Good thing that I got sober in 1987. Were the 80’s really that long ago? Check out this picture I just took of my mother’s old Hewlett-Packard FAX/Copier. You gotta love hp. It still works by the way. Slowly, one piece of paper at a time, but it still works. I asked my mom when she bought it, to my surprise she said, “oh, sometime in the mid-80’s.” I got sober around the time fax machines looked like this?! (I’m still scratching my head over that one, cause I would have sworn I’m still a young babe.) When I got sober no one I knew had a cell phone yet. However, we did have very cool and most excellent pagers. “Beep! Beep! Beep!” Pay phones were everywhere and only a fool left the house with out some quarters in their pocket. It certainly was an important time for the quarter. 25 cents. Yup, a time when it was acceptable to go up to a good-looking stranger and ask:
“Hey, excuse me, but do you have change for a dollar? I need to make an important phone call.” As I recall, it was also a great opening line at the same time.
Quarters were a necessity of life. We not only needed them to use a payphone, we needed them to play Pac-Man, we needed them for parking meters too – but one quarter was about an hour on a parking meter – right?! Sheesh!
When I was newly sober, going through a divorce, working full-time and learning how to be an awesome mother to my baby boy – if I was out in the world and I needed to talk to another alcoholic in recovery (which was all the time by the way) I’d have to find a pay phone, find a place to park and then hopefully find a quarter in my car (usually the ashtray) all the while trying not to lose my mind. I have lost track of the amount of times I could no longer keep my cool and burst into tears of anxiety and fear, feeling like a sober fool as I FINALLY started to dial a friends freakin’ PAGER! I’d put in the phone number of the payphone, page my sober friend, hang up the pay phone and then stand there and hang on till THEY found a pay phone, found a place to park – well – you get the picture. Ah yes – the good old days of being newly sober in the 80’s. And you know what? It worked. It worked because we all worked hard at it together. It was a time when courts would put drunk drivers in jail without a question – not ask them if they would prefer to go to jail or check into a lovely rehab with an ocean view. Unless of course, you prefer the beautiful desert. I never got the “luxury” of an expensive 30 day rehab.
I never got caught for any of my under the influence alter-ego bad girl deeds. (Thank you God. Thank you God.) So I never went to jail for drunk driving. I totally surrendered to not wanting any more hangovers. I did the work and stayed willing to learn because I knew in my badly bruised heart, ego and soul, that I wanted more out of my life for me and my precious son. I took the rough road and did the hard work to begin a better life for me and my son. No way in heck I would miss out on spending time with my beloved baby boy – I wanted to be a mother to the most amazing and magical little person I ever met in my life. It is an honor to be his mother.
I have been thinking about all of this since I started shopping for a new lap top a couple of months back. All of the Thoroughly Modern Technology was overwhelming to me. Turns out, my FAX/Scanner that worked with my old lap top was not compatible with my new lap top. I had no idea what I was getting into. So – how is it my 7 year old FAX is not compatible but my mother’s FAX from the 80’s still works? Logic does not apply. Making money does. I let it get to me sometimes and how my 80 year old mother accepts it I’ll never know. She is good in that department of “accepting”. Here we are in 2011 now and good old hp is still making FAX/copy/scan machines, oh yes, let’s not forget they are wireless now too, but they no longer last over 20 years. They become “not compatible”.
She is a shiny and sleek looking new FAX though I think – kinda like the hp FAX that was born in the 80’s had a bunch of Botox injected along with an extra dark spray tan. I likey! It is so fast! I can scan old school pictures and E mail them to friends in an instant. All the new technology makes things so fast!! I can be out shopping and take of picture of a pair of shoes with my cell phone and send it to my friend with the good taste and ask her opinion. I instantly get an answer. So cool. . . Too bad recovery from alcohol isn’t as fast and sleek and cool looking. I wish it was. It’s just not. In my 23 years of experience with out a break – there is just no way around it. Recovery takes time and patience. Just like my mom’s old hp FAX/Copier machine. I still do today just what I started to do in 1987. There is no such thing as a recovery upgrade:
“Um, yes, would you please upgrade my drunk soul to first class? And nonstop of course!”
I have not changed a thing in my recovery since my first day sober in the 80’s. Slow, slow, slow recovery. Uncover, discover, discard. Pray. Meditate. Be of service to others. And say “thank you God!”. I notice the times of great discomfort do not last as long now. If I make a mistake, I can see it faster now, and apologize.
It took me a long time to become ill, and like a steel pipe that has become rusted and bent through the years, after much work, the rust is being scraped and pulled off of me like cleansing leaches from the 18th century. I will always remember the tears, overcoming shame, and the hard work it took for me to get clean and sober at the beginning of my journey in sobriety. I missed my drinkeys!! I missed the romantic clink-clink of fine wine glasses. I was so newly sober and claustrophobic that I felt like a mummy who was being wrapped too tightly before it had even completely died. It took a long time for my soul to become near death as I surrounded myself with one to many unkind people who were addicted just like me. No – no – no – – recovery could never happen quickly as we heal our dark bizarre wounds and seek to find our true selves. Forget about being “born-again” today. Forget “starting over” in an instant. Forget the lie that “just stop drinking” will suddenly make us well. I must use my own arms hour after hour and day after day to scrub off and pull off the rusty leaches that have frozen me and transformed me into a mummy who believes its own lies. Alcoholism is impossible to pull off quickly like a band-aid. Impossible to yank like a loose tooth with a string tied around it. The old rusty bent pipe that I once was has been painful and difficult and exhausting to scrub clean and straighten out. Like Houdini dislocating his own shoulder to escape from his self-imposed straight jacket – because I’ve done the work while I did not drink – I can be free today from the dark and morbid thoughts of addiction. Recovery is not impossible. It is work. Work for a life that is worth saving. Bit by bit I find joy, love and peace, like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.
I have fewer “friends” today and the people in my life today, I want them to stay in my life, even when communication might get challenging, I want them near by. In my recovery through the years, I have seen that a hard time does not last quite as long. I come to realize that the work and not drinking for years has brought me to be living 2 secret dreams that I had as a teenager. Dreams so far away from my childhood that they had been forgotten. One was to be a writer – and I never told anyone. The other one was to some how be able to live with my mother again – and I never told anyone. Today I am writing my book AND living with my mother. Spiritual healing and living a dream is worth the work, don’t you think? It’s working towards recovery that brings us all together with love and a life that works for each of us as complete individuals. Everyone deserves the choice of a comfortable life that’s full of love – no matter what their addiction is or was. (Amen to that!)