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Introduce yourself or read introductions from others!
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Hello friends!

Postby thewoodengraver » Sat Sep 08, 2007 12:53 pm

My name is Phil and I'm an alcoholic!...
Hi gang, let me give you a little background;

My first drunk was at 16 years old (1977). I drank an entire fifth of vodka and had a blackout. Almost every drunk to follow was a blackout drunk.
In 1985 I became an active member of A.A. and went to three to five meetings every day. I have easily attended 10,000 meetings since then.

Long story short, my last drink was July 9 2005. I have taken the twelve steps and continue to take them each and every day. I have a good working knowledge of the twelve steps and I offer to help in any way that I can.

I currently live in a small desert community that has 1 meeting a week, but am planning a move back home (northern california) where there are several meetings each day.

I recently made several more changes with my addictive behaviour and I feel the need for daily support, this is why I joined this forum.
I do not know your policy for speaking about outside issues but I am happy to answer any questions you may have, and hope to continue with some rigorous (unbending) honesty.

I'm glad to be here, thanks for having me!

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Postby Dallas » Sat Sep 08, 2007 2:14 pm

Hello Phil,

Welcome to the forum! Glad to have you here. And, I hope that you find something useful.

Which desert community do you live in?

I worked at trying to grow up (a little) -- mostly in So Cal amongst other places and got transplanted to Arkansas in 1994. I'm exploring some furture possibilities of relocating back on the West coast. I sure miss it!

In regards to: "policy for speaking about outside issues" -- we pretty much stick with A.A. and sobriety and living the good life through the 12 Steps of A.A. -- we talk recovery and solutions -- the Fellowship, and things of that nature. We leave the "outside issues" to other websites and forums where they do a much better job of discussing those kinds of things. :wink:

The 2nd reason that this site went "open" -- was, there were many recovery related sites out on the web -- and the majority -- it seemed, to me, were kind of a Heinz 57 of Anonymous ideas, programs and fellowships.

Some of us really like the "Singleness of Purpose" concept -- and it's hard to find a site that is strictly A.A. (for those of us who love AA) -- we try to keep this one that way -- and then we don't have to go look for another one! :lol:

Anyhoot -- enough about us and the site :lol: -- I'm looking forward to hearing more about you.

Dallas B.

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Postby thewoodengraver » Sat Sep 08, 2007 3:57 pm

Hi Dallas! and thank you!

I live in Pearblossom, which is located in the Antelope Valley. We are about 10 miles east of Palmdale. We moved here from Eureka (home) in 2002. We (my Wife and I) are both from Los Angeles, and we came back to tie up some loose ends, make amends, and do some personal healing. Now it is time to move back home and settle down.

I hope you make it back to California soon, it is a very beautiful state!
If you are ever inclined to check out Eureka, look me up, I won't be hard to find.

I will be happy to stick to A.A. and topics revolving around sobriety. I LOVE AA and have a great respect for the traditions as well. I do not like AA copycats but I guess recovery is where you find it. Our common welfare should come first.

I am very happy to be here sober and I hope to spend more time chatting with you all. Have a super sober day!

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Postby Dallas » Sat Sep 08, 2007 4:21 pm

Hey Phil,

My head has been thinking about this all day. Help me out! Ever get one of those thoughts in the head -- that's like the same song playing over and over and over and over again? :lol:

It's always important for me to learn all that I can from those who returned to drinking -- after being sober in A.A. for a while.

Heck, I don't want to be one of the one's who end up back out there. So, I tend to ask a lot of questions -- and you did indicate it's okay to ask.

You see, I got sober in 1985, also -- in California, also.
Then, I started drinking again Memorial Day weekend of 1986
And, got sober November 14th, 1986 and stayed sober since then.

I meet people often (the Internet helps) who had long-time sobreity and went back to drinking -- and, like I mentioned -- I want to do everything I can not to be one of them.... so, that's my intent of even asking... and your information may be able to help me to keep from doing whatever it was that you might have done -- that took you out.

So, thanks in advance for helping me. And, I'm sure that your story and experience can help others, too.

Let me see if I read this right --

1. In 1985, you were 17, and landed in A.A. -- I'm assuming that also means that you got sober then.

2. You became active in A.A. -- I'm assuming became active in A.A. in 1985.

3. You were attending 3 to 5 meetings per day. (Fro 1985 -- on? )

4. That's .... At least 10,000 meetings

5. California -- usually has 1 1/2 hr meetings -- so that would be
4.5 to 7.5 hours each day spent inside meetings. (Not including meetings before the meetings, after the meetings, service work or commitments, 12 Step calls, sponsoring, etceteras)... Gees! You were busy! Sounds like your life was really consumed with A.A. -- it wouldn't leave much time for anything else.... assuming you got regular sleep and worked each day.

6. That would be average approximately 20 to 30% of each day in a meeting time.

My Questions:

1. What happened?

2. How long had you been out drinking, or doing whatever you were doing?

3. Were you sober -- during the 10,000 meetings? (I asked, because I went to meetings drunk -- for a few months, when I was trying to get sober).

Thanks in advance for your help! I really appreciate your willingness to share. And, I'm grateful for any lessons that you can pass on so that I can learn more from your experience.


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Postby thewoodengraver » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:45 am

I hope this doesn't make you nausious...

Well, one of us did the math wrong... I was born in 1961, in 1985 I was 24.
I was drawn to AA way before drinking became a real problem, years before I hit bottom.

From the age of 13, I was in mental hospitals because of years of being an abused child, and was given many diagnosis's, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder etc. and was reccommended medication for these illnesses, but was much too unstable to take any.

Then I was involved in an auto accident in 1981 where I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. There was no rehabilitation for TBI back then, and barely a diagnosis. I could not speak, and could barely tie my shoes.
I became homeless. I was homeless from 1981 to 1993 where I spent most of my time was in AA (no one else would have me).
I stayed sober for as long as I could...6 months here, nine months there, and I went to 3-5 (sometimes more) meetings every day. I worked doing mostly manual labor, was a high school dropout, couldn't communicate well, and had no home. I lived in every car I owned.

from 1993 to 1996 I took medications prescribed by Psychiatrists, but was a guinea pig, and some of these meds made me suicidal, so I stopped taking them and self medicated with Marijuana. I found I could quit drinking as long as I had pot, but there was no easy supply and I often returned to drinking. Until recently, I was convinced pot was not a problem for me.

In the beginning, I was very confused by the twelve steps, so I did not even attempt to take them until 1996, when I met Craig who worked with me for months explaining them to me in a language I could understand. This was my first real recovery. I didn't want to JUST quit drinking, I wanted to learn how to live so I didn't HAVE to drink. The 12 steps did this for me.

But, I was convinced I still needed meds...a very long and vicious cycle.
This is the outside issue I mentioned, a dual addiction.

This is the second time I have had more than a year away from alcohol, but I only recently surrendered from pot. In fact september 1 this year was my last toke. I apologise for talking about it, but I have to, it is a crucial part of my story.

So, I have been sober 1 week. I hope I didn't mislead you, but I was not dishonest. Many AA's cannot tolerate mention of drugs other than alcohol, so I try to be careful. I do not fit in NA and I do not relate to addicts.
I do relate to alcoholics, and AA is where I belong.

You see, my case is different! (chuckle) I had many more demons than your average drunk, mental illness, TBI, homelessness, dual addiction.

I knew when I surrendered to alcohol july 9 2005 that I needed to let go of the pot, but was so desperate to be sober (dry) because alcohol was literally killing me, so I told myself and my Wife that If I could stay away from alcohol for two years, I would let go of the pot. I'm a couple months late, but it is gone now. And, no, I do not take any medication from doctors, I don't even see doctors.

Even though I was self-medicating, I continued with the twelve steps, and my Wife and I have done alot of work to get to this point.

Only two vices left, cigarettes and coffee...NO DAMN HURRY with those!

Have I completely confused you yet?

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Postby Dallas » Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:40 am

Hey Phil!!! Great to hear from you!

Sorry -- that I got the math wrong. And, thanks for your clarity.

woodengraver wrote:You see, my case is different! (chuckle)

:lol: :lol: :lol: Me too!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

I've come to believe that "our adventures before and after" -- is a part of the process of writing our Life Story. And, that whether we realize it or not .... that all the successes and failures ... are just part of the puzzle that will one day reflect the picture of our story -- and because of the unique pieces in the puzzle -- more people will eventually have the opportunity to recover -- because of our adventures and experiences.

Kind of like: "We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far
down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. "

And, this would have never happened for us -- or the others -- had we not had a past. :lol:

I'm familiar with Antelope Valley and Pearblossom (I used to stop somewhere out there to get a "date shake" on weekend drives to Las Vegas! ) I lived in Palmdale for a few weeks. (Very few weeks ... the daily drive back and forth to L.A. was too much for my serenity).

It seems to me -- they have a couple of Conventions coming up in your area -- real soon. I've been thinking about taking the drive out there for the Conventions. I figure a lot of my old friends will be there -- and I think my Sponsor will be speaking at the one in Santa Clarita Valley.

I love that part of the country. Awesome things to do and awesome A.A.!!! It's like the Sobriety Capital of the World! There's nothing like it anywhere! (I've done a lot of traveling!). :lol:

Good to hear from you again -- thanks a bunch for sharing your story with us. We get a lot of people who cruise through the forum reading the stories -- and often, we hear back from one's who were helped because they read a message like yours! Thanks for being of service and for hanging out with us!


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Postby thewoodengraver » Sun Sep 09, 2007 10:04 am

Thank you for being kind, Dallas. I expected to be chastised for mentioning many things. I also thought that telling my story would make me feel better.
It did not, in fact, I had a very rough night, and am having a rough morning.

I don't regret my past, and the door is always open, but from now on, I am keeping this story to myself. I have told it countless times, and EVERY time I tell it, I feel like crap, and it takes a long time to recover. And I only told 1% of my story.

I came here to give, but now I do not feel I will be taken seriously because I truly am a newcomer/retread. A terminal-perpetual newcomer. This is my lesson.

I am grateful to God for my life and my sobrety, short term as it may be and I do hope my story helps someone, but now, all I want to do is HIDE. I have self-esteem issues that would gag a maggot, and I wish I could for once tell a story of success. I have many good things to say, but they all seem pointless when I know that every sober member will see me as a newcomer and not someone that has a handle on anything at all.

Thank you for being here! If you are inclined to learn something good about me, I have a website. The address is my user name dot com.

See you in the funny papers! :oops:

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Postby Dallas » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:42 pm

Hey Phil. Good to hear from you. Sorry to hear you had a tough night.

I'm not sure if you've ever looked at it this way -- but, we all had to fail to get here. We are composed of a Society of Failures. The real trick for me, was to get honest about my failures -- and that helped me to surrender. Once I surrendered -- the fight was over -- and I could start to get better. After I started to get better -- I realized that my failures were successes that had gone unrecognized -- by me.

I used to feel that being sober for 24 hours -- was a hell of a success! And, it was. I can remember my first 24 hour chip! After I stuck around for awhile and gained a knowledge of my true condition -- when I draw in a sober breath -- that's a real success story in itself! And, before the end of the day -- that could all change. I'm still an alcoholic. I'm only one drink away from throwing it all away and having to start over. Your story that you shared helps me -- to keep a watch about what I'm doing -- to learn from your experiences. So, you've been successful at helping me, too. And, there is no telling how many times in my future -- that I will be able to look back at your story -- and it will be just the thing that I need to keep me on the sobriety track -- for that moment. Whether you realize it or not -- you've been successful at helping me.

Just the fact of any of us "trying" to be sober -- that's a success in and of itself. There are many alcoholics who have given up trying.

The guy who invented the light bulb -- Edison, was quoted as saying "I had to try 10,000 things that didn't work -- just to find one thing that did work." He didn't look at the 9,999 things that didn't work as failures -- if he did -- he would have quit before the 10,000th thing he tried -- that became the 1 thing that worked. -- I've read that he said "the 9,999 attempts -- was successfully discovering what didn't work. Edison was recognized as a pretty smart guy. He was no dummy. He could have looked at his 9,999 things that didn't work -- and felt real crappy about himself. If he did -- he would have quit before 10,000. The funny thing is: the rest of the world only looks at Edisons achievements. The same with us -- no one else looks at us and said "Aha! You screwed up!" -- that's our head doing that to us. I look at you as successful. I'm sure that many others will see you that way too. Just look at the challenges that you've overcome!!! It's a miracle you are here.

You've discovered the 12 Steps. Those really do work. Meeting makers might make it -- to the next meeting -- but, Step takers recover. And, that's the deal we're all looking for -- to recover, to get better, to be sober and happy at the same time -- to move beyond sobriety where we begin to experience the good life.

It sounds like you've hooked up with a good guy. Craig. That's a success, too.

I've often said, that my head would have killed me long ago -- if it didn't need my body for transportation.

Sometimes -- my head would kill me with some of the stuff it periodically says to me. I have to keep watch with it every moment. It will feed me a line of crap that will zap any happiness, and good feelings, and freedom and joy. It keeps telling me stories that aren't true -- and if I listen to the stories it tells me -- I'll start to believe the stories -- and I'll end up all goofy and depressed.

One thing that I've found that works for me -- is when I catch my head telling me the bad stories that will make me feel bad about me -- I've got to take actions -- that are contrary to the direction that my head is going.

Often -- it has to do with my feelings of personal inadequacy. If you're interested -- here is a link to a topic in the forum that describes the actions that I take to turn it around. www.step12.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=761

Your sober today, Phil!!!! That is a success!!! That is a miracle. That is the impossible! You are alive! That is a success!!! A huge success!!!

And, feelings are not facts. I'm sure you know that! :lol: It's just a feeling -- and, there are sober actions that you can take to change the feelings -- or, you can sit back and wait for them to pass.


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Postby anniemac » Mon Sep 10, 2007 11:09 am

Hi Phil, welcome! Thanks for sharing your story with us. I blacked out the first time I drank also, and many many times thereafter. Toward the end, I fell down every time I drank, also. It wasn't pretty.

My last drink was in May of 2002. A few times thereafter, I took a narcotic here and there, to "take the edge off". I put those down at the end of that year, so my sober date is December of 2002. It's been a wonderful journey, and I wish the same for you.


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Postby carol1017 » Mon Sep 10, 2007 12:20 pm

Hi Phil and welcome!
You said:
I have many good things to say, but they all seem pointless when I know that every sober member will see me as a newcomer and not someone that has a handle on anything at all.

My first reaction is "Don't tell me how to see you!" :lol: Just my inner rebellious teenager reacting to being told what to do.

Phil, you are uniquely qualified to offer your experience, strength and hope. Your struggle for sobriety and a new way of life can be very helpful for those having difficulty grasping the program. You have the opportunity now to make your sobriety permanent by helping others overcome the obstacles you did. Your story is your story, and I'm certain there are others who will relate.

If it makes you feel any better, I consider myself a "perpetual newcomer", as well, simply because every day brings a new opportunity to learn something new in life and sobriety. If I stop learning, I become stagnant and complacent -- that's something I can't afford to do.

I hope to hear more from you!

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