Tag Archives: God

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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God, Johnny Depp, and Santa. Not in that Order.

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Day 268

When I was just a young grasshopper in sobriety, I felt embarrassed of my alcoholism and especially of my involvement with Alcoholics Anonymous.  I went to lunch with my first sponsor 8+ months ago, and she said “AA” audibly enough for the waitress to hear; I came this close to yanking the tablecloth off the table, throwing it over my head, and bolting from the restaurant…As if that’d draw less attention.

My personal stigma toward recovery didn’t last long. There’s no shame in having a disease, and certainly no shame in seeking treatment.  The fact of the matter is that my body felt like a dark empty cavity 268 days ago with a stillness inside that scared me, and that void is being filled with love and faith through God. This is where I get embarrassingly uncomfortable.

Like so many others, the mere mention of God used to make me cringe with discomfort and tense up with fury.  I think my averseness to the notion almost took me out a few times because I thought AA was trying to make me stand in a pew and confess my laundry list of sins.

Religion has always seemed like a manipulative institution of beggars and choosers; picking what can support their narrow-minded system of beliefs and leaving the rest.  In my mind, spirituality sort of glommed onto religion but seemed more like hocus-pocus, falling into the same category as Santa Clause—both nice, both lies.

I have come to learn that not all organized religions are evil, and none of them are affiliated with AA. AA is a spiritual program and just because Santa was a letdown doesn’t mean spirituality is, too. With acceptance of a higher power my definition has God has become defined in a very undefined way.

God to me is hearing a story of pain that ends in hope, it’s saying things I didn’t know I knew, it’s accidentally ordering the wrong truck cover the day before I was supposed to go to California, it’s asking for patience in moments of frustration, or being able to help someone who needs it as much as me in the moment.  Sometimes my God is simply “Dear Higher Power,” or “Thank you Mother Nature,” or “Sup, Great Spirit.”  God can be an acronym for Group Of Drunks, as long as I admit that by myself, I cannot stay sober.

Despite my comfortably and loosely constricted concept God, along with the fact that I’ve separated “Him” from religion, I can’t help but feel chagrined expressing spirituality with both alcoholics and non-alcoholics.

I feel judged mentioning “God moments” because if there’s a silence that falls afterwards, I immediately feel the need to explain myself and justify the importance.  It takes every fiber of my being to refrain from launching into my own higher power as I understand her/him/it, so I don’t, and then I sit and stew and wonder if I’ve been brainwashed. My insecurities come from self-centered fears of what other people think.  I make up scenarios in my head of what people say when I’m not around, about how I found God and lost my marbles.

What I need to work on is caring less about what others think.  I suppose caring less means gaining confidence, which comes through step work, and ironically, interaction with my higher power.  Part of me wants to get it all out, and proclaim my faith from the rooftops, yelling to anyone and everyone that I believe in a God, but that sounds as drastic as the tablecloth plan…I’ guess I’ll just pray on it.  Maybe I’ll pray for Johnny Depp, too.

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Here Lies Faith Anonymous

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There’s a section of town I try to avoid at all costs.  If the route is absolutely inescapable I hold my breath until I’m through, like a kid would when passing a graveyard.

In the most dramatic sense, that part of town is analogous to a graveyard.  My headstone would read:

Here lies Faith Anonymous

Who Woke up One Morning

And Realized She Couldn’t

Do it Anymore

1987-2013

The dawn of that “One Morning” was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen.  My hung over eyes opened and blurred vision focused on one tiny window in the corner of what appeared to be a basement.  The winter grey light flatly illuminated the scene.  Unfamiliar surroundings were no novelty, but this was different.  Waking up in the basement of a stranger’s house wasn’t what perturbed me, or the inability to recall how I got there.  There was an emptiness..it felt like there was nothing left of the person I once was.  Generally my specialty was spinning these scenarios into humor because it was the only way to mask my misery; if I could laugh at myself I could lie to myself.

There was no pretend laughter.  It was a white flag surrender in an excruciatingly painful moment of clarity, I can’t do this anymore. Alcoholics Anonymous had never once crossed my mind as somewhere I thought I belonged, but there I was; 6am, ass planted on an ice-cold curb, waiting for my Knight in Shining Taxi, and a message louder than my hangover blaring inside my head: AA is the answer.

After what felt like eternity Knight Cabbie found me at no address in particular.  It took me 3 tries to to find my car. Third time’s the most shameful.  I paid the man, prayed that I’d never see him again, and went straight home to  google “How to tell if you’re an alcoholic.”  The overwhelming yeses from the generic questionnaires weren’t enough.  Now what? I needed someone to talk this through with; not my mom, not my dad, not even my closest friends.  I think I was worried they’d tell me it was fine, which I knew I wasn’t.

A couple minutes later a text came in from my best friend’s ex-girlfriend. We’ll call her B.  She is someone I know a little and love a lot.  Whatever your understanding of God is, it was one of those moments, a divine intervention, whatever.

Blacked out or not, drinking had become trivial without coke.  The second a beer was in my hand, I wanted something up my nose and I didn’t care what lengths I had to go to, or what bridges were burned.  B was furious, and rightly so. I had called her boyfriend who was trying to get sober at the time to help get me blow the night before. Not cool.  And for the first time ever, I didn’t want to victimize myself to into a way out.  This was my chance.  “You’re absolutely right,” I wrote back, “And I need help.”   I ended up on her couch that morning which was a foreign place for me.  B and I were never friends on the level of “come over and sit on my couch,” or “what’s your favorite color,” but there I sat.

“Do you think I’m an alcoholic?”  I asked fearfully.

She paused in thought and said,

“I think you’re struggling with addiction.”

needed someone else to say it.  Half my mind was telling me I was overreacting; that this was just one more reason to really start controlling my drinking. The other half wanted to hear exactly what B verified.  She brought her laptop to the floor of the living room and we searched for meetings.  A friend ended up navigating us to a site and I went to my first meeting that night.  I’ve been to one almost every night since.

When I pass that section of town I can still see myself sitting in the cold dead dawn.  They say when you hit rock bottom you have no where to go but up; so in a fucked up way I am glad my disease kicked me to the curb.  Just not glad enough to comfortably drive near, through or around the scene of the crime.

I wonder what would have happened if B never sent me that text message, or if I hadn’t blacked out that night, if I didn’t end up on her couch that morning.

More importantly I wonder what wouldn’t have happened.  Two hundred and thirty two days later I am no longer the shell of a human being. At the age of 26 I have finally started living.  Maybe a better message carved on my headstone would be:

Here Lies Faith Anonymous

Who Died and Came Back to Life

Just like Jesus.

KIDDING. Totally kidding.

But really.

2013-Present Day

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