Beat it in

nice+old+elevator+1

Violence is not an answer.

Unless, maybe, when you are trying to make someone think. Think for the sake of saving their own life.

A member in the meeting said they had a conversation with a person who was struggling with making their younger relative see what they were doing with their life, throwing it all down the toilet due to being enslaved to substance abuse.

The mentioned member already had gone through their lot of troubles of making it through addiction in one piece. The family member knew nothing of the addiction, but they witnessed the toll it was taking on the younger one. Eventually the relative said “I wish I could beat the recovery into you” because he was shown how well abstinence worked in others.

I wish we could beat recovery into others. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Maybe micro-chipping would work one day. But then, what would the person learn? Recovery is not a one-time session. It’s a journey. You can’t get far, if you’ve learned nothing of how to take few initial steps.

I’ve heard someone else in a different meeting say “The recovery elevator is broken. You will have to take the stairs.” That’s funny, and wise. But also, it’s too merciful. The truth is the recovery elevator doesn’t exist. We have to take stairs all the time. Although, sometimes we wish we could have an elevator like that to save lives in cases of emergency. There’s plenty of those. And you can’t beat it into them. They have to really want it to give all they’ve got, no matter what anyone thinks. That’s the way I’ve learned it. And thousands of those like me.


the elevator image was copied from https://www.saveourelevators.com/ thanks.

know nothing

u3w7an48ky641A member at the recent meeting shared that there was a massive difference in how they felt about recovery between one and seven years of sobriety. It was not just about the amount of sober time. It was the difference between knowing all and knowing nothing.

I can relate. At age one in AA I did think I knew quite a bit about the program and with that, about the world around me. Around that time it happened so that I did a little lecture about it to a Russian sobriety program on their request. I also wrote an academic paper about it. I went to lots of meetings,  talked to people, and it felt like I knew the important stuff, and I guess I assumed I knew more than that. It was about actual alcoholic sobriety and serenity to me then. I thought that if I knew a lot about sobriety, I was doing well.

I wasn’t though. As it says, without the work, the faith is dead. It was true, as it turned out, because in my first two years of sobriety, although I was working on steps, I was doing it way too slow, and other than that, I was doing no work. Just going to meeting was enough for me, and I didn’t catch the moment of change when I started feeling stagnant in life and sobriety. I had to eventually change groups and once I did that, I found there was more to the program. I joined groups of people visiting recovery houses and intox facilities, introducing my group and AA methods of recovery to those who were in treatment. I started writing more about sobriety. That’s when I started feeling I am doing well. Perhaps that happened because I realized AA was more than just a program of going to meetings. It was also about relationships and connecting. It turned out I seriously needed to work on those things, and although I was willing, I didn’t always have a good guide. I only discovered that years later.

As time marches on, I look at the world and at how people communicate and treat each other, and I feel I know nothing about life. Good thing is, I still know how the program of recovery works. Writing about it, just like now, and communicating with people whose opinion I value, helps me to keep afloat when it feels like the world is going even more mad. It seems to me that sometimes knowing nothing (or feeling that you know nothing) can be healing in a sense that all you need to do is keep walking forward and do simple things that you know work, and that’s how you get by.


the image was copied from reddit.com and circumcised by me. thanks.

mastery

commando-06152012not dreading it,

not hating life.

not wanting to be in the daylights.

just taking it in

like a task

like a mission

not subject to be failed.

going through with it

is easier

if you think of it

as of going to battle –

you pack your gear

like your guns

use your mastery

your MUSTery,

no mystery

but reason

and care.

march forward to take out an enemy

whatever it is,

how ever it is –

you fight it and bring it down.

if you bring forth right attitude

to the task

and you put your mind to it,

you will have it accomplished –

getting on with the new day,

every day,

by getting out of bed

and marching out into the new day

to deal with people,

places

and things.


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

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.

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.

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.