I heard one of my friends tonight say, about a conversation he had earlier, with a friend, that he was not sure he could be honest with said friend about the topic they were discussing.
I know my friend for many years now. I have many friends, I have known for a long time, and becoming who we are begins with getting better all the way around. We stay clean and sober, and we do the work that is given to us, Willingly.
Willingness is the key.
I have said before that I cannot do life alone. I need my sponsor, my guides and my friends. I need that voice, coming over my shoulder, that says … It’s gonna be OK.
I have a few twenty-four hours under my belt. And for a long time, I did not know what I did not know. And I know the first time I was attempting to get sober, there was A LOT that I did not know. And that worked against me, as represented by the wordsI spoke and the decisions I made, based on self. (not the good self for that matter)
Life is all about becoming who we are supposed to be. Sometimes the road is easy, but in my experience, for many people, the road has been very tough.
I spoke tonight about life. I knew, very early on, in my life, what it was that I did NOT want to be. I heard words that I swore I would never use myself. And I heard thoughts that were repugnant, bigoted and racist.
I knew …
Growing up, if you did not fit in the box my parents wanted you to check, they punished you with silence, and darkness and humiliation and resentment.
Imagine a kid growing up with that kind of negativity and trying to find your way into the world, and survive the slog!
My father went to his grave, hating me, and resenting me for becoming who I was meant to be. My mother is on that very same shit path herself. Last night, I read in this months Grape Vine, about a woman long sober, making peace with her mother, and she asked her what she could do to mend the fence between them ?
The answer was, You Could agree with me sometimes. I’m not always wrong you know.
And I thought about that conversation all day today.
I imagine going to visit my mother, in my brother’s house, where nobody knows me today, and does not want to know me, because of resentment and anger and denial. I imagine having that kind of conversation with her, knowing she spits out the same vile shit, like a script she has mastered over my lifetime.
I don’t ever think I will ever mend that fence, myself.
The second time I got sober, I began with steps that were all about ME. What people did to me, and why they deserve my scorn and hatred. I remember the first round of steps I did, and how LONG my fourth step was, and the hours it took to do my fifth.
Then I burned them.
For years and years, I’ve been working steps with different people, with different lengths of sobriety. And I have amassed a library of knowledge about myself but more importantly, knowledge about everybody else.
God has a funny way with me. The evidence is right there for me to look at. Steps Six and Seven are the growth steps. The change steps. Because we work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives. And further up the road, at Ten, we learn how to do spot check inventories and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Over the years, as I pass through Six and Seven, God shows me Six and Seven, in front of my face. I have learned to see “spiritually.” It has taken a long time to work that vision out. I know I can trust because I can see.
It is the same with some of my friends, when it comes to me. They can see, for me, when I cannot see for myself. And each of them, each in their own ways, have the voice and the temperament to sit me down and tell me like it is, when I fuck up.
Many of my friends know who they are, in each of their varying lengths of sobriety. Many of my friends are honest with me. And I see that virtue in them, in the books I have read on honesty, virtue and honor.
What I see in them, I want to become myself.
I don’t know, at what point, we can trust our vision, and humbly admit we don’t know everything, but I we know some things. In the beginning, I would not say anything to people because I did not know myself what it was I really wanted to say, even if it sounded good in my head.
Over the years, I have worked with others. And over the years I have had several sponsors. And over the years, each of them fell victim to their own character defects.
As I get and stay sober, and life goes on, and shit happens, and things get real, what I witnessed was my friends, my sponsor and other drunks, reacting to the fact that I was having a hard time. I listened to the words they said to me. And I witnessed what each of them did to me, in response to my life getting “Shit Real.”
The rooms really don’t like to see people “In the Mix” People in the rooms, don’t like to witness pain and hardship. And many of my friends and sponsor at the time, pushed me away, freaking out, because I was freaking out, and when I jumped out of my placid, quiet, reserved skin, and became a little odd and crazy, that freaked people out, because I was coming out of my skin, and for a long time at that, that quiet, sane individual became someone they did not know, or want to know.
So they all ran for the hills.
What a shame. And at that point my friends, not knowing what to do with a crazy man, in front of them, all scattered.
There are many ways to get sober. I know a friend, who is more than twenty-five years sober. She, like myself, learned how to get sober, the hard way. We walked into particular meetings, and those men and women, said one thing to us …
If you follow our suggestions, and do not argue, and you work, as we show you what to do, yes, you too will get and stay sober.
There were no two ways about it. It was their way or the highway, so to speak.
She was handed her job. And likewise, I was handed mine. A coffee pot.
We listened to old timers tell us what to do. We both had sponsors who did the right thing at the right time, for the right reason. We learned suggestions. We worked steps. We did service, and to this day, BOTH of us do service, all the time, every day.
Repetition is the key in recovery.
We read the same book, work the same steps. hear the same stories, over and over again. But as we share with each other, as we remain clean and sober, perspective changes.
Each time we make a pass at a particular story or topic or step, we see it in the way we see it IN THAT MOMENT, as it is. not particularly, the way we saw it, the last time we hit that share, or topic or step.
It is like polishing a gem stone. Each pass at the wheel makes the gem better.
We both know what we heard, all those years ago. We both know what we did, over the years, so we know what to do, because we spent the better part of our lives, treading the same things over and over. With all that time between us, and each in our own times, we know what we know, because we heard, we worked, we spoke, and we did.
She has a voice, and I have mine. Based on practical experience, strength and hope.
I talk to newcomers and I tell them what I did, and I make simple suggestions. Not many people want to hear what I have to say, because I, like my elder lady friend, come from the sober school of hard knocks.
Sobriety is not easy. And people know that from the get go.
But if you say something that is not easy … They respond with I just Can’t !
So I ask, why not ? What have you got to lose, but the old way you used to live ?
They say that honesty is the best policy. But when do we know what honesty is, and when do we know that what we have to say matters, is truthful, honest and comes from a place of humility?
That, is a tall order. And can take a lifetime to learn.
Over the years, I have worked with men and women. many of them are not in my life anymore, because when I hit the rough spot, who I became was unacceptable to their sensibilities. All that sober knowledge I spent teaching them, went for naught.
Because each of them sunk into their character defects. I saw it. I heard it, and I spoke about it too. Being honest in all my affairs was a mantra I use to this day.
I was honest with them. They did not like that. So that made me less sober or trustworthy.
Fuck Me for Trying !!!
I know today, the odds, when people come in the rooms. By what they say, and what they do, and who they listen to. The fighters and arguers, never make it. Those who justify their addictions, never get better. Until they decide to get honest.
I know sober folks who are constitutionally unable to be honest with themselves.
If I attend a meeting, for a long time, for a specific reason, to learn something, and people treat me badly, that is not on me, it is on them. When people who used to be my friends, turn out to NOT be friends, and do not have the ability to reciprocate kindness, that is on them and not me.
There are LONG SOBER men and women, whom I have known for the whole of my sobriety. We are talking people with decades of sobriety, who treat me with ignorance and silence. That just floors me.
I know who I am today. And I know what I know about each person I know. Because I have spent the better part of sixteen years and a few months, watching and listening to them in meetings.
I got sober, on the backs of every single person in every single meeting I went to. Every single day of this sober segment.
I know every decision they made. I know every mistake they made. I heard every word they said, in meetings, over and over. I watched people go back out, come back in, go back out and come back in.
I also watched some people die in that process.
If you did something and succeeded, I used that myself. If you did something and failed, I chalked it up to lessons learned. I made mistakes. I said things. I decided things too.
For the most part, I did my best, with whatever I had at the moment.
Not everybody was amused. Many people judge and are critical of me.
That is on them and not me. People are who they are, and will do what they do, so I should not let that bother me, but it does. Some don’t seem to learn and get better. They just want to be who they are. And their growth becomes stunted.
I am honest with people. Almost to a fault and that scares people, that I could know what I know, it is only that I know because I have tested all my methods over the years and I know what works.
I am in the book. I am in my steps. I am in meetings, and I do service. All the time.
I am always looking for the next greatest teacher or lesson. And right now, I am in a brand new incarnation of who I want to be, based on those I surround myself with.
I trust few.
We are all growing up to who we want to be.
Each at our paces.
I am powerless over people, places and things.
And what ever happens, a drink will not solve them.
So I hit another meeting …