Saturday, January 8, 2011

Holidays, continued

So, we unpacked and settled in at my parents' place up in the woods. My sister left the living room and I was alone with my parents. We chatted and I knew it was time to tell them, but I wasn't ready. I basically asked my HP to tell me when it was the right time. And just as I started, my sister came back and borrowed my mother away. So, I started by telling my dad that I'm an alcoholic and have been going to AA meetings. He didn't quite know what to say, but he gave me stoic positive reinforcement and said he was proud of me. I think I had shocked him so that he didn't know what to say or do. My mom came back into the room for a second and I re-started the announcement since I didn't want her to feel left out or like I was telling a secret behind her back, since she's an alcoholic. (We're told in AA not to judge others as being alcoholic, but my immediate family has believed this for forever - with all kinds of proof and examples.) My dad had heard the first confession and started shuffling papers next to him on the couch. My mom looked like a deer in headlights. My sister sat, reassuring, next to the fireplace. (I had told her on the phone about 2 weeks into sobriety.) They took it quite well and told me they loved me and were proud. But they didn't know what else to say or do. And that was fine, because I was aiming to go to a meeting in a small town about 30 miles away, so I put my dad to work helping me map out the directions and decide which meeting would be closer to their house. He prefers action over sentimentality sometimes.

So, I hopped into my sister's car, as dinner was still cooking up. I told them to go ahead and that I'd eat when I got back, because meetings are more important now than anything -- even family. I passed a dog on the dark road and a few cars, and drove really slowly over the snow-covered back roads. I pulled into the small town and found the church that had been advertised online as having a meeting - I had even sent an email ahead of time confirming that the listed dates and times would still hold over the holidays. There were a ton of cars parked outside and I thought, "Man, there are a lot of alcoholics in this small town. Cool!"

I walked in and the church was quiet. The glass door kind of banged behind me. I looked around the foyer. No sign of a meeting. An old man came gently down the stairs and I asked him if there was an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting here. He looked at me strangely and said no, no, he didn't think so and that they were in the middle of the Christmas service. Oh lordy. He apologized and said he was really sorry - for me. Hah! Quite humorous. This desperate city girl in all black in this small town on Christmas Eve. I asked if I could stay for the rest of the service, "What, is there like half an hour left?" (I didn't want to stay for the full-fledged service for crying out loud.) He nodded, "Yeah, about that long. You could take communion if you wanted." Hilarious. The last time I was in a church for an actual service - that wasn't a tourist attraction in a European country - was about 17 years ago. I sat in the back and listened to the pastor finish the story of baby Jesus, surrounded by all the little kids of the town. Watched the folks take communion and the parents bounce around their baby so it wouldn't cry or squeal out too much. We all filed out and I shook the pastor's hand and drove back. I passed a ton of deer eyes glowing out in the fields and drove at a snail's pace so as not to kill anything. When I got home, the family was surprised but laughed over the incident. I called my sponsor to have a mini-meeting (any 2 alcoholics getting together on the basis of discussing AA qualifies as a meeting - and I'm totally striving for the 90 in 90.)

Christmas day was nice - practical presents, warm fire, baking pies and cookies and brownies, and I didn't pursue a meeting because we all figured there wouldn't be any on the holiday.

The next day was the same, relaxing and energetic as my sister, her 2 dogs, and my mom and I trudged through the snow for a good healthy walk. We scared away the huge turkey vultures that had been hanging out in the adjacent corn field. I drove to the bigger city nearby and made a meeting in the morning - welcomed by strangers and given new phone numbers and cheers to continue on the journey of sobriety.

I cried when I had to say good-bye to my parents. My dad's still on chemo pills and has his spirits up but we don't know the progress - negative or positive. Most people with his type of cancer live 18 months at most if the chemo doesn't take. It'll be a year in April.

I had my 30 day celebration in Minneapolis. Brought my sister with me and we had quite the awesome time. I got my 30 day chip and was asked to comment on how I got here.


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