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Monthly Archives: August 2012

You Want To Know If You’re An Alcoholic

So you wanna know if you’re an alcoholic…

Used 2012-08-30 Hunter S Thompson quote

Short Answer –

You’re not.

(Because…)

Medium Answer –

Being an alcoholic is like being in love: if you have to ask, you aren’t.

Long Answer –

It all goes back to Step 1 of Alcoholic’s Anonymous‘s 12 Steps.

We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.

The second half of that step is the most overlooked and yet most important part of Step 1. Admitting you’re powerless over alcohol is key, but recognizing that you have lost control of your life because you’re powerless over alcohol is what makes a person an alcoholic.

If you cannot control your drinking and your life has been ruined as a result, congratulations: the good news is waiting in the column to the right of this post, under the heading Some R&R (Recovery & Resources).Used 2012-08-30 You're an alcoholic Fuck You Lamp

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What Are You Thanking?

First off, there’s this addition to the GlosAAry

Gratitude

Blessings In Disguise

Gratitude = Great + Attitude.

Taking a break from living to appreciate life. Gratitude for an addict means recognizing and appreciating the gifts recovery has brought–things the disease had promised but never delivered.

A common suggestion for alcoholics in recovery is to keep and regularly update a Gratitude List of all the things that sobriety has given them which drinking took away.

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When i first started my recovery, my sponsor told me to keep a Gratitude List. Simply put, it was supposed to be a list of all the things i was grateful for, so i put things down like, “My Family”, “My Apartment”, My Job”…

It took a little while, but then i clued into the fact that the idea isn’t to write a “Rainbow Pony” list of all the things i appreciate and like, but rather a concrete enumeration of all the things i have because of Recovery and wouldn’t have without it.

My list changed to:

  • i’m less angry
  • i’m less depressed
  • i now have the courage to continue trying
  • i’m better at extracting myself from unpleasant situations
  • i enjoy good times more completely
  • i appreciate music more
  • i need fewer breaks from my day
  • i panic less
  • i see my defaults more clearly and in their proper perspective
  • i’m a better example for my children
  • i’m better at prioritizing
  • i’m more honest about admitting my mistakes
  • i get more done

The list goes on and on…

Now, if i ever face a situation where i’m tempted to drink, i’ll be able to look back on this list and see all of the things i’ll be giving up. Or, even more likely, if i get too confident and start thinking i’ve got my addiction under control, i can reread these items and see all the things recovery gave me that i could never get for myself.

Powerful tool, that.

We’re In The Same Boat

Here i am, back in Yeaman after a fun 3 weeks with friends and family at what i previously dubbed Camp David Hasselhoff. i tried 4 times to find the backwoods AA meetings i’d attended last year but to no avail. Either i had the wrong day, time or place, but i missed the meeting in more ways than one. Still, here i am, back in Yeaman and still sober.

In The Same Boat Be Smart Boat Sober

Be Smart – Get In The Same Boat

While i have your attention, i’d like to point you towards my brother from another mother’s, In The Same Boat’s, new blog “Bleatings of ITSB“. ITSB has been a regular reader, incisive commenter, and guest posting patron of this blog since it’s inception and has so many good things to share that he created a space to say it. You’ll be doing yourself a great favor if you check out his bleatings.

The Me That Was Is Mocking Me Now

The man i used to be made fun of people like me. Optimistic, looking on the bright side, a quick smile…

Maybe i didn’t trust these strangers and figured they were either lying to themselves or to me. Whatever the reason, i considered myself smarter than them because if they knew as much about life as i did, they wouldn’t be half as happy.

Now i see it’s the younger me that was ignorant. So, i don’t mind his laughter.

i just wish he’d clue in a little faster.

Unfinished Sins of Me

i know i probably come off here as someone who thinks he has it all figured out. i may seem like someone who believes he’s achieved perfection, but it’s not because i like to share what i’ve learned that i think i know it all. As i say on my About page, i don’t have the answers, but i know the people who do.

Part of recovery is what i’ve heard called “being right sized”, which means avoiding thoughts like “i’m useless garbage” or, at the other extreme, “i’m the King of the World and his Son, too.”

In an effort to remain balanced, i’ll share some of the areas i recognize i need to work on, for no other reason than to remind myself and my readers that i’m a work in progress.

Areas i’m Still Improving
Intimacy
Patience
Sex
Anger
Isolating

i’ll keep you “posted”.

The Easier, Softer Way

Many AA meetings begin with a reading from Chapter 5, “How It Works”, of the AA Big Book. In the introduction to this chapter, before the steps are outlined, one of the warnings provided is, “At some of these [steps] we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.”

i didn’t understand this for the longest time. For me, AA was the easier, softer way because my drinking life was exhausting. The amount of time, energy, physical and psychological effort that went into setting up, surfing and surviving my binges was stupefying. Recovery removed a lot of the hard work that went into being me.

Then, during a Newcomers’ Meeting, the light bulb went on.

Following my suicide attempt and subsequent release from the hospital, one of the first things i did was to go to AA. One meeting a week. Didn’t care about a sponsor. But i didn’t drink. i was sober and in recovery so that was me sorted.

Only it wasn’t. That was the “easier, softer way”.

My real recovery began when someone asked me if i’d found a sponsor yet, knowing i hadn’t. It wasn’t easy, but i overcame my timidity, self reliance and pride issues and asked someone to help me.

Then my sponsor told me to hit 4 meetings a week. It wasn’t easy, but i explained to my wife, boss and children what i was doing and sacrificed some of my personal time to do it.

Then a coffee service position opened up in one of the meetings. It wasn’t easy, but i overcame my laziness and volunteered and now i go in earlier and leave later than everyone else and have taken it upon myself to pay for the coffee, tea, cookies and fruit out of my own pocket without being reimbursed.

Then the secretary of the meeting asked if i would co-chair. It wasn’t easy, but…

i wanted the easier, softer recovery but i know me and i know i would have stumbled if i’d stayed on that path. Unfortunately, sobriety is work and, like any other job, the payback is in direct relation to the time and effort you put into it.

Don’t take it “easy”.

Don’t Hold On

The argument could be made that the basic foundation of recovery is learning to let go.

We addicts began using a defect of character / crutch (alcohol, anger, cigarettes, pornography, control) to help us traverse a crippling problem but we became so dependant on the crutch that it became our crippling problem.

We need to learn to let go of the crutch, but we’re afraid. We’re a afraid we cannot go on without the crutch, that we are defined by it and that it our crutch is now a part of us.

We are afraid that if we let go, we will fall.

But what if the branch we are desperatey clinging to isn’t a branch at all?

What if the branch we are holding on to is an anchor holding us down? And what if by letting go of the defect, we let ourselves fly to the heights we can’t reach while clinging to the weight of our crutch?

Throw down your crutch and soar!

_____________________________

For those of us in AA:

This post relates directly to Steps 6 & 7. In Step 6, we became willing to have our Higher Power remove our defects of character and in Step 7, humbly asked him/her to do so.

Our defects of character are our crutches and our anchors. Step 6 is recognizing these defects and simply saying “My anger / fear / lust / control issues / jealousy / laziness / resentments… are not a part of me. They don’t define me. I really want to be rid of them.”

Step 7 is catching yourself using these crutches and mentally saying out loud (praying), “I am not able to control this part of my life, so I’ll stop trying to manage it and let my Higher Power remove it from me.”

___________________________

Just a reminder that i ‘m on vacation in a place that has very limited internet access and so i won’t be able to respond to comments with my usual ruthless efficiency. Please don’t think i ‘m not reading them (i most definitely am), and please continue to leave them (they make my day).

My Duct Tape Life

A woman in the rooms mentioned that before AA, her life was held together by duct tape. i totally get this analogy.

When i was drinking, “It’s good enough,” (it never was) and “No one will know” (i always did), were my mottos. When i had a problem, i’d find a quick fix solution that would hold things together long enough for me to get drunk over the issue before i could forget about it. Then, when the next problem came along, i ‘d do the same thing, again and again, until all it took was one quick snip of scissors to make my whole life fall apart.

AA has given me the tools i need to reconstruct the foundations of my life, and while it will never be finished, i’m able to maintain my life and fix the cracks as best i can to keep my center sound and stable.

You Kill Me

i Don’t Get It Enough

Part 3: You Kill Me

Alcoholics like to spew the truth but recovering alcoholics have found it. Ex-addicts know more about life than any guru Buddhist philosopher genius i’ve ever met.

That said, there are a couple cliches i hear regularly i don’t agree with, probably because i haven’t been in the program long enough to get yet. If any of you guys can shed some light to help me along my way, i’d sure appreciate it.

Thing #3: It Would’ve Killed Me
ex. “If I hadn’t quit drinking when I did, I would be dead or in prison right now.”

Meaning: Sobriety saved my life.

What i Don’t Get Enough: i’ve saved the most controversial one for last but i ‘m gonna go there anyways.

i didn’t stop drinking to live longer, i stopped to live better.

i’m not in AA to live a lengthy, miserable life sober. If my life was going to be sad no matter what, i’d still be drinking. That way i’d still be depressed, but at least the misery wouldn’t last as long because i’d die sooner.

i’m in recovery because i enjoy living more now than i did when i was drinking.

i’ll say it again. i didn’t stop drinking to live longer, i stopped to live happier.

If your life isn’t better in sobriety, you are doing it wrong.
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Just a reminder that i’m on vacation in a place that has very limited internet access and so i won’t be able to respond to comments with my usual ruthless efficiency. Please don’t think i’m not reading them (i most definitely am), and please continue to leave them (they make my day).

You’ve Got It Bad

i Don’t Get It Enough

Part 2: You’ve Got It Bad

image

You Could Be Worse

Alcoholics like to spew the truth but recovering alcoholics have found it. Ex-addicts know more about life than any guru Buddhist philosopher genius i’ve ever met.

That said, there are a couple cliches i hear regularly i don’t agree with, probably because i haven’t been in the program long enough to get yet. If any of you guys can shed some light to help me along my way, i’d sure appreciate it.

Thing # 2: I Thought I Had It Bad Until…
ex. “I thought I had it bad until I met a guy who was born without an asshole in diarrhea land.”

Meaning: Other people’s hardships prove mine aren’t worth drinking over.

What i Don’t Get Enough: Stories of someone whose life suffering is much greater than our own are used to show us we don’t have it so bad that we should get drunk over it. Others have stayed sober through worse, you should too.

i don’t get this argument because 1) that someone is experiencing worse pain than mine makes my pain neither easier nor better. My agony is still the exact same no matter what you’re going through.

More importantly 2) Comparing yourself to others is a dangerous game that is generally discouraged in recovery. More specifically, sure, some people have it worse than me and don’t drink, but there are also some who suffer less than me and drink nonetheless. i need to stop basing my life on others’, and become responsible for my own.

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Just a reminder that i’m on vacation in a place that has very limited internet access and so i won’t be able to respond to comments with my usual ruthless efficiency. Please don’t think i’m not reading them (i most definitely am), and please continue to leave them (they make my day).