Meditation Hesitation

Meditation Comic

 

This is how my Friday night tends to go.

Me: “What’s the meeting topic tonight?”

Him: “Meditation.”

Me: “Awww, man. Let’s just skip.”

Three hours later…

Me: “ I really enjoyed meditating. How come we don’t go every week?”

Repeat every seven days.

I’m gonna be totally honest. Of all the things I’ve heard in meetings over the years, the one that really still burns me up today is, “You know, if you aren’t meditating, you aren’t practicing the twelve steps.” What makes it all the worse is I like the girl who says it. I trust her and her recovery. There are few things as frustrating as hearing that one has a gap in one’s recovery from a person one actually respects. It makes them harder to blow off. Harder… but not impossible.

I think the fear is this- For my entire life, my brain has been in overdrive. It goes and goes and goes. I jumps from one idea to another to another in record time, so that often by the time my friend and I are finishing one conversation, I’m already three conversations in the future. For years, I drank to dull this process, to slow my mind, to relax, take the edge off. And it worked for a long time. Then then it stopped working.

When I made it into the rooms, my brain went into an extreme Back to the Future kind of overdrive. I could not stop thinking, feeling, experiencing, fearing. It was so uncomfortable. Exciting at times, cool, fun, but also terrifying. I always seemed to be walking a fine line between delight and delirium. When I stopped shaking long enough to listen, I heard other AAs had the same problem. “My mind is like a dangerous part of town. I never go there alone,” and “I came for my drinking and stayed for my thinking,” and “Therefore, the main problem of the alcoholic centers in his mind, rather than in his body” (BB 23). There was no way I was going to sit in a room and meditate. I was too scared of my own thoughts.

This mentality has not changed much, if any, with time. The idea that I would just exist, to be without distraction, seems like a really terrible idea. It’s like how the Big Book speaks about alcohol; “I recoil” at the idea of thinking in silence.

So, what do I do? I think about meditating. I think about not meditating. I’ve talked to my sponsors about meditating. I’ve talked to them about not meditating. I’ve asked other people how they meditate. I’ve done the “sitting in morning traffic meditation.” I’ve done the “meditation is listening during a meeting” thing. I’ve rationalized, justified, and ignored. What I’ve never done is actually meditate…Until recently.

On Friday night, on my side of town, there is a 9:30 candlelight meeting. I’ve always gone to candlelight meetings. I prefer them. When we first started going to this particular meeting, though, I was immediately like- nope, no way, cause in this meeting, they meditate. Not every week. But enough to make me look around for something else.

But now, and this is really awkward, I’ve sat through a handful of these meetings. And I think I like them. I don’t wanna say for sure I like them, because that would make me wrong about this meditation thing all along. But maybe, kinda, sorta, I like meditation. Contrary to what I would have thought, my brain does not rev up, but actually quiets down. I find that the nights I attend this meeting, I walk away relaxed and more peaceful. And I always end up thinking, “I should do this more often. I wonder if there is a mediation I can follow online. (Cause you know there is. Everything is online.)

But then I don’t do it. Cause it still seems weird and scary and awkward. Anywho… (Take a deep breath), I’m gonna do it. I am going to, for the sake of experimentation only, find a guided mediation online and hold myself accountable to doing it every morning for ten minutes for the next two weeks. I can do two weeks, right? Right.

So, there it is: my two-week experiment with meditation. If you want to do it with me, I would love to hear from you. How much contempt prior to investigation do you have? Has it been easy or difficult to commit to the process? Why? For those of you still dubious about meditation, I am with you in spirit. I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Raze

The Raze

I have an amazing life. I know this. I have a ton to be grateful for. And yet, probably not a week goes by that I do not want to raze it to the ground. Demolish it. Set it on fire with a blowtorch and simply walk away. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to drink. I just want to run away. I want to travel the country and see mountains and large trees and waves of grain and big skies. I want to experience the Grand Canyon.

This is not a new feeling. I have had a version of this fantasy for most of my life. When I was younger, I thought of myself as Bohemian. I remember having a personal philosophy that I would never buy anything of value that I could not fit in a suitcase. For most of my adult existence, that has remained largely true. I never really seemed to ever own anything of value. I never had a job that wasn’t like any other job out there. I never had a relationship that required much from me.

When I got sober, my lifestyle remained true to form. I lost most of my belongings during my sobering up, so the only things that were left were the very most important things of the no things to begin with. At eighteen months, I got my first apartment. I owned an air mattress and a computer precariously perched atop a box. Then I got a bed and a used sofa. And a desk… And a puppy. Its here, with the puppy, that things start to become awkward. Cause I can’t put Dio in a suitcase. I see homeless people with dogs sometimes, but they’re always kinda big, guard dog looking dogs. They’re definitely not long haired, prissy Dachshunds that prefer to be carried.

Then the family came back. That’s good. I walked away once before. I lived; they lived. But now they’re older and I’m older and I like them. They make running away more difficult. It’s not a deal breaker, but I would miss them.

And then I did what the unthinking runner does, I got the second puppy. Now, if one is going to run away, and if one ferocious attack puppy is bad enough, a second and even more skittish Maltese puppy is not the way to go. Ggggrrrrrrrr…

Okay, so it’s me and two puppies in a dented Hyundai traveling across the country. It’s tight, but they’re pretty good in the car. Dio sits in my lap. I don’t know if that’s legal. And I’m always scared to tell other dog people that is how we roll because I don’t want the doggie seatbelt lecture. Anywho, we could make do.

But the worst of it is, I fell in love. And that is no bueno for a runner. For the longest time, I thought I could leave. I threatened to leave. Convinced myself I could leave. But no. I really love him and could not imagine not seeing his beautiful face every day. Sigh.

Okay. Me, two dogs, and my man in my dented Hyundai all running away together. But my sister gave me these really awesome chairs from her living room. They’re perfect. So comfortable. The best chairs I’ve ever owned. It’s a shame to leave ‘em. So, we’ll strap them to the roof. Good. We’re all set. Me, my two dogs, and my man all running away in my dented Hyundai with two chairs strapped to the roof.

I really do not understand why a part of me is always trying to flee. I mean, I know the AA answers. I know that I am restless and discontent, that my insatiable need for more everything constantly pushes me in to a state of ingratitude, that I am “A victim of the delusion that [I] can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if [I] only manage well,” (BB 61). But somehow, in this moment, the answers sound hallow. I feel like it is not enough to simply say, I feel this way because I am an alcoholic.

And yet, I have nothing else. I think it is a really awkward moment in the life of an alcoholic when they have no proper answers for why they do the things they do. Why does the guy who has everything to lose, drink anyways? Why does the girl who has already done everything she said she’d never do, continue to do it? Why do I, who finally has everything she’s always wanted, have reoccurring fantasies of walking away?

I think the baffling thing about this disease is even the people experiencing it find it hard to articulate the fears, obsessions, the frantic search for happiness in things that exist outside of our own souls. If I only go there, do that, buy this, then I will be happy.

Last night, I had a moment of pure happiness. I was here, in my living room, in one of the big over-sized chairs my sister gave me. One of the puppies was in my lap, the other not far from me. I watched as my love put away the evening dishes. And I thought: Wow, life is tremendously good. I have everything I could possibly every want. I have peace.

And I think that about the best an alcoholic can wish for. I don’t think just because one gets sober and works the steps, that life necessarily becomes easy or sane. But I do think we can occasionally have these moments of perfect serenity and calm, when everything just seems right and easy and good.

One of my very favorite AA sayings comes from a man from a local club. I heard it in one of the first meetings I ever attended and it resonated so deeply, I never forgot it. “I didn’t get in trouble every time I was drinking, but every time I was in trouble, I was drinking.”

To that, I would like to add this, “I haven’t been at peace the entire time I have been sober, but the only times I have ever felt peace, I was sober.”

 

Six Months Later

Dogs blog

There is an odd feeling of anticipation as I type this, an awkward mix of pride and embarrassment that has caused me to simultaneously have a smile and a stomachache. Yesterday, was the six month anniversary of this blog. I know; it’s insane. If this blog were in sobriety, it would be walking up for its blue chip. It would have successfully transitioned from rehab to IOP to a halfway house. The blog could chair a meeting, have a job, and if it were doing a step a month, be smack dab in the middle of its character defects.

On April 6, I was headed up to the annual women’s retreat I attend. (Yes, the same retreat, I wrote of in Monday’s blog.) I had just come off a terribly difficult and arduous year. I was depressed and floundering. I really did not want to go. I remember trying to figure out some way to back out, but my recovery simply wouldn’t let me. I knew I had to go, no matter what.

Towards the end of the weekend, a dear friend came up to me and very casually said, “I think you should start a blog.” Without a blink of an eye, I said no. I did not want to start a blog. Blogging is not real writing. I want to be Hemingway or Faulkner, not a blogger. (This is one of those times where I can see my alcoholism for the delusion that it is. Leave it to a girl who cannot even bear to show her writing to others to look down on a totally legitimate form of expression because it doesn’t jive with how she thinks Hemingway would have gone about it. Jeez Louise.)

That night, as I laid in bed, a singular thought kept eating away at the base of my skull. I got out of bed and began to write in the same fashion that I always write: alone in a quiet room, in a diary no one would ever see. A forth step, a written tenth, another attempt to put pen to paper in order to quiet the crazy. A piece of paper that would be thrown away in some not too distant future.

But this time, as I looked down on that paper, I realized the only reason I had for not showing my writing was fear. For as long as I kept my dream close to my chest, as long as I did not breathe a word of it, or show it to anybody, then that dream was safe. My dream would be safe from the cynics and the naysayers, from the realists and the defeatists. I realized something else too though. As long as I never pursued my dream, it would only ever remain a dream. My dream would never become my reality.

The Ninth Step Promises tell us, “We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly know that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves,” (Big Book 84). And at that moment, I was filled with peace. It is hard to articulate, but it felt like an enormous release of air from my chest. I just knew my friend was right, and I intuitively knew how to handle it. I had to show my writing, not in the distant future, not somewhere down the line, but now, immediately. That night I came home and started this blog.

These last six months have not been easy. I am still plagued by an incredible amount of fear and self-doubt. At any given time, I can convince myself that any number of my friends are encouraging me like a naïve cousin. “Pretty girl, she’ll realize soon enough.” Sigh.

But there are good days too. There are the days when I realize it does not matter if anyone actually reads or not because it is not the about a number or a reward, but the active practicing of courage and perseverance, and accountability. It’s about suiting up.

It is easy to reflect back on my sobriety and say: Without AA, I would not be alive. I would not have dependable friends or a remarkable man. But I also know that without AA, I never would have had the courage to write or the fortitude to post. I would not have been able to withstand the criticism or abandoned myself to a process that has no definitive ending. It’s saccharine to say, but I know it is true. AA put the right person in my path, with exactly the suggestion I needed to hear, at a time when I could hear it. And then gave me strength and courage to actually follow through.

The Big Book says, “Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead.” (152). Yep, that’s about right.

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Thank you to everyone who has read, subscribed to, commented, re-posted, shared, or otherwise supported this endeavor over the past six months.  You’re continued support means an enormous amount to me. Thank you, Lisa.

My AA Crush

snails

I ran into one of my AA crushes this week. I just turned around, and there she was. Wow. I should tell you this woman has no idea I crush on her. In fact, she would consider us friends.

I first met my crush when I had just a few months sober. I remember being introduced to her because I was like, “There is NO way that girl is an alcoholic.” She was, and still is, extraordinarily pretty with the kind of smile that lights up a room. Additionally, she had all the accoutrements that I wanted: friends, respect, an apartment in a non ghetto part of Houston. She had a career and a man and a dent free car. When she came around, I got a little giddy. When she spoke, I clung to every word. When she started acknowledging me, I was so proud. I wanted everyone to know I was sane enough or something enough to elicit the conversation of my fated guru. “Look everyone! Look who’s talking to moi!”

One of the character flaws that AAs have in common is a tendency to judge those around us. I think it stems from the idea that while in our diseases, we scrutinized others to see if they were really keeping it together, or if they were just better at hiding their skeletons.

When we get into the rooms, that behavior continues. We are told, “If you want what we have, do what we do.” I think most people crush on their sponsors. Sometimes, though, I think the crush just might be a person from across the meeting whose shares you love almost as much as her purse.

But here is the thing, you have to get to know your crush. You have to ask them out to coffee. You have to have a heart to heart. Because crushes are just that, a fictitious infatuation. There is no substance to it. Its just a person across the room with thirty years who doesn’t look like a jackass in those barefoot sneaker things that have all the toes.

Over the years , I’ve gotten to know my crush. We have participated in service work together, and in the process, have managed to get to know one another. As if would turn out, my crush, my
girl on the pedestal is very normal. No, no, I know what you are thinking, but it’s true. In fact, one might even venture to say she is a teeny, tiny bit alcoholic-y. Maybe just a smidgeon of perfectionism lingers under her surface which causes her to be the most minutest bit controlling. And possibly, though I’ll deny it if I’m asked, she might have slightly unreasonable expectations. Gasp. Swoon.

I think we have to learn that our crushes are not superhuman AA gurus but people. I’ll see it in meetings when the guy with thirty years says something totally crazy train that leaves everyone scratching their heads. I’ve heard people say, “But he has so much time. How can he be crazy?” He’s crazy because he’s alcoholic. The book tells me I have “What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition,” (BB 85). In my mind, that means today I may be sane, but tomorrow I may be crazy. Sometimes, I have many crazy days in a row. Then I share and the girl next to me elbows her friend and does the finger twirl to the head. Time and security and cars do not make us sane. They make us people with time, security, and cars. Sanity makes us sane. Working the steps makes us sane.

So, yeah, I saw my crush a few days ago. I walked up to her, said hello. We hugged and talked for a few minutes. She asked about my writing. I asked about her family. And I departed.

As I walked out into the hot, sunny Houston day, I smiled. But I smile because I know my crush is over. I realized this week that I saw my friend for who she really is and not who I wanted her to be. I smiled because although my guru is still beautiful and successful and kind and awesome, she is now also a person.

What its like Now: The Miracle Part

If you want a free bookmark, email me at agkroger@gmial.com

If you want a free bookmark, email me at agkroger@gmail.com.

So, here we are again. Sunday night.

Here is the story: Last week, I told three of my very favorite people about my blog. At the time I told them, I had the opportunity to explain my alcoholism and why I was discussing it in such a public forum, but I chickened out. I failed. The timing was awkward. I was a little uncomfortable. Friday’s post, “How I Became an Alcoholic” was meant to rectify some of this error. Today’s blog was supposed to address the second question, “Why do I write so publically about my alcoholism.” After I wrote it though, I realized there was a problem. In AA, we often talk about what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now. I did the first two, but never did the third. So, my two part series is now three parts. Tonight, I address “What it is like now.”

 

My early days of sobriety were really tough. I had quit my job. My family was disappointed in me. I was scared and alone.

At first I sat in the back row of the AA club and just listened. I honestly and truly did not think AA would work. How could it? In its base form, AA is a room full of people, some steps on a wall, and a lot of talk about God. I didn’t believe in God, so that, I knew, was going to be a total disconnect. I just remember thinking, “I am so fucked.” And then one day, I remember an older gentleman, Paul, coming up to me and asking, “Where do you go in the afternoons?”

“I go home,” I said.

And he replied, “Stay here. It’s safer.” Somehow in my heart, I knew he was right. I was safer inside the confines of AA.

I was terrified of living alone and I was about to lose my apartment. One afternoon, at the 3:15 meeting, a beautiful fairy princess named Paula told me about a magical place where newly sober people could go to live. It was called a halfway house. I immediately moved in. About a month after that, a guy at the club said he needed someone to work for him at a little bakery. I immediately took the job. And that was more or less my first year of sobriety. Meetings, bakery, halfway house.

AA is comprised up of “Twelve Steps” that one is supposed to do in order to connect to a higher power (or God). Additionally, the steps help one to get to the root causes of why one drinks and help us to clean up the mess we have all made of our lives. We also have a “Sponsor” that guides us through these steps. It took me a very long time to work the steps. I didn’t get a real sponsor. I asked a friend, a girl who I could manipulate, to be my sponsor. She didn’t know what she was doing, and I knew she didn’t know what she was doing. But I thought I knew what I was doing, so I did it. I was wrong. After some really poor behavior and acting out, I decided to get a real sponsor. And I worked through all the steps. I tell other people to not live by my example. Yes, I remained sober by the tippy tops of my fingernails, but it was not an enjoyable way to live. AA has a saying about being “Happy, joyous, and free.” I believe that is attainable for even the most anxiety ridden, fearful, angry, rotten, mischievous, stubborn, and depressed of us. But it takes a little bit of faith and a whole lot of working the steps.

I think the question Normies ask the most is, “When do you get to stop going to meetings?” I love that normal people think nothing could possibly be more painful that sitting in a room of sober drunks while they complain about not being able to drink. Gosh, I agree, what a nightmare. The reality is, AA is a surprisingly funny and ridiculous place. Alcoholics tend to be shockingly intelligent. They have often lived interesting lives filled with amazing stories, both incredible and tragic. But what’s more, what I love about AA, is that at any given time, a roomful of people are saying, “Just for today, I am going to try to be a better person than the person I was yesterday.” Many days, we fail. But someday, well, it is nothing short of awesome.

The city of Houston has roughly 2,000 AA meetings a week. Think about that for a second. It’s an astonishing number. 2,000. If every meeting had 10 people, that’s 20,000 people. 20,000 people who are trying to live a life of purpose. 20,000 people who are trying to help another 20,000 people get sober. 20,000 who believe that there are things and ideas that are of greater importance than any one of us.

Why would I ever want to stop attending that? That’s the best part of my day. That’s the miracle part.

 

Friday: Part Three. Why I speak so publicly.

Free Bookmarks

BookmarkII

Hey everyone,

First of all, thank you, as always, for reading. So, I made these bookmarks. I thought a good idea and fun to make (it was), but now I do not know what to do with them. If you want one or ten (there are a few different styles), shoot me an email with your name and address. I will mail them to you. Free of charge. You do not have to do anything. You don’t even have to sign up to receive my blog via email or comment, even though that’s what I really want, because I just cannot really bring myself to ask anyone to sincerely do that. I wouldn’t do it. But I might be inclined to send an email if I got a nifty bookmark out of the deal.

Best Regards,

AGK

Agkroger@gmail.com

 

Alcohol. Drugs. Sex. Envy. Anger. Work. Emotions. Laughter. Love.

I had originally started this journal post by writing that I love talking to “Normies,” but that is a lie. Normies drive me crazy. Every once and awhile, though, the planets align in such a way that the most irritating of conversations actually allows me to walk away with a renewed sense of appreciation for my alcoholism. Yesterday was one of those days.

I won’t rehash the whole conversation, but here is how it ended. Her- “I always say it’s all about moderation. Moderation is the key”

In my mind, I imagine the response I am confident every alcoholic or extreme person thinks when someone suggests moderation as the answer, “You have zero idea what you are talking about. Clearly you have never struggled with addiction, or you would not have the audacity to speak such a ridiculous and near sighted idea.”

A few minutes later, I was driving home on the freeway (I do my best thinking on I-10), and a new emotion happened upon me. I realized I felt a little pity for my moderate friend. What is moderation? It sounds like no fun at all.

When I got home, I typed “moderate” in my online web browser. This is the definition that appeared:

Definition: Average in amount, intensity, quality, or degree.

Synonyms: Average, modest, medium, ordinary, common.

“Average in intensity” really spoke to me. Nothing about alcoholism is average in intensity. That would negate the entire point. But is it not just with alcohol that I lack moderation. I have zero conception of what it must feel like moderate anything.

                 Alcohol.

                               Drugs.

                                                Sex.

                                                               Envy.

                                                                           Anger.

                                                                                           Work.

                                                                                                          Emotions.

                                                                                                                          Laughter.

                                                                                                                                          Love.

But there is another side to extreme living. There is no doubt in my mind that when I have leave this planet, I will have lived an intensely felt life, a life that was thoroughly fun, undoubtedly interesting, and dramatically depressing.

I think that’s true of all alcoholics. Because we aspire with our whole body, we drink to forget the disappointments. Because we dream with all our imagination, we envy with all out might. Because we love with our whole being, we hurt to the same degree when that love is discounted. Maybe it is just me, but if you asked me to trade all that for an average or ordinary life, well… I think I’ll just decline.

 

 FB VI 600x300

Life is not Something to be Endured

“When a man or a woman has a spiritual awakening, the most important meaning of it is that he has now become able to do, feel, and believe that which he could not do before on his unaided strength and resources alone. He has been granted a gift which amounts to a new state of consciousness and being. He has been set on a path which tell him he is really going somewhere, that life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered. In a very real sense he has been transformed, because he has laid hold of a source of strength which, in one way or another, he has hitherto denied himself. He finds himself in possession of a degree of honesty, tolerance, unselfishness, peace of mind, and love of which he had thought himself quite incapable” (Twelve and Twelve 106-107).

 

I’ve been thinking about this passage on and off for a couple of weeks. The sentence that keeps reverberating is, “Life is not a dead end, not something to be endured or mastered,” but I felt the whole paragraph is so strong that it deserved to be reproduced.

I have really struggled with the idea that life is something to be endured. Not just recently; I’ve struggled with it my entire life. I remember being a kid and just yearning, begging for independence. I needed power and control over my own existence so badly I could taste it. By the time I became eighteen though, it was too late. I had become too used to self-medication and escapism; I could no longer exist in reality. My daytime life, my working life, my social life, all became something to endure in order to perpetuate the false. When I finally awoke from this nightmare twelve years later, I had to endure the crazy that was early sobriety. I was upset at a lot of people and things. I wanted to blame others, but you told me the fault lay squarely in my own house. I was broke, scared, lost. Over time, things got better. I went back to school, got a job, and did my best to become an adult. I endured my new found responsibility.

But then something happened. It was in October of last year. I was in the midst of a horrible job. Every morning, I woke up with a sense of dread and oppression at the next days, weeks, years. One Friday evening, my boyfriend stopped by to pick me up for an unexpected date. I had been sleeping off another horrendous week and hadn’t received his texts. I didn’t want to go out. I wanted to feel sorry for myself. He had a whole night planned. He convinced me. I relented.

What we did wasn’t important, nor might I add, all that extraordinary. But I do remember the emotions. I remember being happy, really happy, and laughing, really laughing, for the first time in weeks. I remember driving down the freeway, looking up at the night sky and thinking life is short and beautiful to not be appreciated. And I remember thinking I no longer wanted to live a life of dirt and disease, sadness and heartache. I wanted beauty and art and culture and literature. I wanted to live a life of joy and stars and laughter.

I couldn’t have articulated it then, but I had reached a whole new kind of bottom in sobriety.

It took some time for me to sort out the unhappiness that was my life, but over the course of the year I got a new job, a new apartment, and a new roommate. And I began following a new path, not the path of a career, but a path of the creative. I started to write again.

Some days, it is still hard to not get caught up in enduring life. I worry about money and housing and health. But the reality is, right now at this very moment, my life couldn’t be more beautiful. I am looking out the window at the last of the summer storms. I am in full anticipation of October and Halloween. I cannot wait for the first burst of cold weather when I can turn off the air conditioner and open all the windows in the house. It reminds me, though, of where I was, not just physically but emotionally, last October.

What if I never realized I had the power to change my life? What if I never realize that I could be happy? I still don’t know today why I thought the only way to live life was to endure it. I’m not sure if it is a quirk in my psychology or a byproduct of my alcoholism. I do know though, that it doesn’t have to continue that way. I have a friend who says, “I’ve been drunk and I’ve been sober. Sober’s better.” So might I add, is happy.

 

A little Nina Simone to help you smile.

Hide Less. Seek More.

***This Friday’s post was not written by me, but by a very dear friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. I hope you will take a minute and leave a comment either below or on Facebook to encourage her to keep writing, as you have so generously encouraged me. Thank you. ***

Hide Less. Seek More.

By: Anonymous

My mouth feels like cotton, my glasses are lopsided on my face, and my body aches.  I squint in the dark to look up and see wood. I roll slightly to my left and feel rough carpet on my cheek. That is when I realize I have fallen asleep under my desk at work…again. I lost count of the times I have done this recently. I call my mom right before I do. She lovely tells me that I should not sleep at work. I hang up the phone, shut my door, turn off the lights; and crawl. I crawl into a small space, the space where your feet rest under a desk. My u-shaped cherry wood desk hugs me like a warm blanket. My eyes shut as I black-out into a sleep.

I have always relished in the relief and safety of a quiet, dark, small; space. I became disappointed when someone found me when I played the game hide-and-seek as a child. I was suddenly jolted out of my peaceful space with a loud voice screaming, “I found you!” I continued to hide in many variations of emotionally, physically, and spiritually destruction well into my adulthood. Drinking was the best hide-and-seek game for me. I would hide my feelings and emotions with each sip of a drink I took. On a good night, I “found” an attractive, young, confident, social butterfly. On a bad night, I “found” myself at 2:00am chugging the last of my double-fisted drinks before walking out of the bar.

The bad nights were more frequent, I couldn’t get drunk enough to find that attractive, young, confident, social butterfly again. Years after chasing that person, I got sober through the rooms of AA. The phrases I heard in my first meeting, “There is nothing that a drink won’t make worse” and “It will change and get different” stuck with me for the next several years. My sponsors always encouraged me to accept service commitments when I was asked to tell my story or chair a meeting. When asked, I was always to say yes. They explained the importance of that side of the triangle, the service side that keeps us in the middle. When I asked what was so great about being in the middle, they said, “Because when your ass falls off, someone will be there to catch it.”

As I crawl from under the desk, I fix my glasses, turn on the lights, and get on the internet. My ass fell off so long ago I can’t even tell you when it did. I have decided my black-out sleeps are not enough to escape my sober pain. Blackness is oozing from my rotting soul into my throat and out of my pores. I have decided I’m going to drink. Like a good alcoholic, I look for a place where I can go out with a bang. No sir, I’m not going to be one of those people who go out on a sip of beer and then come back in the next day. What a waste of a relapse. I find a very expensive out of town hotel with a swim-up bar. I am excited about the prospect of swimming up to a bar. That giddy feeling sweeps over me the same feeling I used to get years ago on a Friday night. My mouse hovers over the calendar to book the room for this Saturday. My stomach drops, I know deep in my heart this is the time I should pick up the phone and call someone. I don’t. I cry. I cry for the lost sober person I desperately want to find. I cry for the sober people I cut out of my life. I cry for the drunken butterfly.

At that moment, my phone rings. I answer irritated that someone is interrupting my drinking plans but curious enough to pick up the phone from this person in the middle of a work day. The person calling wanted to know if I could tell my story this Saturday. A yes came out of my mouth without thinking. Because I had been practicing it for a while with service commitments, it was second nature even in my darkness. I stayed sober for the next 48 hours, asking for the Spirit I had turned my back on to come back into my life and remove my obsession to drink. Just for today, I was not going to drink. Or book the hotel room.

It is Saturday night. I take a shower, something that I have not been doing daily. I go to paint my face with make-up to hide my darkness, but it takes too much energy and I leave barefaced. There are a lot of people in the room and I am not feeling sober even though I physically have not taken a drink. I feel like a fraud, all these people in this room and I’m going to talk about how great sobriety has been the past several years and how wonderful my life is, even though I am dying on the inside. The lights go down, the spotlight comes on, and I feel safe in the quiet, dark, large; space. I am not alone and I can tell my truth. “Hi, I am an alcoholic and today I am grateful to be here. Thank you to the person who asked me to tell my story, I was booking a hotel with a swim up bar and had decided to drink when she called and saved my life. Only an alcoholic would think about a swim-up bar in January.” The crowd laughed and I knew I was home and ready to begin my honest journey up toward the light, away from the darkness.

 

About the author: The author remains sober to this day without sleeping under the desk at work. Through a heap load of spiritual, emotional, and physical crawling over the next 18 months; the author is walking again hand in hand with the Spirit, one day at a time.

 

 

 

Me Agnostic

I was recently told this: “I know they have agnostic and atheist meetings, but if you ain’t talking about God, you ain’t in an AA meeting. You’re in something else.”

The force of the comment literally made me take a step back. The purveyor of such words was a woman with more years of sobriety than I have existence on this planet. She didn’t know me from Adam. I’m sure she meant no real offense, and yet… I was rendered speechless. Out of nothing more than pure respect, I muttered something along the lines of “You may be right,” and extricated myself right out of the conversation. But inwardly, I feel confused and uncomfortable.

Have you ever a conversation that when it was over, you wish you could rewind to say what you should have said to begin with? So here it goes…

Excuse me, ma’am. I don’t believe in God. I haven’t since I was about nineteen. A series of rational circumstances led me to this decision. I did not make it impetuously. I neither evaded nor ignored the question of God existence but indeed thought long and hard about it. Nor am I angry with God. (Contrary to what Bill writes in “We Agnostics,” those who truly do not believe in God cannot be angry with him. For one to be angry with God, then one would necessarily have to first admit that God exists as a thing to be angry with.) I simply do not believe in an almighty creator of heaven and earth or a cosmic watchmaker or any sort of divine entity that watches over me in any significant way. I do not have faith.

I know people find God in the program, but I am not one of those people. And yet, here I sit with a few days under my belt, proof that belief in any higher power is good enough. The Big Book says, “We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men” (Page 46).

I honestly feel that if AAs are going to walk in the footprints of God, then they also should not make too hard terms. You should not degrade my beliefs just because they do not align with yours. How I read those last sentences is, “To us, Alcoholics Anonymous is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek recovery. It is open, we believe, to all men.”

And ma’am, with all due respect to your very many, hard fought years, I show you this, a letter from Bill, published in the Grapevine…

“We still make no contact at depth with those suffering the dilemma of no faith. Certainly none are more sensitive to spiritual cocksureness, pride and aggression than they are. I am sure this is something we too often forget. In AA’s first years I all but ruined the whole undertaking with this sort of unconscious arrogance. God as I understood him had to be for everybody. Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging- perhaps fatally so- to numbers of nonbelievers… Boasting of my faith, I had forgotten my ideals,” (The Best of Bill From the Grapevine, 1962).

I am not sure if these lines were Bill’s way of making amends for some of the things he wrote in his early sobriety, but I like to think so. I remember early on a guy telling me that if I didn’t believe in God, it was okay, because I would by my first birthday. I more recently had a friend of many years look me in the eyes and correct my nonbelief. It’s really gutsy to tell another person what they believe in.

So, please. Please do not tell me what you think I need to, should, could, possibly, maybe, believe in. Do not tell me to put my cigarettes under my bed so I am forced to get on my knees and pray, just for a couple of weeks or so. And please, do not tell me if I attend an agnostic or atheist meeting that I am not in AA. Because I’m pretty sure I am. I earned my seat just as surely as you have earned yours. I would never dare tell you what I think you should believe in. All I ask is for the same consideration.