The easiest hardest thing you’ll ever do is get sober.
The hardest thing an alcoholic will ever do is put down the drink, because recovery means pulling weeds that are deeply rooted in our soul.
Fortunately, it’s the easiest thing we’ll ever do because we just have to
Oh, and also, my sponsor tattooed my brain with one simple thought when we had our fist sit down.
“I don’t drink no matter what!”
i met with my sponsor yesterday and, after discussing steps 11 & 12 a little, he informed me i have officially completed the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
It was a special moment. He told me how much he enjoyed working with a sponsee who gave himself so completely to the program and i told him how much i enjoyed working with a sponsor who channeled my Higher Power.
We’ll still meet to go over maintenance details, but from now on, you’ll read the save kind of crap here, but written by a guy who has completed the 12 Steps. The first time.
[btw, i’m on vacation for the next few weeks, so apologies fit not getting back to you on comments or checking out your blogs (i have Internet access only one hour a day – and only on my phone!]
First off, a huge “Thanks” to those of you who read and commented and sent me good vibes about my last post. Your suggestions really helped put me on the right track. As did a nice talk with my sponsor.
But before i get into that, let me just say i think i was a little misleading in that post. If i came across as a guy wallowing in guilt over my past mistakes, this isn’t the case. i did stupid things when i was drinking and sobriety has given me the clarity to see just how messed up some of those things were. i’m pretty good about ‘Respecting the Past‘ and i have a lot of tools that help me make a mental adjustment when i need to.
The question i popped in that last post was more of a question of semantics, and that’s how i presented it to my Sponsor last night.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
That quote is from the AA Promises and i thought i must be doing something wrong if i still had regrets. My Sponsor, basically, told me this is more of an ideal goal to shoot for, but not achievable for everyone. What’s important is not necessarily eliminating regrets, but more not letting them control me. And i’m cool with that.
i also mentioned my guilt over not being a better parent in the past, though i realized thinking that thought is a dangerous monster to feed. My Sponsor reminded me that every day i’m sober is one more day of “the past” that my children can look back on and remember and think, “Dad did the right thing today.” And it’s more recent to boot, fresher in their minds.
So thanks again, everyone, and here’s a dry toast to kissing regrets goodbye!
Indie genius Hip Hip poet Macklemore is addicted to codeine based cough syrup. In 2008, his breakout hit “Otherside” put him on the rap map as he bantered about overcoming his addiction to “easter pink” or “purple rain”.
In October 2012, he released the truly inspiring album The Heist with Ryan Lewis. On it, the song “Starting Over” tells the very personal story of his relapse. In an intimate and eloquent song, he describes the pain of letting down both loved ones and fans he helped in sobriety, and he explains the reasons for his relapse.
Like so many others, I just never thought I would
I never thought I would
Didn’t pick up The Book
Doin’ it by myself
Didn’t turn out that good
i’ve been sober for over 23 months and 4 days as of today. i’m extremely fortunate that i have been able to stay sober so long on my first try.
That i have not relapsed has nothing to do with personal strength or wanting it more or trying harder. If i’ve avoided a relapse it’s because i recognize that i’m weak and will never be able to control my drinking, so i let my Higher Power and others do it for me.
My continued sobriety is also thanks to those in the rooms and here online that have relapsed. In each of their stories i see my own and, as i know i’m no better than they are, their relapses serve to remind me how vulnerable i am. Each harrowing tale, disappearing face and name that evaporates on my blog roll frightens me and forces me to rise up from my laurels and fight like my life depends on it.
Because it does.
For those of you who have relapsed, know that your experiences are not wasted but serve to aid others who suffer. And remember, it is never too late to stop for the last time.
In our meeting last week, my sponsor pointed out that the second year of recovery is a real bear.
The first year, all the alcoholic has to do is focus on one concept:
i don’t drink no matter what.
In the second year, sobriety permeates more of our day to day and our lives become larger. With more recovery comes more responsibilities. The trick now is to power through difficult situations and make it through to the other side.
You see the diagram at the top? The Reality line is squiggly, but it still finishes better off and going in the right direction.
A few weeks after i began my recovery (over 20 months ago!), i had a problem, freaked out and ‘had to’ take a pill to sleep. i should say here that, oddly enough for someone who is addicted to everything else, pills never did it for me. They took too long and were never strong enough for me to develop an affinity for them. Anyway, immediately after taking the sleeping pill, i realized i should have cleared it with my sponsor first. When i told him about the incident at our next meeting, he was angry that i hadn’t called him and called it a slip.
Why hadn’t i called him? Simple, i didn’t even think about it. Ironically, one of the factors that led up to my suicide attempt was the same thing: i am incapable of asking for help—i perceive it to be a sign of weakness.
Last Sunday, i had a coffee with my sponsor and while discussing all the issues i’ve got going on at the moment, i began to feel better, calmer, more together. As he gave me advice, I started thinking more clearly. i especially understood i should have called him earlier rather than let myself sink lower and lower.
Then, one of the pieces of advice he gave me was to reach out to a friend in recovery in the States. Being told by someone helping me that i needed to ask for help was finally direct enough to drive the message into my brain.
Asking others for help is a tool in the Toolbox.
First off, there’s this addition to the GlosAAry…
Gratitude = Great + Attitude.
Taking a break from living to appreciate life. Gratitude for an addict means recognizing and appreciating the gifts recovery has brought–things the disease had promised but never delivered.
A common suggestion for alcoholics in recovery is to keep and regularly update a Gratitude List of all the things that sobriety has given them which drinking took away.
When i first started my recovery, my sponsor told me to keep a Gratitude List. Simply put, it was supposed to be a list of all the things i was grateful for, so i put things down like, “My Family”, “My Apartment”, My Job”…
It took a little while, but then i clued into the fact that the idea isn’t to write a “Rainbow Pony” list of all the things i appreciate and like, but rather a concrete enumeration of all the things i have because of Recovery and wouldn’t have without it.
My list changed to:
- i’m less angry
- i’m less depressed
- i now have the courage to continue trying
- i’m better at extracting myself from unpleasant situations
- i enjoy good times more completely
- i appreciate music more
- i need fewer breaks from my day
- i panic less
- i see my defaults more clearly and in their proper perspective
- i’m a better example for my children
- i’m better at prioritizing
- i’m more honest about admitting my mistakes
- i get more done
The list goes on and on…
Now, if i ever face a situation where i’m tempted to drink, i’ll be able to look back on this list and see all of the things i’ll be giving up. Or, even more likely, if i get too confident and start thinking i’ve got my addiction under control, i can reread these items and see all the things recovery gave me that i could never get for myself.
Powerful tool, that.
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.
There are many tasks i used to think were beneath me. Things that needed doing that i was too good for.
Here’s what i learned. The more jobs i do that i feel are beneath me, the higher i raise myself up. The more tasks i accomplish that i am too good for, the better person i become.
Allow me to pass along some wisdom given me by my sponsor.One thing my sponsor told me when he was giving me the answers to all my problems was that a lot of my drinking was fear based. Much of that fear is the fear of rejection. i drank so i could overcome this fear.
The Cure to Fear of Rejection is Esteemable Acts.
An Esteemable Act is a Good Deed and they are cushions for the soul.
The more esteemable acts i do, the better i feel about myself. The better i feel about myself, the less a rejection will sting. Thus, the more Good Deeds i do, the less i will suffer from rejection.
Good deeds make you strong. Be Strong!
As you can see in the Header to this blog, i’ve added another page. The new page is called “GlossAAry” and is a compilation of the terms i’ve heard in Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s designed for people who aren’t familiar with the program, so that they can get an understanding of the terminology used in AA and recovery.
The first entry i posted is also tonight’s post. ‘S’ is for
Your Sponsor is the person you have chosen to help keep your sober. Choosing a Sponsor is even more important than choosing a spouse, and i’m only half kidding here. While love means you can forgive a husband’s or wife’s mistakes, your Sponsor needs to be above reproach.
The most important attributes of a good Sponsor are trust, because you will have to do things you may not think are necessary so you need to have faith that the person telling you to do these things is right. A good Sponsor should have many years of sobriety in order to have experienced enough crap to be able to guide you through your own. A good Sponsor should be someone you look up to, because this person will be shaping your sobriety and will play a large part in the sober person you become.