View From The Top


jack-oughton-article-yoshitoshi-100-aspects-of-the-moon-7-inaba-mountain-moon-001

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn’t matter which path you take.  The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone else that their path is wrong.”

– Hindu Teaching

I once heard a speaker on tape talking about the different ways some had gone about achieving enlightenment, serenity and peace.  He talked about these different paths leading up the mountain, and added that all those climbing up sat on mules to ease and guide their journey.  Each one had their own animal and each had their own way up the mountain.  Some meandered, some went through rocky terrain, some edged cliffs, some tread through water, but in the end they came to meet one another up on the peak.  It was there that they parked their asses and then sat on their asses and stared at the majesty below and outward. And the mules, huddled together, were different – one was Buddha, one was Jesus, one was God, one was Nature, one was Wicca, one was the prophet Muhammad, etc.  Each person trekked their way to a purposeful inner divinity and sense of well-being through their own paths and manner of approach.

Now, as I peruse through the countless (exaggeration – 120 or so) blogs I follow, I see lots of ways up the mountain.  Call the mountain sobriety, call it recovery, call it a new way of life, call it serenity, call it what you will, but we are all climbing.  We are all moving towards something…at the very least away from the last drink.  We’ve done our time digging in the dirt and thrashing in the muck and generally rolling around in the filth that we called living.  At some point we cried out to the thing we think will help us, cast our eyes upward toward the sky, wiped the soles of our feet on the smooth rocks baking in the sun and began to ascend.  We find our mule.  Or, our mule finds us.  There is a symbiotic connection to our vehicle of ascension and it holds us close as we find our way, learning to navigate and letting it lead us when necessary. And like needle pulling thread, we find the seam that eventually marks our place on the map that says “You are here – for now”.

Me and Julio, down by the school yard.

Me and Julio, down by the school yard.

When I was at my low point, when it was time for me to get help, I knew very little about 12-step recovery.  I knew of it, but didn’t know what it entailed, other than it was for people like me who just didn’t know how to quit.  I didn’t know that the treatment center I went to was 12-step based.  It could have been based on the teachings of Fish from Barney Miller and I wouldn’t have cared – I just wanted to get well and not die.  So as I moved through the three weeks of intensive AA studying and sharing and hitting meetings, I found that it was starting to work for me.  So when I left treatment, I rode AA like I stole it.  I had no choice – it was helping me stay sober.  I wasn’t interested in getting measured for a casket quite yet.

And it was in AA itself that I was able to see that even amongst our rank and file, there were differences.  I was a quick study, and I was also very interested in all things AA – history, tapes, literature, etc.  I listened to strong AA members share their points-of-view on the program.  I was attracted to those members who had done the work and were tireless in advocating for muscular sponsorship, service and recovery.  I was attracted because I saw how passionate they were…and I wanted to be like them.  But here’s the fly in the ointment – in my zeal to champion the program, I started to notice things.  I noticed that I cast a hairy eyeball to anyone who wasn’t working the steps the way they should be.  I hastily dismissed anyone who didn’t sponsor the way they should be.  I found myself creating distance between myself and others through the insistence of pointing out how things should be done.  I created a ledger of judgement in my mind that started to eat away at my spirit.

I was resentful at many folks in the groups.  I was resentful in how they did things, and how they didn’t do things.  I was resentful at the women for the attention they got, and I was resentful at the men for giving them that attention.  I was clutching onto judgement as a shield to deflect what was really going on with me.  And in digging deep and praying for the courage to be honest, I saw that I was playing God.  I had my eyes opened to prejudiced ideas and assumptions.  I saw that everyone was a child of the Creator and that like them, I was just doing the best I could with what I had.  Slivers of love and tolerance started to cut through the shadows of my arrogance and spiritual pride, and I could finally see others for who they were, and not in the roles I assigned them.

I don't know what up with Chuckles here, but there's nothing a nip on a helicopter won't help

I don’t know what’s up with Chuckles here, but this proves that clowns really do cry on the inside.

When I was about six months into my recovery, I started to join some recovery forums.  And it was there that I saw that {gasp!} there were people getting sober and not using AA. Oh how the heavens tumbled down around me like confetti. I was incredulous to this.  My judgement machine coughed and spurted back to “max” level and I cast my votes on these people’s lives.  “She can’t be a real alcoholic!” I scowled from behind my screen.  “He probably never felt and drank anything like me – he’s a charlatan!” I’d trumpet to no one in particular as I scrolled through posts.  But once again, I soon learned that I was not God…sigh.  I saw that others who were exactly like me, who drank like me, felt like me, hurt like me, were able to achieve a fine, robust and healthy sobriety in many ways.  The light of love and tolerance continued to flicker against the wall of my ignorance and hubris.

At about six month later, I finally started this corner of the world up.  And in seeking connection and communion with other bloggers, I could finally see in action many of the things that I had been exposed to in bits and pieces before.  I could see how people struggled daily.  I could see how others were incorporating different methods in their own sobriety.  I could see the give and take that bloggers had in sharing their experiences with one another.  I could also see my own old prejudices start to melt away more and more as I read and learned and stayed in tune with others who were challenged by this thing called recovery.  This little journey within a journey needed to start in comfort, then blossomed outward.  This almost piecemeal plan to move out of myself needed to happen the way it unfolded.  It kept me in check.

So when I think of those mules up the mountain, I see them not as religious representations, but those of recovery methods.  I watch the animals scaling craggy rock and see AA on one.  I observe one as Rational Recovery.  I see Therapy.  I see online support.  I see LifeRing.  I see self-propelled.  I see Women for Sobriety.  I see religion.  I see SMART.  I see SOS.  I see mixes and blends.  Each one just another way to navigate the terrain of sobriety.  Each different, and essentially unique as the person riding it.  Because inevitably all of us need to adjust course.  Some of us may hit more wild brush, while others find a cleaner way through the heights and density of the mountain.

I am all for a good meditation pic, but really, Google Images?  How did dude get to that rock? Magic carpet? I'm done with your voodoo.

I am all for a good meditation pic, but really, Google Images? How did dude get to that rock? Magic carpet? I’m done with your voodoo nonsense.

The wonderful thing about this collective ascent up to the top is that I can continue to practice love, tolerance and humility while still being true to my own journey.  I don’t have to agree with the path someone else takes.  I need not take offence to it. But it matters not, because it’s not my path.  I focus on where to put my next step down and keep my eyes on the turn ahead, with nodding glances to my neighbours.  It’s not my place to judge another’s path.  It just isn’t.  Period.  Full stop.  To do so is me trying my merry way to play Big Cheese, and I spent way too many days of my life playing that role and finding myself blindingly resentful and/or drunk while doing so.

This practice of acceptance and compassionate ways not only serves me here, but in all my daily affairs.  There are parents who I have felt could have done “better” at raising their children (whatever that means).  I have shown myself to be arrogant surrounding what people do for a living.  I have caught myself comparing and feeling superior to those who aren’t as read or literate.  I have seen myself making and quietly declaring brazen blanket bulletins against men and women who’s opinions differ from mine.  The “You Should” laser pointer comes out of the pencil case and all of a sudden I am thinking that I know better.  Hell, I didn’t even know what was good enough for me all those years (how did that work out for you, Paul??) let alone what is good for anyone else.  Ego has come out to play and wants to do more than just skip rope.

I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart...

Damn right I’m happy – the kids changed the toilet paper roll on their own without being asked.  What ya gotta do to get a high five around here?

When I am out here, reading and commenting, writing, sharing, etc. I don’t necessarily see this person as an AA, that woman as a moderating drinker, that person as a __________ (slap label here).  I just see people.  People like me who no longer want alcohol to be the consuming monster that it used to be.  I see people  wounded by the past lives of futility and pain that alcoholism crushes upon us all.  I see those others who are starting a journey or are lighting the way for others in their own journeys.  I see the struggles and the victories and the joys of a script penned in delight or heartache.  I see past the surface of the words and get into the spaces between the words, where the soul sometimes likes to reside.  Because in the end I am no more nor no less than anyone else out here or out there.  I am just one of many.  A dude on a mule.

Sure, there are the occasional moments of words taken wrong, or words spoken harshly or times of discord.  We are human, after all, even if we are behind a keyboard and we have our identities blurred.  We still have human interactions.  It would be odd to acknowledge the warmth and love and support we find out here in the sobersphere and not take into consideration that there are also negative emotions at play at times.  Jealousy, envy, resentment, fears.  I am guilty of these at times too.  Sometimes we step on each others toes, and that can be felt at times…at least I believe so.  And that’s okay.  That is also part of growth – moving through the tough stuff and dealing with it in a way that doesn’t involve tumblers, corkscrews or stolen sips in the bathroom.

Some just love bacon more than others.  Who am I to judge?  What happens in the bedroom-slash-kitchen stays there, for all that matters.

Some just love bacon more than others. Who am I to judge? What happens in the bedroom-slash-kitchen stays there, for all that matters.

And in terms of those mules and that mountain? I would expand on that analogy.  In fact, my very existence and maintenance of my sobriety demands that I seek further.  While it is noble and beautiful to be on that mountain top, gazing at the majestic view below and outwards, sensing a true deep feeling of peace and serenity, that cannot be the be all end all of it.  For me, to continue the life that I have now been given, I need to bring myself back down, pick up a few people and get them on mules.  I need to show them the path I took, and ride with them.  I show them the bumps, the crevices, the danger spots.  I show them what to look for and where to duck and where and when to take shelter.  And if we get to the top, they too can stretch their arms up and embrace the warm air and glittering sky and know that it is as real as the wind upon their faces.  And then they too can go down and show others the same path.

The more I travel the path, the more I learn about myself, the more I have a connection with what created that mountain, the more I am in tune with others in recovery and the more I am loving and kind and compassionate.  For if I just sit on the top of that mountain top and now show anyone how I got there, I am not growing.  And just us being here, sharing our experiences, describing our lives, telling our stories, we are helping someone out there who has yet to have a voice.  There are many blogs out there that were started by the lurkers, the quiet shadows out there.  And now they can be a voice to those behind them who now lurk as well.  We create a force that is greater than the sum of our parts.

There are many ways up that mountain.  My job is not to run around and tell others their path is wrong.  I just stick to my path and know in my heart it is right.  For me and me alone.  But hey, if you like my mule – use it.  There are plenty to go around.  And I don’t mind. Because I will see you up there, partner – a fellow seeker on the mend, a traveller on the go, a soul to be released.

Travel well.

createyourownpath

41 responses to “View From The Top

  1. Yet again as I sit here trying to get my blog going, here comes a gmail notice that lets me know that Paul is at it again, so I stop and read, and end up thinking wow I need to rethink what I was just writing. Dang it all!!! Back to the drawing board!!! What you wrote cut to the core of what I was working on and is letting me know that maybe I was headed in the right direction, yet my self doubt is quick to say that I got it wrong. Keep up the good work and now I am going to go back and just maybe I will get something out on my blog.

    • No don’t do it JR! Stick with it. We need different voices on this. None of my posts are original, in the sense of the topic. But I love hearing new and unique views on them – that’s why I follow so many blogs. I would love to read what you have to say about this. We all come from a different place – different experiences, different approaches, different methods, different philosophies. It would be a shame to miss out on further discussion 🙂

      Looking forward to reading what you have, kind sir.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  2. Hi Paul,

    I will be repeating myself a bit, but hopefully only you will notice 🙂

    There is so much I can identify with in this post. The only thing I am not guilty of, in terms of your writing, is judging the sobriety or program that others follow. I guess the only thing I am guilty of, along those lines, is judging the “judges.” It drives me crazy when I hear others telling someone how it “has” to be done. As far as I’m concerned, if you are sober, and feel content in your sobriety, who the hell am I to tell you differently?

    Now, in just about any other arena, that is a different story, and I am working on catching myself with this, but it is damned hard. I’ve got a situation going on with people who are close to me, and I (understatement to follow) DO NOT AGREE with some of the choices that they are making. And, when I let myself run rampant, I am squawking about it to anyone who will listen.

    And who exactly do I think I am?

    So I’m loving this post. One, because you paint such a beautiful picture of the fellowship we all experience in this blogosphere, and also as a gentle nudge to take a look at my judgmental ways.

    Thanks for the lift, and the nudge!

    • I don’t mind when you repeat yourself Josie – means I get two chances to get something into my thick skull…so go ahead.

      I have judged the judges too, only to find out I am one of them. Crazy. But there are many of us who do so without meaning to at times…just passionate about their way and want to pass it on, but not realizing that they are pushing others away. And I am guilty of that, for sure.

      I think that I have to be aware that I can be strong in conviction and belief and not be a door mat, and still not be judgmental. Fine line. So while I try to “live and let live” there are some times I do feel it necessary to make a comment. As long as my motives are good…then it’s all go. I hope that your situation works out. 🙂

      Love and light,
      Paul

  3. Love it, Paul. All of it. Whether it’s about spirituality or the programs, it’s so true. Actually, what you described about spirituality is why I refuse to label mine. My Higher Power is real, SO real I feel like I can almost touch It sometimes, but I just can’t slap a label on it and say “this is THEEEEEEEE Higher Power!” Sure I think it is all one thing in the end, but I don’t know what that one thing is exactly, I just know that I have contact with It every day in a really brilliant and obvious way. Which is why I talk about the Bible and then Muslim books within one breath on my blog. 🙂
    This too is a good reminder for me… I know I’ve looked around in meetings and gotten resentful. Easy to do. It’s good for me to remember that you can’t fail recovery.

    • Thanks Laurie – so happy to see ya here. And what you say is true – it’s our HP, our journey. I have yet for someone to ask me what my HP is, or I have yet to ask someone either. We all get that it’s a very personal and private thing. Sure, I will tell anyone that asks, and speak about it at times. But other than that, we go where our HP takes us.

      I can see that you are close to yours…and that’s the most important thing…more important than hitting tons of meetings, service, etc. Stay close, and It will reveal more to you.

      Thanks for stopping by 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

  4. Another insightful post, Paul. The mule, the mountain. My estranged husband, I think, is both… as well as the traveller – so that makes him… exhausted, I expect. I don’t know how he has managed to make it through his recovery. More than a year without any support – no AA, just a sober house where he lives and his own determination. I don’t know how healthy that is, but it’s his recovery, so I don’t interfere. ps. re: dude on rock… s/he swam there, no? 🙂

    • We just never know, my friend. B might be in turmoil, and if that’s the case, that’s what we call untreated alcoholism. Another person might be doing exactly what he is doing (or not doing) and be fine. It’s just how we look at things and/or how deep this thing goes for us. I know for me that I couldn’t just put the plug in the jug, so to speak, and then everything would be groovy. No way. I needed something a little bit more intensive, if you will. Needed a deep rooting out. Distracting myself also didn’t work. Eventually I had to be in a room by myself only with myself with no distractions. Then what? And having that peace is where the serenity washes over.

      And you not interfering…doesn’t mean you don’t care. Not at all. But it gives you a sense of being in your own space with yourself which allows you to care for R.

      The dude on the rock? Satan, I think. Or at least David Copperfield. LOL.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  5. Probably my favorite post of yours, Paul. There’s really no right way or wrong way for anyone, only The way. And we all have our own mountains to climb–none of ours are the same, because they’re all experience-dependent.

    Really enjoyed this one. Stealing the quote too. 😉

  6. Beautifully written, Paul. Again, your way with words in enchanting…my how you wear sobriety so well.
    I love when you wrote: “I could see how people struggled daily. I could see how others were incorporating different methods in their own sobriety. I could see the give and take that bloggers had in sharing their experiences with one another. I could also see my own old prejudices start to melt away more and more as I read and learned and stayed in tune with others who were challenged by this thing called recovery.”
    There is no judgment in a world with alcoholics supporting one another. No matter how we managed to get here or what road we chose to take, we are all in this together. I quit drinking on the same day I quick smoking cigarettes. Can you believe it? Two life-endangering habits washed away with every bottle I discarded on my mother’s birthday. Consequently, this was the same day she was rushed to the E.R. after her liver failed and she could no longer walk, shit, or even speak on her own because of all of the ammonia that entered her head. Funny thing what a wake up call like that can do for someone. As if I ever needed AA! Instead, God blessed me with hands on experience so I could share my mother’s story and help save the lives of others. Already helped two people (patting my back as we speak) and I can only hope to encourage others to become more aware of the importance of their health; especially their liver.
    But again, the only judges here are the Almighty Himself. We are all recovering together and it’s when we can learn from one another and depend on each other’s strength that we are capable of climbing any mountain. There are many stories to be told and milestones to be conquered together. And those incredible ventures start with modest and fantastic exchanges of words between all of us…my new friend.

    • What wonderful comments…man, I can’t really add too much to what you said. You said it so well 🙂

      Wake up calls – that is certainly the uniting thing we all have. We don’t stop on a whim or on a dare or something shallow like that. We stop because there is something in us that is compelling us that drinking is no longer the way. It may have been, but there is too much collateral damage going on – internally and externally. But most bottoms, if not all bottoms, are inside jobs. Threats of jail, divorce, firing, etc. don’t mean anything to an alcoholic. They may startle us, but until we look in the mirror and say “I’m done” then it’s just another consequence. You have seen more than just consequence – in your life and in your mothers, which intersect, yes?

      Helping others…wow, what a difference that makes too. You are helping many – not just your mother, but certainly her the most – with your reaching out in real life and online. What a journey up the mountain that is!

      Thanks for this…and for being here.

      Love and light,
      Paul

  7. Thank you Paul, that is just what I needed to keep me going….I can see my path, its just that..everyday is different, some easy, some so hard that I just want to give up.
    Thank you for your beatiful words…..
    Emma b.

    • Hi Emma – I am so glad you commented. This made my day.

      Every day truly is different. When we wake up, we get the gift of a new approach on a new canvas. I have been having some tough days on the sugar front…major obsessing and cravings. Yikes. But while it doesn’t compare to alcohol, in some ways, I know that struggle. I may not struggle with the booze, I do have my battles with other things, and they are challenging as well. Sometimes I know that just getting through the day will bring me a sense of focus and achievement.

      You can do it, Emma…you are never alone.

      Love and light,
      Paul

    • You’re absolutely right…we are all seeking and even when we’re not even sure of the path or even what we seek…it’s in the process and journey that the real healing happens.

      Love and light,
      Paul

  8. Great post!

    As someone who got sober, and has stayed sober, without AA, I really appreciate this one. More than once, I have had it implied that I couldn’t have been a ‘real’ alcoholic if I got sober without AA. I have also been made to feel left out by other alcoholics in recovery who did get straight with AA – like they belong to some select and elite group, to which I have no admittance.

    It’s frustrating, and it’s hurtful, to be told that I did it ‘wrong’. I’m sober. It will be 9 years without a drink on the 27th of this month. In the past almost-nine-years of my life, I have painfully and deliberately built a life that I can stand by, that I can be proud of. I have been totally honest with myself, looked in the mirror and taken responsibility. I support others who are working through their own recovery. How on earth is any of that wrong?

    So, yes – we all have to find our own way. I totally, fully, 100% support any way that anyone else chooses to get through it. And no matter how they chose to get and stay sober, I am in their corner. It would be great if I felt that they were also in mine…

    You are in my corner, my friend, I know that. Thanks for being here.

    • Ah Michelle, I feel you there. I can’t imagine having (almost) nine years and being questioned about it. Ridiculous. You were my first face-to-face living shining example of recovery, without two vowels slapped together. You know, people relapse in AA and not in AA. Recovery requires work. It’s just not white-knuckling it and distracting with other things. You have created a life that precludes alcohol as a means of coping. You have surrounded yourself with positivity and activities / people that bring you a deep sense of contentment. Writing, etc. And that’s the most important and noble thing I can see doing.

      And hey, there are those in AA who will say that you and others who don’t do AA aren’t “real alcoholics”. Bullshit, I say. I won’t get into an AA thing, but suffice to say there are still sick folks in AA. As there are in every other part of life. I have heard your drinking tales, and they aren’t those of a social drinker, that’s for sure. Took you to dark places. So in the end, I wouldn’t care what those in AA might say. The same goes for me – you’d be surprised how many AA bashers there are out there. Just google Orange Papers, or go on youtube and watch all the rants of people who hate AA and think it doesn’t work. I too have to practice the principle of what others think is none of my business 🙂

      You rock sobriety my friend. Thanks for being a shining example of it to us 🙂

      Hugs,
      Paul

  9. Well said.

    I think I’ve lost focus on my journey – I’m not sure of the next step up my mountain. I think I ought to look about me and about where I should take that next step but guess what… yes I stand and look at others and question and judge their route whilst not making progress on my own.

    Thanks for the prompt!

    • Hi Graham,

      I think what you say is not uncommon. I have certainly been in that position, and work to make sure I don’t get there. But I know I will stumble, I will be too busy looking around me rather than putting the next foot in front of the other. And that’s ok, as long as I can get back on proper footing and look ahead. It happens, but it’s easy to correct ourselves 🙂

      Have a wonderful day!

      Paul

  10. Reblogged this on Running From the Booze and commented:
    This beautiful post from Paul spoke so clearly to me, actually most of his posts do. Paul has helped me many times with his words.He’s in his part of the world writing about his lessons with honesty and humility, and I bump and stumble down this path in my neck of the woods grateful that a guy like Paul takes the time to share.

    Thanks Paul.

  11. Always enjoy your unique blend of soothing wisdom and hilarious/disturbing images, lol (bacon pic my favorite). What a truly beautiful post and sentiment and I really appreciate your openness and honestly.

    We are all in this together and we are all so different…why wouldn’t it make perfect sense that we not only can but should recover in different ways? My judgemental attitude was fear based in the beginning. I too started with what was comfortable and then slowly branched out and gradually felt less dismissive of anyone doing it differently. Over time I’ve seen many different approaches to sobriety bring the same success and fulfillment and this only gives peace and comfort.

    • Thanks Kristen…yeah, some of those images truly are disturbing…lol. I love what you say about fear…that’s something I failed to mention in the post and you’re bang on about it. Fear! Gah! What will happen to me if _____? What will I lose if I ______? What will I not get if I _______? And that’s where much of this lies. And like you said, we branch out and see that it’s not the big scary world we thought it would be. And from that comes compassion, hopefully. Looking at things through different glasses…what a difference.

      Thank you for your wonderful and insightful comments…loved them (not as much as bacon though)

      Paul

  12. Thank you Paul for eloquently restating what I feebly attempted in my post a few days ago. You said it so well! I love your honesty, truth and sense!

    • You know, I have always wanted to write something like this, and stumbled several times on it. It was reading your post on your blog that helped me cement things…so thanks to YOU for writing what you did. Helped me immensely…and what you wrote was fab. 🙂

      Love and light
      Paul

  13. Your thoughts remind me of something I’ve been meaning to write out …And haven’t yet found the time..Time IS truly, in my opinion, priceless these days..I don’t equate being rich with money anymore..For me it equals free time & more time to do & to be..But I digress badly…So many thoughts provoked by what you’ve written Paul..Anyways I’ll soon be blogging on this word@ Normal..What is normal for someone or what seems to be the right way..Isn’t necessarily so for another person. This comes to mind because I often march to the beat of a different drummer. I know it; and so do others around me..I was recently(and quite often..) asked how I can be such close friends(even though cross country..) with my exhubby..Someone I consider a close friend (& she is) recently said thats not normal! And my response was, DEFINE normal..You see, as humans? We use what “we ” consider to be right and normal as a ruler..We think everyone else should be doing the same …I can’t tell you how many people think it is ODD that I smile & laugh SO much! And I ask myself why in the heck would anyone think that odd??? The answer is simple..Because they don’t..Which , once I could understand that, was just fine with me. It is what it is..Just as your walk Paul is working out fabulous for you..There is no need to justify it nor compare it with anyone else’s..Long as its working for you & you feel that within your heart/soul…When stuff is good it just feels like the right way..I can’t articulate it any other way..I could care less who uses AA or therapy or self-help; long as folks are seeking/reaching their happiness…I am my OWN best therapist; so I’ve never had to pay for one..Yet? I know countless other folks who won’t go a week without seeing a therapist..Bottom line is we’re all in the same boat..And all looking to seek peace/happiness..I’ve found my highest level of happiness came when I put God first..And that took many, many, many moons to reach that level..Still even more so I’m learning even in that aspect..There is TONS to learn and read and experience through the words of other people..I’ll end by saying I’ve been looking to see words from you..I’m glad , as always, to have read your message. Stay UPlifted & blessed, Your sista in Christ, Bernadette

    • I love this, Bernadette. You speak a lot of truth here.

      When I put my trust in God and put Him first, many of the things in my life started to right up. Faith has put me in a position that I never was put in before. Sure, I had doubts, and I had a lot of fears. Still do at times. There are times that I don’t give it up to the Creator because part of me still feels I can do it on my own…contrary to experience. And yet the ego persists, yes?

      You mentioned “normal” and that is very cool. I once heard someone say that there is no such thing as “normal” – just people who haven’t shared yet…ha ha. And it’s true. All those people who we think have it all together…once you speak to them you see that they too have their issues, their fears, their resentments, their dark places. We’ve all been there, alcoholic or not. We’re human and we all have our ways to find our truth and our peace. I am glad that you have found your path, Bernadette.

      And keep smiling 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

      • Good Friday morn Paul..Yes, you get IT ..Check this out; to someone we (you and I or anyone reading this..) has it ALL together..Could be someone reading this or someone (I’ve experienced it alot, alot..) in our offline lives..Perception is what one perceives & as people we all perceive things differently..In a room full of people ask them about 1 topic; and listen to the different explanations of that topic..I think having “it” all together; is based on what a person desires/dreams of/or has set for self/life goals..For instance? It took me a long , long time; but I am almost exactly where I am supposed to be in life..Doesn’t mean I don’t still have goals…Doesn’t mean from time to time I don’t have what ifs ..Doesn’t mean sometimes , briefly, that I don’t look backwards & wonder who something could’ve been had things work out differently..what it means is most of the time? I love exactly where I am & all that is in my life..But I also know where I have been & ALL the work it took to get right here..In this moment..And I began to appreciate ALL that I have to be thankful for..What I treasure most? Are the many, many, many loved ones I have in my family circle & extensive circle of friends that are now family. We all have fears; every single one of us..Things I fear most these days are harm that could come to my 3 sons; simply because they’re progressive heckfied Black men. I pray alot about that Paul…I don’t want their lights to be extinguished or stunted because others envy them..There is alot of that going on in our country & this world..So I pray..Alot & far more than I ever thought I would even 4 years ago…You’re on your path Paul..As we all are..Even the bad times are part of it; as is getting “thru” those times..Sounds like you’ve embraced that now; thus are growing from it! That part was tough for me also..I think that is what makes us human..Often I said I’m awfully human lol, lol! I’m totally glad our paths crossed Paul..Keep writing it out..Your thoughts & experiences..Your message. I’ve found that to be so therapeutic & in the process it tends to help others see a living testimony…Stay UPlifted & blessed..I’ll check in often..4ever sincere, Bernadette

  14. i’m so guilty of judging as well. A couple months ago, when i was getting really bad, i noticed everybody’s little Facebook meme posts all had the same theme: Don’t judge people, as you don’t know their stories. i thanked the universe for the gentle slap upside my head, and since then have been getting better at recognizing judgmental thoughts when they crop up.

    Soon, fingers crossed, they’ll stop popping up so much! But thanks for giving me more fuel for the fire that will burn my judgements up!

    • Hey Al – great comments. I love when we get smacked up a bit by the universe. Means we’re not paying attention as much as we need to. I think judgement is something that is going to be a struggle all my life. Hopefully it will soften, and I know it will, but sometimes I just wish it would melt away. His time, not mine…but I can still give it a go 🙂

      Thank you for being here. Awesome.

      Paul

  15. OK PAUL…..1st….They almost naked guy…TOO MUCH information of that guy!! 2nd….I HATE CLOWNS!! and 3rd….A Path less traveled by many!! I took THAT lesser road many don’t travel while active in my addicted compulsive gambling addiction. My mother always said to me,….”Catherine, why do you always have to learn the hard way?”….Hell, I don’t know!! But at least TODAY, LIFE is GOOD in Recovery! Another Great blog Post Paul!! I truly learn SO much from you! Hugs & Blessings, xxoo *Catherine* 🙂

  16. I am new to the path, and I admit I am scared to death. It’s so foreign to me to be so in charge of myself as I have listened for 44 years to everyone else define me. To have the chance to begin anew is crazy. Some days- and I’ve only had 7- I wake up and ask myself if I am in a dream. I hardly believe I am sober. I mean, could I really be this strong? I shake my head in wonder several times throughout the day. I know I am alive because my Higher Power says this is the way. As does my psychotherapist and my cybersober buddies. I think my path to sobriety may not be unique but eclectic. Weird since I would describe myself as usually type A.
    Your post is fantastic. I’ve learned so much about this path from reading your words. Thank you for the inspiration, the matter-of-factness and the disturbing yet hilarious pictures. This post made my day.

    • Welcome to this journey. I was just on your blog, and wanted to congratulate you on a week of sobriety! It’s a wonderful path, and while it has it’s challenges, it’s a whole new way of living life. It’s life changing. And I am also glad you are here with us…we just got stronger 🙂

      I am glad that you were able to identify with the post. You made my day by sharing your comments, by the way. I love hearing from those new to the journey, or who are even contemplating it. It’s what fortifies my own recovery – helping others…and you and your blog are doing the same. There are lurkers out there reading…and you are probably an inspiration to someone who has a hard time stringing seven hours together, let alone seven days.

      Thank you for being here 🙂

      Love and light,
      Paul

  17. This is great, Paul, a really grounded post.

    I have sensed from you that you don’t judge, and have appreciated it. When you spoke of alcohol being the all consuming demon it used to be, I realised it no longer is to me, thank mercy. It is no longer all consuming. This is amazing. So something has changed. Thank mercy.

    Great post, Paul.

  18. Pingback: all the mountains are dancing – Vol. 13 | Words for the Weekend·

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