started working the steps. It was the first time I had ever expressed what I was really feeling to anyone. Ever. And didn't feel judged for it. It was the first time in my life I felt like I belonged somewhere. These other women, so damaged and so hurt and so angry, were my people. They still are.
Only today, it's different because the women I connect with are the ones that are trying so desperately to get better. I say it all the time, I don't care who you are or what you situation is, if you are trying to better yourself, I will help you if I can. I help others because so many have helped me. I am responsible whenever anyone, anywhere wants to get sober. IF YOU REALLY ARE WILLING TO WORK FOR IT. I will not do the work for you and believe me, I CAN quit you. I am not an enabler. The longer we make excuses or say, I hate the slogans and that's so cheesy and BARFORAMA to some of the cliches, the longer we are miserable. I know. I fought everything. And I still get how cheesy it is. But I also know it works. Some how, some way. I don't believe in God. But I believe in this program and the steps and I can tolerate the rest to stay sober. BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN ARGUING WITH IT AND BEING MISERABLE. Call that the gift of time, because it absolutely is. Acceptance. Sure, people get sober without AA. For me, this is what works to be happy and sober. Not just dry.
So what I say to people who want to be happy, joyous and free? And if you are saying, "well I can't go to rehab"..... I say GO TO MEETINGS. Rehab didn't get me sober. Meetings did. Work the 12 Steps. Cut the bullshit and get real. You have to strip away to NOTHING to build yourself back up. If you aren't willing to do the hard work, why would anything change? No more excuses. It is not easy. When I chuckle and nod my head when someone is telling me their story that they think is SO UNIQUE, it's funny because it is absolutely not unique. I am not unique. I am a drunk. I see through your bullshit. But I believe in miracles. I am a miracle. And I see them happen every single day in the form of people getting and staying sober. If you are struggling, do the hard work - especially that first year. It is your foundation. I have today to be sober. That's it. Nothing more is guaranteed. We only have today. And what we use it for matters. I choose to use it for good. I hope I make the same choice tomorrow.