ALCOHOL – THE GREAT ERASER

By:  Christine R. Alcohol is a great eraser.  Put alcohol on a clothing stain and “Voila!”  The stain is erased.  Vanished. Gone.  In fact, alcohol erases just about everything for us alcoholics.  It removes: your job, your driver’s license, your car, your marriage license, your home, your family, your children, your friends, and eventually, your life.  Works wonders, eh? This morning, a newcomer shared the reality of alcohol, the great eraser.  He’d lost his home, wife, kids.  He’d lost himself.  He could not account for the time lost.  Alone in a far-away hotel, a friend finally found him and took him to rehab.  Once out, the newcomer had the craving to contend with.  30 days is barely the DNA of the head of a pin of sobriety.  Yet somehow there’s the sense now the drink problem is solved. “We are unable to bring with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation,” the anguish of even a few days previous. BB p 24. My first 30 days – everything went swimmingly.  New car. New home. New boyfriend.  New job.  Elated and to celebrate, out came the bottles of wine.  Without spiritual tools in my toolbelt, I drank.  Over-elation leads to inebriation. The next day my sponsor advised me I had to “start all over again as a newcomer.”  Outraged that I was not told the “Rules of the Program,” I started over again.  This time angry, hostile, and resentful. And, of course, I drank.  This second round was like a flaming oil rig.  No way to douse the flames of craving for yet another drink and another and another.  The flames of alcohol consumed my new home, my job, my lover and nearly my life.  The only thing to save me was my home group, The Cabin.  The one thing I’d done right was to have a commitment and steady attendance there.  When I went missing, a member woman came to fetch me.  She brought me back and I’ve been coming to that same meeting ever since.   Came, came to, came to believe.  First we have to come.  Get to a meeting. Know when and where the next meeting is.  The home group saved me.  Having at least one place where I could tell the truth and listen to the answers from others saved me.     Where is your next meeting?  Here’s one hour to put our lives on hold and have the privilege of listening to someone else for a while instead of the constant clamoring for another drink. Always cast for the next lily pad of sanity. As a morning, noon, and night drinker, I went to meetings morning, noon, and night.  90 meetings in 90 days turned into 2,000 meetings.  Sometimes, it’s not one day at a time.  For some, it’s one minute at a time.  As I came – I began to “came to.”  Sobriety began to sink in a little at a time.  That muzzy-headed feeling lifted.  I began to realize birds sing, not shout.  Fears subsided.  As I came to, I came to believe.   I came to believe there was a Power to restore me to sanity.  The Power was my home group and the membership.  Looking about me, I could see people getting well and restored to sanity, to home, to family, to their lives.  If they could, so could I.  Thanks to the people around me, I was given hope by their example.  Alcoholism makes us say things we don’t mean to those we love.  Makes us spend money we don’t have on something we cannot afford.  We drink and we lose everything.  We stop drinking and we gain everything.  One woman said to me, “You aren’t giving up drinking.  You are gaining your life back.”  Thus it can be for us all.  More than that, we have the unique ability to help others who are sinking in the mire of our disease. We can help when no one else can. BB page 89. Completely empathetic on the phone with a newcomer yesterday, I could hear the disease had her by the throat.  Alcoholism was erasing her home and her mind.  She helped me as much as I did her.  With that conversation I remembered with total recall, the crazy madness, the incessant murmuring, the cooing of alcoholism.  The great eraser. Yet, whatever may have been erased, with our Program we can rewrite our life stories in a fine bold print: Sober Today. Just For Today. One Day At A Time.

COMING CLEAN THROUGH THE STEPS

By  Caroline M. My life, while under the influence of alcohol, resembled one great, messy knot. A wet one, an alcohol-fueled one. No matter how hard I applied self-will, arrogantly believing in my own smarts to figure out my way through any situation, I seemed to end up entangled in all sorts of problems; never free of worry about what would happen next. Coming clean through the steps, pausing when agitated, taking life one step at a time, all lessons learned in sobriety, even mundane household chores can flow more easily. For example, this afternoon I was doing laundry. When I opened up the lid of my washing machine I found a great twist of aprons, dish towels and cleaning rags firmly locked in an embrace of the central agitator paddle. Strings from aprons had woven themselves throughout this heavy, wet knot and it was impossible to pull the load free. Had I been drunk, I’d have taken a pair of scissors to it, which of course could not have cut through such a thick wet mass. But such logic would have eluded me. After a few futile attempts to shimmy the load past the agitator, I proceeded to pick and pluck at small sections until I loosened first one apron string, which in turn freed up the corners of a twisted cloth and then another, and so on until eventually the knot was resolved and the load came free. It probably took about 5 minutes and since I was not in a rush and sober, the aprons and cloths remained intact. As a bonus there are no accidental stab wounds from scissor blades gone askew. At times like these I realize how much I love being sober, Saturdays without a hangover, especially. Thank you AA and to God, the mysterious, patient, creative, loving source of all wisdom and life.    

Yeah But - I Had Made A Decision

By John W. Before, it had always been so linear. When confronted with a problem, or otherwise looking for a solution, I applied my best analytics to the circumstances and made a decision. If things turned out bad, I had a drink. It made the mistake seem not so glaring. If things turned out well, I had a drink. After all, one was entitled to “take one’s comfort” [in my case it was of the “Southern” variety] after a successful venture or experience. Of course before the decision was confronted or chosen, I had to have a drink to allow me to get focused on the problem, to clear away the distractions, as I once explained to my bartender. My problem was that “one” was never enough. “One too many,” was never more than enough. When finally driven to A.A., and not on a string of victories, a man tried to help.  He  actually answered one of my calls when no one else would. We talked about my predicament, wife, job, children and, of course, my drinking. He told me that while I likely would not believe it, if I were willing to follow a few simple suggestions, my life would change. He further predicted it would be in ways I could not then imagine or believe possible. To which I responded, “Yeah, but you see my circumstances are different.” Then I would explain things to Mike. This badinage continued for a bit. To each observation as to the unmanageability of my life served by Mike, I would volley back a “Yeah but” retort. Like a Wimbledon champion on the court with a rank amateur, he ran me from side to side, baseline to net. I was always a step too slow or a return too weak. Every point I thought I made was shredded by Mike’s simple observation of the truth I obscured with my denial. My “Yeah buts” met their match. So I asked him what I would have to do to be as successful as he had been in the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous. He replied, “Just work the Steps like your life depended upon it, because it does, and you’ll be OK.” With new-found conviction, I hooked up with a sponsor and we started the process.  My “day at Wimbledon” broke  down most of my barriers.  My sponsor took care of the last vestiges of grandeur and denial I harbored. Still my thinking was linear, still I expected that “treat” to  focus, to console or to congratulate. A pattern that demanded change. So I asked my sponsor “What do you have to replace this process within me - that is all I have ever known?”  It was then we discussed The Decision. While turning over my life seemed to make sense, and I was  convinced it was unmanageable, turning over my will was not the same thing.   By then I learned the suggestions worked. I was willing to try. As it worked with the drink, now I could  live this new life I was given by the same spiritual principles that saved it. What an order! Could I go through with it? At times it seems anything like the answer to this inquiry is the foregone conclusion of “Yes.” I believe the journey I have walked thus far, one step at a time, one day at a time, demands I repay that Power which brought me here. I have learned I must do so with the respect and honor the drowning man would give the sailor who had hauled him to safety from the foaming sea. I can offer nothing less for the life I was so freely given. Still the doubt is there, the “Yeah but” rears its hooded head, ready to strike with cobra’s speed to infuse the venom of doubt into my veins. I know not what works for others. Nay, only what has worked for me, where my only defense against this lethal apparition is to say something like:  “God, I offer myself to thee, ...”  However, I can also truly say it works - it really does. This is a change, neither imagined nor predicted, but with which I can live today.

Accept the Things We Cannot Change

95% is OK with me.

By Rick R. About 90% of the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I attend close with the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. There are a lot of words synonymous with serenity and they all amount to what I would call, Peace of Mind. On page 417 in the book Alcoholics Anonymous it says, “And, acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.) Bingo!! So why has it taken me so long to settle on this simple sentence? The desire to drink alcohol was lifted from me from my very first meeting in A.A. and has never returned. Prior to that, from the moment I woke up each morning until I got my first drink, I was an emotional wreck. The absence of that mental obsession to drink freed me. And I became highly influenced by the collective message of the meetings that I attended.  Over a long period of time, I started to recognize the cause and effect of my defects and shortcomings. I began to address these issues with the help of the members of my group who  seemed to have the answers for me. Dealing with the wreckage of the past and in an environment where we talked about these issues made my journey much easier than I thought. I had to deal with a failed marriage, child support, parenting issues, legal matters, and an assortment of life issues stemming from my neglect and irresponsibility. One of the things that often goes unnoticed during the process of clearing up the wreckage of the past, is I stopped making those mistakes which caused all my grief. As a result of practicing the principles I learned in the A.A. program I regained the respect of my first wife and have been married over 50 years to my current wife. I got it right the second time around, while not dismissing my need to correct the damage done in my first marriage.  Having said all of that, where do I address the acceptance statement? It would be easy for me to rest on my laurels, as they say, but I am never finished when it comes to examining my motives or how I act today. If I were finished, why would I still attend A.A. meetings? Over the years in the program, I noticed some habits we alcoholics seem to continue to discuss before and after a meeting such as: traffic on the freeway, red-light systems, not enough parking at the market, inconvenience of a rainstorm, politics, and religion, criticizing other people, places, and things. For some reason, talking about all these inconveniences seems to be my way of distracting attention away from our own thinking and behavior. Simply put, there is a percentage of people driving on the freeway who travel faster than the speed limit, a percentage will drive slower than the speed limit, and others who may cut me off. That is never going to change. I cannot talk about politics and religion over and over. I am never going to change the other person. I have two choices while traveling on the freeway. My first choice is to take it and my second choice is to leave it and take a back road. If the speed limit is too slow on the back road, maybe I’ll take the freeway. All the issues I struggled with are pro and con percentages that will never change in this lifetime. Today I accept the things I cannot change. As a result, I am at peace 95% of the time and that is good enough for me.  

Nighttime Engagement

By Dede H. A galaxy of souls shines From the center of the universe The other side of the picture Movies of light and shadow Nighttime is our real existence Rest and relax with God Dreaming your ultimate reality Daytime is so hypnotic Its horrors not lasting Awaken from your nightmare Seek the kingdom of God Here is your real Joy Be drunk with spirituality Experiment with yourself God’s altar is within you