Sunday, March 29, 2009

E-mail to my sponsor Ed on July 8, 1983

Dear Ed,

I had a mind-opening experience last night.

Thomas my nephew and I drove to Spencer and attended a beginner's Al-Anon meeting. There was no Alateen, so we went to this meeting instead. There were about 6 of us, and Rita, a 65 year-old woman chairing the meeting. She was terrific, Ed. So much experience, so much wisdom, she addressed each person and listened to their problem, and spoke with humor, compassion, and deep understanding. Bless her heart. I listened, and Thomas participated, describing the anguish of living with his grandparents, and of being tossed around between sets of grandparents, and his mother. Of being badgered by his grandparents when they are angry, being badgered about everything. Of stuffing his feelings and hiding in his room. Rita gave him a 12-step Alateen book. Thomas was told that there is hope for him. That he needs to go to as many meetings as he can get to, and that he needs to take care of Thomas.

The meeting last night reminded me how common my problems really are. Because I am an alcoholic, I am not unique. The pain and misery I inflicted on members of my family is no different than that which has been experienced by new members at this AL-Anon meeting last night. One woman spoke of how her husband, sober 9 months, constantly berates and criticizes the kids at the dinner table. I thought she was talking about me! Another spoke of her husband's fanaticism about meetings... etc. The meeting was so good for me. I went in there with the big EGO, thinking, I'm a member of AA and these people can learn a lot of from me... but after I listened for a while, I started coming down to size. I needed to hear where these women were coming from.

It's a bloomin' miracle the way God weaves his strands of love and hope into our lives, creating a fabric to keep us and watch over us.


Saturday, March 28, 2009


Last night's As Bill Sees It meeting was about how we are too stay anonymous at the level of press, radio, and television, but it's okay to quietly disclose our membership in AA if we feel it might help someone.

I was taught that the reason we are warned not to disclose our AA membership in public forums is because it may give AA a bad name. How's that you ask? What if I become famous for some odd reason (not likely to happen, but play along with me) and I end up on the Oprah Winfrey show (another unlikely event) and I happen to tell everyone that I am sober today thanks to Alcoholics Anonymous. The next week, I decide to pick up a drink, and the press gets wind of the fact and publishes a story about this guy who was sober and going to AA is now drinking again. One could conclude from the story that AA just does not work, so why bother going there!

When you let someone know that you are sober and go to AA, it might be the ticket that saves an other's life. For example, I was 12-stepped and taken to my first AA meeting by Ed P. who worked in my office. He disclosed to me that he in AA and stopped drinking many years ago. I told him about all the people I know who should go to AA. Of course, I didn't think I was alcoholic at the time, but a funny thing happened. Two months later, when I couldn't stop drinking and couldn't stop the Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde behaviors, my wife had had enough and asked me to leave. I came to work that day, told Ed what happened, and he asked me to come with him to a meeting. I have not had a drink since.

In all the years of my sobriety, I have had the privilege of taking several people to their first meeting, including two bosses, because I let them know I was sober and in AA. I worked with a guy who did not drink because he had many problems with alcohol in the past and was now 6 years without a drink. But he was so unhappy. He had been to AA before and did not like it. I begged him to give AA another chance. He came with me to several meetings until he stopped coming one day. So I let go, and let God. About 4 weeks later, his wife called me, out of the blue, and asked me to take her to a meeting. She wanted desperately to stop drinking. She's been coming to meetings now for over 20 years.

God uses us for his purposes. I believe he sobered up everyone of us in AA and all he wants is to see us stay sober and help others. Love and service. There is no greater honor that to be used by him to save lives.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Who ate all the ice cream?

7-JUL-1983 13:30

Dear Sponsor,

I was glad to receive a message from you. My day is going well, thank you.

You are blessed with insight to discover that what you are feeling, (gloom, etc) is what you are supposed to be feeling. To not feel it, as you point out, would be to deny that you feel. Yet the question always asks: Why do I have to feel this? I believe that we are made to feel gloomy, sad, grievous, happy, joyful, etc., because that is the human way. To experience and feel life in all its variety is a gift granted to us by HP. Some feelings are more pleasant than others... but isn't that always the way we pleasure-seekers judge everything? By how much pleasure it gives us?

We don't usually stop to ask, is this feeling giving me wisdom? As you pointed out to me yesterday, we want to feel good and we want it now!

All the soul-searching that you have been doing is good for you, although I think you are too hard on yourself sometimes. Try not to take the no raise business to personally. It's not that they think you don't deserve a raise, it's how it affects them. See what I mean?

Thank God that you can accept not what you are but that you are feeling at all. I think you are a sensitive, feeling person. That's one of your most admirable qualities. God bless you.

Last night I wanted to have some of the 1/2 gallon of ice cream that was in the refrigerator, but when I learned that it was all gone, I stormed around the house telling my family members "I wanted to have some ice cream and there's none left... I didn't even have one bowl of that ice cream!!" I made a big hue and cry about the ice cream. I sounded so much like the old Jack (woe is me, boo-hoo, self-pity, slobber, slobber). I sounded so much like the old Jack that it made me laugh! I said to my wife "What a baby I am!" I was surprised and amused at my own reaction. I forgot about being slighted, cheated, and robbed of my pleasure (ice cream) and left the house to buy myself some ice cream!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Faith is the absence of fear

Faith is the absence of fear. They say you can't have fear if you are full of faith. Well, it's hard to have faith when I'm full of fear! Fear that I am going to be alone, fear that I am not going to have enough money, fear that my children will forget me. Fear, fear, fear. The Big Book says that fear is the chief activator of all our defects. Self-centered fear that makes me angry. The opposite must be God-centered faith.

In the beginning I was willing to believe in a higher power. After a while in AA, my belief turned to faith. I began to see miracles occur left and right, all because people weren't drinking and they were attending meetings and getting better, right before my eyes. I had little faith in myself, mostly worry. But I had the beginnings of a faith that worked. I saw that a stated faith that everything was working out for my highest good was a good start -- even if I sometimes doubted whether that was true. So I acted as if by pretending I was a man of faith. What would a man of faith do in this situation? That helped me.

Today I read in the Big Book: "We asked ourselves why we had fears. Wasn't it because self-reliance had failed us?" So I need to rely on God for everything, for comfort, for hope, for faith. Relying only on myself is a dead-end. So today I pray that God increase my faith so that I may have an abundance of courage and hope not only for me but for others.

I see today that God's will for me is more interesting and vital and joyous than anything I could imagine for myself. I feel that he is shining his light upon me that I may awaken his love in others. And that puts a smile on my face, a spring in my step, and joy in my heart.

That's what happens when you have a little faith, and you water it with prayer, meditation, and meetings. It grows into a big faith.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Trying to stay sober and clean

From an e-mail to my sponsor, Ed, June 14, 1983.

The people here are very accomodating at my new job. It's quiet here, though. A little strange when you don't know anyone. I'm worried about me lately. I got stoned on Sunday and haven't
been to any meetings lately. While I was high I thought about wine! Boy am I crazy. I felt very depressed Sunday. So depressed over nothing. I couldn't figure out why I was feeling so low. I had to do something, and since I knew there was pot in the house and I had to smoke it. I feel guilty and ashamed now. I didn't want to tell you this but I felt I should tell my best friend who would understand.

When I felt depressed, it was such a rotten feeling that I had to do something to get out of it. All I could think about was drugs. I didn't go to a meeting because my family was planning on me spending Sunday afternoon with them. I know that it's fucked up. I feel like I'm going backwards. I know pot does nothing more for me than make me want to smoke and drink more and more.

Such a crazy illness, Ed. Now I'm avoiding meetings. I was going to go yesterday at noon, but found something else to do. I was going to do today, but when I realized it was alread 12:10, I rationalized that it wouldn't be worth the effort to walk down there.

Why would my HP want to help me when I don't even want to help myself??

I hope to shake this negative feeling. I'm sober today, and that's what matters.

How to Be Unhappy

Sit down quietly where you are not likely to be disturbed. Relax the body -- and begin to think about yourself. Every time your thought wanders to something higher, bring it back gently but relentlessly.

Think about the past. Think over all the mistakes you have made, going right back to childhood. Think over all the opportunities you have missed and the time you have wasted. Especially think of all the occasions upon which you have been badly treated.

Thnk about your body and wonder if your age or your job or the climate isn't beginning to tell. See if you cannot discover a pain or an ache somewhere.

Think about finances and if they are going well now, insist that this is probably too good to last.

In any case, think about yourself, that is the main point, and if you will keep this up faithfully for fifteen or twenty minutes, there can be no doubt about the result.

-Emmet Fox
Around the Year with Emmet Fox

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Reliance on HP

Well here I am, grateful to be alive today. All this talk about HP lately (with my sponsor, at the noon time, at the 3rd step meeting Wednesday night) is working. I am more willing these days to rely on HP than I had been in the past. I find I need his guidance and strength more and more. He helps me to look at myself, at the silly things I think and do, and he helps me to make note of them, to make changes, corrections. He helps me to change my attitude when necessary. He helps me cope when I feel desperate. It appears to me that a trust and faith in and a willingness to turn my will over to the care of HP is really my only choice if I want to stay sober. Calling the shots and trying to run the show myself is like driving a bulldozer with one broken tread. I end up barging around in circles, digging up the dirt everywhere.

The journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step

I am starting a blog so I can share some thoughts about the sober life. I've been clean and sober going on 26 years by the grace of God and Alcoholics Anonymous. It's been an incredibly satisfying and gratifying journey, but not one without pain. I've learned a lot, and I hope this blog is worth your time.