On Top of Grass Mountain

I was bitten by a horse fly or some kind of damn fly… ouch. There, now I’ve complained about everything bad that happened this weekend. I’m so glad I got that off my chest, I was trying to look tough and not complain.

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When I first met my current sponsor he let me know right away that he escapes from the Phoenix heat each summer and goes off to New Mexico – it’s a good thing to know if you’re looking to get spiritual direction from a guy that he’s not going to be local for half the year. He’s a good sponsor, a good example of AA in action and I’ve shared things with him that I’ve not shared with another living being – so he matters a little bit to me (ok, a lot). Even before he left in May he suggested I come out and visit, spend a few days at his cabin and take a break. I thought that might be a good idea, and at his suggestion asked one of his other sponsees (Scott) if he’d be interested in joining me, he said yes and we tried to get a few others to go as well, but only had one taker who had to back out at the last minute due to health issues.

When I first started planning this little excursion I wasn’t sure I could get time off from my new job (only been there since February). But I asked and they were very kind to me and gave me the time off in a very nice way. I really love my job, in case you haven’t heard me talking about it recently.IMG_3662

One of the objectives of the trip was to attend my sponsors Home Away From Home Group meeting on Thursday nights so tickets were purchased to get us into Albuquerque in time to make his meeting with him. Had the flight not been delayed a little bit we would have even made it to dinner before the meeting – but that was not to be. Instead, the Sponz picked us up and had beef brisket, extra moist beef brisket and turkey, corn …. a bunch of food that we ate on the way to the meeting in Pecos about an hour away from the airport.. He thought for sure we’d be late, but we made it just at 7:00. Good little meeting – a newcomer, cheesecake bites, and the topic was ego… I enjoyed it and it just felt good to be in a meeting with the Sponz again. A fellow sponsee was there (wearing a Breaking Bad t-shirt) a local there, so nice to meet him. The meeting space is pretty unique and I hope you all see it someday in the Grapevine. Continue reading

Exercise – Is There a Cure?

I’ve been thinking a lot about exercise recently – no, no don’t worry, I’m not going to start or anything crazy like that…. I was thinking about the characteristics of it that remind me of alcoholism. No really…

Like the first time a person gets drunk, they think it’s a good idea – all their friends are doing it and so they give it a try;  before you know it they’re falling down, puking can’t walk. Going to the gym the first time can be just like that – they’re pressured into it by their friends and society, they start out on the treadmill when they get done their legs are jelly… if they run too much they’ll throw up and get dehydrated, get light-headed and dizzy…. The similarities, just start here – lets look at more examples.

They are entirely normal in every respect except in the effect exercise has upon them. They keep exercising, nothing changes for a while (just like when an alcoholic begins to drink, all seems normal for a time) then they start to lose weight, act differently, they may start to smell. Their friends are too ashamed to say anything at first, their family is concerned – they spend hours and hours away from home at the “gym” where other people understand them and can relate. If they continue on for long periods of time their body will hardly resemble the normal body at all – their exercise life seems the only normal one. Finally the exercise becomes paramount to all other things and the gym becomes like a second home.

Doing the same thing over and over – expecting different results…sounds familiar doesn’t it? Curl that weight once, no… maybe fifteen times until it hurts. The ones who may be too far gone are the ones who say they get a high off of it, that they feel good after exercising… for them there may be no hope at all, we may have to lock them in weight room with their energy bars and sports drinks and watch in horror as they slowly exercise themselves into nothingness.

Sometimes an injury will occur. First a sprain – so they slow down, they take it easy, they can manage this… this won’t stop them, and here’s how. Perhaps a torn rotator cuff would convince them that it’s dangerous and their families beg them to stop… but no, surgery and “physical therapy” so they can do it again – pain is a small price to pay, they have to exercise. We’ve seen it on the news – those athletes whose careers have come crashing down after an injury prevents them from exercising – they sink into that pit of a recliner life, doomed to watch others workout, living vicariously through their efforts…. they cannot at this point differentiate the true from the false.

It’s an addiction now – they can’t stop. Sometimes going two or three times a day to the gym, maybe a personal trainer (a.k.a. pusher) to encourage them to branch out and try new things.. the treadmill was a gateway drug, leading to more and more dangerous things that will slowly waste them away into nothingness.  They have to keep going to feel “normal” but it’s never enough – one weight, 5 laps, 20 presses… it’ll never be enough for them – they have an insatiable craving for sweat, pain, hard bodies… sick bastards.

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Is there hope? A cure? I’m not sure if even a spiritual awakening would be enough to help them – most are to far gone after their second visit to the gym. I have to believe there is hope for them, I have to believe one day these folks will join us on the couch, chowing down on potato chips and ice-cream with not a care in the world… maybe someday they will be free, maybe someday they can live a normal life…

 

I Became An Old Man

I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but it was just over the last few days that I realized I’ve become an old man.. It’s not just that one of my supervisors and a former cube mate haven’t seen any of the Star Wars movies (I was stunned really – they seem like such good people too) it’s other things over the last month or so. I’m 43, not that terribly old I know but it’s the attitudes that convinced me it finally happened.

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Yesterday afternoon I went to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – which I recommend – and I had to leave my row because the people on all sides of me kept using their devices. Goddamn whipper-snappers have no respect for those around them you know. There are even commercials at the movies specifically asking people not to do this but there they were just checking Facebook or Snapchat or some nonsense. I moved to the front of the theatre, like row 5 and no one was in front of me… then towards end of the movie someone took a photo using flash… WTF children, WTF.

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Reimagining How It Works

Tonight  at the meeting a guy at his very first meeting was asked to read “How It Works”. This is something most of us hear at almost every meeting we attend. There are folks that brag they can recite it from memory without looking at the book at all. I probably could if hard pressed to do so. It’s one of those things I don’t pay much attention to anymore, l hear it so often that it just something I sit through until the real meeting begins. When a newcomer reads it and stumbles over the words – members in the meeting look up. We recognize that if someone doesn’t recognize those words enough to to get them in the cadence and pronunciation that we’re so used to this person is new… and that means the potential to share the message so freely given us. It’s really the only time I see people paying attention there anymore. I’m guilty myself.

I have a friend in the program that reads along when it’s being read – he says it keeps his head in the present instead of looking around judging other people he reads each word as it’s read. I kind of like that and if I’m feeling like my mind won’t stay on track I’ll do that once in a while. Continue reading

Emotional Sobriety

Sponsor assignment: Would you give your reflections on what “emotional sobriety” looks like to you?

Emotional Sobriety… hmmm

First thoughts are it’s about letting go again – I get to a point, on occasion where I think I can steer again and that’s when things start to get out of whack, my emotions go up and down, usually down, and I start to get comfortable in the wrongness. It’s an odd trap where I begin to enjoy the sadness, anger or the like – like the 12 and 12 says “we exult in some of our character defects”. When I start to think I know better than my boss, sponsor, group, government, AA… then I’m gonna be off soon, and with me it gets rather noticeable.

When I was drinking and first getting sober I had so much going on inside my head – committee meetings, tapes of resentments stuck on repeat, “should of done different”, grand revenge schemes and more. Even one of those things today is a sign that I’m off kilter and need to readjust, it’s easy to recognize them, but not quite as easy to affect the change necessary for some reason. Continue reading

Put the “fun” in Funerals

I’ve been thinking about funerals lately – near death experiences by a couple of folks have put dying in my rotating thought patterns. Then I start thinking about wills and cremation and making sure there is a gold coin in my mouth before I’m burned – just in case I end up at the river Styx and need to pay Charon, being stuck on this side of the river would be rather boring I’d think.

Who’s funerals do I have to attend? Seems an odd question doesn’t it? There must be some kind of etiquette that tells me  the ones I have to go to. Obviously close family, but not the bible thumping crazy aunt – unless she’s come into a fortune and me getting a chunk of it is dependent on attending the morbid death ritual – and even then, probably not. Co-workers (current job or all the others? Fellow AAs (maybe just the ones that weren’t annoying)? Certainly former sponsors, certain ex bosses and a lover or two…

I figure that I had to make my own rules for this kind of thing and decided that if I would invite them to my own wedding – not for gifts, but because I actually enjoy their company – then I’d be willing to put up with a funeral. Granted, I have no intention of getting married, much to selfish to give up my free time, but if I were and wanted to invite some people – those are the people that I’d miss if they were dead – most likely… maybe… I guess Continue reading

Pain For Too Long

I feel proud, manly, strong – probably stupidly so, but I do – when after the examination the doctor says

“I usually only see patients with this in the ER! And you’ve had this for a MONTH?!?!”  

I can’t help it, I want to say

“HELL yeah I have! fuckin’ right man!”

But then sanity clicks in and looks back at the constant pain, uncomfortableness, lack of sleep and the like and I realize I probably should have just gone to the ER when it first happened. I did go to the walk-in clinic twice for the same condition before finally going to the ENT, so at least there is progress.

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What’s a ‘Home Group’?

“This is your home group for the next year” he said

“What’s a home group?” I asked

“That means you’ll be at this meeting every Sunday night – unless there is a funeral, and it better be yours.”

That was what my first sponsor told me when I came into the rooms. I took him literally and didn’t miss a single Sunday night that first year – we had a meeting on Christmas day and I was there. I had the flu and had been vomiting and feverish for days, I was there (side note, I always thought once I quit drinking I’d never have the dry heaves again… boy was I pissed). No matter what, I was at my home group… The Sunday after that year was up I was a no-show… that’s how I am, lol Continue reading