Let Off With a Warning

I love long drives. Something about the open road is tremendously appealing to me, so on Friday when I left for a little mountain town about 2 hours away, I was ecstatic. Freedom was in my grasp!

On the way to this town, there is a huge valley. The highway through it is long and flat for a good 5 miles and speeding is almost irresistable.

(Really, I just want to know how you DON’T speed going through this valley. I’m pretty sure it’s actually impossible.)

Up until recently, they weren’t really regulating the 65mph speed limit. I’ve driven this way countless times, complete with pushing my little Honda to at least 80. That’s a conservative estimate, because I know this trip I was edging 90 miles per hour. I might have an adrenaline problem. In any case, I have never seen a cop in this area until this winter when I went through with some friends. Hmm.

This was in the back of my mind driving up this time, but I thought “Surely it was just a one time thing.”

I went flying down that first hill. There was a car in front of me going the speed limit, which I thought was lame. I mean really? I promptly passed him and at the point where the road starts going up again (right at the edge ofΒ that shadow from the first hill) I had hit almost 90. My car, however, is old and has 223K miles on it, and I slowed down for fear of making the rattletrap thing fall apart. My bumper is already duct taped.

(pretty much, this needs to happen)

Well, needless to say, I crested the hill and slowed down to a modest 76 miles an hour. I know this, because I passed a cop.

(I am indeed one of the internet masses that can’t resist a cute cat. You’re welcome)

As soon as I passed him, I knew I was toast. He pulled a u-turn. “Oh f-ck,” I muttered. I slowed down and he caught up with me. I was shaking as I pulled over to the side of the road. Cops always make me nervous. I immediately just pulled out my license, registration and… oh damn. Shit, shit, shit. This cannot be happening.

I couldn’t find my current insurance card.

Let me also clarify that I am the super goody goody who has never gotten a speeding ticket, and hasn’t even gotten a TRAFFIC ticket in 5 years. Yeah. 5 years. And here I am with an expired insurance card.

The cop saunters up to my already-rolled down window. To my surprise I see he is young, ginger, and handsome. “Ma’am, do you know why we pulled you over today?” he drawled, with the sweet tones of a country boy.

My voice was shaking when I replied. “I was speeding?”

“Yes ma’am. Do you know how fast you were going?”

“Um… 70…(seeing the look on his face)…75?”

“76.”

“Oh.”

“Can I have your license, registration, and insurance?”

“Um, well, here’s my license and registration, I’m still looking for my insurance…” I turn away from him to paw through my glove box desperately, as well as the pile of crap I’d already pulled out of it: old resumes, my Owner’s Manual, napkins. “Um I guess this is the most recent one I have,” I finally said in resignation, handing him one from this time last year.

“Okay just sit tight ma’am, I’ll be right back.”

He walks off and I turn right back to my glovebox and continue my desperate pawing. In my head I just know I’m doomed. I am definitely getting the first speeding ticket of my life today. Expired insurance at a speeding stop is pretty much a death knell. I’ve been paying my insurance faithfully every month – where the h-e- double hockey sticks is that damn card? I finally turned back around when he came back to the window.

“Ma’am, I’m going to let you off today with just a warning.”

“Oh my God! Thank you so much!” I was absolutely floored.

“Yeah I saw how nervous you were, you were shaking when I came up to the window. So, just… be more careful, go the speed limit, okay?”

“Yes, sir, I will. I’m so sorry.”

“You have a good day now.”

I rolled up my window. Still shaking, this time in disbelief. Why the hell had he let me off? I could only surmise that it was because I was young and looked quite fetching. I absolutely did not deserve it, and I knew I didn’t deserve it!

My treacherous heart, however, lurched in rebellious glee that I’d gotten away with speeding. (I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that)

It’s funny because I think this instance parallels my current life circumstances. Truthfully? I’ve been getting warnings that I need to slow down. The irony of this is just now hitting me as I type this. I got a warning to slow down. My life has been warning me to slow down. Parallel?

And this is kind of important. When I speed up my life, I lose sight of priorities. I get close to a sobriety birthday and I cut down on meetings instead of increasing them. I drift away from community. I think I’m a bother to them, so I don’t call or stop by. But I keep going, I keep getting faster, because my own rebellious heart jumps in happiness at getting away with so much. I can start a new job, and do spoken word poetry, and work on a 4th step in one program, and do my 12th step in another program, and work on revamping my blog, and look at new career fields, and have two sponsees (that I’ve been almost too tired to give to like I should), and do my 11th step in the morning, and join a new book club.

I’ve been speeding up and trying to escape my life by outrunning it. At that place, it’s only a matter of time before the top blows, I tip back the bottle, and guzzle.

This incident also reminds me of a night just before I got sober, where I got busted drinking by the police on my college campus. I was the oldest in the room… 23 years old. The next oldest was 20. In other words, I was the only legal person there. The cop never checked my ID and let me go. I went back to my room and I knew I had lucked out for some unknown reason. The next morning, I went to my first recovery meeting. A week later, I stopped drinking for good.

So I feel like it was a good reminder of that moment almost 2 years ago. A warning of what will happen if I don’t check myself before I wreck myself. I think it’s lucky, or maybe my Higher Power, that I was on my way to a recovery retreat. I was heading to the exact place I needed to be.

It’s also interesting that all weekend I found myself questioning my alcoholism. Over, and over, and over. “Maybe I’m not really an alcoholic, I mean I didn’t drink as long as these people, and I never got a DUI, and I don’t have a lot of drunk stories, and, and, and.” Differences instead of similarities. Not remembering that I lose control when I take the first drink. I drink to escape, escape, escape. Forgetting that two separate therapists told me to consider going to a 12-step program for it. Forgetting the night I was drunk driving and almost hit someone. The insanity was strong with this one.

I was reminded over and over this weekend why I’m sober and why I belong in recovery. Why I need to slow my life down some and remember my priorities, and as they say, keep first things first.

Considering the circumstances, I’m really lucky I was only let off with a warning.

 

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16 Replies to “Let Off With a Warning”

  1. I’ve had so many of those warnings myself. I even have a story about being arrested and later let go and luckily, the drugs we were supposed to get we didn’t, or I would’ve been in jail. I have times where I’ve thought I don’t problems with drugs (it’s not something I discuss really) but I know that’s just me trying to enable my addiction. I don’t feel right using the word addiction sometimes because I don’t think I ever hit bottom, I stopped on my own. I don’t feel like my struggle was enough and I compared myself like you were. I’ve never felt like any of my pieces of awful were *as awful* as someone else.

    But that doesn’t matter. And that’s my point in sharing all that.

    We can’t compare ourselves to others. We are unique and special and deserve to own our trials and our tribulations.

    I’m so glad you see the warnings. I’m so thankful you listen to them. And I’m so happy you’re taking care of yourself. Much love, friend.

    1. Deanna, I don’t know… I stopped on my own, too. Maybe I should write my sobriety story sometime. My bottom was simple: I realized I couldn’t stop even though I knew it was awful and destructive. Nothing overly dramatic happened to make me see the light, it kind of just shined (shone? shon?) in my face and made realize I needed to let it go. But you’re correct in the comparison thing. That alone could probably kill me. I do have to own my shit.
      I’m glad you listened to the warnings, too. Hope you are doing well my dear, I haven’t heard lately how you’re doing health-wise and hope everything has been generally smooth. Sending love back to you friend – and you should know that Wait For Me often gets stuck in my head now after I see your name on my feed. ❀

      1. If you are able to, I’d love to read your sobriety story. My issues with substances goes so deep that even with all I share, I don’t think I could ever share it on my blog so I understand if you can’t either. It will be in my memoir, but I feel safer with it in there if that makes sense.

        Thank you lovely for asking about my health. I appreciate that. Today is pretty bad but overall it’s been much better with way more good days than bad.

        Aww, do we have a song? Because I always think of it too when I see you. πŸ™‚ Ok I hope I don’t freak you out here, but I’ve really come to feel this connection towards you as if I’ve known you forever. I promise I’m not creepy!! It just feels like I understand you and I feel like you get me. I don’t know how to explain it but I can say that I wish I knew you IRL. Maybe someday. xx

      2. I share my sobriety story often, so yes, I just need to write it up. πŸ™‚ Maybe for my 2nd sobriety birthday! πŸ™‚ Well at least I can look forward to your memoir, which I do, very very much. It does make sense, I think certain contexts make us feel safer than others.
        Of course! I just noticed you have been in and out and thought to ask and see how everything was going. I’m glad to hear more good days than bad. Sending you lots of peace and rest.
        We DO have a song. πŸ™‚ You don’t freak me out haha. I’m really careful with what I say feeling-wise, and I can’t say if the connection is true unless I were to meet you, but I definitely have to agree that I wish I knew you in real life. Perhaps someday… I’ll let you know if I end up in Europe again in the near future. πŸ™‚ We can go have a lovely chat at a Konditorei and I can gorge on delicious red currant cake (I had some in Munich and I’ll never forget it).

  2. I love your heart, your honesty and your brave story, Laurie. I’m also cracking up at the visual of you shaking when the handsome officer approached your window. What is it with that??? I’ve been stopped twice (I think) and both times I was shaking like a leaf–one time I knew I wasn’t speeding and still felt guilty. But…I digress!
    Sending you much love and good vibes as you continue your journey. Also (on a side note), I just built the post for RoS using your Six Songs stories. I can’t wait for everyone to hear your songs and read your stories–Monday, May 5! xo

    1. I know, right? I literally could NOT stop the shaking haha. I wanted to. But I was much too nervous. Even more so because I was guilty! I too have been stopped and not been guilty of anything other than a headlight being out, and even then I was really nervous.
      Thank you my dear! Sending the same back to you… I’m so excited for the Six Songs post!!! I love music, I can’t wait to display that to the world!

  3. Oh, those pesky little warnings. I actually see your post as a cosmic warning for me than I need to slow down and reevaluate what’s really important! I can feel myself getting caught up in details and ignoring the big picture, which tends to put me in fear instead of gratitude. A few posts I’ve read today are pointing me in the same direction. I’m going to listen. πŸ™‚

    1. I know, right? πŸ™‚ I think I’ve been getting warnings for a bit now. I’m just finally listening. My Higher Power apparently thinks they need to be really obvious!
      I’m glad to hear this was helpful for you, too… it’s oh so easy to get caught up in details, isn’t it? Wishing you grace on your perspective change, my friend. I’m grateful for you!

  4. Oh, Laurie! I pulled this post out of my email this morning for a reason and now I know why. I have been sober since 1997 and still my addict is alive and well. I have been pushing myself lately, too hard, trying to make everything fit into the tiniest blocks of time and while I’m holding up on the outside, inside there is a storm brewing. I am going to consider this post my warning and I have to thank you!

    1. Sandy, this made me so very grateful to hear. 1997! Congratulations! That is awesome. πŸ™‚ I totally understand though about the addict being alive and well! Isn’t it always? πŸ™‚ Ugh the tiniest blocks of time, I so relate. I hear you there. You are so very welcome and I’m honored to have provided that warning. I definitely feel the need to heed it myself, too…

  5. I didn’t get a DUI – I deserved one most days of the last 10 years of my drinking. I never got in trouble with the police – just politely helped on a train one night when really he should have taken me in, but I had a suit on… I didn’t lose the job, the family, the car, the house… etc. All irrelevant – I drank certainly in a manner that if I was sat here looking back and answered all of those positively I couldn’t have said I didn’t deserve it. Like you I was just so lucky – but I did hit a young guy in the street when drunk, put my foot through a wall at work when drunk, drove my kids and other peoples kids about when I had drunk too much… etc. etc.

    1. I deserved DUIs several times; I was a binge drinker but I lost all judgment when drunk and thought driving was just fine. What’s even more interesting is that I told people I didn’t drink and drive… ha. what a lie. You never realize how much you’re lying in the moment.
      It’s so helpful to me to hear, though, that the denial exists no matter what… that continues to confirm my alcoholism to me, too. So thank you so much for sharing your experience, strength and hope…

  6. Hahaha. I am actually a total goody goody too. But I don’t like cops. Not even a hot ginger one (and that’s saying something because I love redheads). I hope you take your own message to heart and stop trying to do all the things and only do what you can handle.

    1. Haha πŸ˜€ Glad I am in good company! I know, even with the ginger hotness I still didn’t quite like him. He was palatable. Haha.
      Oh I will… it seems it takes 3 blog posts for me to get something through my head…

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