What Would Dolly Do?

Dolly Parton has ruined my obsession to drink.

On September 12, 2009, I had my last drink. I had no plan, no intention for that to happen. I had been trying to stop drinking for 2 years. In and out of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I couldn’t piece more than 10 days together. I didn’t want to get sober. Everyone else around me wanted me to – doctors, employers, friends (whoever I had left), and family. I would try and fail and try and fail and after a while I just stopped trying. I saw people around me having fun and drinking. I saw people around me going to work and drinking. I saw people around me able to function as a normal human and drinking. I couldn’t do it and I was angry.

A friend had reached out to me and asked me to go to a meeting with him because he was having a hard time. At that point I was so desperate to be included or invited anywhere – I happily showed up. I gave myself a pat on the back for being such a good friend. Sitting next to him in a musty church basement, surrounded by people reading out of a book I didn’t understand. I was being such a good friend when I raised my hand and identified myself as a newcomer in the rooms of AA. I was being such a good friend when I asked a pretty girl to be my sponsor. She would later boss me around and hold me accountable for two years and it would make me feel uncomfortable. 

Even a few months into sobriety I knew it wasn’t for me. Who actually spent this much time miserable? By choice? It was boring and I was still angry and not drinking didn’t change anything. I sat in rooms with other alcoholics, I had a sponsor, I made coffee, I picked up chairs, I went to the meetings after the meetings, I slept with other alcoholics and still nothing. Everyone must be lying. Everyone is happy except me. I was the only honest person in this whole fucking program. Out of millions and millions of people that had recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body – I was the only honest one. 

I spent over 10 years being a dark cloud in AA. Rolling my eyes, biting my tongue, gritting my teeth whenever someone claimed to be happy. Happy is a four letter to me. Happy is subjective. Happy is fake. Happy was unattainable. 

I had a baby when I was sober. With a terrible person. I got jobs when I was sober. They didn’t pay the bills. I slept around, created heartaches, dramatic meltdowns, ended friendships, and felt like the loneliest person in every place I stepped in to. How the fuck could anyone say that they were grateful they were sober? How the fuck could anyone say they were a recovered alcoholic? How the fuck could I keep doing this for the rest of my life? If I had the choice, I wouldn’t. My feelings had been hurt enough, I made myself look like a fool enough, I drove away people enough, and sobriety wasn’t enough. 

There are 12 Steps in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. They are written in order for a reason. I had done them…I guess? Maybe? I had worked with sponsors and written and cried and complained and saw the harm I did to myself and others. But I never found relief. I’ll admit to anything because I am a liar, I can believe that there is something bigger than myself that created this Universe because I’m not that big of an idiot, but could I turn my will and life over to that something that was bigger than myself? Maybe I am too logical. How do I turn this indescribable portion of self over? I need photos, facts, statistics, a ‘how to’ in the simplest terms available. I didn’t believe in God – this judging, spiteful, judging, male entity. I carried shame and guilt. I couldn’t hand over my deepest hurts and fears to something that I was convinced would make me feel worse. If I am going to feel like shit, then I will do it myself.

I didn’t realize how desperate I was. On the outside I had a good job, a good car, a good kid, a good head of hair. My insides were so sad and I did the only thing I could think of…I made memes. I started making fun of my stupidity. I started making fun of the sheet bullshit I heard in the rooms of AA. I used my bitterness to carry through another day. I pumped those memes out because my life depended on it. But let me be clear – they weren’t good. They were terrible. In the moments I was crafting them, I really thought I was carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous – that’s not completely egotistical is it? I had to lighten my load. The suffocating load I continued to lay on myself. I was suffering from Self and I was awful.

The more I got involved with making fun of myself and others in the program, the more I was introduced to other sick idiots that had the same idea as I did. So many other meme creators that were darker than me, sicker than me, and a whole lot funnier than me. A lot of them had something good to say. They said over and over how the program worked. I started listening to their podcasts. I really wanted what they had. They weren’t boasting about their new husband, new car, or new job. They were being assholes and still sharing about their love for their Higher Power. 

I don’t know when it happened, but suddenly Dolly was there. Sky Dolly. My Higher Parton. She was always there, but I was too self-obsessed to allow her platinum bouffant and great rack to make an appearance. Smiling, joking, loving, giving, caring, and being the cutest thing that could’ve ever existed. She was easy to see. She was easy to understand. She was open and honest and smart and kind and selfless and humble and talented and patient and everything I realized I wanted to be. I wanted to be free from myself. Free to be Dolly. I knew what I had been missing my whole life, what was glaringly wrong the last decade of my sobriety and it was Dolly Parton.

They told me that my Higher Power could be anything. Most people chose to call it God. I couldn’t and wouldn’t connect to that. It was foreign and harsh and people had died for God. No one had died for Dolly Parton. She, this Higher Power, this Universe, this Sunlight of the Spirit,  has saved me every time I opened myself to make a connection. I am still bitter. I am still resentful. I am still angry. I am still in fear. I still say terrible things to myself. You know who doesn’t say terrible things about me? Dolly Parton. You know who doesn’t say terrible things about anyone? Dolly Parton. You know who has shown in 75 years that goodness does exist? Dolly Parton.

Dolly Parton saved my life. Dolly Parton is giving me the life I want today, if I am willing to not be an asshole about it. I look through my Dolly Parton colored glasses and its pretty fucking beautiful. Sometimes when I ask “What Would Dolly Do?” I get pissed. Because I know what she would do and it’s the exact opposite of what I want to do. Sometimes I just want to be shitty, okay Dolly?!

Dolly Parton ruined my obsession to drink and I feel pretty fucking okay about it.

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