Categories for 12 Steps
February 26, 2014 8:30 am
I just sat here and really thought about what it really means to me. I can not help but just well up with tears.
2192 days of continuous sobriety…. is 6 years. Today is a very important day because it celebrates the day that I was brought back from the dead. It celebrates the day that my entire life changed and an entire new world opened right in front of me.
I was thinking about it earlier today and talking to a friend about how I really didn’t think that 6 years was that big of a deal. I was thinking back on my 4th sobriety birthday and how I really didn’t think that it was that special. I was looking forward to my 5 year birthday that would come the year after. That was a really big one…. but every single on of them are big. Every single second of every single day is nothing short of a miracle.
Right now I am just filling up with a whole bunch of different feelings… but the word that keeps coming into my head is gratitude. I feel so much gratitude right now.. for so many different things. Gratitude was something that I don’t think that I ever really knew the true meaning of before I started this journey 6 years ago. Now it is something that is so ingrained in me that I know that I cannot live without it.
So many different things have crossed my way in the last 6 years that have guided me along this path. Thats the way that this thing works. The people and the places that dictate your path . All of the faces and phrases that filled the Carriage House at the Beacon HouseSM.. and the Fellowship Hall in Downtown Monterey…. and to the Vista Lobos room in Carmel will always guide me wherever I go.
I never would have imagined that I would get sober… it a 7am meeting in Carmel, California. I would be at that meeting… everyday at 7am….. because that was what was suggested. Good Morning never felt so good as it did in Carmel.
All that I knew was that I was willing to do anything to not feel the way that I was feeling. I wanted to not feel like I wanted to die.. all the time. I had no idea what was happening and I didn’t know what to do. I was so very scared and the only way that I could picture relief was through my own death. I knew that I really didn’t want to die. I wanted to live. I knew that there was something more for me then wasting my life away in 6 am bars and dirty gutters. I was 28 years old.. and I was not done yet.
Recovery is the most amazing thing on the planet. Really it is. There is nothing that is more powerful then someone admitting that they need help and reaching their hand out for that help. There is something so amazing about the people who reach out their own hand to hold on to those people. It makes me teary eyed just thinking about it. There is nothing more powerful on this earth… then one booze hound alcoholic all-star reaching his or her hand out to another who knows EXACTLY what that person is going through.
I didn’t want anyones help when I was in that spot… but that all changed when I was forced into that position. When I almost met my maker… a weeee bit too early. I was brought to my knees and I had to make a pretty simple choice. Do you want to live or die, Rich.. black or white. I would try to do all that I could do to try to figure my way out of it without having to make the choice. There must be someway that I can keep doing this. Can’t I just dry out?… and maybe just drink wine on the weekends?
I tried a little research… I relapsed and was right back where I started. That is what it took to make me truly admit to my innermost self… that I was an alcoholic. I was one of those people that booze just did not get along with. I had lost the privilege to drink like a gentleman.
I came back to the peninsula and knew what I had to do. It was really pretty easy. There were a lot of people who had done it before. They knew what they were doing. I had not idea what the hell that I was doing… so I just did what they did. This is how the program works. Its really not rocket science. The program was designed so that any old drunk could make the easy decision of a spiritual life over an agonizing alcoholic death.
I am really glad that I made that decision… or that the decision was made for me and that decision stuck. I cant imagine where I would be if I did not walk into Dana’s office at the Beacon HouseSM.. at 8:30am… on February 26th of 2008.That is why this post will be published exactly 6 years to the day.
Death would have taken me… and I would have never have been given the opportunity to share my experiences with you in this blog.
My name is Richie… and I am a grateful, bright, sparkly, joyful alcoholic.
January 24, 2014 10:38 am
It took me so long to actually accept that I was addicted to alcohol and drugs…. and pretty much anything else that you could be addicted to.
I am addicted to more.
When I was moving towards the end of my drinking I knew that something was not right with me but I did not want to admit what it truly was. I knew that something was different with me…. I acted differently towards alcohol and drugs then the people that I hung out with. I know now that there were a lot of people that hung out with me because they could compare themselves to me and say that they did not have a problem. They could compare themselves to me and not admit their own alcoholism.
There was a time after I had relapse when I really admitted to myself that I was an alcoholic… and that I did not have control over my own life and I never would. Something had to change. This was the moment that I had acceptance and I surrendered to my life.
I accepted the addiction and now it was time to change the behavior.
This was the much harder part for me because it was behavior that was entrenched with me…. it had been there for years and had served it purposes. I knew that it was not going to be helping me anymore… and I needed to shed it. I needed to change everything if I was going to survive this.
That is what I did.
Now.. almost 6 years later I have some issues with acceptance. They mostly come out when I am working. There are things that I can’t change and there are things that I can change. I need to remember that and know the difference chinesische viagra. Again.. here comes the serenity prayer.
What am I going to do today for myself? I am going to not try to practice acceptance and take my time.
What are you going to do for yourself lately?
January 4, 2014 10:29 am
Happy New Year everyone. I hope that they new year has found everyone well.
I was just thinking about how the last part of 2013 went for me and how it is moving into 2014. There were some ups and downs that happened to me in the last year and I have been able to share a lot about them in this blog. At the end of 2013 I was having some issues that were really taking me to a darker place then I had been in a long time.
I have almost 6 years of sobriety… (God willing) and I would have to say that these past couple of weeks I have been closer to a drink then I have been since I was in early sobriety. Now don’t get to scared about me yet… because there were things that i did that I learned in the rooms that helped me get through it. I knew that I was not going to take a drink but I could see the path in front of me.
I think that I will always remember everything that I was told about resentment… and how it is the number one offender. I can hear people in my head telling me about how resentment has taken out more alcoholics than anything else that we face.
What I was able to see very clearly was how that a resentment could turn into something else. How a resentment could manifest into something completely unthinkable and terrible. I know why it takes out more alcoholics than anything else.
I was able to get out of myself and help another alcoholic. I got on the phone and called an old friend of mine in Monterey. We talked about the things that were going on in my life… but really the whole conversation revolved around the 3rd Step.
“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God”
The conversations centered around me trying to take control and keep control. I have been holding on so tight that I completely forgot that I really didn’t have to be holding on at all. I seem to forget that I have given up my will and my life over to my Higher Power because I know that I am no good when I am trying to control everything.
This was something that was really hard for me when I was in early sobriety. I didn’t want to give up control and I really didn’t know how. I just knew that the job that I was doing was not that good. I came to a point where the pain was so great that I had to try something new. I had to give up control to something greater then me. Then after that it became pretty easy to give up that control. It was downright enjoyable. I didn’t have to worry about it anymore because my Higher Power was taking care of it.
After having this time in recovery it seems that I forget somethings that I “don’t find useful anymore”…….. like turning my will and my life over to my Higher Power everyday when I get out of bed.
The conversation with my old friend really shed light on a lot of things that I had just chose to forget. The most important thing is that I have to let go of somethings. There is a plan for me and it is well beyond anything that my wildest dreams can imagine. i just have to be patient and trust in the fact that not everything in this world is supposed to go my way.. and be ok with that.
Well.. there is my big confession for the beginning of the year. I have been a bit lazy when it comes to doing all of the things that I need to do everyday to keep my spiritual condition fit. I can tell you now that I know what is happening and I have taken immediate steps to address this life and death situation. Just like I was taught. Thank God for this program and all of the things that I have learned in it.
Happy New Year everyone….
November 25, 2013 7:48 am
“One is too many… and a thousand are never enough”
I remember sitting in my mother’s NA meetings when I was really little and hearing that saying so many times and never ever understanding it. I kept thinking to my self… how could one be too many and a thousand never enough. Of course, I was thinking of Legos and Micro Machines…. how could a thousand be never enough.
Now I understand. That saying, like almost every other one that I have heard, is so very near and dear to my heart.
There are a couple of things that are on my mind today. The first thing is a concept that I learned at the Beacon HouseSM called… “Playing the tape foreword.” This is when you start thinking about drinking or using and you think of all of the short term rewards that you will gain from it….. and then thinking about all of the long-term horrible consequences that you will also gain from it.
Here is a good example of this… a couple of days ago I was thinking about a bar that I use to go to at 6am. I was thinking about the feeling that came over me when I saw their big bright neon OPEN sign light up through the San Francisco fog as I walked up. It was so damn romantic in my head. I was thinking about having a nice warm cup of coffee full of Bailey’s Irish Creme and Jameson to start the day off right. In my head, all was well as Sportscenter was on the big screen TV and I was on Cloud Nine.
Here is where I “Played the Tape Forward”….. I started to think about what would happen after all of this fake romance had worn off…. 2 hours later.
I had proceeded to move to Budweiser and shots of Jameson. I am probably about 4 beers and 5 shots deep at this point. I have seen the same episode of Sportscenter three times because they play it over and over again in the morning. I have now put my hoodie hood over my head because it makes me feel more secure. I am REALLY hoping that no one else walks into the bar because they are going to try and talk to me. That would really suck. My mind is flashing to cocaine.. even though I have not done in a long time.. but it seems like a great idea now. Nope, scratch that because it is going to be way too much work to get it at this hour of the morning even though I could probably do it if I really wanted. Time to walk home to pass out. I won’t make it home and someone’s stoop is going to have to do.
That is how this tape is going to end up. I am going to end up hammered, passed out in someones stoop. It may not happen during this playing of the tape but I know that it is going to happen on one of these playings. I know that is where I will end up if I choose to go in that direction. This will stretch into something so drastic and dire for my life that I have to be aware of it.
I know what it means when they say…. “One is too many and a thousand are never enough.” Somehow I find comfort in that.
Second thing that I want to talk about is a BIG congrats to 3 years of sobriety to a very very special friend of mine that I went through the Beacon HouseSM with. She is an amazing person that is celebrating in style today!
During your recovery there are people that really stand out to you as true survivors. This is one of those people to me. There were times when I had collected some time and this special person just kept falling…. but there was something that was inside of this person. Something that was not going to be denied because they had so many amazing things that were so important in their lives. I just knew that no matter what had happened.. that this person was going to be there basking in the sunlight of the spirt one day…. just like our friend Paul Major. Every time that I see a post or an update from this person my heart is very warm. So much love and respect go out to you friend.
Miracles happen each and every day. We are examples of this. Our gratitude lists are awesome.
November 7, 2013 11:05 am
What do you think of when you hear these words?
“Fearless and Searching Moral Inventory”
I remember the first time that I ever heard those words they scared me to death and I thought to myself that there was no way that I was going to write down all of my deep dark fears and resentments… let alone tell another human being about them. Then someone who I respected told me that the 4th step was the step that really decided if you wanted long-term sobriety. That is all that I wanted…. so I knew that it was something that I had to do.
When I came back to the Beacon HouseSM after my relapse I was open to every suggestion that anyone could give me because I really lacked that before. I was not open to others opinions so much especially if they did not directly benefit me.
What I want to do with this post is share some of the mistakes that I made with my 4th step in the hopes that some people that are reading this may not make the same mistakes that I made.
When I started my attempt with my first 4th Step I started to look at it as if I was trying to tell my life story so that is really what I did. I started to fill up notebooks of the drawn out pages and pages of stories and situations that had happened in my life. I was so far from what the 4th Step was in the book that it was comical. The reason that I was doing this was because of some guidance that I had gotten from one of my early sponsors… which was that we needed to reveal everything. I took this literally and tried to reveal EVERYTHING. What ended up happening was that I never felt like I had made any progress on my 4th Step. I always thought that there was more to write and so this ordeal went on for almost 8 months. I was getting jealous of people who had done their 4th Step on the back of a napkin.
I made the decision that I was going to switch sponsors and work my 4th Step right out of the book. This was one of the best decisions that I could have ever made for my recovery. I just kept it simple and did it as it was outlined in the book. Nothing more and nothing less. I also went online and downloaded some worksheets that really helped me organize my work.
Once I got done with my 4th Step.. (which only took a week this time) I was ready to move on to my 5th step with my sponsor. This was one of the best days that I have ever had in recovery because I had taken that step. I knew that I was dead serious about my recovery and this was the culmination of part of that commitment.
I will talk a little bit more about a sexual inventory in a later blog post. I think that it really needs its own post because it is a scary beast in its open right preis viagra schweiz.
If there is anything that I can say about my 4th step I think that I would say that it was something that should not be feared but should be look on as a signpost. It is a necessary signpost that we must pass by on the road to long-term recovery.
What was your experience with your 4th Step?
September 6, 2013 11:40 am
The new Eastern Span of the Bay Bridge.
Do you have a daily routine when it comes to your recovery?
I know that I should but I really don’t and I wonder why some of my days are just a crap shoot. I kind of let the dice roll and the chips fall as they may.
That is not what it says to do in the Big Book… and I know that everyday that I don’t do it. That is my M.O. sometimes… I think that I know the best way to do things for myself and then when I agree to do them the way that they are suggested everything turns out OK. I guess that I am just stubborn. I have been that way throughout my entire recovery. Making the mistakes that have to be made to get me to where I need to be. I think that I know the way that I should be taking… but it is never as good as the one that my higher power chooses for me when I finally let him.
Here is a little excerpt of page 86 in the Big Book… this is what I should be doing.
“When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do we owe an apology? Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once? Were we kind and loving toward all? What could we have done better? Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time? Or were we thinking of what we could do for others, of what we could pack into the stream of life? But we must be careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, for that would diminish our usefulness to others. After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.
On awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.”
I think one of the advantages for me to do this is that it makes me concentrate on my day. Really just concentrate on one day at a time…. and there are all of the other obvious benefits that come along with a daily housecleaning.
I want to concentrate on the last part of that excerpt.. when it talks about what I should be doing when I rise. It really is a simple thing to do… ask our Higher Power to direct our thinking…. asking that it be free of self-pity and dishonest self-seeking motives.
Thinking about my motives it huge for me. Why am I doing what I am doing? Why am I talking to that person and what purpose is it serving.
This is what I am going to be trying to do everyday… doing what is suggested. I will let you all know how it is going.
May 31, 2013 6:23 pm
When I first started down this path of recovery I thought that I was going to be able to do all of this myself. I have referenced this in one of my earlier posts. I called this the “Richie Rich Program of Recovery.” I thought that it was a great idea and I felt that I was going to have enough knowledge to get me through to the other side of my 28 days at the Beacon HouseSM.
After I left the house and went back to my old lifestyle… of course, I relapsed and the whole ball got rolling again. This time when I came back to the Beacon HouseSM I was willing to do anything to get what I saw so many others around me had. I wanted what these people had. Before this… I thought that what other people had was a great thing for them. I liked how it made them look.. it was attractive to me.. but it was theirs. I knew what I wanted and I knew what I needed.
I can’t help but laugh to myself when I think about this time in my life. Alcohol is a cunning and baffling foe indeed. Alcohol makes you think that you have all of the answers and it had a tendency to make me act like an ass.
I finally got a sponsor when I came back into the house. One of the first things that this man asked me was if I had found out about Step Zero.. What the heck is Step Zero? He then told me that I was to go into the Big Book and look for Step Zero. This was my very first homework assignment that he had me do.
The funny thing was that I had read and heard Step Zero many times durning meetings. It is part of the reading of Chapter 3… “More About Alcoholism.”
“We learned that we had to FULLY CONCEDE to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, HAS TO BE smashed.”
It said it in plain english, right in front of me. I don’t know how many times I had looked at those words and glanced right over them. There they were, this is the first step in recovery.
I, like many other people, had the delusion that I was not an alcoholic and that I could handle things on my own.
There are a couple of different pamphlets and tests that you can take to see if you might be an alcoholic. It is my opinion that only you can call yourself an alcoholic.
- Alcoholics Anonymous’ pamphlet: Is AA for you?
- The Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST)
I took both of these tests and recorded amazing scores on both. I am defiantly an alcoholic. I know that now. It is one of the things that I know to be 100% true for me. I will never not be an alcoholic and I will always remember that. When I finally accepted this fact I was truly ready to begin on my road to recovery.
What are your experiences with Step Zero?
May 23, 2013 3:35 am
I hear people say all that time that when there are bad things that are going on in your life, or something that is happening that is not making you happy then you should change it.
Sometimes for an alcoholic these words are like a double edged sword. I can remember being in a place, during the last year of my drinking, that I would of done anything to get out of the grey, sorrowful, depressing world that I was in. In some ways it was comfortable and I was used to it , it even had a morbid romantic quality to it. I was in love with it and I hated it at the same time.
I can remember so many times just hoping that I could wake up the next day and not have to drink. I would promise myself that I was going to do something for myself and change everything the next day. Then the next day there would always be a reason to drink… even if there wasn’t a reason to drink.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous lays it out pretty well on page 25……
“The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so- called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.”
No matter how much that I would tell my self that I wanted to stop drinking…. and no matter how much I knew that my life was going down the toilet I had no defense against the first drink. Thinking back upon it now it seems really easy when I put it in the context that all that I had to do was not take the first drink. I used to think that it was the fourth and the fifth drink that would be my downfall… but no it was the first drink. The first drink would satisfy the craving that I was having, but I had an allergy. This is the allergy that alcoholics have that is outlined by Dr. Silkworth in the Doctor’s Opinion in the Big Book.
Now that I have a defense against the first drink, I can think about changing something in my life that is making my unhappy. I am in the process of doing that right now. There is something that is no where I want it to be and I am going to take some action and change it. I have a choice today… and it is a beautiful choice.
There used to be so much that was part of the process of changing my life. There was SO much drama and it seemed like I was going to have to expend SO much energy to change one little thing. I am glad that I have a higher power these days that helps me put the process and the drama into perspective.
By the way… I hope that everyone that reads this feels encouraged to participate and comment on this blog. That is really what it is here for. I want it to be an open space.
If you want to reach me privately or would like to ask a question in a safer environment you can email me at email@example.com.