Search for God

imageI have always believed that God doesn’t make too hard of terms with those who seek Him. As I share my faith walk, I hope that I don’t lose you at the word God or the idea and willingness to seek Him. After all, the concept of God can be intimidating, especially in early sobriety, but I found out that my mess wasn’t caused by God. I was ‘churched’ all of my formative years and thru many trials, fears, and experiences, I began to ask the questions that most of us have when we go thru tough times, like “who are you, God?”, “where are you, God?” and “how could these days be so full of troubles, God?” I’ve never flatly refused to believe in the existence of God; however, my actions weren’t in line with my words so I turned to idolatry. I idolized many gods on different levels: people, relationships, religion, money, sex, power, drugs, alcohol, cars, and jobs to name a few. I am a practicing Christian now, and a believer that the book I read called the Holy Bible, translated by King James and his scholars, was penned by men who passed down stories thru time to show a profound impact that sin has in the life of man and woman. In faith terms, I believe that I am that man, born of sin, who has tried everything under the sun to fill the void. And that’s where I’m evolving in this process known as recovery. Spiritual growth is not stagnant. I’m either growing or withering. The fruits of sin are the results of my choices. Being a Christian doesn’t mean I’ll always get it right, but the fruits I bear today are not the ones I bore. What it means is that if I want to continue on my road of recovery, I must stay connected to God by working with others who don’t play religion. I’ve had enough of that;  there was no god there.  I missed the point looking for something to fill that hole. What I have found is that I find God when I look for God. It took 12 steps and four and a half years before I’ve finally come full circle….good day!…b

Walking with purpose

imageI can’t do this alone. Across our great big world, someone is walking into an AA meeting for the very first time. I remember what my first meeting felt like. I was anxious, scared, and bewildered by what was read and what was shared. “How can I be an alcoholic?” I thought to myself. It was suggested for me to attend by a family member who had gotten sober using the 12 step model introduced in the 1930’s by a man named Bill W., who along with his friend Dr. Bob, began hosting meetings in their homes while inviting others who struggled with the bottle. Both of their personal stories are found in the AA “Big Book” and are interesting and fascinating reads. Even Dr. Silkworth, a longtime professional working in psychiatric medicine and particularly hospitals for those who had drinking and addiction problems, endorsed the movement when he saw the profound impact of a sober alcoholic relating and helping other practicing alcoholics wean off, quit entirely, and live sober lives. He writes that nothing works but complete abstinence for those of us who found we can not stop when we start or quit entirely. His suggestion that unless a complete psychic change occurs, there is little hope of recovery from a disease that centers around an allergy of the body and obsession of the mind. In other words, alcohol makes me sick, and unless I seek help, there is scant chance of long term sobriety. The first 164 pages describe in detail what is necessary for that psychic change to occur. I have to be willing to admit my powerlessness, seek spiritual help, identify causes and conditions, make amends, and help someone else. What was once a delusion has now become my reality. I can live a life today free from the bondage of my past. I no longer wake up dying for a drink, lie about my whereabouts, or have to figure out who I was with and what I had done the night before. Today I attend meetings regularly, welcome the newcomer, and continue on this chapter of my life. It’s walking with purpose, letting go of resentments and fears, and facing my day with courage that keeps me from picking up that first one….good day!….b

Extremeism

imageI often say that just because the circus leaves town doesn’t mean that the monkeys are gone. Others are just brutally honest when they share that they feel ‘bat shit’ crazy at times. I have been awakening to the latter more often lately. The good news is that I don’t have to lie in bed and figure it all out anymore. I embrace it, accept it, read the second full paragraph on page 86 (AA Big Book), ask God to direct my thinking, and then go about my day. I medicated my moods and feelings for a long time, dreaming that I could somehow manage my consumption. Drugs and alcohol change me, and I don’t have willpower to control the amounts I take once I start. That, purely, defines my alcoholism. The difference is that today I have gotten more serene with the mundane. This life would never have happened if I hadn’t asked for help and for God to radically change me. To the world it may seem extreme, but to me it became a choice of life or death. To go to the bitter end or to seek a spiritual solution are not always easy propositions to face, the Big Book suggests. Many pursue the delusional thinking that occurs with heavy drinking into insane hospitals or death. Addiction is killing people now much younger and much faster. Marco Pantani once was the world’s fastest climber in professional road cycling. He could scale 17% inclines at a whopping speed of 30 km. A dimunitive but hearty Italian winning both the Giro and Tour de France in the same year  has never been duplicated. In a sport where doping became an international scandal, he mysteriously disappeared into a world of drugs, confusion, and an untimely death. How could that happen to an extremely disciplined and healthy athlete whose resting heart rate was an incredible 46?  He never accepted his powerlessness; gifted on the one hand, cursed on the other. It’s a world of polar opposites to find the balance it takes to live sober even when it feels like an uphill climb…..good day!…b

In the rooms

screenshot_2016-12-06-22-10-51-1When my world gets topsy turvy and life isn’t some seamless integration of all my senses, I find the peace and stillness I crave in writing. Drugs really never gave me that, neither did alcohol. Unfortunately people, nor places, nor stuff ever did  either. Putting pen to paper gives my soul a freedom that I had never experienced, so I keep on doing it because it works. The strange twist is that I can’t remember a time formerly when writing was nothing more than a chore; or a term paper my college girlfriend wrote that I would turn into the professor. How dare you, you ask?..Well, in my life I’ve taken some despicable actions, but I learned by staying sober and working the 12 steps that I could be freed from that junk. It’s simple but not always easy to get vulnerable, real, and raw. It takes courage to walk up to complete strangers at meetings, introduce myself, and ask them how their experiences are going.  It is the place where others get me and I get them. Some tales are tragic, others comical. Others are tragically comic, but underneath the laughter, attractiveness, and spontaneity lies a “deadly earnestedness” to remain willing to give until it hurts and share with others the gift of hope. I learned how powerless I am in the rooms. I learned how insane my drinking and thinking were in the rooms. Mostly, I learned how God works by watching other folks help ones who come in unable to help themselves. A man reaches his hand out, and the magic starts. It’s amazing to see how my life has evolved and changed. It’s wonderful to watch the same happen with others. We learn how to live as a family, a community, if you will, from all walks of life coping with the pressures, demands, and experiences of everyday life without picking up that first drink. The former life was tough, and even now my emotional sobriety can feel threatened. It defines my humanness to tell someone what is going on with me. Perhaps they’ve experienced the same thing in their lives and they share how they made it thru the storm without getting high or drunk. The coolest part is getting to know people in an entirely new way, but none of this magic happens if I’m unwilling to make it in the rooms to remain a part of it all….good day!….b

Blowin’ in the Wind

imageSomeone once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”  Bob Dylan asked in a song , “How many years must a man exist, before he can be set free?” The answer my friend, he sang, “is blowing in the wind.” I guess we are all looking for answers when we get disillusioned and ask, “why?” Why must children lose their parent to a disease called addiction when there is so much misinformation but help out there? We even have meetings online now to connect with others who understand. I can only walk the walk today. I’m grateful I found the path that works for me. Another friend passed away last week from an overdose of fentanyl and only God knows what else. Her fiancé, a sponsee, had begun to suspect her relapse. Then, without notice, he started dropping off. I wasn’t seeing him at meetings, hadn’t heard from him, and we lost touch. That’s what happens with addiction, folks. In less than a month, she, at 32 years of age, leaves two daughters behind in a world they may never understand. His whereabouts are presently unknown, but I can almost sense his pain, high or not. No one wants to die this way, but addiction is a disease that kills and kills quickly. One day, we will all leave this earth, and I want to leave a legacy of hope. Hope for my kids, and hope for others who struggle but learn that surrender is a process, given as a gift to those who are willing to grow thru the pain. It’s not always easy, but giving up on the idea that I have a monopoly on God, or recovery, or that I have it all together catapults me into wanting to help others. It keeps me out of my mind and the monkey off my back. It gets my mind off of me. I’ve learned to embrace my insanity, love my crazy, and accept my failings. The 12 steps help me with that. I now try to learn from them. I see people who like myself for so long, try and do it their own way and are found slumped over in a hot shower, half dead. We wrestle with the idea that we can get satisfaction out of people, things, drinks, or notoriety. It never works that way for me. I must work toward the spiritual and the book says the rest will follow……good day!…b

Victimhood

imageThere have been many martyrs in the history of our time. Nathan Hale and a man named Stephen come to mind. You might have heard the statement that Hale repeated before his death, ” I have but one regret and that is I have only one life to die for my country.” He was killed by British soldiers in the battle of Long Island, caught by his enemies behind the lines. On the other hand, Stephen was stoned to death for his offensive views and beliefs in Christianity. In those days, you were buried up to your neck and rocks were thrown at your head. Let me be the first to say, in either situation, martyrdom takes courage; self pity and victimhood do not. The insanity of my disease is at its worst when I’m seemingly at my best. Let me have a string of successes, and I’ll start obsessing over why it couldn’t be better. The mind of a chronic alcoholic is torturous while drinking. Then stone cold sober I get the news that a friend back home was found in bed unresponsive by her kids this morning. No note, no warning, just a cell phone by her side. I had lost touch with her over the last couple of years, and I don’t need to know how. It was time, I suppose, for God to call her number. I can take the path of least resistance, forge ahead, and pretend like it doesn’t bother me, but it does. There are times it feels good to play the victim card, even at other’s expense, but I don’t have that luxury now. I held onto that card way too long. So beside every good drink was a reason, and the reason was that I felt sorry for me. There is no way to make it make sense other than its the only way I knew how to live; feel sorry for myself, drink, and repeat. What I learned from working the steps is that if I continue to repeat the same mistakes, I stay stuck and cannot move forward. Friends pass, martyrs die, and the disease of addiction still kills. All I have to do is start feeling sorry for myself, play the victim, and the odds are I’ll pick up a drink again….but for God’s grace, not today….b

Sober Living

screenshot_2016-12-27-19-59-20-1What is it about the sober life that attracts me and keeps me wanting to live it? I’m positively sure that most of us who have been found out lying about the number of drinks we had, or hiding the pill bottle, or pawning our belongings for that next fix can probably tell you in a few words: walking the bridge to freedom. When I was enslaved to the bottle, it wasn’t just emotional, mental, or physical; it was the spiritual component that I lacked that kept me sick. The disease of addiction tells my brain that I’ll quit tomorrow, but for many I’ve known, tomorrow never comes. Most of us have to be pretty badly mangled in order to become willing to change. I had to get open and honest about the resentments and fears that had ruled me all of my life. I had to admit that I was the problem, and alcohol and substances once were symptoms of a deadening of who I really am today. Little affect could have ever occurred in me to make me change. The consequences piling upon my bewildered head couldn’t get me sober. Today my relationships with my fellow man are better. My character defects I recognize, or others point out to me, more readily. What I have discovered in working toward my fifth year sober is that my life is infinitely better because I surrender daily to the idea that I ever really could drink like a gentleman. I spend my time and resources helping guys just like me, and somehow, with spiritual blessings, we stay sober one day at a time. I’m no guru or long shot. I am more comfortable now being myself and embracing my insanity at times, sober. Imagine that. A life well lived all because I work the 12 steps of AA, accept life on its terms, and continue with the willingness to simply say, “I don’t know.” I still get baffled with life’s circumstances and everyday happenings, but I don’t drink over them and that gives me the freedom to go just about anywhere free men walk…happy new year to you all….b