Monthly Archives: October 2012
The other night in a meeting, someone was talking about their recovery and answered his own question: Why did I wait so long to get sober?
I came into the rooms at the right time.
One day earlier would have been too early and I would’ve relapsed.
One day later would have been too late and I might never have made it in.
Don’t mourn lost time, instead celebrate the time that’s left.
Time for a…
Blast from the Pabst
When my son was, let’s say 12 (and we’re saying that because i have no idea how old he was), he belonged to a theater “club” that met every Saturday afternoon. The community center was 20 minutes away on foot, and after lunch i would walk him there, come back home for an hour, and then go back to pick him up.
One Saturday, my daughter (and if 12 is the age we’re going with for my son, we’re stuck with 10 for my daughter) decided to walk with me. As we approached the center, she wanted me to hide and surprise my son by showing up alone. i agreed and dutifully waited behind a bush to watch the scene play out.
My son exited the building and was obviously surprised to see my daughter unaccompanied. As they passed in front of my hiding place, i heard her explain that “Dad drank a lot of wine and fell asleep on the sofa, so I came to pick you up by myself.”
And he believed her; after all, why wouldn’t he?
As telling as this story is, the footnote to this story occurred about two months after i went into recovery. i took both of the kids to a teen al-anon meeting at a church here, then waited for them in a cafe. When the meeting was over and we were riding the subway back home, i asked my son what he thought of the meeting and he said he felt that he didn’t really belong there. While other kids told traumatic stories of their parents’ drunken escapades, he said i’d done a rather good job of keeping my drinking from spilling over onto them.
i’ve been sober for over 19 months (still not long enough) and in that time i’ve tried to make up for my down time with my children. i find that i’m more present in my sobriety than i was when i was drinking, and that i have more energy to spend on them and more patience to accord them. i like to think we’re close (my son now lives with me and i have my daughter almost every weekend) and i see they are beginning to trust in my recovery. They are relaxed around me. They make jokes about subjects that could be sensitive considering my drinking life and my bottom, but they feel safe.
i want to be the perfect father. i will never ever be the prefect father. Right now, though, i’m a better father than i was, and my children need that a hell of a lot more than they need perfection.
They never stopped loving me, but now they can look up to me.
A misguided aim to please yourself. The spark that makes you want to shoot yourself in the foot you will use to kick your own ass with.
ITSB and i often ride the same wavelength. In a comment to one of my recent posts, he introduced the theme of triggers, which i’d already been thinking about, as evidenced by the above definition added to the Glossaary.
The other day i walked between two people planted curbside so i could cross the street they thought had too much traffic to brave. i mumbled a polite “Excuse me” as i passed between them, but this apparently was not loud enough because the eldest of the two women looked up at me and barked “Excuse me”. Then again. Before she could do it once more, i looked her in the eye and told her i’d said “Excuse me” and continued on my way.
As i left, i thought about the way i’d dealt with the problem and was satisfied i’d handled it correctly, but that didn’t matter, i couldn’t let it go. For the rest of my commute i kept seeing the woman’s face as she reprimanded me and realized soon enough that i felt uncomfortable, obsessive and anxious. i was triggered.
i’ve always known what triggers are, but not what my triggers are. i decided to write them down as i believe framing things with words makes it easier to recognize them. ITSB already beat me to it by including his list in his comment.
I have a whole set of trigger for “awful thoughts”:
1) Stuck in traffic on my way to work
2) Too much caffeine in my bloodstream
4) Too much running/over training
5) Republicans making their opinions known
and the mother of all triggers:
6) Low blood sugar.
Any of these ring a bell?
i’ve been working on my own list for the last couple of days and here’s what i’ve come up with…
- Other people’s anger
- Being alone
- Euchre on my cell phone/tablet
- Sunday afternoon
- Drunk people in AA meetings
- One on one conversations with people
- Computer problems / broken electronics
The next step is to figure out what it is about these things that trigger me, so i can diffuse them.
i wrote a manual to teach foreign Business Types how to make presentations in English. The compliment i hear most about it is that it’s very practical, that the student can easily apply it to their business life. My point is, i hate writing a post like i did a couple days ago where i just say something like “Give up your problems to God” without concrete, practical tips on how to do that.
To remedy that, here are a couple suggestions on how to “Let Go – Let God”.
1. Repeat “I gave that up to God” Until the Thoughts Stop
This is the mental equivalent of plugging your ears and going “nah nah nah nah nah nah” to drown out someone else’s talking. It’s childish, but it works.
This was the first tool i learned when i entered recovery. My sponsor told me that the basic tenet of sobriety is the simple sentence, “I don’t drink no matter what.” Whenever i caught thoughts about drinking creeping into my mind, i learned to squash them with the mantra, “I don’t drink no matter what.”
Now, the instant i find myself lost in my thoughts of fear, insecurity or worry, i tell myself “I gave that up to God.” As soon as a stress resurfaces, “I gave that up to God.” The moment I — “I give that up to God.”
Find a phrase of your own and use it whenever negative thoughts sneak in…it works!
2. Pack Up Your Worries
i started creating my own mental exercises. My latest one is to imagine myself packing all my concerns about the neighbor, plumbing, internet… into tiny (because they’re such little problems) boxes that i then label and load onto a hot air balloon with “For God” written in huge letters on the side. When the balloon’s basket is full of all my worries, i cut the tether and release the balloon which floats up higher and higher, out of my reach and then out of my sight, until it reaches its creditor (because i give my Higher Power a lot of credit).
Play a part in your sobriety! Be an active non-alcoholic.
i got the message. You can stop now.
Al K Hall
PS Let’s do lunch some time.
Here’s my BIG problem. The third time the plumber came he found the leak. He fixed it, left, and… The fourth time the plumber came was the charm.
Two nights ago i found a different leak in a different place from a different source. My Higher Power has a sick sense of humor.
The same two nights ago, the Devil sent her daughter to come upstairs and complain about my son’s practicing guitar at 9:30pm. My plumbing problems are on their way out, so i’ve decided to obsess over the insane woman who lives below me. To make this my BIG problem.
i always have a BIG problem. i used to think it was the problems’ fault, but now i realize it’s my fault. Instinctively, i scan my problems and elect one lucky one to become my BIG problem.
Listening to shares at an AA Meeting last night, everything fell in to place (Thank you, Universe, for guiding me to that meeting). i remembered what i’m forgetting: to let go. To give these problems up to my Higher Power when i have no control over them.
So, i’m giving up. i’m giving up my problems to my Higher Power, giving up the stress, the worry, the obsession to the Universe and i’m going to let the Universe worry about it–or not–if it wants but it doesn’t matter to me because it is not my problem any more. i’ve given them up and given up on them.
Hear that, Universe?
For those of us in AA: This is all 3rd Step stuff.
Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
The good news for us lucky alcoholics in recovery is that “Our Lives” include “Our Problems”. We get to give away all our concerns until the only worry we have left is how to stop worrying over nothing.
Tonight i was reminded of my University career (i graduated from a State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and an Additional Major in Psychology). My drinking problem became apparent very early on in my studies, but College is great camouflage for alcoholism.
In my Senior year, i toyed with the idea of going to Grad School for a Masters so i had to take the GMAT (?—GSAT? who can be bothered to remember this crap?). The all-day test started at 8 on a Saturday morning and was rigorously timed like all the official tests.
The night before the exam, i planned to finally crack the study texts i’d bought months before, but a party broke out in my apartment instead. i got drunk on Lambrusco and have vague memories of walking around my apartment barefoot, wearing a jean jacket with no shirt. Then i remember hurling an empty bottle of wine at the wall over my bed. The glass shattered and sprayed the sheet like the dregs of the wine. i took off all my clothes and passed out on the broken glass.
Somehow i woke up in time for the test, with the blood stains on the sheet from the cuts on my back indecipherable from the wine stains. i didn’t have time to shower, but i made it to the exam center before the start of the test. i think the only way i was able to survive that day was that i was still drunk in the morning, and at lunch i must’ve done something to stave off the hangover (probably popping Tylenol as it couldn’t hurt you back then, like everything else we didn’t know) because i survived the entire day.
i decided not to go to Grad School and don’t remember what the results of my exams were. Except Logic.
There was a Logic section in the test and i scored in the 95th percentile.
Just goes to show you, Alcoholism defies Logic.