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A Pair of Ducks in Recovery: How Not To Kick Your Own Butt

Last night’s topic at our local meeting (in person) was fantastic and something, in all of my years, I’d rarely talked about since my first years; the notion that assuming everything that happens to us is our fault is not only counterproductive and counterintuitive, it can be classified as arrogant. This is the so-called ass kicking machine most new to recovery are so familiar with. I learned how to shut that down in my first couple of years and I never looked back so imagine my surprise when I read, “Where other people were concerned, we had to drop the word “blame” from our speech and thought”… then, …”I begin to realize that blaming myself for all the trouble in my life can be an ego trip back into hopelessness. Asking for help and listening deeply to the messages inherent in the Steps and Traditions of the program make it possible to change those attitudes which delay my recovery.”

The meeting that sprung from the Daily Reflections was one of the most dynamic and impressive I’ve ever been a part of. First, with just 28-years in recovery, I was one of the middle-agers. There were a couple of newer guys there, but for the most part there was some heavy hitting recovery in the room. I talked about my experience with the incorrect thinking that everything was my fault (there’s a very big difference between looking at our part in something and everything being the result of our mistakes) and the so-called ass kicking machine and how surprising the reading was to me because I always try to look at my specific part in something while leaving others to do their own inventory (it’s not easy and I tend to make missteps when I get into HALT situations – Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired). Here’s a passage that says we can take this too far, a point I hadn’t thought about in decades….

The others shared their experience and their difficulty with grappling with the subject because looking at our own part in any given situation, AKA keeping our side of the street clean, is what all of the winners in recovery do. We’re not used to looking at how that rule is abused.

If you knew what to look for, each and every person in the meeting with more than two years worked the third through eleventh at what the passage meant to them. It was something to behold – you don’t see that too often, where everyone in a meeting contributes real experience in literally walking through how they work the Steps in their daily lives, naturally when something confounds them, in a meeting.

For the guy I sponsor, I didn’t expect him to see it for the miracle it was as he’s too new, so I unfolded the origami for him.

Anyway, I hope I did what happened some justice (without breaking any Traditions). I can tell you, there’s nothing better than being able to really get into the nuts and bolts of recovery with a diverse bunch of friends.

A Surprise Wednesday Night PR…

I’ve been cycling rather slowly for more than a month. Whether I’m out with my wife, or my cycling buddy, Chuck, I’ve had good reason to take it kinda easy.  It hasn’t been all easy, though.  I’ve been hogging headwind for the better part of three weeks to at least get a better workout from my rides.  Still, I wondered if the easy miles weren’t to the detriment of speed.  It was through that filter I rode yesterday evening…

It was sunny, a light northerly breeze, and temperate, if below average. I started out into the wind and my average crept up to 18-mph. Then 18.4… 18.6… I was into my second mile, 18.8…

It was then I thought, “well maybe I go for the [19.75-mile] Jimmer Loop in exactly one hour.” It’s a really tough route to hold a good average on because there are so many turns and intersections so if I can squeeze close to 20-mph out of an average, I’m happy… 19.2, 19.3, 19.5… and I was into the wind. Heading west I was holding 22-mph on a horrible stretch of road, and fairly easily. 19.8-mph average.  Another mile north, into the wind again, and I was holding 21.  19.9.  Then there’s a mile loop around a subdivision that resembles a lollipop.  It’s almost impossible to hold a good average through that stretch because there isn’t much good… bad pavement, crosswind, tailwind for 20 seconds, headwind for another 20, then crosswind again, then bad pavement again… but I still had a 20-mph average turning back onto the main road.

And that’s when I started thinking about a PR over 20-mph average.  If memory serves Chuck and I never broke 20-mph on that loop.  We’ve been close a couple of times, but it’s just a horrible route for average – there’s no way to hold any momentum until you’re 14 miles into the 20-mile route.

After a short stint north, about a half-mile, it’s west again and a beautiful mile-long stretch of perfect pavement.  I was instantly up to 24-mph, flirting at times with 25 with the mild crosswind.  20.1 and 20.2…  A quick quarter-mile north followed by more bad pavement and then it gets tricky.  We go into a subdivision that starts out with a punchy little climb over a third of a mile that just saps you, and today it was into the wind, too.  A couple of tenths east, followed by more north, but flatter.  Then, a couple of tenths west, but you have to slow considerably for an intersection where the cross-traffic doesn’t stop.  More west, a jog south (my first tailwind of the ride), more west, then a straight three-quarter mile south and all downhill after a quick climb after the turn.  I was up to 26, easy, and I’d only lost a tenth off my average in the subdivision.  I gained it back when I turned east… for my second lap through the sub.  When I saw my average tick up to 20.2 before the second loop I knew I was going to challenge the 20-mph barrier for the route.  It was almost all crosswind and tailwind all the way home… if I just didn’t poop out.

20.3… Heading north again wasn’t all that bad.  The wind died down to almost nothing and I was still feeling pretty lively.  I held 20+ to the next sub before a nice downhill and some momentum.  A left turn and up a rise and out onto a main road with a bike lane… a little up and a nice downhill that helps you keep a great 25-ish mph pace for the next mile.  If you don’t get caught by the light, and I did.  A handful of brakes to slow down and stop, a quick drink, and I was hammering on the pedals immediately after the green.  I took it up to 22-23 and held it there in the crosswind. 20.4… and then south and tailwind.  20.5.  I was starting to fade but I only had three miles and change to go.  I kept my pace over the next two miles.  20.6… a mile in the crosswind and kept the pace just fast enough to keep from dropping the average.  Then a final three-quarters of a mile to my driveway and a new PR.  19.75 miles in 57m:47s.  20.53-mph average.

Here I was, worried about being hampered by too many slow miles and I completed that route faster than ever before.

I spent the rest of the evening with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.  Nobody knew why I was so chipper at the bandit AA meeting last night, but I did.

What to Do About Recovery Amidst the Covid-19 Scare; It’s Time to Get Creative

Meetings are being canceled left and right. Churches and schools alike are closing their doors with the hope of staving off the inevitable.  Originally, I thought this was political (God knows the depths to which politicians will sink to unjustly make hay of a crisis – they’ve certainly shown their stripes with this one) but that argument just doesn’t work because the whole entire world is losing it all at the same time… it’s more than mere politics with this, and I’m beginning to understand, watching Italy tell those over 80 they can’t be cared for, the why of it.  We need to get behind this to mitigate the damage.

This won’t be a commentary on the panic, as much as it will be a few suggestions on how to cope with the lack of the one thing active recovery requires; human fellowship.

Folks, my normal meetings were canceled this week. I’ve got about a week of sanity before shit starts going sideways so I’m going to have to get a little creative with how I work my program.  As I like to say, my disease is sitting in a cage doing push-ups, waiting for a time like this… I have to be ready.

  • Pick up the phone.  Remember back to the days when you struggled to pick up that thousand pound phone?  Well, if you’re not a natural at automatically reaching for it if you have an issue to talk through, now is the time to broaden your horizons.  Pick it up.  Call a friend.  The person on the other end of the line, in all likelihood, needs the conversation just as much as you do.
  • Home meetings with a handful of friends.  Obviously, we have to be careful with this one.  You know the drill, if someone’s sick they don’t come (though this might be a little outdated, they’re now saying everyone should act as if they have it).
  • Read, read, read.  Read your Big Book.  Read your Daily Reflections.  Read a Grapevine.
  • Visit your sponsor – assuming your sponsor isn’t over 60, of course.  We have to think of others first here.
  • This is likely the most important:  Write or do something constructive for your recovery.  This could be a time that brings you down and makes you struggle, edging closer to misery, but why?  Make this a time to really dig deep and grow yourself in your recovery.  Deepen your faith, reach out and help others in recovery, grow in your program.

I heard something interesting on the radio this morning that really struck a chord.  The last few generations were called to war.  You’re being called so sit on your couch.

Sure, this will be tough but your recovery is stronger than this.  Make it work.

Why Alcoholics Anonymous Works Where All Else Fails… and Also Why It Fails; The Higher Power. Part Two of Many.

Now it’s a series…

This won’t be a post in which I try to convince anyone they should believe in God – the attempt is almost as useless as trying to convince someone they shouldn’t believe… or better, that they’re an addict or alcoholic in the first place.  As discussed in the first post, the decision that one is an addict or alcoholic has to be arrived at… or not.  The fun part is, those who do believe think those who don’t believe in God are just as nuts as those who don’t believe think those who do are nuts for believing… and that’s why that conversation is so hard – there’s just too much damned ego on both sides getting in the way – I’m stupid, you’re stupid, and we’re all stuck on stupid when it comes to a Higher Power (or for the others, higher power).  For this series, I am going to do my best to remove my (rather large, but competently caged) ego from the equation and take AA’s position; believe or don’t, but find a power greater than yourself to believe in. (Even if it’s what happens when one alcoholic meets with another over a cup of coffee and a resentment, working for a solution; miracles happen every time, and that’s good enough to call yourself a member and open yourself to a new and exciting way of life.)

I believe where we drive off the path when it comes to God, it often boils down to ignorance, self-centeredness and, not ironically, ego.

On one hand, you’ve got God’s cheerleader squad who, for some Godforsaken reason, insist on adding that they believe in a “Higher Power, that they choose to call their savior, Jesus Christ” every time they open their mouth in a meeting.  This is, for the agnostic or atheist, bad for business.  What they hear is, “you’re supposed to believe this in AA too, and you’re an idiot for not believing the way I do”, and it rightly turns them away.  That behavior isn’t in the Big Book.  Or the other Big Book, for that matter.

The atheist or agnostic is missing the point at the same time, though.  They’re looking at this in anger, rather than compassion.  What that person, the cheer leader, is really saying is, “I’m so insecure, I’ve done such wrong, I’ve gotta try to buy my way into heaven by shouting from the hilltop that Jesus is my savior.”  All I can think of is the warning in the Bible to be weary of the guy on the hill with the trumpet.  And that helps me remember that which is most important:

Folks, this is nothing to get angry over.  The correct response is to feel sorry for that person because that is a sick person.

On the other hand, we’ve got the atheist or agnostic, who, at every mention of “God” in a meeting, gets steamed.  As long as a meeting goes off without a mention of God, they’re fine, but they always wait to share till the last, so that if God makes an appearance, they can clamp down like a bear trap about how there shouldn’t be any “God or Jesus” mentioned in a meeting.  They’re the exact opposite that of God’s cheer leading squad.  And they’re just as sad and sick as the cheer leader.  Now here, I have to rely on speculation a little bit, because I only think I understand the atheist or agnostic… and not unlike the cheer leader, even if I had them pegged perfectly, their ego wouldn’t allow for them to be put in that box anyway.  And that’s a huge problem, especially when we have to exorcise the demon that is ego in the first place.

Again, though, when I’m on my game I can see the anger that comes from the atheist as I would a sick friend just the same.  The exact same way I treat the cheer leader.

The most important thing to recovery is that we somehow find a power greater than us.  My (and everyone else’s) best thinking landed me at the doorstep of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.  If we know anything, we know we can’t fix the problems we created with the same thinking that created the problems in the first place – and I suck at changing my own thinking – especially when we’re egomaniacs with an inferiority complex to begin with.  Belief in God as a Higher Power makes that simple.  Relying on the group’s collective wisdom, as I understand it, would be the next best thing.

However, while some love to say that you could make your higher power an ashtray, I highly recommend against that silliness.  For the purposes of “working the steps” an ashtray is right up there with an actual ass.   The point is, all you have to do is find something greater than you.  What happens when alcoholics and addicts meet to overcome their addiction is the very definition of “greater than me”.  By myself, I’m not very good at recovery.  Sitting in the middle of the wagon, I’m pretty excellent at it, therefore it’s a power greater than me.

The point is, don’t let the concept of God throw you off from the greatness that can be achieved in AA.  There’s a whole chapter devoted specifically to those who have a problem grasping the idea (We Agnostics pg 44 – 57).  For those who don’t have a problem grasping a Higher Power, save tooting on your Jesus horn for those at church.  You’re not impressing anyone, and you’re likely doing as much harm as good.  Jesus, like AA, is better through attraction than promotion.  You want other people to come to you to ask you how you could possibly be as calm and happy as you are.  That’s when you let them know that Jesus saved you.  Putting the cart before the horse is a ham-handed way of going about it that’ll turn off five times more people than it turns on.

The second reason people don’t make it in AA is they have a problem with the God thing.  Don’t – there are enough workarounds to get you where you need to be.

And for both sides, don’t look at the other as wrong, evil, stupid or worse.  They’re not.  Look at them as you would a sick friend.  You wouldn’t look at a person with late term lung cancer and proclaim, “Wow, I bet you’re sorry you smoked so much now!”  You don’t have to play Captain Obvious.  They just don’t get it.  Yet.  With time and a little bit of effort, rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed the path.

Just follow the freakin’ path.

UPDATE:  Please scroll down to the comments section for Bryan B’s perspective.  It’s excellently succinct.

With Decades of Sobriety and Active Recovery Under One’s Belt, Why Continue to Go to Meetings?

I know I need at least one meeting a week.  I need to be connected to the program, in some meaningful way, in order for me to keep my head on straight.  I accept that as it is, there’s no sense trying to fight or change it.  It’s just not worth the risk.

At a meeting yesterday friend of mine, whose got 18 years now and who my wife and I drove to a meeting once a week for a year-and-a-half until he got his license back, said, “I know I need one meeting a week, but I go to five because I don’t know which one it is.”

I went to three last week, which is rare for me.  Surprisingly, last week was a bit of a tough one for me.  In terms of a “rough life”, it doesn’t even register on the scale, but when you’re used to gentle rollers, you still feel the downhill – it’s just not enough to make you queasy.  Without those meetings, my drive to work this morning would have been a whole lot less grateful.  I’m thinking I might do three more again this week, just to see if I did it right last week.

So why do I still need meetings after 9,930 days without a drink or drug?

The way I see it today, my life of recovery is best lived in contact with other people in recovery.  When I’m helping others to stay on the path, when I’m an active part of the recovery fellowship, a friendly association, good things happen.  My gratitude for being on the right side of the grass increases.  My enthusiasm to be a better me increases.  I’m able to take life’s little problems in stride.  I’m able to forgive freely.

And most important, the more active I am in the community the easier it is to see the path in front of me so I don’t go crashing off into the woods.

One of the meetings I went to last week, I hadn’t been to in more than 17 years.  To see many of the same people, older and happier, and a lot of new faces as well, and to be welcomed back as an old friend… it’s good times and noodle salad, folks.  It’s as good as it gets.

There’s a line in the Big Book that states, “We are not a glum lot”.  Too often, newcomers think they’re giving something up by going to meetings and living a life of recovery.  For those who stick around long enough for the miracle, they quickly find that we indeed are anything but glum.  We continue to go to meetings because it’s the best fun there is (with clothes on) once we put the plug in the jug.

A roomful of old-timers laughing and yukking it up about their old exploits and troubles can be a little disconcerting to a newcomer to the group.  It can be hard to handle people laughing about emotions and nerves that are still raw or exposed.  Fear not.  Keep coming back and before you know it you’ll be relieved of the pain of your past, if you work for it, and you’ll be laughing too… and showing others how you did it – and more important, why.

And then you too will understand why we keep going to meetings.

What to Do About Bad Meetings? They Can Be Useful, Too.

I’ve got a friend who is one of the more obnoxious AA’s I know. He is a miserable person and he has a big problem with positive people. You can imagine how he and I get along.

But you’d be wrong.

As long as we don’t get too deep, we do quite well.  The trick is keeping our loose friendship shallow.  We don’t want to try to save the world together, but we regularly show up to help each other out.

Where this gets important is what he teaches me.  Most will take someone they don’t see eye to eye with and keep them at arm’s length where they can’t do any damage.  If I treated my friend that way, I’d have been deprived of an excellent lesson in life.  He teaches me what not to do. He shows me what life could be like if I constantly look outside me for understanding and contentment.  And, to be honest, I hope a little of my happiness rubs off on him.

More than a dozen years ago, I attended a meeting with a dear friend of Mrs. Bgddy’s family.  He is recovering and has a lot more time that I do.  A LOT.  So he took me to a meeting one day, I can’t remember the why and how of it, down in Ann Arbor.  The meeting was comical.  We had a guy show up with his scrubs on, his hospital badges on, and a stethoscope around his neck.  I’m pretty sure he wanted everyone to know he worked at the local hospital.  I could understand the scrubs, but the badges and stethoscope?  Too much.  We had another few people newer to the program show up as well.  He and I could have been the only two with decent time.  The meeting was a shit-show and afterward, as we were walking out, he said, “Wasn’t that a shitty meeting!?  Did you see that ridiculous guy with the stethoscope around his neck?”  I was taken aback… I’d been recently lectured on finding the positive in every meeting, no matter what (by more than a few from my home group).  And here’s this old-timer exclaiming that a meeting was indeed shitty?

Folks, it was a shitty meeting.  And I never went back.  Some shit you just don’t have to sit through a second time… and I didn’t miss it, either.  It’s good to branch out and explore new meetings, but I don’t have to be a glutton for punishment, either.

When I was much newer in recovery, maybe a year in, I was invited to a “Men’s Dignitary” meeting.  My sponsor asked if I really wanted to go.  He said it was an interesting meeting and it might be good for me.  I went to eight of them, and with each one I tried to find the good in the meeting.  I tried to find the good in a dozen old-timers berating and hammering on noobs for being noobs.  After a couple of meetings they started in on me, but having been around for a year, I knew a little bit about how to handle myself with a pompous asshole or two.  They left me alone, for the most part after that, but after each meeting I would still leave feeling worse than when I walked in the door.

I talked to my sponsor about it and we decided together that it wasn’t worth going back.  If I was worse off after the meeting, why mess with it?  I didn’t just stop going, though.  I discussed my feelings and my motives honestly with my sponsor first.

The guys at that meeting were onto something.  I had a girlfriend who had just six months clean and she was a bit of a basket case (what can I say, that’s all I could attract at the time, I was an improving mess, but a mess nonetheless).  They hammered me about her for two straight meetings before laying off after I gave some back.  Eventually I did break it off because the relationship was a dead end and she was turning abusive.  Having been raised right, a good guy, I gave her one bite at that apple, following the old, “men don’t hit women” norm.  I told her if she tried punching me again, though, I was going to hit her back.  It wasn’t long after that I decided I needed a break from women altogether and took a year to work on myself so I could attract someone better (it ended up being a year and a half).   She wound up in a mental institution immediately after the breakup… and after my break from relationships, I ended up meeting my wife, and we’re happily together 24 years later.

The problem with the men’s dignitary meeting wasn’t in message, it was in delivery.

There are meetings out there where the quality is “less than”.  There are people in the program out there who are “less than”.  It comes with the territory.  The trick is to find what I can use to be a better me in those situations.  These lessons are a lot easier to pick up now that I know the program front to back and upside down, but they were more necessary when I didn’t.  I never would have figured out on my own the lessons from the three situations I presented above.  I wasn’t smart enough or honest enough.  With another long-timer in the program, though, I learned enough to come out smiling.

Folks, my ego was the only thing that could have gotten in the way of some really great lessons.  My ego, unchecked, was enough I could have ruined a perfectly happy life.  Imagine if I’d come to my own (probably wrong) conclusions about the ex-girlfriend and the men’s dignitary meeting.  The one thing that I understand today that I didn’t then is that sometimes I have to dig for the lesson a little bit.  It’s dirty work and it was once easy to skip the shoveling to rest on my laurels.  After all these years, I know it pays to get dirty now and again.

Are Meetings Needed to Stay Sober? From Dry Drunks and Popcorn Farts to Happy and Recovering (and Everyone In Between)

This will likely be the toughest post I’ve ever written.  I am beholden to steer clear of controversy related to AA and the 12 Steps, but this is a hugely important topic that doesn’t get enough of a proper airing.  I’m going to try to walk the tightrope.

Let me start by adding a disclaimer; the following is my opinion and my personal understanding.  If you want to know exactly what’s in the Big Book, look to the forward and the first 164 pages.  I highly recommend reading that rather than basing your opinion on someone else’s opinion.  Especially when trying to make a determination on what the book does or does not say.

With that, I’ll begin.  Are meetings needed to stay sober?  No.  And yes.  One of the biggest misunderstandings about the aforementioned Big Book is whether or not other forms of recovery are acknowledged.  Many mistakenly believe that those in AA believe “the program” is the only way to recover.  This is entirely untrue.  It’s a fabrication and a pervasive myth. AA does indeed embrace the idea that it does not corner the market on recovery.  The idea that “AA” as a whole only recognizes its own “brand” of recovery is simply false (page 31, 38 & 39, bottom of 94, last paragraph of 95, and finally, 103).  As I go, I’m only worried about my own recovery and passing on my experience, strength and hope that it might help others.  Our stated goal, and I fully embrace this, is simply to be useful to others.

Where this gets tricky is that our brand of recovery happens to be very thorough.  We “leave no stone unturned” when it comes to rectifying our past and making amends for our misdeeds.  We learn to change how we think and live down to our very core.  We look at everything that we are and seek to rise from the dregs of society to become productive members of society.  Better, we do this without trained professionals and at little cost, beyond a Dollar to help with coffee and rent and a few more to buy a Big Book.

Put another way, if cancer could be fixed the same way, there’d be a line around the block to get into a meeting and no one would complain about having to work a few simple steps!

Happy and Recovering

That out of the way, I have two very close friends who lead perfectly happy lives who stopped going to meetings decades ago.  One found God and happiness in church and the other simply got the message and changed his ways long, long ago.  Both are fine, upstanding members of society and have more “clean time” than I do by more than a decade each.  Those two alone show beyond a shadow of a doubt that recovery is attainable without meetings.

The trick is, each of my friends are mindful of who they hang out with and what they do with their free time; they’re every bit as vigilant as I am about my recovery.  They also worked some form of program in the past where they transformed their life to break the cycle of addiction.  These items are a must if one hopes for peace and contentment.

Dry Drunks and Popcorn Farts

Now we’re going to wander into dangerous territory.  If I were to have sworn off alcohol for good and managed to quit on my own, cold turkey as they say, well, I’d probably be dead or drunk today.  I simply couldn’t do it without the program and live with myself.  I had to fix my stinkin’ thinkin’ and everything that came with it in order to sober up.  I also needed the companionship that only comes with being a part of AA.  And therein lies the rub – but that’s me.  I can’t fairly say what someone else needs, I can only share my own experience.

However, where we get into trouble is when well intentioned people lack the ability to honestly assess their situation and become irritable discontents.  Within the program these people can get help.  Outside, without professional help, they languish, forever placing the blame that belongs on who they’re looking at in the mirror on other people, places, and things.  Things they have no control over.  These are your dry drunks that we often refer to as “drier than a popcorn fart”.  They quit drinking by sheer will alone, and they’re not happy about it.

I don’t know what the answer is for people so afflicted.  It’s a horrible condition indeed.  I just do my part to be useful to my fellows, wherever possible.

In the end…

In the end, it’s all about happiness and contentment.  Call it “quality of life”, a fantastic buzz-term for this topic.  I continue to attend meetings because they better my quality of life.  I’ve said for a long time (after someone passed it on to me), it’s a lot harder to fall off the wagon when you’re sitting in the middle of it, surrounded by 50 of your closest friends.  It’s easier to fall off if you’re sitting on the edge, all by your lonesome.  All that wagon needs is to hit a bump and you’re flying through the air, waiting to land in the mud.

Meetings and steps isn’t the only way to sober up.  It’s a thorough way.  It’s a useful way, and when done with gusto, a way to sober up that leads to an exceedingly happy life.  I continue to go because going makes me happy.

But that’s just me.

The Holidays… Sober; Take a Deep Breath, It’s Going to Be Okay. Here’s How to Handle the Holidays

The Holidays are a time when our once drunken selves used to party, hard, because it was somewhat acceptable. It’s also a time when the normal drinkers even drink a little more than normal so it’ll seem like everyone is drinking. For those new to sobriety, this can be a time of fear and angst until we get through it a few times. Eventually, we develop a little rhythm that’ll see us through without any trouble whatsoever. Till then…

The first tip I can give, is “take a deep breath”. After a few months of sobriety, that desire to drink you feel is literally “just in your head”. It’s an idea, a notion; you do NOT have to entertain it. It will pass. I used to like to, in a pinch, simply repeat, “God help me”, till focus on that thought passed and I could point my melon at something else.

Second, don’t fight with family. Look at me, now; don’t f***in’ do it. Don’t fight with your spouse, don’t fight with your kids, don’t fight with your parents. This is a good time to practice being a doormat for a few days. You wanna be right, or happy? Pick happy, just for a few days. Fighting takes us off our center and fills us full of adrenaline and bad ideas. If you know anything about yourself at this point, you know that’s bad. Practice this, “You know what, I’m not going to fight this out. It’s Christmas, and we don’t have to do this now.” If you’re so selfish that you just can’t let a fight go, because you’re not a doormat, dammit, think of letting it go as a gift you’re giving the person trying to egg you into the fight. With that last sentence, before you get all huffy-puffy about the “selfish” part, think about how it might be I know about this problem in the first place. Light bulb? Right, I used to be that selfish.

Third, you will be around drinking unless you’ve got a big network “in the program”. Always leave an easy, fast way out so you can get your butt to a meeting if need be. At the very least, have a sponsor or sober friend on speed-dial. Don’t ever park your vehicle where it can be “parked in”. I ran into dozens of times, especially early on, where I simply had to leave to break the thought loop spinning in my head about getting drunk. Don’t get drunk, get out.

Fourth, even if you don’t like meetings, go to a few during the holidays. Get out of yourself and help someone else. You’ll be amazed at how good helping someone else makes you feel. There is nothing better in recovery than helping another person for your own sobriety. Nothing. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Hey, while you’re at it, read a few chapters out of the Big Book, maybe check out the Daily Reflections app in your App Store.

Fifth, get some exercise! Nothing brings me back and centers my melon like some good old-fashioned sweat equity. Take a run or go for a walk, go for a ride, go to the gym… heck, do some push-ups or something.

Finally, get some sleep. Sure, it’s a busy time of year, but take some time to enjoy your sleep. When we’re rundown, we’re susceptible.

Friends, the Holidays are meant to be a happy time. Do what it takes to be happy. Give yourself a break. Give others around you a break. And good luck. Just don’t f***in’ drink. Even if your ass falls off. And in the unlikely event it does, put it in a bag and take it to a meeting. Someone there will be able to show you how they put their ass back on.