We have ceased fighting anything, even alcohol.

How I wish that it was true for me, and more than an ideal.  I have ceased fighting alcohol, that is true, but I fight other things.

For me there is surrender, as in giving up the fight against alcohol.  I believe it had won before I ever drank it.  All the time I spent trying to drink it successfully was denial on my part that I had lost.  When I surrendered to that, I was able to give it up, and so I had the only victory over it that is possible for me.

I also had to surrender to the program.  I tried to give up drinking without the program, and I tried the program without truly admitting defeat from alcohol, and I tried to take part of the program and leave the rest.  My experience is that I was desperate, truly desperate and, I believe dying, until I surrendered to the program, gave up alcohol and began to live a life that works.

And my own personal miracle is that after a time I came to want AA and what it offered, and I wouldn’t give it up if I could.  Which I can’t.

Search Terms that Brought You Here

I think it’s fun once in a while to see how people end up here.

  1. The number one way people get here via search engine is by looking for meeting topics.  I hope my list is helpful, and I’d love to add more, so let me know if I’ve missed any.
  2. Examples of character defects.  Again, I truly hope my list is helpful, and I’d also love to add to it.  I’ve found the examples I’ve included to be most helpful for me.
  3. What is a typical topic at an AA meeting?  I’d have to say, without any research and only the meetings I attend to inform me, that the most common topics are gratitude, Steps 1, 2 and 3, change, relapse, and serenity.
  4. Why people in AA are so self-righteous.  I’d say that’s because they are still working on their humility.
  5. Couples in AA.  My wife and I are a couple in AA, and I was married once before to someone in AA.  My blog is full of our story.  I wouldn’t want to be in a relationship with someone who isn’t in AA.
  6. Terrence, This is Stupid Stuff!  I feel I should apologize to all the innocent students who are looking for good info and instead find my drunken interpretation.  I think about taking it down from time to time, but the poem does mean a lot to me.
  7. Funny topics for AA meetings.  I can’t help there, but most meetings do contain lots of laughter.  We are not a glum lot!
  8. Old school AA meeting format.  I don’t know!  I’d be very interested to find out though.
  9. Don’t hide your secrets from your wife.  No, don’t.  Please see “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”

October 27, 2010 (this day)

Beautiful, perfect, gorgeous weather still.  Today I went to work and then to the dentist.  I had half my gums scraped with just a little Novocaine, and it hurt like heck.  I tried many mental strategies for dealing with the pain.  I could have asked for more Novocaine, but I so wanted it to be over and done.  After, the hygienist said I can decide for next time, for the next half, if I want to be more numb.  Problem is, I guess, the actual shots hurt much worse in the front of the mouth.

At times today it was hard to deal with.  Also, laying in the chair, head down and mouth open, for so long, is very difficult.  My hands grew cold and I had to pee, my neck and my jaw cramped.  In the good old days, my drinking days, I asked for laughing gas and tried to act like I was in pain, even when I wasn’t, so that they would give me more and more gas.

And Carole needs still more tests, sort of serious tests, and we don’t really know exactly what’s wrong with her or what her prognosis is.  I keep thinking we had better get used to this state of affairs if we hope to live long, if we’re lucky, there will frequently be tests and uncertainty time and time again.  I can easily feel bratty about it though, and hope and wish that this doesn’t turn out to be the case, that we both live long, pain-free, disease free and die in our sleep of old age.

At the same time I remember that every day I’ve been given since I got sober, every day for the past 26 years plus, is a gift I don’t deserve and surely couldn’t have hoped to receive.

Now, What About the Rest of the Twelfth Step? (Step Twelve continued)

Now, what about the rest of the Twelfth Step?  The wonderful energy it releases and the eager action by which it carries our message to the next suffering alcoholic and which finally translates the Twelve Steps into action upon all our affairs is the payoff, the magnificent reality, of Alcoholics Anonymous.

All of my affairs.

As a pet owner, I remember with shame how I tried to dissuade my first cat from climbing on the piles of newspaper that had accumulated on my head board shelf.  She would walk there, and the papers would tumble and cascade, and I’d spritz flea spray in her direction to make her stop.  Why didn’t I just clean up the newspapers?  I wasn’t a hoarder (of newspapers), I was actually a journalism student.  So-called.

As a student, which was my work of that time, I failed classes, withdrew from classes, got Ds and slept hung over through tests.  Tonight I’m worried I won’t make it to work tomorrow because my stomach is rumbling.  Last time I missed work was probably over a year ago, when I went in, and heavy heavy menopausal bleeding made me leave.  Before that I don’t remember.

Those are just two examples.  They are drastic (to me), but so is my transformation.

Suggestions (taking the suggestions)

The suggestions are free.  You only have to pay for the ones you don’t take.

I love that.  And, early on, Carole came to love it and quote it often so it’s stayed with me.  I was telling her something or other.  It’s a bit of a joke now, how when I told her something about AA, gave her a suggestion, she’d say she had to check it out with her sponsor.  Who always agreed with me.  Because I didn’t make any of that stuff up.  It had all been tried.  It was all found to be true.

Also, under the category “punctuation can save lives,” there is this truism:

“What?!  An order?!  I can’t go through with it!”

And so the steps are a “suggested” program of recovery.  I understand that is because people in general, and alcoholics in particular, hate to be told what to do.  Even though, if we are approaching AA, it is not because we have all the answers, or any of the answers.  It is often a last resort.

I also think that the language of “suggestion” leaves the door open for more to be revealed.

Last night at my meeting, the topic was the “we” of the program.  Where I live, we are abundantly blessed with many many AA meetings.  And as far as I know, at the meeting, out of 25 of us, give or take a few, there was me and one other person from the class of ’84.  Everyone else had less time than that, so had gotten sober more recently than that.

Many people shared that they called their sponsors, and no one else.  For an introvert like me, that would have been a perfect scenario, but that’s not the way I recovered.

Back in the day, my sponsor made me call her every day after I had called someone else.  In the days before cell phones, before even answering machines, this meant dialing the phone until someone answered, then talking to them.  This meant leaving messages with husbands, friends and children.  This meant approaching strangers and asking for their phone number.  This meant starting as early in the day as possible, the better to ensure success.

I say “made me” because, by that time, I was quite desperate and ready to follow directions.  That was the first time I achieved a lasting sobriety, even though it lasted only a short time.  I mention the details about the length of my sobriety because I wonder if things have changed, and people are just easier on their sponsees than they used to be.

Anyway, the suggestions.  “Take what you want, and leave the rest.”  I don’t think that’s a good idea.    “If you want what we have then you’ll do what we did” rings more true to me.

October 22, 2010 (this day)

I had a really hard time today – coping with stress.  What I just wrote about the other day.

It’s Carole’s turn for medical tests that may or may not reveal something horrible.  As when I was going through those not too long ago, I think this will just get more frequent, and sometimes reveal something horrible, sometimes not, until we die.

Add to that stress, other stress, and the fact that often marriage and close relationships magnify character defects.  Oh, and my daughter, who has moved away and who I stress about, doesn’t have working heat, and isn’t calling the landlord until tomorrow.

Work was hectic and I have trouble dealing with negativity that I hear about but don’t experience.  It seems, often, that our boss is more negative to my work partner than she is to me.  Of course I think it is the interpretation that my work partner gives to things that is really very negative.  But I can’t be sure.  I wasn’t there.  Since I wasn’t there yesterday (because of Carole’s medical tests), today I had to deal with the stories of what went on while I was gone.

I’m much better at doing this than I used to be, and I probably understand some of truth by realizing this really doesn’t happen when I’m around.  Unless I’m just too clueless to see it.

Tonight we went to a Big Book meeting and tomorrow is our meeting.  And all this “we” and “our” is truly a gift, and it hasn’t always been this way for me in life or in the program, and I’m going to appreciate and enjoy it if it kills me.

So, Practicing These Steps (Step Twelve continued)

So, practicing these Steps, we had a spiritual awakening about which finally there was no question.  Looking at those who were only beginning and still doubted themselves, the rest of us were able to see the change setting in.  From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn’t got the “spiritual angle,” and who still considered his well-loved A.A. group the higher power, would presently love God and call Him by name.

Taken from the beginning of my sobriety, the steps have had a revolutionary effect on me.  Number one, I stopped drinking.  I was a non-functioning, dangerous, intoxicated mess.  I accepted the possibility of a god in my life, and decided to keep trying to live for the good of myself and others.  I still keep trying to name and understand and lessen my faults.  I still keep trying to improve my spiritual condition.  That’s nothing like I was.  I feel totally comfortable calling that a spiritual awakening and claiming it for myself.

The foundational, basic truth of AA that caught me in the beginning was that these alcoholics had stopped drinking.  They did, I could, and I did.  I can see that carried forward into the “spiritual angle,” although nothing after that is as straight forward as drinking versus not drinking.

I don’t see a way a person could participate in AA and get better spiritually.  Listening to others and reflecting about myself has got to improve me a little, if only by osmosis.

Coping with Stress

Gratitude is my number one strategy.  After years of practice, my mind automatically goes there.  I can remember some extremely hairy moments, where the condition of a loved-one was in question, or when I had received some really bad news, and my mind does, after a second, begin to list all the things that are OK.  It may only stay there for a second, but it will come back.


“Wait to Worry” is one I’d like to be better at.  I figure that there will be times I receive bad news until I die, and I don’t need to react to things that haven’t happened yet and may never happen.


For the more ongoing, recurrent stress, I have several tools.  Gratitude is still number one.  Usually the things I’m stressed about are “luxury problems” – too much of a good thing, like my job, or stressful decisions I need to make between several good options.


I’ve been continuing to try to use prayer and meditation in a somewhat scheduled and formal manner.  At work, each Monday, I take out a quote or prayer or something from the Daily Word that I’ve kept because I’ve found it helpful.  I tack it up on my bulletin board and try to read it each morning and in other times of stress.


I try to maintain balance as much as I can by not doing too much.  Tonight, I plan to go to a meeting, and so I’ve arranged to leave work a little earlier than usual, mostly to entertain (I should say exercise, but that might not happen) the dog.  I try to balance work work, housework, meetings, readings, crocheting, the dog.


For stress I can’t manage, I can talk to people.  What a bounty of people I have available to me.

October 17, 2010 (this day)

If any weather can make me cheerful, this is the weather.  Perfect.  The picture is from yesterday, Carole and Xandra on a trail.  I tried to capture the leaves actually falling, which doesn’t come through, but it was perfect.

Last night our meeting was perfect.  Today more perfect weather and I hope another perfect walk in just a few minutes.  Tomorrow I’m hoping to go to a meeting I’ve never been to before, just because I can.  Perfect.

In Step Eleven (Step Twelve continued)

In Step Eleven we saw that if a Higher Power had restored us to sanity and had enabled us to live with some peace of mind in a sorely troubled world, then such a Higher Power was worth knowing better, by as direct contact as possible.  The persistent use of meditation and prayer, we found, did open the channel so that where there had been a trickle, there now was a river which led to sure power and safe guidance from God as we were increasingly better able to understand Him.

I surely started with the barest of trickles, but I honestly don’t feel a river, nothing like a river.  Since the time I wrote the 11th Step out line by line, I have kept up my reading and writing of the different prayers I’ve found that I like.  I still rotate them in the side bar here as a way of memorizing them over time.

Sure power and safe guidance . . . I don’t feel it.  I don’t know if I am praying to an external, supernatural deity or if I’m simply talking myself into better thinking and better acting.  It matters to me, but I don’t think I’ll answer that question in the lifetime.  Either way, I know that the quality of my life increases as I do more of it, and it works as “money in the bank” toward my sobriety, stored there for a rainy day.

As an example, I often (I feel like it’s often, anyway) have a problem with some strong opinions that I hold.  Some of them I hold dearly, and it distresses me when someone disagrees, most especially someone close to me.  The Daily Word for October 1 contained these words, in part:  “Any tendency to be timid about carrying through on divine understand vanishes . . . I am open to better ways and means of doing my best–for myself and for others . . . being bold in spirit does not mean that I force or coerce others to believe or act as I do.  Understanding and compassion, patience and cooperation flow from Spirit in all I think, say and do . . .”

Now I am a long way from never trying any coercion, but I know I’m better and gentler because I read these things over and over, and try to take them to heart.