Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Thanksgiving and Thanks Giving

I never really understood the phrase used by AA members 'You have to give it away to keep it.'
It is used in reference to sobriety and how we each support each other. In my early days of quitting, when I went to a few AA meetings, I felt quite needy and that I fed off those members with many sober years under their belts. I wondered, what was in it for them? They clearly had the thing licked, it was working for them, why stick around to help others like me so much? 

Other than human nature, which makes us want to help and share what we have found, I realised a far more important reason to stick around.

I will quietly celebrate being 20 months sober on Thursday, along with those of you in North America celebrating thanksgiving. During this time I have been contacted by various people who read this blog (thank you) and others who have found my book SITNB useful (thank you again). They often ask me for advice (me?!), ask how I got to where I am and whether it is easy to stay sober after such a time. It seems I portray a sense of true unwavering commitment to the cause!

Well, no. It is not easy. And each email I receive from someone nearer the beginning of their journey helps me immensely. Contact from a stranger joined by a common theme is cathartic: both can talk honestly and freely behind the anonymity of an email address and I always reply personally to each one.

Last weekend I received one such email when I was at a point of despair. Saturday afternoon, the girls coming round for dinner, wine and fizz chilling for them. I looked in our drinks cupboard and all of a sudden felt sad and mournful for a time now past and an element of the forthcoming evening in which I would have no part. This was brought on by a general feeling of being over-whelmed. We have some serious family issues going on right now: my parents are upset and leaning on me for support (without once asking me how I am), the kids are just being kids, and to top it all I am coming down with a cold.

The email came at just the right time. When it seemed as if no one was listening to me or caring for me (ok I was feeling sorry for myself), I battered out my reply on the keyboard. I wrote about all the slights and injustice I felt, the frustration I had that I wanted to drink yet would not allow myself to do so and the sadness from knowing that drinking wouldn't help the way I felt anyway. 

Alcohol would, however, blot it out for a few hours and take my mind somewhere less fraught. 

What I needed was another way to blot it out. E-mailing and blogging are two good ways, listening to the chat of my friends when they arrived (as opposed to talking) and, as I'd done the night before, watching a movie and falling asleep during it, exhausted from tears and emotional drama.

Sobriety and recovery is a two way street. Each of us have something that is valuable to us but which also helps another. I want to send a big Thank You to all my contacts and readers who keep sobriety fresh in my mind and re-confirm my belief that life really is much better this way despite all the stark ups and downs.

On a happier note, tonight I am meeting a friend from the blogosphere, in London, in real life and I am so excited about meeting and spending time with someone who understands it all.

Happy Thanksgiving.



  1. Rachel It was such a pleasure to meet you and have dinner. I didn't want to leave and could have stayed and talked for hours more. Even though we live hours apart I can't wait to meet you again and it is so nice to meet someone in real life who is just like me :) xx

    1. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall during that conversation!

    2. It was great. We must keep making efforts to meet together and also to continue to meet other sober comrades. It is so heartening in real life to be speaking the same language. Rx

  2. Happy ten months and a day to you!

    Always late me, glad you had fun in London good to find someone who talks your language.

    Overwhelm, stretching ourselves how guilty we all are.

    I hope you have a better day. I've been overwhelmed by the support offered by other people being so new on this journey. Thank you.

  3. I have thank you. A week is a long time in sober land and this Friday I've been to body pump class and now feeling a little healthier and content. Hope you have a good weekend too. Rx

  4. Hi, just hooked up with your blog. fabbydoo. look forward to reading more. 106 days here for me.
    hugs from nz

    1. Hi, congrats on 106 days! that's mega. thanks for saying hello, I'll pop down under to read about compassion too. Rx

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