i’m a walker. During my drinking life, when in the middle of a binge, i would often simply stand up, step away from the table, leave the room and walk off looking for adventure. If it wasn’t my night, i would find it.
One night i went to a party at a friend’s house and over stayed my welcome so much that he insisted i spend the night in his guest room. At about 2am he put me down for the night and went to join his wife in the bedroom down the hall. Then i got the urge to walk.
i snuck out of their apartment and walked the dark streets of their neighborhood until i reached a larger and infamous suburb west of Yeaman City. This was not the kind of place you walk after dark, and especially not at 2am when you’re drunk.
A group of young people was hanging out in a deserted public square and, me being me, i approached them and tried to drunkenly befriend them using my bad Yeaman accent. After blabbering with them a few minutes, one of the gang pulled me aside and whispered it would probably be a wise decision on my part to cut the conversation short and call it a night.
So i did.
i got about three minutes away when i did my inventory. Keys – check, sunglasses – check, pen & notebook – check wallet … my wallet was missing. i’d nearly gotten away free and clear but some time during our exchange one of the group had liberated my billfold.
Not just angry but drunk angry, i stormed back to group and started telling them off for being so badly raised that they would take advantage of another person that way. So they did the normal thing and kicked my ass.
i was knocked down, kicked, punched and my neck was scratched when someone tore off my gold chain. The flurry of blows lasted only a matter of moments before another loitering group came over and shooed my attackers away.
As i left the scene, i was humbled and sad and a little lost. Especially when i touched the back pocket of my jeans. My wallet was there– i’d had it the whole time. It had never been stolen and was, ironically, the only thing that remained of my excursion.
Hello, my name is Al and i’m an alcoholc.
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
There’s a pithy saying in AA and, like many of our trite expressions, a few words hold a lot of truth.
Meeting Makers Make It
The idea is simple. Those who attend regular meetings are more successful in maintaining their sobriety.
When i started in the program, i hit one meeting a week but then i found a sponsor and he suggested a minimum of four a week. One of the things i learned quickly in AA was to read the Big Book, go to meetings and listen to my sponsor. So i did.
Up until recently i was feeling a little more secure and so i let my rhythm dip back to one a week again. Lately, however, things have gotten a little hairier in my world so i decided i needed to up the dosage. Not to say i’d made a mistake in cutting back, i only recognize the symptoms of fear and anger and self pity and i know where to go to cure them.
Also not to say i’m afraid of relapsing. i feel bad enough as it is and i know alcohol will only make everything worse. i don’t need worse. i’ve had worse and i deserve better.
Hence, 6 meetings a week (despite my reaching a year and a half sober on the 11th of this month). There is a peace in those rooms that i’ve not found anywhere else and i’m grateful that in times like these i know where to go to get shelter from the storm and haven from the hell.
i went to a blues concert last night by Jake La Botz, a man who partied his demons to death and came out the other side with a sacred clarity that is so scarred it’s poetic.
While the show was superb, the thing i didn’t like about it were the drunks. The gig was in a cafe here in Yeaman and most of the patrons were either too young to know the blues or too drunk to feel them.
Then, in a moment of clarity, i realized that this is Live Music. It also explains why i prefer to sit at home and listen to studio recordings through my headphones; still, in a live concert the noise and the talking and the mistakes are all part of the music. That’s when i understood that Life is “Live”. That even if i want Life to be a pure and flawless studio recording filtered through the bubble of my headphones, Real Life is full of noise and mistakes and surprises. And all of it is part of the music.
Here’s Jake La Botz singing an apt song for this blog, “Lay Down The Bottle”.
Also, i interviewed him for the Bar None, so be looking for that soon.
PS Thanks are owed my wife, Celeste E Hall, for her permission to use her great photo!
When is a reason not a reason? When it’s an excuse.
i am not totally insane. When i am angry, i have a reason to be angry. When i am sad, it’s because i have a reason to be. Then again, when i went on a binge, i always had a reason to as well.
i would wager that most if not all mass murders, rapists and serial killers have a reason to explain away their actions. i know for a fact that Hitler, Pol Pot and Ben Laden had reasons to justify their atrocities.
Reasons, however, are not “get out of jail free” cards. Having a reason, obviously, doesn’t make you right or mean you are doing the right thing.
The next time you find you have a reason to drink, to yell, to pout, to scream, to run away and hide, substitute “excuse” for the word “reason” and see if that makes any sense.
Sometimes, doing the right thing means ignoring the reasons to do the opposite.
i’ve been working on Step 6.
[We] were entirely ready to have God remove all [our] defects of character.
“Willingness” is the operative word here. Nobody is perfect, but in my heart i have to be willing to let my Higher Power take my defects of character.
Fear is a big defect of mine. Guilt is another at the top of the list. Then there’s Anger.
When my children were toddlers, i refused to take sides in their arguments. i told them they had to work out their disputes between themselves and i always told them “It takes two to fight.”
If one person doesn’t want to argue, an argument cannot take place. If i find that i’m in a heated discussion, i am doing something to perpetuate the spat. A tool my Sponsor told me about is the question, “What is my role in this?”
The trick is to consciously avoid the situation—to catch myself out when my ire begins to rise and shut it down. The second i notice my tone is cutting, there are tools i use to dull the edge in my voice and remove the sting my words bring on the tip of my sharp tongue.
- Agree with the other person’s perception (“I see why you would think that.”)
- Ask for precise details (“Can you be more specific about that?”)
- Stall (“Let’s talk about this later.” “I’ll get back to you on that.”)
- Don’t say anything
i have to remember:
Not one single disagreement has been resolved because a person talked more…, l o n g e r, or LOUDER than the other.
One of the guys in the rooms is a pretty choleric guy. He’s got more time in than i do, but also more anger. One time, he shared that he comes to AA meetings to hear how much people are hurting and their difficulties in sobriety. It’s not so much that he doesn’t care about other people’s happiness, he actually finds it offensive.
Last week, he was with a group of guys after a meeting and i started hanging out with them. i mentioned that this is the first Christmas in 28 years that i don’t feel the need to run and hide in the bottom of an eggnog, or where i’m not curled in a ball under the Christmas tree cursing myself for being a failure and praying the holiday will, like Santa’s weighty sled, pass over me as quickly as possible while causing as little permanent damage as it can.
This year, i’m happy. This year, the Holiday Spirit is overflowing and not the holiday spirits. i have more energy and not just the stones to confront the season, but a desire to go out, shake its hand and invite it into my home. It’s a feeling i did not bargain on at all when i went sober. There are a lot of fringe benefits to sobriety that fall in your lap like Christmas presents you get after you thought you’d opened everything.
i was explaining this to a group of friends after the meeting and, before i’d even finished my first sentence, the Angry Bird flew away and found another flock of fellows to crash.
And that’s OK because his anger is not my business. i get that a lot of people are going to be hurt or jealous or angry that i’m in a good mood. Like Life magazines they use for toilet paper, those are their issues.
As for me? i’m obnoxiously happy and refuse to feel guilty about it.