Two Addicts

Last night was interesting. Sometimes people and situations appear in my path and it’s impossible to deny that it’s all for a reason. I just follow what’s put in front of me in those moments and do the best I can. Coincidences get my attention because I know there are no coincidences. Last night was a lot like that.

I get off from work early on Tuesdays because Tuesday night is my AA home group meeting and I like to be there somewhat early, all showered and with a meal in me. I normally have a little bit of time to relax. But as soon as I walked in the door last night, I got a desperate phone call via Facebook. It was a guy I’ll call John . He needed a ride to a meeting but he wanted to get together before the meeting because he said he needed to talk. I told him I’d take a quick shower and then pick him up for coffee. Fine with me. I often give drunks rides to meetings and try to help in any way I can. I need to help other alcoholics to stay sober. It helps me. I know this.

Within ten minutes I got another call also through Facebook that was the same thing. This guy (I’ll call him Matt) also needed a ride to the meeting and he was in really bad shape. He asked me if I could pick him up because he really needed help. Of course I agreed to help him with a ride.

It was going to be logistically impossible for me to pick up both John and Matt after a quick shower and do it all much before the meeting. It was really kind of crazy. I don’t often get calls begging desperately for a ride and here I had two of them within ten minutes from guys in completely opposite directions on the map. I needed to get a fourth person involved to pick up Matt and be his ride to the meeting. And then I had to contact a fifth person to arrange for the club to be open early so we could go there for the coffee and the pre-meeting talk. John really needed to talk as soon as possible. It was strange and coincidental that I got two calls from similar guys in opposite cities needing the same thing at the same time. But the thing that stood out most was the fact that these two young men are heroin addicts. Heroin is something that I’ve never done.

I was supposed to say or hear something. I was supposed to do something. I was called to help two addicts desperately in need of help.

The insanity of addiction in these two young men was almost overwhelming to witness.

John has 11 days clean. He’s lost everything of value in life and his thinking is sick and twisted. He’s been in the program before and thinks he knows everything. He says he’s hit his last bottom. I’m not so sure….

Matt was clean for about a year because he was in prison. He’s been out for about a month and he’s been using. He went right back to it. He’s angry at everyone and everything. He claims he wants to get clean but it’s clear that he also wants to get high again. It’s the terrible place of in between. He’s got less than one day clean and I’m sure that while  he was texting on his phone during the meeting he was trying to score his next fix. He was scratching and twitching and texting the whole hour. It was impossible to have a conversation with him.

John had no problem talking. He seemed to be on some kind of stimulant and talked a mile a minute. Outrageous stuff about his huge appetite for women and money and sex. He bragged about the huge piles of cash he supposedly made and how many women he’d destroyed with his enormous manhood. He told stories that were larger than life about his incredibly high IQ and the epic crimes he’d committed. He said horribly racist things that sounded white supremacist or neo-Nazi. He was loud and arrogant and unwilling to listen to anything from anyone. He was off of heroin for 11 days and he was scary as hell.

They were both out of control and unwilling or unable to listen. But they were there. They had both reached out and showed up.

One very cool thing happened. John told me that he had talked with Matt outside while they smoked a cigarette. He was telling him about a place that would take him for detox and how he could get in there. John was trying to help another addict and he himself was only that 11 days clean. For me, that was a moment of hope I took home last night.

Maybe the strange confluence of events was just God’s way of putting John and Matt together for that cigarette and the conversation about detox.  I don’t know. I can’t pretend to know why anything happens. I really can’t. But do I know that I didn’t drink last night. And I know that at least one of those addicts didn’t use last night. One more day matters. One more night. One more hour or minute. Because for drunks and addicts like us, this really is life or death…..and  I’m really tired of all of the dying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sponsoring Me

Tonight I went to an AA discussion meeting. The moderator introduced the topic of having a sponsor because he’s been sober for two years without having one. Does he really need one? He’s been staying sober not having one. Why does he need a sponsor? And so the discussion began….

But this post isn’t about what was said at the meeting. I can tell you that everyone in the room talked about how important having a sponsor was for them and that they tried to convince him he should get one. I don’t know if he was convinced or not. But for me, it got me thinking about what my own sponsor is and isn’t.

First, a little bit of my history.

When I first came to  Alcoholics Anonymous I got a sponsor who helped me through some steps. He was a big help and someone I called and saw all the time. He became a friend who held me accountable. He guided me all the way through the first seven steps that first year plus. He taught me a lot about the importance of helping other alcoholics. I will be forever grateful to that man. But then we had some trouble. There became huge changes in how he treated me. There were personal things that occurred and I saw what I believe was dishonesty. Some hypocrisy. He said some really messed up stuff that seriously almost made me drink again. So I fired him. And as I was told I should do, I chose another sponsor fairly quickly.

This second sponsor was a man I didn’t really know. I approached him and asked him to sponsor me based on very little. I’d heard him comment and speak in the rooms and I liked the things he said. More importantly, I liked how he said them. Very simple and honest. No nonsense. Sometimes he could be loud and emphatic, but it was always very direct and to the point. He was genuine. He had what I wanted. He had a lot of time in sobriety and I could see that he had peace. He accepted the job almost immediately.

We got to know each other and went to the same meetings more and more. We talked a lot about our drinking days and our sobriety. We became friends. I could call him anytime and he would listen to me vent or help me see things in a better way. He became a source of support for my sometimes troubled mind. Someone who would listen. Someone who would make sure I kept going to meetings. I am forever grateful to this man too. He is still my sponsor today and one of my very best friends.

But he’s never pushed me. Part of that is my fault. Since I met him after about 14 or 15 months sober, I had already worked the steps. I had done 1 through 8 and I was practicing 10, 11 and 12 in my life. Step 9 was under way. It probably didn’t seem like I needed any help from my sponsor with the steps. But those amends… they are a work in progress. Incomplete. I have to admit that I’m dragging my feet on some of them. Now I’m almost 2 and a half years sober and there is work that’s unfinished. The amends don’t necessarily happen overnight, right?  Procrastinating. Now that’s something I do well. I do that shit every day. I’m lazy and I find excuses to not yet do what I don’t want to do. Things that I still fear. I might need someone to get on my case about taking action. I might need my sponsor to get me in motion. I think I want to be pushed. I might NEED to be pushed.

These are the thoughts I’m having tonight. I need to tell this stuff to my sponsor instead of posting it here for the rest of the world. LOL. At least I feel a desire to do more of what I should be doing. Maybe I can ask him to push me. I can tell him that I need pressure to make more amends. I want him to get me more active in the program and try to help more alcoholics. I want my sponsor to motivate me somehow. I want and need him to help me out of my procrastination.

I should definitely tell him this stuff.

But right now it’s late. I’ll call him tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her Message

When I suit up and show up in a room of Alcoholics Anonymous to share my story, I follow a certain formula. I introduce myself as an alcoholic. I state my sobriety date of August 29th, 2014. And then I tell what it used to be like, what happened, and what it’s like now. I don’t plan the words that I’m going to say and I don’t really know what’s going to come out of my mouth. I say a prayer beforehand that God will speak through me and that the words will be what someone in the room needs to hear. Miraculously, it seems to work exactly like that every time. Every single time I’ve led, someone comments afterward that they were affected.

Tonight a good friend shared her story using what I believe was that same formula. I’ve heard her lead a few times before but tonight it was different. She told the room some things that I’d already known about her experience.  And there were some things that I didn’t remember hearing about before. Somehow it was newer and fresh tonight. There was a strength in her tone. Her calm and direct delivery got and kept my full attention. And there was definitely hope in her message.

There were some very good reminders about the drunks we all used to be. The dark denial that took us all down. She spoke about how she came to the program wanting but doubting.  She described how she  read the Big Book and discovered that it was actually  about her own mind and her own life. She talked about the positive changes that gradually came about when she sought help and asked questions.  She shared with gratitude how important prayer and the people of AA are to keep her sober one day at a time.  And she reached out from behind that lectern to welcome the newcomer. There was understanding and a compassion that was warm and sincere.

There were a lot of appreciative comments afterward. People were affected. Tonight the drunks in that room heard things that they needed to hear.  I can say that for sure… because I was one of them.

I Once Was Lost

Not long ago, I was sitting in church and the hymn was Amazing Grace. I was struck by a line in the song I’d heard many times before. ” I once was lost but now I’m found…”.  And I had a problem with it.

God didn’t have to find me. I had to find Him.

I’d certainly been lost in alcohol. I was lost in sadness and despair. Life had begun to seem hopeless and pointless. So I drank more. And more. Drinking to escape myself, I’d become very much a lost soul.

My faith in God had become more of a belief than any kind of faith in God’s goodness. I BELIEVED that God existed and that He was there, but I had started to think that He was purposely going to let me fail. He was going to let me drown sadly and slowly as a lesson to others. He was going to show the world what can happen when you sin against Him.  When you fuck up and hurt other people, this is what can happen to you. That’s what I felt. It wasn’t so much that He was punishing me, but He was making an EXAMPLE of me. I felt I deserved to be that example.

I finally hit my bottom on August 29th, 2014. I had to surrender. There were no other options. I had to fall to my knees and ask God for help. And when I did, everything changed. Everything.  With that one simple prayer I was able to begin a new life in sobriety. My thinking became clearer.  And as I got sober, I realized that I’d been wrong about God’s plan for me.

God hadn’t lost me like a set of misplaced car keys. I’d lost Him. I’d lost the faith in what He’s really about. I’d forgotten that He loves me no matter what I’ve done. I’d forgotten that the thing He wanted most was for me to turn to Him and acknowledge that I need Him.  He hadn’t lost me. He didn’t have to find me. I had to find Him.

He knew exactly where I was the whole time.

There is irony about it all. I’d come to believe that God had turned away from me. He seemed so distant. We didn’t talk anymore and I couldn’t feel his presence. I had been pushing Him away with drinking and sin. I’d been trying to escape myself in a blur of alcohol and numbness. And in doing so, I had distanced myself from God. I’d distanced myself from the God who hadn’t gone anywhere at all. It’s so ironic I almost have to laugh at myself. Did you ever look for your car keys that were right there in your hand? Or search room to room for the hat that was on your head?

I guess all I’m really saying is that I was lost because I’d lost my faith in God. And I didn’t need to be found. I just had to find Him. And He’d been right there inside of me the whole time.

 

 

 

Dry Dreams

A couple of nights ago I had a really strange and realistic dream. Since I’ve been sober, I’ve had a similar dream only once before. Not exactly a nightmare, but a little disturbing nonetheless.

I dreamt that I drank alcohol.

The first time I had a such a dream in sobriety was about a year and a half ago. I was probably eight or nine months dry at that point. And I remember that in the dream, I had gotten really wasted. Intoxicated to the point of fucked up. Stupid drunk on lots of scotch.

That time, waking up was a confusing mess. I’d thought I’d actually drank. The memory of the dream was blurry just like it would have been if I’d actually been drinking. And I’d woken up in my bed thinking “What the hell happened?” Completely normal for the drunk I’d been.  There was a moment of guilt and regret. And then relief when I realized that I’d only been dreaming and that it hadn’t actually happened. It was huge relief that I’d still maintained my sobriety.

And then….fear.

What did it mean? Was I subconsciously thinking about getting drunk again? Would I? Was the disease in my mind working on me while I slept? I got really scared.

So I called my sponsor. He told me that it was a completely normal thing for me to have dreams like that. A common dream for alcoholics like us. He told me not to worry about it and to continue to pray and go to meetings and help other alcoholics. I felt better knowing that it was normal for a guy like me to dream about drinking. He put my mind at ease and I haven’t had another dream like that in a long time until just a couple of nights ago.

But this time it was different.

A couple of things were the same. I woke up thinking it had really happened, that I’d really consumed alcohol the night before. And there was that moment of regret and disappointment in myself. The moment when I thought that I’d fucked it all up. I think the clearness of my mind and the lack of a hangover were what made me realize that I’d only been dreaming of the drink.

In this recent dream, I’d only had a little. A half of a glass. Okay, maybe half of a double on the rocks. A former coworker who knows all about my alcoholism had poured it for me. Maybe twisted my arm a little. Or maybe not. I can only blame myself. Even for the dream drink I know I can only blame myself. Lol.

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This time the  guilt and shame came upon me while I was still having the dream. I walked away from the glass upset that I’d screwed up. Screwed up my sober streak. I’d really messed up. But…only one other person knew. Maybe I wouldn’t have to tell anyone. Maybe I could just keep my sobriety date and pretend like it never happened. In other words, lie. The next thoughts had to do with realizing that I couldn’t lie. I knew that that would be the worst way to handle it. I would have to come clean and confess. Disappointment.

I woke up hours before I had to and couldn’t go back to sleep. Tremendous relief again that I’d only been dreaming. Slight concern that I’d been dreaming of scotch again. And lots of thinking about what it all meant, of course. Was this some sort of progress? A checkpoint in my healing? Or simply a reminder of how easily I might slip?

I’m over it. I don’t know if it even matters if it might mean something. After all, it was only a dream. It’s supposedly a common dream to have for a guy like me. Just a dream.

And yet, I’m reminded.

I don’t have to have that drink today. Not today.

 

 

 

Really, You Don’t Have To Explain…

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Last night I was listening to an AA talk on YouTube.  I’d heard this particular talk before by a speaker named Bob D.  He spoke about his introduction to Alcoholics Anonymous and his first few months in the rooms.

He told about one man who influenced him in the beginning and became his sponsor.  This old-timer told Bob something that he said would make life a lot easier.

And something about that part caught my attention this time.

He’d told Bob that we never have to explain or defend anything.  Ever.  Because if we feel a need to explain or defend anything that we are thinking or saying or doing, it’s WRONG.  Otherwise there would be no need.  The only time we justify or rationalize to ourselves or other people it’s because we’re going against our basic nature.  We’re going against what we know deep down inside to be right and good.  We know that we’re violating that natural law inside of ourselves that C. S. Lewis called the Moral Law.

We each have a sort of moral compass that’s built into us naturally. God in His own image might mean (at least in part) that we have a conscience. Our innate goodness. The Moral Law is an inner understanding of right and wrong.

But we go against that law. It’s the only law of nature that we can choose to go against because we have free will. And we do just that allll the time. We fall short. We make bad choices. Sinful ones. And then the chatter begins. We feel a need to explain and defend.

I found this to be very interesting.  And I thought about all the times I’ve felt a need to explain and justify my actions or decisions. All the times I’d had to justify and rationalize what I was doing. Even more recently,  in sobriety.  Was I wrong in each and every one of those instances?  Hmm. Wow. Probably.

But this is good information.  This could be a big red flag that helps me determine when my thinking or actions are out of line. Maybe if I hear that chatter start I can just ask myself why I’m having to explain my bullshit. Why does it need defending? And then I’ll know it’s because I’m going against my very nature. I’ll remember that I never have to explain or defend what’s right.

But then, knowing the alcoholic I am….I’ll try to explain away the red flag.

Then & Now

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For me,

To fight…was to lose

To want….was to have less

To hate……was to become hated

To rush…was to never have enough time

To take……was to have more taken from me

To drink…was to escape all the feelings & emotions

So now,

I surrender every day

I feel grateful for all that I have

I love with kindness & compassion

I’m patient enough to live life as it happens

I’m sharing and giving all that I can whenever I can

Sober, I feel the peace & happiness that comes from all of this.