Two things I would get if I were a different sort of person: pink hair and a tattoo sleeve on at least one arm. But I’m not even a pink-streak sort of person, though I do have one small tattoo on my left hip of a winking sun that was loosely based on the Kellogg’s Raisin Bran sun because that’s actually the sort of person I am.
Last night I went to my first meeting in two weeks and the speaker had not one but two tattoo sleeves. His lack of eye contact and nervous gestures made him instantly likable, though he still looked like a tough biker, so I didn’t think I would relate much to what he shared. And I was wrong. He talked about fear and how drinking squashed fear but turned him into the sort of man a divey motel owner had to chase off with a big stick, shouting “get outta here you drunken bum!” and still this hurt his feelings.
He was a guy with long periods of sobriety who got longer time in between meetings until he resented the hell out of the weirdos in them. Meetings do seem really weird once you stop going to them. Then one day he poured some of his mother-in-law’s vodka over a large tumbler of ice and drank it quickly and didn’t feel shame or remorse and within a few weeks had his own bottle stashed in the garage. Something about the way he described this made me realize I could do this too if I get too cocky or cavalier. Relapsing is my worst fear right after public speaking.
Last night I shared for the first time in two months. I hadn’t spoken at a meeting since the time I shared my newcomer’s story. This time I ignored my racing heart and how the others who shared before me said more or less the same thing I was planning to say, and I got some things off my chest and it felt right. I still worried what I said wasn’t helpful or was helpful but not entirely honest, but fuck me if I’ll ever know the right thing to say anywhere.
I also got my 11 month coin last night. I was a bit disappointed because several months ago our home group switched to bronze coins, but I got one of the leftover aluminum coins. It’s hollow and garish red and reminds me of the coins in my daughter’s play cash register. Next month I’ll get a bronze coin, assuming I make it to 12 months. I wonder how many people relapse in between their eleventh and twelfth month of sobriety. I’m guessing not many. For the last month or so, I felt like I was coasting towards a finish line I couldn’t quite see but knew was just around the corner. Now I can see the finish line, but I know I could still twist my ankle and go down if I don’t keep my shit together. A little fear is good for me.
What happens if I reach one year? Will it feel any more special than any of my other anniversaries? Will there be fireworks or cake or at least a sappy blog entry? Probably. I will probably palm my bronze coin for longer, but eventually it will join the aluminum coins in a coin purse I keep in the bottom of my jewelry box along with a cat broach I’ve never worn and a class ring I hated but wore because it cost so much and I paid for it with my own money. The real reward in sobriety is the time and attention I have for my children and the hope I feel for my marriage and my job and I guess life in general. Some days I lose sight of this because I am human and life is not always wonderful. But the improvements and hope are definitely there and they came from not drinking and trying to be a better person. I am grateful for a million and one things, but not having a drink in the last 11 months (and 2 days) is right up at the top.