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.

Positive Choices

chiicesI remember an old saying from back home: If you are arguing with an idiot, there is a chance that they may be doing the same thing.

Funny? No? It’s OK. Have a carrot.

Unless you are an Argument Master and you know the strategy of solving a dispute without losing your face and not making another person feel like crap, arguing is not much fun. I’m sure everybody had verbal fights and not everybody likes them. To have what they want, people need time, space, and choice. Let them have it, unless them having it causes serious trouble for others, maybe.

Choice is a vital part in this system. Very often people say/think they don’t have a choice, yet I think it is very rare when that happens. Granted, some people are stuck in jail or in a mental institution and they cannot easily walk away from being locked up, but even then some of them do have choice to accept treatment/rehabilitation and one day some of them may go free sooner.

So, let’s take me who is in neither of these situations. Let’s say I am having an argument, and I am about to lose my mind. I have several choices on how to act. I can:

panic,

get angry,

breath in deep and exhale long,

take a step back,

smile and say “It’s OK. I’ll have a carrot.”

It’s easy to be positive now and philosophize now, but how will I act when an argument pushing for rage comes? Well, I was learning when I heard of this, and I am learning still now as I am writing down the memories. The experience of it all will show how well and what I’ve learned. What I will try to remember firstly is that I need to present the positive choices first. Like, I always can say “no” as I have a right to say “no” without explaining why. Or I can step back instead of yelling, or even lunging forward. I have a choice to react by not reacting. Remember Rush: “If you chose not to decide, you still have made the choice.”

Unlike some others, we have opportunities to make positive choices. Let’s make those. And have some carrots.


the image was copied from https://www.flickr.com/photos/59416005@N08/5433585117 and choiced by me. thank you.

 

The Bumpy Ride

linearHe walked out of the dark room too fast for his own good

And he walked into a wall that I couldn’t believe he couldn’t see.

He walked too fast so on the way he tripped and fell, and he kept crying that his knee hurt

How I resented him!

After all the talk, all the teachings, he still kept doing some strange, unimaginable crap

That was not in the plan.

Years passed, as I watched those like him, failing miserably,

Until I realized that the plan I expected them to succeed accordingly

Was mine, not theirs.

Their lives were theirs, not mine, and such were the expectations.

Everybody’s got their own journey,

And the journey of recovery is not a straight line.

There should be signs all over the place along the track of recovery:

“Expects bumps, setbacks, and redirections!”

Some truly unpredictable situations can happen on the way,

Because life happens.

Sometimes the elevator breaks, and you have to take the stairs to the next level.

Yet though climbing up is exhausting,

We can focus on the idea

That recovery is a road

To pursue a life of fulfillment and hope

And it is worth fighting for no matter how bad the setbacks may seem.

Recovery is not a condition of being healed.

It’s a movement from A to Z and it is truly your own.

I try so hard to remember this when I look at them now

For I remember how I walked and how I fell, and that sometimes

It took a while to get up and walk straight.

I didn’t get all the lessons right away,

But eventually I worked out a plan that suits my journey,

More realistic, and more successful.

I try not to judge them on their success or lack thereof

Because their life and progress

Is none of my business,

For what can I know

Of where they came from and of the depths of their pain?

All I know is my own wounds

And how to tend to them,

No matter how bumpy is the ride.


the image was copied from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/healing-is-not-linear thank you.

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.

Alone, Not Lonely

181214-loneliness-cities-making-friends-kh_bc86f2d5095f854cc0f6361aefaa5044.fit-2000wHe wrote a page-long vent post, then erased it.

OK, why lie. I wrote a page-long vent post, and then erased it. No, it’s not an identity crisis. It’s denial. Yes, I am working on it.

I wrote a page-long post on how I felt about solitary existence in the crowded room in a house in a crowded city. That’s not just one day. Or, if it is, it lasts an eternity. No, I am not always discontent and lonely. Sometimes… sometimes it is the kind of being alone that is not loneliness. You know? You are alone, but as Henry Rollins said, you don’t have to be lonely. You are content with being alone, because alone you can do things that you cannot do while being around others.

And although this is very cool and positive thought, still there is that time when the content part ends and I start feeling a desperate need to be with someone, make them listen, help them be heard.

I can play my video games for over six hours in a row, but then I take my dog for a walk and I look at the many apartment buildings in the area, and someone’s windows are still lit at 2am and I wonder, What are they doing? Are they alone? Crying? Drinking? Mourning? Playing a video game? Do they need someone? And if they do, how can I help? I can’t. I tell myself I can’t unless they reach out. And then I get myself thinking farther and I feel like I have several good lines for a new story, and so I walk the dog back home and get writing.

And that’s a good-alone-time to do writing when no one is around and it works just perfect.

It worked perfectly for him to work out for an hour in the middle of the night, listening to some heavy metal and in the end, he felt sore, yes, but also strangely rested, like he dropped a weight off his shoulders, while, in fact he did almost the opposite.

OK, why lie again. It worked perfectly for me to work out for an hour or so in the middle of the night, listening to some heavy metal and in the end, I felt sore, but also strangely rested, and I felt like being alone, and wanting to speak to someone or hear another person’s story was no longer a need for me. I just wanted to lie on my back on the floor and listen to silence. Listen to the air, like Henry said.  I required nothing else. I just existed, and it felt amazing. My heart rate was dropping from rushing, my leg muscles were still throbbing, and the sweat was drying up on my back and neck, and I didn’t want anything. Just being. Alone, not lonely. I felt like I want this sensation to last for ages.

Then next day I feel wonderful crazy after having chugged down a bunch of coffee, now walking down the street, not known to anyone, ideas popping up in my head like pop-corn cooked in a microwave, and I couldn’t care less about world’s problems, or connections, or disintegration, or even air. Yeah, air. I don’t think about breathing for about 99% of the time. I only appreciate it when I am running out of it. It’s no longer a Bunch of Coffee Walk time. It is “I don’t care, y’all!” time. I am not lonely. I don’t care for word “solitary” and I don’t have time to play solitaire either. I am not interested if you need to talk, or you’re crying, or mourning and drinking. I’m in a crowd of people, but I’m alone. I’m not lost, but I’m gone.


the image was copied from https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/lonely-you-re-not-alone-america-s-young-people-are-ncna945446 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.