Tag Archives: AA

Looking Back…

A woman with 30 years of sobriety said in a meeting last night, “I can’t remember what I was like when I came in…” 

 

It got me thinking…What was I like this time last year?  So into the archives of my Word documents I went….Here’s one from almost exactly a year ago.  (I’ve replaced my dog’s name with “Rover” for anonymity’s sake…she’s very private.)   

June 28, 2013

 Slept in till 8.  Finally getting over this sickness.  Decided that Mom and I should paint my room.  (Something we have been talking about for 6 months.)  For some reason, today we sprang into action. We were really gettin ‘er done, when Rover started giving me that look.  We ran down to the park and I did sprints as she tried to herd me with all her mighty shepherd instinct.  Then she left a nice poop on the field and as always I cringed and pretended to have a plastic bag.   It started drizzling a little and we lay down (away from the poop) on the field as she gnawed on her leash and I wondered how long I had before my allergy to grass made me uncomfortable.  I was sitting in the same spot where, a few mornings before, I had found a turtle.  Being helpful, I had picked the thing up and carried it all the way across the filed back to the pond.  Here ya go, little buddy, (as I put it on the bank).  Avett scared the bejesus out of the reptile, and it practically flew into the murky water.  Suddenly I started panicking, was that a turtle?  what if it was a tortoise?  Can tortoises swim?!?  I considered going to the building where the town workers have their base but played out the silliness in my head.  “Hey I think I just drowned a tortoise but I’m hoping it was a turtle.”  Mom told me later that it was a turtle, but it was on land trying to lay eggs.  Sorry dude.   

 

So it isn’t poignant, but it sure made me laugh.  

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I Am Still Learning

 

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One night fifteen years ago, I stood brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed.  I was 14 years old, having a casual yet serious internal battle in my brain: how could I kill myself “accidentally”?

As my toothbrush swished and gyrated and I hawked some foam into the sink, a thought occurred to me: is it normal to think about suicide every night before sleep?

A friend in the program says he never would have made it out of High School alive had it not been for drugs and alcohol.  They anesthetized him. I never became suicidal, but it was always an overly appealing option.   My face, my body, my mind, was unbearable.   Pot and alcohol served as numbing agents, but above all, they fed the most valuable coping mechanism for survival: my façade.

In 9th grade I was alone with the shaky remains of who I had been in Middle School.  My undefined identity, or lack there of, was unsustainable…I needed to change.  The transformation didn’t take long.  Skipping one class with blatant disregard was the first high I got from attention seeking. I wanted to be the “bad” kid.

 

“Are you going to Psych?” Someone asked.

“Nope,” I said with self-proclaimed authority.

 

From then on, I strived and succeeded at being the class failure. The class stoner.  The class I-don’t-give-a-shit-girl.   Suddenly everything about my new persona was so easy; I knew where to buy weed, how to roll a blunt, who else wanted to cut class with me, who would pick me up in the morning to take bong rips, and for the first time in years I felt like I belonged.  Granted, every conversation was uncomfortable up until the point I got high..which is why it was a 24 hour a day job.

 

Sitting in the back of the class and reeking of ganja gave me a fucked up sense of confidence.  See?  I don’t care.

 

Ferocious honey badger

What I looked like 15 years ago

“Did you study for the test?”  Someone would ask.

“What test?”  I would say humorously, but seriously.

 

I barely graduated, I had no interest in college, and suicidal thoughts popped up on the reg.  However, thanks to my well-maintained image of comical failure, my “outsides” appeared just fine. Carefree, even! Weed! Yay!  Day drinking!  Yes!  Future? Fuck it!

 

Up until getting sober, those thoughts remained prevalent; for years I believed them to be my only true potential.  The hardest thing about working on myself right now is reversing the notion “as long as I’m doing nothing, I’m doing ‘me.’” 

Now I know: if I’m doing nothing, I’m being nobody.

The bad news is that I wasted a shit ton of time trying to mask emotions and bury whoever the hell I was scared of becoming (or not becoming.) The good news is, I’m getting an idea of who I am, and I’m liking the person I see in the mirror.   My identity crisis up until my sobriety date was just as real as it was that night standing in front of the sink fifteen years ago.   I didn’t pay attention at all in high school, but I think it was that Michelangelo guy who said:

 

“I am still learning.” (Age 87)

 

 

Me too, dude.

 

 

BAL143446

Angelo + Me = Us

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Prayer

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The topic tonight was prayer.  After a short but not-so-sweet rant I interlaced my fingers,  and brought them over my head like a triangle.  “I feel crazy.  I should pray about it.”    A people laughed, probably understanding all too well.

I tread lightly when speaking for others, but it seems to me that most of “us” (in the rooms) had no connection to a higher power before getting sober.  Since I’m so out of shape as a writer, I will merely highlight what I absorbed in the meeting, as quotes and paraphrases.

 

–       “It was revolutionary to come into the rooms and realize prayer doesn’t have to be religious.”

–       “When I wake up in the morning, I pray to feel oneness.  Then at least when I act like a shithead I’m not a shithead all alone.”

–       “Oneness is the opposite of isolation.”

–       “I can’t call it prayer; I’m embarrassed.  I call it that thing where I get on my knees and talk.”

–       “I call prayer meditation.”

–       “Way to pick the worst topic possible.”

–       “Catholic school killed prayer for me.”

–       “My sponsor told me: fake it ‘til you make it. So I did.  I prayed everyday. I prayed to no one and nothing…and gradually I started to feel better.”

–       “I wish I could get an email from God telling me what I’m supposed to do.  If I did get an email I’m pretty sure it’d tell me to help others, and I know when I’m drinking I can’t help anyone.”

 

That’s all for now. Hope to write coherently again soon. 🙂 

 

 

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“Favorite Overheard Phrase of the Day”

“Naturally you cannot radiate peace if you do not first possess it within yourself. You cannot radiate anything from the outside.”
Emmet Fox

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Hakuna Matata

I overslept this morning, and was winding up to hate myself all day with lose-lose questions:  

 

“Why didn’t I just get up the first time my alarm went off?  

Why did God invent the snooze button?

 

Why didn’t my dog wake me up?

Why am I so irresponsible?”

 

None of my questions were answered so I attempted the impossible: meditation.  After almost 60 grueling seconds of trying to quite my mind I admitted defeat and logged into gmail.  This email had a calming effect, inspiring me to put down the proverbial bat and relax.  

“The old people say, `Learn from your mistakes’. So I try to accept everything for what it is and to make the best of each situation one day at a time.”

The Creator did not design us to beat ourselves up when we make mistakes. Mistakes are our friends. It is from mistakes that we learn. The more mistakes we learn from, the faster we gain wisdom. The faster we gain wisdom, the more we love. The more we love, the fewer our mistakes. Therefore, mistakes help us to learn love. God is love. Mistakes are sacred and help us learn about God’s will for ourselves.

–Dr. A.C. Ross (Ehanamani), LAKOTA

Elder’s Meditation of the Day March 12

 

Great Spirit, help me, today, to learn from my mistakes.

 

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Powerlessness


“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink.
Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent.

Day 405

“We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force
the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago.
We are without defense against the first drink.”

– Alcoholics Anonymous, p.24

For Step 1 my sponsor asked me to write two lists:

1.   Generate a list of examples displaying your powerlessness over drugs and alcohol.

2.  Create a list for past and present examples of unmanageability.

The assigned task wasn’t in these words, but you get the gist. Initially nothing came to mind.  “Powerlessness” was not a word in my vocabulary until Alcoholics Anonymous.  I gave my sponsor (at the time) an answer in the form of a question, still unsure of what exactly the powerless word meant.

“One time two years ago I went to Vegas with all my girlfriends and I hadn’t seen most of them months, if not well over a year.  From the second the airplane landed I practically vanished, sparsely going back to the hotel room to do more coke and take a shower….More coke and more drinks were the only things on my mind.” I waited for her response.

“Exactly.”  She said. So I proceeded.

I gave her the disjointed bits I could remember.  I remember being alone most of the time. Really alone. I remember aimlessly meandering around the casinos by myself, talking to random men and doing coke in places so foggy I can’t even picture.  Most of my memories (if you can call them that) are snippets—except for the end.

On the last night I remember looking at all my friends dancing in a club, and feeling like I was in a separate world.  Without saying a word I turned around and walked away, invisible among the sea of party-ers and strobe lights.

Once outside the club (but still “inside” because Vegas is weird like that) I sought out a bar without many patrons. I remember thinking it was so strange that the casinos are carpeted.   A man sat next to me, asked where I was from, and I said Humboldt County.  Immediately he asked, “pot farm?” I said yes, and he sparked conversation, but I couldn’t reply.

It was like my jaw was frozen or rusted at the hinges, and even though he was right next to me I felt like there were light-years between our bar stools.  I had one-word answers, and even those sounded distant coming out of my mouth.

It felt like my body was shutting down.  And probably it was, after 4 days without sleep, food, only consuming unearthly amounts of cocaine and booze, booze, booze.

I am not exaggerating when I say my brain and voice couldn’t coordinate to communicate.

He took pity on me, not that I really deserved it.  He walked me to the cab line  and must’ve paid someone something because he got me to the front.  Making sure I was in the cab, making sure I could utter the single word that was my hotel name, he gave me money, since I had none left, and saw me off; my flight was in mere hours.  Who knows what time it was…must’ve been around 5am.  Time had no meaning.

In the hotel room that I hadn’t slept in once, my roommates and best friends who I barely saw, talked to, or partied with, lay sleeping.  I had not one dollar bill; not in the bank account, not in my wallet, not in any pants pockets.  I probably spent over $1,500 on those 4 Vegas days by myself.   The rest of my money was on the pot farm, in cash.  Never expected to blow through a grand.

Here’s the cherry on the shit-show cake:  I still owed $300+ for the hotel room. I did the worst thing a friend or person could do.

Like a coward, I packed my bag in silence–and left.  The room was quiet.  Someone might have said something to me but I can’t recall; because my only foggy fucked-up notion was “I need to get out of here.”

I got in someone’s cab that was going to the airport. Let them pay.  The sun was up.  I got to the airport when my phone rang, and my dear childhood friend on the other end was screaming about everything.  The hotel I didn’t pay for, the thanks I didn’t give, the disappearing act I pulled, and I could not deal.

Like a helpless child I burst into tears.  I told her I had the money for the hotel, and I “just forgot” to pay it.  She said I had to come back and give it to her.  I continued to lie.  Then I broke down further and just said I’m sorry, but I was sorry for me, not what I had done.  There was no such clarity in my mind.   The entire trip was me, me, me, more, more, more.

Every time I turned around on that trip it was like I couldn’t get fucked-up enough.  Each thought in my mind was consumed and centered around the “fact” that it was time for another line, another beer, another scene.  It was like my head was spinning and stopping on the same thing over and over again: More.

With the phone still against my ear I slumped against a wall of the airport and put my head in my knees.

I wanted to die.

I called my mom.

Like a true addict I told her my version of the story.  “Everyone is mad at me for no reason,” and I told her “I have to pay money I don’t owe.”  I asked her to put money in my account so I could pay my friends just to get them off my back. I overshot my money request to compensate for the parking I would need to pay at SFO airport, and the gas money I would need to get back to the farm.  She felt bad for me, for all false reasons.

Two excruciating, sobbing flights later I landed in San Fran.  The feelings from Vegas had followed me and they were exploding into shame.  “I’m never drinking again.”  I said repeatedly to myself.  “I’m never drinking again.”

I got my car out of long-term parking, drove 5 hours north and caused near-accidents the whole way. My body was shot.   I finally reached the windy mountain road to the farm. Up I went, and once my tires crunched under the dirt road I felt freer–but not better.

My friends in the typical drinking house, playing a typical drinking game.   PBR’s and Jameson caught my immediate attention, and a pack of Parliament Lights were perched on the counter.  Someone was taking a bong rip with a sitting casually next to a pound of weed.  “How was Vegas?!” He asked with his voice muffled as he blew out smoke.

I used humor to deflect my brokenness and mask my complete loss of dignity.

“I did things my mom wouldn’t be proud of.”  There were some laughs.  “Sounds like it was a good trip,” someone added.

“Yeah it was so fun.”  I actually managed to sound convincing.

Someone handed me a beer, I hesitated, opened it, and blacked out that night.

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Best Quote I Heard This Week:

Going into an AA meeting is like an orgy…You don’t know who or what did it, but you come out feeling better.

 

 

Who did that?! Who cares?!

Who did that?! Who cares?!

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Fact, fact, feeling?

In my last post I spewed heartache goop all over the page, lamenting the loss of my old life.  As the rollercoaster would have it, today I feel differently.  A brief look at the facts helped.

Fact #1: It’s undeniable that I had some great fucking times “out there”; from house parties in the suburbs, to beers on beaches in Central America, to dive bars in Rome, and private jets to Utah, memories were made.  I don’t have to pollute ALL of my past with where drugs and alcohol took me in the end.  (Just have to remember what the end was like.)

Fact #2:  Rome was a great time.  But…it is marred by the fact that I spent the last night hounding my best friend’s friend for cocaine, as though it was the most important thing in the world.  Once the dry goods were obtained, everyone carried on drinking like normal people and I snuck to and from the tiniest, dingiest, darkest, bathroom to blow lines off my passport till the wee hours of the morning.   I lied all night…”I swear it’s all gone.”

Face #3:  Some of college was hysterical; I’ll never forget my girlfriends rolling a keg across the lawn in torrential rain, right as the sprinklers went on, and as a cop drove by.  I’ll never forget road tripping all the way to San Francisco at 3 in the morning with five of my friends to watch the sunrise, just to realize the sun rises on the east, (so we just watched it get light out.)

There are one hundred humorous recollections, but for every one good memory there are 1,000 regrets…for every one fun college night there were 100 days I couldn’t hold my head up walking across campus.

Fact #4: There were no laughs at the end, no “remember whens” or “let me see that picture.”  Drugs and alcohol made all my choices for me; where I would end up, who I would go home with, where I would drive to during a blackout, and what I would say.  The only decision I had left was to change.

Fact #5:  In the past year I have learned more about life than in all 26 prior years.  I’ve tapped into what it means to be a good person, how to ask for help, and most importantly how to help others.

I’ve restored relationships with my family, some of which I thought were irreparable.

It turns out I love rock climbing.  And probably fly-fishing.

Turns out I still suck at cooking.

Best of all, I’m able to connect with whatever is keeping us all connected, and that’s a fact, too.  Or maybe a feeling?

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Higher Potter

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Change the topic, OR ELSE!

(Wrote the first half of this yesterday)

February 14, 2014

Day 380

One year ago today I woke to find that my dog shit all over the house. So, at 6-ish-A.M. on Valentines Day 2013, at whatever cold-degree-Fahrenheit it was, at 14 days sober, I stood on my deck in my glow-in-the-dark Scooby Doo pajama pants and tossed anything poop infested overboard onto the lawn below.

“Exact day” landmarks make me extra introspective; it’s like flipping to a page in my mental biography where feelings still fester…fester isn’t the right word, actually.  The bookmarks aren’t open wounds, but the rawness is certainly accessible.

That morning last year I remember feeling lonely, lowly, and fat from eating about two dozen chocolate covered strawberries.  Sure, the literal shit-show didn’t help, but the real shit storm was raging in between my ears; the world was out to get me, and no one cared enough to throw on some shining armor and save the day. (Boo-hoo.) So I went to a morning meeting to “restart” my mood, and the topic was God.  I hated that topic.

Enraged, I stormed out leaving resentment in my wake, cursing the G-word and all the bible bangers involved.   At noon I went to another meeting, since the morning topic had me leaving in a worse mood than when I arrived.  The topic was God.  At the third meeting I went to in a different town, the topic was God.  All I saw at that point was red.

Tonight, one year later, same hospital, the topic was God.  In my new state of mind, however, the concept is completely different.

“I think it’s so cool how our higher powers get to be of our own.” Someone shared; and that makes sense to me now—because my understanding has changed and that’s how it’s different..  No one else needs to rely on my higher power and I don’t need to rely on anyone else’s.  Of all the suggestions I’ve gotten in AA, not ONE has been what my higher power “should be.”

People often say, “my higher power, who I chose to call God,….” and that doesn’t irk me anymore, either.  Call it whatever you want! My names vary; Mother Nature, Universe, Great Spirit, Higher Power, Grandpa (sometimes I pray to those who are deceased.)  I could call my HP Harry Potter if I wanted to, and sometimes I do just for shits ‘n giggles.

Maybe the next time I lead a meeting I’ll say that the topic is Harry Potter….that should get the newcomers coming back!

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Warming Up My MInd

A few hours this afternoon was spent moving baby frozen boulders around, aka, shoveling the driveway.  The sleet was in my face and my nose was reaching the state of tingly/burn, when a song came on Pandora and shifted my mood instantaneously.  It’s a song that I never seek out for fear of overplay, but always comes as a pleasant game-changing surprise.  In case you haven’t heard this tune here’s the version with lyrics, because every word will make you grateful. 

 

 

Here is the version with lyrics, because every word is worth hearing.  

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