Monthly Archives: October 2011
i drank for 28 years and the drinks i liked the most weren’t beer or wine or whiskey. My favorite drinks were mojitos and daiquiris and Mike’s Hard Lemonade—drinks where i couldn’t taste the booze.
i drank for 28 years and my drinking hurt my relationship with my kids, my wife, my girlfriends, my friends, my job, my health. i drank despite the financial burden, the hangovers and the smack downs and the lost phones, keys, money, stolen camera, dangerous situations, flirting with death…
[We] Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
When i went into the program, i thought, “OK, sure, i’m an alcoholic but insane? That seems a little harsh.”
Then i realized, i drank for almost 30 years despite the damage i was doing and despite the fact i don’t even like the taste of alcohol.
Another helping of insanity, anyone?
When i did my 4th Step, which i touch on here, my sponsor told me something he’d heard in the rooms.
Alcoholics are egomaniacs with an inferiority complex.
i could very much relate to this, probably because i am an alcoholic.
One of the recurring issues that came up as i was sharing my defaults was self hatred. i hate myself and when that ball starts rolling, a vicious circle begins.
- i want to escape myself, but i can’t unless
- i get drunk and then at least i don’t hate myself so much until
- i wake up with a hangover and feel physically ill and then
- A few days later, i get spiritually ill and begin to hate myself so
- i want to escape myself but i can’t unless
- i get drunk and then…
Obviously, one of the keys to staying sober is breaking the cycle. But i have no idea how to be compassionate with myself. Here’s a thought i had during our discussion.
If you don’t know how to be compassionate with yourself, practice on others.
i’m often very impatient and frustrated with people and the world in general. “People suck” is kind of my motto. In the rooms, a guy once said, jokingly, “It’s like everyone in the city thinks they’re as important as I am!”
Today i got the answer. While i was in a waiting room, i caught myself getting nervous, tense, impatient and judgmental. i knew i had to practice compassion and tried to figure out how. Then it came to me.
i admire that person’s _________________.
Every time a person made me nervous, i made myself figure out a compliment with which to fill that blank.
For example, an elderly woman was in a foul mood and muttering insults under her breath to everyone in the office. For her, i thought, “i admire your inner strength.” Another man was very impatient and tense. He was constantly asking people what time their appointment was. i thought long and hard and came up with, “i admire your ability to talk to strangers.”
i know you guys are less messed up than i am, but think of the above exercise as a game the next time you’re standing in line at the supermarket. It’ll help pass the time.
Steps 4 & 5 of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book read:
Step 4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
i spent a week or so doing my “fearless moral inventory” and it was less painful than i thought. i did it in starts and fits and in the end i had 2½ pages with 3 columns, following the outline in the Big Book.
Step 5 was exhausting. i admitted to God, myself and the other human being was my sponsor. It took about 3 hours and i was reminded yet again how crucial it is to have a good sponsor.
Mine listened closely and did not judge. He told me some of his Step 4 stories and we took breaks. When i’d finished, he found patterns in my defects and gave me specific advice on how to work on each of them. i’ll be sharing some of these tips here, soon.
When i stood up at the end, i was light headed. A little woozy. i felt raw and drained.
But i felt different.
Something i’d realized long before i started recovery was that i’d used up all my old friends. My binges had been so taxing, my behavior so exasperating that people i was close to no longer wanted to be close to me.
While those people are less afraid of me now, i still don’t get invited to their parties. While not an outcast, i’m still not accepted.
Of course there are people bound by love to suffer me like a disease, and i bear no animosity against those who turned their backs on me after i stabbed it several times over. i have the life i deserve.
There is a room, however, where i am always welcome. Where people can truly appreciate me because they, too, have escaped the personal apocalypses of their own making. There’s something about sharing hell with someone that forges the strongest bonds.
Today was a good dAAy.
Tuesday was my 9-month sobriety birthday and today i got my chip. That’s it up there. i said a few words in front of the room that went something like this.
Hi, my name is Al and i’m an alcoholic.
If my sobriety was a pregnancy, my water would be breaking in front of you and i’d be giving birth right here. Thanks to the program and to you, the people that make the program work, i actually do feel like i’ve started a new life. Keep coming back.
That’s all i got. Yeah, a good dAAy.
In Life, sometimes the roof leaks.
Personally, i love to take advantage of this opportunity to gnash my teeth and wail about the unfairness of God’s being out to get me. Pour poor me.
Reality, on the other hand, goes something more like this.
- There’s a hole in my roof.
- i haven’t fixed it yet.
As you can see in the Header to this blog, i’ve added another page. The new page is called “GlossAAry” and is a compilation of the terms i’ve heard in Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s designed for people who aren’t familiar with the program, so that they can get an understanding of the terminology used in AA and recovery.
The first entry i posted is also tonight’s post. ‘S’ is for
Your Sponsor is the person you have chosen to help keep your sober. Choosing a Sponsor is even more important than choosing a spouse, and i’m only half kidding here. While love means you can forgive a husband’s or wife’s mistakes, your Sponsor needs to be above reproach.
The most important attributes of a good Sponsor are trust, because you will have to do things you may not think are necessary so you need to have faith that the person telling you to do these things is right. A good Sponsor should have many years of sobriety in order to have experienced enough crap to be able to guide you through your own. A good Sponsor should be someone you look up to, because this person will be shaping your sobriety and will play a large part in the sober person you become.
My life is 4 trash cans with 3 lids—some garbage is always coming out somewhere.
i related on a deep level to this concept a woman shared in the rooms. It reminded me of before AA, when i tried to “sponsor myself”, to quit on my own. i’d be able to quit drinking but there was always another addiction that arose and screwed me over.
Fortunately, Recovery is helping me keep a lid on my troubles. Even when some of the garbage inevitably spills out, the quantity is smaller and the mess is a little less.
For me, it was either sobriety or death. I chose death. When that didn’t work, I had to go with sobriety.
Remember that guy i told you about who’s been sober since 1967? This is what he shared tonight in a meeting. He’s not very talkative, but what he says always hits home for me.
i went up to him after the meeting to tell him how much i appreciated his pearls of wisdom and before i could convey this, he said, “Oh, I saw you at a meeting last week! I thought what you shared was the most cogent thing said in that night. Sometimes newcomers come up with the clearest observations.”
This made me feel very good, of course. That someone with so much time could get something from a comment of mine instilled in me a sense of satisfaction and hope.
What was it i had said to elicit such a response? Interestingly enough, it was the sentiment i shared in a post just a couple days ago.