Today in the newcomer’s meeting, the woman sharing–sober since 1975–said that her brand of alcoholism was “public & violent”. She repeated this a couple times in her lead, “public & violent”.
Then after, a guy sharing picked up on this and said that while he’d been listening to her, he asked himself what his Two Words were to describe his drinking years. “Dark & Lonely” came to him right away.
When he said this, i wondered what the words i would use to qualify my drinking. i immediately thought of, “Chaotic & Desperate”. Which was also a good way to describe my life at the time. But that was then, and now the chaos and desperation have evaporated…
So now i’m gonna ask you, what are your two words? What two words would you use to describe your drinking? Have they lost a little of their punch for you?
Even as a little boy, i thought too much. i remember at the age of five asking my mother for the definition of ‘happy’. i also told her that life was unfair because it’s easier to break a chair than make one.
And i feel this way still today. A craftsman can spend weeks carefully assembling a chair with skill and artistry, using only the most valuable materials, and yet that same chair can be destroyed in a heartbeat. i know that i left a hell of a lot of broken chairs in my wake when i was drinking.
It feels like there’s something wrong with a universe where breaking is easier than creating.
Or maybe it’s the universe’s way of telling us that the easy way out isn’t necessarily the best way.
Sober parents are stars shining over the sea of their kids’ lives.
In times of smooth sailing our stars are simply a reassuring and pleasant presence, but in stormy times our children will be able to look up to us, and navigate through their difficulties by the light of our examples.
i’m Puzzled. Puzzled in the sense i feel like i’m in pieces, with rough edges trying to force myself to fit in. Yet no matter how hard i push, i’m still out of place and if you look closely you’ll see i don’t measure up.
Last Friday i got lucky. (No, the other kind of lucky.)
i went to a meeting i don’t usually go to, that starts at 10:30 pm and finishes at 11:30. When i got there, there was only one other person.
We had a small meeting, just the two of us, and in that meeting she said we alcoholics have a “weakness for devastation”.
i loved that expression because i understood it on a deep level the instant i heard it. i was the kind of alcoholic who drank because i had a crush on destruction and drinking was the fastest way to get into destruction’s panties and screw it up.
We got on this subject because i realized something in our tiny meeting.
Here in Yeaman–because of some fluke alignment of religious and war holidays–i had a 5-day weekend last weekend and, even better, my ex had the kids. i had 5 days left to my own devices and there was a time a few years ago that my own devices would’ve been bottles of wine and cocktail inventing, fast food binges, internet porn, no sleeping no showering no leaving the apartment…i would’ve viced out.
Sharing with this young lady, i realized that i’d been to an art show, two movies, discovered a cultural walk here in Yeaman, written some good stuff, started riding bicylces, wrote fiction on café terraces with a founatin pen, cleaned, ran several errands i’d been putting off, woke up at 6:30 on a day i didn’t work to go to an 8am AA meeting and then hit a 10:30pm meeting that same evening, just because.
i didn’t tell her that then and i’m not saying it now to get pats on the back or collect brownie points…it’s just sometimes i forget how far i’ve come in 2 years.
i got lucky that i decided to go to a meeting just for the hell of it, because talking with another alcoholic in recovery helped me see that my life, while far from perfect, keeps getting better all the time.
It’s been a while, but i’m updating the GlosAAry page with a new definition:
An alcoholic who’s sober but still an asshole. Someone who put down the booze but still clings to the issues that put it there in the first place.
- Wake up in the morning.
- Realize i’m alive.
- Feel sad about that fact.
- Sit up, put my feet on the floor, my elbows on my knees, my face in my hands and wonder how it ever got this hard.
- Wait for the courage to rise.
This was my daily routine for so many years it’s embarrassing. Consistently, the first thoughts that crept into my waking mind were like roaches: gross, depressing and impossible to get rid of.
Since becoming sober, i wake up in a neutral mood. Usually, my first thought is a simple question, “Do i work today?” If the answer is ‘No’, i feel good. If the answer is ‘yes’, i don’t feel bad.
Last Saturday, i was having lunch with some AAers (and that victory is a whole ‘nother post) after a meeting and i mentioned this crap to a friend. He told me that his therapist told him that the first thought of the day is great way to judge where your head’s at. (FWIW, the friend’s first thought was “How do I get out of my marriage”!–he’s now divorced.)
So, this is my challenge for you. Over the next couple days, try to capture your first thought of the morning. Take your mental temperature first thing when you wake up, and share it here with us if you can!
The wheels started coming off my train wreck in 2001, and that it took me more than a decade later to realize how bad i was tells you just how deeply my insanity runs.
The beginning of the end was linked to a book proposal a publisher had accepted. A couple agents were also interested in representing me and i soon began to believe that all my shortcomings were about to be justified, because whatever mistakes i’d made had all become a part of the writer that was going to publish this book. i expected my dreams to come true.
Until the publisher backed out. And then the agents evaporated. i had meetings with another editor who green lighted the project. Only to ignore me a month later. My expectations were dashed on the rocks and by ‘rocks’ i mean the ice in the drinks I used to drown my sorrows.
Other factors abetted in my unfortunate demise, sure, but shattered expectations drew first blood.
Last month, after over ten years of forgetting this book, i decided to dust it off and shop it around to different agents. The first agent i contacted got back with me the same day and requested the full proposal. Those expectations started building again… until it was turned down and i started remembering all the negativity that swamped me ten years ago.
Fortunately this go round i have the tools to protect myself against disappointment, but what i’m really learning is the difference between hoping and expecting. The first is a useful push to set goals, and the second is a double-edged sword all too easy to fall on.
My daughter turned 16 a couple days ago. i took her to her favorite restaurant for dinner, just the two of us, and bought her a variety of gifts that reflect her so well as she sits poised on the point between childhood and womanhood. Among the loot she hauled in were a visit to her favorite candy store and then expensive perfume from an upscale boutique. That in itself is a photo of where she is in her life.
i’m worried about her. The first day in her high school, she sat in the back row and befriended the only two girls who had failed a grade. Her behavior has been suspicious for the last year but i have no concrete proof that she’s done anything seriously wrong.
And it doesn’t matter. She knows where i’m coming from and where i’ve come from.
She’s 16 now, and she’ll make her own choices. But instead of giving her the choice between hanging out with losers and an angry parent, i’m giving her the choice between getting lost with losers and the feeling of having fun with a sober parent.
My parents never told me to stop drinking. This doesn’t mean they weren’t worried about it.
During out annual fishing trips, in the middle of the lake on the boat at the crack of dawn, my father never failed to bring up the subject at least once. He’d ask me where i was with my drinking, i’d do him the courtesy of lieing and then he’d list all the alcoholics in our family and remind me it is a genetic disease. And then we’d get back to fishing.
i’m glad they didn’t tell me to stop because i wouldn’t have.
True story, i wouldn’t have quit for anyone, no matter how much i loved them and the proof is that i didn’t.
i needed to learn for myself that i needed to learn. And because that decision was homemade, i cared about it more.
What about you? Did your family and /or friends pressure you to quit? Tell us in the comments!