When I was new -- besides the shaking
when I look back now, I can see that I only had two real problems. That's it. Just two.
I was a thinker and a feeler -- and I kept on thinking and feeling.
And, those were my two problems.
Half the time I didn't know what the heck it was that I was feeling. I was feeling something, but it had been so long in my life since I had a variety of feelings -- I had no labels or names for what I was feeling.
It was like waking up one morning and discovering that I was sober and had feelings, for the first time! Imagine that.
It got to the point that when the old-timers would ask "How you you feel?" my stock answer was "with my hands!"
While I was having all those feelings without having names for them -- I didn't know if they were good or bad feelings, and I didn't know if I should be having them! I had spent most of my life trying to numb my feelings and to live life without feelings.
Feelings were like relationships. I had no control over them and they scared the heck out of me! So, I tried not to have any. And, I did a little drinking, too!
When I was real new at being sober -- whenever I had any kind of feeling, it was hard for me to remember that I wasn't supposed to reach for a drink if and when I had a feeling -- if I wanted to stay sober!
It took me some time to get used to having feelings and sensations -- while sober.
Eventually, I started to enjoy having feelings and sensations -- while sober.
And, it didn't scare me as much to have them.
I remember once, having about six months sober -- and discovering that I wasn't feeling like I was going to drink.
It was about 3 a.m. in the morning, and I had been up all night doing what newcomers do -- thinking!!!
Discovering that I wasn't feeling like I was going to drink -- scared the heck out of me!!! I had never had that feeling before!
I had been trying to "follow directions" -- so, I picked up my phone at 3 a.m. to call my sponsor and let him know how I was feeling -- I thought it was important for him to know -- because it was scarry -- and I thought "If if feel like I'm not going to have a drink -- then, I'm probably just about ready to have a drink! This must be that alcoholic insanity that they talk about!" Besides -- my sponsor used to ask me things like "Why didn't you pick up the phone and call me?"
So -- I called him. At 3 a.m. -- I woke him up (and woke up his wife with my call) -- and told him what I had been feeling!
I said "Look. I hate to call you so late at night... but, you told me to call you." And, he said "What's the problem? What kind of problem are you having?"
I said "Well. I haven't been able to sleep. I've been up all night --- and, I've been thinking."
I said "I've discovered that I'm not feeling like I'm going to have a drink -- and that probably means that I'm going to get drunk -- because that's probably me having the insanity of the first drink. And, it's scaring the hell out of me!!! I don't want to get drunk!!! And, if I'm not feeling like I'm going to drink -- that probably means I'm going to get drunk!!!"
He asked "Are you drinking now? Or, do you have a drink in front of you?" I said "No." He asked "Do you feel like you're going to go get a drink?" I said "No. That's my problem. I feel like I'm not going to have a drink!!!!" He said something like "Dummy! That's what you're supposed to be feeling!!! That's normal. You're not supposed to feel like you're going to drink!"
And, I said "I thought this is the insanity. Aren't I always supposed to be thinking about not drinking and feeling like I'm going to drink -- so that it will remind me that I'm alcoholic and I'm not to take the first drink?"
I guess I must have bothered him -- and his wife. I could hear his wife in the background, but I couldn't hear what she was saying. But, I was just sure it was "all about me."
He said "Look. Call me in later in the morning. This is not late. This is too early morning! You need to go to sleep and stop thinking!!! Now, go to sleep and stop thinking! And, call me later! You're not supposed to be feeling like you're going to drink -- that's why we do what we do -- so that we can feel like we're not going to drink! Now go to sleep!" And, he hung up the phone.
Well. I still couldn't sleep. I was sure that he didn't understand what I had just told him. How could he understand? He hadn't had a drink in 17 years! How could he know what I was feeling? Or, thinking? Besides... I'm different!
So.... I stayed up the rest of the night.... thinking!