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."