Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Meetings and Growth

Recovery in AA is very dogmatic. You must do this, we are told, or else you will relapse. Anything else is the insidious disease taking control.

Unfortunately for me, I have real problems in life that I cannot seem to solve. They cause me much pain and frustration, in my working life. I have no exciting magical daily fun at work. It is largely a visit to hell, front and back. Sitting in a boring room with difficult people, hearing them rant and curse, complain and bitch.

To make matters worse, I can get along with no boss. But the current one, takes the cake. He has taken to talking about me to his sidekick. They whisper, Welll the first talk work stuff for 10-20 minutes, then they BS for between 1 - 3hours. I have this documented. So every so often they whisper, I get up and walk as close to his office as I can without being spotted. But my work is standing up for me for now. Several programs that I have written have been noted as being very effective and helpful, and money saving to the company. So it is like he is waiting for some screwup on my side. Which is good in a way as I am the most careful in work now that I have ever been.

I have saved you the boring details of the work problems, but it really is a harsh environment.

So when I finally make it home each evening, I need to do things that give me pleasure. I relax, I exercise, I walk alot lately. I am finding this very positive and therapeutic. I will go most of the time after 9pm, when it is more quiet and secluded where I live, with the mascot with me, the cup of coffee. Our AA nations drink.

I find that the walk at night tires me, it gives me a chance to analyze how I can get to keep my job, and it's nice to get out of the house.

I also spend time with my children, read, clean the house - which is a daily need, do some shopping, and play on the computer. I also have a couple of friends that I visit or help out, they both have cancer. One is not in good shape in terms of the prognosis, the other is, but still he suffers. With one, I learn Torah with. The other fellow could be teaching me so we just talk. It is not easy to do anything besides this visit on an evening. It is quite difficult, as I am not a professional therapist. But I have to cheer them up alot. Especially the one with a cancer that does not have a good rate of curing. He is not so old. and he does not want to die he says.

Where can I fit meetings in here?

And more importantly, I get along fine without meetings.

I love AA unconditionally for having gotten me out of the gutter. But once out, I must say that for me, the purpose of going there, is to stay and keep sober. Everything else that I spent 3 months imbibing, was not happening, and this lack-of, made me feel depressed and anxious.

So one thing I did learn in AA was to leave things be and not get all worked up over them. I guess also I got very tired of hearing the same things over and over again, and also for sure I did not feel comfortable and relaxed there. I tried a few places and it's the same feeling. I want to be left alone and not have to be confronted over every word, not have to try to make conversation, not have to live up the lofty expectations that the group leaders say.

I guess I could say that in general I am, more of a recluse by nature and do not seek many social situations to be in, certainly not so regular as AA. Of course, this is all possible for me because I am not drinking ( almost 7 months), and have almost no thoughts to do so. I have the occassional thought, as in, maybe I will drink today but that is all. I don't have any real need or plans to buy a liquor bottle. I just keep it in the day. I am not drinking today.

I expect to go to a meeting again, but for now, the time and opportunity is not there. I am a little jealous of all the meeting goers who don't have my social problems, or are able to ignore them.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Getting back to meetings

I have not been going to meetings. Hard to say why. Once you get out of the routine of going to them, it's easy to just forget about them. At first I did alot of online meetings and postings, but that has stopped too. At first I said, well I am not drinking or doing any substance so it's OK. Even though I understand that the spiritual growth part is put on hold. But things are basically OK with me so I don't feel this need to go to meetings. I guess if I drink, then I will know to go.

Yet I do miss meetings. There is something you get from them that I miss that I can't get anywhere else. I think it would help me in specific ways.

I do not think seriously of drinking. The main thing I miss about meetings though is that I do feel isolated in the drinking society that America is. What I mean is everyone I know, looks forward to when they can drink, some more or some less, but everything I hear from co-workers is about how they will drink this or that watching the big game on TV or when they are on vacation.

And I don't have that comfort. A few weeks ago I had the thought that maybe I am 'cured now'. I have been sober for 6 months, the disease was selling me on, and thus, I am cured, I can have a glass of wine once a week. So I said to the disease, some call it the beast, no, I don't think it works that way, this is for good. In my life, I have had enough alcholhol and substances for one life. Done.

So the beast said, well how do you know that? Give it a test. Be rational.

I have no answer for that really. Sobriety is not about being rational. Yes it's true, why don't I test it, to see if I am 'cured'? Mainly because I don't think it will work. Mainly from what I have heard at meetings about people slipping and not coming back for 2 years. So why should I take a chance when all I have to do is not drink today?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yom Kippur mesage for me

Yesterday was our holy day holiday of Yom Kippur. I had a rough time because of distractions of others which is now going to be a problem in the future. When I was drinking, many things I would sweep aside, if they bothered me. Even if I was not drunk at the time, maybe there was a hangover or in general knowing that I have something to drink at home later, kept things quiet for me. I am quiet by nature so I tend to not get involved in incidents. But now, I don't have that 'safety net' I do get involved. Of course, I cannot control or change the world. There are asshole but they are a minority. I often focus on this minority too much. of other polite drivers. So why do I focus and get all concerned about the moron?

I got the holiday message early on Sat. morning. I could have stopped right there.

My feeling of love of my higher power being mutual. I asked my higher power to love me even more this year.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A "Strange" NA meeting

I sometimes go to a Saturday night Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Not that I was that big of a user - similar to booze but even less. I only used Marijuana. But still, to have full sobriety, I don't want to get into MJ, as a substitute. Also, this is a 10pm Meeting which works out well for Sabbath observers.

There are some differences mainly most of the people there are very young, looks like late teens to early twenties is the majority, with a sprinkling of older folks. This doesn't bother me except with some of the shares, there is more of talk of violence in general and even within the group.

Some don't want to give this up. But I can deal with this, and the message is the same as AA of course, as is most of the shares and speakers. There seems to be more relapsing but I am just surmising, also more coming in and out for a cigarette. also it seems that some people are still using and hang out outside wrapped up in blankets. I guess they had intention of going to the meeting but got sidetracked.

Why I am writing about this is that I drank 2 cups of coffee. I didn't share but I at least talked to a couple of people after. When I got home around midnight, I was watching a TV program I had taped and suffendly felt like I was getting high. You may know this feeling as you weren't planning to get very high maybe you had one hit, but it was very superior stuff or you hadn't had in very long, but there is this queasy feeling that, uh oh, I may have used too much.

At any rate, I was having this feeling last night during the TV program. So I deduced that someone had spiked the coffee with something. I remember praying please let it just be pot, I can deal with this. I think it may have been speed because I was up all night, and I should have been tired.

Or perhaps the 2 cups of coffee, altho they were small, were extremely potent.
I know that this does happen there. because one of their rules is that they state, no illegal activities are allowed or action will be taken.

So it would not surprise me if someone did spike the coffee. But on the other hand, I know they are aware of this possibility and usually assign the coffee committments only to people with alot of time in the program, altho it is always possible to sneak it in.

At any rate, I was up all night and finally slept a half hour around 6am. As long as I was up at 5am, I ate some breakfast which helps as today is a Jewish fast day. Then I slept from 7am-8:30am dreaming of my next upcoming trip to Israel, my arrival at the airport.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Dream

I had a new and strange dream the other night. For the first time since I started AA, I dreamt that I was drunk. The details of my dream you might find interesting to see how insidious and clever this disease is.

I vividly recall that I was holding a half empty beer bottle. Beer as in, you know, not the hard stuff. Just one bottle too. Sure.

In the dream I had also had some liquor. a brand that I had never had before. Also insidious. You know, try something new, live a little.

The strange part about this dream, some dreams are kind of like interactive. Like you are partially aware that it's a dream. Say like if you have been at the beach all day and you were swimming in the waves, in bed, you have that wave-like feeling like you are still there.

In this dream, I was aware that something was wrong, that I don't do booze anymore, that I could not be holding an open half empty bottle of beer, and be drunk. This is not a possibility.

So this woke me up, this problem, with the dream.

Not bad.

Haven't had this dreeam since.

I would say after 2 months, still I can't believe how relatively easy this has been.

I go to meetings around twice a week, and I read the books.

I have not started on the steps yet.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Connecting with your Higher Power

Thoughts About a Higher Power.
One of the foundations of AA, is that the individual must be aware of, or use the help of their higher power. This is interpreted as G-d, as you(we) understand Him, or this concept, so it is not a particularlistic G-d of this or that religion. My higher power is not necessarily what yours is, although there are similarities.
In Judaism, we have a more fixed idea of HaShem. At least I did. He is Up-There, He is to be feared (Y'ira) or Respected. We say, KavYochel when referring to G-d doing something in Human terms, Kavyochel meaning, we are using this term metaphorically, we cannot even begin to fathom Ha-Shem's ways and means of doing things. even 'things' is Kavyochel, so we can understand on our terms.
But does this help in situations which affect a happy life. One of the things AA tried to build for members is that life can be a happy one, (even) without booze. If an AA member is continually in a depression, it definetly will affect their sobriety. Maybe not everyone but most people after a while would say, this AA is OK at first but things are even worse than before, I am going to therefore go ahead and control my drinking.
Of course, when things are going well for a person, there is little issue. It is when there is extra stress, when situations of either other people who have power over you, say ina work environment, or circumstances, cause you to be depressed this is not idea.
I feel that at these times, an AA or really anyone for that matter, should connect and be with his higher power. Imagine that you just go to a nice beach for an hour or more.Or to a beautiful lake or forest. Your mind will forget about the depression for a few moments, as it takes in the natural beauty and different sights and smells, and reality, that you left back at the office. I recently went to Bear Mountain in New York, and had this experience.
I want my higher power to be like that, to have this kind of affect on me. I was glancing at a book of Psalms this morning, and I noticed something interesting. There is a well known verse that is also a famous song in Hebrew it is: "Hinei Ma Tov UMah Naiim, Shevet Achim Gam Yachad" this is translated as, "Behold ! How Good and Pleasant, the tribes(brothers) are sitting down together in harmony" (my loose translation). I saw a Rashi in the Tehillim (Psalms) edition which I have the good fortune to own, Rashi the most famous Torah commentator says on this verse: When G-d sat in the Beis HaBechira, the Temple (Second?), with Yisrael, who are called Brothers and friends, and He Will be also with them. (yes there is a grammatical thing there. first it says KiSheyashav, when He sat. Then he says, ViYihiyeh, and he will be with them. I groove on it anyway as I see it as a past and future thing).
Wow. So my higher power is with me now! Sitting with me at this very moment while I have depressing thoughts about my situation! I don't have to sink into depression. I can sit with my higher power and all my Brothers in recovery.
Just to add the other commentators, the Metzudas Zev, asks why the word MA is used there. (Why MA Tov, Ma Naim). I don't see the answer there but he says that Bnei Yisroel were brothers because of the Achva the solidarity amongst them. Achava means I think Friendship, fellowship maybe.and then Gam Yachad, means that there will be one nation not 2 again.
So I really like the Rashi on this one. Perhaps there are similar sources we have that can help bridge understanding in AA?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wierd reaction from a friend

I had this one friend that was a drinking buddy. He is not of my community or faith. He lives about a 15 minutes drive away. I would go there once a week usually. We had common interests.

I have no other friends outside of my Orthodox community, so I liked having contact with someone who has a totally different perspective than mine.

I would go there and smoke a small amount of weed or hash, then there would be some drinking. Prior to this friendship, I drank alone always. He had a nice selection of hard and soft liquors, both the high and low end. I tasted French cognac there for the first time.

I guess you could say I am Orthodox Jewish who takes a time out every once in a while. But actually I was drinking alot there and would stagger out and drive home. I was never happy about driving home from there because it is near to a bad neighborhood and I always figured there was cops around, but I handled that part OK.

(It's amazing how the drunk driver never thanks G-d or whatever power he might believe in for getting them home without accident or arrest).

I have heard many an alchoholic now tell of DWI, of totalling car after car, etc.

I guess I should thank my G-d that He did put a red line out there in my drinking to somehow stop before I went over that red line.

Anyway, I told this friend that I had been to my first real AA meeting ( I had been to a kind of general 12 step program that is a mixture of many addictions and is a small group) then I went right to vacation, where I did meet another small informal group at a resort but only for the first couple of days did they meet. Then nothing for a while, not drinking but sort of in limbo, when will I see a meeting already?

Finally I went on a Friday night. Before Shabbos, but just. It started at 7:30pm Shabbos is in about 8:15 candle lighing so I could only stay for part. I drove there so that didn't help. I would have to drive home passing a Shule but I figured most people go to the early Service. At any rate, I loved the first meeting. People saying things that I thought only I felt. People expressing their joy at being sober.

Anonymity is very crucial with AA.

But just get that I felt fantastic about my first meeting.

I emailed my friend that I thought that he would love this meeting also. There is sort of like a Mechitzah there in many respects. It is not about socializing. You go there to get sober. Friends come later.

He is around 50 years old and never married, usually he is alone in what he does. He has few friends. Honestly, I thought for a while that I was doing a kind of Mitzvah by spending so much time with him, that if not for me, he would have no social human contact. So I thought that from that perspective he would want to go.

I also discussed some of the insights into my own sordid behavior that I was getting, that it's not just about being a slovenly drunk, but aspects of one's personality are affected by being an alchohlic. Even when you are not drunk.That is all, nothing too crazy in my email. I thought that I was sharing something amazing with him that he would enjoy.

But he took it very harshly and stopped responding to my phone calls, even ignoring my calls to his office. I thought perhaps he was ill or something like that.

Finally I called his work but not the direct number, and got passed thru to him. He didn't want to discuss anything, was trying to end the conversation. I sent a further email that he ignored so I sent a final email now that I cannot be in this situation anymore and goodbye.

There are some items that he has of mine but they are not overly valuable so at first I said at least can I have these items back, but when he still didn't answer me, I said the heck with them, keep them if you can't stand the site of me.

I am baffled by this lack of openess and anger. All I did was speak positively about AA.

We have been friends for over 2 years, we have done many favors one for the other.

I don't get this, but one of things in AA, is to realize that I am powerless over some things in my life, and just leave it and not let it ruin my sobriety.

I am very happy with my sobriety now.