Anyone who’s been around 12-step programs for any amount of time has probably heard the warnings not to make any major life changes in the first year. In my early days of recovery, I thought a year sounded like an impossibly long period of time. They were teaching me about “one day at a time”, and “just for today”, after all.
The “no relationships for the first year (or two)” was super easy for me; I was single-parenting a newborn who was on round-the-clock medications, breathing treatments/oxygen, and diuretics (diaper changes become a priority FAST when your baby is peeing their weight every few hours). Not to mention the heart surgeries (2 before he was 6 months old)…yeah, even the completely insane guys weren’t willing to get too involved with that mess.
I don’t even want to imagine how I looked during that first year. I honestly can’t tell you what “early sobriety” was like
because my focus from before sun-up until after sun-down was about doing whatever I had to, to keep my Little One alive. As if all that wasn’t stressful enough, after his second surgery, there were several months where my Dr.s instructed me “don’t let him cry.” Seriously? Because of the kind of congenital heart defect he was born with, and the way his heart kind of sat on his diaphragm, whenever he cried, he threw up. He was a “failure to thrive” baby to begin with, so that was one more thing I had to stay on top of…
I really don’t have the words to aptly describe the frantic, hyper-vigilent state in which I spent every waking moment. Because of his fragile condition, my son was not allowed to go to a daycare or otherwise be around other children, or anyone sick, really. By God’s grace I got to have a respite nurse (absolutely an angel) come in for 2-3 hours once or twice a week. Wanna guess what I did when she was there?
Yeah. I slept or went to a meeting.
So, that’s one major change: This adorable little person invaded my life and became my Higher Power…but it feels like it should count for more than one!!
I suppose getting a divorce would count as major, for most, right? Ok, so somewhere in the first year, my then-husband demanded a paternity test, and…yeah, he just wasn’t down with supporting someone else’s child, not to mention the (expletive expletive EXPLETIVE expletive) that cheated on him. Seriously, is it such a surprise that a falling-down drunk, über addict would sleep around? I didn’t think so. C’est la vie. That one is the marital experiment for sure where I was the *hostage-taker. I did really regret the way I treated him. I made amends but don’t think he really cared. I can’t say as I blame him.
That’s probably major life change #2, huh?
I was gonna give you 3 major life changes that I experienced in my first year clean, but frankly those two are just about the only noteworthy events of my first year sober. Considering the unrelenting chaos of the previous several years, those two were kind of a relief.
The most incredible life change that I made in my first year clean/sober was that I was afraid and I didn’t run. Women in treatment with me had left their children, left and right, to continue their drinking & drugging careers. Only by the grace of God did I not join their ranks.
Another part of that fear was that I was handed unfathomable responsibilities, and I didn’t run.
Pre-recovery, I liked to call myself “Abbie Pan”, because I was the girl who wouldn’t grow up. Ironic, isn’t it? I had some loud and tearful conversations with God about that. “You picked the WRONG MO**** ****ING GIRL for this!!!!” Was part of my side of the conversation. I can see Him shaking His head slowly, and, as when soothing an upset child, brushing my hair from my tear-stained face. I guess He picked the right girl. I surely wouldn’t have made the same choice.
So, that’s 2 un-freakin-believable things that I got through without changing my sobriety date.
How about you? Did you have any big changes thrust upon you in early recovery? Did you make it through, clean?
Please share below. I love hearing your stories.
*Alcoholics don’t have relationships, they take hostages.
Posted from my chair in front of the fan.