Tag Archives: AA

Questions From a Normie #5


By Chris Alvarez

What Do You Do in Those Meetings?

“Those” meetings also know as AA meetings or 12 step meetings are private. So for me to tell you what exactly what happens in them would be wrong. However I can give you an overview, and touch on the reasons why we do what we do.

Basically AA meetings are places where people who want to stop drinking or using can go to get help. They are also a great way for those who have stopped drinking to maintain their sobriety and serenity. In the meetings people  come in and share their experience strength and hope.  Cakes and chips are given to celebrate and acknowledge milestones in sobriety and show newcomers that it is possible to stay sober.

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A meeting is a place where you can speak your mind and ask for help. It is a therapeutic community of people whose only care is that you stay sober and live well.  Over the past 22 months I have experienced more love and support in these meetings than I ever thought was possible.

The knowledge and support that was so freely given to me must be given away if I wish to keep anything I have received.  All I have to say is that meetings are awesome and if you or anyone you know needs help just hit a meeting and there will be many people willing to help. Or just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Community, Compulsive Gambling, Education, Gratitude, Sobriety

I Feel Nothing


By: Chris Alvarez      

Yesterday one of my cousins died and I feel nothing. I don’t feel sad and I don’t feel depressed. I just don’t know how.

However I do know how to feel nothing. Well, I know how to feel this physical manifestation (being continuously out of breath like being punched in the stomach) of what I think is grief.

Luckily I can feel this “grief” and be sober.  This isn’t the first death I have experienced in my 11 months of sobriety it’s the third.  It’s strange what sobriety does to you.  If I were still drinking I would “appear” to feel so much more.  I would cry, I would mope, and I would act out.  But the amazing thing about sobriety is that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and if it means not expressing my feelings then that’s ok. I can accept my inability to express and feel my feelings.

The acceptance of something I cannot change is a big part of sobriety and dealing with grief. Mortality is something that cannot be changed. As a sober person I am forced to accept that.  Just because I can’t feel my feelings doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. It just means that I am human and have to eventually learn to deal with them.

Right now I deal with grief by not feeling. You might be different but that’s the beauty of being human.  We are all unique and we deal with life in our own different ways. Feelings don’t make you who you are. And that’s the beauty of being human.

If you have any stories about dealing with grief let us know.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Gratitude, Sobriety, Uncategorized

Questions From a Normie #4


By Chris Alvarez

What is a sponsor?

A sponsor isn’t a friend. A sponsor isn’t a therapist. A sponsor isn’t a parent. A sponsor is something more. A sponsor is someone who has something you want.  They help those who desire sobriety regain a life worth living by taking them through the twelve steps.

Well… that’s what they are supposed to do but most of the time they end up doing a lot more.

Although a sponsor is supposed to be a guide and help keep their sponsees on a path of sobriety, the sponsee ends up helping the sponsor more than they will ever know. It’s been my experience that when I let someone help me, it also helps them.

A sponsor ends up becoming so close to their sponsees that secrets cease to exist.  They make their sponsees do things that they don’t want to do, they take sponsees out of their comfort zones and help them overcome their fears.

Ultimately all I can surely say is that my sponsor has helped make me the person I am today; and by sponsoring someone else I learn how to stay sober, or as Peter F. Drucker said, “No one learns as much about a subject as one who is forced to teach it.”

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Compulsive Gambling, Education, Gratitude, Sobriety, Spirituality, T'Shuvah, Uncategorized

Questions From A Normie #3


By Chris Alvarez

                        Can you still go out to clubs and bars?

Going out to clubs and bars was something I really enjoyed.  It was a time when I could let loose, act crazy and hit on girls.  99.9% of the time I had to be drunk to do it.  However, now I can act crazy without being drunk, can have fun while being sober, and can have enough self-confidence to approach women and accept being shot down. 

That’s how I operate now.  Nevertheless the ability to go out to bars and clubs can differ from person to person.  Some people can go out, while others can’t.  It all depends on what triggers you have and how well you deal with them.  I would never say to someone that has one week sober that they are ok to go to a bar, I wasn’t ok to go out to clubs and bars at one week sober either.  For many of us though, time has a way of helping you cope.

No matter how much sober time you accumulate, some people will never feel 100% comfortable with going to these places. Those people come to accept that fact and live perfectly happy lives.

So to answer the question; I can go to clubs and bars as long as I stay focused and know that I can’t drink and don’t need a drink either.

If you are a “normie” and would like to know more leave a comment and I will answer any questions you have.

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Filed under 12-Steps, addiction, Alcoholics Anonymous, Dating, Sobriety, Uncategorized

Questions from a Normie


By Chris Alvarez

In response to the feedback from our recent blog about normies, we thought we’d start answering some more common questions that crop up for alcoholics.

A Normie Asks:              

Why can’t you just have one drink every once in a while?

There are times when I wish I could have just one drink. There are times when I wish I could drink on special occasions and there are times when I wish I could have just one sip.  But this can’t be.  I’ve tried this and I couldn’t do it.  At first it might have seemed like I was capable of doing it, but in every instance, over time my tendencies to drink to excess have always come back.

No AlcoholOne drink a week might turn into two drinks a week, two drinks a week might turn into a drink a day and a drink a day might turn into a drink an hour.  This is how I drink.  I know it.  Every once in a while just can’t happen.

The same logic applies to drinking on special occasions.  I could try and only drink at weddings but then I would probably make an excuse like, “Ohh I can drink at weddings so I can drink on holidays too.” My alcoholic thinking would bastardize that logic and I would end up saying, “Ohh look, the suns out today. I can drink.” or “Look, it’s cloudy today, time to drink.” No matter what, I can’t drink.  If I have one drink I’ll find an excuse to have many more, and that just can’t happen.

What are some questions that you have gotten from normies?  Normies, what have you always wanted to ask an alcoholic?  Leave your questions in the comments below.

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Everyone’s A Star On the Beit T’Shuvah Stage


By Chris Alvarez

An inspiring evening, chock-full of smashing successes and blockbuster performances recently took place within the confines of the Beit T’Shuvah sanctuary.  Residents past and present, staff, and temple members took part in the annual talent show, which was a night that few will forget.

By far the most highly attended talent show in Beit T’Shuvah’s history, the night started off with an amazing array of performances.  Playing to a standing room only crowd, resident and intern Gabi S wowed the crowd with her rousing and emotive rendition of Aretha Franklins 1967 hit song, “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”  A hilariously inspiring song and dance number by Rabbi Shira, including backup dancers, followed Gabi’s performance.  Subsequently, those in attendance were treated to Jeff L’s energetic performance of The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Beit T'Shuvah Talent Show

After the first Act, it was undeniably clear that the courage and strength of all the performers was contagious, and I found myself wishing I had something to share with the community.  If this opening act was any indication of what was to come—the audience would assuredly be impressed with Act 2.

The second Act began with a sanctification of musical genius. Former residents Zach D and Aaron D performed two cover songs with their band, The Vultures.  The performance, which brought the crowd to its feet, was spirited, energetic, and fun—they are glowing examples of what courage, patience, and determination has to offer.  Afterwards the crowd was treated to a hilarious comedy routine by up-and-coming talent, Geoffrey F, who, with the help of Beit T’Shuvah, is realizing his dream of becoming a stand-up comic.  The comedy continued with Yonah F’s hysterical original song, “Day-Patient Princess,” which poked fun at a timeless theme in recovery, the “13th Step.”

The night closed with Gabi returning to the stage, this time with Arielle T, the duet closed out the night by performing the motivational song, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” sending a message to all in attendance that no matter what obstacles you face there is a way to overcome them.

What was your favorite moment or performance from the talent show?

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Out of The Ashes


By Chris Alvarez

On May 18, 1980 Mt. St. Helens erupted, completely annihilating the surrounding areas.  The eruption was the most powerful volcanic event in the lower 48 states, since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California.  The explosion was as powerful as 24 megatons of TNT, 9 megatons more than the most powerful hydrogen bomb ever built by the US. It turned hundreds of miles of forest into wasteland described by President Jimmy Carter as, “more inhospitable than the surface of the moon,” and destroyed nearly 185 miles worth of highway.  Along with destroying forests and infrastructure, it also destroyed a way of life that had existed in the area for nearly 80 years.

Mt. St. Helens

On January 24, 2012 the volcano of addiction that was my life erupted for the last time.

I recently visited Mt. St. Helens, and was surprised to see that while 30 years had passed since the terrible eruption, the area was still in recovery.  For me, my addiction was a volcano that was endlessly erupting and destroying my life one tiny piece at a time. It’s been only 7 months but I am astonished with what I have achieved in my recovery so far.

When I decided that I wanted to get sober I knew that my old life was over.  I came to believe that the way I had lived my life would have eventually killed me, and I knew I needed to stop.  Since then, I have lived a life filled with recovery.  Even, “in my darkest hour, my deepest despair, through my trials and tribulations and my hurt and my sorrows,” (my favorite lyrics from Michael Jackson’s hit song Will You Be There), there is still hope and recovery.  This reminded me of an image I saw when I visited Mt. St. Helens—flowers being birthed from the corpse of the murdered forest.  If addiction is an exploding volcano, then recovery is the regrowth of flowers from the corpse of my past.

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