i’ve recently been anxious and stressed out by others acting out in my real virtual world. The situation has left me incredibly tense and feeling less than adequate.
A few years ago, i would have dealt with this using the only tool i had at my disposal: alcohol. Now it’s more daunting because i still feel the same dread but i don’t have the option of drinking over it.
Fortunately, i have more than one tool in my box now, and i’d like to share them with you here in case they might help you, the next time you get a little wound up.
The Serenity Prayer
i stand by this old standby. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change (which means other people’s behavior), the courage to change the things i can (myself), and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Where are you now?
i say this to myself when i catch myself falling down the rabbit hole of my thoughts, because eventually i get so far deep that my ideas start chasing their own tails and i lose my sense of the real world. Asking myself “Where are you right now?” forces me to focus on the real world and my physical place in it.
Once one of my biggest defects of character, now i let myself postpone worrying. When i notice the anxiety ramping up, i tell myself to put off thinking about the situation until tomorrow. This is nice because i’ve noticed time and sleep have a great way of diluting pressure.
The Happy Ending
When the problem ends–and it has to end eventually, it’s just a question of time–the ending will be happy because i won’t have drunk over the stress. i’ll have won, and that feels damn good.
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.
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.
Heard in the rooms…
[The image i borrowed is The Fall of Icarus by ramastom]
Remember me? i’m the guy who has a lot of defaults and is lucky enough to be able to see them clearer all the time.
The truth now: i judge a lot. All the time. Constantly maybe even.
i judge walking down the street, talking to people i meet, looking in the mirror, even getting clearer in the rooms.
I judge alcoholically, meaning compulsively, and for the wrong reasons because i judge to make myself feel better at another’s expense. i judge because i like to think i’m master of the universe and judging the world comes with the job.
i don’t just judge you, though. i’m an equal opportunity judge because i judge myself all the time, as well. i judge myself for being too shy, too fearful and i judge myself for judging too much.
But that’s OK, right? Judging myself is a good thing and it’s a tool for self improvement, isn’t it?
Judging myself isn’t an act of humility, it’s the opposite. Judging myself is a flagrant act of hubris because i’m basically punishing myself for not acting as perfect as i know i am.
i judge myself so i can feel guilty.
The solution to this is to be right sized. To see myself as i really am and not as who i think i am. Only after i accept myself for who i am today, defaults and all, will i be able to let myself off the hook.
What if “Alcohol Abuse” didn’t mean that i abused alcohol, but that booze abused me?
Think about it. Liquor took advantage of my neediness and desperation. At the beginning of our relationship, it made me feel better, more confident, and more attractive. As time wore on, however, alcohol hurt me more and more, leaving me with physical scars and a bruised ego to the point i was ashamed of our relationship. i tried to hide from my friends just how badly it was hurting me but this became impossible, so i left it more than once. Yet every time i walked away, i soon missed the bottle so badly that i forgot how bad it was for me.
Until the last time, when i walked out, slammed that door and never looked back.
Except sometimes i open up that door to the past and think about the good ole days, back when alcohol loved me for real and treated me so well. There were some nights we really got along, but those moments were the exception to the rule. i remember those times fondly, but not enough to give booze one more shot.
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”