Day 95, and I've been thinking about AA.
I never had the nerve to go to AA. For a start, it took me several months of blogging to come to terms with being an alcoholic (see Am I an alcoholic? Am I an alcoholic? Part 2 and Am I an alcoholic? Part 3!), and I still don't like the word and its associations, even if I accept the premise.
I was scared about bumping into anyone I knew, but, conversely, was terrified about opening up to strangers. I thought my bottle-of-wine-a-day habit might be scorned at by the two-bottles-of-vodka brigade.
I've never liked rules or being told what to do, so following 'steps' felt anathema to me. And I thought all the 'higher power' stuff might just make me giggle inappropriately.
I'm sure that I would have made it into 'the rooms' eventually. My habit would have got so bad that I'd have had no choice. My friends and family would have intervened.
But it would have taken a few more years, and I'm sure that the further down you let the elevator go, the more tricky it is to claw your way back up to the surface.
I'd tried hopping off the elevator 2 years ago, and managed 6 weeks. I think I failed because I told no-one (except the husband). I read some blogs and a couple of books, but I had no-one who understood what I was going through to share with.
And it's so easy to announce to everyone that you've taken the summer off alcohol, but now you're back on. You just get congratulated for managing 6 weeks and welcomed back into the fold with open arms.
What's made a difference this time is you.
I've thrown myself totally into the sobersphere. I've learned, from people who've been there, as much as I can about what we're dealing with.
You've made me laugh, you've made me cry, you've amazed me with your strength and your generosity. And I feel that if I had just one drink I'd let you all down.
I know how infuriating I find it when someone I've read about who's given up drinking starts again 'in moderation'. It totally shakes my resolve.
So (and apologies if this sounds narcissistic - I'm sure it's not true, but it helps me to think this way) I imagine announcing that I'm drinking again, and causing many of my virtual friends to topple over like dominoes.
I can't do it. So you, and the interweb have saved me.
But there are times when it isn't enough. There are times when you just want a hug. Something tangible. A friend with a face and not just a pseudonym.
I imagined, on my 3 month anniversary, what it would be like to face a crowd of real faces in the church hall. People who knew the physical me, not just the virtual me, clapping and patting me on the back, and I felt a little sad about hiding behind my screen with my sad little made up name.
Then yesterday I went to the postbox and found a letter addressed with handwriting I immediately recognised. (Isn't it amazing how we can see someone's writing after a decade and still recognise it? E-mail can't do that!).
The handwriting I recognised was P's - a friend I've known for thirty years and who now lives in the US. She is the only person I know (apart from the husband who sneaks a peek occasionally) who reads this blog. I gave her the link right at the beginning because she's battled her own witches. Not only has she been sober for nine years, but she did a post grad in addiction studies. Who better to share with?
I sat down and opened the letter. Inside was a card and one of P's own AA 3 month sobriety coins. It was a real, tangible thing from a real person who had not only thought about me, but given me something very precious of her own. I cried. Oops, I'm off again now.
Thank you P. It means more than you can possibly imagine.
And thanks to all of you.