13 Years and 1500 Miles

Hello, Everyone. Whenever something interesting happens in recovery, because of recovery, I always like to take a minute and recognize it. I thought I would share this story with you.

Last week, I heard friend of mine decided she was no longer an alcoholic, and as long as she stayed away from the drugs, she could successfully drink. This depth of self-deception is so common in recovery, it would be ludicrous, if it weren’t also so deadly. It’s so common, in fact, that this same friend’s first sponsor also fell victim to this delusion of drinking like a gentleman. My friend and I spent untold hours swinging on an old porch swing, smoking cigarettes against the backdrop of Houston sunsets, talking of the obsession of some to drug addicts to drink. She swore up and down that she would never forget she was an alcoholic first. And yet, just a year later, she did just that.

Some people may try to stay in contact, remain friends, with those that go back out. I have no interest in doing that. We are people who normally would not mix that find solace in our recovery. Without the recovery to talk about, I am not sure what is left. I don’t want to be friends today with any drug addict that is not trying to clean house, help others, trust God. Do what you want to do, there is no anger or hurt. I’m just not going to sign off on your behavior. Find someone else to do that.

So, I’ve lost a friend to this disease.

Then, a few days later, I was walking out the door to a local 9:30 meeting when my phone alerted me to a comment on my blog (If you click the “Shotgun Writing” tab and scroll down to the bottom, you will see it). Rebecca was my roommate when I lived in Boston. I was in a terrible place in my disease. I was envious of her. She was vibrant, and lovely, and intelligent, and amazing (And she still is). Our friendship dissolved one night when my barbed tongue spat opinions that I had no right to voice. I said things that one cannot simply take back the next day. She was hurt and angry, and I could not/cannot blame her. My behavior was atrocious.

But somehow she came across my blog. And decided to say hello. At first I was embarrassed. I have blown my anonymity all over the internet, but as soon as someone else validated it, I was uncomfortable. I have to be honest, I really wanted to delete the message. But something told me, my intuitive voice I guess, that running from the message was not what I am about today. So, I commented back. A day later, Rebecca email me. And we’ve talked every day since then. It has been amazing reuniting with someone whom I cherished when I lived in Boston.

So, that is my story. I lost one friend to this disease, but then another walked back into my life. Life works in mysterious ways. When I get down about the long odds, the heartbreak, the broken families, the erratic behavior, the poverty, institutions, insanity, and death that permeate the AA culture, I sometimes forget that families also heal, sanity is fostered, love occurs, and relationships (even those separated by 13 years and 1500 miles) are mended. As long as I stay sober, there is always a chance.

 

Another Endless Day

 

Lydia stared out the window of her hospital room and thought of Tuck…

 

Lydia stared at her hands on top of her hospital blanket and thought of Tuck…

 

Lydia stared out the window of her hospital room and thought of Tuck…

 

Lydia stared at a magazine and thought of Tuck…

 

Lydia stared out the window of her hospital room and thought of Tuck…

 

 

A Sunny Day Death Wish

Lydia expected to spend the rest of Friday night being twirled around a wood paneled hotel bar by a cultured and well-dressed businessman. What she did not expect was red and blue lights in her rearview mirror as she turned onto Woodway. The police cruiser had been sitting in the dark with its lights off. Lydia never even saw it until it was too late.

Lydia’s heart pounded as the dark figure approached the driver’s side window. While she knew she had never met a man she couldn’t charm, she also knew Houston had been cracking down on drunk driving. Lydia cursed her luck at being pulled over by HPD and not the lesser, more forgiving Village police. Lydia got out her driver’s license and insurance, quickly propped up her breasts, and put on her best pout. And then as the Mag flashlight lowered, she realized the police officer was not a he but a she. A stern she, at that.

What started bad, got worse. “Ma’am, do you know why we pulled you over?”

“Ma’am? You make me sound so old. I’m Lydia. I’m on my to see a friend in from out of town at the Omni Hotel.”

“Ma’am, have you been drinking?”

“Oh, just a glass of wine with dinner. I would never drink and drive. It’s abhorrent. I can’t believe that people would put their and other people’s lives at risk and drive in all sorts of crazy manners.” As much as Lydia knew she had to stop taking, words kept falling out of her mouth. “I actually saw a news report not long ago that said people driving to work the next morning are sometimes still legally drunk from the night before. Can you believe that? Imagine drinking that much.”

“Ma’am, can you step out of the car?”

“No, I would rather not. I have a friend. He is just up the street.”

“Ma’am, step out of the car…” The rest of the memory was a blur. In a flash, panic welled up and unleashed itself in a flurry of excuses and locked doors. Lydia refused to get out. A second and then a third cruiser pulled up. A scene was starting and Lydia was the star. Finally, a sergeant joined the scene. He was older than the rest. Somehow, he managed to get Lydia out of the car through promises of driving her home. But they did not drive her home. They drove her to the police station.

Harris County Jail is not a nice place. A solid concrete fortress on the outskirts of downtown, the jailhouse is intimidating in the light of day. On a dark, inebriated night, the jail is akin to a nightmare. Lydia got booked in the way she had only seen on TV. They took her heels, her purse, her phone. Then they took her picture.

The first cell was sparse. The entire room, ceiling to floor was concrete and white tile. A single toilet, without any type of privacy, stood off to the side. Lydia suspected this was a holding cell. The women were of various ages and ethnicities, but all looked equally intimidating to the middle aged, stumbling woman in a cocktail dress and booties.

After that, lack of sleep mixed with her sky-high blood alcohol level made for a blurry day. There would be three more cells, an orange jumpsuit, and a court appearance before the dirty and demeaning experience would be over early on Tuesday morning. Lydia stood outside the jail and watched determined suits hustling to work. On the city streets, the aroma of greasy diner food mingled with the smell of exhaust.

As she was about to step into a cab that would take her home, Lydia turned her face up at the beginning of another gloriously humid and bright summer day and silently wished she were dead.

I Dream an Alcoholic’s Dream III

I dream an alcoholic’s dream

Of insanity.

With broken bottles at my feet

And a car wrapped ’round a tree,

Walking through Houston’s streets,

I wonder, how this can be me?

 

I dream an alcoholic’s dream

Of abhorrancy.

With no money, I cajole,

From my family I stole,

Within me there’s this hole

I wonder, where can be my soul?

 

I dream an alcoholic’s dream

Of serenity.

I dream this ride will finally end.

And of finding one true friend.

I wonder, can this life I transcend?

 

I dream an alcoholic’s dream

Of recovery.

With laughing children at my feet

And a house with blooming trees,

Walking through the shady streets,

I wonder, how can this be me?

Of course, I would have people read more.

Hi Mrs. Ann!
Here are the questions. Thank you again for helping me out!

Questions:
1. Do you think that there is too much hate in today’s society?

I do think there is too much hate, but I think any hate would be too much. Hate is a powerful word that carries strong connotations. Hate is not annoyance or irritation. Hate is anger and fury and spite.

2. Do you think there is too much love in today’s society?

I have found through the course of my life, a surprising amount of love on the planet. It sometimes appears from the unlikeliest people and manifests in ways that never cease to amaze me. But, if you ask me if there is too much if it… No, I think we could probably do with a little more.

3. Is there any personal experience that is behind your opinion?

A little over seven years ago, I can to the realization and understanding that I was an alcoholic. My life was very sad. And especially lonely. I did not know what to do. I think now, that I could have probably gone to my family and asked for help; my family is kind. But at the time, that idea seemed too far-fetched, too humiliating, too debilitating.
So, I turned to complete strangers for help. These people, AA, showed me that I could live a better type of life. They taught me how alcohol manifests from the worst part of my psyche. Then they showed me how to be happy. I hated myself and who I was. I hated that I was a failure. That I let so many people down. But the women of AA “loved me until I could love myself.”
And they still do.

4. In general, what are some examples of too much hate and too much love?

I think one just has to look around to see examples of hate and love.

Drive down one of Houston’s freeways. You will see drivers cut one another off. Some drivers speed dangerously, swerving in and out of lanes, because where they are going is of far more importance than another’s safety. You will see drivers slow down to see if the accident is a fatality.

But you will also see people let others calmly merge. You will see people stopping at accidents to call for help and then stay to serve as witnesses.

5. Why would people in today’s society show too much hate towards others?

People have always had a fear of the unknown. There is a philosophy that says that people cannot know themselves. All one can know is what they are not. In other words, I look out in the world. You say, Ann what do you like? And there is too much of everything. How am I to know? Where do I begin? So I start by trying something, taking something, listening to something, seeing something. I say, I do not know what I like, but I know it is not that.

I think this philosophy is right.

People look out in the world and it scares them. And they see someone of a different race, who has a different culture. Rather than exploring or learning or understanding, they say, I do not know what I am, but I know I am not that. That mentality, the fear, that’s what spreads hate.

6. How would you think of solving this problem?

Of course, I would have people read more.

– Victoria

P.S Based on the answers you give me, I may make up new questions for my paper… thank you!

There’s Zen and the there’s Zennnnnnnn…

On page 72 of the Twelve and Twelve, it says, “Whenever we had to choose between character and comfort, the character was lost in the dust after what we thought was happiness. Seldom did we look at character building as something desirable in itself, something we would strive for whether our instinctual needs were met or not.”

I keep re-reading this page. It was the impetus for starting this website. My whole life, I have thought of myself as a writer. And yet nothing was ever good enough or finished enough to be shared. Then, a few weeks ago, I was at a retreat. It occurred to me, through the help of my women, that “practicing principals in all my affairs” included having the courage in all my affairs too. That night, I came home and signed up for WordPress before I could chicken out.

And so here we are. And all is good.

Except… WordPress keeps track of all the numbers for every single day. How many people have read your shotgun writing. If they clicked on the “About Me” page. It even tells me what country people are from. (Not surprisingly, it says my readers are all from the United States.) And this whole numbers mojo is messing with my headspace. I’m sure other writers must know what I’m talking about. It has become almost obsessive when I get the rare email that someone has decided they like my writing enough to “follow” it. Reminiscent of Veruca Salt, “But Daddy, I want them to follow me now!”

So, yes, here’s the thing. I would like to tell you I’m all adult and Zen about this thing and that my recovery is so strong that I will continue to expose the ridiculous nature of my life as an experiment in self growth regardless of who follows me and who does not. And that’s all true. But I kinda need you to follow me too. Five people. There’s like a hundred billion people out there and I would like five to scroll to the bottom of the page and click the follow button. Five would make me happy. Nine would be like crazy train. Okay, nine people (one from a foreign country and who is not a spambot) and two comments. That’s the most I dare ask for.

 

And yes, I get it. I’m chasing after what will make me happy. I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow. Thank you for indulging me.

Love,

Ann Gabriel Kroger