This weekend I reconnected with a friend whom I have know since 1982, if my memory serves me. We met in an bar. Being an Australian, this will come as no surprise. The bar was styled in a country ‘n’ western theme. I remember vaguely it had ‘wagon or wheels’ in the title?
My friend and I, were the purveryors of alcohol at the Menzies Hotel in Sydney. Being early 1980’s, theme bars were unique and the Menzies had over 20 of them.
I distilled my barmaid duties mainly in the Porthole, a white collar businessman’s bar that traded until 12.00 pm and after that, in the Jungle Room until the wee hours. We poured a lot of Sydney Draught, in the pursuit of enabling social lubrication.
I had planned to visit my parents who had recently relocated to Tasmania and imbued with an adventurous spirit, she travelled with me. We hitched around the Apple Isle, listening to Bette Midler on a ‘walkman’. We were kindred spirits, our sun in Libra, both born in Year of the Buffalo, in 1961.
I moved to Perth in 1984. We wrote letters to each other for about 12 years after, before they became sparse and then replaced with infrequent random contact via Christmas cards or the ‘out of the blue’ telephone conversation. The tenuous link, like overstretched elastic.
Long since heeding the internal voice of reason, the grown up me, is bemused, like others, by the words used to describe the state of alcohol intoxication. Out of the 400 I located, I offer for you consideration, the states of being:
hammered, vulcanised, twatted, pissed, fossilized, amp-faced, parcel-forced, gashed, hosed, bullocksed, motherless, cucumbered, door-nobbed, mangled, embalmed, mortal, cemented, gooned, munted, pixilated, ring-pierced, bladdered, maggoted and laminated.
None of which, beats being farchnocheket ( Yiddish).
Addiction is however no laughing matter. Before you cast judgement and that ‘stone’, thinking that the demons of drink, drugs or gambling are not your vices, check your ego or your over work compulsion or your Pokémon Go addiction. How balanced are you?
The 12 Step program was first published in the 1939 book, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism. Founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio, in 1953 AA gave permission for Narcotics Anonymous to use its Steps and Traditions.
In summary, AA is a process of admitting lack of control, recognising a higher power that can give strength, examining past errors, making amends for these errors, learning to live a new life with a new code of behaviour and helping others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsions.
I think perhaps I have been co-chair of my own Auxiliary of Fellowship and have collected a discrete collective of members over my life. We have provided the opportunity for each other to explore the murky waters of our socialisation, confront the ghosts that will not pass into the light, examine our moral inventory, dissect our adult choices and/or our foolish and some cases, nefarious actions. We have reviewed our personal catalogue, admitted our wrongdoings, and attempted to make amends.
Many of us pray and mediate and actively engage in a conscious connection to a higher power, God or whatever is greater than the indulgent ego. My tribe have a well developed sense of humour after all we have been living with our idiosyncratic self for years and the mirror of our intelligent equals in the friendships that we have made.
We are all imperfect, fractured human beings. And many of us are warriors and survivors. I can too can be self obsessed and small minded. Hold your hand in the air, if you too can relate.
Open but confidential sharing of our human failings, help others recognise and admit their own. A 12 step program is not just for those of us that are swirling in the whirlpool of addiction or those who have made it to the calmer edges of the bank. It is for all of us on the active journey of self actualisation, as without deep contemplation of our human existence, what have we achieved? A collection of things?
My tribe are scattered around Australia and around the world, but the thread is not broken. We are members of an Auxiliary of Fellowship. Perhaps that is the true definition of a ‘soul mate’.
Some of us, are members of Alcoholic Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous or we are the adult children whose lives have been deeply and permanently affected and are attempting to ‘heal’ through Al-Anon, Nar-Non or CoDA (Co-Dependents Anonymous, which addresses compulsions related to relationships.
Some of us have no formal involvement with AA but have sought the confidential counsel of the wise, our beloved friends. There is something deeply satisfying in having friends for many decades, not in the realisation of your aging, but that you are lovable. Love is after all the only true ‘drug’ that ails the spirit.