Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sober Stealth

***Submitted by Susan

I picked up Augusten Burroughs' Dry off the shelf last night. I read this while drinking, knowing I was an alcoholic actively drinking, but it's a great "I'm not that bad" book when you're still tossing them back. With four months sober today, I decided to revisit it through dry eyes. This passage struck me - he's in rehab, talking to his therapist, Rae, about the process.

"...I'm realizing I don't like to feel things, don't want to feel pain or fear. And mostly, how I can see that I don't drink like a normal person. That I use booze like an escape hatch and also like a destination in itself. I tell her my recent observation of rehab in terms of how it works. How it sort of sneaks up on you. The way somebody will say some dumb affirmation and then later in group, somebody will say, "I didn't buy that affirmation you said at all," and there will be a heated argument and somebody will be reduced to tears. And how all of this will bring something up inside of you, wake something up. And you have some insight you wouldn't have had otherwise. It's very odd and nonlinear and organic. And yet it's real.

Rae smiles because she knows this is exactly how it works. It is stealth

I did not go through the rehab experience, but this passage could apply to any recovery work. As I walk this sober journey the second time around, focusing this time less on the alcohol, but the control issues of which alcohol is one of many that feed my Ism, this "gave me an insight I wouldn't have otherwise". As a woman alcoholic, I am a fixer, manager, controller and general "woman who does too much". I let go of a lot of control 15 years ago, when I was in my mid 20s. Between then and now, however, my natural tendency toward self-reliance has served me extremely well. If I can't make you do what I want, I'll just do it myself.

But fixing and managing are very linear processes, as is doing a lot of stuff to stay busy, and avoid feeling my feelings. It seems that what we alcoholic women all struggle with is the non-linear, unpackaged, unpredictable nature of recovery (however you choose to do it). Recovery is a series of miracles: minor shifts in perception that sift through the subconscious. Dammit! That never happens when scheduled; I scheduled Sober Realizations from 9-9:15 on Tuesday.

I offer that we are all so used to planning, organizing, calendars, to do lists, and managing it all that the non-linear, odd nature of recovery baffles us. Who are we without our lists that serve us well? If we are so busy taking care of the obvious, who can be open to stealth?

For Augusten is absolutely right on. Recovery is stealth. It isn't the under-the-bed monster that will grab an ankle if you put it on the floor, but a lover sneaking up behind you, covering your eyes and whispering in your ear: "Guess Who?" The one you turn to in a circle of arms, laughing and smiling, with a heart that is open and wondering and full. The lover you want to hold so hard you become melded together, taken into each other, breast to breast, pelvis to pelvis, breath from lung to lung. That kind of moment, that kind of stealth, that kind of recovery.

A whole series of those moments strung together over a lifetime

1 comment:

  1. This was beautiful. And so incisive. Thank you.