Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Understanding the High-Functioning Alcoholic

Here's an interview with the author of Understanding the High- Functioning Alcoholic. The book, by Sarah Allen Benton is what convinced me to realize that I qualified for the program...

Her website is

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My First Sober Thanksgiving

Am at the Center Garden where I paused to write this blog post after a long walk on a very mild Thanksgiving evening... Had a very lazy afternoon. And that's perfectly fine... Determined to get a better grasp on the "day at a time" concept: I didn't make any advance plans for today and decided to just let the day flow on its own. I napped much of the afternoon... Then coincidentally wound up chairing the Thanksgiving AA Meeting at my home group, which was small but powerful. One guy shared that he had just put his dog to sleep and was able to express cogent gratitude. Another guy I've seen around the room many times was back with one day sober after a relapse. All amazing stuff... Have set out to make this Thanksgiving unique. So far so good. I ate at the Amish Market for the first time. A perfect and simple Thanksgiving feast... And have just walked to Chelsea down the lights of Broadway and through Herald Square... Called my parents and brother as I strolled and am thankful that all are healthy... I'll attend my first Big Meeting (as part of the opening festivities of the Big Apple Roundup)... Will get their workshop schedule, and other details abut the rest of the weekend's activities. All new to me... I walked past a LOT of open bars as I walked here and had no desire to belly up and have a beer... It's too great of a Thanksgiving Day not to be sober.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Six Months: All to the Good!

Today marks my sixth month anniversary of putting down alcohol. I'm celebrating by chairing a meeting at my home group later... Will also find my way to an Anniversary Meeting soon where they give out  monthly chips (Not all meetings around here do. Actually, few do!)...
My life is changing and has changed dramatically... All to the good...
Happy Anniversary to Me!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bill W Dinner

I attended the 75th Annual Bill W Dinner at the New York Hilton Hotel last night. I sat with my new friends from my home group. A fun time was had by all.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Doggy Died

Have been struggling to find any gratitude in the sudden passing of my beloved young doggy on Friday. Came over to the Museum of Modern Art to see the "Monet Water Lillies" and find myself meditating in the Sculpture Garden and suddenly feel compelled to let a gratitude list flow: *For six years of loyalty, joy, laughs, licks, cuddles, and love.* For feeling closer than ever to my Higher Power right now...* For the love and support of many friends. Especially the dog people. And the unfamiliar ability to let that love in.* The valuable lesson that it's okay to cry with others...* That he suffered as little as possible and it was quick.* That I know that he is exactly where he needs to be right now, and that the emotions will eventually catch up to make acceptance complete because acceptance is the answer.* That I had the ability to have full-time quality time with him before his final sudden turn and I got to see him off in my arms keeping my commitment fully.* That I had/have meetings to stick close to during this difficult time.* That I was sober throughout and am remaining so today...* That I had the opportunity to prove to myself that I could be a loving dad, a responsible and thorough pet owner. * To exercise the capability to give and receive unconditional love from another.* That it's okay to feel emotionally devastated.* The innate awareness that this, too, shall pass. And especially if I don't choose to medicate the uncomfortable feelings today.* The reminder that life is short and a profound reminder to live one day at a time to the fullest.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Purple Chip!

Picked a four month chip yesterday. One of the meetings I attend regularly does the chip thing to celebrate every month in the first year. (Most New York meetings seem to skip from 90 days to one year, and then yearly)...  The chairman explains that we pick up these chips not for ourselves, but to show the newcomer that sobriety is within reach... So I got me a purple four month chip!... The last meeting of the month brought along the coterie of Anniversary speakers: one with 90 days, three with one year, one with three years, and one with 25 years... One speaker noted that we are ALL just as close to the next drink... Another pointed out that she reaffirms daily: "No matter what, I will not pick up a drink or a drug today! No matter what!.... This too shall pass". That mantra has worked well for her for 25 years and counting...

Friday, September 25, 2009


Just passed my fourth month of sobriety and I've just accepted my first serious service commitment... I'll be chairing a weekend meeting at my home group... One of the most valuable tools of the program...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Four Months

Today marks four months since I used alcohol.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Monday Check In

Here's where I was yesterday... I went to an early morning Sunday meeting. There were only three of us. And that was just perfect... We read Step 11 in the "12 & 12" which to me boils down to: Prayer = Asking. Meditation = Listening... I've shared recently that I am completely in touch with the fact that the caregiving that I do at work can completely deplete me. And that I would cluelessly use alcohol to mask and medicate myself. I was a resentment collector, saving up all the angst for the first next opportunity for "binge night at the local dive bar". Now, since working the steps, I find that I'm working harder at more quickly "letting go" of resentments as I go along, and not saving them up at all... Very interesting how it works.... Meanwhile, I do have more than my fair share of work-induced anxiety, and that annoying knot feeling is another reminder that I need to be alert to the temptation to medicate it with alcohol... One day at a time.... Including today, where I am headed to a an early morning meeting before launching the work week. I'm grateful that it's there...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Grape Juice Toast to a Sober Work Year Ahead

This is my first day of a brand new work year... And I'm Sober! While I began getting sober during the end of the last work year... I've never launched a new work year (with all the changes, lack of control, challenges, personalities, politics, anticipation anxiety, authority figures, lifestyle changes and fear) without medicating myself... * I'm grateful to have a job at a time when so many do not. * I'm grateful for having had a summer off to self care and to enjoy several meetings a day, study the literature, develop a network of support, and to cleanse my body of the ill effects of binge drinking.... * I'm grateful for the knowledge that the challenge begins a day at a time. * I'm grateful for a morning Round Robin meeting that's along the walk to work, that I plan to stop in today to launch the work year on a bright and positive note. * I'm grateful for Twenty Four Hours A Day for a morning meditation to help launch my day... Here we go...

Friday, August 28, 2009

100 Days: Feelin the Love

Well, today is Day 100... Most people stop actually counting days at day 90 and then begin denoting their Anniversary date by Months and then Years... But the number "100" is round enough and important sounding enough that I plan to denote it today... LOL... The fact that 100 days has gone by without me drinking alcohol and going to hang out at the local dive bar is a miracle unto itself... I'm still in the midst of attending and speaking at the various month-end Anniversary Meetings at the four places I've attended the most during these early days of my recovery... Makes you feel a bit like a rock star! LOL... So, I have quite a few tokens and chips given to me by group leaders (and very kind individuals) in each meeting. Some meetings present a greeting card signed by all the members in attendance... Some friends in the program, gave me a card on the side... And each involves some kind of cake as a birthday gift!... Sweet traditions all... All of these "gifts of sobriety" challenge this recipient to start "letting in the love"... I attended my first Business Meeting yesterday of what I consider to be my Home Group.... It's the first step for me in putting my toe in the water of a service commitment... Will be heading back to work soon and will need to adjust my meeting schedule significantly.... But I trust it will all work out a day at time... One more Anniversary Meeting this weekend...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

90th Day: Quite Remarkable

Had a quite remarkable day 90 in my recovery... I made an early morning meeting and cried as I shared my day count. This landmark of self care is a milestone for someone who so often lives outside himself, caring for others, was moving to me... Then, a later morning meeting where I was unexpectedly asked to qualify on my 90th day... This was a gift. And frankly, I was glad it was last minute, and I had no time to plan or over organize and just let it flow (Let go and let God)... My sponsor sent an email that his day schedule was abruptly changed and he wanted to move my 5th Step appointment with him forward by three hours... *Perfect*, as it meant I could attend the Clubhouse Meeting later that has been the most integral meeting in my recovery so far.... Lesson of my 5th Step?: It's no big deal. And all our once powerful secrets are disarmed by sharing them with another...When I came home, I added to my notes and let flow a more complete list of specific character defects that came up in my 4th and 5th steps. I'll need this list soon in my continuing step work.... Then to the Clubhouse, where I had the surprise opporunity to chair my first meeting... (There's a 90 day sobriety requirement to chair at this particular meeting). It was the one "open meeting" of the week, and I read the next chapter of "Living Sober" and then conducted the meeting. This meeting is especially important to me, as I remember the first meeting I attended here, and how I was sitting alone and very unhappy in the back of the room. Today, I was in the front of the room, and happy. A gift of sobriety and working the program... So my Day 90 was quite a day.... What comes next??..... Day 91 comes next. Day at a time...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Day 88: That's How it Works

I frequently share in meetings how I've been enjoying all the meetings in my first 90 days of recovery. It's been like a graduate course in recovery, often with several classes (meetings) per day... And some field trips... Yesterday, I went up to Harlem for the annual "Members with 55 Years Plus of Continuous Sobriety" meeting (sponsored by the Harlem Big Book Study Committee)... The speakers offered a combined 232 years of continuous experience, strength and hope... I almost didn't mind that the church wasn't air-conditioned... One man, Melvin B, spoke of having dined with Bill W and having taken photos of him that have since been published... Melvin also worked on several AA Approved literature pieces as well as materials for Hazeldon... The meeting included a countdown recognizing all in attendance from 64 years to one day... I've already shared about this meeting at two other meetings, And it hasn't even been 24 hours since it started yesterday with the reading of the Preamble... Other ways that it works were demonstrated yesterday: I called the Intergroup main phone number for details about the meeting and the phone was answered by a distinctive voice that I've heard qualify twice in meetings (Carl)... On the way to the meeting, a regular meeting friend was magically standing right there next to me on the same subway car and walked me to the meeting in an unfamiliar neighborhood... Along "the scenic route" he promised, and when we arrived, he introduced me to his sponsor who has well over 50 years continuous sobriety at age 85... And then, at the meeting, I saw and greeted three other people from the ClubHouse meeting I attend regularly... That's how it works, you see...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day 85: Cleansing Effect

Already made a morning meeting and shared my day count of 85 days to snappy applause... I'm usually the only day counter at this particular meeting, so I hear loads of recovery... I shared that I have been feeling crappy these last two humid days. My malaise has not been that far off from the feeling of a hangover... While I know I need to upgrade my diet from junk to higher fiber goodness, I appreciate that I will feel better soon... And I fully acknowledged that I used to be responsible for causing *real* hangovers by choosing to binge drink at the local dive bar on a regular basis. The revelation reminds me why I'm not drinking today... Also, I shared that I have set up an appointment to do a 5th Step with my sponsor in the coming days... So, while the meeting topic was today's meditation about "Cleaning House" in "Daily Reflections", (Step 8)... I can relate to that same cleansing effect already, right where I'm at in Steps 4 and 5... The steps are quite magical like that...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Day 81 Snap, Snap Snap

Still counting those days... Clap, clap, clap. Still attending meetings. One, two, or three a day. Clap, clap, clap... "Meeting makers make it". I see that... I hear it constantly from the meeting makers themselves, and the slippers invariably share that they started distancing themselves from meetings before they relapsed... So I persevere... Working those brilliantly designed steps, too.... Lately, I've been writing a Step 4. Will ask my sponsor, today, to set up a Step 5 meeting with me soon. It's the only way that I'll stop the Step 4 process, otherwise, I could write it forever. LOL! ...I'll do it soon and can always do another 4 and 5 if needed... Today is day 81. Clap, clap, clap. Well actually, snap, snap, snap... As the 8am meeting attended today... (Where I shared my day count) is "a snap meeting", where you snap your fingers as to respect the neighbors in the building at such an early hour... Snap, snap, snap.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Day 74: It's Off the Table

The only shot or brew I'm allowing myself these days is the shot of caffeinated coffee in my decaff iced coffee.... Yesterday, while walking to my second meeting of the day with a super size Dunkin Donuts iced brew in hand, I noticed a brand new Liquor Store has opened right in the neighborhood. How lovely.... In the old days (not that long ago), I would have walked in there to chat with the owner and to survey his prices. If he was offering a really good price on Patron', I might very well have bought a case... As I shared in the afternoon meeting to laughter, I'm grateful that the idea of buying liquor for myself is off the table today... It makes my life a whole lot simpler when I can just walk on by and focus on other things in life... Today is Day 74.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 70: Keeping it Simple

Attended a morning meeting that I'd never attended before. 8 AM. And it was a whole new format and crowd to me... They say that because it's an early morning meeting instead of clapping they snap their fingers... (Needless to say, I forgot each time and clapped before I snapped!) Wednesday's overall topic for this daily meeting was to be "Gratitude". They read from As Bill Sees It, and that was also a first for me, as well... The page was on "keeping it simple" and like yesterday, chaos became a sort of sub-theme of the day. I realized that I'm addicted to chaos... I look for it... I seek it... Nothing was more chaotic than my happy hour bar where the drunken bartender could pour the liquor over-flowing all over the bar and then fall down a set of concrete stairs at the end of his shift... And hangovers guaranteed the same nauseous state of seeking more chaos... I'm grateful that I can keep it simple and avoid chaos... And when in doubt, just don't drink and go to meetings... That keeps it completely simple for me! Avoiding Chaos, (Kaos) it's not just for Maxwell Smart anymore... I shared, and identified myself as being a first-timer at the meeting and also shared my day count of 70 days today...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 69: No Longer the Child of Chaos

One guy mentioned at a morning meeting that he was a "child of chaos". He mentioned that the term somewhere is in the literature... I can relate: Growing up in a household where chaos ruled the day... The nightly dinner table was the most notable spot to breed chaos... Sooo, it's in my programming to seek chaos. The game was find CHAOS, then to drink over it! Whether it's sticking my nose into other people's transactions at the store. Suggesting human resources adjustments to a manager... Or engaging in escalating batty conversation with the dog-hating psycho woman that lives down my block and often throws open her window to yell threats and epithets daily... But today, I've learned to not be provoked and to just walk away from all the chaos. In sobriety, I don't have to act or react, I can choose serenity and live peace.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 68 Luxury Problems

One of the "benefits" (although that may appear to be an unfortunate word choice) of these AA meetings that I'm attending near Times Square, is that I hear sooo many stories of people who are really struggling with major, and sometimes life-or-death challenges... The "benefit" I get from these shares is the reminder that all my problems today are really luxury problems. I'm so grateful to have: 1) a roof, 2) good health and 3) food; All are available to me today. All the rest of my problems, no matter how I may focus on them, are luxuries in the grand scheme of things... My Higher Power puts these people in my path every day to remind me to enjoy the gratitude... But still, I feel a little guilty about it sometimes. And I accept that, too... I shared my day count of 68 days at the meeting this morning. There was a newcomer there with 40+ days today, so I wasn't alone in the day-counting dept.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 67

Went to an Anniversary Meeting at AlAnon House... TONS of sobriety between three speaker/ celebrants. Room was packed and I was the only one counting days! Amazing... One regular shared how he put down a drink at a park right near my apt in 1985 and went over and admitted himself into detox at Roosevelt Hospital across the street. He's been sober ever since. I'll think of that story often when I walk past that now renovated park... Another celebrant (that I know from another group) introduced me to his wife after the meeting... I've been doing a couple meetings a day most days... And at least one every day right here in my neighborhood... Usually on 46th Street, where there are (conveniently) soooo many meeting places and times. It's a gift to have meetings such a short walk away. And folks in sobriety, including my sponsor, assure me it's a gift if I never relapse. Two of the celebrants never relapsed and know the gift of first time AA sobriety. They all also talked a lot about Higher Power and how they couldn't do it without belief and the help from a Higher Power... As for me, I always had a Higher Power... But I never asked God to help with sobriety til arriving in the program 67 days ago. Up til then, I was looking to a Lower Power to keep me in a fog..... I'm 67 days sober today, and for that, I'm grateful.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 64

Have remained committed to doing an AA meeting (or two) a day... And it feels good to keep that commitment to myself... I shared in a mtg yesterday about my day of stumbling on a "new dive bar" while stolling thru Soho yesterday... Well, new to me and I immediately fixated on it, and my regular habit of wanting to visit just these kinds of places during my summer vacations. Over the years, my main blog has been filled with overt (and covert) references to such places... Fortunately, today, I don't need to "go there"... Had I done so, I certainly would NOT have enjoyed the spontaneous afternoon visit with friend who was having "a down day" after a recent chemo treatment. Instead, I enjoyed a yogurt smoothie with her and was able to brighten her day and keep her mind off her health troubles for a while. It brightened my day, too... A dive bar visit? Not so much... Was day 63 yesterday and no one had offered me a 60 day chip yet... So, I asked and I received... Felt a little silly as it's nothing more than a good luck charm.... But it's a better collection to have than "dive bar visit reviews"... Today is Day 64 and I'm definitely headed to a neighborhood meeting today. ..

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 60!

Just checking in... ... Am grateful to count day 60 today. Doing meetings... Counting days... Starting Fourth Step work with a sponsor... All is well... But for the grace... Listen to this song... It's the song that resonates for me today...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 55 Meeting & Gratitude List

Was feeling antsy midday after spending the day at home doing chores... So, I decided to wander over to a clubhouse meeting rather than wait for the usual 4pm one at that same spot... Was especially good as it was a beginner's meeting and pretty small. Everyone talked strong recovery... about the importance of meetings and not drinking a day at time... The speaker had 2.5 years after many "geographics" in his life, and each "geographic" eventually lead to a relapse... And had been incarcerated several times for thinks he did while drunk... The chair was an alcoholic and self-described "cracktologist" (with six mos) who ended the meeting stressing the importance of God in his recovery. At 4am when he needs help it wasn't always easy to get someone on the phone. He needed to turn it all over to a higher power in order to ask for help on a daily basis. Sometimes many times daily... He pointed to the signs on the clubhouse walls which read "Easy Does It" and "First Things First" and said "not a single sign sez 'Over-analyze how it works' or 'Think a lot about this program.' He believes in giving it to God in order to beat his addictions as his years of "thinking" got him nowhere. At this meeting day counters from 0-29 days shared first, 30-59 shared second, and then 60-90. Then to a "show of hands." I read "How It Works" aloud at the beginning of the meeting, and someone else read "The Promises" right before the Serenity Prayer at the end. Today is my 55th day in recovery.

I am grateful... For a good meeting today; Getting a slew of chores accomplished today; no urge to drink alcohol today; the thought of the taste of tequila seems distasteful today; the satisfying feeling that I am replacing my old habits with newer healthier ones, a day at a time.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Days 53 & 54

Sooo glad to be back at my regular meetings in midtown Manhattan. What a gift to be able to walk to meetings at just about any time of day... Kind of amazing, actually... Still counting days... I've been the first to share at the last two meetings... And I appreciate that they are usually small meetings with ample time to share regularly. As a newcomer, I have found that to be an important requisite.. To find small meetings, share often, and break the isolation. Today is day 54. Am grateful for ALL of the above! Clap, clap, clap...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Days 51 & 52 Meetings and Gratitude List

Still sober... More thoughts on these meetings down here in this small burg in Maryland... Part of the difference, and I think it's huge, is that a large percentage of the attendees seem to be court ordered... There is a procession in the beginning of the meeting of people putting blue cards on the front desk that are rubber stamped by the stern-looking "tough love" chairman... A whole different dynamic than the NYC meetings where most people are there because they brought themselves to the meeting because they have accepted powerlessness... Now, I don't mean to take anyone else's inventory, but in the round robin clearly most of these blue paper people would "pass" on thier turns to share and couldn't wait to get out of there... Most left early... Not that they are bad people. Not that they aren't exactly where they need to be. And not I am not granting that "Acceptance is the answer..."... Just sayin that it adds an icy dimension to the whole meeting character that I find unsatisfying... But I'll be back among beloved New York drunks soon enough... Tomorrow in fact, and will surely hit a meeting straight away... A shout out to my sponsor who was kind enough to keep in touch with me during the road trip. Thanks, pal... Today, I am grateful... * That my folks are in relatively good health and relatively good spirits today... * For morning bird chirps... * the best little doggy in the whole wide world and his joyful rolling in the grass... * Deer... * Public library Internet access. Free, too!...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Days 48, 49, and 50 Meetings & Gratitude List

I'm on a road trip to see the family... I fully acknowkledge that I'm completely spoiled by NYC where I can walk to a meeting at any time of day in any part of town... Here in the boonies, they are fewer and farther between, and despite the fact that cell coverage is spotty, I have managed several important chats with my sponsor... The meetings are all "strange"... Stuff we do at the break, and at the end of the meeting they do first... And they close with the Lord's Prayer which seems ghastly too-denominational to me... But when in Rome... Anyway... So, I'm sober. Today is day 50... Not sure how much longer I'll be here before I flee back to the greatest city in the world... Stay tuned... Today, I am grateful... * For a little computer time at the local public library. * For the fortitude to attend meetings even though they aren't familiar to me... * For time to read... * For a happy doggy. * For the good health of my loved ones today!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 47 Meeting and Gratitude List

Hit a morning meeting today... Several newcomers on hand. This little meeting in the Times Square area never ceases to amaze with a revolving roster of visitors from out of town and/or other NYC meetings. Actually, it's in a building where one of my theatrical Directors used to live over top of a strip joint. So that doorway provides other memories, including lots of booze and smoke available at his parties in the 1980's and 1990's.... I needed to hear today's speaker's experience, strength and hope with the first and second steps, particularly... That was the thrust of his share... As for my own share, I told the group this would be my last time here for a few days while I hit the road trip... Am having a hard time locating meetings located exactly where I'll be for most of the time during the time slots that I can attend... But I'm sure it'll work out... Meanwhile, I've alerted my sponsor here in NY that we may need to to a telephone meeting together if I can't hit a meeting on any given day... He's cool with that. I am grateful... * That I was able to get to a meeting today. * That, today, I am able to trust that all will be fine with working the program for the next few days on the road. * For a strong sense of a higher power, today. * For all the birthday cards, wishes, and greetings I've received as of today. * For air-conditioning.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 46 Meeting & Gratitude List

Shared at this morning's meeting that it's my birthday. The REAL one... Which lead to loads of "Happy Birthdays" from the fellow meeting-goers... Which lead to me saying that I've never really felt happy on it. Always in the shadow of the Fourth, this has been hangover day... While most friends are all off somewhere still celebrating the 4th, I'm actually perfectly content to enjoy some ME time... The challenge will come this week when I travel home to see the folks, as one program person has stated: "Nothing puts Miracle Grow on your character defects like family"... I'll spend some time today making a list of Maryland meetings while I have unfettered Internet access at home... It's a milestone, though, that this will be my first birthday in Sobriety... As I have joked to some friends... I drank enough in the first 50 years... I am grateful... * that I'm a healthy 51 today. * that I'm a healthy 46 days today * that there's a healthy doggy curled on my lap as I type this today. * that my folks are healthy today. * a healthy lunch today.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 45 Gratitude

Today, I am grateful... * For a fabulous Fourth. 80. Low humidity. * A loooong walk. * A hearty lunch at Brother Jimmy's BBQ * Fireworks down the street, if I want them. * Another day without medication. (Chocolate Citarella cupcake excepted!)

Day 45 Meeting

45th on the 4th! Got to a morning meeting at a place I hadn't been for a couple of weeks. The topic was sponsorship. I shared that I have one now, although for the first 30 days of recovery, the very thought of asking anyone to be my sponsor seemed too pathetic an idea to me... Now, it seems pathetic not to have asked someone to be my sponsor. Although it's not a procedure mentioned in the Big Book, sponsorship has become an integral part of the program. It's about "asking for help". Something that I have a very hard tome doing. Bought some 12 Step goodies at a nice shop called Choices after the meeting. I'll be back to that store, I'm sure!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 44 Meetings

Did two meetings today, and I'm home now, sober, and fine... I'm too tired right now to fill in the blanks of these theses... The morals of the story: "They can I can't" But "I can and they can't"!... And "choosing to get off the elevator that's on the way down"... Got down to Manhattan Intergroup after lunch (where I sincerely missed the dark beer that would have been good with the mutton chop!) and bought "A.A. and the Gay/Lesbian Alcoholic", "Daily Reflections" and the current issue of "Grapevine"... I shared my day count at both meetings.44 days.

Day 44 Gratitude

Today, I am grateful... * For A/C. * For a good tiring day. * For taking care of business and putting sobriety first. * That I am better able to show up for others when I'm sober. And * For the best little doggy in the whole wide world.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 43 Meeting

Started the day with a meeting at AlAnon House. Even though it's called AlAnon House, the meetings are AA. I don't know if they even have an Al Anon meeting at AlAnon House... What's up with that??... The meeting speaker set the topic as "putting AA first"... As one man put it... "It's either AA or Amen" for him! I shared about how I would collect little negative things throughout the day to add to my binge file for fueling a binge... And today, by going to meetings, I can focus on better stuff and not drink. I did two meetings yesterday... And am leaving shortly for a second meeting today... A luxury I have right now, during vacation, is all these meetings within a stones throw of home and I'm enjoying taking advantage of them... Today is day 43.

Day 43 Gratitude

Today, I'm grateful: * For the raging thunderstorm enjoyed from the comfort of my nice dry couch * That I am putting my program first today. * That I have 43 days under my belt. * Seinfeld reruns still make me laugh. * Afternoon naps during thunderstorms after writing a gratitude list. LOL.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 42 Meeting

Today's morning meeting featured a speaker visiting from California with 40+ years of sobriety. He was a first time winner, that means he never had a slip... He knew when he became involved with the program that all he had to do was "don't drink and go to meetings"... And before he knew it, it's been 40+ years and he doesn't know where the time went. He's had four marriages, and lost a son to AIDS... So things have still happened to him in his sobriety but he was able to cope with all the good AND the bad much better being sober... During my share, I told him he has as many years and as I have days and that I appreciated his qualification as it shows hope of a good long recovery without a relapse... "I realized I could decide that I've hurt myself enough" is how another participant put it. Today is day 42.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 41 Meeting

Wound up chairing the meeting today... Well, not really... The chair was on "vocal rest" for a professional performance tonight and asked me to read all the stuff from the binder that conducted the meeting... The speaker was a 23 year old out gay guy from the South up here looking for a job... He was another of those impromptu speakers asked by the chair at the last minute... And once again... the twenty minutes flew by with wonderful off the cuff stories of experience, strength, and hope... He'd had a few slips when getting started. He attributes that to not changing his playground. He kept going to the same bars and clubs and hanging with the same crowd and abstaining... That wasn't working for him... So he committed to the program, started going early and staying late to meet people in order to "build up a network", got a sponsor, and... So, he has a year and a half today... He credits the meetings, which he has been able to attend in his travels... Which sparked an octogenarian to state in her later round robin share that "meeting makers make it", one of her favorite quotes... I shared about my morning with a wild bus driver who went off on me and I told him I wasn't gonna get upset, that I was just going to go to an AA meeting and share about it... Which sparked his retort: "You probably need AA"... OK dokey... Then another guy came out of a store to intimidate me from taking photos of the mannequins in his storefront public windows... I was on the phone with my sponsor at the time of that one (Who jokingly advised that I take his picture! LOL)... All of this after I had traipsed to AA Manhattan Intergroup's Office to buy some literature during the hours published on the meeting list and was sent away cuz that particular staffer had taken the morning off... Oy!. So, it was one of those mornings... I remarked that in the past I would have secretly held onto each of these resentments deliberately in order to fuel my next binge... But instead, I was using them as an opportunity to look at my own character defects: "over-sensitivity to being perceived as disrespected" came immediately to mind... But I went to that meeting and "punched re-set" (on the day, and on my attitude) as I've heard one member say in the past... And I think I've also heard something like: "You can always re-start your day"... So that's what I did and continued on happily with shopping, errands and chores... I also shared my day count at the Seventh Tradition break... Day 41. Clap, clap, clap...

Day 41 Gratitude List

Today, I am grateful... * For a nice morning meeting that punched re-set on the day...* For the Zen of doing laundry.* For my sense of humor which provides an excellent coping strategy when I let it.* For naps when needed. they also tend to punch re-set on the day.* For the artistic outlet of photography...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 40 Meeting

Learning that when people are asked to speak at the last minute, their qualifications are among the most brutally honest and clear, probably cuz tey didn't have time to think it through and edit their remarks. I thought I was going to a light morning meeting and wound up hearing a hard core case of delayed and postponed willingness that lead to homelessness, bar fights, hitting cops, multiple incarcerations, being gang raped, brown outs, blackouts and being left on a doorstep and reported to 911, walking out of rehabs, going back to rehabs and finding a higher power in solitary confinement. OMG! When it came to my point of the round robin I shared my gratitude for the service of the share, and that while our stories were very different I could see that I could make my story much more similar if I decided to experiment further and have a relapse... I also appreciated his talking about the steps and how relevant they have been in building a new life in recovery. And I told him so... I also shared my day count of 40 days at the 7th Tradition break...

Day 40 Gratitude List

Today, I am grateful:
# For my first Monday of Summer break. # That told a family member who is in recovery with 3 years, that I have my first 40 days today. # For a city that never disappoints with new and exciting stuff to do and see.... # That I could afford a nice breakfast and lunch at two of my favorite Hell's Kitchen spots today. # That I knew the first names of everyone at the morning meeting today.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 39 Meetings

Hit the morning Anniversary Meeting at 42nd Street. The speaker didn't make it, but some guy had taken a taxi in from Queens to make sure he could hit hit a meeting before he had to be at work... And so he spoke at the invitation of the chair... While he has solid recovery today, this is a guy who has had massive slips, including two comas... The priest read him last rites during one of them... He says he has drank alcohol a coupla times by accident... And when he was going to meetings he knew how to handle it. But the last time he was in a spell of isolation from the program and so told the bartender he had just had his first drink in five years and was now gonna get drunk. He made the importance of "putting the program first" as the topic for the round robin... Incidentally the same priest that had read him last rites also married him to his wife after he got back on the sober path... I shared how I know I'm still in shaky ground at 39 days and catch myself fantasizing about "going back out again for a bit"... I was reminded by the speaker that that's a dangerous fantasy because it's clearly in my nature that "too much is never enuf". I renewed: 1. I'm powerless. 2. I have a strong sense of a higher power. And 3 today, I have the willingness to turn it over and attend meetings and commit to not drinking today... Several people shared how shaky they get when they start skipping meetings. Later I went to the Big Meeting at the Hilton Hotel to celebrate the 74th Anniversary of AA with New York Intergroup. I also picked up the new June Meeting List... A huge book of NYC and surrounding area meetings... (I want to try new meetings this summer during all my free time)... A bit of trivia: that today, 74 years ago was when Dr. Bob and Bill W took their work to the man on the bed... (See picture)... Thus, the third member joined AA.... I was especially taken with a guy who qualified (There were three speakers) and mentioned in his history many gay bars that I also had been known to get drunk in over the decades... Without ever needing to identify that he was gay, he stuck to the topic of alcohol. He was comfortable in his skin, and speaking in front of this crowd... I find I am most comfortable in straight meetings myself, since in gay meetings I would have all those "other" issues kick in... It helps me, to just stick to discussion of alcohol... Today is day 39... They did a day countdown thing and i was prepared to stand when my day was called, but the guy doing it messed it all up, and it wasn't clear as he counted the first few days, then jumped to 30, and then to 60, when he should have done spans... Ah well, nobody's perfect! LOL

Day 39 Gratitude

Today, I am grateful... * For the support of some friends, old and new, in my new journey in recovery. * That I can ignore the lack of support from some friends as their own fear and can move forward without resentment. * That there are several meetings today to choose from, including a 74th Anniversary bash on NYC Intergroup at a huge hotel near my home. * For this quote of Quentin Crisp's that sums up the concept of Gay Pride: "I don't think you can really be proud of being gay because it isn't something you've done. You can only be proud of not being ashamed". * For the Internet, where I am always learning new things and progressively exercising my creativity in new and exciting ways...

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 38 Meeting

Got to a Morning Meeting... on 42nd Street. A woman chaired that I had heard qualify my first time here. She read a story about a woman with liver disease that started with her reflecting on how she enjoys Sundays so much better today than she did before recovery. This launched me on a share of how I prefer this particular Saturday morning to the ones of the last eight years when I launched my summer vacations with a super binge and would have still been struggling with a severe hangover by the time of this meeting. Already, had breakfast, read the Times, got a haircut, shopped at the Green Grocer, walked the doggy, and sunned and walked along the Hudson River enjoying my hobby of photography... and it was barely 10:30am... I also related my plans to get to meetings, and begin to work the program during my first Summer in recovery. I topped off the meeting with a nice lunch at BBQ... It was a meeting of gratitude, so no need to do a gratitude list today. And when I got home, I was actually energized to tackle a slew of chores...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 37

Got to the Clubhouse for the 4pm... They are still reading the Personal Stories in the back of the book every day. I'm glad they are because my attention span wouldn't allow me to sidt through those... I'm sure I'd skim them over...This story seemed to be mostly about Powerlessness... Step One... I was the last person to be called on and I shared that today I feel like I'm sliding into home base after nine months of running the bases since, as a teacher, the cherished 10 week summer vacation starts immediately... This will be my first sober summer (if I let it)... And usually on this night every year I'm at the local Happy Hour bar seeing all the friends that I alerted that I would be out tonight to launch my first big binge to launch a partying summer... Instead, I'm at this AA meeting, and commiting that if I feel like drinking later, I'll go to another AA meeting later on in the evening... (Reminds me , I need to get a hold of the new meeting schedule so I can be aware of meetings at other times of day instead of just the 4pm, in case I need them. Few meetings seem to offer literature. Maybe the Big Meeting on Sunday at the Hilton will be well stocked by Intergroup?)... I'm also taking advantage of the suggestion to *NOT* get involved in a romantic relationship in early sobriety... As that is usually a (failed) goal every summer... And that I'm looking forward to a summer of going to meetings, spiritual and recovery reading, and starting to do some work on the steps with my sponsor... And we're off....

Day 37 Gratitude List

Today, I am grateful...

- That today is the last day of work for ten weeks... - That I'm in great health today. - That my problems are relatively few in the scheme of things. - That Michael Jackson's untimely death (at my same age) actually empowers me to make a point to live life more fully. - That I'm committed to celebrating the last day of work at a meeting today and not the traditional blowout drunken bash of year's past...

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 36

Today's meeting was a powerful Anniversary meeting where sober people with 90 days to 10+ years.... What jumped out at me was when the man with the most Senior sobriety talked about when you're sober life is still difficult. He views life as solving a series of problems, and when he gets into the "what if's" and "missed opportunities" he realizes his problems today aren't really so bad and that realization gives him the strength to go on. He maintains that in the morning he meditates every day and makes a list of what he wants to do during his day. When he sees something that keeps recurring on the list, he confronts it and does it and invariable realizes it wasn't "that bad"... One young lady (with two years), urges "stick with the winners" and when you hear someone start ranting that the two year mark is extra challenging, "don't even listen cuz they aren't working the steps!" I LOL at that one! ... And the young lady with 90 days acknowledged how hard it is to speak up there in the front of the room for the first time. And as for simple pleasures she's observed in her 90 days: she noted she has always enjoyed sewing, and that in her sobriety, she goes home and sews more... One sober member in the audience added, "When people see she isn't drinking alcohol, and they ask her if she drinks, she always says yes... 'of course I drink! I drink water!" LOL... Anyway, the whole thing was wonderful and I was teary at several points. In fact, I couldn't even raise my hand to share at the end cuz I was quite sure I'd have been all blubbery.... In the words of Seinfeld: "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"

Day 36 Gratitude List

Today, I am grateful...

* That today is the last FULL day of the fiscal year before a nice long break. * That today's prior commitment to an Anniversary celebration trumps a Boat Basin bar blast. * For gratitude, which lights up my life. * That I'm not the guy who wrote "You light up my life." * That I'm on a well worn time tested path to enlightenment today...

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 35

The Clubhouse meeting today featured a reading from one of the case study stories in the back of the Big Book. This was about a lady who had relapse after relapse and every next bottom was worst than the last... I was reminded that I don't need to continue the contest of having the worst bottom. Actually, I've had bottoms worse than the bottom where I threw in the towel... And I can't spend energy flirting with the idea of going out there to try to top (or bottom??)myself!.... One woman shared "Nothing throws Miracle Grow on your defects like family." ...I'll be going to Maryland in a couple weeks to visit the family... I spent some free time today surfing the web looking for meetings down there, as I want to continue doing 90/90... Actually found a website where you can easily search neighborhoods by zip code... There are quite a few meetings down there... Nothing like there are in New York City where there's a meeting within walking distance every waking hour of the day... But I'm confident I'll be able to swing a meeting a day down there... I didn't get picked on to share and didn't even raise my hand during the hand-raising part. Was just in the mood to listen today... I shared my day count of 35 days which sparked one of the regulars, (and an occasional meeting chairman) to ask me quietly? "35 Days?? How did that happen so fast??" We laughed about it... It does seem like I first walked in there the other day...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 34

The chair asked me to read Acceptance at the start of the meeting. It's a tradition at this meeting that it's read at the start of each meeting. ... The other reading at today's late afternoon meeting was on the subject of Anger from Living Sober... (Love that little book! It's an easy read and very useful!)... Anyway, I got picked pretty early to share... And I shared that I don't really understand anger. Growing up in an alcoholic and rage-aholic household I never learned how to express anger. And childhood anger expressed was met with 10 times the rage from my parents. Stuff like "I'll give you something to cry about" and so forth.... To this day, I'm not even clear when I'm angry as opposed to fearful, resentful, or anything else. I just know it makes me feel "anxious" and I want to medicate it. I learned early to turn anger inward... And drinking for me was to turn the anger inward and obliterate who I was, (and also to take another day and half to recover from a hangover)... I expressed how I would drink "at" my parents, even as an adult... I wasn't sure I was even making myself clear as I was sharing today... But, a woman, later, at the end of the meeting acknowledged me and used what I said to go off on her own share of how she identified with drinking "at" her father... Shared my day count at the meeting, also... 34 days.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 33

Home from a meeting at the Clubhouse... My share: Am very much *not* living in the moment today. In fact, I'm essentially "climbing out of my skin" to get past this week of work and to the vacation period that lies ahead after the closing bell on Friday... Am thinking of a binge of some kind to "knock myself out" so I can sleep through this feeling and into tomorrow... While drinking is out of the question for me, I could easily binge on a whole turkey and then sleep it off... I shared how I've decided at this stage of sobriety that I hate people. People here laughed in recognition, I guess... I talked about a lunch the other day where this big group of hikers went to a restaurant together for lunch... And the voice in my head was over the top. Someone would ask about whether to get beef or chicken and I would think "you stupid fuck!"... And someone couldn't make a decision about something else, and I'm thinking "Well, that's because you're an idiot!" I'm an addict and I want things *NOW*. "This is where we'll go? OK then let's GO!". "Let's eat. Good. Where's the check?" I have noooo patience for dawdlers... A character defect? Impatiernce? Non-tolerance? Something like that! Prolly! Anyway, I committed at the meeting to not drinking tequila, but eating a bag of Fritos isn't out of the question... As it turns out I stopped on the way home and bought a slew of fresh berries and cherries... Running into people here from other meetings that I've sat next to, or chatted with before a meeting, and we say hi. So I don't hate ALL people! LOL... Anyway, I'm sober today. It's day 33.
PostScript: I realized later that "Acceptance is the answer..." It's ok if I feel this way today. It's ok... (See sidebar for pg 449 text.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day 32

This morning's speaker was right up my alley. Like me, he has friends and relatives that try to tell him he doesn't need meetings. And he's got ten years of sobriety now... And his bottom wasn't the real hard core nasty kind either, like I was hearing yesterday... He talked a lot about lying... And how he would lie to doctors about medical stuff related to his drinking... And it set me on a later share in the round robin about my own lying... or stretching the truth... about drinking. When a doctor at a clinic filling out a diagnostic form asked if I had more than two drinks a day, I said no... Because 15 drinks in one sitting on binge night averaged out over a week would be a legal limit, and I certainkly wasn't gonna bring up binge night(s)... Also when I went to a hospital for an esophogeal condition a year ago...They asked if I'd been drinking, I said no cuz it had been 48 hours since a binge... Knowing full well that the alcohol abuse is what probably caused the problem.... I also shared that I don't need to go back out to top my own bottom with an even deeper one... Shared the day count of 32 days at the seventh tradition break... Ran into one of the regulars (from another meeting location) at today's meeting. He called my name at the end, and then tossed me a 30 day chip. It's well worn. I think it was his. I was moved... He mentioned he has a 60 also if I need it, eventually... Sweet deal... After getting home, Walking the dog, I ran into a lesbian neighbor that I know is in the program and told her I was now in her program... We had a nice chat about it. She has several years of sobriety. I want to ask her next time if she ever noticed I was drunk a few times I was walking the dog and chatting with her out front. Knowing she was in AA, I remember working hard to not let her know... She probably did... She told me the secret to her foundation of sobriety longevity is continually going to meetings.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 31

Just back from a meeting at the Clubhouse. I spent the whole thing feeling like I wasn't as good a drunk as everyone else. Sounds funny, but that's what I was feeling... So I sat low in my chair and kept my head from the purview of the chairman and was relieved when no one called on me at the pitch (This is a meeting where you don't raise your hand, the person before you just picks whoever they feel like it. It's often to someone they know... Or also someone randomly)... This meeting was full of heavy duty addicts and alcoholics, who had arrests, death wishes and suicide attempts, and many were in a rehab program now and this was their meeting of the day... Most or all had shared about intense relapses...Wow. Brought home to me that I would *definitely* want to make a relapse worst than anything I had ever done before. That's just what I do... I'd want it to be bigger and worst and add some drugs and try to get the biggest high yet before I'd ever want to get back to abstinence and the rooms.... If I ever did have the desire to recover after riding so high... It's a scary thought. So, instead, I just won't drink today... And I went to a meeting. "Don't drink, and go to meetings. Don't drink and go to meetings".... The last 15 minutes of the meeting are for people to raise their hands to speak... The chair called on me by name at the end of the meeting even though I hadn't even raised my hand (He's been supportive in the past)... And so I pretty much shared all of the above with the group... I also shared my day count of 31 days at the break...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 30

Clubhouse at 4... Shared my isolation and how it's a bit incongruous with my gregarious nature, and career and bar personality... And my ability to talk to others about "them", and not about myself... I'm quite crafty at swaying conversations!... I've not made a single program call though I have a few numbers, and I have no sponsor... Essentially, I'm in awe of people that can "ask for help"... I shared that I figure these issues will somehow be a goal for my next thirty days in sobriety...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 29

Got to the Clubhouse. Shared my day count: 29. Meeting was kind of boring, quite frankly... The high humidity had something to do with it... But I stayed the whole time... Emailed an old friend that I knew was in the program... Got this nifty response:
Congrats, if that is appropriate for coming to AA, I just know the benefits, I just celebrated 22 years, one day at a time.  So I will wait until tomorrow to say congrats on your 30 days. I am very proud of you, even thought I didn't know your struggle.  But look where sobriety took me, well most of the time, everything I have I owe to sobriety.  And I hated the people who said "Beyond my wildest dreams, I mean I snarled at them" but they are right.  Let me know if you want to do a meeting, I will be back in city next Monday.  I would love to.  Proud of you and love you N

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 28

Went to Between Shows on 46th... Again, a speaker that hit home with the right mix of show business and people, places and things... The speaker shared this quote from the movie Platoon: "I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves, and the enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days... "possesion of my soul." There are times since, I've felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with whats left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 27

Got to the Clubhouse just as the meeting was starting... Reading was the Loneliness chapter in "Living Sober". Tuesday at 4 is the only "4 the Grace" during the week that's an "open" meeting... Hence, the reading from this terrific little beginner's handbook weekly.... I didn't share, though, the topic certainly resonates. I would isolate for days at a time after-work working my way up to the social binge night at the local dive bar... So, for me, it was either alone... or happy hour. People shared how they started making program calls to break their isolation (I've yet to make a single call yet)... And many talked about their appreciation of the meetings as a breakthrough for them. Most of the shares seemed to be people who would drink alone at home... or secretly after their spouses would go to bed.... I can't relate to that... I would never drink alone... For me, it was strictly to juice my social interaction... Reminds me of when a professional once told me, that I'd made a decision early to "go it alone." And that's indeed been my natural tendency!... Still is, but I'm starting to look at that...

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 26

Seem to be falling behind in these blog posts about meetings... By the time I finish work, get home, take care of dinner and the doggy, I'm too wiped to post... So this is an example of a post I'm actually writing the day after and altering the date to the day before. This blog is still set to invited readers only... And I'm still pondering how to handle it and the voice of this blog... Seems like a good idea to come out of the recovery closet, and justb publish the damned thing... But am still hesitating to do it... But am considering combining two or more of my other blogs into this one... I don't have to worry about it today and can deal with it over the summer... Monday's meeting was at the clubhouse... I leapt into volunteering to be the first sharer w/o thinking about a share in advance... But I remembered sharing that I appreciate that conversations here are more important and intimate than any conversation I had with drinking buddies in a bar. One guy brought up one of my favorite non-program quotes: "Do you want to right? Or do you want to be happy?" More and more, I :ind myself not engaging in battles to be right and sitting on the sidelines as an observer. I also shared that I have been using meetings to bookend events that I predict might be triggers... It's working well so far...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

25th Day

Have now been to as many meetings as I have sober days. And since I attended my first meeting, I have been able to keep up a commitment to attend at least one meeting a day. Sometimes two.... Sunday brought two meetings. The morning one on West 42nd was especially powerful because the speaker shared SO many of my issues and he has accumulated about ten years of sobriety. I could identify with searching for validation outside myself as a performer, and then resenting it. He brought back childhood memories of creme de menthe on ice creak, uncles giving kids beer, and family fights at the dinner table with dinner pushed back later and later for cocktail hour... This was one guy that I would've asked to be my sponsor. He even shared how he'd read Marianne Williamson and then go off on a bender... I could so relate. Alas, he did not raise his hand at the break indicating that he was available to be a sponsor... So as Marianne wold say: "If the train doesn't stop at your station, it's not your train..." Other shares included mentions of side addictions... video stores, shopping, food. "Why can't we ever get addicted to something healthy like exercise" drew laughter... A musician from a cruise ship shared how he's trying to remain sober w/ those Bill W. meetings w/pax on his vessel... As for me, I cried for the 1st time while sharing. HATED that!

Second meeting was on way to a big show biz event that I feared might trigger feelings that I would want to medicate... So, I went to the meeting "to hit re-set"... There was a prisoner here just released, and for a fleeting moment, I was thinking I would take him home and rescue him... Lord help my thinking! Jeeze. I shared... And one of the older timers gave me his #. I didn't call. Still haven't felt comfortable making a program call... I HATE the phone... Anyway, it was another day sober.... And I'm just not drinking and going to meetings.

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Saturday, June 13, 2009

23 Meetings, 24 Days

Went to two meetings today at two different addresses on West 46th Street... 10am and 4pm. I shared at both... Heard a lot of good stuff... So much that I can't even sort out what was what or recall at the moment what I said... But, that's okay. Oh yeah... First one was on the topic of Tools in the program and how they are greater than the sum of their parts and the second started with the chapter on Acceptance in the Big Book which included a war story of a drug addicted alcoholic...

Friday, June 12, 2009

21st Meeting, 23rd Day

Went to my new Friday Happy Hour meeting at the Clubhouse. Wasn't picked during pitch. But it's ok. And didn't raise my hand at that pick part and that's okay, too! All I would've said was I was glad to be there... And that after a few minutes there my compulsion to go out and drink for a Friday binge was lifted... Interesting how that works... I heard at a meeting the other day that alcoholics in recovery don't know how to celebrate things as alcohol was the traditional way... A guy at a different meeting shared he had a show opening this week and the way he used to go celebrate will be celebrated by going to a meeting instead... Hm.

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Twentieth Meeting, Day 22

Made it to the Clubhouse and volunteered to do the first share.... The reading had been one of the case studies and it triggered my thoughts of wasted time trying to moderate and regulate my drinking... I shared that and that I'm not waking up with cotton mouth, headaches, nausea and then spending the next morning working extra hard to people-please so that no one would suspect that I had been drinking... Abstinence is easier... I also said that I really did have many years of take-it-or-leave it social drinking.... But then after I got a real buzz... I wanted that buzz all the time from alcohol... I shared about the night before my bottom when Peter told me to "Take responsibility" after the bartender poured a drink I didn't ask for, but drank, of course... I'm the bartenders best friend cuz I tip well. Many people shared off what I said... Several mentioning me by name... I also shared my day count of 22 days

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Nineteenth Meeting, Day 21

Today is the 74th Anniversary of AA. I went to the Between Shows meeting where there were several people with burning desires to speak, and much sharing of people with loads of sobriety "picking up"... One with ten years, one with 18 years were discussed... Guess the take away is to remain vigilant... They read the sixth step in the Twelve and Twelve here... And many people spoke on that topic.... I shared my day count of 21 days.

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Eighteenth Meeting, Twentieth Day

Went to the Clubhouse for the 4. The reading was from Living Sober and was about eating and sleeping habits in sobriety. It brought back to me the amount of money I'm saving in Pepcid AC's and Tums. And reminded me of the sleepless nights, and cotton mouth, and waking up in the middle of the night with a headache and/or nausea. And pushing through the whole hangover day and then sleeping really well that next night. Am still adjusting to a sleep cycle that doesn't include an alcohol binge every few days followed by 12 hours of make-up sleep. I shared my day count (Day 20) at the break... A guy congratulated me on my day count on the way out. I think I was the one with the least sobriety at this meeting and I feel very much the beginner...

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Monday, June 8, 2009

Seventeenth Meeting, Nineteenth Day

Went to the Clubhouse for the 4. Got held up on the walk home with two beloved colleagues that wanted to walk and talk with me, and they walk at a slower pace than I do (Most people do!)... Rather than rigidly insist I had to run ahead, I took the leisurely pace to be with them... And although I was wiorried about him, the doggy WAS able to wait til I got home after 5pm (after the meeting's end) for his walk... Such a perfect and patient doggy!... Shared my day count at the meeting. Realized that the annual food festival right out the front door of the meeting place was often a catalyst for me to grab food samples to take back to the saloon to wash down with tequila while sharing food with the bartender and others... Didn't do that today... In fact, I was so concerned about the extra long day for the doggy that I came straight home and avoided the whole anxiety ridden process of buying food tickets and then figuring the exact count of tickets for the exact foods that I wanted, waiting in line at each booth, and either woofing it down while standing or walking... So I chose the more serene meal plan of coming home to microwave some leftover Indian food and steam some veggies I got at the Greenmarket last weekend... Someone at today's meeting shared that he always thought that the H-A-L-T warning (Hungry, Angry, Lonely , Tired) should be HAALT and include "Anxiety"! OMG... I could relate to that! I hate anxiety and always looked for a way to relieve it... Usually with alcohol... I Like HAALT as my personal warning... That's the take-away for today!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sixteenth Meeting, Eighteenth Day

Made it to a second meeting today... Felt like an iced coffee and rather than wander around wondering who was tending bar here or there today, or who was hanging out, I decided to swing by the Clubhouse to sip my coffee in a meeting. Am recognizing regulars there, and regulars are pitching the opportunity to share my way. Shared my day count... And was glad I went. Don't think I've been to a meeting yet where I wasn't glad I went...

(Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Fifteenth Meeting, Day Eighteen

Got to the 10.30am meeting at Al-Anon House. Got there a little late and found I missed a speaker. He must have talked quick. Several shares commented on the straighforwardness of his share. It was a round robin and I shared about my week and how I didn't hold onto resentments and anger and hurt and use it to fuel a binge... Since binges are off the table. I admiited I was powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable... And that I'm committed to doing 90/90 a day at atime, and that I won't drink today! Meeting went quick... Serenity prayer and we were out... Nice way to start a Sunday...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Fourteenth Meeting, Day Seventeen

Tried a new 10am Meeting on 46th Street. That makes three meeting places that I've been to on that single street alone... I asked at the break if they had a 24 hour Surrender Chip, they didn't... But the person right next to me blurted out that she had one to spare and gave me hers. The place cheered. That's how it works... Not sure what happened to my last aluminum one. It's vanished. And I'm superstitious enough to want one handy... Meeting was well-stocked of other 'morning people"... Very *STRANGE* to run into Gary on his 3rd year anniversary. He got a chip... He remembered seeing a play I was in in high school, and last we saw each other we were both drinking beer at the Eagle Beer Blast about 3 years ago... He thinks that might have been his bottom, and that he was probably in a blackout as he doesn't remember seeing me there at all. And we had quite a conversation that I recalled to him... He sez that particular meeting is great and they meet there at that church near Sixth Ave daily... That adds yet another possible entree to the menu of meeting options on West 46th St. He was blown away by the coincidence of my appearance at that meeting... So was I really...

Friday, June 5, 2009

Thirteenth Meeting, Day Sixteen

Rain is a trigger... While attempting to regulate my alcohol intake, I'd say "oh, wow, bad weather let's go out and see see who is out at the bar tonight"... Or "my best friend Bartender needs my tip"... Doesn't matter if it's over my self-determined allowance of night's out... An oldtimer sez he likes to go to meetings in bad weather because people are there who really want a meeting, or there cuz they really need a meeting... I also shared I'd had a rough week. I didn't let anything get me really down. Accentuating the positive and all that... And not drinking and going to meetings. I'm fine today.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Twelfth Meeting, Day Fifteen

Clubhouse. Found an old friend there that I remembered when he went into the program and got sober. He was always very verbal about it... was shocked when he announced today was his anniversary and it was 16 years! Sixteen years??? He said when people ask him when his bottom was: He says it was when he came to AA... A couple people chuckled. In this meeting people don't raise their hands for pitch, you get picked on. He picked me and I shared my day count and how I'm seeing that all kinds of little things I'm experiencing this week would have been held onto it and made into reasons for self-pity to justify a week end drinking binge... That instead, I've been stopping from judging myself with each problem and not letting it get to me since drinking is no longer an option... I pitched to a guy that I've heard share a few times... It's kind of like, instead of buying someone down the end of the bar that you might have chatted with once or twice a beer, you give them a pitch by name... Maybe they'll reciprocate in a future meeting and sometimes not... walking home with S16, he told me how he, too, avoided gay meetings as there was a sexual dynamic at play, or a romantic one, and he was advised early on not to date anyone in the program for the first year... I don't know about that... But I'm sure I won't for at least 90 days, and by going to these straight meetings there isn't much danger of that anyway...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Eleventh Meeting, Day 14

Between Shows. Shared day count and heard a lot of good stuff. Prolly should change the blog titles to Day Counts rather than Meeting counts... It's about a day at a time... Went back to "Between Shows". A powerful meeting. Woman next to me had 11 years. I shared my 14 days... Speaker had a combo of alcohol, drug, and sex addiction. He did a lot of sharing the importance of step work. He said he did a separate 4th step for sex and relationships, besides the one he did for alcohol.... Stuff heard "Whenever you're in a relationship, you run right into YOU"... An HIV poz guy shared he only feels comfortable in a relationship with other poz guys... And regarding alcohol " I drank AT my father... I did drink At other people. My blackout msgs left for a sober friend hoping for an intervention lead to him trying to talk me out of this....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tenth Meeting

Reading was from Living Sober on Sponsorship. I shared that I'd rather have an interim sponsor... Sounds far less scary. Still don't have one though... All will be revealed... I also shared about my day where an assisitant lectured me this morning with a barrage of all the reasons that she thinks I'm perfectly awful... Even after the dozen or more folks I dealt with today who completely adore my work. I kept focussing on the one negative one ... And that it made me want to go to the saloon tonight and hangout with my "friends" which would've included Patron'... Instead, I was at a meeting, and later I was thinking that I handled the asst's rant today much better than I would've when I would've used it as kindling for a drink binge... Instead I thanked her for her share... And moved on... So there...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ninth Meeting

Another one at the Clubhouse... And many powerful shares... Loved the comment that "sometimes I think and feel and react like a child... But, then I look in the mirror and realize I'm not a kid anymore. When I get into Mommy and Daddy thinking and realize that was more than 50 years ago... It's time to take responsibilty..." Shared my day count at 12 days.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Eighth Meeting

Started early with a 10.30AM meeting at the Al-Anon House... Not sure about the baseball bat hanging overhead that sez it was given to them by Bill W in the 1940's... WTF? ... A mouse ran through the meeting. The lady who was sharing at the time shreiked... A guy pointed out later... No one left... "Drunks are tough" ... He got applause... This was an anniversary meeting with a speaker with six years of sobriety... She was in show business and identified as someone that never missed rehearsals and go a few days w/o drinking... I could relate... She sez it took her a while but she completely gets the expression; "Wishing you a slow recovery." ...Well, I don't. I want it now!... I shared that and that I identified with her "high functioning" and that she was also in show business.... I wondered aloud if my career change wasn't a form of geographic... Up and going without exploring why??... I guess I'll get that answer and more as they unfold... Slowly... A slow recovery: that's the take-away for today.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Seventh Meeting

I went straight from today's meeting at the clubhouse to the former address of a divey little gay bar where I'd hang w/ Tony the Bartender on Saturdays about this time of day. It's now been turned into a sober Dunkin Donuts, LOL... So, I sat in the window and had a large iced decaff... Went to the 1.30 beginners meeting at the Clubhouse.... I volunteered to read the pre-amble (or whatever it's called) (My first AA service? LOL). Shared my day count (10) and then the host told me "day counters share first"... So I was off and running in a share... It's easier sharing in small meetings like this and I like these rows of chairs... as there isn't a large circle of people staring you down... Talked of my non-drunk friends trying to talk me out of this (you aren't an alcoholic... you aren't a drunk)... (Forgot about the one that hit me and said you just wanna lose weight!) I haven't even started telling my drinking buddies yet... Also, shared how alcohol didn't really start being a problem til I started using binges to escape my fast racing mind in grad school and a career change around ten yrs ago at age 40. And how I can go to a couple local bars and be greeted with arms punching air and loud laughter, and hugs... One older guy with 30+ years gave me his phone number scribbled on a slip of paper. (That's the first time that happened)... He shared of his major "character defect" being sex (his "character defect sponsor", LOL, pointed it out to him). He said he would take his Higher Power along and say "sit over here and wait for me, and I'll pick you up again after I get busy with this business over here". LOL He said it took him a loooong period time to deal w/ that character defecty.... A young guy who is a multiple user (drink and drugs) pointed out we, as addicts, are very attached to our secrets... That's the take-away: "We are as sick as our secrets" or "we are attached to our secrets"... Watchword: Secrets. (Yikes!).

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sixth Meeting

Back to the Clubhouse on 46th for my sixth meeting in six days. Pretty full at 4pm. Pitch style... then pick. Already seeing familiar faces from other meetings there this week. I dunno if they count each day and each time slot a different meeting or not or if it's one group that meets regularly (is that clear?). One guy shared how it's Friday, and Happy Hour and he realized he likes drunks ... he's drawn to them... Bigger than life and people in meetings seem somber... Everyone laughed. I can sure relate... This is my first Friday Happy Hour since joining the program last week... And I am definitely kinda Jonesing for Joe and the Friday night saloon gang (people, places, things)....But I'm not doing that today... I remember a wise woman saying in a recent mtg at that same clubhouse: "if you keep going to the barbershop, you are gonna get a haircut".... Find myself avoiding choosing those really large gay meetings for now. Dunno why that is, but it's certainly ok... The take away: I like drunk people and am drawn to them", they are definitely the people in people, places, things that I don't need in my life today... Day count shared: 9 days sober. (Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fifth Meeting

Ran over to the Clubhouse for the 4pm meeting. Rushing from work can make me a few minutes late... And I was surprised when I opened the door to find it pretty packed. It was another of these anniversary-style meetings where several speakers celebrating their annivs qualified... I guess this is a tradition in AA NYC... One guy had 90 days... Two guys had 3 years and spoke of the strong friendships they have made w/ each other and others here at this club, and how it's nice when one of them doesn't show up that they are missed and people ask about them or check up on them... Much like a group of blue collar guys who would meet weekly at a sports bar... Strong comeraderie... That is the take-away from this meeting...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fourth Meeting

Fabulous meeting... fast moving. Several people celebrating anniversaries from 90 days to 6 years, I think... I recognized one person from television... Shhh. Anonymity is a cornerstone, and etc... Got up and got a 24 hour chip at the chip break! And got a hug from the chip guy (who at first told me he didn't have it)... Funnily, I was mentioning that interesting AA booklet yesterday, and today, they gave it to me here as part of the Beginner's packet... I lied this group and will make a point to visit ... Could become a home group. Not gay per se, but certainly lots of gay folks abound... Need to get there early to get a better seat... Take away: Someone has aging parents that "could very well be dying". "It will be much worse if I drink"... reminds me how many times I bury feelings by heading to the bar to erase everything... Parents...Kids at work, authority figure confrontations, inequity, racism, prejudice... Etc... My first time in that Church building that I always was fascinated with... Not sure I like sitting in this regal church meeting room, but ok...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Third Meeting

Went to back to 46th St Clubhouse... Had to wlk dog and race there after a brisk walk home.... But I got there for the very beginning.... They used a booklet that talks about the tools and qustions of newcomers. Not sure what the title was, but I'll recognize it when I see it again... Thing was phone. Several shared how they hate the phone. I got the biggest laughs with my phone hatred (still the people pleasing entertainer)... One lady pointed out she prefers voicemails to bookend tthings and once had a sponsor call her on it. She felt shame but has come to believe that's right for her... It works for her... I needed that.... Went home. Stopped for a coupla errands and was home in plenty of time to relax on the couch. Found myself thinking obsessively about union elections.... And found I was clenching my teeth. Took an ativan to calm me and I slept good.... The Take Away: Ranting cursing loud scary black guy (seemed aimed at all us white folk)... the Intergroup is there for 24 hour phone help. I'll put those nos in my cell now.... Forgot to blog this post til Weds at 3.30p... But I predated it.... Rigorous honesty...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Second Meeting

Went to a nice lil 1.30 Memorial Day AA meeting next to the Imperial Theater on 46th St. Hostess Delilah. Lots of supportive crosstalk. LOL. I said "Todd, I'm an alcoholic" a coupla times. Go to a meeting a day and the 90 will take care of itself. Big aha... I could never see the point of one or two drinks. I'd drink to get twisted.... Many here shared they could have a couple and stop if circumstances deemed it... I also shared my High Functioning alkie-ism and how not understanding it caused me denial. (Message composed on my T-Mobile Sidekick LX 2009 mobile device).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

First Meeting

I went to a high noon Sunday morning.... Very large... Saw old friends Ross on the way in (I spoke) and Brian K (!) on the way out (I didn't speak). Take away: "I'm ALWAYS walking away from or toward a drink." 62 year old speaker w/ 26 yrs of sobriety. Lots of 1980's bar and social club love shared here (They have no idea!). Speaker said he was always putting himself in a triangular pattern to the bar w/ bar as a triangle corner and was anti-social. As for me, I was usually a social star... (Stud, Mineshaft, Phoenix, Beast Hole, and Cleos)... The latter was where Donner called me "Mayor of the bar" and Lil' John always declared: "Everybody loves him"... Blogging this now on my 1st ever sober walk uptown from an AA mtg. I spoke enough to "check in" saying it was my 1st time here.... Realized after that wasn't clear it was my very 1st mtg ever... That's fine.... I didn't count day 4... And never said the shorthand "Todd/ Alcoholic".... But there may be time for that!... Did discreetly tear up a coupla times during everyone else's day counts especially...On way home... I always brag that I never had to buy more than one drink. Fact is, I tipped $20-30. The same bartender that was so drunk that today, I folded the donation in the same football shape that I'd use to tip the Bartender. (Message composed on my mobile device).

Thursday, May 21, 2009