Jomtien, 8th December, 2009

Today I am 100 days sober.

As I said to the meeting this morning, at one hundred days, I am now breaking new ground in terms of my sobriety.

The previous time around, I made it to just over ninety days and then lapsed, but this time I have to say I feel a lot more confident and feel sure I have taken my last drink.

In recent times I seem to have spent a lot of time falling out with friends, making up again, and then falling out with others. One of the friends I did fall out with some ninety odd days ago was a good friend in Chiang Mai who chaired the AA meeting I attended when I blew up and stormed out and started drinking. I behaved like an arsehole, and who could blame him for “keeping his distance”.

Anyway I am delighted to report that within the last couple of weeks we have started corresponding again, and today, on my 100 day ‘celebration’, we “text chatted” for a while on Skype. I can’t tell you how pleased I was that we seem to have finally put all that bad stuff behind us, and it made me feel really good, as I do value him so much as a friend. Furthermore we’re both ‘newcomers’ in AA terms – less than 1 year’s sobriety – and I think we can support each other in our strivings to remain sober for the long haul.

So my Chiang Mai friend is back in the “Mobi fold”, but  I am now grieving the loss of Dave and Bob, two of my very oldest friends, and of course, I am having guilt trips over whether or not I have done the right thing.

Dave didn’t help yesterday, when he sent me the following email:

“Such a time ago.

Such unlikely a meeting.

Such unlikely occurrence: Unlike minds, yet we remain together even though I at least have probably never been (and you’ve certainly never asked me to be) anything like you might’ve wanted me to be.But times change and you ask me to join you in an exercise which is too far from me. An exercise that (please allow me to express it this way) is so far from me it would, in my mind, require becoming what nature dictated we aren’t – like minds.

Such a time ago . . .

Miniscule street bar with seats for three customers. Or a hotel room. Or a bar at the end of some narrow Sukhumvit access gap. Mobile ringing. Mine. Wee hours. Abed. Asleep. A voice. A need. Has he been abandoned? Or has he walked out? Doesn’t matter.

“Dave, you doing anything?”

“I’ll be right there.”

I’ve always been there, mobi.

I always will.”

My main reaction to this email was one of hurt. Dave is effectively telling me that he was there for me, so I should be there for him.

I have to stretch my memory to recall the occasions when he was there for me – a few months ago when I was in relapse and he came by my hotel in Bangkok and gave me some pills that made me so woozy and I felt so divorced from reality that I stopped taking them after 1 day, and the only other occasion was around 8 years ago when I was ripped of by one of the many ladies in my life, and he kindly arranged for his assistant to help me, who in turn proceeded to also rip me off.  Thank you Dave. If that’s what “being there for you” is all about, I’d rather you stayed away.

On the other hand, I cannot recall a time when I haven’t devoted a great deal of time, and often money to help Dave through his countless medical crises, and also in various attempts through the years to get him back on his feet and into a situation where he could earn a living. From the days long ago when  tried to help him run his recording studio, through to the eighties and early nineties when I spent a great deal of time, and not little expense in preparing and sending off excerpts of his dairy to agents, publishers, (in the forlorn hope that someone may agree to public and provide Dave with an income), to the setting up of a Limited partnership and other work I did to enable Dave to run an export business, (which failed due to his lethargy, drinking and for some strange reason, his expectation that I would do all the work for him), to all the times I have rushed to his help when he has had yet another drinking/medical crisis. I have recounted in detail my recent efforts, but the reality is that the help and support I have given him this year is just the tip of the iceberg.

This is the first time I have really thought about what I have done for Dave over the past thirty years in these terms. I did it because he was my  friend, and I wanted to help him. I never sought or expected anything in return, and frankly, never received anything.

But now he seems to be suggesting that I have deserted him.

Well I suppose I have, and probably should have done a long time ago. But he is “putting it on me” I guess that’s pretty much par for the course for a chronic alcoholic.

Alcoholics are dominated by their egos, and everything in their lives is all about them. So I suppose the couple of times that he thinks he has helped me are far more dominant in his mind that anything I have done for him. OK that’s fine, I understand that.

But his ego must be close to bursting when he tries to tell me that the “exercise” (going to AA) is too far from him… that his mind is “too far removed from such things”. To me this is so egotistical, (And Bob is very similar – must be a trait amongst musicians),

He (Dave) is the special one. All this AA common to garden stuff is not for him. He would never demean himself by being among such ordinary mortals.

Yet I have told him over and over, (and it just shows how much he listens to what I say), that the folk I have met in AA are amongst the brightest, most erudite and deepest thinkers that I have met anywhere. They are from all walks of life, some highly educated and some had very successful careers until the booze got the better of them. Although many, it has to be admitted ended up in the gutter, and some ended up in jail, (including me!). But even those at the bottom of the pile have somehow pulled themselves out of that gutter and have succeeded in their sobriety to lead useful, happy lives, some with very successful jobs and businesses.

And they are all characters – funny, interesting, tragic, crazy, lovely, generous and kind characters. Every single one of them will try to help you, if you let them. Dave and Bob don’t know what they are missing.

What reasonable person, who by his own admittance at the point of death, wouldn’t at least give AA a go? Or just go to a couple of meetings to humour one of his lifelong friends? All he has to do is sit in a room , with a cup of coffee, for one hour and listen. He doesn’t have to say a single word, either in the meeting, or before or after it. Not that hard is it?

Or is it all about his reluctance to look at his spiritual side? Probably – but again, to me, there is so much arrogance in his refusal to even consider that there may be ‘another way’.

Well that’s got that off my chest.

Tomorrow, (God willing),  back to the “Retirement Years”.

5 thoughts on “Jomtien, 8th December, 2009”

  1. Try

    They have 16 online meetings a week – so he can try it in the privacy of his own home. They also have face to face meetings in Australia for your friend Bob.

    AA does work for some people. For people who believe there is a religious or spiritual element to themselves. But for people don’t believe this, that don’t believe they are powerless, that don’t believe there salvation can only come from a higher power, it won’t work. AA is successful for some people because you’re replacing one addiction with another (more physically healthy addiction). I need a drink to get me through the day, I need the AA to stay sober. If it works for you fine, but there are other ways.

    Many, many former drunks have become sober without the AA. If your friend is opposed to the AA, maybe for the spiritual element, which you hint at in your post, maybe it will help him.

    Non-religious organisations like SMART are also recommended by many governments, etc. and have worked for many chronic and hopeless alcoholics who the AA has failed. I am one of them.

    From their FAQ

    Q. How is SMART Recovery® different from traditional Twelve Step programs?

    A. SMART Recovery® has a scientific foundation, not a spiritual one. SMART Recovery® teaches increasing self-reliance, rather than powerlessness. SMART Recovery® views addictive behavior as a maladaptive habit, rather than as a disease. SMART Recovery® meetings are discussion meetings in which individuals talk with one another, rather than to one another. SMART Recovery® encourages attendance for months to years, but probably not a lifetime. There are no sponsors in SMART Recovery®. SMART Recovery® discourages use of labels such as “alcoholic” or “addict”.


    1. I’ve never heard of this organisation so I am not in a position to comment.

      When I have some time away from my main distractions of the moment , I will read about it, research it and respond to you. I honestly don’t think either of my friends would have any interest in looking into this, but if and when I see something of value in it, I will certainly refer it to them.

      Thank you.


  2. One of the problems of joining a cult is that you tend to leave your old friends behind – it’s the way a cult works. AA might help some people stop drinking but it is run like a religious cult and this puts off many people.

    Maybe instead of insisting that the AA is the only way for your friend to reach sobriety you should suggest he try one of the other programs that don’t include the religious/spiritual element. He, like many people, probably rejects the AA because of this element. Is your purpose to get your friend healthy or to recruit new members for the cult?


    1. Thank you for your comment.

      Firstly I would like to remind you and other readers that I have complete control over comments received and have the power to approve, delete or edit them as I see fit.

      However, In the interests of fairness, I have decided to publish every comment , provided it is not abusive or overly insulting.

      So to reply to your comment, I think I can do no more than repeat a relevant section of my response that I made some months back in reply to a similar comment:

      ……”Now to your comment that AA claims the only way to sobriety is through the AA programme. That simply is not true, and if I have implied this in my blog, then I apologise.

      If you read the “Big Book” and other AA literature, you will see that AA never make this claim, and in fact they state very clearly that they welcome any new medical or other research and ideas that may assist an alcoholic to recover. They have not closed their minds to any alternative therapies, and they have never claimed that theirs is the only way.

      What I meant to say, or should have said, is that the AA programme, for a great many people will be their only hope to remain sober, simply because of their personal situations, ( jail, on probation down & out, broke, etc etc ) they would not have any access to any other kind of therapy. AA therapy is free, and it works for those who choose to embrace it. Most other forms of therapies involve financial outlays, which many alcoholics do not have access to.

      One further point. I am sure you must be aware that many medical establishments, social services, courts, throughout the western world approve of the AA programme, because they have seen that it works, and continually refer alcoholics to AA meetings as part of their therapy/recovery attempts.

      In other words it is widely recognized by experts in this field as a method that can work very well. It is also a fact that many alternative AA recovery therapies embrace much of the Twelve step approach, pioneered and developed by the AA Fellowship.

      We are all in this this together, and what ever way to recovery that works for you and countless others around the world, is absolutely OK in my book, and I am sure in the books of all AA members……”

      I don’t see the the social services and courts in many western countries (including The USA and the UK) and some of the most distinguished doctors and psychiatrists that ever lived, regarding AA as a religious cult.

      And you know why? Because for many chronic and hopeless alcoholics, it is the only thing that has been known to work.

      As for Dave in Bangkok? Can you suggest some alternative therapy for him that may be available in Bangkok and can you pay his fees? (Because I certainly can’t.)

      As for your suggestion that I merely wish to recruit my friend for “this cult”, all that I can say is that you haven’t read what I have written very carefully or you would know that I have tried everything for many years, including right up to his last lapse a couple weeks ago to find a way to bring him to sobriety without insisting that he try AA. Indeed, the AA guidelines themselves advise you not to INSIST or to PUSH a person into AA, and I have never done this.

      I have simply given up because there is clearly no way forward for Dave and as sure as eggs are eggs, he will lapse again, if he hasn’t done so already.

      I have told him that there is nothing more that I, personally, can do for him, but if he changes his mind about AA then I will try to arrange for him to get to a meeting. The decision is, (and always has been), his and his alone. No one will coerce him into something he doesn’t wish to do.


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