Monday, August 18, 2008


I went to an AA meeting yesterday. Not happy about it. Why? I go on and on about how wonderful the Program is, how it saved my life, gave me God, yadda yadda yadda. 20 years ago. But back then, it wasn't about alcohol for me, and I don't want to give up alcohol. I like alcohol. I like wine, I like vodka, I like gin, I like scotch. I like caipirinhas and mojitos. I like beer sometimes, and I like hard apple cider. I like champagne and I like mimosas, for special occasions. It's not that I like getting drunk ... beyond a warm glow, I find drunk unpleasant. I like to drink the stuff, I like the flavors of it. Especially red wine, which has to be the toughest one of all on my stomach.

My stomach won't let me drink any more. My body rejects the stuff. Not, unfortunately, at the time when I'm drinking it, but the next day. Not because I drink more than I used to, in fact I get sick from drinking a lot less than I used to. I could probably load up on antacids and Excedrin and survive it, but that just doesn't seem like a really good answer to me. It's an allergy, like AA says, but for me it's really like a physical allergy. I can eat hot sauce all day long and feel just fine, but a bottle of red wine, over the course of an evening, even with a meal in between ... nope, not any more.

So.... Well, there are other reasons to quit. Alcohol is an expensive habit. Even without buying expensive wine, good quality relatively cheap stuff is still $10 a bottle. I can garden all I want, grow my own veggies, cook from scratch, and I'm still spending money as if I were eating dinner out every night. I do not want to go back, EVER, to the kind of job I would have to have to support an expensive lifestyle. Never again. I want to take a vow of poverty, which I think of as a vow of simple living. Of course, I'd love to establish a cider orchard and make my own.... Sigh.

But then there's another reason, which is that I am lazy and depressive by nature, and alcohol is, duh, a depressant. It is not doing anything for my energy level, right? And it's fattening, too, of course, which is not good for my energy level either. That simple lifestyle requires manual labor; I don't need anything that saps my energy.

For all those reasons, I have resolved in the past to give the stuff up, and I have failed. I didn't even make it through Lent last time. I guess I am an alcoholic. I am self-indulgent and impulsive in general ... but my body is reacting to alcohol, specifically, like an allergy. So I guess I am an alcoholic. Why do I feel such resistance? Such resistance to going back to AA? I don't want to need other people. I don't mind needing God! God is great, God is good, God is there for me right here in my living-room. I don't have to go to meetings to find God. I don't have to interact with people. Thank God, at least they don't smoke in (most) meetings any more. Of course, I smoked myself, back then ... it would probably be just enough to keep me home now, though. But think about it -- I want to be a hermit! I want to be alone. I don't mind needing neighbors, mountain old-timers, to teach me how to can, or to garden better, or to build or shoot or gather wild mushrooms or do whatever it takes to live alone in the mountains. But I don't want to need people for my faith life. That's just between me and God, right? I am un-directable, and I am a contemplative, a solitary by nature. Right?

I wish! Fact is, my prayer life, my contemplative life, my relationship with God is not what I want it to be, either. I remember the honeymoon years, many years ago, when He was so present to me all the time..... When all I had to do was to turn my thoughts to Him and there He was, He would just come flooding in..... When everything I thought and said would call to mind some Bible verse, or something from the Mass or the Office or the Rosary. I used to pray the rosary and find insights, learn things about Mary or about myself and God.

So to hell with alcohol, I am thinking that the lesson I need to learn today is to need people. How to need people. Tough lesson for someone who wants to be a consecrated hermit.... It's one thing to go out once a week for Sunday Mass, but if I really make a decision to do AA I'd have to go to 2 or 3 meetings a week (no requirements, but I think it's what it would take to really do it well, and there's no point in doing it half way). I guess I should have ordered Merton's No Man is an Island from Amazon last week, instead of his Thoughts in Solitude. LOL (yes, at least I can laugh about it).

Actually, thinking of it this way is making me feel better. After all, more than anything else, I want to devote my life to God. I want to grow in my relationship with Him, and I don't feel like I have been growing too much lately. I have been crying out for some help to pull me closer to Him. Surprise, surprise, if that help is supposed to come through other people. I know very well that that's a popular spiritual principle that has never made much sense to me ... it's a gap in my spiritual understanding. I am woefully self-centered.

OK, God, I will make a leap of faith. I want nothing more than to grow in You, to be liberated from my limitations, to be all that I can be, at peace, confident, fully alive. I'm ready to try AA. I'll go to that noon meeting today, with a better attitude, and maybe even ask around for a sponsor. Hopefully someone Catholic, but it doesn't have to be. I liked A, and she gave me her number (these people are so good ... they gave me a Big Book at my first meeting yesterday, and all the women at the meeting wrote their phone numbers in it. God bless them). I was one of only two white people in the group, and the ones who talked didn't sound like the upper-middle-class professionals I used to be, but at least they were somewhere in the vicinity of my age or older. Last time I tried going to an AA meeting, a few years ago, they were kids, and I didn't relate too well. (Wow, it makes me happy to know that age feels like more of a difference than race. Yes, go Obama). Anyway, I'm exaggerating, yesterday one person in particular stands out in my mind as having sounded like a middle-class, educated woman whose background might have something in common with mine, even though she's black & I'm white. I don't care, no I don't even want everyone there to be like me, but it does help having something other than drinking in common with at least some of them, speaking the same language. I'm sure I'll find some Catholics, too.

New twist in the path. God help me.

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