Dry by Augusten Burroughs (literature as a tool)

This book is called a memoir, and inside the author writes that events have been changed and some are not intended to portray actual events.

I found it to be an excellent description of addiction, recovery and early sobriety.  It’s also entertaining.

Burroughs describes his life as it was drinking and using.  Although he doesn’t lose his job, his job does send him to rehab, and the bottom he recounts before rehab is, in my opinion, pretty low.  His description of his experiences at rehab are amusing.  His life after rehab takes on a sadder cast, and he describes the conflicts and temptations of early sobriety well.

The parts of this book that deal with AA are rather small, and they could possibly turn the uninitiated off to the program, but probably not.  For someone who is initiated and lives the program, like me, I’d say this book speaks to my experience (though my experience is different, all of our experiences are the same), speaks my language, and gives credence to my way of life by acknowledging it in literature.

I mean, read this book!

December 24, 2013 (this day)

IMG_1279We traveled out of our state and, after sixteen years together, got “legally” married.  Legal in the state where we got married, not legal in ours.  I just heard on the news that there’s a lawsuit in Ohio because Ohio won’t recognize the spouse of some poor bereaved person on an Ohio death certificate.  Yes, people spend time and money to try and not recognize good, long, “legal” relationships.

But – what a moment!  Fifteen years ago I would not have thought this would be possible.  I never, ever, ever want to stop knowing that there are tragic situations happening because people are still fighting the inevitable, when I think that if they really cared about religion or morals or hell, other people, they would move on to something they can do something about.  Like hunger.

But – yes!  Legally married.  Part of my personal miracle is that, after all that time together, we still both wanted to get married!  The wonderful priest who did the deed for us commented that she’s performing these ceremonies for so many couples who have been together so long.  There’s a backlog of happy couples!  This is an amazing time to be living this life.  In the interests of AA and trying to acquire what I call advanced humility, I will feed my feelings that are grateful to be here, grateful to the people who came before me, and grateful to pave the way for a freer future that I will never see, but that others will.

Also since I last recorded the day, my daughter did graduate and she’s looking for a job.  That is another kind of miracle and one I am incredibly grateful to have lived to see.  She is a sobriety baby.  She has never yet been endangered by my alcoholism and that miracle she can never fully understand.  Also I know, just as her mother, that the fact that I was able to keep my life and hers together enough to play my small part in her success is way beyond my wildest dreams.  At one time it would have been completely out of the realm of possibility.  This miracle is also brought to you by the power of AA.

There are some (two) chronic relapsers who are heavy on my heart right now.  I don’t know if either, neither, or both will make it, but I know the odds are against them.

I’ve written in the past about Phyllis, our neighbor who joined our group late in life, just a few years before she died from cancer.  Phyllis struggled and relapsed but had for the most part a few last, sober years, and the benefit to her family of having her there and sober was enormous.  Her husband came over this afternoon with Christmas goodies for us and he talked about the pastor of his church in a way that just made me so so grateful for the AA way of thinking.  I wanted to hand him the program right then and there because I knew his quality of life would improve so much if only he could think the way we do.  But it takes practice.

Which leads to part of the problem I see with some of the dear chronic relapsers.  They don’t want to practice, or take any direction, really.

Today I’m very happy to report that

“my best thinking got me



When First Challenged to Admit Defeat (Step One continued)

When first challenged to admit defeat, most of us revolted.  We had approached A.A. expecting to be taught self-confidence.  Then we had been told that so far as alcohol is concerned, self-confidence was no good whatever; in fact, it was a total liability.


I’ve stopped at just that little bit because of two things.  First, I actually did approach AA expecting to be taught self-confidence.  I thought it would help me learn to drink safely.  I don’t know where I got that idea.  The year was 1978, and I was sixteen years old, if that explains it.  And yeah they pretty quickly told me that any confidence I had around alcohol was very misplaced.  This could have to do with the fact that I was actually drunk at that first meeting and many meetings throughout my first years.

The second thing is that I meet people now with a different kind of self-confidence.  For example, someone I know had her license taken away and had to serve time for a DUI.  She expressed total confidence that she is done drinking.  Her mother and step father, among others, are alcoholics and have just given up drinking, she says.  I know there are famous people who claim to have done the same thing.

My view is terribly  skewed but I know two things about this.  First, I could not stop drinking without AA.  I tried and failed miserably and constantly.  Second, it has happened to me that I would not want to give up AA, even if I could maintain my sobriety without it.  So from someone who approached AA hoping to be taught how to drink (and, when you think about it, how was that supposed to happen?  drinking classes for underage winos?)  I have become someone who participates because I want to.

December 5, 2013 (this day)

IMG_1242There is a momentary peace in my house since my daughter left and took her two cats with her.  It’s only momentary, since today we will travel a bit of a distance to attend my daughter’s graduation.  I have terrible separation anxiety leaving the pets, and especially the dog.  Even though we pay lots of money to the most excellent pet sitters ever born.

I need to get back to writing about the first step.  Really need to, because it’s been the most persistent thing, through the years, that I’ve seen people struggle with as they try to achieve sobriety.  As a problem child myself, I understand but I’d really like to be more helpful to the people who struggle, beyond sharing my experience and offering the hope of my experience.

I’m missing an important event at work to go to the graduation.  I’m spending hours in the car with my wife, son, and mother.  All relationships are good enough to make me not worry about the hours in the car, beyond missing work.

Ah, worry.  My favorite most persistently annoying character defect.  In an effort to stamp it down and disable it, I have not consulted weather predictions for my journey.  My worry surely never melted one flake of snow.  Or comforted an abandoned dog.  Abandoned to wonderful, loving, reliable pet sitters for a brief period of time.  And to the company of cats.