[This is a post straight from Raw where I just wrote it. I felt like I should post it as is with few edits. I think someone needs this today. If it's not you, I apologize for the length and messiness of the writing.]
I just now had the worst drinking dream of my life. Oh my gosh. I came down for coffee just reeling from it. Dave was there and rubbed my back and helped me feel a little better. But manoman. It wasn’t one of those dreams I’ve had in recovery where I accidentally drink or even one where I know I’ve relapsed—the panic of what I’ll do now. It was the old kind, the kind where I am desperate and frantic and people are everywhere who would stop me and I keep thinking I see people I know in this house/hotel/store/restaurant (it kept changing). I kept trying to figure out how I was going to buy alcohol and get it to my room without people seeing. In this dream, I guess there was no such thing as grocery bags? The scariest, weirdest part of the dream was how much I was physically craving alcohol, that intense, sobbing feeling in my pit of my stomach, in my veins, in my hands, even. Like my whole body was dying of thirst literally. I couldn’t decide which would taste better, wine or beer. I could imagine the sharp tang of each and it tore me apart to have to choose. I decided to get plenty of both and I kept thinking I should call someone, maybe someone could help me. But then I couldn’t drink and I HAD to drink. And then I woke up. In THAT state. Of course, reality floods in and is such a relief cognitively. But the rest of you—your emotions, your heart—is still in the dream. Like when you dream of your husband hurting you horribly and you wake up with all this achey, painful emotion. Like that.
I keep wondering where it came from. I got an email from a woman yesterday–or at least I answered it yesterday—who is coming to meetings and trying so hard to quit and stay sober and keeps wanting to “sneak.” She was saying how much that part of my story spoke to her, the urge to get away with something, and so I was remembering that feeling when I wrote back. That could have tipped something inside.
But here’s the thing. I woke up from the horror of my dream SO apologetic in my mind to every alcoholic who has ever reached out to me and I’ve made it sound too easy. Just reach for help, go to treatment, or go to a meeting. I was so keenly aware of how intense this pain is—and craving is pain, I’m telling you—and how fortunate I am that I don’t live in this state of constant terrible want anymore. But not living in it anymore makes it so easy to take this for granted!! Oh dear God, I am sorry I have so thoroughly forgotten how tight that grip is and how real the cage is and how dark is that darkness when your only relief seems like it has to come from the one thing your entire body is begging for—including every nerve and emotion. No wonder alcohol is so appealing, since it is the only drink that can escape your stomach to soothe and be felt in your psyche and soul and every cell in your body.
I feel shaky and sick right now. I couldn’t go to my meeting last night unless I walked, which seemed too hard, so I didn’t go. I left my car keys in the hotel room in Decatur GA and so it’s sitting at the shuttle hotel in town until the housekeepers send the keys, so the only car I have is Dave’s old Mercedes and it was on empty with the light on and it takes diesel and after obliviously driving it to Monument yesterday without looking at the gauge–I was too afraid to even try to get to a gas station. But I could have called someone. I could have got on my bike, for goodness sakes. I should have gone. Not that this would have prevented the dream, though…who knows.
What to make of the sneaky thing? I wrote to this women how I thought that for me it came from this intense desire to get something I wanted but felt barred from, a rebellion of sorts, a grabbing for something I desperately needed but wasn’t being ALLOWED somehow. Also it had to do with the intense conviction that if I didn’t sneak, I was going to be deprived of something good—no not good, necessary. Deprivation is a mindset that takes us under, that lie that something vital is being withheld. I wish I could I recall when in recovery I stopped feeling this and how, but honestly all I can say is that at some point I finally decided it would be so much easier to Not want this thing and I finally quit drinking in my head and heart. I finally faced the fact that it was poison to me, so it was pointless to pretend it wasn’t and torture myself. Somewhere along the way, God lifted that obsession completely–to the point where I no longer cared about alcohol even if it was right in front of me. It just doesn’t exist. Dear God I hope that will hold after this dream I had. That was my terror really—when I was half awake—this horrific fear that what if it came back? What if God allowed me to suffer temptation that intensely again in real life? What would I do?
Maybe I shouldn’t be writing here when I haven’t processed all of this clearly yet, but my first thought after I got coffee was to go to Raw. Maybe someone needs to read this. Maybe someone else out there forgets, too. Maybe it will help someone feel less alone in the agony of wanting what they can no longer have safely. If that’s you reading this, I am praying for you. Right now. For all of us. Dear God, it is so hard to live in this world where that thing in us that is against us makes us desire so strongly to have our way, to take what we feel we need, to indulge and comfort ourselves in a way that leaves you out. Please have mercy on us. Please help us to remember that because you yourself lived as a man and suffered temptation so great that you are able to help us. Please help us. Please help many who are desperate for a way out today. Please forgive me for forgetting how much this hurts. Please bring this pain to mind with sufficient force as often as I need to experience it so that I care deeply enough to have utter and complete compassion on every man or woman who reaches out for help. I don’t want to forget, I don’t want to take a single sober day for granted, as if I paid my dues and now I’m out of jail and it doesn’t matter that so many are still there, as if they have it coming or any of us do, or any of us deserve to spend even a single day in that prison.
We are confounded, God. Confounded by the irony of being in love with what we hate. Please rescue us. Please help us to surrender. We can’t make it on our own. Oh how we have tried! Oh how real that part of us is that wants to give up for good. I know we are each precious to you. Bring us home, God. Please. Amen