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Tag Archives: keepers

Proud to Say It

By Marianne H.

There is absolutely no shame in being a sober alcoholic. On the contrary, it’s something to be very, very proud of.

At first I, too, didn’t want to tell anybody. Looking back, I think it was because I was afraid that if others knew that *I* knew I was alcoholic, I would be ashamed to have them see me drinking ever again, and I didn’t want to give up that very tempting thought that if I just got myself under control, I might get to where I could have just one Brandy Manhattan on a special occasion.

Well, this list taught me the whys of what I already knew — that for me, there was no such thing as one drink occasionally. And as I stayed sober longer after each relapse, I found myself feeling proud of my accomplishment. Because I knew just how hard it had been for me. Still is, for that matter.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t go around volunteering to everybody and their Aunt Sadie that I’m a sober alcoholic. But when the situation (pre-op exam, or explaining my involvement in LifeRing, for example) makes “I’m a sober alcoholic” appropriate, I’m damn fine proud to say it. And not one person has reacted badly, on the spot or later. Plus, I’m amazed at how many people have responded with “I’m one, too.” Or “So is my daughter.” “Boss.” “Best friend.” Etc.

Be proud of every sober day. There are an awful lot of alcoholics in this world who don’t have the strength and determination (courage, too, I have come to think) that you’ve shown in getting these sober days strung together for yourself.

I Recognize My Mind Games

By Steve C.

I was about 9 months sober, in June of 1998, when my Dad moved in with my family because of his Lou Gehrig’s disease progression. He drinks nothing without alcohol in it, which means I keep it around the house now. He can’t move his hands, can’t walk, and is beginning to have trouble standing up and swallowing, but he can still suck liquor through a straw. I didn’t choose to have a confrontation over it with him because it’s the last thing he enjoys that he can still do. Plus, from my own experience, you can’t force anyone into sobriety. Prior to this, I had a 1/4 bottle of gin in the freezer for about 3 weeks after I got sober. Eventually, I poured it down the drain because I found myself thinking about it quite a bit.

Anyway, when dad first got here, his thing was warm beer and brandy which wasn’t too bad, since I hate warm beer, and I never cared too much for brandy unless it was in egg nog. But now, since he has trouble swallowing thin liquids, he’s changed to rum and coke, screwdrivers, and greyhounds. All drinks I used to enjoy. I have full liters of brandy, vodka, and rum sitting on my kitchen counter right now. If he gets peppermint schnapps, or switches to gin and tonic, I might really be in trouble. I find myself thinking about just a small sip now and then when I’m carrying his drink over to him, but I know better then to follow through.

But what is scary, is how frightfully easy it could be, just one little mental slip, just one little irrational thought, just one little raise of my arm, and bingo, I’ll probably wake up in the hospital or in jail. I find it interesting, since I really hadn’t craved it too much over the last three months, but for some reason, its creeping back into my consciousness. I find it is getting really hard to mix his drinks, put a straw in it, and then carry it over to him without triggering the little mind game of “just a little sip”, or “just a taste.” Actually, I think maybe the smell of the stuff is what is triggering it. Maybe I should just get a nose plug.

So, what I have been doing is just forcing the smarter part of my conscious to take over, and trying to ignore what Trimpey calls “the beast.” I know that for me, alcohol is extremely dangerous, and when I’m around it, I’m on dangerous ground. I also think the craving must have something to do with the smell of the alcohol, which must trigger something in my body. I’m really beginning to believe that alcoholism is really a disease triggered by a physical craving which causes the so called “mental obsession” (AA stuff) because I don’t know how else to explain it.

Anyway, my wife has been extremely worried about the situation for the last four months, and I have kept telling her “don’t worry” nobody is going to pour it down my throat, but me. But, recently, with the different liquors being brought into the house, it has gotten to be a little bit more worrisome for me due to the mental games that are going on again. I let her know this, and she is going to mix his drinks a little more often for me until I get over this weirdness.

So I guess what I’m saying, is we all have to deal with alcohol in our lives at some point or another, but it’s our minds that may betray us. For me, I think it would be better to just get rid of all the stuff in the house, but I can’t or won’t do that unless I put my dad in a home or something. Plus, I know that deep down, the stuff isn’t going to magically come out of the bottle and land in my throat. I’m at least happy that I can recognize my mind games for what they are.

Oct. 10, 1998

365 Attaboys

by Steve C.

Posting to “fish for attaboys” on his first sobriety anniversary, Steve recites a long list of things he hasn’t experienced for 365 days — no traffic tickets, no meaningless apologies, no rages at the family, no mysterious ATM withdrawal slips …

Steve out of San Jose, the consummate lurker here. I just thought I’d send in a message to fish some attaboys. I attained one year of sobriety yesterday, 21 Sep 1998.

No blackouts for 365 consecutive days. I’ve been able to find my car every morning, parked right outside for 365 consecutive days. Not so much as a traffic ticket for 365 days. No meaningless apologies to the wife, kids, and bartender in the morning for 365 days. I have woken up warm and cozy in my own bed for 365 consecutive days. I haven’t found dozens of ATM slips in my wallet that had seriously depleted my funds for 365 consecutive days. No urine or crap in my pants for 365 days. No broken noses, bloody clothes, or black eyes for 365 days. No jail cells for 365 days. No serious arguments with the wife, no storming out of the house, no threating of break-ups in my marriage for 365 days. No two hour long lectures to crying and scared kids for 365 days. No downing of 5 or 6 aspirin in the morning for 365 days. My stomach has settled down for about I’d say only 200 or so days, it took a while. No blank spots in my mind for 365 days. No memories being told to me for 365 days. No holes punched in the wall, kicks in the doors, broken windows, or door jambs for 365 days. No fondling of a shotgun to my mouth for 365 days. No waking up and walking through a mine field of broken glass, tossed furniture, or drywall dust for 365 days. No wasted days to hangovers for 365 days. A whole year and none of this has occurred. Wow.

Please excuse me now as I climb up on a huge pink cloud I see coming my way.

Back to Keepers listing

Posted 21 Sept. 98

You Are Not a Failure

By De W.

Personal experience … Sober 10 years, thought it would be absolutely no problem. Put myself in a very challenging situation, lapsed for 2 years while in that situation. Got my self out (actually not by choice, but it worked out) and now have 2 years again. What didn’t work for me was believing in the one-drink-leads-to-a-drunk. That is what I drank to. Ok. So you fell down.

Here is something I wrote, when I had 24 hours this last time. Maybe it will help someone else.

Because You have a Failure, You are not a Failure.

I choose. I choose what path to follow. I choose which way to go. I may not consciously choose to fail, but I can choose to go in another direction when the failure comes to light. This is what I have been learning.

I am not what I do. If I make a mistake, I am not a mistake. If I do bad things, I am not a bad person.

I am inherently good. Whether or not I do anything with my life, my life has meaning. If I have a failure, it does not mean I am a failure. If I slip it doesn’t mean I am lost. Negative thinking is just that: Thinking. It is not “reality.” If I put my negative thoughts into action, I have chosen to do so.

Whatever I do at any given moment is what I perceive to be the best action. Two seconds later it might seem like the worst possible thing I could have done. In the moment of the decision however, it may have seemed to be to my advantage. I can change the direction at any time. I can be honest about the action taken and move on to the next one.

That’s important for me to admit and move on. Dwelling on it doesn’t help.

I am scared to death to break my abstinence. I can hear myself dare me to do it. I can make the choice not to. If I do however break my abstinence, I am not a failure. I am acting on a compulsion. I choose whether to continue the behavior. Bad behavior does not make a bad person.

People, humanity, is (if not good) at least neutral. My reason for existence is to do what I can to make a difference. A lot of this is regurgitated from other readings and hearings. I am not sure I am totally convinced, except when I remember “I love you.” “I am not convinced I deserve it.” “You don’t have to deserve it. IT JUST IS.” Then I know I am something special. Failures and all. I am living proof that if you have a failure, you are not a failure. I keep picking myself up and moving on.***

I read this everyday for quite awhile and since my recent difficulty with new days/new beginnings I have it out again. I thought it might help someone else.

(The conversation was one I had with that ‘still quiet voice’ inside myself about 4 years into my first phase of recovery/discovery. It had a major impact on me then, and still does today.)

De W. — Life is what happens while you are making other plans.

Applause for the Struggling

By Gregg F.

Hi all, I just ran a 5K race this morning. The same race I wanted to run for the past two years. The same race I passed in my car last Labor Day, racing to the bar to get there as soon as it opened. A knot in my gut made worse by viewing the happy faces of the runners.

Something can be learned by me from the runners. It seems the people that struggled the most got the most support, cheers and applause. No one was judged because they didn’t train harder, thus improving their performance. No, everyone was cheered on just the same for being in the race — actually a social run for most.

I think staying sober might be like running. Some of us alcoholically challenged may have an actual talent for staying sober, while for others it is a lot more difficult. I think that from now on I should applaud those even more that are having a difficult time, for there is a lot to say for someone just for being in the race. The motive for being there or the amount of training doesn’t matter, but what matters is that they are with me in the same endeavor.

Those of us that have been doing really well for a long period of time stumble and get back up and go again should really be cheered for it is a challenge to begin again from this new perspective.

Marianne, I raise my diet soda to you this morn and say three cheers to ya. Three cheers to all of us.

Gregg F.