Ding, Dong! The D*CK is DEAD!

Growing Pains

Last Thursday I got a text from my brother. May not sound like a big deal, my brother and I get along, we are not close and usually contact doesn’t mean good news.

The text said “Did you hear about Dick – Less?”  (insert real name here).  I texted back (after a gulp) “No.”  (Dick-Less is the man that I wrote about back in 2014– he raped me.  Part II, Part III.)  My brother texted back, “He died unexpectedly in his sleep.” My immediate reaction was,  “Thanks A$$hole, when people usually die in their sleep, it isn’t expected.”  Of course I didn’t bother to text that back, instead I texted, “Too Bad.” Then I asked, “How did you hear?”

As it Unfolded

My brother has his own issues. I told him at the time I was raped by his friend (and my first boyfriend), back in the 80’s.  He pretended that he didn’t remember that situation even tho he was around when it happened. So after he told me he had read about it on Facebook, I said, “Oh.”  He said, ” I haven’t heard any word from him since 1979?”  I got pissed.  Texted back, “I hate the man I am glad that he is dead.”  He said, “Yeah, I thought as much. I spent a lot of time debating whether to tell you or not.”

Amends

When I did Step 4, I dumped it all out there and my Sponsor was great.  She suggested that I just put his name aside and let things ride, see how I felt.  I never saw the guy and as outlined in that blog post, my making amends was a real “motive” check as to why I would do it or not do it.  I hadn’t sorted it out – all my other amends have been made and honestly I hadn’t decided what to do about him.

Higher Power

There were people on my “HELL NO” List that I claimed I would never make amends to and yet in every case (except this one) I made the amends without even thinking about it. I mean my words came tumbling out and were heartfelt.  Each one of the amends I made were good experiences, people were receptive.  Settling ones.  Almost like folding up a shirt that just came out of the laundry and putting it away. And “One Day At A Time,”  I try to LIVE my amends.  That seems most effective.

So this guy is dead.  “Unexpectedly in his sleep.”  Still think this is total irony.  (I have an alibi – I swear. He is not worth the whiskey or the jail time.)  I do feel for his family.  Death is sad for them in this situation.

Feelings2016-01-07 08.23.51

Oh yeah, they are back.  I am confused, sad, mad -almost like I was 16 all over again. Since

I don’t know what to do, I am going to another meeting.  Perhaps “HP” has decided what to do about it for me.

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Some Are Sicker Than Others

Over the past few years, I have been to many meetings.  These meetings are filled with Experience, Strength and Hope.  But I have learned and am reminded again, that the Experience, Strength and Hope part, it is up to me to listen and to allow myself to receive the message.

Manners

In Accordance with the Third Tradition, AA Meetings are to help alcoholics achieve sobriety. “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”  That leaves a lot of leeway in how that happens. Every now and then, I am amazed at the behavior that is exhibited and tolerated in order to support the Alcoholic that still suffers.

Oscar The Grouch

When I first came into the Halls of AA, Oscar would often be at meetings.  When I heard him share, there was no doubt in my mind that Oscar was nothing short of genius material. When I listened to Oscar share, his monotone voice was full of information, facts about the Big Book and other AA Literature, in almost every occasion that he shared, he would end up insulting or chiding another speaker that had spoken earlier in the meeting. Those of us that were listening, clinging to every word like it was a lifeline, would walkaway sometimes thinking, “If this is what being sober means, you can have it!”

Oscar took no prisoners.  What I have come to believe is he is completely incapable of compassion. He says what he says with a sort of cruel eloquence that varies depending on his mood.  If a person with 20 years of sobriety shares and Oscar is in a bad mood, when it is his turn, he spins a web with enough AA Speak, when the claws come out he quietly attacks the person, it can be a little disarming.  If you didn’t know that Oscar lived in an old school bus with hula hoops and mardi gras beads hanging inside and garbage bags and duct tape to block broken windows, you may just think he was an asshole.

Wanderers

In Maine, we call them snowbirds.  Before the snow flies, people pack up their cars or in some cases a backpack and head for warmer weather. This includes the homeless, high functioning mentally ill population.  If people feel the need to be outside, (including sleeping outside,) they know that they would freeze to death in Maine in the winter. The solution is to  head South.  I never understood how they got there, no money, no belongings to sell, but they end up on the beaches somehow and return to Maine in the Spring.  Oscar gets here in a dilapidated school bus. His own.

Higher Power

Oscar and his bus are no doubt Higher Powered. He parked it next to me last night.  As I went to my car to leave, I wondered how the thing got here from Louisiana (license plates). It was about 20 minutes after his comments ripped the speaker to ribbons in his quiet way. The quiet way that was not lost to anyone in the rooms but was accepted and not rejected like it would be if it was done in the “normal world.”

I had walked across the parking lot at the Recovery Center thinking, “Jesus that guy is such an asshole, why didn’t Stu or someone with tons of sobriety pull him aside and check his attitude?”  As a female, people like Oscar, unpredictable yet highly functional, are best left to the male population to sort out.  Only no one did.  As I sit here now, I am understanding why.

I need to be reminded that the message comes in all shapes and sizes.  My Higher Power wants me to see people like Oscar and understand.  My Higher Power wants me to love and accept them for the people they are and not the people I would like them to be.  My job isn’t to be offended, it is to be sober and to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

Now that Oscar is back for the summer, I have no doubt that he and his bus will be parked at the Homeless Shelter and he will be at our Meetings.  It is my choice to be offended by his message or to try and see the wisdom in it, be amazed at the miracle Oscar is, finding his own path in Recovery and staying on it.

 

“Recovery is a Collaboration between Your Intellect and Your Spirit”

A couple weeks ago I went to a local publisher’s Open House on a lark.  In fact, I don’t even know how I happened to receive the email but I did and I went.  It was a beautiful Saturday in January, the place is located on the coast of Maine it took about a little over an hour to find.  It was an effort, I gave up my Saturday, but I am learning that this book project is not mine, it’s ours.   I am being led.  Every time I put this idea down thinking that this is just a place for me to throw out thoughts from my spinning head, something like an unsolicited email comes to me inviting me on a “blue bird” day to an Open House to a place I had never heard of before.

Maine Author’s Publishing is a place that is more than a publisher.  They nurture writers MAP_booksand the writing process.  The classes they offer are reasonably priced and tailored to the inspiring writer. There is a “Buffett” style of services, you pick what you need. Perhaps there is a place like “MAP”  in your area? If you are from Maine, I certainly recommend them as a place to network at the very least, connect with the writing community and perhaps if is your cup of tea, publish something. Some of these writers publish 100 copies for their family use.  MAP will help when bigger places have no interest.

Writing Coach

I met someone special when I went there and like most things with this book, I am amazed at how special she is.  She is a Writing Coach, she offers classes as well as one-on-one coaching.  After I “pitched” (which I had no idea that was what I was doing), my idea to her she gave me her card.  After a few follow up emails, we agreed on a place to meet for an hour’s coaching to start.

The meeting flew by and she was incredible. I have been working on this book on and off since my Sobriety Date in 2013, not being sure until a couple months ago that this was what I am supposed to do.  I have some skills at being organized, writing, have this blog plus tons of other notes.  But what I don’t have is direction, priority.  I don’t know “First things First” when it comes to writing and PUBLISHING a book.  Direction is what she gave me.  Now I know what Writing Coaches do.  In “Recovery Speak” she is my Writing Sponsor. She helps keep me on the beam.

Early in our meeting she said, “Recovery is a Collaboration between Your Intellect and Your Spirit.”

I think I have a winner.  Stay tuned.  The next few months are going to be a whirlwind with Experience, Strength, and Hope at every turn.

I Get What I Need When I am Willing

Sandwich SignMeetings are important to me.  I love them.  I am active in my Home Group at the Shelter and enjoy outside meetings from my Home Group.  My Home Group is responsible for a meeting every day. 7 days a week – Early Bird Grapevine, Monday thru Friday.  Saturday is Living Sober and Sunday is 12 and 12.  If I could only go to the Shelter meetings I would make a meeting every day.

People have referred to the Shelter Meetings are the “Front Line of Recovery.” “White knuckle” sobriety.  Lots of relapses, many newcomers.  And though I am dedicated to the Shelter Meetings, I find for my own Recovery, I need some exposure to some long term, (or old timers) to balance things off.

Shelter Meetings remind me of how it was like to be in Early Recovery.  Other meetings with people having years of sobriety, help me know how to live in Recovery. It is perspective.  The Shelter Meetings are helpful in getting a double dose of gratitude and the stories remind me that it isn’t any better “out there” since I entered my new life.

Road Trips

When I travel for work, I try to attend meetings also. Sometimes my travels take me to places where there is one meeting per week or none at all. Often times the meetings are scheduled outside of my trip.  Still, I seem to manage to make one and people are usually friendly.  (Not always, some meetings people don’t introduce themselves at all. My sponsor told me once that my goal should be to attend a meeting without any other expectations. That has been great advice on the road or in my hometown.)

Last week, I was in an area where there were plenty of old timers.  Not only were they old people (I am in my early 50’s) but they had 15, 20, 30 years under their belts.  They all know each other, in fact, there was a knitting group of 6 women that only talked to each other.  The men sat with their arms crossed and would speak when spoken to only.

Friendly Reminder

As the meeting got under way, I was glad that I was there, though still I did feel like an outsider.  I decided that when I returned to my Shelter Group, I would make more of an effort to look out for visitors and do my part in helping them to feel welcome. Summer is coming and there is a lot of tourism that brings people through. We made a sign recently and put it out front so folks wouldn’t have to be intimidated by coming to the Shelter and wondering if they were in the right spot.

Sometimes being “turned off” shows me things I need to see.  I needed to feel left out so I would be aware of what I can to do reach out the hand of AA on my turf.

 

110 % is a Tough Number

I am a “pedal to the medal” type of person.  When I “sign up” for something, I am all in.  No 110%Then a short time down the road I realize I am unable to do 110%, I get frustrated, blame myself for being a failure and take my RESERVED seat on the “Pity Pot.”  I cannot speak for other alcoholics and addicts but for myself, this is definitely the case.

Singleness of Purpose

When I came into the Halls of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was beaten.  Beaten down by myself, by my disease. Unlike many, I had not arrived at my first meeting after a hospital stay or fresh from prison.  My first couple meetings (which were at a Homeless Shelter), I questioned that perhaps I wasn’t an alcoholic and I don’t mind saying that scared me more than thinking I WAS!  For the first time in my life, I was in a room full of people where I felt I belonged.  We all came from different backgrounds but we had one mission.  NOT TO DRINK.  We all had a “Desire to stop drinking.”  That was all that mattered.

Doing Things Differently

During early recovery, I remained focused on learning how to live without a drink in my hand.  Since most of the time I “boosted” my coffee, tea, diet pepsi, anything I was drinking with vodka.  (I used to call it Vitamin V.) Then subsequently, I needed to learn how to live sober.  Almost every thing I did in my day, allowed me to be drinking something.  I would go to meetings with a Diet Mountain Dew laced with vodka, I never got caught. It took a lot of planning but that was how it went and my buzz was secure.

A New Way of Thinking

Since doing the Steps, I was able to recognize things about myself that I never knew.  Knowing these things have been so helpful to my life today.  I learned that I often set myself up for failure.  I take everything so seriously, dive in and cannot maintain the level of dedication that I start with. Today, I am putting one foot in front of the other and taking notice when I need to be kinder to myself.

The only thing I have to do 100%  (and not 110%), of the time, is to never, ever forget I am powerless over alcohol.

Henny Penny

When I was drinking I always waiting for the sky to fall.  And most times, it did. When I have looked back at my drinking career, I tried to really understand what role I played when drinking.  When the party was on, so was I.  I had a few blackouts, yes.  BUT most of the time I was the person that kept my wits about me to a degree.I would grab my friend that was on the pool table or fighting with her boyfriend and get us out of trouble.

I Had My Rules

  1. When I went home with someone or someone came home with me, I was traveling alone.
  2. If  there was dancing, no dipping
  3. And NO shots.

I often traveled alone. Once my marriage broke up, my broken heart seemed to need alcohol, needed the soothing of alcohol, the forgetting of alcohol.  I couldn’t fix my feelings without it. I never realized that I had married a guy that I wanted to fix either.  When he abandoned me for another woman, I couldn’t live peacefully without numbing myself to live on without him.

On The Outside 

People would see someone smiling, laughing, someone that was fun to be around. But things weren’t like that on the inside.  As the years rolled on and I turned into a daily drinker just to keep my head on my shoulders, there was no party.  There was no laughing or smiling.  There was the whimpering of the broken heart I could never get beyond.  My decisions laid over the top of this volcano of smoldering emotion that only knew extremes.  And before I did “The Steps,”  I never knew that this abandonment thing was something rooted in my ex husband’s  childhood, my childhood  and my father’s childhood. It was a pattern and I never stopped long enough to see it.  To accept it.

The Waiting Gamehennypennysleeve1

I was just like Henny Penny, waiting for the sky to fall because an acorn hit her head. Even when nothing at all was happening, it would feel like something was about to cause my my world to cave in.  Abandonment is a hard thing to sort through, especially when you have no idea that it is there. In my case, I married a guy that had abandonment issues, similar to those of my father.  I never figured it out until I did The Steps and I learned.

 

The Itty Bitty $hitty Committee

I don’t mean to offend anyone by that title.  Everything I write about in this blog falls under 3 overall categories:

  • Experience
  • Strength 
  • Hope

And I have heard people reference to the things that spin around in their heads.  I have written about that before.  For me, it is negative self talk that I never knew happened, before I stopped drinking.  I never knew a lot of things before I stopped drinking. It amazes me when “I stop the music in my head” or “Get out of that bad neighborhood that is between my ears” (all terms I have heard in meetings),  how much I realize that I am not the center of the universe and that I AM ENOUGH -just as I am.

One of my most favorite recovery people said the other day, “Most of the things I worry about never even happened!”  Another one said, “I lose sleep about the snow I am worrying about shoveling in 3 days and the storm goes out to sea – then I get angry about that!”

Look At Us

Seriously, as  write this I am writing it for you and ME, if we sit in the “here and now” and be grateful for what we have and who we are, our lives will feel more peaceful, don’t you think?  Our Higher Power didn’t make us so we could torture ourselves, we are here to help one another.

Reading Facebook- giving and getting positive and inspiring comments all help, in addition to the “face to face” recovery work, meetings, service, etc. keeps me healthy and most likely make the people in my day to day world happier too.

It’s January and we are beyond the darkest days and longest nights of the year, I need to make a special effort to be that “Grateful Alcoholic that doesn’t drink.”