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Posts Tagged ‘Alcoholic

Sobriety Re-Boot (Step One)

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Since around the time that my mother’s cancer got bad, perhaps even longer, I have not been the same, haven’t been myself and have been way off center. I haven’t felt right or been acting right and suddenly that awful trajectory has slipped into overdrive. When you are a recovered alcoholic and you find yourself lost or in a tailspin there is just one thing to do, start over at Step One and walk all the way through, this time do it better, if you think you did it with a willingness to go to any lengths, go farther. Go to more meetings and get a new sponsor.

It is my intention to do all of that starting right now, before I am lost and hopefully better with greater abandon and willingness to surrender than any time before so I don’t have find myself back this far again. As part of my meditation and conscious contact, I will try to write something, hopefully with Gratitude every day. When I am focused on a step, I will write about it. I won’t publish my (next) fourth step here, but I will talk about it.

Step One

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol— that our lives had become unmanageable

4.6 years or 1684 days ago, I was without exaggeration dying.  Having one fat bloated foot in the grave and the other in pool of whiskey. I was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety and at 34 I had an illustrious drinking career spanning almost two decades.  I had tried to moderate, tried to quit and tried to deny my problem, sometimes I even acknowledged I was an alcoholic, but didn’t think that was a problem.  I couldn’t see how it was destroying my relationships, my mental or emotional state, or care about how it was killing me.  So, yeah by the letter of it, I know Step One for a fact everyday.

That said, if you aren’t paying attention the fine print between the lines of Step One can be overlooked, forgotten or ignored.  At nearly five years sober, I alternate between understanding and forgetting that my powerlessness over alcohol is almost the least of my problems (because I have no desire to drink today), because there is a list over things, which stacked end to end could reach to the moon and back, that I am also powerless over and unable to do shit about. Just like continuing to drink or trying to conquer it without God’s help, continuing to try to have power over any item on this list will make my life unmanageable.

What am I powerless over? In short form it is:

People:  Examples, My stepsons Autism, his attitude and his choices (when I’m not around). I cannot make my friends sober, or make them do things that are good for them, I cannot make my wife work out, take medicine or go to the doctor, I don’t get to choose for other people and I CAN judge them, but it will only make me unhappy and less useful to them.

Places: Examples,  Can’t change systems or my very much about my place in them. Schools, Courts, Work, Police, Creditors all operate and have the authority they do and I will not be able to overcome that

Things: Stuff breaks, cars die, houses are in their state, money is never abundant enough, traffic goes however it goes, rain, sleet, snow, heat. I have power and authority over absolutely none of these things and that is just how it is, no amount of fear or worry, or rage or pleading or pleasing is going to make that change.

and my life has become unmanageable

Because for nearly five years I have been prone to distraction and dropping out and holding back, my life, while so much better than it was before, is not managed like it should be today.  I have multiple lawyers pursuing me financially and have met suddenly with around between 12 and 17 thousand dollars that absolutely must be paid out to creditors and taxes in the next 8 months or so and I am sure that my ex wife will be following suite since she isn’t getting payments. Almost comically I am in jeopardy of losing a fucked up mess of a house that I don’t even have a mortgage on because I have neglected to pay the taxes! Holy shit, who does that?

Someone, who is seriously ill, who has a program of recovery that works miracles, has worked miracles for him, but who has held back and hasn’t been paying attention in class because he is a terminal fool.

My life is no longer unmanageable because of alcohol, but because God talks and I don’t listen, or I am too afraid to do what is right, or speak up or take charge. Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear, Fear until I am tired of being afraid and lash out with anger, upsetting everyone and thinking I can control everything. I am it seems at times a  farce, a comical exaggeration of a man.

With a powerful need to escape all of this, I will drop to my knees today and say unto the Teeth Mother, the other Sacred Muses and the Word,  my own Step One

I admit that I am powerless over alcohol, other things, people and places and having forgotten that, have made my life entirely unmanageable; I am lost and adrift and will not find my way alone.

Step One: The Prodigal son comes home, having made a mess on his own.

 

Written by jamesjanus

March 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Higher Power

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I’ve done it, I got myself a Sponsor. It may sound simple, but for for an alcoholic it is something to be proud of. When not drunk, we are shy and awkward, but full of pride and it is most difficult to ask a near stranger for help. It also easy to be caught up in looking for the “perfect” person, as it requires a good deal of trust to put some of the quality of your sobriety into someone else’s hands. I am utterly intimidated and confounded by step 4 though and I knew I had to pick someone, so, while I didn’t make my choice without consideration, I made the criteria very small and picked someone who seems to have a serenity about him, is working the program and has himself definitely done a 4th step before.

 

I also shared last night, for the first time in a long time, from a deeper place inside my heart and it felt good. There is so much work left to be done and I am still waiting to really feel that connection with my higher power returned and to re-establish proper habits of prayer and meditation. I am not yet, fully engaged and committed, but I am dedicated and working on it daily. It is hard, getting back into it. I feel awkward at times at home, my mind still holds apprehensions when talking about spiritual things and wonders what Kim will think or feel if before I crawl in bed I kneel down to pray. However, I want that, I want the humbling and to truly, deeply and honestly commit myself to God and hand myself over to it.

 

It may have been easier before, because I had a real concept of what that god was, now I am not so sure and though I know that is okay, there is something disquieted in me by that. I suspect to whatever force exists out there, whatever created the grand experiment that is the universe, names and concepts mean little. Kim is right about that, God is vast enough and great enough that we could have no greater concept of him than an Ant or Gnat can have about us. The Buddhists’ would say that we are to God as a single grain of sand is to the whole of the Universe.

 

I do not believe we are puppets, I do not believe that God is angry, jealous or punitive. I do believe in divine intervention, guidance and a strength that we can draw from. Writing this now, I do not know what I doubted my concept of God, except some desire I suppose for it to be less lonely. Some part of me wants to belong to some form of organized religion because it is easier.

 

Here is, the best I can describe it, what I believe. There is a creator, that creator is his own creation or rather is exists within him/her. In simplest terms, all things are God and God is all things. Most of all God is The Word; the whole of creation is an expression of his/her mind. All things issue from The Word. Creation is built on systems, many of them, all with parts that perform their functions and it all works, as it should. There are more things in this Universe that are beautiful than we know or appreciate. That which is beautiful, when observed, appreciated and illuminated to our eyes is also divine. This world of ours is teeming with the beautiful and the divine. The system of muses (angels or demi-gods) is present, completely obvious and invisible and it is that system that works through inspired thought, destiny, intervention, ideas and emotion to turn our eyes, our words, our minds and hearts toward the beautiful and the divine. People, Flora, Fauna, Events, Sex, Family, Accomplishment, Arts, Music, Emotions (All of them can be beautiful, save hatred), Words, Ideas. It can all be beautiful and divine if we are looking for it, if we hear the call and see the signs the muses throw at us. It expresses itself in all of us differently.

 

For me, when I am kind, when I love, when I forgive, when I help, when I write about the beauty I see around me, when I am intimate or reveling in sexuality and worshiping the human form, when I am sad or comforting someone who is, when I am angry for the right reasons, I find the beautiful and the divine and therefore I find The Word. Most of all, when any of these things, or anything else leads me to understand that even regardless of whether it is full of suffering, joy, sorrow, ecstasy or pain, life is always the most beautiful gift and that we or anything at all exists is so improbable as to be truly deserving of the term “miraculous”. Without Life, there would be no suffering, no pain, no addiction, but there would also be no life. Living, while sometimes painful provides the possibility of joy, non-existence does not.

 

My concepts have been much informed by my Catholic upbringing, but I am no Christian. I am child of the universe, a poet and writer, a prophet of the muses and it seems to me that no matter whose prayers I use when I connect to my higher power it feels like something much more ancient, more substantial and far more loving than and worthy that the angry, self involved god of the old testament.

 

I am not sure why any of this should matter so much, because, what I do know for sure is that when I pray for help, for strength for guidance, I seem to get it. When I pray for those same things for other people, it seems to help. I do feel better now though, having gone through this exercise today, Felt really plugged in there for a little bit, which tells me I can still make the connection.

Written by jamesjanus

January 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

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“We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable” AA – Step One

To keep it simple, this had to be the step and it is the right words to use, but to me, like many other alcoholics, there is a good deal more that is brought to mind and rings true.  I am powerless over alcohol and many, many other things, like Depression, Anger, Resentment, Self Will, Laziness, Excess, Fear. The list goes on and on like that.

Though I have not had drink in close to 3 and a half years, I have no more power over alcohol today than I did when I was drinking and it takes more strength that I have on my own to keep from picking up the next drink. It takes more strength and wisdom than I possess on my own to keep doing the right things and to have the right attitude; to be myself and the best self that I can be.

I forgot all of this and even once I remembered it took so long for me re-commit to the program of recovery that I entered three years ago. That said, here I am once again and I am grateful that it has been there waiting for me, that I have AA and a higher power.

I am starting over, right here at Step One and as my form of meditation, I am going to write my way through each of the steps, as I started to once before and I hope that this time I make it through all of them before I choose to start over.

So, is Step One really?

Step One is really the admission of our own humanity, the first of many humbling steps in AA.  When we contemplate and work on Step One, we come to examine the human and self efforts that we have put forth in the past and acknowledge a few things:

1. Alcoholism is a disease, it is an “allergy”. Alcoholics process alcohol differently than other people and it simultaneously does more cellular damage in us and produces a powerful and urgent need for more. It is also a disease of the mind, producing obsessive thinking, so that even when the physical craving is not present the obsessive craving is. The disease also has effects that a broad reaching; inebriation as an avoidant coping mechanism is psychologically and spiritually unhealthy and all manner of moral/character defects spring from it, stunted mental and emotional growth, anxiety, mania, self absorption, grandiosity, guilt, shame, self loathing, depression, sexual misconduct, poor hygiene, poor life and relationship skills, control, self seeking…the list goes on an on. This is how, ultimately, it makes life unmanageable.

2. We are powerless over this disease and ultimately over the defects of character that have resulted from it. We can never, drink like normal people do.  If you have been in the program a while, you might see that we are powerless over almost everything. Nothing is truly in our control, except, our decision to put the right effort into our own selves.  This is not to say that we are weak, by any means, we are talking about recovery from an otherwise incurable, physical, psychological and spiritual disease.  Could I go the rest of my life and not pick up a drink, maybe. I am firm in my belief though that I would likely still suffer the miserable side effects of the disease without a spiritual and task driven program like this one. If anyone has found something better, I encourage them to do that instead.

3. Our “running the show” has left our lives a wreck, whether it is the very tangible consequences of not unpaid bills, criminal charges and failed health, or simply strained and ruined relationships, we have not only poured ourselves a pool of terrible hell and misery to bath in, but we have splashed it upon others.

If we are alcoholics and it has taken the usual amount of time for us to find our way to AA (without court orders), we are typically ready to listen, understand and admit, having tried everything else, controlled drinking, switching brands, types and times, following systems of rules, abstinence on our own, therapy, rehab, etc..etc..that we are powerless over alcohol.

For me, right now, the second part is bigger…My life had become and remains unmanageable, why? Because for the last year and a half, the manager of  my life has really been poorly qualified and wholly inept, we cannot fire him, but he does need demoted. That manager is me, I have been trying run the show, which keeps me too busy to work the steps and leads me to do nothing but give myself the opportunity to make poor choices, which invariably I make.

My name is James, I am an alcoholic. I am powerless over alcohol and my life has become unmanageable. This has been my first step (take two). Thank you for sharing it with me. I look forward to sharing my journey through the steps, as well as my experience, strength and hope with the world.

Written by jamesjanus

January 10, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Step Two: Almost

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I think before I can embrace step two, I need to take stock of what it is that I believe. It is hard to express this in any sort of concise set of words. I started as a Catholic but as an intellect, artist and truth seeker I wandered the worlds religions, great and small alike. Some I tried to embrace, all of them, I studied throughly. After christianity, Bhuddism and Taoism came the closest to capturing and holding onto me. What truth did I discover on this journey of spiritual sampling? I came to believe that no one religion has the proper name or accurate picture of God, as wise people tell me often, whatever force created or manages the universe is far too great for us to truly comprehend in any expressible way. So then, faith, real religious experience is a feeling, an experience of sense so awesome and unique as to be inexpressible. All the bibles, sutras and sermons in the world have failed to express it. I would argue, some are designed to bring us the experience rather than describe it, to profit devotion which can beget faith. The one book that seems to have the facts right is the Tao Te Ching, which tells us that the moment you try to express the divine you have lost it.
In that vein, I am left to ponder how to give a name to a higher power or how to place my faith in something that has no name. I am not sure at this time if I am for any organized religion giving a name to God, though I consider returning to the Catholic church. I do not believe that any one of the world religions is right, but I am not convinced it makes them entirely wrong. For me, where I feel closest to faith, to the divine is during this simple act, in writing, poetry in particular and in acts of sex, touching another beautiful body, another soul.
The writing bit, I suppose makes me believe in the muses, in the seemingly magical power of words, even if they fail to capture the true essence of the divine they can be beautiful and moving just the same, and they are the vehicle by which all human knowledge, understanding and tradition are carried forward in time. Reading the words of poets like Rumi, I can almost smell the mixed air of salt and sand in the old muslim world. The stench of piss and absinthe in Rimbaud’s Paris and it stirs an indescribable feeling of being connected into some continuum. Perhaps this faith in words, in beauty and simple divinity is misplaced and has not served me well. If so, perhaps I should seek out a more traditional god figure. I don’t know, perhaps I am the one that has not served it well enough. I know that I will, because I must, ponder it from now until a resolution reveals itself. I think I need some resolution before I can pass beyond this (second) and the next step.

I think before I can embrace step two, I need to take stock of what it is that I believe. It is hard to express this in any sort of concise set of words. I started as a Catholic but as an intellect, artist and truth seeker I wandered the worlds religions, great and small alike. Some I tried to embrace, all of them, I studied throughly. After christianity, Bhuddism and Taoism came the closest to capturing and holding onto me. What truth did I discover on this journey of spiritual sampling? I came to believe that no one religion has the proper name or accurate picture of God, as wise people tell me often, whatever force created or manages the universe is far too great for us to truly comprehend in any expressible way. So then, faith, real religious experience is a feeling, an experience of sense so awesome and unique as to be inexpressible. All the bibles, sutras and sermons in the world have failed to express it. I would argue, some are designed to bring us the experience rather than describe it, to profit devotion which can beget faith. The one book that seems to have the facts right is the Tao Te Ching, which tells us that the moment you try to express the divine you have lost it.
In that vein, I am left to ponder how to give a name to a higher power or how to place my faith in something that has no name. I am not sure at this time if I am for any organized religion giving a name to God, though I consider returning to the Catholic church. I do not believe that any one of the world religions is right, but I am not convinced it makes them entirely wrong. For me, where I feel closest to faith, to the divine is during this simple act, in writing, poetry in particular and in acts of sex, touching another beautiful body, another soul.
The writing bit, I suppose makes me believe in the muses, in the seemingly magical power of words, even if they fail to capture the true essence of the divine they can be beautiful and moving just the same, and they are the vehicle by which all human knowledge, understanding and tradition are carried forward in time. Reading the words of poets like Rumi, I can almost smell the mixed air of salt and sand in the old muslim world. The stench of piss and absinthe in Rimbaud’s Paris and it stirs an indescribable feeling of being connected into some continuum. Perhaps this faith in words, in beauty and simple divinity is misplaced and has not served me well. If so, perhaps I should seek out a more traditional god figure. I don’t know, perhaps I am the one that has not served it well enough. I know that I will, because I must, ponder it from now until a resolution reveals itself. I think I need some resolution before I can pass beyond this (second) and the next step.

Written by jamesjanus

July 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

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Return to Recovery – Step One

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Starting over at step one, I have been gone for over year and while I did not drink, my self and my life has become unamageable.
Step one says: Admitted that we are powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
Not only am I powerless over alcohol, I am powerless over alcoholic thinking and alcoholic action. I am powerless over alcoholic pride, alcoholic resentment and anger, aloholic fear and lashing out. I am powerless over a great many things, some of which some more stringent AAs might call outside issues, but I scarcely believe in those, all of it is related in some way to the core disease of alcoholism. I thought I knew this before, but if I didn’t I know it now. It may sound counter-intuitive to some, but that single admission, that you are powerless is relieving and like having a great burden lifted off my shoulders. Admitting that there is something more powerful than you, that you cannot handle alone is hard, but worth it and really the first step toward believing there is something more powerfull than you, that can help you too.
I have just begun, I am not well or right yet, but already I am becoming more conscious of my thinking and action. Admonishing myself in my head when my thoughts are not what they should be and looking outside of myself for help, being as grateful and accepting as I can. I will get there, AA, the steps, a higher power and Kim’s love and support will help me.
Here is in summary, what I said in a meeting recently. I stopped going to meetings, decided I could do it on my own and for a time it seemed to be okay. I realize that during that time there was nothing to test me, there was stress of course, but I had nothing, nothing of value that I could risk or lose. I was living in my friends’ basement and had nothing in my life to cherish. Then, I fell in love with this woman (Kim) and her two kids, for the first time in my life I have a family and so when things got tough again, I had something of value to lose and because I wasn’t working the steps, going to meetings and doing what i needed to, I reacted like a monster, I screwed things up, making bad things worse and I almost lost what I had gained. My life is unmanageable and though I never drank, I might as well have.
I am glad to be back in meetings and working the steps. I know I have just completed step one, step two promises to be more difficult, but I will get there and this time I will not stop working the steps, I will be restored to sanity and do my best to have my defects removed.

Not only am I powerless over alcohol, I am powerless over alcoholic thinking and alcoholic action. I am powerless over alcoholic pride, alcoholic resentment and anger, aloholic fear and lashing out. I am powerless over a great many things, some of which some more stringent AAs might call outside issues, but I scarcely believe in those, all of it is related in some way to the core disease of alcoholism. I thought I knew this before, but if I didn’t I know it now. It may sound counter-intuitive to some, but that single admission, that you are powerless is relieving and like having a great burden lifted off my shoulders. Admitting that there is something more powerful than you, that you cannot handle alone is hard, but worth it and really the first step toward believing there is something more powerfull than you, that can help you too.
I have just begun, I am not well or right yet, but already I am becoming more conscious of my thinking and action. Admonishing myself in my head when my thoughts are not what they should be and looking outside of myself for help, being as grateful and accepting as I can. I will get there, AA, the steps, a higher power and Kim’s love and support will help me.
Here is in summary, what I said in a meeting recently. I stopped going to meetings, decided I could do it on my own and for a time it seemed to be okay. I realize that during that time there was nothing to test me, there was stress of course, but I had nothing, nothing of value that I could risk or lose. I was living in my friends’ basement and had nothing in my life to cherish. Then, I fell in love with this woman (Kim) and her two kids, for the first time in my life I have a family and so when things got tough again, I had something of value to lose and because I wasn’t working the steps, going to meetings and doing what i needed to, I reacted like a monster, I screwed things up, making bad things worse and I almost lost what I had gained. My life is unmanageable and though I never drank, I might as well have.
I am glad to be back in meetings and working the steps. I know I have just completed step one, step two promises to be more difficult, but I will get there and this time I will not stop working the steps, I will be restored to sanity and do my best to have my defects removed.

Written by jamesjanus

July 13, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Gratitude, Attitude, Affect

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I forget to pray for the angels
And then the angels forget to pray for us.

Once upon a time I sat in rooms and watched as men and women, their heads hung in shame, confessed before a crowd of peers that they had lost their recovery. Some had drank again, others just stopped doing the right things, stopped showing up and their disease and therefore their lives had once again become unmanageable.  At the time, I told myself this is important, this is truth, remember this. I sussed out the dangerous pattern that every one of them had followed. First, they stopped showing up and without the accountability, they slowly stopped doing the steps and the other rituals, they told themselves they are strong enough now to go it alone anyway. Soon, they lost sight of what was important, of whom was important, then they decided all of those things were okay and then before they knew it, they were in trouble and they started tossing out whatever good things existed in their lives, dancing all over the self destruct button.

The ones I met were the lucky ones, I knew that too, many never make it back, dead, in prison or on the way to both destinations.  I took all of this in, once upon a time. I made myself pay attention so  I would remember the stories.  I told myself, this will never happen to me, I would never be so dumb.

Then…I stopped showing up. I stopped doing the steps and staying vigilante; I decided I was strong enough to go it alone, I forgot all about those people and their stories, the same story, over and over and over again. I decided I was special, I was the one in a million alcoholic that could carry the burden by myself. For a while, I think perhaps I did alright, or I just wasn’t tested. But I too lost sight of what was important, I grew selfish and lost all gratitude for the things I was given every single day. I grew negative and greedy and over the last few weeks, I nearly drove the best of my blessings out of my life. All to learn a lesson for the millionth time since I started with AA. I am not special, I am not immune, I am not different.  It will happen to me, as it has everyone else. I am not the one that can do it when no one else can. That is apparently a very hard pill for me to swallow and keep down.

The truth is that, while I am not weak, I have a disease that is stronger than I am, it is so much stronger than I am that it takes the help of everyone around me, rituals, constant maintenance and the aide of God to relieve me of the symptoms.  I have to accept that and surrender to it. I have to believe too that maybe this was all by design, maybe I never really gave myself over entirely, my will, my commitment. A lesson hard learned and as usual not at my expense alone.

To that end and with the choice of not doing what I needed to, I hurt someone. I hurt Kim and while I am remorseful, I know that I must be more than sorry, that I must right myself and make amends for my poor judgement and the ensuing behavior.  She has forgiven me my trespass and that in itself is something to be grateful for, because my behavior could easily have cost me her and the boys.

The subject of Kim, leads me to something else, to another apology and amends that I must make.  To my Higher Power, the god I pray to. In the last two years I have been showered with blessings, almost non-stop; The love and kindness of friends and family, a job, not being drunk and experiencing hope and happiness – then the coupe de grace, this woman, this wonderful amazing woman who loves me more than I deserve, those beautiful boys of hers and the experience of connecting with them and caring for them, all of it heaped upon me as though I was deserving of it. My response, my response was greed: to ask for more and throw fits when I my requests went unanswered or a small bump appeared in my path.  I seldom asked anyone what I can do for them, what I should be doing to be worthy of the gifts I was handed, I just asked for more.  I am sorry it got to here before I saw all of this, but I know now what I have, what I nearly lost and that I should be thanking you and the universe and the people around me every day for the things I have.

So, I will learn soon what it is to stand in one of those rooms and say I lost my recovery because I thought I knew better. thought I could go it alone.  It doesn’t matter that I didn’t drink, because ultimately that isn’t the point, the point is to be rid of the defects of character that made being an addict possible. The point is to be restored to being a valuable, useful, purposeful human being that is of use and value to the people around him, rather than being a drain or a terror.  So, thank you, thank you to everyone for dealing with me.

The affect of losing sight of the blessings in your life is the elevation of things that do not deserve to be important, the turning of your own attitude to darkness and the destruction of those things in your life that are good.  Kim, the beat of my heart now, the sun in my sky, I love her and the kids and I nearly let it all go because I wasn’t doing the right things and I lost sight of what was important and stopped appreciating my blessings.

Remember to ask Mr J, everyday, Am I in Recovery? Am I doing the right things? What do I have to be grateful for? How can I serve other people today?

Written by jamesjanus

June 25, 2010 at 3:52 pm