Category Archives: Alcoholics Anonymous
i had my big share earlier this evening…and rocked it like a boss! Thanks to you guys! i thought about your encouragement, support and concrete advice (breathing, look at at least three people, speak slowly, pray…) and the effect it had on me was immeasurable. Yes, my voice quaked a little, especially when i touched on my suicide attempt, but i don’t think anyone really noticed. The nice part was i made a lot of jokes–even better, people actually laughed! Go figure.
Here’s an edited version of what i had to say, if you’re interested.
Sooooooooo, this is stressful…
Before, when i was confronted with situations like this, i had a little trick. i called it vodka. Unfortunately, that was the only trick i had. i was a one-trick pony.
When i was sad: booze. Nervous: booze. Stressed: booze. Afraid: booze. Happy: booze. Bored: booze. When i felt nothing: booze. i only had one tool in my kit: booze. That’s insane! One tool!
AA’s second step says we believe a Higher Power will restore us to sanity, and i was so totally insane that i needed restoration. How insane was i? i was trying to restore myself–with only one tool! Do you realize how difficult it is to build something with your life or make something of yourself when all you have is one tool? Especially when that one tool usually was a screwdriver!
Here’s another thing that shows how insane i was. i drank for 30 years. 30 years. i drank for 30 years despite the fact my life was constantly getting worse. A normal person would say, “Wait, this is hurting me, I’ll stop it.” Not me, because i was insane.
Another thing. i drank for 30 years and i didn’t even like the taste of alcohol! i hated beer and wine but drank it all the time. i only drank hard liquor if i could mix it with something that would cover the taste! There must be some food you don’t like, right? Do you eat it? Of course not, you don’t like it so why would you eat it? But me, i drank for 30 years even though i didn’t like what i was drinking.
Of course i had a reason to drink, though. i was looking for something. i was looking for love, friendship, romance, courage, strength at the bottom of a bottle. Here’s how insane that was: i spent 30 years looking for things in the one place i knew they weren’t! Because i’d looked there before and not found them, not really, and yet i kept looking there even if i knew i’d find nothing!
Imagine you’re looking for a key. You check your pocket and find it’s empty and that there’s a hole in it. Do you check it again, right after? No, of course not, you know they key isn’t there. Do you check five times, ten times, 1000 times? Do you keep checking over and over again in the same pocket for 30 years? Of course not! That would be insane. All you’d touch is that same emptiness and the only thing you’d feel is that hole getting bigger and bigger, and that’s what happened to me.
Now, in recovery, i’m still insane. But. i lost that one tool i had and replaced it with a full set of better tools and i keep adding to the toolbox all the time. Also, i recognize the thoughts that are insane and i use my tools to fix them. With time, those thoughts are coming less frequently and with less strength, so maybe there will be a time when they all but disappear. But that’s for another day. Right now, i’m happy to be here with you and i thank you for your support in keeping me sane.
Thanks again, everyone who commented and sent me moral support! It was a truly beautiful gift and helped me so much. You guys are the greatest!
i’ve been asked to be the feature speaker at the largest English speaking meeting here in Yeaman, which is the kind of big you see in movies set in Queens. i’m looking forward to it in the same way you look forward to having a kidney stone removed if you have to do it yourself.
So why? i don’t have to do it–the person who asked said many people outright refuse because it is a little daunting–but i thought i’d go for it because
- i believe in service to Alcoholics Anonymous and don’t feel i have the right to say ‘No’. When i think about all the program has done for me, i need to be looking for more ways to give back.
- i’m feeling braver about speaking. i’m still sure my voice will crack and i’ll turn all red, but my sponsor and i have been working on this thing where i share at every meeting i attend for the express purpose of getting over my shyness, and it’s working.
- Something i saw on Facebook: Everything you want is on the other side of fear. i need to learn to be brave.
- Something i thought of myself: Instead of looking for ways to get out of tasks, i need to be looking for ways to get into them.
- Something else i thought of myself: That which doesn’t kill me makes me more sober.
Wish me luck!
As a kid, i always felt like i never fit in. While i was often at the center in my circle of friends, i never felt like a part of them, like i was included in them.
Alcohol was the key. Booze was the key that opened the doors to a sense of belonging. Drinking came as a package that included a circle of friends and the courage necessary to talk to them.
As we say in recovery, that worked until it didn’t.
My drinking buddies were my closest friends and, as luck would have it, many of the people i work with are heavy drinkers so i soon felt i was a part of that inner circle i’d always been looking for.
Unfortunately, when i got sober, i found myself once again on the outside.
Oh, they’ll never tell me i’m not welcome and at the beginning of my sobriety i was invited to a few events and i declined to go because i didn’t feel like being surrounded by alcohol and my friends will tell you how proud they are of me and how much better off i seem. Now, however, i only hear about parties the day after and conversation means nothing more than exchanging pleasantries in the corridor.
But you know what? i found a different group of friends. People i can count on, people who accept me for who (and what!) i am and who know exactly what i’m going through because they’re going through the same things.
i’ve found the kind of kinship i’ve been looking for my entire life here on line with y’all and in the rooms of AA. Thank god i’m an alcoholic, else i might never have found this.
You know me, there’s a lot of stuff i don’t know. Like i always thought Robin Williams was a cokehead but i did not know he was also an alcoholic. i also didn’t know he went into recovery for both in 1983, when his first child was born. And who knew he stayed sober for 20 years? Not i, said the blind man.
i also didn’t know he serves as a cautionary tale, because even after 20 years sober, he relapsed in 2003 while making a movie (Big White) in Alaska.
I was in a small town where it’s not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there, and then I thought: drinking. I just thought, hey, maybe drinking will help. Because I felt alone and afraid. It’s just literally being afraid. And you think, oh, this will ease the fear. And it doesn’t.
One day I walked into a store and saw a little bottle of Jack Daniel’s. And then that voice—I call it the ‘lower power’—goes, ‘Hey. Just a taste. Just one.’ I drank it, and there was that brief moment of ‘Oh, I’m okay!’ But it escalated so quickly. Within a week I was buying so many bottles I sounded like a wind chime walking down the street. I knew it was really bad one Thanksgiving when I was so drunk they had to take me upstairs.
It’s [addiction] — not caused by anything, it’s just there. It waits. It lays in wait for the time when you think, ‘It’s fine now, I’m OK.’ Then, the next thing you know, it’s not OK. Then you realize, ‘Where am I? I didn’t realize I was in Cleveland.’
On Staying Out of Recovery
After his relapse, Williams remained active in his alcoholism for 3 years.
You feel warm and kind of wonderful. And then the next thing you know, it’s a problem, and you’re isolated.
It’s the same voice thought that … you’re standing at a precipice and you look down, there’s a voice and it’s a little quiet voice that goes, ‘Jump.’ The same voice that goes, ‘Just one.’ … And the idea of just one for someone who has no tolerance for it, that’s not the possibility.
For that first week you lie to yourself, and tell yourself you can stop, and then your body kicks back and says, no, stop later. And then it took about three years, and finally you do stop.
On Fixing Yourself
You can’t. That’s the bottom line. You really think you can, then you realize, ‘I need help,’ and that’s the word.
On His Weekly AA Meetings
Have to. It’s good to go.
Sources for the quotes:
The easiest hardest thing you’ll ever do is get sober.
The hardest thing an alcoholic will ever do is put down the drink, because recovery means pulling weeds that are deeply rooted in our soul.
Fortunately, it’s the easiest thing we’ll ever do because we just have to
Oh, and also, my sponsor tattooed my brain with one simple thought when we had our fist sit down.
“I don’t drink no matter what!”
i’d been an alcoholic for over 2 decades before i first heard the expression “Liquid Courage”, but after i did i couldn’t believe i’d never heard it before. Let’s just say i didn’t need subtitles to understand what it meant.
Lately things have been improving concerning that and here’s why.
- i learned early on that i had to give up my life to my Higher Power because when i was driving the bus, i drove it straight to Hell and got lost there. Giving the wheel to my Higher Power means i have nothing to fear because the HP is in charge. (For agnostics, just remember “The future is none of your business“. )
- On my sponsor’s instructions, i share at every AA meeting i go to (3 a week, usually). The more i share in front of a group of people, the less tense i am about it.
- i’m able to recognize the symptoms of fear and when i do i’m getting better at consciously telling myself to chill. Breathing deep is a big help when it comes to this.
The reason i’m going on about this is that i’ve only just learned these lessons and only have made significant progress with them in the last couple of weeks.
Unfortunately, because i think the girl i have a crush on has been avoiding my regular meetings because she had a crush on me too, but when i didn’t make a move she assumed i didn’t feel the same way so she’s given up. Which is sad but not tragic. i keep reminding myself that i can’t lose something i never had, and that sometimes rejection is God’s protection.
Still, i do wish i’d been braver sooner, and hope that the universe has some second chances left in its deep pockets.
i have a crush on this girl. She’s charming, timid and very pretty.
The problem is, i’m going to ask her out.
It’s a problem because i had no idea how complicated this is. And it is. Very. Hell, dating in civilian life is harsh enough without taking into account things like threats to sobriety, triggers and addictive thinking.
RelAAtionshps in AA
In Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a rule of thumb that newcomers (those with less than one year of sobriety) should not start new romantic relationships–neither with each other nor someone who has more sobriety than them (see the “13th Step“).
Also, and i didn’t know this at first, but ‘fellows’ of the opposite sex (or same sex, depending on which way you swing) are discouraged from exchanging phone numbers as a way of reaching out.
With these land mines in mind, i took a couple steps to make sure my sobriety came first.
What i Did
- Talked to my sponsor
- Spoke with people in the program who i admire and who have more sobriety than me
What they said
- Take things One Date at a Time: Think only about the date your on, not the next one. Or moving in together. Or babies.
- Go in with no expectations. That way, if things don’t work out, neither person is tempted to drown their sorrows in anything stronger than a Mountain Dew
As for what happens next, well, i’ll keep you posted.
Craig Ferguson made this stunning announcement in 2007.
Someone else i didn’t know was in recovery. Did you catch his plug for AA at the end?
i’ve decided to add a new category to this blog dedicated to well known people who are sober. i’m not trying to “out” anyone, and will only be talking about celebrities who are open about their recovery. The purpose is to demonstrate that famous people are sober, too, just like me and you.
i met with my sponsor yesterday and, after discussing steps 11 & 12 a little, he informed me i have officially completed the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
It was a special moment. He told me how much he enjoyed working with a sponsee who gave himself so completely to the program and i told him how much i enjoyed working with a sponsor who channeled my Higher Power.
We’ll still meet to go over maintenance details, but from now on, you’ll read the save kind of crap here, but written by a guy who has completed the 12 Steps. The first time.
[btw, i'm on vacation for the next few weeks, so apologies fit not getting back to you on comments or checking out your blogs (i have Internet access only one hour a day - and only on my phone!]
When i was 22, i created my own holidays. This is something i want to start doing again.
One of the holidays i made up was Rebel’s Night. Every 31st of July, i would take off work and do whatever i wanted. The first one was celebrated with a couple friends as we drove along the interstate in a rainstorm, listening to great songs on the cassette deck, pounding Little Kings and throwing the empties out of the window of our speeding car.
The night ended when the rain had stopped and we drove backroads until he stopped at a small river where i got out of the car, stripped off my clothes and baptized myself a rebel in the dirty water.
Ironically, the last Rebel’s Night was observed when i used the occasion to gather the courage to call a girl i’d met on my travels in Europe. That led to living together and marriage, which spelled the end of Rebel’s Night.
Here in Yeamen, the theme of the Tuesday night meeting is “Adventures in Sobriety”. i’m not a big fan of this subject because it reminds me that i did a a whole case of exciting things back in my drinking days but that my sober life is a little calmer. Too calm. Boring.
Last night, i realized this is a pile of Schlitz.
Except for some Rebel’s Nights, i did not have many adventures when i was drinking. i had drama, but getting in a drunk driving accident, getting my ass kicked, receiving an eviction notice and attempting suicide are not adventures, they are enormous screw ups.
On the other hand, working on a book and actively exploring my city’s day and night life are constant adventures. My real adventure, however, is the spiritual work i embarked on over years ago. i had no idea how much of an adventure exploring myself and trying to change would be, nor did i know of the immense rewards.
And i’m not done, either. Recently i was forced to realize i’m still painfully shy and socially inept and that i really needed alcohol as a crutch in social situations and without it i’m pretty lame, but that’s OK. Or it’s not, but that’s the way it is and i have the tools i need to work on it. It’s all part of the adventure.
Let me take this opportunity, though, to wish those of you fighting the good fight against a baser nature a happy Rebel’s Night, for we are the true Rebels of this world.