Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Of Things As I Thought They Were and Things That I Now Know Are.

For the uninformed (read that as fortunate) the title of this blog is taken from pages 83 and 84 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous - a section those in the program refer to as "The Promises" which reads as follows:

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. 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. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change. Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.  Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
A little over a year ago, I stopped drinking and using. It was not for want of a better way of life, but rather because I ran out of money to fuel my drinking and using. To proud to panhandle for booze and drug money and to out of my mind to get a job, I simply existed.  I was a dry drunk, white knuckling it through this so called life - minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day - doing what I could do to make it seem like I was not homeless, jobless, suffering from untreated mental illness, spiritually bereft, broke and alone.

I sat in various Starbucks and other locations with my laptop, my reusable coffee cup, my Sigg water bottle,  with expensive fancy shoes, wearing my Northface jacket while engaging in heated conversations with non-existent people on a disconnected cell phone. The ease with which I convinced myself that all was well did not come as much of a surprise to me, as I have a well-documented track record of convincing people to believe things that are not true.

Did I ever do a good job of convincing myself.

95 days ago, I sat there, in that Starbucks on 16th and Blake Streets, convinced that I was not homeless, jobless, suffering from untreated mental illness, spiritually bereft, broke and alone.

A nice couple sat across the coffee shop from me.

As they sat there, in all their nice coupleness, a storm broke in my soul.

Was it the caffeine or the low blood sugar I may have been dealing with? Was it the light glinting off a parked car on a bright summer morning in downtown Denver, Colorado?

It may have been all of these or none of these.  Who can say? Whatever it was, it pierced me and all the realization of reality, all of the denials, all of the hiding, all of the projections, the facades, the self-avoidance came crashing down around me.

I sat there and for the first time and I knew, in my heart of hearts, in the inner most crevices of my mind and felt with all of my being the reality that I was homeless, jobless, suffering from untreated mental illness, spiritually bereft, broke and alone.

I cried.

Not that I realized it then, or that I fully realize it now, but that was my rock bottom. I had reached  what the Big Book of AA calls a "jumping off place." When this place is reached the Big Book says, in Chapter 11, the alcoholic "...will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it. Then he will know loneliness such as few do...He will wish for the end." Never before has a place been simultaneously more real and metaphorical.

As I sat in that Starbucks at 16th and Blake streets, I might have well been at the corner of Delusion and Grandeur streets, for the unreality I had been living in, the world of prosperity and abundance and happiness that I had constructed for myself, was instantly no more.

As I find myself in my life, I am now telling my story. Part inventory, part personal need to vent, part need to be heard - even if by no one other than the God of my understanding, this is me reaching out to the Universe.

You may read it, you may not.

I hope in time, once a job, shelter and other life accouterments are acquired, to transfer this blog to a  dedicated domain where I can continue it in a more appropriate format.

We shall see.

As someone much wiser than me says, Be well, do good work and keep in touch.

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