This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem. We think each family who has been relieved owes something to those who have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it should only be too willing to bring former mistakes, no mater how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. PP. 124 B.B.
We’ve never discussed this chapter of the book before tonight. After the reading, I waited for a more educated friend to give his take on this particular paragraph. And so it went. This chapter, written by the first 100 who got sober, are addressing the family afterwards, those families who had seen recovery happen for those first 100.
Well before the dawn of ALANON. Well before there was support for those who had suffered because of an alcoholic in their lives and families.
Which is why, at most large sober gatherings, ALANON is represented and afforded a place at the table. This past weekend, we had a representative from ALANON from Oakville, speak to the Round Up gathering.
In the Promises that come in Step NINE, we are told that
“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”
Those who come into the rooms, do so at their own peril, for the road to recovery is fraught with hard truths and hard work, to clear away the wreckage of the past, make inventories, speak those inventories, and figure out what makes us tick, then as the steps progress, we make those lists of people we need to make amends to.
Family, Friends, Employers, Institutions …
I’ve said many times before that sobriety is cyclical. Each pass at the steps, and each discussion, and each share, and each inventory we process, we make our lists. We process that list, and we file it away for posterity.
But as it always happens, some things die-hard. And quite often, the same issues pop up on inventories, over and over again. We read the same book, we work the same steps, and over time, we discuss and retread the same material over and over again.
As the cycle repeats itself, our lives are like the rough rock (read:Jewel) that finds itself on the polishing wheel of the master jeweler, Let’s call him GOD.
When we come in, beaten and bruised, we settle into our seats. Conventional wisdom speaks to the need to begin steps right away. I’ve heard this said by many old timers with solid track records in working with others.
I take a more Liberal View of Recovery.
I’ve been around a few 24. I know what happens when people come in the door the first time. We welcome people from far and wide, and invite them in for coffee and conversation.
People need to find their feet, so to speak. Before we throw steps at them, they really need to get a bearing on their surroundings, first. They need to find their seat, and get comfortable sitting in that seat. For many, that takes a long time.
Even though they might walk into a Big Book discussion meeting, does not necessarily mean that we throw them into the deep end of the pool right away, which is why we are discussing the book.
Steps begin, as usual. And the first pass at the stone occurs. The first cut is made. Then the Master jeweler looks at the stone to see how his cut looks, and then decides on which next direction he is to take or which cut he wants to impress on the stone.
Each pass at life issues, in the cyclical manner that recovery is, we tread over old material, but each consecutive pass, over the years, we see old pain and experience in the light of the day we are looking at it. In the moment.
Each day moving forwards allows us to see each issue with new eyes, in new light, with a little more sober experience, strength and hope under our belts.
Every time we tell our stories, they become founts of wisdom for some, and for others, their stories are brutal reminders of just what kind of animal the alcoholic was, before he or she came in.
But in the light of a new day, may come to see the wisdom of the above referenced passage.
Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others.
We all have stories. Some far worse than others. Listen to a gathering of old timers telling stories about their lives, after decades of sobriety. Women and Men.
The themes are usually the same, the circumstances, though, differ widely.
They stuck around until the miracle happened for them. As we are advised, to stick around ourselves.
Families afterwards, and families during the clearing of that wreckage need a place to go to figure out who THEY are. And they figure out, for some, like our ALANON speaker this weekend, had to figure out for herself, because she was clueless at the start, that she indeed had been affected by an alcoholic during her lifetime.
Telling stories is not only beneficial for the drunk, telling stories is also beneficial for the families, friends, and significant others, of those who are with US in the ROOMS.
The offshoot of sister programs for people in recovery are as numerous as the (A) Groups that exist today. Which is why A.A. and ALANON work in tandem with each other so well.
We all have STEPS.
We all figure out who we were when we were using and drinking, and the sister members figure out who they are in tandem. They, like us, find solutions to their problems, as we find solutions to ours.
When I moved away from home I was 21 years old. What did I know of the big wide world I was walking into, I had no idea, but my ALCOHOLISM knew very well.
It knew who I was, it knew what I was. And it dictated where I was going to go and what I was going to do. All that valuable education and values, and morals went out the window when it came to my ALCOHOLISM.
I told strategic lies to certain people, because I was drinking my money away, faster than I could make it. And back then making money was the problem I faced over and over.
I’ve been out of my family home for thirty years now. I’ve seen my family, namely my mother and father a few times over the years. And I saw them even less, after I got sober.
I did not see my brother at all, after I moved away except, once, for Christmas many years ago.
All three of them tell the same story about me …
To this day, they blame for all of their problems. AND they blame me for the lives that happened, even though I was not even in the same state, or today, even in the same country.
Even though, when my father died in January, I attempted to make contact, to be a brother, and a son, to my brother and my mother, respectively, they kept the line, that I was not a part of this family, and that I was the cause of all of their problems.
None of them would have ever thought to find help, in ALANON or any sister program, because over the past twenty-five years of my life, I have been in and out of the rooms.
And since I got sober this last very long stretch, I made countless attempts at reconciliation and amends. Every attempt fell on deaf ears.
Fuck me for trying …
I wrote last night, about the forty-five year sober woman who spoke on Saturday night, at the keynote address. And I told that story to the group tonight. About my conversation with her.
She really did not want to make time to listen to me, after learning, after the fact what she had said and done to other sober members, over the weekend.
And her assertion that my behavior as a member of A.A. was unacceptable, casting aspersions, on my ability to know how to behave in a meeting, and I did not argue with her. I took her advice, and just walked away. shaking my head.
She told us her story and we are supposed to hold her up as a paragon of “right sobriety” seeing that she is as old as God. And we are told to never question the wisdom of an old-timer, because they have so many years of lived sober experience.
I call BULLSHIT on that.
I can tell you how many times old timers, or groups of them, have shunned me in a meeting. Telling me to leave, and never come back. That people like me are not condoned in the rooms of A.A. And that maybe I need to find someplace else to get sober, because they did not want me sitting in the same room with many of them.
And on Sunday, I shared ONE particular story of the worst day in my sobriety, when I was an emotional mess, the WORST day of my life in more than twenty-five years. And I told her how an old-timer with more than thirty years of sobriety, shunned me and insulted me and demeaned me.
And she had the balls to say to me that …
I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE IN A MEETING ???
I’ve been nothing but honest whenever I tell my story. I share openly here, because it really does not matter if I break my anonymity. As long as I don’t tell you I speak for anyone other than myself.
I represent nobody or any fellowship.
All I do here is tell stories.
I let you decide whether you want to read, comment or follow.
Every life matters. No matter who you are.
At the end of the meeting a member trans woman walked up to me and whispered in my ear …
I gather, that I understand what you meant when members told you to go. I get it that you were tossed out. She then told me how she was tossed out of meetings, and nail salons, and restaurants, because of who she is today.
Honesty is always the best policy.
You never know when someone in the room you sit in, will identify with you.
And say something kind in return.