Monthly Archives: December 2011
What i learned today:
When i was drinking, i used to pray for endings. Even when i wasn’t hungover, i was suffering. The day, the night, the job, my life… endings brought an absence of pain.
Today, i caught myself praying for longer days because life is so rich i want to get as much living in as possible.
That’s a big difference.
A man i never knew committed suicide on Christmas Eve. He checked into a hotel room, mixed antifreeze with Gatorade and checked out permanently. He left a note online, in his blog, where he mentioned his alcoholism was a problem.
Things I Regret
- My inability to conquer my alcoholism
- The things I did because of it
i never met Joe Bodolai but i knew him. Less than a year ago, i, too, overdosed on a mixed cocktail of pills while drunk and left ominous suicide notes online, only to be saved the next morning by my now wife and 16-year-old son, before spending 2 weeks in the hospital. The first thing i did after my release was to go to an AA meeting. On January 11, 2012, i will have been sober one year.
In an AA meeting room once, an old timer shared that he hit bottom and was faced with a choice between death and sobriety. He chose death. When that didn’t work out, he had no choice but to try AA. He’s been sober 45 years.
Alcoholism is a terminal disease. That i survived it is a miracle. Every day i am alive is a gift i tired to throw away and had returned to me. It’s a gift i try to share with my children, the rest of my family, and friends.
May wherever you are be better than the place you left, Joe. And may your family find peace in this tragedy.
Just to let y’all know i’ve updated the GlosAAry with another couple definitions:
Doing “Service” means volunteering in AA. A common example of “service” is helping out during an AA meeting by greeting newcomers, setting up the room or taking care of the coffee. By doing things beneath you, you lift yourself up. In doing things you’re too good for, you make yourself a better person.
“Service” is a pain in the ass because you’re supposed to be doing it for other people, but the more you do, the more you get back for yourself. Imagine trying to give all your money away, but whatever you donate you receive back three-fold.
“The Promises” is something that come straight out of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not.
They are being fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
They will always materialize if we work for them.
Alcoholics Anonymous, pages 83-84
The strange thing about the promises is that you don’t realize how great these things are until you have them and that you get tons more stuff that isn’t even included here. Like you enjoy the holidays more. What’s up with that? And appreciate your family more. Who knew?
i used up all my old friends. i got invited to their parties and made an ass out of myself so badly that i embarrassed them more than me.
It didn’t take long before they stopped inviting me and i only knew about their parties when they reveled in them on Monday mornings.
Even though they’re less afraid of me in my sobriety, the invites are only for those partiers who party and it’s certainly better that way.
i was invited to a party today though. One of the guys in AA had a get together at his place for Christmas. It wasn’t the kind of party that ravaged me in the past.
It was one where i belonged.
i’m not perfect.
i just wanted to throw that up there for anyone who wondered. Meaning, i’m sure no one wondered if i was perfect or not, but one or two of you may have wondered if i thought i was. Which i don’t. Yes, i enjoy writing about my breakthroughs and my progress on these pages, but that doesn’t mean i consider i’ve left all my defaults behind.
Case in point, i took the above picture yesterday afternoon at work. It’s a rubber trash can filled with ice and loaded up with champagne for the annual Office Christmas Party (not to be confused with the weekly Office Cocktail Party which is a whole ‘nother can of rums better left unopened).
i blew off the party and visited an AA friend who’d landed in the hospital after a horse landed on him and broke his pelvis (that’d be my friend’s pelvis, the horse’s pelvis is doing just fine, thank you very much). When i came into work this morning, i remembered the times when i struggled into the office the morning after, desperate for a coke and a nap, ashamed to look my coworkers in the eyes, the whole time swallowing the chunky burps that kept popping up in the middle of my meetings. i felt doubly good this morning because i was mentally happy and looked good enough to draw 2 smiles from women in my commute.
So, i’m perfect, right? Nah, my arch nemesis missed a meeting this morning and when the boss called to find out where he was, he was still in bed. Yeah, i guess i felt triply good today.
One of the guys in the rooms is a pretty choleric guy. He’s got more time in than i do, but also more anger. One time, he shared that he comes to AA meetings to hear how much people are hurting and their difficulties in sobriety. It’s not so much that he doesn’t care about other people’s happiness, he actually finds it offensive.
Last week, he was with a group of guys after a meeting and i started hanging out with them. i mentioned that this is the first Christmas in 28 years that i don’t feel the need to run and hide in the bottom of an eggnog, or where i’m not curled in a ball under the Christmas tree cursing myself for being a failure and praying the holiday will, like Santa’s weighty sled, pass over me as quickly as possible while causing as little permanent damage as it can.
This year, i’m happy. This year, the Holiday Spirit is overflowing and not the holiday spirits. i have more energy and not just the stones to confront the season, but a desire to go out, shake its hand and invite it into my home. It’s a feeling i did not bargain on at all when i went sober. There are a lot of fringe benefits to sobriety that fall in your lap like Christmas presents you get after you thought you’d opened everything.
i was explaining this to a group of friends after the meeting and, before i’d even finished my first sentence, the Angry Bird flew away and found another flock of fellows to crash.
And that’s OK because his anger is not my business. i get that a lot of people are going to be hurt or jealous or angry that i’m in a good mood. Like Life magazines they use for toilet paper, those are their issues.
As for me? i’m obnoxiously happy and refuse to feel guilty about it.
Recovery is like coming to the surface after being held underwater for 30 years.
It’s like being freed after being a victim held hostage in captivity for half a lifetime.
There is no way i’d ever want to go back to this kind of suffering now that i’m free from it.
[Dedicated to Mel, who inspired this post.]
i used to joke about how i had to drink because i was a writer. “i don’t like to drink,” i’d laugh, “but it’s part of the job description.”
More seriously, i was scared to death that when i stopped drinking, i’d stop writing. That somehow my ideas came from a dream machine fueled by alcohol, that my creativity was a flame fanned by the fumes of booze, that my talent was a spirit watered by spirits and that when i went dry so would the well that held the ink that spelled my destiny.
Like with everything else, i could not have been more wrong. (That’s what i get for trying to think and why i’m definitely giving thinking up indefinitely.)
Apparently alcohol was a wet blanket that smothered my thoughts, ideas, feelings, ideas and inspiration. When i was in college, i used to stay up until 4AM caressing the keys of an Apple IIe with all the lights out except the green glow of the words spilling across the screen.
In the last few years, i wondered what happened to that all consuming passion to write, that need to write that kept me up all night and now i know it didn’t go anywhere. It’s been here below the surface the entire time but the problem is that “below the surface” is the first place to go under when the flood waters flow. i was literally drowning my happiness with alcohol.
It is now 1:42AM and i’m going to bed because i have a wife i want to share my life with but i’m buzzing write now with the sheer joy of playing with these words.
Just to let y’all know i’ve updated the GlosAAry with another defintion:
“Sharing” is the action of spilling your guts when you open your heart during an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
Depending on the size of the meeting, the amount of time you have to share may be limited. You can only share once during a meeting, other speakers are not allowed to interrupt the speaker who is sharing, and commenting on a previous speaker’s share when you are sharing (see “cross talk”) is frowned upon.
“A Share” is the egoism wisdom, anger danger, or worth-shit worship you spit up when you are at your most vulnerable in front of the dozens of other ex drunkards saving your life with the life lines of words you cast with your real voice.
From Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous:
The only currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.