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I’ve got your one day at a time right here, buddy (8 Weeks)

I’ve got your one day at a time right here, buddy (8 Weeks)

Sometimes people are surprised to hear that I’m a recovering alcoholic. I think it is because I don’t talk about it a whole ton on this blog (or in my regular life), though I have done a few posts on the topic before. The truth is, intellectually I know that my alcoholism is never far away from me — but emotionally, it feels very distant: in June, assuming I make it through the next few months OK, it will be ten years since I last had a drink.

So here I am looking at the bottom of these stupid “morning chicness” barf bags I ordered from Amazon (what? it became something I needed, so what?), and they are instructing me to “take one day at a time.” Well isn’t that a bitch? Because when I got sober, I kind of skipped over that whole key maxim of the AA ideology — as a “periodic” alcoholic, I had not ever reached the point where I was drinking daily, and so the “one day at a time” philosophy always sounded like a nice theory, but it remained a totally abstract concept to me.

I remember from those early days in sobriety hearing the maxims of AA and absorbing them, putting them away in my pocket in case they might come in handy some day. I remember hearing a sponsor ask her sponsee, “Just for today, can you accept that Ryan doesn’t want to marry you? Just for today, can you do that?” and thinking, “What the fuck? Not today, not ANY DAY — dump his ass, sister.” Because black and white thinking is what I am good at. It’s not that I cannot see nuance — it’s just that I find much of the grey area to be stupid and/or a waste of time.

(This is all very alcoholic, by the way, this kind of thinking, just so you know.)

So now I’m asking myself, “Just for today, Anna, can you accept that you feel like shit? Just for today can you live with that?”

And fuck if the answer isn’t still “NO!”

Not that it matters, of course. It’s out of my hands at this point. And that’s good news for the baby, because any conscious decisions required of me to keep this thing going would almost certainly not be in his/her favor at this point. (Sorry, baby, but that’s just kind of how this thing works, and if you are a girl who gets pregnant someday, I think you will understand.)

Sometimes people want to know if I worry about passing on my alcoholism to my kids. The truth is that I’m not sure. Untreated alcoholism is a terrible disease, and naturally I never want my kids to have to deal with that, nor do I want to have to watch them struggling and hope they can find their way. I think most parents just want their kids to have good, easy lives to the extent that it is possible.

But then again, even if I don’t mention it often, the truth is that being an alcoholic is a huge part of who I am. I wouldn’t be “me” (for better or worse) without this alcoholism thing, and without the experience I have had recovering from it. I don’t know who I would be, but I would be somebody very different, and I’m not sure that I would be better than I am today.

I don’t know if I feel as charitably toward HG at the moment, but even so I do think there is a utility to the HG as well. I think that it alters your perspective a bit, and prepares you for parenthood and its associated sacrifices in a way that perhaps nothing else could. Not everybody needs it, and not everybody has to go through it, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn something from it. I’m not sure I’m ready to figure that out yet, but maybe the (at least) four weeks (or more) I have left living with it will give me a chance to figure it out.

Comments (7)

  1. Feb 24, 2011

    I love this post– I love your realistic, wholistic way of thinking about alcoholism. If black-and-white thinking is a trait of alcoholism, then you have come a long way from your problem because you seem to have a very dynamic perspective one it. Nice work.

  2. Feb 24, 2011

    Anna, I really, really like you a whole lot. You are, by far, one of the most interesting people I know, and I am genuinely proud to be your friend, and I don’t say that sycophantically or lightly.

  3. Feb 24, 2011

    Ten years of sobriety is a major achievement.

    Growing up in a family of black-and-white thinkers, some of them alcoholics, I learned how to think this way too. These days though, I’m more interested in nuance.

    I don’t think you needed HG to prepare you for the sacrifices of parenthood. You’re already a mother. My opinion is that you needed HG like you needed a hole in the head.

    I hope it doesn’t last much longer.

  4. Denise
    Feb 24, 2011

    You’re the best, Anna. Stay strong.

  5. Feb 25, 2011

    Good post, Anna. Even in your semi-disabled state, you are still wicked wonderful to read.

  6. Kate
    Feb 25, 2011

    Oh, Anna. Even from your depths of sickness, you still write beautifully. I have no idea how you’re managing to do it. Your kids will be lucky to inherit the parts of you they do.

  7. Feb 25, 2011

    It’s kind of annoying that you can put out stuff like this while barfing. When I was pregnant, I misspelled my own name twice. I sure as hell didn’t write anything like this.

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