Much to my surprise, my first day was gentle and undramatic.
I’d spent the whole morning worrying. Busying myself in my apartment. Waking early, eating breakfast, and when the stress became too much, I put on my trail runners and headed for Powell Butte.
My hike, as always, centered me. I took the time, under the canopy of the trees, dusty dirt beneath my feet, to find my higher power. Asking for him to be with me. My head filled with so much doubt. The alcoholic thinking that, ‘I’m just fine. I don’t need to take this drastic step,’ sneaking up on me like a petty thief.
I knew what I’d signed up for. And, all the work I’ve done in AA thus far has readied me for this alternate approach. Intellectually, I know that this is a place where I can spend my days until I’ve got all this crap figured out, but, the fearful, emotional me clings to old habits and assumptions. With all the positivity I’d been feeling in the last week, it was a blow to be hit with the feeling of self-doubt once more. Further proof that even when at bay, the thick threads of alcoholism still weave their way through my veins. Trying their best to take me back to the bar, to the bottle of vodka, to that numb and distracted place where it thrives and flourishes.
I arrived, and was immediately taken to group acupuncture. Where the other members of my program were sprawled out in comfy, reclining chairs, little needles sticking out of their wrists, ears, and the crowns of their heads. Everyone introduced themselves, as if they were long awaiting my arrival. They explained the ropes. Eased my tension by telling me where all the various meeting rooms were, who attends what on each day, what I should expect.
My deep rooted pessimism had led me astray again. As I looked around the room in the women’s yoga class that immeadiately followed acupuncture, soft eyes met mine. No judgement. I was the new girl, yet, no one seemed overly curious. They seemed more concerned with making me feel comfortable, at ease. I’m still not used to behavior like that.
At the bar, I’m on the defense. Prepared to be grilled. Who’s there? What are they saying? What transpired after I blacked out last night? All this fear and anxiety. Followed by the drink. The thing that stops my mind and eyes from darting from regular to regular, each on their respective stool.
It makes sense that rehab should be a place of calm and safety. After all, these people are all on their own difficult journey. I’d jumped to the conclusion, as I so often do, that people assume the worst, and are ready to throw down. I have to remind myself to remember that the people I knew, and called friends, while in the depths of my alcoholic addiction are not representative of the norm.
I have to remember that life in the bar, for me, is like life in a vacuum. There’s just, me, the drink, and the usual suspects. The false camaraderie is just a smoke screen for the real reason we’re all there: The vodka. The whiskey. The beer. The ________. Pick your poison. The numb.
I arrived at a place where it’s ok to feel. Where others are feeling their way through too. Where a welcoming smile isn’t a farce, but, a gesture of understanding and empathy.
And, much like AA, I know that in this space, I can look forward to finding another piece of my puzzle.