Recovery, SLAA

Step 8 – Made a list and became willing


Step 8 says: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.

The first half of step eight is about making a list. Technically the list would have been made in Step four. The people I had harmed would exist somewhere on my resentment sheet or sexual inventory/general harm. Hey that is easy. Copy and paste did the trick. Then as I continue to pray and continue to reflect on my list I started remembering names that escaped step four. The list grew slightly bigger than when it first started. My recovery tells me that I will find a few more names, as time goes by, that I will need to add to the list and make amends to them all.

As I was putting the list together I started thinking of the amends I have to make, how will I make them and when, what will I tell these people. One of the things that I struggled with the most are people that I had resentment towards and the thought of how humbling and potentially humiliating it would be to go say I am sorry. For some names I might not be that ready, but I am willing.

I talked to my sponsor yesterday and we agreed that I have now completed step 8. I will move to step 9, and start making direct amends. I had an outreach call with another SLAA earlier today and he was the first I told that I completed step 8 and moving on to make amends. As I shared that with him I felt my heart racing. Now as I type this I am getting the same feeling. It is probably the public admission that I am about to take my recovery outside the circle of the fellowship. On some level it is a scary thought. But if that is what it takes, I will do it, with God’s Help.

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SLAA

A year ago today


At this exact hour, a year ago, my brother was hit by a tram in Cairo and passed away almost instantly. That time I was out with a friend having a drink and a chat. It was about an hour after his death that I got a call from my mom yelling “your brother died”! That phrased still rings in my ears every now and then. I felt like a bullet imploded in my stomach.

I flew back home to be with my family. It took me almost 2 full days before I could reach Cairo from NZ so they had to bury him before I came back. Everyone was sad but it was normal to not have him around in family gatherings. We lived in two different countries for years and it was okay that he is not around. He will eventually appear and we will talk and catch up. Or he will call me or I will call him. When I left home six weeks later, I snapped back into life, kids, work, wife and marital problems etc. I lived in the perfect denial.

I decided to host a memorial service for his soul on the 15th of June which marks 6 months on his passing. That was the hardest part of the year. I planning his memorial service was an admission from me that he is gone. Pain takes over me as I type these lines and find myself overcome with tears. I felt so much pain, I was almost not fit to drive, work, or just do normal day to day stuff. 10 days later I attended my first SLAA meeting. It was the perfect distraction. If you’ve been following my blog you’d notice that I may have never mentioned my brother. And you’d know how much I immersed myself in my recovery.

Yesterday I was in a face to face SLAA meeting. I had so much to share and then I talked about my brother’s anniversary and found it difficult to hold back my tears. After the meeting I was approached by a couple of SLAA members, they tried to console me, but I really needed a moment alone. I dashed outside the hall and started weeping. When I came back in I was warmly welcomed and everyone was very nice. Well they are always very nice anyway. then I shared how the year have been with me, how I dealt with his loss so far and just couldn’t hold it back, I collapsed into tears and this friend of mine hugged me and gave me a shoulder to cry on. With however much pain I was going through, this was a magical moment. I was vulnerable in the arms of another man without sexualizing the situation. It was nothing I would have dreamed of before SLAA. And I know that I did sexualize a hug from a close male friend when I had just found out about my brother’s passing.

Just as I was driving off another SLAA member got into my car and we started talking. He shared about the loss of his father and heard me share what I am going through and we connected. I am so glad for the fellowship.

Today I took the day off, spent it with my mom, we went out to lunch then sat somewhere quiet to pray and remember my brother. We laughed and cried and talked. I had a good rest of the day, my kids were so easy to put to sleep and now I am typing this. I will continue to pray and remember him and his soul and continue to cherish the sobriety that allowed me to honour my brothers passing at a level I never knew I was capable off.

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SafeTrip, SLAA

#SafeTrip3 – Day Four – I am home


Just realized that day three and day four posts are less than 12 hours apart. hehehe.

So I said my prayers and went down for breakfast. I sat on a different table with a view to reflect on the sky and the beautiful cloud formation with the sun in the background. I loved it. When I got back to my room there was very little to pack in my bags as it was a really short trip and I managed to travel light. I checked out and got straight to the airport. I could honestly say that I had very few triggers or had no triggers but had thoughts of “it would be nice to act out while keeping my sobriety”. I wonder if an alcoholic ever thinks that it would be nice to have a glass of wine with dinner and stop there. Is that the same thing? Anyway, I didn’t. I knew I couldn’t.

One of the things that kept me going was the Skype meeting. I am hosting a weekly Skype meeting on Fridays at 8 PM NZ time. Last week we had the first conscience meeting. In the meeting we decided that service positions should only be occupied by members who have at least 30 days of continuous sobriety. We are a young group in the program and there is only me and some other guy who have such sobriety. The agreement was that he would be the chairperson and I will be the secretary. If I acted out, I couldn’t be serving on the meeting. And the meeting wouldn’t happen. That kept me sober.

While we are practicing before the meeting we had some technical issues that meant the other member couldn’t chair the meeting and I had to play both roles the chairperson and the secretary. I was very glad I remained sober.

I will keep this short for today, I want to thank you for keeping me company. I am not travelling again for work before the end of the year. I might be going with my family somewhere for the holiday break. Will keep you posted.

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SafeTrip, SLAA

#SafeTrip3 – Day Three


Good lovely morning everyone. The sun is out and it is a beautiful day. What is even more beautiful about it is I am flying home in just over 4 hours.

I drove to work yesterday and got there early enough to get myself settled before my first meeting. I had a good few meetings with my boss and colleagues. I had a call with my sponsor. He sounded a bit different than usual, almost made wonder if he had too much to drink. But it was still a helpful call.

There is a gay guy in the Sydney office that I met years ago and kept in touch over time. I made sure I contact him whenever I am in town with the hope of acting out with him. Yesterday I happened to stumble upon him in the office, I asked him out for coffee. We had coffee and chatted, I was very thankful to be sober and thankful I never acted out with him. He appeared uninterested and not that interesting. If I wasn’t sober I would have humiliated myself being flirty and suggestive, then hated myself for not getting what I wanted. This time I was just me, with my integrity and self-respect intact.

The rest of the work day went well. while at work I checked the blog notifications for people who liked my post. I got a like from OAPlascencia. As per my habit I go check people who liked my blog and try and read through their blog to know a bit more about them. this time the blog was full of beautiful words in stories or poems accompanied by pictures romantic in nature between two men. I found myself unable to read through cause it was about to feed my fantasies and trigger me.

After work I went to visit friends briefly and then went to a meeting. I am not a big fan of the SLAA H.O.W. meeting structure. But anyway, I got to share under the new comers’ category because it was my first time to this meeting. They then assigned someone to talk to me after the meeting to make me feel welcomed. It was nice.

After I finished the meeting I found myself wandering the streets of Sydney in my car. I was really hoping for company, connection. Didn’t necessarily want to act out, didn’t fantasise about sex or being touched but I did want to be with someone. Maybe I was trying to avoid feeling alone or lonely. I took a while driving everywhere before I eventually decided to turn on my GPS and head to the hotel. At the hotel I found a family stuck outside their hotel room. A young boy, a mother and a grandmother. They spoke my mother tongue. I called the reception for them to send someone and help them in. While waiting for the hotel staff to come I had a nice chat with them and even played a little with the young boy, he was my son’s age. It was nice, I got my company.

I got back to my room, changed out of my day cloths and had no energy to shower before I went to bed, I had the same feeling I had when I wasn’t sober. Back then I was really tired but I didn’t want to sleep because I might be missing an opportunity to act out. It was weird why I didn’t want to sleep this time because there was nothing planned. I eventually fell asleep with the TV on. Woke up in the middle of the night to switch the TV off and go back to bed.

It is another beautiful morning over here. I have exactly less than four hours to my flight, I am already showered and I don’t have much to pack. Will get dressed, go for breakfast and check out. At the airport I will try to spend some time preparing for the Skype meeting I have tonight, the topic is Anorexia. I need to prepare the script for the meeting and work with the chairperson on it. That will keep me occupied.

I will write to you again from home when I have reached 🙂 thanks for keeping me company

 

 

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SafeTrip

#SafeTrip3 – Day One


Looks like I am travelling a lot again. I haven’t been for a while and certainly not since I came to SLAA but then BOOM, I am a gold status again on my frequent flyer. It feels very different travelling sober. All that time and energy saved or utilized differently not to mention the restful sleep!

So I am in Sydney, if you are one of my regular readers you’d noticed I didn’t do the day zero post from the airport like I did the last two times. I was a bit short on time and I didn’t have much to share that was specific to the trip. So anyway I got on a plane, no one sitting next to me. Got to the airport and there were a couple of guys in the immigration queue that I exchanged short conversations with. One was clearly gay, no advances though from neither of us. The other guy was cute and just made me think what I would have been like if I wasn’t sober. Luckily I am.

I got my rental and went straight to my hotel, I am staying at the Novotel darling harbour, first time to stay there and I kind of expected more than they have to offer, but oh well, it is a nice place non-the less. I met my cousin who lives in Sydney, got to my room, had a quick shower and changed then the two of us headed off to a family friend’s home. There was a large gathering of my favourite family in Sydney. We had a great time, some food and a lot of laughter till past midnight. I was dead, needed to head home so bad.

I had a good sleep though short. Nice shower in the morning then I went down for breakfast. After breakfast I took a minute to stand in the restaurant balcony and just take in the sky, the clouds, and the fresh air, all of it and be thankful. I went back up to my room, ironed a shirt and said my prayers and now I am writing this. I actually almost decided not to post a #SafeTrip entry for this trip. Maybe for fear of it not being interesting. But then I am not writing it for entertainment and if I keep it up it might be a tradition that I do with every trip that help keeps me sober while on the road. The journal daily and tell the world how my day went. And more importantly see it for myself.

When I am done with this, I will make one last decision (drive to work or take a walk) then start with my meetings. Some of today’s meetings I am not fully prepared for so I hope they go well. I need to pay more attention to how I use my time at work and procrastinate less hehehe.

Thanks for keeping me company

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SLAA

Steps 6 and 7 – a lifetime process


Step Six “were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character”

Step Seven “Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings”

Step Seven prayer:

I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.
I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character
which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.
Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.

After completing step five I became increasingly aware of my character defects. it wasn’t the beating up session I expected it to be. you can found out more here. I have since been wondering, what does it really mean to be Entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. the instructions were short but clear, as long as there is nothing I want to hold on to, there is nothing I refuse to change then I am ready.

I had to look clearly at myself and what I have become through the addiction, then look at my recovery process and what I have become through the grace of God being sober. The answer was clear, I don’t want to hold on to being dishonest, selfish, proud, self-seeking etc. I couldn’t fathom how they’ll be removed, but that is not my job, I just need to be ready for God to remove them. and I felt that I am.

I recited the prayer above with my sponsor. I will probably include this as part of my prayer routine. I need be reminded that I am in fact not perfect, I do have character defects and I need God’s help to remove them. I need Him to remove my shortcomings not so that I become a perfect person, (cause I will never be), but so that I can be of service to mankind.

now, I need to make a list of all persons I had harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. see you in step 8

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SLAA

SLAA Retreat – Day three


So by the time I finished my post last night, the Quiz time had finished. While the quiz was going, one of the members came to me and asked me to search online for the bedtime story, the velveteen rabbit. Once the quiz finished, he told everyone that it is story time. People went off to get in their PJs and grab their blankets and got comfortable in the living room and then he started telling the story. It was really nice to listen to and the way he read it was wonderful.

Shortly after the story I was in bed. I had really deep sleep though I woke up with a bit of back ache. I also managed to sleep till almost 8 am. I had a nice warm shower and got ready for the day.

While I was preparing my breakfast, a gentleman was in the kitchen and started talking to me and we had a chat the turned into a full on conversation. He’s been in the program for a couple of years, he attended a few meetings regularly and then stopped and then came once and stopped again and he decided to show up to the camp. He learned a great deal and felt like he has to keep working the program. While we chatted he opened up and shared about our lives, something touched him in my story and his tears started flowing. It sounded like he felt so lonely and isolated. Feelings I often experience and relate to.

We had our first session for the day which were on steps 10/11/12. The sharing was very helpful. Then we had our morning tea and the same gentleman asked me if we could chat a bit more. We got into a private corner and started sharing again. He was straight, I have same sex attraction, so our acting out activities are not the same. Yet we found a lot of commonalities in our patterns and our feelings. It was a great chat. We agreed to stay in touch and outreach. We live in two different cities but this fellowship isn’t limited by geographical boundaries.

We had a final session before lunch were we each had a chance to get current and thank the organisers of the camp. It was wonderful. I felt like I was on a family holiday. While it was intense emotionally and I felt exhausted at the end of every day, I felt home. I was loved and loving others in return, I was accepted and accepting those around me and looking forward to a future of continued recovery.

I wrote this on the plane back to Auckland, I am now at home, had dinner with the kids and they are sound asleep 🙂 have a good day everyone.

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Recovery, SLAA

SLAA Retreat – Day one


I am now attending the SLAA Retreat in Wellington. A few of us flew to wellington and hired a car to the retreat location.  the first day had only one session, we basically arrived, had a light meal for dinner then went straight into a meeting. the first meeting was just about getting current and sharing how we are feeling, and how we are in relation to the camp.

after the meeting some of us took a walk down to the river and I took a few shots. not the best picture quality but they were too beautiful not to share. 🙂

this is where I am spending the weekend with other SLAA members

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this is the river down the hill

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the other side of the river down the hill

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SafeTrip, SLAA

#SafeTrip2 – Day five – I am home


On my last day of the trip I went to the morning face to face meeting that takes place every Saturday. I was feeling shame and humiliation that kept me humble. I have always shared things that looked good and sounded good. this time I new I needed to be vulnerable and share my imperfect work. it was a burden, but I am glad I got it out. after the meeting some of the members went for coffee and it was good to catch up with them in an informal setting. then I went to my hotel to pack up.

I checked out and went to visit family that lived in Singapore, we got out, ran some errands and then visited with some friends who came to catch up before I fly. it felt great. I was so glad to have been sober during that time. then as the evening approached I was on my way to the airport.

at the airport I did a bit of shopping, then hung out with a colleague who happened to be flying back on the same flight. so she kept me company till we took off. it was good.

on the flight I sat next to a young female fresh graduate on her first business trip. we exchanged a short conversation and then I was in deep sleep before the flight took off that I missed the first meal. I watched a couple of movies when I woke up and then it was breakfast time and shortly after I landed back in New Zealand.

I was happy to be home, happy to see my kids, my wife and my mom who is visiting us. I was warmly welcomed. while I was so tired I still went to the face to face meeting that afternoon cause I needed to be with other SLAA members. I needed to check in back into the country and announce my return. I also got to share about how I put myself at risk on my last night of the trip.

it was a full day hence the delayed post. kids took for ever to go to bed and I am tired but I feel alright. 🙂

thanks for keeping me company during my second trip sober by the grace of God.

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