drink u pretty

Godwin Austen (K2) - 8611 mHe sang

He couldn’t drink the girl pretty

She really wasn’t it, I guess.

I tried to drink her pretty,

And I failed too.

Her name was Life,

Her last name was On-its-terms.

Must be French.

I was stubborn though.

I tried, and I tried, and I tried.

She wasn’t. Stubborn, I mean.

She just was.

She sat there like a rock

And smiled sadly,

Probably hoping I’d get it,

But it took me a while:

Years of anger,

Brain cells wasted in millions,

And hope in fellow men – in shovels,

Only it wasn’t their fault.

False hopes and unrealistic expectations did it.

I cared for things that wasn’t there,

Although all that time I had people

Telling the truth to my face,

Truth I didn’t like.

I always thought Plan B would work,

But I got to letter Z and I was still profoundly fucked.

Now I look at the sky with eyes sober

As the morning dew,

(unless the air got drunk on a whim)

And say “thank you” a lot.

I still try,

You know, coffee it pretty.

But I think it’s a different kick –

No one gets hurt,

And the bills get paid.

She still sits there like a rock,

But I know her smile is happier now.


the front image was copied from https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/03/k2-last-problem-of-the-himalayas/554618/. thanks.

Smoking Open Lights

20190223_145531 9I’ve just realized that I’ve made it for ten years without smoking tobacco or any other substance this past month. I used to count them, but this year it somehow crept up on my unexpectedly.

I most likely wouldn’t be able to come to not smoking at all if thirteen years and nine months ago I didn’t make a conscious decision to quit… drinking. Weird? No anymore, not to me anyway.

I came to the recovery fellowship and I’ve learned plenty of skills. As the result, I’ve quit drinking which would not work if I didn’t acquire a certain program of thinking and being, a life style that pushed for a healthier life in spirit, body, and mind. Thanks to that, I managed to see clearer some other unhealthy things that I did in my life, behaviors that didn’t help, such as isolating and judging others. A couple years after, “doing” the Steps, I came to the realization that I could quit smoking cigarettes with the help of the Steps wisdom since nothing else worked. This worked out successfully, as some other things. Some didn’t, but that’s life. I keep trying and among other things, I keep saying “thank you” when things work out, whether it is small or large.

“Thank you” is something so easily said, as well as “sorry” or “how are you”, and I think often we don’t really think about it, as we say it to others, or when they say it to us. I try to think about it lately, though. There are lots of things to be grateful for, even if life is not working the way I would prefer it did.

In the Fellowship I was taught to be grateful for every day. It worked when I tried it in my morning prayer. Yet I still resisted being grateful throughout the day. I was happy for sobriety yet I often resented people around me. My first couple years in sobriety were of solid sobriety but at times I felt miserable, because… well, I don’t really know why, but I think I was not there spiritually as much as I could have been. What I decided I’d start doing is saying thank you to people who did the jobs that I knew I would never do successfully. They did their service and I paid for it and I’d say thank you. Within less than ten days my outlook on life started changing for the better.

Soon after that I started working at a homeless shelter. There I met people who were angry about everything, dissatisfied with anything, and it used to distress me, but with time I learned to think they were not having a good day lifetime long. There were also people who woke up and said thank you to anything, to every little thing others did for them. I felt connected to these people, and years later I wrote a novella about that spirit of open-mindedness and gratitude for life.

I don’t think I’d be able to come this far in life and doing reasonably well if I didn’t push myself out of the dark room and allowed myself to have a different life. I used to isolate so much I’ve become a professional isolationist and procrastinator with a diploma hanging on the wall. Even in an active community of recovery with so many things happening, with so much positivity and vigor one can still live a stagnant life. I could have easily slipped through the cracks in these rooms if it wasn’t for the man named Ted. He not only welcomed me into recovery, he also gave me a good kick in the butt to live my recovery actively, and he did it with a cheer and I appreciated that. Years later our paths separated due to disagreements which is still upsetting to me, but I hope he is doing good and maybe one day we will be talking again.

Ted had a vibe full of life, and that vibe infected me, wanting more of life than just living sober. It brought forth the fruits of labor that was sober living, joyful life of recovery that keeps going on, like a wheel turning. There are many people in rooms of sobriety that I’ve met over the years. I am grateful to them all and I hope many others that are in need of help will be able to open their spirits to gratitude and trust to the world wide fellowship of AA and as the result will heal and expand their lives for much better than they ever knew was possible.


instead of a diploma, enjoy the front image that was taken by me. the punctuation (or the lack there of) game made me capture the sign and then inspired me to write this. so, thank you to whoever designed the sign ignoring the (un)holy laws of English punctuation and those who put the sign up.

Power to Carry (Listening, part 2)

sea-waves-moonThere is a nice quote framed on the wall at my home group meeting room this week. It says, “Even if you are on a right path, you will get run over if you just sit there.” It’s attributed to Will Rogers.

Today we were sharing on Step 11, and although I didn’t have a chance to share, I did some thinking over it in connection to the aforementioned quote.

See, when I was looking over at my situation with drinking before it got better, I was thinking that I needed to quit, but I would do nothing about it. I saw the things falling out of my control and I observed complete powerlessness over the situation, but I wouldn’t consciously admit to it and accept it. I didn’t have the tools, nor did I have the connections, and I didn’t know which way to go to have anything accomplished regarding my relationship with the substance abuse. I just sat there, wondering, making hollow promises to myself.

When I came to the recovery program, I started going to meetings and I started doing the Steps. Step 11, the one talking about prayer and meditation, was the least explored for a while, but I eventually started doing both of these things. In case with meditation, what I started doing was listening and watching without speaking on it.

There was this person in one meeting I attended who said: “Quitting drinking is easy.” I immediately took offence to that because I knew it wasn’t easy for me. But then they went on: “It’s staying sober that is difficult.” And they had it right. I knew then where they was coming from and where they were going to with it – was something I full-heartedly agreed with. And I focused on that idea.

Then couple years later I was to a different meeting and a person sitting next to me said: “I don’t have a problem with alcohol.” So, I thought well what the hell are they doing here?! Then that person said: “But it’s life that I have a problem with.” And they had me, right there, right then. I kept listening, nodding my head, because I knew that talking about themselves, that person also talked about me. Alcohol was a substance that I was addicted to because I didn’t have the grip on myself and how to deal with life. Not being able to deal with life and people came first, alcohol was some sort of a bad medicine. In the situation with the speaker, if I didn’t listen and dwell in my birthing resentment to what they originally said, I’d miss a valuable statement that since then made a lot of sense to me and strengthened my recovery.

A couple weeks I heard a very similar share from a person at a meeting, but it was given a new depth: “If drinking is your problem, you are a drinker. If drinking is your solution, you are an alcoholic.” I kept sitting on my chair when I heard that, but believe me, I was floored. This was something I knew all this time, but it was never said out loud. And hell, was it ever eloquently put into words, just as it was deadly truthful!

Step 11 doesn’t just speak about prayer and meditation, it also mentions a power to carry out the will of our higher power in our daily living. This is where I’d connect it to that quote. Recovery, particularly through AA, is motion. If I just in a sandbox, surrounded by wisdom I don’t apply to life, resentments that I love to hate, and wonderings that keeps  ideas at illusory level, attached to nothing, I will be run over by life that doesn’t stay on one spot, but keeps moving like the waves of the southern sea. I came to AA to stay sober, but I learned additionally how to carry on soberly and have a good life.


the image was copied from http://planetpedia.in/water-bodies/sea-waves.php thanks.

Normality

normz(dedicated to Alan Turing)

In the eyes of the one who knows no care for mental pain

Our efforts of remaining sober and free to ourselves

Can be laughable.

How?! Is that so important? Get some character, have some dignity!

Oh, well, we gave that all we’ve got,

Grinding the stone farther down, keeping the patience and hope together.

But wait a second… how shall we know that they are the ones who got it together?

And yet, strangely, we keep calling them “normal”

As if their controlled drinking pattern is something supernaturally wonderful.

How will we ever know they don’t keep someone

In their basement chained to the wall, tortured to death?

Exaggerated? I hope so.

I also hope that we remember that putting normality on a pedestal is problematic.

All these making-sense-wonders with good advises on how to do things –

Where were they when we bled and cried and finally found our way out?

Another thought: somebody smart

(who may have believed in UFOs having parties with fairies in their backyard on Fridays),

Have said that normal is just a setting on a washing machine.

I think that’s exactly it and we shouldn’t worry much

About who is who,

As long as we know who we are.

And if we do things differently from others, it’s no crime.

If it works for us and doesn’t hurt others it’s all good in my books.


the image was coped from https://me.me/i/normal-people-color-white-black-metai-edb3c16ee4294397b439c4eb69e0e251. thanks

Brain Blues

1_FmNzVibw5_FEGSrjg162OgYou wake up and feel like you may have melted into the bed. You can’t get up. You try again and do get up, but you feel like someone dropped a piano on you. You should go back to bed, right? Wrong. You should go to work. You’ve already missed several shifts, and what can happen is… No, you don’t want to think about that.

You feel… bad, granted, but that word is so overused. So how DO you feel? Depressed. But you are depressed most of the time, because alcohol you drink so much is a depressant, so no wonder. And you can’t stop drinking, even though it takes all your money, and your friends hate you (or so you think) and no girls want you (it really is so). “Depressed” is too clinical and doesn’t describe well how you feel right now. You are… blue?

But who uses that word these days? You look disgusted about being “blue” more than feeling “depressed” or having a “drinking problem” or “having no girlfriend” problem.

But you’re not down, are you? Because “down” makes you think of The Clash, fever, and more alcohol. So…

Let it be “blue.” The blues, rhythm ‘n’ blues… Oh no. That last one makes you think of your father. Nope. We are not going down there.

So… you’re screwed. That’s for sure. How shall we proceed from here? How are you going to work, now that we know you’re screwed?

Let’s try one step at a time first. No, you don’t like doing that, or at least thinking that. It reminds you of AA groups, and you don’t like them. According to you, they take too much space, talk too much and drink too much coffee. OK, then what? What now? Who else are you going to be angry at?

OK, OK, I’ll back off. I went too far. I’ll retreat into the place in your brain where I belong. Let the proper faculty do the thinking work, right? So, me, the Hypothalamus, and my good friend (and your very good friend, or at least so it shall be) Mr. Motor Cortex are going to go have a snooze. You call us when you got some thinking done and you’re ready for action. We’ll be there in a quarter of a second. You use the rest of the brain, especially the Mighty Ms. Frontal Lobe. Go plan. Plan courage. Plan life.


the image was copied from https://medium.com/@funemployed/the-fucked-up-thing-about-my-brain-d0452006fab1 thanks.

Listening

listen-imageThat evening I was contemplating if I should be going to the regular Monday night AA meeting or stay home with my partner and watch Mom. With Mom being a TV series about recovering alcoholics, it and the meeting kind of would be similar experiences: both social, conversational, and recovery aspects are present.

At the beginning I wouldn’t want to hear about it. TV show about addicts in recovery? Give me a break! How much more about recovery can you put out?! I was taking recovery and sobriety very seriously, so making an entertainment out of it didn’t sit right with me. But then my partner kept watching it and as I kept walking in and out of the room, I listened and watched. And the only thing that was getting me annoyed was the wall of constant background laughter. So that’s not so bad, I figured. One day I sat down and watched several episodes in the row. With some good laugh, I took something else out of it. There were good lessons. As one member at my AA meeting said, whoever wrote that show had a very good idea and a very good feel for recovery. I kept watching and liking it.

I always had a hard time with listening. I had so much on my mind, so many things unspoken, ideas, rants, that I felt like I needed to keep running my mouth. As the result, I missed out on a lot of things others have said. You’d guess I wasn’t a big fan of hearing “I’ve told you so” because I heard it too many times! I was told many things thousands of times when I was a kid, and although my parents meant well, I wanted to keep my ears covered for half a day. Thus, I missed on some wisdom through out the years.

It was recovery that taught me to listen. Among other things, it talks about prayer and meditation, and I was well familiar with the first one, so that was not an issue. Yet the second one… My recovery teacher told me in our first meeting together not to talk, but listen, to pay attention to what people say, what’s going on in the room, and then after several meetings share what I had. That was a good a lesson, because I learned some patience, some tact, some care for what to say and what to keep out of respect for others.

I went on listening farther through the days, and I realized there was more to life than constant talking, thinking, moving, and buying. In fact, I already knew it, but I was not giving it enough chance and enough time to become essential in my life. To watch without judging. To listen without interrupting, no matter how wise my input may be. It took me years to learn that sometimes listening is the best form of having a conversation.


the image was copied from https://adimpact.marketing/the-art-of-active-listening/ thanks.

Yes, You Can Write

painFor me writing is like breathing air, just as vital. I started writing stories, poems, connected ideas in my early teens and never stopped.

Also, writing became as easy as breathing air, although I don’t think I took it for granted, because I was always dedicated and practiced writing endlessly. No, I haven’t mastered it, and I still haven’t written a bestseller, but words are laid out easier these days, and ideas come out clearer with less effort. So, if I am asked if I write well, I answer that it’s up to them to decide, but it goes well, and it goes effortless more often than not (I better not jinx myself here).

Having said that now, I must admit I’ve met quite a bit of people who said they cannot write. Cannot write for the life of them. I met the majority of these people in recovery program where I was the counselor and they were the clients, and the conversations were about writing down thoughts, frustrations, resentments, and keeping a diary. I pressed on the importance of letting out the negative, the overbearing and lasting sorrow, as well as desires, ambitions, unrealized plans, and hopes for the future. I suggested to submit all these to paper. I urged my clients to write and keep the positives, to jot down and save the negatives that are good to refer to and compare “then and now” experiences to witness the progress of recovery. I proposed putting down particularly nasty ideas that they’d want to say to others and after all was written down, destroy it so it would be out of mind, out of sight, and out of the room.

And they just wouldn’t do it. They said they would try. They wrote down relapse prevention plans OK, but they wouldn’t write down a diary or destructible material. Because they couldn’t write.

Which struck me as odd. Granted, some people don’t get enough schooling for whatever reason, and then whatever education they did get, they didn’t have a chance to practice it. But people who did get it, they wouldn’t give it a try either.

I carried that in my head for a while, as one of the usual wonders. And I still kept meeting people in recovery, at work or not, that said they couldn’t write like me, although they never read whatever I wrote, because I am really not that famous yet : ) To me, writing is just… what? You take a pen and start jotting stuff down. OK, these days most people type. No problem. You type, adding a word to a word, because you still have to get your resumes and shopping lists done, right? So, you can do that. You come up with an idea, and you just follow up with it, one thought clings to the other, and the tale of whatever you want to discover starts unfolding. It may take you half hour or three days, but something comes out on the paper, or on a digital document from under your fingers and there you go. How hard can that be, I mused, no matter what you write, an essay, a poem, a ten-sentence summary of your life?

And then I had a conversation with a person who had to confirm that all the people I talked to about writing were in recovery from substance abuse and addiction. And she pointed out that people who go through recovery are not there because their life was so great and she reminded me how much does that have to do with childhood and teen trauma. This person said that people who are enslaved by addictive and destructive behavior most likely were talked down to, get bullied, so often in the family when they were young. Statistics prove that. These people were told they (or sometimes they wrongly perceived the message) that they are worthless, dumb, and good for nothing. Many of them would have witnessed terrible and nasty things happened to their family and/or they were taken away from their families. They wouldn’t do good in school, in relationships, at work, etc. How often would they blame themselves to be the reason of what was happening to them? What kind of understanding of self could they get out of that? Whatever skills and talents they may have acquired through the years, they may have given up on them. And if they never were encouraged to seek and develop such skills, they would never come to see themselves as good at anything, including writing down a ten-sentence summary of their life.

I thought about that, how lucky I was to have a better life and being able to put my ideas on something where I can keep them and make sense of my world through doing so. Was I taking things for granted until now?

At least now I think I can understand people a little bit better. And yes, I will still encourage them to write.


the front image was copied from http://www.myniceprofile.com/emo-60059.html. thank you.

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

 

_______________

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.