Aug 17

Steve H. Speaker Tape

Episode 47:  Tonight we share with you a good friend of the program.  Steve is an amazing person whom I know personally, and I feel extremely grateful that he agreed to allow me to tape him telling his story at my home group.  Steve has joined us on this radio show before (see Steel on Steel).  He is one of the most spiritually centered people I know in the program, and I feel very fortunate to have known him as I have.

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Aug 17

emotional need and security

“As long as (we) try, with all (our) heart and soul, to pass along to others what has been passed along to (us), and do not demand anything in return, life is good to (us). Before entering the program (we were) never able to give without demanding anything in return. Little did (we) know that, once (we) began to give freely of (ourselves), (we) would begin to recieve, without ever expecting or demanding anything at all. What (we) recieve today is the gift of ‘stability’; ‘stability’ in (our) program, within (ourselves), but most of all, in (our) relationship with (our) Higher Power.” p. 242 Daily Reflections

obviously i have paraphrased the above excerpt…i hope that’s not too annoying, it just sounded better to me in the third person…plus, i removed a couple of phrases, in order to include all of my friends here…i have been quoting a lot of AA literature lately, and for that i apologize…i promise to get back to more of the NA stuff soon

it’s been a few days since i have written a new note…a few items have come up for me recently, and i have attended some good meetings, met some good people, and had a really good talk with my sponsor…what, at first, was an extremely stressful situation, has simmered down and began to mend…and for that i am truly grateful

but, back to the passage above…this was read a few days ago in a meeting i attended out of town…it’s what i really needed to hear, and i wanted to share with you what i said in the meeting.

i found that i can still be more ‘demanding or gracious’, whatever the case may be, today…i truly believe i have recovered from that hopeless state of mind and body…i not longer suffer from active alcoholism and drug addiction….however, my character defects are still with me…it isn’t unusual for me to fall into that place where i again feel entitled to something, or think i deserve to be treated a certain way…on the other hand, i can become grateful to the extreme, as well…making a huge mistake or hurting someone’s feelings, i become all too glad and gracious when i am forgiven….i know i have dodged a large bullet

humility is not an easy thing to come by…as a matter of fact, i have been humiliated more times than humbled in this life…it isn’t often that i find myself in that ‘position of nuetrality, safe and protected’…the serenity our prayers speak about…it usually comes as a surprise when i am able to handle a situation that formally would have ended in disastor…it is in looking at the past that i am able to unlock the future…what i am trying to say here, is that i am no saint…and when i strive for perfection, the result is progress…i had to be reminded that i am only human lately…have i said that before?

it is also not easy for me to approach new people…i find it hard to break the ice and spark conversation…occasionally i am able to connect with someone, and i consider it a blessing…there have been times when i have shared in a meeting, and a person thanks me, because they needed to hear it…but, i try not to take any credit for that sort of thing….not a lot of what i share is really original…in trying to carry the message, it’s all been said before, it some form or fashion…besides, i truly believe that God works through his people…i never know what i say or do, and how that is going to affect someone…that is why it is essential i pay attention to how i am treating others today

i also find myself still expecting things in return when i do good deeds for people…not that i expect payment or good deeds back…that is rarely what i expect anymore…but, i do find myself expecting someone to stay sober, or start working the steps, and put my suggestions into practical use…and that rarely ever happens…it is my hope that it plants a seed, tho…in Sunday School several months back, we were talking about giving money to the needy, hanging out on street corners…one person piped up and said, ‘i don’t like giving them money…all they are going to do is get drunk with it, so i give them a sandwich or Bag of Grace.’…another peson answered her saying, ‘it’s not what they do with the money…that is there decision to make…we have done a good deed, and that is all that counts in God’s world…it is not our responsibility what they do with the money.’…i really liked that…and it is so true

this is a long blog, but i have to share one more thing before i go…when i first asked my sponsor to work with me, i did so because he approached me…we had known each other from before…i’m sure he remembers the first time i started coming around, when i was eighteen years old…when we first started working together, i wanted what he had…he had 23 years sober…he had an awesome job and career…he had a Harley and a house, with a family…when i called him with an issue a few days ago, stressed out to the max, not knowing what to do, or where to go from there…he had answers…he had suggestions, and valuable advice…and that’s what i find wanting from him today…emotional stability and sobriety…with that, i always feel secure

Aug 08

Evolution of the 12 Step Landscape

Episode #46:  Tonight we talk about the history of the program.  Exploring the path blazened by our founders.  What inspired them to participate in a sacrificial spirit, and what ultimately changed our fellowship.  Like Bill Wilson himself once said, AA will change, but our message must stay the same.  Setting personalities aside, in tonights episode we explore how the principles of our program continue to carry us through sober life.

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Aug 08

letting go of the wheel

“You cannot forever stand against God’s will for you, nor can you forever upset God’s plan for your life, even though God’s plan may be postponed by your willfulness and deliberate choice of evil. A whole world of men and women cannot permanently change God’s laws nor His purpose for the universe. The sea of life may look very rough to us, but we can believe that our Captain steers the boat on a straight course.”   July 5th Meditation for the Day…24 Hours a Day devotional book

i realize this may not be a popular topic with some of you…if you are easily offended by religious/spiritual talk, or if i tagged you by accident (i do not personally know most of my friends) forgive me…i try my utmost to keep the notes simple enough for all of us to relate…this passage just really touched me this morning and i wanted to talk to you about it

there was a time in my drinking/drugging career when i felt alienated and outcast by my friends and others around me…playing the victim role, i blamed my parents, the administration at school and the police force…’Question Authority’ became my motto, and i remember very clearly sitting on the bus on the way to school telling myself i would devote my life to ‘evil’…i would take whatever i could, without regret…deceive…manipulate…anything to get what i wanted, since i wasn’t recieving what i felt i rightly deserved from the world

i believe God was involved in my life all along…even when i defied a Creator of the Universe cursing and mocking Him…certain events have come to pass in my life, and like alot of people say in the rooms, ‘I would not be here today if I hadn’t have gone through what I have’…i strongly feel that it took every drunk, high and belligerent act to put me in these shoes today…not saying that God wanted me to do these horrible, stupid and tragic things…but, maybe allowed them to come to pass in order for me to be ready and accept what the spiritual world has to offer

i look at my Higher Power much like the Big Book describes Him…i honestly have faith that He plays a Father role in my life…and like all good fathers, He understands that there are some things i must learn on my own…i have had to come to terms with things as only i would understand them…and this Power i choose to call God is something i have a very limited understanding of…although, i firmly believe that God has an infinite understanding of who i am, and what it takes for me to learn a lesson and begin living life as He would have me…that is why i place such a large dependence upon Him…and my life and understanding is greatly improved when my will is in line with His


Jul 29

Leading a Horse to Water

Episode #45:  What can we do for a friend that has returned to active addiction/alcoholism?  How can we get a family member to see the same terrible destructiveness we witness taking their lives from them?  What can be done for a sponsee that has stalled in their program, or is resting on their laurels?  We will discuss these scenario’s and hopefully provide some answers to similair problems in this episode.

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Jul 29

when business becomes personal

“Your man has probably been trying to conceal a number of scrapes, perhaps pretty messy ones.  They may be disgusting.  You may be at a loss to understand how such a seemingly above-board chap could be so involved.  But these scrapes can generally be charged, no matter how bad, to the abnormal action of alcohol on his mind.  When drinking, or getting over a bout, an alcoholic, sometimes the model of honesty when normal, will do incredible things.  Afterward, his revulsion will be terrible.  Nearly always, these antics indicate nothing more than temporary conditions.”  p. 140-141  AA BB

this passage comes from the chapter titled ‘To Employers’ from the AA Big Book…i know i have always tried to keep from bringing my work home with me, and keeping home life away from work…however, when i was drinking that was an impossibility…my personal life always seemed to affect my work because things were much out of control and in disarray there

i have also put myself in great danger at work, due to my drinking…before coming to the program i could never hold a job…i spoke about this briefly in another blog recently…then, in my first period of sobriety i held a job at a grocery store…i started off night stocking and was quickly moved to manage the dairy department…i did so well there, they moved me to daytime grocery…my responsibilities included stocking end caps and answering customer questions…i also stocked the beer cooler and wine case…i wasn’t much of a wine drinker…and even picking up the cardboard cases of beer didn’t bother me much…but, i wasn’t comfortable at all putting my hands around those ice cold 40 oz. bottles of malt liquor…that was a little too close for comfort…so i had to tell my boss about it…i told him i wasn’t comfortable with it because i was recovering from alcoholism…he understood and moved me to produce where i became assistant manager

some may feel it’s none of their employer’s business what their personal life is like…and i can understand that…but, when my personal problems start affecting my work, i have to keep my sobriety first…like when i came back in this time…i had been kicked out of the house by my ex-wife…my current job is in construction…it is acceptable for me to walk in with a hangover, and i did that most mornings…hat pulled down low, head down, walking straight to the coffee maker…it wasn’t any secret…most of the guys knew what was going on…and they often laughed at me

that particular morning i had taken my supervisor aside…i told him what was going on…and to my consternation, i began sobbing to him…it wasn’t my most professional moment…i had let my emotions take over…i told him of my drinking and how that had led to my problems at home…i told him how it was affecting my work performance…and it was obviously no secret to him…he knew i was losing interest and that i hated coming to work most days…lo and behold, he was in the program…he asked me if i knew where the meeting was…he even offered to give me his Big Book…then he gave me the day off to get to a meeting and straighten things out at home
i will be forever grateful for that man giving me his time and consideration…even though we were in a professional setting, he listened to me…i imagine it was because i am a valuable worker and he was willing to do whatever he could to improve my situation so that i could restore my working relationship with the company…to this day i don’t keep it a secret that i don’t drink, when it comes to work…i am not broadcasting it, reforming people, or being an evangelist about it…however, i am open and honest with people…and i like to keep that door open for any opportunity to be of service to someone with the same problem

a guy i used to drink with at work had run into some trouble with the law…he had hit a deer one night drinking in the work truck on the way home…damaged the front end pretty good…then he got a DWI in his personal vehicle and was restricted to an occupational license only…his doctor had told him to quit drinking for his health…all of this came to a head, and today he hasn’t had a drink in over 8 months…this guy used to be a real asshole when drinking…i couldn’t stand working with him…now he is quite pleasant, happy, and easy-going…it is a pleasure to work around him, and i like seeing that smile on his face all the time…we often talk about sobriety, although he is not in the program…he is reaping the benefits of not drinking…and it shows through his work

i consider myself a fairly low bottom drunk…but i always felt i was pretty functional…taking another look and examining my life, i found that alcoholism and drug addiction affected every single area of my life…when i wasn’t drinking i was miserable…and that showed when i was at work…so, i drank every chance i could, even if i was on the clock…that put me in a very precarious position…i am lucky to be employed by the same company today…and i am grateful that they understand my problem and that there is a solution i have found for it

Jul 14

The Great Reality

Episode #43:  Many of us had visions of grandeur and wore the beer goggles throughout our life.  The delusion that we could wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this life only if we managed well kept us restrained to an existance of disappointment, irritability and belligerent denial.  Some of us carry this gross character defect well into sobriety.  Alot of us  experience this type of emotional, mental and spiritual relapse.  How can we get from under?  How do we tap into that unsuspected inner resource that so many in the fellowship identify with as a Higher Power, or God?  Tonights show we are talking about finding faith, losing it and finding it all over again.

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Jul 14

the interests of all concerned

“Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back.  This just isn’t so.  In some cases the wife will never come back for one reason or another.  Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people.  It is dependent upon his relationship with God.  We have seen men get well whose families have not returned at all.  We have seen others slip when the family came back too soon.”  p. 99-100  AA BB

mostly all of us experienced relationship problems when first attempting sobriety…the disease of alcoholism/drug addiction affects all whose lives touch the sufferers…it is not respective of women, children, elders, or peers…some of us were lucky to have a few friends left…i know for me, i burnt many a bridge in my drinking…some held on, hoping against hope i would one day get it under control…others bailed at the first oppurtunity, not wanting to participate in my sickness and destruction…some pleaded with me and stood by my side, thinking i would stop for them…others ended up giving in, and drank and drugged right beside me

enablers are those that allow us to continue our use and abuse of drugs and alcohol…they may not know it, but they are signing our own death warrant…they give us money, when we ask for help on the rent…not knowing, or not wanting to know what we were really spending it on…they let us crash out on their couch for a night or two, only to later wonder why we weren’t really trying to find a job, or help ourselves…we stole from them…we lied to them…we manipulated them and broke their trust over and over…yet, they stayed…they remained fearful that we would one day die, and they wouldn’t be there to ‘save’ us

the fact of the matter is, people like us are ‘usavable’…no amount of human power can protect us or save our soul…that power must come from a God of our personal understanding…we put God first in our lives and the rest falls back into place…relationships should be the last thing on our minds when we decide to quit drinking and drugging…a lot of couples arrive at our doors, looking to sober up…they drank together…they drugged together…the stole and lied together…they were partners in crime

unfortunately, these couples are much like the using buddies we ran with…aside from the booze and dope, they rarely have anything else in common…although they got loaded together, they should sober up seperately…each must work on themselves first, before they can be of any use to each other…sometimes that means seperation…other times it may mean divorce…it doesn’t always have to end up that way…if both parties are serious about starting a new life, and abandon themselves to the work, relations can be mended…although, this partnerships must be on different terms because the old way of living together wasn’t working

if anyone is feeling threatened at home, or constantly under the temptation to use, because of a family member or spouse, i recommend removal from the situation…i have heard of the other person coming to their senses, once the loss is realized, looking for sobriety themselves…other times it has been a blessing in disquise…i wasn’t thrilled about the seperation from my ex-wife at 2 months sobriety…in hindsight, it was probably one of the best things that could have happened to me…i’m not so sure i would be sober today, had she not have asked me to leave and divorced me…the only thing i regret is putting my daughter through all that…she is one of the unsuspecting victims of my past poor behavior and decision making…it is my utmost responsiblity to be the best dad i know how to be and help her walk through a time that may not make a lot of sense to her

Jul 07

Rejection and Abandonment of Ideas

Show #41:  Alot has been said about closed-mindedness and unwillingness to accept a spiritual program of action.  Many of us walk into the rooms expecting some sort of miracle cure, not  a treatment of a spiritual nature.  Some of us have heard about the fellowship and want little or nothing to do with it.  Finally, beat into a state of reasonableness, we became teachable out of desperation.  Tonight we talk about prejudice in the program and the rejection of spiritual ideals.

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Jul 07

the new routine of sober living

“Many who used to begin the day with an eye-opener in the bathroom now head for coffee in the kitchen. Some of us shifted the order of things we did to prepare for the day, such as eating before bathing and dressing, or vice versa. A change in brands of toothpaste and mouthwash (be careful about the alcohol content!) gave us a fresh, different taste to start out with. We tried a little excercise or a few quiet moments of contemplation or meditation before plunging into the day.

“Many of us also learned to try a new route when we first left the house in the morning, not passing by a familiar watering hole. some have switched from the car to a train, from the subway to a bicycle, from a bus to walking. Other joined a different car pool.”  Living Sober booklet…p. 20

i really like this booklet…it has so much practical, useful advice for the newcomer that is not mentioned in the main text…alot of us don’t know what to do with ourselves once we stop getting loaded…boredom can easily set in and the simple, normal, and everyday actions we’ve always taken can sometimes be a trigger setting off cravings or obsessive thought

it can be as simple as walking into a convenience store…i know for me, it was exceptionally hard to walk past that freshly iced bucket of tall boys on my way back to the soda cooler…even just grabbing the handle on the door to pull my coke out brought back old feelings…just getting off work was dangerous and scary for me in early sobriety…i had to learn ways to combat the old practices and develop new habits

something i like to instill in sponsees early on is coming up with a plan of action for the day…whether that means planning the night before, or waking up and thinking of how to approach the day…it was vitally important for me to be accountable and have certain places to go, certain people to meet, at certain times of the day…leaving any spare time for me to mull around and decide what to do with myself was like playing with fire…the more time i had to sit around and think was leaving more time for the sick thoughts to fill up my head

staying busy and focused on the tasks at hand were (and still are!) essential for early recovery…calling my sponsor every day…getting to the meeting…emptying the dishwasher and taking out the trash at home…keeping literature handy (i still keep a Grapevine in the work truck for emergencies!)…stopping by a family members house and seeing if they have anything that needs tending to…anything to keep our minds off the drink or drug

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