Sober since April 6, 2006


Thursday, April 19, 2007

restless, irritable, and discontent

Feeling restless, irritable, and discontent tonight.

Went to a discussion meeting. It was in one of those formats where each person in the circle is asked to share. I hate that format.

Because then I know when it's going to be my turn, so I spend the entire meeting ignoring what everyone else is sharing while I come up with something to share. Then when it's my turn, my mind goes blank and I stutter meaningless drivel like an idiot.

Tonight was no exception. I don't remember what I shared, but whatever it was, it was stupid and I wish I had "passed". I should have known better.

So now I feel even worse than I did before the meeting. I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to be alone.

Monday, April 16, 2007

seeing my story in "Bill's Story"

This was the passage that really stood out to me when I read the Big Book for the first time. When I read this, I finally knew that someone else in this world knew what I was going through. I wasn't alone anymore.

I read this passage again today, and I couldn't help but see my own story in Bill's story:

"It relieved me somewhat to learn that in alcoholics the will is amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor, though if often remains strong in other respects. My incredible behavior in the face of a desperate desire to stop was explained. Understanding myself now, I fared forth in high hope. For three or four months the goose hung high. I went to town regularly and even made a little money. Surely this was the answer self- knowledge.

But it was not, for the frightful day came when I drank once more. The curve of my declining moral and bodily health fell off like a ski-jump. After a time I returned to the hospital. This was the finish, the curtain, it seemed to me. My weary and despairing wife was informed that it would all end with heart failure during delirium tremens, or I would develop a wet brain, perhaps within a year. We would soon have to give me over to the undertaker of the asylum.

They did not need to tell me. I knew, and almost welcomed the idea. It was a devastating blow to my pride. I, who had thought so well of myself and my abilities, of my capacity to surmount obstacles, was cornered at last. Now I was to plunge into the dark, joining that endless procession of sots who had gone on before. I thought of my poor wife. There had been much happiness after all. What would I not give to make amends. But that was over now.

No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found in that bitter morass of self-pity. Quicksand stretched around me in all directions. I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed. Alcohol was my master.

Trembling, I stepped from the hospital a broken man. Fear sobered me for a bit. Then came the insidious insanity of that first drink, and on Armistice Day 1934, I was off again. Everyone became resigned to the certainty that I would have to be shut up somewhere, or would stumble along to a miserable end. How dark it is before the dawn! In reality that was the beginning of my last debauch. I was soon to be catapulted into what I like to call the fourth dimension of existence. I was to know happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes."
(Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 7-8)

In fact, out of all of the AA speakers I've ever heard, they tell this same story in their own different ways.

It's awesome to hear the stories of so many people -- who all became alcoholic in different ways, found AA in different ways, worked the Twelve Steps in different ways, and express their gratitude in different ways -- but in the end, it all sums up here. We're all the same ... and we're not alone.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

there aren't enough days in a weekend

One would think an adult would have mastered this level of reasoning, but sometimes it still surprises me that when I choose to do "Activity A", I miss out on "Activity B". There's always some sort of sacrifice involved when these kinds of decisions are made.

I don't like making that sacrifice. I don't like the sense of urgency that comes from running out of time. I don't like resigning myself to the fact that the weekend is OVER, and I will be a corporate zombie for the next five days until another weekend rolls around.

But I suppose I should shut up and be grateful that because I'm sober today, I can make decisions on how to spend my free time.

When I was drinking, my decisions automatically defaulted and locked to "get drunk". In early sobriety, my decisions defaulted to attending several AA meetings each day and filling the hours between meetings with blogging, reading, etc -- because I had to fight the urge to drink.

But now, my decisions don't default to anything. I don't have to drink anymore, and I don't have to fight drinking either.

Sometimes it's overwhelming to suddenly have so many options that previously didn't exist. I want to do everything, see everything, participate in everything ... but it simply isn't possible.

I'm just grateful to be sober today, to have a family, to have friends, and to have choices ...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

DMV adventures, and keeping "faith"

This morning, I used my last vacation day today to get the registration for my new car. My bosses are very strict about missing work -- so I had to use my last vacation day.

I got to the DMV this morning at 8:15 to register the car. The office didn't open until 9, but there were already 20 people waiting in line.

After waiting in line for 1.5 hours, the DMV clerk informed me that the company that sold me my car messed up the title. Their notary signed her name on the wrong line. The DMV could not take the title, so I could not register my car.

When I got the loan from the bank a few weeks ago, I remembered the loan officer told me that I had to bring the title to her. So I took the title to the loan officer and explained the situation about the notary issue. She had me sign the title, and she notarized next to my name. She said that should clear it up.

Then I vaguely remembered seeing an affidavit in the sales paperwork, stating something about a printer problem. So I went back home to read that again. Sure enough, it was regarding a printer problem on the title. That must be why the notary info was off.

I called the DMV to ask if this affidavit would clear up the problem. They assured me it would.

So I went back to the DMV. I waited in line for 3 -- three -- THREE hours.

When I finally got up to the counter, the DMV clerk told me that the affidavit was useless because the original notary had signed on the wrong line, and that the second notary stamp from the lady at the bank voided the title. Greeaaat.

The clerk shook her head, gave me a form to send to the sellers, and said "Good luck getting that back -- it's your only chance."

One part of me wanted to go postal, another part wanted to cry. This was my last vacation day ... how was I going to get another day off work to do this again?

But my autopilot took over in stoic mode. I thanked the clerk and calmly went back to my car to make some phone calls.

I went back to the bank and informed the loan officer that she had voided the title. She was extremely apologetic. I was extremely aggravated ... but that damn autopilot took over again, and I felt myself smile and tell her that it was okay ... even though everything on the inside screamed that it wasn't okay.

(Where does that autopilot come from anyway? In some cases, it's good, because I don't blow up at people. But it's bad in other cases because I don't stand up for myself when I should ...)

Fortunately I was able to get in contact with someone at the company that sold me my car. I explained the situation, and she said she would order a duplicate title and would also fill out the form from the DMV clerk. I'm so glad they're willing to work with me.

Things could always be worse ... at least I didn't go postal.

After that, I went on to work to try to salvage a few vacation hours back. I explained what happened to one of my coworkers.

When I told her about how frustrated I got, she asked, "Did you lose your faith?"

I've never thought about it like that before. I suppose losing my temper and getting upset would be like losing my faith. Because when I turn my will and my life over to God, I have nothing to become angry over.

And at the end of the day, I went to a meeting ... got to see people I care about stay sober. That was cool. I was glad that I stayed sober too.

Monday, April 09, 2007

the sense of impending doom

I remember watching TV with my dad when I was a kid. Sometimes in a suspenseful movie, scary music would start to play. The creepy music always meant that something bad was going to happen.

Dad would make fun of the scary music and playfully chant: "Something's gonna happen; something's gonna happen; something's gonna hA----!" And then choke, play dead, or something. It always made me laugh.

I thought about that today. All day long, I've been struggling with an irrational sense of impending doom. It's as if the imaginary creepy music has started, and I'm just waiting for the sudden crash to happen any second.

I'm not sure what caused it, but there may be several contributing factors ...

  • I've come up with more to list on my 4th step, but I'm nearing the point where I'm running out of things to add. I feel comfortable with my sponsor and I'm actually looking forward to the 5th step. Yeah, something is fundamentally wrong here -- I'm supposed to be scared to death about that.
  • My job has been running smoothly ... suspiciously smoothly. I was called in to my boss's office today for an informal review with my boss and my supervisor. They had very nice things to say and were very impressed with a few things I did. So when are they going to take my red stapler, move my workstation to the basement, and stop paying me?
  • I've been blissfully enjoying a relationship with a wonderful guy, and things are going great. But my past has taught me that relationships in such seemingly good condition usually end abruptly and unexpectedly for reasons that take years to understand. In this case, is it a matter of "if" or "when" it all comes crashing down?
  • My new car (which I wrecked already) was inspected by the insurance adjuster last week and put into the body shop today. The insurance company is miraculously going to pay for the damage. I'm taking tomorrow morning off work to apply for the registration at the DMV. I have all the paperwork -- but it just seems that something should go wrong ... it has to.
  • I feel totally useless at meetings. We're supposed to share experience, strength, and hope. But I have no relevant experience to help people with their problems, my strength comes from sadistic sarcasm (which I keep to myself because it would offend most people), and my hope is made up of childish fairy-tale faith at which most people would either laugh or become jealous. I never know the right thing to say and I'm scared to say something harmful or stupid. So I shut up during the meetings and usually stick around to chat & clean coffee pots ... I guess that's better than nothing ... or maybe it's worse?

It all comes down to the third step ... when we turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him, these kinds of concerns lose their power.

Regardless, I'm glad to be sober for one trip around the sun. Orbit #2 has begun :)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

turning one year old

Mom made me a cake & got me an Easter Lilly. Doesn't that cake look good??? Thanks, mom!

With all its ups and downs, this past year was the toughest emotional roller coaster ride of my entire life. But it's also been the best year of my life.

At my first-ever AA meeting, someone told me, "You never have to take another drink again."

I desperately wanted to believe him, but it sounded too good to be true.

But today, I know it's true.

I'm grateful to be a recovering alcoholic and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. The only reason I'm living today is because of the grace of God and the fellowship of AA.

And I'm not merely alive -- I'm living the happy, joyous, and free life that I thought I'd never have.

Thank you to everyone for helping me to reach my first birthday. You helped to make a miracle happen.

Miracles happen all the time in AA, and we see them when we keep coming back.