To My Knees

My active drinking career, which I pray is over, come to a slow but sure nasty bottom. I went beyond just being brought to my knees with my last drunk. My last debacle found me splayed out on the bathroom floor and in dire medical straits. I was revived, brought to the hospital and spent a night in intensive care. I knew, this time, I was defeated. I was figuratively brought to my knees in realizing my powerless. I was different, at least in realizing it was simply was not possible for me to whip this drinking problem. I also knew – finally it was absolutely clear – my drinking was a big problem. I did not just have a bad night or was unlucky. I then did something strange. I sincerely asked for help.

Today I am brought to my knees by all kinds of situations. Asking God for help in my daily life, praying about how grateful I am to have the life I have today and many other reasons. All this is now a very good thing instead of the humiliation of what my drinking drove me to become.

One funny thing about all this is I did not believe in God before I was felled by my powerlessness. I felt people who had faith in God were weak and simple minded. It says in the Twelve and twelve (and as quoted in the daily reflections book): Some of us won’t believe in God, others can’t, and still others who do believe that God exists have no faith whatever He will perform this miracle.

I am glad I am on the other side of the fence on this issue today. I know and appreciate that God does exist. He can work miracles in my life. And I can be brought to my knees on a regular basis by my faith.

But Why?

The philosophical argument about self-will versus determinism has been raging for much longer than our lifetimes. Modern ideas put new twists into this but the idea is the same. It is an argument that I am pretty sure will not be solved in my lifetime. So what to do, and what to say, when bad things happen? What was/is God’s role in such matters?

I have faced this in my own life and in trying to help others. Rape, murder, car accidents and the like are some of examples of bad things that happen. Is this all parts of “God’s plan?”

I want to believe this is not the direct doings of God. In my spiritual world these are things that happen, regardless of what God wants or is able to do for me, or for anyone else.

Self-determinism is what I believe in. I believe God wants the best for me but I am free to choose. I am a drunk. Good for me or not, if I am not vigilant and taking care of myself than I am capable of drinking. And drinking for me leads to very bad things for me and for others. On the other hand my life is pretty darn good when I am sober. This is more what I think God wants for me. So when bad things happen I don’t blame blame God. It is not necessarily his fault or his doing.

For all I know God is doing these things, perhaps for reasons I do not need to be privy to. Yet I am not God so I am not the person to understand everything. I can live with that too. I don’t need to think I know or understand everything anymore.  Drinking and getting sober beat that egotistical malarkey out of me.

Having been sober for a few decades I can deduce and live with philosophical and spiritual perspectives that support my life. I can now see things in a way that allows me to be happy (God is good) instead of bitter (why did God allow xxxx to happen?). In working with others I can share my perspectives and suggest them as useful ways to see and deal with things. I don’t pretend I am right, just that this does work. Yet sometimes there needs to be something more added to all this.

The other day one of my sponsees told me something that I thought was wonderful. It come to him via another AA member who had suffered a loss and was told this by someone else. Rather than wondering why or what God’s role in the thing that you lost was, imagine that God felt the same pain that you did or still do in relation to your loss.

An empathetic God explained in way that is personal and touching.

Happy New Year. 2010. It will be the best year ever.

Our Best Ideas

Will you choose the easier softer way, of try to blaze your own trail?
Will you choose the easier softer way or try to blaze your own trail?

As happens too often, someone that asked me to sponsor them has gone away. Don (as mentioned in this post about sponsorship) decided he needed to try to do find his own way to sobriety. My own sponsor said it best “why do you need to find something else, this works well for a lot of people!”

The thinking and reasoning of this guy was classic. I was almost dumbfounded by what he told me as things were quickly unravelling.

First was Don’s stopping doing some basic things he had told me he would do if I was to sponsor him. I called him out on this stuff and told him he needed to make a decision if he would do those things or not. He said he needed to think about it. Within a few days fired me, saying he did not want to do those things and that he needed to do his own thing.

He explained how he knew some guy in AA that had long term sobriety and worked his “own” program. The steps he didn’t like this guy simply ignored. How well did he know this other guy? Someone else he sort of knew in AA had told him about him. So he was going to go to a meeting this fellow went to and see if he could talk to him.

Great “lets go get drunk idea.” So there are lots of people around that are sober and talk about how the steps brought them sobriety. Out of this, pick one guy that did it differently and say that is what I want to do. What worked for one person, not what is apparently working for a whole bunch of people.

The most crazy thing of all was this one line he told me.

I want to try to find my own way of doing this AA program.

His own way. He called me a few times after he fired me. He was growing increasingly irritable, restless and discontent. Don was also getting more and more scared. At one point he decided he needed to do what I had suggested and said it would be good if I would sponsor him again. That was the next to last day that I heard from him. It has been a few weeks. He is not at meetings. He has not kept in touch. Is he drinking? I hope not but it does not look good.

I am so glad that I once came to the realization that my best ideas were killing me. This was a very important change in my thinking that allowed me to get sober. I was then teachable and open minded. I thought a lot of these AA things would not work but was willing to entertain that I could be wrong. I was. Completely.

New Tires

I spend a lot of time taking my compact economy car to places where it would be better to be driving a four wheel drive SUV. I am a biologist and I do a lot of fieldwork, with my preference being to work in remote places. For the last few weeks I have needed to take my car somewhere to have some tire problems taken care of. I discovered one of my tires was low on air, which lead to finding it had a slow leak and that another tire had a bubble on its sidewall. Yesterday, when I was about 20 miles in on a gravel forest road, I noticed the leaker was almost flat. Today I finally was able to run some errands around town and I took the car to a tire shop. I was surprised to learn I needed two new tires but I paid the bill and happily drove away.

What does this have to do with sobriety? For me, a lot. I am sober today and can be responsible (except for driving around with two slightly wonky tires for a few weeks!), I can be proactive about things like making sure my car is safely maintained and I even have money to pay for things like car tires. Taking the type of action I did today was way out of my league of possibilities when I was drinking. I had tires blowout on me because I would ride them as long as they held air. Little or no tread, some radial wires sticking out of the sidewall – that was fine with me. When I would finally have no choice but to buy a new tire I was always resentful that I had to spend that money. Sure I needed to get around but how come tires didn’t last longer? How come new tires are so expensive? And on and on.

The fact of the matter was I simply hated to part with any money to pay for things like tires, insurance, or anything to do with my car. I wanted to spend more money on getting what I wanted – booze, drugs, and cigarettes. You see drinking a lot on a regular basis wasn’t leading to my having great success in life. I would try to save for things but I never seemed to have any money left before the next time I got paid. I couldn’t even plan well enough for my regular monthly expenses. Buying new tires meant I would be short of money. This would literally cut into what I had available for obtaining my trinity of necessities. Consequently I would get angry even when I paid my regular bills. The rent, the phone, even the price of food irked me when I was short of cash.

Being sober, responsible, and having what I really need is so much different. I take care of my part, like showing up at the tire store when I notice there is a problem, and the rest seems to take care of itself.

Now I am less likely to get stuck in some out of the way place. I am also not mad that some money I had in the bank went towards allowing me to keep doing my fieldwork. Life is just a much better bargain being sober.

All the best in sobriety,