At the beginning of every AA meeting, they ask if anyone is in their first 30 days of sobriety. As recently as four days ago, I was not willing to raise my hand. I was even going to meetings late, so I wouldn’t be there when they asked the 30-day question.
But today, the question was asked; and after a long pause, I admitted I was in my first 30 days of sobriety. Twenty-three days, to be exact. It felt pretty good, I guess. It was difficult to admit because just a month before I had 32 years of sobriety.
With disinterest, I later told them about the four times I drank. I’ve told this story so many times in the last few days that it has become more of a recitation than anything else.
However, I forgot to include the part about the article I read in the New York Times about moderate drinking. In an AA meeting, the mere mention of an article like this produces a lot of eye-rolling. But this article was part of my relapse.
The article stated that many alcoholics could actually drink moderately and didn’t have to be doomed to a life without alcohol. I took the survey that would tell me if I could be a moderate drinker. Three times I had to change my answers so I could fit into the category of people for whom drinking is an option.
Don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t this article that made me drink. No one else is to blame – I drank because I am an alcoholic. I drank because the addictive part of me is always sitting on my shoulder waiting to attack when I’m most vulnerable. And attack it did.
But it’s the Navy Seals who are really on my mind. I watched Captain Phillips for the third time this morning. Well, actually, I watched the Navy Seal parts for the third time.
I am absolutely captivated by these Navy Seals. In particular, I am infatuated with the Navy Seal negotiator. I Googled the actor who played the negotiator, thinking I had a thing for him. But no, I decided I wanted him only in the role of the Navy Seal he portrayed in the movie. As I watched this movie, I realized that there is a part of me who wants a Navy Seal in my life to flex his muscles and say, “It’s ok, Miss. Step aside; I’ll take care of everything.”
I need to tell you that I’m not usually like this. I have always prided myself – maybe to the extreme – in that I can always take care of myself, goddamn it! And I certainly don’t have a thing for big muscles and crew cuts. Or I didn’t . . .
Okay, I’m beaten down because I relapsed after 32 years. Over a three-week period, I had parts of three drinks and an entire fourth drink on three separate occasions. I’m going to AA, talking at the meetings and will get a sponsor. I don’t particularly like ten of the Twelve Steps; I have read the Orange Papers that describe AA as a cult and kind of agree. My biggest beef with AA is this Higher Power business.
Yesterday I was talking to my cousin, a longtime AA fanatic (okay, member), about my Higher Power problem. “Joe,” I said, “I know you’re from Texas, but you believe in evolution, right?” I love to tease my cousin. I continued, “So how do you reconcile yourself to this Higher Power in AA?”
Joe explained that it took him awhile to get used to the idea of a Higher Power. But now he works with addicts right off the streets, many of whom carry all their possessions in a bag. Most have no jobs, no job skills and no place to live. They come to AA to clean up; and against all odds, many of them do. To him this is good enough evidence that there is a Higher Power. I have to admit, this evidence is pretty compelling.
Joe says I need to surrender myself to AA and work the program. Since I am retired and have lots of free time, this is a great opportunity for me. So, I’m trying.
Finding my Higher Power is going to be the hardest part, even though I know that the Higher Power can be anything I choose – it doesn’t have to be God. Maybe the Higher Power is being channeled to me and is represented by the Navy Seal negotiator in Captain Phillips.
Okay, I’ll turn myself over physically and spiritually to a Higher Power only if my Higher Power can be a Navy Seal negotiator. But it has to be the one in the goddamned movie.
Give me this, and I’m in.
Eliza Jane Block lives in Northern California with her husband and yellow lab. In her free time, she likes to take walks with her dog and ride her bike.