12 Step Planet - Jim W. The Story Teller
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An Amazing Teacher , Stories about addiction and recovery, Clean and Sober life styles
               Long -Timers They Have Their Own Language

They have a different perception - Always giving it away  

How can a person with 4 days identify with a person with more than 40 years?  

It happens! It is an amazing quality few people possess to be able to make that connection. If you have been around recovery for a while I think there are some people out there that may identify to this. It is my experience that every once in a while I will cross paths with a Long Timer. (Long Timer is a polite way to say old-timer)    

These Long Timers seem to somehow develop their own language through the years. For me they seem to do a lot of teaching without mentioning the book or even recovery. My sponsor taught me that every once in a while Long Timers will drop "Bombs" when my sponsor drops them I walk away and end up calling him later and thank him after I digest it.  

Tonight I am writing mostly about another Long Timer that has even more time sober than my sponsor. This man I am writing about has over 45 years and is respected by many men and women, his name is Jim W.

The sponsorship families are very strong in Orange County and this fellow is sponsor, grand sponsor, great grand sponsor, great great grand sponsor, great great great grand sponsor, and so on. To many men.... There are a few others in a meeting I attend regularly like Tony and Don that I learn from each week too. But the fellow I am writing about is the senior in the group and what a way he has of teaching us men with less time especially the guys with just a few days.

It is almost always with a story.  

He and others teach things like.... We no longer have problems - We have challenges. And a great prayer that can put a person to sleep at night is.... Replace Fear with Faith   We are often reminded that any challenge we might be going through is a challenge that at least one of the over 100 men that attend the meeting can help with if we reach out. I asked Jim if I could write about a couple of his stories. First you have to picture him. He is in his 70's trim but in great shape, he is hilariously funny and animated at times. Though there have been several moments he has turned red and come to tears when telling different stories as well.  

One I fondly remember is the one when he was new to recovery, everyone can relate to. He talks about not believing for one minute that everyone actually stayed 100% sober win he was new. He was nearly certain that people in the program drank socially or at least took a few nips from time to time and he then tells the story about the day he had his chance to prove it. He was at the horse track it's the 1970's and from a distance he spotted a fellow he knew from a meeting he attended. This fellow had some time in the program and this was his chance to prove that folks have a beer or a drink on occasions, so he immediately crouched down and scooted behind a pillar to follow this man. He was certain this fellow was going to take a drink! He followed him for hours. Ducking and diving behind pillars, walls and fences waiting for him to have just one beer. So then he could have one himself. The man never drank that day, and neither did he. He believes that man may have saved his life by not drinking that day. 

I love the way he connects with a lot of us by saying often that though he has never done drugs before. It was not really by choice or that he is better than any of us that have. He mentions that they were just not available in the 50's and 60's that he knew of where he was living and if they were he would certainly have been knee deep in drug addiction as well.
Like the rest of us his addiction was to more of whatever was available.   

Another story he tells about he and his Lady friend having a house in the desert, it was a beautiful house with a landscaped back yard it was a magnificent view all fenced in. It was fenced in part for a pet turtle this lady friend had. This turtle had everything right there, it was like turtle Heaven and he would watch the turtle day after day try and get out of the fenced in yard where on the other side of the fence it was nothing but desert. This story is a lot more funny and makes more of a impact when he tells it with his impression of the turtle stretching his head through the fences trying frantically to get through somehow, and then comparing the turtle to being new in the recovery and always wanting to be somewhere else when things are just sober and fine right here. You would have to see and hear him tell it to really appreciate this one.  

He tells another short story sometimes about being sober and having business to attend to at one of the old bars he used to frequent often 5 years ago “The Lotus Room” and when he walked in many of the same people were still there in the same seats and as he past them one fellow said "Hey Jim", as if it had not been 5 years. He said it as if he were there for all those years. Not one person from the bars ever called him to check on him in years. In recovery if he misses a meeting he may get a call from 10 different people or so calling to check on him. He speaks to scores of recovery friends each week, people just calling to check in.  

Sometimes the messages are more subtle and only he can relay the real depth.  

One of my favorite stories he tells is when he had double digit sobriety and had a job as a house inspector and he went to inspect this very nice home that was being built. He arrived and it was certainly still under construction, he also realized he was the only one there. He entered the house and started inspecting it, when he went upstairs to the beautiful house and he entered one of the master bath rooms and something caught his eye. They had gold shower heads in all the showers upstairs. He had always wanted a gold shower head, and the more he thought about it, before he knew it he was touching it and turning it and then magically it came off and was in his hands. He began to tell himself that they would never miss this thing; they would just think someone forgot to put this one on or something. So he took the shower head down to the car opened the trunk and threw it in. Jumped in the seat and started driving off when something hit him that this was not so bright. He stopped the car and began to think and now shaking at this point he turned the car around pulled up to the house opened the trunk grabbed the shower head ran up stairs and into the bathroom where he just set it on the tile floor next to the stall. And then he ran out to his car. A short time later he was in a meeting and he began telling this story and what he had done and maybe just maybe what it could have cost him. He finished and everyone clapped and even cheered. The next week one of the fellows showed up at the meeting with guess what? A gold shower head as a gift.  

He has several serious stories/lessons, like growing up and his mother getting married to a black man and how he learned from that man and he saw firsthand how the relationship was before its time for that era. Though the man had great timing for very different reasons and dignity.  

He tells stories always with the hope that someone with less time will identify and have less fear. Like when he was scared to do his 4th and 5th and finally told his sponsor he was in fear of what he would think or heaven forbid someone find out what a horrible person he was. And he tells us how his sponsor at the time, now deceased shared with him that he was an enforcer for a connected family and asked him if he knew what it was like to choke a man to death? Nothing else was discussed and he shared how he was then able to do his 4th and 5th without any more questions.  

He has shared many times about his marriages often helping folks having challenges with theirs. Often he admits his own short comings and defects. Reminding folks that 3 marriages were in sobriety and we are reminded that it is progress not perfection that we are all work in progress and he has learned not go pass engaged to be married.  

He shares how through the years he has watched, seen and heard of 1000's of people relapsing and how out of fear of ever relapsing himself he would go and asked the people. What happened? Why did you relapse sincerely wanting to know so he himself would not make the same mistake. And nearly all said the same thing in the end. They would talk about their bosses or wives or husbands ,finances, children, other pressures and then way down at the end nearly each one of the 1000's would say as if it were not so important. “Oh and then I stopped going to meetings"  

I mentioned earlier there have been many serious conversations and tears. The last year was this man’s toughest challenge ever. He learned that his own son had terminal cancer. At first he and the group thought a miracle might happen. Though as the months went by the group became tighter and tighter until the day came where his son had died.   The bond these men have is something I crave, they are my heroes. I have been privileged to watch and hear how this program works in so many different ways.  

I am reminded I am not near the man some of these men are that have walked before me, perhaps one day I will be.    
I am just scratching the surface of what this program is really about. Thank God I have men like this Long Timer and others to teach me and keep me right sized and teachable. 

Even within hours of losing his son,  He reminds the group in tears.  

"That it's true for me, just as I believe it's true for all of you. That none of you have had your best day yet."