uniting passions

DentalCelebratedHornshark-smallA decade and a half ago there was something I could identify myself as – a rocker. I’m sure there were plenty of other social groups I could identify as: a human, a male, a student, Russian, a misanthrope, maybe. But as a rocker, I was fitting into a subculture that meant everything to me above all others listed above. I’ve been listening to metal and rock and everything that grooved and had fire and could break through the wall. I learned of the bands I liked, bought their music and shirts, and I went to their shows.

At the shows there were plenty of people who came there to see the bands, they shared my passion for the heavy and virtuoso guitar and drums music. Still though, I think they also came to get drunk, and although that was never my original idea, I still ended up getting drunk too.

It was because of that lifestyle that I eventually came to learn there was something else I could identify as – an alcoholic. Coming to that realization took some considerable effort to open eye and ears. And yet was thanks to that effort that I ended up being a sober alcoholic. And I loved it that way. The reason for loving it was me now being a part of another group, only I don’t know if that counts as a subculture. They call themselves a fellowship.

Alcoholics Anonymous are a kind of a group which if I came to their meeting I’d always be welcomed, no matter how many days or years of sobriety I’ve had and there would be no judgement. So they were even more welcoming that the rockers, and this crowd was much healthier. We were united by the passion of staying sober, living it positively and not making it an end, rather a means to a positive and spiritually prosperous end – life of freedom.

I never gave up being a rocker. I still collect music and go to shows and buy shirts. Only now I do it sober and banging head soberly, I think, is more fun – you are less likely to throw up.


the Amon Amarth GIF was copied from https://gfycat.com/gifs/search/amon+amarth+headbang and thank you. keep rocking!

missing it

missMorning was not easy

  • there wasn’t enough sleep
  • there wasn’t enough coffee

There was enough determination

Not to run into a light pole.

Yet on the train I fell asleep

And almost missed by stop.

Can’t say that happened often.

But it made me think that it happened many a time

That I missed my stop in different terms

  • there wasn’t enough care
  • there wasn’t enough booze

There was enough pain in the end

Yet not enough willingness to learn

And as the result, I near missed out

On life.

Luckily for me, there was plenty of trains of life

So I’d come back to where I wanted to be

I eventually caught up.

Now, if I miss a real stop

It’s not a terrible deal.


the image was copied from https://funlexia.com/2015/08/04/missed-my-stop/

thanks much. that’s priceless 😀

no competition

competition-300x224The first person I approached in AA that I talked to for longer than five minutes (I guess that’s my attention span for all things new and challenging) said he was 19 years sober. I didn’t believe it. Later I’ve learned he was telling the truth. But in that moment, and for a while after, I figured there was no way someone would be 19 years sober and a) still going to meetings; b) be as positive and cheerful as that guy certainly was. Yet at the same I really wanted to have some of that positivity for myself. I was going through darker times. My life was out of control and I wasn’t enjoying reality.

The farther I went down the lane of AA-inspired positivity through sobriety and getting more of a hold on reality, the more I was wondering of how far can I get and for how many years I could actually stay that way. On the other hand, I kept being reminded that years are not that important. What counts is days, since we do it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time. That is the principle that the whole wisdom of AA, besides going to meetings, listening and sharing and connecting through all that, is based on. One day at a time, one step at a time. It is that simple, it is that hard. Simple because it is not a complicated idea, and if we put our mind to it, we can all do it, whatever it is we focus on. Hard because it still takes me a while from time to time to keep it in mind when I’m tackling something that is larger than me (or feels that way).

So, there is no competition for trying to get more years under the belt, being older in sobriety than others. Focusing on time take the focus off the quality of recovery that we do/live. In my case, when I was four years old in AA measures, I knew more than I know now. Yet now I feel more than I felt then. Now I absorb more from the world and how it changes. I must admit, sometimes it doesn’t do me much good, because I fall into negativity thinking of how hopeless it is to keep going through the world that is eating itself alive. That’s one of the things that getting old does, I guess. It’s probably my realistic age that does that to me. But then my AA age tells me to get going with the program, call upon my fellows and drink from the wisdom well, the positive one, with hope and lightness in a mix. And it works well that way.

Thinking can play tricks on you sometimes and let you forget the simple truths. The closer it gets to the time of another milestone, another year to celebrate recovery, the more I think of time. So when I catch myself doing that, I turn that thinking into reflecting with care. I compare the years passed -what I’ve learned, what I’ve forgotten, perhaps, and what I’ve seen in a different light. Been sober for several years allows for thoughts of security in mental and spiritual terms. I mean, you’ve learned something, you made it work for you, and if you keep practicing that wisdom, it will keep you strong for times to come. Yet if I think of myself as someone got more recovery time than others, and because of that as someone important, and that somehow make me more special than them, it’s a step in a wrong direction. I am no better or worse than them. They tackle their demons, I fight mine. I just have more tools to do so. Maybe they were born under less of a kind sun than I have. That makes me more fortunate, but that means I should be more compassionate and less full of myself that I sometimes may be.

Years count for something, though – I have an opportunity to keep celebrating my recovery in a social setting and with that I share of my experience, goods and bads, wisdom and stupidity. That way others have an opportunity to learn from my mistakes, and with their actions perhaps the world may benefit somehow, in 0.0001 percent maybe, but I think that still counts. It is easy to burn the bridges. It takes longer to build them back up. Hopefully, the time spent on rebuilding will also allow for using better technologies (perspectives) on how to make it steadier to avoid easy destruction in the future.


the image was copied from http://www.chrispacke.com/2012/03/perfect-lack-of-competition/. thank you.

Beat it in

nice+old+elevator+1

Violence is not an answer.

Unless, maybe, when you are trying to make someone think. Think for the sake of saving their own life.

A member in the meeting said they had a conversation with a person who was struggling with making their younger relative see what they were doing with their life, throwing it all down the toilet due to being enslaved to substance abuse.

The mentioned member already had gone through their lot of troubles of making it through addiction in one piece. The family member knew nothing of the addiction, but they witnessed the toll it was taking on the younger one. Eventually the relative said “I wish I could beat the recovery into you” because he was shown how well abstinence worked in others.

I wish we could beat recovery into others. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Maybe micro-chipping would work one day. But then, what would the person learn? Recovery is not a one-time session. It’s a journey. You can’t get far, if you’ve learned nothing of how to take few initial steps.

I’ve heard someone else in a different meeting say “The recovery elevator is broken. You will have to take the stairs.” That’s funny, and wise. But also, it’s too merciful. The truth is the recovery elevator doesn’t exist. We have to take stairs all the time. Although, sometimes we wish we could have an elevator like that to save lives in cases of emergency. There’s plenty of those. And you can’t beat it into them. They have to really want it to give all they’ve got, no matter what anyone thinks. That’s the way I’ve learned it. And thousands of those like me.


the elevator image was copied from https://www.saveourelevators.com/ thanks.

The Welcoming Coin

hjiWe went to a meeting –

My friend was celebrating a milestone

That I would never think of reaching.

The usual set-up,

Readings, speech, sharing,

Coffee after.

Then that guy came over to me.

I remember he was quite tall,

Yet his name escapes me,

He owed me nothing

Yet he came across the room

And he asked me things I wouldn’t

Have the care to ask others,

For I am not the one

To stick out of the crowd.

He gave me the coin which was no medallion

To celebrate my humble one year

That I’ve recently reached

And yet it was that and even more

Simply because it came out of good heart,

Unwarranted, unexpected.

That’s when I knew

That sticking with these people

Would be the best thing

I could have done

And I should keep it that way,

For it will set me free from all that binds me,

Scares and angers my mind,

Tortures me spirit,

Making me perpetually poison my body.

This welcoming gesture was not an object to keep

But a gift of an open door

I have walked through

And kept on walking.

 

Walking still.


the image is mine. looking good.

honesty w/self

IMG_6548-300x200Three months sober, I went hiking in Jasper. Well, honestly, I rented a cabin in Jasper. Hiking was an addition to that. I had a crazy summer with jobs coming and going, relationships up and down, plus there was plenty of stress of not drinking while temptations were everywhere I looked. I needed a break from that insanity before it was time to get back to school. So, I booked a cabin and in August I went for a somewhat controlled environment adventure in the mountains.

Several days in, me and the small group of guests had a hot day hike. On the way back to the cabins one of them offered me to share some beers with him and his wife. First thought that came to my mind was “Crap, I should have stayed at home in the city, in the environment I could certainly control and have a better way to handle temptations.”

The second thought was less fearful, yet much more dangerous: “Hell, no one will know I had a beer or two! Plus, it would just give me a buzz. No big deal!” I knew though that I would obviously know. And I will remember. And I will suffer, because of the guilt that I broke down so easily. Also, I would suffer due to the more than likely serious mental maelstrom that will follow after the fun of intoxication subsided. I could hide even that, from others, but not from myself. I was new in the program and I didn’t know how you come back to AA meetings after a relapse. I didn’t want to find out.

All these thoughts went through my mind with a lightning speed, like in a Stephen King book, where there is an odyssey seems to pass through in the character’s head, and yet in reality only several seconds have gone through. I was about to look up to the fellow hiker and give him my answer when I thought of something else – how will he take my answer? Will he laugh? Will he say I better have some self-control? Will he do something that will make my isolate in my cabin for the rest of the week? I didn’t want to deal with any of that. And yet the good time of sobriety that I have enjoyed so far, no matter how difficult the time was, prompted me to speak my mind. All that thinking took another couple of seconds, I guess, and I finally made up my mind not to waste more of my companion’s time.

“Um… actually… I’m in recovery. So… um…” I tried to speak like nothing in the world could bother me, although I don’t know if it was working, “I am not going to join you… but… umm… have a good time!”

His reaction was not something that I expected.

He produced the biggest smile that a person could without wrecking their face into parts. In an instant his eyes shone brighter than the sun did all day. He shook my hand, saying: “Good for you! Keep it up” or something in that vein. It was quite a while ago, I can’t remember it quite well. Yet what I do remember is that conversation gave me a tremendous boost to keep it up with sobriety.

I was even happier with not taking a beer farther on that day, because the owners served wine with supper, which is something I’ve forgotten about. Refusing a wine at the table was easy. Refusing a beer when it felt like it was begging for you to accept it after a long hike in the sun, that wasn’t as easy. And a couple of beers followed by some wine… shit, it would do me in physically after ninety days of not drinking and then mentally, with all the thoughts I’d have to deal with. So, I was near ecstatic about the fine job that I was doing, keeping it sober.

That episode keeps coming to my mind in the summer. It’s the season I’ve sobered up, it’s the hiking and camping time. It keeps reminding me of the right choices that I’ve made, and how it keeps paying up for the life of sobriety, and because of that, of freedom. Freedom from hurting myself, freedom to be comfortable in my skin, freedom to speak my mind and to ease my mind from thoughts of however others choose to live their lives.


the image was copied from http://www.ecolodge.com/where-you-play/, the website of Rocky Mountains Escape where the above mentioned adventure has taken place. I went back there many times.

snowing light

snowFrustration at powerlessness may never go away. Desire for complete control sometimes is overwhelming, yet things are happening the way they are supposed to. I’ve witnessed that many times and yet I still battle it.

Two days of Spring at the time that Spring should have been majorly on the way, and then… the warmth and melting of snow and ice is replaced by the coldest day of the week and sharp wind, carrying more snow. The white joyously proceeded to cover everything that has melted like the warmth hasn’t been around for weeks. And I’m laughing at it, because I don’t want to growl in frustration. I’m tired of Winter, I’m tired of cold, and ice. I have to grin at the changes that I do not welcome to stay at least somewhat positive.

Yet for some reason I find it hard to apply that grinning to darker currents creeping up from the voids opening under my feet and tempting me to support my ego fire to the point that I assume I should have all things bending under my will.

Humility is easy to express unless ego prefers to listen to things that work for other people and I want to have that. I know that I should remember my limitations and be grateful for those. Snow lit by the morning sun starts falling at the time I wait for inspiration calls. Winter is not ready to retreat. Springtime will come when the nature says so. My gratitude for realizing it opens my eyes some more, and I can see that the right inspirations, not the things I want, but the ones I need, are continued to be brought to me, whether it is when I’m looking for them, or when I least expect them.


the image was copied from https://www.123rf.com/photo_48132831_winter-watercolor-abstract-background-with-falling-snow-splash-texture-christmas-new-year-light-coba.html and cut up mercilessly by me to avoid intrusions that don’t belong in the balance. thank you.

runners will be shot

PO11188957-frontI seriously thought I could escape this rat race. Like Jeff Waters wrote “I just needed a break from it all.” Only a long term one. I wanted to keep on being drunk. I loved it. Bliss. Lack of care. Beautiful solitude… and then from time to time I’d meet like-minded people, only at the end I’d always end up alone, so I kept that as normality. Besides those unfortunate occurrences, all was great as long as I was not sober. I didn’t want to care about anything. I just wanted to dedicate myself to alcoholic intoxication, for its illusion was beautiful. It was love at first sight and love that promised to be endless. I was all for it.

Funny how life keeps working on a different level and by different rules than what you think you need. Life started grinding over me and forcing me to change which is what I refused to do. While I was trying to escape what I thought was a tyrannical regime, all I could feel was constantly been shot at by the guards. And it went that way until I gave up running and accepted life on its terms.

Easier said than done, of course. Much easier in my case. I felt like surrendering would be betrayal of everything I knew and stood for. I fought relentlessly. It took time to realize that what I was really betraying was giving myself an opportunity to live a happy life. Not that happy worry-free life they show in Disney movies, but a realistic happy life where I do everything I can and care for and get what I deserve, including the mental and spiritual balance.

And when I fully realized that life without booze and running could actually be a good life still, I stopped in my tracks. I then turned around and went back in the direction where I was trying to perpetually escape from. The walk towards turned out to be much shorter than the running away. I was arriving at something with every step I made.


the image was copied from https://www.customink.com/fundraising/escaperoom and butchered by me. very smart shirts, by the way. escape rooms rule!

eating crow

53498212_6d5d00f6f4Heard an opinion recently that AA is a glorified Losers club.

I must agree. We are not perfect, not omnipotent how we thought we were before, perhaps, but together through connecting we stand strong with all our common and individual weaknesses and weirdness.

We ate our amount of crows and we still sometimes do, but we know it and we know why, more often than before. Humility makes us more aware of ourselves and our limitations, which is how we become to know our strengths. We come to understand our character defects and we do our best to promptly admit them and learn from the experience not to repeat our mistakes. Sometimes we fail to do so, but so do not just addicts. People in general are imperfect, so we try to stop beating ourselves up and concentrate on improving instead.

We can be wrong in our minds, but it is actions that count. We are not wrong to reflect on thoughts we have or actions we are about to take.

We are the glorified losers club after all, and the glory is true and it’s all ours!

Going back to the speaker – they said they remember being wrong many times. They still can be wrong, but they have improved – if they were wrong, they stay in denial only for two days, no longer for two weeks, and no more for two years. Talk about positive thinking!


the image was copied from https://www.flickr.com/photos/itsyourdaycakes/53498212 thanks.

know nothing

u3w7an48ky641A member at the recent meeting shared that there was a massive difference in how they felt about recovery between one and seven years of sobriety. It was not just about the amount of sober time. It was the difference between knowing all and knowing nothing.

I can relate. At age one in AA I did think I knew quite a bit about the program and with that, about the world around me. Around that time it happened so that I did a little lecture about it to a Russian sobriety program on their request. I also wrote an academic paper about it. I went to lots of meetings,  talked to people, and it felt like I knew the important stuff, and I guess I assumed I knew more than that. It was about actual alcoholic sobriety and serenity to me then. I thought that if I knew a lot about sobriety, I was doing well.

I wasn’t though. As it says, without the work, the faith is dead. It was true, as it turned out, because in my first two years of sobriety, although I was working on steps, I was doing it way too slow, and other than that, I was doing no work. Just going to meeting was enough for me, and I didn’t catch the moment of change when I started feeling stagnant in life and sobriety. I had to eventually change groups and once I did that, I found there was more to the program. I joined groups of people visiting recovery houses and intox facilities, introducing my group and AA methods of recovery to those who were in treatment. I started writing more about sobriety. That’s when I started feeling I am doing well. Perhaps that happened because I realized AA was more than just a program of going to meetings. It was also about relationships and connecting. It turned out I seriously needed to work on those things, and although I was willing, I didn’t always have a good guide. I only discovered that years later.

As time marches on, I look at the world and at how people communicate and treat each other, and I feel I know nothing about life. Good thing is, I still know how the program of recovery works. Writing about it, just like now, and communicating with people whose opinion I value, helps me to keep afloat when it feels like the world is going even more mad. It seems to me that sometimes knowing nothing (or feeling that you know nothing) can be healing in a sense that all you need to do is keep walking forward and do simple things that you know work, and that’s how you get by.


the image was copied from reddit.com and circumcised by me. thanks.