I Know, I Could Hardly Believe It Myself

From the looks of it, Matilda, we ain't gonna have ta worry 'bout you fallin' off the wagon. The dang wagon done fell out from under us. Ain't that the darnest thang?

Does Lorna stay on “the wagon” with a little help from her AA friends, ride “the wagon” alone, or flip off “the wagon” like she did on those blasted monkey bars?

I promised to go to AA. True to form, I made another promise without knowing anything about what I was getting into. The AA-ers said 30 meetings in 30 days, so that’s what I did. Before I developed lung cancer from the second-hand smoke I asked some AA-ers about different meeting places and times. There were AA meetings in the greater D.C. area running 24-7 in more places than there are casino slot machines in Vegas. Stopping drinking was an epidemic in that city.

I found non-smokers’ meetings in non-churches. That helped to reduce my truancy fantasies. I tried meetings at different times of the day and different venues, hoping to find less fanatical obsessive zealous ardent members. No luck. All were kind and really, really helpful; all were stuck in their pasts hoping not to screw up their futures, but really shaky on that probability. Shouldn’t I be hanging out with more confident people?

Where was this upbeat fella when I needed him to tell me that I, like Mary Tyler Moore, was going to make it on my own? Cue uplifting music and hats being gleefully tossed into the air.

I had plenty of time to contemplate my alcoholism during those meetings. I listened to the lecture on whichever laudible-but-never-to-be-completely-accomplished Step, but tuned out Story-Telling Time. Where were the DT’s I was supposed to have? I drank enough alcohol that I should’ve had some physical withdrawal period, but I didn’t. They warned me about the constant urge to drink–something I would fight every day of my life. It was that kind of uplifting message that created the only constant urge I had: to get away from these people and get on with my life. I sealed off the door to my drinking-past. I was an alcoholic who would never drink again and I knew it as sure as I was breathing smoke-free, donut and coffee scented air.

This shield protected me from the all the toxic stuff swirling around me. To this day, I have it and use it regularly. I call it my Serenity and Hairdo Preservation Shield. It's one-of-a-kind (like me) so don't bother checking for one on e-bay.

Chuck went with me during the evening meetings. He wanted/needed to know more about alcoholism. Knowledge = power, right? I think he also wanted to know what signs to look out for should I return to the bottle. Who can blame him? I told him he had nothing to worry about. The only time I thought about alcohol was during those blasted meetings. I never wanted another drop of alcohol in my body, knowing it acted like a pull-pin on a grenade. I was and always would be an alcoholic, but never a drinker. He had serious doubts.

When the 30-day sentence was over, Chuck asked me to keep going to meetings regardless of my begging assurances that I was better off without them. We settled on once a week meetings and eventually found a meeting held more like a stand-up routine, with an entertaining speaker doing his schtick on one of the Steps for 45 minutes. He was the only story-teller. We both enjoyed attending the program called “Sunday Morning Live,” a parody of “Saturday Night Live.” Being able to quickly exit the “show” that was held in a hospital amphitheater was a real plus.

Look at me dashing out of the AA meeting in my "Sunday Best" dress. I carried my own lunch box because I didn't think donuts were good for my waistline. Hope I don't slip with those no-grip patent leather shoes...

The meetings were unnecessary. I experienced, what people in “the business” call, “spontaneous recovery.” Well, some people in “the business” don’t believe in such a thing–like the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foote, or effective facial hair removal techniques. All I know is that one day I couldn’t imagine a day without vodkathe next day, I couldn’t bear the thought of the stuff. Poof! Just like that.

Hey, you think it was easy as "poof-a-loof" and a wave of my magic stick? I had some major dickerin' to do with the...well, let's just say you owe me BIG TIME, Missy!

My new problem was that my husband didn’t trust me. How do you convince someone you’re not doing something? I guess you keep not doing it, which is exactly what I did.

Okay, I know what you're thinking. But I'm actually putting this cookie back. I saw it on the floor and I knew it didn't belong there. What? You don't believe me? Why don't you believe me?

Why was Lorna seemingly “programmed to please” and  physically addicted to alcohol? It’s time travel backwards to gain a little perspective before we move to the next major event in Lorna’s life.

~ by Lorna's Voice on September 15, 2011.

26 Responses to “I Know, I Could Hardly Believe It Myself”

  1. Yes, exactly–“determined presence” I love it! Who could argue with that? Well, I’m sure contrary people would step up to the plate and try to whack that one out of the playing field, too; but I you and I both know that it happens. If it happens even once, it’s possible.

  2. Some people have what I like to call “The Determined Presence”. You were determined to stop and stop you did. I don’t find it unsual. I have a friend who was a social smoker but social enough that she called herself a smoker. The day her father died of emphysema she stopped immediately. Never picked up a cig, never craved it, never thought about it again.
    Uh-Huh … it can happen … Aren’t we all different???

    The power of you made it happen.

  3. As I found out, repairing damaged trust isn’t easy. I thought it was possible, but I could only do so much.

  4. As to your last question, my next post will be addressing those very issues. So stay tuned.

    I don’t understand the lack of any sort of physical reaction after quitting cold-turkey and NO cravings at all. Miracle? Strange chemistry? Somone “upstairs” cutting me some slack? Your guess is as good as mine.

  5. That you managed t turn your back on alchohol so easily is amazing. As you know, damaged trust is a harder thing to fix in many ways. I would never doubt your strengh of character so all things are possible

  6. Yes, quite the paradox, my friend. 😉 I hope I don’t disappoint you.

    I’ve seem to distinguished myself in the situations I get into, but not always with great outcomes (as you’ve seen). I was an impressive drinker, but look where that got me. Then I was a stellar recoverer and no one believed me. Why not just call me Sophie and force me to make a choice? Sheesh! But, you’re right, I understand Chuck being leary of my miraculous recovery, especially given my track record since the birthday fiasco. He definitely had a harder time recovering from alcoholism than I did.

  7. This guy was rare. I never found another “meeting” like that one. It was a life-saver, because if I had to go to regular meetings once a week, it may have driven me to drink! 😉

    I guess I was pretty rare, too. Too bad I couldn’t be joyful about it because I was under the veil of suspicion. I understand why, but I still wish someone would have believed me.

  8. On the contrary, Diana. To this day, 27 years later, I’m alcohol free. I don’t even think about drinking alcohol–it’s as if I was writing about another person. But my story goes on because Chuck wasn’t over my drinking–his recovery wasn’t instant. Plus some other zany things happened along the way to lead me to where I am. Oh, there’s a lot more story to be told–just not about my drinking.

  9. I will swear on a stack of AA Blue Books that I was taking NO prescription meds (maybe birth control pills) that would account for quelling the DTs. I can’t explain it. No one in AA could either. They thought I wasn’t being honest with myself or them. It’s really hard when this miraculous thing happens and you want to celebrate, but everyone around you doubts you (for good reason). UGH.

    And thanks for the comment about the epidemic of stopping drinking–I liked that myself! 😉

  10. Oh does it ever…but rest assured that I remain alcohol-free to this day. That part of my life is truly over and I’m glad to not have to write about it anymore. I don’t even think of myself in terms of a recovering alcoholic–just a person who chooses not to drink.

  11. Yes, I can see how anyone not inside my sure-as-shootin’ mind could easily define my claim of instant recovery as denial. It’s really the only logical explanation. But, then again, logic doesn’t apply in all situations, especially when dealing with me! 😉

  12. I think I had a little (a lot) of help from unseen forces. I know I am a very strong woman, but beating such a strong physical and emotional addiction that I had for 10 years in an instant was nothing short of a miracle. I’m not saying I found religion, I’m just saying that I know that there is something beyond me that is mystical and was very generous to me when I needed it. I’ve felt the good graces of that “something” many times in my life…

  13. This is not an easy subject to deal with from either end of the problem. For some reason, I was let off the hook easily–no cravings, no struggle. But Chuck didn’t have such as easy time for reasons I fully understand. If I were in his shoes, I would’ve doubted any claim of “instant cure” especially given my fall from grace after my birthday. It’s hard to restore trust once it’s been rattled.

  14. That’s nice to know. I didn’t know that! Did she ever tell you why?

  15. Thanks for sharing that story, Molly–It’s nice to know that these “spontaneous recoveries” happen every now and again. I know I am living proof, but one person does not a phenomenon make!

  16. Right, you can’t prove a negative, Lorna … interesting phenomena that, a powerful addiction stops – no will power, etc. friend of mine smoked 3 packs a day – then stopped, no withdrawal, no moods, no urge to eat his way thru the day, his wife kept sniffing at him, irritated him no end, amused the peanut gallery though, cheers catchul8r molly

  17. wonder if Aunt Dorothy’s faith in you helped you through–she’s one of your biggest fans, you know!

  18. I used to be part of a Board of Directors who were mostly heavy smokers. I started bringing an electric fan to the meetings. As soon as they lit up, I turned the fan on, pointing it right in their direction. It was quite an effective tool…
    My grandfather was an alcoholic, as was my cousin, and one of my good friends. I watched them all fall off the wagon and eventually die from their addiction. I understand how hard it is to give up drinking, but I also know how hard it is to watch a loved one try to do it.

  19. Man, just like that and the problem’s gone. Miraculous or just tired of the same ole grind? You’re very fortunate. Must’ve had to do with you being a smart woman anyway, that it came as easy a a job and your studies.

  20. I think that Chuck’s reaction is a normal one for someone who loved and cared about you. Your description of the AA meetings reminds me of someone who would be in denial. I remembered when my doctor discovered that I was having heart PVCs a while back. I was admitted to the hospital because my doctor was convinced that I had had a heart attack. I was talking with the nurse who was checking up on my late at night trying to tell her that I was alright. I reflect back on that now and wonder if the nurse was thinking I was in denial.

  21. The plot thickens……… can’t wait for the next instalment.

  22. This is a wild guess, but I wonder if you were on some prescription medication for something else, which helped you avoid the “DT” symptoms.

    Anyway, your description “stopping drinking was epidemic” is paradoxically priceless.

  23. I’m guessing the spontaneous recovery didn’t take. If it did, your story would be over, and I don’t think it is!

  24. I agree with Phil that you were the exception. Also, I didn’t know that some AA meetings had stand-up comics … laughing at the malfunction is better than … well you know the rest crazy chick.

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading this post …

  25. I guess I can understand Chuck’s position. You were among the exception, not the rule among those who call themselves alcoholics with regard to recovery. Most struggle with continuous relapses.

    Looking forward to your flashback piece. Huh, that was a paradoxical statement…

  26. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of spontaneous recovery–wow! You would wonder why no physical reaction to quitting “cold turkey”. Why is that?

    I’m interested to know why you were seemingly “programmed to please” too and my guess is there may have been alcoholism in your background.

Silence can be just what the doctor ordered. You know I'm a doctor, right?

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