The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Ain’t It Funny How Time Slips…

Slips up on you, actually, to amend the lyrics from the popular song from which I borrowed this title. I had an anniversary last month that I didn’t blog much about at the time, in part because I was so busy living my life that it slipped up on me, and I didn’t think of it until a few days before the actual date. I thought about it again last night, though, when I read about [From Kevin’s anniversary.

20 years ago today…

… I walked into an alcohol & drug in-patient rehab center a cocaine/meth addict unable to stop on my own.

By the grace of God as I understand Him and the invaluable help of a 12-step program I have been clean ever since.

My gratitude is immeasurable.

I left the following comment on that post.

That is wonderful! In July, I celebrated sixteen years of sobriety. It kind of took my breath away when I realized what happened to that 23-year-old who walked in to his first AA meeting back then, after my last blackout while driving scared me because that time I had a friend in the car.

Here I sit in my comfortable, suburban home, with my husband and our six-year-old and eight-month-old sleeping soundly upstairs while I catch up on my blog-reading.

Yup. My gratitude is also immeasurable!

Truly. Perhaps even moreso this week, as I reenter the atmosphere upon returning home after a nearly a week in Denver attending (or trying to attend) the Democratic National Convention. I arrived at home at 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning, unpacked a few necessary items like toiletries, tiptoed upstairs and snuck Parker’s surprise into his bed before giving him a kiss goodnight. I opted not to go into Dylan’s room, since he was sleeping soundly and I didn’t want to wake him. (Better to let sleeping babies lie, most of the time.)

I was finally ready for bed by 3:00 a.m. Now, the hubby swears up and down that he can’t sleep when if I’m not in the bed, or that he has trouble sleeping. But the really sweet thing about that is that when I’m not in bed (even when we take turns napping on weekends, and he gets the first turn), he actually hugs my pillow. I had a good laugh when, after I got into bed, my hubby realized I was there and his sleep-deprived brain thought “Husband. Home. Needs. Pillow.” And as a result I got my pillow — Phwap! — right in my face. I chuckle, put the pillow under my head, and fell alseep in his arms.

Around 5:00 a.m., Dylan woke up. (I learned later from the hubby that Dylan had slept soundly through every night that I was gone. So, I can only guess that maybe he sense that I was back and he didn’t need to take it easy on Papa anymore. Since Papa had been on his own while I was in Denver, and I assumed he’d gotten up at last a few nights with Dylan, I hopped out of bed after two hours of sleep. (OK. I did not hop. It was more like a combination slide-stumble-schlep.) I realized as soon as I opened the door that Dylan had welcomed me home with a poopy diaper, and he wanted me to get my welcome home present right now.

The last couple days have been all about catching up with family: hearing about Parker’s week at kindergarten and a new friend he made there; being told by Parker that I’m going to “Back to School Day” this week, to meet his teacher, etc.; getting the latest updates on Parkers first (!) loose tooth (which is the reason he’s been asking for corn-on-the-cob for dinner); feeling how tender Dylan’s upper gums are, and realizing that his next new teeth are probably on their way; holding my husband; and going out to dinner yesterday, which Parker decided counted as the “Welcome Home Celebration” he told me we’d have when I got back, and then running around my chair in the restaurant cheering “Welcome home, Daddy! Welcome home, Daddy! Welcome home, Daddy!” (I thought it was adorable, and so did our fellow diners, when we explained I’d just gotten back after being gone for a week.)

You can read about my last drink/drunk if you want, but Kevin’s post reminded me of of what happened after that; when I took the step that eventually led to life today.

It’s funny how things work out. Frey landed in probably the top rehab facility in the country. I, on the other hand, couldn’t have afforded rehab but somehow I landed right where I needed to be. At the time, I was living in a boarding house run by a small Episcopal church on campus. The house was right next to the chapel, and as a resident I knew where the to the chapel keys were in case I ever needed to let someone in. I also knew that a student-focused Alcoholics Anonymous group met in the chapel basement. For most of the time that I’d been living there I was often the one to unlock the chapel for them so they could set up for their meeting.

Sometimes, fate works in funny ways. By the time I realized I had a problem, I didn’t have to wonder where to go. I was living next door to an AA meeting location. I made plans to go check it out, but in order to avoid having to talk to anyone, I decided to slip in a half an hour after the meeting started, and maybe I could slip out early. As fate would have it, I got the meeting time wrong. Instead I showed up half an hour early. It was just me and the guy who came early to make the coffee.

Couldn’t sneak out unnoticed. Had to talk. I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember much except that when people started rolling in, I knew half of them, including a gay guy who was also new to the meeting. Upon seeing me, one of them said “I was wondering when you were going to show up.” As the end of the meeting, the other gay guy picked up a “one day chip.” Then all eyes in the room turned to me. After a minute I just said, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

…I did it pretty much by the book. (I had a sponsor who called me on my bullshit and wouldn’t let me get away with half-stepping it.) I went to regular meetings for four years, until I began to drift away from them, feeling I didn’t really need it in order to stay sober. By that point I knew in my bones that whatever was going on in my ilfe a drink wasn’t going to make it better, and would inevitably make it worse. The important thing is that 13 year after hitting bottom both Frey (as far as I know) and I are still clean and sober, and living very different lives.

I mentioned to a co-worker of mine back in July that I’d just reach 16 years of sobriety, and he asked how I did it. I gave an answer similar to the description above: that by now I’ve absorbed it into my bones that no matter how good or bad things are, picking up a drink will not make it better. But then I added that I know I have a lot more to lose now; in particular the family and life I know I wouldn’t have had if I’d continued my drinking/using “career.” If the effects of drinking as much as I did (and more, considering that I’d have had to drink more if I’d kept it up) hadn’t killed me, then I’d have run out of luck and wrapped my car around pole or, worse, taken someone’s life as well as ended my own — effectively or actually.

But honestly, the basic answer to “How did you do it,” for me is that I didn’t pickup a drink today, or the day before that, or the day before that, or… and the rest just slips up on me. Now, how I didn’t pick up a drink today, or the day before that, or the day before that, or… is another, though related, topic.

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