Audio (MP3): 20180222 - Alarm clock crazy, no thanks
Denny’s circa Dec 22, 2017
Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
— Step 2 of Alcoholics Anonymous
The drug and alcohol treatment center I went to in the early 90s was 12-step based. Their treatment plan was to have patients complete the first five steps in order to graduate. When working Step Two, we spent a good chunk of time making lists of how and why we were insane. Those lists were easy to make but in the here-and-now I kinda think they missed the point.
The point of this step isn’t to review what we’ve done in order to convince ourselves that we have a drug or alcohol problem, that in fact we were insane. Insanity is fairly obvious when you’re ready to stop. I’ve felt insane in my fingertips.
The Second Step is about finding something bigger that we can believe in to “restore us to sanity” with “restore” being the keyword in the latter half of the step. I’m not here to define insanity. That’s looking at the problem and keeps me stuck.
I have plenty of them “and then one time” stories along the lines of… on Christmas Eve when the family and I were all decorating the tree, I would sneak down to the basement every so often and take a big pull off my whiskey bottle. And then before the night was over my ex-wife was saying to me teary-eyed, “are you drunk?”
Crazy, I know it all too well. I’m much more interested in looking for hope now, in reinstalling some sanity now that my jugs are plugged. And pay attention to this: it’s not “will restore” but “could restore.” We have to let that power in.
The good news is that I was sane when I was a little kid. Children are pure, they’re untainted. They aren’t born with judgement or resentment or anxiety. Through a higher power’s help I was able to find my way back to a sound mind, a stable way of living as a grownup. Anxiety free more often than not.
And then there was that one time not long ago when I was having dinner by myself at Denny’s. Looking around the restaurant, there I was the only person flying solo. Eating alone isn’t my favorite thing to do but whatever. I mostly have self-assurance. I generally have peace. I can be by myself in public. I have my phone. I have the whole Internet.
On one of the social medias I saw a picture of my ex-wife. With her boyfriend. And they were smiling at each other. And there I was sitting by myself.
At one point in my career that was a recipe for emotional overload.
But get this: by no choice of my own, I was honestly happy for them. Because I could see they had something going on between them that she and I hadn’t had for a long time. Happy because I always wanted the very best for her and looking at that picture I knew the “very best” wasn’t me. She had found it with someone else.
Because I had closure, because I had walked through that breakup’s phenomenal pain, I could be sincerely happy for them in the here and now. Even though I was alone with my fork and knife, a power greater than me had served me up some sanity.
One time several years ago I woke her up at 6:00 in the morning because I had lost my mind and I needed to tell her that she had played a part in all of that. This alcoholic had gone crazy when he first sobered up. Life was staring me straight in the face like a loaded gun. Waking her up before the sun was even shining was me embracing and exercising insanity in my daily life. Spilling it onto her life.
Moving from that kind of early morning, alarm clock crazy to being truly happy for her at Denny’s, that’s being restored to sanity. And not by my own doing.
How and when does that restoration happen? How does one move from alarm clock crazy to genuine happiness for another?
With failed marriages and sour breakups time is always key factor. I needed some distance, needed some room for my mind to breathe, to detach from the things that were making me crazy. It was hard not to see only darkness when I was living in darkness.
Before I could detach and let go, though, I needed to feel all those feelings. Those scary ones I’d kept locked up in me, down in the basement. I can’t move on from something if I’ve never dealt with it, never processed the madness. Hence moral inventory and amendments.
So the simple and yet hard answer is that we’re restored to sanity by working the steps. It’s really that simple. And go to meetings. And talk with our sponsor, too.
As Jerry said not long ago, “and then the pay off is peace.”
I had peace that night at Denny’s. Peace for me and peace with her.
After I let go, after I came to believe, I found out that that peace was what I had always wanted.
keamoose · Feb 22, 2018 at 11:09 am
Have you heard this one? I don’t know if you like Johnny Cash, but I think the lyrics will mean something to you.
tcr! · Feb 22, 2018 at 1:42 pm
I’m about 50/50 with my Cash likings but that one was pretty good.
keamoose · Feb 22, 2018 at 11:04 pm
I just looked up the origin of the song, and apparently he wrote it in rehab, so I guess that explains why the wording is so similar to step 2. 🤔
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 7:17 am
Yep, I got that feeling. Nothing wrong with being heavily inspired though… 😊
keamoose · Feb 23, 2018 at 8:08 am
Oh, I didn’t mean to imply there was anything wrong with that. I just never realized what the song was about until yesterday. 😊
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 8:47 am
Ah gotcha… I think the “🤔” threw me off.
keamoose · Feb 23, 2018 at 9:02 am
Ah, my bad. I meant it like “I am thinking about this new information”. 🙂
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 11:40 am
The steps have been engrained in me since maybe 1982 so whenever I see the phrase “came to believe” that’s where my mind automatically goes.
keamoose · Feb 23, 2018 at 11:49 am
Ah, see for me it’s all new, so your posts are creating all sorts of new mental connections between existing information and artworks I previously didn’t realize were related. I mean, much like learning anything else new, it gets all connected up with the old stuff and changes how you see it.
tism · Feb 22, 2018 at 11:13 am
Thanks for sharing t.
tcr! · Feb 22, 2018 at 11:50 am
Thanks for reading 😊
Monohon · Feb 22, 2018 at 11:32 am
I know you probably hate hearing this but Though I didn’t know you that long you always seemed to be a little brother to me and I’m so glad you are doing so well!
tcr! · Feb 22, 2018 at 11:51 am
Yep, you always were a good older brother!
ubelievewhat · Feb 22, 2018 at 12:03 pm
Thanks for the words. Man, I feel like I needed to hear this. Really powerful. As someone who struggles with life, and working my fourth now. I think I’m starting to get it, or “peak behind the curtain” so to speak.
To me it wasn’t the booze or the substance, it was within me all along.
tcr! · Feb 22, 2018 at 2:15 pm
Yep, totally me that was causing my own suffering. :)
ubelievewhat · Feb 23, 2018 at 6:42 am
Well, i mean i dont know the context of your situation or you. But I just know how it all relates back to me. I tried to live without a program-AA or otherwise. It didnt do me any favors.
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 8:23 am
Yep, I totally get what you’re saying.
Kelly K · Feb 22, 2018 at 1:28 pm
tcr! · Feb 22, 2018 at 1:36 pm
eamor · Feb 22, 2018 at 3:51 pm
Oh man this is beautiful written. It oozes serenity and peace. I can literally feel that moment. Thanks for sharing.
tcr! · Feb 22, 2018 at 8:24 am
AHeien82 · Feb 22, 2018 at 4:19 pm
Thank you for sharing that, it sounds like you have kept your sobriety strong in the face of adversity! I’ve always taken point with the word insanity in recovery, because I think that it has a connotation of mental disease. I know my actions while drinking could have been considered insane by the standard “Doing the same thing, expecting different results” but when I got to the second step like yourself, I was looking more for inspiration in moving towards a higher power instead of dredging up my insane actions and using them to look outside myself. Maybe that’s just my ego, wanting to avoid looking at my character defects, but I think that is pretty well covered in the fourth step, haha. Thanks again!
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 8:29 am
Yep, I think we’re trained to look for the negative. It’s familiar and comfortable. My sponsor used to remind me of the quote that’s along the lines of, “we won’t find the light by endlessly researching the dark.”
Myexisacheatingwhore · Feb 22, 2018 at 4:41 pm
Damn. I really really really needed this. Damn. Thank you.
As someone just coming out of that dark forest of ruined past relationships, trekking through it and feeling every painful second was worth it. The personal growth I have gained, the insight, was worth it.
It wasn’t fun though, and at certain points I thought I was permanently broken and fucked. I was emotionally insane and obsessive. Living in the past and concocting grandiose plans for the future. It’s still hard sometimes, but giving it all over to my higher power, whatever that may be, has very likely saved my life. My life is not what I ever thought it would be, and not even want I want it to be, but damn I’m grateful I made out of that forest.
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 8:24 am
> but damn I’m grateful I made out of that forest
For sure. My recovery isn’t so much all the wonderful things I have now. It’s more about all the horrible things I don’t.
Mona · Feb 22, 2018 at 6:52 pm
Great explanation of how it works.
tcr! · Feb 22, 2018 at 11:15 pm
sunshinefiend · Feb 23, 2018 at 12:17 am
Thank so much for that. I recently relapsed after some length of recovery & I am just baffled at how much I bypassed in my foundation steps. I was so desperate and broken when I came in, I was convinced that my horror stories are what made me need this program. With very fresh eyes I can see your point here and I really needed to hear it tonight. Thanks
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 8:28 am
You are most welcome! Also, I was sober for a couple of years before I found out the hard way I didn’t have a real belief in a higher power. The good news is that after abandoning myself to God and working the steps I’ve been healed and made whole.
marney0160 · Feb 23, 2018 at 9:54 pm
I love the stuff you write!! 💗
tcr! · Feb 23, 2018 at 11:02 pm
Thanks! You’re the best!
jlcrawford · Feb 24, 2018 at 8:21 am
tcr! · Feb 24, 2018 at 9:07 am
lisa8 · Feb 24, 2018 at 10:25 pm
The God that shines thru you is THE BOMB my friend. Awesome share💓💓💓💓
Kelly K · Feb 24, 2018 at 10:52 pm
I miss you lisa8!
lisa8 · Feb 24, 2018 at 11:06 pm
I miss you too girl!! 💓💓💓💓
cc19 · Feb 26, 2018 at 9:28 am
Beautiful truth, thank you for sharing this. And now every time I see a Denny’s…
tcr! · Feb 26, 2018 at 9:36 am
MAW · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:31 pm
The Sunday Grapevine meeting in Eugene OR, 5pm PT, would like to know what “alarm clock crazy” is.
tcr! · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:33 pm
I used the phrase “alarm clock crazy” to describe the kind of crazy that would make me wake up my ex-wife at 6 in the morning. Like that I was her alarm clock that day. 🙂 Does that make sense?
MAW · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:33 pm
Yes. That does. Thank you. Good story — you were today’s meeting
tcr! · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:34 pm
You are most welcome! Oh wow, that’s so awesome! I feel completely blessed.
MAW · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:34 pm
I’m glad to “meet” you. I’m from the McHenry area
tcr! · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:35 pm
I lived in Portland, Oregon for about six years in the 2000s. Now I live in a Chicago suburb, so I’m not familiar with your area. But nice to meet you as well!
MAW · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:36 pm
Have a good night
tcr! · Aug 30, 2020 at 11:36 pm