Thought That Counts

It was not easy to master the idea that thinking of others in need and thinking of others’ benefit AND expressing it IS a key to successful communication and relationships.

When I have read the program of recovery I’ve accepted was a selfish program, I laughed. I sure was selfish. When I realized though what it meant I was not laughing, yet nodding I was because it made sense. We have to take care of our own world on sickness before we could be of service to others.

It took a while to learn how to say things that were meaningful to others and to me without hurting anyone, even though I may have seen in my mind that my idea would benefit all parties involved. It took longer time to realize that my immediate and/or clear benefit is not always necessary.

The thought always counts. But it takes more than just a thought of respecting others’ needs. Unless it is a fight for personal survival, it takes more thinking for others and not for what you can immediately gain from that. My gain could be observed in hindsight.

I could see eventually that I could benefit both parties by not starting a conflict which I originally thought could caress my ego for it would prove I was right. Absence of pride masturbation led to absence of conflict.

Its been a while that I have lived not knowing all that. Nobody told me, I think. So, I lived hurting another person, not even being aware of that. At the same time I doing other things right. I was caring and attentive to the need of another person, yet I took recovery program mandatory honesty and openness to heart and spoke what was on my mind, not thinking how another person would take it.

Some other parties I would hurt differently, but the same. Honesty and truth would bubble inside of me requiring release, but to others it would come out looking and feeling as vengeance and rage, I guess. They didn’t feel like they deserved it yet wouldn’t say so right then. Instead, they would retreat from communicating, shutting down, putting the pain in “denial and forget” box.

Their hurt and pain as a reaction to what I did or said lasted beyond the time I may have thought would take for them to heal.

Some time passed and I realized that although my life took a turn, I was still doing that, this time to another person. Different story, different hurt, same mindset on my part somehow. Compassionate and caring me remained selfish, because I only considered the thought that counted for a moment, not checking if my altruism could be faulty if seen through the eyes of the person who I was trying to be of service to. Was I doing that for them, for us, or for me?

It took talking to figure out that I was still a selfish creature, no matter how much recovery wisdom I took in. Selfishness was an important part of me, I thought, in a sense of self preservation, for the sake of security, mental and spiritual needs to be met. But I wanted things to be done my way, nevertheless. When that was challenged, I retaliated out of thought that I didn’t want to be pushed around to do things others wanted to be done their way, even if I saw that doing things that way worked well. Some other times I saw that doing things my way worked well too, so I persisted doing them that way and resisted change that I perceived as unnecessary.

Among other things, it led to meeting the ends of my pride and hurting feelings of others. It appeared that I was repeating my old mistakes while I thought I was improving for the sake if all parties involved.

Here’s where the Third Step statement (Let Go and Let God, in a nutshell) as well as The Third Step Prayer (“May I do thy will always”) would come into view. And that is all fine and dandy, but I often still remain blind to what does Their will want me to do. How much do I surrender to not fall prey to the sick will of others? How much of myself can I give away to not fall apart?

Except listening is a part of that Step as well. I know about listening, as in Listening to others and The Listening to the High One. I suck at both, I think. Yes, still. Perhaps, my thinking is too good, and I need to slow down on that. I overthink a lot once I start. Could it be that my thinking messes with Listening?

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.

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.

How to Read A Book

ent_readwalk_0605How do I read a book? From the beginning. One page at a time. While it goes fun, I don’t care for how many pages are left to go through. Then that may change, and I start looking at page numbers and count how many days it may take me to finish the book. Still, though, no matter how much I’m planning to read it, I don’t get to completing it unless I go one page at a time. If I cheat and skip parts, I miss something and then I find myself confused about things not making sense.

How do you walk a road toward a location? Not drive, or ride a bike, – walk? Hopefully, the way I do it. That is, one step at a time, putting one foot in front of the other. Watching your step is also highly recommended. I don’t remember if I was told how to read the book the right way, but I sure was told how to walk. It works well just the way I was told. I usually keep up a good stature and good pace, and hey, I get where I need to, even if the weather conditions aren’t as favorable as I may have wanted.

How do I live sober? Not how you live sober, or how you should live sober. That is none of my business. I have some ideas to share, though. Nothing crazy. It works just the same way as with reading a book and walking down the road. It even can be tightly related to those two. It is a one step at a time kind of a thing. Sometimes it is a foot, sometimes a couple inches. Sometimes it is a day, but in the beginning it is more of an hour. One in front of the other. When I went one step without booze a day it was easier to focus without too many thoughts, fears, and doubts attached. One step at a time, guarded by a “thank you” at wake-up time, and the other at bedtime. That’s what AA taught me. They taught me well. It works. Step by step progress may not seem like a good ride, but it is, because there are so many examples and metaphors I can find to put “one step at a time” path of living in front of you. That’s right, path of living, because everything that is to stand strong and last works that way.


the image was copied from http://entertainment.time.com/2012/06/06/a-book-lovers-guide-to-reading-and-walking-at-the-same-time/ modified by me for the sake of Saturday morning goofballingness. thank you.

Neutral Affirmation

I am given a wordblood

And I say my first name

And I call myself an alcoholic

After which I speak some more

About myself.

Whether I am in recovery

Or not,

Maybe still struggling through trenches

Of “human versus disease” war,

It is not a negative word.

It is not (or at least shouldn’t be)

Said with self-loathing,

Or sadness,

Or uttered bitterly to point a finger

At someone else to blame for my faults.

It is a neutral affirmation of reality.

Some folks are born with pale skin, not dark

Some others are born female, not male.

I was born pale skinned male,

With birth-attached ill disease

Streaming through my blood,

A condition that plagued me for years

Until its essence was explained to me

And I saw it for what it was,

Not an illusion that I kept alive all that time.

Alcoholic is not a derogatory word that shames.

Neither it is a happy word.

It is a diagnosis that doesn’t discriminate.

It is part of my nature,

That I know now,

And with that I know who I am,

And things I can and no longer can do

If I want to live freely in mind and spirit.


the image was copied from https://www.newscientist.com/article/2191282-weve-discovered-a-new-type-of-blood-vessel-in-our-bones/ thank you

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.


image copied from https://www.andertoons.com/speaking/cartoon/7151/know-youre-new-but-its-hear-ye-hear-ye-not-listen-up-people thanks.

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.


the image was copied from https://ignitepotential.com/2011/11/positive-ripple-effect/ thanks.

Trapped Under Bed

22-under-bedOne of my AA group members was celebrating birthday the other day and he mentioned something regarding finding spirituality. He always opposed it, proudly considering himself an atheist.

And then he came to AA. And he still resisted spirituality. And he suffered because of that, knowing he should have given himself a break, yet he kept pushing it away for that’s what he did all his life. The struggle of inviting the spirituality in his life and resisting it at the same time was all consuming and affecting all the areas of his life. The metaphor he used for that time was being trapped under the bed. He wasn’t in his bed from where he could see so much in comfort, but instead he was under. Not only he was stuck in there as the bed pressed on him, he also didn’t have a very good vision of what was in front of him. He was trying to look out and see much more of the room, and out of the room – the house, and out of the house – to see the world around it, and yet he wasn’t allowing himself to do so. Once he realized that’s what was happening to him, the desire to push forward multiplied. And he… well, he crawled out in to the world, so to speak.

I cannot fully sign under these words. I was lucky to have discovered spirituality in high school, and although maybe not fully, I understood what it was and how it was making my life fuller. I was a loner, I believed in things I couldn’t see. I wrote stories about things others laughed at. I listened to music many people around me didn’t understand. Pagan rites of my native country were not something that a lot of people cared at the sunset of the 20th century. But to me it was the world rediscovered, and there was a spirit of wonderful kind, and its inhabitants danced, and they taught me things – of how we used to be, how we were simple and open, and how we could be so much better.

Still, many doors were closed to discover the Spirit and wisdom of simpler things, because I was influenced so much by the utilitarian world. Mythology of the Norse and ancient Greek, not what it stood for then, in old times, but what it taught, what it warned about, – these things were not something that concerned the world that worshipped money and technology. Information, selling it, expanding it, all of it was the major focus. And I opposed it so much that I started closing the doors on all of the real world. I started refusing to accept the life on its terms. It caused me a lot of grief. Alcohol became the permanent solution to that problem. Or so I thought.

Luckily, one day I woke up. By that time, I did a lot of damage to my mental health, so restoring the balance took years. But my beliefs in the spirit world, the wisdom, the care for simpler things, that didn’t get affected. The spiritual understanding of the world only got stronger, I think, because when I did wake up, the spirit within me stood stronger than before. The heart was thirsty for knowing things that rang true. The ears were open to hear the stories of others that taught so much. The eyes refused to shut, for there was much to see, right in front of me, and all around. The room, the house, and the outside, as much as it stretched.


the image was copied from https://film-grab.com/2010/09/29/millers-crossing/22-under-bed/ thank you.