I have a lot of friends who are not alcoholics or who are not in recovery. Most of my friends are not. A lot of them ask me, or they did in the beginning, “Is the goal to drink in moderation eventually?” which is a fair question, which is evidence that they do not understand addiction at all, which is ok. I don’t really understand it, either.

Really, there’s no goal. One day you just stop. You do a lot of work and people help you do it and you keep stopping every day. You find ways to replace drugs and alcohol. You keep doing those things because your life is no longer miserable, even when it’s hard, even when it’s harder than it was before.

I used to get annoyed when people at meetings would close their eyes and nod. I said I didn’t like the people in AA, especially the ones that closed their eyes, as if no one else was there, and breathed deeply when someone read “The Promises.” My sponsor said “Man, you don’t like people to be happy,” and I thought he sounded like my dad and that he didn’t really get it and both those things were true, but they were irrelevant. He was telling me I could be happy.

The last few times I’ve heard “The Promises,” I’ve cried. When they say “self-seeking will slip away” I can feel it slipping. I can think of self-seeking without shame. I feel hopeful and grateful. I close my eyes.

When you’re an alcoholic in early recovery, your friends who are not alcoholics or who are not in recovery don’t often know what to say. Usually, they want to know. They want to know if it’s rude to leave a wine glass out, or to mention how much they drank the night before. They ask if it’s ok to order a beer at dinner, awkwardly, thoughtfully.

Really, they don’t have to worry. I might not want to hear those things, but I’ll say so. It’s not rude to leave a wine glass out. The hard part for me is picking it up and carrying it to the sink and thinking about wanting to have been the one that drank it. It’s the obsession that comes back when I’m feeling lonely. When I’m forgetting. It’s inviting someone to my party and explaining that I don’t drink so it might not be the kind of party they’re expecting. That’s the difficult part and that’s my own action. The person who ordered a beer at dinner has nothing to do with it. And, really, there are difficult parts to everything. Really, there’s no right way to act.

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6 Responses to etiquette

  1. iceman18 says:

    It sounds like you’re doing great. Keep using the gift of writing on your sober journey!

  2. Riversurfer says:

    Have you seen the movie “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray (1993)? In which he wakes up to the very same Monday? Every day was that bloody same Monday (67 times I think he did it before he got to move on).

    It occured to me that sometimes my living one day at the time, learning from day to day, trying to better the next day, is like that movie 😉

    Geesh, about the AA folks with their closed eyes… that part annoyed me too and I couldn’t believe it when the shared with their eyes closed! I was like thinking to myself; Don’t you people look people in the eyes when your speaking!?

    Now I myself (several years later) am a person who closes her eyes and relaxes at an AA meeting. Maybe not every time, but I have my moments. AA meetings are one of the few places I can relax so well and truly find serenity.

    Thank you for sharing and take care!

  3. Katie says:

    Very thoughtful post! As the close friend of someone in recovery, I often field questions about their “goal,” and their boundaries. The majority of these questions come from other friends, from a place of love, concern, and curiosity. Sometimes they come from people who don’t personally know my friend, from a place of fear-I think it can be confusing or scary to hear that a peer stopped drinking because it forces them think about their own relationship with alcohol. I’m so beyond proud of my friend, for being sober for almost a full year, and for being so open and honest and giving about the process.

    • Thank you. That means a lot. I also really appreciate the perspective on what people close and semi-close to the recovering alcoholic wonder about. One gift this blog has given me has been the feedback from my friends. People seem to respond to honesty with openness.

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