I haven’t had a drink in over 10 years, but sometimes I still miss it. That’s a big piece of honesty straight from my heart. I’m not brave enough to share that in a meeting or with my sponsor. There’s a fear deep down that if I share that truth with another alcoholic we might talk ourselves into drinking. So I’m sharing it in writing to hopefully save myself and others. I’m sober but sometimes I miss drinking still because it was the only thing that helped me cope with life.
I find life really hard. Even as a child, I didn’t have that carefree experience we are supposed to have. At least that’s what we are told, but I don’t know many people who have had an easy ride in any part of their lives.
Being alive and staying alive is quite a struggle. I hear that in the rooms all the time. The stories are different but also very much the same. There are endless stories of people feeling different, not fitting in, and experiencing a multitude of trauma. I’m no different. Feeling detached from my peers all my life was just how it was. I’d reinvent myself to fit in with whatever group I was hanging around with at the time. Friends were fleeting for me and I’m not sure I ever really wanted them to be honest. It was a lot of work to have friends and found myself bored most of the time.
But we are supposed to have a host of friends, enjoy parties and dating when we are young right? For me, they caused anxiety and dread a lot of the time, but alcohol softened my anxiety so I drank – a lot! Alcohol helped me with general awkwardness and any kind of social event. Parties, funerals, graduations, weddings…I’d be drunk at them all before I’d arrive. If I wasn’t drunk I couldn’t cope, it’s that simple. It was my best friend and opened up a world of some enjoyment for me. I felt somewhat connected to other people when I was tanked. All an illusion I know, but whatever worked at the time.
Time for change
Luckily I managed to get sober in my late twenties. I was pretty smart at school, but the social aspect kept me away most of the time. Sometimes, I’d even be drunk at school, but eventually, I dropped out. I was lucky enough to start working at a repair shop owned by my father’s buddy. He taught me everything I know about cars and bikes, and I’ve made a living from fixing vehicles for many years now. It was the only place I never felt different or out of place. I had a real knack for understanding mechanics which gave me confidence and some kind of grounding.
But I messed up pretty bad. I got drunk one night, too drunk to get home. I went to the shop and fell asleep on the floor, leaving the door wide open. The next morning I woke to discover my boss standing over me, screaming about all his tools missing. We had been robbed while I lay sleeping on the floor, completely oblivious to what was going on. He threatened to fire me, but I loved my job so much that I promised I’d replace everything and pay him back for any damage.
I worked for months on half my salary to make it up to my boss and I also never drank again after that night. I got my ass to my first AA meeting two days later. Life was tough enough for me without me losing the only thing that made me feel worth something.
Why do I miss alcohol?
I’m still working on cars, and that gives me purpose. I still find life hard and lonely though. My confidence is low outside of my job and home. So low, that I’ve never dated anyone since I quit drinking. It’s just me and my dog Ralph at home, and while most days it’s fine, sometimes I miss the connection with other people that alcohol brought me. I’ve been doing some research into what might be making me so shy and withdrawn and I’m pretty sure I’m somewhere on the autism spectrum. It’s a struggle between the urge to fit in and the need to be alone. My sponsor is helping me with that and I am considering getting a diagnosis.
The one thing that keeps me from drinking is my job and my love for fixing cars. If I drink all that will be gone and really, it’s all I have. I gotta be on this Earth for as long as God determines so I better make the most of it.
One thing I have found (after several years in the program), is working with others includes things like calling others, attending conventions, going to group events like thanksgiving dinner, volunteering to help there, hiking with other AA friends, going to coffee, lunch, dinner and more.
If a person is lonely in AA they probably are not giving themselves completely to this simple program and cheating themselves out of the real bonds and connections that come from doing this.
It is an effort if this is not your true nature. I spent a long time in AA missing out on this even the really close sponsor/ sponsee relationships.
I am finally learning to do all of it and “exercise these principals in all my affairs”.
Thank you for sharing your post. Most of us feel different and in that we are also very similar and connected. We just need to realise this. One thing that works wonders is actively doing little acts of self-love, for example with praising ourselves. E.g. praising yourself how courageously you handled the situation with the stolen tools. Rather than running away from it you faced it and did what you had to do. You can be proud of that and acknowledge yourself for it.
Initially, growing the self-love is like a weak little plant but as you water it and talk to it every day it grows stronger. It feels strange initially and awkward. In the beginning our mind does not like this self-love thing because it is so used to doing the opposite. The mind likes the familiar and it takes some time and effort to make self-love familiar to your mind. But if you take one step every day the self-love will grow. Really falling in love with your life and with yourself 🙂