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Sober Voices

When asked if he heard voices in his head, he had to pause

Last summer when I went for a minor psychiatric evaluation, one of the questions they asked was if I heard voices. I answered “No” forgetting the two times, thank goodness, there truly were voices in my head.

The first time was when I was two months sober. I was having a huge amount of drama with my family who live in another state. When I got off the phone with my parents, I was so upset that I decided the only answer was to go let myself in a friend’s apartment down the hall and drink her brandy.

I knew she wasn’t home, so let myself in with a key she had given me, and spied the bottle. I picked it up, settled myself down a chair, and uncorked it. I stared at the open top. I took a whiff of the alcohol. I stared at the bottle some more. I took another whiff.

Suddenly, out of the nowhere, he certainly wasn’t anywhere in my thoughts that I was aware of, the counselor from the outpatient treatment center I had attended said to me, like he had so often in treatment: “You’re just testing yourself, you know.”

“Darn it (or something along those lines),” I said to myself. Responding the same way I did all those times he had said it in treatment, I decided would show him! I slammed the cork back in the bottle and left. I am not testing myself! And I will not get drunk! Well now there was a twist. My alcoholic stubbornness was getting me out of trouble instead of getting me into it. How odd.

The second time I heard voices, I was six months sober and on a cruise with a group of guys with whom I realized (once I got on the ship) I had very little in common with other than drinking. Not the best vacation I’ve ever had.

Anyway, the second night of the cruise, I was with these guys, and they were all carousing, and I, not surprisingly, was feeling very out of place. It seemed like the only way I would ever fit in is to just bite the bit, have a drink, and concern myself with the consequences later. No later had the thought entered my head, when the voice entered my head reminding me, “You have choices, and do not have to let these people control you.” Wow, who was that? My counselor, my first sponsor? So many people had told me that that I couldn’t even tell.

What I did know was that was one voice I did not mind hearing. I do have choices! And if the rest of people want to drink, that’s fine for them, but I choose sobriety. I choose to stay in control of myself and remember what I did the next day. I choose to wake up in the morning without a headache or worse. What a fantastic revelation!

Jimminy Cricket in Pinocchio said, “Your conscience is that small still voice in your head.” Sometimes instead of being small and still, it has to shout to be heard, and that’s quite all right with me.

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