Words Of Maintenance 3

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

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

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

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

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


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Who We Are Not

f874f1a158f05f6ed9a338bf86335e97--adult-humor-pics-funny-adult-humorYou see me.

You make your judgement.

You think you may know

What keeps me going

And what I like,

And why I do the things I do.

And yet whatever and however

I appear to you,

My hair or clothes,

The way I walk and talk

Doesn’t truly reveal to you

Who I am.

I don’t say “don’t judge”,

Because whether I say it or not,

You will anyway.

That’s the way people roll –

We make an opinion or judgement

Without even realizing it.

But what I will say is

“Keep your judgement to yourself

Until you know for sure,”

Because you may hurt a person who don’t deserve it,

Or infuriate a person you can’t handle (although you thought you could).

I am as unique as you are,

So, don’t be so sure about your talents

Of reading people,

Even if you are psychic, I doubt

You have no weak spots,

For none of us humans is perfect.


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Answerz

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

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

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

How the hell did that work?

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

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

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

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


 

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Anybody Coming Back?

Oops! Road Sign with Dramatic Blue Sky.Crappy choice,

Unfair word,

Heard or said.

Bad time,

Wrong place,

And you fall.

Happened before,

But it hurts more this time.

Now you’re back,

Sitting in the back of the room,

Hoping no one notices you,

And yet

You came on your own,

Knowing well it will help

To get back on your feet,

Fix the problem,

As you’ve learned

Or are ready to learn from the error.

You hear that call,

That is there every meeting,

That question that you hoped all this time

You didn’t have to answer.

Your knees tremble and your mouth is dry

As you’re about to reveal to the crowd

Of friends and strangers

That you are coming back from the war zone

Where your addiction and weakness rule.

You expect judgement and pointed fingers,

But what you get is a hug and a welcome

That you need the most.

It is here each time, whether it is the first time, or one hundredth,

As there is hope

That this is the last time

You’ve spilled nearly all of your blood on the way in.


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about dogs

d4b18c4eb8fc439969cdebd6e488781aMy Dad sent me something last week after he found it online. Below is my translation of it from Russian.

All rights belong to whoever wrote it. And thank you to them. It definitely taught me something about me and my dog.

The mother-in-law got sick. A week later she died. We took the father-in-law to live with us, thank goodness we got enough room. The mother-in-law had a dog, just a black hairy ugly thing. Took the dog as well, for our own misfortune. The dog chews on everything, bites my kids, being mouthy with me, craps everywhere. We take it for a walk out, but you have to have two people walking it. I contacted dog specialists, paid them to teach me what to do with the dog, how to care for it, – no use. They say it’s easier to just put it down. The father-in-law heard about that, he told us that if the dog dies, it’s him time to go too. So, we left it as it was. The kids go out in the summer wearing long sleeves and pants, hiding the scars from me, pitying the grandpa. By the Fall the dog went completely crazy: biting itself, howling. Turns out, besides everything it also needs to have its nails trimmed. We went to all the places where such service is provided, but nobody takes such angry dogs to service them. Finally, we were recommended one place.

I get the dog to the agency, drag it in. The dog fights back, like it’s possessed. Enters a young woman, tiniest I’ve seen. I tell her of the situation, promise her any money, maybe she could do an anaesthesia while she services the dog (in my mind praying that the dog dies under). The little lady takes the leash out of my hands and asks me to come back at a certain time. I come back as I was told and watch the lady cutting the hair between the toes of a beautiful dog that stands on the table, proud, still, rubber orange ball in its teeth. I just stare at that fine picture. Then the dog looked at me sideways and I recognized it: that was my dog! The lady tells me that she will show me how to brush the dog’s teeth and how to trim the nails. I almost lost it on her. I told he the whole story. She thought about it and said: “You need to understand the dog’s situation. You know that its owner died, but its doesn’t. In the dog’s reasoning, you’ve abducted it from its home in the absence of its owner, and now you keep it by force at your place against its will. It can sense that its other owner, the father-in-law, is upset too. So, since it can’t run away, it’s trying to do everything possible for you to kick it out. Try to talk to it, like a male to a male. Explain the situation. Comfort it.”

I put the dog in the car, took it straight to the old mother-in-law’s house. Opened it up, it’s empty there, smells like no life at all. Told the dog everything. The dog listened, didn’t believe me, but didn’t fight or offend me in any way. I took the dog to the cemetery, showed it the grave. That’s when the mother-in-law’s neighbor came over after visiting family’s graves. We opened a bottle of vodka, drank to their memory, offered some to the dog, had a chat. Suddenly the dog REALIZED IT. Raised its head to the air, and howled. Then it lay down by the grave, and stayed that way, head stuck under its paws. I didn’t rush anything. When the dog was ready, so was I. Together we went to my car.

My family didn’t recognize the dog. When I told them the story, they didn’t believe me. I told them what the little lady taught me, and what came out of it. My son didn’t listen to the end of it, grabbed his jacket and car keys, demands the lady’s address. “What for?” – “Dad, I will marry her!” – “You’re nuts! You didn’t even see her!” – “Dad, if she got into the dog’s situation, do you think she won’t understand me?”. Anyway, three months later they got married. Now I’ve got three grandkids growing up. And the dog? The dog is trustworthy, calm, behaves, listens, incredibly smart old dog, helps to look after the kids. And they brush its teeth at night.


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Can’t Hear a Thing

cartoon7151Among things we as humans do, such as move, produce, preserve, and copulate, there is one more thing that we can do really well, and yet often fail at. It’s communicating.

Funny enough, in the world of today where communicating is recognized as vital, and with many different ways of communicating are invented, starting with education of languages and lectures on body language, and ending with phones, faxes, and whatever else they’ve invented lately that I’ve missed, we fail to communicate so much.

And that’s amazing, considering that we communicate all the time. When I write this, you read it, so I’ve communicated to you what I think and feel, and whether you agreed or disagreed with it, you can’t help but receive the information that I’ve shared. When you stand in front of me and talk, I hear you, but I also read your face expressing how you feel about what you’re saying, and I can also pay attention to your hands and the rest of your body reacting to what is being said or what you really thought. We share that information and most of us are inherently good at it.

And yet, so often we communicate and not pay attention to what was communicated to us. So often we listen, but we don’t hear. And so often we don’t even try to listen, just pass by, thinking something else is important. I am guilty of that. I can be so lost in thoughts that I am lost for words when they need to be said. Whether it is to say that I agree, or to say I’m sorry, or to provide an insight, often I just seem to think there are more important things to pay attention to right at that moment, and I ignore others. Or sometimes I am so lost in my thoughts that I miss or misinterpret what’s being said and make wrong judgements of it and come to negative and upsetting conclusions.

I read a story by Chuck Palaniuk, the author of Fight Club, where he wrote that you only get people’s attention when you disclose that you are diagnosed with or dying from some incurable disease. That’s when people start really paying attention to what you’re saying and how you are feeling.

It is at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that we really listen to others. We hear their stories, we think about how it relates to us, we express empathy with our nods and smiles, and after the meeting we talk, we discuss, and often go somewhere to talk about it some more. It is a system that works well for decades. It is not unique though, because people do that on a regular basis. People talk, people solve problems by discussing it. Only in AA meeting we discuss something that, if left unspoken, may literally destroy person’s life. That’s why we make sure we give a word to a newcomer, even if they don’t feel like talking in front of strangers.

The fact that this fellowship exists is a great thing. Over a decade ago it saved my life, just like for the last 80 years it was saving lives of thousands. But I can’t help but wonder if there could be less reasons for AA’s existence if we, the humans in general, could originally communicate better.

What if we could talk without being hurtful so that we wouldn’t cause people to look for a potentially dangerous outlet, such as drugs and alcohol? What if we didn’t produce so much alcohol that we needed to advertise it so rampantly? Remember, advertising is communication too, just as a movie you watched, or a book you read, only TV or Internet ads provide short ideas faster and with a shock value that successfully affects your mental faculties, promising you desires to be fulfilled. A powerful language to present ideas, and dangerous at that.

Could we advertise more ideas of hope and kindness than what to buy, where, for how much, and where it is less expensive and move convenient? Would we improve our lives with more products… or with more hope and understanding that we should care for others? So often I realize that it is not what we say to others, but how we say it that has more lasting effect, negative and positive.

Unfortunately, I don’t know if these questions can be answered. Thus, I focus on what’s at hand and stay sober and go to my AA home group meetings. Communication is power, and AA is based on communication. Without, it AA won’t work. We speak, we listen, we share, we read recovery books, and when we pray, it is communication to, isn’t it?

So now that we are afflicted, since the failures of communication already happened to plague us, let’s try to connect better. Maybe let’s do a better effort to listen to those that need to speak, with our loved ones (especially with them, because we may think we had a perfect connection, but we’re so often take it for granted), with our friends, with strangers, on a bus, on a street, in a group, even if we have no time, or desire to do so. Somebody’s life and sanity may depend on it.

I guess, I have to start with myself. Writing this is only the first step of dealing with it.


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Ripple Effect

ripple-960x490A person I know was taking a 34 years birthday cake at the AA meeting I go to often. I always loved it how he managed to put great examples out to make point, and how well he talked so that everyone understood what he was trying to say, leaving no room for scratching heads due to misunderstanding, unless we really needed to ponder something.

He said that for our actions that are ripple effects, just like when a drop of rain water falls in a lake, making waves. The harder it falls, the more intense the reaction of the ripples. And each time we do something bad, somebody would get affected by it negatively, although we may not see it. And each time we do something positive, someone will catch that too, somehow.

Now, he said, when we, the suffering alcoholics/addicts, come to recovery and live healthy, and just be there, sharing our recovery by living the principles of recovery, the effect will be made on others. We may not see it or know it, but the effect will be massive. For each one “saved” person, living recovery, there will be ten people positively affected by it.

I hear it often in the meetings that we are miracles. So many people out there don’t make it back healthy, or alive. They somehow give up on recovery, on the truth, they get tired of making an effort, or they were misled, or they couldn’t find something they really needed, or they had no helping hand, and they got lost. Those of us that got found and came to the right places to get our lives and sanity back, those are very fortunate ones. We are immensely lucky to get it together. And with us benefitting from recovery, by listening to others, sharing our stories, living the life of conscious sobriety, many people we know, and many that we don’t know can have a good life.

Why? Us addicts, we walk with fire and tornado by our sides. We mess up our families, friends, work places, strangers. We make police, and paramedics, and psychologists work harder. There are more hospital beds open for the injured when alcoholics walk out or don’t arrive in the first place. There are less issues in the world when we get out crap together and stop causing trouble. I caused trouble because I was hurt, but I rarely could see the aftermath of my hurt and insanity. All these are meaningful points to keep in mind. Remembering that makes more reasons for me to stay sober and clean today.


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