I have been sober for around 3.5 years now. When I first started going to AA meetings, I was extremely reluctant. I know that I was very misinformed, and had so many preconceived notions of what AA was all about, and none of them accurate or flattering to the program. My involvement has never been what anyone familiar with the program would call, consistent or good. In the first year, I would go to a few meetings a week, but then started to really slack off. I was lucky to make it to one meeting a week. And always the same meetings. I live in an area that is fortunate to have so many meetings in so many locations, but I am nothing if not a creature of complete habit, and loathe anything new. Oh yeah, and rooms full of people freak me out, make me incredibly shy.
In the last year it has started to bother me that my program is less than stellar. The excuses I can make are that I see a therapist, I am a VERY self-aware person, and that I am one of those alcoholics whose compulsion "has been lifted". My therapist has urged me from the beginning to throw myself into the program, and probably feels like strangling the ever-living shit out of me for not doing so.
What started this nagging feeling that I am not doing enough is a mixture of happenings and feelings. To explain, I will have to go back to almost two years ago. I promise, I will get to m original point, bear with me. In February 2009 my Dad, who had a history of heart problems, had another heart attack and was in the hospital for 7.5 weeks before he died. It was horrific, drawn out, and life-altering for me. He was my step-father, but I had known him since before I can ever remember meeting him, so he was my Dad, my Pop, and I loved him so very much. He was a drinker too, and that drinking killed him. Some other factors were involved as well, but he used drinking like many alcoholics do: to run away from painful emotions and feelings.
While Pop was in the hospital I was laid off from my job in the IT field. It was a job I did well and it paid well, and would have kept doing, but I had no passion for it at all, and was kind of relieved when my boss called me into her office to give me the news. It was also a relief because I could spend all the time I wanted at the hospital with my Mom and Dad. After Pop died, Rob and I decided to do one more try at IVF, so we put my job search on hold again. When that didn't work, we started paper work for an adoption. That left me with time on my hands to job search, and to contemplate what the hell I wanted to do.
Since I am a veteran of the Navy, I had the GI Bill, and it had been burning a hole in my pocket for several years. One day I was job searching when I came across a community college catalog, and saw an information session scheduled for careers in the health-social work fields. Eureka! Addictions counseling was it, my new "calling". I threw myself into the program, and earned a certificate within 10 months. In the mean time, we were shocked, seriously SHOCKED, when we got a call about a little baby girl already born. We had only been in the pool at our agency for not even two months. We were told a one to three year wait. So, I took a full load (5 classes) and an internship, buckling down to take my mind off of the wait. Life waits for no one, so while I was ass-deep in school we welcomed Cam home. Those first four months were crazy, and really, just a blur.
Before Cam, my goal had been to go straight into the master's program for a degree in social work. Over this past summer I worked through a LOT of anxiety over whether or not I should start my masters when my real priority right now should be Cam. The relief was immediate, but wrought with guilt. My GI Bill expires in 2012. Sigh.
Since the summer I have been a full-time SAHM. Something I thought I would never, ever enjoy. And to some degree I don't. I am finding that I need the mental stimulation that comes from work. I cannot even begin to catalog all the ways in which being home with Cam has enriched my life, and fulfilled me in ways I never expected, but still...I need to get out of this house, for my sake, and hers.
Okay, so now I will try to tie that all in with why I am so guilt-ridden over my shitty AA patronage. My lack of involvement was shattered last summer, when out of the blue I was asked to chair my favorite meeting. Gulp. The first year? I barely spoke, because I was too worried that my scattered ADHD brain would leave listeners wondering if they should call the local mental facility to come get me. When I did speak, of course, I always felt better, so I was trying my hand at speaking at each meeting when I was put on the spot. I am absolutely no good at being surprised or being gracious about how I cannot do something, I am also a very shitty liar. So I agreed to chair that meeting, and I am glad I did it. Seven months later, it makes sure my ass is in a seat at that meeting each week, otherwise, I am not sure how involved with AA I would be right now. Saturday is usually the only meeting I make nowadays.
Okay, here it is, my big, guilty, shameful secret: I never got a sponsor, or worked the steps. The steps aren't the problem, I feel I have a pretty good grasp of them, so working them is not the least bit scary to me. I have found that most people are reluctant about doing the steps, but find it easy to get a sponsor. Nothing I do is ever the easy way.
So, the guilt I feel is really coming to a head with the fact that I am about to start working with addicts. And if there is any hard fact you can hold on to with addicts: addicts can spot a fake a thousand miles away. My feet are to the fire now. Back in the fall I sat next to a woman at a meeting that I finally thought to myself "I can work with her, she won't make me want to choke a bitch!". In true JC fashion, I let the moment pass, didn't ask her after that meeting. Spent the next month going to that meeting hoping to see her again (daily meeting, so that was a bump in my meeting schedule, for shiz), but never did.
So I am making this commitment to myself: before the winter is up, I will have a damn sponsor. It's taken me four years of therapy to reveal that I don't trust women very much. So the thought of having to check-in with, and maintain a working/friendly relationship with someone has me scared shitless. The ironic part, if you haven't already worked this out: this counselor has trouble trusting people, BUT has no problem telling the world her personal business. My therapist really does earn every penny of that fee. I hope I am one tenth as helpful to my clients, as she has been to me.