Friday, September 30, 2005

You've got to give it away to keep it

I am feeling a little bit blue and thought maybe writing about one of my favorite experiences would cheer me. For some reason, I have remembered this incident several times this week, even though it happened 11 years ago.

In the summer that I was to celebrate 10 years of sobriety, I decided to goof off as much as I could. I got caught up on all of my bills, and then quit my job! I had enough money to pay the rent for the summer, but would need to get "extra" money to pay for anything else - like food. When I needed some money, I worked as a Kelly temporary. Over the summer, I applied for several permanent jobs, including putting in an application with the state. I didn't really give it another thought.

It was late August, I was broke, and I really needed to get a "real" job. I was working as a temp and called my voice mail for messages during a break. Well, I had a doozie of a message! It was someone from the State - not only the State, but it was a hospital and the job was a job in my chosen field! I didn't even know that was possible when I applied for a generic state job.

When I got home from work, I returned the call and made arrangements to come in for an interview the next day. That was exciting, but I had a major problem. I had NO money. I am serious. I had NO money. I didn't have the bus fare to get to the interview, and I didn't have the couple of dollars to pay for a pair of pantyhose, and I really didn't know how I could get to the interview.

Being somewhat practiced in living by spiritual principles, I withdrew to my bedroom, and got real quiet and prayed. I told God my problem, and just waited quietly for some sort of answer. I had an intuitive thought (that is how I think God talks to me) and the thought was weird - it was "give something away." Oh, how I wanted to argue with that thought! I didn't have anything, that was what I was praying about!

I came out of my bedroom and into the kitchen. In the kitchen, I saw the half pint jars of peach jam I had made, all lined up in rows. Well, it occurred to me that I COULD give away a jar of peach jam. So I sheepishly walked downstairs to a neighbor's apartment. I was hoping he wouldn't be home so that I could anonymously leave a jar of peach jam on his doorstep. But he was home, and I felt foolish giving him a jar of peach jam. I was happy to see that he really seemed to appreciate it.

I walked back up to my apartment and thought - well, that was great, now what am I going to do? It was a hot day, so I changed into a pair of shorts. When I put them on, I reached into the pocket and there was a ten dollar bill. I quickly thanked God, and walked to the store for a pair of stockings and got the change I needed for bus fare.

Now, you may say that the ten dollar bill was in that pocket all the time and I would have found it anyway. I am not so sure I believe that. It really doesn't matter though. In my eyes, that ten spot was a gift from God. And he needed me to give something away before I could have it. It has always worked like that for me. I cannot horde my goods and have bounty. I have to give away what ever I have, whether it be spiritual or temporal.

Post Script to the story: I did get that job. It was a wonderful job where my boss was a terrific mentor to me. She encouraged me to go to school. I did get my bachelor's degree and I ended up as the director of the department in which I started as an administrative assistant. I continued in school and got a master's degree. I was promoted out of my beloved department, and got the job I actually dreamed of when I was new. I remain at the hospital still - over eleven years later. I love it there - even on bad days when I "hate" it, I really love it.

For the price of a jar of peach jam....

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Tenth Tradition

Hi Everyone, My name is Mary, I am an alcoholic.

I have just been doing a little bit of research on blogs. Specifically, looking at the blogs of others who listed "Alcoholics Anonymous" as one of their favorite books in their profiles.

Probably this goes back to my initial question of how public a blog is. I happen to think it is very public. Anyone can find it and read it. There is no encoding so that only your pals can read it, as far as I can tell, and besides, that would defeat the purpose of a blog. (I think.)

OK, here is the 10th Tradition in the short form from "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions"

Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

And here is the text from the Big Book, the long form of the traditions:

No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues - particuarly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.

Hence, in this blog, you will never be subject to my myriad opinions on politics or religion. There should never be discussion of these things in an AA forum. (Besides, I have another blog to trot out my opinions on those things!)

I do talk about these things at great length with my AA friends, but not when I am representing myself as an AA member to others. We tend to be quite intelligent people and we have wonderful thoughtful discussions of many things, the quality of which is just sublime!

This is sacrosant to me. All of the traditions are. They are there to protect our very lives as recovering alcoholics.

For those who have stopped by, thanks. I would LOVE to hear from you. I have changed my comments requirements so that you can leave an anonymous comment, it seemed appropriate considering the subject.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Legacy of an Alcoholic

I got a call the other night from someone that I didn't recognize on my caller ID. For some reason I picked up the phone anyway. It was the sister of an old friend (Missy) who died in 1998. We had a nice chat. I told her I think of Missy often and I told her how much Missy helped me. She paused and told me how much she appreciated me saying that because she feels like she can't even talk about her dead sister. People don't understand how she can mourn her own sister because Missy was such a mess.

She was afflicted with this terrible disease - alcoholism. When I was in my first couple of months of sobriety and felt that I needed to leave my husband, Missy took me and my children in. She let us live at her townhouse with her. I thought she was sober when she did that. Missy was not sober. She was far, far, far from sober. But she was able to share with me some of the mistakes she had made when she WAS sober. I have always remembered them. Her story has really stuck with me... she had stayed sober for 11 months and 3 weeks. She decided in her last week before her 1st anniversary that she wouldn't call anyone in AA just to see if they would call her. Well, they didn't call her, she got mad, she got drunk... she never got sober again... and she died a miserable death.

So, back to the present - I was able to tell her sister that Missy had helped me a lot, and that meant a lot to her sister. She called me back the next day to tell me that she had called her mother (Missy's mother) to tell her that she talked to me and I said that Missy had helped me. It seems that meant a lot to her mother too because no one has anything nice to say about Missy. I am just so blown away by the waste of a life that was so full of promise. She had everything at one time. She was intelligent, she was very attractive, she was funny as hell, she was kind-hearted. And yet, she left nothing but heartbreak for those who loved her. I can't even imagine what it must feel like to be her mother or sister and not even be able to talk about her because people don't understand how you can miss someone who was such a mess! I am glad I could at least tell them that Missy helped me. That is certainly not a big deal.

And from Missy's experience, I learned where self-defeating behaviors will get you - like trying to see if people will really call you. I have never "tested" the love of Alcoholics Anonymous. I don't want to mess with something that is so beautiful. I just try to see that my love is going outward and not check to see what is coming inward. And you know, there has never been a shortage of what love has come to me. I am so blessed.

If you are new in AA, please keep coming back. Give yourself a chance. As one of my old friends used to say "the best of everything is yours - one day at a time."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Home Group

I went to the regular Thursday night meeting of my home group tonight. After the meeting I took pictures of the view I had admired throughout the meeting. Is this not beautiful? All this on TOP of a great meeting. I think God must love me!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


A woman was asked by a co-worker, "What is it like to be a recovering alcoholic?" The co-worker replied, "It is like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch, brings you in and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. and then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Oh My Goodness

I was just considering removing this entire blog and decided to check how many people had viewed my profile - the shock to me is that the number is 52. So 52 people have had enough interest in this to check out my profile.

Although I truly am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous, this gives me the creeps. I am NOT the ultimate AA member. There are thousands who are more active than I am, who have many more answers than I do. I am just a plain old garden variety alcoholic who is sober by the Grace of God. There are lots of us.

So, here it is... if you haven't been to AA... or if you have been to AA and you don't know what to do... here is the secret:

Don't drink
Don't think
Go to meetings
Get a sponsor
Read the big book
I probably should have left out the "don't think" part because it upsets people. But they told me that when I was new and I happen to think it is very good advice. They told me "my best thinking got me here," which used to confuse me because I thought that being in AA wasn't such a bad thing. However, who ever grew up aspiring to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous? Nothing better can happen if you are an alcoholic, but being an alcoholic isn't such a good deal.
If you read what I wrote on Friday, I did go to the Farmer's Market on Saturday and bought a bushel of chile peppers and a bushel of tomatoes, and lots of onions, garlic, and cilantro. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday standing in my kitchen making salsa. Roasting chiles until my neighbors were knocking on my door telling me the insides of THEIR houses smelled of the lovely aroma of roasting chiles. It was glorious. A lot of work, but as I told my daughter on Saturday - This is the best time of the year. I stood in my kitchen and watched football on TV, while roasting chiles, peeling tomatoes, chopping onions, dicing garlic and mixing it all together. Putting it into pint jars and canning it. It is all lined up on my kitchen counter now and it looks so darn pretty.
What's that got to do with being sober? Just about everything to me. Because I am sober, I get to do simple ordinary things that other people do. When I was drinking, I would be too sick or too drunk. Or I would start a project and couldn't ever quite finish it. Or maybe the neighbors would come over and try to compliment the lovely aromas and I would decide they were picking on me and spend the weekend feeling persecuted. Etc., Etc., Etc.
If you are visiting here and have any comments, please let me know. I really think I ought to take the blog off in its entirety, but I will hang in for a little bit on the off chance that this rambling thing is helping someone.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Night

What does a sober alcoholic do on a Friday night? These used to be the perplexing questions I had when I was a drunk. I just didn't think I could give up the "fun". When the drinking got desperate enough, I was thrilled to give up that kind of fun. I thought the rest of my life would be boring, but I finally got to the point where boring would be better than what I was doing.

In my early years of sobriety, I belonged to an AA club. There were dances there every Friday and Saturday night, right after huge speaker meetings. I would be there every single week dancing my little heart out. It was great fun. Basically it was like a bar, but we were all sober. There was still a lot of the unhealthly behaviors that take place in bars. But the good news was that I stayed sober through that, and a lot of other people did too.

Now I am in my 50s, and a good Friday night would be just like tonight. I got home from work a little early because I like to take off a tad early on Friday afternoons. I quickly changed my clothes and came back outside and mowed my lawn! Very exciting because I broke a rib on August 19, so this is the first time I have mowed since then. (I am blessed to have a neighbor who has been kind enough to mow for me in the meantime.) Then I decided to prune a few of the trees in my yard. A couple of the aspens in the back yard are looking very scraggly and unhealthy. Two of my neighbors came over and helped me with this project. We moved some rocks around and pruned and picked up and weeded a bit.

Very exciting! I think so. And I thank God that I think so. I am now in for the evening and will probably watch a little TV after a bit. I might work on the quilt I am in the middle of. I might knit for a while. I might do none of that but just sit and watch TV. If the phone rings, I could end up on the phone for hours. Being an AA member is like that.

Tomorrow morning I will get up early and go to a 6:30 a.m. meeting, and then I will either take a run or go swimming.

I might make my year's supply of salsa tomorrow. If I can get my daughter to help me I will most likely do that. I love to can.

This is all very boring stuff, but it is what a wonderful peaceful life is made of for me today. I am so very grateful not to have the kind of excitement I used to have in my life. I will be happy to go to bed (by myself) tonight and wake up in the morning remembering everything I did today, having no regrets for anything I did and not fearing seeing anyone or facing anything.

How can you ask for anything more than that?

Thank you God.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Just found this...

Subject: Help for AA Katrina victims
Hello from Baton Rouge AA Central Office.

We are desperately seeking donations to purchase AA big books and12x12's to bring to the shelters here, not only in Baton Rouge, which are filled to capacity, but to the other areas we service that have set up shelters. If you would like to make a monetary contribution,the soft cover Big Books are $6 with tax and the soft cover 12x12's are $6.50 with tax. I will put you a return receipt in the mail.Thanks to the generosity of the AA community all over the United States. We have had calls from California, Massachusetts, NorthCarolina, Florida, Maryland and areas in our precious state that have power, to offer their homes to fellow AA members, to offer literature, AA meetings, clothes, their time, you name it!

Thanks Bill and Dr.Bob and all our friends for the hand of AA that know no boundaries! You may reach us at 225-924-0030 during the weekend. We have real AA people answering the phones, but if you can't reach us, our phones aretied up with many important calls, so keep trying or should I say trudging!Our address is:Baton Rouge AA Central Office, 8312 Florida Blvd. Suite 213-A, BatonRouge, La. 70806
Again, words cannot express our thanks to each and every one of you!

Home Group

If you have never been to AA, a home group is an AA group where you feel most at home. Different areas around the United States and Canada do this differently, around Denver, it is your home group if you say it is... you don't sign up for anything and no one really knows if that is your home group or not. Where I lived in northern Washington, you signed up for a group, you filled out a card with basic information, including your sobriety date. When it came time for your anniversary, you were just on the calendar and your name was on the cake.

In that area of northern Washington, each meeting had a sign in sheet and you signed in as you came in. The chair person would then call on you from the sign-in sheet. You signed in with your name, home group, and sobriety date. There was a lot of peer pressure to have a home group and I think that was good. In fact, one of the guys I most respected used to say "if you haven't got a sponsor and you haven't got a home group, you might be in something, but it probably isn't AA."

Anyway, I just attended a meeting of my home group. I was looking forward to seeing my sponsor and my sponsee. Neither of them were there. Well, my sponsee showed up on her way to a district meeting and dropped off a key with me.

A new woman with only 4 months of sobriety was asking about not being able to sleep. Oh dear. The memories of the long nights and everything being so serious. She is worried that she doesn't have an adequate amount of serenity! Everyone told her she is fine, it just isn't fun not to be able to sleep but her body is so screwed up from years of drinking that nothing works right. It will eventually work fine.

I am tired and probably need to get to bed. There is a lovely cool drizzle outside my window and it feels so nice to smell the rain and feel a cool breeze. Contrast that with my son who just called from New Orleans (with the National Guard) he said it was 100 degrees there today.

Well, I think this blog is about as exciting as watching grass grow, but I got some positive feedback on it today, so at least for now, I will continue.

Thanks for listening.


I am not sure having this blog is a good idea. I think it may be extremely ego-driven to have an "anonymous alcoholic" blog. Like I am it. The one, the only - THE anonymous alcoholic!

I asked a friend to take a look at it and let me know what he thought. He thought that this isn't about recovery from alcoholism if I say I am only sober by the Grace of God. Boy, talk about something I don't want to get into a debate about! This is my soul here and I don't know if I want to put it out there like this. Really, I might not be cut out to be a blogger at all!

In my other blog, I got into a neat conversation with another sober person. Well, it didn't start out so neat. He was posting comments on my blog and let me say we are polar opposites in most of our beliefs - about politics. But I visited his blog and discovered that he is an AA member. Well, I wanted to talk with him about that but didn't want to put it on my blog because it has my first and last name and I think a blog might be pretty public.

I thought a blog might be a nice place to post thoughts about the life of a sober person. However, although I am sober and I thank God for that, I am NOT the sterling example, the shining beacon, the paragon of sober virtue. I am simply a terrible, terrible drunk who got sober and I absolutely REFUSE to take credit for that. I REFUSE to call the steps "work". I REFUSE to say "it works if you work it". It just works.

Of course, as a sober person, I have found it necessary to follow the simple directions as outlined in the big book. Of course, I go to meetings. Of course, I have a sponsor. Of course, I sponsor others. When I consider the miraculous life I have been given, I hardly think that I somehow earned it by doing this paltry amount of "work."

My home group meets tonight and I usually sit between my sponsor and my sponsee and that is about the best feeling in the world. To know that I am a link in the chain of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


This is my third blog. My first two do not specifically mention my alcoholism. However, it has come up and I would like to talk about it - but I don't want it associated with my first and last name because of anonymity. I don't know if a blog is at the level of press, radio, etc. but I have found out it is pretty darn public. I would really like to be able to talk about this huge area of my life without reservations, so here is an anonymous blog.

What fun!

I was/am a terrible drunk. Maybe I will write my story later - I don't know if that is something that someone might stumble (literally?) across and find helpful. Can you 12 step someone in a blog? I don't know....

I phoned Alcoholics Anonymous on the morning of July 24, 1984 and by the Grace of God have not taken a drink since then. You know, I can't even write that without getting chills. Believe me, this is not MY doing. Left to my own devices, I am a terrible, disgusting drunk. I am sure that it is not in my power to change. I cannot WILL myself sober. I cannot imagine how I walked through the doors of AA and somehow stopped drinking... if I had the power to stop, I would have years before - before I caused so much hurt to my family and friends.

So I think I will post some links to interesting AA related things here, I will probably write a little bit about my own experience, strength, and hope. I am an AA fanatic. I am an alcoholic. I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous and that is the most important thing in my life.

If you have read this... thanks for listening.