The Message of Silence

This is a re-print from 6 months ago but I thought it was a good time to repost it as I am currently dealing with this issue.

As a guy who has been going to meetings for years I often give a lot of thought to what exactly is my message. Granted, different days will have different messages. One day I might talk about honesty another about the first step and another about accountability. Usually I try to be pretty clear about the point I am trying to get across and I make sure to drive home the point pretty clearly that is if I’ve had enough coffee to string together several well thought sentences. But what if being silent is the point? You can’t be at a meeting and talk 5 minutes about the virtues of silence right? That sounds self defeating. It’s kind of like the old timer who says that the newcomer is the most important person in the room and then the whole hour all you hear is old-timers and they don’t allow time for the hesitant unsure newcomer to share.

So as odd it sounds I am now going to talk about the virtues of not talking. At a meeting you have 1 hour for everybody to chime in and either talk about the topic of the day or just share about whatever is on their mind. At the one I go to we have what I call the formalities. There are several things we read everyday as well the announcements that we make at each meeting. When it is all said and done I would say we have about 35 minutes for everybody to share. Time is of the essence. We consistently have two guys at the meeting who will likely take up about 15-20 minutes daily leaving everybody else with precious little time. Newcomers have a tendency to be very quiet and need to be encouraged to speak more. It is very easy for them to give deference to the old-timers and kind of shrink and let those guys take center stage. I believe they are the ones who need to speak the most.

The way I see it is this. If you’ve been coming to meetings for 20 years the way to show that the whole program is working for you is to show that your higher power has taken away this urgency to have to make everything so urgent that you must talk about it.  If your program is working for you then you’ve learned not to make everything about yourself and not to micromanage every little problem to the point that you have to spill your guts at every meeting or for that matter point the finger at yourself and draw attention to how great your life is. It all just seems so self-absorbed to me. It seems like the exact opposite of the message we are trying to send.

Here in lies my problem. I will often  go to a meeting with the intent of not saying a word. My intent is to show people that the program works. And the way I am showing them is by selflessly giving up my time to speak and thus leaving more time for others to speak. I wish to show them the example of going to a meeting and simply allowing yourself to not be caught up in yourself but to just give others the space to talk. The less we think of ourselves and the more we try to do for others the more likely we are to stay sober. If you are always caught up in your problems and you consistently make such a big deal of your own life that you become self-absorbed you will drink. This is at the core of relapse, always trying to focus on us and worrying about fixing our problems rather than just plain learning the art of acceptance. What I worry about is whether or not my message is lost on my fellowship.

Sunday February 18th Check in Time

Hello All,

I hope everybody is having a great weekend so far. Mine has been pretty good and I am feeling like I am in a good space at this time. So it is a great time to just check in and provide an update on what is going on with me.

I haven’t taken a lot of time to write lately but not because things are hectic or not going well but mainly because I have just needed to slow a bit and have some “do nothing time.” Okay, I guess that sounds like things were hectic but it’s more accurate to say that things were busy.

Life has been great, just busy that’s all. For about 3 months I was writing prolificly. Then things slowed down and then they just came to a halt. Well, when I really was writing often I was out of a job. There was a big transition in my life. After 9 plus years at my old job they ended up laying everybody off and the business sold what they could to another company. So in between jobs I wrote just about daily, often twice and also made sure to give myself a lot of routine. I thrive with routine. So I would write often, go to the gym and hit 7AM AA meetings about 6 days a week. This kept me busy in a good way, a very good way and kept me from from feeling useless and without an identity.

Well,, since I started working again life has kept me busy. I have been working 6 days a week for some time now, happily taking the overtime and I still hit the gym 4 times a week and make time to hit about 4 AA meetings a week but now I do it in the afternoon, and I have a relationship to nurture and oh yes by the way we are getting married in October so we are in the early stages of planning for that. My fiancé is going dress shopping today which is allowing me time to write this before I of course head to the gym to hit the treadmill. So yeah, that is why the writing has slacked off tremendously. Something had to give. Instead of writing for an hour or hour and a half I am using that time to connect with my fiancé, even if it’s just watching some music show or a silly sitcom.

Life has been good lately, very good. With all the overtime at work I have been able to work on paying off a medical bill that showed upin my mailbox some 6months after I was taken to the hospital. Just when you think everything is taken care of they hit you with a bill. I also am paying back my dad for a loan he gave me to buy the wedding ring. Slowly but surely the bill and loan are getting paid back and the sense of responsibility feels really good. I take a lot of pride in making that happen, so yes, it is actually good for me. This may sound crazy to some but I think an alcoholic may be able to relate to what I am saying. I am also trying to save up about 1200$ for some of the wedding expenses and I happy that I will be able to juggle all those bills and take care of all those different things. Things that for most of my life would have overwhelmed me no longer feel unattainable. I am blessed with a confidence that these are doable things. I know not to panic but to just keep on plugging away and things will work out.

Lately, my fiancé has been getting a lot of recognition in her professional life. Things are really coming together for her and I honestly feel like she is just starting to scratch the surface. She is blessed and accomplished and has worked her ass of for decades to get to this point. The degree she earned in college is really starting to pay dividends, although I am finding out that often the work you do in college does not always pay  dividends early on but later on in life things seem to come together and then you really reap the rewards.

In the past a loved ones accomplishments would have really played on my own insecurities. I will admit this is something sometimes comes up but I have learned to work through it and realize that I too have a lot of worth as a person. I bring many things to the table in our relationship. Money is not one of them, but I do bring stability and support and I bring a sense of calmness, I bring a lack of chaos. I allow her to flourish without being the kind of guy who disrupts somebodys daily job by calling her all the time at work and pulling her away from her repsonsibilities and just bringing a lot of chaos that will hinder somebody from truly growing professionally. A lot of alcoholics are disruptive like that. They bring down everybody around them and I feel like in my fiances past there were men in her life that brought chaos, chaos that held her back from flourishing both emotionally and professionally. For awhile I pondered this issue. I wonder if I was wrong to think that somehow her success in fact is allowed to happen because of the still I bring to the relationship. I thought that maybe I was trying to take credit for something I have no business taking credit for. I have mulled this over but on Valentine’s day we had a heart to heart over dinner and although she didn’t use the same wordage that I just used she did intimate that what I just said about her success was true. I know I am not the reason for her success, she has earned everything she has achieved on her own but I am saying that the safety I bring allows her to be the woman she is capable of being and past men hindered her growth. I think that’s fair and I’ll take it.

Okay, a little bit more about me now. As far as my job goes it is a really basic menial job. I am on my feet all day and I do some really basic shit. The pay is crap but the hours are good and for now the overtime is very helpful. The benefits however are great. Medical,vision and dental are all paid for by the company, well after 6months the dental kicks in but still it is great. I get two weeks paid vacation a year and 5 paid sick days and we get 7 holidays a year. And most importantly I am getting paid in the currency of peace of mind. The job is stress free and we are allowed to have a lot of fun at work. we listen to music out loud and holler lyrics to songs and play games guessing who the artist is and what the name of the song is and even dance around a little bit at work. The big boss is very supportive and encourages a loose talkative fun atmosphere and puts it all in perspective and reminds us that we are a non profit and the mission is the autistic clients and mentally disabled clientele that we serve. We many employ many of our clients so I am connected to a cause that is near to my heart as I am on the autism spectrum, having Asperger’s syndrome.

Well, that is all for now. I hope I have time to check in more often. I miss connecting with my other writers and hope I can read more of others blogs soon. It would be really nice to connect and get some feedback from others that I used to touch base with more often. Bye for now.

 

 

Letting go of the past

Hello and happy Sunday to all!

I figured maybe I should stay away from social commentary today and get back to the original purpose of the blog which is to express some of my thoughts on sobriety. There is an old writing adage which goes “write what you know.” And one of the things I do know well is sobriety.

Today at our AA meeting we were reading about not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it. It’s a very familiar passage to those in AA. Us old-timers have read it hundreds and hundreds of times. One of the things I struggle with is being at complete ease with my past. This is what I mean by letting go of, being at ease and completely accepting my path in life and how it led me to where I am today.  In Particular, I often think about my dating history. I often think about women I had been attracted to in the past who may or may not have been attracted to me as well. To be blunt I fumbled away many opportunities, most times nothing happened at all and other times I would begin a relationship and then back out of it shortly after.

To put myself at ease I do have to remind myself that I am exactly where I want to be today in terms of my relationship. I am engaged and will get married later on this year. This helps put me at ease. I was discussing today why I cut so many of my relationships short. I was caught between my physical desires and my ideology about what type of woman I wanted to be with. In my early twenties I found myself attracted to the bad girl types. I wanted sex and lots of it. I wanted down and dirty porno style sex. So I found myself pursuing girls who appeared to be “easy.” I was able to find girls who were sexually adventurous but on the other hand I knew that I also really wanted to be with a good girl in terms of whom I would have a serious relationship with.  I wanted it all I suppose. I wanted high character girls, smart girls, thoughtful girls, ones who could match me in an intellectual discussion, who were highly opinionated and idealistic like myself but on the other hand I wanted to have sex and lots of it and I was also extremely shy and fearful so I figured out that the bad girl types were more likely to show their attraction towards me, to be more aggressive and less passive in their interest towards me. The good girl types were less obvious about their attraction towards me. They were more discreet.  Hence it made more sense for me to go after the bad girl types because of my fearfulness, my anxiety about putting myself out there and showing a genuine interest in a girl.

I often look bad and realize that I let go of some pretty good women. Women who yes, enjoyed some freaky sex but also were very good people. Thoughtful,kind, trustworthy people. To be honest I had some bias that sexually adventurous women may not have the character I was looking for. I feel bad that I would start a relationship with them and then end it because of my own biases and me not being comfortable with myself. I always wanted to settle down with a good girl, I am more at ease now than ever before because I have a good girl or I should say a good woman. She is smart, opinionated, of high character ,caring, successful, booksmart, educated,goal driven and trustworthy.  I have what I always wanted to have. And to be honest, sex is very low on the list of importance. Man were my priorities messed up. But when you are young sex is a big deal. I could probably write 50 pages on all of the dynamics that went into how I ended up being with the women I ended up with. But what matters is that I am happy with who I have.

 

Came to Believe that the doorknob would restore me to sanity

One of the things I often talk about at meeting level is the importance of finding a God of your own understanding. At my meeting we talk about God more than we actually talk about alcohol. Heck we talk about drugs more than we talk about alcohol at my meeting. Meth,heroin,weed,crack,lsd,pcp all these things come up often at my meeting but alcohol is not actually that high on the list all things considered. I’ve realized for some reason I’ve almost started to create an elephant in the room. I haven’t yet said that I go to AA. We have this whole anonymity thing and one of the traditions specifically states anonymity at the level of press radio and films. But there’s no reason for me not to mention it, I covered my face and I’m using a pseudonym so I might as well say it. Anyhow, today I am going to talk about that old AA stalwart, the doorknob as higher power.

 

I’ve always been bothered by people who suggest or people who actually go through with the idea of choosing a doorknob as their higher power. I’ve always been bothered by insincerity and it doesn’t seem like you’re on the right track if you start off in a place where you’re making a joke of your higher power. Like I always say honesty is a real key to your sobriety and not being able to admit you believe in a God is a pretty vital thing to admit. This whole doorknob as higher power thing also just reeks of loopholism. I’ve known way too many people who will always find the loophole around things. To me it’s as if you claim the doorknob as higher power you can say “well, they told me to find a higher power they didn’t say it had to make sense. ” Loopholism is such an alcoholic thing to do and continuing to feed that trend isn’t progress it’s reverting back to your old ways.

Think about step two for a second. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. If you believe the doorknob is actually going to restore you to sanity you’re a fucking idiot, plain and simple. And if you’re looking for that loophole you are not going to find it because a doorknob is not a power greater than yourself. This higher power is so vital because he will guide you through the rest of your journey. You are going to learn to depend on the guidance of a superior being, a superior morality, one with superior wisdom from here on out. You really need to take this  seriously and figure out just exactly what it is that you will be depending on. This is worth struggling over. You can’t just gloss over this and say this is tough. It’s not like a test in school where if you struggle with a question you get to move on to the next question because all questions are worth 1 point. Consider step one worth 50 points step two worth 40 and the rest worth 1 point each. You better get step one right or you fail automatically. And you have to realize on step two that with you steering the ship you landed yourself right in the muddy waters and you don’t get out without a new captain.

Asking you to read and support this Blogger

Hello Everybody, When I came in today other than following up on the music trivia I wasn’t sure what I would end up blogging about today. Lately I have been seeing a lot of people talk about getting these blogging awards. So that triggered my idea for today’s post.

Every once in a while I will do a post where I will just recommend other bloggers and point you in the direction of their posts. Initially I would do 5 at a time and I believe the 2nd time was 5 as well and now it will be smaller than that. I think we should just be kind for the sake of being kind. I am not sure if I am being cynical or not but it seems like being nominated for one of those awards is like a chain mail scheme without money being involved. The currency instead of money is popularity. Nobody loses or gains money but they gain followers. The more I think about what goes on, hey I have nominated you now you have to nominate 5-11 people and you in return for this exposure that I gave you of course have to expose my blog to all of your readers by tagging me. I did for you, you do for me and then you do for 5-11 more people and you have to spend about 30minutes of your time answering all these questions. Seems like people are basically just paying a price for getting some free pub.

When I give somebody love and mention their posts and try to send my few readers to somebody else there are no strings attached. I mention you, give you a shout out and that’s it. You don’t have to answer 20 questions, you don’t have to tag me on your post you don’t have to nominate 10 other people, no scheme no grand master plan just free pub for you no strings. We give to others just to give, in AA we talk about you have to give it away to keep it. Those who go to AA know what I’m talking about. Today I wanted to give a shout out to a blogger who I think really needs to be shown a lot of support. I don’t know her, I have never interacted with her. I literally decided to randomly pick a sobriety blog read about it and pass it on. And after reading this blog I really think this woman needs to be listened to, she needs to be supported and she needs the strength of those who can offer it. This is a strong blog about the real struggles of trying to get sober. Please support the blog Struggles with alcohol.

What does 21 years sober look like?

Every one in a while I have to really ask myself one basic question “Why was I chosen?” of all the people who never get sober or who can’t stay sober why me? What am I supposed to do with this? Is this just God’s gift to me? Or was it meant to be something more? Was it meant to be something I share with other people? There’s two ways of looking at things right? You can say, well, I am very meek, I don’t think God would have a great purpose for me. I think God gave this as a gift to me so that me and my small circle can have a better life. Or you can think that God gave you a bigger purpose, to affect a large amount of people with your sobriety. I just don’t know sometimes, Should I be meek and humble and think my purpose is small? Should I be on fire forever grateful and so joyful that I just want to share it with as many people as I can. Spreading this wonderful experience of sobriety to as many people as I can? I can never answer that question. Both answers seem reasonable.

I ask myself what is 20 years sober supposed to look like? On the surface am I the example that I am meant to be? I think there are things that I really do right but even some of those things I feel like I can be off putting with my attitude about them. And I know that there are things that are just plain wrong. I need to work on being so judgemental of others, no I don’t want to get better at it,you can laugh, that was intentional, I mean I have to cut back on it. Then there are things that I am really proud of, times when I am helpful and I keep them to myself. Kind acts that go unnoticed that go anonymous but nobody knows it’s me so is that a wasted opportunity to show people that we are supposed to give back. If nobody knows about my good deeds then obviously I am not being an example because they aren’t seeing it. Sometimes I am absolutely quiet in a meeting. For several meetings in a row just say nothing. I am trying to send the message of puttting others first of being there for others. But if I say nothing about it I think the message is too subtle and nobody gets what am I trying to do. Humility and meeknesss are great qualities to have but if you are so meek that nobody gets what you are doing then are you setting an example? One time after a meeting somebody asked me How much time do you have? The answer at the time was 20 years so I told her and she was blown away. I get that alot. People are like wow I had no idea. And to me that is the point. I want you to not know. I don’t go telling everybody all the time at every meeting hey this is how much time I have. I don’t draw attention to it. I rarely will mention at all my sober time unless I am asked. I don’t speak up much at the meetings and typically the old timers speak and they speak at every meeting and for long periods of time. We have differing philosophies. My philosophy is to put the newcomer before me. My philosophy is to show strength through listening. I can’t speak for the other guys and say what their intention is. But I am wondering if I am doing it wrong. Am I supposed to speak a lot more at the meetings? Am I supposed to tell everybody about my decades of sobriety a lot? Should everybody know about my 21 years sober? Or are we both right? Am I doing things exactly the way I am supposed to be doing things and they are doing things exactly the way they are suppossed to be? I am not so much worried about the other old-timers, it’s not my job to figure out what they are supposed to be doing, but I do need to think about myself and what I should be doing.

Two great sobriety quotes

I admit I got off to a slow start today. I jut couldn’t figure out what to write. I searched for quotes to get me started and for some reason nothing was quite working for me. I search Nelson Mandela,Cesar Chavez,Malcolm X and Mark Twain and yet still nothing jumped out at me. I am pretty sure I will use all 4 of these people in later posts but today I am going with sobriety quotes. By the way let me know if there is a great historical figure you would like to me research and do quotes on. I am open to suggestions. But those first 3 are pretty high on the list and Twain will eventually get his shot. So here are today’s quotes and no I will not do a fake humorous quote at the end today.

“I’d much rather spend all day on the Santa Monica pier playing Asteroids than delve into the murk and analyze myself. And if you think I haven’t gone down to the pier to do that recently, well, you’d be wrong. Sometimes you just have to be twelve again.”

Anne Clendening, Bent, How Yoga Saved My Ass

“I wanted a drink. There were a hundred reasons why a man will want a drink, but I wanted one now for the most elementary reason of all. I didn’t want to feel what I was feeling, and a voice within was telling me that I needed a drink, that I couldn’t bear it without it.

But that voice is a liar. You can always bear the pain. It’ll hurt, it’ll burn like acid in an open wound, but you can stand it. And, as long as you can make yourself go on choosing the pain over the relief, you can keep going.”

Lawrence Block, Out On The Cutting Edge

Random Musings for the day

Am I the only one who gets a kick out of saying that the biggest movie in the world is a war movie put out by Disney? I’m sorry but that never gets old for me.

The best tv show nobody seems to ever talk about is Mom. This is a show about an alcoholic mother and daughter starring Allison Janney and Anna faris. I go to AA meetings 6 times a week and nobody there has ever mentioned it.

Is today unofficial ugly sweater day? I am seeing them all over the place today.

Not that I like deer testicles but man could I use a donut right now.

Is it weird that two of the aa members in my group went for a walk to smoke a joint today?

Why do we park in the driveway and drive in the parkway?

Does it seem coincidental to you that wonder woman has been played by a legit beauty queen both in the 70’s and now?

I would like the next great actress to be ugly as hell. I’m sure ugly people are just as capable of acting as beautiful people.

Best movie out right now is 3 billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri

At my AA meeting somebody joked, hey I think somebody grabbed my ass to which I replied “matt lauer isn’t here”

Best movie you’ve never heard of this year is Maudie. It may garner an academy award nomination for Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke was very effective in his role as well.

Best idea for a restaurant that nobody has the guts to implement- The half you can eat buffet- Like the all you can eat but you’re only allowed to eat half of what you are capable of eating.

2nd best idea for a restaurant that nobody has the guts to implement-Calling a non chineese restaurant by a name like the Golden Buddha. People walk in and hamburgers are on the menu.

I crack myself up and that’s what counts.

If life is short why do we get grey hair?

Why does Al roker dress like Mr potato head?

If you combined John Lennon and Matt Lauer and they wrote a song “imagine, all the peep holes, it’s easy if you try….

On the real though the whole world will stop when Paul Mccartney dies

Looking forward to seeing the Hugh Jackman movie where he plays P.T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman

I still can’t figure out why the world gives a rats ass about who the royals marry

Do I have to say it? Prince Harry has crappy hair

And one last thing, when life gives you lemons sell them to your neighbor for a few bucks.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah sobriety

Now that I have been at the library some 40 minutes I think I am finally ready to write a post about sobriety which was my original idea for this blog. To add a little variety and keep my imagination going I do like to  do little side projects like my jokes or interesting stories from my past. Sometimes I feel like the topics that come to my mind are ones that I have addressed to some extent in my past posts so I get hesitant to broach them in full. Although I have done a post which list specific prayers I will actually discuss my thoughts on prayer.

In AA we are very big on finding an identifying a higher power. We don’t really care if you are catholic,protestant,mormon,Jehovah’s witness or just a guy without a religion who believes in God. But we do believe that it is best to turn your life over to another entity what we call the higher power so that can be the good driving force behind you life. That will be our focus today.

Sometimes in meetings I will talk about prayer and then realize that there are Atheists or agnostics in the room. Whenever I am in this situation I like to explain prayer like this. When I was a kid there were these cartoons and Jiminy cricket would be on this guys shoulders and he was his conscience. He would always get in the guys ear and let him know what the right thing to do it. To me God is like my Jiminy cricket.

I don’t ask God to snap his fingers and make things happen for me. I don’t ask for jobs to fall in my lap or even for people’s health to get changed. What I do ask for is simply guidance. If somebody is gravely ill I ask for the strength to deal with situation. I ask for the person to be at peace, I ask for God’s guidance in a situation. I ask that I have the strength to do God’s will, the grace to handle things with dignity and courage to face adversity. I pray that all parties involved especially family handle the situation the best they can.

I don’t believe that God is there to snap his fingers and magically change physical things or outcomes. But I do believe God is there to guide us in our difficult situations, to give us grace, to give us wisdom to give us peace of heart.

I also believe that we should allow God to talk to us more then we talk to God. Who benefits more? Does God benefit more if we talk to him? Or do we benefit more if we listen to him? If I spend 10 minutes in prayer I feel I am better off if I listen for 8minutes and speak for 2. What can we tell God that he will learn from? What can God tell us that we can learn from?

I hope you ponder these questions and are blessed with some insightful answers.

The one with the gratitude list

Alright, so I’ll do a short one about gratitude today. I was kind of mulling over what to write about and although I have done a gratitude post on here before it has been awhile and I don’t think it’s a bad idea to use this topic on more than one occasion.

So today here is what I am grateful for

I am grateful that today if somebody asks me what I am grateful for I don’t have to make stuff up so nobody realizes that I am actually not grateful for anything. In the past at Thanksgiving people would ask me what I was thankful for and the honest answer was that I was not thankful for anything. I would lie because I didn’t want to look like an asshole. that is the God’s honest truth. I would just say the typical stuff like I was thankful for the food and my family and a nice day when in reality I was one entitled person who thought that everything he had he was supposed to have.

I am thankful for a drama free life. I make good decisions today. These decisions lead to stability and when there is a rough patch ahead I do the right thing so a little turbulence doesn’t turn into full scale turmoil. And by good decisions that also means picking a good life partner. Sometimes we have a rocky life and we have the convenience of playing the victim card because we chose a shitty partner which kind of allows us to live in drama without having to take responsibility for it. You get to point the fingers at your partner and say it’s his fault, it’s her fault and nobody sees that you chose that partner. I intentionally chose a drama free partner and she chose me because we were done with making bad life choices.

I am thankful that I have finally learned to communicate my feelings in a healthy way with my partner. I kind of got spooked by something she said the other day and my initial reaction was a bit of trepidation. Without pointing fingers at her and blaming her for my feelings or trying to make her feel bad I calmly explained my feelings let her know my fear and also let her know she did nothing wrong and I would be willing to to encounter the fear and walk through it. What could have turned into a major argument was settles quickly without hurt feelings.

I am thankful for the leadership my partner provides. Saturday she had us paint rocks and then on Sunday we walked around the neighborhood early in the morning and discreetly put them on peoples lawns or on church property or in their bark as a way of quietly giving back with acknowledgement. She is showing me that you can’t always do things for yourself and you have to put back into the Universe good things and often you need to do it without the beneficiary knowing who did it.

Anyhow that is enough for today. Have a good day.