Grateful Sunday #22 & #23: Stay Busy; Keep Recovery Close At Hand

Again, another long week has passed me by.  I cannot believe we are into July of 2013 now.  If time and life continue to run along at this pace I feel I will be knocking on the door to Age 30 before I even know what happened.  What awaits me over the course of the next six years?  Only time will tell…but I plan on thoroughly enjoying every moment of it.

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Attended my first wedding as a sober individual last Saturday.  My eldest cousin on my mother’s side got hitched to her boyfriend of six years, and the ceremony couldn’t have been more touching & beautiful.  The weather was ideal (if a bit on the hot side), everyone looked great, everything went smoothly.  Serious props to all involved with the organization and set-up.  It was a joyous affair, through and through.

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The bride & groom sharing the first piece of cake.  Such joy!

The reception was outdoors at a local rental property, and just as nicely put together.  Monitoring my own thoughts and feelings over the evening, I never felt any real cravings or felt to be triggered by any sight or situation…but as the party progressed, I did notice that I was becoming increasingly antsy and even a bit agitated.  I came to conclude this discomfort was caused by a few overarching parameters of the event: 1) there was an open bar in one area (which also housed a table of tapas-style hors d’oeuvres), as well as another area with ice buckets full of bottled beer; 2) being that it was an open bar, there seemed to be a healthy majority of guests milling about with beverage in hand; 3) as is customary for such celebrations, “casual” consumption really bordered on rapid refills and double-fisting; 4) as a result of 2) and 3), I was acutely aware that much of the party (re: those closest in age to myself) were drinking for the sake of lowered inhibitions and increased indifference towards potentially awkward social tendencies.

Trying though I was to remain positive and upbeat, sometimes it is simply just not enjoyable to be present in that kind of situation.  Again, at this point in my recovery it is less that I am struggling with a strong urge to join in; more so, it’s a feeling of lament or mourning that I cannot (because I’ve reached such a point of acceptance that I am able to move beyond the former).  I did, however, concoct myself a most refreshing non-alcoholic beverage from the bar: half Sprite-half ginger ale, with lemon & lime and a dash of sugar.  It can still be gratifying to simulate the experience, and doing so has the added bonus of alleviating the “pressure” to conform, as the drink in hand gives the appearance of a nondescript cocktail.  I see now that when I had previously engaged in similar social outings with my close friends, it didn’t matter because the excitement of our shared experience was not so contingent upon alcohol as a social lubricant; we have such rapport with one another that feeling at ease is almost inherent during interactions.

Some mild unease aside, I really did have a good time.  It was great to see family and old friends alike, many of whom I had not seen in years.  Aunts and uncles (mom’s brothers and sisters-in-law) up from Florida beamed with pride when they learned of my recent lifestyle adjustments.  No denying that the reaffirmation of the work I am doing was a welcome gift, via their praise and support.  Plus, weddings are so often just full of good feels, anyway.  Love!  Romance!  Civil union!  ‘Tis a gay time for all (and truly all, now – suck it, crotchety old Republicans who drafted DOMA!).

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Nailed it.

So taking a learned lesson away from the struggle (but ultimate success): I would do well to have a close friend in company, in the case of future nuptials.  I can only imagine the kind of decadent debauchery that will ensue when our crew starts tying the knot with their respective significant others.  I only know that my own reception will feature some sort of outrageous musical performance, a far cry from your standard ‘wedding band.’

Between last weekend, work shifts during the week, and taking care of family/house matters, I’ve had little time to let my mind wander.  Even so, it remains imperative for my regular attendance at meetings to continue.  I think minimally three or four a week to keep the program fresh in my mind, but when I can I still aim to make a meeting on a daily basis.  When you start taking extended time off, you put yourself at risk for miniscule inklings of the drink to creep their way into the cracks and crevices of your brain.  Relapses rarely occur in a snap instant; typically, there is a pattern of deviance from the program, which is followed by what may be an isolated incident, or may turn into years of abuse and darkness again.

Speaking of, I found myself amidst a particularly heavy meeting earlier this week.  A gentleman who was normally a regular at the 5:15 had admitted he had been out using for the previous two months, despite having come in to a handful of meetings without saying as much.  Taking his confession into consideration, it made sense that he had appeared mopey and depressive over the past weeks.  He had spoken up a few times in those meetings, offering what were veiled metaphors about what he was going through, hoping someone would read between the lines and proactively help him out of it.  I had recognized the signs of depression he showed during those sessions (having been so recently released from its clutch myself) and told him as much, but I had no idea he was out “testing the waters,” as they say.

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I watched a man break down that day, visibly beaten, shaken to the core, hoping against hope to find a permanent exit from the vicious cycle that had claimed so much of his life and left him in utter despair.  That’s some real shit.  You remember real quick where you came from and why you don’t want to go back there, when you encounter someone who recently has.  And he’s lucky that he made it back – most people who go back out, especially for that length of time, don’t.

Well, I have to get up at 3:30am to leave the house by 4:00 o’clock, for a 5:00 o’clock shift doing the inventory for Babies ‘R’ Us (shhbabies!) in Syracuse…I think coffee might have to be included in my concept of a ‘Higher Power,’ because I have total faith in its ability to get me through the day.  So I’m off to forage the kitchen for dinner (I really need to time my meals better if I’m to lose weight), perhaps do some light reading, and Netflix some Breaking Bad (season five picks back up in August!) before I close my eyes for a few hours.  Bonne nuit, mes lecteurs.

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Big up to Dan for getting this essential summer tune back in my ears.  A classic.

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