Sunday, September 29, 2013

28 years

"I stumble and fall, baby I've done it all, I'm only human on the inside." --Chrissie Hynde "Human"

 28 years ago today, two things happened. My favorite aunt died, and I took my last drink, from that day to this. I'd been trying, in that summer of 1985, to kick it. I'd been trying to get that beast to just shut up and stop calling me, stop grabbing me, stop sucking me empty from the inside. 

When you find yourself teetering on a chair, armed with a broom, maniacally trying to knock scads of spiders off of the ceiling, it's not social drinking anymore. It took me ten years of boozing to get that far. I was dedicated. Ain't livin' long like this, am I baby? 

I'd first gone to AA the year before, in 1984, and I'd string together a few months and then relapse. In the late summer of 1985, a 500-pound gorilla had assigned himself to ride on my back 24/7. I fought him off a day at a time, an hour at a time, for weeks on end. I'm talking about a very real pressure, almost a goading, to drink, that leaned on me every waking minute. 

Finally, I did. When I saw my messed-up self in the mirror the next morning, with my head and heart pounding from the poison, I realized how much I had started to like the sober me I had been seeing up til then. I told myself to remember that moment, looking at wrecked me in the mirror. I never wanted to see that person again.

But the craving and compulsion came back soon enough. I'd done meetings, phone calls, literature, will power (ha!), the whole deal, and still I'd relapsed cos the hold was just too strong. So I prayed. I asked Goddess to take over and ride me through it, to get me past what I couldn't get past on my own; to see me through, sober, until morning. When the sun came up, there was one damn dead gorilla, and me still sober. I've stayed sober ever since, by the grace of Divine intervention. 28 years, today.

Addiction is no joke. My best friend from teenage days is dead because of it. I am only here because something bigger than me cared. I had no power over alcohol, but now I have the power to say "no" to that first drink, one day at a time. My son, my friends, my employer, none of them have ever had to deal with me drunk. I am nobody's expert at Life, but I know to treasure a gift when it's been given to me, and every day I wake up sober is a gift. 

28 years. Today. Thank you, Goddess.



 

26 comments:

LaTonya Baldwin said...

Happy anniversary, baby! Sent chills through and damn you for almost making me cry happy. I remember that beast. Ugly heffa dogged me, too. And I remember day 31, feeling like crap for relapsing. It was my last high. I wanted to live so I reached out, cried, did ten minute intervals at a time to hold on and baby I held on. We ain't extraoridary, but we ain't nobody's victim either. We're here for a reason and moments like these keep me grateful and humble.

Mad love, gurl.

hedgewitch said...

So many congratulations to you Shay--I've never been addicted to anything but self-pity, but I know that liquid beast whose ass you kicked, and have lived with it in others, nearest and dearest others, some of whom are dead now, one of whom still totters on the brink.

Your choice has not just enriched your own life, but mine, giving me the living joy of your poetry and your friendship. Thank you for being you. (And for the Springsteen cut--new to me, very appropriate here, and excellent.)

Marian said...

kudos, Shay, to a great accomplishment and to ample grace.

TexWisGirl said...

awesome, shay. truly awesome. to be able to reach beyond oneself and find strength in faith...

Carl said...

Kudos, Shay. Joy Ann posted this special anniversary. So awesome! Wishing you peace and love.

ayala said...

The Carl comment is me..I was signed in to my husband's gmail. :)

Kay L. Davies said...

I am so happy for you, Shay. I'm now living, still one day at a time, many years after my best-by date. I might always be addicted to chocolate chip cookies, but they don't come complete with gorilla like the other stuff did.
Love and hugs, K

Mama Zen said...

A gift to us all. Congratulations, Shay!

Other Mary said...

A very happy anniversary to you!

manicddaily said...

Many many congratulations. So difficult to begin, harder to sustain. Take care, k.

Brian Miller said...

happy anniversary shay...may you stay ever vigilant and be able to celebrate many more..

far too many friends lost to addiction...

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Happy anniversary, Shay. You kicked that gorilla's butt and your life is not just a gift to you, but to all of us who read and love your work. 28 years. Magnificent.

mac said...

My sobriety turned 21 this year. I was almost worried it might want a drink now that it of legal age ;-)

Congratulations, Shay!


HermanTurnip said...

Congrats on your milestone! It takes a strong will to identify a problem such as drinking and honestly want to overcome it. Here's an internet hug from a proud admirer!

Sioux said...

Twenty-eight years. That is a hellaciously impressive achievement.

Congratulations, Shay.

wood said...

hi shay, i'm an avid reader of your blog, always enjoy, but its really rare that i ever leave a comment. but i wanted to say congratulations. i went 15 years sober (alcohol and well everything else) and then relapsed 3 years ago after i lost my business. i hoped that i would never have go thru it again, but here i am, going hour by hour. its a tough fight and you fought it well, its good have you here in the sober world.

grapeling said...

Glad you've made it, Shay

Susie Clevenger said...

Happy Anniversary Shay! Each sober day is a blessing!

Kathryn said...

Way to go . . . so glad you found your way out. Wishing you a lifetime of sober, big hug. x

Margaret said...

28 years, but one day at a time. Nice footwork - I know you have many trails to still hike! You are awesome.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

Goddess bless and bless your heart. Happy anniversary. Five years on a detox unit and 2 1/2 years at Eric Clapton's Crossroads drug and alcohol rehab gives me enormous admiration for you and a nod of assent at the death toll you cite for those in the throes of addiction. Thanks for your witness of help being available and effective. I have your poetry book by my bed and find your writing speaks to me across the divide of our differences. Good for you, good for all of us that you do what you do one day at a time with your favorite aunt cheering you on. Brava!

Buddah Moskowitz said...

Bless you, you lucky smart one. I've been sober 23 years, and I appreciate the struggle. Keep that damned gorilla dead dead dead.

Much love and joyful encouragement,
Moskowitz the Humble

Daryl said...

i life my bottle of water and say 'here's to at least another 28 .. xo

chamomile sea said...

That is an amazing escape and a savage grace. Congratulations.

Lynn said...

Amazing - thank you for sharing that story, FB. There is some of that in my family and I admire anyone who can get through it. 28 years sober is amazing.

Sara said...

WOW. Twenty-eight years sober.

I love these words "I know to treasure a gift when it's been given to me and every day I wake up sober is a gift."

The Goddess knew who you really were. I thank her as well. If she hadn't been there, I might not have known the beautiful Shay and her beautiful words.