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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Get Busy, Get Building

It was one of those meetings where ya learn a little about yourself. First of all, though, I would like to say how blessed I was to be there to see someone pick up a 30 year chip and a young lady returned to the group and got a 24 hour chip. Both are equally important, and I was inspired by the courage it took her to come back and get it. There are those who are too ashamed, even me at one time, to do that. Sadly, most of them stay in that same vicious cycle. Shame and embarrassment can be deadly opponents.

The guy who has 30 years shared at the very end. What he said struck a chord with me. It made me realize that, even though at one time my behavior was crazy, we are not crazy people. I'm a good guy who is capable of marvelous things... as long as I don't drink. When that happens I'm just marvelously good at hurting people. Including myself. I'm finally in a position, after struggling with alcoholism for quite a few years, to build the future and the family that I've always wanted to have. That I reached for drunkenly through the steel bars that I put up. It starts now. It started the moment I put down my last drink and said, "Enough."

Life is good and it's about to get amazing.

Where the Wind Will Take Me

The past few months have been a whirlwind of serenity, enthusiasm, gratitude, sadness, and sometimes despair. So. Today I decided to stop the train and get off for a few minutes.

It's been really nice not having anywhere I have to be. I'll still go to a meeting tonight, but other than that... anything goes.

First I got up, got ready, and went to Subway. Then I hopped the streetcar down to Audubon Park. It was bittersweet without Sarah there, but faith tells me that we will be back feeding the ducks again sometime soon. I haven't been to the park since well before all of this tragedy I caused took place. It was pleasant and quiet though.

After that I trekked over to The Fly. It's the Riverview area behind the zoo. Meditated, read a little Big Book, and helped a wounded lizard find cover. I like that the boy scout in me is coming back.

Now I am at my old haunt on Magazine and Jefferson. It's a PJ's coffeehouse. After this I don't know, and I am comfortable with that. I'll write more after the meeting...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

On to Step 5

Our men's group speaker was sensational tonight. I've seen the guy around the group several times, but didn't know he had that story in him. I don't like to give much away about our members. I can tell you that his misadventures were like something straight out of a movie. And the way he got into the program was very touching. He was also the spitting image of my Grandpa Melton.

Afterward my sponsor and I went back to his apartment to go over my 4th Step work. We found a pattern of selfishness and ego there. That's for sure. I'm thankful that, with the help of the program and God, I'm coming out of that shell. We'll be meeting again Saturday before work and then again next week to do my 5th Step.

Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs.

That's when we sit down in private and I basically tell him my life story. My dad said that may take a while... LOL.

Got a good sponsor, good sobriety, a good support system, and an awesome Higher Power. As long as I stay true to all of that, there's no limit to the awesome things that will be coming my way. :)


Monday, November 28, 2011

Bedtime and Serenity

Have to go to bed soon so, once again, this wont be a long post.

Had a pretty gloomy day today. Prayed alot through teary eyes. I got through it, though, and tomorrow is another day.

Meeting with my sponsor tomorrow night after the men's group. We're going to go over my 4th step work. It was tough, but I learned alot about myself. This program, when worked correctly, is a true miracle.

Well. I really have to get some sleep tonight. I'm mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. Got to be up very early too.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Have a blessed night, all.

Male Jay and Today's Meditation

Have to go in to work earlier than usual for a closing shift so I can't write much. I'll be able to write more tonight when I get off. Just wanted to share the Meditation for the Day. We went over it earlier at the Mustard Seed. Had a larger crowd than normal. It was a good meeting though. Lately I've found something kinda funny about the group. There are two Jays there. A lady and myself, so now I am known as "Male Jay". Maybe I should go back to being called "Jimmy".... Just kidding.

Here's today's meditation.

Gratitude to God is the theme of Thanksgiving Day. The pilgrims gathered to give thanks to God for their harvest, which was pitifully small. When we look around at all the things we have today, how can we help being grateful to God? Our families, our homes, our friends, our A.A. fellowship: all these things are free gifts of God to us. "But for the grace of God," we would not have them.

It's a little late for Thanksgiving Day. I know I've said it recently, but if we are truly grateful for what we have, everyday is a thanksgiving. ;)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Recovery, My Responsibility

I got to thinking today, as I often do out walking around. That's where alot of what I write comes from. Well, today it came to me that my recovery has become so much more than just something that I need to be doing. I thought, "It's kinda become my job." That word has a bit of an arduous ring to it, so I thought about it some more. Responsibility sounded much better. A responsibility that I take with great pleasure. A way of life. I have a responsibility to myself, to those I love, and to my Higher Power to make myself the best person I can possibly be. I have a responsibility to share what I learn with people who want the same way of life. And I have a responsibility to help any person who is less fortunate in any way I can. There you must find a balance. Recovery... Because without it I am no good to anyone. Family... Caring for and protecting the people who mean something in my life. Service... Comes from the heart and the fact that people have been of service to me. These are things that I take very seriously and get great joy from. I really am blessed.

The speaker at our group tonight was great. First of all, it was just really nice hearing a female perspective. I'd say we get guys about three quarters of the time. That's by no means a bad thing, it was just refreshing.

She was an older lady who took us around the world with her story. Some of it was happy and some was heart-wrenching. She had a glow about her, though, that told you she was happy and thankful for each of her 23 years sober. When I shared, I thanked her for such a wonderful account. I told her that her youthful enthusiasm was an enormous re-enforcement of just how well the program works. It almost reminded me of a child telling you about their favorite thing. (Didn't share that part...) I walked away with quite a bit.

The night's winding down, I'm here at the Rue with my coffee, and I think I'm about to go over to Netflix and watch an ep of The Walking Dead. Good show.

Goodnight, all.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Our Favorite Driver and Growin' Up

Another day at work that went by very quickly. We had a truck day today, so I was able to talk with our favorite driver. He is doing very well. He seems much more centered and calm, home life is good, and he is staying spiritually active. He even tried converting me to Catholicism... Really proud of the guy.

As for me, it was a good day. I've been practicing mini-4th Steps. Whenever I come into a "situation", I try to remember to step back, truly evaluate what is going on, and focus on what I might be doing wrong. It's easier than it sounds and is very effective.

I like to think I've grown up alot in the past months. Well. I have grown. Trivial little things that I used as an escape before simply don't interest me anymore. What does interest me is my recovery, building a family and future with the gal I love most, being there for my family and friends, and making some kind of difference in this world. I thank God that I have the tools to do those things now.

Well.... I have a friend who is meeting me here for coffee. Better run.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mussolini and Moral Inventory

Worked all day, so not a heck of alot to write about. Remember a while back when I said, "If someone has something they feel is important enough to tell you, it's important enough to listen to." Well. There's a guy who comes into where I work, tracks me down, and corners me for 40 minutes to tell me about conspiracies. Now I'm interested in World War II, but I don't want to hear about Hitler's secret technology for an hour. I had to hide out in the warehouse for quite a while tonight when he came in. I felt bad, but I don't want to be rude to him. He's probably just a lonely guy who likes sharing stuff about Benito Mussolini. Not for me, though.

Been doing my 4th Step worksheets. It's mostly about putting a magnifying glass on my fears, resentments, and wrongs. Then I write about what parts of those are more to do with me than what is going on on the outside... and in other areas where I'm actually at fault. I'm still working on the step, but so far it has been very enlightening. I'm starting to see more of the little everyday things that effect my serenity for what they are. That knowledge helps me to deal with those things as they happen in a positive way. It also helps to know that most of those problems and frustrations come from somewhere in me and how I react. I may share some of my stepwork after my sponsor and I go over it. I won't be able to share most of it here, however, because alot of it is very specific.

That's about it for tonight. I had a very blessed and productive day.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanks and Giving

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has become two separate words for me. I said a bit earlier on FB and at my meeting, "Be thankful for what you have and give alot."

My day started out better than I expected. I got up, got ready, and headed down to the mission. I'd been calling for days about volunteering, got no one, so I decided I would just show up. They were closed until the nighttime check-in. Ok. Well. I know where Bridge House is, only too well, so I went there. That's where the action was. They were feeding folks up into the afternoon. I checked in, went around to one of tents, and got to work. Mostly ran food and helped put things up at the end.

I was a little put off last week that I couldn't work Thanksgiving. Since I'd be alone this year, I thought work would keep me occupied. God wanted me somewhere else, however, and I am so blessed that that was where he wanted me. I thanked everyone before I left and started downtown to look for lunch. Decided on an oyster platter at a place I've never been to before. It didn't disappoint. Couldn't eat all of it though.

After that I stopped and checked out the Thanksgiving parade. It was more like a pre-Bayou Classic parade, but I enjoyed it.

Then to my meeting. It was fairly small, being the holiday and all. One of my friends moderated and started the topic "What are you grateful for?" No one saw that coming. I really like something he said while sharing. It's something his sponsor told him. "Two of the most important tools in recovery are gratitude and humility." Someone else mentioned that gratitude requires humility. I've never heard it put like that, but it is so true. Anyone can say thank you. True gratitude is a feeling, and I'm feeling grateful for a heck of alot today.

My thought for the day....

Thanksgiving is something that happens 365 days a year if you have true gratitude and love in your heart.... And folks in need don't stop needing after Dec. 25th. Be thankful and give.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It Works if Ya Work It

That's the last thing we say at the end of a meeting (and tonight's was a good one). "Keep coming back. It works if you work it." It's true. With earnestness and honesty you can overcome anything. Even addiction. That brings me to today's meditation from 24 Hours A Day.

"In the world ye shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer. I have overcome the world." Keep an undaunted spirit. Keep your spirit free and unconquered. You can be undefeated and untouched by failure and all its power, by letting your spirit overcome the world; rise above earth's turmoil into the secret chamber of perfect peace and confidence. When a challenge comes to you, remember you have God's help and nothing can wholly defeat you.

There are those who have seen us at our worst who judge us as hopeless. "He'll never change." or "That person is always going to be a drunk." I certainly hope that isn't the case. Well. I know for a fact it isn't true. I can't speak for others, but I know I have too much to give and live for. I've seen too many people pick up 20 year chips in the past 2 months alone to believe that folks can't change. And alot of them had more problems and slips than I did.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that no mountain is too high and no challenge too big if you are honestly willing to tackle it. The program teaches me that if I stick by my Higher Power and stay committed, I don't ever have to go back to that way of living again.

It doesn't just apply to recovery, but for any trial that may pop up in life.

And to my harshest critics...for there are a few... I understand your skepticism. Keep watching, though. I think you'll be very pleasantly surprised. ;)

Blackberries and Dante

Been busy running all over the place looking for a phone replacement. Finally decided that I'll have to order one from the online Sprint store.... So, yes, I'm still on the temporary number.

Something that occurred to me in all this running was how fitting it is that I have to carry this heavy a%$& laptop around. It feels almost like a penance I'm paying for letting it interfere with things that are really important in my life. Dante Alighieri could have written a whole other circle for this... LOL. I'm over-dramatizing of course. There are some things this PC is invaluable for. It did make me think, though.

Aside from that, I just ate a nice, healthy chicken taco salad. Getting ready to head to my meeting. Was going to go to church, but my meeting happens at the same time. Didn't make Mustard Seed today because of errands.... And I still have more errands for this evening.

Anyway. Nothing much else for right now. I did have an opportunity to help someone out today. It wasn't anything big, but it made his day better and I am thankful for that.

Will write more tonight.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Charity and Facebook

Hasn't been too long since I posted last. Just this afternoon actually. Here's the meditation from 24 Hours a Day. Then I'll share about it...

"If I have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal." Charity means to care enough about other people to really want to do something for them. A smile, a word of encouragement, a word of love, goes winged on its way, simple though it may seem, while the mighty words of an orator fall on deaf ears. Use up the odd moments of your day in trying to do some little thing to cheer up another person. Boredom comes from thinking too much about yourself.

We've all heard in the program, "You can't keep it if you don't give it away." That's not a sound enough motive to be charitable of course, but it is very true.

Boredom doesn't grip me like it used to because I keep so busy. I work, do alot of AA related stuff and write. I'm coming to a point, though, where I need to start making time for the everyday things too. I have to be very careful to find a good balance between work, recovery, relationships, and leisure. Some of those can be intermixed of course... And charity. I pray every night to be put in situations where I can help other people. Whether it's on the street or organizing a food drive for Second Harvest. The smallest things can make the biggest difference in someone's life. Sometimes just a simple smile.

Tonight's men's group was good. Found out something sad though. I knew that there was someone missing when I came back. We don't always ask because it is an anonymous program and not everyone wants you to know. He was mentioned tonight so I went ahead and inquired as to where he was. It ends up he passed away a couple of years ago. Now I didn't know him that well, he was just one of those people you like seeing around. I can tell that he is greatly missed.

Ok. Facebook. I've been either forgetting or subconsciously evading the subject. A while back I posted that I would be staying away from it for a while. Well. I did... for a couple of days. I saw that the outpouring of support was still there and I appreciate it more than anyone could know. I said to myself, "You use FB for something better now." It would've felt like I was turning my back on that. So I returned. Still don't do a heck of a lot on there, but I do love seeing all the wonderful things folks have to say. And I learn from those things too.

Holidays and Headaches

Today was the last Mustard Seed I'll be going to for the week. I have to try and get a new phone tomorrow (on the other side of town) and they wont be meeting Thur. or Fri. There are plenty of other meetings around though. I'll be going to one tonight as a matter of fact. I still make two on my off days.

I have to admit to being a bit put off by some of the shares at my group. I didn't say anything about it, though. It's just that everyone there seems to be dreading the holidays. The bickering, family squabbles, headaches.... The self-pity part of me wanted to interject and say, "Hey. You guys should be thankful you get to spend the holidays with people you love. There was a time in your disease that not very many people would have wanted you around." That's just the God's honest truth about most active addicts. I'm in recovery now and some people still don't want anything to do with me. I'm going to have to spend the holidays alone, so please forgive me for not being very receptive to those woes. I know it's my fault I'll be alone, but that doesn't make the hurt go away.

Once again, though, I have to step back and realize that triggers do arise at family functions, and that certainly needs to be addressed. Just don't make something so special sound like such a chore. It's a blessing. Still love ya Mustard Seed.

In other news, I got off the phone with a guy from California a little bit ago. I'm trying to enroll in their online school for an associates in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. I have an online appointment with him tomorrow to talk about grants. Woot.

Well. I'm just going to hang out here and surf for a while before my next meeting. Maybe listen to some music. I'll write again after my evening meeting.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Work and Sober Spending

Not much to write about really. Just went to work from CC's and got back a few minutes ago.

Work went well. I find I'm more patient with people in general. It makes alot of difference when you step back from your ego and see things from inside their shoes.

I have to say that I am humbled, too, from all the support that my co-workers have given me. They're awesome people and I am very thankful for them. One lady said she was bringing me Thanksgiving dinner Thursday. I'll be volunteering at the mission and going to the Round Table group that day, but I might be able to stop by and say hello.

Here's the thought for the day...

I no longer waste money, but try to put it to good use. Like all of us, when I was drunk, I threw money around like I really had it. It gave me a feeling of importance - a millionaire for a day. But the morning after, with an empty wallet and perhaps also some undecipherable checks, was a sad awakening. How could I have been such a fool? How will I ever make it up? Thoughts like these get you down. When we are sober, we spend our hard-earned money as it should be spent. Although perhaps some of us could be more generous in our A.A. giving, at least we do not throw it away. Am I making good use of my money?

I have been making much better use of my money. I've been paying off old credit debts. Trying to fix my credit actually (I owe a young lady a house...LOL). Been keeping up with the few bills I have, and eating as well as possible. I try to save anything that's left. Things are looking good for getting a new job too. I've had a couple of bites, but may not get a real interview until after Thanksgiving.

Well. That's it for now. I have 3 days off that I'm going to put to good use.


God and Will

Hey! My favorite comfy chair just opened up at CC's. I'm having a cold ginger peach tea. It's t-shirt and shorts weather in New Orleans in November. Too warm out for a coffee.

Just got back uptown from the Mustard Seed. Finally got my new chip. My sobriety date is the 18th but I've been either having to work, or the meeting I was going to didn't have chips.... Excited to have it, but it's the date that really counts.

The meeting topic was good too. It was about ego, will and how they can interfere with the work of your Higher Power. Now I am still of the school that, for a large part, we make our own decisions and way through life with his guidance. There would be no accountability if we didn't. There are definitely things that God does directly in our lives. I have no doubt about that because I experience it everyday. And God guides us, protects us, gives us courage and wisdom when we ask for it. I ask for it every night. I thank him for keeping me sober another day and for the people he has put in my life. I also thank him for giving me another day on this planet. That's something that I once took as granted. I ask him to help me better myself and to put me in a position where I can better other people. I have some individual people that I pray for and thank him for too. I pray that he sees fit to bring one of those people back into my life. Prayer and faith can move mountains.... in recovery and in everyday living. You just have to give the steering wheel over to him.

That kind of turned into a paragraph about my relationship with God. That's ok, though. Wouldn't be here without him.

Something else from the Mustard Seed that kinda hit home was a lady who shared that she had come to the meeting to be around sober people. She didn't know if she was an alcoholic, but a recent event had shaken her. A neighbor who had just come back from the hospital had died. She described it pretty graphically. I wont do that here. He was at the hospital for some kind of alcohol related problem. When he'd gotten back he was shaking and obviously still detoxing. Don't know why they sent him home. That's a very dangerous time. Well. They found him a couple of days later surrounded by empty bottles. I've known people who have died from this disease and I know that I could very well have ended up like him. Thank God I didn't. And wont.

Working til 10:30 tonight, but I'll write again afterward.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Step 4 and Thanksgiving

Aside from meeting my sponsor at the Rue, and a couple of other things, it wasn't a very eventful day. Mostly work.

He gave me my 4th Step worksheets and study guide, talked about what we were going to do on this step and future steps, and then we chatted for a while. I'm going to read the study guide tonight and start the worksheets tomorrow. I have Tue, Wed, and Thursday off, so that should give me lots of time. I'll go to church on Wednesday. For Thanksgiving I'll be going to as many meetings as I can and volunteering downtown. Giving out food for one of the shelters. Probably eat at Hoshun later since they will be open.

I ran into a friend on the way to the Rue. She knows I like to volunteer. She's been talking to me for years about training with the Red Cross. I had been considering working with Second Harvest Food Bank and will still pursue that. I like them. May give RC a try too, but I don't want to spread myself too thin. As far as paid work goes, I've been researching another full-time job and maybe doing the one I have now part-time. Would make much more sense. My sponsor thinks so as well.

So there ya go. Nothing too mind-blowing. Just some stuff from today in no particular order. Threw in a few thoughts and ideas for good measure.

Think I'm just going to chill here at the Rue until time to head back. Have I mentioned I like coffee shops? I'll leave ya with the daily passage from 24 Hours a Day...

I no longer try to escape life through alcoholism. Drinking built up an unreal world for me and I tried to live in it. But in the morning light the real life was back again and facing it was harder than ever, because I had less resources with which to meet it. Each attempt at escape weakened my personality by the very attempt. Everyone knows that alcohol, by relaxing inhibitions, permits a flight from reality. Alcohol deadens the brain cells that preside over our highest faculties and we are off to the unreal world of drunkenness. A.A. taught me not to run away, but to face reality. Have I given up trying to escape life?

Yes I have. :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is Today Over Yet?

Today wasn't the best. I''ll be honest. My soul is in agony right now. I'll leave it at that... for now. Just too hard to talk about it. But I wont drink over it. I'll just pray.

Had a good meeting, though. There was only 5 of us, so we sat around and chatted about the 3rd Step. That was the study chapter for tonight.

After the meeting, someone I spoke with on the phone shared a really good passage with me that I would like to post from the NA book "One Day at a Time"...

Many of us attended our first meeting and, not being entirely sure that NA was for us, found much to criticize. Either we felt as though no one had suffered like we had or that we hadn't suffered enough. But as we listened we started to hear something new, a wordless language with its roots in recognition, belief, and faith: the language of empathy. Desiring to belong, we kept listening.

We find all the identification we need as we learn to understand and speak the language of empathy. To understand this special language, we listen with our hearts. The language of empathy uses few words; it feels more than it speaks. It doesn't preach or lecture - it listens. It can reach out and touch the spirit of another addict without a single spoken word.
Fluency in the language of empathy comes to us through practice. The more we use it with other addicts and our Higher Power, the more we understand this language. It keeps us coming back.

Just for today: I will listen with my heart. With each passing day, I will become more fluent in the language of empathy.

There was a time in my life where, if I was even listening at all, I was only listening with one ear. I was far too wrapped up in my own thoughts and obsessions to hear what someone was saying to me, much less empathize. It made me uncomfortable to hear about people's feelings. I'd get antsy when someone was talking for too long... unless it was about something I was interested in. Ya see? Selfishness destroys empathy. To build solid relationships, though, we must learn to listen with an empathetic ear. Not just to what is being said, but also what is not being said.

Things are starting to look pretty bleak for my relationship. I just want to grab her, and hold her, and listen to everything she has to say. It's beginning to look kinda obvious that she isn't willing to accept that I'm in recovery. Or is afraid of it for some reason. Or just has no faith in us anymore... I don't know. I do know she has every reason not to trust me. That's why I've been trying to show her through action. Anyway. That's why my heart is so heavy right now and I don't want to get into writing all about that... except maybe privately. And no comments about it for now, either, please. There is still some hope, and as long as I feel hope, I'll wait. Faithfully. I'm just gonna plow ahead and concentrate on my program for now. No force in the world will sway me from that.

And to anyone who has a loved one out there who is feeling alone... Take them, hold them, and truly feel what they have to say. It makes all the difference in the world.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Truck Day and a New Chip

Our truck driver was back today. He was all over the place, and from his behavior, I'd sworn he must've been off his meds. He came up and talked to me a bit after we were all done.

He assured me that he was still taking them. That's something I can only take his word on. I asked about his family and they are doing ok. He's performing his role of father and husband much better. They've been doing alot of family activities. He's still sleeping in a different room, though. He seemed a bit exasperated by that. I told him not to waver. It sounded like he was making real progress and his wife obviously hasn't given up on him. As long as he was doing what he needed to be doing to get better, things would fall into place. That together he and she could save that marriage. They have the advantage of an open line of communication. That, a little willingness, openness, and honesty goes a long way. Whether he sticks to his guns, saves himself and everything he says he holds dear is up to him. I hope it all works out. It would do my heart some good too.

He shared that he is also a little worried about the holidays. He's welcome at his in-laws, but they aren't quite over things yet. I told him that the worst thing he could do is not visit. He still has to make amends to them too. The best way he can win them back is by getting better and showing them how much he loves their daughter and their grand-kids. When they see first hand that he is recovering, and his family is his top priority, they'll eventually come around. It's all about actions. Show me, don't tell me....

Once again... Whether this guy follows through, or not... I don't know. I do know that he is in a much better situation than I am with his partner. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit envious. I'd be lying, too, if I said I wouldn't be a bit disappointed if he threw it all away again and went back out. I have my own recovery, though, and I have to remember that.

It's something that I have immersed myself in. It's become a way of life for me. The things that I do in my program are now things that have just become a part of everyday living. I can't describe the good it is doing. Thank God.

Today is two months for me and I still have no desire to drink. I thank God for that too. I had to work all day and couldn't pick up my chip. I can't remember if my group on Saturday gives out chips or not. I know the Sunday group does... Very enthusiastic about that.

Oh. Want to hear a story about divine intervention? We all know my phone was stolen yesterday. I lost my sponsor's number as a result. After leaving an email for him on his work website and hearing no response, I said to myself, "Maybe I'll see someone from the group who knows him today." Who shows up where I work tonight but my grand-sponsor. Never seen him in there before. Got his number too. I call my sponsor everyday and was worried I'd miss one.

Well. That's it for now. I had some low spots today, but they passed. I hurt alot and miss someone every second of everyday. But I'm being patient, hopeful and am concentrating on recovery. The people in your life may say, "I've heard it all before." When they actually see it happening, however, it becomes something that they can't deny. I'm making it happen.

As long as I'm doing that, life is good.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Favorite Step(s)

Sitting at CC's Coffee (temporary phone in pocket). The Round Table was wonderful. Just what I needed tonight. Got to hang with some of my fellow members beforehand. They were glad to see me and I was them. We had several people pick up 20+ year chips. Shows the program works if ya work it.

The moderator was an older lady who has been sober since 1986. It was an enlightening experience listening to what she had to say. She then opened the topic and started calling on people... me included. Was hoping she would. She asked what our favorite step was. When it came to me, I shared that I am still doing stepwork, but so far the first was a favorite.

We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol and that
our lives had become unmanageable.

One reason I like this step is that you can't work an effective program until you do that. I'd known that I was powerless over it intellectually, but it wasn't until I worked the step that I really understood and comprehended the grip it had me in. That was crucial before I could go any further. Step 3 jumped out at me too.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives
over to the care of God as we understood him.

That's a scary step for some. The notion scared the hell out of me at one time. Ego and skepticism told me that I could do it on my own. And that's why I always failed. Since my spiritual awakening, though, I can feel him working in my life. Doubt... shame... arrogance... self-centeredness aren't things that plague me everyday anymore. They still try to pop up from time to time, but now I know better how to deal with them. It's freed me to work an effective recovery and be the person I need to be for the ones I love and the one I love.

I also shared that it seems like picking a favorite step is like picking a favorite child. They're all equally important.

I think, for me, my favorite step will always be the one I need most at that moment.

This Is Only a Test

Ok. Serenity is seriously being tested right now. Cell phone was just stolen here at PJ's.

Instead of hitting the roof, I'm just going to take a deep breath and remember that it is only a thing. What I will have to do now is go to Walgreens and get a cheap temporary one. Not the end of the world. Still kinda brings back some of those feelings from that night I was robbed. Don't know why. Gonna hold steady, though.

Not going to be able to write much now. I have new business to attend to. The meeting was great. I'd mentioned to Teresa that I got more out of the fellowship, before and after, than I did the topic. Not that the topic wasn't a good one. Looking forward to being able to go to my homegroup again tonight. I'll be getting there early to help set up. Should be a great night.

I'll write more about it tonight when I get back.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Ego and Expression

Not a lot to write about tonight. Just got back from work. Talked to my sponsor on my break. We're meeting Sunday morning before I go in.

I did think about some of the other inner conflicts I suffered over the years. Another huge one being my difficulty opening up to people. This was a conflict because I wanted to express myself to the ones I love. My disease, my ego, my anxiety, and my trust issues created a wall. It was like I couldn't feel. As soon as I felt threatened, I would shut right down. It's taken good, honest, solid recovery to start knocking those walls down....

Success and love have given me trouble too. I'm one of those people who are afraid of things like that because somewhere inside I thought I didn't deserve it. I've been through abandonment and disappointment in my life. I've disappointed a lot of people too. By opening my heart, though, and earnestly working through it, I'm finding that I'm breaking those chains as well.

These changes have made me very enthusiastic about my program, my spirituality, and not least, my ability to finally express unconditional love. There is someone very special to me that I can't wait to share all of that with.

I've been feeling alot lately. Good and bad. The way that I'm measuring true progress, however, is the fact that I can feel.

Good night.

Inner Conflict and Fight Club

The Mustard Seed rocked today. We talked about inner conflict and turmoil. That was the subject for the day in the 24 Hours book. The passage describes how this is taken away when working the steps and the program.

I've had plenty of inner conflict over the years. The first thing that came to mind was my spirituality. I've fought that battle within myself for a long time. The ego and selfishness of my addiction would not allow me to open up to the fact that life is so much better and richer when you leave skepticism at the door and open up to God. That was a serious, serious roadblock in my getting into recovery. Let me assure anyone who has had the same problem, you will be amazed at the things that will happen when you drop your defenses and accept that. I was. I couldn't work my program without my Higher Power.

I got to thinking more about the topic of the day. For some reason, the movie Fight Club suddenly became relevant. I shared this, too, much to the amusement of the others. In the film, Edward Norton and Brad Pitt are constantly at odds and beating the crap out of each other. At the end (and this is a spoiler... not that the movie hasn't been out for over 10 years) Norton discovers that he and Pitt are the same person. He was his own problem the whole time. That's by no means the only premise of the movie... and it certainly isn't a morality tale, but I sure as hell got something from that aspect of it. I'll have to pull it up on Netflix on my PC next time I get a chance.

Just got called into work early so I better run. Will try to post again before midnight. Still no wifi at the place, so I may have to go to a coffee shop. I find that writing this is like a little mini-meeting, so sometimes I go out of my way to post. It's an open meeting, as well, which means anyone can attend. ;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Powerlessness and Loneliness

Tonight's men's group was a direct hit. I love the moderator (an English guy who drops the F bomb alot... he's hilarious) and the topic. It was about being powerless in our addiction. I've written about this recently. About how we would make some of the most dumbass decisions regarding alcohol while knowing full well that, eventually, the walls would end up crashing all around us. That is powerlessness and insanity. Not a justification though. As an alcoholic, I may very well have been under the disease's control, but it was ultimately up to me to say, "Enough." I got there, however, and I thank God for that. I hurt alot of people on the way, I know. I pray for the opportunity to make it right with them. Especially the one I hurt the worst and love the most. Please forgive me.

One of the guys who shared said something that struck a chord with me. He talked about loneliness and how friends leave you during addiction. I mentioned this to Teresa on the way back. It made me realize that I was surrounded by people who cared about me, and I was the loneliest guy in the world. I made myself that way. Isn't that effed up?

Well. I'm afraid this is going to have to be a short post. There isn't wifi back at the place right now, so I had to walk all the way back down to the Rue. And they are about to close.

Gonna head back now and read a little. Goodnight all.

On To Step 4

Oh God. Where do I start? I suppose at the beginning of the day. It started with me feeling pretty down. Teresa and I agreed that once I got to the Mustard Seed my spirits would be picked up. And I did feel a bit better when I got there. We had a few out-of-towners, which was good. It's always nice to chat with them before and after the group. There was an older couple from Florida. She has been in AA for a long time and he is in Al-anon. They were very happy together and that brought some of my faith back to the surface. The topic was living in the now, maintaining serenity, and not freaking out over the future. That's a tough one for me. As long as I'm doing what I need to do in the present, I'm very confident that things are going to work out well in my recovery, finances and with a particular young lady I'd like to start a family with. It's just that sometimes a little something will happen to rattle that, and that's when I pray or call Teresa. Thanks, Teresa. She's been a very patient and understanding source of support.

After the meeting, I made my way to the Rue for coffee with my sponsor. It was too late for lunch. We sat right down and went over my work for Step 3. I was to read about the step and then write about 3 things. This is what I wrote....

Openness is something I've always had trouble with. I used to shut down immediately at the first sign of danger to my emotions (or lack there-of). Openness is being forthright, honest. and willing to come out and bare all to my loved ones, my program, and my higher power. It's a testament of love and respect. It's also a sign of trust.

Willingness takes faith. It's something I find deep down inside. Sometimes it involves letting go of skepticism, resistance, and fear. It's a commitment to those I love and saying to God, "I'm giving this to you. I can't handle it on my own." I am willing to do right by my recovery and to the people in my life... And I will follow through.

Honesty isn't only about telling the truth. It's about being true to myself and everyone around me. Honesty is an action. An example. It's following through on promises and it is crucial in making sound decisions. It's also one of the cornerstones of recovery. I lied for so long, even about some of the smallest stuff. I even had myself convinced of some of the most ridiculous things. The biggest lie, though, was that everybody and everything around me was my problem. Things started moving forward when I finally admitted that my biggest problem was Jay.

We talked about it for a few minutes. I explained that these things seemed to go hand in hand. A Trinity if you will. Then my sponsor asked me to read something. Page 63 in the Big Book. I read it, talked to him about my spiritual awakening, and then he asked me to read the prayer on the page out loud.

"God I offer myself to Thee- To build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy will always."

After that he said, "Now we move on to Step 4."

Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

We're basically going to dig through my resentments, flaws of character, fears.... Things that led me to drinking and/or doing wrong by others. And the wrongs that I did.

More good news was to come. I dropped in at work and it looks like the newest guy quit, so I'm going to get my old schedule back. That will free me up in the evenings for a second job or finding a better full time job and keeping this one part time.

Whew. That was alot. I'll write more this evening after my men's group. Right now I'm just going to finish my coffee, listen to music on Spotify, and reflect.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Beers and Benjamin Franklin

Well someone out there seems more upbeat. Maybe one of my prayers were answered....

I wanted to share a cool website I found today while looking for the 24 Hours A Day Book. Here's the link- . It's a treatment center, but the website is a wealth of info about addiction and recovery (among other things).

Got the day off tomorrow, so I will be hitting my Mustard Seed group, lunch with my sponsor, coffee shop blog writing, some errands, evening meeting, dinner, then back here for another post. Going to try and find a new place to do laundry as well. May go to the park and read a bit for a little down time.

I was talking to Mr. Lewis earlier about going to the Second Harvest concerts a while back. He said he likes to go and have a couple of beers. I kind of chuckled and said it was Diet Cokes for me... and meatpies. Love the meatpies. He seemed a bit perplexed that I just drank Diet Coke. I explained that, for someone like me, two beers turns into three and then four.... then pretty soon I'm hanging off the Benjamin Franklin statue naked. That wouldn't actually happen. The statue thing. My point was that I don't stop at two. I stop when I fall asleep. That's why I can never drink again. And ya know what? I have absolutely no problem with that.

So that's it. Figured I throw some random thoughts up. Nothing too heavy. Not an incredibly eventful evening either. Hope everyone has a good night....

Daily Book Passages and Confusing Meeting Topics

Not every AA meeting or group is a winner. Today's Mustard Seed topic was not a winner, but the group itself is and that's why I keep going. Love it. Today, though, quite a few of us were confused as to what we were supposed to be talking about. The moderator was talking about something personal that was going on in his life. Nothing wrong with that by any means. I think what threw a few of us was how he was trying to apply it to the steps. It wasn't coming together very well, but I listened, and as always walked out with some food for thought. If you are sharing something that's important to you, it's always worth listening to.

Been trying to get into reading the daily thoughts in the 24 Hours A Day book. Finally found a website where I can do that. Need to buy the book when I can. Today's passage was about looking for the good in every person and not judging them. Alcoholics are quite used to judgement and criticism... in both directions. I'm no exception. So today I am going to concentrate on less judging and more understanding.

Meeting with my sponsor tomorrow for lunch, so tonight after I get off I'll have to finish the work he gave me for Step 3. I just have some writing left. Done all the reading. Will post again after work too.

I read something while eating lunch today that I feel I must write about. There's someone out there right now who is dearer to my heart than anything else. Someone who was lying awake last night at the same time as me and listening to the same rain. I'd like to be able to tell her that life is worth the pain. If I could, I'd shoulder that pain for her... I even prayed that I could while laying there in that lonely, sad bed. I hope and pray that someday soon I can hold her hand, look into her eyes and tell her that I will do anything to make sure she is happy and protected. No matter what. It might be bad at this moment, but the future can be wonderful. It's so worth it. I love ya, Cupcake.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Line in the Sand

A little earlier today I had an exchange that I allowed to upset me. Thank God I was on my way to a meeting. That, and a talk with Teresa helped center me. I handled it well, I think, but I still allowed it to shake me. Most people are going to find it hard to get an irrational reaction from me these days. I'm not that person anymore.

The past 2 or 3 days I've been pondering what kind of person I am now, or am still becoming. I'm having to rediscover myself in some ways. I can, however, tell you some of the things that I'm learning about sober, recovering Jay. I'm going to be much more selective in who I call friend. I've always said this, but never followed it. You surround yourself by the kind of people you strive to be. If you want to be an airline pilot but only spend time with submarine captains it makes things a little complicated.

I'm done with anything that comes between me and those I love. That means things like my little toys, DVDs, TV shows, anything trivial that drew me into my own world and alienated someone who desperately wanted to be part of my life.... Those things are gone. It's ok to have things like that so long as you aren't obsessed with them. Doesn't mean I wont have DVDs or watch TV. I'm just not going to let them rule me almost as much as alcohol did. But I am done with the toys. Time to grow up.

You might say that I have re-prioritized.

I'm 38 years old. What I should be and am concentrating on right now is building a foundation to start a family and secure the future. The only thing that comes before that is my recovery. Without it, the rest is impossible.

I'll always have things I need to work on. We all do. But no more BS, no more arrogance, no more dishonesty. I'm earnestly working on ridding myself of that. It's time I draw a line in the sand and say this is where I become a man. For myself and for the ones I take care of.

.... For those of you who truly love and support me, thank you for standing on this side of the line with me.

Blue Jeans and Church

Got up, showered, shaved, and went to church this morning. As I approached the front steps a feeling of serenity swept over me. Forgetting the fact that I was in jeans and tennis shoes, I actually smiled a little bit. The folks I shook hands with on the way in seemed a bit shocked, but I wasn't there to impress them. Hey. I was wearing a nice shirt....

I really like Trinity Episcopal. It's always a beautiful service. I'm not looking to join, though. That's a decision I'll make with you know who when and if she feels ready. But for now, I will continue where I'm at. I've found that going to just about any church in the past weeks has served to calm my soul, center me spiritually, and help me reconnect with God. I tend to take something from every sermon too. Things that help enrich me in everyday living. It's something that has helped not only in my life, but also in my recovery. I've finally started opening up to things that I'd desperately and obstinately avoided before. I'll be writing about openness and willingness soon. It's made me a happier person.

So what did I learn today? The sermon centered around the Parable of the Talents. (Oddly, so did the one at Dad and Teresa's church.) Now I took something a bit different from the story than I'm sure everyone else did. Reaping and sowing.... or more in the correct order, sowing and reaping. We all know that we reap what we sow. We get back just as much as we give. Common knowledge, but not everyone adheres to it. Myself included for such a long time. Something else that occurred to me during the service was that we can't reap what we don't sow. I sowed alot of nothing for years. And hurt alot of people. It's never too late, though, and now I'm working that garden like I never have before.

Okey doke. Bout to call my sponsor and see if we're going to that meeting tonight. If not, I'll just go to my usual one. I'll post again sometime this evening.

I guess I wasn't dressed too badly.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Little Red Book

Good meeting. It was the one where we read and discuss the steps as described in
"The Little Red Book". Tonight was Step 2. I shared with the folks that I had just finished that step and was glad at the opportunity to revisit it. It was a re-enforcing and humbling reminder that we are never truly done with the steps. We work them everyday as they apply to what's going on in our lives.

Called my sponsor earlier. He'd mentioned after our coffee yesterday that a friend of his was speaking at Bridge House, and that he'd like me to go if he went. Haven't been to a meeting there in a while, so I hope it pans out. Plus I'd like to the chance to hang out.

I wanted to share for a second about my recovery and some of the good that is coming from it. Working my program first has allowed me to become much happier with Jay. I can now look in the mirror in the morning and not feel tired of the person looking back. I was honestly getting to the point at one time that my attitude and I were getting on my own nerves. Being in abstinence and not recovery only served to make me sober and miserable rather than drunk and miserable. I'd rather neither thank you very much.

I wake up in the morning with a much clearer head and a definite direction into what needs to be done that day. I'm learning from the past, enthusiastic about the future and centered in the present.

I feel myself finally becoming the man I should be... and should've been. That's all thanks to God and every single person who supports me.

I can tell that the people in my life are alot happier too. And when Sarah is ready, I'll be able to make her happiest most of all.

What's on the agenda for the rest of the evening? I don't know, and I like that. I'm just going to sip on my coffee here at PJ's and take it as it comes. I'm off tomorrow so meetings are definitely in the forecast. I want to try and make church. It occurred to me earlier that I may, quite literally, have nothing to wear. We'll see when I get back. Until then, I'm just going to enjoy a bit of serenity while I have it.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Truck Driver and Moving to Step 3

Well. What an eventful day. There was a lot of good and a little bad.

I met my sponsor first thing this morning and he asked me some questions about my Higher Power. I told him how I was feeling a subtle presence in my life lately that was working through me. Perhaps guiding me. I told him that I was praying again.... which I have been for a little while. I truly believe that a power greater than myself is helping me and will help me through my recovery. Not just that, but life in general. I see how vital that is and how blind I was to it before. He looked at me and simply said, "We're done with step two." I thought that was pretty quick, but he explained that the first few steps are prep work mainly. That the real work starts later. He said that it's important not to linger on any of the steps. That's a trap some people fall into.... You need to go ahead, get it out in the open, and then move on to the next. It seems to have worked well with him. My work for Step 3 will be to read and write about openness, honesty, and willingness. I'll share here when done.

Step 3
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives
over to the care of God as we understood him."

Our truck driver came around today. The one I've been writing about. He was a totally different person. I talked to him before he left. He'd shown me a picture of his family and I asked about them. Then I asked if he was taking the medication prescribed to him. He said yes and I told him I could tell. He wasn't all over the place and acting crazy. He told me he hasn't gone back out and that he has been better working his role as father and husband in the house. He even said his wife was feeling better about things. He programmed my number into his phone so he could call me if he ever needs to. I don't think he'll lose it this time. I told him I was proud of him and to keep praying. I wish nothing but the best for the guy. Hope he sticks to it and works hard.

Now... I wont say exactly when my day took a downturn. Or what it was over. It just did. As I've said before, I have my ups and downs. I'm in a bit of a down right now. There's nothing on this planet that would ever again make me seek the warm embrace of oblivion that alcohol provides. Never and by the grace of God. All I can do is work my recovery and feel the pain as it comes. Some are asking if there is anything in particular I'm putting before that recovery. My simple answer is no. It's my recovery that is making a hard time bearable. That and faith that we will be together again so I can share this new life with her.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Working a Strong Program

I'd like to delve a bit more into the holidays, but before that I have a couple of other things.

The first being a talk I had this evening with my boss. He's known about my problem for a little while now and had some questions about it. One was about meetings because I had mentioned that they were a necessity to my recovery. He asked if not going to meetings would make me want to drink. I told him not directly. That missing one meeting led to missing two and then three and so forth. Without meetings we fall back into our old behaviors and eventually we do become at risk. He understood the importance then, and I believe will work with me more (not that he hasn't by any means) on scheduling around my home group. I've been getting pretty active there. We discussed spirituality and how vital it is not just in life, but in the program. He's aware of my prior standings on God and religion, but I explained to him that once I opened up, I could feel a real presence working in my recovery. I always thought something like that would manifest itself with a big bang. Some sudden, overwhelming sense of euphoria. It's actually been quite subtle so far.

Another thing I wanted to share is how I'm sticking to my recovery. I was thinking about this earlier because of the approaching holidays. As I said before, my meetings are a necessity. They keep me centered and the fellowship reminds me that I am not alone. I've run into two people I know from the Mustard Seed today. We stopped and exchanged hellos. It's amazing because that fellowship is present even when walking to work or just shopping for groceries. Getting back to my meetings, though, I find that I look forward to them and will now go out of my way to make sure that I can get to at least one a day. Two when my schedule permits. The serenity and the structure are vital in my sobriety.

The Twelve Steps and sponsorship go hand in hand. My sponsor is leading me through the steps now and we meet quite often. He is also there for support, advice, and even friendship. Without a sponsor you can't effectively work your program. They are a key ingredient. I talk to mine once a day and usually meet twice a week. I get alot from what he has to share with me and the reading he suggests.

There is also prayer, service work, and journaling to name only a few more things. It's reinforcement and it's all worked very well for me. I feel that I've got a strong program going and am very enthusiastic in maintaining it.

Now the holidays. I'll still be rigorously working my recovery every single day. Rest assured that there will be no desire to go out. I know that is a huge concern for alcoholics spending the holidays alone. I'll have various program functions to attend as well. I'm also quite aware that my spending this time alone is of my own doing and I accept full accountability for that....

On the bright side, Hoshun Restaurant will be open on Thanksgiving. Woohoo!

!0th Step Promises and the Holidays

Wow. Just went to one of the best meetings I've ever been to. I got there before anyone else, so I sat up the chairs and waited. It was the usual crowd. Just 6 of us. The moderator chose a topic that made my jaw drop. The 10th Step Promises. Here's a passage.

"And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone - even alcohol. For by this time sanity will have returned. We will seldom be interested in liquor. If tempted, we recoil from it as from a hot flame. We react sanely and normally, and we will find that this has happened automatically. We will see that our new attitude toward liquor has been given us without any thought or effort on our part. It just comes! That is the miracle of it. We are not fighting it, neither are we avoiding temptation. We feel as though we had been placed in a position of neutrality - safe and protected. We have not even sworn off. Instead, the problem has been removed. It does not exist for us. We are neither cocky nor are we afraid. That is our experience. That is how we react so long as we keep in fit spiritual condition."

What was so fitting was that I had just been talking about this yesterday, wrote about it last night and today I got a chance to explore it further in a meeting. Now I'm not actually on step 10, not trying to jump ahead of myself, but I can already feel some of what this describes in my life. I think this is because I'm opening myself up to my Higher Power and leaving my skepticism about him and the program at the door. Doing that, I can actually feel things starting to work in my life. I've opened up possibilities that weren't there when I was drinking (or just not recovering). I'm not doing somersaults down the church isle yelling, "I'm cured! I'm cured!" There is however an honest, palpable change in my life and I am grateful.

Ahhhhhh..... Now to talk about the holidays. Not much to say. I look forward to the visiting, the spiritual aspect and giving gifts, but I think that is where I'll be drawing the line this year. It's just going to be too hard to get very involved in all the other stuff. I should've been in a position to share it with the one I love, but I effed that up. At least for this holiday season anyway. All I can say is that I can never be sorry enough, Sweety. I love her more than anything and I will never betray her or that love again. I know this in my heart and in my soul.

Not writing this to start a pity party. Not trying to make anyone feel bad. But it will be my existence this Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, and I will deal with it all one day at a time.

I visit my folks Jan. 6th -14th. Can't wait to see them and catch up. Working til 10:30 tonight so will try to post again before midnight.

Oh. Finally paid off one of those things on my credit report. Woot.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Desire and Fresh Fruit

It's been a long day and I am tired... Productive though. Today is my niece's birthday, so I called and talked to her. Sent her a subscription to "Zooworld". Worked from 8am. Went to a meeting at 6. Walked ALOT. Tried to pay off something on my credit report, but will have to wait until tomorrow so they can get the file.

Something interesting came to me at work. I had eaten a fruit bowl for breakfast and something in it tasted a bit alcoholly. May have been non-fresh fruit. May have been in my head. Anyway, that got me thinking about when I was drinking, and that used to spark some sick kind of nostalgia. This time, however, I saw in myself... and I mean deep in myself.... that I had no desire to do it. It just came to me and I don't know how. The only thing I can think of is my Higher Power. The fact that I'm re-establishing a relationship with God, I've been praying, and holding dear to my love of Sarah and my family. I think that that lack of desire has been there for a while, but today I actually felt it. Does that make sense?

The meeting was ok. It was the "After Work" group. The guy who moderated is always interesting to listen to. We're acquaintances and I see him around often. As a matter of fact, he's one of the first people who ever stopped and talked to me after a meeting. I looked like a deer in headlights that day. Of course this was about 4 years ago. His topic was "perfection". Now some may disagree, and please call me out on this if ya do, but I've never considered myself too much of a perfectionist. I could be wrong, though, and just never realized it. I know that I have gotten pretty involved in my own little projects in the past. That's a behavior I'm trying to tame nowadays. Hard work is a totally different thing from fixation. Perfectionism can create stress and use up precious time.

Geez. Now I have myself wondering if I was a perfectionist on some level....

I had a good, long conversation with Teresa before the meeting (as we often do). I wont go into too much detail about it, but our talks do a world of good. Thanks, Teresa.

I work late tomorrow so I'll be going to one of my favorite meetings at noon. Mustard Seed rocks!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

5 Things I'm Powerless Over in Alcoholism

I have officially moved on to my second step.

"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

Men's group was good. Fittingly enough, the topic was the second step. Later at the Rue my sponsor looked over my list of things I was powerless over in alcohol and said, "That's it." After that, we just sat and had a good, long conversation about our alcoholic careers. We're meeting again Friday. Here's the list. It's only 5 things, but there are many more he said that would come to me...

1) Drinking while knowing that it would ruin my relationship. I didn't drink to actually do that, but did so with the knowledge. That's insanity. Who would voluntarily ruin the single best thing that had ever happened to them? Someone who is powerless over another influence. That's who. That was me. I allowed myself to be a slave for way too long.

2) Drinking all the way up to about 2 or 3 hours before an important engagement. Work mainly. That led me to calling in quite a bit, and I lost quite a few jobs over it. Knowing that you have something important to do and jeopardizing it for a few more hours of numbness? That's powerlessness.

3) Drinking with the knowledge that it was literally killing me. That's borderline suicidal. That's how powerless we are when we aren't working a full recovery.

4) Sincerely resolving to stop after a binge or an allnighter then picking right up again. Alot of people will say, "Well why don't you just stop?" or "You must have weak willpower." Willpower alone doesn't stop an addict. At least not for long. We have to find a greater power outside of ourselves or statistically we end up going back.

5) Knowing that drinking is tearing the ones we love apart and doing it anyway. I have to make something clear. It's not that we don't love the ones we hurt. Most of us don't do it to hurt other people. Some may. I don't know. It's just that alcohol has such a powerful grip on our lives that we are blind and numb to it. We dare not face it. Even when sober and not working a recovery, many of us carry the same attitudes as when we are drunk. To the ones I love, I am so sorry. Especially you, Cupcake. You had a front row seat.

As I've learned in the Big Book and at meetings, it's not a moral decision or a question of ethics. It's truly being powerless over something that offers immediate gratification and escape. And it also ruins lives. Finding strength and getting the right kind of help puts us on the road to getting that power, and ourselves, back.

I've used the words "we" and "us" alot. For everytime I did that, you can substitute it with an "I". This isn't an unusual story for addicts, though. What I've discovered about myself in the first step has made me a stronger, more self-aware individual.

Short Meetings and Busy Days

Just came out of the Mustard Seed. It was a 17 minute meeting. Weren't many there. Just a handful of us regulars. Someone asked me if it was worth the walk. I answered, "Yeah. It was worth it. I needed to be there." And it was. Just sitting there for that short amount of time helped center me. Plus I have a men's group tonight.

This wont be a long post. Busy day. I have my sponsor to meet, some second job searchin', and of course that later meeting. Will post about the rest of my day after that.

At Mustard Seed we talked about how sticking to the program has not only kept us from drinking, but has also enriched our lives. I've been keeping my nose to the grindstone and it has helped me in ways no one can imagine. I have a two month chip coming up next week. I also have my life back. Almost..... but I'm working on that. It's enriched so many of my relationships too, and I thank God for that. Hopefully it's enriching the most important one as well, but I can't be there to see it. Or talk about it.

I have my ups and downs, but things are going very well. And I am thankful.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Gods of Sobriety

Had an awesome meeting. It was the 12&12 group. We read a chapter about one of the steps and then shared about it. Tonight was the 3rd Step.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care
of God as we understood Him.

I was the first person to share. There was a time when I would have said, "Hold on. I'm not turning my will over to anyone or anything." Lately, though, I've been opening myself up to that higher power. Especially after my hold-up experience, because I honestly feel that there was divine intervention at work. I've rediscovered prayer too. Slowly. I'm excited to explore my spirituality further and develop that relationship.

That step, I think, sometimes scares off potentially recovering addicts because they view it as trying to get you into religion. Not at all. "Higher Power" is now used more often. A guiding force in your life that is stronger than you. Krishna, Allah, Shiva, Odin.... Zeus. They sometimes say in meetings that even a doorknob would work. I don't buy that one. I know a lady who is about to start using her ancestors as a higher power. I'll stick to God as I understand him. And I will be working to understand him.

Anyways.... I know I posted an entry just a few hours ago. Wanted to write a bit about what I picked up in my meeting, though.

And I finally have a Sunday off, so I will be attending church.

The Real World and True Protection

Hi. I'm Jay and I like hanging out in coffee shops.

I was talking to a co-worker today about why I seem a bit moody. I explained to her that I'm currently tackling all kinds of problems that I once avoided with alcohol or just shutting down altogether. She seemed to understand immediately and said, "Well welcome to the real world. It's a mother f@%&*er." That gave me a much needed laugh. I'll never forget that. Matter of fact, I may share the encounter at my meeting tonight.

Now then. There's something I need to address. There's an aspect of my recovery and my role in someone else's life that I haven't been working to my full potential. I have someone very special out there that I still haven't been showing the proper love and respect to. I've been so wrapped up in my own feelings and insecurities that I haven't been providing the kind of protection that she deserves. It's a selfish thing not to take into account her pain as well. I've been saying that I'm here to give her whatever she needs, and the thing she needs most is time. I'm sorry, Cupcake. If I say that I'll do anything it takes to make sure you have what you need, I'm going to have to clear the wax out of my ears so I can hear what you are clearly telling me you need.

I'll write more after my meeting. Need to call my sponsor and finish my orange juice before time to leave. Laterz. With a "z" for emphasis.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Moms and Meetings

My mom called me today. The mom in Alabama. She told me that she was hospitalized earlier in the week for malnutrition and dehydration. Neither of which surprised me. I'm so glad she's ok. The poor lady lives in squalor and usually only eats things like ramen noodles. I don't know where her money goes. She doesn't get much, but she doesn't pay for much either. I've sent her money a couple of times, but have no idea what she used it on. Sarah was right. If I ever help her out again, I'm just going to pay for a bill or something. Anyway. I made sure she had multi-vitamins in the house.

She also told me that she was detoxing. A bit perplexed, I asked her, "From what?" She said alcohol. We knew that she drank, and I already knew what she was going to say. I just wanted to hear her say it. Not out of spite or to embarrass her, she just needed to say it. I tried to explain to her the differences between abstinence and recovery. Talking over her, though, is like trying to talk over a stuck foghorn. I told her that I was glad she was trying to quit, but that she would need some sort of support system in her town. Didn't seem too interested in that. In any case, I wish her the best.

Called and talked to my sponsor earlier. We're going to try for a late lunch Tuesday. Had a great meeting too. It was a "share your story" format group. We had a guy talk about his past, his, disease, where it took him, and where he is now. A couple of things he shared jumped out at me. One was about how he created an identity for himself to try and make people like him. For him, it was the James Dean misunderstood rebel identity. For me, in school, I became the class clown... and my grades suffered for it. I had been doing very well, but was so desperate to be accepted.

Another big one was about how he tried to cover up his alcoholism. Sneaking, and lying, and so forth. Believe me when I tell you that that life is like a full-time job. When I say that, I mean 24/7 kinda full-time. It is exhausting and it takes a horrific toll. Words don't do justice to how happy I am to have left that lifestyle behind me.

Well. I'm going to finish this burger and listen to some music while I surf.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chance Encounters and Bible Verses

Sorry. Just got thrown a serious curveball. Went by Igor's for a burger and almost ran into her. I did run into our friend. She saw me, though, and I saw her. Very briefly. I am guilty of stopping for a second on my way back from getting something else to eat. Just to get a glimpse. Teresa mentioned that I was torturing myself... and I was. But I haven't seen her in so long. Anyway. Wanted to get that out in the open. Didn't try to engage her. I just left. It took every bit of strength, but I kept going. It was so good seeing her. Even for a moment.

There are a few things I wanted to write about tonight. The first being a conversation I had with a co-worker. I wont mention her name. Her son has a drug problem and she opened up to me a bit this morning. Listening to her tell me the story gave me an enormous amount of insight into the perspectives of the people I've hurt. How she loves him, but she can only do so much. How he has to want it. I could see the suffering in her eyes. I listened and gave feedback, but the things she was saying sounded an awful lot like what I imagine my loved ones said about me. It gave me a unique perspective into my disease.

She read a few verses from the Bible that I really liked.

Proverbs 16:28 A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.

Proverbs 16:32 Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Proverbs 10:4 A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.

They describe me. How I used to be, how I am now, and the man I am becoming.

I talked to my brother today too. We've never discussed my problem before. I'd always avoided talking to him about it... What I was really doing was not giving him enough credit. He's definitely wise beyond his years. He was very helpful in giving me a spiritual point of view. We talked a bit about relationships as well. I'd told him about me wanting to work things out with Sarah. He'd learned alot from a seminar he and his wife went to a while back and passed some of the wisdom on to me. Thank you, Bro. And... fingers crossed.... I may be buying one of their vehicles off of them soon. My entire world wont consist of uptown and the French Quarter anymore.

The meeting was good tonight. We read and talked about the first step. I shared that I finally realized what it meant when they say recovery can be a bitch. The past few days have been horrendous. I'm experiencing serious feelings without numbing them with alcohol. Never done that and it ain't fun. But it comes with the program. And it is worth it.

Iron It Out a Little

I could've drank tonight, but I didn't. I could have walked 3 blocks down, gotten blasted, and gone home with some total stranger. Just for 4 or 5 hours of meaningless comfort, and no one would have been the wiser. I chose not to. That's not who I am now. I suffered tonight. I took a big hit. Tomorrow, though, I will get up, go to work, and push forward. I will let nothing sway me and nothing will cause me to falter in my program. But it's not going to be easy.

Tonight was the ultimate test of my recovery. I hurt now, but if I fell, I would most certainly hurt later.

This is the hardest time of my life. Without my program and my higher power, I have no idea what I would do. I don't want to know.

There are only a few things that keep me going. Literally keep me going. Recovery, the support of my family, and working to provide a future for Sarah and me.... even if I have to do the last one by myself for now. She's healing too and I promised not to contact her again until she is ready. It may be a long time, but I'll wait. Faithfully.

As long as I'm alone here, I have some very trying times ahead. I'll have to face them by myself. There will be some things even my sponsor can't help me with. I'd like to say that I at least have friends here that will be there for me, no matter what, but I can't. It's all up to me. The person I used to hate the most. I will have to find strength in myself. Strength that will be forged from doing my steps and remaining honest. And the strength that is gained from the love I have for the person I came back to be with.

Tonight has taught me one thing. Things aren't about to get any easier. As long as I have my recovery, my folks, and the love of one certain young lady, I can tackle them one by one... One day at a time.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Disease of Addiction

Teresa sent me this earlier today. It's an essay by an unknown person. For anyone who doesn't understand the disease of alcoholism or wants to understand it more, these words sum it up very well.

Unfortunately I have had a very emotional night, so I will need some time to wrap my head around things. Meeting with my sponsor tomorrow and going to a meeting. Staying on top of my recovery, just have other stuff going on too.

I'm Your Disease.... I hate meetings. I hate HIGHER POWER. I hate anyone who has a program. TO ALL WHO COME IN CONTACT WITH ME, I WISH YOU SUFFERING.

Allow me to introduce myself. I AM THE DISEASE OF ADDITION: CUNNING, BAFFLING, and POWERFUL, that's me. I have killed millions, and I am pleased. I love to catch you with the element of suprise, I love pretending I am your friend and lover. I have iven you comfort, have I not? Wasn't I there when you were lonely? When you wanted ti die, didn't you call me? I was there. I LOVE TO MAKE YOU HURT. I LOVE TO MAKE YOU CRY. BETTER YET, I LOVE WHEN I MAKE YOU SO NUMB YOU CAN NEITHER HURT NOR CRY. You can't feel anything at all. This is true glory. I will give you instant gratification and all I ask of you is long-term suffering. I've been there for you always. When things were going right in your life, you invited me. You said you didn't deserve these good things; I was the only one who would agree with you. Together we were able to destroy all things good in your life.

People don't take me seriously. They take strokes seriously, heart attacks seriously, even diabetes they take seriously. Fools that they are, they don't know that without my help these things would not be so possible in your life.

More than you hate me, I hate all of you who have a twelve step program. Your program, your meetings, your higher power all weaken me and I can't function in the manner I am accustomed to.

Now I must lie here quietly. You don't see me, but I am growing bigger than ever. When you only exist, I may live. When you live, I only exist.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Serenity Now

I've discovered that the truest test of how well I maintain my serenity is at work. Tonight I was working the area that I like the very least. I can honestly say that dealing with the endless parade of people used to frustrate me to no end. It was frustrating tonight and I caved a bit in my attempt to quit smoking completely. I ended up having about 3 or 4 for the entire day. Nothing to sneeze at, but it does mean that there is more work to do.

I didn't want to drink, though. I didn't take it out on anyone else and I didn't slam any doors. I just did my job and took a breather whenever I needed one. You see, I'm not just abstaining from alcohol. I'm working my recovery. Using tools that I learn in my program to overcome behaviors from my past. Behaviors that, quite frankly, made me look like an ass. Giving in to frustration being only one.

In abstinence all you are doing is not drinking. This works for a few, but for most the old behaviors are still there and they eventually end up going back out again. I was one of those people for a while. Being content with not drinking. Thinking everyone else should be too. Thought I had all the answers, but would inevitably find myself back at square one. "The Doctor's Opinion" in the Big Book has a lot of good stuff regarding this. I've added a link to it in a previous post too. Through recovery (not just abstinence) I've learned alot about why I drank, the behaviors that led to me going back, and what I can do to ensure that I never drink again. If one is serious, earnest, honest, and willing to stick to their program, there is no reason to ever suffer that hell again. Enthusiasm is key too. Happiness comes naturally when you start to heal. It's working for me.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.