No Skin

Early sobriety. If you have ever been invited into this sacred space, you have seen first hand the vulnerable, broken, heart breaking journey. When you first admit you have a problem, people want you to get better (aka quit acting like an ass) and are happy to hear that you are making changes. This excitement lasts about as long as your best intentions. With each passing day the journey becomes more real. Suddenly, what seemed like a good idea in a moment of fear and desperation becomes a reality that a newly sober person would gladly reconsider. In our family, the kids came home. The initial crisis was over. I was better and life returned to normal rhythms. Sure.

To the outside, that was the case. To the moms in the pre-school pick up line, all was good. To the therapists that were treating Ally, nothing was odd. But to those who were seeing me at meetings, they knew something very different. The only way I know to describe this season is skinless. It felt as if all of the blocks that I previously gained strength and hope from were failing.

On one of these very raw days, I went to a noon meeting that I often attended.  I was scared and angry and people kept talking about things like ‘let go and let God.’ It was all I could handle. I’m not sure if I had ever spoken in this meeting before, but they heard my voice that day. Through some colorful language and fierce passion, I explained to them that I knew a thing or two about God. It was clear in my mind that if God could have saved me, I would not have ended up in these damp, dingy rooms with a pounding head and a broken soul.


They let my pain hang in the air and one of my favorite men in the room said in his rough voice, “We’re glad you are here. Keep comin’ back.” That was it. No one tried to fix me. No one told me I was doing anything wrong. They gave me some suggestions about how they made it through days 26-41 and hugged me. I didn’t get shamed. No one said, “Oh, honey, I’ll pray for you…”

They let me be right where I was supposed to be and never left me alone. I called them at all hours of the night. I took them with me when I was scared of my own shadow. These brothers and sisters became my lifeline. I felt that the world outside those rooms had no idea what was going on in my bat-shit crazy mind, but they did. And each day they gave me a little shot of hope that I could go another 24 hours.

There is a reason that it is suggested that you attend 90 meetings in 90 days. It far from scientific. Its knowledge gained from first hand experience. The first 90 days of sobriety are hell. HELL. Your body hurts. Your head is spinning, Your soul feels like someone has drug it behind a car and then you are expected to be better because to the world, you haven’t had a drink or a drug in weeks. Why are you still dazed?

Your protective layer of alcohol and drugs is gone and it feels as if you are walking around with your bones and organs and feelings (oh, the feelings) exposed to the world. I drank and drugged to avoid feeling anything that I perceived as uncomfortable. And there was nothing in my life more uncomfortable than the early days of sobriety. You are doing all of this with no security blanket. No protection. You are dazed because you are skinless.



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