Day 15: Leaving The Zone

Drinking was all about comfort.

Comfort from pain and stress. A release at the end of the day…

Or in the morning, or the afternoon, or at twilight, or in the evening, and, but of course, late night.

While I was constantly finding comfort in drink, I forgot what real comfort was: Sitting at home watching TV, snuggled up in bed with a book, talking on the phone with my mom for an hour, spending time caring for my amazing cat, or writing and playing music on my banjo and guitar.

All these little comforts were left behind and replaced with a false comfort. A distraction. An easy escape from life’s daily difficulties.

Now, as I work through my early sobriety, it feels like nothing is comfortable. All the little things that once made me happy, seem foreign and unusual without the buzz of alcohol. In fact, they are decidedly uncomfortable.

In addition to the standard comforts of home and life, there’s AA. Which is constantly encouraging me to take action, and, much of the time takes me out of my comfort zone, by design. I’ve heard it said before, but now, I’m finally learning that by getting outside of your comfort zone, you grow. You learn that the thing that you thought was going to be so terrible, so unpleasant, probably isn’t that bad at all.

This weekend was a test in leaving the so-called “zone.”

My sponsor and her boyfriend brought me along to a meeting that is notoriously stress inducing. I’ve heard it from several folks in the program. Lots of rowdy young people. Everyone’s dressed to impress for the weekend. The smoker’s group outside looks like the smoker’s area outside a concert at Madison Square Garden. Shares are not from your seat, but standing at the front of the auditorium next to the chairperson’s desk, in front of everyone.

On the way there I was panicking, inwardly. Trying to hide it from my sponsor and her boyfriend as we drove. We arrived a few minutes late, and I could feel the eyes of the crowd follow us to our seats, which happened to be the only ones left, all the way in the front of the auditorium. But, once we were seated. Can you believe it: I was fine. A speaker shared. The chairperson called on others. The 7th tradition was observed, we prayed, chanted, and left.

It was hardly the stressful experience that I had built up in my head. And, perhaps if I’d been called on it would have been slightly panic worthy. But, even if  I had, I would have been honest, brief, and I would have returned to my seat, right as rain.

The lesson here is, your comfort zone is only as big as you allow it to be. And, I have to try and remember, comforts can be paralyzing. If I allowed every little thing that caused me anxiety to hold me back, I’d never get anywhere. I’d still be stuck on a bar stool.

There has to be a time for letting yourself be scared and uncomfortable. That pit it your stomach, it’s just growing pains.

So, from now on, I’m expanding my comfort zone. And, even if I have to leave it from time to time, I know I can come back. And, if all goes well, then leaving it may just end up making it even bigger.

Now that’s comforting.

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