Daily Reflection Podcast

#197 Removing Threats to Sobriety - (Sept. 6th) - Kevin C. (Philadelphia, PA)

September 05, 2021 Michael L. & Lee M. Season 2 Episode 197
Daily Reflection Podcast
#197 Removing Threats to Sobriety - (Sept. 6th) - Kevin C. (Philadelphia, PA)
Show Notes Transcript

Daily Reflection Podcast for September 6th

Kevin C. from Philadelphia shares about the powerful impact of the ninth step on his life and how it's helped him remove threats to his sobriety.


. . . except when to do so would injure them or others.


Step Nine restores in me a feeling of belonging, not only to the human race but also to the everyday world. First, the Step makes me leave the safety of A.A., so that I may deal with non-A.A. people "out there," on their terms, not mine. It is a frightening but necessary action if I am to get back into life. Second, Step Nine allows me to remove threats to my sobriety by healing past relationships. Step Nine points the way to a more serene sobriety by letting me clear away past wreckage, lest it bring me down.

From the book Daily Reflections

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[00:00:00] Michael: Well, welcome to the show. Today is September 6th and I have a guest in the studio. His name is Kevin C he's from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Kevin.

Welcome to the show. It's great to have you on 

[00:00:08] Kevin: the spot. Thank you, Mike. It's a certainly a privilege and a pleasure to be here. I'm very excited. 

[00:00:13] Michael: Fantastic. Well, Kevin, we get started in the same way. Every episode we ask the guests to read the daily reflection for the day. Would you get it started and read the daily reflection 

[00:00:23] Kevin: for September 6th?

I would be happy to the title is removing threats to sobriety. Except when to do so would injure them or others. And that's from alcoholics anonymous, page 59, step nine restores in me a feeling of belonging, not only to the human race, but also to the everyday world. First, the step makes me leave the safety of AA so that I may deal with non AA people out there when their terms, not mine.

It is a frightening but necessary action. If I am to get back into. Second step nine allows me to remove threats to my sobriety by healing past relationships. Step nine points away to a more serene sobriety by letting me clear away past wreckage lessons. Bring me down. Wow. 

[00:01:11] Michael: Thanks for reading that. Step nine is a big one.

It's a major step, like it says there. So before we begin, Kevin, what is your 

[00:01:18] Kevin: sobriety date? Uh, my sobriety date is March 29th, 1990 6 96. 

[00:01:24] Michael: Okay, great. So as you read that, you know, what 

[00:01:27] Kevin: comes to mind? Well, the reading itself is, is really powerful for me and I, I should add also that the book that I'm reading from is just as powerful because I've had this book, this daily reflections book, since I first came to the rooms of alcoholics anonymous.

And I've used this book pretty much as a journal. I try to read it every day. I can't say I remember it. Whatever's written 15 minutes after I read it, but I've actually jotted a lot of notes down here in this book that have helped me kind of recall situations and circumstances, both. In my prior life before I got to AI and certainly a lot of the really wonderful moments that I've experienced afterwards.

That's my initial take on the reflections book itself. The daily reflections as a lot of folks may be aware and some may not, these reflections are generally based on the steps of whatever month we're in. And of course, Uh, we're here in September and right away, there's a reference to the nice step in the, and the title of this particular daily passage is the second portion of our ninth step in alcoholics anonymous.

And of course made direct amends whenever possible. So step nine and going back, maybe I can chat a little bit about, you know, what it was first, like when I arrived. I would go to meetings and of course, I'd see the steps prominently displayed up on the table or against the wall. And I would scan them very quickly.

I can't say I understood them. I certainly don't think I understood them, but I can tell you looking at the nice step. I was not prepared to even consider that as something I should be doing because I came up here probably I should say I came into AA. Wrapped in shame with past relationships, with anger, uh, remorse, uh, not only with my aunt life, but with the way I perceived that I treated others.

So step nine was not something I was particularly excited to do. And, uh, thankfully I stuck around by perhaps some measure of a grace that I still don't fully understand. And a lot of willingness now I didn't call it willingness. Then Mike, I called it desperation and it was a gift I became willing to, you know, start to do everything possible that I could step nine was still sitting out on the horizon for me though.

I must admit, um, I was, people would say, just keep coming back. I knew I was powerless over alcohol. I was desperate not to pick up a drink. I was unaware that I could have a life after alcohol, after sobriety, I should say, without alcohol fed his life was, I couldn't imagine a happy life without alcohol.

Step nine was daunting, but before we get too far and 

[00:04:32] Michael: into step nine, what was life like before you came in? 

[00:04:36] Kevin: I kind of break it down into maybe a couple of eras, so to speak and some folks say the eighties and the nineties, and I don't remember much of the eighties except for some bad events. I started drinking in the seventies and, um, I survived disco.

I had never, no one ever saw me in a white suit. I can tell you that. But yeah, growing up, it was a thing to do. I didn't immediately drink out of, you know, trying to drown fear and frustration and shame I drank because all my friends drank and that seemed to be the popular thing to do. I played a lot of sports.

I chased girls and I drank. And for me, unlike many of my friends growing up, there was a point in time where, whether it was an emotional maturity set in for some of them, or just a sense of responsibility. I took the left turn and stayed in the bar. And before I knew it, when I was approaching my thirties, I got involved in some heavy drugs with, along with alcohol and the trap was set.

You know, I had a fairly good job. I was in a relationship with a woman who didn't drink, which was remarkable. In some respects, looking back, it would, may have been an attempt to try to change my life. But it did. We got married and that marriage did not work out, unfortunately. Um, and the eighties and then parse portion of the nineties was really, I was in the trap.

I really couldn't stop drinking. I just know from 29 to 42, I was unable to stop drinking alcohol, whether I had a good time or bad or indifferent, alcohol was part of the package. That's really trying to stop. I couldn't, I couldn't stop. I may have stopped twice in my twenties and thirties for a month.

And that was it. So, you know, I, I came into AA with a promise to fix her another relationship relationships. Right. And that didn't work out. And after three months in AA, the relationship ended and I went back out drinking for me that last month or two. Before I returned to AA, hopefully for the last time was, you know, the dark hell that many of us experienced the jumping off spot.

So that's how I got to AA desperate. Um, all my ideas I realized I didn't realize, I just knew I, my ideas wouldn't work, so I was prepared. You know, to sit there and try to listen. So, yeah. And coming 

[00:07:08] Michael: into AA, you mentioned that you, uh, you saw the steps on the wall and, um, you knew they were off in the distance.

Did you have a guide? Did you, did you have help in the program? Did you meet someone that, that helped helped 

[00:07:20] Kevin: you understand the steps I did? And I feel like I'm blessed in part, I, I, uh, I had returned to the same meeting. It was a meeting downtown Philadelphia. And, um, it was a daily, lunchtime eating and I was going there every day.

And, uh, there was a fellow, there was a, there was a beginner's meeting where you would go around the room and say how much time you had. And of course, when I came back, I no longer had the 90 some days and I raised my hand and I said, I have 12 days. And a fellow came over to me named Bob. And, um, he looked out for me and, you know, I kind of pulled the ground month later and said, would you be my sponsor?

He is still my sponsor today. He is 32 years sober. He's a jazz musician. I'm in another profession. I can barely understand how jazz musician speak, but somehow we had that common denominator of our alcohol. So he was the primary guide. And along the way, I bet many, many, many people just became aware that and they came from all walks of life, which is amazing, not just that meeting.

I was blessed to be able to go to meetings all over my work. Life was such that, uh, for reasons that became clear later, they seem to trust me more and sent me traveling. And I sent it up calling the meetings around the country. So I, I, I got a lot of information. I was volunteered into service, which is always a good thing.

Absolutely. What types of service were you doing? Well, I, I, you know, the last, I'll say the first one right away was which I, well, I was sober for a while. Actually, when I got that one was a GSR general services representative where I learned the nuts and bolts of AA. It was a two year commitment, but I got involved as a greeter at a meet.

Yeah. I got involved as, um, I was afraid to do treasurer because I sold it, even though I, I felt like I had cash register honesty. I felt like I couldn't account for the money that was coming in. And I just, it was too much of a temptation. I also was frightened to do a coffee commitment because I thought if I made the coffee, you would throw me out of the fellowship.

I don't know how to make calls. So I was afraid to ask, so those little things I was still afraid to ask about, but I did eventually become a chairperson for a group. And I did that for three years. It was a kind of, it wasn't official. It was kind of, it was, I was given a key to the church. Maybe the most valuable talisman in a, given a key cause then you have to open up on time.

You have to show up early, stay late. So all those sort of sidelights side jobs got me talking to other alcoholics people. I didn't know a lot of new people. It really was powerful. That was kind of service, commitment and GSR. Wasn't the most pleasant task, because as we know, um, at least the fellowship, there's a lot of egos and they, you know, they said, if you want to get a resentment at AA show up at a business meeting.

And I showed up at plenty of business meetings and they weren't being resentments, they were simply disagreements. And so I, I was immersed into AA and, uh, of course, uh, AA loved me right back as a beautiful 

[00:10:41] Michael: thing. How long. You know your journey into recovery. Did you start to experience, uh, some relief from, from the, the thoughts of drinking and drugging?

[00:10:53] Kevin: I was over a year without a drink, going to two, sometimes three meetings a day with a sponsor and still miserable. Sponsor, always suggestible. Maybe you want to start working the steps. I can't say he told me to do that. He didn't know. He'll never say that he told me to do anything. He said I can share with you my experience.

And that's what I do today to anybody who's new. I can only share what I went through. And so I started on the fourth step journey. I started, I, I kept hemming and hauling on the third step and it wasn't until I put pen to paper that I realized I was doing something that I simply was turning my life over to something I wasn't prepared to accept.

And that was to write my life history on paper. Talk about the fourth step I tried to do. Well in the format, the big book is designed. I wasn't satisfied with that. My sponsor gave me a, and this was 1996. He gave me a copy of a Hazleton for what a Hazleton four step guide. And it was on all. It was his copy and it was old.

It was an old carbon copy. It was, if it was something from the dead sea scrolls, I couldn't, I couldn't even understand some of the questions, but I would stare at it on Saturday mornings for a stretch of maybe it was a summer of 97 or 98 and, um, 97. And I really put a lot of effort into it because I thought two things.

One was, I want to do this right for my sponsor. I don't want to feel misery. And I think I just, I was, I just didn't want to feel miserable anymore. Right. And so, and I didn't want, didn't want to do it again. That was the third. I didn't want to do an a, I'm like if this doesn't work, nothing's going to work.

So I did it and I shoot days later when I finished, I met with my sponsor. In a park and sat down and, and bred my fourth step to him. And it was powerful. I can tell you, it was within days or weeks. I was in that same meeting room at fourth and pine saying, I don't feel like a drink. I don't feel like pulling myself cause I was the happiest guy in the world, but I didn't feel like I drank and I didn't want to kill myself.

And that was light years from where I was. I, I discovered patterns of my life that I had never realized I was in, I was in this loop, you know, the loop kept going around, whether it was relationships or work, family, anger, whatever. And I realized I was the cause of most. Disruption that, that, uh, Depression.

So I was convinced that's when I was convinced in AA. I wasn't still ready for the outside world. Maybe we'll talk about that in a few minutes. But the world I was, I was in my mind, I was still like, you know, I wasn't a butterfly. I was still. I was still in the Chrysalis, like, okay, I can live in a, I develop friendships.

I got into a couple of relationships, romantic relationships, which were nice, but not overly fulfilling. Um, but they were all with AA people. I, and I was avoiding social situations. I don't think I was really part of the world, but I was relatively okay with myself. So that was about a year and a half sober and I always stress to newcomers.

Please keep coming back. Don't pick up for a while and you'll see that change. Cause it happened to me. And it was profound. 

[00:14:41] Michael: Yeah. You get through the fourth, you, you share the fourth and your fifth step, it illuminates defects of characters and patterns of behavior. I'm imagining you get through the sixth and seventh step becoming completely willing to have these defects of character removed.

And then we get to the eighth step, which obviously is the foundation of the ninth step. Tell me about the connection between your fourth step and your eighth. Do you feel like there's a. A beneficial relationship between this. 

[00:15:10] Kevin: Oh, well, there's a big relationship. If you can, if you can ever get through six and seven and say, yeah, I feel great.

I always defects on unfortunately. No, fortunately it was a considerable amount of time and I mentioned romantic relationships and I, I met a couple women in alcoholics anonymous after being sober for a little while. And they were as positive as they could be. Nothing like prior ones, because they were also in recovery a month form or another, but I found my defects still.

I was starting to identify them, but I still didn't know how to have a relationship with somebody. Like I, there was a missing piece. And so I became aware of these defects. I was hoping they would be just, just disappear, but it was not forthcoming as much as I want it. And again, sorting the ACEP much like the forest.

Was very much, uh, an act. I won't say desperation, but it was certainly a willingness at that point to say, I'm not good at this. I'm not good at being, you know, a good citizen or one among many. I need help on this. And I also went out for outside help. I, I got some great therapy. I, you know, I saw more about myself.

But I like, I did the fourth step, I thought, okay, I'm going to do this. Someone once said the eight steps, like, uh, a graduate school for alcohol anonymous because you really, I got my four step list, which I still had, or the pages that I wrote and went back over it. And I decided to just look at every relationship I ever had.

And. You know, I've been around and talking to lots of alcoholics, and there's always that reluctance to consider my side of the street with people who hurt me too, or damaging relationships. But I put those people on the list. I also put people on the list that, you know, for example, my mom thought I was divine in many respects, but I also know I disappointed her and she would never admit that in many ways, because I was an out, you know, I did some really bizarre behavior.

So, um, even though she would never admit it, I knew there were people in my life whom I hurt. Disappointed because I wasn't the best person I could possibly be. It wasn't always considerate of others. And so I decided to write that list out and that Mike was about three and a half, almost four years after sobriety that of all the steps.

May I may have been a late little late to the party because. Of the relationships that I had, my early years of sobriety that I felt that I had to make amends for. So, so I made that list and I wrote out like the things, the qualities that I aspire to and the qualities that I had that I was not doing so well.

And of course I was still mindful. And I try to stress this with friends who come in sponsees and the, like that the eighth step is a list. And for me it was very introspective. I wasn't, I would tell people don't worry about the nights, because again, that's, you know, some folks minds worse torture their lives that they'd have to go back and say, I'm sorry, not just sorry.

So, and I became aware, you know, in that a set list, how often I said, I'm sorry. I said, I'm sorry, more often than I said, I love you. Although I said, I love you and awful times, which also was because it wasn't meant, so I would say, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. And I realized, sorry. It wasn't really what I was looking for.

Sorry. Was kind of a pass. Don't worry about it. Keep going, keep riding on me. So I learned that in the step that, you know, apologies can be cheap and. So, uh, yes. So the eighth step was, uh, another interesting adventure. 

[00:19:08] Michael: You know, it's not about, I'm sorry, an amends has, there's a, there's an apology component to an amends, but if you make an apology, if you make an amends without adjusting your behavior, it's a subtle form of manipulation.

You're just manipulating the person that you're talking to into, into believing that you are sorry, but without changing your behavior, you're not truly making an amend. Right. Yeah. So, um, how long did it take you to get through your ninth 

[00:19:36] Kevin: step? Well, nice step was relatively. I did once I completed the eighth, I recall.

And again, in some respects in my mind today, when you asked me to, to speak with you, I often think that this was the part of the ritual before step, write it down a paper fifth step that's done. A step, write a list, nice step run out and grit. Make those amends and. I share some of the amends I make. And I'll mention a couple anecdotally, but there's much more to the nice step as, you know, dog going forward.

Not just those amends, but yes, I made almost all the amends with sponsors help really important talk to a sponsor or to any other person in recovery before you do that, because we still play in our minds. The sense of. You know, sorry, I'll do it. And by the way, there was those little things that they did to me that, you know, can cause all kinds of problems.

So I do recall one with, uh, you know, with my family, it was, it was fine. Um, I very small family. I had my mom and a sister and I had another sister I'll talk about in a minute, but who passed? But, um, very receptive. They saw me get sober. So they. Just what you're doing, going to alcoholics anonymous. It's enough for us.

Please keep going. That was just really nice. I had one with a relationship with a woman whom I made a heartfelt amends, uh, told her everything, and then I'm changing and she said, that's great. And then she responded with, well, what about. And I thanks to this program and thanks to talking to a sponsor, I took it, I just listened and, you know, we, we got off well covered, but there were through our episodes in our relationship that I did not recall that were really difficult.

The one, uh, anecdote that I, I like to share. And again, this suggests that there's a power greater than myself at work in my life. There was a woman when I, when I was in my high school. Everyone has their high school sweetheart story. Well, we had a very bad breakup when I was 18 or 1918, and like many I thought we would get back.

She ended up being with another guy, got pregnant, got married. I carried her in my head for the next 20 some years. I last call at the bar thinking she ruined my life. Just a horrible, horrible experience. Horrible sense. So she was in my mind for many years, seven years sober. I never saw her. I don't remember where she went.

Seven years sober. I was running in downtown Philadelphia, early morning, Dawn hours. And I literally ran into this woman. She was, had a bag of a Dunkin donuts and a coffee and bumped into it. And, uh, after being both of us, looking at each other in shock, I said to her immediately came to my mind. I need to talk to this woman.

So, um, I, I, uh, I asked her if she wouldn't want to go to lunch or out for coffee, she said, yes, she gave me your phone number. I went back and went to work that day. I called my sponsor. And he said, that's great. And I was really nervous. So we met two or three days later, but before I left, he called me again and he said, you know, it's really good, but please check your motivation.

What may have been the best advice other than stop drinking may have been the best advice I ever had because then I, you know, the light bulb went off. I wasn't there to score her or to explain away my actions. I was there to do the nice step as it was told in the book of alcoholics anonymous. And so we did, and I hadn't seen her in probably 30 years 20 and yes, there were thoughts of.

Reconciliation after she was a grandmother by now, but I was thinking she's still a very attractive woman. And, um, so she gave me her email address and, um, you know, I was kind of flying high on the way back to my office. And, uh, so, um, a couple of days later I emailed her. I said, I want to thank you for the opportunity to do this.

And oh, and by the way, she remembered me drinking when I was eight. That was part of this. I was drinking, you know, and, uh, I could tell she was probably not surprised that I was an alcoholic. So I emailed her, I thanked her. I said, my, I have a great life and I really appreciate the opportunity to talk. And she emailed back maybe a month later and says, oh, listen, it was really great talking to you.

And I just got a job offer from moving to Canada. So timing is everything. It sure is. That's a beautiful story, Kansas. It's like the whole, you know, wizard of Oz kind of thing. Right. Um, but Mike, the big thing of that, the reward of that is what I want to share with people and the nice step. And that particular story is that.

She left my mind wished her well, and it's, I have no sense of guilt anymore. No sense of shame. And that has inspired me down the road where I have hurt people. Continuing to her occasion to remember that this immense process was so foreign to anybody who's not, has not been in recovery. And I get it because it's become apparent that if I first try to live my side, stay on my side of the street and behave.

But when I fall down or I go left or right. All those life circumstances. Um, I can apologize for my end. It feels great. Yeah. And I don't have that playing in my head too. Yeah. And I 

[00:25:45] Michael: love the way the daily reflection puts it. Second. The second step of 

[00:25:48] Kevin: this step nine allows me to 

[00:25:50] Michael: remove threats to my sobriety by healing past relationships.

Do you think the thought of that woman in your mind was a threat to your sobriety 

[00:25:59] Kevin: at the time? No, but absolutely. Yes. Absolutely. Yes. At the time when I saw, because I was still playing it on my head, I didn't think would be, yes. That second one second line there threats to sobriety is absolutely true.

And I can hold other people in my mind or other events in my mind that are threats to my son. Are not working. And I have experienced some of those moments in recent times where I don't know it. I don't know if it's my inclination to rehash and try to change history in my head of what went on or to figure it out.

You know, we've heard we hear often in the rooms and I think it's true. But I think it's not totally developed when people say, why do you go out? And they say, well, because I stopped going to meetings. It's true. But what happens when they stopped going to meetings? And I think those threats to sobriety start to.

Surface necessarily. So that woman in my mind was in my mind is a threat to my sobriety. Same with lots of people who we've lost over the years, friends and lovers and family members. If I, if I didn't get straight with that, I mentioned my other sister, my younger sister, Christine. Uh, died of a drug overdose when I was eight months sober and we did not get along.

We did not have a happy party. Unfortunately, she was also an alcoholic and a drug addict. We were over the years, we would have some problems with each other that would result in silence for. Years, we would get back together again for medley and family love and then something would happen. We were both volatile and she actually gave me my first big book.

She reached alcoholics anonymous before I did. She went to the same meeting I did before. And she went back out and we had a falling out. I didn't see her for a year sober now. I was reaching out to her, but she refused. And unfortunately she died, but my mom died five years ago, important person in my life.

My sister Christy kept coming, calling in my head and I thought, you know, this is still. Totally settled as much as I, and I learned to grieve her loss cause I was still pretty angry as we all are part of this when we lose people to alcohol and drug addiction. So I felt like I made an amends at least to her in my mind, five years ago.

And it hurt like, hell, I mean, it was Christ how much we can grieve someone who's lost. But I, I realized my side of the street was, I wasn't always there for her and she wasn't always there for me. We were both crazy alcoholics and, uh, I became aware how powerful alcoholism is. So yeah. Nice step helped me there.

Nice step has helped me on the road today. The world has changed very much. Now that it's important for me to try to be good, but if I'm not to really try to make those, you know, we talk about the 10 step amends, but. Nice step less. We process all this and, yeah. And when you asked me a couple of weeks ago, uh, I've been thinking about it and you know, I'm just so grateful that we have a program.

We can look at this it's effective. It's just not, you know, pie in the sky, people, something like, okay, there's some sort of no religious or theologic kind of thing that there's a practical benefit. I love that doing this nice step list first, perhaps as a ritual, and then as a part of our everyday living, this reading was just fantastic today.

So, so Kevin, I want to 

[00:29:45] Michael: acknowledge, you know, that it's difficult to talk about loss and. Uh, I want to thank, thank you for sharing that. First of all, and I'm sorry for your loss, but I think it's important to, you know, to tell the listeners and to, to tell folks that are, that are approaching, implementing the, this like program for living that, um, you know, there's going to be amends that need to be made to both the living room.

Uh, those close to us who have passed. So I think that's important to note. So thanks for sharing that for sure. And, and like you said, you know, the key term here is really clearing away the wreckage of the past. And for me, Uh, you know, that's after getting through my first couple of amends in the ninth step, I think I, I really started to, to appreciate the value of the program and having it worked into my life and, you know, realizing that, you know, I'm, I'm human, I'm flawed.

I'm going to make mistakes, but they're not fatal mistakes. And I don't have to take them to the grave. I can actually clear up the wreckage of the past. So any further advice or, or anything you want to tell the audience before we 

[00:30:47] Kevin: begin? Um, actually I've been enjoying the summer in part, even though we've all been confined to our spaces, I'm working from home, but I've had the opportunity because I'm not involved in the rush hour traffic to and from, to actually enjoy the sunrises and sunsets.

Which is really an amazing thing. Again, we're talking about in the first part about the first sentence it said about not just the human race, but the everyday world. I'm not sure there's a distinction, but I can tell you, you know, um, I'm getting up in age and that's kind of a relative concept, but I do know I have less sunsets in front of me than behind me.

And I love my life. Difficult is sometimes is. So when I see the sunset, I, I, uh, I'm like thrilled. And then I get a little melancholy because you know, it's not always going to be there in front of me. So if you're new, I don't want to certainly discourage anyone from when they look at the sunset saying, wow, this is far out, but certainly understand that we're here for a limited time.

And those kinds of. Issues that are still clawing at us. It's just best to get him over, get him out of the way, the wreckage of the past. It's really unnecessary baggage today. You don't have to do it because you know, you'd feel guilty about it. You do it because you want to get better. And we all get better a day at a time.

If we try to at least apply it, and I'm still a student in progress here, or a work in progress, I've got a long way to go. I still are still part of it. You know, I heard a fellow friend of mine say, you know, out here, I may look pretty good. The barbarian lies beneath. So yeah. Keep coming back. Really appreciate this opportunity, Kevin.


[00:32:48] Michael: you so much, 

[00:32:50] Kevin: Michael. Thank you. 

[00:32:53] Michael: Thanks so much for listening. If you want to find us online, you can follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/daily reflection podcast. You can find us on Twitter at daily reflector. You can read stories of recovery from our community at blog, that daily reflection, podcast.com.

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