DRINKING ALCOHOL TAUGHT ME HOW TO FLY
THEN IT TOOK AWAY THE SKY

Sunday, August 31, 2008

MONDAY SEPTEMBER 1, 2008

Please click on picture to enlarge

LABOR DAY, MONDAY SEPT 1, 2008


FEAR TODAY, GONE TOMORROW!

Fear IS me. My name should have been "Fearful Tearful". When I arrived at the door of Alcoholics Anonymous, I was age 40, and had never heard the word "paranoid".

At one of my earlier meetings, the topic was "Fear and Paranoia", so I figured the two were somehow related, -grin- a real great deduction on my part! (Remember, I had bypassed the "Beginner's Group" and the Steps...and had installed myself in this
"more intelligent, non-smoking, discussion" group.) OK, so, to join myself to these brilliant ones, I made claim to the title 'Mr Paranoia'. I thought that might set me apart as unique.

They all laughed, not AT me as I suspected, but WITH me as I wished. See, I was paranoid, right?


Each one of us in AA has sat in that same chair, that 'new person' chair--the one which is never dry, never free of perspiration. Even the CHAIR is full of fear, anxiety, frustration, and those black thoughts which are entertained by only the very ill.


Scared of my shadow, that was really me. Many times I'd jump away from that 'darker' spot on the street or sidewalk--that spot which was...ME, my shadow! Fear of everything is how Lucy and Linus (above) depicted his fear. My own fear fit that description, pantophobia. Do you know, I had so MANY mental problems, so many tangled emotional "issues" (I hate that word, also!), I was really ONE sick puppy.

1. "And I lied when even the truth would have sufficed."


2. I've never met one qualified to join my exalted state of phoniness, pretending to be ALWAYS who I was not. Naturally, alcohol took care of that problem, allowing me to really BE someone else, any time, all the time.


3. Meet me, the expert "put-down" artist, I say EXPERT. Most people had not the slightest notion that they were being 'worked over'--or DID they (paranoia?) -grin-

4. That farmer at bottom of p.82 in BB, that was ME! Fifteen YEARS of sober living before i understood the meaning of that paragraph. I thought of it as a very astute, out-of-place remark, "Don't see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain't it grand the wind stopped blowin'?" (Appropriate comment on the day of Hurricane Gustav's landfall on Gulf coast of U.S.)


5. Most of my problem WAS fear. Fear of "What are you thinking?" When, truth be told, you are no doubt...thinking of YOU! (Well, maybe not you!)

6. And, OMG--money fears, having money or NOT having money, paying past-due bills, children's school clothing, tuition, school bus fare You fill in your fears, and they were probably mine. There was fear of fear, fear of people, fear of driving, fear of anyone who did not smile...

7. After sobriety my problem switched...now it became Pride. But that's another blog entry.
(Hey, I really LIKE delineating--numbering--items, it produces a focus, and induces a succinctness in the process of communication. You bloggers showed me this, so I'll try it again. Thanks!)

8. Hopefully, the pendulum is swinging back, and might slow, or stop at some mid-point between HERE and FEAR.


Bottom line is that with all my "grave emotional and mental disorders..." it (maybe I'm grateful about this!) not once occurred to me to seek medical help or counseling. I'm here to let you all know that it was this Twelve-Step Program of AA which healed me on a contingency basis ("contingent on the maintenance of my spiritual condition...").

And it was the Power of my God, Who brought me to AA, and you AA people, who brought me back to Him--that changed my life so utterly completely, a turn-around you could only believe had you "known me back when"...


I'm so sleepy, I hope this made a little sense, maybe I'll edit tomorrow morning (Monday.)?


I still love you all--even if you didn't read this far!
Steve E.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

SUNDAY AUGUST 31, 2008



THOROUGHLY FOLLOWED OUR PATH

Not IF it will happen, but WHEN; and that is a question, also a fact of life...when will I next boil over, spill out, and burn whatever or whoever I touch? The occurrence is rare these days, but it happens, right?--you know who you are! I go off the deep end, and lose sight of everything I've learned these many years in Alcoholics Anonymous. God always seems to find someone nearby, to set me back on track. Because I am like a train, which after a good start, is difficult to stop, like, dead in its tracks.


At my first AA meeting I heard the words "who has thoroughly followed our path." And somehow I knew this would not, could not, be me! I vaguely knew what they were talking about--something which had rules by which I might be bound to live. I did not hear much else, except they did invite me back (wonder of wonders?). They said, "Don't drink, and come back next week." So I went back the following week--and the next week, and the one after that. I made 13 meetings in 90 days. The only 90-in-90 I knew of was years and years of daily drinking.


Thoroughly follow our path, just what did that mean? I got into a nice, comfortable, open-air discussion group. It was much more suited to my level of superior intelligence than those smoke-filled 'beginner' meetings, one of which I had reluctantly attended. I figured the non-smokers HAD to be smarter than the 'regular' drunks.


One week, the chairperson, Jim P., (who had been sober 25 years and became my sponsor) suggested that the group do the Twelve Steps, one each week. I felt awed that they would do this just for me...for I never dreamed they made a practice of doing the steps, once they had finished with them.

Ya see, I had it figured, that by slipping (bad word!) past the 'Beginners' and into the 'grown-ups', I'd slip through without having to do the steps. WRONG! As it turned out, I did one step each week, with the whole group of about 12 as my 'sponsor(s). In two months I had completed the course, and was on my way to Alcoholism Recovery Stardom! All this is in my log book.


I do remember immediately after having completed Step 5, it happened to me just as described in our Big Book on page 75: I withheld nothing and was delighted (Phew!), and I could look the world in the eye. Fear fell away, I felt that peace, which comes from God being near. I had a definite spiritual experience of a sort. MY DRINK PROBLEM DISAPPEARED! I felt for the first time a 'part of', rather than 'apart from' you all. I walked with a light step, on that cloud we all know so well.

Well, the next four weeks (next four steps) were a complete surprise, because I thought I was finished with this stuff. Nope.

As for steps 10 and11, I continue to learn, and have to continually remind myself that these valuable tools are here for my use, for the taking, for FREE.

Step 12 I identified with as soon as I saw the word "practice" there. I knew what "practice" meant...it meant from now on, always and forever, just how I had to work on the violin, every day, every day, forever. No vacation ever. It (violin AND 12 Steps) became my way of life. And I go to meetings regularly. Since retirement, I make usually several meetings a day, there are so many in our little village--well, 45 years ago it WAS a village! (Actually, when I arrived at the AA door, in 1974, there were about six meetings a week. Now there are nearly 200 meetings each week, and more being started almost every week.)


I guess the point is, along with "became willing to grow along spiritual lines", I early on "surrendered" my will to my fellows, later to my God--I did not drink, and I did not die. And I thoroughly "followed our path" as they said for me to do. In gratitude...

I love you all for being here for me, as I am here for you,

Steve E.

PRAYER?? YESSS!!

ONE DAY AT A TIME
or
CANNOT EAT TOMORROW'S LUNCH, TODAY


Ahhh! Saturday. This is the day we ride in a group to Ft Myers beach, for an 8 AM Men's meeting, then go to breakfast. The meeting is fine, but heck--we have plenty of great meetings here in Nap***, F* -g-. The REAL reason we go is for the beautiful morning 'ride' over Gulf waters, yeahhh! And the breakfast scene after, in a Mom-'n-Pop diner--that's the draw.

And so I go to sleep, knowing tomorrow brings sober fun, with sober guys, and no vodka at breakfast! And, as usual, tonight I say to God, "Whatever You ask of me tomorrow, I'm here to do it, willingly, knowing that You are with me when I'm doing Your work. It cannot be any other way, even when I do not 'feel' Your Divine presence. And whatever good might be shown me, I'll let all who will listen, know that the only reason I'm still living is You wanted me to stay here. There is work to be done, joyful work, glad work! Important work. Live one day at a time. (I cannot eat tomorrow's lunch, today!)

And then, just as I fall asleep, I wonder who God will put in my path tomorrow? Who will I meet, greet, and who will look at me with joy in their eye, and who will return my smile. What stranger will reveal to me that we are NOT strangers, but all parts, all pieces, of God's indescribable puzzle. Each of us fit somewhere, and together we make it whole.

it's the same in blog-land. Which blog entry today will have special meaning for me? Usually, each speaks to me, and somehow I realize that often it is God's words appearing on the screen.

Anna told me tonight, that she has noticed that I've reached a new level of happiness--she's known me 20 years. Of course, she did not say whether the level was higher, or lower. And I did not ask! But it is true. I attend many, many meetings, and spend time reading and commenting the blogs. I have a sort of wonderful correspondence, an understanding, with at least one of our bloggers, an old timer. And I get to play music, and don't forget, my current sole transportation is the 120 mph Suzuki Bergman scooter. In truth, I love almost (not perfect, ya know!) everyone I meet. It's never been like this before in my life. God is doing wonderful things for me and with me. I'll tell you about them, one at a time--now and then. Some, I've mentioned the past eight weeks, here. (Seems like I've been blogging two years instead of two months!) But hey...One Day at a Time!

And I pray, forgot to mention that little item. My favorite reminder, from God Calling:

"Never weary in prayer. When one day man sees how marvelously his prayer has been answered, then he will deeply, so deeply, regret that he prayed so little."
--pg 89, GOD CALLING ...A.J. Russell-- On line, this is called "Two Listeners"...

And I get to play violin at mass at 4 PM tomorrow, then a great non-fat "Cracker Barrel" meat loaf dinner with macaroni (rhymes with 'steveroni'), followed by a speaker meeting. One of my friends, also an old-timer, will be sharing her story, and I know it will be good, and will gently, spiritually, touch more than a few in the room. (Here am I -g-, eating tomorrow's meat loaf, TODAY!)

May God bless all you sober people, and me, too. Good night.
I Love you,
Steve E. (I am SO grateful!)

Friday, August 29, 2008

LOVE TRAIN STORY NUMBER TWO



NEVER A DULL MOMENT?

or
PUT YOUR SHOES (AND SHIRT) ON, LUCY!


The following is from my "DINNER TRAIN" memories. My job was to play violin, as I strolled (Ha!) through six long, old, squeaking railroad cars, which were set up like dining rooms. On the train, seated customers enjoyed the four-hour moonlit ride. The train stopped on an old RR bridge, at the mid-point of a wide expanse of water near the Gulf of Mexico. There, diners drank fine wine, ate a fine dinner, and were finely entertained by a group of professional actors performing a 'Mystery' play . Of course, all aboard savored the tuxedo-adorned, joke-telling, strolling violinist -VBG-.



About 5 PM Valentine's Day 2005, I was sitting in my truck, eating a sandwich. I had arrived early for this gig, since it was far from home, and musicians DO that--get there early. So, relaxing before my job, a slight six o'clock breeze winded its way through the old defunct shopping center. I was parked about six hundred yards from where I would eventually be, basking in that state between awake and sleep. I could not help noticing a 14-passenger van--being driven erratically--pass me by and park about half the distance between my truck and the train station.

The train was scheduled to depart in an hour, 6 PM. The van was situated in a area which shielded them from public view. But me...I had a clear line of vision. Almost immediately jumped out of all four doors, a whole family; grandparents, parents, a couple other adults, and five children aged about 3 to 17 years old, my guess! They had obviously spent the day at the beach, all attired in bathing suits, with towels hanging everywhere. Well, I saw them hang up street clothes on the open van doors, and then...and then...and then they ALL, children and adults and old folks, shed their swim wear, like at a signal. And I saw them walking about unabashedly in their birthday suits, toweling, drying each other, wearing nary a stitch. Next, they all walked around the van, searching out each one's own hanger of street clothes. It was the only time I have ever actually seen (OK 'watched'!) people dress themselves from scratch (sorry!). They did not see me ogling...and I (not an habitual voyeur) was kicking myself for leaving my binoculars at home. But I DID get quite an eyeful for about fifteen minutes. Guess I might have asked St. Augustine for help, cranked up the Mazda and driven away, out of sight, around the corner--but I was, like, mesmerized! Anyway, it was all over (too) soon enough.

Lagniappe:
As I walked up to the loading docks to board the train, I was still in a kind of shock, and to the man in line in front of me, I said, "WOW! You will never guess what *I* just saw!" And I proceeded to enthusiastically relate my experience to him. After a few minutes, he laughed and said, "Oh, that was us--me and my family. We had no idea someone was watching us". ("Boy, this guy is quick on the trigger", thought I.)

Well, naturally I didn't believe him, since--as a practicing "put-on" expert-myself, I knew he was putting me on. So we both laughed and I climbed onto the caboose, to go into my musical warm-up. Later, about three cars down, I found myself playing to a large gathering, a family, and--YEP--it was the same family which had put on a private show for me. (Hardly recognized them clothed!) And the fellow to whom I had earlier, so exuberantly related my tale, was there ALSO! He was an uncle...(yeah!). He then told them of my (hate this word) voyeurism, and all laughed! Fortunately, they all had a sense of humor, and we got along fine. I played for them at least 20 minutes.

Sometimes God allows us to meet a group of strangers--who become instant friends. Like the experience you all gave to me nine weeks ago, on this blogaroni. Thank You, God, for sobriety, and 'vision'...-grin-, and my newly aquired, recovering friends!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

PREFECT or PERFEKT??

WE ARE NOT PERFEKT

Some years ago I developed a hatred for the words: "Happy, Joyful, and Free". I thought, for several years...how much BS this is. When is the chaotic bedlam going to 'leave' me? Well, it did not happen overnight, but here is a TODAY example, of a brief return to my 'old life', and how God keeps changing, keeps molding me, to maybe one day becoming a better person:

Did I ever sleep good last night! Not sure why, but I will say this much (really not much!). There has been for several days--and nights--a troubling in my heart. (Get to the point, Steve.) Not quite a week ago, I offended someone--right here at this keyboard, right here on my blogroll. Now, I have been in Alcoholics Anonymous for a long enough time to know better, to know when I am pushing that envelope. So WHY? Why do I even 'go there'?

Well, it's that long story again, of Pride. Ego says to me, "You can fix the whole world. If only they would do as you think, and say what you believe, Steve." Well, that's never going to happen, ain't THAT the truth. (There is nothing more true than the truth.) And it's a good thing that ain't going to happen, because I am not God. Once in a while I must do that "Be still" thing. "Steve, be still......and know that HE is God, not you!" How beautiful, even close to momentary humility. Fancy that!

Well, being acquainted with our Twelve Steps, I knew there is one called Step NINE, you know, that one about "Made direct amends...wherever possible...." So, how is this going to happen, to make an amend to someone who probably will not even read my mail, or my blog? What do I do when all else fails? I turn to God for help. Actually, I work through a Guardian Angel, named Flex (for 'flexible'). And somehow, I found myself in church, and, kneeling there up front, I was alone, but not lonely. "God, please help me here, how am I going to 'fix' this?" And God said to me (yeah, right!! -g-) well, at least this is what I discerned, that God said, "Don't fret over this. Let ME handle it--and all will be well."

The next day I receive a communication from the person whose very soul I injured. Now I do not like to use the word 'overjoyed', but, needless to say, I was smiling as I read the note, I was happy that God had given me an opportunity to show that I was sincerely, oh, so sorry. And we shared a little of ourselves with each other (Emails), and I shed a couple tears. The tears were, yes, of happiness, but maybe not what I might have thought. They were for a greater understanding of how God works in our lives. The tears were for my being allowed a newer conception of our God-given program, which gives me a real and spiritual PLAN of action, and the powerful tools, which--if I use them--bring me back to that good life I know so well.

That is a life, beyond all expectation, beyond even belief--considering where it (my life) was 34 years ago. And so I'm again here to say (yeah, almost finished!) that if I really follow these steps, and work them, I can, I CAN, enjoy that life of freedom and happiness. That life which we are promised is right around the bend, for each of us, for ALL of us. Again, we are not perfect (I DO know how to spell it!), but we keep working at it, knowing we'll never BE there. And let's all try for Happiness, Joyful, and Free, today. I've found for me, that there can even be joy in adversity, but I guess that's another blog--blong.

A happy, joyful, and free Steve E.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

PRAYER AND MEDITATION


Actually, this should be a category, with separate files spanning years, because I have produced many extraordinarily embarrassing events, before and during sobriety. This following I recalled yesterday afternoon. I'll give it a title:

"Prayer and Meditation"

During the years 1991-1995 I drove a passenger van for Transportation Disadvantaged in Naples, Florida. The company was called Community Transportation, or "CT". I kept with me, at all times, in my pocket, a compact digital VOICE recorder, for transcribing notes to myself, since I had so many thoughts during a work day, thoughts which would all but evaporate by the time I got home. Certainly I had no time to stop and write notes to myself.

This story concerns a trip during which my cargo of passengers were developmentally disabled adults. This group of five I knew so well, having transported them to and from work--daily--for four years. The "gang" loved to talk into my tiny voice recorder, and hear their very own words come back at them immediately after. I would perform as a pretend radio interviewer, and one or the other of the passengers would be the interviewee. It was great diversion! We had such a wonderful time of it, joking, laughing, and poking fun at each other.

I was so spiritually overcome with the happenings of the hour ride--the joy and happiness of my passengers, who often thought of themselves as 'less than'--I grabbed my small hand-held tape machine to record the memories of the moment, and said some of (for me) the most descriptive expressions of faith and love. I spoke softly, slowly, and directly to relatives who had long been buried. I spoke to many 'favorite' saints, to Mary, the Mother of God...and to Jesus. I advised each, of my gratitude for the many gifts in my life, especially this gift of sobriety. I asked God to bless my (d.d.) passengers, my wife, my children, my extended family, my dozen fellow drivers, their passengers, and my superiors at work. And I repeatedly praised God, for the peace and serenity He had given me, so that I might help those who still suffered from alcoholism, and whatever related illnesses. And I made a 'so' solemn promise to do better, to change, to seek His will in all matters, and I asked for help to carry out His work.

When finished, I tried to place the digital recorder back into my pocket. It would not fit, because the digital recorder was already IN my pocket--Not a laughing matter NOW! Holy S**T! It had been in my pocket the whole time. I said out real loud, "What the f*** am I holding in my hand?" It was then I realized and lived one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, before or since.

Earlier, I had inadvertently grabbed the two-way radio (company) microphone, and had been broadcasting my most SECRET, deepest, ultra-private thoughts out over the airways! EVERYTHING I'd said had been broadcast to the base office, overheard and recorded by the dispatcher, audited by my boss and all the office staff, and by ALL the drivers and ALL the passengers on ALL the buses that afternoon. Even the mechanics monitored our all-day dispatches, conversations, 10-4's, 10-100's, etc.

At the end of my shift, no one said a word about the incident. Everyone behaved normally toward me, so that I got to thinking, "Well, maybe I had not pressed the transmitting button. Maybe nobody heard a thing of my supposedly secret, yet very verbal, soul-thoughts."

Several days went by, and ya know, I had allowed myself to forget the whole episode. It came back, that same method I used for hiding everything in my old life, by denying it ever happened! Old behavior. Old Steve.

Then, one early morning, as we drivers were doing our pre-trip inspections, and collecting our manifests for the day, one driver--one of the few who had always been friendly towards me--approached and said, "What the hell was that all about, the other day? You were talking on the radio for a *long, long* time, and made no sense whatever. Everybody has been wondering...were you hallucinating? Were you DRUNK?" OMG, I've been sober 19 years, and he's asking ("accusing", of course VBG!) if I was drunk...help me here, God!

So ends the SECOND most embarrassing story of my life...Fifteen years later, I'm still all goose bumps, and blush, when I recall the incident of that afternoon in 1993. Thank God that since, I've made very few errors in judgement disturbing enough to make me think of a drink--in fact it has not happened even ONE TIME....today....YET! (3:08 AM)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

THE HAND OF AA IS ALWAYS???



THE HOME GROUP
...or...
WHO'S SITTING NEXT TO YOU?

NOTE: Ever since reading this about twenty years ago, I look around the room at every AA meeting I attend, and search for one who reminds me of (the 'old') me; alone, forlorn, despondent, ready to drink, or die. And I introduce myself to him, then introduce him (sometimes 'her') to others I know. I have NEVER felt the worse for doing so...Steve E.

I know who you are. You are "X" who attends the 24-Hour Club where AAs meet, in ________, USA. I saw you there the other night at the eight-o'clock meeting. I don't know how long you've been sober, but I know you've been coming around for awhile because you spoke to a lot of people who knew you. I wasn't one of them. You don't know who I am.

I wandered in to your meeting place the other night, a stranger in a strange town. I got a cup of coffee, and sat down by myself. You didn't speak to me. Oh, you did see me...you glanced my way, but you didn't recognize me, so you quickly averted your eyes, and sought out a familiar face. I sat there through the meeting. It was OK, a slightly different format, but basically the same kind of meeting I go to at home.


The topic was gratitude. You and your friends spoke about how much AA means to you. You talked about the camaraderie in your meeting place. You said how much the people there had helped you when you first came through the door--how they extended the hand of friendship to make you feel welcome, and asked you to come back.

And I wondered, where had they gone, those nice people who made your entrance so welcome and so comfortable? You talked about how the newcomer is the life-blood of AA. I agree, but I didn't say so. In fact, I didn't share in your meeting. I signed my name in the book that was passed around, but the chairperson didn't refer to it. He only called on those people in the room who he knew.


So who am I? You don't know, because you didn't bother to find out. Although yours was a closed meeting, you didn't even ask if I belonged there. It might have been my first meeting. I could have been full of fear and distrust, knowing that AA wouldn't work any better than anything else I had tried, and I would have left convinced that I was right!
I might have been suicidal, grasping at one last straw, hoping someone would reach out to pull me from the loathing and self-pity from which, by myself, I could find no escape. I might have been a student with a tape recorder in my pocket, assigned to write a paper on how AA works--someone who shouldn't have been permitted to sit there at all, but could have been directed to an open meeting to learn what I needed to know. Or, I could have been sent by the courts, wanting to know more, but afraid to ask.

It so happened that I was "none of the above". I was just an ordinary alcoholic with a few years of sober living in AA, who was traveling and was in need of a meeting. My only problem that night was that I'd been alone with my own mind too long. I just needed to touch base with my AA family.

I know from past experience that I could have walked into your meeting place, smiling, stuck out my hand to the first person I saw, and said, "Hi. My name is __________, I'm an alcoholic from ______." If I had felt like doing that, I would probably have been warmly welcomed. You would have asked me if I knew "old So-and So" from my state. Or you might have shared a part of your drunkalog that had occurred in my part of the country.

Why didn't I? I was hungry, lonely, and tired. The only thing missing was "angry". but three out of four isn't a good place for me to be. So I sat silently through your meeting, and when it was over I watched enviously as all of you gathered in small groups, talking to one another the same way we do in my home town.

You and some of your friends were planning a "meeting-after-the-meeting" at a nearby coffee shop. By this time I had been silent too long to reach out to you. I stopped by the bulletin board to read the notices there, kind of hanging around without being too noticeable, hoping you might ask if I wanted to join you....but you didn't.


As I walked slowly across the parking lot to my car with the out-of-state license plates, you looked my way again. Our eyes met briefly and I mustered a smile. Again, you looked away. I buckled my seat belt, started the car, and drove to the motel where I was staying.

As I lay in my bed waiting for sleep to come, I made a gratitude list. You were on it, along with your friends at the meeting place. I knew that you were there for me, and that I needed you far more than you needed me. I knew that if I needed help and had asked for it, you would have gladly given it. But I wondered...what if I hadn't even been able to ask?


I know who you are.
Do you remember me?

Author unknown. Message passed on by: Steve E. dos 3/18/1974

Monday, August 25, 2008

THEN and NOW



Fly little bird,
Fly with the wind.
For if you don't
You have sinned.

For the wind is the law
And the law is just.
Whence the wind blows
You also must.

So, fly sweet bird,
Fly with the wind.
For, if you do not
You have surely sinned.
--Steve E.

THE PAST:

..."And I remembered the creeping horror of the interminable night, in which I slept for short spells and woke dripping with cold sweat and shaken with utter despair, to drink hastily from my bottle and mercifully pass out again."--BB p 224 (3rd Edition) or p 202 (4th Edition) "Women Suffer Too"

This was EXACTLY me!...for SO many weeks, months, years?

THE PRESENT:

"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us."
BB p 164

Imagine how simple is our program, really! The Twelve Steps are compacted here into four short sentences. It's as if I am the 'tall ship', and those four sentences are the 'star to steer her by'...CHANGE! All is well. God is in charge. Trust Him! He does what I cannot do for myself. And I do what I CAN do for myself. Gratefulness! ..."and the greatest of these is--LOVE!"

THE FUTURE:

"Ummmm...Say Wha...???

Sunday, August 24, 2008

THOSE LITTLE ROUND WHITE THINGS


ME 'N PILLS



Here is me. Age: three-quarters of a century; Sober: thirty-four years, in Alcoholics Anonymous. I am fairly serene, usually VERY happy, at peace with all I meet, overly enthusiastic about AA, and I am SO grateful to God, recognizing His gifts to me and to all of you, too. Why all this buildup? Please be patient, people! Not 'A Patient'...'Patience' patient...

For many years I've met, sponsored, dated, married, and otherwise dealt with people in differing stages of depression, and related 'issues' (hate that word!). Always have I known there were those of us who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, believing that many of them do recover IF they have the capacity to be honest (whatever THAT meant?). Well, I really thought that a lot of our 'depression' was an excuse for our disease, alcoholism, since --I reasoned--alcohol IS a depressant, right?

All these years, I alone, of all I knew (or so I thought!), admitted to none of the 'other' diseases which plague many of us. Yet, here was I, a pill-popper: ups, downs, and all-arounds, before, during, and after my breakfast (booze), lunch (booze), and dinner of huge burgers, fries, beer, and (booze). Looking back, I'm certain that doctors would have had a field day, IF I had let them get 'ahold' of me...but I was crafty, knowing that the first rule of medicine, "do not do anything you enjoy", was NOT going to be in my repertoire. ("Playbook", for you sports guys!) Not in THIS life.

To shorten this, I'll get to the point. This past March, Easter Saturday, I felt utterly betrayed by a dear friend. That very night I began crying. I didn't cry all the time, but I cried over anything, and everything. And boy, don't let me hear a sad story, or minor-key music--that would open the floodgates. I couldn't sleep, but maybe three or four hours per night, stopped eating, lost weight, and went to 3 or 4 AA meetings a day (twenty-five a week!). My wife said I was having a meltdown. (Actually, I don't know WHAT she thought.) Doctor said I might be having slight depression over my 2007 year of radiation, etc., etc., for prostate cancer and a couple other things. All who knew me agreed that a huge change had taken over my psyche. And people who cared--it seemed--were making excuses, reasons, for my unusual behavior. But only I--only I--knew the nut of the problem, and I wasn't 'talking'...no shrink for me, because, "All they know to do is WRITE on those little bits of pharmacy paper."

I felt 'accused' of being 'bad', because people would tell me I was way up, 'high', then way down 'low', and sobbing for no reason. My doctor (who knows me well, and understands alcoholism) suggested I see a shrink. I flatly refused. We argued. I won. Fear set in. They'd have to commit me...but first they'd have to find me--I'd just received in the mail my first ever 'genewine U.S. Guv'mint passport'! Africa, here I come!

It turned out that my doctor finally agreed something needed doing, so he prescribed a minimal daily anti-depressant, Lexapro 10mg, which I take religiously...and regularly -grin. Everything seemed to me then, to be OK. However, people close to me kept saying that I was still too happy! Well, I've been a happy sort of guy (happy-go-lucky, that is) most of my sober life, so I was not disturbed about 'happy'. SADNESS would shake me, because I've never been accustomed to that emotion.

Anyway, I just thought it was time to let y'all know that, as happy, serene, peaceful, as I am, I have also 'been there', but for only for a short time--and it is under control. I do not cry any more. Thank God, I do not harbor that old stinking thinking, e.g., "Gosh if ONE is good...TWO might be better!" Also, thank God they have medications now which do not render us helpless vegetables, what I call 'vegetarians'...Oh God!, I just lost two of the three readers of this blog! --BIG grin. Something tells me it's time to STOP--HERE!--NOW!

Love,
Steve E.

I'll sit back now and read the 'joke-for-the-day'...WHO wrote yesterday about the blind guy in the restaurant??? Whooopeee! "Yep, just one pill per day, doc."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

DO-IT to BE-IT


TO BE--OR TO DO?


Who would have thought that simply 'BEING' would demand so much 'DOING'?

Ya know, I thought that 'BEING' trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent and 'BEING' serene, being at peace, being tender and loving--well, I figured these were all attributes of us 'human beings', attributes which I AM. NOT SO!

To be a truly sober and happy human being, I have to work at all these things and continuously grow along spiritual lines. Does that mean I must be a human 'DOING'? Well,, yes. For me to really BE, I must (WARNING, four-letter word ahead!) DOIT. I must work the Twelve Steps, sponsor men, participate in groups and meetings, set up chairs, volunteer to speak, drink coffee, oops--I mean MAKE coffee!--and allow a sponsor to help me put some balance in my life--and did I forget, practice those Twelve Steps in everything I do.

A speaker three days ago said that he wanted to cut back on his drinking, then found the miracle, cocaine...and so at long last he established balance in his life. He used to start the morning with alcohol, and then finish his day with cocaine. Now THAT THERE is real 'high-wired' balance! -grin-

So many of us human beings suffer for such a long time after we begin to practice these principles in all our affairs (not illicit ones!). For me, after fifteen years of staying sober in Alcoholics Anonymous, I finally found the God of my understanding. He was with me all the time. I only had to look deep down within myself, and there He was! Big Book, pg 55, par. 3..."In the last analysis it is ONLY there that He may be found." (Caps are mine)

And I believe He is within EACH of us, every human being. With Him being so close within me, why oh why do I still suffer? Lack of faith? No, I certainly believe--by now. Maybe though, an occasional lack of TRUST...ahhhh! I'm still not 100% trusting--that He will do for me what is best, always. There is that lingering thought that maybe I yet can take over and run the show..."AS STEVE SEES IT".

So, I believe God is within everyone. So, I must love that part of everyone wherein I see Him, even when I sometimes cannot recognize Him there. And so, I love you ALL, not really because I must, but because I WANT to! And am I having FUN! Ask anyone around here! In fact, I find that some of us are uncomfortable when we see someone who really, REALLY insists on enjoying life.
Steve E.

Friday, August 22, 2008

STORMY SPIRITUALITY



A 'STORMY' SPIRITUAL STORY

A couple mornings ago, Tropical Storm Fay made landfall about 10 miles south of Naples. She mightily blew and copiously wet our whole area with 8"-10'' of driving, sheeting, pelting rain in as many hours, so temporary street and yard flooding was rampant. But this is not about Fay. This is about Alcoholics Anonymous, right? And recovery. Right? Yesss!

Our wonderful 24-Hour Club in Naples closes at 11 PM, and opens at 5 AM--I know this because I'm there shortly after, for the 6 AM meeting. Imagine what some of my normal friends would think if I told them we meet at 6 AM and talk about tolerance, patience, faith, hope, LOVE, and 'spiritual lines'. They might well think it's a new brand of Cocaine I'm using!

Because of T.S. Fay we lost power at the club, and the dozen or so daily meetings either were canceled or we just sat around outside. This B.Y.O.Coffee thing went on for two days before power restoration. The groups which did come together met alfresco on the 'smokers' porch. One afternoon I attended a 5:30 PM meeting, and--as we all can say at certain times--"it was one of the best meetings EVER." The topic was "Change", since this was a 'big change' to meet without coffee pots, air conditioning, toilets, tables, books, etc. Some of these guys are old like me, though ALL the girls are young (and stay pretty, y'all--now, who says that?).

Many of the fifty of us spoke in turn, concerning the changes in our lives, whether we had been six months, or forty years sober. I heard of countless reconciliations of partners and friends. I heard how families had come together, how long-owed debts were paid off, and how many a life had been turned around, thanks to our Twelve Steps, our inspired program for living and giving, our fellowship, and our helpfulness and love for one another. Near the end of the hour, it occurred to me that NO one outside of our fellowship, would EVER believe that fifty recovering alcoholics had been sitting around in the Florida late-afternoon heat, discussing for an hour such lofty words as described in paragraph two, above....and that not ONE PERSON mentioned, or probably even THOUGHT of--ALCOHOL! What a stupendous testament to the nature of our God-given way of life. I, and others, were overwhelmed at the profundity of the hour just quickly passed, and the porch overhang resounded with the Lord's Prayer.

Want another spiritual happening? Here it is: without word nor hint, I realized that not ONE person lit up their Lucky Strikes during this hour, although we WERE in the 'Smoker's Area' outside the building. How is THAT for Higher Power action?

May the God in each of us, bless the God in each other today, and may I be with you all in that blessing.


Love,
Steve E.





Thursday, August 21, 2008

SADDEST DAY OF MY LIFE


STEVE THE "HERMIT"
STAR DATE 1966
PART THREE, FINAL EPISODE

In order to keep away the mosquitos during my stay on 'my island', I had arranged to have the Marco Island spray plane fly the eight or so miles south, to spray me every day. It only cost two quarts of Bacardi Rum, for Martin, the pilot, to agree to this--(see, I even do my bartering with booze!).

Each day, about 8 AM, the old Air Force C-47 made several passes so low, as to raise beach sand everywhere. Martin sprayed that wonderful stuff onto everything. I'd open my mouth to maybe catch some of it. A few months after, that Cuban pilot died in a fiery crash, driving that same aircraft. The Mackle Brothers, developers of Marco Island, paid lots of bucks, for my comfort.

The above paragraph sets up this next bit, the SADDEST DAY OF MY WHOLE LIFE. I can cry even now, remembering the horror of it all. Any true, 'real' alcoholic might identify with me, and KNOW me, know my ache, my hurt, my anguish, by reading this short story:

Two of my friends, both pilots, flew their two small Cessna down to entertain me with their aerobatics about three days before I was to vacate the island. I had run out of ALL alcohol (and cigarettes!), was still walking in pain, and figured they would magically, automatically 'know' my sorry predicament.

The two planes flew SO low, that I could see my wife and daughter in one of them--so then I was CERTAIN that my lack of supplies would be alleviated, since we always had a 'working telepathy'. I stood in one spot, waiting for the drop of my C.A.R.E. package...and fifteen long minutes later, when I finally figured they were playing that 'waiting' game, they flew away--out of my life--forever? Who would know? I knew true HATRED that day! POOR ME--and I MEAN THAT, even now. (Ha! I just peeled off a long-buried, long-hidden, powerful resentment. And I'll take care of it right away!)...........

SO began the Unhappiest day of my whole life--no booze, no smokes, and that equaled NO NOTHING. I did not pray, for fear that I would curse God Himself for this calamity. (They could have at LEAST dropped some Bandages -grin-)

On one slow, painful limp around the island I found a sand-buried Jack Daniels (Black Label!) bottle, and it was about half (empty, or full?). Immediately, I pulled out the cork and proceeded to guzzle--UGHHHHHHH! THHHHHPT! OMG, someone had used it for their specimen, it was all pee. I washed my mouth out with salty sea water, and even drank a little of the brine. I can tell you that God was not taking care of ME that day. (Or maybe He WAS?)

I cried often during the remaining really cool nights, and sun-blistering days. The world as I knew it had ended. Friends and family had forsaken me, I blamed EVERYONE ELSE for my predicament. My mantra: WOE IS ME! REALLY! I was ready to DO it, but was chicken-shit to end my life, because --get this--my FEET hurt too much! I'm living today, because God allowed me to 'cavort' barefoot back-and-forth--unknowingly--through an under-water oyster bar, and spend the next eight days with bloody, infected feet!.

And yet, I spent the next EIGHT YEARS perfecting my drinking habit. I became a 'functioning' drunk. For that, I needed a daily, hefty amount of maintenance alcohol. God, since then, has allowed me to learn and use the Twelve Steps He gave us, and to stay sober since March 18, 1974. I never looked back as far as drinking again--for me. It just has not happened. Expressing my gratitude to God, and you AA people, is what I live for today.

Oh yes, the fishing guide, Joseph, DID arrive as scheduled to pick me up. We enjoyed an EXTREMELY quiet ride back to civilization.

Steve E. (A Hermit--NOT!)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

THE DROG -- PART TWO

STEVE THE "HERMIT"
STAR DATE 1966
PART TWO

Guess this could be called a DROG, my own word for "DRunk-Log"?


The BEETLES sang it best:

"Yesterday.......
...all my troubles seemed so far away,
...as I returned from comatose;
...and I began to breathe again."

As I slept the sleep only known by the drugged, my tent was blowing around--like the stuff outside is right now, in T.S. FAY--and there I lay, fairly oblivious to nature's godly powerful forces all about. I was awakened from this deep, deep drunken stupor--into which I had poured myself--by terribly frightening (to me) noises of growling, crying, and hissing sounds VERY close by. When my eyes began to focus, I saw this MONSTER, this horribly ugly head, about the size of a football, mouth wide open, snorting, snarling, and...and, what? of all things...CRYING! I was lying there on the tent floor, looking into the gaping mouth of a--seemingly--giant sea turtle, a real live nesting-straining-and-egg-laying Loggerhead!

A week later I was told that she likely did her nesting every YEAR on the very spot I had carefully (Ha!) chosen to erect (Ha!) my tent.. (Sorry for the "Ha's", they express better than ever I could). So, I did what ANY normal, sane human would do in this scary situation--reach beside me for my bottle of Early Times 86 proof! What else? After a few swigs from my bottle, I might better deal with these events. The turtle kept on huffing and puffing, as if I was not there. Finally, she left, dragging her hefty body over the few feet of remaining sandy beach, to water's edge.

That turtle must have been thinking..."I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky...." --from: SEA FEVER, by John Masefield

Again safe, hurting (in real pain: bottoms of my feet shredded and bloody, now becoming infected), weary mentally and physically--called 'bone tired'--I "made a decision" to put some calories into my body, and so I opened a couple beers, and chased down each swallow of the Golden Brew with my favorite 'wonder drug' of the moment, vodka.

Please note that my answer to ANY question, ANY situation, ANY happening, ANY prayer event...was to become annihilated with my drug, alcohol. It was my answer for anything and everything. Alcohol had become my GOD. Drinking had become my way of life, the only life I would know--for eight more years.

This ten-day period of my life needs ONE MORE Blog to complete.--it just became much too lengthy to finish today. Hope you will be back Thursday, for the finale! Its Title: MY DEPRESSION: The Saddest Day of My Life, and it's not too lengthy -grin-
Steve E.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

FAY! DER STURM!


NOTE: This is #2 posting today. You might find the one below more interesting.


TUESDAY--A GOOD DAY TO STAY IN

AND PRACTICE YOUR VIOLIN!

By tonight, it'll be "all over 'cetp the wipin' (cleaning up the debris--don't pronounce the "s" in 'debris', OK? I always DO!), but for now, we're being hit with those SHEETS of rain which seem unending--and the power keeps wanting to quit, it's in the on-off-on-off stage. Went out to get the paper--it was there, all right. Ha! Right now it's hanging around the house, drying. What the h***, I don't read it anymore-anyhow -grin- well, except for the FUNNY? sheet (another 'sheet'!) One minute out there, and BOY, am I soaking wet. Note to self: If ya wanna weigh a few pounds more at the doctor's office(?), go there WET...real WET!

While all my clothes are in the dryer, I'm gonna go ahead and post this BEFORE the power leaves. That's a new experience for me, to do something BEFORE something else happens -grin-...(ahem, an announcement): The power is still on, but COMCAST decided y'all do NOT need to read my special wit, humor, unique experiences, etc., etc. -BIG grin- at this time. Later, maybe?

Sincerely, I thank you for all your messages of concern, care, and love. This is turning out to be SOME storm! More than I had anticipated, anyway. Thank You, God, we need the rain.
God LOVES you all! And I love you all!
Steve E.

GOSH! THANKS, DAD! I T'S A GOODYEAR!

STEVE THE "HERMIT"
STAR DATE 1966

The year 1966 is one which lives in my memory, mainly for the events here described. Since I had come to Florida to 'be a hermit', for my vacation during the summer of '66, I determined to get a taste of the hermitage. So, for my two weeks in the sun and fun, I chose to get myself planted on a small spit of an island south of Marco Island--the objective, to 'play hermit' for a week or so...I think it was ten days?


I rented a tent, and all the equipment which could fit on a small boat, and hired a fellow to float me down to this 'sugar loaf' spit of sand in the Gulf of Mexico. And of course, it goes without saying that I loaded onto that little runabout several cases of beer, one case (12 quart bottles) of my favorite (the cheapest) vodka of the day and six quarts of Early Times (to compensate for my bland vodka dietary choice). Ice, many cans of tuna, some boiled eggs, heck I don't know what else, it didn't matter. Ants got to the food before me, since I mostly drank the first couple days.

As soon as this fellow dropped me, and helped to unload my gear (don't break the glass!), he sped away, maybe glad to be rid of me--with the promise that in ten days he'd return. Well, I was ecstatic!

I was in HEAVEN! I ran around like a crazed child, alone on his private playground. Me, the hermit! My dream of thirty years had come true, at least in "trial" form. I cavorted (yes, cavorted) in the water, bare-footed, and bare-ass'd. I really thought maybe the water there was contaminated, because it had a certain foreboding red color, all around me was this red-tinted water. It was THEN, that reality set in. I had been cavorting on an old oyster bed, and the "red" was my own blood. Yep, my (by now!) VERY sore feet bottoms were shredded.

Now I became scared...no doctor, no medicine, no First Aid kit...so first I took a huge pull from a vodka bottle, and knew that I was going to soon be wasting some of the precious liquid on my FEET. If whoever reading this is an alcoholic, they will immediately KNOW what absolute TRAUMA it was for me to pour vodka , AND Early Times (forgot to mention the Whiskey!) onto my feet. I cried then. Not the burning, but OH! the wasted booze, Oh! Woe is me!

So, for the next days (daze!) I walked about wearing a tee shirt wrapped around each foot, using a makeshift cane for support. I did not know God at that time very well, I mean He and I were at odds, at least I was.

But, Back to my first night. On the radio, it was announced that a Tropical Depression had formed over Everglades City, about 10 miles from where I sat, painfully nursing myself with the only anesthesia I knew, in the darkness of a warm, June night. Well, that storm came thundering full blast at my island, the water kept rising, I'd check it every half hour, and moved my tent several times that night, walking on two bloody stubs. I stayed very drunk, but could not avoid the dangerous situation which was before me. There was nowhere to go, no hills, and the water kept rising. In a drunken stupor I fell fast asleep.

You'd think my 'First-Night' story might end here. Wrong! Since this blog has become waaay out of bounds for a simple daily log reading, the "rest of this story" will be on tomorrow's posting, that's Wednesday. It's much more interesting than today's, so don't miss it. I promise!

Monday, August 18, 2008

THOUGHTS--CAREFUL NOW, STEVE


RANTIN' AND RAVIN' TODAY...

The Monday 'Beginners' section of our New Dawn group was chaired by an excellent man, who really REALLY knows his way 'around AA'...ME! -grin- Dontcha just love the way some people say something like..."I've been 'around AA' now more than a few 24 hours..." etc. Why the f... don't they say HOW long. "A few 24 hours" could mean four days. Do I want to ask that guy to be my sponsor? (Maybe!)


After all, the only thing I DO own in AA IS my sobriety date. Everything else is day-to-day, live-and-learn, continue-to-grow-along-spiritual-lines stuff. Which is great. But the one static thing (hopefully) is my D.O.S. It's all MINE!

I had my last (final?) drink the night before my first meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, March 18, 1974. That's the way everyone introduced themselves at that time, of course, things change, e.g., we do not wish to offend someone who has--maybe--three weeks! Well, I remember saying ,"I'm Steve, I'm an alcoholic, and I had my last drink seven days ago. AND I PASS!" It was NOT embarrassing. I recall being 'so proud' of that accomplishment, TRULY. Oh well, I'm WAY off the topic ...

Ya know, we treasure our sobriety, our Twelve Traditions, our Twelve Steps, our literature, our meetings, our sharing at those meetings, our service work, our (sometimes) loose structure, our coffee, our rooms with A/C, etc. I do believe though, that there is a bottom line somewhere. And it is the following (my opinion, of course):

There would be NONE of the above, absolutely none, if it were not for the "BOTTOM LINE", that is, one alcoholic talking to another, helping another, spending time with another, loving another, or rather loving the God I find in another. I think often about this, that one-on-one is where it began, and one-on-one is where it continues, even this very day--to 'begin' for someone...somewhere.

Accompanying this one-on-one relationship (which may last only minutes--or YEARS!) is the Presence of God, Who is really doing the talking, one to another. I have simply made myself available for Him to do His work among us humans. And by gosh He DOES work, even when we do not!

Anna did the lead this morning on Step Three, and she does have "it", that "it" which we read on page 58 in Big Book: ..."go to any length to get IT!" (A loosely quoted phrase?)

Thank You God, for bringing me to Alcoholics Anonymous, and thank YOU AA people for bringing me back to God!


Steve E.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

MORE FROM STEVE E.

THE WEEKEND--ALMOST GONE--
BUT NOT LOST

Boyoboy! Yesterday, five of us from Naples joined the others for a men's AA meeting at Ft Myers Beach, and about 15 of us went for breakfast afterwards. I can't begin to tell you--that's the title to a song, look it up--what a beautiful Saturday morning it was, not only the weather, which is always such (wait until my Tuesday blog, we're anticipating a very windy, and very rainy day), but the meeting, the morning, the camaraderie, the breakfasting, the riding...Ahhhhh!

It is seemingly difficult for me to enjoy myself (self, get it?) unless the activity involves Alcoholics Anonymous members, the AA program, or spirituality of some sort. Since 'gratitude' is usually uppermost in my mind these days, I really can enjoy just being, or riding, or working, alone--or with someone!

Today I get to play my violin at two masses at St Ann Church in Naples, the 8 AM and 6 PM, and I love doing that. My favorite pianist-organist-music director Jamie is working this week, and asked if I might like to join her and my favorite, wonderful cantor, Karen. Would I LIKE ? Huh? Does an Alky like booze? Of course, it really screws up my self-imposed meeting schedules. But hey, why do I stay sober? In fact, in our Big Book I read..."we absolutely insist on enjoying life." Page 132

Our daughter Cheryl is visiting us this weekend,. She is a darling, age 26. She was not a darling, age 6-20, at least to ME (stepfather!). And she does have her problems, but NOW she asks advice, and LISTENS! Thank You, God--but God, You were so s l o w in bringing this about, this change in behavior. Then I look at my own life--when did the change occur? Well, it did not 'occur', it rather dripped along like a faucet might leak, until, years later there was a hole in the sink.

Another huge event in my life happened yesterday. I erroneously thought I had offended someone (my favorite non-related person EVER!) on my blogroll very deeply--don't know exactly why. And it hurt bad, and so I needed to make an amend...for ME, really. The response was timely, and exquisitely positive, and I am yet again awed by the love and understanding I find here in AA blogland. Of course, the AMEND is that I must change--and I did--and be ever so careful of what I say, do, and WRITE! I will admit here, to a few tears of JOY, as I read the answering mail.

I know this is wrong, but I (oh, crapola!) don't mind too much when I offend SOME people, but NEVER, on here, with you, beautiful AA people.
Steve E., still sober, still trying to get better. May god bless you all today and every day!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

YA NEVER KNOW WHAT


THE DAY, THE HOUR, WHO EVER KNOWS?


OMIGOSH! Now the greatly accurate and precise weather forecasters are letting us (Naples, FL) know that we must prepare for another hurricane. I've been 'preparing' since 1965. It IS sort of scary in each instance. There's always the possibility of tornados, the near-certainty of heavy amounts of water (well, we need it, they've been telling us forever!) damaging winds (lost some roof and a wood fence last time, so?). I guess it's the Uncertainty of it all which is the most scary, especially for old folks and children. BUT, "I been there...done that!". I'll let ya's know how it all turned out here where the sun shines ALMOST every day (seriously).


But ya know, I believe the uncertainty of driving to work is a frightening thing if I really think about it--so I do not (drive to work, OR think about it...I'm retired!). Thursday morning one of our Harley guys (AA) and his wife were riding (not to work) when they ran into a truck, which had been pushed around by another truck, a freak accident. One truck didn't stop when it was supposed to, and bottom line IS that Tim H was killed instantly, age 53. His wife Marian is in a hospital in very bad shape (she was riding her own Harley, these are 'real' bikers.)

INSERTED SATURDAY AT 11:00 AM: Tim and Marian's accident happened on the day of their 32nd marriage anniversary...just learned that this morning. Also learned of the numerous occasions that Tim said something privately to others which helped them stay sober ONE MORE DAY. See--all of us! We do not always realize when someone IS listening to our words, hearing God speak to them. Praise!

This morning we (ahem!) bikers will ride (after the 6 AM meeting) to Ft. Myers for a men's meeting, and breakfast somewhere after, and it will be a sad ride--Tim H. would have been with us.

Please God, help Marian in her suffering, which she must endure without her husband...and please God, welcome Tim into Your kingdom of heaven. This is my prayer now, and the blogging community will also pray with me, as a few of them read this sad blog.

Friday, August 15, 2008

ONE PLUS ONE

STEVE PLUS STEVE
IT IS ALWAYS ONE PLUS ONE

AND WHEN GOD IS ALSO PRESENT, MIRACLES HAPPEN!


Please do not construe the following as a display of my Ego or Pride (although I do have too much of both!). This short story DOES make me proud of God...and proud that I am knowing Him as the Great Friend in my life today.


In November of the year 2001 I found myself, for whatever reason, attending a MEN OF NAPLES meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous, a meeting "seldom graced with my presence". -grin-

Background: In November 2007, I had written a note to one of my pigeons, Steve T., in recognition of his sixth anniversary as a member in good standing of Alcoholics Anonymous. His words in response are one of my fondest keepsake memories in AA. And this is for me a reminder, that God CAN write straight--with (e.g., ME) a crooked pen!

IMAGINE! God used my voice to speak to Steve T., the sobering words he needed to hear on that early afternoon of November 22, 2001. Thank YOU, Steve T., for sitting next to me at that AA meeting, and for calling me soon after....as I had "commanded"! --grin-

Here are the words of Steve T:

"Actually Steve, it's 6 years (Ed. Note: Steve T. DOS Nov 4 2001). My 24 hour book has 22nd Nov in the back. We may have met a few days prior to that. On the 22nd I had 18 days. I remember sharing in that meeting that it seemed my only option was to get a cheap motel room and go get drunk. I had told the group that I had a huge monkey on my back. And when I looked around the room at a few of the guys, everyone looked away.

Then, Steve E., you appeared, as if from nowhere, (Ed. note: I was sitting right NEXT to Steve T.) and there was an aura around you, a white light, and I heard angels singing…. Oh OK, maybe not!!! But I’ll tell you one thing Steve E. That was the day my recovery STARTED!

Thank you for carrying the message to me, Steve. Thank you for being there and being my friend. You helped me get through that first 18 months, such a crucial time in my life, and then the divorce et al. You are the first person I ever told anything about me.

I remember that first time I called you. We had a chit-chat for a few minutes, and then you asked "So anyway, how are you?" and I said "Oh, I’m fine"...and then you said "Oh, REALLY!. Hahahahahahah!" And I thought, "Oh shit!"

God really did smile on me on Nov 22nd 2001 and I still thank him every day for putting you there, Steve E."
(END OF STEVE T. STORY...)

OK Gang...How often does God give to us, years after the event, such a blessing, as to let us know that He DID use us at one point in time? With me, hardly ever--well, there HAVE been a half-dozen other instances. But, during a 34-year period, that's not many.

It IS true, that now I pretty well realize when I AM doing His will, and when I am NOT! And, as some of you know, I now have a sponsor to let me know, when I'm in DOUBT. Sober today, while writing to my sober friends--YOU! May you all be as HAPPY as me today...gotta go to my morning 'places'. And Thank You, God!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

CHANGE THE THINGS WE ...WHAT?


I CAN CHANGE WHO???
(NOT!)


Since the topic is "Change" (my topic!) I'd like to relate a couple changes with which I'm involved. About a year ago, I began dreaming about owning a bike again, but did not tell my wife. About six months ago, I began dropping little subtle? suggestive-type phrases now and then, like, "Look what we're spending on gasoline each week!" And I walked around the house, shouting "VVVRRROOOOOOM". Well, finally in April I just out and said, "How about I get a bike--in May we have our 18th Wedding Anniversary, plus each of our birthdays.


This got her to thinking, but her mind, you see, was already (secretly) prepped. So, mid-may, we bought me a nice scooter, the biggest one made--I think. Then I coaxed her to start riding on it, as long as I was driving (she had never ridden a bike before). She has NEVER entertained the notion that a bike would tempt her, so I used the same trick with her now, as before...the gas crunch, gas prices, maybe the gas shortage one day--who knows what?

Yesterday, we came home from Fort Myers, and I drove HER new bike back to Naples. She has no motorcycle endorsement on her Florida D/L yet...but soon, soon. NEXT Thursday she will go to "Motorcycle School (a mandatory three-day course, here in FL--as of July 1) and learn the rules, and also how to drive the sucker, and she will receive her MC Endorsment.

The point here illustrated is that we CAN change people--but only RARELY. Only after a HUGE desire, and careful planning on my part, could this have been pulled off. The end result IS that we're BOTH happy campers after having 'bit the bullet'...

Do not know if this falls under the heading of "Courage to Change", or just under "Have nothing to contribute to my blog today". But "Willingness" might fit, or "Open-Mindedness"...hey we can justify ANYTHING that is life-on-life's-terms living...justify it as AA stuff. Because EVERYthing I have or ever will have is due to this program for living which YOU all keep on teaching me, as long as I can remain TEACHABLE.

NOTE: Anna tells me now--after reading this--that she does not subscribe to the thought that I 'changed' her (or could ever change ANYBODY), but since it reads that way, I may leave it unedited.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CONTINUE TO GROW ALONG SPIRITUAL LINES

AND THAT'S THE WAY IT IS...2008
"..CONTINUE TO GROW ALONG SPIRITUAL LINES."
(MY FAVORITE SIX WORDS IN BB)

Went to a MEN'S meeting last night at a homeless shelter. It was good for me to get "back with the boys"! And now I realize (again) that a homeless shelter is NOT where I ever wish to live for more than an hour or two at a time--as for an 'AA meeting.


When I arrived at the door, in 1974 (it rhymes!), of Alcoholics Anonymous in Naples FL, there were no halfway houses, or treatment centers (here). We had to 'tough it out"...but I didn't know that's what we were doing. I remember them saying, "If ya wanna quit drinking...quit drinking!" Sounded logical to ME. And I came back the following week...and kept coming back, each week, without taking a drink in between meetings.

AND, I was a BARTENDER those days! That's really what 'saved' my skin. I could actually SEE, that excessive amounts of booze was doing to my people--my customers--what it had done to me.

Now this morning I am having breakfast with my new sponsor Don, who says the same thing to new people. The ones who listen to him likely will make it. (I'm not implying that those who don't listen to him will NOT make it!). The whole thing is that I stopped drinking FIRST, and THEN came to AA the next night. My AA program is NOT one of stopping something. It is a program of DOING something, of learning how to live. How to live HAPPILY without drinking.

And I have been doing that for a long time. I must warn myself again, though--and maybe others who have long-time sobriety--that complacency is NOT a virtue! Procrastination is NOT a virtue. Non-virtuous thinking and/or behavior is NOT a virtue.

Doing my best to live the kind of life which conforms to God's will, IS virtue! And with His continuous help, I--and you all--will do just that, at least for today!

Steve E.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

"SHAYERING!"...


IS IT SHARING?
OR
BARING MY SOUL?
This is another one which I must send off FAST, before I change my mind!


Got me a sponsor this morning, right at 7:45 AM! It was on the advice of my 'ex-temporary' sponsor--figure THAT out! (Later.) Been needing one for several months...someone more than a "Howdy, how are you?" kind of guy. So, maybe he doesn't have 34 years sobriety...maybe he ain't old enough yet.


I've had sponsors from my AA beginning for about 25 years. The past ten years, I've depended on 'on-the-run' conversations with men, after men's meetings, etc. I can say now--not enough! SO THERE!

Funny, how I can readily advise everyone ELSE to get a sponsor, etc., and yet figure just because I'm sober almost half of my 75 years, that I'm immune from 'thinking' problems, 'living' problems.

I sponsor others...and one of them I use as MY sponsor, but ya know, sometimes that works, and sometimes it just does not...especially when he is in Colorado for five months a year!

My new sponsor's name is Don, and I picked him because I've been listening to everyone's sharing for four months now--EVERY morning--and he is the one who spits out 'old-time' AA, just as I remember it. "IF ya wanna stop drinking...stop DRINKING!" Simple, yes?


Of course, I'd like to--really enjoy to--have a 'girl' sponsor, even tried it for a few weeks recently. Can you imagine ANYONE being such an IDIOT? (Who? Me, or the girl? I ain't gonna tell. Oh well...BOTH!)

Anyway, it's time to quit hanging around the girls, and get back with the BOYS! And I've found out that even the 'HARLEY' bikers in Alcoholics Anonymous, are willing to let a 'scooter' guy join them for Saturday morning rides to a Ft Myers meeting and breakfast after...how good is THAT?

I am publishing this to illustrate that, no matter HOW many 'years I have' here in AA, there is always room for improvement. If I do not continually grow spiritually...I begin to slide backwards.

There IS a God, and I am SO happy to know Him, and SO grateful for the people who have allowed Him to use them to do His work.

Thank you, and Love, from
Still Sober Steve E.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I AM BLEST--AND GRATEFUL!


IN THE BEGINNING...

This morning I get to chair the weekly beginners' meeting at my group, and this is a serious, yet fun place, for me to be. I actually enjoy being with people who are newly sober, who are full of wonder. So often I can see that they want to know what it's all about, but have not the answers...in fact, they have not even the questions. We say, "Suit up and show up." Sounds so trite, but SO tritely true it is!


And then, to watch the new ones grow, oh, so little at a time. "Careful", I say to myself, when I notice one of them 'catching it all' in the first few weeks. I was there. I knew most everything about Alcoholics Anonymous in the first couple months. After Step 5, I was ready to save the world. It does not work that way.

Patience, sweet patience, dear friend, we will guide you at a slow and comfortable (Ha! Who is comfortable during those early weeks of 'sobriety'?) pace through these steps, all the way to freedom. Freedom from bondage, freedom to be yourself, freedom to confidently do God's will, freedom to walk any where, any time, with your head held high. Freedom to look in the eye anyone on the face of the earth--AND in heaven...freedom to face your God, Whoever that is.

And yes, the freedom to express this AA program in terms that others might understand, and climb on the wagon--this wagon of our program, which leads to peace of body and soul which I can call serenity. And yes, know this. In time, (that's TIME!), even HAPPINESS entered my life. And I hope and pray it enters yours, dear new person--or 'old-timer' who might still be suffering somewhere inside.

I am so blest...and SO grateful!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

YEP--STEVE NEEDS. UGHHH!


OK HERE IT IS--STEVE NEEDS--I GAVE IN!


* Steve needs a doctor.. maybe a vet?


* Steve need you... Ohhhh, Yessss!


* Steve needs help again. Don't help me--just DO it!


* Steve needs to hurry up. This isn’t nap time. This IS nap time, ya got 5 minutes.


* Steve needs to find a squirrel hitman. Possibly someone with the nickname Squirrel Zipper or Squirrel Burger... or SQUIRREL AWAAAAY!


* Steve needs more money. Not money...GOLD!


* Steve needs a new V8-pack funtion. Yes...Whatever that is?


* Steve needs to figure out what David Sedaris book he’s talking about. That one--over there...he IS funny--somewhat.


* Steve needs to specify the containers in which the existing MS-Word-98 objects are store
....Little trash-can icons with painted flowers


* Steve needs to deliver the Keynote at San Francisco this year. Not good on keyboard--I play a violin.

GOD WORKS--THEREFORE AA WORKS

COOKIE-GIRL POLLY (AGAIN)
...ALSO STEVE ON THE POT


Seldom--maybe once a month, or once a year--do I have a 'sit-on-the-pity-pot' moment, and this past Friday is my example. Friday morning (4:30 AM, remember?) I awakened, with the thought right there in front of my rather undersized brain, that absolutely nobody loves me, nobody cares--about ME! Wow, we talk often about "having rid ourselves of" self-centeredness, fear, paranoia, guilt, shame, remorse, et., at meetings, and with sponsors. But here I am in early dark, dawn hours, thinking that "Nobody loves me". HA! (Alcohol is cunning, baffling, POWERFUL!)

Well, I got "over it" as soon as I knelt down, and asked my best Friend, the only Person Who loves me and you 100% to ..."lend a hand here, before I get into deep shit trouble, Man". And help was instantaneous in this matter at this time. So I biked across town (lotta FUN!) to the place of my daily meeting.

At the 7 AM meeting I sat next to a tall guy, fairly new in the program, with whom I have a "recovery-affinity", and we chatted a bit. I even relayed my "Nobody cares..." story with him, had to tell someone. We laughed about it, at least I did.

Then, in walked a girl (Some who read this might recall 'cookie-maker extraordinaire' Polly), who sat a couple seats away from me. Within a minute, she reached over and handed to me a bag, containing two beautiful home-baked, chocolate chip COOKIES. They had been left over from a meeting the night before. Polly had baked them. She is the best chocolate chip cookie make I know--and I'm an 'expert'! The 'new' guy and I exchanged glances, shook our heads, and laughed, knowing that God was somehow here at work.

Believe this, I almost (almost? Ha!) had tears in my eyes, at this gesture of friendship, of "caring", if I may use that term. Remember, only two hours before that, my disease of alcoholism was telling me that "Nobody cared!" and here, sitting at the meeting, were between 60 and 70 people without cookies. But Polly gave then to ME! Thank you Polly, and may God Bless you, for you--and Him--helping me to begin Friday with a bit more self-knowledge, and an 'attitude of gratitude' rating of 99.9%.

To explain this 'attitude of gratitude'...well, I ATE the cookies, did not 'share'. After all, isn't a gift twice blest, in her who gives, and in him who eats? (Hope you're laughing...I am!)

God loves you ALL...and me, too!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

A BRAND NEW AA GAL

SOBER "K"


This is a follow-up of a story about an alcoholic girl who God sort of dropped on our doorstep for one night only a couple weeks ago. For us, it was a totally spiritual Thursday night of talking, and a wonderful Friday morning AA meeting:

On July 25, I 'logged that 17-year-old "K", attended her first AA meeting that Friday morning in Naples at 7 AM. K. lives in Virginia. Anna and I both talked to her today...she has been sober ten days now, has a 21-year-old sponsor (sober three years)...and is doing...well...OK? Had a rough time of it a few days ago, so she called an AA gal. And today she shouted over the phone at us, two words which say it best, "IT WORKED!"

As it turns out, her sponsor's sponsor lives right behind her house. What a bonus!

Her parents give her problems--they are without a clue, that their daughter is suffering from a fatal disease, alcoholism...but then who--outside of us kind of people--can, on a deep level, really understand that? So they are in that real muddy river of denial. This makes meeting attendance, and adherence to a Twelve-Step Program difficult for a high schooler. However, haven't we found that students in high school can get around their parents for ALL KINDS of so-called difficult situations, and usually come out the winner, parents still being in the dark?

K's sponsor insists that she call her EVERY day for thirty days (a good start?!). And, K. told us, she now realizes that it is not so much about her 'drinking', but about her 'thinking'. How about that! It's what we talked about a couple weeks ago, that Thursday night. How long a time it took ME to 'hear' that truth? Well, well, live and learn! Hopefully, there will be future occasions in the life of "Sober K." which I'll find worthy of publishing on these pages.

Just wanted to share a little bit of the wealth with y'all. That "wealth" is, of course, that God allows us, every so often, to see what He "hath wrought" through our willfully letting ourselves be used by Him, for His honor and glory, and for another person's discovering where sobriety really can be found, AND what sobriety really IS.

May he bless whoever might read this.


MORE: This morning I attended a meeting during which a girl named Polly shared with me. (Polly is a girl who sat next to K. and Anna, my wife, that "other" Friday morning meeting. And Polly told me that just last night K. had Emailed HER! And Polly (a girl who WILL follow up) said to me "That was SO cool!"

Guess that means the same thing as when I say, "WOW! GREAT!"


"It is good that we are here..." Now, I wonder who said that? (hint) St. Peter?