Tuesday, September 13, 2011
(part 258) IF I WERE A CARPENTER
Don't know the exact date of this picture, but it is roughly what I looked like when I got to the central coast from L.A.
Back in 1985, if you looked like this you were pegged as a dope fiend and a criminal by those who were claiming the moral high ground. It was their way of enforcing a caste system for their own benefit.
As far as AA was concerned, I was a drug addict, and they didn't want drug addicts in their meetings, even though some of them had probably used drugs themselves, usually prescribed by doctors. It was the same phony bull-shit I'd run into early on in the program in Southern California, and it was rampant in this new setting.
Older alcoholics were telling dual addicted younger people that AA would not work for them because they were drug addicts.
It was this kind of nonsense that caused me, almost immediately, to break my own rule of, "Keep your mouth shut, Bob!" It was not only impossible for me to let this crap go unchallenged, but imperative, as I saw it, to speak up and defy it.
Something else I heard, and still do, was also hard for me to leave alone. People who said, "Hi, my name is so-in-so, and I'm an alcoholic, and I want to thank my higher power, who I call Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, for my sobriety."
One of the great things about AA is it doesn't require anybody to believe in a specific God, philosophy, or religion. This was particularly important to me when I was a newcomer for obvious reasons.
These blatant references to Jesus that I heard from some, were not followed up with "This is just my personal belief, and not a requirement for sobriety or membership in AA." People who were new, and possibly scared to death, were hearing what sounded like a Christian message at meetings. I was unable to sit by quietly and let this stand without pointing out that AA was not a Christian organization, and that maybe God wasn't a Christian either...Again you can readily see that I was making friends all over.
Within a relatively short time, many in the area became aware that I was here, and that I was not a newcomer, but had nine years of sobriety. They also found out that I had a mouth and was not afraid to use it against the established point of view.
Those who had had to endure the purist's iron-clad grip on local meetings for years, were surprised by my knowledge of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as amused by my verbal assaults on the arrogant self-appointed local leaders.
Along with my mouth, I had the added problem of drawing the specific attention of women in meetings, many of whom were married, which proved to be troublesome. The fact that I stood out like a sore thumb appearance-wise, and had little or no fear of who I pissed off once I got rolling, was what I referred to earlier when I said, "It's a nice place to look at, but a hard place to live, if your name is Bobby Jameson."
This was absolutely true in my case. If I'd been a plumber or carpenter, and had stayed in my place, it would have been just dandy, but being me, and coming from where I'd come from, my own history put an end to any chance of that. There was no way, short of tying me up and gagging me, to have made this transition smoothly. I went from totally unknown to infamous in less than two months.
When I got to the central coast, I believed in my mind that I had left L.A. a failure, with one exception, I had stayed clean and sober for nine years. Not the "everything is wonderful" kind, but the rock bottom "don't get loaded no matter what happens" kind.
My one self-perceived non-failure was what I carried with me like a six-gun into every single twelve-step meeting in the area. A no-holds-barred attitude of "this really works, even for a lowlife like me." That was what I had to offer anyone who wanted it. That was the foundation for starting life over in the five cities area of the central coast of California.