Walking Wounded

I’m doing that thing that you do in recovery where you “drunk watch.” You go out somewhere, and you look at who is drinking what, and you feel happy if you see some other people with non-alcoholic bevvies. You mull about the rest: what is there relationship with alcohol? Who is going to drink too much tonight? Who’s a normie and will have there one or two drinks and not think twice about it?

I also look at people walking down the street and wonder about their stories. One lady I saw the other day looked particularly tired and out-of-sorts. Disheveled. Was she hung over? I wonder who might be sitting in my class hung over as hell. It could be anyone. It could be one of my A students who wouldn’t dream of missing class. Achievers drink too.

Functioning alcoholics. How much functioning is really going on? As I read and listen to the stories of other people in recovery, I wonder how many of the walking wounded I encounter every day, and don’t even know it. Who is bored or lonely today? Who is planning which liquor store to stop at on the way home from work? Who feels unloved by a spouse, or undervalued at work? Who has vodka in her purse? Who is in chronic pain? Who is stressed out caring for aging parents and kids?

We’re awfully good at hiding our sadness and suffering from the outside world. But then we live in a world that isn’t very accepting of our vulnerabilities. Recovery is making me think a lot about compassion, and the fear that keeps us from feeling it, and expressing it. I think I’m chicken, so I’m still hiding. I’m doing this no-drinking thing like I do pretty much everything: alone. I’m working on this “reaching out” business. I am very proud of myself for looking up a local Women for Sobriety meeting face-to-face. I haven’t heard back yet, but I hope it will work out that I can go.

 

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