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Breakdown Lane | A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 17 – Driving in Reverse

I’m not sure what was going on with me at this point but I felt as if I were driving in reverse. Picking up booze and drugs wasn’t an option, but coming clean, dealing with what had happened in the past drew a dispassionate, murky, and detached side of me that I wasn’t aware I had. I knew what I had done in the past wasn’t working – that I could admit. Wasn’t that enough though? Couldn’t we all just sit here in the rehab treatment center and share drunk-a-logs?
          For those not in know, a drunk-a-log is when the recovering addict tells stories of what they went though…what got them there. They tend to be laugh out loud funny as well as laugh-behind-your-hand-cringing funny too. To me, a good Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and a good therapy session were loaded with these types of stories. Only on a rare occasion did I want to hear someone delve into their own personal feelings, and hardly did I ever want to share my inner self with any group.
          I listened and I mimicked – an old familiar pattern. 
          It was easy this way because I could just pretend everything was okay. I could say the right things at the right time; the perfect little chameleon. The most important part here was that I wasn’t drinking, and I believed this was the true reason I began attending the recovery treatment center and meetings? My desire was to stop and I needed to find something else to do to fill the void, and besides, I’d read the Twelve Traditions of AA and in the Third one there’s a line that states, “the only requirement of A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.’ If that’s all I needed for membership then what was all this mumbo-jumbo about dredging up my past? I had the desire to stop drinking down, and I firmly believed everything would start falling into place.
          Besides the twelve steps in Alcoholics Anonymous there are also twelve traditions. From what I understand, the traditions were established to offer answers to questions like; ‘How can A.A. best function?’ and ‘How can A.A. best stay whole and survive?’ Each one makes total sense to me and I completely understand that all groups, programs, agencies, and the like need to have guidelines to function.
          After that first rehab therapy group session, I felt a bit bullied, and that froze me. As I saw it, crazy as this sounds, is that I’d spent my life doing what everyone told me to do, and as far as I was concerned that’s what got me in trouble in the first place. Of course genetically I was probably predisposed to inherit some addiction gene, but my sadness, anger, resentment were coming from always being told what to do. So, I took it upon myself to buck the system. Do it my way! 
          My brain was fiercely alcoholic.
          Although my life changed dramatically in that first thirty days of sobriety; I was back on track at work, I had high energy in the mornings, and my relationship, he also stopped drinking, was right on track. It was a whole new beginning, and I was ecstatic about what was coming back to me. My regret at this time was that I had wasted the past years of my life, and I found it increasingly difficult to focus on the now and not the time I’d wasted. 
          Surprising, even to myself, I talked about this ‘wasted-my-life’ feeling I was experiencing. It just rolled off my tongue and if felt good. What felt better was that I was not alone in this feeling. As a matter of fact, I was beginning to realize I wasn’t alone in a lot of my feelings. The group counselor mentioned that although it is good to look back and wonder sometimes, it is equally important to be sure to continue looking forward, live in the now and find the very best in every moment.
          I was at a loss again. How could I live in the now and make the best of every moment when I’ve been trained to live in every other time frame than that. I suddenly had the sneaking suspicion that group therapy and AA were surely cults of some sort. I’d come to believe that if I totally delved into all of this I’d eventually find myself handing out flowers like a Hare Krishna in some airport somewhere.
          I needed to be careful not to succumb. I was sure, however, I could find a way to infiltrate and not become one of them…completely.
          And there I was again, wanting so badly to be accepted into a group, and at the same time not allowing myself to be vulnerable to anyone.
          So, I nodded like I understood, and the counselor called me on it. “Don’t nod yes when you don’t understand.”
          Good God, who was this person? And why was he picking on me all the time?


To the next part in the Series — A Personal Journey of Recovery | Part 18 – Parked in Neutral — Click Here