Learning to walk
“Can you come get me?”
My wife had dropped me off at my dad’s old house a couple of days before, but some sense had penetrated the red wine haze enough for me to pick up what we call the 50-pound phone, and do what needed to be done.
I was, once again, desperate.
How bad was this one? Fairly brief, externally moderate, spiritually horrific.
I still haven’t found my teeth. Go ahead, laugh. When I went to grab my partials, the upper metal plate was there, but there were no teeth attached to it. Six teeth just disappeared. No, I didn’t have any facial trauma, but I feel like I am that asshole in Clear and Present Danger: “I have no recollection…” No, there was no facial trauma, either.
Turns out, everybody here was just waiting for me to say the word, and damn quickly my friends Gary and Rich were on the way to get me.
The first three days in Detox were absolutely miserable. This thing is progressive. It never gets better, only worse — sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly.
A few days later, on Wednesday, as I walked down the street to face the Judicial Council about being readmitted, I felt like I was on the Green Mile. Such hopelessness and despair I would not wish on anyone.
The figurative gavel came down the next morning: 90-day restriction to the place, 90 meetings in 90 days, the 90-day relapse prevention class that meets twice a week, and 20 hours of community service.
Almost, immediately, they moved me to a different house, away from the hub, and the hubbub. I am now in a house with people my age that are focused, and there is very little drama.
They have been beating me over the head with The Book. Sponsor. Steps. Service.
I never thought I would become a Big Book thumper, but facts are facts. When 12-step meetings first started, even before the Book was written, the focus was on everything that ended up in the Book, and the SUCCESS RATE WAS UP TO 75 PERCENT!
Certainly, back then, demographics and societal attitudes had something to do with it, since many of those early participants were literally facing death. Even with that consideration, the statistics are impressive.
Compare that to no more than 10 percent now. What’s different?
The message has gotten diluted. The Meetings have become a false illusion, a comfort zone, if you will, and lulled people into thinking that simply attending meetings will keep them sober. And within the meetings themselves, too much time is spent on, say, things that could be done weekly, rather than daily.
Meetings are important, but they are not nearly as important as the book. The more I get into it, the more I realize that it is the ultimate “self-help” book- except that we can’t do it alone. Doing it alone is what got us here in the first place.
Frankly, I am not a big fan of meetings, so I’m glad that I’ve learned that it’s more important to focus on the book.
If you have this disease, and are thinking about joining us, please do not be put off by the God talk. If I can be here, anybody can be here. It is simply a power greater than ourselves, of your understanding. One guy said that he couldn’t do it, he could not believe in such a thing, that he was going to use a chair as his Higher Power. His mentor told him that would be fine, because the chair was smarter than the idiot who had been running his life up to that point. Bwahahahaha!
And, of course, there are many, many powers greater than ourselves — or, perhaps, just one. We cannot stop the rain, nor the sun from rising. We can’t control the tides, or keep the flowers from blooming. We can however, manage this disease, and make sure that we ourselves bloom.
My mentor asked me, that since I started drinking so late in life, what alcoholic behaviors did I have before I started drinking? I had not considered that.
Food. Work. Voracious reading. Surrounding myself with “stuff.”
I have long known that we drink because of the way things were or weren’t, or how things are or are not. We don’t just have a drinking problem. We also have a thinking problem. A communication problem. A resentment problem. And a few others, too.
Tomorrow will be 35 days sober, and almost four weeks into my double-secret probation.
I am surrounded by good people, but, despite me knowing them pretty well, I don’t know most of their last names. That Anna Nimity is an interesting gal.
I am sometimes so homesick that I get a stomach ache. I miss my wife, the kids, my dogs, and all the little and big things in life, especially at this time of year, as we break the surly bonds of winter.
On the other hand, I know I am in the right place, doing the right thing. A 90-foundation is a big deal.
Besides, I owe it to myself. I owe it to them. I owe it to you.
My wife’s visits often end with “Take care of my Tom,” and as my daughter’s tattoo says, “All They Had Was Hope…”