Monthly Archives: February 2013
The Three Asshole Rule
When you meet your third asshole of the day, it means you’re probably the asshole.
Heard in the rooms last Saturday
When i was 18 i started a journal, but the problem was i went into so much detail that i was writing more than i lived. So i decided that to save time i would only write down three sentences at the end of the day: 1) My best event of that day, 2) my worst event of that day, 3) something that i learned that day. i’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and do it with my children as well, stopping only momentarily with my son after he reached his 18th birthday until he asked me to continue a few weeks after.
i went to an AA meeting yesterday and saw my sponsor there. After the meeting we were in the hallway talking about some Step 8 & 9 stuff and when we were through he asked me for a hug. He told me that sponsorship was a two-way street and that working with me helped his sobriety because he saw how much i’m getting out of mine. He said that i inspired him.
It’s like the above picture…who is helping whom?
Guess what i wrote down as my best event of the day last night…
i’ve mentioned i’m now in Step 8 [“Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all”] of the 12 Steps, getting ready for Step 9. Reliving my past errors is harrowing at times—i’ve noticed that when i recall the disasters i’ve created in my life i feel the shame flare up and burn through me like a flash fire—but knowing i’m making amends for them soothes me like a balm and i feel purified when all is said and well-done.
Another beneficial aspect of Steps 8 & 9 is that these are the first steps of the 12 that involve other people. Steps 1-7 are all about working on myself from the inside, while now i need to take this work and focus it outward, on my relation with others.
Let me tell you, this step could not come soon enough.
Like many alcoholics, i imagine, i’m pathologically shy. Alcohol was a way for me to overcome this fear of talking to people and it even worked for a certain time (usually the first bottle of wine). Now, by razing my past, by Cleaning my Slate, i’m removing any need i have to feel inferior, to feel “less than”, in my social interactions. Hopefully, this will help me to me more secure and “right-sized” when i continue my interactions with others.
My drinking life (because it was too long to be just a career) was a series of alarm bells going off constantly, beginning with the very first time i ever drank.
- At 18, the first time i ever drank alcohol, i peed my pants and drove drunk
- At 25, i fell asleep driving drunk and drove my car into a guardrail on the freeway
- At around 40, after waking up from a blackout on a subway platform, a stranger knocked me unconscious with a metal bar and left me for dead
There were lots of warning bells throughout my drinking, yet somehow, i was able to hit the Snooze Button each time an alarm rang. That worked until it didn’t.
- At 47 i binged on red wine and spent 10 days in the hospital after i attempted suicide
Finally i had my wake up call.
What about you? Care to share with us any signs about your drinking you chose to ignore? Leave a note in the Comments Section!
Here’s one of the things i hate a lot.
When i was in the States last year for Christmas, i was doing some shopping in a midwest version of Walmart when i came across one of my favorite aisles: Plartitude (platitude + art, or Inspirational Art).
The shelves are lined with photographs of puppies playing with kittens and sunsets breaking through storm clouds and muscled men holding babies in black and white. My favorite part of this section is reading the motivational messages because they are so Pollyanna that they never fail to elicit a derisive laugh from me and i’m all about the laughter.
Imagine my chagrin when, in the midst of my mockery, i read something that resonated with me. It was the opposite of farting during a violin concerto, it was like accidentally tooting Sousa in a farting contest and admiring the tone.
The gist was something along the lines of, “As you’ll never feel you got everything done, enjoy what you’re doing while you’re doing it.”
i tried to laugh that one off at first, like i’d done with the others, but of course i couldn’t because it made so much sense.
Before my recovery, i was very good about writing to-do lists and then beating myself up when i didn’t to-do anything on them. Recently, my sobriety has given me more energy so i’m able to get more done but the problem is now i beat myself up for not doing enough.
That stupid motivational sentence reminded me that the reason i wanted to do those things in the first place was because i enjoy doing them. If i start pressuring myself about having fun then it’s not fun anymore, is it?
i need to accept it’s in my nature to feel I haven’t accomplished enough. i need to concentrate more on the pleasure of doing than the discomfort of not doing.
Be careful of what you mock, it may be your next lesson.
i’m sure i’ve told this story here on these pages somewhere but as this came up in my 8th Step work (Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all) and i also can’t be bothered to search through my posts to link to it, i’ll just retell it as briefly as i can.
One Friday night here in Yeaman, after the weekly cocktail party where i work, i followed some of my colleagues to a Scottish pub for the pre-after party. i was not drunk, i was totally shitfaced. i spoke very rudely on the underground, embarrassing my friends because i didn’t think anyone spoke English in the subway car, until a young woman standing nearby informed us in no uncertain terms that she did.
At the bar, i went to order a beer and noticed the barmaid was attractive (i was single at this time), so i decided to say something out of the ordinary, something edgy, to catch her attention and stand out from the crowd. i don’t remember what i said. The next thing i do remember is the barmaid was in tears, my coworkers were leading me outside, and the furious barman/owner was telling me i was barred for life.
Jumping ahead to tonight… At the meeting, a young lady in her mid-late 20’s was celebrating 5 years of sobriety and was talking about how she had lost everything (her job, her apartment, her family) to her disease before realizing she needed help.
When it came my turn to share i said:
When i was drinking, i felt like a broken toy. Like those toys under the bed in the evil kid’s house in Toy Story where the heads are on the wrong bodies. And like them, i knew i was beyond repair. That was my destiny. i had to accept the fact that i was alone and living in the dark and there was nothing i could do to get fixed.
The most amazing thing for me when i entered the program was realizing i was not broken by nature. That i could be repaired. All i had to do was to follow the steps. And as i took those steps and followed the advice, i slowly came out from under the bed and into the light.
As i spoke, i glanced up at her and saw she was crying. She was not crying because i had humiliated or hurt her, but because my words resonated with her.
If anybody tells you that using is better than recovery, they’re full of Schlitz.
In my last couple of posts i talked about how well i’m doing and i’m doing pretty damn well, thank you. Now, this does not mean i intend to rest on my laurels our even find out what a laurel is, far from it.
As someone fighting to remain brutally honest with myself, i know there are still several areas of my life that need work. Like it says in the Big Book, we claim spiritual progress, not spiritual perfection.
Here, then, are my rooms for improvement.
- Procrastination. i have made great strides in that now i check my mailbox every day and balance my bank account every evening (during my drinking days, i was so afraid of both of these that i ruined my finances, among other things). Still, the book i promised to send Celeste E Hall has been sitting on my dresser for months, and i still put off…
- Cleaning. My improvement here its noticeable because i now make my bed daily and wash dishes before i go to bed (usually), and i actually don’t mind doing my laundry and ironing every Sunday evening. But i’m supposed to clean the bathroom weekly and vacuum at least once a week and that’s less than regular.
- Comparing. My biggest personality defect of the moment. At work i’m unable to go a full day without worrying i’ve been given more work than my colleagues or that the boss prefers them. It really does take some of the fun out of my work day, and leads to the Poor Me syndrome.
Fortunately, i’m not beating myself up over these things, but i’m hoping to put these in my past and find out what my next set of challenges is.
What about you? Care to share any signs of improvement in your recovery or areas you’d like to continue to to improve? Leave a comment, we’d sure like to hear what’s going on with you!
Years ago, when i was still drinking, on a Friday night much like tonight, my kids and i were in the living room watching TV. Suddenly and without the slightest warning, a loud crashing noise, like a body falling from a hiding place, tumbled out of the bathroom. We all looked at each other, unsure. We were the only people in the apartment.
i ran to the bathroom to find a shelf my father had hung months before over the door was now on the floor. The paint cans it had once held had opened during the fall and vomitted their oily white lacquer all over the blue walls.
i stood there in a daze for the longest time, just staring at the devastation, incapable of understanding. Here was a disaster that was in no way my fault. It was not the result of a binge and i wasn’t even the one who’d placed the shelf. A bad thing happened that i could not have foreseen or prevented no matter what i’d done.
This event crystalized a general apprehension i’d always felt vaguely lurking in the dark places of my mind. Except now i had a word for it. The Shelf of Damocles was the term i assigned to all of the bad things that were waiting to besiege me when i least suspected. i feared the shelf and the omnipresent threat it represented.
Last week, after i noticed i’d stopped waking up suicidal, i also realized the Shelf of Damocles no longer hung over my head. Yes, of course bad things will continue to happen to me for no reason– i have not yet mastered control of the universe (though i haven’t given up trying). But i’m not afraid of bad luck anymore.
Because there is no problem i can have that sobriety cannot solve .
There was a time i would wake up in the morning and the first thing i would do was put my feet on the floor, my elbows on my knees and my head in my hands while i let the sadness wash over me, drown me, pull me deeper.
i would start off my day on the wrong side of the bed, no matter what side it was i woke up on.
Today, i realized i don’t do that anymore. This sadness that was my “default” position is so far in my past that i’ve forgotten about it. Mind you, i don’t jump out of bed with a song in my heart—i’m not insane—but i get off on the right foot and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
One of the many great things about being sober? The darkness fades so much, i sometimes forget how lost i was.
i know a guy more sober than his 5 years. During a more emotional than usual share, he described the relief he felt upon desperately entering the program, saying through his tears, “The difference between a sliver of hope and no hope is huge.”
That you have chosen to visit this blog shows you have not given up. Your reading this proves you still have hope, and this is huge.
Now, continue to do the next right thing.