We all had one thing in common…addiction. There were maybe 15 of us sitting in a circle. All of us from different places in life. It wasn’t an AA meeting but a new group at my church, Real Freedom. The focus is on Jesus and moving forward in life. (Notice I don’t say ‘moving forward in recovery’. Recovery is one of those buzz words that make me feel bad. I know, I’m weird.)
Most of these brave people are regulars in Alcoholics Anonymous. I was the only one who had never been to AA. I felt politically incorrect but everyone was gracious even though I came about my freedom in a nontraditional way. (nope, can’t say: I came about my sobriety…that’s another one of those words…) I know what you’re thinking…”boy is she ever in denial…” I don’t think so, not about this anyway. These are the facts as I understand them: I have an addictive personality. I have poor coping skills. God made me therefore He’s able to show me how to live a life full of joy and freedom. My job is to stay close to Him. Nose to nose so to speak.
We had to go around the room and tell a little about ourselves. Most everyone said: My name is……I’m an alcoholic or an addict. As I listened to everyone else, I made a hundred mental notes to stay emotionally distant. To give just a little information. To let the focus be on someone else. But I’ll be darn if when my turn came around I found my eyes filling with tears and my mouth just started going like it was in auto mode. “I haven’t had anything to drink for 14 months” I began, ” but in that time of not drinking, I seem to have switched my addictive behavior to a couple of other things.” ( What made me say that? Thankfully I stopped short of saying that the other addictions were shopping and exercise. That sounded stupid even to me. Let me have some semblance of privacy here. My mind immediately taunted me: What if they think my addiction has crossed over to some sort of sexual addiction? I should have just told them the truth; I’m a crazy shopper. And for awhile I exercised 2 times a day 6 days a week…darn.)
My brain tuned back into the moment just in time to find that my traitorous mouth was running out of control again…” Now, for the past 3 months I’m struggling with a kind of social phobia. You know, not wanting to be in social situations, feeling anxious, almost sick when I am forced to be in groups like at church.” (I bit my tongue before my mouth could tell them that it was only at church that I feel phobic, and this would be because I’ve carefully arranged my life so that Sunday mornings are my only social situations. )
Please understand, I have admitted that particular tidbit to only a couple of people and now I was verbally vomiting on everyone, all but one of whom I’d never met before tonight. I don’t remember the other things that came out of my mouth but there were some pretty incriminating words thrown around. (By me not them!) Words like agoraphobia, socially awkward, anti-social…what the hell was I thinking? Why would I “out” myself like that? I’ve gotten pretty good at faking. Sure, I probably come across as bitchy not phobic, but you do what you have to in order to protect those wounded vulnerable places right?
I am in physical pain right now as I think back over this. Actually, last night, sitting there as my better judgement finally slammed my renegade mouth closed, I immediately experienced ‘communication remorse’. I kept trying to press the rewind button. I wanted to raise my hand and say: “I’d like a do-over. Please disregard all of the word salad I just dumped on the floor and let me tell you how together and in control I am.” I called my friend Ruthie as I was leaving the meeting, “Ruth, in fourteen months I’ve only thought of drinking maybe two or three times. But right now, leaving this meeting, I could really use a drink!” I didn’t mean it but we laughed hysterically which took the edge off.
I’m not going to quit the group. I’m going to try to at least show up. Most of me that is…this mouth of mine who is in time out will almost certainly be left at home.