Thursday, August 28, 2008


When I first came to the Program several years ago, I told no one until I had 45-60 days of sobriety (I can't remember exactly how much time I had, to be rigorously honest). Then I started "coming out" to people. This is how I found out that everyone knew I had a drinking problem, but few said anything about it. I would muster up the courage to tell family and close friends, and no one had the decency to act shocked or ask me if I wasn't being a little bit rash. Instead, everyone said, "Oh M, that's wonderful!".

Like I was the last one to know or something! Sheesh ...

So now I'm in to win, but I still have to be mindful:

I don't volunteer it, nor do I hide it. When I am offered a drink by a so-called-normal person, I decline politely. If it is offered again by the same person, I state that I do not drink alcohol. If that person then asks why, I reply that I am allergic. Yes, I am then tortured by the standard tale of Someone-They -Sort-Of-Know-Who-Breaks-Out-in-Hives-If-She-Drinks-151, but I have not made the Normie uncomfortable by stating that I'm in recovery.

I put others' anonymity before my own. The vast majority of my friends are in recovery. If a normie asks how I met a recovering person, I simply say "Through friends" or "At a get-together." I may not care that the normie finds out I go to meetings, but my recovering friend might!

I accept the fact that in some arenas, recovery makes normal people nervous. When I lived in Dallas, I was told by several folks that there existed a super-secret meeting close to a major airport only for airline pilots. It was invitation only. I know that this is a potential violation of Tradition One. In reality, I want airline pilots (and doctors and lawyers and all other professionals who often hold the course of other's lives in their hands on a daily basis) to be able to get this thing, and if that means super-secret meetings, so be it!

I think about my internet usage carefully. Social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook pack a double-edged sword: they help me meet others in recovery, but they also have all kinds of vehicles for breaking others' anonymity.

And so do blogs, so as usual, I sign off with no name!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What "if"?

So it's the end of August, and being month number 8 going into month number 9, many around here are gearing up to do their amends, or at least to brag about doing them in meetings. It's a heavy subject going in and a freeing experience going out, Here's what I've learned about the process along my way ...

1) I can owe amends to people even if they do not appear on my 4th step list. I have found this to be especially true for those newer in sobriety. The 4th step list is my list of resentments/fears/generally nasty feelings. However, I can harm people without even knowing it. This is why the twelve steps differentiate between a "fearless moral inventory" and "a list of all persons we had harmed". These can be two separate and different lists.

2) I should not attempt to make an amends if I'm not really sorry. Having a resentment is like active alcoholism: everyone can see it, regardless of how I think I'm covering it up. If you know deep down that you're not a bit sorry for what you did, you will almost always make the situation worse with a new act of dishonesty. The Big Book says that in this case we should pray for the willingness to make amends in these cases.

3) I should not make a direct amends to someone in order to manipulate them. When I did my first amends list, I couldn't wait to go to an old flame an apologize for the way I would sometimes speak to him when I had been drinking. I was genuinely sorry about that, but what I truly wanted deep down was to show him that I had sobered up and that now he should give our relationship another chance. Selfishness and self-centeredness was about to become the root of yet another problem! If I am still trying to control others' behavior, I am going to drink again, and luckily my sponsor saw through my sanctimonious b******t and forbade me from contacting him in any way.

4) I should remember that Internet is usually the easier, softer way. If my sponsor authorizes me to make a direct amends to someone, I need to see that individual in person. Anything else is cutting corners, with a couple of exceptions:

  • You physically can't appear before them - you are a soldier deployed to a combat zone, you are incarcerated, etc. If someone has a protective order against you, DO NOT VIOLATE THE ORDER.

  • They refuse to see you - this is their right, and we respect that, no questions asked.

  • The expense of travel will be a financial hardship on you or your family - if you need to make amends to someone who is now a missionary in Pongo Pongo, airfare would certainly bite into the budget of the average family. We are responsible for our family's food, basic clothing or shelter in all stages of our recovery.

So, with this said, have a happy amends list! If I've left anything out here ... I apologize!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bonus post for moms!

If you're a mom on the road to recovery, check out the ladies at SoberMoms:

Replacing fear with faith

I am a world-class worrier - if worry were an Olympic sport, I'd have been on a Wheaties box years ago. I have spent many years worrying about things that have never happened. I justified my drinking with the release from worry that it gave me for many years.

Now that I am sober, I have to deal with the same brain. As the country song goes, "I've got this thinkin' problem ...". This is why I need to read each day something out of Dale Carnegie's book Stop Worrying and Start Living. This book's techniques have helped me immensely with my weird need to freak out.

Here's an example: yesterday was the first day of school for my son. This is his second year in the public school system. Just like the first day of last year, my son's father called the school and told them I have enrolled my son under false pretenses (I don't know what that means), threatening to sue the school, the principal, and the district.

Last year, I got really upset about the scene he made - I envisioned him dragging me back into court, giving a judge another chance to take my son away from me. I literally began plotting strategy for a hearing that never took place.

I didn't enjoy it any more this year: I apologized to the school administration and filed his bizarre e-mails in the stack I've had for years now. What's different is that I recognize that he is the same size as me in the eyes of God. The same laws of nature apply to him - if they didn't, they would be called The Laws of Nature Except for Evan J. So this year I'll do some things differently:

I won't throw gas on grill when there's nothing to cook. Because we both answer to Nature's Law, I do not need to get drawn into a verbal pissing match with him. It does no good and wastes precious moments from my life - I didn't divorce him to keep fighting with him!

Get correct perspective. Most human behavior has a pattern, and he is no exception. He sends all parties involved ugly threatening e-mails and letters, demanding that everyone do his bizarre bidding. No one responds, and then one day, it stops like a hurricane losing steam. There will be another soon, but they always pass without any real incident.

Adjust my expectations. I have a court order directing my legal obligations in raising my son, and I obey that court order. He has not. Therefore, it is a reasonable assumption that he will continue to disobey. It is unreasonable to think that one day after 45 years of societal narcissism, he will say to himself, "Hmmm... maybe I should be of service to others, rather than a blight on my community? I'll start by ceasing to harass my ex-wife."

Embrace the worst-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is that Evan and I will end up before the original judge again over less than a year's worth of custody, and I can show that I have obeyed every letter of his order, and then show him the stack of e-mailed rants (which I affectionately call the Book of Crazy) and his failure to pay child support. Unpleasant? Yes. But nothing I couldn't handle.

Use same mental energy for something constructive. I turn the mental power I would have misused worrying to keeping documentation of all of this, while working on my ability to stay calm and nonplussed by these outbursts (which isn't easy). Keeping my side of the street clean isn't always easy, but it always rewards us.

Sometimes I think Dale Carnegie might have been one of us!

Monday, August 25, 2008



It's called "trudging" for a reason ...

From 24 Hours a Day:

"Never yield to weariness of the spirit. At times, the world’s cares and distractions will intrude and the spirit will become weak. At times like this, carry on and soon the spirit will become strong again. God’s spirit is always with you, to replenish and renew. None ever sincerely sought God’s help in vain. Physical weariness and exhaustion make a time of rest and communion with God more necessary. When you are overcome by temporary conditions which you cannot control, keep quiet and wait for the power of the spirit to flow back."

May God forgive me, I would like a day off from my life today. I would like to be in one of those sappy movies where I wake up in someone else's life and learn to appreciate my own. I am tired of potty training. I am tired of setting up the new place. I am tired of worrying about money. I am tired of dealing with my soon-to-be-ex husband. I am tired of reporting to this new job and sitting over here in Storage Room B having no one talk to me or give me any direction. I am tired of not getting BF's just-about-total attention. I am tired of being exhausted all day and not sleeping at night. I am tired of having hideously chapped lips from this stupid Accutane (which I might have to discontinue if I keep feeling this way).

A few days ago I called my parents to tell them (prematurely) that I thought we were making some real potty training progress. My mother said to me, "That's great news honey! When I saw you were calling I just assumed something was wrong - I thought 'Uh oh'".

Wow - that's nice. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

How Not to Share in a Meeting

1) Don't introduce yourself as an alcoholic/having the desire to stop drinking in closed meetings. Yes, yes, I know, nowhere in the BB does it say that you have to introduce yourself as an alcoholic. However, by attending closed meetings, you're making that statement with your very presence. If you can't verbally admit it, you probably shouldn't be sharing.

2) Share at every meeting you attend. For HP's sake, do NOT let a meeting go by without your input! Gosh knows some folks only get to hear you once a day.

3) Share even through you're more than 15 minutes late. I understand that doctors and like professionals attend meetings, and that those schedules don't bend to meeting times. However, if one is late because the line at Golden Corral was longer than anticipated, this may be your HP's way of saying you're meant to listen for what little time you have left in the meeting.

4) Go as long as you like. Anything longer than five minutes is ego. Most folks attend discussion meetings in order to hear the thoughts of more than one person. If you would like to take up the whole meeting, please get with whoever coordinates your group's speaker meetings and volunteer to speak at the appropriate venue.

5) Say the same thing, every single time. I sit in meetings with people whose sharing I can literally mouth the words to, like a song. That just ain't right.

6) Share at people. This is the practice of lecturing someone about something in a meeting rather than discussing it one-on-one with your victim. Meetings are not the venue for our personal vendettas - if you have something to say to someone, say it to them offline. If you can't do that, don't use your group's patience as a social crutch.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please drink reponsibly

Few advertising taglines rouse emotion in me like "Please drink responsibly". This is always muttered at the end of an ad featuring vogue-magazine-urbanites sipping the latest mixed drinks. Everyone is beautiful, rich and happy. Like all advertisements, the implication is the same: if you buy our product, you will be beautiful, rich and happy too.

Booze companies are not legally required to include "please drink responsibly" in their advertising, but most do in order to try to prevent lawsuits when their consumers get a little too beautiful, rich and happy.

I very much wanted to drink responsibly, and I tried everything to master this concept. I tried:

1) Only drinking certain types of alcohol (only the liquid kind)

2) Limiting myself to one drink per hour - lots of clock watching ensued, until I learned to limit myself to 1 quart per hour.

3) Self-hypnosis CDs - yes, I'll admit it. I spent almost $100 on a series of CDs in which a very calming female voice informed me as I passed out each night that I prefer water, tea or juice. After about 4 or 5 nights of this, I had powerful urges to drink my vodka with juice instead of straight - that's all that got me.

4) The vitamin & mineral plan - there is a book still dominating the addiction/recovery category at entitled "7 Weeks To Sobriety". The idea is that alcoholics are deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. I purchased an obscene amount of pills at my local Whole Foods Market (plus a case of hard cider), and over the next few weeks had the most beautiful hair, skin and nails I've had in years. I was too drunk to enjoy them though.

Only through the 12 steps and participation in the program have I gotten sober. I have already performed the BB's experiment of trying "some controlled drinking" and it didn't work. That "please drink responsibly" admonishment is targeted at people who drink like me, and the irony is, I can't drink responsibly!

While researching alcoholism, I have read about the "controlled drinking movement". These are folks who feel that they have moved from problem drinking to moderate, social drinking. Most controlled drinking websites and literature I have read are quite hostile towards A.A., disparaging the concepts that one might be powerless over alcohol and might find relief in a Higher Power's help.

No reciprocal resentment here: if you can control your drinking, I say congratulations! Members of any 12-step program should only seek to be helpful to others who might suffer as we did, not to recruit new members like some Rotary Club for drunks. When a newcomer walks in, I am not trying to sell her anything. Your way of living can be vastly different from mine, and maybe your way of drinking can be too - that's not for me to judge.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Even though I am no longer drinking, I still have situations and people I would like to control. Actually, I probably have more desire for control since I got sober because I now know what's going on around me! But sobriety got a lot easier when I truly realized that I do not control anyone.
Now my issue is worry - if I don't control anyone, how the hell are things going to turn out "my way"?
At the beginning of every meeting, I am reminded that the BB does not cover getting my way, "We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us....We cease fighting everyone and everything."
Melodie Beattie writes in The Language of Letting Go, "We may believe that controlling, worrying, and forcing will somehow affect the outcome we desire. Controlling, worrying, and forcing don't work. Even when we're right, controlling doesn't work. In some cases, controlling may prevent the outcome we want from happening."
A couple of months ago, I had a routine medical test come back with murky results. The doctors wanted much more detailed x-rays to see if I had the disease my aunt died from a few years ago. My family worried about it, asking me daily whether I'd gotten the results back yet and glancing at each other nervously when I replied "not yet".
Luckily, I consulted God on this one, asking Him to take this issue, because I just didn't have the energy to worry about it. This is not like me, to be rigorously honest: typically I worry myself into a sleepless fit. But sure enough, the second round of tests eventually came back showing a perfectly healthy body.
My family's worry, though well-intentioned, did not change my test results. It's not like I had cancer until the fifth straight day my mother went without sleep (in fact, medical professionals will tell you that worry can worsen patient's health - none of them will advise you to worry like hell and then whatever it is will go away).
I need to train myself to view the things I worry about today as false-positive test results - they only look scary on the surface, but deeper investigation reveals nothing HP & I can't handle.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Honesty in relationships

My program is a HUGE part of my life, and therefore my best friends, known associates, BF and xBFs are in the program too. These are the people who "get" me.

So this BF and xBF issue rears its ugly head sometimes, which is why I adore today's Language of Letting Go selection at Hazelden online, which includes this passage:

"But relationships equal two people who have equal rights. The other person needs to be able to define the relationship too. We have a right to know, and ask. So do they. Honesty is the best policy.We can set boundaries. If someone wants a more intense relationship than we do, we can be clear and honest about what we want, about our intended level of participation. We can tell the person what to reasonably expect from us, because that is what we want to give. How the person deals with that is his or her issue. Whether or not we tell the person is ours."

Relationships within the program are sticky, oftentimes because the parties often know each other, and on a more intense level than we "know" the so-called-normal people out in the world. In case you haven't noticed, meetings aren't always a hotbed of mental health.

To further complicate this, our little subculture has traditions and rituals meant to include all people, regardless of how our individual behavior rates on the Bullshit Meter. This is not the way the Outside World works, which is how we end up with folks who don't do so well out there (I work for the court system, and our Twelve Concepts include arrest, arraignment, extradition, plea deal, conviction, corrections, probation, parole ... you get the point).

Because of all this, it's easy for me to start thinking that I have to be equally "nice" to everyone in that room, regardless of the dynamics, because I want everyone to approve of me. I want everyone to hold hands and sing "Coom Bye Yah" (I'm pretty sure that's not how that's spelled).

But if I'm going to stay sober, I need to live in reality and honesty. You may not like hearing that what I can give in my relationship with you has changed, but it's true. I am responsible for being honest with you, and I'm powerless over your reaction to it.

Do I fear the disapproval your reaction might bring? Come on now, I'm a upper-middle-class girl from a southern gated community who was raised to be sweet and polite and popular - of course I do! But as I learned in my 4th step, my emotional security can't come from others, not if I'm going to stay sober.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Urge to Drink

There's this billboard between Hillsboro and Temple I am subjected to several times a month while transporting my son for his visits with his father, advertising beer with raspberry flavoring in it. The untreated alcoholic in me (whom I refer to as Britney - got everything in the world, but acting totally crazy) reads that billboard and thinks "Mmmm...raspberry... that would count as a serving of fruit, right?"

Personally, I think everyone in the Program experiences urges to drink, regardless of how long one's been sober. The BB says I have "a daily reprieve based on my spiritual condition", which means that the urge can strike at any time. Here's what I've learned to do when the urge hits:

1) Pray to my HP. Specifically, when I see the Billboard From Hell, I say to myself "Wow, Lord, I am still in as much danger today as I was back then! Please help me."

2) Tell somebody as soon as possible, preferably another alcoholic. It's my experience that cravings fester when I keep them private. I call my sponsor, any of my friends in the Program, somebody I really don't know very well in the program, whoever. I said I would go to any length for victory over alcohol.

3) Take care of any hungry/angry/lonely/tired issues. If I'm hungry, I need to eat, and I believe in eating something comforting at these moments (there's another program for those of you that get nervous about eating - I'm an alcoholic, and if staying sober means I eat my way through a whole bag of M&Ms, so be it). If I'm tired, I need to rest as soon as practically possible. If I am lonely or angry, contacting another alcoholic will do the trick if I am willing to talk about those issues.

4) Get busy. Idle hands are the devil's playground, and my idle mind is Jim Beam's playground! I get a project, whether it's cleaning the house, taking a class, putting in some extra effort at work or doing service work around the club.

5) Wait for this storm to pass before exposing yourself unnecessarily to booze. Yes, the BB says that I can go anywhere if I have a legitamate social or business reason for going to a bar, boozing party, etc. But it also reads "Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!" On billboard days, I do not go places where alcohol is served without someone in the Program.

6) Remember that I'm staying sober today only. Tomorrow isn't here yet, so I don't need to freak myself out with thoughts of never drinking again. I only need to keep it together today (and I can shorten today by going to bed early!).

This isn't the most original post you'll ever read - it's basically what you would find in this FANTASTIC book published by AA Services.

But I hope it helps!

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Am Not Demi Moore

Last week, I spoke with the mother of one of my clients, a 15-year-old who got a curfew violation. Client was a freshly-scrubbed, good-girl type of kid, and mom looked like the type of parent who would raise such a child. I asked mom what Client was doing out so late without a parent.

Mom told me while fighting back tears that Client met a 23-year-old male on Myspace who lured her out of the house to meet with him because he "just needed someone to talk to" (mandatory eye roll goes here). Mom wasn't too happy that Client snuck out of the house, but she was understandably elated when the police brought Client home and had 23-y-o in custody. God only knows what could have happened had those officiers not pulled up to a parked pickup truck in the middle of nowhere when they did. 23-y-o now sits in the county jail, and may very well end this year as a registered sex offender.

With us adults, nobody's going to jail - not for going out with someone much older than ourselves, anyway. But we are booking ourselves a whole litany of issues once the age difference gets into the double-digits.

It seems so hip when the celebrities do it, doesn't it? I can't pick up a women's magazine that doesn't laud Demi Moore for hooking up with Ashton Kutcher. But it's important to note that Demi Moore is worth, at last estimate, $50 million dollars. She does not have to go to work everyday. She does not see retirement looming on the horizon and think "Damn - better get to savin' some cash so I don't end up greating people at Walmart!" When she had small children, someone did the unpleasant stuff for her. She's had an estimated $600,000 worth of plastic surgery, and can easily afford to keep going.

But all of us non-celebs deal with reality, and the reality is that it's not always going to be smooth sailing for Older and Younger when they somehow hook up. Here's just a few of the items you have to look forward to:

1) Older is who he is by now. The older we get, the less likely we are to dramatically change our lifestyles. If I'm fifty years old and I'm in debt up to my eyeballs or have a long history of employment or legal problems, that's more than likely how it's going to be, and Younger needs to accept that.

2) Younger can still be anything she wants to be. This is the converse of #1. Younger typically has a world of career and educational opportunities out there. It's difficult for Older to estimate where life may take Younger, and Older needs to accept that.

3) Both need to get clear about having children. Younger and Older should be clear with each other about the concept of having children. When Older is male, this is typically a matter of whether the couple wants children, since men are fertile most of their lives. However, when Older is female, this is a physical issue. Conceiving becomes difficult after 40 (assuming Older is healthy. Smoking, poor diet and other poor health habits make this even more difficult). After age 45, half of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Menopause typically begains at 50. If this couple wants children, they need to save for the estimated $5,000 to $40,000 needed to adopt (and that's per child).

4) Jealousy and insecurity will be a much bigger deal. Older is always going to be insecure about the fact that he's, well, older. Younger needs to get certain phrases out of her vocabulary, such as "for your age" and "back in your day". Youngers should also not bring home things they feel might be helpful to Older, such as wrinkle cream, Viagra, hearing aid batteries, or disposable undergarments. Motive doesn't matter there - that's just an instant arguement.

5) Then there's money. If Older is financially successful, she's going to bankroll Younger to some degree. If she's not, Younger needs to be prepared to support Older through the most expensive years of life: retired from work, but still need to eat and take care of these mounting medical bills.

6) Ewwww..... If the age difference is greater than ten years, people are going to notice, and many will be creeped out by it. Rude and wrong, but true. Both need to prepare themselves emotionally for some social rejection, especially if they are into PDA. Anyone want to see the couple in the picture above get down? I rest my case.

Oh and, in the interest of disclosure, there is a 2.5 year age difference between BF and me. We are both pretty much who we're going to be, we have all the children we want, and we both fear greeting people at Walmart one day.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Watching My Language ...

When I was drinking, I loved to tell people what to do. My two favorite phrases were "you need to ..." and "you have to ...". I was the quintessential director the BB talks about:

We are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful.

Once I got sober, I realized that trying to force my will on others is a lot of work, and never truly works. I wasn't too sure what the alternative was, but since I was willing to go to any lengths to get sober, I decided to experiment with life and try not telling every blessed soul what to do.

Here's an example: today I received an e-mail from my soon-to-be-ex-husband about whether or not I should take the washer and dryer with me when I move. Naturally, I think I should, he thinks I shouldn't. Here's an exerpt from his message:

"I also need to know that you will be dropping off the keys to my lawyer after you have moved out.... and until we are totally settled with everything and what is yours and what is mine.... the washer and dryer need to stay there..... "

I got the word "need" out of my vocabulary except when it's really, well, needed (I just love that sentence!! Get thee to a meeting!). "Needs" are things we literally can't live without, such as air, food, water, shelter, etc. My ex clearly wants the keys and the appliances, but no one is going to die if he doesn't get them.

Semantics? Not in terms of sobriety. As a recovering alcoholic, I need to be very careful with the difference between my needs and my wants as they relate to others, and here's why:

1) Overstating my wants as needs helps others see me as dishonest and manipulative. If I say "I want the appliances to stay there until we've worked this out", that's a truthful statement by any standard. Telling someone that they need to stay there just isn't true on any level. People don't like untruth: Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony?

2) Overstating my wants as needs skews the real importance of the issue. Words are powerful. Most of us choose to introduce ourselves in meetings as alcoholics not because others might be confused about why we're there, but because we need to remind ourselves daily of our condition (occasionally I see someone prooftext the Big Book and pompously announce that that Big Book doesn't require that they introduce themselves as such. Technically that's true, but I'm checking my watch to see how long it takes you to get your drink on.).

I don't need this particular set of appliances. Let's face it, I can get a new set (actually, I've been lusting over the dryers with the new steam-clean settings). However, I don't want to get a new set. I want this set. In my reply, I state this exactly that way. It keeps the issue at hand right-sized in my own mind.

3) Overstating my wants as needs eliminates my HP from the equation. If I'm not careful here, I may start thinking that my soon-to-be-ex is the source of all clean laundry in the universe, that my son and I will be pounding our clothes against rocks in some creek somewhere if he doesn't "allow" me to take the appliances. If I get mired in a warr of words over this, I'm basically saying "Oh David, Great God of Rinse Cycle, how dare you smite me??"

When I did my 4th step, I recognized that my needs are not met by other people, but by God. I don't think it's overstating that case to say that I need some washer & dryer from somewhere. It is God's determination where that comes from. This takes him off the psychological "hook" for me. Now of course I don't like debating all this stuff, but it passes, and I need to not develop a resentment from it.

Now some reader out there is thinking, "But M, he's trying to screw you!" Well, maybe he is (finally), but that's not the point. Other people are going to disappoint me in this life, even though I am trying to stay sober. I don't get some sort of pass on assholes because I like alcohol too much. I have to stay sober in spite of what life presents me.

And that, by the way, is an appropriate use of the phrase "have to".

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What I Was Like

Once our noon meeting actually got started, today's topic was 'what is was like/what happened/what we are like now' because we had a newcomer present.

I've said before that when I started coming to meetings, I didn't get a "newcomers meeting" dedicated to me, thank God. I said in the previous post that folks don't hear me say "we'll love you until you love yourself", because I loved myself far too much when I came in, and that was my problem.

I felt that I was entitled to a lot better out of life, and if the rest of the world would spin in the direction I told it to go, everything would be great! As the BB says, "Selfishness! Self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles."

The world tells us to work on our "self esteem". has an entire catagory of self-esteem books with over 2600 items listed in it. However, I have yet to meet an alcoholic that got sober by building her self-esteem. I've met plenty of women who have gotten drunk with their self-esteem, and I'm one of them.

Nor do I need to "embrace my inner child", whatever in hell that means. I spent my entire drinking life acting like one. Someone should have called Inner CPS over the way I treated my Inner Child! Maybe had to put in an Inner Foster Home? Anyway ... I am 37 years old and somebody's mom - time to be an Outer Grownup.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Get Offa My Pink Cloud

Tonight's topic at the meeting was basically the non-Big-Book concept of the Pink Cloud. Jonathan Huttner describes this as "a period of time where the addict or alcoholic experiences a reprieve from the struggles associated with early recovery. These struggles are generally associated with the feelings of depression, anger, resentment, self pity and the realization of where their drug addiction or alcoholism has taken them.Upon experiencing this phenomenon for the first time, the addict or alcoholic is understandably excited. They begin to believe they now "hold the key" to their recovery."

I'll admit that I'm becoming a Big Book thumper, but I don't really have a problem with the concept of the Pink Cloud, as long as those of us with some time share with newcomers that it's temporary. In fact, I say float away on your little cloud, strumming your little Big Book harp as long as you keep some things in the back of your clearing mind ...

1) Women can't remember accurately the pain of childbirth. This allows us to want to continue to reproduce (if we did remember the human race would have died out years ago). In the same way, getting sober is work. The Pink Cloud helps us plow through it. This is a time to get some good habits. Harness the energy you have to go to at least one meeting a day, read the Big Book, get a sponsor, and actually call the sponsor.

2) The feelings you are experiencing are the result of your right action of putting down the booze. Once we do that, many bad things cease (I no longer wreck cars, drunk-dial people, go to work hungover, wonder what I said/did, etc.) and good things invariably happen (my family is pleased, job is going great, health is improved, etc.). It's easy to overgeneralize and assume I feel so good because of the good things that are happening to me and forget that the good things come from sobriety.

3) The bible says that "a friend reveals while an enemy multiplies kisses". When an oldtimer tells you that you don't know shit, s/he is telling you that because it's true, and you stand a better chance of staying sober once you accept it. I don't run around telling people that I'm going "to love you until you can love yourself" because I loved myself a little too much when I came in. I want to press the instant gratification button as often as possible. Therefore, when something hurts, I assume it's bad - a good rule of thumb for anything with blades, not so good for getting sober. One day the Pink Cloud ends, and you will have to decide whether you're going to keep doing this thing. The truth may piss you off, but it will also set you free.

4) The outside world isn't going to give you a tickertape parade for staying sober. This is not good news, but it's the truth. Therefore, I need to anchor my sobriety to a Higher Power that can't be removed from my life. The Big Book says "job or no job, wife or no wife" for a reason. Life still happens, whether I'm sober or not. If my HP is a man, a job, a car, or any other external thing, I'm in major trouble one day.

Now playing: Kill Bill Vol 1 - Battle Without Honor or Humanity
via FoxyTunes

Monday, August 11, 2008

Make Your Own Warning Label!!

I started to post about the boring-but-necessary things to remember for anyone who might read this mostly-recovery-related blog (ex: I donot speak for any 12-step program, I will not be using my full name here, etc.) when I came across this supremely awesome warning label generator!

Said everything I needed to say in a wry, attention-getting way and for free! Check it out!

Of course, if you are a truly toxic sociopath in dire need of a warning label, you will in no way show any interest in this.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm M and I'm an alcoholic

I started blogging a while back on MySpace, and to my surprise, it felt good - kind of a venting process. Then a few days ago I came across the blog One Sober Alcoholic, and she really inspired me to write something more global about my path of recovery from alcoholism. And imagine how much great sharing I'm missing by not reading a little recovery material in the blogosphere!

As happy destiny would have it, the night I write my first post, I am so tired I am about to fall down. Time to indulge in a rarely-practiced ritual for me, which is zone out in front of the T.V. Hopefully I will have deep thoughts tomorrow ...