Accept Tense

A popular topic in meetings (at least in my neck of the woods) is-


If you a regular….or not so regular attendee of AA meetings I am sure you have heard it

“And acceptance was the answer to all of my problems”

It is taken from a story in the back of the Big Book. It is in the section called ‘Personal Stories’.

That section is a collection of stories written by persons who had recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body.

In regular person terms it means they use the steps to solve the drink problem.

It is a great story and gives hope to all of us who are afflicted with alcoholism.


There is always a “but” isn’t there?

What a lot of AA members fail to realize or just plain ignore is this-

That particular topic does absolutely nothing to aid in the recovery of someone who has not fully worked the 12 steps of the AA program.

Wait for it. I will get there.

The person who wrote the story was an active participant in their own recovery. He agreed with the process that was necessary to help him stay stopped from drinking.

That process is outlined by way of the 12 steps that are found within the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.

That person obtained a spiritual experience from the completion and continued effort placed into the process.

From that experience, the story was crafted.

The story from which the acceptance topic is taken from is on page 417 in the 4th Edition.

Anyone else notice what I noticed?

To ask of anyone to understand and share on the topic of acceptance in a meeting is fine.


If that person has not worked all the steps and has not learned a large chunk about themselves and the patterns that brought them to AA and the state that their lives are in….then acceptance is not the answer.

The only thing they will be accepting is being tense and confused.

Who wants to accept tense and confusion as a design for living?

If I am willing to accept those 2 as answers, then I am willing to accept 3 more things-

Drink drank drunk

I know that will ease my tension and confusion.

I couldn’t accept ANYTHING until I could accept myself…..

And that happened once I put in the work needed to find that out… working the steps and having a spiritual experience.

I accept that this is just my view.

It’s still good2begone.


Decision From The “T”

The shakes hit me so hard that they awoke me from my blackout state. I am on the floor of my bedroom, staring at the dust and lint that resides under the dresser.



Holding my stomach in agony as it feels like its eating itself.

I need a drink to stop the pain….if only temporarily.

I calm my mind long enough to remember hiding a 5th of tequila behind the chest in the living room and a couple of beers at the back of the vanity in the bathroom.

The wave of nausea took over every time I blinked.

I had nothing left to throw up. I was sleeping in and over last nights contents of my latest drinking spree.

But that didn’t stop my insides from rejecting even the air that I attempted to breathe.

I muster up enough will power to get up off the floor.

Vomit drops off my clothes as I grow from the crawl, to the knees and finally to upright.

I see the clock digitally screaming at me in neon green that it is 3 p.m.

My wife will be home from work in a few hours. I have to clean this (and me) up before then.

Maybe she won’t know….

I use the furniture as a handrail and a guide from room to room to find my stash.

The afternoon sunlight coming in through the windows and the bitter silence oozing from the state of my affairs make it hard to see clearly.

But I see clearly enough to know what I need. I just have to retrieve it.

I make it to the living room and slump down next to the chest. I catch my breathe and wipe the continuous flow of sweat from my brow. A tremor of shakes brings me to my knees. I muster enough energy to reach behind the chest and find…… nothing.

“I KNOW IT WAS THERE” my mind screams.

That thought makes my head pound harder. I can feel my heart beating out of my chest. The beer has to be there.

I reach the guest bathroom after an eternity of crawling, whimpering and sheer determination.

I open the vanity door.

One beer and a note are the contents I find inside.

I instinctively grab the beer and pull the tab on it.



The carbonated smell of the foam hits my senses and for that moment before I drank it

If only for that one moment…

I had won.

I drank the warm beer in a few gulps. My shakes slowly tapered to a mild twitch.

My stomach began to settle enough to focus the rest of my body.

The hot sweats I was enduring began to cool. The dampness of my hair and clothes were a warm welcome.

The stench of stale vomit was not…But a shower would fix that.

I set the empty can on the sink and picked up the note with my still shaky hand.


You just drank the last drop of alcohol that remains in this house. You have also taken the last bit of compassion I have for you. The kids and I are gone. And we won’t be coming back. I still love you. But I fell in love with the man I married, not the one you have become. If you ever find your former self, then maybe you can find me again.

Until then,


I wanted to cry or show some sort of emotion other than anger, but I couldn’t.

I could figure out a way to fix this but I


booze to help me sort things out.

I get up.

First I need a shower. I strip off my clothes and step into the cool water. It washes away my sins of yesterday.

I dry myself off.

Put on clean clothes and rifle through drawers and worn clothes trying to find a little money.


A fiver in the back pocket of a pair of jeans I wore 3 days ago.

I go to the garage……

That bitch took the car…..

My eyes jet left to right. I see a bike tire jutting out from behind a few boxes.

It’s the bike I bought when teaching my daughter to learn to ride. I hadn’t ridden it in years….

The convenience store is only a few blocks away, I could ride it to pick up a six pack and then get back here to formulate a plan.

It’s a shaky ride, but I make it, and go into the store to make my purchase.

I buy my beer, get on my bike and decide the best place for it, is resting over the handlebars. If I go slow enough I should be fine.

As I ride back, I hit a few bumps and notice that 2 of MY beers are beginning to fall out of the plastic holder.

I try to pedal faster….only a few more houses to go and I am home….

I hit a pothole and lose control. I go flying off the side of the bike.

The beer glides off the handlebars…. in slow motion, clanking together as they go airborne and the hit the pavement.

2 of them spring a leak and begin to roll down the street.

I get up off my bloodied elbows and knees and give chase.

Tears are rolling down my cheeks as I try to stop my lifeline from seeping out of the holes. To no avail…I am left with four.

I pick up the remaining beers and head to the house. I leave the bike.

I get into the kitchen and immediately down 2 of them before attending to my injuries. I am still crying.

“How am I going to make it….I don’t have enough….” I think between the sobs.

I rub my forehead with my palm and glance over at the phone. A second note sits next to it.

I reach over and pull it towards me and read-

If you decide you want to quit, call this number. They say they can help, but they won’t until you ask.

Alcoholics Anonymous 555-5490.

Jonathan looks at the number that sits in front of him.

Then looks at the phone that sits at the left.

And then at the beer that sits on the right.

He feels like he is standing at a “T” in the road trying to decide which way to go.

This fictional story is a tribute to a friend in AA who passed away this past year with 26 years of sobriety. Parts of this story were based on his story.

Recovery from alcoholism happens.

He chose to go to the left.

Which way would you choose?


The Sobriety Mechanic

I am a quitter.

I am not just a quitter….I am an infamous quitter.

I have quit on so many things I quit counting……

One of the standard items I have given up on is vehicles.

I will drive them until they break down. Then abandon them with the keys in the ignition and move on.

General maintenance and upkeep have never been one of my strong points.

If a noise is heard while I am driving that I am not used to…..I turn up the stereo to drown out the noise.


That is until the vehicle craps out.

Then it is abandoned.

This merry go round of misuse began when I was given my first vehicle and was subsequently continued until I got sober.

Honestly, I never even began to pay for a vehicle myself until 5 years into sobriety.

43 years old.
27 years of driving.
0 vehicles paid for.
7 abandoned vehicles

That’s quit quite a record of letting others take care of my responsibilities.

I just paid off my first vehicle a few weeks ago. Shortly after it broke down.

Rather than leaving it at the side of the road and walking away, I did the responsible thing and had it towed to a mechanic and had him repair it.

Then paid for it.

I have since realized that people have been doing this since the vehicle was invented…..who knew?

“Not I” sayeth the quitter.

I go through all that to get to this….

When I quit drinking, I abandoned my old partying ways and left them at the side of the road.

And walked away.

But, I have learned since that chilly October day over 6 years ago that-

It is easy to let up on the spiritual program of action and rest on our laurels. We are headed for trouble if we do, for alcohol is a subtle foe. We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. -Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous page 85 chapter-Into Action

There is that word “maintenance” again.

I quit drinking through AA and life got better….for me. I am not going to speak for anyone else.

The deal is..if I don’t do the things to spiritually maintain this condition of sobriety, then, off to the junkyard it goes, much like the various vehicles of my past.

How do I keep myself from quitting on myself (again)?

I’m used to quitting….I am good at it. I don’t feel bad doing it.

I just do it.

AA has given me confidence in myself that helps me to avoid quitting on myself.

I stay involved in my home group. I have a sponsor. I work with others. I pray on a daily basis to a God of MY understanding. I go to conferences. I speak when asked to. I help when not asked to.

I aid in the maintenance of my sobriety by getting out of self and into life.


I do it without getting grease all over my hands and clothes.

If I plan to keep what I have gained, I need to follow the steps that helped me get here in order to maintain the life that I am blessed with.


It’s not just for vehicles

It’s for a sober life.



Meeting The Fiction In Person

For the last couple of weeks, I have been creating posts about a guy named “The Frantic Man”.

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

Post 4

He is a fictional character based on my personal experiences and thoughts about the steps and principles of AA from early on in sobriety.

The stories are real…I just made up the character to make it more interesting for reading…..and to be able to write about me without saying it was me.

I am my favorite subject.

I love me some me.

I could talk about me ALL day!

But who wants to sounds egotistical? Not me.

While attending the Men’s conference this weekend I was taken aback by an individual I met.

He is the human equivalent of the fictional character of “the Frantic Man”. He doesnt have a stutter but his quiet and shy demeanor along with the way he draws out his speech gave me chills.

I was speaking with the character I created in my mind.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise to me that our issues with coming into sobriety and dealing with life beyond the bottle were strikingly similar.

Our thoughts and experiences were mirror images. Our fears with honesty with others were carbon copies.

Our uniqueness made change hard.

By the end of the conference, we had exchanged numbers, and I have spoken with him on the phone twice.

Out of respect for fiction becoming reality I will no longer post about “the Frantic Man”.

I am hoping he will create his own story and bring it to life.


If you want to know what I felt like, in a general way, when meeting my character…..then watch this short clip.


The Frantic Man Gets Gone

We arrive at the Lake Murray Men’s Conference with only one mishap.

My sponsor received a speeding ticket.

Most people in sobriety would not badger their sponsor about something like this.

I am not most people in sobriety……besides I was in the back seat. What was he gonna do threaten to pull the car over and spank me.


I decided he needed a lecture on the importance of obeying the laws of the road.

“Excuse me, sponsor?” I ask

He looks in the rear view mirror with squinted eyes and replies,

“Yes, good2begone?”

“Do I need to remind you that having 26 years of sobriety does not give you the right to ignore the posted laws of the land? I would suggest that you be more mindful of your lead foot. The conference will still be there even if we get there 10 minutes later. I think you need to do some writing on patience.” I say with a smile and a smirk.

I notice the temperature in the vehicle got a bit chilly….or maybe it was just the icy stare I received from the rear view mirror before his reply.

“I suggest that you realize that regardless of my years in sobriety that I am not nor will I ever be perfect. Mistakes in judgement still occur with 26 years of sobriety… ass.”

“Touché, Mr. Miagi….touché.”

We get registered, check into our cabin and head out to meet and greet the other attendees of the conference.

I’ve been here before.

The Frantic Man hasn’t.

He needs a little encouragement.

As we walk to where the fellowship is happening I fill him in on what to expect.

“Ok…Frantic, I know this is way out of your element. Everyone here is here to aid in their….and your recovery from alcoholism. All you have to do is introduce yourself to people. The rest will happen on its own. You cool with that?”

He stops walking and rubs his forehead, and replies,

“I…I…I’m not g..g..good with people. Nervous…just nervous.”

I pat him on the back and say,

“Relax, Rain Man. No one here is good with people. But if we want to change….we have to alter our normal reactions to life. No more hiding behind the bottle. It’s time to stand on your own. I will introduce you to a few people who you will relate to. Then you take it from there.”

He inhales deeply exhaled nervously then nods his head in approval.

We return to the cabin at 11:30 pm. We heard a great speaker who has been sober for 32 years and then went out for ice cream.

The Frantic Man had a different look about him.

“You ok, Frantic?”

“I jjjust have a lot to ppprocess after today. I met some gggood people and am thththinking about tomorrow.”

“Okie dokie. Get some sleep, bud.”

I retire to my bunk and almost immediately fall into a deep sleep.

My alarm awakes me at 6:30am. I get up and head out to grab some coffee and try not to wake anyone else up.

The sun is starting to filter through the windows, shedding light into the cabin.

The space where the Frantic Man went to sleep is empty.

I sip on my coffee and think about the day ahead.

Wait a minute…….


I wake everyone up and tell them he is gone. Apparently I am the only one concerned.

My sponsor, in his infinite wisdom, says,

“Relax. He is the Frantic Man…,.not the I’m gonna get up in the middle of the night and walk back to Texas man. He just got up and went out. We will find him soon enough.”

So much for peace and serenity….I convince a guy to leave home for a few days and I lose him. What was I thinking?

The rest of my day is spent searching for the lost boy. I can’t focus. I can’t relax.

I walk around and ask the people I introduced him to the day before if they have seen him.

“Have you seen the Frantic Man?”

“Yeah, he was her about an hour ago. He walked off with the guys from cabin 12.”

Off to cabin 12

“Have you seen the Frantic Man?”

“He was here, but he’s not anymore.”


“Have you seen the Frantic Man?”

“The who?….”

“Uggghhhh…never mind.” I said frantically and moved on.

I was a wreck. What was I going to tell his Mother?….I don’t even know his Mother….I had no one to tell.

I couldn’t find him. I hate to say it but I gave up….and I’m not a giver upper.

The 8 pm speaker meeting was about to start. I slumped into my chair next to my sponsor.

He asks with a smirk, “Did you find him?”

I answered with a pout, “No”

He pats me on the shoulder and replies,

“He will turn up…..probably when you least expect it.”

I cross my arms and slump into the metal chair and say,


The meeting is opened up as usual with the serenity prayer. One of my buddies is chairing the meeting and he begins to talk,

“We are going to do something a little different tonight. We have a gentleman here who is at his first conference….ever. He has a whopping 2 months of sobriety. And we are going to have him read one of our readings.”

That peaked my interest. I look up from my pouty stance and to my surprise the Frantic Man is on stage behind the podium.

He steps up and begins to talk.

“Mmmmmy nnnnname is the Fffffffrantic Mmmman and I’m an alcccoholic.”

He pauses and steps back. He looks at the chairman and whispers to him.

The chairman looks at him with caring eyes and says,

“You can do this.”

He returns to the podium and hears


from the crowd along with cheers of encouragement.

He breathes in deeply says a quiet prayer for calm and patience and begins to read,

RARELY HAVE we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it-then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning,

baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now!
Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

He read the entire reading…..and didn’t stutter once. He paused to let the words he just read sink in.

Then the tears in his eyes began to flow.

You could hear a pin drop in that conference room.

The chairman got up and walked over to him and gave him a big hug and said,

“You never have to be alone again, my friend.”

Before stepping back from the podium. He spoke once more.

“Thank you ffffor believing in me.”

The room erupted in applause….and tears.

My sponsor leans over to me and says,

“He was not your pet project in sobriety. He needed to find his way. I encouraged others to step in. One, because you were getting a big head over it….and 2 because you jabbed me with the speeding ticket I got. You need to realize that God is in charge of this deal….not you or I. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.”

That is why I am the sponsee and he is the sponsor.

Another day….another lesson on ego for me.

It is still good2begone.


Reading taken from Chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The chapter is called

“How It Works”

The Frantic Man Getaway

When opportunity arises it is best to take it before it has a chance to slip away.

I have a trip planned with my sponsor this weekend to a men’s conference in Oklahoma. After speaking with him earlier in the week it turns out we have room for one more person. I tell him not go worry I have the perfect candidate.

I drive over to the halfway house and knock on the door. The house monitor opens the door and greets me.

“Hey Goner, what’s shaking?”

I return his high five with a loud clap of the open palm and reply,

“Nada. Is the frantic man here? I’d like to take him to conference this weekend if you all will approve it.”

He smiles and answers,

“Yeah, he’s here…..he is always here…kind of afraid of his own shadow. If you can get him to go, he’s all yours. 3rd door on the left.”

He points down the hall and returns to his office.

I head down the hall knock and announce who I am through the closed door.

“Hey, Frantic, it’s me good2begone from the meetings. Can I talk to you for a minute?”

I hear the shuffling of feet and the turning of a knob.

Low and behold the frantic man stands before me.

“D…d…did I do something wrong?”

“Nah, I wanted to ask you to come with me to an AA conference in Oklahoma this weekend with my sponsor and a couple of guys. I already cleared it with the house monitor. Just be ready at noon on Friday with a change of clothes for 2 days.”

I figured small talk was not the way to go. Blindside him and leave him with little chance to decide.

“I can’t…..I…I…don’t have the money to go to…”

I interrupted him before he could finish.

“I didn’t ask if you had money. I just said be ready. See you Friday.”

With that, I turned around and walked away….and left him in stunned silence at his bedroom door.

The house monitor called to me as I walked out,

“That was smooth as glass, Goner..freaking smooth!”

I just winked and kept walking to my truck….and drove away.

PLACE-Halfway House

The frantic man is waiting on the porch with a trash bag containing his clothes for the weekend.

We pull up in my sponsor’s Suburban. I look at the porch and then ask the guys to give me a minute with our next passenger.

I walk up to the porch and ask,

“You ready to go, “traveling man”?”

“I….I….I’m real nervous. Wh…wh…who are we going with?”

“My sponsor and a couple of other guys in AA. No need to be nervous. It will help you to be around others in sobriety. To learn how they stay sober will help you to stay sober. My sponsor has been sober for 26 years, one of the others has been sober 20 years, I have been sober over 6, and the other guy over a year. We can learn from each other….and whoever else we meet at the conference.”

“Wh..wh…who’s your sponsor?” He asks.

“You see the guy biting on the cigar behind the wheel? That’s him…”

He holds his hand up to block the sun in order to see better. His eyes get real big and then he speaks.

“…isn’t that the guy who has like 18 DWi’s….and was lo…lo….locked up in the nut house for life until he found AA?…..and because of his life change he is now a free man?”

I smile and reply

“You have been listening in meetings….yup that’s him. AA changed his life and continues to for over 26 years…..he has helped me understand. Maybe we might help you to understand. Just don’t ask him about talking to toasters and you will be fine. Let’s go.”

He gives me a strange look and follows me to the vehicle. He is about to jump in the very back seat and I stop him.

“Not so fast, Flash… get to ride shotgun.”

“Wh….wh..what? I never get to ride shotgun. I kind of annoy p..p..people with my stuttering.”

“Well….this weekend you are the most important person with us….so a shot gunning you will go.” I said with a smile as I opened the front door for him.

He gets in and puts on his seatbelt. He glances over to my sponsor, who smiles and takes the cigar out of his mouth and says,

“Happy to meet you young man, good2begone has said many good things about you. I look forward to hearing them myself. Thank you for coming with us. The sober life is worth it, my hope is that this weekend you will find it as gratifying as we do…..GENTLEMEN…..OKLAHOMA AWAITS US!”

He gently slaps the frantic man on the knee, puts the cigar back into his mouth and shifts the vehicle into drive.

200 mile drive
3 days of the fellowship of AA
4 sober members
1 frantic man

What could possibly go wrong….

Ritual Fears

I pulled into the meeting parking lot…..I was early for once (thank you Baby Jesus). And who was the first person I saw? The one I call “The Frantic Man”.

I stick out my hand as I walk up and speak,

“Hey, Bud. You still praying to the doorknob or have you tried something else?”

He sheepishly looks up at me, while shuffling his feet, with a smirk and replies,

“F-f-funny. No….no….no doorknob anymore. I’m trying to believe in a God of my OWN understanding….”

I nod my head with approval.

“Hmmm. So…how goes it?”

He audibly sighs. Then motions me to sit down at the outside table with him.

As he heads to the table, I look at my watch and the people arriving and heading into the meeting.

I silently sigh. Then head over to the table to sit and listen to his latest dilemma.

He was about to speak when I stopped him.

“Any chance we could get some coffee from inside before we start? I just got off work and could use the jolt.”

I look at him and raise my eyebrows. And wait for a response.

It’s like 2 adolescents having a stare down….


“Ok…ok…I’ll get it. You use cre…cream or s…s…sugar?”

“Nope. Just black. Thanks.”

He gets up to get the AA mud. I take the moment to talk to the God that I have come to understand by looking up and shaking my head back and forth with a smirk and say,

“I already talked to him when I changed out the doorknob. Wasn’t that enough?”

Of course I got no reply. I was about to ask another question but the frantic man returned….spilling the coffee all the way back to the table.

“S….s…..sorry. I get nervous a lot.”

“Really….I hadn’t noticed.” Was my reply.

“Thanks for the java. So…what’s got your peas out of your pod?”

He looked at me kinda strange…I don’t know why…then began.

“I…I…I have been reading up on God. Different as…as…aspects and religions. And…and…picking out what I like and not p…not p….not picking out what I don’t. And that will be M…M…MY God.”

My head kinda twitched with each of his stutters but I kept my composure and answered.

“That. Is. Awesome. I did the exact same thing. It’s a great start. I’m proud of you.” I said then glanced upward with a “ok, ok, I get it” look.

He blushed a bit and started to smile but quickly got frantic…again.

“But wait…..I…I…I don’t know about all of this…..I…I…I…I don’t want to have to go through the ceremony after I believe.”


I look at him with a face that can only be describes as “Huh?”

“Slow down, Knight Rider…..what ceremony?”

“I…I’ve seen it on TV on Sundays. When someone believes they have a ceremony…and…and..pray….and..and..splash holy water on them….and everybody watches…and…”

I cut him off before my twitches turned into convulsions.

“STOP! We don’t have a ceremony. It is a spiritual program….not a religious one….no holy water…no confirmations…nada….”

This time he cut me off.

“Not true…there’s that ceremony this Saturday. Everyone is encouraged to be there…I know wh…wh…what’s gonna happen.”

I started to interject…but reconsidered. He was on a roll.

“There’s gonna be that guy with all those years sober at the front…and…and..he gonna ask if there are any new be…be…believers here. And then I will have to go up there…and..and he is gonna douse me with non alcoholic beer to prove my worthiness…..and…a…and then everyone will cheer and praise…THEIR God….and…and then I will never be the same….”

I waited for him to catch his breath before I replied.

“WOW….that was impressive….but unfortunately, it was crapolla. This is not a cult, Hawkeye… one is going to ask you to drink the Kool aid…..Saturday is birthday night…when we “celebrate” annual sobriety dates for the month. We ask everyone to be there so there can hear how the individual accomplished their respective years of sobriety. When they receive their chip, they speak on how they made it another year without drinking.”

I paused to let what I said sink in to his frantic brain. Then added one more statement.

“Doused with non alcoholic beer? This isn’t “Sobers gone Wild” and that stuff still has alcohol in it….why would anyone do that?”

He slumped his shoulders and replied,

“I thought they said ceremony…maybe I should quit worrying about what people think and just listen to what they have to say for a while…..can we go into the meeting?”

“Lead the way my friend.”

As I follow him to the door I glance back upward and think

“I wasn’t this bad when I got here was I?”

This time, I either got an answer or my conscience answered for me,

“That IS you when you got here, Einstein.”

The Anticipation

The waiting may be the hardest part….but the fulfillment of the waiting is quite grand.

Naturally, I’m talking about the first drink of the night.

The simple motion of alcoholic beverage from glass to mouth to ingestion is glorious.

The wrongs of the day…gone

The mistakes of the past….gone

The about to made errors in judgement….gone

It’s good to be gone….and that’s why I go.

I don’t go there anymore.

But to understand how I got to here (sober) from there (nowhere near sober), I have to remember where I was before I know how I got to where I is…..

You follow me? If not, keep coming back sooner of later you will get it.

I was a bar drinker (period). I love the crappy neon signs, the smell of stale alcohol and cigarettes. The dimly lit atmosphere of a hole in the wall 4 hour happy hour cover band starts at 9 continuous shot special having last call at 10 minutes to 2 am watering hole.

That scene was my Mecca. My place to find “it”.

I went in search for “it” as often as possible.

My favorite part was not the getting drunk…..although it was always the result.

It was the anticipation of the first drink of the night at “the bar”.

It was where I always went and where I could always be found.

“Where are you. Where are you gonna be at?”

“Just meet me at the bar”

That is all I would have to say.

I would get off work and rush home to change. I needed to be there. I might miss something if I didn’t….besides the earlier I got there the….earlier..I…could…fulfill….the anticipation.

I felt like I was somebody when I walked in the bar.

I asked for what I wanted. I got it.

Every time….with a smile.

I wasn’t the guy who screwed up the account. I wasn’t the guy who slowed down production. I wasn’t the guy who couldn’t do anything right.

I was a guy at the bar.

Slinging lies.

Wooing women I couldn’t woo.

Standing tall during happy hour.

Stumbling out after last call.

Go home, sleep it off.


Wake up tomorrow.

The anticipation begins….again.

Fast Forward to now >>

I no longer have that anticipation. My mind does not race nor does my stomach turn when I see others drink.

I don’t sling lies around for approval…although I am no saint.

I only have 1 woman I wish to woo.

Happy hour is time with the woman I woo and kids we raise.

I now stumble because I am clumsy not because of alcohol.

I anticipate tomorrow as a chance to be better than yesterday and today.

Life has taken on new meaning.

The anticipation is finally fulfilled.

The Doorknob Dilemma

The frantic man stood outside the door of the AA hall looking quite disheveled and…well…..frantic.

It was not the first time I had seen him…it was the first time I had seen him so frantic though.

He started coming to the meetings about a month ago. He was beat down. He had the I’ve had enough and will try anything to quite drinking look all over him.

And that’s why we are all here. The last house on the left.

The final straw.

When the pain of living with alcohol overtakes the fear of living without it. This is where they come.

I have been coming here for a few years now. I keep coming back here because I need to be around people like me and people like the frantic man.

I see me when I look at him.

I looked at my watch. The meeting started 10 minutes ago. I hate being late but I have my job because of what people have done for me here. So I get here when I get here.

I walked up next to him and spoke.

“What’s up, man? You going in?”

He looked at me with his frantic jetting back and forth eyes and replied,

“I…I…I…I don’t know if I can….I came back to try again…but…but…but…it’s you alls fault I drank again.”

I paused.

Typically I am pretty sharp tongued when I hear someone placing blame but I held back and kept my reply short.

“Ummm….you mind telling me why it’s our fault?”

The frantic man pursed his lips together. Looked at me straight in the eye and confidently stated.

“You all….took away my higher power… replaced it with a new one….and now I have nothing to believe in….I….I…I can’t believe in the new one…it’s too shiny and new. The old one had defects like me…I could understand that one….but you all HAD to change it. Now…I have nothing.”

My head was spinning because of his broken record way of speaking, but I kept my focus and continued to engage him in conversation.

“Slow down, bubba. No one here has the ability to take away your higher power. You turned your will and life over to the God of your understa…”

He interrupted before I could finish.

“No….no…no. I hadn’t gotten to step 3 yet. I don’t believe in God. I was working my way up to that.”

I was a bit miffed, but I am not one to give up….I had to know what he was talking about.

“So….what gives?”

He exhaled with a defeated sigh.

“I was working with someone in here who said I needed to believe in a power greater than myself….he said it could be anything…he…he…he said it could even be that.” He said as he pointed to the door.

Specifically the knob on the door.

I rubbed my index finger and thumb into my eye sockets (I think it kept me from screaming or laughing out loud. I’m not sure which one). Then I looked concernedly back at him (as he continued to point at the knob) and replied.

“So…you believed the doorknob could keep you sober?”

“Yes,” he replied, “but not that one. The old one that was on there last week.”

I paused….again.

“So….let me guess what happened. You are trucking along just fine until you came to a meeting and the doorknob was changed….you believe it was done to harm or deter you from staying sober. You started drinking again because of it and now you are back to try again….but can’t because of the new doorknob. Am I anywhere near the bullseye so far, Robin Hood?”

He dropped his pointing finger to his side and dropped his head before speaking.

“It sounds stupid when you say it…but that’s what happened….I don’t have a shot at this, do I”

I looked him smiled…hell, I even giggled a bit and said to him,

“You got more than a shot, dude. You just learned a lesson.”

“What lesson?”

“It’s hard to put faith in man made objects….they break or are only reliable for a short amount of time. You may not believe in “God” per say, but a lot of people in here don’t either. We just try to learn to rely on a spiritual side of things instead of a bottle of spirits. I will help you out if you want. We will talk after the meeting. You ready to go in?”

I patted him on the back and motioned for him to open the door. He grabbed the handle and looked me in the eye and said,

“Can we keep this doorknob story to ourselves, please?”

I just smiled and got him a cup of coffee and we sat down to participate in the meeting.

I thought to myself…

“If he only knew that I was the one who changed the broken doorknob….what are the odds that I would be the one to be here when he wouldn’t go in?”

I just continued to smile and shook my head a little.


Helping The Shadows

My pre-sobriety days were known as the “terrified of shadows” days. I would get juiced up on booze and whatever chemical enhancers I could get my clepto hands on and get busy. As the night or days would wear on (without sleep) I would be on shadow watch.

Any place a shadow would appear,


I would get extremely paranoid and believe that the Men in Black were coming to get me.


I was important, damn it!


Now, I have a few years of sobriety under my belt. My paranoia has remained dormant. My importance in the scope of things has been drastically reduced.

But I am still on shadow watch…..only it’s a different kind of shadow.
I obtained and remain sober through the program of AA. Once I worked the 12 steps and became a productive member of society, instead of a leech, it was time for me to begin helping others who came in through the doors.

The ones that are put into my path are the shadows.

They sneak into the meetings….a little late…in order to avoid talking to anyone. Stay quiet and unassuming throughout. After the meeting is over they pick up the paper that they need to have signed as proof of attendance, then vanish like a shadow in the dark.

I get a kick out of the shadows.

Mainly because I used to be one.

I came to the meetings because I had to……initially. Just sign my paper and leave me alone. I got this. And I did have this.

Until I didn’t.

Then, out of the shadows I came and asked for help.

Now I get to give back.

The shadows are hard to pin down. I can’t force them to let me give them suggestions.

So, I just talk with them…

Shadow to shadow

Compare arrest records
How we got into trouble
When it started

Then I let them know I no longer have to check in with the authorities to leave town. I can go wherever I want. I tell them I have been off probation for almost 2 years. Still sober. Still coming to AA.

Then the kicker….

I tell them if they want guidance on how to achieve the same thing, to just let me know. I am here to help. And I hand them my phone number. And ask them to call if they think they might be about to do something they shouldn’t. And then I shake their hand and walk away…and vanish like a shadow.

Sometimes my phone rings.

Sometimes not.

I don’t get mad if the shadows don’t call. I don’t track them down. I am not a savior of any sort.

I’m just a guy who is learning how to stay sober….in order for me to help maintain sobriety, it is crucial for me to try to help others.

And it reminds of what it was like when I first walked into the doors.

I no longer live in the shadows, like my formal self so much enjoyed.

I enjoy the opportunities that AA has given me to show others that the light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t have to be a police officers flashlight.