One rung at a time…

ladder

I experienced a miracle in the last few days. I went two, almost three full days without a drink. Cold turkey. I’ve never done cold turkey, from the booze. I do love a cold turkey sandwich, though, after Thanks Giving….but I digress.

Today, while hopin and planin for a third day at the cold turkey route, it didn’t happen. Today, I felt SO awful, SO out of sorts being sober for those two, almost three, days, I just had to have a drink, or 6, or 8.

But you know what? In these brief few days, I experienced a clarity of mind long since foreign to me. Even my sense of smell was coming back. What wasn’t coming back was the quality of my sleep. I slept like a dead man coming back to life, not knowing which direction I wanted to go…into the light, or back to the darkness…

These few days gave me some hope though, and an idea. I climbed down into this muck-hole one rung at a time over many years. So maybe, just maybe, I hope, I still have enough time to climb out of it one rung at a time.

And so, this time I put in a two full day’s sober. After tonight’s slip off the ladder, I’m hoping to climb back up tomorrow to the next rung and put in 3 days sober, at least. If I can go more than that, fantastic, but if not, I’ll get right back on that damn ladder and then go for 4 days…and go that way, gradually making my way out of this hell-hole, if that’s what I have to do. As the A.A. dictum states, we do “whatever it takes” to get free.

So there you go, that’s where I’m at and that’s this mans latest plan. God willing, it will be so.

Nelson

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Step 1…

step1

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.

It’s taken me 15 years to finally get this, completely, totally. 15 years to finally admit it. 15 years to finally see it. 15 years. That’s how long I’ve been going to A.A. (off and on). 15 years because I’m a stubborn son of a gun. Really stubborn.

When I was a teenager I don’t know how many times I heard people say to me, “You analyze things too much Nelson!!!”. I never understood what they meant, even after carefully analyzing it! Well, I’ve slowly learned that the problem is that I just think too damn much. Ya, I analyze things too much….hmmmm…ok.

Anyway, after carefully thinking about this (!) I’ve been able to see — after 15 years — that it’s simply taken me that long to do, as they say in A.A., my “Research”. Research in A.A. meaning being out there still actively drinking. The hope with that is, eventually (like after as many as 15 years!) we will realize that, having tried everything, we just can’t win this battle using our own wits, blood, sweat or tears. We finally realize that there is something about alcohol that is simply beyond our comprehension, no matter how much effort or thinking we put into it. That’s where I’m at today.

And so, I’ve started going back to A.A. meetings, just this week. I’m going to finally follow their prescription, their “suggested program for recovery”. The first thing I need to do is stop drinking. I’m almost there. Another day or two and I think I’ll be free of it. I think. I hope. I pray.

Nelson

Frustrated…

frustrated

I’ve been planning to quit drinking and continue going to the pub to be with my friends, without drinking. Well, that could work, but first I have to quit drinking and that’s proving to be more difficult that I thought, especially during the Xmas season. No surprise there, I can hear y’all squawk. While the obsession to drink is gone, the habit is still very much alive. I’ve been drinking every night since I was 19 years old. That’s almost 40 years! If I stay at home—alone—which I don’t enjoy, I am quite easily able to limit the number of drinks that I have. It’s when I go to the pub that I get into trouble. So, I guess I just need to bite the bullet and stay home every night, until I’ve broken the daily habit. Then I can see what happens when I go to the pub and plan not to drink.

Seriously, all of this is the greatest challenge that I’ve ever faced in my entire life. If I could go to rehab, I most certainly would (here’s why) In fact, a dear friend (and drinking buddy) is heading to rehab sometime in the next week. His family are very well off and want to pay whatever it costs to get my friend clean and sober. He called to ask me if I thought he should go! I couldn’t have encouraged him more. In fact he said it was my description of the value of rehab that made him willing! He’s crediting me—his fellow drunk!

My friend is the second person I have encouraged and helped to get sober. Meanwhile, Nelson continues getting wasted. Well, I think my current plan is realistic; stay home, get sober, then try to go to the pub without drinking. I’m hoping that my experience being sober might encourage my other friends to try the same. That’s the pivotal element of A.A.’s success: get sober, help others to get sober. That’s Step 12, and is the most critical factor, in the A.A. way, to ensure and assure ones long-term sobriety.

That’s what I’m going to do.

Nelson

Not big enough?

hugetree

Sunday morning. Hungover, again. WHY? Because I drank too much last night, of course —although I didn’t want to! I really didn’t want to drink last night. But around 3 o’clock my best friend called me. I told him I had to take a break, that I was going to an A.A. meeting. He laughed, then said, “I’ll pick you up and drive you there!”. He was joking, of course. He would drive me to our watering hole and invite me to have an A.A. meeting with him over a few beers. I said no, and I meant it. An hour later I was at the bar.

Why? I know why. I’m battling a habit of daily drinking and at the same time I’m battling not wanting to stop seeing my friends. I love those guys. This morning, however, while reading the chapter, “How it works” in the A.A. Big Book I reflected on the “3 pertinent ideas” described there, in particular the 3rd which states in regard to our being set free from our alcoholism, “that God could and would if he were sought”. In a flash, it suddenly occurred to me, “Is my God (my conception of God) not powerful enough to enable me to go to the bar and be with my friends and NOT drink?”

Hmmmm. I never seriously considered that. Until now, I’ve assumed that I can’t go into a bar and not drink. Can’t do it, nope, impossible! But is it really impossible? Doesn’t it say somewhere in the bible that with God ALL things are possible? Yes, it does. God has already delivered me from the obsession to drink (see Grace). That was huge, and absolutely restored my faith and belief in a higher power that I choose to call God. Surely, then, that same infinite power of the universe can also enable me to not drink if I go to the bar with my friends? Surely.

Frankly, if there is one thing in my life right now that could further prove to me the power of God — that could even prove to my drinking buddies about that power — it would. be. this. If my friends saw me sit with them in the bar and not drink, I know they would consider it a miracle!

So, I know what to do next on my alcoholism journey. I’m going to make my god that much bigger. Big enough to enable me to be with my friends at the bar and to not drink. Some might consider this a foolish notion; “You can’t stick your hand in the fire and not expect to get burnt”. Oh ye of little faith! I’m going to ask God to meet me here now at my place of greatest need.

Here goes!

Nelson

A Miracle…

miracle

The January 1st entry in A.A.’s “Daily Reflections” talks about miracles. About the miracle whoever wrote it had personally experienced, being delivered from their alcoholism. I’ve read this entry many times, but today, despite being terribly hungover from last night’s beer-fest, I suddenly comprehended it. Why this morning? Why today? Perhaps that’s now my miracle in action.

Like the author, I’ve never had trouble believing in God. And like him or her I’ve had trouble putting that belief meaningfully into my life. But today, thanks–and I mean thanks–to my alcoholism, I am looking forward to seeing God do for me that which I cannot do for myself (that’s obvious now). While God has already freed me from the obsession to drink, I cannot break free of the habit. This is the next challenge in my alcoholism journey. Today, I put my trust in God to set me absolutely free. Today, I trust in God to make me a miracle too.

Yes, my hope is renewed!

Nelson

So frustrating…

I’m having a very difficult time just lately. Accepting the loss of 22 years of my life to alcoholism has been very difficult. My best friend is in town for an extended stay and he wants me to join him at the pub every night. Saying no to him is hard. He just doesn’t get it that I really want to quit drinking. He can’t even conceive of quitting the drink. He’s overweight, has high blood pressure, has gout and the last thing on his mind is to quit the cause of all of that! And so, he cannot—will not—understand why I want to quit! I’ve tried explaining it to him but he just gives me a blank stare in response, then says, “Well, don’t blame me if you come out to drink with me—I’m not holding a gun to your head!”. If I quit drinking, I’ll never see the guy, because he spends every evening of his life at the pub and that’s not where I want to be!

It seems inevitable that I’m going to lose what few friends I have if I quit drinking. I’ve known these guys for 10 years. Our habit of meeting at the pub is firmly entrenched. It’s become a way of life. One that I know I have to let go of to be free of the booze. Talk about a difficult, frustrating situation! I know I have to do it. This is probably the biggest challenge in my life since my divorce 23 years ago. Now I’m divorcing my friends — so that I can be sober and friendless!? Yes, yes I can get new friends we all say. But I’m close to 60 years of age. Getting new friends is difficult at this stage of life. Doable, yes. Tough, you bet.

I really don’t know how to do this. Walking away from my friends feels so unnatural. I’m not strong enough to go to the pub with them and not drink. So, ok, I know that A.A. meetings are a start. I’m also going to join a church. I’ve always been quite shy and introverted, so doing this makes it that much more difficult. No one said it was going to be easy, I know, I know. I know!

Nelson

Quack…

duck

I had a fair bit to drink last night. I certainly didn’t plan to. Here’s what happened, and what I learned from it.

Around 4 pm I got to thinking about a friend of mine (who am I kidding — a drinking buddy actually) whom I haven’t seen in over a week. And he hasn’t been answering my texts. So, I thought I would walk past the two watering holes that I know he frequents. My thought was, my intent was, that if he wasn’t in either of them that I would just head home.

Well, he wasn’t at the first place, nor was he at the second. What did I do? I sat down at the second place and ordered a beer! And in predictable pattern, of course the one led to many. This morning, I wondered why…? I’ll tell you why, and this sure ain’t rocket science…

While I had no interest or even desire to drink yesterday (still enjoying the recent grace received) when I consciously walked into the bar, the easiest thing to do at that moment was to drink. Had I not put myself into the environment, had not walked into the bar, then the easiest thing to do would have been to not drink, because I truly had no desire to drink. I merely wanted to see my friend. Had he been there, well of course I would have drank, but that’s besides the point!

My point is, the mistake I made was putting myself into a situation almost impossible to resist. Once there, I followed the path of least resistance. If you walk into a donut shop you’re going to want to have a donut! This perfectly illustrates the insanity of this disease, how it totally screws up our our seemingly logical thinking. To a non-alcoholic, this might all seem insanely obvious. To me, it’s not, or wasn’t yesterday. Yes, I know — that’s just plain ol’ crazy!

While my obsession to drink has been miraculously lifted, I am still an alcoholic! A doctor who stops practicing medicine is still a doctor. A drunk who stops practicing drinking is still a drunk! You’ve heard the old expression, If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck!? An alcoholic like me would probably suggest, “Well, you know, that just might be a chicken in disguise!?” Some A.A.’ers call this unique form of insanity “stinkin-thinkin”. Yup.

Today, thank God I clearly see the insanity of my thinking yesterday. Today then, and for every day hereafter, I will not be walking past, or especially into, a bar or pub, no matter what the reason. Maybe someday I’ll be able to do that. Certainly not in the foreseeable future. I’m ok with that.

Nelson