This is what I do. This is what I mean by “ramblings”. It’s 4:30 a.m. PDT and I’ve just had a dream. I awaken and something “happens.” A word, a phrase, an event, something that triggers me to pull my sorry ass out of bed even though I know my body and mind needs more rest. But I don’t. I get up. And here I am.
Recently, my daughter got into trouble back home in Tribune over a weekend when she and several others her age were caught violating school policy on a weekend when obviously there was no school. Still, rules are rules as they say. Somehow alcohol was involved. Now she has been hit with a 16 week out-of-school suspension, meaning she still goes to school but she can’t participate in extracurricular activities; sports and so on. One of them is one that is one of the most important to a bright, beautiful, 17 year old girl living in a small midwest town. Prom. She can’t go. She’s devastated. Its unjust Dad! I didn’t bring it and I’ve been the one accused of it! It’s not my fault! I’m so mad! It’s just not fair! And then she says this in a facebook email to me: “I’m sorry if you look down on your little girl, sorry for wasting your money for the prom I can’t attend! And I’m sorry if I couldn’t make a BETTER name for our family.”
Tears. I shed a couple. And then I to her in a facebook email: “First, I’m NOT looking down on you at all. Not ONE bit. And money means nothing when it comes to your relationship with me. NOTHING. So forget those two issues. I love you unconditionally and forever.” And then something else “happens”, something I pull from the past. I’ve said many things over the past two years, one of which is making something positive out of a negative from yesterday. So, I wrote this: Life is and can be unjust honey.I know that most than anyone. It’s what we do when we get our asses in trouble from that point forward that determines the outcome. We can cry about it, moan about it, or take is as an adult, clean up our act, and make positive use of it. This has been a hard lesson for you and I’m deeply sorry it happened. But now you have the chance to show YOURSELF first then others what you’re truly made of; a loving, caring, sincere, bright, intelligent, lovely young woman. I’m behind you 100% and I am CONVINCED you will do the “right” thing and make the “right” choices from this moment on. I love you!!!” …Dad
This was her reply: “Thank u!!”
My point in telling you this story is this. Straight out of the “big book” as they call it in AA. The chapter called Acceptance Was The Answer and I’ll never forget it as long as I live. A counselor, one whom I saw only ONE day since my regular counselor was gone that day while in my first stab at rehab while in The Valley Hope facility in Norton, Kansas in September, 2006. She gave me a handwritten note that said this and which I still have in my book to this day: “p. 416-417, 5 x day x 5 days. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.” From THAT handwritten note and those pages came the inspiration for one of my very first facebook “notes” I have on my personal page written October 10th, 2009:
Acceptance is the answer to all of your problems today. When you are disturbed, it is because
you find some person, place, thing, or situation —- some fact of your life —- unacceptable to
you, and you can find no serenity until you accept that person, place, thing, or situation as
being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing,
happens in God’s world by mistake. Unless you accept completely life’s terms, you cannot
be happy. You need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world
as on what needs to be changed in you and your attitudes.
So this is what I mean when I talk with others about the book called Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s not about AA, NA, or whatever addiction or problem you have. That book is about LIFE!! I remember well when I returned to Elkhart, KS. in late May, 2009, after being gone exactly 358 days, after being locked up in a 270′ square foot concrete and steel cage with anywhere from three to seven other inmates who had committed various crimes, some horrific, for 158 straight days, followed by 200 days at a half-way house in Liberal, Kansas after I caught my last DUI. I returned to Elkhart and less than 3 days later, walked into the law enforcement center at 8 p.m. sharp on a Monday night and asked if I could attend the weekly AA jail inmate meeting held right there, right inside the very cell, where I had been locked up tight for 158 days; lights on 24 hours a day, fights, lockdowns, and a grand total of 15 MINUTES per week where I was allowed contact with the outside world, either my phone or personal visitation. Two or three of the people jailed there had gotten out before I in November 2008 but were back in for probation violations. One of them, “Katie”, took one look at me and said, “My God Gus, you look so different, your whole aura, you look so good!!’ I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live and since that moment, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard similar comments from many people, people who knew EXACTLY what I looked like and EXACTLY how I lived shortly before I hit bottom. One of my favorites was when I saw my ex-sister-in-law in Tribune when I got my first “house pass” to visit my kids in Tribune sometime in late February 2009. She said “Gus, you look good. You look REALLY good!”
There’s many things that keeps someone straight or sober, keeps them from getting into trouble again, things that awaken them; rehab centers, books, counseling, jail, half-way houses, you can name many. But to this day, if someone, anyone, asks me what it has taken for me, I can honestly tell you this and its only ONE thing, one very small thing. When someone says, “gosh Gus, you look good, you look REALLY good!”