Monday, September 28, 2009

Positively Rambling

Hang on folks cause I got ramblin on the mind!!!

My thoughts this morning are on the positive, o.k. it is really afternoon but I just got up an hour ago so it is morning to me. When I share in meetings I am like some others, I stick with a positive message, the message of hope, the message of love, the message of peace and of God. I try to do the same in my writings and interaction with the clients at the treatment center. All this positive talk doesn't mean that I don't have problems in my life, I do and try to interject the fact that I am not perfect. I am more likely to talk about struggles here on this blog than in a recovery room, when I do talk about difficulties in recovery rooms it is in a general way, the details are left for my sponsor and close adviser's . The blog is a great outlet for journaling what I am going through, I can't always talk to my sponsor so writing things down help, beside most of my stuff is very trivial, having said that I know that it is the trivial stuff kept to myself that can be dangerous to my recovery. What I share here is always share with my sponsor or someone else in recovery though, sometimes I write the blog first then share because it is a faster outlet for me right now.

Back to positive I think? I was at an NA meeting last night, the only one I attend on a regular bases. I love this meeting, one they don't read all the normal NA prereadings which have a purpose but take up too much time in my opinion. At this meeting we read from the NA book, each week we read a chapter from the book, people read a paragraph and the last person to read is the first person to share and then we go around the circle sharing until the time is up, those that attend this meeting stick to solution and stay away from the problem, cause we all know how to use really well. We are currently reading the stories from the back of the book. The story last night was from a founding member of Japan's NA. The author talked about being the "perfect NA member" and how that lack of exposure to the fellowship had caused her and others to have the perception that once you got clean you stayed clean and you strive for perfection, she originally didn't accept relapses, I was laughing inside at this notion, over time she abandoned this notion and her mind was opened; she had a mental and spiritual relapse. She reminded me of how sometimes we place ourselves and our recovery on a pedestal and it is only by going to meetings and being around newcomers that we maintain some measure of humility. The people I admire the most in recovery are those who share in a general way that they still have problems in life but maintain an attitude of gratitude. No matter how many 24hours we have, we are only one drink or drug away from going back to a life of insanity, insanity fueled by deadly substances that tell us they are our best friends and those people in the rooms are the sick ones. This is what happened to me when I went back out, my disease coupled with some resentments at a few members told me you all were a sick cult, who's aim was to take away my individuality and personal spiritual freedom, smile if you want to, my disease was the cult not AA or NA as a whole. I feel the newcomer needs to hear the message in a positive manner in order to feel some hope, they need to hear the person with a lot of 24 hours share that life still has it's bumps but they have found a solution and they share the solution with a smile.

Having ups and downs in life is normal. Having painful growth experiences happen even to the best of us. The older we are the more we experience loss, whether it is deaths or the absence of those we are closest to or love the most. These are not joyful experiences but we can share about them with touch of hope. We share that we didn't have to drink or use during this time of loss, that the fellowship rallied around us and carried us through. Financial and medical problems are another example of suffering that we overcome and share about with hope, even if we have to dig deep we can find a positive side to these difficulties. I feel that by sharing our positive outlook on life we can have a meaningful impact on the newcomer or anyone who is going through a rough time in recovery. Sharing about difficulties in a spiritual light has a impact on me for sure. When I hear an old timer share that life still has it's flat tires it reminds that I will never have this thing called life beat and seeing that old timer still going to meetings after all these years reminds me that no matter what I need meetings for the rest of my life if I am to maintain this positive outlook on life. Some times you hear the newcomer say, "you people are just too damn happy" which does seem to be the case but it is happiness found from learning to live life on life's terms in a positive light instead of the vile negative light of our drinking and using years. That same newcomer once they have stayed around will later say "I understand the happiness now, thanks for giving me hope."

Oh I was so right about this being a ramble on post, cue the Led Zeppelin Mr.DJ. What I am trying to say is that it is important for me to share my difficulties, to be humble enough to admit I still have flat tires but in doing so I need share that the flat tire didn't make me curl up in a ball and give the middle finger to life and recovery programs. That even in the darkness of emotional and spiritual pain there is the light of the spirit shining through. That light comes from those with more time than me who share their difficulties in life with an emphasis on the positive side. It isn't always easy to focus on the positive, a lot of the newcomers I work with get discouraged because the light they see in others eyes seems impossible for them to obtain but all I can do is encourage them to stay sober, keep talking, to have faith in anything they can grasp at the time that works, to use the power of hope to guide them, to confront myself or others who always seem to be in a positive mood and question us. Speaking for myself alone, caring the message in a positive manner, sharing my experience, strength and hope in a positive light is a responsibility and one that I don't take lightly. Thank God there are others who feel the same way, both in the rooms I attend and my friends here in bloggerville, because of you I am able to maintain the spiritual path of gratitude. Yes I have to have prayer and mediation also to see me through, so no I wasn't minimizing this aspect of recovery.

No we are not perfect AA or NA members but that is the beauty of it all. We are humans and we have our struggles great and small, we share these with each other and that loneliness we once felt during our active addiction goes away. Thank God for inspiring Bill and the other pioneers who developed such a wonder fellowship, may we never take it for granted, may I never become so "well" that I don't need it, may I always be aware that my gift of being positive can disappear if I stop taking action.

Here is the reason I made sure I attended the NA meeting. The other night after an AA meeting a few of use where talking somehow we got on the subject of natural hallucinogenics, various plant seeds that will give you a trip. My mind temporarily played with the notion because I like to trip. One little trip might lead me back to using alcohol and other substance because once I escape reality I want to do it more and more, the nature of the allergy kicks in, I start craving the effect produced by mind altering substances. Everything in my life is going really well right now, I love my job, I have enough money to live on, I have wonderful friends, my daughter is doing well even with her struggles that I am powerless over, my granddaughter is healthy and happy, my mother is in good health, there is nothing that I have to complain about, even the realization that there are couple of aspect of my life that aren't going in the direction I want them too aren't important enough to get upset over. This sickness I have is very patient, it can sit dormant just waiting for a moment of weakness, like a poisonous snake hiding in the tall grass it waits for me to stand still then it strikes. I can be in the most remote parts of the world and if I want to get high I will find a way, if the snake bites me. I need meetings to remind that once I give in to any drug what so ever I start a pattern of living that is deadly for me and destructive for all around me. My drug of choice is alcohol, mainly beer but other drugs are just as dangerous, they are gateways back to my drug of choice. I need to attend an NA meeting a few times a month to remind me of this, that I have an addictive personality and if I stop doing the footwork of recovery then I will have no mental defense against the first drug that sounds good to me, it will start out being just for fun but the end result is anything but fun!!!!!
Peace Love and Light

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Language of the Heart

First off don't buy a chocolate cream pie from the bakery at WalMart they really suck, stick with the Mrs.Smith frozen ones!!!

My group discussion went really well last night, one of the techs in recovery complimented me on doing a good job, he has over 20 years in recovery so this made me feel really good. The clients gave really good examples of suffering and when I asked them how many of these could result in anger they said everyone. I talked about desire and about the "I want" explaination of desire. I then read the Big Book passages but then I was momentarily stumped, I really hadn't thought about how I was going to work this into a deeper discussion, I am too use to meeting where people just pick up on this and start talking, the silence I felt was shocking for a brief few seconds. The promise of God doing for me what I can't do for myself via prayer and mediation kicked in and I started sharing about me and my recovery. I shared a bit about death, how my wants caused suffering and anger. I talked about my ex wifes suicide and how it effected me in my drinking years and how I have learned to accept it in recovery and how it can still make me angry on occasion. Then I started talking about expectations and how they effect me and alcoholics and addicts in general. We have one young client who is struggling a bit with wanting things NOW, I used her as an example of placing too high of expectations on ones self, I also told the clients how I had placed pretty high expectations of leading this discussion on myself much more than any expectations they may have of me. I told them I am my worst enemy when it comes to expectations. how failed expectations can lead to self anger. I shared a lot more about prayer, mediation and spirituality than I had planned. Once again God stepped in because the language of the heart took over. I read pages 86 and 87 and explained how it works in my life and those of others I know. I talked to them about how simple it can be, to not over complecate pray and mediation, about how I have learned to simply stop doing what I am doing and focus on my breathing. I also talked to them about focusing on the task at hand, whether that is reading, drinnking a beverage, doing a chore or as bad as it seems even smoking a cigarette. I shared that when my mind is racing I can stop the racing by stopping and focusing on the here and now. I emphasised over and over that it takes practice but in time we become aware of how to handle things. I shared about how important pray is first thing in the morning because it puts our minds on a positive plain, our focus on doing the right thing. I read the 3rd step prayer and explained how I use the part about removing the bondage of self as part of my morning prayer because "self" is the enemy in dealing with others and also contributes to my lack of serenity, self will run riot. I also shared about the first pray most of us say, the one said when we are in trouble, trouble cause by alcohol or drugs, "God Help Me" I shared about how I had said this laying in a jail cell and from this prayer came the decision to enter a treatment facility. I explained again how their Higher Power could be what ever it needs to be and that it will grow, how a lot of the time God's voice comes to me in the rooms of recovery so sometimes my Higher Power is very much a meeting that I needed to attend. There wasn't a lot of feedback but I did have everyones attention and I could tell by their expressions and body language they were listening. God was good to me because I faced a fear and handled it with It's help.

What I did yesterday did not come from me! It came from God, it came from a good sponsor, it came from Bill W and his divine books Alcoholics Anonymous and The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, it came from the people I have met and heard speak in the meetings of AA and NA, it came from my blogger friends, all of these contibute to being able to speak the language of the Heart. I am grateful for each and everyone. I hope I planted a seed or 2, I know I didn't drink yesterday and that is a miracle.

Peace Love and Light

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Teaching a Group discussion.

Tomorrow night my co-worker and I have to teach an Anger Management group. My co-worker has been a tech at the treatment center for 8 months and is a nursing student, she is not an alcoholic or addict but is the adult child of one. Last night we were talking about the upcoming discussion group, she has a hard time coming up with ideas, we talked about having a training session on mediation. On the way home last night I thought more about this and didn't think we could fill a 45-60 minute period with a discussion and group participation on just mediation. My mind went to the reason I mediate and that is to neutralize or accept suffering. In Buddhism we say the cause of suffering is desire, desire is a manifestation of selfishness. I have desires because I want things, physical and emotional. Desire isn't always a bad thing but putting importance on our desires and wants is because nothing is permanent, everything changes; nature, people and ourselves. Desire is also about placing expectations on ourselves and others, even material things. We expect our desires for love, security, companionship, careers, knowledge, material things and the like to make us happy. The trouble being we never have any of these things 100% of the time, we sometimes have disagreements with the ones we love or worse, we have financial troubles, our jobs is eliminated, people die, people move away, material things break or their newness wears off etc. This led me to thinking about the passage in the Big Book on selfishness. I talked to my co-worker today and told her I would like to do a group discussion on selfishness and self centeredness using the Big Book and she is fine with this.

Here is my basic outline of what I would like to do. First I want the clients to give examples of what they think suffering is, then ask them how many of those examples can lead to anger, either inward or outward anger. Next explain to them how our desires based on self/our wants manifest the suffering. Next I will read pages 60-62 of the Big Book which is about the 3rd step and explains selfishness better than I can. Page 60 starts with the story of the actor who trys to arrange things to fit his needs and how the play still doesn't work and how his actions based on self both nice and aggressive are at fault. Page 62 is the important passage about how selfishness and self centeredness are the root of all our troubles, and really nails how we alcoholics use selfishness and why we need a God of our understanding. I also plan on read the short couple of paragraphs on page 66 about resentment and anger. I will then open up the lecture, for lack of a better word, for feedback from the clients. I will end the discussion with pages 86-87, the great passage about the importance of prayer and mediation which starts with "Upon awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead". My hope is the clients may grasp a bit about our selfish nature and understand that it is through pray and mediation that we learn to control our angers and fears which stem from selfishness, how we learn to become aware of our character defect as they arise, not all the time but with practice we are more aware so that we can stop them before we hurt others. I have no expectations of any one client walking away with an Aha moment but that is not the objective, the objective is to plant a seed so that if they are willing they can nurture the seed themselves with the help of their God, a good sponsor and AA or NA.

I would appreciate any feedback good or bad that anyone has concerning this. Steve you owe me one after my comment to you yesterday so feel free to share your years of experience with this young buck.

Peace Love and Light

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Effects of alcohol on this alcoholic

If you haven't done so please check out my last post and look at the pictures of the cutest baby in Nebraska, not that grandpa is bias or anything.

Tonight I when to my usual Tuesday night meeting, it is one of the few I can make it to on a consistent bases, so far I haven't worker too many Tuesday nights, it is also the group I have chosen for a home group. The chair read a portion from the Doctors Opinion which as most of you know is one of my favorite parts of the Big Book. The sentence that stuck out to me as I listened to others was " Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol" as I listened I had one of those AHA moments. I came to a new understanding of this sentence and here is why. I have read and heard this sentence hundreds of times but somewhere in my still slightly wet brain I was mixing in the sentences from A Vision for You that read, " For most normal folks, drinking means conviviality, companionship and colorful imagination. It means release from care, boredom and worry. It is the joyous intimacy with friends and the feeling that life is good." The first 2 pages of A Vision for You is my favorite passage from the Big Book. What I was doing was thinking that Dr. Silkworth was implying by "effects produced by alcohol" was the all the nice and happy feelings Bill wrote about in A Vision for You, which wasn't true in my case. There was a small portion of my drinking that was about being happy, joyous and the lot, mainly in my younger years but for me drinking was about being "numb" and comfortable in my own skin. The effect I sought was the effect of not having to feel any feelings, not look into my soul and see any damage I was doing, the effect created a facade so you wouldn't see inside me either. I drank to get drunk but not stupid, stumbling, commode hugging drunk, even though this was a pattern in the beginning, for the most part my tolerance was high enough that didn't happen very often, I had learned the art of getting drunk without puking finally and for 10 years I never did, but there were time when I wish I could have though. The meeting gave me another opportunity to really look at the effect I was wanting from alcohol. I love meetings like this, I personally need to reflect back on my drinking daze and the effects it had on my life. Don't you just love sitting in a room listening to others and nodding your head in comprehension of what some one else is saying, here are a few of the stories I identified with, stories that let me know I was in the right place tonight. One guy was just one day sober, he was coming back from a relapse, he talked about how lonely and miserable he felt the day after he got drunk, he was talking about the loneliness that few know. A woman talked about circus "of me and mine" that selfishness that is the life of an alcoholic. One guy told about how the first time he got drunk he puked really bad and the next day all he could think about was doing it all over again, I did this myself, puking never once made me not want to drink again. One guy talked about getting drunk from Boones Farm and another lady TJ Swann's, 2 of my favorite high grade wines, I don't they make TJ Swann's anymore but Mad Dog has more flavors than just grape now, I came to find out during the relapse years. Another woman remember that when she was young she would watch TV and see all these characters pouring drinks from decanters after work and thinking to herself I can't wait until I can do that, how many 8 or 9 year old's think that way not many but we alcoholics do and I was one of them, obsessed with alcohol at an early age. People also talked about the solution about being in meetings because they never wanted to go back to living the life they lived in active alcoholism, the cravings, the obsession, the misery. They talked about living life on life's terms. They talked about the psychic change and the spiritual experiences, most being of the educational variety, they talked about God or their Higher Power. Like always they shared their experience, strength and hope, another reason for going to meetings. We had some great laughs and a few very somber moments because this disease is deadly and we can never forget it nor can we take our sobriety for granted which a couple of newcomers reminded us of.

Peace Love and Light to all

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pictures of Grandpa's Girl

Here are some pictures I took of Angel this weekend, I was able to spend time with her Saturday night and again on Sunday. Poor baby missed grandpa as much as grandpa missed her, every time she thought I was leaving she would scream and get upset. She has spent the first 13 months of her life seeing grandpa every few days if not everyday, I didn't know how much I was a part of her life until she was clinging to me or not letting me too far out of her sight, she may not be able to say she misses me in words but she can with her actions. Her mom also misses me more than she will let on. This makes me feel happy and sad, happy that I have these 2 special people in my life and that I am loved and needed and sad of course because I can't see them as much as we all would like. Oh yeah the bottom picture is her chicken costume for Halloween it is really cute and she is ham's it up when she puts it on.

I will post more about this weekend and thoughts on another subject tomorrow.

Peace Love and Light

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Have A Great Weekend All !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

They like me at my new job enough to trust loaning me out to a halfway which is short handed today, so I be working there from 11:30am until 4:00pm and then back to the treatment center until 10:00pm. After work I get on the interstate for the 2 hour drive to my old town. Saturday is the area meeting that N and I are going to, we will have to leave no later than 7:30am, I told N 7:00am because she is one of those wonderful people who is never ready on time, so hopefully we will leave sometime between 7:15 and 7:30 which is the latest we need to leave in order to be at the location of the area meeting by 9:00, that is without me breaking the speed limit too much, I don't get excited about her inability to be punctual, it is part of who she is and I have come to accept this. We only need to be there for the morning sessions since neither one of is a GSR or holds a head committee position, so we will eat lunch with some friends, socialize a bit then head back in the early afternoon, so we can spend time with the kids. I haven't spent time with the 2 older kids in about 4 weeks and am looking forward to it, plus spending time with my little buddy. I bought her oldest daughter a book on uncluttering our lives, it is a book for teenagers, the book talks about mental and physical clutter, actually it is a good book for adults as well, the objective of the book is to teach us that by getting rid of the clutter in our lives that we are actually better able to manage our lives and be happier. The book takes a basic way in understand how the mental and physical clutter effects our emotions and levels of stress, clutter is a metaphor for being overwhelmed. I read most of the book at work last night, I was working the grave shift and there wasn't much to do other than check the clients rooms every hour and inventory the kitchen, it was a quick and fun read. I am also lending her Living Buddha, Living Christ and a basic book on Buddhism because she has shown a strong interest in Buddhist philosophy and practices. I am not trying to convert her and N knows this, she is just a 14 year old girl who is starting to question her beliefs and understand the different roads of Spiritualism. I was in the spiritual wilderness from the time I was 14 until AA introduced me to the God of my understanding at 24. What little I did know, no matter how hard I wanted something better was killed by being an active alcoholic, it is only be staying sober that I am able to live on a spiritual plain.

Sunday I will go to what use to be one of my home groups, then spend part of the afternoon with my daughter and granddaughter. My granddaughter has turned into a real go getter. She took her sweet time learning to walk but from what my daughter tells me she is hell on wheels now. I will probably take her to the park for the afternoon plus knowing grandpa I will probably buy her some stuff too. She is another one who loves books, my daughter told me the other day that Angel, granddaughter, has started handing her books and sits on my daughters lap with them. I bought her a couple of touch and feel books yesterday, grandpa being the bookworm he is will start hitting the bargain bins and garage sales for books for her. I look forward to spend quality time with my daughter and granddaughter, we haven't done much of that since I moved down here, due to different things. They are coming down here in October so that we can go to the zoo in Omaha before the cold weather hits which we are both excited for. My daughter talked a bit about going back to her home group, I pray that she does but we all know this isn't in my hands. She also talked more about starting college classes, another thing I am praying for.

So I guess you could say I have a busy weekend planned and one full of people I love. I am going to conclude this with a short gratitude list.

1. I am sober
2. I have a relationship with the God of my understanding today because I am sober
3. I have a relationship with my daughter and granddaughter because I am sober
4. I have a relationship with N and her kids because I am sober
5. I have a new job where I am respected and trusted because I am sober
6. I have a drivers license and insurance because I am sober
7. I have a whole fellowship full of people who love me and I love them back because I am sober
8. I love service work and the opportunity it gives me to give something back to the fellowship that has helped me stay sober


Peace Love and Light

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Literature a prospective

Alright the coffee has kicked in so I can think enough to write, I hope. Sunday night I worked the over night shift, 11:00pm to 7:15am, so I got to bed a bit after 8:00am, then I was up at 1:45pm so I could be back to work at 3:00pm and work until 11:15pm, needless to say I slept until 2:00pm today, I don't have to work, so there was no rush to get up. I don't mind working an overnight and then coming back at 3 every once in a while it is part of the career I have chosen, I doubt if I can do this very often though since I don't function very well on 5 hours of sleep the way I could in my 20's, a few times a month is enough for me. Right now I will take all the hours I can get since I am still not working a complete 40 hours a week, this week and next I am only working 3 days and that hurts. Thankfully I don't need a lot of money to survive on and this is also teaching me to watch my spending, curtail my wants and just buy my needs. I wanted to go back to my old town on my days off and see my daughter, granddaughter, N and her kids but I am going to stay put and find things to do around here, oh I have 3 days off in a row, work one then 2 more off. I can't afford to do this since I am going to be going there anyway late Friday night after I get off, N and I are going to the AA area meeting in a town 90 minutes west on Saturday, N is going to take my old distict position as distict CPC, Cooperation with the Professional Community, and I am still planning on being active in service work even if I don't have a job with Lincoln AA. I enjoy the area meetings and talking to members from around the state that I have come to know via service work. I will spend Sunday with my daughter, granddaughter, N and her kids, so going down there in the middle of the week would have been spending money I don't really have. Knowing things like this is recovery working in my life, before I would just do what I wanted because I wanted to and then figure out how to deal with the cash problem later and probably not in a healthy manner, yes this has been done in recovery, I am slowly learning from my financial mistakes.

Steve at Another Sober Alcoholic wrote a great piece on the Big Book. Last night writing a post on the Big Book was my intension and it still is but from my own prespective of late. Please read Steve's post because I have a feeling it is better than what this is going to be or it comes from a differant view. The air from Naples Florida must be making it's way to Nebraska because last week Prayer Girl and I were both thinking about the promises and yesterday Steve was on the same Big Book vibe that I am on;-D

Alrighty then, I posted about reading "The Keys to the Kingdom" with the clients at the treatment center a couple of weeks ago as part of their recovery literature reading session. Friday night I questioned a couple of clients that are more proactive in their recovery about how much the Big Book is read and how much the first 164 pages are stressed, the reply I received was very little. During the 45 minutes each day that is set aside for clients to work on assignments, if the client doesn't have an assignment from their counselor to work on they read the Big Book or the book Narcotics Anonymous, what I have observes is most clients read a story from the back of these books. I have nothing against the stories, some stories contain some great tools for recovery and insight, who hasn't used the passages on acceptance and resentments, "Doctor Bob's Nightmare" is a must read also but I am enough of a Big Book thumper to feel that new people need to understand the basic text of both books which contain the outline the plan of recovery. When I was in recovery before I believe in the importance of the Big Book, in fact while I was out there those 10 years moving around I never got rid of my old coffee stained BB, it stayed in my library with other books I felt where important, even though I denied my alcoholism. When my sponsor visited my house for the first time, he looked at my shelves of books and said I don't care what you read, you can even read "Mein Kampt" if you want but I want you to read the Big Book on a daily bases, I think the Mein Kampt comment came from him seeing the spine of Che in big letters with a picture of the revolutionary glaring out from the rest of the books. I still follow his words today, not a daily bases but I do read the book fairly regularly. When I lived in the small towns I was use to having a Big Book handy at meetings so I could quote from it, I am unable to memorize words, something in my brain doesn't allow this, even words I have heard or read over and over for 20 years are not within my grasp to quote verbatim, so I have rely on going to the source which isn't a bad thing, I know where passages are at in the book but not the page they are on. In Lincoln meetings the Big Book's aren't just sitting around on tables for referance so I had to buy a new one just to keep in my car for my use at meetings. I do this because although I may state my prespective on this blog and comments to other bloggers on theirs, when I am at a meeting especially with newcomers I feel they need to hear what the Big Book has to say and not what my opinion is, not that I don't share my experience, strength and hope with them but I want to make sure my selfish ego isn't saying something unwise; for instance I may share about my thoughts on selfishness and self centeredness and then follow it but with what the Big Book says if someone else hasn't already done so.

So where the Hell was all that going, oh yeah the clients. Because of what the clients told me I got permission to guide the readings sessions. I told them the importance of the basic text in both the AA and NA books. We read "We Agnostics" and I pointed out the importance of this chapter, some of the passages that where key to me. One of the most important is " To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men. When therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God,.... So we use our own conception, however limited it was." To me this these passages open up the door for people who have a hard time with the God talk like I did, a couple of clents picked up on this. The clients work a great deal on powerlessness, on denial, on shame and the consquences for their actions while drinking and using but they do very little work understanding how the program works, what the solution is. I suggest that they read the "Doctors Opinion", "More about Alcoholism" "How it Works" and also Steps 1, 2 and 3 in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and share own past to help them with this. My prepective is that if they are going to stay sober they need to understand the Big Book and the 12 and 12, because any meeting, sponsor or individual that has good recovery is going to emphasis the importance of these books, they are going to emphasis the Solution outlined in these books, the importance of the God of our understanding, so they better get use to hearing about them. I don't talk to them like an AA Nazi or a Bleeding Deacon, my teachers have been the Elder Statesmen and those who know how to come across with strong love and compassion, the ones who share about themselve and their recovery, the good the bad and the ugly, because no likes a dictator. We are comrades on this path of recovery, if I feel like you don't understand from your living experience I am not going to listen to what you are trying to assist me with. For me this is the best approach to carrying the message. I have to say it again, what I have to offer is a gift from God, the same is true with anyone else who makes an impact on the life of someone suffer whether they have 1 day or 10,000 days. The old saying goes, "you can't bullshit a bullshiter" so if we referance the Big Book, the book Narcotics Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, As Bill Sees It, Came to Believe, Living Sober or any other conferance approved book then we aren't talking bullshit, I make sure that when I share I talk about me and that I am human and make mistakes and what I am saying is my perspective or opinion so that it may be disregarded if it is disagreed with. Working with newcomers the way I do, I feel it is important that they understand what is and isn't the program of recovery.

O.K. I have been on my soapbox long enough, need to jump in the shower and go to the bank so I have some money to buy some needs with, is fancy chocolate ice cream a need;-D Thanks for all who have stuck with me on the ramble.

May the sunlight of the Spirit shine upon you today and every day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Powerless over something other than alcohol

I love my daughter as much as the next parent does and I want the best for her but I am powerless over her and her decisions! She called tonight to tell me about a comedian she was watching that was really funny, think she just really need to hear her old mans voice. She told me she was going for an ultrasound in a few weeks so the truth is out and she is pregnant. For those who may be reading me for the first time, my daughter is 18 years old with a 14 month old baby. The father to my granddaughter is in a boys home in Omaha, he is a an alcoholic and addict but I really don't know if he trying to stay clean and sober or not. With any luck he will go to a men's halfway house for an extended period of time so that he can learn some of life's lessons about responsibility in a strong environment, but that is my wish, God may have other plans for him. The father of the child growing inside my daughter has been with my daughter since around February. For the most part he is a decent enough kid, ease to talk to and respectful, but and here I go with the parent thing, he isn't overly ambitious from what I can tell, gets sick a lot and isn't the most responsible kid there is, plus out of arrogance I will add he isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer either. At 19, boyfriend's age, I was emotionally immature and at 46 I still have a long way to go, I was a financial moron, still can be, but I had work ethics, even as a budding alcoholic. Maybe it is my generation or the generation of my dad who pound work ethics into my skull about holding a steady job and "cowboy up" was how you dealt with being sick, you had to be almost on deaths bed before you called in sick. The meaning of Cowboy Up is that if you get bucked off a horse or hurt working cattle you don't whine or complain, you get back on the horse or back to working cattle, you can nurse your wounds once the job is done for the day and yes some of that nursing comes in a brown bottle. This may sound harsh to some and yes men and women who believe like I do have probably gone to work when we should have stayed home and rested, probably would have helped the healing process better or kept us out of hospital because we waited too long to see a doctor. I know my thinking isn't correct on thinking the kid should be a better worker and stop whining and missing job because he gets sick a lot, maybe the sickness is legitimate but I have a prejudice towards young people who are always sick, who appear healthy, who have no problems staying home when they are sick and playing video games or watching the tube, who can still go out with their friends on weekends, don't know which character defect this is but I have it. My ex was a hypochondriac and so are different members of my family so once again I have a prejudice here. The boyfriend does have a job now, working at a fast food joint but is off work due to being sick so I am not comfortable he will be able to keep this job. On the plus side the kid isn't a raging drunk or druggie, even though he does drink and smoke pot and has been in treatment as a youth, he is good with my granddaughter and she love him. My daughter also loves the guy even though they fight a lot, something I can't figure out, how can 2 people who fight quite a bit think they can have a long term relationship.

My concern for my daughter is like all parents. We want the best for our kids. We want them to be happy and secure. We want them to have some measure of success. My daughter said she is looking into starting her college general education classes at a local community college which is good thing, then going on to get a degree in adolescent counseling so she can counsel young people who were just like her, a noble thing to do. Being the wise old fart that I am, I can't help but be concerned over how she plans to accomplish all this with 2 little kids. Maybe to her and her generation having 2 kids in daycare isn't that big of a deal. My granddaughter was an accident although a beautiful one and the apple of my eye but to intentionally get pregnant again just doesn't make sense to me. Plus I don't feel the relationship is strong enough for them to have a child together. My daughter is a good mother to my granddaughter for being only 18, she doesn't drop her off at friends house so she can party, I don't think my daughter parties much anymore either. My daughter is a loving and caring mother also. My daughter also lives in fantasy land in a lot of ways and is every bit of 18 and immature, she has yet to have an electric bill in her name so that she can really understand the importance of not having unnecessary lights on.

So this is where I am at with my daughter and her boyfriend. God gave me this new job in Lincoln for a reason other than helping people new to recovery. It has allowed me to move 2 hours away from my daughter so that she can live her own life without me seeing it too closely. I am close enough to enable her if I choice to but so far other than paying their first months rent and some gas money I haven't. They have to figure things out on their own and what dad doesn't see doesn't cause dad undue stress or anxiety. I am powerless over my daughter and her boyfriend, they are in the hands of the God of my understanding. For the most part I am good at letting this go but the parent in me still has concerns. I guess it all comes back to the old acceptance bit, we have to accept the situation but not necessarily like it. I know what I want God to do for them but that would be a short measure on them learning life's lessons. The best I can do is one, stay sober above everything else because if I start drinking again I am worthless not mention I will probably end up unavailable via prison or death or worse, second I can be here for my daughter with emotional and spiritual support. I can give her guidance but I can't make her accept it. I can be available for my granddaughter if anything bad happens. I have friends in my old town who my daughter talks to and they keep me posted.

Working the 12 steps and living in recovery isn't just about staying sober. It is about living my life as it is right now. It is about using the spiritual tools I have been given in all situations of my life, whether it be my daughter, my mom or my personal relationships. The program of recovery has shown me how to live a life of peace and serenity. Suffering happens but I have a choice on how I deal with that suffering, either I can dwell in it, staying ever sicker, or I can accept it and walk the balanced middle path where serenity and peace live and breathe. I can't say I choose the middle path all the time, I have my share of fears, selfishness and emotional upsets, but thanks to meetings, literature, people in recovery, my blogger friends and above all my spiritual connection with my Higher Power, who I choice to call the Dharma, I don't stay in the suffering for too many hours. Just by writing this post out I understand more than I did before, I understand more about my prejudice, I see some parallels, I see me not wanting my daughter and her boyfriend to make the same mistakes I did, but maybe they will be faster learners than I was, maybe their collective brains haven't been as damage as mine was when I woke up to my mistakes and changed my path. I know that God is with them on this path and with me. I know that we both have a wonderful fellowship of recovering alcoholics and addicts to help us along. We are bless a lot more than others who may be going through the same living events, so even in being discouraged I have something to be grateful for.

Peace Love and Light

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Service work, Football, Keys to the Kingdom

Alright it has been a few days since I last pecked anything out and not much has really happened in that time but I am sure that once I get started I will find all kinds of things to talk about for your amusement and my greater awareness.

Lincoln has been a happening place the last week and weekend. The state fair was going on, it is the last one to be held in Lincoln, so a big deal was made of it, next year it is moving 100 miles west in hopes that more people from greater and rural Nebraska can attend. AA had a Public Information booth in the exibit hall, I volunteered to work a 10am-1pm and 3pm-7pm shifts a couple of days since my schedule allowed for it, I also went Friday and hung out with some guys from my old town sat at the booth visited then walked around the fair. The down side was we didn't have a banner saying who we were, only the books and pamplets on the table gave an indication as to what the booth was about, not sure if this was good or bad but my personal opinion is that a banner with Alcoholics Anonymous on it might have caught the eyes of more people. Working a PI booth is boring and interesting, "our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion" so you sit quietly behind the booth smile and greet people as they walk by. Every once in a while some one will stop, sometimes it is fellow members stopping to say hi and the others seem to be people who have a loved one suffering from alcoholism. The true alcoholic that needs help would probably prefer we weren't sitting there, so they could pick up or look over the pamplet without one of us asking if we can help them with any questions but the rules of the fair are that we have to have someone at the booth. I personally probably shared as much about Alanon as I did AA, wives and parents would stop by asking questions, I would share about how they were just as powerless over alcohol as the alcoholic, gave them any lit they wanted and also tell them how to contact Alanon and where to get Alanon literature. I said working the booth was boring but I don't mean that in a bad way, it is boring because we sit there for our 3-4 hours without much interaction with those passing by but this is a boredom that is rewarding. If our having a booth at the fair helps 1 suffering alcoholic or a family member then it is well worth our time to sit there, read and people watch. The attraction part comes because we don't stand by the table solicting people to look over the pamplets, books and other handouts, we are simply there for service, to carry the message, even though we know that probably at least 1 in 10 that walk by are in close contact with someone who suffers from alcoholism or drug addiction.

The other big event in Lincoln was on Saturday. Saturday was the start of football season, the mighty Nebraska Cornhuskers had their first game, let the insanity begin!! I enjoy Husker football, watch and listen to the games when I can but I am not obsessed with it. Obsession is a great word for how most people in Nebraska feel about the football team, everthing else in life takes second place come game day. Prior to the game there is constant talk about how well they might do, differant players, the oppent of the week, Friday most people wear red to work in support of the game the following day, tons for food and alcohol are bought Friday or Saturday for parties, people pool their money together for Pay Per View games, such as the one this weekend, people get very anxious, on facebook that was all that a few of my friends could talk about prior to kick off. Once the game is over and done with there is more game stuff, reviewing the players, the highs and lows, more alcohol drank and food consumed more facebook comments. I enjoy the game for what it is, a game, nothing more nothing less, at my old job I would take unhealthy pleasure in stating this to the fanactics, especially after a loss, just to get their blood boiling, it is how I feel but it is wrong of me to use this to cause others suffering. I wasn't raise with a sports fanatic, my dad liked sports but if there where other things to be done he would do them and not stop for a sporting event, even for his beloved baseball. I must also admit I am a bit of an anti-jock since I wasn't athletically inclined as a kid, part may have been my dad never playing sports with me, the other reason for this was it was the jocks and cheerleaders that would pick on me and abuse me as a kid, remember I was the gangly semi-intellectual kid who understood more about philisophy than sporting stat's or engine sizes. Alcohol became my fuel for beligerent individualism. To this day I have to pay close attention to my anti-jock defect for character, I can use this as an arrogant weapon against those I feel "mentally below me" because they prefer sports over the more important things in the world, see this is all a sick and selfish part of me that needs working on and football season is the perfect time for growth. I watched football at work on Saturday with a co-worker and a couple of clients and was trilled when BYU beat Oklahoma, so who am I to put others down for getting excited about just a game, I can yell and swear with the best of them when I team I don't care for is getting beat by a supposibly weaker opponent.

The treatment center is about a mile away from the football stadium, which on game day is the 3rd largest city in the state of Nebraska, after Omaha and Lincoln there are more people in the stadium than in any other place in Nebraska at one time. Kickoff for the game was at 6:00pm and I had to be at work by 3:00pm, I left a bit early cause I figured traffic might be an issue, it wasn't too bad. When I got to work, we share a building with the Native American center, parking spots at my building and around it on the grassy areas were being sold for $10.00, I was let in without paying. The building was surrounded by vehicles and tailgate parties, coolers full of beer and other alcoholic and maybe a few non-alcoholic beverages, small grills with bugers and bratwurst and all kinds of merriment. This isn't the best enviroment for 18 people who are just starting out on the road to recovery. Being Saturday they had a lot of free time, which means they could go outside and smoke, the smoking was limited to a small area but they could look at the tailgate parties from the patio. With the exception of a woman with a beer bong walking around it wasn't too crazy around the patio area. The clients where taking all this really well, they would look over at the parties but everyone stayed within bounds. I could smell the beer in the air and told the clients this so they know they weren't alone, I also made myself available to them in case someone started having cravings. In the late afternoon I stepped outside my boundaries as a tech and lead a Big Book study, we read the story "The Keys to the Kingdom", after the reading I opened it up for discussion, this was a non treatment documented group so I wasn't taking notes and the client were aware of this. Most of the clients that shared identified with the drinking and depression the author talked about, after I got as much as I could out of the clients that wanted to share, I talked about the importance of the authors message, "AA is not a plan for recovery that can be finished and done with. It is a way of life, and the challenge contained in its principles is great enough to keep any human being striving for as long as he lives", the author also talks about highs and lows and living sober through them, she talks about miracles, she talks about the "retrogressive groove" the groove that can mean death to an alcoholic if one stays in it too long. I talked to them about life and death, about watching people who have been in recovery die from alcoholism and about others who have faced great tragedy but didn't pick up a drink and walked through the tragedy with the strength of the fellowship, something else the author talks about our Fellowship, "born out of mutual pain and despair, and later through mutual objectives adn new found faith and hope". Like always I don't know if I effected any client in a great way, what I do know is it helped me stay sober, it got me out of myself, it re-emphasised my belief in AA and the fellowship because I truly believe in the words she wrote but I have to live them. I can no more get in a retrogressive groove than the next person. Yes I need to share the message with newcomers, but I also have to have those meetings where I sit and listen to the words of those who have been living this life longer than me, to seek their experience, strength and hope, to take their suggestions because they have been where I am at in my life to a greater or lesser degree, to seek the wisdom born out of mutual suffering and new found faith.

One last thing about clients. I have been blessed to share with them that alcohol and drugs are only a symtom of a larger problem. I had a wonderful discussion last night with a few of clients who are waking up to this fact. Who are understanding that even with the alcohol and drugs removed they still have these huge defects of character and that treatment is about more than getting off drugs and alcohol, which is what they thought treatment was about prior to coming. It is a joy to watch the light come on in these people, when they start to become aware that they need to work on selfishness, honesty, fear, shame and the rest, when they start to understand they need a God of their understanding in their lives. This is the grace of God in their lives and mine and I am thankful I am able to share it with them.

Oh yeah here is a teaser for you for my next post since this one is already my usually long ramble. My daughter and her boyfriend have decided they want to have a baby, needless to say dad isn't happy about this but I am powerless over them, so they are in God's hands and so is my granddaughter. I have more thoughts on this and need to process them with a friend or sponsor before I write them out, nothing bad but I am not really sure what all my feelings about this are yet.

Until next time,
Peace Love and Light

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Life is as it should be

Wow it is Wednesday already! Not sure what all I am going to write so hang on again, just going to let the Muse go, I have a couple of things I know I am going to write about but the rest is just what comes out.

This weekend was busy, N and 2 of her kids came down, we went to Omaha Saturday afternoon for the Air Show, none of them had been to one, so it was a great time. When we got there an F-15 was doing a demo and I got a serious rush, even though the 15 wasn't a jet I worked on, it was still the power and majestic beauty of a great fighter jet going through manuevers, the roar of the engines alone was a sound for sore ears, I haven't been around jets in 8 years and after spending 20 years around them the last few for just once a month I really miss their noise. Later in the afternoon the Blue Angels put on an awesome show. Oh Yeah a B-2 Stealth bomber did some low level passes as well, spectacular is the only word for that. I am not a war monger but my background in the Air Force leaves me with a love of fighter and bomber jets.

Saturday night, I took N and a friend from Lincoln to see Jackson Browne in concert in Omaha at an elegant theater. Omaha has a lot of great concerts and Lincoln gets a few also but I have never been able to afford to see them. Last April when I found out Jackson was coming I got online the day the tickets went on sale and bought 3, one was for the friend in Lincoln the other was in hopes that I would have someone special to take with by the time the concert rolled around. Jackson is by far my favorite over all artist, I am a huge Dylan fan but he doesn't have the same calming effect the Jackson does, Dylan is the master poet, the mystic word smith, Neil Young and the Allman Brothers also stay in heavy rotation in my stereo but they don't move me the way Jackson does. Jackson is just remarkable with his lyrics, there is a simplistic depth to them, he has a way of making you feel the feelings, unlike Dylan who either keeps you guessing or says screw you find your own damn meaning, which is a reason I love Dylan. Jackson also has a wonderful voice, calm and harmonic, you are thinking it so I am going to say it for you, unlike Dylan in who's voice you can hear every cigarette he has ever smoked plus you never know if he will garble words just to be different. Anyhow I have waited a long time to see Jackson in concert, I had tears of joy in my eyes for a better part of the concert, he played a lot of songs from his first few albums, albums that are my favorites, ones that came out when I was a preteen but later turned on to in my discovery of him. The concert lasted 2-1/2 hours and it was wonderful and worth every penny. About those tears, they are a gift of recovery, I could have never seen this concert if I was still drinking, chances are I wouldn't be a free man and if I was I would be pennyless and without a drivers lience, I remember the night, I remember the songs, he sang my favorites, For a Dancer and the Pretender, I had 2 special people with me, people who wouldn't associate with me if I was drinking, people who are walking the same spiritual path I am. It was one of those great events in recovery for me, one I thank God for.

Alright now I have to say something about this weekend with N. During the concert I gave her some affection but didn't receive any back. Sunday we went to church and then messed around town prior to me having to go to work, we had a great time together, same as the day before. When we parted it was the same tight hugs and her thanking me for a great weekend. I have thought a lot about this the last few days and I have come to accept that after spending the last 2 months together, that all she really wants to be is close and special friends. As much I have said I would be willing to accept this it does hurt a bit. This acceptance will not change future plans that we have together. What it does is free me up a bit. I have met some women in Lincoln that I find interesting but have shyed away in case N decided she wants something more with me, I am not saying I still don't care deeply about N, what I am saying is that I can't put my life on hold for something that at the moment seems unlikely to develope into what I want it to. Another blogger used the word Surrender this week for a situation she is in, far worse than mine but I still relate to the use. I surrender my wanting a more intimate relationship with N. Surrender the fact that she isn't ready for one or doesn't want one with me. I surrender to the fact that I do want a loving relationship with someone in the near future. I am not saying I am going to go all horndog and start sniffing every skirt that is attractive, start having meaningless one night stands or doing the ugly 13th step boogie. What I am saying is that if I meet a woman at a meeting that I connect with and who seems interested in me I am going to pursue the possiblities further. My relationship with N has given me great insight into my own desires but has also helped me be more healthy spiritually when it comes to relationships. My Buddhist teachings tell me to practice compassion and unselfishness, something I have learned to do better, so that hopefully I will have the awareness to keep doing if another person enters my life, I been given new insight into both spiritual and recovery tools in concerns to relationships and I hope that I will continue to use these, I certainly plan on doing so, main thing is to keep the selfishness at bay. I know I probably sound like a stupid teenage boy in a lot of what I write but in a lot of ways I am. My heavy drinking started when I was a scared out of place kid, I never learned about the dating game and what little I know came from people who were having one night stands instead of commited relationships. What I want is a commited relationship, one that grows stronger, one that isn't based on lust, one that is based on mutual love and compassion. I got married to the first woman who had sex with me on a continual bases, unfortunately we had only known each other a couple of weeks before the sex started and by the time of the weddding I was so caught up in pleasing her and worried about her fragile mental health that I couldn't tell her that I didn't love her the way she loved me, it took 6 years of sick emotional termoil for it to end. Today I see the mistakes of the past, this is part of the reason I have been so patient in waiting to see if things with N would materialize beyond best friend status. It probably sounds silly but I am not getting any younger and I have spent the last 14 years alone and I want to start spending time with someone who will receive my affection and return it. With the help of God I can have healthy desires with out going overboard and creating misery, meetings and talking to my sponsor and others in recovery are part of keeping the balance for me. So a door in my life may have closed and I am in the hallway again but I am sure another door will open, not sure how soon but I have been educated by the closing of the last one so hopefully I am better equiped to handle the opening of the next whenever it happens.

Work is going really well!!! I will write about it in a day or so, new challenges there as well as new growth.

The sunlight if the Spirit is shining on me and I hope if is shining on you as well.

Peace Love and Light