Sober in Santa Monica

Wine, drinking, drinking wine, vino, red wine, alcohol,

“When you quit drinking you stop waiting.”

Caroline Knapp

This morning, without prior plans or intentions, I found myself on the beach in Santa Monica, California at 9 am at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Hemp milk decaf cappuccino in hand (yep, I am that annoying), I plopped my yoga pants onto the sand to listen to what the man had to say.

I was rolling around in bed, awake but not ready to jump up when my husband suggested going to the AA meeting. My husband’s good friend lived in the area and was going to meetings. He mentioned this morning’s meeting the day prior while the guys were hanging out.

I jumped out of bed. I was in.

Since I was two and a half weeks without a drink, I basically could teach them how to do this no drinking thing. Joking…But, I did finally feel like less of a phony going to a meeting as I was flirting with sobriety. Like I think your cute, flirting, nothing serious.

The AA meeting was quick and painless, except for the end when the leader called people at random to take center stage, get on the mic and speak to the topic of “‘being present.” I held my head down praying he wouldn’t make this meeting my last. I dislike public speaking enough to make it alone my reason for not going back!

Fortunately, I was not one of the chosen ones. Doubly fortunate, the bits and pieces that people had to say were eye opening. It significantly shifted my definition of “alcoholic.”

Are you an alcoholic?

One after another speakers from the group said at first they didn’t feel like they had a real problem when they started going to meetings. They didn’t feel like they fit in the AA group. They weren’t drunks. They were just regular people, who occasionally, got drunk. It took time for most of them to come around to the idea of living a sober life.

I thought that for alcohol to be a real problem, it had to truly interfere with your life. But the speakers told of times when they drank too much yet continued to do well at their jobs, run marathons, raise families. These stories were not the stories of “alcoholics.”

I also thought alcoholics knew they drank too much. They just thought it was hard as shit to stop so they didn’t want too. Hearing the speakers say they didn’t feel like they belonged at AA meetings at the beginning completely shifted my understanding of what it meant to be an alcoholic. It meant normal people could be alcoholics. It meant that you didn’t have to be a falling down drunk to quit drinking.

With 11 days left in my month of dryness, I had a new perspective to consider.