Jennifer O / The First 500
Jennifer has a sobriety date of September 14, 2015. She's writing this column to shed light on the early days of sobriety and recovery—The First 500.
In the early days attending AA meetings, the first 6-8 weeks or so, I felt like I didn’t fit in.
From my skewed perspective, these were NOT my people. They were addicts and alcoholics, I just drank too much and couldn’t stop. Don’t you see the difference? They had a certain edge about them, real and honest, sometimes brutally so. I was different, guarded, polished, a thin veneer of superficiality and denial coated me in a fragile shell. Special in every way, I thought, and even at my lowest points, somehow above it all.
Of course this was all ego. The same voice that said I was special had also convinced me it was ok to drink my face off. Regularly. Ego had built me up to be a confident, successful woman with some significant material objects to prove it. Look everyone, I have a fancy car. I must have it all together. Ironically, the same things that made me successful also made me weak. Go figure.
In the early days of sobriety, the differences between me and you (with years of sobriety under your belt) were quite stark.
Me, stuck in my old ways, curious about what’s in store but still tentative and afraid, yet hopeful. You, fully embracing sobriety and authenticity and lit up from the inside-out.
Here are a few of the differences I noticed right away…
- I have strung together many mornings without hangovers and feel proud of myself. Your hangovers are distant memories.
- I walk in to AA meetings slightly sheepish and a little nervous. You own the room.
- I feel like I'm in grade school all over again, scanning the room for a friendly face and just the right chair. You confidently take your favorite seat.
- I'm afraid to use my voice. Your voice is clear and true.
- I’m worried I’ll be asked to speak. You raise your hand and volunteer to share.
- I forget my $2 for the donation basket 50% of the time and feel like a loser. You never forget, and you bring extra cash to cover the newbies like me.
- I feel awkward when I'm out and someone offers me a drink. I mumble and ramble on and make excuses for not drinking. You say no thank you and don’t give it another thought.
- I count days. You count years.
- I want to speed up my recovery, envious of those who have more time sober than me. You cherish each day, period.
- I still sugar coat my drunk stories, just a little. You tell your stories in excruciating detail and laugh about them, heartily.
- I cringe and resist AA functions outside of meetings. You plan, organize, attend, dance, laugh and help clean up, happily and gratefully.
- I’m not entirely sure my life will be better without alcohol. You have seen the other side and know this to be true.
At 149 days, things are beginning to shift. The walls are coming down, the vulnerability and honesty is ramping up. I’m just starting to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be one of you. It feels good to try on your lifestyle and feel that it’s starting to fit. Slowly, one sleeve at a time.
Until next time...
About the Author
Jennifer is an entrepreneur, a mother, a writer, and an alcoholic in recovery with a sobriety date of September 14, 2015. She is a former human resources professional, which means she’s seen it all, in and out of the workplace. She has a daughter in college and a dog curled up on the sofa. She’s naturally inclined to use foul language and believes there aren’t enough women in positions of power in this world, and she’s looking to change that. Her writing here will shed light on what it’s like to be new in recovery.