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!
The other day a song called “Behind Me Now” by the talented Amos Lee popped up on shuffle and the stark first lines left me thinking.
All my best days are behind me now.
If you had told me three years ago, before i got sober, that my best days were over, i would have gotten angry and disagreed with all the logic and fear at my disposal.
“Sure,” i would have said, “things aren’t that great for me and my past is full of glories and greater times but to say my best days are behind me,” i would have argued, “is basically telling me i might as well kill myself.”
With my drinking, however, that’s exactly what i was doing. Until i tried to commit suicide the fast way. One of the reasons for that fiasco was that, on some level, i did suspect that all my best days were behind me.
If you came to me today and told me all me best days were behind me now, i wouldn’t argue with you. i wouldn’t become nervous and search for words to justify my lifestyle and choices. i wouldn’t need to because i know that today is better than yesterday, and yesterday was pretty damn good.
That’s why i intend on staying straight ahead.
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.
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.
In the rooms the other night, someone mentioned she considered herself lucky to be an alcoholic.
If I had to have a disease, I’d choose alcoholism.
i get this.
Alcoholism is a terminal disease. Left untreated, alcoholism causes death. Alcoholism: there is no cure but there is a treatment.
Alcoholism is a rare disease in that the remedy not only lets you maintain your lifestyle, but actually improves it.
If i had my ‘druthers i wouldn’t be a drunkard but if i have to pick a sickness, i’ll be an alcoholic.
Seether – Remedy
Clip the wings that get you high, just leave them where they lie
And tell yourself, “You’ll be the death of me”
i met this guy a couple years ago, soon after i got sober. He seemed nice enough, but i secretly mocked his positive outlook when he wasn’t around. See, i have a hard time believing in happy optimists because i suspect they’re either lying to themselves or me.
Anyway, i started seeing more of him. At first it was just in the rooms, then i’d happen bump into him at random places (in the street, for example) and soon we were spending a lot more time together. He kind of grew on me, so i learned to forgive him his outlook on life even if i still found it Pollyanna-ish, naïve, and just plain silly.
After that, though, i started seeing him all the time. Like he’d show up where i work, and even in my apartment! Imagine my shock the first time i woke up and found him in my bed with me!
…that happy, joyous and freaky guy i used to make fun of is me. And now that buoyant boy aspect of me is moving in and taking over. Slowly, surely, and thankfully.
When i drank, i looked forward to drinking and i looked forward to drinking because i looked forward to forgetting i had nothing to look forward to.
Sobriety not only saved my life, Sobriety gave me a life worth saving.
A corollary to that expression is,
Sobriety not only gave me a future, but gave me a future i can look forward to.
You know me (and if you don’t it’s because you’ve had your shots), i’m all about living in the present. Still, i can’t deny i’m looking forward to spending vacation with my family because being sober means i’ll be able to enjoy it more. i’m also looking forward to this weekend because there are 2-3 concerts in the park i’m going to see. i’m looking forward to going to bed soon because i’ll curl up under the blanket with my electronica and read and watch movies…
i’m looking forward to 10 minutes from now because i’ll ‘meditate’ to good music while i wash dishes and i’ll feel good about turning off the lights on a clean apartment. i’m looking forward to a few minutes from now because i’ll post this puppy and have the feeling i’ve accomplished something. i’m looking forward to a few seconds from now because i like looking for funny pictures to attach to these posts.
i’m not saying life is always good, but it’s a damn sight better. And keeps getting more so.