Last night I went to a meeting and wriggled in my seat every time someone swore the only way to stay sober is by attending meetings or getting down on bended knees every morning and night to thank God. The only time I felt engaged was talking to someone with four months who shared that his life feels so bad right now he thinks it might actually feel easier if he drinks. I told him I vividly remember how hard four months felt, though for me it was more like five months when the novelty of sobriety wore off and the feelings came back. I told him it absolutely gets better, though of course I don’t know that. I do know drinking wouldn’t make life easier in the long run. He knows this, but I told him because he wanted to hear it. That’s why we go to meetings.
A familiar-looking woman in fleece-lined mules stood with us and nodded in agreement and told him to keep working the steps because they would provide him peace. I thought “time might give you the same peace so long as you don’t drink” but I did not say this. Afterwards, I walked out to the parking lot with this woman and the way she asked “and how are you doing?” made me feel like she wanted to know. I said “oh ok. I’m not really feeling meetings right now and I’ve sort of stalled at step 4.” She didn’t say anything at first and then simply offered “you know, it’s called a 12 step program for a reason.” Touché, familiar-looking woman in seasonally inappropriate footwear.
Last night I came home feeling out of sorts and ill at ease with both meetings and my decision to scale back. Because here’s the source of my resentment: I never signed up for a lifetime commitment to attend meetings when I decided to get sober. My sponsor told me that she had started going to meetings because she wanted to get a handle on drinking like a normal person. I started going to meetings because I wanted to get a handle on not drinking. It never occurred to me that I was supposed to keep coming back until I die. The root of this resentment is that I fear the warnings are right: that if I stop going to meetings, I will drink again.
Despite or in spite of this conflict, I woke up this morning and did some work on Step 4. I started it about a month ago and wrote quite a bit in an email (to myself) that I inadvertently wound up deleting. I’m not upset by this because I never intended to keep it around. One of my character defects is arrogance because I am quite certain I’m able to see the role I play in every resentment I hold. It takes almost no time to identify that the reason my grandmother’s negativity and lack of filter bothers me is because I am overly sensitive and underly caring. And underly is so a word. Stubborness and inappropriate use of humor as deflection are two more character defects. If deflection is not a word, I don’t want to know because avoidance is another.
I wrote a bunch of stuff out this morning and I’ll keep working on it until I feel finished or when I find myself listing resentments towards my first grade teacher, whose only slight I can remember was telling the class she was 100 years old, which I totally believed because she had grey hair and granny glasses. I hope I’ll know when to stop. Actually, I kind of feel done now, but I’ll at least get through what the packet suggests I do.
I don’t think I’m going to do a Step 5 because that would mean confessing all my sins and that feels like a potentially dangerous form of humiliation designed to break me down and anyway, I’m hoping I’ve told enough people a handful of my wrongs that it might collectively count as a Step 5.
Trying not to get too far ahead. Baby steps. I’ll take that step when I come to it or I won’t take it. I’m not there right now so there’s no use worrying about it.