Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Just stick around

I hate this disease!
The success rates for long term sobriety are quite low.
Health consequences are numerous and under-reported.
Intoxication is such a powerful temptation; even years down the road.

OK, I vented, and feel better now!
While I am extremely grateful for the program and my continued sobriety,
I get disillusioned when I see or hear of folks relapsing. Lately it's every
meeting there is word of another person going back out.

Part of my acceptance today, involves the cold hard facts of success/failure rates.
It is especially hard when a friend in the Sober House who really uses the suggestions,
attends meetings, and utilizes a sponsor, succumbs to drugs or alcohol.
I just wish more people would stick around long enough to reach that juncture, where
they want to stay sober, more than they want to drink or use.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Top 10 Reasons...

...for staying clean and sober;

10) Psych wards are full of crazy people
9) Jails don't have internet access.
8) Death is permanent and irreversible.
7) You can always find your car in the morning.
6) Not having to drive around DUI spot checks.
5) Praying aside your bed, not at the toilet.
4) Waking up with hope, not dope
3) The only crack in the house is on the wall.
2) Family, friends & co-workers talk to you not at you.

The Number 1 reason;

Being able to drive Aussie Micky absolutely crazy in his effort to denigrate AA, 12 Steps
and us posting on the joys of Recovery!
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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Living Sober

This is what recovery is all about; living sober. Sure most of us had those initial thoughts that,
"what am I going to do now?"
It's more than just not drinking or drugging. The process involves so much more.

Putting down the substance is the easy part. The real work begins with honest self-appraisal and the determination to change the thoughts and behaviors that led to addiction.
Rigorous honesty is not always as simple as it sounds. The degree of ego deflation and humility required can be quite elusive and challenging.

Once we take that crucial look at ourselves, we can begin to get completely honest with others.
Real amends occur as we continue to stay true to our words and deeds.
We have to remember that this does not happen overnight. Our patterns of deceit may have lasted for years; we can only hope that those we harmed will be patient with our progress.

Continued sobriety can open doors we may have previously slammed shut; the possibilities
are boundless. All the fears and insecurities begin to dissipate; our levels of confidence will rise.
No longer will we be hampered by paranoia, despair or defeatism.

These are the things we hear in The Promises; and they can come true, if we work for them...
one day at a time.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Public perception

Earth people, normies or wherever we label the rest of the world, the myths and misconceptions about alcoholism and drug addiction still persist. Most distressing to me is the perceived notion that there is a time frame cure. How are we supposed to undo a pattern of years in a matter of months?

The public views rehab as a cure as in,"I hope they get it right this time". This magic bullet theory is so prevalent here, whether it be addiction, weight-loss or gambling. Even with Al-Anon and media output the old thinking just never goes away.

It is so surprising to me, in this age of information technology, how little the public actually knows about addiction. Even our family and friends have difficulty understanding the recovery process.
They too, can be as impatient as we are, as it relates to the time and effort it takes to sustain recovery.
In addition to sex education, maybe we should include the 12 steps in our education process!
There is no easy solution to this; all we can do is attempt to educate and continue to communicate the message of recovery to anyone willing to listen.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Relationships & Early Sobriety

One of the most challenging aspects of recovery is relationships. The common advice is, no relationships for a year. We've all heard it, and all ignored it. It is natural and comforting to involve yourself with someone who makes you feel good. When quitting drugs or alcohol it is like the loss of a loved one. The major dilemma with this course of nature, is the tendency to shift focus off us and our program, while immersing ourselves in the other person. My friend Molly says, "2 sickies don't make a wellie". Yes it's true, I've seen it , done it, got the battle scars to prove it.

The odds are greater that one person will get the other drunk or high, before they get them sober.
I now see the logic behind the 1 year suggestion; it takes time to get to know yourself and concentrate on healing, before taking on the issues and feelings of another.
In our sober house, we find this especially true with women(sorry ladies). While men also seek partnership, they are less likely to devote their entire emotional selves to a relationship.

It isn't always the easier , softer way when avoiding emotional entanglements, but for us it is imperative to resist the temporary "feel good", of relationships early on.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Micky loves me!

A comment from the blunder down under;
Dear Jack
Are you a PHARISEE? Is the BIG BOOK the word of God? Of course not!! You are not an alcoholic, but a sinner just like me. Jesus Christ died on a cross for your sins - not Bill Wilson. AA is the work of Satan - you have been deluded, like millions of other STEPPERS. The only way to SALVATION is through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I love you<

Wow; if I only knew my problem wasn't drugs and alcohol, but merely my sins!
If only I had prayed correctly, my depression would have been relieved!
Diligent Bible study could have stopped the obsession to drink!
Confession could have replaced all those silly rehabs and meetings!

Thanks so much for the guidance...
and my advice for you Micky;
get some help, get a grip, and get a life!

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

How I Work

I am speaking at the noon meeting Thursday; hold on to your seats folks. It will be tell it like it is, no sugar coating, big book quotes or clone-speak. My story is unlike most people in that I had a happy, normal childhood, good parenting and a late start drinking. It took 25 years of boozing for me to even think about quitting. By that time the slow progression was not obvious to me.

I always thought it was under control. I thought wrong! My drinking was controlling me.
The thought of quitting forever was totally foreign to me. Stopping one day at a time seemed rather insecure, and prevented planning for the future. It has taken some time to understand the daily reprieve concept. With each foray into rehab and meetings, I did make some headway.
Alas, it just wasn't enough to keep me stopped. In these past 4 years I have learned to listen and remain open minded. Being honest with myself and others has allowed me to mature spiritually and emotionally.
I still view "The Promises" as possibilities; because of observing some folks who have been in the program many years, still exhibiting immaturity, financial insecurity and hypocrisy.

There will be no spin, exaggeration or boasts in my story. What I say is what I do, like it or not
you can be sure it will be the truth.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

The Middle Ground

I consider myself a Moderate politically, and feel the far left and ultra right are out of touch with the mainstream . This is also my position concerning recovery. It is difficult to identify with those who are super spiritual and take absolutely no credit for their success. Likewise those who have no belief in a higher Power, are stunting their overall growth. Extremists on either end are so convinced of their beliefs or lack thereof, that it baffles me.

When I hear,"God gets me out of bed" or "HP drives my car", I want to respond, "wow! and all this time I've been using an alarm clock"! I also share that "God is welcome to be my co-pilot...but I don't allow anyone to drive the BMW!"

Spirituality is a component of my sobriety, as is being proactive about meetings, service and responsibilities. I cannot place all my recovery in one or the other; there has to be a blend of the physical, mental and spiritual.

In my life there is God's will, free will and self will. What I seek are the ways to balance the elements of the will, and determine when to be self-reliant, and when to accept the things that are out of my control. No one knows for sure if there is a God or an afterlife; it is all faith based, and I for one, have that belief in a Higher Power.

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

I Don't Want To Grow Up...

...I'm a Toys R Us kid!
The reason I say this is because growing up is the hardest part of the basic elements of recovery.
I continue to show up at various format meetings; learning from the good, bad and sometimes ugly experiences of others.

Next I must own up; to my past and present wrongs, make amends and learn from my mistakes, in a concerted effort to not repeat my former behaviors.Honesty isn't always the easy way, but today it's the only way after my years of deception.

The real test of progress is the ability to grow up; after looking honestly at myself.
That inner child who always got his way, was intolerant, impatient and irresponsible.
Alcohol and drugs were the fuel that fired that selfish inner brat, stunting my emotional growth.
Letting go of those old behaviors becomes easier, the longer I continue to identify them and realize life is not just about me, me, me.

Today, I am responsible, accountable and remain teachable.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Slogans

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I'm at a loss for a topic today. Originally I planned to discuss the Slogans. When I found over 200 of them, I decided against it. We hear them at meetings, from sponsors and repeat them to ourselves and others. Initially I hated most of them; simplistic, corny and somewhat annoying. Well, it turns out that most of the slogans contain little gems of wisdom. Considering the amount of short-term memory I had coming in; those ditties were about all I could remember.
Hope it is a safe weekend for all of us to "keep it simple"

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Ongoing Journey

"Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends"... the opening line to "Karn Evil Nine" as sung by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. It kind of reminds me of recovery, and the irrefutable fact that there is no graduation from this program. That does not mean that it can't be an institution of higher learning. Every day, I discover something new about myself, addiction and behavior.
I shared at yesterday's meeting that this is a multifaceted illness, and for me requires a multi pronged approach in treatment.
In past posts I stated there is no one-size-fits-all solution. when I hear people share "I only do this or I have to do that, " dismissing any other possibilities, I have to cringe. There are too many components to my addictive personality, for any one method to address them all. Yes, meetings help, sponsors are useful and prayer is comforting. At yesterdays meeting, we discussed step six; I ask my higher power to improve my character defects, because I do not believe they can be removed. The emotions of anger, resentment, pride and selfishness still exists within me; the major difference now is I can exercise some control over them.
When this alcoholic is active, those negative emotions control me!
Maybe someday the public will realize that there is no time frame for recovery; it is an ongoing process.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Good Month to Stop the Madness

October was a good month to get sober at my home group.
The last Friday of the month we celebrate 25, 22, 19 and me with 4.
Four years ago today, I restarted my attempt at sobriety. It was my son's 21st
birthday. I hope it will become the gift that keeps on giving!

The best advice I can give to anyone in that 1 to 2 year span, is to stay vigilant and respect the power of compulsion. It is important to recognize the difference between the desire and the thought of a drink. The desire will slowly fade but the thought may remain longer.
Just remember to think the thought all the way through, to that place where the action will lead.
Whatever it takes to get through the flat spots, use every resource available to persevere, regardless of what life throws at you. If we remain honest, willing and able to accept that a drink or drug is NOT an option, we have another way of life and hope for the future.

Happy Anniversary to all October Celebrants!
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Monday, October 8, 2007

The "Real Deal" Meeting

This is what we call our Thursday night meeting at the sober house. It is usually a group of eight to 10 and it starts with a discussion of our day. Next we pick a topic or a reading from a text.
I have become fond of the book, " Don't sweat the small stuff". This handy book contains numerous useful chapters concerning the problems and concerns of everyday life. While this text is not written from a recovery view, we use it to apply the principles of the big book and steps to real-life situations. part of the beauty of using this book is taking a realistic look at how important something really is. The reality is, most of it is small stuff. This all ties in to our Outlook and prevents the little things from chipping away at our serenity.
Tomorrow, October 9 is my four-year anniversary. Compared to some of my friends in the rooms, it is not a lot of time; but for this alcoholic who was a 90 day wonder for many years,it is an accomplishment.

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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Outlook is Paramount

As a person who had always seen the glass as "half empty", I have begun to realize the importance
of a positive outlook. For many years when life handed me lemons; I added VODKA!
It hasn't been an easy transition from my mildly pessimistic view, to one of optimism.
The longer I keep my ego in check, and maintain a sense of humility, the easier it gets to change my perception of the glass to "half full". Gratitude plays a large part in accepting the hand I'm dealt, without always looking for more.
The pessimistic side of me used to whine that I couldn't drink like other people, and yes I did envy the folks that could drink safely. That feeling slowly faded as I accepted the permanence of my condition. Now, when I attend social events where people are drinking, it is entertaining to watch the behaviors of folks in the various stages of inebriation.
I can be optimistic that I won't be vomiting that night, and suffering the next morning.

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Friday, October 5, 2007

Out With the Old...

and in with the new. That would be my past selfish, egotistical and arrogant ways.
My needs for instant gratification, release from inhibition and desire for power over others
all fed into the cycle of increased drinking. The innocent beginning of the party life, gradually morphed into a constant need for the buzz. For every addict there comes a point of no return;
what used to turn us on...turns on us.

Today I accept myself as I am, and not for what an intoxicant can transform me into.
It is truly a joy to be able to help others discover another way of life, free from the bond of addiction. As long as I remain teachable, grateful and willing to help, I have a chance at another day and another way to live.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thunder from Down Under

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I have received some comments from Micky in Australia who refers to the "12 steps down to hell". He also labels recovery as "a slow slide into the jaws of Satan". Provocative rants from a former member of 30 years who has now found salvation through the Bible and church.

I'm not a Big Book thumper or view AA as a cult. The steps are merely guides and the slogans suggestions.

Our approach to Recovery combines these 12 Step methods with practical mental and emotional behavior modification. We do not believe in putting total reliance on ANY book written by man; be it Big Book or the Bible. Recovery is not meant to be a substitute for religion. For us it is a way of living honestly, and contented with our station in life; without the use of mind altering substances.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Joining the PTA

No, not the Parent and Teachers Association; for this alky it stands for Patience, Tolerance and Acceptance. Three traits that don't come easy to someone used to instant gratification, lashing out when confronted and constantly in denial.
A substantial contributor to these negative traits was my pride and ego. How could I possibly have a problem with drinking? It made me tougher, more charming, talkative and brilliant...or so i thought! Actually drinking did initially give me the illusion that all the above were true. Alas, in reality it was just smoke & mirrors; a fraud perpetrated by my version of self-importance.

Patience allows me to slow down, and enjoy what life has to offer, without having to always rush the outcome. Tolerance is the ability to forgive the faults of myself as well as others.
Acceptance is the final product of the right sized ego and a grateful heart.

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