A couple of people have stopped by my page recently to check in. i appreciate your using your brain cells on me and happy to tell you i’m still happy!
i’m also still sober (over 3 ½ years now!) and still going to AA, though only one meeting a week now. i’ve been spending a lot of time working on another website and writing fiction long hand. The funny thing about that is i’ve decided to leave it in my notebooks for now. The thrill of writing (i’ve finished the rough drafts of 2 novels and have started a third) is all i need for the moment, though maybe i’ll edit them on the computer in the future.
Thanks again for checking in!
There’s a parable in this one book called the Bible about two brothers. One of them is a good son and helps out his dad and is an all around hard worker, but his brother is a real asshole who only parties and and takes off when he’s still young, leaving his dad and his straight brother to do all the work.
Years later, the party brother decides he’s tired and comes back home and his dad is psyched. He’s all, “Hey, son!” and “It’s so great to have you back!” and all “Here’s half of all my stuff!”
So the other brother, the good one, is like, “WTF, dad!? I was here the whole time and working hard and shit, and you give this asshole who didn’t do anything the same share of your stuff that you gave me!? The hell!?”
Well, here’s “the hell”, in my completely uninformed opinion.
In the rooms the other day, there was a young woman, late twenties, who was talking about how she got sober young, before really hitting a hard bottom. She wondered aloud if she’d gotten in too early.
i got into recovery late in life. At 48 years old. After 30 years of drinking alcoholically. Do i wish i’d gotten sober sooner? Hell yes. Do i think about all the years i only half lived? Do i think about what i could’ve made of myself if i’d sobered up earlier? Do i wonder how rich my life would be at this moment if i’d entered recovery as soon as i knew i had a problem? You bet your ass i do.
My point is this. She has regret-free decades in front of her to make her life something beautiful, something amazing. As for me, i came into the program late, but like that brother who walked the wrong path, i have received all the rewards of sobriety. i have a joy in my life i never knew possible and i carry with me a profound gratitude that these years i have left promise to be happy ones.
Maybe the good brother is wrong to be jealous because, while the siblings may have the same share now, the bad brother sacrificed a lot of treasures in the past that the good son had been enjoying for decades.
It’s never too late to receive those rewards. And the earlier you start collecting them, the sooner you can start enjoying them.
So many of the advantages to being sober are the free things. The things you don’t have to work for or struggle to achieve.
For example, while reading Bye Bye Beer’s marvelous post about Robins, i realized that less and less of my life feels like a routine. Not that my day-to-day is dramatically different (excepting, of course, the absence of hangovers and the time spent in AA meetings), but the longer i’m sober, the more each day is different, which means unique.
Which means special.
Part of the bonus plan of long-run sobriety and one more thing to add to my Gratitude List.
Those who read me regularly know i’m regularly down on myself. Part of it is my self deprecating nature, the rest of it is the rigorous honesty required by Alcoholics Anonymous: what i do not broach, i cannot get past. i cannot overcome what i do not confront. Airing my dirty under-past here is also a way for me to embrace humility and fix my “egomaniac with an inferiority complex” fixation.
But today i’m not here to belittle myself. i’m here as the alcoholic father of two teenage children. i got sober three years ago, when my son was 16 and my daughter was 13. Naturally, i often wonder how much my disease affected them, and if i hurt them with my drinking and if those wounds left scars. Honestly, i worry that seeing their father try to kill himself fucked them up permanently.
Yesterday was Valentine’s Day. Today, i realized my son spent more than a week preparing a Valentine’s Day for his friend. He set up his room with candles and roses so it would be ready when they came home from the restaurant he went to beforehand to ask them to set up the table with the supplies he’d brought. My daughter saved money for three months (and she can usually hold onto it no longer than a week) so that she could take her friend to Disneyland, paying for the tickets, the train to get there, the meals while they were there and the souvenirs to keep. She texted me a pic of their trip and their obvious happiness was the best Valentine’s Day present i’ve received in recent memory.
My children are not perfect. Like all children, they have many defaults and defects and my drinking maybe caused some and exacerbated others.
But my children know how to love with a selfless love, a deep love, a giggle out loud love and they are not afraid to show it. i’m relieved they’re more resilient than i’d given them credit for, and that they are brimming over with the kind of love that can conquer the world.
To address the truly amazing comments i received in my previous post and especially the fact that i have over 200 followers on this blog, i wanted to be up front about some things.
i’m the red headed stepchild of recovery blogs. i started another blog years ago where i reveled in my alcoholism and, even though i came out as sober there, i continue to post articles of questionable taste, with bad language and photos that are NSFW. It’s a blog i wouldn’t let my mother read, in other words (though i won’t let her read this one either!).
i have no idea how i received 200 followers on this blog. As i state on my “About” page, i don’t have the answers but i know the people who do. i’m just a guy in recovery who is grateful for every sober day and am so happy to be sober that i have to tell people about it. All i can say to those of you who follow AlKHall Anonymous is that, even if there are more serious sobriety blogs out there, i am deadly serious about my sobriety. Because ‘deadly’ is the other option.
i guess what i’m saying is, that even though i’m not a leader, i still thank you for not judging this book by his cover story.
Matthew Ryan – Follow the Leader
i had my infamous last drink on January 11, 2011. Today i went to the big AA meeting here in Yeaman and picked up my 3-year chip.
This is what i said.
i could have stayed sober for three years without you and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. But my sobriety and my life would not be as rich, valuable and worthwhile as it is today if it hadn’t been for you. Thank you for making of me someone worthwhile.
That goes for everyone reading this post as well. Thank you all for making me someone worthwhile.
Hello, my name is Al, i’m 50 and this is the best Christmas i’ve spent without my parents.
My parents both come from very close, traditional families and they bring that and more to the table during the holidays. Maybe because they take care of everything so well, i’m really good at enjoying what they do but not doing anything myself. On the years we’re not together (transatlantic flights aren’t cheap), i’ve tried to imitate them as best i can but the gold star on the tree has been more for effort than for actually achievement.
Except this year– at 2 years, 11 months and 14 days into recovery– i finally pulled it off. i brought my own stuff to the table. Literally.
This was the table i set for dinner. You know me, and if you don’t there oughta be a law, i always try to throw in a dash of creativity wherever i can, and so i decided this year, instead of putting the munchies in a bowl, why not just scatter them around the table? People can pick up and eat what they want and it gives the decor a unique flavor. So, as you can see, i strew the crackers and nuts about the table and added glow stick bracelets on the dessert plates.
My son and his friend made a perfect dinner, veal and Indian rice, and we had an ice cream cake for dessert.
Speaking of dessert…
After the meal, i cleared away the leftover nuts and threw candy all over the tablecloth, to munch on with the ice cream cake. It was a fun touch!
Sparing you the glory details, the Christmas Stars aligned this year and i was able to prepare a steak, mashed potatoes with gravy and salad dinner for my son, his friend, my daughter and her friend. i’ve wanted to to do this for ages and it really didn’t seem as though it would work out, but then at the last minute everything fell into place and i got my Christmas Miracle.
When all was said and done, with the last dish washed and the last bit of wrapping paper in the trash, i had the feeling that Christmas this year was a good one, even if i was the one in charge.
Sobriety brought me the most unexpected and valuable present of all.
i truly wish for you the same joy and cheer that i have found this year. May it continue all the way through 2014 and beyond.
i turned 50 a couple of weeks ago. The reason i mention this is because my parents were here from the States and they brought 2 presents more than they knew.
In addition to the gifts and the help around the apartment, my father was kind enough to spend a lot of time making a musical slideshow of my life, from infancy to adolescence to manhood. We watched it on my birthday and what I noticed was that, for many of the photos, i was obviously feeling no pain – or anything else. Shiny eyed, sloppy grin, puffy face…
Sure, the photos were taken during parties and special occasions, but the number of “well lit” photos was significant. Even my kids laughed a couple of times (yeah, let’s say just a couple) and said, “Oh yeah, you’re so drunk there!”
This was good news for a couple of reasons, the main one is that i’m no longer that guy. For family gatherings i’m sober and present and together and no one needs to worry about me embarrassing myself or them. Another reason i enjoyed the show was that my kids felt comfortable talking about my drinking days, and that it wasn’t treated like a taboo subject. Speaking as someone who comes from a family with more elephants than rooms, this was reassuring.
The second present that unfolded during the festivities was my father. At dinner, he got choked up (he does that a lot nowadays) making a toast to me, saying how proud he was that i looked comfortable in my own skin. He said it’s the first time in a long time that he’d felt that way when watching me, but that’s all any parent wishes for their kids.
When people ask me how it feels to turn 50, i can honestly tell them i’ve finally learned to let go of things. Not take everything so damn seriously. Thanks to sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous, i’ve achieved a peace of mind that makes the next 50 years look a lot more exciting than i ever could have believed.
i had my big share earlier this evening…and rocked it like a boss! Thanks to you guys! i thought about your encouragement, support and concrete advice (breathing, look at at least three people, speak slowly, pray…) and the effect it had on me was immeasurable. Yes, my voice quaked a little, especially when i touched on my suicide attempt, but i don’t think anyone really noticed. The nice part was i made a lot of jokes–even better, people actually laughed! Go figure.
Here’s an edited version of what i had to say, if you’re interested.
Sooooooooo, this is stressful…
Before, when i was confronted with situations like this, i had a little trick. i called it vodka. Unfortunately, that was the only trick i had. i was a one-trick pony.
When i was sad: booze. Nervous: booze. Stressed: booze. Afraid: booze. Happy: booze. Bored: booze. When i felt nothing: booze. i only had one tool in my kit: booze. That’s insane! One tool!
AA’s second step says we believe a Higher Power will restore us to sanity, and i was so totally insane that i needed restoration. How insane was i? i was trying to restore myself–with only one tool! Do you realize how difficult it is to build something with your life or make something of yourself when all you have is one tool? Especially when that one tool usually was a screwdriver!
Here’s another thing that shows how insane i was. i drank for 30 years. 30 years. i drank for 30 years despite the fact my life was constantly getting worse. A normal person would say, “Wait, this is hurting me, I’ll stop it.” Not me, because i was insane.
Another thing. i drank for 30 years and i didn’t even like the taste of alcohol! i hated beer and wine but drank it all the time. i only drank hard liquor if i could mix it with something that would cover the taste! There must be some food you don’t like, right? Do you eat it? Of course not, you don’t like it so why would you eat it? But me, i drank for 30 years even though i didn’t like what i was drinking.
Of course i had a reason to drink, though. i was looking for something. i was looking for love, friendship, romance, courage, strength at the bottom of a bottle. Here’s how insane that was: i spent 30 years looking for things in the one place i knew they weren’t! Because i’d looked there before and not found them, not really, and yet i kept looking there even if i knew i’d find nothing!
Imagine you’re looking for a key. You check your pocket and find it’s empty and that there’s a hole in it. Do you check it again, right after? No, of course not, you know they key isn’t there. Do you check five times, ten times, 1000 times? Do you keep checking over and over again in the same pocket for 30 years? Of course not! That would be insane. All you’d touch is that same emptiness and the only thing you’d feel is that hole getting bigger and bigger, and that’s what happened to me.
Now, in recovery, i’m still insane. But. i lost that one tool i had and replaced it with a full set of better tools and i keep adding to the toolbox all the time. Also, i recognize the thoughts that are insane and i use my tools to fix them. With time, those thoughts are coming less frequently and with less strength, so maybe there will be a time when they all but disappear. But that’s for another day. Right now, i’m happy to be here with you and i thank you for your support in keeping me sane.
Thanks again, everyone who commented and sent me moral support! It was a truly beautiful gift and helped me so much. You guys are the greatest!