Random Thoughts on a Saturday Night

There are many things that you’ll hear in The Rooms. Most of them will sound absurd(at first), but be true. Some of them will sound perfectly legitimate, yet they will be wrong. For instance, I was told more than once that there are “no musts” in the Book. Nope. False. (They said if you want to hide anything from an alcoholic, put it in the Big Book.)

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The Book of Secrets


I was just looking through my copy of the 1st manuscript of the Big Book, (which I love) and noting all of the things that had been changed almost before it went to the printer. 
For example, here are some excerpts from the 5th chapter:
“If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it–then you are ready to follow directions. At some of these you may balk. You may think you can find an easier, softer way. We doubt if you can…
Remember that you are dealing with alcohol–cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for you! But there is One who has all power–That One is God. You must find Him now!
Half measures will avail you nothing. You stand at the turning point. Throw yourself under His protection and care with complete abandon.
Now we think you can take it! Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as your Program of Recovery: ”

There are subtle changes throughout the original manuscript, including a few of the steps, themselves, and if you’ve not had the opportunity to check it out, I encourage you to do so. I know a lot of the Old(er)timers are fond of that version, but younger folks, not so much.

I prefer the Original manuscript, and I’ll tell you why:
When I came crawling into The Rooms, I didn’t have any idea how to face the world sober. I really didn’t want to, but the alternative to getting clean/sober was definitely going to be much worse. I appreciate that the earlier version of the Big Book is clear, direct, and to the point. A little further down in the book there’s a line that says “If you’re not convinced on these vital issues, you ought to re-read the book or else throw it away! ” See what I mean? There’s no question as to what they’re trying to say. As a newly sober person, I heard about a few meetings around town that were known to pass around a hat to collect money for the guy who wasn’t ready to quit. “Belly up to the bar!” was the idea. The Book says that if the “God” talk runs you out of the Rooms, “John Barleycorn” (booze) will run  you right back in. It’s true, from what I’ve seen. Until our ego has been beaten down enough to admit defeat, there’s usually nothing to convince us that we’re drunks, except more of the same. I guess I’d had enough a**-whippings by the time I’d gotten here. I was absolutely willing to go to any lengths to make the pain stop. So, when they told me to do X, Y, Z, my only reply was to ask for clarification as to exactly how high they wanted me to jump.  
I needed directions! My absolutely best thinking got me sitting in a hard chair in a smoke-filled room, with a bunch of of drunks. And don’t get me started on the coffee!

Anyway, I wanted to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could, but my Sponsor wasn’t giving up the answers! I’d say “What should I do?” And she’d say “What do you think you should do?” DANGIT!!

So, I learned by sitting in The Rooms (on a daily basis) whenever possible, and by going to Big Book study meetings, and 12 & 12 book studies, and by using the phone whenever I couldn’t get to a meeting. My Sponsors never ONCE made me feel stupid asking them something, no matter what it was. “Should I go to the store now, or wait an hour?” “Would it be ok if I wore this to the meeting or should I wear this?” Most of the time, it came down to “What are your motives?”
I was being taught to think. Wow.

So I do believe the answer to alcoholism and addiction is in The Steps. I do believe the Big Book was Divinely inspired, and I am POSITIVE that my Higher Power used the 12 step Program to give my Dad back to me for several years before he died. Some people say it “doesn’t work” for them. Ok. I’m really sorry to hear that (because of the transformations I’ve seen in many of my family member’s -and my own- lives), but if there is another way that you can manage to get clean/sober, and find PEACE & JOY, then ROCK ON!
It wasn’t until I was in Recovery Coach training that I was able to really wrap my mind around the idea of there being other ways to get sober. My Dad was a Big Book Thumper, and, well, I was Daddy’s Girl. But I understand now that there are as many ways to get and stay sober as there are people trying to figure it out. And that’s a beautiful thing.

After all, isn’t it about learning to walk in love, and finding the freedom to grow and be healthy…? 

Posted from my hut in the forest.

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Finding Your Joy

What brings you joy? That’s a simple question that can be difficult to answer. Is it working in the garden that soothes your soul? Or teaching a child how to fish? Or is it sketching a landscape? Or maybe working on a car is when you’re in The Zone. Or perhaps it’s caring for an elderly person? There is no limit to the places and ways that we can do things that make our hearts sing. The trick is in finding out what it is that does it for you.

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Happy happy joy joy

The thing is, as a recovering person, having joy as a part of my daily life wasn’t something that I had ever considered. Joy, as in, “I can find joy in my vocation”. What do you mean, I can go to work doing something I love? Noooo, that’s not people like me.

The World is My Oyster (on the half-shell)

But, it turns out that it CAN be a reality, even for a lower-middle class, former alkie/druggie. The question is, what are you willing to sacrifice to get there? Going back to school is absolutely not easy when you’re working and managing a household. BUT, what are the rewards that will come after you’ve achieved that Certification or Degree? I know that when I was a single parent, more money in the bank would have made all the difference. Single parents are stretched more than Stretch Armstrong, and finances are only a part of it. And education seems to be a strong start to getting ahead monetarily.

High School Lessons, 20 years later

I had never really known about setting goals and then figuring out how to get to them, little by little. I mean, like most of us, I wanted to win the Blue Ribbon without ever running the race. But once I got wind of the possibility of ME actually being more than I thought I could be, the wheels began to turn. I sought through prayer and meditation to find what my Higher Power’s will was for me. Then I began to investigate how I might be able to make that happen. God certainly will help us, but we have to do the footwork. Nobody came up to my door and offered me a grant so that I could go to college. BUT, once I started the ball rolling in that direction, doors began to open. It makes sense that God would want us to be educated when possible, considering that one of the wisest men in the Bigger Big Book said that there’s nothing better under the sun than finding pleasure your labors.

Ask, Seek, Knock

I’ve been told that it’s much easier to steer a vehicle that’s already moving. I think that applies to doing God’s will. If I am seeking counsel from people wiser than me, and following suggestions, after a while finding His will for my life won’t be such a mystery. In the process of looking for His will, I found that He has put desires in my heart that He wants to help me accomplish. However, I have to do the footwork. The first step being NOT PICKING UP for one day. Then repeating that, tomorrow.

Keep it Simple. It works!

In my early sobriety, God’s will was a huge mystery to me. How was I supposed to know what was God’s will and what was MY will?? I was such a manipulator that it was my normal to lie to myself and believe it. All day every day. I began to understand that each day that I don’t choose to relapse, I’ve done God’s will, at least in that aspect, for that day. That’s a LOT more than I ever did His will while I was out runnin’ and gunnin’. So that was my starting place.

Not my will, but Thine.

After doing the footwork for a few days, weeks, months, I began to find my joy. I sought out ways to get assistance going to college, and I waited. Some days it was like finding bread crumbs on a white beach. But I knew that if it was God’s will, it would happen, if I didn’t give up. And so it did. I returned to school after over 20 years away, and had a blast learning about the academics of Substance Abuse Counseling. I felt more fulfilled than I could remember feeling in a long time. In fact, I began to comprehend the word serenity!

Joy comes in many different vessels. What will yours look like?  While happiness is fleeting, joy is what lasts.
So, how about you? Have you found your joy, yet? It’s not too late.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

Powerlessness and other things I dislike

The first of the 12 steps states that “we admittted we were powerless…”, and I know that some folks take issue with that. The way I look at it is that when I put one _______(drink or drug) into my body, the choice of when I will stop is no longer mine to make. I can try any way you want, to control how it goes down, but the fact is that once I pick up, it’s out of my hands.

Like if I (being a relatively weak person, physically) were to go up to a strong person and kick them in the shins as hard as I could: it would be 100% out of my control to determine how much of an a**-whipping I was going to get. Yeah, powerless.

The thing is, admitting my powerlessness is simply a tiny step toward sanity. It’s been apparent to any lucid observers, probly for a while, that my life’s been out of control after I take one drink, toke, snort, hit, etc… But part of the insanity of addiction is that it tells you that it’s “under control”. They say it’s the only disease that tells you that you’re not sick.

If you’re not able to swallow your being powerless, that’s cool. Figure out another way to word it. I did that with part of that step. My life had become “unmanageable”, but I wasn’t really feeling that word. So, I changed that part, for me: my life sucked. Remember I like to keep things simple.

After being clean & sober for a while I learned that my powerlessness extended far beyond my chemical consumption, to my entire life.

Oh, and for the “other things I dislike”:
Bullies and lima beans.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I hate being powerless, but the fact is, when I was running my life, it really did suck.

Thanks for letting me share.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

Do you REALLY want to?

…drink? Smoke? Snort? Shoot?

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Really?

I didn’t. I had exhausted my options.
I had run down every highway, every street, every back alley that I came to, in my desperate attempt to Get. Away. From. Me.
But when I looked at that angelic face, that beautiful, tiny boy, I knew in the depths of my heart that I could not have both him and drugs. My running days had come to an end.
Sure, I talked about running. I kept a pair of running shoes just inside the front (and, let’s be honest, also the BACK) door of my mind for an incredibly long time. However, there was one thing that had become abundantly clear to me on that day, when I realised that I was completely drained…I did not want to drink, or use, again.

“we gotta get out of this place”

That’s not to say that I didn’t want to escape from reality. Oh, no, I didn’t say that.
I’d awakened from so many years (while using) of being at a dead run…and each time I got a direct hit, be it a sexual assault, or an unhealthy relationship, or some other kind of intense emotional trauma, I had vaulted over the place where anyone else might have thrown a white flag…and ran faster.
My days of hiding, by way of chemical means, had finally come to a screeching halt.

So, what, then?

Facing my past fears and traumas was really too much to consider while I was being inundated with a whole different kind of drama (new Mom, baby in ICU, etc., etc.), so I had to find other options.
I discovered (archaic, to be sure: it was the early 90’s, after all) video games, and the   benefits of Mel Brooks movies, and chocolaet ice cream, and tattoos, among other things.
I didn’t want to use. I just wanted to check out for a minute. So I found other ways to distract myself.

Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly

At some point, I came to realise that the Promises, were, in fact, materializing for me. Some days, it felt like I was engaged in a war just to breathe, and other days, things would slow down and I got to taste of serenity, briefly.

It takes a village

I will forever be grateful to the women in the Program who walked with me those first months and years. They showed me how to live life, in all of its blood and chaos, on life’s terms, and then they encouraged me as I learned to walk again. No more running. I might jog now and then, but running is not in God’s plan for me, today. And I’ve discovered that His plan for me is always good. Always.

Posted from my shack by the creek.

3 great meeting types with the best recovery rates

Ok, gang, how are you all on this fine Saturday morning? It’s gray and humid here, but it’s been a good day, regardless. Even if it wasn’t, I can start my day all over again whenever I want.
Today I thought I’d share with you all my experiences with the 3 main addiction recovery meetings, at least to my knowledge.

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Letting go. It's a good thing.

I got clean and sober in AA, having followed my Dad in, a little more than a year after he figured out what his problem was…(as opposed to the countless people, places, and things that he thought were the cause of his troubles)
I was pretty sure, as much as I was like him, if it was Dad’s actual problem, there was a good chance that the chemicals (including alcohol, of course) were also at the root of my misery. I remember spending many hours at a meeting place where NA & AA both had regularly scheduled meetings. Folks from all walks of life could be found there from dawn to dusk, all with (mostly) the same (ish) goal: to stop the pain. Some were of the understanding that alcohol &/or drugs were the problem. Many thought that the police and the Judge were their only real pain. I know many folks grabbed ahold of sobriety and were “willing to go to any lengths”, while perhaps as many others just showed up to get their card signed. The oldtimers used to tell us they would “gladly refund your misery” if sobriety, uh, wasn’t for you. Sometimes folks went out to do some more research (to be surethey really were drunks), and came crawling back in, and sometimes they didn’t make it back.
By going to meetings several times a week, I was frequently reminded of the alternatives to getting sober and staying that way. Sobriety, even being such a foreign idea, sounded better to me than continuing to live in the darkness and misery I was so accustomed to.

I found kindred spirits in the 12-stpe rooms. Regardless of what or where or who I was with, before, I was never fully at ease. I didn’t find comfort for my heart, my spirit, in any of the places where I looked. Only after some time clean/sober, with the help of a Sponsor, did I begin to feel…comfortable. They told me that the solution was in the steps, and I was willing to do anything, so I worked the steps. Somewhere along the way I realized that in contrast to before, when pain was just the inevitable result of so many poor choices, now pain was a real part of growing away from that mess. Hence the phrase “growing pains”.

At some point, I became curious about Celebrate Recovery. I wasn’t ready to go to church yet (not for about 5 years, and then it was a while before I felt at all comfortable there), but I did attend a few cR meetings. They were similar to AA, but a bit too sweet for me. I had previously been in a very abusive situation with a man who claimed to be a Christian, and that left a vile taste in my mouth where anything that resembled “churchianity” was concerned.
And also, I was more comfortable (still am, truthfully)in a more hardcore meeting. “If I wanted someone to pat me on the ass & tell me everything was gonna be alright, I’d go to a bar.”
I needed the truth in love, yes, but not given with a smile and some sugar. That was my impression of CR, at least at the ones I went to. I was used to getting one over on anyone who was the least bit trusting and/or ignorant to the hustles that are such an integral part of the addict lifestyle. Also, my experience had taught me to never trust people who were “happy” all the time. I still feel that way at times. But if you’re comfortable in a church setting, I wholeheartedly encourage you to go to Celebrate Recovery. I’m a big fan of several meetings every week, and that usually means more than one of these fellowships. Good news: you’ll find other folks from the other meetings at the other two, too.

After about 10 years, I began attending NA meetings instead of AA.
When I got sober, the NA meetings I’d been to were more like meat markets (AA can be the same, to be sure), but I heard so much “glorifying the drug” and the like, that I’d settled into AA. Plus, AA was where Dad went, so… 🙂
So, after 10 years or so in recovery, I went back to NA, as I had a friend wirh longterm recovery who attended AA and NA. By that time, there was a whole lot more recovery…maybe it was just the meetings I went to, but it seemed more abstinance-focused than before. I knew more than one person with more time clean than me, and that was comforting. I enjoy NA because there’s no one looking at you funny when you talk about drugs, and I suppose I have more in common with the members there.
That being said, I qualify for both fellowships (and a few more, really, but that’s for another post.), and nowadays it doesn’t much matter to me which I attend. The fellowship is of great importance to me now, having gone through the steps more than a couple of times. I’m positive that I’d never have made it this far if I hadn’t had a Sponsor to help me through the steps.
I encourage anyone who’s contemplating this whole “sobriety” thing to check out any or all these groups. Give them a couple of tries, each.
What have you got to lose? You might just find your tribe. And, if I’m lucky, I might get to see you there.

Posted from my soggy cabin in the mountains.

Gossiping is an assault

Even when it’s TRUE!
When someone speaks(or writes, duh) about someone else, it says SO much more about the gossipER than it does about the gossipEE.

She did WHAT?!

Sometimes I talk about other folks, as an attempt to lift myself up, via putting them down. Using others as a stepping stool has never been a successful exercise for me.
I’ve been ruminating on this for about 6 weeks, now, and I want to make a note of it, here, so that if & when I start to fall into that lame activity again, it will be here to remind me. My job here is to lift others up, not tear them down.

Step 7

Here’s another character defect that I’m having removed, or maybe “lanced” is a more accurate description. (Ouch.)

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Verbal assault much?

So. Does this ring true for anyone else?

Posted from my cabin in the mountains.