Thursday, December 29, 2005

Amateur Night

(I know, I know, I promised I was leaving for awhile, but I have to drive a second load to LA tomorrow, and my phone still works. Deal with it.)

My big plan for New Year's is to watch Mickey Mouse cartoons with my son.

The first few years I was drinking I did it up big for New Year's. And other days like St. Patrick's Day. Most other days, too, come to think of it...

Once I became an isolated, at-home drunk, New Year's was no big deal. In sobriety, I haven't got much use for an occasion used by normies as an excuse to get drunk. Been there, done that.

Even when I was drinking, I avoided driving on New Year's Eve. Too many people driving drunk who have no expertise at it. Amateur night. A normie behind the wheel with a .79% scares the bejabbers out of me.

These people think that they can be too drunk to focus their eyes, then get in a car and drive?? They can't!! Because they don't know that in order to do that, you have to close one eye! You can't just get in the car drunk on New Year's Eve and know how to do it. It takes practice. It's best to do it a few dozen times on sunny afternoons, to get the hang of it. Only then try it at night. Even then, New Year's is not the night to try it the first time -- it should only be attempted after many hundreds of ordinary nights driving blind drunk. Preferably you should have several experiences coming out of blackouts while driving


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What Were You Doing A Year Ago?

Here's what I was up to.

What I've learned in the past year is this: a day without a relapse is better than a day with a relapse. :)

I'm packing my apartment today. I'm loading up the truck and taking everything to LA tomorrow. I'll put it in storage. I'll spend a couple days with my son at my wife's apartment, while she's out of town for New Year's. I'll move in to a sober living house on Tuesday, five minutes away from my son. :)

This is going to be a big change for me. I felt anxious, and a little panicky, and some dread, as soon as I wrote the check and committed to moving there. It was actually very similar to the feelings I had when I first started AA. "Oh, my God, I'm going to have to change everything, give up everything about myself, and I don't really want to do it." I never even had a roommate in college. I've always been free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, with no one to say otherwise. This house has rules, curfews, and I'll be living cheek by jowl with a dozen other guys, sharing a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets. Six months sobriety are required, so we don't have the deer-in-the-headlights newcomers, and there's regular testing, so there should be a minimum of sneaking out.

Nevertheless, what I'm facing is responsibility, structure, discipline and accountability, plus getting along with a bunch of people as whacked out as I am. These are the reasons I'm going into a sober living house. These are also the reasons I'm dreading it and anxious about it. :) It seems a bit like joining the army. Or going to prison. Or something.

The house doesn't have internet, so my posting in the next few months is likely to be rather rare, unfortunately. I will be thinking about and praying for all of you, even if I'm not posting regularly. Please pray that God grants me courage, and a willing heart, to accept this blessing and take my next steps in recovery!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


I identified with Kenny's post about loneliness. Sometimes I get that old feeling, that I'm alone in an alien world. It came over me briefly last night, alone at McDonalds having a cup of coffee. The urge to flee, run away, somewhere, anywhere, to hide. I'm grateful I don't get that panicky despair very often any more, and that I've been given some tools to handle it. Last night the tools that came to hand were being responsible for the second thought I have, along with good old Rule 62.

I had just left my wife and son at her apartment. I drove them to LA, after she came back the previous day from surgery in Mexico. I was so happy to see my son's delight in being with his mommy, at his "usual" home, playing with the little girl next door he adores, after almost three weeks apart from these people and things he loves so much. At the same time, I had spent 24 hours with my wife so I was ready to strangle her, and I was going to go back home alone after being with my son for those three weeks, so I was already missing him.

I was taking my new sponsor's suggestion by checking bulletin boards at a couple Alano clubs to see if anyone in the Fellowship was seeking a roommate or tenant. I stopped for a cup of coffee, just to settle and center a bit. And I briefly had this view that my life is ridiculous and insane. But before long, I was sort of smiling to myself, yeah, it is pretty nuts in a lot of ways, but it's the life I have and I'm actually starting to enjoy it. Then I got up, went to the Alano club and caught a meeting.


The meeting turned out to be a small men's cross-talk, discussing problems on people's minds. I didn't share -- I didn't know anyone and I was still feeling a little "alien." I was grateful that my problems seem so small compared to the ones others face. At the same time, I felt at a loss to offer anything that would help.

The day before, my book study meeting was chapter seven, Working with Others, a manual for how to twelfth-step a prospect. It felt like a Plato dialogue, the self-assured confident twelfth-stepper, knowing exactly where he's going, leading the poor schlepp of a prospect into the light through structured conversation. This twelfth-stepper is willing to jeopardize his family, bring a drunk into his home to smash the furniture and burn the beds, in his commitment to carry the message. I realized, this is beyond my grasp, I can't make sense of this yet. I readily identified with the prospect, but the twelfth-stepper is in a different league.

At the same time, my response was neither, "There must be something terribly wrong with me," nor "The book is bullshit." It was simply, "I don't get it." Maybe in time I will, as so much of the book has become clear gradually.

This stuff makes me think I'm in something like the "adolescence" of recovery. I'm no longer a baby in the program, I'm not the same man I was a year ago. But my recovery is not yet mature -- there is much more to be revealed. I like that, actually. I love the changes I've experienced so far, and the prospect of more to come is exhilirating.

I want it all. I want everything life has to offer me. I want every blessing God wants me to have.


A few days ago Dryblog posted a link to a site of California recovery resources. With a couple clicks, I was looking at the page of an organization that runs sober living houses and apartments in the part of LA I'm moving to. Last night at the Alano club, the director's card was on the bulletin board. Hmmmm... Any thoughts?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Compliance, Surrender and Flatulence

Philosopher, in a comment on Redhead Gal's blog, made a distinction between surrender to a Higher Power and compliance with a Higher Power that was helpful to me. Rusty expressed some of what I've been thinking lately: I'm coming close to a year sober, and I really suck at AA. I don't call my sponsor every day, I've been unreliable in commitments, I've let 3-4 weeks pass between meetings sometimes. I've done the steps, but far from thoroughly. For me, it shows how powerless I really am, that my recovery has very little to do with my efforts, and is an undeserved gift from God.

Surrender is not compliance. We don't call them the Twelve Commandments. They aren't the Twelve Agenda Items. They aren't the Twelve Standards of Compliance promulgated by the Alcoholics Anonymous Recovery Standards Board. Sobriety is not something that can be "accomplished," in my opinion, and it does not require adhering to any onerous, kill-joy, identity-destroying precepts.

For me, surrender is a willingness to try to conform my will to God's will, as best as I can. For me, obedience to God's will is precisely identical to accepting God's gifts. So, surrender is a desire to accept the gifts and blessings God wants to give us. How hard is that, really? :)

God doesn't hate me for the many times I fail to accept His gifts. He isn't going to condemn me to hopeless drunkenness if I don't call my sponsor today. I will condemn myself to misery, possibly including drunkenness, if I choose to tell God, "No, thanks, I'm turning down the gifts you offer me, because they are different from what I expected and requested from You."

Compliance is not our purpose or our goal. In itself, compliance gives us nothing. Freedom and happiness is what we seek. Surrender is the method we use to approach the freedom and happiness God wants to give us. Rough compliance with the suggestions of AA, with Biblical commandments, with the eight-fold path, with our conscience, with whatever, is a byproduct, an indirect indicator, sometimes a guidepost, of surrender to our Higher Power.

To me, at least. :)


I think my son has had too much time with his Papi, without Mommy around. Last night we were in the car. He farted loudly, and then laughed uproariously. It's a good thing his mother is coming back Sunday, before he starts eating road kill.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lordy, has it been THAT long!?

I knew it had been awhile, but I didn't realize it was almost three months! Here's a quick rundown:

  • See that day counter in the sidebar? It's still accurate, by the grace and mercy of God. One of the things that keeps me sober is that I know I would have to go back and reprogram that damn thing if I got drunk.
  • I'm moving to LA. I gave notice on my apartment, I'm looking for a home for my cats, and I'm looking for a room to rent for awhile until I get myself going. That's right, I don't have a place to live yet and I don't have a job, but I'm going. (A lot of people in California do this sort of thing, even those loosely called "normal.") I do, however, have a sponsor and a church. First things first. :)
  • I patched things up with my old sponsor. I haven't even asked him yet what happened with that woman. We've made our mutual amends and put it behind us. My son is thrilled -- he really missed "Uncum Bill." :)
  • My son is doing great! He can write his name -- at age 3 years 4 months. :) At the moment he's furious with me because I can't defy the laws of physics so he can play with his balloon the way he wants. And because I didn't give him candy for lunch.
  • My estranged wife has had serious health problems. Gall bladder, pancreas, kidneys and liver all involved. She went to Mexico City for surgery (it's impossible to find decent health care in LA, you know) and our son has been with me. She's recovering well and doing much better, and is returning to the US in a few days. She's still a very strange lady, but I am grateful she is a loving, devoted and commited mother to our son.
  • Don't get me started about my apartment manager. In my daily prayers, I had to add, "Lord, please grant blessings, happiness, prosperity and good health to that fucking nazi bitch."
  • My mom had a total knee replacement -- she had her other one done a couple years ago -- and she is recovering remarkably well.
An "attitude of gratitude" is gradually becoming a consistent, natural outlook on my life. God has to whup me upside the head with a two-by-four now and then, just to get my attention, but I'm even learning to be thankful for what He is telling me when He does it! I am blessed with so much, so far beyond anything I deserve or could ever earn -- and that would have remained utterly beyond my grasp without the central blessing of sobriety.

God bless each of you. I love you all! I count each of my blog friends as a blessing, though I don't always express it and share my gratitude consistently. It's truly a miracle that I have been granted over 300 days of continuous sobriety -- and you have been instruments of God's grace in performing that miracle! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart!