Monthly Archives: November 2011
Every night before i go to bed, i write what’s known in The Rooms as a Gratitude List.
Basically, i spend 5 minutes writing down the different things for which i’m thankful, and the first item at the top of every list is:
Why? Because without it, none of the other stuff on the list would be there.
Be well and enjoy this Thanksgiving Day.
Tonight in the Rooms, one of the crazies shared. He babbled on about things that were pretty disjointed and i was having a hard time following because, you know me, i have a hard enough time as it is understanding people who make sense. Then, at the end of the share, he was talking about a musician friend of his in AA who went to meetings every day.
“Why do you go to a meeting every day?” my guy asked him.
Because it’s like playing guitar—when I practice guitar every day, I get better.
That was my AA lesson todAAy, and an explanation of why i’m hitting 2-3 AA meetings a week as well as waking up at 5am every morning (weekends included) to work another 12-Step program with a sponsor in the States because they don’t have all the Anonymouses in Yeaman.
When i work it every day, i get better.
Just to let y’all know i’ve updated the GlosAAry with another definition:
Home Sweet Home and sometimes Home Sweat Home. Refers to the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting rooms. Members of AA will often talk about things they “picked up in the rooms”, meaning while attending an AA meeting.
One thing i’ve been learning in Recovery is that a lot of my drinking was fear based. i was afraid of being rejected, afraid of looking stupid (which is ironic when you consider how i looked after i’d drunk), afraid of talking, afraid of being judged, afraid of showing emotion… Booze made me brave. Liquid courage. It also made me an asshole. Liquid…asshole? No, that’s diarrhea.
In my 4th Step of the Alcoholics Anonymous program, i listed my wrongs and resentments and people i’d harmed and discovered the source for many of my defects of character were based in the fear i was trying to drown with alcohol. My sponsor told me to write down, every day, the fears i’ve experienced that day.
This is now my nightly routine. In bed, right before sleeping, i list the following things:
- My Fears: what caused them and what the core fear was (like being rejected or health fears or fear of anger…)
- My Esteemable Acts: what did i do that day, especially anonymously, to make my corner of the world a better place
- My Gratitude List: what was i grateful for that day
You know what? i’ve been doing this for about 2 weeks and today i realized i’m a lot less afraid of daily life than i have been in decades. Literally. And i haven’t done anything, except write down 3-4 things at night.
Tastes like Chicken? Not anymore.
Once upon a year, many times ago, i was riding in the back of a bus and reading a book. The seats at the back were arranged facing each other but my head was buried in my book when i felt someone’s foot encroaching on my foot space. He was pushing my shoe with his even though my foot had clearly been there first. i nudged his tennis shoe back to reclaim my territory—these inches of corrugated rubber bus floor were rightfully mine and i’d be damned if i gave them up just because some twat thought i wouldn’t hold my ground.
After ten minutes of this back and forth, i finally raised my head from the pages and saw i was engaged in a turf war with a 15-year-old mentally handicapped boy sitting next to his mother. In that instant, i learned more about fighting for my rights than i ever would at any other time in my life.
Unfortunately, at times i also forgotten more than i’ve ever known about fighting for my rights.
A few years back, a drinking buddy of mine committed an unforgivable affront. As it was totally unforgivable, i’ve never forgiven him (hence he ‘unforgivable’). However, as we work together, i’ve seen him pretty much every day since his heinous act. In the last 2½ years, i’ve spoken to him twice and i was drunk both times. Since entering recovery on January 11, 2011 i have not even acknowledged his presence when we are in the same room together.
Today, i read the following in the Alcoholic Anonymous Big Book.
When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. They will be done.”
We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn’t treat sick people that way.
–Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, page 67 (Emphasis is mine)
Reading that, i was taken back to the petty fight with a disabled teen over 6 inches of dirty bus floor. i may not be better than any other person, but i can be better than our conflict.
You may find this hard to believe, but i’m quite the hedonist. OK, so maybe it’s not hard to believe.
Point is, “good times” sums up pretty much the entire bedrock foundation of why i drank.
If it’s not fun i won’t do it
was my credo for 30 odd years. Very odd years.
The funny thing is is that it wasn’t. Funny, that is. My drinking was neither funny nor fun.
The longest my binge buzz peak ever lasted was 3 hours. That’s the absolute longest and a generous estimate at that. After came the spending of all my money, followed by self humiliation, the dangerous trip home, the physical hangover (12 hours minimum), the spiritual hangover the day after that, then the financial hole that lasted for weeks which led to depression and unavoidably more drinking.
i thought i was all about the fun yet i was consistently misleading a life that inevitably took me into a downward spiral of sufferance. The misconception that i was in a constant search for happiness while steadily walking further and further away from it is one more attestation to the insanity i was drowning myself in.
No one ever came to Alcoholics Anonymous because they were having too much fun.
This was one of the first lessons i learned In AA.
There truly is no job i’m too good for. Today at work i cleaned a toilet left soiled by an anonymous donor.
This is me getting stronger.
In the Same Boat is a lifesaver.
A Recovery Guru on the internet, he’s a regular commenter on this page, as well as the Bar None and many of the sites listed under Recovery Artists in my sidebar. Though he does not keep a blog himself (despite my constant pleas), he has been so kind as to grace me with a couple of guest posts.
Today, he’s generously provided me with a follow up to ITSB’s Manifestive, a post he wrote on his first anniversary of sobriety that i hung up over at the Bar None. Today, on the 2nd anniversary of his sobriety, he has this wisdom to impart to us.
ITSB’s 2nd Anniversary Manifestive
My first month of sobriety seemed like a year. My second year of sobriety seemed like a month.
Reading my 1-year manifestive over again, I see that much has changed.
The biggest change is leaving isolation. My mountain home, tucked deep in the mountains to keep me far away from bars and liquor stores, is no longer required. I have moved to a place very close to the beach in the Santa Monica/Venice area of LA and I love it. I can ride my bike along the ocean path to work, ogling the hotties. I can run barefoot in the sand with the surf hitting my feet and then jump in for a swim to cool down if I get too hot.
To forget the day, I do not need alcohol. Rather, I take my portable chair to the beach and watch the sunset, while listening to the waves. And I’m learning to surf. All this would be gone if I went back to my old ways because there are many bars nearby and a liquor store next door. Drinking the way I used to with such easy access to booze? That could be fatal. I know it. I have found a place to live that makes me far happier than any buzz alcohol has ever given me and I become healthier, not weaker enjoying it. Any temptation to drink is immediately quashed with the realization that it would ruin what I now have.
But while my location is a dream and my urges to drink are comfortably suppressed, there is still reality to cope with. My job is stressful, and I am not as far along in my career as I would like to be. The reason is that I wasted a decade taking easy-money jobs to keep me sauced rather than advancing my career. I used to lament that “work was interfering with my drinking” but the opposite was obviously true. Working hard now I find it very easy to catch up since I do not have to spend the morning nursing a hangover. I’ve even started a little consulting business on the side that’s helping me become more financially secure. And I’ve made it a goal to be retired by the time I’m 55. That’s still a ways away. But it is something to keep my focus on the future and away from the here and now. Nonetheless, I find the stress manifesting itself in ways that are not uncommon but still unpleasant.
Resentments, desires to lash out, and the like, that could have been easily quelled with a few beers at the end of the day, now take other methods. While I still find the ABCs taught in SMART therapeutic, the most effective therapy I have found is to go the gym, which is fortunately near my office, pick up two dumbells (3, 5, or even 8 pounds work) and smash a punching bag until my arms feel like they’re going to drop off. Then I rest for 30 seconds and do it again and again as often as it takes to work it out. Following that with some weight training a couple times a week, and maybe a massage, helps a lot.
While I brag about my running and weight training, which have been instrumental to recovery, I still find myself engaging in self-destructive behavior. My caffeine consumption is entirely too high — I drink about 8-10 cups of coffee a day, which cannot be good. But I am not that concerned about it. The other behavior I have is more troubling. If you re-read my manifestive, you’ll see that airports were a major source of anxiety for me. Well, actually I have learned that it’s travel in general. And the following has happened three or four times in the past year.
Whenever I fly somewhere or go on a road trip, I tell myself that it’s ok to have a few cigarettes even though I stopped smoking regularly almost 20 years ago. The few turn into a pack of smokes, which I have at the destination. This is enough to get me addicted to nicotine. So then I buy nicotine replacement lozenges so that I do not smoke or enter withdrawal at an inopportune time. After everything has settled from the travel, I then withdrawal over a weekend when the thrill of the lozenges wear off and things are peaceful. I have identified travel as the trigger but I still feel like part of me likes playing the addict game. The only good things I can say about it are that it serves as a strong reminder of how easy it is to fall into one’s old ways and it is not dehabilitating like alcohol. Still, it has to stop.
So there you have it. The urges to drink went away. I haven’t been to a SMART meeting in 18 months but I still turn to your blog and others for guidance and reminders of what hell is like. I’m getting my career back on track. Yet I still play the addict game from time to time but not with the booze. Life in my second year was much easier than my first. I think this is because I overcame the Post-Acute-Withdrawal Syndrome and rebalanced myself. Also, the extra brain power I have from not drinking allows me to think of ways to improve my life. Oh, and I remain convinced I can never moderate alcohol.
And I believe it will get easier for you as well.
Hang in there! You’re doing great, Al!
There are many tasks i used to think were beneath me. Things that needed doing that i was too good for.
Here’s what i learned. The more jobs i do that i feel are beneath me, the higher i raise myself up. The more tasks i accomplish that i am too good for, the better person i become.
Allow me to pass along some wisdom given me by my sponsor.One thing my sponsor told me when he was giving me the answers to all my problems was that a lot of my drinking was fear based. Much of that fear is the fear of rejection. i drank so i could overcome this fear.
The Cure to Fear of Rejection is Esteemable Acts.
An Esteemable Act is a Good Deed and they are cushions for the soul.
The more esteemable acts i do, the better i feel about myself. The better i feel about myself, the less a rejection will sting. Thus, the more Good Deeds i do, the less i will suffer from rejection.
Good deeds make you strong. Be Strong!
As i hinted at in my “Easier, Softer Way” post, one of the things i love about AA is that, thanks to the program, i don’t have to think. Not only is “not thinking” recommended, it’s required.
This is good news for me because i suck at thinking. If thinking were like driving, i’d have my license revoked because whenever i try to think by myself, i wind up in a bad place.
If i’m angry, sad, impatient, tense, nervous, aggressive, short tempered, or depressed 10 times out of 10 the cause is that i tried thinking again.
i tried thinking during my 30-year drinking life and it never worked, not even once. i thought constantly for my entire life and that led me to a drinking problem which led me to alcoholism which led me to a suicide attempt. My thinking nearly killed me.
My thoughts are lethal.
What can i do to squelch the constant static of thoughts filling my head?
6 Ways to Stop Thinking
- Read the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and do what it says
- Listen to my sponsor and do what he says
- Attend a meeting and listen to what they have to say
- Hang out with others in the program and hear what they say
- Meet “winners” with more experience in sobriety than i have and do what they say
- Read others’ blogs about recovery