Friday, October 10, 2008

The Last Rose of Summer

It is a beautiful chilly morning in Colorado.  I did take the day off, so I will have a 4 day weekend.  I woke up thinking I would run, but I looked again for my pepper spray, and that led me into cleaning out a couple of drawers, and I then needed to have another cup of tea, and then I felt I needed a bath, etc.... and before long, I decided that I would run on my scheduled day - tomorrow, but definitely not today.  And I will buy another canister of pepper spray today.

Okay.  I have been reading blogs.  I am wondering about what happens to a new person when they hit a random any meeting in Anywhere, USA... or world.  I remember the things they used to tell me.  I don't hear this stuff much anymore... and much of it is not in AA literature, so people take issue with some of it.  But, I think it is worth repeating.

Don't drink - even if your butt falls off, don't drink.  And if you don't know what that means, try not drinking when your butt falls off, and you will learn what it means.

Go to 90 meetings in 90 days.  If you think you are too busy, maybe you need to drink more until you lose everything that is keeping you so busy.

Read the Big Book.  It is not called "The Basic Text," but it is our basic text.  Another fellowship calls their book "The Basic Text," not ours.  Read the Big Book as if your life depends on it, because it does.

Get a sponsor.  This is not like getting married.  It is finding someone who can help you. In this relationship, forever is until you change your mind.  We hire and fire sponsors all the time, solid AA members will not take offense to being fired, they just might be relieved.   Lucky are those of us who have found sponsors who have lasted a long time... it took me 11 years to find that one - she is still my sponsor 13 years later.

Don't take chemicals that will alter your mood.  Yeah, I know, you are all on anti-depressants now, but seriously, they used to tell us that.  Alcohol is a depressant, you won't know if you really have depression for a while.  And you need to work the steps before embarking on a new antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.  It is amazing what changes the steps bring about! (I am not talking about people with serious mental illness who need to take their medications.)

Turn your thoughts to others.  If you have 24 hours of sobriety, that is 24 hours more than lots of people.  Try to reach out FOR help and TO help.  It will save your life when nothing else will. You ALWAYS have something to give to others.  Your mood will improve like you cannot believe when you stop thinking about yourself 24/7.

If you are not ready to quit drinking, please don't waste our time.  There are people who are literally  dying of alcoholism all around us, and when we spend time on someone who is just screwing around, we are depriving another person of an opportunity to live.  If you think you have a better idea about how to stay sober, do it.  We are not here to convince you that you are alcoholic or that you need AA.  AA does not claim it is the only way to get sober.  It is, however, the only way that worked for me... and countless others.  

And finally, AA is not a self-help program.  It is not about self at all.  It is about coming for help when we are desperate enough to ask God for help.  It is about ego DEFLATION.  Self-esteem may follow as a result of  living right for year after year, but we cannot seek self-esteem... you just can't find it by looking for it.  
If you are an alcoholic  - and they used to tell us that we were the only ones who could say we were - AA may be the best thing that even happened to you.  It has been for me.  But we are not here to convince you of anything.  Our way of life is radical, radically God-centered, and Other-centered.  It does not appeal to everyone.  It was not meant to.  It was meant to save the lives of a bunch of hopeless drunks... and it has done a darn good job of it!

Thanks for listening.


J-Online said...

I wish this was part of the AA literature. It's something I need to remember daily, but oftentimes forget.

Glad you get to enjoy a 4 day weekend.

Syd said...

Thanks MC. I wish that those words were understood and spoken by more who go to meetings. It is sad that it's not heard much anymore. It needs to be heard.

wendy said...

Thank you for sharing, Mary.

I just got off the phone with my sponsor and though her words weren't exactly like the ones you shared here, she was saying many of the same things to me in a way that I could understand.

AA has been the best thing that ever happened to me. I'm glad I continued going to meetings when I'm sure they wouldn't help me and grateful to have a sponsor in my life who is capable and willing to help me.

That's weird...despite the chaos in my life (largely financial driven) I am really and truly grateful for what I have today. The "what I have" isn't quantifiable, just the knowledge that I have a choice in how I want to live my life and an opportunity to find some peace of mind.

Didn't intend to ramble on so long. Have a nice weekend and enjoy your runs.

Lou said...

I'm glad when you have time to really spell it out..again.

Four days is like a mini vacation!
At my job Monday is not a holiday:(

AlkySeltzer said...

Mary I had a sponsor once just like you--long time ago--different gender, same old-time AA.

Told me "If ya wanna stop drinking, well hell, just stop drinking. Then come to Alcoholics Anonymous, where you can learn how to live happily without alcohol."

Scott W said...

At the meetings I attend it is traditional that if someone is there for their first meeting the topic is the first step. A lot of what you have written is shared, but a lot isn't. I know at my first meeting (or first several meetings) I could not absorb anything said.

I needed to hear it over and over and over before I got anything. I still need to hear it. That's why I go to meetings.

AlkySeltzer said...

Almost 8 PM, I thought I posted an SSC (That's a 'Stupid Steve Comment')
here earlier...maybe it WAS an SSC?!!

Pam said...

YAHOO..I got goosebumps...for real.
My very favoite is the 90 day one...tell me that one again, with your hand on your hip!
"If you think you are too busy, maybe you need to drink more until you lose everything that is keeping you so busy."
Yeah sista -I HEAR YA!!!!
I wish I could say in a meeting "Don't waste my time until you want it!"
Lovin' ya little french onion dip.


This all sounds good to me. Just the way I heard it when I came in.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this. I've been in program for a year and had never heard this before now.

Mary LA said...

You know, MC, sometimes I do feel as if I live on a different planet. Here in Africa outside of major cities, we are lucky to get to ONE meeting in 90 days.

Many of the AA members I know are illiterate and have never read the BB. They will never read the BB. All they know of AA is the friendship of others staying sober.

We have no fewer than 11 official languages. Every time someone speaks, there are translators who explain what has been said. Our meetings go on for hours.

Sponsorship is not part of the tradition, in part because most people don't have phones. Or cars. Or money to pop out for coffee. We talk at meetings. There is a great distrust of dependency and amny black people would not understand the idea of a sponsor, especially not a white person telling them what to do.

Many AA meetings are still racially segregated and black people are not welcome. And many whites do not speak any of the black languages -- I understand only Xhosa and a little Sotho. There are very strict rules in traditional rural society for not touching each other without permission so we don't hold hands at the end of meetings. When Zulu people share, they avoid eye contact because it is disrespectful. Women do not speak of many things in front of men, so women from tribal backgrounds will not speak at a meeting if men are present. Topics such as the abakwethu (intiation) are taboo as is discussion or mothers-in-law or talk of lobola (bride prices).

When I was in Zimbabwe, polygamous men bring all their wives along, even if the wives are not alcoholic. There is no such thing as a closed meeting in Africa.

We sing, right through meetings. Hymns and songs from the struggle. That is another South African tradition. Many people would rather sing and clap than share.

AA is not universl in the way First World people think it should be. It is culturally defined and will develop differently in different cultures.



Shadow said...

thanks for sharing!

dAAve said...

Better late than never ...

At Lambda, we say many of these things, especially at newcomer/first step meetings. Scott kinda mentioned that already.
Thanks for the reminders though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks MC, I am glad you are getting a new pepper spray before you run in the dark again.