Keepers: Voices of Secular Recovery

Old 09-24-2006, 07:21 PM
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No problemo. I didn't know links could be disabled, but still retain the entire URL. Cool beans!
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Old 09-24-2006, 07:44 PM
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Well, it doesn't "work"...people work.
by Rick B.


I know that embarrassment and frustration very well. I know the

hopeless feeling of continuing to drink after I'd sworn I had to stop,

and the fear that my drinking was something beyond my ability to


Now I know that there was nothing to fear, that sobriety really is

achievable, that I don't have to drink. You will know these things


LSR is not a pill, or a magic spell, or a secret formula. LSR is

simply an organization of people who share a common goal - sobriety,

and who share some common basic beliefs about how sobriety may be

achieved and maintained. We come together any way we can to talk

about how our lives are going, what successes or failures we've

experienced, what works and what doesn't for us. We care about each

other. We care about you, Jimmy, you're here, you're one of us.

One of the things we believe is that sobriety is completely the

responsibility of the individual who wants it. No Higher Power, no

other person, no group or book or slogan can "confer" sobriety on

anyone. Breaking an addiction to booze is hard work, particularly at

the beginning. Nobody can do that hard work for you. What a group of

people can do is share suggestions, moral support, encouragement, and

ideas. What a group of people can't do is put the bottle down for


There's nothing mysterious about stopping addictive drinking. People

have been doing it for centuries. Countless books are available which

detail what you can expect in terms of physical withdrawal symptoms,

the effects of alcohol on your body and your mind, the healing

process, and the roles of nutrition, exercise and other life issues in

recovery. LSR has available a terrific workbook, "Recovery by

Choice", which many of us have found very useful. I find reading to

be central to my recovery.

So, how can you stop drinking? My opinion, there are just a few

necessary conditions: You must be willing; You must believe it's

possible; You must believe it's what's you must do for yourself; You

must learn what to expect to feel and experience when you quit, or

else you'll likely be discouraged by the discomfort and get drunk;

You must stop choosing to matter what.

Others will prescribe a different formula. None of us knows the

answer for anyone other than ourselves. I can tell you what works for

me, there's no guarantee it'll work for you. It's up to you to get

started finding out what works for you. It starts with doing

something, anything, other than picking up a drink. Your head will

clear, your thinking will become rational, your body will begin to

heal. If you drink, you start over.

Sobriety can be difficult to achieve. It gets easier to maintain with

practice. It becomes a way of life, a habit, an attitude. It's worth

whatever effort is required to get it and keep it. Sobriety is not

likely to result from simply trying to not drink and waiting to see

what happens. Success comes from action an effort, from intentionally

taking responsibility and directing your own life.

So, how does LSR work? Well, it doesn't "work"...people work. LSR is

a community of people bound by a common belief in the free will of

every human being. We are not powerless...quite the contrary. The

only thing in the universe that can get Jimmy sober and keep him that

way is Jimmy. LSR is a place to find folks who've done it, folks

who're trying to do it, folks who want to do it.

Tell us about you, Jimmy...your life, your work, your family,

yourself. Let us get to know you a bit. And take it easy, you can do

this if you want to, but it'll take some time and maybe a few tries to

get a good solid'll figure it out. We'll do all we can to

help you find your way.

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Old 09-25-2006, 03:32 AM
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...You must stop choosing to matter what....It gets easier to maintain with practice. It becomes a way of life, a habit, an attitude. It's worth whatever effort is required to get it and keep it....Success comes from action an effort, from intentionally taking responsibility and directing your own life....And take it easy, you can do this if you want to, but it'll take some time and maybe a few tries to get a good solid'll figure it out...
These points are well taken.
I sincerely hope you don't think I'm minimizing the addiction to alcohol with what I'm about to say. But, I quit smoking cigarettes after 36 years and, at my worst, more than 3 packs a day. In four days it will be 10 months. I can relate to every word here.
Thanks for sharing.

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Old 09-25-2006, 03:09 PM
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Thanks DK, I loved Alvin and Larry. Larry is now a role model for me, as I can say without hesitation that I would have stuck the head on Alvin at 9.21pm.
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Old 09-26-2006, 06:04 PM
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The ****it Switch

By Lin L.

C.W. posted: My last relatively lengthy abstinence ended while I was standing in Rite-Aid. Suddenly, I happened to notice the beer display and The Cloud descended over my head. "Why not?" "Who cares?" "What difference does it make?" These were my thoughts.

Ah, the infamous "****it switch". As in, "Aw, ****it, I'll just have one." Or, "Ah, ****it, I need a break." Or, "Ah, ****it, I deserve a reward." In other words, any drinking-related thought that begins "****it" is probably not a good one.

The use of the word, "****" in particular is important. That is a word that has a high emotional load -- grown men have been known to commit assault and sometimes even murder when they hear it. It effectively shuts down rational thought (thus the "tripped-circuit" result) and allows only strong emotions to pass through to consciousness. And, what do we do with strong emotions, boys and girls?

Also, the "****it" portion is usually only the first half of the equation. The second half is usually one of the many excuses we use to drink. "Ah, ****it; I deserve this." "Ah, ****it; I'll show those bastards." "Ah, ****it, being sober never did me any good anyway." So, we disarm our ability to think reasonably in a goal-oriented way, and then the little devil on the shoulder moves in for the kill, with a totally irrational thought that we -- without the verbal land mine we just dropped on ourselves -- would be able to handle in a blink.
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Old 09-27-2006, 10:35 AM
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Small Triumphs
by Brenda H. in Montreal

No, I don't post that often, probably because anything I have to say has already been said far more eloquently by someone else. When I reply to other people's posts, I do it personally, probably because I think if I'm too far off the mark at least only one person will notice this. Semi-lurker? Yes, that probably describes me best.

Today's personal ramble probably falls into the category of 'personal' rather than of use to all. But it's been on my mind all day, so much so that I actually did have the burning desire to post on the drive home from work. And as the title says, it's about baby steps and mini-victories.

Perhaps I had hoped sobriety would be something more dramatic, that perhaps I'd have an apocalyptic vision or blinding flashes of wisdom. Maybe I had dreamed that my life would change overnight, that I'd suddenly be sought after by the movers and shakers of the world and recognized for the genius I thought I was. Maybe my debt load, accumulated during the years of wanton spending on alcohol and alcohol-related activities, would suddenly disappear. But last night it suddenly struck me that these changes won't happen any time soon, perhaps not even in my lifetime. So what has sobriety brought to me, as I begin my third month without substance abuse?

Well, yesterday afternoon a neighbor called to discuss her very difficult first pregnancy. And I took the call. Why is that so astounding? Because for four years I never picked up the phone after my second drink because the slur in my voice would signal to the world that I was well on my way to oblivion. Last night I had to return to work for a special event. There's nothing new about that. What WAS new was that I actually stayed around half an hour after I was free to come home, just chatting to people. This, too, is unusual because in the past I would beetle out of any social or work-related event at the earliest opportunity so that I could rush home to the waiting arms of my favorite companion, the bottle. Tonight I have a truck-load of things which must be finished by tomorrow. What's unusual about this is that I willingly brought this burden home, knowing I'd be clear-headed enough to complete everything as the evening wears on because I won't be unconscious on the sofa.

My fridge contains real food, not alcohol-friendly munchies. It may look like everyone else's fridge but I know the difference because my fridge seldom contained more than crumbs during a non-pay week. Any spare cash needed to be hoarded in case I ran out of supplies before the following cheque. I can call a friend, walk to the store, drop in on a neighbor after dinner, things every person does without thinking but things I could never do because I could barely stand by dinner time. I can walk the dog for a full hour every morning at 5:30 a.m. because I wake up, under my own steam, and am ready to greet the day.

My sobriety has not brought me brass bands, flowers from strangers or engraved citations signed by famous people. On several occasions it hasn't even brought me happiness. What it HAS provided me with is an enormous feeling of pride and increased self-confidence. No, I'll never run a marathon, climb Mount Everest or discover a cure for some dreaded disease. No Nobel Prizes will ever come my way. But I can now carry on conversations without checking my watch, calculating the time it will take me to get home and get buzzed. I can mow the lawn or (more seasonally appropriate) shovel the driveway without first fortifying myself with a drink or six. I can write thank-you notes for gifts and invitations received, knowing I won't say anything absurd (or any more absurd than most things I say) or outrageous. I can even recall, the next day, what I have said.

No, there were no bells and whistles which came with this condition. But it's 4:00 p.m. and I'm able to type a note to you. And in a few minutes I'll go into chat and (perhaps) say something intelligent. At 6:00 I'll make a well-balanced supper and later on I'll attack the work I brought home with me, and may actually get everything done. That's FOUR victories in one short day.

When I first began with LSR on Sept. 20 I was told by several people to take 'baby steps'. What I didn't hear said was that I should take pride in baby victories. That's why it took me two full months to recognize the fact that I have had a miraculous vision of sorts. It's the vision of me actually completing life's little chores and tasks, fully conscious, fully aware and fully sober.

Thank you LSR.

(greyhound) Brenda H. in Montreal
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Old 09-27-2006, 05:31 PM
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Thank you, DK...
A beautiful tribute to recovery.

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Old 09-29-2006, 08:54 AM
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Letter From London

Dear SOS:

My name is Nick and I am married to a recovering alcoholic named Fiona. I just discovered your web site and I have to say the FAQ section regarding the "strengths and weaknesses" of SOS and AA just completely connected with something I'm going through at the moment.

My wife checked into Farm Place, which is the original UK 12-step treatment centre, seven weeks ago. I was delighted. She'd made the decision on her own, researched the place, arranged the health insurance to cover her stay, and had the courage to do it.

She's been a drinker all her life, and was a wild woman when I met her - one reason I was attracted to her, in fact. Then, she also used to do a lot of coke - always to excess, which was the difference between us. But as the eighties ended and we got older, she shrugged that off, we had a kid, then she tried to stop smoking and her drinking started increasing.

Then she joined AA six years ago, and began a pattern of bingeing in between periods of sobriety that would sometimes last weeks. Last year she was sober for seven months, until her father's wake in Ireland, when she was pressurized to drink 'out of respect for her father' by the locals. Three months of alternating between drinking and meetings followed.

However, after seven weeks of recovery in Farm Place, seeing her once a week and talking on the phone, I'm having serious doubts about what's going on there. It seems like the alcoholic who checked in is being replaced by an AA Moonie. Everything is based around The Big Book, to the exclusion of everything else.

To begin with, she was in tears, she wrote me saying "please write and be supportive" then, she said, she just surrendered. Now she's hard, seems to be talking Therapspeak all the time, tells me " This all has nothing to do with you. You're not an alcoholic", has a fake smile as she listens to the kids talking when they visit, and is incredibly secret about anything going on there.

Since an her drinking was (she thought) secretive and obsessional, it seems to me that one destructive problem is being replaced by another. Her life story, it seems to be, is also being "moulded" to fit the accepted wisdom that it's all been one long downward plunge into oblivion. "The last few years, I was either hung over or drunk. I didn't know who I was" she said in a meeting the other day. That's just not true. In the eighties it might have been, but recently it would only truthfully apply to about ten days in any given month.

We've run a film production company together for the last few years. we've brought up two kids. We've done film shoots all over the world. We work together for twelve hours a day. She was hung over some mornings, yeah - but for almost as many of the last seven, she's been having 'sober days' and AA meetings. The Bad years were actually 1982-88, and earlier - before our relationship actually began, when she lived with other alcoholics and did things like burn down a hotel in NYC.

"Why didn't you punch me out and lock the door when I was drinking?" she said yesterday, angry. In the evenings - only ever during the evenings, with one or two rare exceptions - she would sometimes drink two bottles of wine and quietly fall asleep, at which point I would - rather than waste my time screaming or crying - relax, get round to calling friends, work on screenplays, and generally detach myself from a problem I felt only she could actually solve. The next morning she would often be remorseful and we would discuss what could be done, which is how she eventually ended up in a treatment centre.

Now that her life is officially described as ever-mounting hell, she is furious with me for being an Enabler. I am regarded as being a "Doormat" for putting up with all this. When I say that, in my memory and a lot of my friends' memories, I recall things as being not altogether that awful - in fact, pretty damn good - for the last ten years - I am of course regarded as being In Denial. AA has a guaranteed no-lose situation here, I feel, a bit like "if she floats she's a witch and if she sinks she's innocent".?.

Last week, a councilor warned her it might be a good idea to end the relationship with me, since it might be a threat to her sobriety.(The councilors are delighted with her progress since she gave in, of course). "I've got step 2" she told me a few weeks ago. "What's step 2?" I asked, later. She was furious with me for intruding on her privacy. I have been given strict instructions to attend Al-Anon meetings if there is to be any chance of us saving our relationship. The two I have attended so far were, of course, full of (rather bitter) 12-steppers and slogans and higher power discussions - which I feel is even stranger when being practiced by people who aren't addicts themselves, and presumably don't have that desperate need for a Big Defined Structure to their lives. As you can see, my experience ties in exactly with the way you describe the "one size fits all" psychic curriculum, which I think is succeeding in stopping her drinking, but with some pretty drastic side-effects. I'd like to know more about SOS. Do you run a Al-Anon-type thing for families? Are your meetings open, and if so, do they exist in London?

Finally, thank you so much for letting me read something that I can really relate to on the subject of addiction and recovery.

Regards to all of you SOS people,

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Old 09-29-2006, 08:58 AM
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by Timothy - Toronto, Canada

Here is a list of apparently "good reasons" to get drunk that one problem drinker dredged up from memory. They may not make sense, but at the time it seemed they did! Maybe some of them will sound familiar.


I'm feeling good! Time to party!

I'm feeling bad! Gotta kill that pain.

I'm bored. Drinking will make things interesting.

I've got a dull job to do. If I drink, it won't be so bad.

I hate doing my taxes! I'll bet I can do them if I have a drink, though.

I'm feeling unmotivated and depressed. Alcohol will restore my enthusiasm.

I worked hard today. I deserve a reward.

I worked hard today, even though I drank yesterday. So I guess drinking isn't that much of a problem, after all.

I haven't had a decent night's sleep in a week. A few shots will help.

I'm going to be getting into a dangerous situation. I need a bit of that old "liquid courage".

I've got to discuss a sensitive matter with a friend. I'll be much more sympathetic if I have a drink, first.

I'm feeling unloved and useless. A few drinks and I'll be able to stop all this moping around.

Now that I've been sober for four days, I've proven I can do it! Guess I can have a drink, now.

I can't solve this problem I'm working on. Perhaps I can get another perspective by lubricating my brain.

I can't stand these cravings. Maybe it's a cyclic thing. If I drink now, maybe I'll be better able to deal with it next week.

These shorter days of winter are so depressing. I'll quit drinking when the days start getting longer.

I can tell that this situation coming up is going to make me angry. Better down a few so I can be mellow about it.

I just accomplished a difficult task. I guess my drinking isn't affecting me as much as I thought.

I just finished up a three hour power walk. I guess I'm not in bad shape, after all.

The guys are down at the pub. I'll just drop in to say hello. And maybe one quick beer.

All my friends drink and they seem to have mastered the art. Surely I can do so, too.

My friends drink. If I was to stop, I'd seem "holier than thou". I'm not going to be one of those preachy people.

Oh, it wasn't really all THAT bad, was it?

Well, so what? At least I'm not using heroin!

I think it would be a good experiment to see if I COULD control how much I drink. Hey, I'm willing to do this for science.

So what if I drink again? My support group is very understanding and they won't give me a hard time about it.

Hey, Winston Churchill drank a lot and HE helped win WW-II!

Ernest Hemingway was an alcoholic and he produced great literature!

I almost never miss any important appointments because of drinking, and I don't have one until three days from now.

The liquor store is closing in half an hour. I'd better get a bottle just in case. I don't HAVE to drink it.

If I was to drink today, who would know? So what's the big deal?

It's my body. Nobody can tell me what to do with my own body.

If I drink at home, it will remove the temptation to go to a bar. I'll be saving money! Better start now before I'm tempted to go out.

The universe is vast and uncaring. What does it matter if I drink?

I've wasted my life up until now. I'll never amount to anything. If I stop drinking, nothing will change. Guess I should drink, then.

I reached a moment of sublime peace last time I drank. Maybe there's some profound revelation there. I should investigate further.

Last time I saw this movie on TV, I was drunk and I laughed my head off. I guess it's one of those films you just HAVE to see drunk.


A note about the Ernest Hemingway irrationalization: he may have been a creative genius, but he ended up killing himself with a shotgun.
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Old 10-01-2006, 01:43 PM
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Most of those irrational thoughts have jumped up and bit me over the last few years. Why is it that one irrational thought can set us off on such an extended period of utter misery?

Practicing disputing these is a worthwhile exercise. Wow, a person really has to be on their toes!

Thank you again DK for posting these.

Keep well

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Old 10-03-2006, 07:50 AM
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AWOL From 12-Step Treatment

By Michael H.

Hi everybody. I'm back on the list from treatment and am proud to say that I lasted exactly 1 hour and 15 min in their program. I left so fast I even left my books on the desk in the classroom.

The year is currently 1998. We have pretty much decided that chemical addictions are genetic and/or cognitive behavior problems and not some metaphysical plot by some divine entity to lead us to spirituality. Although I agree that AA has helped many, I believe that its dominance in the medical field is not only improper, but unethical in this day and age.

I have been treated for many things in my life and not one doctor has ever told me to pray over a broken rib, pneumonia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, depression or even the flu. Why should I have to do it for (in my case) this genetic disorder?

Big Books no longer belong on treatment wards. They belong in the Chaplain's office with the rest of the religious tracts.

When I want spirituality, I go to church where my Reverend does a fine job with those issues.

Thank you

Michael H.

Hiding from the 12 steppers in the woods of Tennessee.
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Old 10-03-2006, 07:51 AM
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Day One Again

By John E.

I have had so many "Day 1, Agains" over the past 15 years. The first Day 1 found me physically exhausted and weakened beyond reasonable imagination. The next to latest Day 1 found me emotionally and intellectually broken and scarred. The latest Day 1 found me coldly angry and determined to recover.

My Day 1s have been bizarre emotional experiences. Sometimes part of me would be afraid I was going to die and I would be found with my racing heart having ejected itself from my body and my skin having painfully crawled to another room. Another part of me was afraid I would never die and I would have to live my life feeling this way forever. I had literally and quite successfully created my own 24 hour Technicolor hell.

Exactly eight weeks ago I had another Day 1. The latest relapse was about 6 weeks in length after a 6 year abstinence. For good or for ill when I woke up the last still drunk morning I wasn't ashamed of myself. I just knew I had to stop drinking. I wasn't afraid of what the next few days would bring, I just had to stop drinking. I checked into a hospital and essentially said, "Keep me safe for a couple of days until I can begin to take care of myself again." There was no drama, no tears, no self flagellation. Just the simple unadorned knowledge that I had to stop drinking. Again.

After the 48 hour "rest" I came home and got prepared to fight this one more time. I wasn't sure how I was going to do it since AA was not particularly beneficial to me. Some people have allergies to penicillin, I have a mild allergic response to AA. But I made one important decision for me. I wasn't going to lie to myself anymore. I am an alcoholic who doesn't respond to AA so I have to find something else. Within 48 hours I had found the SOS web site and very soon started going to the one SOS meeting in Chicago. (Lucky for me someone decided to go to all the effort to start a meeting). After a fair amount of searching I hired a psychiatrist who specializes in alcoholism (recovering himself) and asked him to help me work through some issues that are bothersome. I met with my most important (financially) client and said, "Here's the situation. You decide what you need to do." There was a positive reaction to that. I began to put some of the disassembled pieces back in place.

I read this email list a couple of times a day. Each day someone writes something that contributes strength to my resolve not to drink that day. Each day I read the phrase "sobriety priority" and pay attention to it. Once a week I go to a meeting where a quiet calm supportive environment encourages me and reinforces the reality that this can work. Each day I am as truthful with myself as I know how to be.

For me it is a process. It's been going on for a long time, it has been exasperating and sometimes painful. But, it is the way I have had to do it. Of course life is already better. But then, of course I knew it would be. Just as I knew 14 weeks ago when I decided to drink, yet again, that my quality of life would almost immediately be diminished. But the nature of my alcoholism is that even though I knew negative things would happen, not drinking wasn't a priority. It wasn't important enough. It is today. And I'll just keep doing what I've been doing and I suspect that tomorrow will probably work out OK too.

It's a hell of a ride. Thanks for reminding me of all of this. My day will be better for it. And I sincerely wish the same for you.
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Old 10-03-2006, 08:20 AM
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I have been treated for many things in my life and not one doctor has ever told me to pray over a broken rib, pneumonia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, depression or even the flu. Why should I have to do it for (in my case) this genetic disorder?
I really love that one...I mean 12 Steps talk about addictions being a disease but then they contradict themselves with all their spiritual/religious stuff.

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Old 10-03-2006, 08:33 AM
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I feel that way too. My lack of spiritual belief is not part of my problem. It's just who I am.
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Old 10-06-2006, 08:00 AM
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We Need More Choices

By Jenny S.

<The business of 12 Step theology being forced upon people by the supposedly secular institutions of courts and health care is a appalling ,and has the potential of really ******* up your head. – R.>

Thanks for giving me something to think about. Why is it that the courts don't offer any choice when it comes to mandated counseling/recovery meetings?

I know someone that was told by the courts to go to AA meetings and counseling. Had she been sent to somewhere other than AA maybe she wouldn't be so determined to destroy herself now. I really believe their insistence that she was a powerless person, and all that focus on the past made her feel even worse about herself and sent her even deeper into her addictions.

Everyone is an individual, and should be treated that way. There is no one way that is right for everyone. And being told that if you don't recover in AA you will never recover at all is not going to help anyone.
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Old 10-06-2006, 08:02 AM
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Straight to Blackout

By Steve C.

I remember when I was around 19 or 20, I almost beat the hell out of my girlfriend's father. I broke a few dishes, yelled and screamed at him, and finally, after he called the cops, I split. After about a year of sneaking around behind his back with his daughter, he decided to allow me to come back into his house. At dinner that very evening, he offered me a drink. I said no thanks. He said, it’s okay to drink, you don't have to quit drinking, just don't drink so much.

I remember my kids crying to me, telling me that it was okay to drink, just don't get drunk. My wife told me the same thing, numerous times. I've been told the same thing by numerous friends: just be careful. Take a taxi home; don't drink so much, etc. A totaled car, a couple of motorcycle accidents, a bike wreck, countless fights, one DUI, six or seven other arrests, and several incidents of vandalism and home-wrecking, never convinced me to quit trying.

For over 30 years, I have always gone overboard. I could never consistently control it, and thinking back on it, this was the cause of many negative feelings about myself. What kind of ******* am I. Why did I always go till I passed out. I almost always went straight to blackout, and almost always found myself wondering what I had done, and what had happened.

Well, the answer finally came to me. It was the fact that I took a drink. I can't remember how many times I went to the bar with extremely pressing business or personal items to take care of that day, that I just blew off. No contact with the world for another day. Waking up to find numerous messages on my answering machine wondering where I was, why I dropped an appointment, or where some work product was.

It took me thirty years of starting with the best of intentions, and going straight to blackout that finally convinced me to just not get started. I remember my DUI back in ‘91, taking the state mandated alcohol treatment program where I learned that alcohol affects the judgement centers of the mind. Kewel, I thought. I just won't drink when I have pressing things to do. Well, that plan didn't even work, because it didn't allow me enough opportunities to get drunk. I figured, I'd only drink while camping or fishing. Only drink where my behavior didn't have the potential to harm anyone else. Well, it was a big problem. I never did move to a cave or to the streets where maybe I wouldn't have to worry about anyone else.

I don't get into a discussion with drinking friends about alcoholism, I just tell them I quit drinking. Period, end of story, give me a Coke. I don't discuss it with non-drinkers either, never did like or trust them. No matter what anybody else tells me, I just say no. I must, for my sake, the sake of my kids, the sake of my marriage, the sake of my business, for the sake of my friends, and for the sake of society, just say no to the first drink. I finally know and have a deep, deep, deep conviction that I can't control my drinking. I never have, I never could, and I never will. I never, I think, even wanted just one drink. I wanted or maybe needed to get drunk. This need manifests itself in a million different ways, but in the end, all I need to do is control my right arm. I just don't hoist it to my lips, no matter what, no matter what anybody says, no matter what anybody does, and no matter how the rest of the world handles it.

Sure, this left a lot of weird feelings at first. I had great emotional difficulty at first. I'm not sure why, and once in a great while, I still get a strong craving. This list, meetings, reading literature, long walks, playing with the dog, playing with the kids, working, learning, and all kinds of other stuff now occupies most of my life. But, I have complete control over my arm that I will lose once I get started drinking. I'm mortally afraid of even trying to take one drink because it was just too damned hard to get to where I am today. I really don't think I could or would come back. Sure, many others have, but I'm really afraid to even try. The appeal of drunkenness is too great for me. I love to be drunk, I love the feeling of it, and I have gotten drunk at the expense of every thing else that was important in my life. I don't want to die with alcohol on my breath.

I find it is just easier for me to manage it without using it. It really is a far more simple method for me, and one that gives me a more positive outlook. At remaining completely sober, I have been successful. It removes me from the constant battles that I always lost trying to control it. I can win the war by just not engaging the enemy. I know I can't drink now. Never now. Maybe next week, but not now.
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Old 10-06-2006, 08:06 AM
  # 37 (permalink)  
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Roller Coaster Emotions

By Treena W.

Had a terrible day that ended a crappy week. This is how it all happened.

Not sure if you all know it but I am diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or as they sometimes call it, Manic Depression.

Basically what it means is one's emotions are like a roller coaster; one instant curled up in the fetal position in the corner not talking crying or even existing, contemplating suicide and how great it would be feel a series of rounds from a sub-machine gun pierce your brain, and the next instant so intensely happy and powerful that you think you could easily become the President/Prime Minister/Pope/whatever and obtain world peace, and so hyper that you think you'll turn inside out, explode and shower your guts on everyone within a three mile radius.

Thankfully, there are medications for this condition. I have been on a cocktail of a couple of them for about 4 years, and they have saved my life. HOWEVER, since I've been sober, I've felt so empowered that I thought perhaps my depression was caused by the alcohol, and decided to try to "taper" my meds, without any doctor’s advice. That started Monday. I decreased my dosage by half, thinking that if it caused a negative reaction, I could easily up my dosage back to where it should be. I should have known better, since I've tried this stunt before and it never got anything but negative results. But for some reason I keep thinking that since everything was different "pre-sobriety", that I can blame everything on drinking.

Not true. Tuesday, I began shopping. I had sold my other computer system for $400, and decided to get myself something nice with the money. I went downtown to the biggest shopping district in Ottawa. The stores were crowded and cheerful, with Shitmas music playing nonstop. I thought I was enjoying it. I passed bar after bar, pub after pub, and as the day grew on, I realized I wasn't enjoying it at all. I was actually hoping that I would dislike it so much that I would give in and have a drink. But I didn't.

Finally I found a beautiful black dress for the horkidays, at Cotton Ginny. Got a good deal too. I didn’t get the winter coat that I started out for nor did I find a scanner that was also on my list. I got home feeling tired and craving big time. So, I did my mail, made dinner, played some Quake2, and the craving subsided.

Wednesday, I decided to venture back out for the coat and scanner. I went straight to Winners to look for a coat. I found the perfect one plus a hat and wore them out of the store, (after paying for them of course *g*)...Then I began my search through the electronic hell area on foot for the scanner. After zig-zagging the street several times, writing down specs, warding off evil salespeople, passing by the beer store twice, liquor store and a "cute little" wine store, I finally narrowed it down to 2 choices of scanners. Then I had lunch at Wendy's (taco salad and a sprite) and called my husband with the options. We decided on one, and I trudged back over to the first store I had visited to make my purchase. I grabbed a cab home, satisfied and broke.

By this time the lack of medusa was kicking in and I was again craving large. It was a different kind of craving though. Not a physical "I want a drink now" kind of craving. It was more of a "I want to be normal" craving. It felt like if I could just have a choice to say "yes" or "no" to a drink, then I'd never want to get loaded again. Like, the pressure of never being able to drink again was pushing me to binge.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I had the idea that it was "binge or moderate".... Sobriety wasn't even a comfortable option. I felt like I was starting all over again, back to square one. Almost as if I had relapsed without the booze. Everything I had worked for in the last 30 days was gone. I felt as if I had just quit yesterday. To top it all off my ISP was down for 24 hours and I couldn't get back on here till around 10:30 today.

This morning I woke up feeling basically the same way, and made it through the day somehow. I feel like I've come very close to slipping up. Not as close as walking into the beer store, or picking up the phone to order a case, but close mentally. Almost giving in. It's such a thin line.

My husband came home and immediately knew something was up. So we talked. I balked, he talked, I balked some more....yadayadayada.... It helped. I've realized that being and staying sober (at this point for me) is like walking a tightrope. It's such a delicate balance of feelings and ideas. So much control involved. I can't let my guard down for one instant. If I do, that "dumb brain" comes back and tries to justify everything I know is wrong. I realized that tapering my meds is a bad idea too. I'm going back to my regular dosage immediately.

I also realized that I have to get back to "just today" order to help make tomorrow a good sober day. I have to keep working. I thought I was through the worst but I was wrong. Four weeks ain't much, I'm learning, and there's still a long way for me to go. I figured out (again) through our discussion that I really cannot moderate. That it really isn't worth it. That really all I was wanting was a binge. And that I have to be strong and keep fighting it, but I have to allow myself room for the slip, otherwise the pressure gets to be too much and I get "tired or recovering" which leads to all these thoughts of moderation. By giving myself that room, I'm basically saying, "as long as I do my best then it will be ok".... It takes the pressure off, and I can concentrate on staying sober instead of wanting to give up on it.

This might not make any sense to you all, then again maybe it does. The idea of "giving myself room to slip-up" probably sounds ridiculously dangerous to anyone who is trying to stay sober, but once I realized that the fear of "f-ing up" was what was causing my stress, and making me tired, I felt really good about saying "my best is all I can do and if I do f up, then I get back up and try again. I know now that trying moderation is way more dangerous than risking a one-time binge.

I was wondering what the difference between f'ing up at abstinence and f'ing up at moderation was if the result is the same - abstinence, and my husband explained it quite well. If I try moderating, sure it could work for some time but eventually I'm going to binge again and it could be a year down the road. At that time I'd have to try abstaining again, and it would be a lot harder to start over at that point than if I just f-up while trying to abstain. Not to mention the other downfalls of trying to moderate. This is the best reason I have heard yet. Who, knows, maybe I'm setting myself up for a slip, but I know that the ideas of moderation are gone and that's in tune with my master plan: abstinence....

That's all for now...thanks for listening to a pretty screwy girl half way (but not going all the way) into a bipolar episode...:-)...
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Old 10-07-2006, 04:13 PM
  # 38 (permalink)  
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My Best Thinking

By Nick A.

I recently had a truly awful twelve step experience. The counselor who helped me get my now defunct SOS meeting started at the hospital has a string of halfway houses in the greater Tampa area. He does not run the organization as a "twelve step or hit the road program," but things can get very "steppy" around there anyway. I have been attending some of the meetings at his houses since my "at the detox meeting" ended with the closing of the hospital. Last week there was a guest speaker who truly made my skin crawl.

His "story" had little to do with him. The only thing about him in the whole hour was that, at some point in time, he had moved to Tampa. He presented the "Fire and Brimstone" twelve step -- you're defective -- your best thinking got you here -- you're selfish and self centered -- pray to God -- there's NO other way -- half steps will avail you blah blah blah ...sermon. What really got me was the number of people in the room who sat and watched him with that thousand yard stare -- "where do I sign up for the get rich in real estate seminar" look in their eyes. They were awe struck by the majesty and brilliance of his presentation. All I can say is that my best thinking got me away from twelve step programs.

When I tried to explain my concept of the AA concept at my now defunct SOS meeting, it went something like this:

In 1936 when AA came into being they were trying to find what made alcoholics different than other people. They weren't taller, shorter, thinner, fatter, Black, White or any other thing that they could nail down. Genetics and chemical balances in the body were not well understood. Heck, penicillin was still years away!

What they could nail down seemed to be related to behavior. This behavior seemed to indicate that alcoholics were selfish and self centered, putting alcohol ahead of all else.

My belief has always been that these perceived character defects and self centered behavior were the result of alcoholism, not the cause. Once you are addicted to the stuff, of course it's your number one priority. Once you're an addict, without alcohol you can die from the withdrawal. Now with a dependency like that, where are you going to put your priorities?

Even the "I'm in outer space" detox patients seemed to agree with that one.
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Old 10-07-2006, 04:14 PM
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Defined by words or action?
by Dan in Canada

"C'mon Dan. There is a holiday gathering at the pub tonight after work.
Let's go get a beer."

"No, but thank you for asking."

"You do not drink, do you, Dan?"

"No. I just choose to not do that."

"Dan, are you an alcoholic?"

"Because I choose to not drink, I must be an alcoholic?"

"Sure... Everybody but an alcoholic drinks once in a while!"

Dan logically counters, "If you believe that then it follows from the same
logic that because I do not occasionally kill someone, I am a mass murderer,

"Well, uhhhhh...."

The discussion ends and Dan goes away with a knowing smile that somehow
looks more like a smirk...
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Old 10-07-2006, 04:16 PM
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Glad for the Second Chance

By Dee K.

I've been watching my 18 month old son wander around naked, except for one of my sandals and some mardi gras beads. He has a piece of star-shaped cat food stuck to his forehead (from experimenting with eating just like the kitty), and is trying, most earnestly, to hold onto his penis while he walks. That's no small feat, given how far his tummy sticks out, and how small the object of his affection is!

I was thinking how I would have missed all the simple beauty and hilarity of this moment if I were drunk, getting drunk, or hung over. Now, to watch this brings tears and laughter all at once. I am so profoundly glad to have a second chance to live this life, with all its concomitant joy and sorrow. At this moment it feels so simple and utterly worthwhile to be here for all of it.

I just needed to share this joy with some people who know how precious our sober realities are. Thanks for listening.
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