When most of us who's end game is drowning in hopelessness? The drunken delusions of the "real alcoholic" can no longer hold the self serving insanity in check. Alcohol stops working and we are rescued by AA, our new place to be. Although generally secure in our new found AA daycare center, we haven't changed anything except putting down the drink. We or lets say I? Was out to accomplish one thing. Survive. I had absolutely no idea about living as AA suggested only my own survival. Fortunately AA was ready for me. I wasn't the first or last to show up with absolutely no coping skills. No, pretty much the lot of us were plagued with fear and bound in selfishness.
SURVIVING ISN'T LIVING. WHO KNEW?
This revelation could really just be a wake up call had I known anything but my own negative thinking.. Offering purpose in the big void that overwhelms some of us in our new found sobriety. We hear around the halls about others living, letting go of the selfishness and self centered fear.
For me, making it day by day without anesthesia was completely new.. Yes we put the drink down yet no, we lack any control over ourselves or our surroundings. All I had was my fragmented ability to mimic another's stage presentation. Without them to mirror off of? I was alone. The "all hat and no cattle" thing.
AA FELLOWSHIP = EMOTIONAL SECURITY?
Ok, yes I'm still using people in the welcoming AA fellowship, isn't that what it's there for initially? It's seemed safer, acceptable behavior with a few AA related guidelines. Even disciplines. Like I show up sober, for one. Living in my new tight AA meeting lifestyle change I am shocked each time I show up at a meeting and people are happy to see me. Is this what this feels like? To be liked? I haven't done anything to warrant such kindness and acceptance yet there it is. I think I get it sometimes. I bring the body and the mind will follow. I have brought the body and the mind is still more than not turned away at the door. Life is good. I'm safe here from myself.
ANY GOD TIME IS GOD TIME IN GODS TIME.
My own conception of a Spiritual power greater than myself was highly suggested. Why? Well, I was powerless and needed to get over myself. I could no longer leave it at the door. The fellowship no longer was working. Things were bad and sometimes well, bad is bad and with me? Everything good is bad too.. I was now no different than I was before I became a drunk. An adult child really. Sober, drunk, the same emotionally stunted person I'd been fighting with my entire life...
For some yet to be determined reason I hated myself. Yet I wanted everyone to act like I wanted. This was odd. Why would I want anyone to act like someone I hated? Although a simple act to follow to those watching from the cheap seats, to me this was complicated. Much too complicated to understand. It would come in waves of understanding and then be gone. As if I would hear someone say something that made perfect sense to me and when they were gone they took it with them. On my own I just could not retain any positive recovery and would fall back wallowing on the familiar, safe in the emotional security of my blues. The joy of being back in the self-pity I cannot change.
DO THE STEPS!!
My introduction to the 12 Steps may as well have been astrophysics for cats. I just was not domestic. Nope. I was feral. Certainly not life trained, and any positive development from this point was going to be painfully slow. I did what I wanted to do and knew no other way. The best I could hope for at this point was maybe catching a break through repetition or default. I'm going to keep going to the meetings and keep trying to ask my Spiritual Higher Power for help and maybe get lucky. If I sit on my long board in the surf long enough maybe I can catch a wave to shore without learning to swim. At my best still trying to cut a deal.
The 12 Steps began as a handicap ramp yet I did keep trying. It's what the so called winners in AA said and did. They kept coming. I did drink a few more times and kept coming back. Although very sick this proved to be good. Progressive. I had found something good and by now equated everything good to the Higher Power as if I myself or my unaccountable self had somehow disappeared and only showed up occasionally to toss a hand grenade.. As if I wasn't completely screwed up all the time, I had breaks in the insanity kind of like intermission in a B movie..
Still the extremist, I had gone God happy and I didn't even care what others thought most of the time or, at least at the meetings. I was an official AA cult member now. God keep me away from a drink. God don't let me say stupid stuff at the men's discussion meeting. God don't tell the IRS my address. God let that new girl be at the meeting tonight. Yep.. I was all in. Me and God were buds. Life was good and everything was God's will for me.
REALITY SETTLES IN LIKE A NANTUCKET FOG BANK.
People in the meetings are saying life sober is great as if anyone can see. Others are chiming in regularly with how AA works if you work it or how grateful they are living happy joyous and free sober lives. Not me.. Nope. Oh, sure I'm not drunk but man. I'm hanging on by that evil and corroding thread the Book calls fear. Same as it ever was? Everybody's everything and I'm not. Drunk and sober are the same thing.
I know serenity is there, it has to be. All these people can't be wrong can they? I just can't see or feel it. I'm missing something huge apparently or maybe I'm just too darn soul sick for AA. AA is just to quit drinking, that's it.. I'm a mental health case. Nuttier than squirrel poop. No. It was time to get willing. Get willing or die trying. God wasn't Santa Clause or Jesus or Buddha, God wasn't Chuck Norris or Susie from the Friday night agape group.. I was on the wrong track. God wasn't anything unless I myself was willing to believe. Willingness was and is key. How do I become willing! Where does this super AA willingness even come from!
I get it now maybe. I don't believe in anything but myself and my self reliance is constantly failing me. I need to become willing. I mean "really" willing like, right now! It's in me as if my willingness has nothing to do with anyone else. It's all me, down deep. I must have been willing sometime?
WILLING TO BELIEVE I'M NOT HIV POSITIVE..
Yikes! I was convinced here was a crash course in willingness to believe. Is this what I mean? I am not Gay or big on IV drug use but Holy Crap have I been in questionable situations, especially drunk. I remember people succumbing to AIDS seemingly every week while living on the North Coast of San Francisco in the late 80's early 90's.. Strangers who came up north to die and even friends who looked fine and in a short time their health fell off like a ski jump and they died. Almost like one day here? The next not here.. Organ failure long before the kind of thing I'd watch on PBS, the extremely sad horrific bedside documentaries. Even the fight over HIV/ AIDS contaminated hospital baby diapers at the dump. It was everywhere.I needed to get tested, I was assuming I was positive. I must be, how could I not be? Put a drink in me and well, I'm not known for my rational decisions and was drawn to anything in the physical or emotional feel good category. Not overly concerned with whoever was offering..
I got tested and I waited. The willingness came on from somewhere. It was strong. I really wanted to believe I was negative. I didn't even know if I was positive but I wanted to live badly. Deep down I wanted to live. I prayed to God to let me live and I'll repay the debt. I'll help others live. Anyway, the test came back negative. I quickly moved on to something else like my over due truck payment or it's time for a haircut, what's for dinner.. Back to me. Back to being all about me. Willingness. I could talk about it. I could identify with others and join in the conversation but feel it? No. I simply had no feelings other than extreme selfishness. I needed pain to feel. Stimulus to distract me. I was incapable of caring enough about myself to help myself. It's not that I didn't want to, I just didn't know how. I hated myself and selfishly put myself in every thought in hopes of a self esteem boost from others fancied or real but no, it never worked. I was doomed. AA won't even work.
WHAT'S A COPING SKILL?
I had to jump a few tracks to find where I was supposed to be. I thought if Jesus saves others then I do what they do and I get saved too. The willingness seemed easy there. I ask? Jesus saves? I'm good.. Nope. And so I guess if it's not working for me and I really want it to work then all the people who believe in Jesus are phony too. Yeah, I feel better now that they're all screwed up like me. Religious nut jobs, all of them. Was this what the AA's meant by playing God? I felt as if I knew everything about everything and everyone. I kind of identified with the mountain top thing. I just didn't know when to shut my mouth or even stop my racing mind. I was in full flight from reality. It was all me. I had no coping skills. I couldn't handle anything without a fight. It was everywhere and in everything. Like the AA folks said. I was dominated by people places and things. It all owned me. I needed to somehow learn to let some stuff go! Or face it? Cope? How is that even possible when the whole world isn't treating you right? I needed to begin somewhere. Take a stab at it. Do I ask God for help here? The willingness to cope rather than just remove everything I have trouble with? Sounds like work. Like dealing with life on life's terms. I have heard this kind of talk around the halls. Becoming a participant. Coming in from the cold.
28 years old and still in the 2nd grade where I ripped my pants and everyone laughed. Even Virginia Balosovitch. This is nice. I've somehow made it to 28 with wives, children, jobs and the like, with little to no coping skills whatsoever. I can't handle the slightest problems. What a loser I am..Criticism? Forget it! I can't handle a simple compliment either? Nope. Nothing. I am literally jockeying for position with everything. Trying to arrange a self esteem boost of some kind with every thought. This is really sick. My mind is racing wildly. I can't find anything to ground myself onto. It's as if everything I think or touch I use up quickly. I suck the energy up like a lightning bolt and need to move on and find a new ground. Some security. Anybody really. Nothing big just someone to hold onto and use for even a short time. Like a safe place to dock and recharge. Find some temporary balance. No wonder I'm an alcoholic.. I was a mess long before I picked up a drink. The booze was just the symptom that took me down. Geeze.. I can't remember coping with things as a kid. How did I even make it this far? I am literally an emotional vampire!
I PRAY FOR COURAGE AND STRENGTH TO COPE.
Is this what God is for? The whole Spiritual Higher Power thing? The God of my understanding is really willingness? God is the willingness? God give me strength to see the big picture. To look outside myself and my own selfish needs? I may be on to something here for sure. I feel better already. Like I stand for something and not running. I can do this. I can face this. I pray for courage and strength, God remove my fear and am not afraid? THATS WHAT THAT MEANS? God or the Higher Power is the opposite of fear? I've only heard that one a thousand times.
So for me this God thing isn't the dream-away plan. Ok. So I don't just ask for anything in my way to be removed. I need to ask for the courage to look at it or see it for what it is. Life, I need to pray for strength to cope with life. Sometimes or mostly on life's terms.
I had some surgery the other day. Not unlike a put off dentist appointment where things have been neglected and repair is now extensive and overwhelming to think of..Pain both physical and emotional. Lots of drilling and needles and chaos in my face. So, cancel again? I can't get up and run right? Grab the drill and start on the dentist myself. No I need to cope with this situation. I pray that my Gods will be done. I pray for courage to be calm and take care of the task at hand. Oddly before I know it I'm on my way home with a mouthful of cotton. It's done. I showed up and I did it. I cared enough about myself to care for myself. In this case my health, my hygiene. God gives me strength and I turn it into coping skills to face life.
People places and things. It's all one day at a time sure but nobody mentioned we're all in different days. There's the selfishness that rears it's head everyday. Someone in in my way, someone crosses my boundary, steps on my toes etc. People. They're everywhere doing whatever they do. Traffic, busy commute grocery line bullies .. Family friendly fire. Whatever. Big shot AA oldtimers? Newcomer control freaks with no coping skills? Blindsided by a lie, cheats, untreated alcoholism and betrayal.. Or simply a good shot of self-centered fear over nothing. A pity party. self-serving motives driven by delusion. even the insanity of the first drink can return.
LIVING SOBER AND COPING WITH LIFE
Here's the corny ending. Yes I live my life one day at a time as suggested as a AA member. In the Big Book this begins by being Spiritually Awakened in Step 11. There are directions there on how to cope while willing to live a Spiritual life. I just couldn't see them until I was ready and willing. That day did come...I was in big trouble. I needed it. I needed a hard hit to shake up my willingness. The new ability to cope revealed itself to me in my willingness. I prayed to see it, to feel it. I prayed to cope with it and live with it. In time even some of the worst boundary jumping horrors have become simply memories. They are there still yet they nolonger dominate all thought when aroused. Their power has been removed. This ability to cope with my past has been huge.
I am who I am and have been who I have been, nothing nice to see there. Alone how could I look? How could I understand how or why, what to repair? I have prayed to see myself and have straightened up my messes the best I can for now. Is there redemption? Maybe. On a personal level? Sure. I have been given the courage to cope with myself in years past and today at this writing. I have ceased fighting. I am not an example of power. I have been convinced that in war the victor like myself only seems to win. The moments of triumph are as it says, short lived.
I want to live today. I want to participate in life. Learn to give. Interact with people, enjoy the benefits of friendship and relationships.. Have responsibilities, things. I can be a power of example today in small ways, I have seen it and felt it. I can cope with life on life's terms without fighting and assuming I'll be content simply with the removal of all things questionable. I do not pray to God to clear a path for me. I do pray to avoid the what if's and if only's. To recognize the pitfalls of self-pity. I follow the AA suggestion of keeping in the NOW. Tomorrows a mystery and yesterday's history, it's today, now. This moment I pray for courage to keep in the now. To face my day and if I have fallen short. I pray for corrective measures. Coping skills, I pray for coping skills.
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF TODAY THAT ANOTHER MAY BENEFIT.