24 Hours A Day Book

Around here some of the Old Timers are ROCK solid on things.  It is possible that they are right in their beliefs, recovery being different for everybody, for me, the “black and white”  “AA Literature Only” individual would not be the best fit for my recovery.  I heard one of the “Traditionalist” mention that the Hazelden  series of literature wasn’t real AA and that it was wrong to read it.  Well personally, remarks like that make me want to read it all the more.  Defiant alcoholic that I am.

What It Was LIke

As I have mentioned numerous times here, a friend came up to see me to make amends just about 2 years ago. (Actually 2 years in May.) BUT it took me another year to realize where I was in alcoholism and to do something about it.  In that year that I was doing “research” controlled drinking, whatever you want to call it, I bought the Big Book and the 24 Hour Book.  I bought them and downloaded them onto my Kindle and tried reading them.  On the Kindle, it is easy because no one sees what you are reading.  I would get on the exercise bike at the gym and read.  Like everything and since I didn’t start EXACTLY on January 1 like the book does, I decided to read up until the date I started reading, which I think was some day in late February.  I really didn’t get it, all the references I didn’t understand and there was just too much “God” in there.  I was pretty sure this was a ploy by religious freaks to prey on alcoholics.  The whole thing completely missed me, I wasn’t ready.

What a Difference A Year Makes

Now, I read the 24 Hour Book pretty regularly, I do mostly read it on the DATE it shows and I read it on my Kindle, just like before only COMPLETELY different.  I cannot believe how my life has changed since then, mind you, I am still struggling, trying to make the puzzle fit together.  Some days I can do it easily and I feel good.  Some days I feel like my head is a bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I am also reading other books.  When I was drinking I didn’t like to read at all, I read at the gym, which was pretty much the only time I read.  Unless it was work stuff. I hate working out still and have taken somewhat of a hiatus, I have to get back to it.  Recovery is a workout, meetings is a commitment.  I hate working out and at the present, I have swapped yoga and meditation for that – for now.  I am easily overwhelmed and I am so protective of my sobriety, I cannot overload myself and expect positive results.  I don’t believe this is a cop out, I believe it is the realization that it took years to break myself in to tiny pieces and I cannot expect to glue it together in 10 months.

So here we are, “Another Day In Paradise.” And without a drink, it surely is.

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I May Be a Slacker…but I am not drinking

Here I thought I was going to be writing more and yet I have been blogging for others and working pretty hard.  I also have been doing step work and working on myself.  Sorry I have been gone for a while.  I do hope you missed me!

Anniversary

No not mine, I am just over 9 months sober and grateful for every day. I have a list to prove it.  Still doing the “Gratitude List.”  So practically every night since Thanksgiving Day,  I write 3 – 5 things down in a notebook.  It does seem to slow the spin of self doubt and does make me think a bit differently.  My friend (we will call her Jane), celebrated 1 year today at our Shelter Meeting.  It was great for her, lots of tears and her Mom and sister were there.  Since I am involved with the Group Conscience with this meeting, I did some of the work, made arrangements for things to happen,  she asked that there not be a “big deal made” she doesn’t like to be the “center of attention.”   All I can say is, “I tried.” She got the traditional, cake and card.

Upon my arrival at the Shelter, the normal set up person was not there.  And because of some renovations at the Shelter, things were all over the place, it was a full moon last night and St. Patrick’s Day, today.  If you don’t believe in any karma surrounded by a full moon, you check out a homeless shelter during the cycle for a few months.  It is amazing the upset that happens.  New Moons are similar.  So along with setting up for Jane’s anniversary the meeting needed to be set up too.  We all scurried around, asked Jane’s sponsor to chair the meeting to which she declined in quite a bitchy fashion and pushed her Sponsee – Jane (the celebrant), to Chair.  Because in her words, “That is what sponsors do.”  Um, no thanks.

Great Way to Start the Day

Without recounting every last detail, we got the meeting going, Jane Chaired and our normal setup person appeared and did he ever look terrible!  Bloated, red face, glassy eyed.  He came to me and said, “I went back out and I feel so shitty.”  All I could do was hug him and tell him how happy I was to see him and that I was so glad he came back.  He told on himself in the meeting and got support and love from everyone.  Oh sure the usual “Preacher” preached but most everyone else offered love and compassion.  We all were reminded how fragile our sobriety is.  He could have been any one of us on any day.

Cupcakes

As we did “Round Robin” around the room, Jane got her wish as not being the center of attention, there was some Congratulations mentioned but mostly we unintentionally focused on the wounded.  We ate cupcakes and presented a Certificate and Chips.  One “White” Chip and a “One Year” Chip. And so it goes/

Homeless and Not Helpless

My “Home Group” is at our large Homeless Shelter in our city.  It was the first AA Meeting I went to, the first AA Meeting of the day in our area.  I am not sure what horrified me more that day, that I was at a Shelter or that I was at an AA Meeting.  Once I got there and sat down the rest is history.  Everything has grown on me since then.  The program and the people in the shelter that I see every day.

Snow Day

I got to the Shelter this morning, it had started snowing and the roads were getting greasy. I was in a little bit of a “mood” because of the driving.  I was making coffee and there was a lot of buzz around the coffee machine, most of the outside smokers were inside because of the weather.  People were talking and many of the folks there know me.  I turned around and I saw what I thought was someone slip on the floor.  Then I heard someone say, “He’s having a seizure, get help.”  Instantly people knew what to do, except me, I froze in my tracks. Off to my left, one of the “Homeless Relapsers” (as described by him), who has the miles of pain on his face, took me by the lower arm and says calmly, “C’mon Dear,  let’s get over here. “He guides my arm gently and we walk over to the side of the room.

In the meantime help is with the victim, I said, “I have never seen anything like that before.” (it is still going on – foam and shaking, etc. ) He said, “Yeah honey, I could tell, here I was grateful it wasn’t me…”

Shelter Life

Many of the folks in the Shelter are “on the run.”  From drugs, alcohol, relationships.  Each person has a story.  The place is its own community, it’s own heart beat.  Many folks attend our meetings, many folks “graduate” from the Shelter and move on.  Get housing, jobs, a new life.  Many graduates come back to our meetings to maintain perspective of “where they came from.”

Blessed

This morning I got perspective from where I came from.  Not to say that I was going to have a grand mal seizure but how do I know what may have happened if I was still drinking?  It wasn’t getting any prettier I know that for sure.  I feel so grateful that my friend (that who on the street I would have crossed to avoid 8 months ago), was gentle and kind because we are both in the same boat and helping each other

When “Journey Road” is Under Construction

When I first stopped drinking I felt so horrid that just LIVING through it was all I cared about.  I did not go to the hospital, so I don’t want to overstate this but I had no idea how awful alcohol withdrawal could be – I know now that others have had it and have it  much worse than I did.

Resisting the “Check Off”

I am learning so much about myself these past few months some days I am drained.  I am still working and performing my job duties but there have been days I have flopped into bed at 7:30 at night and slept right through until 5:30 or 6 the next morning.  I feel beat but not BEAT UP, which was how it used to be.

Recovery Can Never Be “Checked Off”

My personality defects list includes lack of patience.  Lots of times that means I get a job done quickly only to “get it off the list” even though I do it in haste.  As far as I am concerned I have it done, I can move on to the next task.  Sometimes that rushed thing comes back to haunt me. Living is a journey I guess, people have said that to me before and I never really understood it.  Recovery is on “JOURNEY ROAD” for Janis.  And some days the road is bumpy and other days the road isn’t so bumpy.

Journey Road

When I was drinking, Journey Road‘s Bridge was washed out.  The river underneath where the bridge was, was flowing with vodka.  Every day I would wake up and take a swim in the river.  Near the end, I would try to wade across without falling in, finally I realized I needed a boat and get out of the river all together. I had to forge that river to get to the other side.  When I got to the other side of the river, the first few miles  of road were full of potholes, lots of bobbing and weaving. I had to go slowly to get through it without falling back into the puddles or if I went too fast, I would damage myself.  I think that is why I get so tired some days.

Me First, Me First

I am now trying to do some things for myself.  I used to do alot of things when I was drinking, going to the gym, etc. but my mind was in a different place.  I started doing yoga recently, I have someone I exercise with so I can do the things I want to do without pain.  It is a date 2x a week and yoga once a week.  It finally feels right to take time to do things right instead of just doing things to get them “off the list.”  So Journey Road is definitely “Under Construction” for me but I am on it and meeting new friends that join me every day.

“Jonesin”

This is an expression that I heard once from a friend of mine from a country town not far from mine.  He was referring to wanting to have some pepperoni or some breakfast.  Little did I know then, what it really meant and I wonder if he did.

Days of Wine and Roses

Like Jack Lemmon in the movie I came from the PR world. His drug was alcohol.  I am not a drug addict but I probably could have been.  I am pretty humble when it comes to any other addiction that didn’t happen to me. Alcohol is what got me to the bottom.  I am not schooled in all the big words but in my gut, I think that if you have an addictive personality, your brain wants a rush and it could be anything.  And for me it was alcohol.  Who knows if I would have “graduated” or “traded up” to drugs or death.  I hope to God I don’t try and find out, keeping the AA life in my head and heart is a must.

Jonesin

When I finally made up my mind I could not quit drinking without help I was Jonesin, morning, noon and night.  I would pace my whole day around when I could drink.  I found places where I could drink early, I stashed bottles so I had so many no one (including me) could have found them all.  But I always could find what I needed and Thank God it didn’t kill me or I didn’t kill anybody else.  I was Jonesin for a drink even after I had a couple under my belt.  Until the shakes settled, until my head cleared enough that I could function “normally.”   I always wondered as I approached the bar if anyone else could see the shaking I had going on inside of me.

Now I See It In Others

I still have drinking friends and I like it that way.  Many well most of them just think I have stopped drinking because of medication I am on because of my allergies and I just let them believe that.  Today, I had a friend offer to take me to get my car serviced in the morning and I wouldn’t be surprise if it was because he will want to get out of the house and have a drink.  Tomorrow is a holiday and schools, banks, etc. are closed.  He isn’t working, his wife and kids will be home and getting into that first drink early enough could be more of a challenge. Doing me a favor is perfectly acceptable and a great excuse for having a little “hooch” for breakfast while I drink coffee.

Just a Guess

I cannot say this is exactly why he is doing it and perhaps I should make amends for taking advantage of the situation.  He offered, I accepted and then I got to thinking about it.  I also remember the favors I have done for he and his family and then dismiss my thinking and decide I am being over analytical.  Maybe that is it?  I seem to look at things so differently now that I feel like I analyze everything.  I watch myself like a hawk, realizing how broken I am and wanting to change the way I act and react to situations.  I am not him and my behavior when I was drinking may or may not be the same.  So “Let it Go” and we’ll see.

New Friends

I am not sure if I have written about this person or not but he has been very important to my recovery.  I KNOW what you are thinking but it isn’t like that.  He has native american roots and as I have said before I feel nature and respond to it.  Having him as someone I can talk to makes AA all the better.

LOTS of Meetings

Okay, I have gone to a lot of meetings.  Almost every day I get to one and some days 2 and on sh&tty days 3!  Perhaps this is a new addiction but it is time spent on my recovery and not in a barroom.  It calms my nerves and soothes me-sometimes it pisses me off.  I guess any time you sit around in a group of people that can happen.  But as many people say, pain is part of healing, laughing is part of healing.  As long as it’s healing and I’m not drinking I guess it is a good thing.

The Preacher

I may have mentioned before there is a guy around here that is a long sober person, I actually call it “long suffering and sober.”  I know it isn’t nice to say stuff like that about folks in the fellowship but recovering alcoholics can be asshats just like “normal” people.  This guy  pretty righteous.  He tells people “How it is.”  “How they should live.”   When he first came back from his “snowbirding” (that is what we in the North call folks that escape the cold and weather here to go to Florida or other points South and return in the Spring), I was newly sober.  I mean DAYS sober.  In round robin, he would contribute and it was like a broken record, though some days he would downright visibly upset someone.  I decided in silence that I would ignore him.  His 20+ years or 30 if you counted when he smoked pot ….blah blah blah.  It was clear to me that I needed to find some new people in my life to connect with and he certainly wasn’t going to be one of them.

It Takes A Village

There was a man with crazy white hair. Sometimes he wore a ponytail and sometimes not.  He had a warmth and love for everyone you can feel it.  And he was long sober and come to find out, had experience in the mental health field.  Most of the folks in the Homeless Shelter (where I go to most of my meetings) are hours sober, many mentally compromised.  But there are a few that have some time in and their perspective is helpful when the wheels are turning round and round in your head. I was barely working the steps, just coming out of the fog and there seemed to be more native americans at some of our meetings.  Their sharing about how they felt in nature, the peace they felt just being in a place with the wind blew or the water flowed was one I could truly identify with. I felt at ease with this sort of conversation instead of the thumping of truth that others chose to throw out there.

Medicine Man

When I came through the fog it wasn’t sudden, it slowly lifted.  I thought that once I stopped worrying about my breath smelling and took some showers, I wouldn’t have anything to worry about.  Was I ever wrong.   I honestly needed help just living.  I could brush my teeth and yes I even worked but breaking old habits was strange to me.  Just finding a restaurant for lunch that didn’t serve alcohol was pretty foreign.  I needed that in the first weeks mostly because every place I went into, knew of my “usual” and would often meet me at the table with it all ready mixed.  That wasn’t going to work.  The Medicine Man answered all my stupid questions and helped me learn to think again.  He helped me to find some vitamins and homeopathics to help ease the fogginess.  Just something silly like the right herbal tea before bed was gold to me.

The Newcomer

The Medicine Man reminded me today about newcomer syndrome – like even newer than me. Stuff that I hadn’t thought about in a month or so.  And that person that has a couple days or a week under their belt needs so little but a smile and encouragement.  Just like for me and it is precious.  Acceptance.  They belong.  They matter.  We are all fighting this battle together.

The Plug Was In the Jug

There are a lot of things that have been hidden away inside me for years.  I never realized it.  I also never realized that my head was crazy or now someone said “wild mind”  or “monkey mind.”  Now I haven’t been called crazy before and I never really thought that my thoughts were crazy ones.

Been This Way My Whole Life

I didn’t start drinking until I was in my late teens and even then it wasn’t much.  I was an athlete and the first few times it was just because everyone else was at the time.  The crazy drinking times came much later but there was a significant “numbing” and “stuffing” that happened since I was a child.  I am just realizing it now.

She’s Creative

I hated math, I hated my math teacher.  She called me stupid in front of the whole class more than once.  I do not plan on putting her on my 8th step list and making amends at this point any way.  She made it clear to me in the 7th grade that I was a misfit.  I was exceptional in English as well as many other subjects but my poor aptitude in math brought me down in everything.  And I wasn’t an “artist” per se – couldn’t produce something that people could see and tell me that I had talent. I buried all that in my head and developed a personality and learned how to work with people, so I was popular in AA I have heard it as being a “People Pleaser.”

Mom

My Mom was relentless in telling us kids to never tease someone that wasn’t “like us.” Always treat people how we wanted to be treated.  She showed us values, morals, discipline and of course guilt.  Mom was brought up in a Pentecostal environment.  So HELL, fire and brimstone was what she understood.  My grandfather was not a church goer so the religion came from the “women folk” and we stopped going to church when we were in our teens.  But the foundation was there to be guilty for just breathing.  Mom was never violent or overly disciplined us.  Anyway not making fun of other “misfits” in school or otherwise wasn’t something tolerated in our household. You “made fun” of no one.  I learned curiosity about differences and not fear or superiority.

Stuffed Full

My dreams were in color, I didn’t tell anyone.  I knew things were going to happen before they would, I learned that wasn’t something that you talked about at school or the teacher would call home, I really didn’t like that because that would create conflict and I hated that.  Still do.

Where It Ended Up

Alcohol dulled my sense of wonder. I forgot to use colors in my decorating, my dreams were still in color but all the hues were trapped in my head.  This along with everything else is starting to bubble up and out. There is no anesthesia now.  Everything is raw.  Sometimes there are tears and I am not sure why.  I did cry when I was drinking and I didn’t know why then always either.  But then there was a lot of things I didn’t know when I was drinking and when I “came to” and decided not to drink anymore the guilt was unbearable.

And so goes the life of an alcoholic…“One Day At A Time.”