Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independance Day

Today as I celebrate my country's independance from British rule I realize today is yet another day to celebrate my own independace from chemical rule. 556 days away from alcohol AND 82 days away from cigarettes. I have never been sober this long before but I have quit smoking for longer. Last non smoking run was a little over 8 months. I went back out on St. Patricks Day 3 years ago. Not a good holiday for my war on my addictions. However, I said to my wife this morning that this time feels so different and easier than before. (I wanted to rip poeples arms off and beat them with the stumps) "Really, why do you think that?", she asked. Because quitting smoking in the past was attempted by dependance on all powers human. My own will power, patches, gum and even a hypnotist at $650 an hour. After a little time in AA I can now realize why those things failed me. They were all half measures and availed me nothing. So, if no human power could relieve my alcohol AND cigarette addiction, then what could? Hmmmm.... Oh yah right! God could and would if he were sought. Where have I heard that before?
Happy Safe and Sober 4th all,
>=<(())*> Fish

Friday, June 26, 2009

Expect the unexpected

I had not one but two disarming tricks played on me by God today. My friend Rich whom you all know as grabbed me before meeting this morning and gave me his 9 month chip. Pretty big for me because I received my 9 months when he started. I pray often for my fraternity bros who I know need what we have. It's a relief for me because I have had a haunting memory wrapped in guilt about a night where I played a part in getting him sent to detox. Now here he is 9 months sober! I wasn't expecting to start crying BEFORE meeting. Thanks a lot Rich! And seriously, thanks a lot.
Next I went into meeting and sat down next to my sponsor and gave him a card because today he was celebrating 20 years. He was chairing the meeting and called on a selected member to start calling off the chip milestones. In our group we do every month up to a year and then each year after that. After he called for anybody celebrating a year my sponsor stopped him and spoke up. I was shocked because something was not going according to plan. My sponsor said he wanted to acknowledge a birthday that our group doesn't normally recognize. He said he had a friend who was celebrating 18 months today. He stood up, hugged me and handed me a coin that has been the hardest one to get yet. I didn't even know it until I held it and sat through the rest of meeting recounting what has occurred in the last 6 months.
As I have blogged recently I have had a cherished friendship of 20 years finish. It was my best friend and brother Dave. He came to my meeting 6 months ago to celebrate and support me as I received my 1 year chip. Now he can barely look at or speak to me. And, he lives across the street. Of all the ideas I had about mending this thing the stupidest was... "Maybe if I go out drinking with him, he would see that this is so important to me I would even sacrifice my sobriety date." Didn't happen don't worry. My pain and anguish over this matter has nearly all left, as I have learned yet again, I'm powerless over other people. Any pain that still occurs for me is a sadness for his pain. I'm not even involved with his turmoil, but I get a front row seat to witness it from across the street.
So, thankfully and gratefully I was able to accept my sponsor's gift of 18 months with an honest, humble and grateful heart. My first sponsor always says, "That's a long time between cocktails" when somebody gets a chip. But, that's a long time between chips when you get used to having one each month. What a long strange trip this has been.

P.S. Now that I have 18 months does that mean I get a vote at group conscience or do I have to wait 18 years?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Need a meeting and can't

Work is very busy these days and I have not been able to get to my morning home group. I did get to a meeting in Estes Park Co when my family kidnapped me away for Father's Day. The weekend was great and meeting new drunks who were seeing the world as I was was cool. Anyhow, because of current work circumstances I still can't go but this is what I needed to say with them today.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Good Morning. My name is Tony and I'm an alcoholic
I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!
4. Keep commin back it'll work if you work it!
Then my old friend Jim says, "Cause it probably won't if you don't."

Now off I race to sell the fish.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two sides of the same coin?

I in no way mean any disrespect or injury to codependents of alcoholics and abusive relationships. But I have a big question that is gnawing at me. Can I be a codependent as well as an alcoholic? Is there such thing as a codaholic? My wife is a friend of Lois W. and discusses her recovery experience with me freely. Unfortunately, I'm only one of her many alcoholic relationships in her life. From what I'm told she even brags on me to her home group because I'm the only drunk in her life trying to get better. Here is the kicker... I REALLY relate to what she is going through. Aside from her I don't really have any non alcoholic friends. My family is chuck full of abusive personalities and would be considered dry drunks by anybody in either program. My new adopted family are all recovering alcoholics as well. So do I find a different group from my wife? Does Al anon allow crossovers? Is there a special branch of AA for tweeners? I hear about members of my home group going to the other meetings but I'm honestly afraid I'll get stoned in the parking lot when they find me out. (with rocks not pot) The reason I ask is that the closest alcoholic relationship to me is all but finished and I'm sick about what to do. Any and all suggestions, advice or perspectives would be welcome. Unlike my home group, "crosstalk" is encouraged here.
Trying to,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Long time no talk

Hi I missed you. I was realizing that my cousin Ripgurl was probably about at the 1 year mark and I had to check out her blog calendar to see. Watch her blog and give her a shout if you can. Sadly I must admit that I have been taken away from this forum because of my need for immediate response. I have been sucked into all of the nonsense called Facebook. I like to call it the time vampire. Even though I have several members from my home group in my friends list it is really a poor substitute for this. Banana Girl has been around to point out how much time I spend on FB and not here. Sheepishly I have to admit that I arrive back here on my blog because my heart hurts from a fracturing relationship with my best friend. He moved his family across the street from mine and our excitement about all of the great possibilities have been dashed as our kids and wives have come to an impasse. In the past when shit would hit the fan between us the solution was always a good old male bonding drunk fest, finished with a sobbing game of, "You're My Best Friend Man." Now that's off of the table. I am trying to take the understanding, love and tolerance approach with his family and still maintain my family's necessary boundaries but that is easier said than done. I recognize my current feelings of restless irritable and discontent from my first 90 days of sobriety. One of the things that helped was being introduced to you all here by our friend BG. Another was gratitude lists. So here is one I should have done a while ago.

1. Drawing nearly 18 months of sober breaths.
2. My 1st 12 step opportunity just celebrated her first year!
3. My home group who seem to draw closer to me as my old drinking friendships fade.
4. My old drinking friendships who are now also my sober friendships. Love ya RC,Rubble and Paulie.
5. Being able to apply the AA 12 steps to quit smoking for the last 10 weeks.
6. My vegetable garden that allows me to think of all the metaphors gardening has with sobriety. When Bill W. wrote the 4th step he had to have been pulling weeds.
7. I bought my first bible in 35 years. It is a recovery themed bible with countless devotional messages pertaining to recovery.
8. Being well employed in the midst of this economy when so many are not.
9. Facebook because it has put me in touch with people whom I owe amends and connected me with old friends who are now also friends of Bill W.
10. Spending some of the best family time with all my girls that I can ever remember. That closed door of friendship with my buddy has put me and my family together like never before.
Thanks God

Monday, April 6, 2009

2nd Rod Stamp

Just wanted to share a cool God shot that happened for me with regards to my last post and my job situation. As I was praying and complaining about my ego being hurt and not getting the raise I felt I deserved, one of my sponsors sponsor called me. I guess you could call him my grandsponsor. He was having a similar situation with work too! I was talking about how my job was so easy for me and I could do it with one lobe tied behind my back. Maybe it was time for me to look for another job with more responsibility and more pay etc. He then pointed out to me that I was reaching a point in my program where new guys were going to be drawn to me to be their sponsor. A good paying job that didn't require tons of my time and mental energy might be just the thing I needed in order to do His work. I had just been blessed by being asked to sponsor one guy already and an old friend who is trying to get sober has asked me for help.
Then I wrote my Cutler post about surrendering my job situation and just waited and prayed. Next morning at meeting it happened. I was approached by another new guy who asked me to sponsor him. He's been around a couple of months so I assumed he was already working with some of the great sobriety gurus of my home group. He listed off several older and wiser members of my home group that were also in the running but he decided on me. I was humbled to be mentioned in the same breath with my morning Zen masters. My first sponsee did this too!
Now I'm excited and anxious with two fish on the line. Not much time to worry about trivial things like raises and promotions all of a sudden. Out here in Colorado if you want to fish with two poles you need to pay extra and get a stamp on your licence. Trouble is when the fish are biting you can have two poles going at once. Which one do I reel first? How do I keep the lines from getting crossed and tangled. Which bait was I using on which hook? AAAAGGGGHHHHH! What a great problem to have. So here I sit after praying about my job and God handed me a mission if I choose to accept it. I think I will before I self destruct. Now I have to be cautious because as an alcoholic I always over indulge. Last thing I need right now is to become the octosponsor.:) Any suggestions about sponsoring multiples out there would be greatly appreciated.
One Fish Two Fish

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pick me coach!

Well if this whole Cutler drama hasn't shown me the result of ego I don't know what would. Stupid as it may sound, I had to 4th step this scenario. Out of the gate I was down right mad at this budding young star for not accepting what his coach was trying to accomplish for the betterment of the team. I felt I had perfect right to since I'm a season ticket holder. "That little punk is gonna screw up my Broncos! Where does he come off with this temper tantrum? This brat thinks he is bigger than the team and better than Elway!", I have been saying like it was as important as food and air. In shock about my behavior my better half said something I have heard before but conveniently forgot in this case. "Often what we don't like in others is really what we don't like about ourselves", she said. AAAAAGGGGGHHHH, now I was really mad! Dudes don't like it when their wives are right, especially about football. But there it was, like it or not.
My mind was brought to two things about my own life which ashamedly I have to admit are a bit Cutleresque. First, my job has had me in a resentful funk lately. We just had our reviews and all my superiors could say was wow, great, terrific, excellent and model employee. light of the current economic climate we are having to go with an across the board pay freeze. POW right in the ego! I told them, "Don't claim salary woes when we all know how much dead weight exists around the office." "Cut them and pay your stars before you loose them", I told the personnel director. Oddly, that didn't get me the raise I felt I deserved. My ego actually began to suggest that others misfortune is what I needed to feel valuable to my company. Now, I feel sick when I think about how they would feel to loose their income in this economy. The company may need to do it anyway irregardless of what I said.
Second, I have spread this discontent and whining around my home group. I am wrongly justified by the search for answers as to why I am so unfairly treated. Just like the rest of the country, we have members of the fellowship who are under and unemployed. With my feelings about multi millionaire Cutler I can only imagine how much resentment I have generated amongst the characters I call my new family. After these ego shots I know that there is a way out and that way is service. So, I've signed up to volunteer for a local charity that could use my culinary skills to help feed families who have fallen on harder times than not getting their raise.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sober St. Patrick's day #2

No great wisdom to share here but I just wanted to tell about a miracle. This alcoholic mic has just went through another St.Patrick's day clean. I actually went to the pub and laughed with my friends. I went there with another one of OUR friends rcali4233. The obsession of the drink was not there but it was nice to be there with another sober alcoholic. Strength in numbers. Thanks RC.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Fishstyx: Sober St. Patrick's Day Servie To Others

Fishstyx: Sober St. Patrick's Day Servie To Others

Sober St. Patrick's Day Servie To Others

This is my big hair I've been growing since last St.Patrick's Day. Why post this Nick Nolte like mugshot of myself? I am just getting the word out about a fundraiser I'm doing called St.Baldrick's Foundation. I have been doing this event for 3 years in honor of my mom who loved kids and died from cancer. Participants raise awareness and money for children's cancer by shaving their head. In my drinking years I showed off my Irish heritage on St. Patrick's by getting insanely drunk. In fact, one year I thought it would be a good idea to mix it up with my best friend. The result was a broken wrist and a friendship that is still mending. Last year marked my first sober St. Patrick's Day and my bald dome was a much more fulfilling expression of my Irish roots. If you are so inclined to help me with a TAX DEDUCTIBLE donation please visit the link below. Mostly, please include the afflicted children and families in your prayers. I am thankful each day that my children's health is not a worry for me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Why Can't Sobriety Be Like The Matrix?

I asked my sponsor today why can't my sobriety be like The Matrix? I am frustrated right now because I have a ton of willingness and desire to have emotional sobriety but no idea how to get it. As a child of the rapid information transmission age I am quite impatient for the changes I think I need and want. In The Matrix, our young hero Neo would find himself in a jam and just call up for a program to be downloaded into him. He would just sit there and twitch as he was programed with helicopter pilot instructions, kung fu and any skill he felt was lacking at the moment. If he wanted I'll bet he could have become more musically gifted than Mozart. I think of this and pray, "God just get in my brain and fix it so I can be happy, helpful and useful for all the loved ones in my life." Want to know what the problem with that is? I'm not a computer. I'm a human that was made just the way He wants me. My brain may be computer like but I have been given a soul which learns through real life experience and contact with God. A computer can display images of beautiful scenery, but it never smiles and weeps over the pure beauty of a sunset on the Rocky Mountains. A computer can describe how the game of soccer is played or show diagrams of the perfect softball swing. But that computer will never feel the exhilaration and joy as my little girl puts the ball in the back of the net or makes effortless contact between bat and ball. A computer can go to utube and show a reel of Swan Lake, but it would never have a single tear as my baby girl beams and prances about in her tutu. A computer can help you find a date on, but it can never feel the butterflies in the pit of your stomach as you lock eyes with your soul mate from across the room for the first time. A computer can help you write and find the right words to say for a eulogy. However, it definitely can not publicly display the emotion of pain for a lost mother. To have these wonderful gifts one must be human. Slower processes but infinitely greater gifts. Today and every day I need to pray for the patience required to learn in God's time and on his terms.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Outward expression of an inward desire

This is my new tattoo! It says, "We will not regret the past nor whish to shut the door on it."p.83BB The reason I chose this phrase and symbol is because the circle/triangle is exactly the same as my fraternity in college. Some of my most storied drunkalogs took place at this time. When first starting AA I really regreted those lost years. Now I am thankful for them because it has put me in a unique position to 12 step two of my fraternity brothers(and hopefully more). Also, it turns out my new sponsee went to college with me but we never knew it. All of it has allowed me to be of service in His plan. The results of that have been far greater than any I have tried to direct all on my own.
Your greatful drunk frat boy,

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

Yet again I have been away too long. My in laws have been visiting my family and company seems to take away all free time. This trip for them was my first opportunity to work my amends with them. I didn't come right out and say, "I'm on a new path with the help of AA and I'm sorry for any distress I may have caused you knowing your daughter was married to an alcoholic like me." (However, that is how I played it out in my head in one long run on sentance:) They were aware that I was going to meetings and had been sober for just over a year, but that was about it. I thought the best way for me to show them that things were better now, for their daughter and grandchildren, was to be subservient and subdued as best as I could be. Unfortunately, that's not my normal demeanor and basically not me. My father in law was up every day early having coffee as I proudly raced off each morning to home group. "Again? You just went yesterday", he said surprised but not condemning. I was so greatful to show proof of how dedicated I was. He probably didn't think twice about it, to this drunks disappoitment, because it's not all about me. As their visit went on we got to talk about my kids and what issues and challenges they had. I expressed great worry about my oldest daughter because I see too much of myself in her. She is always intense and trips over herself trying to make sure everybody approves of her. He said, "That's O.K. you two are intense people but look at what gets done because you guys are that way." He put his hand on my shoulder and added, "This world needs people like you in it!" I smiled and walked away because my eyes welled up with tears of relief. From that point on I came out of my self imposed shell to show all the extroverted, gregarious sides of my personality. Several laughs ensued amongst us after that. When their trip ended and we were shuttling them to the airport he turned to me in the car with a smile. "Tony, I want to wish you continued success with your group class thing you are involved with", he said in his most proper baritone voice. After they left I thought long and hard about all of the things that I have been trying to throw out for fear that everything about me was a character defect. Maybe that has been my problem all along. I have been the one deciding what is a defect instead of letting God decide. I'll try and have faith that He will let me know what is of value and what isn't. But mostly, how best to use it in service to Him!
Love ya miss ya

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm back!

Wow been a while. Feels like I do when I am missing from home group for a while. I didn't know that my blogging had become so much a part of my treatment plan. I'm fortunate enough to know a blogging friend of ours in the real world and she keeps an eye on me. When I see her I'm reminded that I need to say hello to you all out there. I haven't been moved to write anything lately but I'll just let you in on my top 10 thankful for list for today.
10. I have recently been asked to be a sponsor.
9. The lessons of my first sponsor have been echoing louder in my head as I try to pass them on.
8. I have a new sponsor who I am learning new things from.
7. No compulsion to drink at a Superbowl party last night.
6. I am on vacation from work.
5. I have a job I have remained successful at even though I have this disease.
4. I attended a great funeral in support of a coworker and was able to be touched by a life I never knew.
3. I'm blessed to be the parent of two incredible personalities that teach me so much about myself.
2. I just had my 10yr wedding anniversary and year 11 looks like it is off to a great start.
1. I'm a sober member of A.A.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Run Duck and Hide

Why does night time have to be so hard? Why does any of this have to be? Lately, all I have found to be easy is a moment in time each day at 6:45am. Upon Awakening home group. For this drunk it is nothing short of paradise. Bad jokes, bad coffee, stale donuts, stale drunks, peace, love and understanding. Then poof it all disappears and I'm there left to face this thing alone. I have come a long way only to realize that I have only reached the top of a false peak. It was a long and exhausting climb to here but now before me is yet another peak to climb. The terrain doesn't look any better either. I don't want to quit this life yet and I am not afraid of a good challenging test. But, can't I just get a second to catch a breath? I know this is all just emotional vomit. I'm just really in a funk and pity party and I can't seem to find the doorway out. Still sober and that's good but man do I really hate myself and this disease lately. Mostly because I've been such an asshole to live with and the people who make me the happiest run, duck and hide from me. The grouch and the brainstorm are living here lately. I don't know if any of this makes sense, but if it does, this drunk could use some advice. And, some sleep. I'll check you all tomorrow.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson

As many of you have probably seen in the news there was a disaster averted yesterday on the Hudson river. A jetliner hit a flock of geese killing both engines. The well trained pilot perfectly set the plane down in the frigid Hudson river. The result was NO FATALITIES. All reports about the procedures he followed were described as textbook. One of the main things credited was his training in gliders at the Air Force Academy. Was God there? Of course He was. However I didn't see in any footage a giant mystical hand gracefully take an air bus and set it down safely. The crew calmly and efficiently did all things necessary for the best outcome possible. Looking at just the facts it would seem that God wasn't there at all, it was all human intervention. But, what went through the minds of the pilot and crew? Did they not meet calamity with serenity? They must have because imagine the result had they freaked out and panicked! Honestly who could have blamed them if they did. Only a trained, heightened yet calm state of mind allowed them to utilize their learned tools in the face of such powerlessnes . Speaking as an alcoholic who has had many disastrous water landings when my life was unmanageable and out of control, I am now gifted with The Promises (p.84 Big Book) After 12 steps out of misery I find that I too have moments where I intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle me and that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself. The only human intervention into my recovery is deciding to do steps and go to meeting so that I will have the training to act appropriately as His instrument. I can now help bring serenity where there is calamity and know peace. That my friends is as much a miracle as any plane floating on a river. Am I a pilot who could safely crash land a plane? No, but I did go to an AA meeting last night! :)

Happy landings


Friday, January 9, 2009

Policing The Grounds

I heard a woman in meeting today describing her relapse and said that it started weeks before she took a drink. When I was new I heard that but it didn't resonate. Probably because I was just starting to clear my head. This time it hit me. I realized that I had been heading for a relapse myself because my emotional and spiritual well being were not being well tended to by me. Since my last chip and all the hoopla, my pendulum has swung back hard and swift. My service position was handed off to the next person and the need for me to get bananas and doughnuts to the meeting every morning was no longer there. The thought that maybe I could start sleeping in a little or even miss a meeting sounded good. After all, hadn't I really worked my butt off in this last year? My family has been so supportive. Didn't they deserve to have me at home on a Sat. morning? Wanna know what was wrong with those seemingly logical ideas? They were thought up in the brain of this alcoholic. My sponsor likes to quote me things from the BB. In listening to my description of this funk he just said, "Cunning, baffling, powerful." He then added, "AND patient!" My meeting attendance is back where it was when I was new and desperate. Probably because I am a bit desperate again and it worked the first time. I also remembered service is what did it even before I was the group snack mom. The first service I started doing for my home group and the church host of our meeting was to police the grounds for all the cigarette butts as I smoked mine. I looked around the ground yesterday after the meeting and saw the evidence that I had been taking off too much time. So began my policing the grounds again. New year-old job-felt better-that simple. Moral of the story? Keep my butt clean and I will probably stay sober. ;)

God Bless,
Smoked Fish

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Survivor Guilt

Here I sit 373 days sober. Had a great 1 year meeting a few days ago. My home group had wonderful things to say about me in front of my family and best friend, who attended their 1st meeting in my honor. I am struck at this point with a ton of gratitude for my gifts that I have before and after sobriety. However I find myself in a low spot. Why? Because I have great hurt in my heart for people whom I love that are still suffering from the same affliction I had. When the wreckage I caused sent my life in a downward spiral I would curse God and say, "Why me?" Now I have cleared the drinking problem and have the opportunity to work on my spiritual salvation and continue working on my emotional sobriety. As I reflect on the reprieve I am given I now beg God, "Why me?" My wife who loves me and sees the best in me becomes irritated and says, "Because, why NOT you?" I have barely been able to save my own skin but somehow I find it justifiable to ride around on my white horse rescuing all the drunks I know and love. All the while I can't just feel good and deserving about my own sobriety. My sponsor at this point would invoke the description, "Egomaniac with an inferiority complex." Please feel free to shed any light on this if you please. Love and tolerance is our code. I think today I'll pray to apply that to the drunk I know the best.
God be with us today