Monthly Archives: January 2013
[Thanks to ITSB for the picture!]
i’ve never been to a bad meeting. i have never been to a meeting where i left thinking, “Wow, that was a royal waste of my time.”
i’ve never been to a bad meeting, but last night was pretty damn close.
Last night (not an AA meeting–it was for anther 12-step fellowship) we spent the larger part of our hour reading the procedures and the bylaws and the 12 & 12 (AA’s 12 Steps and 12 Traditions) and then we took turns reading aloud from a dense book. It was late and i was tired from a full work day and most of the readers were foreigners who had a less than perfect grasp of English and one guy is a recovered stutterer who took long pauses while he tried to reign in his tongue and my mind was wandering and i was beginning to wonder if i wouldn’t have been better off at home.
But i wouldn’t have been. Partly not because it was useful for me to sit with others who share my sickness, and to be reminded that i am sick and that i to need to stay humble. Also, in the space of an hour, i can relax from every kind of temptation.
But mostly i would not have been better off at home because my presence helped others. The chair was an inexperienced woman, so i spoke up when she hesitated and supported her decisions. Having 2 years of sobriety gave me confidence so that, when i shared, my voice was stronger and steadier than many of the newcomers who were there, staring at their fidgety hands. i helped simply by showing up.
At the end of the meeting, as i was walking out of the door, the young man who stuttered asked if we could exchange numbers.
Sometimes the help i receive at meetings is the help i give others.
i had a cold last week. It was strange because i felt it coming on, so i bought a box of medicine that contained a 5-day treatment and at the end of the 5 days, i felt better. Very strange, indeed.
Because when i was drinking and i had a cold i would self-medicate with booze and that would make me sicker and i would procrastinate buying medicine until i was so sick that the medicine wouldn’t really work and i would feel like crap for at least 2 weeks.
i’m still sick, but i’m getting better. i’m sick with alcoholism, but i’m seeing some specialists about it.
i will die with my disease, but i will not die from it.
Every night i add to my Gratitude List, which i keep on a diary app on my phone. Tonight i wrote i’m grateful that “i no longer hide from my problems.”
The funny thing was, my phone autocorrected “hide” as “use”.
Sometimes my smartphone really is.
i realize i’m one of the few Alcoholics Anonymous supporters in our community here. In my defense, i can state as fact that i would never have been able to reach two years of sobriety if it weren’t for the AA program.
i’m not saying AA is THE way to sobriety, i’m saying it’s my way. i’ve always said the best program is the one that works for you.
Anyway here’s something i noticed about how AAmazing the steps are.
i’ve just concluded steps 6 & 7.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
As i’ve mentioned before, some of what i learned taking these steps was to be “right-sized“.
Now, i embark on Steps 8 & 9.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
As i compile the lengthy list of people i have ‘harmed’ (and after 30 years of drinking, it’s a pretty extensive list), i’m tempted to get angry at myself, to berate myself for having been such an asshole to so many for so long. But as soon as those negative thoughts arise…i remember what i learned about being right-sized and i’m sorted once again.
The beauty with which each step flows into the next, the foundation that each lays for the next, the synergy that exists to create such overall harmony in the 12 Steps is truly divine. LiterAAlly.
Today at lunch i poured myself a glass of wine. It was the weirdest thing.
Those of you who read this blog regularly know that in “Yeaman” a bottle of wine waits patiently on the tables of the restaurants where i have my business lunches 3 times a week.
Usually i have no problem ignoring it and will even pour a glass for others at the table before setting the bottle down and forgetting it. Well, today i poured a glass for 2 of the 3 clients i ate with… and then poured one for myself without even realizing it!
Now, i wasn’t tempted to have a single sip because my life is immeasurably better now than when i was a drunk, but it goes to show that old habits are hard to shake.
P.S. Concerning my previous post, this situation was all the more ironic in that, when i met the clients i lunched with, i explained i’m a teetotaler! Eyebrows were definitely raised…
In social situations, i’m very upfront about being in AA.
At the office, my coworkers and boss know i’m an alcoholic in recovery. When we get new employees i usually keep quiet about my situation but when the subject of drinking comes up (and in my office it always comes up), i have no qualms whatsoever fessing up to my disease and the cure.
The weirdest thing, though, is that when i meet a new client i feel driven to tell them i ‘m a teetotaler. i explain that about 2 years ago i had health problems and was hospitalized and that the doctor said i could drink specific quantities of alcohol over a specific time frame. (All of this is technically true.) i go on to say that this method was too inconvenient for me so i opted to simply quit outright. It would be more logical for me to shut up about it, but i don’t seem able to.
So i have a poll and a question for you.
What do you tell your entourage about your drinking? Please leave a note in the comment section, i’d love to hear what you say!
At an AA meeting the other day, one of the speakers pointed out that ‘one day at a time’ includes the past as well. This concept brought on a whole shift in perspective for me, as i’d always thought of the expression in terms of “i only have to worry about not taking a drink today. Tomorrow is another problem.”
“One day at a time” includes my past as well. i don’t worry about tomorrow, but neither do i worry about yesterday.
Let yesterday heal the past and tomorrow worry about the future. Today is all i can manage.
January 11, 2013 marked the end of my second year sober. When i picked up the above 2-year chip, i had this to share.
There have been times in the last two years where i really struggled in sobriety. What i learned from those moments is that when i thought the AA program wasn’t working, it turned out i wasn’t working my program hard enough.
A dry toast to another year and many more to come. Thank you all for your support and comments. The above chip is, in no small way, thanks to you. Please, keep coming back.
Religion is for people who’re afraid of going to hell. Spirituality is for those who’ve already been there.
-Vine Deloria, Jr
This quote is by Native American Vine Deloria, Jr and parallels my thoughts exactly concerning the difference between God and a Higher Power. This is not to say that God cannot be a Higher Power, it’s more to the point that we in AA don’t have to choose a classic conception of God to get better. We are free to find our own Higher Power outside of organized religion if we like. I’ve defined my own God, and my God giggles.
What kind of messed up freaky blogger friend am i? The kind that will set up a meeting with me in a bar! It’s a long story but not really.
While on Christmas breaks back in the States i went to a bar for the first time since i can’t remember when.
Not that i’m afraid of bars– i’m more sure of my sobriety than i am of many things in my life–but the thought of spending 4 hours trapped in a room full of people acting like i did when i was drunk is the opposite of appealing. Still, this time i was hanging with my oldest and best friends, one of whom is my sobriety hero (having been on the wagon for well over 20 years), and it was a sports bar so i could watch pro football on the big screen if i got bored and plus of the 7 of us there, only 2 were drinking beer.
i had a great time. i wasn’t even tempted to drink and i was still able to joke around with my buds like i used to in my drinking days. While i have a hard time being sober around acquaintances, i learned i can have a blast around people who know the real me.
To top it off, i met a reader! L / Working On It / 1jaded1 happened to be driving past the city i was in on her way to her home city, so we emailed each other and she googled her way to the bar. i felt bad asking a reader working to stay sober to meet me in a bar, but it was a calm afternoon and she and i only had the briefest of exchanges before she had to hit the road again. Still, it was so nice to put a face to the name and to meet someone who has been such a big supporter here.
All in all, i’m kicking 2013 off right!
What do you think?
What’s your position on those of us in recovery going to bars/lounges? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and join the discussion!