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Fifth Time’s a Charm


The power of five?

By Amy Dresner


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“The universe has a plan for you,” she always says. Yeah, I think. But in my mind, the plan includes drinking, anonymous sex and suicide. Yet day by grueling day, I trudge forward, resisting my impulse to get loaded or fold my hand and cash out my chips. I’ve done this dance for over two decades and I’m tired and out of hope. So is my father. “You’ve drained me financially and emotionally for years,” he told me one afternoon over the phone after I got stripped of all my privileges for sneaking out to meet a guy. “I’m over it. I’m over the rollercoaster. Call me when you have good news or don’t call me.” It was devastating to hear but I understood. Everybody was sick of my shit—myself included. 

In my desperation, a few weeks ago, I got a new hardcore AA sponsor—a woman this time. She was a Valley girl; I’d noticed that they were friendlier at the Valley meetings. Did they work a better program than the hip, slick and cool Hollywood meetings or did the Valley just provide me with a clean slate that I would come to dirty? Who cares? It was a new fresh beginning and I took it. She made me come to her home group, a lengthy hour-and-a-half Big Book study with no break. “This meeting will become the meat and potatoes of your sobriety,” she’d say. 

“Yeah, but what if I’m vegetarian?” I’d joke. And yet, after two times there, I’ve learned that the meeting is informative—as people with long-term sobriety explain how the Big Book relates to their lives. It’s also a bit tortuous. 

This sobriety is different from the other ones because I’ve had to face all the issues I’ve been ducking my whole life—issues like financial and emotional independence, self-esteem and boundaries. I’ve also learned this time about the scientific basis of addiction so I understand the biological underpinnings of relapse and the dopamine system. This sobriety has been about facing my shit, putting my big girl panties on and growing up. The good thing about being older and a retread in rehab, I’ve learned, is that you are out of tricks. And that is a very scary place to be.

Amy Dresner is sober comedian who liberally pulls material from her depressive illness and drug addiction. She performs all over Los Angeles and is also on a national recovery tour called "We Are Not Saints." She also wrote about sex and dating and managing chronic pain in sobriety, among other topics, for The Fix. 

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