Learning to Prioritize

God, grant me the serenity…

Hi, my name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic.  When I first talked to my friend about being an alcoholic she told me “I’m more afraid to miss a meeting than I am of having a drink,” and, “You’ll learn to schedule your day around the meetings, not the meetings around your day.”  Of course, being scared and naive, I thought she was a bit crazy.  Sorry for doubting you, my friend.  I see now how important it is to make meetings a priority, and how you do indeed end up scheduling your day around them.  And more importantly, she was absolutely right.  I’m much more afraid to miss a meeting than I am of having a drink these days.  When you go to meetings, all of the experienced people tell you, “Don’t drink and go to meetings,” and it really is that simple.  Of course, those urges to drink still exist and it’s not always easy learning to say no, but its one day at a time and its good to know that as long as a meeting is available then not drinking is easy.

There is one young man I’ve seen at a few meetings in the area who always says talking with other alcoholics is what keeps him sober.  I realized today exactly what he meant.  It’s not easy to talk about the alcoholic struggle with people who don’t understand it.  I was talking with some people at work, mostly because I was frustrated with how unsupportive my parents are being, about my decision to stop drinking.  I got a lot of “So, you’re never going to drink EVER again?” and “Well, maybe its a good break for now, but you can always decide to go back later.”  It’s impossible to explain to someone who isn’t an alcoholic that I can’t just decide one day that its going to be okay for me to start drinking again.  If I start drinking again, there will be no going back.  I am powerless over alcohol, over that first drink, and my life will be completely unmanageable.

One of the people I was talking to said to me, “Well, don’t dwell on the past when you were drinking.  It’s okay that you drank, as long as it’s in your past and you’re happy with that,” to which I replied, “We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”  I’ve heard it enough times that I was able to quote the third promise of AA, and say it confidently.  It is okay that I drank, because I know that sobriety will lead me to a better future.  I don’t have to worry about drinking today, and that’s quite fine.

This weekend my parents are visiting from out-of-town and staying with some friends in the area.  They invited me out to dinner on Friday night, our to a bar/restaurant that we used to go to several times a week when they lived in the area.  This bar is filled with drinking memories, but I’ve already been there once in my sobriety and I have succeeded.  I’m not worried about going to the bar and I’m not worried about seeing my parents, I’m worried about missing a meeting that night because of being there.  I’m working out in my mind how I am going to tell them that I’m going to have to leave early so that I can make it to a meeting.

Yes, I told my parents I stopped drinking.  They immediately thought I got a DUI, which I didn’t.  Then they thought it was just a joke, that I wasn’t serious.  Now they think it’s just temporary, that I’ll eventually go back.  “Make sure you bring yourself something to drink for the party this weekend, Jessie,” they told me.  It’s difficult for them to understand that this isn’t a temporary decision, but a permanent solution to a deadly problem.

People are going to tell me, “Tell them you’re an alcoholic.  Tell them you’re going to AA meetings.  They deserve to know,” and of course, those people are right.  The problem is, I’m finding it difficult to find the words to tell them.  I pray to God each day that he will give me the words and the opportunity to tell them the whole truth, so I’m hoping he shows me soon.  I’m going to feel guilty leaving early when I haven’t seen them in over a month, but I’ll feel more guilty if I stay, have a drink, and lose my sobriety.

I do feel like God is giving me an opportunity to be open and honest with my parents this upcoming weekend.  They were supposed to be traveling just for one day to attend a party for a close friend.  Instead, they decided to make a long weekend out of their trip, which gives them extra time in the area.  I know I should take advantage of this extra time, catch them early in the morning and explain to them, in person, my decision to stop drinking AND my decision to join the Catholic Church.  Getting over the fear of being a burden to them is going to be the most challenging part of the whole situation.  I need to be honest with them, though, so that I can truly begin to get the most out of my sobriety and my faith without feeling the guilt of not being completely truthful.

I know the best thing to do is to not drink and go to meetings.  I’m going to keep doing that, and I’m going to embrace Step 3 of the 12 Steps, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him.” God will lead me to make the right choices and decisions in my affairs if I only trust Him to do so and open myself up to His strength and guidance.  The rest of the week will be entirely in His hands and I prepare myself for the few challenging days I have ahead of me.

 

Our Father, who art in Heaven…

 

I’m very blessed to be here with all of you on this 23rd day of sobriety, and I look forward to may more.

 

With love,

Jessie

 

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