Thursday Zoom meeting 5/14/20:
Darren was the speaker at today’s meeting. He’s been coming to the Thursday meeting fairly consistently for the past couple of years or so. I had never heard him speak, so I was pleased when Leigh announced the speaker. He talked about trauma in his childhood that included a teacher, and how he had an older brother who led him down the path of alcohol and drug addiction. He mentioned that his brother died a couple of months ago, and how he “heard it was a painful death.” He said this with a little smile. That struck me as a clear indication of his suffering, and that he had not yet healed. Darren talked about how throughout his life, he always handled things with the “fuck it, and run’s.” If things were getting sticky, not working out as planned, he’d say, “Fuck it,” and he’d take off. This way of being led him to quit school and move to Aspen, where he could ski and do drugs. After bouts of sobriety and subsequent relapses, including a failed marriage, he has two years of sobriety and is practicing “sitting with it”—sitting with the discomfort. A timely example of this is how he is homebound with his children during quarantine, is having a hard time with it, but yet he’s taking it one day at a time. He describes a sometimes successful day these days as not having drunk and drugged. It was good to see how he’s trying to work the program and do the next right thing. His sponsor was in attendance to hear him speak, and shared how much he had gained from working with Darren. He seemed happy at the end of his share, and said that when he’s at a meeting, he knows that for one hour he is not thinking of drinking or drugging, or letting his mind wander into “fuck it, and run” territory.
I have a history of “running” on a smaller scale. When I have been upset, angry, mostly “unheard”—where I felt like nobody understood how I was feeling in the moment and it was too overwhelming for me to stay in the situation, I left. I can remember being home from college, out with my friends from high school, and leaving them at the bar we were at. It was downtown, and I just walked out the door without telling anyone, and not knowing what my plan was. I wandered downtown for quite a while trying to find a safe place that was open where I could make a phone call (days before cell phones). When Mary Ellen called my house hours later, she was angry and yelling on the phone. I didn’t have the words to tell her why I left.
I thought of the all too commonly felt need for escape that alcoholics often have. We escape by drinking. We can escape in lots of ways. Darren would physically escape. In sobriety, this is still very much an issue as we look for ways to escape without the alcohol. The challenge (and the gift) is sitting with our feelings—our discomfort, sadness, anger. We are given a chance to grow during this time. The goal of life is living life on life’s terms, and that includes living with sadness as well as joy. We are given the tools to deal with life on life’s terms, and the Steps to live a successful, joyful life.