When we first get dried out, we will experience dreams where we are drinking or feeling extremely blasted beyond control. This is normal. I used to have dreams that I was being forced to drink that which I did not want. I know! Even in my dreams, I wasn’t responsible, and I was the victim! I am sure you can relate! I consider these dreams freebies: all the memories and thrills; but none of the guilt, shame, or remorse. So, relax. It is just your subconscious in overtime.
Sometimes, we can learn from these dreams as well. They can be wake up calls to get more active in AA, to do more service work, or perhaps let up on caffeinated beverages by noon, so that we can sleep better at night. I have also been able to recall things for my 4th and 5th step inventory that in real time and when wide awake, I could not recall. That was due to black out drinking. The brain has a funny way to tease things out, that we would rather not remember having done. So, be kind and gentle with yourself. Enjoy the freebie, but try to learn from what is revealed.
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. ~ Albert Einstein
Alcohol has a special capacity to make ordinary people into extraordinary monsters and over confident fools. As a youngster, I was painfully shy and an introvert. People could make me cry just by looking at me sternly. I grew up on a large farm here in the Midwest where we were pretty insulated from the community at large. I really thought all families had abuse, heavy drinking and smoking going on. I had a huge revelation at my first sleep over (age 8) for a friend’s birthday party. What occurred was so foreign to me (a dad who came home for dinner by 6 PM, no booze at the table, no smoking, and a dad who prayed and played with his kids. Then at night, he read us a story.
That was the last time I spent an overnight in anyone else’s home that wasn’t family. It frightened me to know that ours was not a “normal” family after all. It haunted me until at last I took up the bottle on my own behalf. The booze made me feel “normal” again. It made me feel powerful, glib, sociable, friendly, outspoken, and empowered. It worked! No wonder my dad loved it so. But, as they say: we invite the booze into our homes as a guest, but it soon makes demands and takes over. Then it becomes the lord and master of our universe. The good news is that we have this simple program of recovery to teach us to live, breathe and exist freely without the crutch of of alcohol. Have the courage and wisdom to live freely.
Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but also raise the bar a little
higher for the next time you succeed. ~ Mia Hamm
Have you ever read the little yellow book called Living Sober? It is a quick read, but a real gem. I like to give it to sponsees. It is chock full of wisdom and practical advice. In the old days, long timers would give you practical advice and tips and clues on how to navigate soberly and happily in the moderate/social drinking world. Imagine that!
When I first got sober, it seemed like everyone was drinking, everyone was having more fun, and booze was everywhere…even in my dreams. It used to scream at me in the stores and at parties, and it would try to jump into my grocery cart. Booze and I had such an intimate relationship, that it knew my mom’s maiden name! The smells made me dizzy and nauseous. So, I needed practical how-tos on what else to do instead of drinking. Avail yourself of the wisdom of the multitude of sober, healthy and happy AA people who have come and since gone. You don’t have to do this alone ever again. Welcome home!
Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus. ~ Susan Longacre
People sometimes ask me how I stayed sober after all these years. I tell them the same thing I was always told when I asked old timers the same thing: Don’t drink and stay alive! No kidding. It is that simple. It is a simple program of recovery, but it is a hard one. The hard part is remaining teachable, recognizing you do not know everything, and having the willingness to accept and follow advice on how to do it differently.
Do you know how you can tell you are in recovery? You don’t. The people around you will notice that your behaviors are not so reactionary. Those who love you will be puzzled by the way you respond more lovingly. The banker and creditors will be shocked that they do not have to keep calling you and charging your accounts for late/missed payments. You bosses will enjoy more productivity, fewer “sick” days and more profits. Your kids and pets won’t be afraid when you walk through the door anymore. You may not notice, but they will. At first, you will feel uncomfortable, but soon this new lifestyle will feel more natural. Just look down at your shoes if you are not sure where you are or what direction you are going. Stay sober and stay alive. Pretty soon, you will be asked how you got where you are going. Day after day, year after year….that is how you become an old timer.
No bird soars high enough, if he soars with his own wings. ~ William Blake
It is often said that one cannot soar with the eagles if you are trotting around with the turkeys. I like both birds, so trotting is as good for me as soaring. Some days, I do well to just live and breathe, wake up sober (eventually) and get a few things accomplished. I was what is commonly called a “functional alcoholic.” I never lost a job or got put in the clink, although I should have a few times. I am still amazed I lived to tell about much of what I did. Back in the day, in small town Iowa, no one (including cops) would haul you in for public intox or DUI, etc. It was simply “normal” to be half looped most of the time. In fact, I remember clearly a few conversations had around me and at me that found fault in me getting in trouble, but the words drunk, alcoholic, etc. never were used.
To this day most of my family and friends of the past (still drinking; mind you) deny that I was “that bad”. They are bewildered that I thought I might need help. And, interestingly enough, I am sure they would not be phased one bit if I showed up half snockered at the local bar. Correct perception is the key to sane thinking. How we see the world as all drunks or all sane, healthy, functioning, and “normal” people is a matter of perception. Sobriety affords me the opportunity to appreciate soaring and trotting as all good and neither bad.
Life before sobriety is like a boxing match.
Life after surrender is like surfing. ~ Anon
Are you boxing through life or surfing? One old timer used to say, those is recovery are like ducks on a pond: we look like we are just peacefully sailing along, but under the water, we are paddling like all get out! I know my best days drunk could never equal how good my worse days sober have ever been. For one reason, I do not have to pile on regret, self-loathing and resentment upon the load I am already toting. In sobriety, we learn to take care of matters as soon as possible.
That is a far cry from our drinking days, when we would let things get so messy, that one small confrontation seemed to be the final straw on top of a number of unresolved messes. We were victims of our own making. In sobriety, we can go about society without shame or blame. We can be equals and just members, not above or below others. We can be productive and useful to our fellow humans. Thank HP/AA for the sobriety we have been given. It is a small gift that gives very large rewards. Start surfing and enjoy your sober life.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of this Beatles hit. It took me back to my teens when my biggest concerns were grades, fitting in, and high school angst. I started drinking to escape my reality, oil the social wheels, and to have power in my life. Funny how we become dependent on the very thing that causes us the greatest level of pain. In the 60’s it was all about dropping out, making love not war, and rebelling against whatever the establishment demanded of us. It was great time to be young. Our generation brought about many great changes. But, not all of us made it out without scars and addictions.
People come to AA for many reasons. Mine was a spiritual awareness that happened without my permission. It was an awakening that for me was enough to pay attention to. I just knew that I did not want to die of this disease, even though I may die as a result of it. There are after all consequences for years of self harm. My living amends to myself is years of self love and self care. All I need is love: the love a HP, AA, and sponsorship/fellowship. What do you need in life?
I have been thinking about what it was like, what happened and what is it like now for me as I approach year #31. First of all, I must say I am surprised I lived long enough to see 31. There is no rhyme or reason for that, other than I survived and now thrive thanks to AA, sponsorship, and sobriety. When I first arrived, I was a card carrying, prideful agnostic who had tossed out God out of anger. So, it was suggested that the group be my HP. Thus, my first G.O.D. in program was Group of Drunks. That helped me through the first few years. I did not have to believe in anything but AA.
About 5 years sober, I ran into a sponsor who suggested that I write a want ad for a god that I could believe in, trust, and feel safe with. So, as result of that, my next G.O.D. became: Good Orderly Direction. My sponsor taught me that I had to eat breakfast, exercise, take actions (like service, calls, meetings, etc.) That helped me to be more accountable as well as more organized. It seems I never had time to meet with her or do assignments, etc. So, good orderly direction was needed in my life. Several years back due to a sense of contentment and ease, it was suggested that I reexamine G.O.D. and become more serous about staying sober, so then I adopted the G.O.D. = Gift of Desperation. When I hear myself say, “I never served time in jail’, or “I never got picked up for DUI”, etc. I need to remember that where but for the grace of G.O.D., there go I. I need to complete my sentences with the word “yet”. Try writing a want ad for a G.O.D. that works for you. Let me know how that helps.
Once time I was telling someone that I just was taking life “one day at a time”. The retort was less than supportive. The guy shot back, “That is how life was designed: one day at a time!” I used to think all those corny sayings we use around the tables (ie, one day at a time, keep it simple, etc) were boring and trite. I hate the idea of hearing How it Works or the traditions read every single time we met. My selfish little kid inside would mumble, “do they think we are stupid? Why do we have to keep hearing this stuff?”
As I grew into the recovery process, I recognized how lucky we are that those saying and readings have kept millions of people all over the globe sober. They have melded us together as cohesive extensions of each other, they have buoyed us up in tough times and have made us stronger as a result. I thank HP for making me stay put,, so that I would eventually come to love that which is keeping me sane and sober…. one day at a time for over 30 years. What keeps you sober?