Monthly Archives: July 2012
This time next week i’ll be in another continent, celebrating my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. 50 years. And of all the gifts i could them, i think the best would have to be: a bucket of diamonds. But the second best gift would definitely be…gold plated bacon.
But the best gift of all the gifts i can afford is, of course, my sobriety.
Many years ago, i went to college in the same town where my grandparents lived, so i was the one who had to telephone my mother to tell her that her father had passed. i called her at 4am and told her she should sit down. She said immediately, “Oh god, you hit someone drunk driving.”
My family has many alcoholics on both sides. Every year when i went fishing with my dad, he would remind me that his father was a “skid row bum” and that my maternal grandfather was an alcoholic and that alcoholism is genetic. Then he would gently ask me where i was at with my drinking.
While i may not be able to afford a bucket of diamonds or gold plated bacon, at least i can give my mother the peace of mind in her later years that if the phone rings at an unusual hour it’s not her son telling her he killed someone while drunk. And at least i can give my dad a couple of fishing trips where we can share thoughts happier than his fears over my drinking problem.
i would never advocate getting sober for anyone other than yourself, but that doesn’t mean those close to you can’t enjoy it as well.
i love writing this blog because i’m a hell of a lot more eloquent with the written word than i am when i speak. When i talk, i trip over my tongue and get emotional and my voice cracks and i forget to breathe…
Tonight, as i was setting up the coffee for AA, the secretary asked if i would share. i agreed because in AA i always say yes, but i wasn’t looking forward to it. i’m not much of a public speaker and i know the stress i demonstrate detracts from my message.
My share was kind of babbling and rambling but at least i didn’t get too shaky. However, while i was tripping over my own tongue, i stumbled on a truth.
As i was talking about all the challenges that i’m facing at the moment, i heard myself say,
It’s not easy, but i won’t let it get to the bottom of me.
As soon as i said it, i knew what i meant.
In the past, difficulties provided me a perfect platform off which i would throw myself into the depths. No more. Thanks to sobriety, i now have in my core something immoveable that life’s storms cannot move. i may feel rough on the surface, but deep down nothing will get to the bottom of me.
One of the first ever revelations i had in AA came when i’d just started in the rooms and was still wallowing in self pity. At the time, i believed the entire universe had nothing better to do than plot against poor, pour me because i was its center. Yes, this was unfair, but then everything that ever happened to me was grossly unfair. Emphasis on ‘gross’.
There’s a stoic motorcycle cowboy with leathers and a long grey ponytail who comes to the meetings and he’s a very quiet guy but when he does decide to speak, it’s golden. The first time i heard him say something, he addressed this idea of “The world is out to get me”.
If my roof is leaking it means two things.
1) There’s a hole in my roof.
2) I haven’t fixed it yet.
All of a sudden, i realized the Universe wasn’t responsible for my problems, i was.
Remember that one post a while back where it took me pages of babbling to explain the difference between taking a step back from my thoughts rather than acting on impulse? The other day in the rooms, a speaker said all of that but shorter and better.
AA has taught me how to see my thoughts rather than believe them.
Yeah, what she said. Totally.
As a bonus accompaniment to this post here’s a picture i took of a church here in Yeaman i went to a meeting in last Saturday.
Any life event was cause for a drink. i could mentally transform any small bump in the road into a life event so tragic the only way to survive it was a drink.
i was also able to blow any insignificant bubble out of such proportion that the only way to justifiably celebrate its magnitude was to fill it with booze until it blew up in my face.
Basically, whatever happened to me required a drink.
i understand the difference between a small bump and a big problem.
i recognize the distinction between a happy tiding and awesome news.
i also know none of the above merits a relapse.
There’s a pithy saying in AA and, like many of our trite expressions, a few words hold a lot of truth.
Meeting Makers Make It
The idea is simple. Those who attend regular meetings are more successful in maintaining their sobriety.
When i started in the program, i hit one meeting a week but then i found a sponsor and he suggested a minimum of four a week. One of the things i learned quickly in AA was to read the Big Book, go to meetings and listen to my sponsor. So i did.
Up until recently i was feeling a little more secure and so i let my rhythm dip back to one a week again. Lately, however, things have gotten a little hairier in my world so i decided i needed to up the dosage. Not to say i’d made a mistake in cutting back, i only recognize the symptoms of fear and anger and self pity and i know where to go to cure them.
Also not to say i’m afraid of relapsing. i feel bad enough as it is and i know alcohol will only make everything worse. i don’t need worse. i’ve had worse and i deserve better.
Hence, 6 meetings a week (despite my reaching a year and a half sober on the 11th of this month). There is a peace in those rooms that i’ve not found anywhere else and i’m grateful that in times like these i know where to go to get shelter from the storm and haven from the hell.
Some of you may have noticed i posted an interview with a true Bluesman Jake La Botz over in the Bar None. What that has to do with this blog is two-fold.
Firstly, he is thirteen years sober which means he is not only a testament to just what kind of promises can be fulfilled in Sobriety (6 albums and a film career), but (and vastly more important) he is living breathing proof that sobriety is cool.
Secondly, i was able to do the interview face to face, while sober.
Had i been still drinking, i would have drunk a couple beers first to loosen up and get some liquid courage before starting, then i would have had a couple more during the interview to keep the edge and by the end i would have been sloppy drunk and while Jake is too much a gentleman to have said anything, he would have thought less of me and maybe not shared as much. Plus i would have thought less of myself.
As it is, we were two sober people hanging out and enjoying good music and good conversation. i may just be a little cooler than i thought…
A woman in the rooms shared that she was an angry young lass…so much so that when, in college, her roommate confronted her by saying “You’d rather be right than happy!” she mocked her friend for being ridiculously obvious. It was only much later, in recovery, that she realized how foolish the statement was.
This got me thinking. When i was drinking, i would have rather been drunk than happy. That realization put me on my ass. How insane is that!? i’d truly believed i was drinking to make myself happy when the exact opposite was true!
Now let’s go a step further. We take the sentence and replace the word “right” with a blank.
I’d rather be ________________ than happy.
Whatever words work in that blank (sad, angry, eating, alone…) represent the biggest threats to your sobriety.
For those in AA:
This magic formula can also be used to help you target specific areas in Step 1 where your life has become “unmanageable”.