Walking the Wire
“Vague hope, vague confidence.” Franz Kafka (Diaries-November 2, 1921)
I woke up in a panic this morning. What am I doing? Who do I think I am traveling alone to the city with a suitcase filled with a few long ago hopes and dreams? What purpose do I have doing this? Do I need a purpose? When I graduated from college in 1984, I set off to the big city of Birmingham, Alabama alone. I did have friends there and a small support group, but it was still a big change from college. I didn’t even hesitate. As always, I researched my initial steps, then proceeded with my plan. I remember sitting around with a few friends before college graduation who expressed worry about not finding a job. It was so foreign to me that they had a concern about this. It never occurred to me that I would not find a job. I believed if I worked hard and persevered I would find a job and I did. I always had great confidence in a direct correlation between hard work and results. My parents instilled this work ethic and positive attitude in me. I also was responsible and did what I was expected to do; I thought this was the answer to meeting all my goals. Over the years, life has taught me that I can work hard and plan something, but sometimes God and the Universe has other plans for me. In recovery, I understand that I must believe in something bigger than myself because as an alcoholic I have tried to control life for too long. Sometimes no matter what I want and what plans I have, life may turn out differently for me. I must live life on life’s terms. This motto is imperative for an alcoholic. I had never been one to pitch a fit when I didn’t get my way, but I had a hard time coping when what I had planned did not develop. These disappointments did not send me directly to a bottle, but over time, I buried them and became resentful. When I did drink, these resentments always surfaced, and it was quite ugly. Even if I was in a good mood when I took that first drink, the demons were waiting. The progression of my alcoholism brought a disappointed young woman to an angry pathetic drunk. Through my recovery, I understand I must let these resentments go. I always believed in prayer and bringing good things to my life. My mother had such a hand in this. She was very positive and spiritual. She prayed a lot. The Monday night before she died of breast cancer on Tuesday morning May 20, 2003, at 11:10 she was making plans for an upcoming Friday trip to the beach. She had full faith that she was going to live. I believed it too because I trusted in her belief. Even as I look back now and think how sick she was, I realize it never occurred to me that my mother was going to die. She told me she was going to live. She was always right even when I didn’t think so. This time, she was wrong. The Tuesday she died was the first time I saw that prayers are not always answered. At 40 years old this shattered my trust in what I believed in about life and perseverance. I understand that people live, and people die, but this was a milestone in my life where I changed. My first hospital stay because of alcoholism was exactly one month before my mother’s death. On April 20, 2003, I had to go to the hospital and stay a couple of days because I drank too much and began having a seizure in front of my children. This should have been enough, but it was not. There was much more to come. I elected not to go to treatment because I thought I was just upset about my mother. I have learned about “living life on life’s terms” over the years, but I still would not stay committed to my recovery. Life is going to happen in spite of me. I must do the footwork every day to arm myself with the tools to handle life even when this disease tries to make me think I can’t cope. I am going to travel alone to the city. I am taking my dreams, my imagination, my excitement, my determination, my recovery tools and my comfortable boots with me and let there be nothing vague about it.