Friday, September 21, 2007

Gleaned from a Kind Soul

Last night at A.A. I gleaned a word of wisdom from a long time A.A. goer. "Walk," he said. "Feel like you are going to drink? Get out of the house and walk." That is what I did this morning. I got up. Ate a granola bar. And set out through my neighborhood in the chilly air to shake off these urges I was having. I donned my radio and made great strides early this morning as I passed by the many houses -- their occupants sleeping within. Fueled by my desire to be a sober man -- a respectable member of society. It really does work. I felt so calm when I arrived back at home. The urge to drink had left me.

Another A.A. goer last night also shared with me that he reaches out to newcomers when he feels the urge to drink. "Be of service to others," he said. "Alcoholism is such a selfish disease and we have to cast aside our old ways of thinking." I feel much too raw and new in my sobriety to be of help to a newcomer though. I could share my own experiences with drinking and maybe that could help.

As I was walking this morning, I thought of Clara and Ferret, homeless. The days are growing shorter and the nights much cooler. Soon, the first big cold front of fall will come roaring through bringing cold temperatures. There is already snow falling in the Sierras. I shuddered to think of my own forlorn days spent in the cold woods of Alabama when I was homeless. Frost covered mornings would greet me as I escaped my tent to start a fire and get some hot coffee percolating. I would long for the sun to rise and get high in the sky to warm me with its gloriously bright light. And to think, I have daydreams and fantasies of going back to that kind of life. They are just daydreams though. Grand fantasies of me living by my wits and drinking copious amounts of beer -- a life I cannot live. A life in which you have nothing to lose as you've already lost it all. Maybe that is why I fantasize about it. I have lost so much -- so much hurt and pain. Homelessness would be safe and comforting. There would be nothing anyone could take from me. I could scoff and laugh crazily at threats from my father or the heavy pressure society puts on me to conform -- to be normal and socially acceptable.

I have often thought lately, deluded, that the medications my father makes me take are mind controlling agents. Agents to make me conform to the whims of society and the myriad of rules and norms it places upon us. Isn't that what crazy or insanity is? Acting abnormally and not being constrained by all the countless rules and regulations that mold us into the dutiful citizens we are. The delicate social and societal dance we all waltz through everyday is interrupted by the unwell mind of a mentally ill person. When I was extremely mentally ill, I didn't care for this dance, nor knew how to go about it. No social pleasantries. No grooming. Even meals were forgotten and my delusions would spur me on to things that broke social norms. Exasperated, my family would send me to countless doctors and try countless drugs. I still struggle with the idea that I am just eccentric and not schizophrenic. A free soul amid millions of conforming clones. Once you are labeled insane though, there is no going back -- forever destined to play out the family and societal role of the one with an unwell and sick mind. Coddled. Tread around as if walking on egg shells. Lost in the system that is mental health care. Just another statistic among countless others struggling often without avail to conform to a society that exasperates us. I am envious of people like my father that make it look so easy.


SOUL: said...

mornin sunshine!
i like the page layout.. seems you change it every other time i get over here. but that's ok. you'll get it how ya want it.. remodeling is hard work, huh.

you offer a lot more to those meetings than you think you do. really. do you realize, if not for the newcomer... or the one who uses the revolving door... which thank God AA has... :))
there would be no AA.
the alcoholic who struggles, and goes in and out... and fortunately lives through that long enough to :make it"... is a great inspiration for others who do the same thing.... it lets others know that it is not easy to just quit "forever" on the first attempt. sometimes it takes years to quit. sometimes, people die trying. but it's those people, that help us learn to "keep the memory green"
and like you say (from the 12 steps)

we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it."

because it is our past... be it poverty, homelessness, illness, loss of jobs, jail, whatever.... we NEED to keep that fresh in our mind, that drinking will only take us back to that place..and in a hurry.

just showin up is enough for now andrew. do the 90 in 90...without drinking... read the steps at the beginning of the meeting. don't hide in a corner, go say hello, even if to one person. be seen, get noticed. get involved. go early and make the coffee? it helps. it really does.

take care my brotha! one day at a time !

Cheryl said...

I know you love to camp. Could you do that just for a night, just for the fun of it? I don't know if Rosa is the camping type, but it could be such an adventure for a night. Do you have a tent that could accommodate an air mattress? That's my kind of camping. I always loved slipping out of my tent on a chilly morning to start the coffee. Of course I always stayed at a campground that had electric, so I'd plug in the pot. Just talking about it makes me want to camp.

Anonymous said...

Soul inspiring post!!!!

Leon said...

Some of what you wrote reminded me of the song "Me and Bobby McGee" as sung by the late Janis Joplin. I remember first hearing it at the lowest point of my adult life, especially the line, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose." I found that life is much better, albeit challenging, if you are not totally free.

Have a good day.

Josie Two Shoes said...

Your comments about wanting to be homeless because then there is nothing else to risk loosing made sense to me. Now I can understand, at least a little bit, some of your feelings about that lifestyle. If everything we love and care about is already gone, then we don't have to worry about losing it. But now you have a few things so precious that I know you couldn't really bear to be without them... a house to call your own and keep you warm in all weather, and your precious Rosa! Life is a trade-off. The line Leon quoted above from the song is one that always sticks in my head. If we have things we value enough to not want to loose them, we have to dance the dance to keep them. I don't love societal and family expectations anymore than you do, so we both try to keep are participation in those to a minimum, but it seems we are getting by fairly decently in those situations these days! :-)

I also want to note that you are not a selfish alcoholic - you reach out to a number of people in the blogsphere everyday, and you brigthen our lives considerably, as well as teaching us valuable lessons about struggle and overcoming!

Portia said...

this is a fantastic post! it's great that you are open to trying new coping techniques. i figure the more methods we have to turn to when in need, the better chance we have of one of them working:)


beautiful have me in tears..
and it's true. those labels.
Course, I'm sure had your father been given your challenges, he'd not have been able to handle it as well as you. He'd be just another Ferret, down by the river.
Thinking of you and Rosa too!

Candleman said...

Walking is great! Thanks for the tip. I'll try it next time I get the urge.

I have a friend who, when he was in his early 90's was asked the secret of his longevity. He said,
"When my wife and I got married I was counselled that if I was ever angry with her and tempted to say something hurtful, I should go for a walk instead. Ever since then I've spent an extraordinary amount of time out-of-doors."

Anonymous Boxer said...

Walking, moving, is a great way to cleanse the soul, I agree.

This is an amazing post today - I learn something every time I visit. I hope that's "payment" enough (but I'm sorry you had to take down you ads!!.) You help me understand things that happened in my life and I am grateful.

Beautifully Profound said...

You keep changing things! Ah well, I suppose it makes for some variety. Glad things are going well or better at least. Keep it up. Remember one day at a time.

impromptublogger said...

Walking is a very good thing for both the body and soul. People drink or use drugs for a variety of reasons. My mother-in-law used alcohol as an anti-depressant for many years. She was one of those "silent drinkers" you hear about. It almost killed her but she was actually able to stop cold turkey. She lived on for another 11 wonderful years after she stopped.

I think with the weather turning cooler (I hope) camping would be a great thing to do. As for your father, compared to you and your Mom yes he does seem to have it easy but most people have their own inner demons.

Peace and have a wonderful restful weekend.

Nikita1 said...

Walk is great exercise and next time if you have your camera, take it with you...i always make sure that i've got mine, sometimes you get a chance to take wonderful pics...or, i know you've got a bike, get on your bike and go for a ride...take care!--nikita

Tee said...

Good post. You have lots to offer others. Don't put yourself down. Normal, what is normal? We all stray from being "normal" in our own ways.

Cheryl said...

Loved the update to your description of me = 'loves to blog from coffee shops' It's so true. Thanks for being my good friend.

Tiffanie said...

Like the new look

Annabel said...

Sometimes it may look easy... but it's not. I'm sure your father would tell you that. Sure, he and I don't have to contend with the issues that you do, but everybody has their own issues they have to deal with. Not everyone blogs about it, however. I love how you are so open. It makes you feel more like a friend and that's what you are to me and all your commenters.


This is good for you ,gleaning from others to somehow deal with alcoholism. You have to know, that a lot of people who read your blog also glean from you. I do.^^