12 Tips and 12 Advantages
12 Tips to myself:
1. Remember that I’m new and my emotions and moods are still volatile. This has been pointed out by multiple people, including my sponsor before I sent the email, M and J, with whom I spoke after the meeting last night, and Mike here in the comments. This shit is going to happen. My brain is adjusting to a new reality to which it is unaccustomed. I haven’t been unadulterated by intoxicants for this long in 20 years. I may have been sober for an equivalent stretch during my divorce from my first wife about 12 years ago. I can’t remember if I was smoking weed then or not, but I wasn’t drinking or doing anything else. I was a complete wreck at the time regardless, having been devastated by her infidelity.
2. Don’t spend the day in isolation. Yesterday I spent the whole day alone in front of the computer. Although others were in the office during the afternoon, I might as well have been alone. This isn’t healthy for me. I should and could have called someone.
3. Pray. This is something I basically haven’t done the last few days. I “finished the third step” and sort of figured, alright, done with the God part. It doesn’t work like that.
4. Ask myself this: am I bringing harmony or confusion? This advice from my sponsor is a good way to pause and evaluate an action before I take it. It’s more specific than restraint of tongue and pen, and hopefully will result in said restraint.
5. Shorten the time frame. When my head gets messy, it’s probably because I’m thinking too far ahead. This is a program of daylong chunks. There’s no reason to get ahead of myself.
6. Recognize the various manifestations of self-will as self-will. Cire, Rice, and LP are all just different colors of self-will.
7. God gave us brains to use. Thinking can be a good thing, but it needs to be directed towards the proper end.
8. Direct focus outwardly when I’m feeling crazy. Help someone else, if possible. There a lot more people in world besides me.
9. Take a break. That doesn’t mean just go smoke a cigarette and pace and obsess. It means go outside and walk around and look at birds or something.
10. Don’t push send. Writing an email and sending it are separate acts. Writing it has no consequences until I push send. Let it sit in drafts for a while. It doesn’t expire after five minutes and dissolve. You can let it sit in drafts indefinitely.
11. Ask to speak to someone with good time after the meeting in private. It worked last night, it will work again. They know what they’re talking about and don’t mind helping.
12. Don’t live in the problem. You already know how to address it probably, so do what you need to do to fix it. If you don’t know how to address it, ask someone. Continuing to describe the problem, after it’s already been described, is just admiring it.
12a) Maybe a little less coffee and sugar? Just a thought.
12 Things to be Grateful for:
1. People who relapse do so because of one of two reasons, according to M. Either they are wavering on step one, or they don’t continue spiritual growth. I am unwavering on step one, and I continue to grow spiritually, though it’s hard and an uneven path.
2. When asked why they went out, relapsers who return invariably respond by providing external factors: my job sucked, my wife was a bitch, etc. I’ve never given any such reasons to explain my drinking. I drank because I liked to get drunk. The “trigger” thing has never made much sense to me, because I never lived those lies. I drank because I was an alcoholic who sought oblivion, and I never blamed anyone but myself and my nature for it. That was simply how I rolled.
3. I’m not prone towards self-pity. I tend to be too hard on myself, but I’m not particularly whiny.
4. I’m good at objective self-criticism, and I can listen and apply constructive criticism from others. Usually there’s a gap between hearing the criticism of others and processing it, during which my ego fights back, but I’m pretty quick to go, “ah hell, he’s right.”
5. I’m not a skirt-chaser and never have been. I hear countless men in AA talk about women in a way I don’t understand. Men here in Shanghai talk about not frequenting prostitutes as a challenging part of recovery. Even people with good recovery still talk about women in ways I don’t like. My house is far too glass for me to throw any stones, but frankly, I find it appalling. One of the things that brought me in here finally was learning that I had said demeaning things to women in a blackout, and had “hit on them.” When I hear how frequently infidelity is a part of the story of men in AA, I am very grateful that’s not me.
6. I’ve got a good sponsor. He’s got his hands full with me, but I believe in him. I don’t think he’s going to fire me, and he’s yet to give me any bad advice.
7. I work an active program. I go to a lot of meetings, I’m working the steps, listening to people with more time, and making adjustments to do things better. I’m trying. I’m willing. Even when I’m not trying or willing at the moment, I am again soon.
8. I get to start over everyday. This is an advantage that everyone has. This morning, after this post, it’s knee time. Kneel, pray. Express gratitude, and ask for knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out. This morning, I will do my due diligence before leaving the house, and I suspect the day will be better.
9. I’m more honest than I sometimes give myself credit for. This is significant.
10. I’m less prone to resentment than many. See number four. This is significant.
11. Less wreckage than many. I’m high bottom. I still have my family and a good job I enjoy. My relationship with my daughter seems mostly undamaged, and my relationship with my wife is undergoing active repair. I was in the amends making business long before I got sober. Guilt drove me to make many amends on many matters. This is not to say I don’t have a shit ton of wreckage still unattended to – I do. But guilt forced me to action many times, even when I was drinking.
12. I’ve got this blog!