Step 1. That's the power of choice I hear about around the halls. They say they're powerless over alcohol, even facing life without it. For some reason they lack reason? Something like that. People can't seem to make rational decisions around alcohol and it's not just after they drink it either. They speak of a mental twist that precedes the first drink. I can relate, I drank everyday and don't even know why. Years just went by in a blur like I was just drunk everyday with my mind stuck on erase mode. Drink and forget. It didn't matter how I started out, by the end of the day I was drunk. Not much more to it really. I couldn't say no to alcohol. So yeah, I could say I am powerless.
Plus at this point if I didn't go to these meetings everyday I would drink. That was pretty obvious. I've got drunk and come back to meetings a few times. The meetings have something, hope maybe? Camaraderie? The people just seem to be friendly without any effort, they just are my friends because we don't drink and have suffered greatly within ourselves..
I've never been in a situation like this that I can remember, allowed myself to be liked. Felt a part of something. It's good.. So, on that note I'm banging out at least two meetings a day, the nooner and the niter. Afterward I'm sitting drinking coffee until late. It strikes me odd that I am somehow taking care of myself also. I seem to work just enough to pay what I need to pay to live. I have a place to sleep and shower, money to eat. It kind of just happens. I just stepped out of my old life and into this one. Nobodies looking for me, nobody cares. I am just here in AA now, safe. It's a "one day at a time " thing I guess. That's what I'm telling myself anyway and it seems to be working. I don't drink and get to a meeting, nothing can happen in my 24 hours that a drink won't make worse. Or a drug, that too. I'm just not that concerned about drugs. Oh sure, I like em all and have abused my share, especially opiates, but I'm not interested for some reason. Maybe I just have no connection to get any drugs? I don't even care. I know drugs are mind altering substances, the AA folks who are sober say no to mind altering substances. I seem to be able to say no to drugs or yes to AA? Odd. It's the alcohol, the alcohol scares me. Lots of people say a drug is a drug is a drug. That may very well be true just as a tree is a tree is a tree. Or people are people...I'm not here to understand what others think or feel with respect to their addictions. I am also not in a treatment center, I am in AA. Alcoholics Anonymous. The alcohol will take me down again and quick. I don't want to drink. I don't want to find myself on a bar stool with a drink in my hand desperately trying to shut my mind off.
I've never liked weed. I never liked much of anything in the drug world outside the alcohol perimeter. Something about that demon alcohol though, I just could not leave it alone and drank to get drunk at every opportunity. And for me this became everyday. Alcohol was my master. I would drink it and listen to it, feel it, do what it told me to do no matter the consequence.. I AM defenseless or like they say around AA, POWERLESS. This I get, I have no need for others opinion. I have seen this in myself. It's why I am here.
Step 2, willingness to believe? Ok, it's 1981, I've been around meetings for about a year now and loosing my grip. I'm continuing to be the same person I was before I got here now. I'm boxing myself in, drifting backwards. I'm speaking at meetings and don't know what I'm saying. I'm just trying to be liked, trying to maintain my stage presence. I'm the newer AA guy who sticks with the winners, everybody's pal, goes to lots of meetings, helps out wherever I can... That's the outside, the inside is not anywhere near the same. Inside I am bound by extreme self centered fear. I am self will run riot apparently. It fits, I get the drift. I am addicted to people, I need people to make my decisions, I need others to base my thoughts on. I don't understand it but know there's something to it.Some reason for my drinking..
I think about people all day and night. What they think, what they think of me. I mull over everything, every decision, every thought, every right and wrong I see in others is my ammunition yet I go ahead and do whatever I want without a second thought anyway.. I think I know what they think. I do what I think they would do or say. I am under constant fear and tension as I arrange people places and things to suit me.. Paranoid at times. I am all things to all people yet unaccountable. Honestly? I am the producer of my confusion. I put all my effort into pleasing others and then sabotage it by making them pay for all the work I am doing to please them? Work they aren't even aware of? I am bound tight in my selfishness and don't even know what that means really. I am just floating around AA hoping for the best..I hear some recovery and it fits me but soon is forgotten..
I suppose I'm hoping others will continue to screw up and keep the focus off me even though I see myself ad kind and caring to everyone.. How can I stay sober like this, I need anesthesia, I need something to help me be two faced because apparently I can't change or haven't found anyone new to change me. I am out of my mind and not drinking going to lots of meetings but that's about it really.. It worked for quite a while but now it's time to move on in my recovery. It's time for the whole Big Book 12 Steps thing, get a Step sponsor, make a decision on my Spiritual beliefs and write. I think that 4th is key or so it seems. I get it, I feel I am willing to believe in a Spiritual power greater than myself to solve my problem. I see quite clearly that no human power could relieve my alcoholism. I not only hit my knees in the morning and ask for the obsession to be removed but I feel it in my heart sometimes for no reason. I just feel my willingness to believe. Willingness is like I'm actually doing something good for me, this is new and I like it. Kind of like faith.
I am willing and comfortable with my Step 2 but sometimes around certain people I am feeling inferior. Oldtimers who seem set in their ways. I think people think I should have a religious God. Like if I don't believe as they do I am not valid. My recovery doesn't count.
My cousin is Catholic and I hate my cousin so I hate Catholics. Religion is weird, that's right..weird! People congregating, singing, reading, talking about things I just can't grasp. I don't understand how they learn the Bible stuff or why they would even want to. Strumming chords for Jesus. I just go deeper into more extreme self centeredness. I couldn't be Religious if I wanted to. Be a part of, be a team player. I just won't risk the exposer.. I have way too much fear to be a participant. I must be the center of it all or nothing. I cannot risk being vulnerable, being out of control. People will hurt me. They will betray me. I will not trust, I can't even if I wanted to. I have nothing to trust with, there is no me. There is only my reflection in others. That is me, I am the empty void. If you see someone that appears to be me? It isn't, It's them, whoever I have stolen. I am them.
I have been reading and discussing the Big Book with my sponsor and going faithfully to my men's Big Book 12 Step meeting. The Book says selfishness and self centeredness is the root of my alcoholism, or troubles. I am learning enough to be dangerous without actually doing any formal stuff like writing my 4th yet. I get a realization and think I have all the answers. I am an extremist. One tidbit and I'm an expert. Hey, I'm not alone. My sponsor says it a phase everybody goes through. There is some comfort there. I'm just another hopeless alcoholic looking for the Big Book solution. I'm probably going to continue to screw up here and there.
Extreme self centered fear. Fear so great I can't think my way through it. I can't wish my way out of it. Can't out run it, outsmart it, hide from it. My life is unmanageable, I cannot fit myself. Now, what about others? Well, yes.. They are my tools. People are my tools for coping with life. I arrange others, especially those that can deal with life, they overcome it for me. I can live through others feelings. If they're happy I'm happy, sad? I'm sad. If I'm angry I can make them angry so I feel better, not so alone in my fear. I throw my self at them. I let them control me, let them manipulate me, anything to get my own needs. Usually I make myself appealing at another's expense. It's the best I can do really. Manipulate others to get my needs met. Lots of character assassination. They're all screwed up but you and me well, we're ok..Gain my emotional security. I find fault in others and you agree? That's the self esteem boost I'm looking for. You and me, us..Sometimes I just arrange them in my mind at least temporarily in my delusion. Yes I can rely on others for the needed self esteem I alone cannot muster. It's really all I am, a thief..I am a thief of others security.
Simple really, Of course my first choice is always to run to the emotional security of others, arrange them to meet my needs, maybe steal a piece of them for myself, fill the hole..More balls in the air! Yeah, they'll save me, fix me, validate me, wrap me in their blanket of high self esteem for a while, I am strong, flushed with acceptance, identity, purpose....Over and over, each day. I wake up and the fear is there waiting. I'll create myself with you and you and a bit of them. If by chance people are not available? I'll just rely on my past with a re hash of old arrangements with an added new triumphant outcome. I review my failures and under my new management become the winner! I'll think they think or thought or a woulda shoulda coulda, but this time did something.. This time it'll be different, this time I get all the attention and success.
Will my sick obsessions go away? I can't drink them away anymore so...
Hey..I wake up and my ex-wife rolls around my mind first thing. It probably wouldn't be that bad except I haven't seen or heard from her in years. I feed right into it, I am defenseless. I beat myself at the thought. This happens seemingly everyday, I hate myself so I beat myself. I have no Spirit so I only see myself through the eyes of others and others hate me. Others believe I have ruined their lives so I believe it too. I am afraid to tell anyone how crazy I really am. Nobody can know what really goes on inside me.. This is my denial, my only real defense, don't tell anyone. I do try to fight it sometimes. I tell myself today is the day I will make money. This is how I control my daily obsession. I create a delusion. I'm going to pay people back, old debts, I assure myself this will happen.. Today is the day I'll finally get the child support squared. Although I have no idea how much I owe or even where to send it nevermind getting a money order together( I have no bank account or checks) to go to the post office and get a stamp and envelope. I don't care! today I make a difference! I'll shave and do laundry for myself, brush my teeth so I can kiss my daughter on the forehead like before.. Today I'm going to be a man! A dad!. I see myself like this as I wait by the street for my ride. I am brimming with pride! I tell myself I'm doing it, I don't hate myself today, I am not crushed with shame, guilt, remorse, doom.. Then out of nowhere it creeps in....Leave me alone! Give me a chance! I'm standing up for myself against myself. I won't self destruct today! I just can't! I mirror myself to those with the new trucks and nice tools driving by. Yup! that's me I say, a week or two and that'll be me. I'll get my truck fixed and some insurance, pay the back excise taxes and get a new drivers license. I'll have my own place with a big color TV, nice stereo, a garage where I'll keep my motorcycle and tools, cool guy stuff..My daughter will be proud that I'm a regular guy. That's what I'm doing today, it's going to happen I can feel it! I'll drive right up to her house and walk up to the front door like a real man.
No...that's not going to happen today, that's who I used to be. Or worse, who I think I used to be. I know my life is never going to come back, I am nothing, gone as if I never was to begin with. What's the use. I stand there staring at the ground and hear the BEEP! My ride's here and almost runs me over as the guys in the car laugh. I'm deep in my self centered fog, staring at the ground, the road side gravel is my mirror, cigarette butts everywhere. I'm standing in an ashtray where I belong...I have lifted myself up to the highest high and pulled the rug right out from my feet. I am down again, down where I belong. I try to hang on, snap out of it? and say hi! as I get in, how's everybody today! as if I hadn't a care in the world and seconds before wasn't lost in my alcoholic mind contemplating suicide for relief.. I blend as if I was anyone else in the car with a life, anyone besides me. The cameleon now, I'm just one of the guys, how do you like me so far! The self centeredness will take hold, make me who I think I should be. This is me, how I get a grip. Who you think I should be? I have no character or personality, no feelings of my own, I am only you. I respond to what I think you think. I am what the Book refers to as a people worshipper. A quick scan of the people in the car will determine if I should be funny or serious, happy or sad. If I get no response the sarcasm always works to gain some control. I ridicule the guy who's always screwing up in the back seat. I focus on his defects for a quick self esteem boost, it worked and everyone including him laughs. New situation? no problem. I have gotten myself dressed for work, moved to the street, got myself in the car, I will survive the ride to work. I'm happy for now. I don't realize I am no different as I was the day before and the day before that. My life is completely unmanageable but I'm used to it. There is security in the familiar.
I am a prey to my selfish delusions, obsessions. I try to pacify myself with denial and then new hope, always negative first and then I deny it, try and fix it...My first thoughts are always meant to selfishly sustain me. I can believe anything I think, I have to..I take it from the top in my imaginary stage play. My obsession with failure has come around again. No trigger to declare as I am this way all day everyday. I just go along and WHAM! I am blindsided by self centered fear. This time at 10 am on a weekday I am convinced I am a failure so, out of nowhere my ex wife, marriage, responsibility, maturity, a block of time in the late 70's when I absolutely failed and everyone hates me as much as I hate myself is once again brought to the surface. I'm a loser and I will prove it.. Everybody is good enough for my ex-wife but me, that is a common thread. Everything I am from my past is bad, every thought and act right now is wrong. OK, I'm back there in my delusional dream, she left sure, but now? Now things are going to be different. I try again. ok, places everyone! and ACTION!. I am the director now, I have all the power. This time others were involved to share the failures. I'm showing them! I rat everyone out. I focus on all their faults and expose them, bringing them down to my level so I can feel better about myself. I do feel better at the expense of others and the obsession goes away for now. I laugh at how stupid I would be to be back with her. How stupid those super 8 movies of her Christmas mornings were to watch. Stupid family stuff. There, fixed, I don't need those people. Well, I don't drink today over it but I better hide this afternoon until I can get to the safety of a meeting tonight. I'll watch a mindless TV movie until I can get to the hall an hour early to wait for the coffee guy and help set up.
Next day same thing. I am alone and lost. The wife obsession starts creeping in again. It's like I see myself in the toilet as I spiral downward, whatever I had that was bringing a bit of temporary peace in my life the day before was flushed. Now my mind turns against me again and am reminded I haven't heard or seen any family in 6 or 7, not sure how many years. This time I haven't time to manipulate my thoughts and I am quick to believe my happily remarried ex wife will find me today and say everything is ok now, we love you and you can come home. She's actually been looking for me. Everyone was wrong. You do love your baby daughter more than the booze, we know. Of course you can have another chance. You're a good man. I may even have a fleeting thought to wait outside for her to show up? This is all because of a song I can't get out of my head. Sail on Sailor?..I grab it and run with it to fill my self centered emptiness..The song gives me purpose, understanding. I'm gasping for air. My delusion is so real, I am the victim. I am the center of everything. I place myself, arrange myself, and believe it. Of course this never materializes, the show doesn't come off. The song is over. I fight it, jockey for position as I sing the song over again but in the end? I or they quit and leave my mind, usually I am left resentful over others who are unwilling to participate in what I believe is best for all not just me. If my arrangements would only stay put the show would be great! I believe it says. Why won't it stay? I sang the song from the bottom of my heart. They're never going to come back. I am as heartbroken as I was the day they left 6 years ago. I am the new man in AA. The hopeless man. I may as well be drunk if this is how my life is going to be sober.
Am i ready for Step 3? Do I believe I am powerless? Beyond human aid? Am I willing?
I am alcoholic and near the end really. As if I am on borrowed time. I have already died many times over and now I just steal or borrow from others security.. I can be stopped cold in my tracks hell bent on my self destruction, blinded by remorse, blubbering in my hands as I cover my face in shame as my insides ache. I see myself once again running away from the jobsite whistling with glee having escaped to the security of the bottle. I want this! Quickly now, to the barroom where I am safe. The bar room is my home and reminds me of my childhood. I am not liked there and usually considered unstable, my emotions are not in synch with others. But the alcohol allows me to handle it, be myself and not care. I laugh at pain and do not respond to humor, I just sit there and drink. I am treated like I feel I deserve to be treated. The outcast, the failure at life, I drink away the monster. I am so self centered I can't move but can't do anything about it. I hate myself too. I see myself through their eyes and wish I would just leave myself there. We don't like me, we, me them none of us like me here yet I stay and drink. It's all I can do. I am a loser and a bum, a failure at life who will never amount to anything, over and over drink after drink until hey! It stops, the madness resides..I'm drunk again and no longer care..
Each day I anesthetize myself, I have one and then another and another. By the 3rd or fourth I am dreaming, multitasking with the TV or the guy twice my age who smells sitting next to me.. At the commercial I drift into my own personal alcoholism treatment to combat the wife obsession I feel lingering in this new day. I am not drunk yet and still prey to misery and depression..I attempt to fight it off me. I can handle it I tell myself and go ahead and let it in. My mind begins to race wildly as I sit motionless at the bar. No, this time it will be different. I imagine she tells her date to go home and welcomes me in for dinner, we are married still. My daughter quietly sleeping in the other room. I peek in to check on her and she is beautiful. I'm winning. I'm handling it! Another few drinks and I forget all about her. I am done thinking for the day. I will stay there drinking until I can not take another drink. I will keep the pain away for today. I am grateful I made it here, I made it to the bar. I have had much more than an adult dose of alcohol and it's still daylight. But now my mind is calm, shut down, vacant. I cannot leave the bar and risk exposure outside. I hardly understand where I am. The after work crowd shows up with their new energy, I can be different now with the new faces, sociable maybe. I am nolonger dominated by my own head and might just play some music on the juke box, maybe a game of pool. Life is good..I am an airline pilot today, no..a local guy with lots of friends.. I have medicated myself with a combination of alcohol and people. I have overcome the self centered fear. The alcohol shuts me down, overwhelms my fear and lets the people in to their proper seats. I have control. It's the best I can do. The only thing I can do. I am a severe alcoholic. An alcoholic of the hopeless variety. In a few hours I will be sick, throwing up my day somewhere outside in the night. Alcohol, hotdogs, memories.. I will pass out, unable to function any longer, telling myself I have done my best. I may die in my sleep this time, next time? Then it will be over. The thought brings an inner peace, a genuine smile. Someday soon it will all be over.
So why not just not drink? Obviously it's the booze that's killing me.
Long before alcohol came along as an option I suffered. Being so self centered I am afraid to listen for fear of letting go of my own thoughts so obviously I cannot learn right? The whole people talk till they're blue in the face thing and still I do not respond. Those who ask what is my problem and me who responds with "I do not know"..I can't take the risk of letting my guard down long enough to even listen to others without keeping control. I will judge and form opinion on everything they say. I must be stronger or atleast equal. Put my own words in their mouths to create security. See and hear only what I want. I absolutely cannot trust anyone I cannot control. People will hurt me. My own noise is heard over their attempt at communication nomatter how kind or heartfelt.. So, school just did not work as it is intended to for me. I could not hear nor could I respond, the self centeredness was too overwhelming and had me mute, paralyzed at times with self centered fear. I was usually saved by sarcasm if I was saved at all.. May as well add myself as a non participant in cub scouts, boy scouts, sunday school, camp, paper route, baseball, anything to do with my home life. I was damaged goods, a non participant by 6 or 7 years old. I had already been betrayed, emotionally abandoned, physically mentally sexually abused, manipulated, blamed and discarded. I would not even risk eye contact. I wanted nothing to do with anyone and spent my time mostly alone traveling on my bike. I was afraid to be home. My house was haunted.
As I got older? OH, the poor girlfriends I took as emotional hostages...I remember one saying hey, you can't tell me how or what to think. How could she know that! It hit me square. I knew she was right and was shocked that I was caught, how could she know? I was hardly 15. Sometimes I could see my behavior but still had no ability to change it so why even bother looking at it? It scared me and reminded me I was bad, always bad. The girls would come and bring me life, hope for a future even, and then leave and take it with them, over and over. In time It seemed I could not split up the people and alcohol. I couldn't have people without it. The booze was key. I would drink alcohol and I would drink people. Addicted to both.
So this is it I guess. 1981. Not drinking and I had found alcoholics like me. Hopeless people who followed the Big Book 12 Steps which much to my surprise was for hopeless alcoholics. I never knew the Big Book 12 Steps were for the alcoholic who can make the admission of hopelessness. Hopeless and powerless were good things? They qualified me? They both helped me with my willingness. The Big Book 12 Step guys weren't just reading the Steps like at the 12/12 I was avoiding, reading and applying it to their lives no, they were doing the Steps. Like there was directions?? Who knew? So, there was something to do? Work to be done? Hey, why not? I felt hope. I was willing, as willing as anyone else. I was at Step 2.
8/20/82 I drink again and am again dumbfounded. 8/22/82 I come back and am willing once again. Looking back? I had one more drink in me. It was mixed with people. Someone liked me that I bumped into from my old life before AA, so I drank with them. I learned a little this time. I did see how people dominated me roughly, how I needed their approval, how I threw my new AA sober self away for it. At the time it was a revelation. I really am powerless! How I could just go out after a meeting and drink after a year of sobriety was baffling to me. That last drink hurt me. My emotional state was shaky, my nervous system, everything, my mind..So now I was hooked, ready for my brainwashing. I had my Big Book and a Sponsor who was experienced with the Big Book 12 Step process of recovery. I read the early pages at times with him and came to the three pertinent ideas. I couldn't analyze anymore. I had no reputation to enjoy. Even my friends seemed like they were moving on with their lives. The Big Book ABC's. This is Steps one and two. (A) I'm alcoholic and can't manage my own life.( B) That probably no human power can relieve my alcoholism (C) That God could and would if He were sought. Was I ready for Step 3? Yes. Well yes except for the capitol H in Him stuff. What's that supposed to mean, Jesus? Eh..I'm not religious and don't want to be religious, I don't trust religious people. Not really sure why but I'm actually anti religious. I don't want to hear it or even think about it. Then it dawned on me. I didn't just not trust religious people, I didn't trust anyone. This thought opened my mind a little. It didn't take long maybe a week or so and I was back to analyzing everything. Jockeying for control. I needed to get moving in the work. If I got hung up on Step 3 I may not survive it. I don't think I have another drink in me.
My sponsor showed me where it said in the Book, my own conception of a Spiritual Power greater than myself was enough to make the approach. The approach. What approach I thought? The approach to Jesus? or the approach to the Spiritual Path suggested. And are they one in the same? Well? I couldn't be sure and to be honest I am not sure today either. I do however know this much. Bob S was a religious man and his focus is there with Him or Heavenly Father. Bill W was open at times to many concepts of Spiritually. But the end result was his belief in Him also and wished for others to call Him by name. They both say they are not there to control what I do or don't do as far as my own Spiritual belief even though theirs is clear. I believe they have the right to make their own beliefs clear just as I do. Fair enough. I can see where their religious beliefs are right and am willing to make use of what they offer.
So yeah.. Willingness to believe. I have seen, felt, shared, even at times understood the power of the Spirit. I believe there is an all powerful underlying force that holds all that lives and dies. This belief has pulled my fragmented soul together. It has shown me purpose. I am willing to learn to give what is freely given to me. With this attitude I am free to come and go as I please. I am no longer bound by my alcoholic mind. I have Step 1, I put the drink down and see my powerlessness. Step 2, I am willing to believe in the Spiritual side of life to take me to better things.. I have hope, I believe there is a solution. I am looking at Step 3.