1 Day In
This post is going to be a bit ramble-y. I’ve got a number of things I’d like to talk about, and others I’d like to do, like craft things less. When I really polish the text, I’m trying to impress you, and that’s a problem. It’s “not any of my business what you think of me.” I learned that on the plane. The flight was important, meaningful. In flight, I read “A New Pair of Glasses,” by Chuck C. And I tried to pray. Yep, I’ll use the word, baggage and all. God. I really tried it for real. I closed my eyes and seriously asked God for guidance. I asked to know His will for me, so that I can do his work, and I asked him to take care of me. Chuck says that Chuck’s job is to do God’s work, and God’s job is to take care of Chuck. I thought that old HP might be willing to take care of Eric too, because Eric needs the help. So I tried it. And I didn’t hold back, or throw in disclaimers, or establish clearly that I was merely doing the action and not actually believing, or any of the other things I always do and have always done. I sought with “all the earnestness at my command,” to find a connection with God.
And I recognized an emotion that I’m not convinced I’ve ever felt in adulthood: peace.
I was OK, right there on the plane, right where my HP had put me, right when he had put me there. I was not afraid. Why have I fought so hard, for so long, to maintain the ideas and behaviors that made me miserable? Why would I ever have thought that maintaining the consistency of my abstract models, or protecting the identity I had constructed, could ever be more important that peace and joy and life, I’ll likely never know for certain. But I do suspect the following. I had to be an alcoholic. There was no other way I would ever have been willing look up.
I had plenty of time to make that 7AM meeting at the Alano club in Shanghai this morning.
It was cool. 6 people from 4 different countries (3 of us were from the states**); I heard nothing but really solid program in that room. Yeah. City of 24 million. One English speaking Friday morning meeting with 6 people in it. And I just happen to have been stationed in an apartment 3KM from the club. And, it’s an really good meeting. I’m guessing I meant to work with a smaller group for a while.
The lead guy – I wish I remembered his name (I’d only use his first initial here regardless, but since I don’t remember his name, so I can’t even do that) expressed a certain good natured envy when I told him I was from Cali: “You must have thousands of meetings to choose from.” He’s right. I’ve been ignoring an opportunity to do some exploring in my hometown. When I return, I’m going to branch out more, and check out different meetings in different places.
1100 Paces means 12 Steps. 1100 is twelve in binary. And paces is a synonym for steps. For a week or so there I regretted calling it that. I thought, my blog shouldn’t express adherence to a specific program of recovery as that limits me.
See, I had somehow gotten confused again. I forgot and began thinking about the blog as an end in itself. This isn’t about me. If it were, and when it is, it would be, and is, pure garbage. What’s happening now is about everything but me. It’s about doing the HP’s work. It’s about turning over all the anxiety and the shame. It’s about working with other alcoholics to achieve or maintain sobriety, even if all I can think to do about that is to write this under-edited post.
Might there be someone who is helped by reading this? Can I help you to stay sober? Are there some words I can say to you that will make it more likely that you will go to a meeting, or get a sponsor, or do steps, or do anything that will help you to recover form this most ugly and wretched condition we share? If you are an alcoholic like me, but still out there practicing, I know you don’t want to be in AA. Who does? We are, after all, almost to a person, iconclasts. We tolerate no joining, no belief, no committing to a program, no surrender, fuck everyone all the time if they dare cross me!!!!
That’s the weird thing, and proof that something magical is going on. Those AA rooms are filled with bad-ass crazy mofo’s. Ex-cons, sure, but also businessmen and housewives and teenagers. Some of us look quite harmless, but no wise normal person would fuck with any of us while we’re out there practicing. We’re powerful and dangerous. I was like a firehose on full blast, unheld by any hand, shooting high pressure water all over the place. Sometimes it hit the fire. Sometimes it hit the bystanders. Sometimes, there wasn’t even a fire, but I’d crank open that hydrant anyways.
Regardless of the words I used, my core message was:
1. I’m smarter than you.
2. Because I’m smarter than you, I’m better than you.
3. Because I’m better than you, don’t cross me or I will crush you.
Of course this was my message! How could I have been saying anything else? I knew I was an imbicile, and that you were smarter. After all, you didn’t do stupid shit everyday. You didn’t live in constant shame and fear. You said things, and then did them. I couldn’t even understand the meaning of the words I said, apparently, because I rarely followed through on any of them. And I knew I was a worthless scumbag. Not only was I not better than you, I was far, far worse, and I knew it, and figured if I just hated myself enough, then I could even out the balance sheet and maybe get within shouting distance of OK.
But about one thing there was no question at all. You can’t know any of that. I’ll decide what you think of me.
But at some point our power fails us for the last time. And as we age – as I aged anyways – I stayed where I was because that’s where inertia kept me, and massive curtains of words gave the illusion of movement, and kept me trapped, though I thought I was free, because I thought freedom meant manifesting my will. That’s not freedom, that’s hell, in the most specific, Miltonian sense: denied access to God. My ego was a Satan to keep me where I was. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror sober. I didn’t care so much, drunk. All I had of value were others. I had my family – my perfect daughter and long-suffering saint of a wife. Always have I loved them both and lamented that either should have to suffer because of my alcoholism. And I had some parts of my manufactured identity – the parts that others had validated. There was nothing else good.
*Here’s a fun fact: WordPress blogs are forbidden in China. Yep. Fortunately my second in command and housemate for the next 50-60 days is a computer guy, and he set up this nifty VPN (virtual private network) that allows us to connect to the internet through servers in Los Angeles. So, by my reasoning, I’m not even breaking Chinese law, because the DNS request occurs in the States.
**Yes the math is right. It threw me for a second too, but if 3 of us were from the US, that’s one country, plus three others makes four. Or was I the only person to whom that wasn’t immediately obvious 😉