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.

to be an apple

Retouch-1313AHe wanted to be…

OK, he was an Apple

He was red, and green, and yellow, and even white,

As apples come.

He was this juicy thing you could eat right away

He had things of his own he could’ve been happy with

Yet he wasn’t because

He always wanted to be an Orange.

To him, the Oranges were all that he could wish for,

How they grew, and laughed,

It looked so infectiously simple how they did things,

Including drinking –

It seemed intoxication and consequences came to them effortlessly.

He could sell his core to be like them

And he tried to do so.

It took him many falls and been kicked around,

Dark spots and pinches off his red, and green, and yellow skin

To the point white was all gone, or so it seemed

Until one day he learned something –

He will always be an Apple

Because his body was thought through and made in a different way

Selling his core brought no desired fruits, pardon the pun

And when that dawned on him,

He cried, yet the sun failed not to keep shining on him

And the dew still looked beautiful in the waking up grass.

It took much time, enough to feel like eternity,

To find peace with that realization.

Then one day, it all became clear to him –

He could look so many ways,

Feel so much different being alive instead of jealous.

And he also found there were many other Apples to talk to

Which he didn’t cared to do for a long time,

Lost in his resentment.

Next day was very red, and green, and yellow, and even white,

And so many colors he didn’t know existed.

There was much time to grow and enjoy them all

And he kept on doing so

Effortless one day, with some strain another

Yet drinking over that he didn’t need to anymore.


the image was copied from https://retouch.ca/portfolio/apple-orange-retouching/ thank you.

thank you to Russ for the idea.

The Tempo of Change

PngI walked the road and several steps before I came close to it, spotted a pebble stone. I deliberately kicked it and then watched for where it landed. Yet I couldn’t see it for several seconds. I watched both sides of the road at least ten steps in front of me, as I was walking forward. Finally, there it was. The sight and then the sound: I could see it when it stopped moving through the air. I must say, it was quite a kick. It flew much farther than I expected.

Often my reaction to things happening is very similar. “Where the hell is everything I waited/hoped for going?” or “What was the point of that?” or “How is that going to help me/you?” I stop, and I wait, and I think, and then I look, and I see nothing. The key words are “I see nothing right away” but I forget about that one. It comes into sight eventually, almost every time, yet I’m too impatient to give it time to show itself.

Time needs to pass for things to be seen for what it is and the gifts it brings. Writing a diary is the best way to see the change occur. You go several pages back and see how you wrote in misery and now you have an opportunity to compare the misery/doubt of then and what you think is the misery/doubt of now. You make the comparison. You learn of change and how you can use it to your advantage and your future becoming.


the image was copied from https://www.roblox.com/library/90935471/The-small-rock-of-epicness thank you

What a Disaster

hqdefaultI saw a TV ad recently. A lady walking through her messy and dirty apartment, trying to make a meal, I think. Then the sentence across the screen said: Not all disasters make the news. I think it was an ad for the Red Cross.

Then it hit me: it’s probably not messy and dirty place. How about destroyed by fire? And the thing is, thinking that way made me look at the situation under a completely different angle. Not irresponsibility but dealing with disastrous conditions. Not carelessness but overcoming grief and burden.

When it comes to mental health, “not all disasters” reality makes even less news. No one knows what’s going on in another person’s head and why do they behave a certain way. Even if you’re a seasoned psychiatrist, dealing with people is not easy because everybody is different with their own specifics. There is no blueprint to work on everybody.

When a person falls apart, due to a family crisis, unemployment, addiction, it is a disaster, a tragedy. And yet, there are ways to mend some spirits and minds in a way, at least partially. I was to my AA home group meeting and one of the members said: “There are about fifty people in this room. People with long term sobriety, short time sobriety, some newcomers, but all are people who want to improve their lives and live responsibly and happily without expense of others’ grief. We affect a lot of people, each and everyone of us. Our manner of living affects parents, kids, spouses, friends, coworkers. At least five hundred people outside of this room are better off because we fifty are sober.”

The day before that meeting I went to a concert. As always, I wasn’t drinking. I don’t drink alcohol at shows, just as I don’t at any other time. I know there are people who think (and maybe they even have proof) that drinking is not all that bad, but it’s not my story. So, after drinking irresponsibly for over ten years, I’ve quit and don’t do it anymore. I won’t deny that not drinking at shows does take away from excitement a bit. When the music hits the air though, it’s decibels and vibes that rule the ball and I don’t need anything else. But some spirit is lacking, I think, compared to the good and bad old drinking times. And that’s OK. Life is more responsible lately and because of that more tolerable. Fun, actually.

And I thought of that when listening to my co-member talking about the 500 who are better off with us fifty being sober, because it was not just drinking and intoxicated mind of my un-sober times that had put me and others around me in trouble. It was how I looked at the world and how I related to others. How I behaved and how I talked. And it’s still not perfect time for me regarding attitude and communication. So many times I can recall myself speaking without thinking and how it got me in trouble. What a mess I can create without applying the “Stop, wait, think” rule. What a disaster. I remember my first AA sponsor who said that anybody would benefit from using the Twelve Steps in their lives to improve their lives, their family lives, spiritual balance, and so on. It is a spiritual and communication program in a nutshell, after all.

I’m staying from causing a disaster. I’m not perfect and probably never will be, and that’s OK. I keep trying to improve, though. I watch what I say and work on myself without hurting others. I keep it sober. I stay connected. I embrace and practice the positive way of living. Alternatives to that could be disastrous. I don’t want to chance it. Thanks, but no thanks.


the image was copied from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iW5hAThdZHg and thank you and that song kicks ass!

mastery

commando-06152012not dreading it,

not hating life.

not wanting to be in the daylights.

just taking it in

like a task

like a mission

not subject to be failed.

going through with it

is easier

if you think of it

as of going to battle –

you pack your gear

like your guns

use your mastery

your MUSTery,

no mystery

but reason

and care.

march forward to take out an enemy

whatever it is,

how ever it is –

you fight it and bring it down.

if you bring forth right attitude

to the task

and you put your mind to it,

you will have it accomplished –

getting on with the new day,

every day,

by getting out of bed

and marching out into the new day

to deal with people,

places

and things.


the image was copied from https://www.indiewire.com/2012/06/in-praise-of-commando-129735/ thank you.