Facing My Fears: Hospitals and Fake Eyelashes
(page 2)We spent three days in the waiting room with a woman named Kimmie and her family. Kimmie’s daughter, Jessica, had sustained critical injuries from hanging herself while her boyfriend went out to buy beer. They weren’t sure if she had done it herself or the boyfriend had actually done it, so there were several cops in the waiting room with us.
The dad didn’t want to pull the plug, but the mom did. I heard her say that Jessica had been miserable and this would be a better option for her than living every day as an alcoholic and drug addict. I couldn’t help but think that this was what the Big Book means by “alcoholic death.” They made me grateful for my sobriety because I could have easily made my family suffer like that if I were still drinking and using.
Hospitals are still gross and smelly and emotionally raw, but I can sit in that emotion and not let it get the best of me.
That first night, I went to a meeting in Youngstown. The speaker asked my stepfather’s name and then offered to pray for him, as did a few of the other attendees. I found it a little Jesus-y, but they served chili dogs so I didn’t mind too much. And, wouldn’t you know it? They gave out coins, and I was able to get my six-year one after all.
But wait: Wasn’t I afraid of hospitals? How could I sleep in an ICU waiting room given my past history of panic attacks?
I’ve learned in sobriety that when I’m scared of something, I just walk through my fear. Here’s an somewhat less life-or-death example, but still: I wanted eyelash extensions for a year because I’m self-conscious about my small eyes. But I was terrified to have my eyelids taped down for an hour while the lashes were being applied.
On my birthday, I finally got the balls to do it. I didn’t feel a thing and they looked great! So, usually, if I have a fear, what I need to do is just walk through it so the thing I was afraid of can enrich my life. And the fear gets smaller and less intense than it was before, until it eventually is NBD and you can’t even believe you were scared in the first place.
That’s how it was for me with hospitals. I had some medical stuff where I had to be cool with having my blood drawn and going under general anesthesia. And now they’re fine. Don’t get me wrong: Hospitals are still gross and smelly and emotionally raw, but I can sit in that emotion and not let it get the best of me. I don’t have a visceral reaction anymore, and—more importantly—I don’t have to drink or use to make those feelings go away. I know I can make it through all of those things. I mean, if doctors and nurses can do it every day of their lives, then I can at least put a few hours in here and there.
Once I put that fear behind me, I was able to show up and be of service to the rest of my family. Fear and self-pity are about me. “Poor me, poor me, too bad I have to go through all this. Everyone feel bad for me.” The fact is, I’d do anything for my mom. And that means not just when it’s convenient for me.
Another thing is that you never know why you are experiencing certain things until later. My sponsee called me on our drive back to New York to say that her sponsee’s dad was in a similar situation and she needed to know how to handle it. It just goes to show that there is always a larger plan for what’s going on than what I can see.
Finally: That prayer shit works. My stepdad has now been released from the ICU. The doctor says he's a miracle. That makes two of us.