The Fabric of Recovery

February 27

Into the fabric of recovery from alcoholism are woven the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions.

— Daily Reflections: A Book of Reflections by A.A. Members for A.A. Members (Kindle Location 447).

I really enjoy the phrase, “fabric of recovery.”  This morning, I spent most of my meeting thinking about this phrase and struggling to put together coherent thoughts about it.  There were many ideas that came to mind — connectedness, frayed ends, raw fibers, oneness — And I just couldn’t put it all together to share with the group.

So, I’m going to try here.

When I think about a “fabric of recovery,” I think of the people that I know in recovery, my sober twitter friends, my family, my “normie” friends, the tools that I get in AA, the literature that I read — literally all the things that go into this thing we call recovery.   Each and every one is like a fiber that is woven into the fabric.

A fabric is in interconnected weave of fibers.  The people who I meet in person or online who are in recovery are fibers in the fabric of my recovery.  We are all connected by a common problem.  We are all one.

(I actually believe this about humanity and am fascinated by connections and connectivity — that’s probably why I work in computer networking.)

Just like those of us in recovery,  fabrics are strewn with imperfections, particularly when they are first woven.  It’s only after many twists and turns in the manufacturing process that we get clothing with smooth finishes.

Interestingly, connections can be described as attachment, and yet attachment becomes problematic.  I referenced shenpa in a recent post.  When we become too attached to something and ruminate on it, it can become the source of our problems.

I’m not sure that I’ve completely ironed out my thoughts on this, but I do very much like the phrase “fabric of recovery”.

I’m thankful that I went to the meeting this morning and took time to reflect on this phrase, even if I haven’t completely worked out what it all means.

My Story

My first experience with booze was pretty miserable.  I was probably about 13 years old or so when a friend came over to my house while my parents were not home.  Never one to miss an opportunity to misbehave, he suggested that we should get drunk.  We locked my brother out of the house and proceeded to raid my parents liquor stash.  In order to assure that they wouldn’t notice, my friend suggested that we take a little from each bottle and combine them all into a tumbler.  Then we took shots.

Imagine, if you will, a concoction that included (minimally) the following: vodka, bourbon, creme de mint, liquor 43, peach schnapps and possible tequila.   It is a wonder I didn’t hurl on the first drink.

We got good and drunk. Continue reading

Leaning In to “The God Talk”

On Twitter, I’ve been fairly open about the fact that I’ve had some concerns with “the program” as of late.

In meetings, I’ve said things like, “I’m not sure this program is right for me,” or “I don’t have a problem with a Higher Power, but I do have a problem with what the author wrote,” in reaction to readings from Daily Reflections.Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 5.26.28 PM

Over the past few days, I’ve given this a lot of thought and I think I’ve come to terms with what’s been niggling me.  It’s true that I don’t have a problem believing in a higher power, or a God if that’s what you call it.  I actually attend church on a relatively regular basis, though I will confess that there are things about it that get under my skin.

What I have been struggling with is that I feel that there is an under current of fundamentalist evangelicalism in some of the AA literature that I’ve been reading.  There seems to be a notion of “being saved” by a power greater than me — a notion of redemption.  And that is exactly what doesn’t sit well with me.  I posted this to StopDrinking on Reddit last night and got some good feedback.  A few people suggested that perhaps I was reading too much into things.  And maybe I am.  I don’t know.

What I do know is that I have never bought in to the idea of being saved.  I believe too strongly in the idea of freedom of will and in personal responsibility to accept the notion that a higher power can “save” me.   Continue reading

The day dad died

Fourteen years ago today, I lost one of the best friends I ever had. I miss you Dad.

s t e a d y

This started as a comment for Johnny’s blog at but then I realized this was really a story that needed to be told on…

There’s nothing stupid about the realization that you don’t know how lucky you are until something bad happens to you. Sometimes it just takes a tragedy to make you stop, at least it did for me.

I didn’t get to say goodbye to my dad before he died. He was admitted to the hospital on 2/1/2002, which as about a week after he’d had a “routine” colonoscopy. In fact, Gus and I went to an outdoors show with dad on Jan 31st and I remember having a smoked sausage sandwich with him, it didn’t sit well with him. Somehow this is relevant.

I was working a “high-powered” job, or at least I thought I was, and had to go to Denver for business the week…

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Presidents Weekend, Maine, 2016

IMG_1972On Friday we did something that most folks would find foolish.  We headed north rather than south in the middle of winter.  We flew to Maine.  We left the relative warmth of Maryland (23F when we left) for the relative cold of central Maine (-9F on Sunday morning).  But our time here has been full of warmth.  And not simply because there’s been a fire burning non-stop in the white cast iron stove in the living room, because we’ve been with our good friends, Shawn and Andy and their daughters.

IMG_1942We flew into Portland around lunch-time on Friday and headed into the city to find some grub.  We settled on a place called Duckfat.  Now, I’m a fan of duck fat — whether its the name of a restaurant in Portland or the actual fat of a duck, so there was really no other option.  I didn’t even need to look at the menu, which by the way, is full of goodness.  Belgian Frittes, Brussels sprouts with lardons, brisket panini’s, a nice selection of beers — even if I’m not drinking them, I still look a the menu — and house made sodas (I did sample a cherry flavored concoction which was fantastic).

IMG_1956After lunch, we took a trip to L. L. Bean in Freeport.  Mr. Grey had a blast looking at the fish in both the trout pond and the fish tank.  We also got him a new winter jacket — a 650 fill down sweater — which ended instantly the fights about wearing his winter coat in the cold.  Best $99 I’ve spent in a long time.  After a sufficient amount of time (and money) was spent at Bean, we headed up the road to Oakland.

It had been two years since I saw the entire Kalback clan at one time.  We instantly fell into good conversations and the kids started to play as if they’d been playing together every day for the past two years.  We all snuck out on the ice of Salmon Lake for a bit before the light faded and it was an early night for everyone.

A few years ago, we visited in the fall, and I have very distinct memories of feeling like I couldn’t get enough to drink.  There was plenty of beer available, but I could tell that my drinking was different than my friends.  I was not satisfied with a few beers.  Looking back on that, it should have been a stronger warning sign to me than it was, but I didn’t heed that warning.

IMG_1979Saturday, after having breakfast, we headed out in the cold and snow to a place called Quarry Road Trails, where the kids sledded and Mrs. TKD and I went for a snowshoe walk on a trail. As we were walking around I couldn’t help but think to myself, this is what its supposed to be like.  This is living.

One thing about Maine that’s for certain — you get a real sense of the vastness of the world and the universe.  You come to understand quickly that you are a tiny speck in terms of the rest of the universe.  There’s something chilling and awesome about that realization all at once.

After returning to the house, Shawn, Andy and I went for a snowshoe hike on with their dog Cutler.  I overdressed and quickly found myself hot and sweaty, which was not a good thing in the cold.  We were only out for an hour, but by the time we got home, my sweaty undershirt was making me cold.  I’d remember that the next day.

Sunday was very cold and the wind was chilling.  My weather underground app said that it felt like -23F.  I believe it.  Because of that, our outside time was curtailed quite a bit.  We took the kids to the local Y and they enjoyed some time in several bounce-house contraptions.  Shawn was kind enough to watch the kids while Mrs. TKD and I went into Waterville and had a cup of coffee at Jorgensen’s Cafe.IMG_1971

Again, in the late afternoon, Andy and I took Cutler for a stroll.  I wore less clothes and was not cold at the end of the hike.

In a few hours, we’ll be packing up and heading down to Portland for the night and then tomorrow we will be flying back to Maryland.  It will be back to the grind for me and with that thought there is a sense of dread.  That may mean its time to start making some other changes, but it’s to early to tell.


Stop Struggling?

The past few weeks have been somewhat trying — not so much in terms of not drinking but in terms of feeling overwhelmed by life. It’s just been plain busy and hectic. 

This has led to some re-evaluation on my part. I haven’t figured it all out by any means but I am coming to question many things about the 12 step program. 

Lots of people seem to suggest that the key is acceptance and surrender — that the key is to stop struggling. I get that but  it is counterintuitive. 

Life is struggle. 

Life is suffering. 

These are truths. 

If you give up the struggle, aren’t you giving up life?