Teachable

life startsThe whiskey I quite liked in high school was called Teacher’s. I only tried it twice, but somehow developed love for it, and the memory of that affection somehow remained for two decades. In them days when the cult of Teacher’s whiskey stood strong, I didn’t like teachers, or instructors, or professors. I couldn’t stand school and classes. I was pretty much forced to go to college right after school so that I would avoid serving in the army.

When I’ve quit drinking, I’ve realized studying was becoming easier. I’ve developed more interest in subjects I was studying, and I started having more conversations with my instructors, and hey, I started liking the teachers a bit more.

The more I went through the recovery and life alongside it, the more I was becoming teachable. And that doesn’t mean I was taking shit from those who cared to give it. I’ve learned to listen and keep listening even if I felt like I really had to say something, to support or to oppose the speaker’s point of view. I’ve learned to retain and analyze what I heard or read, and to recall situations that may have had something to do with what I’ve just learned. I’d see the patterns between the past and the present, and if it called for it, I’ve allowed myself and often forced myself to learn from the mistakes I’ve made.

I would never have stayed sober even for a year, hell, for a month, if I didn’t listen to a group of strangers in the strange room one summer evening. They taught me something that I’ve never considered would work. I had nothing better to propose, so I pondered the lesson they taught me and took it to heart to act on it. What followed was the path of hard work of changing my lifestyle and attitude to the world around me, but with that I’ve acquired freedom and true joy from living that I didn’t have much of prior to that.

After I graduated with the three-year college degree that thanks to my alcoholic adventures took ten years to receive, I went to school two more times and the last time I somehow managed to graduate with honors. I am still amazed by that one. But I kept learning outside of school as well. I learned from the things the strangers kept speaking in the recovery meetings.

One day I learned about creating a healthy routine that started with making your bed every morning. Having that done would mark one accomplishment on the map of the day even when I really didn’t want to go and get things happening. I proceeded with creating more of a healthy routine and that keeps me in check and my mind clear.

Another day I was walking my dog in the neighborhood by a wall with a graffiti on it that said “Life Starts When You Say Yes.” I will be honest, I resented that one. It was in bright colors and it read too optimistic even for my liking, like a person who smiles all the time to the pointed you’re considering punching them in the teeth. Yet the more I passed by that graffiti, the more I pondered the message. I realized that it rang very true in almost everything in my life. I’d see a challenge, either stumble on it or see it passing by, and when I accepted it, interesting and positive things started happening. So today I’m writing about it. I must have allowed myself to accept being teachable one more time.

The message is kind of smells of making a new year’s resolution and I’m not making one, haha. But I think what I’m doing is I’m giving myself a very feeble promise to keep trying new things when I face them. New stuff, different things, man, I can’t stand that. Something in me just revolts in situations like that. But… It’s like you’re in a training for work with a bunch of people most of whom you don’t know and then they ask you to join in groups and discuss stuff at hand, and write stuff down on posters. Each time that moment comes, I hate it. And yet when we do get in groups and share experience and possibilities, it almost always comes to interesting ideas and good conversations. I should remember that.

Sometimes I feel like I have grown into an old and conservative fellow. But I remind myself that I can be teachable when I want to, and sometimes I really have to be teachable when I don’t want to. The last time I did that, the universe has saved and changed my life for the better (see the written ramble above). So I gonna keep trying to say “yes” more often than in the past.


the rights for the artwork in the provided image belong to the unknown street artist. thank you.

bravery

80a898dac48e313dfc891418ea61b4faWas it an act of bravery when you gave up drinking?”

“I never really gave it up,” she said. “That isn’t how alcoholics do it. They can’t do it that way. You employ a lot of sideways thinking instead. One day at a time, easy does it, live and let live, all that. But the center of it is this: you give up believing you can control your drinking. That idea was a myth you told yourself, and that’s what you give up. The myth… What I do – what we do – to keep away from the first one… it’s not that kind of bravery. In spite of movies like The Last Weekend, I think what we do is pretty undramatic.”

Stephen King, Library Policeman, 1990

The first time I read this story I was in ninth or tenth grade and didn’t start drinking yet. I tried it on more than a couple occasions, yes, but I had not even come to buy it or have been to a single drinking party. So, I don’t even remember reading this chapter where the protagonist Sam meets the couple of people who turn out to be problem drinkers and who he’s yet to find out are going to cooperate with him to beat the ultimate evil of Eternal Librarian and Sam’s greatest fear, the Library Policeman. I don’t remember alcoholics or the candy that Sam used to beat the evil, so to speak, but I do remember getting freaked out a bit. After all, Sam’s greatest fear came from a very real situation of being raped by a person in position of power, something he denied has happened to him for decades. Thankfully, he didn’t become alcoholic himself to deal with that experience.

When I read this book again earlier this year, the above passage struck me between the eyes. It is always kinda nice and kinda freaky for a bit to come upon something you’ve missed in the process in the past. It happened to me writing a story 17 years ago about a problem drinking who eventually dies from it, and not realizing that I wrote a cautionary tale to myself.

I always respected Stephen King for his writing, freaky or not, but I came to respect him more after finding out he had a serious drinking problem and addiction to prescription pills, and that he was brave enough to come through by joining self help groups like AA and kept going forward after that, keeping his family and keep writing great books. His writing about problematic behaviors, family violence, and addiction in his scary stories always made more freaked out because I could feel the real terror of it. The real horror is not the ultimate evil with fangs and bat wings, it’s what people do to each other.

And the real bravery and relief is learning that people do get through those experiences and still manage to have a good life after, learning from trouble others cause and from their own errors.

p.s. as for The Last Weekend movie, I think I wrote it before, maybe I should revisit it one day 😊


the image of Stephen King’s face made from the covers of all his books is amazingly done and an amazing idea and it was copied from https://za.pinterest.com/pin/533676624577675719/. thank you.

 

Un#@%*able

yoda“Make it unfuckable.”

Those were the words of my boss, the chef from the catering place where I worked 15 years ago. I think it was the first time I heard him swear. He also was very particular about washing hands for 30 seconds in hot water before putting apron on and on his breaks he meditated on the floor in the office.

The particular situation when the phrase was pronounced took place while he was instructing me how to do chicken kebab, laying a grand bowl of raw meat in front of me. He told me about salmonella poisoning and made sure I wore gloves and didn’t puncture myself in the process. “Make it unfuckable,” he said.

(Having said that, I’d like to point out that this post is not exactly about making kebab, although considering that gods work in mysterious ways and we know nothing about that, it just may be.)

It appeared to me that what my boss cared most about was me. Sure, he cared about the meal was done right, but he surely didn’t want to deal with any liability that my messing things up could cause. So, he cared for me and so he made sure I did things right.

When I came to recovery rooms to get my life together, I wasn’t told or advised to make things unfuckable for myself. I’ve already fucked up plenty before coming over, and everybody knew I did, otherwise I wouldn’t be coming into the room full of strangers, announcing I needed help, would I?

It went without saying that I may mess up again. And it was OK. I mean, nobody really likes messing up. We all want to be winners. But crap happens. And if we did mess up in recovery, our brothers and sisters in the fellowship would tell us: “Keep coming back” which, I think, means “It’s OK to mess up. After all you are a human, not a god or a superhero. Just do your best to learn from the mistake and try again.”

Still though, I kept trying to make it unfuckable. I remembered all of my relapses prior to joining the said recovery fellowship and they weren’t pretty. I never wanted to have them in my life again. I stayed sober for all that time, but I also quit smoking, and I did give into cigarettes a couple of times. Out of three times, two were at the same place with the same people, but that was not a place or the people that I could walk away from. I just kept, as they say, counting my blessings, and walking straight and watching my step all I could.

I never wanted to say that I am coming back. Granted, shit happens, and it could happen to me, just like disasters and accidents happen. Yet I made sure that I keep my part working smooth and watch what I was doing, so in case it did happen, it wasn’t on me. Otherwise, I’d be making excuses all the time, and that’s so easy.

I kept going to meetings, and I kept writing about recovery. Then I found a job at a place that served the disadvantaged population with a place to sleep and helped people with substance abuse issues to turn their life around. That was the best thing for me, because it kept me paid and it kept me sober.

I started writing about recovery, first a diary, then a blog. I went on writing about that, and sometimes did that for the guys in recovery at work. Helping them, I helped myself. I kept it that way and still do, although the amount of people in recovery that I communicate with lately is smaller, due to a different nature of my work and to a growing level of isolating, I think. Excuses, hey?

Unfuckable. That’s how I want it to be. So far it’s been good, and so I want it to keep going. Thanks all for keeping me on the track.

… and I don’t know if he really said that but

einst

 

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the images were copied from https://www.reddit.com/r/STAR_WARS_LAST_JEDI/comments/7k2270/the_greatest_teacher_failure_is_yoda_d/ and https://www.amazon.com/Einstein-Failure-Progress-Motivational-Poster/dp/B01NABXWB5 . thank you.

Embracing Escape

escape-roomsYou have a 1) right to remain silent

And a 2) responsibility to yourself to be happy

But no one tells you that

Unless you get arrested

Or see a counselor.

People often get too close for comfort

And so do the activities and expectations

They invent and implement.

Life gets too weird, stability – chaotic

Advertisements of good life become propaganda of fairytales.

The only escape possible is rebellion against social norms

Because normality appear extinct,

Insanity with a friendly smile seems to rule the world,

So much of truth that don’t make sense.

Looking for an exit out of the maze

Of what is presented as the only happy and responsible way of life.

Pain of the mind is so grotesque and massive,

No care seems able to cure it.

You’re embracing the possibility of running away

“Woe to the blind!” you think. “My fate will be different!”

Substance intoxication of exciting behavior are the only ways out that you’ve found.

When you’re trapped in an illusion that substances or dreams will set you free,

It feels like there is not much to lose but indifference

Fairytale wins as your body and mind rot and spirit is enslaved

So, no escape truly happened.

The only true escape is dying to the world of false values and pretences,

But what takes a big fight to understand is that freedom from substances and behaviors

Is in surrendering to the captor and the advertiser

Refusing to struggle is the way to win.

It may sound absurd, but it works.

Substance temptation withers as you live free longer.

The world’s grip on your mind still lives

Though good news is you have a 3) right to be true to yourself:

Wisdom is to not-giving-in to what everyone loves.

It doesn’t make you weaker or weirder, just stronger and smarter.

Here’s something to choose: be like everyone else and perish as a sick trapped digit in a crowd,

Or listen to what your heart sings for your path having in store for you.

Kingdom of chaos and absurdity, declared as normalcy, stands strong.

Make no illusions – the world hates you for exercising your 4) right to be different.

The world is afraid that you have your own opinion,

That you will to make things work for you in your own way.

Healthy choices are hard to make with years to come

Because temptations of bad lifestyle are everywhere, often disguised as good ones.

Ask for help and guidance – your heart and spirit will know when to listen to the right answer.

Wise whisper will pave the road amidst the chaos you once fought and worshipped simultaneously.


the image was copied from https://www.picktime.com/scheduling-software/escape-rooms thanks.

Poking the Bear

poohWhen you say, “Don’t tell me what to do.”

When you think you know everything, but keep it inside,

Thinking how much smarter you are than the average bear.

When reality stares you in the face

In a manner you cannot ignore,

And you still do things your way,

Which is the opposite.

When you hang out with people

That always led you to a wrong situation and bad health.

When you know what you should be doing

Because you witnessed and felt the benefits of it,

And yet you go for the immediate gratification,

The satisfaction of here and now.

When you walk away and slam the door, knowing you are wrong,

Cultivating your anger

So that you will “show them” one day.

When you are shown a better way to live

And you spit on it

And live the way that always hurt you, –

That is when you are poking your alcoholic bear

Who will wake up and destroy your peace of mind

And raise hell in a manner

That you still haven’t learned

To safely deal with.


the image was copied from http://musingsfromanotherstar.blogspot.com/2014/09/winnie-the-pooh-is-a-redshirt.html thanks.

Eating at the Bar

oSo, we went out for a dinner. Girlfriend felt more uncomfortable than I did.

We had no reservation. We didn’t think we needed one on a Saturday afternoon, figured the place was large enough to fit in all… well, were wrong about that one. The only spots available were at the bar. My girlfriend, knowing of my life in sobriety, turned around to me and said that we could go somewhere else. I said it was not an issue. She asked me a couple more times if I was sure about that, and I said that I was sure. We were seated at the bar. Opposite of us stood a fridge full of booze. To my side – an altar of booze. Right in front of us the bartender was mixing a series of cocktails. I’m gonna be OK, I told myself and to my girlfriend who was twisting and turning on her bar stool and looking way less serene than I was.

We ordered food and then there was not much to do for a bit. We had some small talk. There was a party going on behind our backs. The bartender was fixing a massive jar of a cocktail. I don’t what it was. I used to chug beer and vodka and occasionally a wine, but I never had money for cocktails, so I am rather illiterate in that regard. But it was a captivating sight. So many shot glasses of whiskey looking substance was poured into that jar, I’ve lost count. I was really hoping there would be more than ten people drinking that thing. I was seriously worrying for those folks, whoever they were.

Overhead the TV screen was showing a hockey game. I don’t care for hockey, or sports altogether, but I had to look somewhere but at the booze all around me, so watched the game for a bit. When the commercial of alcohol came on, I had to look away. And to my surprise I realized that besides the alcohol, beers and wines, the fridge opposite us also contained a shelf full of sodas. On the lower shelf stood a four-liter jug of milk. Man, was I happy to see that jug! I just looked at it, and then at my girlfriend, and I felt happy J I wasn’t compelled to drink before that, and I didn’t feel intimidated by the walls of alcohol, my world was not going upside down, threatened by a compulsion or temptations, but the milk certainly provided some reassurance of some kind.

Thinking of it, I recalled several times when I’d head to a show and it would be held at a bar. In fact, those were so many. In the book of our guidance and inspiration it says we should be careful about where we go and if it is at a place where alcohol is served, what is our purpose of being there? And what an alcoholic music fan to do? Well, bang your head, or slam, or sit there and enjoy the slow dance, or what have you, but I never felt threatened by the presence of alcohol, although the people sometimes did cause some trouble under the influence.

However, no, I do remember a couple of times within the first three years of sobriety when I did feel intimidated by the mass of booze in my sight. First time, I opened the door to the club and the bar was right in front of the doors, no farther than two steps! I was shocked for a couple of seconds, but then the person at the door asked me to pay for the entry and was I ever happy to comply!

Second time it was a bit more intense. During a show at a different place I was looking around the place, at the crowd, at the stage, and then I looked closer to me and saw the bar. The lady at the bar looked quite attractive and with her, the whole bar seemed to shine brighter than the stage with all the strobes. I couldn’t look away. It was a rather amazing experience. I didn’t see the bartender anymore, just the bottles. Many. Shiny. Shit! I was sober for enough time to know that wanting booze and getting it would in turn get me in nothing but trouble, and I kept telling myself that. So, what I did was slide my gaze along all those wonderfully looking objects and move it up the ceiling. It took some time, but it worked. From there I moved my sight all along the ceiling toward the stage and lowered it to see the musicians rocking away. Form then on, the whole concert went fine without issues. Each time I am at that venue, though, I recall that incident, and I feel better and reassured, somehow, each time I look around and, all of a sudden, saw the bar. No more ‘freeze’ incidents like that occurred.

So, that latest time after being placed at the bar, we ate, paid for our food, thanked the very accommodating and welcoming bartender that served us, and fucked off. Yes, we were both very ready to go, even though the service and the food itself was quite good.

What have I learned from that? If there is a lesson in everything, then “take on an opportunity and respond with your best”, I guess. Man, was I happy to see that milk jar. I think there is always a milk jar somewhere when I go through times I am not particularly happy to go through. Hope it is there for you too.


the image was copied from https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/st-james-place-bar-and-grill-goose-creek?select=lzAQ_f8F996Kn-lkGy9UDQ and messed with by me. thank you.

 

Words Of Maintenance 3

'Here's your problem, you guys never chose a level.'There are times you hear amazing things when you least expect them, and half of that time it’s when you really need to hear them. It’s when you are either “losing it” or you’re finding something you really don’t need. I heard many things in AA that have changed my life around and for the better, and it’s getting better still. Wisdom doesn’t run out, and humor is on top of it, as well. The funny way to say things is sometimes the best, because it hits you right between the eyes and a good laughter is what you need often, I think. The joke often carries wisdom, so it’s two wins in one.

I heard a person sharing that he came to AA because of his back problem. There were too many people on his back. At least 90 per cent could agree that AA is the best chiropractic, what do you think?

One of the things that was said and that has struck me the other day was “my ego is not my amigo.” Not only it is witty, it is also so true. How many times I wanted things to be my way, how many times I caressed my wild and selfish inner child to, as a result, hurt someone who didn’t deserve it? Don’t answer that.

Another fella was sharing about people interrupting and cross-talking, that’s when you share, and people argue with you. We gather in those rooms to speak our minds without being judged, and yet we also need to learn how not to communicate. Still though, with all the info we have on communicating with others, we still suck at it. Mostly it happens, I think, because we ignore a lot of things that we know we should be doing, or we just avoid hearing about them in the first place. In my group we had one of those situations a couple of days ago. So, in direct reaction to that, the person said that you can take the horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink, and even if you do, you can’t teach it to scuba dive. I don’t think I could say it better.

For those of us who like to use big concepts, and most importantly hide behind them, there is no mercy for those people. This one witty individual pointed out that most of menacing smart words end with “-ism,” and what is stands for is “I Sponsor Myself”, thus providing for the denial and arrogance to take you into a choke hold. For example, “atheism” could be quite detrimental to the spiritual program that AA is, no?


the image was copied from https://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/m/maintenance_man.asp thanks.

Answerz

Piss_509ba2_655651The dumbest thing I could do to calm down a beast is slap it against the snout. If you think it’s not, let me know.

The same way, the worst way to solve a drinking problem is looking at it through the drinking glass.

It is clear to me now that I’ve stayed sober for a while. But back when I still drank, it was totally acceptable in my head to hold on to the liquor store door while trying to figure out how to get out of the mess that my booze-fueled mind has made sick body create.

How the hell did that work?

Quite aware of what a drinking mess I was, I was looking for a solution, but not a permanent one. I didn’t want the way out that didn’t include booze. That would be too much, because booze in my life had a function. If I removed it for good, there would be a hole left, and what will I fill it with? So, I wanted to let go, but not completely. I wanted to quit, but still hold on to the key. Just in case.

As one of my favorite performers wrote “Sometime things don’t work out, Sometimes things don’t work out… ‘Sometimes’ happen all the time… ‘Sometimes’ happen all the time!” (c) Henry Rollins. The thinking that was done in the mind frame of “I wanna, but I don’t wanna” couldn’t and eventually didn’t work out. I made promises to myself that if things go bad, I will do this one thing, but until then, drinking a couple beers once in two days was still OK, and if it became more than a couple, well then, it is not the end of the world either. Promise notes addressed to myself and put on the wall, I’d jump into the fight of every day, teeth clenched, brain spinning and having no idea how to react to a single tiny conflict. What a mine-field dance. I was pushing myself for a failure. I was basically pissing gasoline to put out the fire.

When I came to AA, I learned of this thing called “no reservations.” What it had to do with was that I couldn’t solve an alcoholic problem by finding alcoholic answers. And since an alcoholic is what I was, that’s what I’d be coming up with. Why? Change. Stress. I doubt anybody truly likes those. I sure didn’t. So, I pushed all of that life-changing scary shit out of the way. And when nothing happens, nothing happens, as I heard them say. And nothing really did, until I was “ready to let go absolutely.” No booze, no excuses to drink, no hanging out in bars, no hanging out with drinking buddies. Remove yourself from the drinking culture. Join the group of people who stay sober and want to stay sober. No compromise.

Sometimes things don’t work out… We may find ourselves in the relationship that is unhealthy, abusing, just plain dangerous physically, but we think we cannot leave – nowhere to go, or just can’t break away. But yes, we can. We can, as long as we look for a new solution, not something we chewed on so long that the taste of it is so familiar to us it feels like the only home we can ever have. Old problem needs new solution, otherwise it is a waste of time and brain cells, a joke about worrying likened to sitting on a rocking chair – it will give you something to do, but it will get you nowhere.


 

the image was copied from https://funnyjunk.com/funny_pictures/506814/Piss/ thanks.