The traveling wild woman, Ms. Shannon Whaley, is here today to share this piece she wrote for her own community on her website. One of you fine lads or lasses posted a link on Twitter to her article and I took an e-flight over to her site (I rhyme!). I remember feeling this kinship with Shannon--seeing the value of 12-step programs but not feeling *the fit*. And that's OK. -Laura
So I went to an AA meeting on Wednesday
. I just wanted to see if it was as bad as I remember it. I really miss having friends and I don't know where else to meet them!!! So it was kind of out of desperation. I really don't know where else to meet other sober people. This island is probably THE WORST place to get sober. I live a surreal life here, where it's acceptable to drink on the job, dealing coke is talked about openly, and drunk driving is a way of life.
I want to surround myself with like-minded people, people who are serious about not using and who want to take control of their life and actually live!!
I understand why people need to be in the program, I just really can't connect with the dogma
. The steps, the wording, the way you have to say you're an alcoholic every time you say your name. Like it's your identity. I don't want to identify as that. I don't want that to be my label, my title. I want to be Shannon, Healthy, Happy, Whole and Sober. It feels so much more empowering. I had to introduce myself and I didn't say that I was an alcoholic and I'm sure I was looked at with a nice side eye. "Who's this bitch?" I didn't tell them I have over a year and a half clean and sober and that I did it on my own. I guess I was worried about being judged for not getting sober the 'right' way. Or maybe I'm just full of myself and need to lose the ego.
What was interesting was that all of the stuff the people were talking about, was all personal development stuff I've been doing on my own this last year and half.
Admitting I have a problem, making amends to people, taking inventory of myself and what I need to fix (my "shortcomings"), connecting with a Higher Power, (The Universe, and Nature), and I continuing to work on myself on a daily basis.
One thing I did hear that made me think was when someone said, "I have a disease that tells me I don't have a disease.
And after I'm sober for a while, I think I can go back out and have a few drinks like a normal person. But I don't want to drink like a normal person. I want to get fucked up."
This has been a regular thought for me. Maybe NOW I can go back out and have just one drink. Maybe today I can just have a drink with friends. And then I remember the last time I quit drinking and tried to go back out, and eventually, sometimes that night and sometimes a few months down the road, I ended up passed out in the back of a bus. Or crying in a bar. Or taking a quick nap in my car before I had to drive home. I can't drink like a normal person. And history has shown me that. I'm pretty sure it will always be like that. And right now I'm not willing to see if things have changed. My life has been too good to take any chances.(Editor's note: AMEN! Every time I've thought about going back to drinking *normally*, I remember--I can't. I'm just not wired that way. - Laura)
I may go to another meeting, mostly because I'll try anything twice. That's what got me into this whole predicament in the first place. I wasn't a quitter.
It wasn't horrible, although anytime I have to hold a strangers hand I pray to baby Jesus they have proper hand washing etiquette.
And why are your hands so sweaty?? Why do we have to touch? Why so much touching?? Can we have a meeting where we high five after and call it a day please?
What I did like was that I was in a group of people who didn't make me explain why I quit drinking. They didn't think I was weird. They didn't leave me out of an invite because I'm sober and they didn't want to deal with their feelings about their own drinking. It was an automatic understanding that shit got out of control and I want a better way of life. There's something to be said about that.
I just wish there were more options available on the island, and more options for people not living in a complete bubble like I am.
Hear ye, hear ye! Shannon has an update for all of us since she wrote her story:
Basically I got sober on my own in October 2013. I was craving friendship and connection with other sober people so I decided to give AA a chance. I went to a weekly meeting and a once monthly women's meeting. AA is still not for me. So now I'm in the process of researching Women for Sobriety and Buddhist Recovery meetings when I return back to the States to visit in Seattle at the end of May. I'm hoping to bring options with me back to the island so people here have more recovery resources. Interests include travel, eating, writing and cats. ;-)
You can find the absolutely stunning Shannon on her stylish website or on Twitter: @ShannonWhaley.