I had coffee with one of my sober pen pals the other day- at a coffee shop ten minutes from my house. I amaze at this: here I am, in a city, in a state, in a country. I write a blog about being sober and and out in the great wide world another person reads it and writes to me and it just so happens she works ten minutes away from that coffee shop.
It’s interesting to meet people in person: to see the hope and hurting in their eyes, their bravery and shyness there all at once. It’s like meeting an old friend but you’ve never met. The reason you’re meeting is because of your worst so there isn’t anything to hide. It’s pretty cool to know there isn’t a reason to sugar coat it: after all, our biggest “secret” is out.
It’s even more interesting to find out that we have the same kind of father, a similar kind of personality, the same kind of drinking. There’s something so comforting about someone across a small table describing a situation and saying “I don’t really remember” and you both understanding it means you blacked out. The knowing when you talk about those nights before: telling how you used to wake up the next morning and have to take yourself through the morning-after shame check to see what damage you’d done that you might have forgot. The me too y’all. It’s so connective.
I have spent most of my sobriety in the regular world. By that I mean I didn’t go to rehab, or AA. I had a recovery group for a while but that hasn’t been around for over a year or so. I mean that I don’t spend any time with people in recovery or talking about being sober. It was such a pleasure to hear her story in person, and to share the victories I’ve gained, to connect eye to eye. To be able to give advice, and to get a different take on things.
I had to write a 500 word essay for my application for yoga teacher training. I had to write about things I wanted to transform about myself with the help of the training- i.e. intention. It surprised me (and then, of course, didn’t surprise me at all) that the thing I most want to transform is my ability to connect with others and myself.
I am so so shy about letting people in: being vulnerable is one of my hardest things- I think I’m only really good at it with my children. With them I can let it all hang out and love them fiercely and big and not feel afraid. With pretty much everyone else I am always in protective mode- always making sure I have a defense or an out. I am hyper protective of my sweet heart- it has been hurt so many times.
Drinking helped me not have to connect. It insulated me from things like feelings and relationships. It bonded me to people but I often wouldn’t remember. It helped me isolate myself into a defended safe place where the only person reliably hurting me was me. Ack, that just sucks.
Sometimes I feel like such a dumbass for being so middle aged and so inspired by the magic of it all. I laugh at myself all the time: where have I been all my life? I laugh at this too: thank god I’m finally here- feelings! Relationships! Connecting! It seems like it all ends up being a study in opposites and differences, which ends up being about balance I suppose. In a wonderfully universe-ish practical joke my choices have placed me in a class that will connect me intimately with a group of other people and myself- my hardest thing combined with my dream come true. The universe never ceases to delight and puzzle me with it’s twisted sense of humor. As soon as I announce something I can’t do it seems like an opportunity to can do appears- and I’m learning to take it. These are the things that make miracles.