Issue 4-December 1996


Welcome to the Revived MoM Journal

The MoM Journal is reborn! This issue has been put together as an example of what might be done using the Web. We'd like your reaction .

Is the design acceptable to you? Does the way of crediting the authors (first name and country) preserve sufficient anonymity? Does it present a true portrait of AA and the MoM group to the non-alcoholic visitors to the Journal Web Site who will certainly arrive? Email us (journal@aa-mom.org) and let us know.

And remember to send us an article or share. Those of you who're in the chair for a weekly meeting might copy us your share to be considered for inclusion in the next Journal! The philosophy and policy of your Journal is in the Twelfth Step. It is the distillation of our efforts to carry the message of AA to other alcoholics and, in so doing, to remain sober ourselves. It might be thought of as MoM's 'open' meeting, where those friends of AA are welcome, where friends and relatives of alcoholics are welcome. We will consider articles from members of other online AA groups as well as from MoM members. We will consider articles from non-alcoholics. Our approach is to be welcoming and accepting.

We hope you will welcome the Journal as an important service activity of MoM, and give us your support.

The Journal Editors


Barking Dogs!

As I walk to work in the morning I pass several houses where dogs are chained up in the yard. A few are free to prowl. As I approach their yard they greet me with a bark, or several. And I wondered what the point of this was. I concluded that the dogs barked for two reasons: 1) they were protecting their territory and 2) It was the only way they knew how to talk. Some dogs run out wagging their tail in greeting barking up a storm. And I figured that they were confined to barking as their only means of communication and they were just doing their best to say Hi! Hence the wagging tail.

Sometimes I am a barking dog. Sometimes it is because I am protecting my territory. e.g., someone says I am working my program wrong. Someone does it different and it makes me consider I may be wrong. And I am not particularly open to changing how I do things. I like my territory as it is. Do not intrude.

At other times it is because it is the only way I know how to talk. I have been talking this way for years and looking this way and I come across as angry and gruff when I am not really feeling that way. I can change this easily with a smile and a handshake. And I have been doing this more and more.

Old Jim, here in Central ?? is a classic barking dog. He snarls and barks and growls all the time. He has a nemesis in the program with whom he does not agree. And if he sees this guy at a meeting he hits the door. He is constantly asking us if we have seen his nemesis.

But Jim has a heart of gold. He is the Santa Claus at the Christmas party for the kids. They sit on his lap and get all that love that is so important. He drives his ex-wife around shopping and then comes to the meetings and tells us what a bitch she is. It is not so hard to see what is really in Jim.

Knowing this about the dogs and about me helps. I really don't intend to intrude on your territory. And I really do need to be open minded about your way of doing things. And I need to hear from you what you did and how you are today. The noises and writings and stuff that are a part of my e-mail group are not harmful. It is just the way folks communicate.

We are not so much characterised by what is said about us but by what we say and how we say it. No one can attack you without your consent. And the attack is just random noise. If it is not answered it dies. No defence is the best. Folks come and go. Meetings rise and fall. It is part of the cycle of nature. We should be glad about the 225 members in the group and not regret the passing of some through the door. They must go where they are fed. And who can say for them where that would be.

As long as I am fed here I will be here.

Tim B.
USA


Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with time we rushed through life trying to save.

Where Do I Begin?

Where do I begin? There's just so much...

I guess I'll start with the freedom from my alcohol obsession. Waking up hung over, swearing I wouldn't drink that day. By mid-afternoon, thinking about my next drink, worrying if I had 'enough' at home (by 'enough,' I mean at least 2 days' worth), worrying over any phone calls or responsibilities with the potential to interfere with my drinking and how to get them out of the way, I almost never did anything but cook, read (one hand over one eye), listen to music and watch the box when I drank. I always drank for the express purpose of being horizontal. I started drinking at 5:45pm, because only ALCOHOLICS drank before then, and I never went anywhere. My life was a whirlwind tour of ATM's and liquor stores during the day. It's amazing to me how easy it was to "find" the time for AA when I got sober - I'd been wasting so much before. I will never forget the amazement I felt on one of my first evenings out - I could NOT believe how many people were out doing errands and things! Today I have the freedom to go out in the evening - I am AVAILABLE today.

Today, I am free from loads of shame and guilt. I don't have to look at peoples' shoes when I meet them. I don't have to monitor my trash by cushioning the bottles inside and limiting the number of bottles per bag or travel to different liquor stores each day, making up elaborate stories to the clerks (I'm sure they couldn't have cared less) about all the "entertaining" I was doing.

I'm free to honestly set limits with people. When I was drinking, I left my answering machine on all the time. At first, I would listen to the callers' messages when they phoned in and not pick the phone up. Then, I started turning the voice down because I became so fearful of merely hearing the voices - it really felt to me like they 'knew' I was hiding in there OR like they were actually in the room with me - perish the thought! Finally, when the ring of the phone got too scary, I turned it off altogether and eventually could only bring myself to check it every few days.

I was a perennial no-show. I'd say, "Oh, I completely forgot!" or some other BS like how I'd tried to reach them but couldn't and some big thing came up. My heart would pound when I made return phone calls, alleviated only if I got an answering machine - half the time I hung up on "live" voices answering. The only thing people could depend on with me was that I would be undependable.

Today, I can say that I don't want to go somewhere, even if it just has to do with it being emotionally difficult for me or just not being particularly interested in the activity (and thank them for asking, really meaning it). OR, how about this? NO is a complete sentence - I never knew that! I don't have to give every man my phone number, just for the asking. On the other hand, I am able to SHOW UP today - I have the freedom to be a friend. I have discovered that most responsibilities are far easier to carry out than to get out of. I kind of chuckle when people talk about giving up their friends when they first got sober▄what friends?

I had a mail slot that dumped mail into my living room every day, but I was too scared to open it - I would actually walk directly over it. Every contact represented a demand I did not feel capable of handling. I lived in a two-family and could not bring myself to go to the basement for laundry when the tenants were at home. After all, I might have to nod hello to them - horror of horrors! While I still feel fearful today, I no longer have that diffuse sense of impending doom that I had when I was active. My fears are closer to reality these days.

I am free to grow today and to have relationships that grow as well - it used to be that I became totally unreachable at the first sign of conflict. Today I can do things piecemeal rather than all or nothing. You can believe it was usually nothing when I was drinking! As many have said, I am free to make a mistake and to not be the best today. I am free to accept compliments and accept help - MAJOR growth. And most importantly, I am free to accept God's love and to see God working in my life (through the power of the fellowship) and to have the faith that I'm being taken care of, rather than the conviction that I'm not.

Thanks for reading, and for helping me get a big helping of gratitude!

Meg


Step 2

I had no problem with this step when I got in here. From my senior year in college (at which time I spent 30 days in a psychiatric ward in Erie, Pennsylvania) I always thought I was crazy▄it was being an alcoholic that gave me the hard time.

When I walked into my first meeting of AA, it was because I was suicidal and had a problem with drugs. It took me six months of sitting in meetings and listening to speakers before, one day, a light bulb went off over my head and I went, ah ha! I'm an ALCOHOLIC. Maybe it was because it was legal and encouraged by society I don't know, maybe it was because I felt alcohol solved my problems, not caused them. Maybe it was because I COULD stop for, say, Lent (except for Sundays when I told myself I could drink, and drink I did).

Anyway, the best definition of insanity I heard early on in my sobriety was "doing the same thing over and over the same way, expecting a different result." And I certainly knew about that! I don't know how many times I told myself, "Tonight, I'm going to just have one and then go home," and ended up staggering in to my parent's house at 5:00 am when my Dad was leaving for work. Or, I'd swear I wasn't going to drink because often when I drank I'd end up in a screaming, biting, scratching fight with the man I was in love with and then there we'd be in the parking lot of our favorite bar, with people staring at us coming in and out, as I (very drunk) swore at him, accused him of not loving me, etc., etc.

When I heard that definition (doing the same thing...) I knew I was insane because that was the story of my life. By the grace of God I heard it when they said "If you keep doing what your doing, you'll keep getting what you're getting." And I knew I didn't have the strength to change my behavior on my own. So, I turned to AA and to my Higher Power and prayed to change, and slowly but surely I have over the past eight and a half years. I am certainly not the person I was the day I walked in.

Today I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning and not look away. And I owe that to this program and all of you.

Marcie K.
USA


25th Birthday Share

Jim here, alcoholic. Just to let you know, an alcoholic can stay dry 25 years. All that's required is don't drink and don't die. Now, living 'happy,' that's a different story.

After getting out of the drunk tank in the small town of Ulysses, Kansas, I went to the doctor's office to see if I could get something to relieve the emotional pain. I was told I could not tolerate any more drugs than I was already taking. I had been on some sort of tranquilliser for many years.

The doctor said he didn't think I was an alcoholic but he had been going to open meetings for a year and it had helped him even though he didn't drink. He said AA had a way of changing people and that it might help me.

I went to a meeting that night and for the first time in my life, I met people who felt like I did. It was a kind of 'round robin' meeting where each of the seven or eight members went to the podium and spoke. No ´put ons═ ! It was obvious that these people were telling it like it is. I was asked what I was feeling, and through the tears and past the huge lump in my throat, I muttered, "My name is Jim, I'm an alcoholic!"

I'd like to say I didn't drink any more after that night, but my emotional immaturity, a divorce in process, no tranquillisers, and no real program as yet, I drank.

It was St Valentine's Day, 1971, the most lonely day of my life, I drove to a town about 60 miles away where I knew a woman my wife hated. A beautiful, tall, cool blond, as described by my lovely, short, dainty ex-wife.

Tawney worked in a night club so when she asked what I was drinking, I told her I would drink anything she was drinking. AA had already messed up my drinking. I drank 4 or 5 rum and Cokes and told her I was an alcoholic and had to go home. That was It. God has kept me dry since that time.

I fought this wonderful program for at least half of these years. I worked the steps just barely well enough to stay dry. I didn't know the results of allowing God to infuse me with the love this program offers.

Life is not always rosy and challenges are there daily, but God has been there, invisible, unobtrusive, helping me through what I had thought was an overload.

I don't want to forget the empty, searching, unhappy drunk that I was. I'd rather forget all the arrests, fights, trips to nowhere, but the result of forgetting would be more of the same. God is with us as we trudge the road of happy destiny!

Jim
USA


Write for the MoM Journal

This issue of the MoM Journal was put together using articles collected over a fairly long period of time and the consent of our contributors to reproduce their writings was obtained by email.

If there's to be another issue it depends upon YOU; so please send us your thoughts on recovery; tell us how you work the programme; share some of your painful or funny drinking experiences. The MoM Journal can be read by non-alcoholics and by those who THINK they're non-alcoholics <GRIN>. Help us spread AA's message of recovery from a hopeless condition by showing your own example.

You don't have to be a member of the MoM group either, we'll accept articles from sober online AA members from any online group or from no online group. After all, AA is inclusive rather than exlusive. As we say in the Fellowship, "Better off in here pretending you're an alcoholic, than out there pretending that you're not!"

Articles should be emailed to journal@aa-mom.org. We don't promise to publish everything we receive, but the odds are stacked heavily in your favour!



Living in the Moment

Living in the moment, is a concept that I was very familiar with when I was drinking. I drank a lot on the streets, in the seventies. I carried my bedroll and spent about six months out of the year hitchhiking and riding freights around the country. I would panhandle enough change to get my daily ration of port and I was usually passed out, long before dark hit, in some far away corner, within easy access of either the freeway or the railroad tracks. Every day, it was hobo coffee and then hitting the streets looking for that first bottle of white port.

Occasionally I would get a meal off the streets in some flophouse, or shelter, but usually I lived off of port and kept moving so I wouldn't have to face what had happened the day before. I was a blackout drinker and could never remember what happened the day before. I followed the seasons. Summertime was Big Sur, winter was San Antonio, Texas and the beaches south of Corpus Christi, and the streets of Brownsville and Austin. In between times there was the streets of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

So, when I got to the rooms of AA I was pretty used to living in the moment. But something happened when this drunk got sober. Brain cells started to clear and a mind clouded with alcohol started to think again. What I found was that I became my own worst enemy in this program. I had a hard time reaching out for help, and I still do today. Years of isolation and drunkenness had led me to the only door that was left open to me on the street. It was the door of the Alano Club and the meetings I started going to there.

That first year of sobriety got me to the point of realising that I was dishonest, isolated, unwilling to work the program because of what I saw as my circumstances in life. I relapsed after my first birthday because even though I had been dry from alcohol for one year, I hadn't stopped using other substances, after all this was only a program about alcohol and I was unique. <g> Living in the moment was all of a sudden a hard concept to understand as I was always years ahead, or back into the past.

I think the key to understanding living in the moment to me was working the steps and surrendering. Step three was the point of surrender for me. I surrendered totally, in that moment and the program of AA started working for me. Living in the moment became part of daily living and meditation.

I don't always live in the moment, after all, I'm an alcoholic. <g> But when I get out there in my crazy, stinking,thinking, I can recognise that I'm not living in the moment and I need to get centred, get contact with my HP and surrender. The spiritual tools of AA are what help me surrender and live in the now, in the moment.

I'm in the moment a lot these days. I have a new boss and my work has changed from being a job I love, to hating to get up in the morning and go to work. I have to pray every morning before I meet my boss the first thing in the morning so I don't kill him. I should have been able to let this go by now as it is going on for two months now, but I can't. Its a daily thing. I have to work the program daily, or I'm thinking about how I can run him over with the company truck.

And I'm sure that my HP has placed this guy right where he wants him to be so I can learn something from him, but right now, I can't think of what it could possibly be, except to work on my anger and frustration issues. The rest of the staff is either leaving or buckling under this new bosses daily attacks. I'm staying away from him as much as I can, trying to do my job the best way I can and living in the moment, sometimes just a few moments at a time.

Tim
USA


No Longer One of God's Problems!

The Steps, with the exception of the first step and part of the twelfth step totally confused me in the early years. As much as I wanted to do them I felt that they were totally beyond my capabilities. At Step meetings I mouthed cliches hoping to give the impression I was more aware of the Steps than I was. I suffered on account of this and spent much time in self analysis etc. Then it came to me. The steps came as a result of the experience of the first 100 members discussing how they remained sober for up to 5 years or thereabouts in 1939. The original members were not handed down 12 Steps written on stone from on high but found that certain acts were necessary if they were to maintain sobriety

If I then looked at the Steps from this perspective rather than from the perspective that these were absolute and mandatory and were something like the 10 commandments then I might get somewhere. I also thought to look at them from the point of view of carrying out the steps in my own human, imperfect manner than from the impossible, perfect interpretation that made them impossible to even contemplate never mind act on. From then on it was plain sailing. I interpreted the step to suit me.

The third step then became easy. All I had to do was be prepared to let God do the work. He has managed this quite well over the years and whenever I forget and tend to take my will back I rapidly find out as I usually begin to suffer again.

It was put to me many years ago that God had a lot of problems with a lot of the 6 billion people who inhabit this planet and that he was quite happy if I went to my meetings, conversed with other alcoholics and kept off one drink one day at a time. This was my road to eternity. I believe it.

Eugene


4th Step Inventories

Hi my name is Ed and I am an alcoholic.

I would like to qualify my remarks first. I sobered up Jan 15, 1975 in Fairbanks, Alaska. My first home group was the North Pole Group. I was transferred at one and a half years sobriety and to various other parts of the country during my sobriety, and I now live in ???????.

Every other year, I make contact with my original "home group" and check in. I have found to my amazement at times that we all are staying in contact with the same person, and all members of that nucleus 21 years ago are still sober, still going to meetings, and still caring the message. To me that is a miracle.

The message we learned the hard way, was to do it the AA way (Big Book and 12 & 12). Not because it was the "only" way that works, but it was because it was the way that the original members strived for and stayed sober.

I was also taught that the reason that we write things down, is to force us to be honest with ourselves and our Higher Power. To me it doesn't matter how it is transcribed to words, as long as it is in "BLACK AND WHITE" or blue, red purple whatever. To people that I have sponsored over the years I always suggest the "Big Book" format for the final product. But to get to that point I also suggest that they use notepaper or whatever to capture the thoughts as they come and then transcribe them.

I personally do not believe in other non AA ways of doing 4th Steps. I know that others do and that is their right, but I only know by my experience and those shared by my original 'home group' what works best, for the most, for the longest coincidentally happens to be the way in the AA literature.

For all of the spear throwers, my "Pop" who just celebrated 35 years sobriety in NY State, he informed me early on in my sobriety "that AA does not have a monopoly on the method to stay sober, just the one with the best success." I believe in the AA (Big Book thumper if your will) way of staying sober and it has worked for me.

Thanks for letting me share, it is only my opinion - principles before personalities.

Ed H.
USA


Step 4

Hi, my name is Jean and I am an alcoholic. I love the Steps, and how we work them and use them to stay sober. For me, the 4th was the pivot, because I couldn't do it until I really practised the 3rd, made it part of my life, had really turned it all over, present, past, and future, and wanted to continue to do so.

I did what so many of us do; looked at those long forms, short forms, talked to folks about how they did it, etc. Told my sponsor I was ready, what should I do? Follow the directions in the Big Book, she said. Too simple, I thought. Doesn't make sense. Mr. Brown? My employer? Muddled around some more. Went to 4th step meetings. And then I heard someone say, 'Can't do a step? Having trouble? Go back to the one before it.═ I did have the habit of listening at meetings, so that's what I did. And discovered that the third Step was the key to the 4th, and worked on it, 'did it' with my sponsor, and made the columns in the notebook, and made an appointment to do my 5th Step.

In the 3rd Step, I turned it all over, and so I no longer thought about what had been done to me, or how drinking was the real problem, or any of those other rationalisations I used to keep from looking squarely at the wrongs I had done others. I could not judge others anymore; I had given them, what they did, what I did, all of it, to my Higher Power. I started my 4th with a clean slate, as it were, a few empty columns on a piece of lined paper.

Now, when I am having a problem in any of relationships (funny, that's where most of the situations in my life arise) I make columns and I look at my resentment, the one I'm not admitting, or am busy describing in great detail so I can avoid it, and avoid looking at my part. The 4th Step is about my part, in any situation. It is about my motives, especially the bad ones I hide under good ones. I have to sort that out first, and usually with help, from another AA, and my Higher Power. And it is an inventory, so I can use it to see how I handled a situation well, too. (The 10th step tells me to go back and see how I could have done it differently, and the 4th is for me a good tool for that.)

My life today is such that, one day at a time, I do not have to have resentments, or bad days, or problems, unless that's my choice. I can live happy, joyous and free because I have the gifts from using the Steps in my life. Thanks to you all, and this program. Thank you for letting me share and helping me stay sober today.

Jean


Footprints

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky, sometimes there were two sets of foot prints, other times there were only one.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of foot prints. So I said to the Lord: You promised me Lord that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of foot prints in the sand. Why, when I have needed you the most, have you not been there with me?

The Lord replied, "During your times of trial and suffering, when you seen only one set of foot prints it was then that I carried you."

Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow, don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend and together we will walk in the way of God.

Anonymous


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