Fear of Nouns

In A.A. meetings I hear: “Avoid people, places and things that you associate with alcohol or drugs” or variations like: “We must change playmates, playgrounds, and playthings” and “I’m powerless over people, places and things.” Is this what they teach in treatment centers? Where do you get your advice? What is it’s origin? It’s effectiveness? The rewards and consequences of following it?

If a homeless man tells you the secret to material success, shouldn’t it carry less weight than if a rich man offers his input on the subject? If you don’t know where your cliché came from — and how effective it will be in the long run — why would you say it or do it?

Please don’t contaminate my A.A. meeting with non-A.A. sayings, especially when they are in direct conflict with what is in the Big Book.

One thing I’ve always liked about Judaism (Old School, the kind that was good enough for Jesus Christ, even if it’s not good enough for you) is that they used their religion in every aspect of their lives. They didn’t use Judaism in Temple, then operate their business according to a different set of rules and principles, and manage their families by a third.


If you had a disagreement in any portion of your life, you took it to a Rabbi specializing in the Talmud. If you thought your butcher or baker cheated you — or your family wasn’t acting right — you would go in front of a Talmudic scholar and present your case(s). He would tell you — according to the laws of Judaism — the best resolution. A concept that was completely foreign to Judaism was that of ”a retreat”. If you have to remove yourself from society to talk to your God, you might need a God that works within society!

A.A. does not give me the tools that I need to live in a world where alcohol and other temptations are removed, but in a world where they are abundant. The major consequence alcohol brought into my life was “limitation.” Alcohol gave me places that I could not go, women I could not date, jobs I could not have. I resent the hell out of it for that. I was an inmate many times in my drinking career, but I was only a prisoner once: I was a prisoner of alcohol from 1974 until 1999. I will not subject myself to that type of confinement again.

I tried the Atkins diet once. It worked great to lose weight, but it’s not sustainable. Who can live their life not eating bread, noodles, rice, potatoes, sugar, flour… desserts of any kind? I decided I’d rather be overweight than deny myself everything that makes eating enjoyable. Who wants a steak with no potato? Peanut butter with no bread or jelly? Dinner with no dessert?

Likewise, if I can’t eat dinner or listen to live music at places that sell alcohol or talk to people who aren’t in recovery, I can’t see myself embracing sobriety. It doesn’t sound like a life I want. No wonder you people relapse! Lighten up! Have some fun! This is not a death march! This is about getting the life you deserve, the one you cheated yourself out of for years!

On 8/7/99 I took my last drink. If I had spent the years since then worrying about where I could and couldn’t go I think I would have blown my brains out by now.

I absolutely love going to clubs. I have more fun at clubs not drinking than I ever did drinking! I’m never too drunk to carry on an intelligent conversation and I rarely piss down my pant leg or throw up on my date.

When I see somebody drinking and having a good time, I don’t think: “I wish I could do that!” I think: “Enjoy yourself! I, too, had a lifetime of enjoying alcohol. I just drank all of mine in twenty five years and accidentally lived through it!”

When I hear people say: “I can’t dance without having a couple of drinks… I’m too self-conscious!” I say: “You don’t need a drink… You need dancing lessons!”

I love going to clubs with people who drink! Especially my ex-wife. I could be her designated driver every weekend for the next ten years and not pay back the debt I owe her for being responsible while I was getting drunk. I want to see her have a good time! For her, though, it doesn’t involve large amounts of alcohol.

I love to see her girlfriends get sloppy drunk. I think it’s hilarious when they hang on my shoulder and tell me what a great guy I am, and how they wish their ex-husband was as understanding. Time was, I would have thought: “She’s hitting on me! I could get that!” Probably even would have tried. Now I can just think how privileged I am to give this single-mother a safe place to let her hair down after being there for everyone else all week. She can get as loose as she wants, dance with a dozen guys, show a little too much leg or cleavage if she needs to boost her worn-down ego, and at the end of the night I’ll pour her into my car and get her home safe and sound so she can be Super-Mom to her wonderful kids all week. What an honor!

I have the gift of living two lives in one lifetime: I used to be the Wolf, and now I’m the Shepherd. Here’s something most people don’t know: no one makes a better shepherd than an ex-wolf. We’re stronger, smarter, and know all the tricks! I was made for this!

It amazes me what used to pass for “fun”. Time was, if I had more blood on my knuckles than my nose, it was a good night. The best of times ended with blood on the floor, wallets empty, confidences betrayed, lies told, hearts broken… I figured that was as good as it got. Now I’m able to say a soft word to someone’s who’s getting a little too excited, tell a joke when it’s a little too quiet or somber, listen to someone who needs to talk, and know when to do which. The next morning, everyone involved says: “That was fun!” Not just half of them. I get to be the Guardian of the Good Times!

I was taught to play “Spot-the-Alcoholic” when I go out. Watch that guy at the wedding who spends the whole night leaning on the open-bar talking to Julio the bartender, never realizing Julio doesn’t even speak English.

Or the guy at the concert at Skipper’s Smokehouse who stands in line for twenty minutes to get his beer, then in another line for five minutes to take a leak. He comes out of the bathroom, taking the last sip from his beer, and gets back in the beer line. I think: “Are you here for the music, the beer, or the pissing?“

I like the drunk whose memory is so good that he remembers every word spoken in an argument that happened twenty ago, but can’t remember that he’s told you this story three times tonight!

These people don’t make me want to drink. They make me damn glad that I don’t.

I worked at a treatment center for about six months. I just drove the guys and girls to meetings, basically. We were at an N.A. meeting and one of the new guys came to me in the back of the room and said: “I’ve gotta change seats! The crackhead next to me hasn’t bathed in three days!” I said: “Good! Sit back next to him and shake his clammy hand at the end of the meeting. That’s what you smelled like when you got here last week, ya’ crackhead!“

And I love watching people who aren’t alcoholics drink.

I never emptied out my liquor cabinet when I got sober. I’d just spent $700 with my stock broker (the guy who kept me stocked… until I was broke) and couldn’t see pouring it all out. So I didn’t drink it, but I still made drinks for people who came over.

The first drink I made sober was for the guy and his wife who’d lived next door for five years. They’d moved away and we hadn’t seen them in about three years when they came to visit. I asked him if he wanted a drink, and he decided on a gin and tonic. I made it, and when he tasted it he said a sentence I had never uttered in my entire life. He said: “It’s too strong!” ?!? So I poured some out and added some more tonic… I did this about three times until he announced that it was “perfect”. Then he did the strangest thing; he set his “perfect” drink on the table and walked across the room to play a video game with my son.

What the hell?? Forget “perfect”, I can assure you that even if it tasted like goat-piss, no drink of mine has ever been more than six inches from my hand. And not because I was afraid of people slipping drugs in it. I would have appreciated it if they had.

And he let the ice cubes melt. I could get a good three drinks out of a set of ice cubes. “Nah! Those are already marinated, just leave ‘em in and pour some more stuff on top!”

There’s nothing about drinking that I don’t like except the effect it has on my life when I put it in my body. It doesn’t make me have more fun; it makes me have less fun.

Not drinking has allowed me to find out what “fun” was, for the first time in my life.
“… we aren’t a glum lot. If newcomers could see no joy or fun in our existence, they wouldn’t want it. We absolutely insist on enjoying life.”

Big Book – Chapter: The Family Afterward – pg 132

“Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we mustn’t think or be reminded about alcohol at all.

“We meet these conditions every day. An alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is something the matter with his spiritual status. His only chance for sobriety would be some place like the Greenland Ice Cap, and even there an Eskimo might turn up with a bottle of scotch and ruin everything! Ask any woman who has sent her husband to distant places on the theory he would escape the alcohol problem.

“In our belief any scheme of combating alcoholism which proposes to shield the sick man from temptation is doomed to failure. If the alcoholic tries to shield himself he may succeed for a time, but usually winds up with a bigger explosion than ever. We have tried these methods. These attempts to do the impossible have always failed.

“So our rule is not to avoid a place where there is drinking, if we have a legitimate reason for being there. That includes bars, nightclubs, dances, receptions, weddings, even plain ordinary whoopee parties. To a person who has had experience with an alcoholic, this may seem like tempting Providence, but it isn’t.

“You will note that we made an important qualification. Therefore, ask yourself on each occasion, “Have I any good social, business, or personal reason for going to this place? Or am I expecting to steal a little vicarious pleasure from the atmosphere of such places?” If you answer these questions satisfactorily, you need have no apprehension. Go or stay away, whichever seems best. But be sure you are on solid spiritual ground before you start and that your motive in going is thoroughly good. Do not think of what you will get out of the occasion. Think of what you can bring to it. But if you are shaky, you had better work with another alcoholic instead!

“Why sit with a long face in places where there is drinking, sighing about the good old days. If it is a happy occasion, try to increase the pleasure of those there; if a business occasion, go and attend to your business enthusiastically. If you are with a person who wants to eat in a bar, by all means go along. Let your friends know they are not to change their habits on your account. At a proper time and place explain to all your friends why alcohol disagrees with you. If you do this thoroughly, few people will ask you to drink. While you were drinking, you were withdrawing from life little by little. Now you are getting back into the social life of this world. Don’t start to withdraw again just because your friends drink liquor.

“Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed.

“Many of us keep liquor in our homes. We often need it to carry green recruits through a severe hangover. Some of us still serve it to our friends provided they are not alcoholic. But some of us think we should not serve liquor to anyone. We never argue this question. We feel that each family, in the light of their own circumstances, ought to decide for themselves.

“We are careful never to show intolerance or hatred of drinking as an institution. Experience shows that such an attitude is not helpful to anyone. Every new alcoholic looks for this spirit among us and is immensely relieved when he finds we are not witchburners. A spirit of intolerance might repel alcoholics whose lives could have been saved, had it not been for such stupidity. We would not even do the cause of temperate drinking any good, for not one drinker in a thousand likes to be told anything about alcohol by one who hates it.”

Big Book – Chapter:Working with others pgs 100-101

This entry was posted in Big Book, Early Sobriety, Ridiculous A.A. Advice, Spirituality, Unfounded Personal Opinions. Bookmark the permalink.

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