Who Loves You?

Yesterday a more religious “friend” sent me a Facebook message image of “Jesus Loves You”. This “friend” knows that I’m not a fan of the religious – what I call nonsense and I’m not sure why she did that.

I’m not very tolerant of that kind of thing. I’m just not – I don’t come knocking on your door, holding science books praising quantum physics and asking for money for test tubes… Nor would I send private messages spouting why you’re invisible friend is a threat to humanity as a whole… I’d blog about it sure, but not private message or text.. It’s like walking up to a urinal next to a guy and asking him if he’s had lunch.. it’s just fucking weird, don’t do that.

I responded to my “friend” that I was unfriending her.  Continue reading

Got Trust?

A few years back a psychologist helped me come to a conclusion on love – it has to be earned. No one gets a default feeling of love just because they are related to you, know you or were nice to you once in passing.

I loved the idea of my mother – a woman who cared for me, loved me, made sure my needs were met. I didn’t really have that, but was stuck on an idea of obligation of loving her because she birthed me. Truthfully, she only loved me when she needed something – attention, pity, affection or my social security number when her credit wore through.

Loving someone who doesn’t love you back, is using or manipulating you… not really a winning game. The same is true of trust and respect. Continue reading

Andre

I use writing as a tool to get things out of my head – ideas, conjecture, stories and memories. I can’t seem to move on from one of these things rattling around in my brain until I set it down on paper. Sometimes it’s just drivel, sometimes it’s quite beautiful – at least to me. I’ve been having a rough couple of days and I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to get this out there. But lack of sleep and the flashing of the incident keep bothering me. I’m hoping this will help me to get better, to recover and move on. This is selfish, I understand, but I need to be me again and I’m impatient.

My co-worker and friend Andre was a French Canadian. You could hear the accent especially when you would talk to him for a while. It was just precious the way he would say “pardon” or even “yes”. He would call our mutual friend Guy “Gi” and myself he would call “Jamie”.  Continue reading

Random Memories

I cried the first night at the foster home.

I had been picked up by the police the Friday before, spent the weekend in a group home and then the day with a social worker before arriving. No tears during all of that but that night in own room of the new foster home I cried. Maybe it had finally sunk in that everything I had done that led me to this place all caught up to me, there was no where else to go.

I hadn’t ever faced consequences of any kind prior to this – not skipping school, smoking or drinking, stealing and vandalism never brought me any time. Until this time… until the one time myself or a friend had the “clever” idea to take the hinges off the locked door. I still believe that had we only taken the time to put the door back on the hinges I would have never been caught. Interesting that that’s the thought that still comes even after 30 years. Continue reading

Unity.. no thanks, I have plans

I don’t like people. (I frequently say “hate” which might be a strong word)

I’ve said that a million times before and it’s still true. One of my bosses says that too – I tell him he doesn’t because he’s so nice to everyone, but he insists that he does. Probably why I like him so much. I guess you could say I’m something of an introvert – I would rather spend time alone than in a group setting. My “fun” time is at home with a good book, writing or watching some TV. I find it very difficult to have “fun” in a group of people… can’t do it.  Continue reading

Some Hugs Are Better Than Others

I’m not a hugger… I wonder how many posts have started out that way on my blog? I’ll have to research that some day (anti-hug posts: “My Sponsor Wont Shake My Hand” “Obsess Much?” ). I opted to go to AA over NA because of the hugging that assaulted me at my first NA meeting… it was awful.

Sometimes a hug can be better… special… needed? Continue reading

The Old Stuff, The Good Stuff and Friends in Low Places

I had a crush on a redhead girl back in 1991 and wanted to learn more about her – one time when we were talking she mentioned liking Garth Brooks. I had no idea who this guy was but I wanted to figure it out so I asked around.

“Country crap” is what they told me. Country wasn’t cool (no matter what Barbara Mandrell sang) and most of my friends didn’t want anything to do with an up and coming new artist if he wore a cowboy hat and boots. But I was hoping to impress this girl so I kept searching. I finally heard that song “Friends In Low Places” and I liked that quite a lot – many people at the bars would sing along with that one even if it was country. I was slowly introduced to a few others and I guess he wasn’t that bad. That red headed girl and I didn’t ever end up going out – she probably saw in me what I was afraid to look at myself. Continue reading

Normally Do Not Mix

I was thinking today of my friends (especially Suzanne, it’s her birthday) in the world and how incredibly varied they all are. Not all of my friends are in 12 step programs but I think being in a 12 step program has made it easier for me to become friends with a wide array of people. Going to a meeting you will likely run into a gamut of characters – bikers, politicians, house wives, students and divas to name a few. We all manage to get along as we have a common solution, a common peril that unites us. We stand together or we fall alone – it’s been proven to be true – this 80-year-old program changed more than just the lives of Alcoholics, it’s changed the world. (the book made the Library of Congress’s top 100 books that changed America LINK)

12 step programs not only make members better… they somehow transform those around them into people members can tolerate. 🙂 I kid, I kid… If you work the 12 steps the result is intended to be “an entire psychic change”, some say a “spiritual awakening”. That entire psychic change is a pretty marvelous thing in my experience – it made me a different person, some argue that drugs and alcohol hid the real person, but I’m not sure. What it did do was fill my life with some really wonderful people who I don’t just tolerate… i need them, they fill holes in my brain and turn calamity to calm.

“WE are average Americans. All sections of this country and many of its occupations are represented as well as many political, economic, social, and religious backgrounds. We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.” Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Chapter 2, There is a Solution, p 17

Continue reading

Flag Fury

It’s no more the rebel flag; than Columbine was about trench coats or rape is about clothes girls are wearing.

Its about living in a culture where its ok to hate others based on their religion, gender, sexual orientation, race disability or a million little things that people hate other people for. People hate entire other religions and races because they were taught to. People somehow learn in “religions of peace” that it’s ok to discriminate, they condemn other lives because they are different than theirs. Our entire culture creates schisms between things that are one way and things that are another way – it’s painful, it’s hurting us and we’re letting it.

“Racism isn’t born, folks, it’s taught. I have a two-year-old son. You know what he hates? Naps! End of list.” Dennis Leary

A friend posted an article on Facebook the other day “15 Things Alcoholics Anonymous Can Teach the Church” and I liked it, but I’m rather anti-religion and pro-AA (even though some courts have ruled AA a religion and I can see that). Number 10 in that article is “Don’t shoot your wounded” and it says “Judgment or the perception of judgment is often felt in churches”.  That’s often what I think of when I think of churches – hate, fear, demonizing.

In some respects this can be considered a true statement. The KKK considers itself a “Christian” organization and they think they teach “Christian” principles. Al Queda, Isis, The Westboro Baptist Church all think they teach their idea of “God”‘s principles too.

We teach girls how to keep themselves from being raped when we should be teaching boys how to not be rapists. We have politicians that blame and entire religion for terrorists acts that happen domestically and abroad. We focus on the color and stars of a flag instead of the tragedy and how we can do a better job (NRA has great spin department I think).

I know many old people that hold prejudices that they’d held for decades. It was taught to them when they were so young and now it’s the only truth they can see. This worries me… but then I remember what I’ve seen in Alcoholics Anonymous – where we teach love – where human beings who once were the most desolate of society rose up and became contributing members of society and sought only to help another man.

Today we should mourn. We should reflect back on the lives lost and the good they had done. We should look to the future and see what we can build now, learning from this. We need to teach a message of tolerance, love, hope to the country.. the whole world.

Start with me. Start by being open minded to things different that I am. Start by reaching out and sharing my experiences with others, letting them know I’m not so different than they are and we have a common bond.  Start by being a better human being… start by loving, giving, helping.

But don’t focus on a flag – sure it’s in poor taste, but it didn’t pull a trigger, it didn’t share hate… it just is. It has power when you give it power…

For Free & For Fun

The circle and triangle of the program represent Recovery, Unity and Service together as a whole. They tell me it’s an ancient spiritual symbol that existed long before any 12 step program was ever dreamt about and means “wholeness”. I was taught to believe I need all three to recover from alcoholism – that I needed to find the program of action outlined in the 164 pages, that I had to find the fellowship amongst the members and that I needed to give away what was so freely given to me in service.

When I first got sober I took many things for granted. I didn’t think about how much the rent was for the meeting space, or the books and coffee – I thought about the money in the basket quite a few times and wondered if anyone would notice if I took some. I was rather self-centered at the time and mostly just focused on what I could get out of life for me and what you could do for me.

I talk quite a lot about shaking hands. I do because it was so important in changing who I was into who I am. When my sponsor told me to shake everyone’s hand before and after the meeting I hated him, I didn’t want to do that – I hate people. But I had agreed to go to “any lengths to recover from alcoholism” and I meant it. So every meeting I would stick out my hand and offer my name to so very many people (this was relatively small town WI, nothing like the meetings I attend in the big cities).

Some of those people wanted to talk to me – ugh – and asked me how long I’d been sober. I’d rattle off “I’m 37 days sober today” and then they’d say “but who’s counting?” and I’d be all confused, like why ask… I don’t want to let anyone know these things – I hate people.

After a few meetings people started to remember my name, and I felt obligated to try to remember theirs. I knew Mark M – he always had a suit on and a smile, he claimed he was sober for over 10 years but I didn’t really believe him. Nancy was new too and didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, she always came in with her friend and they always sat together. Randy and Mike, Krista and Suzanne… I started to learn a little bit more about the people I didn’t want anything to do with. And I discovered, much to my dismay, that I didn’t hate ALL people… just most of them.

Shaking hands led me to a job in the meetings of setting up. Then I got to tear down – I didn’t really like this one as I wanted to rush out and start smoking right away.  My home group started to teach me about service work at our monthly group conscience – and I’d always hear them share at meetings about the tradition and experience working with newcomers. They shared with me and invited me to events where the business of recovery happens – where I met many more characters and learned the ins and outs of the District, the Area and the General Service Office.

I like to think my home group and my sponsor helped to make me “whole”. Sure the step work was important too, very important to discovering who I had been and how I could become the man I am today. But the service work was just as important.


Bill W talks about all the different drunks he tried to help and not a one of them remained sober. It was Lois who pointed out that he was staying sober by helping them. He remembered that when he was very desperate in Akron and found Bob. And together, they in turn tried to help many others – only a handful stayed sober at first. It must have been very disheartening.

I’ve worked with many a guy sharing what was so freely shared with me. Some very new, some around longer than I have been. I’ve made my share of mistakes with those guy and usually learn from those mistakes and grow. And while it can be devastating to lose one of them or to not reach them at all it helps me to stay sober and that really makes all the difference to me. Its really difficult to look at them struggling and not be able to reach them – to see their pain and hopelessness and know that if they just took that first step, if they were just willing to believe they’d be on a different path they could have never imagined… but they have to make their own journey there.I have expected gratitude from the new man I was trying to help. I’ve expected them to have a program just like mine… well, maybe I was really hurt when it wasn’t and flabbergasted ;-). Bill cautions us in our book about doing too much for the new man. We have to show them the way – not drag them in kicking and screaming, nor carry them in on a pampered throne. Many people come in ordered by the courts, the wife or circumstances… not all of those stay but I did, and I know many others who have as well.


In our book it says “we have ceased fighting anything or anyone”. This is hard for me many days in and out of the rooms. Sometimes it’s very easy to get pulled into the drama. Sometimes, sadly, I might still start the drama – but I’m trying to be more aware of it and change.

“Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful.”

I can be of more help to people and organizations I serve, if I show up and serve – without agendas, selfishness and anger. If I just show up and do what I was taught to do early on – I’m going to show up and smile, shake hands and be of service to the people about me to the best of my ability.

I don’t serve for attention, accolades or accomplishments to add to my resume – I do it because I was told (and believe) that the constant thought of others must follow me throughout the day and when it does I have a better day. I have remarkable days in succession when I’m doing what I ought.

This post was a bunch of different things that were running around in my head. They’re all in regards to things that are currently going on and they all tie together, even if it might not seem like it to the casual reader.

“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles” this is true for me still today and everyday. I think it’s true for a lot of people even those not in the rooms.

How can I serve? How can I help? that’s how I get out of self, it’s been working for a good long time now and I can’t recommend it enough.