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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Let’s Be Honest…

Honestly Sober recovery alcoholism

Honestly!

Some of you readers have been kind enough to remark on the honesty i display in some of my blog posts, and for that i thank you.

It’s a little self serving of me to take any credit, however, because all i’m doing in being honest is following one of the basic tenets of the program. i’m just “developing a manner of living which requires rigorous honesty” [from “Chapter 5: How It Works” of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, page 58].

Rigorous Honesty means being so honest i don’t even lie to myself. This is the most difficult kind of honesty to foster because often my brain doesn’t share the secret when it plays tricks on me.

There’s an expression my sponsor told me before doing Step 5 of the Twelve Steps (“Admitted to God, ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”):

You’re only as sober as your secrets.

Now, i don’t have to tell you guys all my deep dark secrets, but what i do decide to post here has to pass the truth test. “Rigorous honesty” means knowing that whatever i let slide will slide back on top of me one day.

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Seven Comforts

Used 2012-09-27 Comfort Food Sobriety Recovery Alcoholism

Comfort Food

Fellow Recovery Artist Mrs D posted an article on her wonderful blog about listing “7 Comforts of the Home”. As i read the post, i mentally started my own list and surprised myself when i realized my computer is not one of my “comforts”; all the more surprising when you consider this is where i spend the vast majority of my time when i’m at home, but there you go.

Anyway, here’s the list i came up with. If you’re feeling up to it, why not share your 7 Comforts in the Comments Section?

  1. The radio. i love listening to the radio, even if i rarely do it. i think i like it because it takes me back to my youth before Walkmans and MP3s when i had to listen to AM radio in my parents’ car. i also like it because i don’t have to do the work of choosing what to listen to, the DJ does it for me, i just have to sit back and enjoy.
  2. Books. Another one of those things i like but don’t do a lot. Feeling the weight of the pages and the texture of the paper is a real comfort.
  3. My bed. It’s a super crappy hide-a-bed i keep open all the time, with a sagging slat frame and a mattress as thick and soft as a soda cracker. But i feel safe in bed, spiritually and psychically protected like nowhere else in the world.
  4. Candles. Candlelight has a profoundly soothing power over me.
  5. This city. She’s a real bitch to live in day to day, but when i make the effort to walk around and get out and take advantage of all the treasures she has to offer, there’s a magic that lays just below the surface if you have the strength to dig for it and the desire to look.
  6. Autumn. My favorite season. i feel a sense of peace in Autumn that comes so naturally i don’t even have to look for it.
  7. Writing pen to paper. The physical feel of writing transports my soul to another place where my dreams have already come true.

Those Are The Days

Used 2012-09-25 Priorities Sober Recovery Alcoholism

Today i

  1. Woke up to change the towels sopping up the plumbing leak in the bathroom, hallway and kitchen
  2. Was carrying my spill-proof coffee cup, two breakfast bars, my satchel and my backpack when i opened the front door to discover it was raining
  3. Had to drop/unload everything to get my umbrella out of my back pack
  4. It stopped raining 5 minutes later
  5. i realized my pants were falling down because i forgot my belt
  6. In the subway i was sweating so profusely because of the humidity that people started building an ark as i toweled myself off with a bandanna
  7. i knocked over my coffee and learned my spill-proof mug isn’t
  8. i mopped up the spill with my sweat rag and commenced sweating harder
  9. i got off the subway in a downpour that stopped the instant i struggled to open my umbrella
  10. i arrived at work to discover my watch had stopped.

Despite all this, i didn’t drink from the bottle of wine on the table at lunch. So yeah, when all is said and done, it was a damn good day.

Think! Think! Think! Again

Used 2012-09-23 Think Think Think alcoholism recovery sobriety

In AA speak, the slogan “Think! Think! Think!” means stop listening to your gut and start listening to the voice of reason. As alcoholics, we were dogs salivating for booze as soon as the warning bells went off, and the more we drank the faster and louder those bells rang. We we drank instinctively.

“Think! Think! Think!” tells us to stop acting on reflexes and keep our brains turned on.

(In some rooms, the “Think! Think! Think!” sign is turned upside down to tell us that yes, we need to think, but we need to think differently than we did in the past because our alcoholic thinking led us into a bottleneck.)

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i keep saying that coincidence is the language of God and lately the question of my thought patterns keeps coming up.

  • i’ve been overly sensitive lately because i can’t turn off my brain when it comes to my problems
  • i’ve been thinking about how i can’t wait to get to Step 11 in the 12 Steps where it talks about meditation
  • My best recovery friend in the States talked about my “knowledge, IQ and ability to understand (recognize) situations and to give help to others” as a way to manage my overzealous thought patterns
  • At our last meeting, my sponsor said that controlling my intelligence is a key to moving forward in my sobriety

To control these rampant thoughts, my sponsor has suggested writing them out as soon as i feel the panic setting in. i do know that keeping busy helps and that going to meetings really really helps, but if anyone else has any tips (other than more exercise, ITSB! lol) on how to keep the dogs of thoughts at bay, i’d love to hear them.

Thanks for being there, y’all.

How Bad Do You Want It?

Sucker!

AA [read “sobriety”] is not for people who need it—it’s for people who want it.

Someone shared this in the meeting last night and it surprised me. Alcoholic’s Anonymous isn’t for people who need it? Are you sure?

The more i thought about it, though, the more i realized that was true.

i live in a big city and, on the bus ride home last night, i passed no fewer than 3 people passed out on cardboard over heating grates. They needed sobriety desperately. The odds they would reach out for help, however, were pitifully slim.

Personally, i needed sobriety in a bad way for many years, yet didn’t want it. AA would’ve been wasted on me. If i had attended a meeting with that mind set in stone, nothing would have been able to get through. i needed AA for decades, but only got it when i wanted it badly enough.

Sobriety: It’s not for people who need it, it’s for people who want it.

Terrible Twos: The Pink Cloud

To begin, here’s a new entry to my GlossAAry. (Yes, it’s pertinent…there’s a madness to my method!)

Pink Cloud

sobriety recovery alcoholism

Where the pink elephants used to live, and what you have left now they’ve gone.

Right next to Cloud Nine, the Pink Cloud is the feeling of relief you feel when you stop pounding your head against the stone wall of inebriation, convinced you will somehow break through.

Not everyone experiences this high in the first year of sobriety, and usually those that do get it say that it lasts only a few months.

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In my previous post, where i discussed how the second year of recovery presents some unique challenges, fellow Recovery Artist Mrs D left a comment saying,

Oh, I want to know more about this .. heading as I am into my second year…

i think in my case, one of the reasons i’m finding it harder to trudge the road of Happy Destiny in Year 2 A.D. (After Drinking) is that i did experience the Pink Cloud. If i remember correctly, it began in my 2nd month of sobriety and lasted about 2 months total. After that, the feelings faded.

Why? Since i was feeling good every day, feeling good became the new norm. If you win the lottery daily, there comes a point when you stop throwing a party over it.

How can we fight this complacency? One of the tools i use is the Gratitude List. Reminding myself of how far i’ve come and the misery i came from is powerful encouragement.

The only other way to really get a taste of the hell i escaped from is to have a taste of the hell i escaped from, and that’s just crazy talk. i’ll take a boring day in Heaven over a rough day in Hell any time.

Terrible Two

Recovery Alcoholism Sobriety

In our meeting last week, my sponsor pointed out that the second year of recovery is a real bear.

The first year, all the alcoholic has to do is focus on one concept:

i don’t drink no matter what.

In the second year, sobriety permeates more of our day to day and our lives become larger. With more recovery comes more responsibilities. The trick now is to power through difficult situations and make it through to the other side.

You see the diagram at the top? The Reality line is squiggly, but it still finishes better off and going in the right direction.

SOS: Save Our Sobriety

Alcohol Alcoholic recovery sobriety blog

Don’t Get Hammered

A few weeks after i began my recovery (over 20 months ago!), i had a problem, freaked out and ‘had to’ take a pill to sleep. i should say here that, oddly enough for someone who is addicted to everything else, pills never did it for me. They took too long and were never strong enough for me to develop an affinity for them. Anyway, immediately after taking the sleeping pill, i realized i should have cleared it with my sponsor first. When i told him about the incident at our next meeting, he was angry that i hadn’t called him and called it a slip.

Why hadn’t i called him? Simple, i didn’t even think about it. Ironically, one of the factors that led up to my suicide attempt was the same thing: i am incapable of asking for help—i perceive it to be a sign of weakness.

Last Sunday, i had a coffee with my sponsor and while discussing all the issues i’ve got going on at the moment, i began to feel better, calmer, more together. As he gave me advice, I started thinking more clearly. i especially understood i should have called him earlier  rather than let myself sink lower and lower.

Then, one of the pieces of advice he gave me was to reach out to a friend in recovery in the States. Being told by someone helping me that i needed to ask for help was finally direct enough to drive the message into my brain.

Asking others for help is a tool in the Toolbox.

Brave Enough To Not Be Brave

Used 2012-09-10 Helping Hands alcoholic recovery sobriety

The theme of the Friday night AA meeting here is “The Courage To Change”. Last Friday, the guy who spoke said that true courage is not fighting all your battles alone like some crazed knight, but asking those around you for help. Simple truths cut deepest…

Unfortunately, this goes against everything i have been taught since i was old enough to learn, and i’m afraid i’m too old to change.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Fake It 'Til You Make It Alcoholic Anonymous Sayings expressions

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Act like you are happy / capable / together / outgoing / patient / calm / etc. until you actually are.

i’ve reached a plateau in my recovery, which means i feel like i’m not progressing as i should. i feel worse than usual. Sadder. Angrier. Less patient. Lazier. All of these are signs that i have to be more vigilant about my behavior to avoid a relapse.

One of the tools to combat these feelings is to act as though i were happier, less angry, more patient and productive… “Priming the Pump” is probably the tool i have the most difficulty with because i have the impression i’m being insincere and lying to myself and others.

Still, when i catch my thoughts deteriorating, it doesn’t hurt anyone if i force a smile and hope that it eventually becomes real.

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[As you can see in the header of this blog, i’ve added a new page, called “sAAyings”.  Similar to my GlossAAry of Alcoholic Anonymous terms, this page contains a list (to be updated regularly) of different expressions heard in Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings.]