Crossroads

image

‘Crossroads,….. seem to come and go’- Greg Allman’s lyric in “Melissa”

If you look closely, you will the see the “keep off” sign on the homemade bridge. Anyone, besides myself, ever totally ignored those?….I certainly have……..in the cattle business, farmers call them “crossings”, or gaps of land where the herd can go the easiest from one pasture to the next. Cattle are like water, they will follow the path of least resistance. I will too, even when the sign says, “no trespassing.” Some of us have to learn in the hardest kind of ways. If a chaotic crises, born out of my own sense of entitlement and stubbornness, were sufficient enough to force me to admit my  powerlessness, then my life may have had fewer switchbacks.  My addiction is like that….crazy thoughts come back when the reminders of how bad it once was have faded into the mystic…… the hangovers, the health problems, the warped mind, and the highs and lows. At some point, I had to quit playing god, stop crossing over keep out signs, and remember that I created the crisis, but I couldn’t fix it on my own. The book talks about going to the bitter end, or seeking a spiritual solution. I was running from the little boy inside me trying to make his way out. If a man lives long enough, he will eventually come to that crossroads, too. Today, I am becoming the man I’ve always wanted to be. It’s liberating to have  experiences in life where I no longer am looking over my shoulder. Boundaries are set for a reason, and I must respect mine and others in order to stay on the path.  It still takes leaps of faith to get to the other side, but thankfully, God’s will in my life is no longer a mystery….good day…b

Blessings

“Into each life, some rain must fall”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sally Field played it perfect in the movie, “Places in the Heart.” A widowed mother left with two kids, a farm with no money, and somehow, she could see the blessings in it all. I’m thankful I’m not in the state penitentiary, but I do want to make a trek one year to Angola just to see the rodeo. It’s fascinating how blessed I am, and yet, let me have a few day’s worth of slumps, and I’m full of pity, remorse, regret, worry, and fear.  I’m blessed I found a solution to work thru that. I’m also blessed that God has shown his favor and has given me the courage to live in it. I once knew an easier, softer way in the beginning, but in the end it was torturous, mind-bending work. Something I remind guys early on when we work the steps is to pray for willingness and somehow, in some way, get God in it quickly. The blessings are that I’ve seen changed lives as a result. Not my power, but God is continually blessing me with people, like me, who are desperate to change. In life, I get what it is my perception of the event is…..so I call my sponsor, he helps me get centered, and I learn from the misperception. It happens, but not as often as it once did. Once God removed the obsession to drink and get high, then I had to learn to live, to cope, to know when to fight and when to run. Blessings are the gifts of doing the work…..a roof, clothes, vehicle, job, kids, opportunities for service, repaired friendships, and sobriety. It’s my recovery where the responsibility lies, and I can’t keep it without giving it away….blessings!…all from the Maker….b

Bible Verse

The Thinker

“I think, therefore, I am”-Descartes

The above sculpture called “the Thinker”, commissioned by sculptor Auguste Rodin,  is one of the most recognized in all of art. Yet, for years, both he and his works toiled in relative obscurity…… It’s interesting to me how some of the most intelligent, articulate, and creative people I have ever met are in the rooms of 12 step recovery. And they are sober.  When it comes to  intellect and liquor, in my case, “smarts” go out the window. I had no well conceived processing faculty that told me that it wouldn’t end well.   For years, I killed brain cell after merciless brain cell with no regards for my own psyche. There have even been times when I’ve completely lost my own mind, but for all it was worth, just one simple truth has resonated with me….that “at times, we have no mental defense against that first drink. Our defense must come from a Higher Power.” ….imagine that….I simply cannot out think, over analyze, or intellectualize myself out of my own head. I need God, and yet, my own head still tells me at times, ” a cold Corona with lime sure sounds good.” The problem is, no matter how smart I think that I am, I’ve never actually drank just one……three days later and I’m in another quandary thinking, “what in Batman’s name just happened?” That’s what qualifies me, according to the book. “Drinks to kill the pain and drown the sorrows, for merriment and good times”…I would toast and say, “I”ll drink to that!” I do tragic and puzzling things under the influence….. like the time I drove thru three counties in a neighboring state to buy beer on a Sunday. All because I drank one can of beer midday, and the phenomenon of craving took over my mind and body. It had nothing to do with intellect and everything to do with a problem that no man could fix.  I simply had to ask for help….and stop trying so hard to outthink it….good day!…b

Bible Verse

Invincibility

There goes “Superman”, all lit up again. The sad take was that the real Superman, Christopher Reeve,  died from complications of being a quadriplegic his last ten years here, all from a fall on a horse in an equestrian event. The picture of me with bottle in hand,  gave me the warped perception that I could fly also….. then alcohol took the sky away. “The rapacious creditor, it bleeds us of all self-sufficiency,” the 12 steps and 12 traditions state.  Considering that I would actually drive with one eye closed to keep the white line from weaving so bad, I’m just fortunate to still be here. God was keeping me and others safe, that I do know. I shutter just thinking back, but I can’t stay there too long because some of my friends never made it out of those back roads. Like me, they only thought they were invincible. It’s never in the cards to think about actually dying, but getting caught in a whitewater hydraulic under a kayak rendered me helpless and reminded me that I’m no superman. That and a few other dances with the devil. I’m sure glad those close calls catapulted me into becoming entirely willing and ready to change. Nobody could have told me any different. When a man thinks he’s invincible, he’s just toying with the idea that he might be god.  Today, the air of invincibility has been flattened by the reality that I must live here on earth loosened by a few simple suggestions…..accept my powerlessness,find God, admit my faults, make amends, pray, and help my brothers. I no longer live with a false sense of self, and what my body and mind remind me daily is that it’s my own mortality, not invincibility, that have taught me how to grow wings and fly….good day….b

Stereotypes

Might as well have been me trying to find my way. Once I gave up and sobered up, I seemingly forget those moments where I’ve awoken and wondered, “how did I get here?” The book tells me that we come from all walks of life. I’m a US southerner born and raised. While I’ve traveled to numerous places, I believe I’ll be buried somewhere between Tupelo and Boone.  Besides the humidity and “no see ums”, the south has everything a man could want….white beaches, mountains, pretty girls, and good BBQ. From New Orleans to Memphis, by bus to Montgomery, thru the Appalachian chain and rivers in North Carolina, down the Atlantic thru South Georgia and over to the Gulf of Mexico……today,  I’m proud to call this home.   I grew up working class, in a small college town, with culture and live music. I smoked my first joint and drank my first beers before I turned 14. By age 15, I was using psychedelics, sneaking into bars at 16, and was introduced to stronger mind altering chemicals by age 18. Somehow, in all that madness, I managed to letter in 5 varsity sports, and I received an academic scholarship to attend college. But I had other plans, so I dropped out initially to pursue my own interests in painting and cutting, as well as smoking, grass. I returned to college and received my BS and Master’s Degrees, but I had garnered a reputation as a hard partier, so I thought moving states would fix me. I’ve since learned, my addiction goes with me wherever I go.  I would just surround myself with new party people. Fast forward 25 years…..rehab, kids, detox centers, emotional unavailability in failed relationships, and near death experiences…and somewhere in all that…I had to see my part and subsequently found a way to live sober, happy, and free. So, the next time you think you have met a drunk, in the mirror or otherwise, remember that sobriety is a gift to those who’ve drank both top shelf and out of paper sacks. It’s the first one that always nailed me, and it doesn’t discriminate …..I’m just grateful to be in the land of the living….good day!…b

Complacency

I don’t think MLK had recovery in mind, but how pertinent to my daily walk, just one foot in front of the next. You know what will kill me stone cold dead?….complacency. Complacency is apathy’s first cousin. Apathy is I don’t care,  and complacency is I care just enough not to be concerned anymore. When the comfortable starts becoming uncomfortable then I have to make a change. The book calls it “resting on our laurels.” Complacency has laid many a man in his grave, one shovel of dirt at a time. How do I know when I’m getting complacent?…. I get irritated quicker, my fuse gets shorter, and my propensity to fire off goes higher. Those little pin pricks feel like thorns……and I get so busy that I forget to ask God for help. I’ll pass on a phone call, skip a needed meeting, and stop working with others. I’ve laid reading my spiritual materials to rest. My experience shows that when I stop doing these, I’ve relapsed. The relapse occurred long before I picked up that first drink.  I lose that conscious contact, and being cut off from the Spirit…..I have no hope. When I drank, I lived in that delusional state that someday I would overcome my desires to temporarily escape on my own willpower.  What I didn’t realize  was that I was expending most of my energy digging my own grave. Today, I’m free but I can’t get complacent in the freedom. God made mountains and valleys, and He also created a path for me to walk. In order for me to weather the peaks and low spots that come with living, I have got to stay on the path. It’s not always the path of least resistance I assure you….but so far, it has been a path well worth taking…..good day!….b

Depth and weight

The message which can interest and hold these alcoholic people must have depth and weight- BB Doctor’s Opinion xxviii

The above illustration defines the meaning almost perfectly. The farther down I go into those layers that developed my thinking, the more I understand that it is my thinking that’s at the very root of my troubles. When I go down and uncover these causes and conditions, the lighter the load becomes. I have the mind of a chronic alcoholic whether I ever pick up another drink or not. I know because the book tells me so and its message has the depth and weight that got my attention. In fact, the first 164 pages, in my opinion, are so divinely written, that I would have thought that Bill W had lifted his inspiration straight from the Bible. He did. Both have depth and weight. The message is simple but clear…..”abandon yourself to God as you know God….and freely give of yourself as you trudge the road of happy destiny.” To a self confessed “I think I know what’s best for me” kinda guy…I finally had to hit rock bottom with that thinking. I can intellectualize almost everything and understand it to some degree….but ask me why I picked up that first drink and I couldn’t explain it any better than how Mozart played the piano. It is a strange twist how I could be seemingly doing so well, then the thought of a drink occur and I’d be at the local watering hole, chatting it up like there was going to be no tomorrow. It’s puzzling and twisted in a pretzel kind of way. I’d be so badly mangled after a bender that all I could do would be sleep it off until the next round. I thank God I don’t live like that today. No man should have to with the solution found in the message of hope that has depth and weight. I wonder how I lived thru some of my experiences at times….thinking my heart was going to blow out of my chest. Thankfully, I became willing and just desperate enough to see and feel the pain and misery, and to ask God and another man to help me. The message had depth and weight. That’s why I keep coming back…..good day!…b

Fillers

“The proper function of man is to live, not to exist”- Jack London

Nothing can get me off center quite like distractors or “fillers”, as I like to call them. Those gems of modern day wizardry that keep me connected all the time….and sometimes, I just want to cut and run. It can be so overwhelming that I get “email refresh syndrome” and replace quality time with reading the never ending supply of promotions, games, personal ads, and groupons. I first sensed this was coming while working in sales in the early 2000’s. My office was in my home, cell phone to the hip, and I couldn’t shut the door to my office and turn the light off in my mind. Always at work, always trying to broker a turn key solution. It’s almost like being on a Ferris wheel in 3 quarter speed and being unable to cut the switch to turn the darn thing off. Round and round, just another addiction of sorts. It’s not just the Internet, either. Often I can do the same with sugar, exercise, or even people.   When my day and attitude revolve around that one call, text, twitter, Facebook post, instagram, or instant message…..then it’s time to pull up on the horses because the wheels are falling off of the wagon. Emotional sobriety, the evenness that comes from serenity and a quiet spirit, is what I’m searching for in this world, along with balance. It’s not a right or wrong scenario, but when I have produced enough chaos to last two lifetimes, and I’m only halfway thru with my first, the last thing I need to be doing is focusing my attention on the latest and greatest techno gadgetry. If I know that cell phones, Internet, and social media zap my productivity, then why do I continue to engage so much?….simply because there is thrill and excitement in going to eBay and buying something new, having it delivered to the door, and all I have to do is open the box. But suppose the sweater doesn’t fit or the fishing rod tip is broken? It’s just like  smoking a cigarette knowing that the package says it will kill me….is opening a text to read something that, in my mind, has the power to change the outcome of my day if I allow it. It’s no coincidence, however, that a text, scripture, or a passage from my recovery literature may be the life giving thought I need for the day. Learning to detach when appropriate is the lesson and use wisdom and discretion. Otherwise, my ADD brain gets caught in a time trap. There is a time and place for everything, a purpose for everything under the sun…..but if I want to stay on point and off the roller coaster….then I have got to turn those high beams on dim…..good day!…b

Bible Verse

Hardships

Today I can delight in another person’s good fortune because I can see myself and how best to handle it as if it were mine. For a long time, I burned up energy foolishly thinking of how unfair life was. It was not until I began to see the blessings, that I began to let go of the curses. I finally accepted that it’s my life, the only one I will ever have, and I might as well make it the best I can. Working on steps 6 thru 10 taught me that. It’s really my character defects like pride, lust, gluttony, and envy that cause me the greatest fear and anger. I have to ask God to remove them daily, pray for acceptance, and make amends for harms done. It takes courage, but staying stuck in the problem is a death trap. I must accept that in my life, all things happen for a reason, and I must look for God in each situation. Otherwise, my perspective gets skewed, and before I know it, I am whining and moaning about this or that. Nobody likes a whiner. We all have hardships. What I have learned is that I gain strength when I see others walk thru storms and make it to the other side….alive, intact, and sober. In each trial, I find that if I look for the lesson, I find it. It all depends on what I’m looking to gain. If it’s selfish and self seeking, it usually finds me out. So, I have to turn my thoughts outward, stop and make time to listen, and hear the voices that others speak…..that I’m not unique to situations, problems, and life scenarios that others have experienced. Being grateful for these challenges offers me and others hope. The same hope I had lost because of my lack of understanding of the problem. The problem is me, not others, and asking God to teach me the lesson makes me the pupil…..good day!…b

Bible Verse

Recovery Behaviors

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending- Maria Robinson 

All the times I promised to stop and couldn’t, I eventually became so entrenched in the lure of that next high that it finally rendered me helpless.  I understand that my disease centers in my brain and from it springs forth all forms of spiritual sickness. What happens to misinformed, maladjusted, chaotic people, once like me, who are fortunate enough to find a solution?…we have to learn to live again. And with that we develop new coping skills in sobriety, as well as recovery behaviors, that work. I’ve learned that I can never be an average, temperate drinker any more than I have the power to change a pickle back into a cucumber. So, I accept that my brain chemistry is different, I have an allergy created in my body when I use, and my mind stays stuck on the obsession of getting more of whatever it is I need to get my fix. After I had been sober a while, I was amazed at how much time I really had to participate in life again. What do I do today with  my time?….I cook, read, go to meetings, work with others, spend time with my kids, write, and exercise, all the while working to put bread on the table.  Those are new strategies that pass my time and help me keep my mind off of me and my little world. It sounds boring, but it’s really a good life, much better than the former. It is sad to watch others go thru the same debauchery, knowing there is a solution. I’m quite certain others felt the same about me. Day in and day out, doing insane stuff with the idea that somehow my life would turn around on it’s own. Being sober minded is not only a better way to live, but I’m more in tune to my roles here on Earth. I lost a lot of ground doing things my way, so the relief I seek and find by changing behaviors isn’t always easy, but it’s  sure worth the effort….good day!…b

Bible Verse