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?
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.
- 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!
When i was 18 i started a journal, but the problem was i went into so much detail that i was writing more than i lived. So i decided that to save time i would only write down three sentences at the end of the day: 1) My best event of that day, 2) my worst event of that day, 3) something that i learned that day. i’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and do it with my children as well, stopping only momentarily with my son after he reached his 18th birthday until he asked me to continue a few weeks after.
i went to an AA meeting yesterday and saw my sponsor there. After the meeting we were in the hallway talking about some Step 8 & 9 stuff and when we were through he asked me for a hug. He told me that sponsorship was a two-way street and that working with me helped his sobriety because he saw how much i’m getting out of mine. He said that i inspired him.
It’s like the above picture…who is helping whom?
Guess what i wrote down as my best event of the day last night…
i know a guy more sober than his 5 years. During a more emotional than usual share, he described the relief he felt upon desperately entering the program, saying through his tears, “The difference between a sliver of hope and no hope is huge.”
That you have chosen to visit this blog shows you have not given up. Your reading this proves you still have hope, and this is huge.
Now, continue to do the next right thing.
[Thanks to ITSB for the picture!]
i’ve never been to a bad meeting. i have never been to a meeting where i left thinking, “Wow, that was a royal waste of my time.”
i’ve never been to a bad meeting, but last night was pretty damn close.
Last night (not an AA meeting–it was for anther 12-step fellowship) we spent the larger part of our hour reading the procedures and the bylaws and the 12 & 12 (AA’s 12 Steps and 12 Traditions) and then we took turns reading aloud from a dense book. It was late and i was tired from a full work day and most of the readers were foreigners who had a less than perfect grasp of English and one guy is a recovered stutterer who took long pauses while he tried to reign in his tongue and my mind was wandering and i was beginning to wonder if i wouldn’t have been better off at home.
But i wouldn’t have been. Partly not because it was useful for me to sit with others who share my sickness, and to be reminded that i am sick and that i to need to stay humble. Also, in the space of an hour, i can relax from every kind of temptation.
But mostly i would not have been better off at home because my presence helped others. The chair was an inexperienced woman, so i spoke up when she hesitated and supported her decisions. Having 2 years of sobriety gave me confidence so that, when i shared, my voice was stronger and steadier than many of the newcomers who were there, staring at their fidgety hands. i helped simply by showing up.
At the end of the meeting, as i was walking out of the door, the young man who stuttered asked if we could exchange numbers.
Sometimes the help i receive at meetings is the help i give others.
January 11, 2013 marked the end of my second year sober. When i picked up the above 2-year chip, i had this to share.
There have been times in the last two years where i really struggled in sobriety. What i learned from those moments is that when i thought the AA program wasn’t working, it turned out i wasn’t working my program hard enough.
A dry toast to another year and many more to come. Thank you all for your support and comments. The above chip is, in no small way, thanks to you. Please, keep coming back.
What kind of messed up freaky blogger friend am i? The kind that will set up a meeting with me in a bar! It’s a long story but not really.
While on Christmas breaks back in the States i went to a bar for the first time since i can’t remember when.
Not that i’m afraid of bars– i’m more sure of my sobriety than i am of many things in my life–but the thought of spending 4 hours trapped in a room full of people acting like i did when i was drunk is the opposite of appealing. Still, this time i was hanging with my oldest and best friends, one of whom is my sobriety hero (having been on the wagon for well over 20 years), and it was a sports bar so i could watch pro football on the big screen if i got bored and plus of the 7 of us there, only 2 were drinking beer.
i had a great time. i wasn’t even tempted to drink and i was still able to joke around with my buds like i used to in my drinking days. While i have a hard time being sober around acquaintances, i learned i can have a blast around people who know the real me.
To top it off, i met a reader! L / Working On It / 1jaded1 happened to be driving past the city i was in on her way to her home city, so we emailed each other and she googled her way to the bar. i felt bad asking a reader working to stay sober to meet me in a bar, but it was a calm afternoon and she and i only had the briefest of exchanges before she had to hit the road again. Still, it was so nice to put a face to the name and to meet someone who has been such a big supporter here.
All in all, i’m kicking 2013 off right!
What do you think?
What’s your position on those of us in recovery going to bars/lounges? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and join the discussion!
Indie genius Hip Hip poet Macklemore is addicted to codeine based cough syrup. In 2008, his breakout hit “Otherside” put him on the rap map as he bantered about overcoming his addiction to “easter pink” or “purple rain”.
In October 2012, he released the truly inspiring album The Heist with Ryan Lewis. On it, the song “Starting Over” tells the very personal story of his relapse. In an intimate and eloquent song, he describes the pain of letting down both loved ones and fans he helped in sobriety, and he explains the reasons for his relapse.
Like so many others, I just never thought I would
I never thought I would
Didn’t pick up The Book
Doin’ it by myself
Didn’t turn out that good
i’ve been sober for over 23 months and 4 days as of today. i’m extremely fortunate that i have been able to stay sober so long on my first try.
That i have not relapsed has nothing to do with personal strength or wanting it more or trying harder. If i’ve avoided a relapse it’s because i recognize that i’m weak and will never be able to control my drinking, so i let my Higher Power and others do it for me.
My continued sobriety is also thanks to those in the rooms and here online that have relapsed. In each of their stories i see my own and, as i know i’m no better than they are, their relapses serve to remind me how vulnerable i am. Each harrowing tale, disappearing face and name that evaporates on my blog roll frightens me and forces me to rise up from my laurels and fight like my life depends on it.
Because it does.
For those of you who have relapsed, know that your experiences are not wasted but serve to aid others who suffer. And remember, it is never too late to stop for the last time.
Everyone knows that every Friday my work has an all-you-can-drink cocktail party. When i was drinking, Friday was a regular reminder of what kind of binge drinker i was because no matter how many promises i made to myself, my wife, even my kids, i always got sucked back into the eddy of “just one more”. After that came phone calls and apologies and walking unevenly home and the only thing buoyed me other than the beers i always stole from the office and carried in the deep pockets of my trench coat was the knowing that when i stumbled late into wherever i was supposed to be that there would be some more alcohol there.
Last night i made plans to eat some fast food and see a movie with my 17-year-old son. To meet him at the restaurant, i had to leave work at 5:45 (the cocktail party starts at 5:30, unless you start at the all-you-can-drink wine lunch)—i left 5 minutes early. i did not try to pound as many beers as i could fit into 15 minutes only to end up unable to tear myself away from free booze and calling him with promises i would make it up later. i did not stand him up and i did not let him down.
After our fast food dinner, as we sat waiting for the movie to roll, i realized all i’d done was make and keep an appointment with my son, something most (non alcoholic) people take for granted. It’s such a little thing and yet it is really such a huge thing when i think about it. And i do. A lot. And i’m not the only one.
PS i hate the title of this post but like it too much to change it. Just so’s ya know.