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In the children’s story, The Velveteen Rabbit, the little bunny asks “does it hurt when you become real ”  yes little bunny it does…Alcoholism is a terrible disease, it kills people who don’t even have it.  Things go on in most homes that we would not really want in the headlines, but damage fueled by alcohol takes things to a new low. One of our members recently had a sexual abuse , resulting in jail time, in her family. Sibling against sibling, and grandchildren all involved…. gives new meaning to the ” wreckage of our past….” At some point we have to accept our responsibility for how our kids grew up, and they have to accept the choices they make, as adults, are their own.
About 20 years ago I heard a sober alcoholic say, in front of 2,000 people, that he had molested his daughter, I was stunned. The room took on a respectful silence, and I knew that man was not alone, nor was his daughter…..If we are to survive, ” We are to face the facts, and accept the facts”,  For myself as a person who grew up in a home with far to much abuse, it was freeing to know I didn’t have to live with  in my past or hate my parents, that forgiving is not always forgetting. Our Promises say ” we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it…… my past is the greatest asset I have today, it has made me the person that God and AA have always wished for me to be.
 I got sober in 1985, and we were not quite so politically correct then, we took our lives and our troubles into the rooms of AA and became whole again. There was a lot of ” keep it to the booze” and” tell your story, not your parents” and that was good, it kept me focused on my behavior and my disease…But now it seems like the pendulum has swung to far in the other direction, that we are sanitizing AA to match some ” high bottom” television series. You know we all get well and it only takes 28 days…..Dr. Bob’s son gives a powerful talk, he may have passed by now, but I still play his tapes.  He was there for the early days, and says quite clearly, those early members brought all their lives to the meetings. I am the first to cringe when I see a meeting going into a ” this was my day” meeting where we try to fix people. That is not what I am suggesting here. I am proposing that our groups look again at being open to the alcoholic who may have sobriety, but need the understanding of their peers. About 15 years ago, my son in law got arrested for child pornography, he committed suicide and  my daughter found him…….I went to a meeting……..That meeting was not hi jacked, but I did not have to put on my ” happy face” and nobody tried to fix me…. Today I would have been told to ” buck up”.. that is not AA.
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The Ghosts Within Me

 

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Refections

Last night I got into one of those conversations, that while painful at the time, foster growth. I started thinking of my old ” theme song”, and all of those feelings of aloneness and self pity that went with it. It was titled, I Am A Rock, any youngsters out there can Google it, perfect for my needs. Like many alcoholics I grew up in an environment that did not foster trust, I learned very quickly that crying made you weak, and weakness made you vulnerable. Those became two sins that would never cross my doorstep.

At the age of 5, I went to visit my birth family and my ” newest Dad” It did not go well. I got between him and my Mother and ended up hanging from a third story slum window by one ankle, looking down over a deserted alley for several hours. I did not cry, and I did not tell; my code of conduct was formed that night. You would never break me. Never.. At the age of seven I became an “exotic dancer” when my step-father would lose at poker. I didn’t cry, and I didn’t tell. Life with a pedophile rapist got rough, and children in that type of home become victims at large…… so at age 8 when a cousin tied me up and sold me to his little friends for a quarter a pop, it was just another day at the office….my life went downhill from there.
At some point I transitioned from not crying to not feeling, it was my only survival skill , and it did not serve me well. I lived with frozen emotions, and thought that was strength. Hence, I touch no one, and no one touches me.

My understanding from the correspondence I receive, indicates that many of my readers are in war zones. That is fitting because the blog was born at the request of a young female Marine in Fallujah..She did not come home, and I cried.

I learned that people who cannot bend, must, as all of nature, break. The Willow survives while often the mighty Oak goes down. Today I want to truly survive, I want to feel, I want to cry and I want to hurt….. that’s what other people have been doing all along; i just missed the boat:)

I have always said I was grateful for alcohol because it kept me alive until I came to you people who brought me back to life 30 years ago. My life looked full , career and marriage looking good, and inside that little part of me, well, that was nobody’s business.

Today I am an open book, if something hurts I say so; without booze to hide behind ( later of course, never drink to get through, only drink to get over, right?? ) I would break… I know that now. For those of you in places where crying in public is not an option, cry on paper. Where public grieving would give succor to the enemy, grieve on paper…..but feel those feelings and find that one person with whom you can be honest. remember our 4 Absoulutes, live them.

Absolute Honesty
Absolute Unselfishness
Absolute Love
and
Absolute Purity

 

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It seemed obvious that I would choose 1 Slyoldgirl as a screen name, having started this blog a few years ago for loners.  It was a long running joke between my old German Shepherd girlydog and myself.  The whole of my drinking career my best companions were my dogs. They ” understood” me, never counted my drinks and didn’t ask a lot of stupid questions.  Every alcoholics dream come true.  They were the best friends I ever had until I hit the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, where, guess what?? I found people who were not judgemental, didn’t count my drinks and loved me, no matter what………

Going online has been the next logical step for me, I love AA everywhere, and the internet is a big part of my life, I was thrilled to find a good room right from the gate.  My favorite online meeting is more structured, which follows my feelings in face to face meetings.  My self will had led to a life of chaos, so today I truly enjoy  a sane environment for learning and relaxing.  I discovered long ago, when there are no guidelines the bullies take over, and my BB says we have ceased the fight ( my words )  so when I do stumble into a chaotic meeting;  I sit, smile politely and just don’t go back.   I am not there to change their meeting or disrespect what works for them, I am not the “AA Police”  I tried that at about 5 years sober and nearly got killed. 

At the morning meeting I attend in that room, a fellow was grousing about all the ” thumpers” taking over, clearly he was not happy.  I did a quick inventory to see if my ” thumperism” had escaped.  I don’t believe it had, but I made a mental note to pay more attention to what other people were sharing , sure enough there is a good amount of what we call “psychobabble” in my part of the world.  Now I read, identify and learn, but I don’t share when attending their meeting.    There are different levels in AA and there is a place for AA kindergarten, and there is strong need for adult step/book meetings where we don’t dumb down the program.  AA was based on a spiritual way of life, when we try to take that aspect away from a meeting, we lose the meat of the program.  I see people say ” they don’t need the steps, or the literature only the fellowship”….. well hey..I had some pretty good fellowship in the bars and in the churches of my youth.  Fellowship alone is not enough.   although we long ago gave up on the Four Absolutes, they remain for many of us a goal, a sign of wanting to become better people and the founders of this program learned a great deal from the Oxford group.   I was taught early on that if you have a drunken horse thief, and all you do is take away the booze , all you are left with is a sober horse thief.  I will always have a need for face to face meetings, but I can see a real advantage to online chat meetings.

They force you to think before you speak, reminding us of why our inventory mentions “writing:)

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clouds 006 no trees Thank you to all the people who have traveled with me on this journey.  Peace and blessings to you, and may your God be as kind to you, as mine has been to me…This was the first time I couldn’t get to a meeting on my birthday, felt a little down.. But as always, with impediments to old paths, comes a willingness to try new ones.  I went to my first intergroup meeting tonight.  They were as welcoming and loving as anything I could have found in face to face.  Thank God when I reach out the hand of AA is waiting for me.  I love this life, and I love the people of Alcoholics Anonymous… I am most richly blessed..

In The Beginning….

spring glory 2013 004 Do you ever wonder, how “it” began ?  For me it was always about the magic of alcohol….Still, I wonder, how did it begin for you ? The gift I have received from Alcoholics Anonymous has been the gift of caring…. I don’t think I ever did that until 1985.

When I was very small I lived with my grandparents, my Grandfather was a kind man, who drank, always..I heard later my Grandmother was also an alcoholic, I don’t remember ever seeing her drink.  I know she was in an asylum when my Father was young, and later, seemed to live to berate my Grandfather for his love affair with Four Roses.  I have talked with many over the years about the ” when” of becoming aware of alcohol.  It seems to me I was always aware, and very drawn, perhaps not to the drink, but to what I perceived it could do for one. My Grandfather would let me soak the labels off his ” dead soldiers” and I would paste them onto cardboard for bookmarks for my Kindergarten Bible Study.  Needless to say, my teachers and Grandmother were not amused. I truly thought they were lovely, and represented the happiness of a man I loved very much.
I lived with them until I was seven, it wasn’t idyllic, but is was safe and consistent. Grandpa would swing me around until the world spun, and he took me for rides in his Packard.  We went often to a place called Pete’s, and then we would go for a ride in the woods and sit under a tree talking about the Great Spirit.  My Grandfather believed the Great Spirit had forgiveness for his weakest children. He explained to me that he was a sinner, who could not give up the liquor, and cautioned me to never take a drink.
My Grandmother used hot toddies and Vick’s Vapor Rub to cure anything short of Malaria.  By age 4 I was a sinner.  I cannot recall a time I didn’t think about alcohol if it was near by.  What I had learned was, alcohol made you feel better…….in every imaginable way; but it was not something one talked about. I hated that I had to wait until I became a Grandparent to partake of the elixir, and prayed for a cold.  I know today, that’s a little different…
When I was seven my Mother married again, and I went to live with her and her new husband.  I remember my Mom in a black taffeta sundress with daisies on the bodice, the tilt of her head and the laughter…..Poppa was a bear of a man  who had grown up in orphanages, and lived in prisons, he was incredibly handsome.  I finally had parents like my friends, it was an exciting time for me.  Then Poppa started to drink, I worried.. I had heard if he drank he would go back to prison.  I was coming to learn the consequences of drinking were steep. I was learning even more so that one didn’t discuss it.  At the parties there were slo gin fizzes and giggles, everybody danced, I hung close to the table.  Almost always somebody would offer me a sip, I felt very special when they did that.
Later when I was 12 or 13 and living on the streets and hopping the freight trains between Indianapolis and Louisville, the wino/hobo folk would share with me. Our book talks about conviviality, that is what liquor meant to me. It was sharing and caring and laughter..I had found my place in life.
I know by many folks standards my life was harsh, I didn’t see it that way, I always saw it, as me and my very brave Mom, against the world..Poppa,.. well he was Poppa, and his story was tragic.I used to say, when he wasn’t crazy or drunk, he was the best Father a girl could want.  I know I don’t have to explain that to another alcoholic..
It was natural that I would grow and marry an alcoholic, water seeks it’s own level. When he died I thought ” no more drunkards” just to heartbreaking… so I married a very nice pothead.  He was a decent man, and we used to sit on my front porch and swap lies. We agreed that our relationship was so wonderful we would never mar it with alcohol and drugs, just go to Church and the PTA. Six months into that marriage, I was slipping down to the family room for a little sip of Brandy, and caught him smoking a joint in the downstairs bath. We didn’t know that we couldn’t stop.  My behavior during that time still makes me cringe.  It’s senseless for an alcoholic woman to try to control her behavior while drinking. he was a kind man, I did the only decent thing left for me to do, and divorced him.  As we sat in that court room holding hands and crying, I remember thinking ” what happened?” I had a home, husband, children, good job.. what was so wrong with me ?
The good thing that came out of that divorce was I turned myself into AA. I didn’t stay sober in 1976, but the seed was planted. That man and I remained close friends until his death 10 years later, as a result of the AA way of life I was able to help his new wife care for him in the final stages of his cancer.  God has blessed me with another chance at happiness, at 10 years into that marriage I remembered the love and laughter of Alcoholics Anonymous. I went back and the open arms of AA drew me in.  Early sobriety was rough, I brought me into that marriage, and when you get married in a blackout….You know the drill.. this November we celebrate 38 years of marriage, I have now been sober longer than I drank.
If you are a loner, feeling like this can never be your story…. please know it can.  If I have one message, it is the miracle Alcoholics Anonymous has worked in my life.
Blessings

I was shocked to realize it’s been a year since I’ve posted, lots of good things have happened and some very sad things. Neither worth a drink. This has been a year of changes and losses, with some sober miracles to keep me going. Our homegroup is feeling some of the pressure from newer memebers to jump on the cliche wagon, and we are telling them nicely but firmly that the autonomy of the meeting comes first……Sorry I’ve been so long in updating, I will get back in step soon.