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The Magic Piece to Making it in Recovery and its Simplicity – and How that Works for Everything.


March 2017

I reposted a video a while back that had me laughing so hard I pulled an ab.

If you haven’t seen the clip, please click over and check it out, it’s actually important to the rest of the post.  I’ll wait….

Okay, now what was the funniest part of the clip for you?  Probably that first, shouted “STOP IT“, right?  It just kind of hits you.  There once was a time when today’s politically modeled excuses were laughed out of the room.

That’s not the funniest part for a recovering drunk, at least not this one.  No, the funniest part is when Newhart tells the woman, after she tries to add importance to her condition because she’s had the problem since childhood… He breaks in, “No… we don’t go there.”  When she gets to “My horoscope says…” and Newhart cuts her off, “We definitely don’t go there”…  That’s the funniest part.

I find most excuses for unhealthy behavior repugnant on their face and while I may feign tolerance for others, I certainly don’t buy that horseshit for me – and this is why I made it in recovery.  We call it honesty.

I have done things in my past that would shock most normal, decent people.  I could have excuses for failure too, for sitting back and taking life drunk, for being a waste of oxygen.  “But it’s not my fault, I’m an alcoholic, you see?”

I can remember being offended, at first, when my sponsors wouldn’t tolerate my excuses.  After all, didn’t I deserve the same tolerance of my faults as everyone else?

The question came down to this; “Do you want to get better or do you want to stay sick?”… and they actually gave me the choice in those exact simple terms.  I learned at 23 what most drunks don’t get till they sober up in their 50’s or later.  Oh, I can choose to be a f***ed up poobah.  I can have my excuses, as full of crap as they were, but I can’t have my excuses and a happy, sober, clean life at the same time.

I can also choose not to like it and lash out, blaming society for unfairly casting their judgment on me [hang on a sec, I think I can muster a tear…].  I can also put that in one hand and $#!+ in the other.  Take a guess which hand fills first.

Here’s my trick…

I am not my messed up first thoughts.  I am not some of the demented ideas I have.  I am not the guy in my drinking dreams.  I am not even the drunk I used to be.

Today I am my second thoughts.

Let me float a simple concept by you.  What is a dream?  I don’t mean an aspiration, I mean a real, you’re asleep dream?  Your excuse makers will come up with some scientific gobbledygook that goes back to how their mommy sat them on the toilet sideways that led to the dream.

Not me.

A dream is the mind’s way of taking out the garbage.  Plain and simple.

Drinking dream?  I’m not a loser because I had the dream!  My melon was taking the trash out to the curb.  Call my sponsor, have a cup of coffee and thank God it was only garbage day.  Done.

Now let’s put a little twist to that.  My first thoughts can be garbage too.  Say I have a tough day at the office.  My first thought is to go get good and drunk…  Hey, thoughts happen.  My second thought is what defines who I am.  Do I play with the notion of going to the bar?  Do I roll that around in my melon and entertain it?

If I do entertain the first thought with a second and third, I am a drunk.  Dry or wet, drunk all the same.

That’s not what I do though.  My second thought is, “Crap, I need some help.  I’m a mess.  I need someone to talk to.”  I dial my sponsor and talk through what’s going on, and get a game plan together for how I can do better.  Then I do it.  That’s who I am, and that’s why I’m currently in the 3% of sober people who go on to make it in recovery.


I am not me because my mommy kicked the hell out of me when my dad and best friend had to drag me into the house because I was too blowed out to walk (remember all of those lower back problems I’ve written about?).  I am not who I am because I was raped in college by a dude while I was passed out. Even better, the University and cops swept it under the rug and booted me a few months after because I was a wreck!  Let me tell you, folks, that $#!+ takes a little effort to work through, but work through it I did.

I am making it because I know how to take out my melon’s garbage.  I am making it because my second thoughts don’t slide me under the bus anymore.  My second thoughts don’t make things worse.  My second thoughts lead me back to the sober, happy path – and in the rare event I can’t get there on my own, I call someone who knows me, who will help me to sort through the quagmire till I can – as ugly as that work may be.

Alas, while I would love to claim credit for this concept, the only reason I picked up this most wonderful life skill is that Chuck and Tom passed them on to me twenty-four years ago, but I picked it up and worked with it, and now I offer it freely because that beats this:

“But I have a disease that makes me”…

“No, no.  We don’t go there.”

“But society places a stigma…”

“No, we definitely don’t ever go there.”

(Righteous indignation is reserved for those who do not follow their name with “and I’m an alcoholic”.)


  1. heavyman927 says:

    I like that. I am my second thought. For some reason, the second one is always better.

  2. Great piece Jim. Wow…3% eh?

  3. unironedman says:

    Yeah, is it 3%? That was my thought too. But regardless, thanks for going there. I guess “sober up or I’ll bury you alive in a box” would make for very short meetings! 🙂

    • bgddyjim says:

      It is 3% but the number is misleading. Those who choose to walk through the door and actually work the steps, the number is closer to 90% (85-87 last I heard).

      Where it gets muddled is the courts sentencing people to meetings as penance for their sins. When those are factored in, plus those who go in to avoid some other form of trouble, the number drops to 3%.

      • unironedman says:

        Certainly in the States there’s a more positive attitude to AA that doesn’t exist in Ireland where alcoholism is not so much a problem as a lifestyle. The legal system here don’t really offer it as an option, which is a shame. Be good.

      • bgddyjim says:

        Always, brother.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Oh! If it was only that easy!

  4. Paul S says:

    Great post…really loved this. I struggle with that first thought sometimes (not to drink, but to get into self-lashing, or self-pity or whatever is on the menu that day!) and am learning to dismiss that one and move on to the second one. We are not our thoughts – an old adage – but I certainly can point myself in the right direction with healthier thoughts and take actions on those ones!

    (oy, and the college thing – so sorry. That’s beyond terrible.)

  5. […] with a second, more compassionate one (Jim at Fit Recovery talks about second thoughts on his great post here). It’s a challenge to try and convince myself that I am worthy of the abundance out there. […]

  6. I first saw this clip about a year ago. It is so funny and so true. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. saoirsek says:

    Ahhhh, it brought back memories of my first sponsee( a sweet looking but tough as old boots Californian) who, after listening to me said ” Jesus, you really are deluded!” Yes, “rigorous honesty ” is the only way. A bit like taking a splinter out with a rusty saw! Thanks again 🙂

    • bgddyjim says:

      Old sponsors are good that way, aren’t they!? And I’m amazed… I was under the impression that all Californians were soft! How about that!

  8. saoirsek says:

    *first sponser*

  9. Love this. And damnit, now I have to get “Second” added before the tattoo on my arm……..

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