Bodies In Motion – In The Whirlwind

I’ve always been a slow learner – slow to pick things up, slow to put them where they belong. When I was a kid and convinced of my intrinsic worthlessness, I didn’t know that about myself – I thought that, unlike all the other kids I grew up around, for whom so many things seemed to come so easily, I was basically just not capable of very much. Ever stubborn, however, I beat my head up against the brick wall of my inadequacies in almost any way I could find for the longest time.

This was never more true than in the area of sports, for which I lacked an abundance of natural gifts, and my inability to participate in them with even a hint of the brilliance displayed by all the other girls on my grade school T-ball, softball, and basketball teams was the bane of my existence. After a while, I learned to cut my losses not only with sports but with everything else worth doing, too, and quit early – and often.

Alcohol wasn’t like that for me. Drinking was something I was going to learn to do, dammit, even if it killed me. I decided this when I was 12 years old, drunk on a Saturday night and barfing my guts out on some cheap wine a few friends and I had lifted from a Safeway, but even back then, it simply seemed a matter of prudent dedication, and time. I thought, “Everyone drinks and they don’t barf their guts out, they have fun. How hard can it be?”

Over and over and over again I pounded my head on that one, and ugh, it was a doozy. Prior to getting sober, I’d tried to simply stop drinking, but the main reason why that never worked is nothing else had changed, and I didn’t do change.

When I finally figured out I that getting sober was going to take at least as much effort, energy and devotion as drinking did, I poured myself into it with single-minded gusto. I discovered another part of me that I’d also failed to acknowledge as a kid: When I finally do get something, I get it as well as if not better than anybody.

You learn pretty quickly that a couple of things that worked well on Days 1, 2 and 3 will continue working just as well on Day 29: Don’t take the first drink. Take it one second, minute, hour and day at a time. The journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and you keep your focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Reach out and engage with your support group, listen to what the successful folks have to tell you about what worked for them instead of what the little monster in your brain is telling you, etc. etc. etc., so on and so forth.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

And, to my everlasting surprise – bordering on shock – and amazement, my efforts seemed to be paying off, and all the signs began to point to This Way: Keep going! I was really doing this thing. I, me, Bobbi. I couldn’t believe it! And for the first time I could remember, I felt good about something I was doing. I went to bed every night unable to wait for the next day to come, and sprang out of bed every morning, ready to greet it. Not bad for someone who, every morning for years prior, simply wanted to pull the covers up over my head and stay there – and often did, much to my detriment.

It was the hardest, and best, thing I’ve ever done. I learned more about life and myself in the first year of sobriety than I had in the previous 25 years combined, and it was all nothing short of miraculous to me. I began to open myself up to the possibility that I could do other things, too, so I went from being someone who wasn’t interested in trying anything new at all to being someone who was willing to not only try something new but willing to get out of my “comfort zone” in which to do so, too. As a result, I was often scared to death – but I’d been scared to death when I got sober, too, and look how that turned out?

One of the other things I learned is that life doesn’t stop just because you’ve stopped drinking, and after years of self-imposed apathy and inertia, my life underwent an enormous amount of change, seeming one thing after another after another, in a very short period of time. I made wonderful new friends through my support groups, the best friendships I’ve ever had. I did things I never thought to nor considered I’d ever do: I took public speaking courses. I joined a writing group. I had to change my diet drastically when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I met a wonderful guy and fell in love. I learned to swim, and then to snorkel, and then to scuba dive. I visited places I never thought I’d see in this lifetime, and then some. I quit a job I’d worked at for more than a decade and thought I’d work at until I was 95. I left everyone and everything I ever knew and moved to a giant metropolitan area to live and be with my wonderful guy (who also became my husband) after living in the same place my entire life.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this, my beloved mother (whom I affectionately called “The Mimsy”), the person to whom I’d been the closest in my life until my husband, became ill with lung cancer, and I spent the next year working my guts out trying to take care of her while she was dying. Then I spent the year after her death working my guts out to settle her estate, which included cleaning out and selling her home, the place where I’d grown up and never conceived I’d ever have to leave. I sent our beloved dog and cat to move in with my brother, who would be better able to take care of them – and has – than I would have.

In short, in between getting sober and everything that happened afterward, I was completely and utterly exhausted, physically, mentally and emotionally, and so after all this…motion, I needed a break. So, I took one. Boy, did I…

8 Comments

  1. Bobbi C. on July 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    ((((Connie))))! I’ve been thinking of you so much lately, and I hope like heck that damned chemo is working and that you’ll be rid of the Big C soon and forever! In the meantime, please take the very best of care and know that you’re in our hearts and thoughts as you navigate through this difficult territory. I know it’s not easy, but I know you’re fighting your hardest, and we look forward to seeing you return when you’re up to it. xoxo



  2. Bobbi C. on July 14, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Oh, thanks so much, Nancy, and believe me, Rich and I have not scratched coming down (or it is going up? 😀 ) to visit you and your part of the world off our bucket list, so don’t give up on us just yet! xoxo



  3. Connie Barker on July 14, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    Bobbi, I have watched and lurked and responded at times too you both on the LSR website. I have always known that both you and Rich are wonderful writers and thoughtful, kinds, insightful and supportive contributers to Lifering. I am so happy to hear your story and that you are now doing the blog. I hope to return to a more active role with Lifering, but now I am really struggling with my ovarian cancer and the subsequent chemotherapy. Believe me, it is not a picnic. My kids are grown and don’t live close by; I am retired and miss my activities I was so involved in – my writing group, my French classes and my choral group, but I must devote all my energy to healing and taking care of myself. This is a tough journey, but so is sobriety. Thank you for your inspirational, beautifully written thoughts. Love, Connie



  4. Nancy Corbett on July 14, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Wonderful blog, Bobbi. I remember following your steps when your mother died, and after, and hoped for awhile to see you and Rich on one of your voyages. That still might happen because in sobriety, lots of good things come to pass.



  5. Bobbi C. on July 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Hey, thank you so much for being such a supportive reader, too, Dennis! I will try to be a little more Janie on the Spot with the 3rd (and final) installment of this series of mine, haha, and, yeah…I’ve been contemplating how one gets the word out about a blog, as well. Since this is my first foray into the blogosphere, according to the only guide I’ve referenced so far – “Blogging for Dummies” – the best way to go about this is to begin networking with other bloggers of your ilk…to which my inner introvert says, “‘Networking?’ Um, I’d rather poke my eyes out with hot sticks, thanks!”…but evidently that’s the way to go, and I’ve seen other types of bloggers have great success with that approach.

    Aside from that (which I haven’t started on…yet – there’ll be more about that in the next post, too), it helps tremendously to have people like you to spread the word personally – I think word of mouth is still a powerful force, especially in the Digital Age; LifeRing is also developing a greater social media presence on Facebook (and coming soon – Twitter! “Grrrrroooooaaan!” says the Double I), so that helps, too. 🙂



  6. Bobbi C. on July 11, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Indeed, Richard – and I’m a very lucky gal, as well. 😉 Thanks for being such a supportive reader!



  7. Dennis Meeks on July 11, 2014 at 6:04 am

    Another winner! So many things you write are bang, smack dab on target and resonate visceraly with me (and I will bet with many others). Especially this post. Thanks, Bobbi, that writing group was lucky to have you….and so are you, Richard. I look forward to each and evey post. Keep em coming…don’t leave us hangin’…. We gotta get the word out even more about this blog…I think.



  8. Richard on July 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Whoever that wonderful guy is, I hope he knows he’s a lucky man! If he doesn’t, I want a word with him. I wait in suspense for the next installment of this very moving piece, Bobbi.