Bob B 00:00
Life is lived forward, but it's understood backward. You do not see it when you're in it.
John M 16:34
Now, on to Mr. Bob B from St. Paul, Minnesota, Bob has been sober for 53 years. We are calling this one life is lived forward but understood backward as what Bob actually uses that quote during the interview. And as he says he was a good start but never finished anything with class. He speaks about his second surrender that came at approximately a year sober and I can so much relate to that. Uh, one of the quotes from Bob that I absolutely love is he says I felt like I was dying of thirst while living next to a lake. He also wrote recounts the moment that his sponsor said to him, why are you so afraid of failing? I know you're going to enjoy this. Buckle up. Enjoy the ride. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give to you, Mr. Bob B. And I will have plenty o listener feedback at the end of this episode. Enjoy Bobby. Okay, everybody. So today, we are sitting here with Mr. Bob B. I would say Bobby is if there is such a thing, a royalty. He's been around for a long time. So Bob, why don't you go ahead and introduce yourself. Give your sobriety date if you wish, and then tell people what area of the country you are sitting in as we speak.
Bob B 18:53
I'm Bob's, I'm an alcoholic, and I've been sober since the 10th of December 1967. For that, I'm very grateful. And I live in St. Paul, Minnesota.
John M 19:03
10th of December 1967. I we talked about it beforehand. That is 53 years, Bob, as you know, and that is quite a long time. Have you seen a lot of changes over that time?
Bob B 19:17
Of course. You know, there are great similarities and there are great changes. Yeah.
John M 19:22
Can you talk to us about some of the changes and similarities you've seen over that time?
Bob B 19:28
I'm just Well, I think the similarities are a strength of our program and the 12 steps. I think there's as much good sponsorship and as much book use today as there has ever been in Alcoholics Anonymous. People talk about going back to the way a was in the old days, and I don't think it was any better. But we have some marvelous people who brought us through the early years of Alcoholics Anonymous, but I think today it's a practical experience. There are strong sponsorship and strong meetings and still, a very dedication to The program, the biggest change that I see is from the HomeGroup. To kind of meetings, I mean, there are people that people go to an enormous amount of meetings today more, more so than they did when I came in. And the HomeGroup is no longer the main functioning group, it is in some places, but it's been replaced by attendance at meetings, not a particular devotion to all groups.
John M 20:27
When you go to those conferences nowadays, I know you hadn't been in a while and you took a little time off. But do you have? Do you ever when you know, most silver award, you know, where they have the countdown and all that sort of?
Bob B 20:40
Yeah, that's generally a disappointment. I've been winning, I went up fairly often these days. And it's not to say it's a disappointment. Well, because you know, we always wanted to hang out with the big guys. And then you end up kind of being in a position where you're the longest sober and you don't feel like there's any entitlement that should be attached to that. And being the longest sober person is I'd rather have three more people that were sober longer than me, be there to interact with.
John M 21:07
Yeah, understood. Well, and I told you this a little bit when I was before we started the ER, we talked about this a little bit, and that is, when I first got sober, Bob, which is back in 89. There was this guy here in the Texas area. I don't think he's with us anymore is I don't know if you know, I'm George Burnett. He was a taper.
Bob B 21:31
Yeah. Great guy. Beverly is still with us. Yeah, I know, George. Well, yeah. He stretches for a long time.
John M 21:41
Yeah. So that's where I am. I'm down here in Texas, the Dallas area. And he he had a house out in Lewisville. And I would drive out there to his house in Lewisville. And I would, you know, have, I'd say I want you know, like 10 speaker tapes. And he would always put one of yours in my hand because I would just trust him on recommendations. And I would take those tapes. And I traveled a lot for business at the time and I would ride around and I would listen to your talk and it definitely helped me get through my early years. And so Thank you, sir, for your service. Alright, so let's, let's talk about your story a little bit and we're gonna kind of meander here. But you know, what are you tell me I you know, where it started for you, you know, what kind of was the the launching pad, if you will, to get into Alcoholics Anonymous, and just kind of start telling you
Bob B 22:44
a five or 10 minute a tour. Born and raised St. Paul, Minnesota started drinking when I was a freshman in high school, I went to a military High School on a college campus. We drank in high school, like most people drink in college, we got fraternities. It was a Catholic school. I never know Catholics drink as much or more than others. But if we're having a contest, I'm bringing my people I developed, you know, we drank a lot for young people. And by the time I finished high school, everybody was kind of recognizing that I did it differently and have some issue. I did not pay that. But they were trying to get me help. I went away to school thinking that would get me away from the police and my parents and I worked my way up to be the class drunk at Notre Dame and walk my way out in the middle of my senior year. What's he in the yearbook with my class ring? Hey, civil engineering career 25 credits a semester gone to school one day a week. That is not that is not a winning combination. And I was doing a big commission because I was an ROTC and I had to get a medical release of the medical release that I got was for alcoholism. I was diagnosed an alcoholic when I was 1717 or 18. I thought that was just the most stupid thing in the world. But it got me out of there. I came home to a set of very disappointed parents I finished school. The same time as University
John M 24:10
when you said you were diagnosed as an alcoholic, can you walk me through that? Like who did that diagnosis and how that goes?
Bob B 24:18
a psychiatrist. I was under psychiatric you know, once or twice a year I'd have a car accident or arrest or some big enough thing that everybody thought I needed some help and it was a psychiatrist was a pretty knowledgeable guy. And later once I got sober he would refer patients to me then I would take to a so So did he actually refer you to a as well was oh wasn't as well No, No, he didn't. He just diagnosed that he right guy. He wanted to actually go to Hazleton and I just at that young age, you know, freshmen highest freshmen in college. I didn't No, I wasn't ready to do it. And but I, when I finished school, my father asked me to leave home. He said, We love you, but we don't know what to do with you. And I worked at a liquor store for six months and then I worked as a waiter, downtown Minneapolis. for about six months, I'm drinking a fist today. No one knows where I am. I'm fighting time during the Vietnam wars, and I'm going to get drafted. And then I got into a fight, got my face kicked in, I got fired as a waiter, no place to go. I went home. When I moved back in the house, they allowed me to move back on the house asked me not to drink, which I was unable to do. I mean, the full court press have tried to put get my act together, I got back together with a woman that I bond with for a year and a half. And today, she's my very lovely wife, Linda, very active member of Al anon. The service, I got accepted to Officer Candidate School and then they lost my file. They asked me to take the physical again, for the fourth time, they failed me through hearing Bravo. So I didn't have to. And then I got a job as an executive trainee at a manufacturing concern about my first parent, I thought, wow, I'm gonna be a grown up. Only I couldn't quit drinking. Just before I went back to my senior year at Notre Dame was beaten up, Rob roll, pistol whip shot out and thrown out of the second story of a hotel ended up in the state of
ended up in a psych ward. And we will hold on a second. Just, there was a couple of details that were kind of interesting to me, you got thrown out of the second floor of a hotel. Can you talk about that a
Bob B 26:42
little bit? No, I don't want to give any more details than that. It was it was a I was around some bad people who were trying to get me to sign some traveler's checks, and I wasn't willing to do so. So they roughed me up a little bit. And so I ended up in a psych ward, they were not gonna let me go back to school, I was allowed to go back to school, talk my way out of that. And I went back and I didn't drink for around two months. And I didn't and I thought number one, I could prove that I could quit. And number two, I'm still a jerk. I'm still a bad student. I'm not what I thought you were telling me I'd become if I just quit drinking. And but now, when I was getting married, I thought, you know, getting married, starting a family would be what would you know, I could guess over only I couldn't know and the company drunk, I'm sleeping my hangovers off in the dark room of the company. I went back, and I quit that job after about six months. When I went back to make amends with the guy who hired me said guys, you've interviewed so well, and I shouldn't go we do. We just have performance issues. But we and I took a sales job and I had that relatively short period of time. But I went out on a four day drunk and woke up some Thursday on July of 1967, hugging the toilet, doing my morning exercise. And that was my moment. I was disgusted with me is any of my family or anybody else had anything to do with me? I just was as mystified. I was the guy who looked like I should do very well. I had a lot of privileges going to Notre Dame was a which was one. But I was a good starter and I never finished almost anything with class. And I called a these two guys out to meet me at a cafe and they sat me down in the booth one guy of six years, one guy of six months. I said we're from a we had a drinking problem, find an answer for it. When I share it with you hope it helps you if it doesn't help you don't worry about it. It helps us talking to guys like you. And they told me their stories. I had been in front of every kind of help a young person could get religious, medical, legal. I had never, you know, in the 10 different locations that I was put in front of help. I'd never talked to another person who had a drinking problem. And these two men in 45 minutes altered my life. We have many traditions and a maybe the most wonderful of which is that we share our experience strength and hope. I couldn't argue with what they shed I might have not wanted to do what they recommended. But I know without question what they were sharing with me was a story of integrity and their own experience. I went to my first meeting that night. I drank twice after that night once after a month on a business trip to the west coast and once after three months on my honeymoon Linda and I honeymooned in Mexico and I had my last drink on the airplane on the way home. You know those cliffs in Mexico where the divers died dove off those cliffs on their last drunk. I was in the audience watching the world's high diving contest. That's like that. That's That's a tough one. I go off A public landing climbed up to about 90 feet split my swimsuit cut my leg, my wife is going absolutely Badakhshan thinking she's gonna lose her husband after. And if I would have jumped, which I was thinking to do, and I would have died, you have to get out 30 feet to hit the channel. some reason I decided to die, but the last minute and God watches after fools and drugs. And when I got home talking with my sponsor, and that's, you know, my sponsor was a second world war guy lost half his crew in a bomb disposal again in Italy, mailman. He was a 12 step champion of the group that I attended, there were a couple of 100 members of the group I attended. Different smaller groups would call the squads meeting weekly. And he was by far the 12 step guy, and I got to be his wingman. So I everything I've done in Alcoholics Anonymous from making coffee to being a delegate, was because of I copied my sponsors experience. And in Minnesota, 95% of the meetings were closed step discussion meetings, you had the meeting and you gave the step for 567 minutes. Then we broke up into two groups and discussed how the step applied in our life. So we were very dedicated to the steps. And that was a great foundation for me
Bob B 31:24
when I came in, and then the second most difficult thing for me, I'm 23, when I came in 24 when I had my last drink by a week, I'm a young guy, I don't have much of a life or you know, I wasn't married, I didn't really have a career of now I got a you know, after about a year and a half a year, I started working for my dad, which lasted as long as we both could stand it. But for about two years I worked for my father, it was the world's absolute worst employee. And all I wanted to do was go to a, I was just enamored with Alcoholics Anonymous, it was kind of a honeymoon for about the first nine months, I didn't have a very good gentlemen defects of character. During my second year, I got a real good picture of my defects of character. I was a money spender, I spent more money than I made is you end up doing that you're gonna be in debt. I had worked on I hear, I had trouble getting up in the morning, I had trouble going to you know, which I found out later had something to do with when I went to bed. But I you know, I had trouble getting to work staying at work and I had trouble working. And other than that I was a pretty good worker. I was unhelpful husband I because I'm a all the time we started to have kids and my wife was registered nurse was pulling double duty. And I had a gambling problem kind of more of a hoppy for five hours a day four or five days a week. And I was making five grand a year playing backgammon our 1967 that was like a second job. And I figured I don't know what I thought I look back on it. It was just kind of a mystery to me that but I was unable to effectively remove these defects of character. And I thought okay, I'll buy it. If I'm I'm an alcoholic, if I'm an alcoholic, and he has got the answer. I've got these other things that are going on and phase got the answer the other be dealt with in hell it might take a year. Well, hell it might take 53 is what the hell it might take. And I thought that if you get me sober, and I put it put the steps in my life, these significant defects of character I should be able to ameliorate. I found myself at four and five and six years by five or six years eating my lunch. I'm telling my sponsor about 65% of what's going on. I know you guys in Texas tell your sponsor 100% but I'm only telling myself 65% of life is lived forward but it's understood backwards. You do not see it when you're in it. And finally I eight years of sobriety I was ready to put a gun in my mouth. I wasn't thinking about drinking but I was thinking about committing suicide I just was so tired of being a jerk. I just I you know I felt like a phony. I'm by this time I'm very active in am sponsoring people and given talks, I'm active in service and from the outside, I had the merit badges and look like I was a hell of a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. From my viewpoint. I thought my life was significantly unmanageable and that concerned me greatly. And I didn't know I really did not know what to do out of desperation. I went back. I know I had to find out what God had to do with Wednesday. That was the people who I admired the most the old timers and he had a connection with God that was I had a lot of information about God. I've been to Catholic High School. grade school in the university. But I, I did not have an effective relationship with God did I just power came into my life and allowed me my life to be manageable with his with his care. And, but I figured hell, if I go to God, now I've got to get rid of one or two of these big issues or there's not my sense of going to God. And that cut me for about two years from turning myself in. And finally, at around eight years, I got a second surrender. And I went to my sponsor, and I said,
Bob B 35:38
We checked my first two first steps with clergy, which is what we did in our particular group. But I started to hear about people in California doing that. So I started to go through the steps for the third time, sober about eight years, I did the first step was no brainer, you know, room temperature, IQ could have figured out that I was powerless and unmanageable. What I discovered is I'd lost step two. And I believed it for you. I believe, for us, I didn't believe it for me, because I'm eight years sober. And I'm on the down escalator, trying to walk up in my life, some as I took steps, you know, but I started to see people with bigger problems than I have with smiles on their faces, walking through the walls I was avoiding with dignity and grace. And I came to believe, again, that God will restore by to sanity. I did step three with my sponsor in his office on my knees. We didn't do that much in those days. But I, again, started to hear people from California mostly talk about doing that. And I wanted to cross the T's and dot the i's. And when I got to my first job, I asked my sponsor, I said, I want to do this with you. And fourth, and fifth. I said, I feel like I'm dying to thirst laying next to a lake. I said, I know what to do. I just can't or won't do it. I am so goddamn sick and tired of cancer won't do it that I could just spit. And I said when I when I'm done with my first step, I think I'm ready to effectively do what you recommend. fourth, and fifth step. That's a step. That's four step I think I've ever taken. Because of the level of pain that I was, I had no illusions, and I had no self protection, I was willing to talk about anything that was going on in my life. He recommended that I find a psychologist and have to do with work. And he said, You got a lot of issues around work and money and failure and success. My dad was a pretty successful guy. And I thought I'd never be as good as my old man, all that sort of stuff. I did not want to go to psychologists that made me look like my program wasn't very good. Hello. And then the psychologist wanted to get my wife involved. And I did not. When you're wasting the room, there's a lot more information in the room than I think is necessary. And there's a lot of information in the room that makes you look bad. So I'm not you know, I really didn't want Linda in the room. And then later he went out my kitchen. Someone they were really young. But I promised I would follow through with this. And I did. And it was one of the more important things that happened to me. I was explained to him that my company was going bankrupt, and I'm probably going to have to file bankruptcy, put my name on the paper and lose everything I had. And he looked at me and he said, Why are you so afraid of failing? And I wanted to punch him. I mean, I that was not my way. I felt like he punched me. And I said, Look, you're a doctor, you file bankruptcy, you just wait six months on your sign on another door and you're making 100 grand within a year. I said I've lived in a city all my life. I'm in the real estate investment business. I said I'm gonna lose everything I had not your head up and down if you understand that. And he looked at me. And he said, he looked at my wife and said if your Linda hit Bob lost everything he had What do you lose you? And my wife said no wouldn't lose me. He asked the kids that same question. And they said of course. I wouldn't lose. If you can't lose, you can't play. What I discovered in that man's office was fear. Now you think a guy who's done three inventories would know more about fear than I did. I thought fear was dogs, snakes and tall buildings. And we were not as good with the book in in 7374 75 as we are today. And I must have just kind of skimmed through fear. And what I discovered is I'm afraid to being a father and afraid to be a husband. I'm afraid of failure. I'm afraid of work. You know, I'm swimming and fear. Let's check these to talk about the two fish swimming in the ocean and the other one fishes in the ocean. Wonderful and the other fishes what's the ocean I'm immersed in fear. And about a week later, I had a horrible day, right? I skipped work and got a backgammon game, I won 500 bucks, got in a fight with my wife and slap one of the kids in my living room 11 o'clock at night, and I've just despairing I just got dang it. I just
Bob B 40:21
was given a saying I've tried as hard as I know how to try it ineffective. But I tried as hard as I know how to clean up my act. And I failed. And for whatever reason, I was able to stand naked in front of those words, for the maybe for the first time. And I was given the opportunity to take the six and a seven step for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous at a depth that I had not taken. Before the six steps of that were in traveling ready to have God not by removing defects of character, the seven steps that we humbly asked him to remove the shortcomings I have spent eight years trying to get rid of them, I don't have the power. I have the responsibility, but it happens through me not by me, I'm the pipe, not the well. The doctor creates a certain environment, vision and true healing can take place and God heals, I don't change. The program creates an atmosphere of, you know, the honesty, open mindedness and willingness adequate to the sixth and seventh step. It creates a mental condition spiritual condition in which God can act through these things and change me and I'm changed. And that might change my life. I quit gambling that night, I turned the checkbook over to my wife, I made appointments with my sponsor about going to work staying at work and working at work. I spent 1000s of hours and hundreds of hours trying to learn how to be a better parent. I think having kids is like having a bowling alley installed in your head. I think it takes 125% of whatever you have you heard is a very demanding process. And the manual is a little skinny. In my life took off like it was on a rocket ship. All of a sudden the guy who I've always been you know, my mother always said you're not very smart dress well. But I I have always been spying, I just haven't been effective. I was the kid who I was really a smart kid in school. And it's kind of skated by doing the A minus work. And it wasn't very hard for me. I was I've always looked for the easier softer way. And I was ineffective at school and at work in life. And all of a sudden, my prayer, one of the things I did during that day I heard someone to get me up, they called me at 530. And I went to 65 minutes, five days away. And after mass, I went to the back of the church and I prayed I said, God, give me your mind. I don't know what to do, which was Bs, I know exactly what to do. I just hadn't done. And I'll be done. I really think that's what happened to me at eight years of sobriety. I believe that in my sub second surrender, that God gave me his mind. And all of a sudden the guy that was not effective, started to be effective as a husband, as a father. And as a worker. And the guy who was you know, we created a company with, you know, hundreds of couple of 100 of employees and I was making enough money to burn a white elephant and life was very different for those years. Later, in 19 1980, in the mid 1980s, you change the Tax Act, and I went broke, lost everything I had, which was like tearing the skin off my body. And here I am 20 years sober, having lost everything that I had. And I don't think God arranged the real estate collapse to teach me a lesson. But I think the lesson that I was learned in that process was what like who I was with money and who I was without money, which ended up being an important lesson on my life. sobriety does not exempt us from life. And so if you're going to be sober and live and work in an AIA for a long time, you're going to have issues with your sponsor, maybe with your group, you're going to have work issues or health issues, marital issues. And this, in some ways, the bad news, the good. The good news is, it's just life. And if you have a program and a god and a wonderful partner, as I have three wonderful boys. You can easily deal with it with the help of the program and your God. You're not the only person in the world that has those issues and the program couldn't be better. Couldn't be a better place to start your life over and to build a platform to continue. So
John M 45:00
Let me do a little break here we will be continuing our conversation with Bobby in just a moment, just a reminder, you're listening to sober speak, you can find us on the web at www dot sober speak calm. There you can also find the donate button you can use if and only if the spirit moves you to do such Please keep in mind this is a podcast founded by you, the listener, so to speak is a self supporting organization through our own contribution. We are not allied with any sect denomination, politics, organization or institution, we do not wish to engage in any controversy. Neither endorses nor opposes. Any causes. All right now back to Mr. Bobby, that's fascinating. I have a couple of follow up questions here. So I know that you have you know, went on the beginning or described you as a royalty. I don't know if you'd see it that way. Like the kind of words those words, you know, like those. Okay, so and that's kind of what I was going to, to ask you about the you. You're well known within Alcoholics Anonymous. And you know, that probably has an upside and downside. So what can you describe your life and kind of the ups and downs you've been through as you know, what is known as a circuit speaker in you call it different things. But what has been your experience with that?
Bob B 46:25
Even though I've been a circus speaker for probably 30 years of that, I had to deal with my wife, I did one a month, I got asked 50 or 60 times a year to talk. And for many of those years, I just talked once a month, I cheated a little bit. So it ended up being more like 16. But and then later in life, our children were raised and she started traveling with me and I started to do quite a bit more. In Minnesota, I don't think I guess I'm well known in Minnesota, I started the gopher state Roundup, and just you know, I've been an active member. But mostly I'm not royalty, I'm just a member. I really, and I've been able to stay I think that's easier in the Midwest. You know, in California, you could not only be a gift, if you're a conference speaker, you know, you're given talks two or three days a week at groups all over well, that, you know, in Minnesota, that wasn't the case. And I was much more able to be an in Texas, which is we got a home in Texas, and we're down there for a couple of months a year. You know, I was just a member and I think a relatively important member because I'm sober a long time. You know, so I'm the old guy. So my life wasn't. Again, most of my life was lived with people who were more sober than I was, I mean, the shoulders I stand on and my wife stand up the people that the important people in our lives were just extraordinary. I went to conferences, a lot in my early sobriety. And I got to know, I got to hear and know many of the interview went back through tapes and tapes today to go back and give you you know, I knew all those people. And they helped build a, you know, a platform from which my wife and I lived our lives.
John M 48:19
I want to talk about your sponsor a little bit. He's actually the gentleman who referred me over to you, Tim, ah, how long's Tim been your sponsor?
Bob B 48:29
A couple of years, a year and a half, maybe two years. I have my sponsor for 43 years. And then when he died, I asked Nick Martin, who was daikon tapes out of Omaha, Nebraska. And I had dick for five years wonderful man. And when dick died, I was fine three and Howard, Poland's had for about five years and Howard and I started to smile during each other. And after five years, Howard passed away. And you know, a lot of guys always want someone with more sobriety, I've got to be tougher and tougher to find someone with more sobriety, not impossible. But I wanted a guy who was active and had, you know, 30 years of sobriety or mourning, and still was active with the steps and Tim Hyland met those criteria, he had 29 years, he just turned 30. And it's been a great relationship. He's coming here on Thursday, and I'm very much looking forward to, we're going to go down and do a retreat together. And he's a great guy. And I've been around long enough to know how to use a sponsor and be sponsee.
John M 49:38
So that was kind of dovetailing into my next question, I get tons of people who write in on the podcast and you know, they want to know, I'm sure you've heard it before. How do I find a sponsor? How do I pick a sponsor how to use a sponsor, and I know it's kind of a unique thing for everybody. But once you give me your kind of view on sponsorship
Bob B 50:00
If you're having trouble finding a sponsor, I think you're not prone to enough meetings. I think if you were at meetings watching people, you'd find people who you were attracted to, you would find people. Now I'm in a sauna, we're talking about the steps all the time, in our meetings, you start to hear people who are doing step work that you may or may not be doing. Today, where everybody is taking people through the book, they didn't used to do that, you know, when I first came in, you know, but you don't need, you don't need a perfect sponsor, me, my first sponsor, you would not have asked necessarily to go give, you know, weekends, you know, talk on the steps, but he, he was my big book, me he lived it, as well, as any man I've ever been around. You know, and those, I mean, those are people that populate our meetings all over the place, you don't need someone perfect. And one of the great chests is when you start to find out the humanity of your sponsor, you know, that, you know, when you start to find information of the imperfections that you could neutralize your sponsor, if you want to do it, it's a it's a kind of a spiritual test. I mean, because you have the same problems. And, you know, we, we need to be careful about where we will that night.
John M 51:18
Yeah, I remember, my sponsor, actually, when I first asked him to be my sponsor, he's the same guy today as since 89. And he said, eventually, he said to me, that you are going to experience you're going to figure out that I'm not perfect eventually, and you're going to possibly say to yourself, you know, maybe I need somebody else. And that's okay for you to say that. Let's just have a conversation. And we definitely came to that point. And I tell guys, the same thing today. You talked about your wife and your kids. And I know you just kind of briefly touched on it. But to me, that's a fascinating part of what has gone on with you. Do you want to dive into that a little bit further, you said your wife's an Al anon right. And kind of the, I guess, periods that you went through with your family?
Bob B 52:10
Well, she, she was an RN, we started to have, we have three boys, they're 53. And the youngest is 40.
Bob B 52:20
As I say, my wife was an RN, she's just a great woman. And we and you know, we have similar backgrounds, we both went to Catholic schools and university, I got fixed up whether when she came up to Minnesota, to go, I'll tell you, the first eight years were horribly hard on her it is
Bob B 52:38
the night in 2008, we started to have financial problems, again, it's always tough to explain to your wife that you have financial problems. Again, it's tougher the second time than the first time. And we started, she never liked talking very much. You've talked a couple of times a year, but when we started to pray for our life to get back. Of course, she started to think maybe I had to say yes, more often. So I found myself at conferences, listening to her Ellen and talking when she went through the first eight years. married to me as an effective husband. It was a tough thing to listen to. And I couldn't be more great. Today, we're on the same page. And I think have a love for each other. That's very cool. I mean, the program just lends itself the programs of woman towards what you can talk about it in all sorts of different ways. But it's removing the workability of your life and what's left is love you and I'm able to be the husband that I think she wants and I'm able to be the father that I think my children want. And there's there's love in our home, in our family.
John M 53:51
We talked about this briefly on the front end about you know, the AIA as it was and as it is today and the different perceptions that people have and such but i'm, i'm curious about your either optimism or lack of optimism for AIA and how you think it's going to be best to pass that message on and along as time moves on.
Bob B 54:15
I think intellectually, you could make a case that we're going to have problems where the hell are people going to go? I mean, if you were if you were right now you make a decision that you no longer can be an A Where the hell are you going to go? I mean, there is no other place in my mind not even close to another place where there is recovery available at the level that we have in Alcoholics Anonymous. And the evidence of being able to walk into a room with you know, anywhere from 10 to 100 people whose lives have been dramatically changed. I mean, it is not a goofy sort of thing. When you talk about taking people through a process to have a spiritual awakening. I mean, if you talked about Most people outside, you know, they think you were Goofy, that you were, you know, go play with your tambourine someplace else. I mean, they would not get it. And we talked about that we're not surprised by that at all. We have seen these dramatic changes in people's life. We are I mean, it is astounding that we've been given the keys to the kingdom to be in a process that our own lives are healed and then be able to share it. So I don't I really don't think I've just been shoving a stick when you say, I don't think there's any place else to go. I think in large numbers, the Alcoholics Anonymous, is always going to be dancing.
John M 55:39
What about this theory that the message of AIA is being diluted as time goes on? What are your thoughts on that?
Bob B 55:46
I think that's nonsense. I think we're more committed to the book and to the steps into sponsorship than we ever have them. I mean, I go back and you're on number, you've been sober 35 years. I mean, for 33.
Bob B 55:58
People weren't talking about the steps as often. And taking people through the book and all this sort of I mean, Joe and Charlie created a renaissance in the mid 70s got us back more interested in the book. And that's lasted. I mean, that is it's just been a terrific thing. And I don't think it's been diluted, people were worried about drug addicts, you know, but it's just the nature of what it is today. I mean, people are poly drug users. I mean, it is not and that has not proved to be more effective for us, we would have pushed a little people to be at na, I mean, and they had drinking problems. I mean, I don't feel we're being invaded by people who don't belong, you know, we occasionally get people because there's no membership criteria. But by and large, I keep feeling very comfortable with who's coming in and very comfortable to what I see.
John M 56:52
You mentioned Joe and Charlie there, do you have who who were like you've been an influence on a lot of people you are an influence on me. And I mean that as a compliment. Were there influences on you in the early days that you still remember and kind of think of I think
Bob B 57:11
in the early days, you know, we used to, I started a conference that has 1000 people called the gopher state roundup for the first five years we had Chamberlain come every year, she's Carnival come every year, Tom Breen come every year, Mac cheater. They were just our favorite people, they and Wes Wesley Parrish and David Aronofsky, but the one of the main influences on my life was a guy by the name of Bob white from out from Texas. And that's why built after Bob died, I built a home I bought a home with Jerry Jones is a Dallas guy. And Jerry and I were very close friends. We bought a home together and then later I built another home. And we went to Whitney Texas for and marshaling was Linda sponsor. And so there were just, you know, Dave cook, there were just people all over the place. Jeff, you know that. In Texas, a Texas had some of the best. I mean, the combination of southern and western just had some of the best airlines in the world and some of the best, as
John M 58:17
you mentioned earlier, I want to go back to that that part about the your eight years. I know you touched on it, you talked about it and as a big piece of your story. But do you find like when you share that story at a conference, do you find a lot of people coming up and saying, Hey, I was 5678 years, whatever, it is sober. And I went through the same experiences,
Bob B 58:42
the majority of people have a second surrender. somewhere between five and 15 years. They run out of I think their first approach is more mechanical Well, maybe a little bit they're not as deeply spiritual is because it has a tendency, it's not as deep as it as it tends to be later. And but it is one of the most difficult things today is your ticket guy with 30 years of sobriety, he's got an answer for everything. You could ask him to give you a five minute talk on any subject today and he could do that acapella without any problem whatsoever. So when there are really major issues going on, with marriage, with health, with jobs with children the tendency is to say I know what to do. I mean, I know the steps and sponsoring all the the tendency is to rely on your knowledge rather than really rely on God is that we really think we know the answers and we really think we Yeah, I'm really gonna go to hell you think I'm doing an A I really think That for a lot of the issues that people have in middle and later sobriety. They're relying on psychology and they're relying on their knowledge of the program, rather than the spiritual grounding, which is different when God is in the picture. The resolution is different. Okay, so
John M 1:00:20
let's talk about that a little bit. Because there's going to be people listening in there say, Yeah, I understand that I need to have God in my life. But exactly how do I do that? So how does that? What I mean, and you may be the steps, I just want to get your version on, you know, how do you get God in your life? Yeah,
Bob B 1:00:40
it's I mean, it's, if some, if you ask me, what I did was step 11. You know, I read 66 suits, you know, 86, through eight,
Bob B 1:00:51
I read 20, meditation books a day, I meditate daily,
Bob B 1:00:56
I go to seven to 10 meetings a week, I have a practice it is. So I am grounded. I didn't always do that. I'm an old guy, I've got time, it's not an issue. And with wisdom, today, you go to these meetings, the ones I'm going to where some of the best I've ever been to. But there's a way of knowing. And once you really start to have a spiritual experience in Alcoholics Anonymous,
Bob B 1:01:24
and have a guidance, you start to have access to a wisdom that you'd never had access to before your life starts to change starts to look differently. And I think if you and continuing that for a lifetime, is it is a real challenge. I mean, continuing anything for a lifetime living in the same city, being married to the same woman, you know, your relationship with your children. But I really think that if you're, if you're working with people, now you don't have to spend your 25 people. But if you every every once in a while, get a pigeon and take them through the book. And you have people in your life that you're sponsoring, I really think that that's the difference. I think people who don't do that, get bored, and they're there so and then going to meetings for what they want. And when you are going to meetings, I think to be there for other people. It's a better attitude to bring through the door.
He just used the term pigeon. I know there's gonna be a lot of people listening to this that may not be familiar with that term. But that is you would explain what that is scratchy. Yeah. sponsee. I don't know where that term started. Do you have any idea, though? Who knows? In one last question.
John M 1:02:46
You mentioned zoom there a second ago? What has been your experience over the past year in terms of recovery and the the pandemic and zoom and what are your thoughts on that?
Bob B 1:03:05
I'm actually kind of having a better experience during that year than I had prior.
Bob B 1:03:14
There was a meeting, I was going to Minneapolis, it was two days a week, I was going to one day on Wednesday. And it was called the robo group IRA jL.
Bob B 1:04:13
grew to 100. It is one of the finest experiences I have had. So I'm blessed it is and then I'm also you know, now I'm talking again, so I've given talks, I've gone to other meetings. But I really think thank God that we've had this. It may not be the in person, equivalent for a lot of people. But it's pretty darn wonderful. Do you find you get as much out of the meetings on zoom as you would in person I do. I actually think I may even get more I can look at every I see every phage as if I'm four feet away. I see their name. And I find myself being able to recognize more people and know more about them because of the intimacy
Bob B 1:05:00
As a screen, okay, so
John M 1:05:01
you mentioned that meeting, I know there's going to be people listening to this, who may think to themselves, I would like to go to that meeting at some point is you're right.
Bob B 1:05:11
If you're right down that I can tell you the code right now it's 95425144242. And the password is word capital R, small case, oj Oh, Spanish word for red. Yep, seven o'clock every day of the week, eight o'clock on Saturdays. So it's 95425144 to write
John M 1:05:39
it just so everybody knows that is central time. For those listening in other countries. This has been a pleasure, Bobby, thank you really appreciate it. I know you weren't exactly sure what to expect.
And probably my fault for not explaining it correctly. But I I hope to have this turned out to be pleasure for you.
John M 1:06:04
Thank you. God bless you, my friend. Hopefully, our paths will cross soon and I'll be able to meet you eyeball to eyeball. Joby, I'm just gonna, I'm going to read from page 164 is a big book here. It says, a banner yourself to God as you understand God, and miss your faults to him and to your fellows. clear away the wreckage of your past, give freely of what you find and join us We shall be with you in the fellowship of the spirit and you will surely be some of us like me. And Bob, as you trudge the road of happy destiny. May God bless you and keep you up until then, once again, thank you so much. God bless. Thank you. Bye bye, Bob. B, thank you so much. Again, if you are listening, and you would like to get some sort of comment to Bob B or any of the other guests that we have had on the podcast, feel free to reach out to me at john J. Doe a Gen as sober, speak calm, and I will be happy to pass along your comments. Now on to a little bit of a listener feedback. Jim writes in, Jim says, Happy Father's Day you can tell this is I'm just catching up with a lot of my listener feedback. Or john says, excuse me, Jim says to me, hey, john, you are not my dad. This is I love Jim. He's a gentleman who lives in North Carolina. He just is just a class act. And he says, Hey, john, you are not my dad, but you are one of my spiritual brothers in a so I wanted to wish you a wonderful Father's Day. And I want to thank you for everything you do for us sober speak, listeners, I have one wish and one regret about sober speak. And that is I wish you could hear my mind every time I think, man, john is so insightful with that question. So sensitive to the emotional place where the speaker is, and where I am right now. Unquote. Especially lately with Matthew m, when he starts choking up, you've got an inner knack for being emotionally with him. And with me, and for leading us all through the moment to the next aha moment and the next smile. That's a rare quality john, a true gift from God. Now my regret is that I don't call or write you every time you do it. I'm going to get better about that. Best to you, Shannon, hugs to your kids. And thanks to God. Thanks again. JOHN. Jim, as Jim, you like I said earlier your class. Thank you for writing in and Happy Father's Day. Right atcha right back at you a little bit. belated there. Thanks for writing in Jim. Derek writes in a Derrick says john, I celebrated 11 years on June 13. So my sobriety date is June 13 2010. I'm from Ohio. By the way, congrats on the 11 years Jim. Derek and that's great. I'm from Ohio and I got sober in Toledo. Oh toe Lido. Isn't that a song by like boss gags? Oh, no, no, it's not totally Leto. It's Leto.
John M 1:09:59
Why Apologies but I think as a kid I always thought it was toe Lido. Nonetheless I'm from Ohio and I got sober in tow Lido with some very old school hard nosed a is thank God for them. Triple exclamation point. I found you were searching for sobriety podcasts I work crazy hours, and meetings are hard for me to come by. So your podcasts are a blessing. Derek and I concur. Thank God for those very old school hard nosed a folks and I read a lot of them on the program here and I'm glad they're out there. Thank you, Derek. Daron writes in not not Derek but Deron. It's, it's, it's, uh, Derek and Durham fast here. And Darren says, Hi, John. M. I have been enjoying the podcast on my daily walks. I found you on my apple podcast search when I was looking for a related pods. Oh, he's cool. I like that pods. I really enjoy your selection of speakers. JOHN, thank you so much for your service. My name is Deron G. I live in Santa Rosa, California. I just I don't know why but I put the with the rolling are on that. It just sounded like the right thing to do. Santa Rosa, California. It's about an hour north of s f. As San Francisco. For those of you who are wondering. We have a string fellowship up here in Sonoma County. I've got 16 years and I'm 51 Oh, you know what regards dieren? Gee, I just said string fellowship. But I will say what is a string fellowship? I believe the spellchecker thing got him. And then as probably a strong fellowship up there in Sonoma County, or regards to you, Darren G. And thank you for writing in. Carla writes in and Carla says, Happy Wednesday john and a huge smiley face. She says I'm Carla and I live in Midlothian, Texas, just right down the street from Frisco. So a day trip and meetings are on my calendar. We'll come on down Miss Carla. I'll introduce you to the gang and then so on up for daytrip she's got a picture of a car. And then there's an emoji of a galima she's got tons of emerges of a I think that's a road or railroad track. And then there's a picture of a book and I think the book is representative of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous I have no idea but anyway she says I found sober speak in Apple podcasts under the quote you might like a category even Apple App knows I'm an alcoholic that's funny and then she's then she's got a big smiley face with glasses on it. And then she says the Matthew m surrenders episodes got me hooked as I'm 28 days sober. And then there's another emoji it's a big party kind of looking, you know, like celebration thing. As she says I am 55 divorced and living my best life ever got a say my life and sanity then there's more emojis. This one is a praying person. And then it was like a church with a heart surrounded. And then there's another book now this is another book I would assume this is either I don't know a Bible or a big book or something like that. Anyway, she says 30 years of drinking is my pass. God ha is service are my future. Thank you, john for doing what you do. sober Carlo. And then there's big circle of hearts. Well, thank you. So for Carla for writing in. I sure do appreciate you.
John M 1:14:34
Giovanni writes in this I love this name. See when you walk around life and you're just a john Wright, j o h and john. And then you see a name like Giovanni you go oh my goodness. Why couldn't I have been Giovanni perhaps if I ever have another child, I will name that child Giovanni. Just because rolls off the tongue and I love how it sounds. Thank god Giovanni. Giovanni says, Good morning, john. I currently live in Los Los Angeles, California. I am 5553 years old, and going on a 54 man child, big smiley face. And today I am 15 days sober. Well, congratulations, Giovanni. He says, although I was a relatively late bloomer in my alcoholic career, I did not really start thinking and being told I had a problem and until I moved to the states in my early 20s, but looking back, I showed all the signs of an alcoholic mind from a very early age. going into details would take pages, but here are the quote, highlights. I grew up in a small town in Italy. Oh, no, no Giovanni will try to eat daily from the German mother and an Italian father when I was two, and my brother was nine months old, we moved to a town on the Adriatic Sea, where we stayed for six years. And then a final move to Rome in 1977. Hey, was Rome bilfinger de Giovanni. Just curious. Anyway, he says, even though I've always loved my parents, I always fell at a place abandoned, that I wasn't good enough. I had a couple of friends in school, in the school years, but I always had a hard time connecting with people, and often avoid situations that would make me uncomfortable. I spent the majority of my time reading, watching TV and fantasizing about coming to the stage where I quote, I knew I would become the man I was supposed to be, unquote. At 23, I moved to New York, New York, to reinvent myself. And instead, that's when I discovered co cocaine, real alcohol and began to create havoc in my life in my relationships. For the next 10 years, I moved around the five boroughs at least a dozen times, moved to Italy in 1997. After selling the apartment, my father bought me in 1999. And then I moved back to New York and got married in City Hall to a woman eight years my senior from the very start of the relationship. It was very dramatic. We fought a lot got kicked out of the apartment a few times as she became pregnant, and she decided to have an abortion, which made the second time a woman decided quote, I wasn't good enough to be the father, unquote. The first time was when my girlfriend at that time back in 1995. In 2004, I moved to Los Angeles to live with a girl I had met during a vacation three years prior, she was a sweetheart but there's a button here I don't know if I can remember just because they after, but I was just there to get what I wanted. After all living in LA had become my childhood dream. I had made it or so I thought did not matter how many people had to climb over or destroy it. In my path. Drinking became a real problem. I was unemployed spend days in the apartment, quote, writing, unquote. But the reality was, I would end up getting loaded by the time she came back home from work. We went to a psychologist who suggested that I should try la excuse me not hell ay. Ay ay ay ay. Well, I did. However, it was next to a strip club. Oh, no.
Oh, I know where this is going.
John M 1:19:02
So I had the brilliant idea to get a few drinks and a couple of dances beforehand. I vaguely remember climbing the stairs and entering the room filled with people stopping at the door, stopping at the door. And just as I was about to make 180 someone handed me a copy of 101 80 degree turn someone and handed me a copy of the big book. Somehow I ended up at the podium reading something. I had no idea what it was and I almost passed out from anxiety. The gentleman brought the bought the book for me, and I went home feeling I was cured. That now I could drink and then read the book much liking Catholicism, committing sins and going to confession to obtain a clean slate. Sure, no, one day My girlfriend came back home accompanied by a friend of hers for support, told me to leave, paid for a one night stay in a nearby hotel, since I had no money, and that's the kind of person she was. That night, I went to a liquor store and bought a bottle of vodka, which I finished in a few hours. The next morning I woke up and once again called my parents for financial support. From 2005 to 2008, I moved around the LA area half dozen times, I made a few attempts to quit drinking had a couple of car accidents. But this time, I was able to keep a job as a truck production assistant in TV commercial. So I convinced myself I didn't have a problem. In 2008, my ex wife moved to Los Angeles, we started seeing each other again, but in 2009, she passed away from complications following an open heart surgery. Excuse me, oh my goodness. In July 2010, I was arrested for DUI, and spent the night in the county jail. Terror does not begin to have to describe how I fell lying on the bunk of the quote drunk tank on quote, all I could think about were the movies about being raped in prison, but mainly the fact about my impounded car. There was cocaine hidden in the hidden in the pouch of the passenger's seat. If someone found it, I remain in jail for a long time. 12 hours later, I was released on my own recognizance and immediately went back to my jeep from the city from the city impound in West Hollywood. At the time I was living in a guest house. When I got back home. I thought to myself that it would be stupid to flush the coat down the drain and get rid of the alcohol. I might as well. Oh no.
John M 1:22:23
I understand. This is what they call out alki logic which I got from Jennifer L. hk who was on the podcast. He said I might as well finish it and get clean the next day. So I did. I spent the rest of the day in my little guest house doing lines and shots of jack daniels, even though I'm a vodka guy, but that's all I had in the apartment. I stayed sober from July 10 2010 to two April of 2012. When one day, leaving a meeting I just pulled up in front of a liquor store. I sat in my car for a few minutes and when I found myself buying a bottle of vodka, and a pack of cigarettes. In one day, in one afternoon, I completely erase 21 months of sobriety and non smoking. Once again, I was able to manipulate my own father to give me a quote loan to buy an apartment but knowing full well I can never pay him back. Dad did not feel bad. after all. He is the one who made me the way I am unquote. And of course in 2016 I sold it for a profit and never paid him back. Instead, I moved to a condo in Korea Town. And five years later, I find myself once again broke. Thinking in details about putting a gun in my mouth and starting to develop. Alcohol is starting to develop alcohol withdrawal symptoms. On March 17 2021, I decided to stop drinking my psychiatrists prescribe some medications to me without the effects of withdraw. And I began and I began detoxing. I started a journal listening to Joe and Charlie sand dB. And the big book narrated by Alan Alda. I had no idea Alan Alda narrated the big book. But nonetheless, and for those of you who don't know who Alan Alda is he was on a big show called mash for a long time but nonetheless, and I was able to stay sober for 33 days but on April 19 2021 I found myself at the supermarket checkout lane adding to me groceries, a bottle of vodka. This time it got so bad I would sleep all day, wake up at night, go out and get an itch and get another bottle and stay up all night drinking and smoking alone in my apartment, thinking in extreme detail on how to blow my brains out in a way that would not be too messy, somehow in a way that would allow people to find my body but mostly in a way that would be successful. It would suck to survive a gunshot wound to the head being deformed or disable, then I would think about how my parents and my brother and close friends would feel. And this battle inside me would reach a point where my feelings of being trapped was so strong and painful, painful, and I had to lock my gun in a safe and hide the keys. So the impulse would not set. And I would have a few minutes to think about the consequences instead of just following the impulse, or opening the drawer, and fire. Then on June 7, at 2:15pm, I was opening a new bottle of vodka, pouring it into a glass and adding it and adding grapefruit juice. And I felt this urge of dumping it all in the sink. did not think like that in the past. And I just felt
John M 1:26:39
and I just felt I felt it and did it. And this time, there were no thoughts of regret, or wasting a perfectly good bottle I just did not want to drink any more. even thinking about it. Once I had done it did not produce the all too familiar feelings of hopelessness. And I had in the end what I had in the past and I knew what eventually buy another one. Not sure if that makes any sense. So it makes sense sense Giovanni? I'm not sure if it makes any sense. But as of today, I am free from the fear and the obsession of having to alcohol in my body in order to survive the pain inside. Something happened that moment not sure what and honestly I don't care. Every day I listened to one of your podcasts Bill C Matthew M A Gary Ks are the ones that I mostly listened to and can relate to. But I'm slowly slowly widening the the selection to include others as well. Thank you for everything you are doing. Giovanni with Giovanni, thank you so much for writing in. Oh my goodness, I'm so glad to hear that you are on the right path. God bless you, my friend. Keep coming back. It works if you work in that was just the vantastic Thank you for writing that. Mary writes in Mary says hi Gianna found sober speak during the pin demick when there are no meetings being held, and I was looking for something productive to do during the lockdown. It was a great way to stay connected with recovery people. I am very grateful for these podcasts. I usually listen to one right before going to sleep. I really like Bill see. So how do I get on his mailing list? Well, he says recovery rocks marry age and so you know I think about like usually when I'm listening to something I you know, excuse me, maybe I should tone it down a little for those who are going to sleep and like not have so much energy. I don't know exactly what to do. That's a quandary. But as you know, Mary, I replied to you copied VLC on the email and I'm sure he has added you to the list by now. Soon, right writes in as Sue says, Hi, john. I live in a suburb of St. Louis, MO. I began my journey on September 17 2017. And I went to my first a meeting the next day. I got a sponsor the next week and went to multiple weekly a meetings on a regular basis that first year I was out of work so attending them was easy, but then I got a job and finding a meeting I liked the didn't interfere with my work schedule was tough. I'm actually searching for one right now. My meeting attendance dwindled quickly and my ego came back even quicker, I was living miserably and didn't even realize that then, when the pandemic hit, my work schedule was temporarily adjusted, which allowed me to go back to attending those meetings I had found during my first year of sobriety. I did that for a few months, until last year, and then I dove in to the steps where I left off, I was listening for to a speakers on YouTube daily, which I really enjoyed, enjoyed and kept me motivated. But then the work schedule went back to normal last fall and the meeting attendance declined, as did my quality of life. Over the next few years, I have been dealing with a strained relationship. Over the course
John M 1:30:55
of these few years, excuse me, I have been dealing with a strained relationship with my boyfriend's 12 year old daughter, and it's recently come up as recently come out that my actions toward her during one particular drinking episode on September 16, of 2007, may have been the cause of much of the term turmoil currently going on in her life. That said along with his growing emptiness I feel inside. That along with his growing emptiness, I feel inside has led me back to the steps into finding ways to connect with a when I can't go to sleep, I have a 45 minute conversation. Excuse me, I have a 45 minute commute to work, which is the perfect time for me to listen to big book on audio, or something I've never done before listening to podcasts, which is why I googled a podcast and I found yours. The first so far only person I've had a chance to listen to since I discovered your podcast was Matthew M. And I just finished listening to the 12 surrenders today. What an amazing set of episodes to choose from for motivation. God truly is amazing, and never ceases to amaze me when he was everything I need right in front of me. Thank you for reaching out, and I'm looking forward to joining your Facebook community. Thanks, Sue. Kay, well, thank you, Sue Kay, for writing in I appreciate you. If for those of you wondering how to join the Facebook community, just look for secret Facebook group in Facebook, and it'll give you an option there of being admitted to the group. Last, but not least, on this here episode Deanne writes in she says, Hi, john. I live in Brownwood, Texas, I've been in recovery for 16 years. I relapsed after 10 years sober and I have a little over five years now this time, I was looking for a talk from Gary K to send a friend when an episode of yours appeared on Spotify. I always enjoy Gary K. I've known him for a number of years. I really enjoyed the conversational style of the podcast. And I've listened to a few more episodes. Just Gary so far steps one through two, two through nine and 10 Thank you for the invitation to the Facebook group. D and what DeAnn God bless you, everybody. That wraps up another episode. You guys are great. With the feedback coming in. It just blows my mind. And I'm glad we can all gather up together and I can share your stories via the airways. Keep coming back. It works if you work it. I do this one week at a time. Hopefully I'll be back next week. so far. I haven't missed a beat but you never can tell.
John M 1:34:29
Have a great week. I love you guys. Feel free to reach out to me with any comments and or concerns. I'm a john jayway Janice over speak.com Have a great week. Bye bye
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