They tell you to call.  They tell you to call.  Call, call, call.  Over and over again, I’m told by the 10-30 people in the room to call them.

Duh, Would I call them?  Unlikely.

My first meeting, they either saw my brokenness or they just felt really really nice, but afterwards, many people came up to me individually and told me to call.

(Actually I do know that they do this for everyone.)  :)

2nd meeting.  More call me’s.  Asking if I had a phone list.  Call me.  Call me.  Hm, I thought.  Why would calling you help me??

Ok.  So  I had gone to two meetings.  They were always talking about 90 in 90 and I thought that was ludicrous.  Not me, I thought.  I can’t do that… I don’t need that… I don’t have time for that.  I have 4 kids!  I’m a stay home mom with no family and no one to watch my children, how am I supposed to run out to an hour meeting 15 minutes away, every day?  Yeah, not so much.

90 in 90 is way too much, I thought.  I had the look on my face, the “I’m not quite like these people” look.  One lovely lady who has 30+ years of sobriety came up to me afterwards and said, “Call me.  Don’t worry about how often you can get to meetings.  Call me.  I’ll tell you what I need to know.”  She kept walking.  She was warm and lovely and put together and unafraid.  She looked back and nodded at me and again said it “I’ll tell you.  Call me.  Seriously.”

I got in my car.  Numb and dumb and in a daze like I existed constantly those first several weeks of not drinking.  Always in a daze.  What did she have to tell me, that I needed to know?  That was a weird thing to say wasn’t it?  I was intrigued.  Hm.  She seemed nice.  More than nice.  Lovely.  Well, nonetheless, I don’t even know her.  I’m sure she’s busy.  She looks very put together, I’m sure she has a life and things going on, when would I even call?  What would I say?  Ok, I can’t call.  She’s too busy.  She wears real clothes.  She’s got the cutest glasses and talks to other people at AA a lot, I can’t call her.  End of story.  I wondered if she came to the meetings always, I liked her.

So the next day or so, I got a phone call from my dermatologist that ……… it wasn’t cancer.  WHAT?!!!!!  I didn’t have cancer?  I was told it was melanoma – so I HAD MELANOMA, and now you’re telling me it’s nothing?  That I DON’T have cancer???  What is this?  Some mean joke?

Being told that I have cancer is THE REASON WHY I realized I had to stop drinking.  True story.  There was one “thing that happened” on a Friday, combined with being told I had melanoma two days before that, that pushed me to my first AA meeting, and I never drank again after that.  (It’s been 9 weeks and a few days now.)

And then I get this call that should have made me very happy.  That it wasn’t cancer.  It was just a thing, a weird mole.  Nothing to worry about.  WHAT?  Why then did my doctor tell me what she did?

I was furious.  I should have been elated.  But I was furious.  I was ready for that battle.  I had researched what the next steps would be after the lab “confirmed” it.  I knew what was coming.  I was ready.  I had God on my side, I decided to stop drinking, BECAUSE of this.  I could handle this.  I knew I  might die.  Melanoma kills.  But I was ready for the battle and potential death.  That’s kind of a big deal, to prepare for cancer treatment and the death that is always possible in these cancer situations.  And now, what?  I’m fine???

My body shook.  My stomach clenched.  My blood pulsated fast.  My heart rate.  My neck tightened up.  My stomach it hurt.  It was so tight I could barely breathe.  Anxiety attack.  My eyes felt  bulgy.  Tears.  The loud cry.  More voice than tears.  I needed a drink.  I had to drink.  I hadn’t drank in a few days…. 4 or 5 or 6 by this time?  I needed it.  Tangibly, my body needed it.  My existence and next breaths depended on putting alcohol into my body.

How could I possibly deal with this without drinking.  Heavily.  Right in that moment, my body could not survive without alcohol, and a lot of it.  I had to go to the kitchen and do something.  I had no alcohol in the house, but something had to be done.  I needed to chug down some cough medicine or take a quadruple dose of my xanax.  Or something.  Anything.  I couldn’t bear this FEELING.  This feeling in real life, without being drunk, the kind of feeling where you are there and feel the feeling.  How was I supposed to do that?

I thought of that one woman from the AA meeting.  She’ll tell me what I need to know, she said.  I thought of how she looked back and yelled it one more time.  Dozens of people encouraged me to call, but she knows what I need to know and will tell me!

I held the phone list in my hand.  Stared at it.  Ran and grabbed the phone as if my life depended on it.   Pushed the green button and stared at the numbers.  Couldn’t dial.

What was I doing?  Why??  Because I have GOOD NEWS?  Why would this make me so angry?  I was sobbing in anger.  My door was shut, I don’t know what the children were doing.  It was 4 pm when I got the call, 4:15 now.  Calling her wasn’t the answer,  A DRINK was the answer.  Drugs were the answer.  Lots.  So ANGRY and should be so HAPPY.  Not cancer.

“I’ll tell you what you need to know.”

I called her and she answered the phone.  I identified myself and miraculously, she knew who I was.  I was sobbing, but toned it down a little.  I said my name and she said so calmly, that she was glad I called.  She asked what was going on.  I told her I wanted to drink so badly but didn’t have any.  She said she couldn’t understand me and it forced me to calm my crying down to restate it.  She said some things… and then she said other things.  She said things for 10 minutes or so, I’m not sure what else the words were.  I didn’t even tell her about the cancer non-cancer.  The cancer I didn’t have.  All I could do was just cry and cry and listen to words that were not my own.

I was very used to listening to my own words, my own bad words that encouraged me to do bad things.  Bad thoughts and bad words lead to bad actions.  But listening to her words was different.

At one point she asked if something was going on and I remember that I did NOT tell her about the cancer, I just said something about her statement.  Maybe “Uh, what was it that I needed to know?” or maybe “You said you’d tell me what I needed to know!!  So what is it???”  I don’t know what it was and I don’t know what she said.  Probably just more nice things.

And that was the first phone call.

And that was also the only time ever that I have felt the absolute, undeniable, physical necessity to put alcohol into my body.

The thing is, I think this lovely woman didn’t actually plan to “tell me what I needed to know.”  She just wanted me to have someone to call when it happened.  When the urge came, as she knew it would, she wanted me to think of her as a safe person to contact, as if maybe there were some “reason” to contact her, to take the pressure off of myself.  For her, and so many others, but her and that first phone call- am so grateful.

I still only go to one or two meetings a week, but those phone calls, the connecting with other women is what helps me keep it together.  Magic does happen in those rooms in those meetings.  It is grounding and enlightening and beautiful…. and yet, it isn’t something I can make happen every day of my life.  The phone though, I can handle that.

 

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