Sobriety in Stumptown
www.pdxaa.com Portland Area Intergroup May 2014
Submit to: 825 NE 20th Ave, Portland, OR Volume 7, No. 5
June Intergroup Meeting Moved to 6/16
submitted by Anita B.
June’s IGR meeting will take place the third Monday of June instead of the 2nd Monday as usual.
Mark your calendars for June 16th this month! 3123 NE 24th Ave, Portland, 7pm.
“Big Chunks of Truth” 4th Step Workshop
submitted by Patrick W.
May 17th from 10:00am11:30am at the Trinity United Methodist Church: 3915 SE Steele St,
The panelists are Gary S. and Erica W. from John’s Landing group.
Check the website calendar for the flyer.
AA Hotline Volunteer Shifts Available
submitted by Denise M.
The Portland Intergroup AA Hotline is open for business 24 hours a day, so anyone can get help
or assistance whenever they need it. When the Portland Intergroup office is closed, the hotline
phone number is forwarded to AA volunteers who make sure there’s someone on the other end
of the line. Volunteer for a shift and be a part of keeping our hotline hot. Shifts are every other
week for about five hours apiece.
The following shifts are available:
1 Wednesday 11pm5am
Please note: The hotline calls are screened by the answering service and forwarded to
the volunteer’s home phone; callers never see the home phone number of the volunteer.
May, June & July: “Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll”
by Editor David B. of Portland, OR
We put our heads together as a committee and asked: what do Portlandarea AA’s truly
want to hear about? The answers, of course, were: sex, drugs and rock and roll!
This month, we’re talking about sex. June and July’s issues are about drugs and rock and
roll. Here’s what we’re looking for:
June: “DRUGS” *deadline 06/01/14
Do you think it’s unacceptable to talk about drugs in AA meetings? Do you think’s it’s no
big deal? Are alcohol and drugs “all the same addiction?” Why? Why can’t alcoholics
smoke pot if that was never their problem? What about other drugs? Have you had to deal
with taking addictive prescription medications in sobriety? How did you do it? When does
an alcoholic cross the line with prescription medication use?
July: “ROCK AND ROLL AND THE ARTS” *deadline 07/01/14
Music and the arts are famous for the alcoholics among their ranks, and Portland AA is
bursting at the seams with talent. Did music bring you to your bottom or did it pick you back
up from the depths? How did you deal with playing at clubs and bars after getting sober?
Did sobriety reconnect you with your passion for art? Did your program convince you to go
for your dreams and pursue a career as an artist? Did working a program give you the
discipline you needed to succeed at your passion? We want to hear about it!
And before we go into this month’s stories, let us turn to page 69 and remember that:
“We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct. We all have sex problems.
We’d hardly be human if we didn’t. What can we do about them?”
The Grace of a Woman
My first relationship in recovery began 13 months into my sobriety. I took my sponsor’s
suggestion and waited a year to date. My partner was in recovery which made it easier
2 because I knew they had a spiritual foundation in place. Sadly, my first AA relationship
ended six months after it had begun. But I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing first try
at a relationship in recovery.
I learned how to set boundaries and state my feelings rather than screaming and
storming off to the nearest shot of vodka. We got along famously; not because we could
drink together, but because we understood one another and wanted the best for each
We explored forests and camped, went to awesome concerts, discovered new food,
we laughed, we cried and played like only sober kids know how to. One sunny morning I
looked at this human and realized he wasn’t “mine” like I had always believed my
boyfriends to be while drinking, but that he was his own, and I loved him even more for that.
I didn’t have to carry anyone, ever again. Standing beside them is where I am meant to be.
Our relationship was as good as ever, but I had to know, did he see me in his future?
Did he feel that “spark”? His answer was honest but not what I wanted to hear. I wasn’t the
woman he saw in his future, it just wasn’t me. Before Alcoholics Anonymous, I would have
hung on for dear life, kicking and screaming, until my world crashed down around me. But
that day, I knew I could not stay in a relationship where I could not get the love I both needed
I had built a good foundation in recovery and called every woman I could. When I was
drinking, people always told me, “no one else can love you until you love yourself.” I just
never got the handbook on how to do that. When I came to AA people said, “we’ll love you
until you learn how to love yourself.” And each day I have a woman to show me what that
Today, I know the difference between weakness and vulnerability.
Today, when I am hurting and sad, I pray to my Creator for strength and serenity.
Today, I am able to carry myself with the grace of a woman, not the fear of a child.
The Purging of the Past
Encounters From a Previous Life
As I sit here writing this, I am waiting on a text message from an exgirlfriend. This is the
third ex that I have encountered in the past week, all from out of town, and all wanting to
reconnect with me after some time has passed. I have been sober for 415 days now and it
has been quite an interesting year full of fear, hope, and change. I haven’t noticed anything
drastic as far as the change in myself goes, but others have. From 30 days on, people
have been telling me how they have noticed my demeanor has changed and there is a look
in my eye that was absent when I arrived in the rooms…Neither of the three exes have
mentioned any such change…
My sex conduct while attending the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous has been anything
but wholesome, genuine, correct, cute, pretty, nice, or any other good word associated with
sex in sobriety. It’s not like I’ve been an untamed beast running rampant through the streets
of Portland terrorizing onlookers with my devious ways or anything, but the sex part of my
3 sobriety is prooobably the weakest brick in the house I’ve built so far. Just like when
looking back at my drinking, not all of it has been misery, but for the most part, the way I
have conducted myself has been less than desirable…to me…Progress not perfection,
I had a girlfriend entering the rooms and that quickly ended within the first thirty days,
which seems to be somewhat textbook whilst looking back on my own, as well as other’s
experiences. The unwritten rule of “no relationships” in the first year went way out the door
nearing my sixth month and I thought I had a really strong grasp of sobriety. Actually, I
thought I knew EVERYTHING about sobriety because I was nearing six months. Yes, yes,
yes, I was wrong! I tried dating an awesome young woman outside of the rooms which
inherently ended in disaster. It was mainly due to me withholding my true thoughts and
feelings throughout the duration of our escapade (it only lasted about three weeks!).
Luckily enough, she is a normie and does not lack proper reasoning unlike my alcoholic
brain, so we are still friends. After the relationship attempt, I was somewhat loose but at
least very direct on what I asked for out of the opposite sex for a little while. Just like
everybody says, it doesn’t work out all that well! Someone always ends up getting hurt!
I then had the bright idea to contact some of the exgirlfriends of the past to basically
tell them how good I was doing and also make really halfassed attempts at amends with
them. I can’t tell you how quickly that has turned around to bite me in the ass. I called each
and every one of them with honest attempts at having a good discussion on where each of
us had been over our departed time from each other and how I had changed my behavior.
They all accepted my amends a little too graciously. Every second conversation found me
speaking with them about dating THEM again and what I wanted from them which, had I
paused, would never have come out of my mouth. Three are in Portland now, and all three
are looking for answers.
Let me tell you that having women interested in me has been quite the ego booster, but
in reality it is not what I was after. My ideals for what I would like out of a partner has
drastically changed after my fourth and fifth step, but in all honesty, the women I have talked
to, as well as who have talked back to me, have not changed a bit. That is because in the
sex conduct department of my sobriety, I myself have not changed a bit. I continue to
demonstrate the exact same behaviors as I did before entering the rooms of Alcoholics
Anonymous. I thought that at around six months of my sobriety, I had it on lockdown. I knew
everything and it was smoothsailing from then on. At just over 13 months sober I am
singing a different tune for sure. I am now learning how to put the past to rest and allow the
past to be the past.
There is good reason why none of the exes that I encountered have noticed a change.
This is simply due to the fact that change comes from within and change takes time. In my
sobriety, I have changed drastically over the last year in many departments of my life. Many
people that I have known my entire life, as well as friends that I have just met within the last
year have all noticed drastic change. My exes haven’t said a word. Coincidence? I think
Online Dating in Sobriety: Tried it. Hated it. Learned a
Alcoholism is a disease of loneliness. We’ve all read that and/or heard that line. Hell, we’ve
probably all said it at least once. Fervently. Because it is true. We alcoholics ARE lonely. We
isolate. We think we are “different from” everyone else. We think we are wounded in some way,
broken, maybe even disabled. “Less than.” Perhaps unloveable. It’s also said that alcoholics
become even lonelier after becoming sober. I can see that. I know I am lonelier
romanticdatewise than ever before. Why? Because today I have standards, morals, and I try
to make wellconsidered choices. But my choices are usually deciding between attending an AA
Speaker Meeting or staying home to watch “All About Eve” with a mug of hot chocolate not
deciding if I say “yes” to Tom, Dick, or Harry. When I became sober, I gave up my training
wheels, lost my alcohollaced safety net, and gained a snugly formfitting armor suit of malleable
Regardless, I feel very blessed to be an alcoholic in recovery. I feel so lucky to have a
supportive community of people who understand me as soon as I introduce myself, “Hi. My
name is [anonymous], and I am an alcoholic.” I walk into an AA meeting and I am walking into a
family room a living room. A safe room. A haven. But when you are single and looking to date,
sometimes even safe havens can feel incestuous because you are hanging out with your
FAMILY, for God’s sake. And sometimes it’s hard to meet other single people when you aren’t
going into bars or clubs anymore. So some of us try online dating. At least, that’s what I did.
I am fiftythree and single. And I would like to have a partner to love and share my life with
my sober life with. So, I joined the “Premier Social Network for Singles Over Fifty.” And now
that my online dating “career” is over, I realize I learned a great deal and am hugely more
satisfied with my life today. Here is a bit of MY experience and MY story. Yours would be
I am an alcoholic, an addict. Consequently, I have found there are some things I cannot do:
drink, drug, smoke tobacco, eat sugar, gamble, etc., because I, as an addict, tend to do too
much of these things. I obsess. And I get into trouble my life becomes unmanageable. Online
dating was an unknown arena for me. But now I have added another “No” to my list. No more
online dating for this alcoholic. It’s not that I went on too many dates. No, it was the obssessive
behaviors that kicked in after I sent a message to a guy. I would check my account all.the.time.
Did he write back? Yes? Oh goodie let me read and reply immediately! And I would spend far
too much time writing the “perfect,” witty, carefree response. No reply? Why not? What is
wrong with me? What is wrong with him? Etc. I knew the advice about keeping your
expectations low and your serenity high I thought I was following it. But I did not realize
something: every time I sent a message or a flirt or a wink or a whatever to those online mystery
men, I was also sending an expectation I expected these guys to one: respond quickly, two:
respond positively (I mean, c’mon! It’s ME writing!), and three: continue to correspond with me
(because again, it’s ME they were flirting with, right?!).
My sponsor tried to help: “Every time you send anything, you are expecting a reply. You will
not get a reply every time, so your expectations will not be met. And you expect an awful lot.
Perhaps too much. This is a slippery slope for you. Be very careful.” Many people might have
heard the wise warning just presented. Me? I heard part of it, then translated it into
[Anonymous]speak. I didn’t think my sponsor was exactly talking about me! I mean, c’mon
this is the [Anonymous]ster! That means what I heard was “You won’t get replies from anyone
5 because men are stupid and you are ugly and too tall and too old.” Then I thought, “I can do what
I want, because I know what I am doing, thank you very much, and I am smart enough to not
expect anything. I will follow other advice I received and really like, such as ‘write and release.’ I
will be fine!” Well… today I am alive. Sober. Still single. But somehow, not so lonely. I have a
new appreciation for my life, my friends, my AA family, my meetings, my Dish network, and my
cats. I am a sober gal working on being content, being happy, and being enough.
I have learned, in an extremely real way, that AA is necessarily a very insular group, with a
nonmainstream lifestyle. I am very safe within my AA life. My peeps understand me, support
me, and are usually pretty honest with me. And I am not tempted, nor cajoled, into drinking or
drugs. I love my AA peeps. My cohorts. My family. My fellow travelers. Most of my friends are
within my AA circle. I usually only comfortably go to AA events, and I live an AA, 12step oriented
life and make AAsupportive lifestyle decisions. For example, I live a routinebased, dramafree,
disciplined, responsible life. I eat healthy, nutritious meals, exercise a great deal (for sanity, not
vanity), use words like “share” and “higher power” in everyday language, go to many meetings
each week, hang out with my sponsor, and I show my emotions I cry and chortle in public when
moved to do so. I pray, meditate, and try to stay aware of, and grateful for, everything. Anyway,
you guys feel me. I try to walk the AA talk. I found that, while Alcoholics Anonymous
recommends and upholds my lifestyle choices, most of the “public,” or nonAAers, do not
understand it. At all. So they make fun of it. Of me. My decisions were questioned, my choices
derided, my values tested. “What do you mean by “sober?” “That’s stupid!” “You are too
disciplined. You are too uptight.” “Have fun. Relax. Smoke some pot with me it’s not alcohol.”
Etc., etc., etc. Again this is MY story, and yours will be different. Many AAers are relaxed, have
fun, and are not uptight. Unfortunately, I am not there yet. My journey is only six years old I
have a great deal more to learn. Anyway, the naysayers got into my head. I began to doubt my
life, my successes, my strengths, my decisions. This Samson almost let a man cut her hair!
OMG! Hahaha. While I am being silly just because it amuses me, I have some serious points to
make as well. Online dating taught me some hard truths about myself. Brutal, rigorous
selfhonesty was difficult but, as always, vital.
A few things I learned about myself include:
My ego is huge. In my head I am young, attractive, and abolutely the “gotta have her now”
chick. Turns out I was wrong. Hey having some ego is good and strong and necessary. But
relying on an unrealistic, perhaps unchecked, ego can lead to denial, rationalization, and faulty
decisionmaking skills. And for this this egocentric alcoholic? I need reality! The steps of AA
can help keep my ego in check, as does my sponsor and trusted AA friends, as do people who
They are, most often, a mirror for me.
I am fragile.
I am more vulnerable than I realized.
My self esteem is easily wounded.
My selfconfidence is, occasionally, a paper dragon.
I get obsessed with replies; both receiving and sending.
Online dating can be unsafe there are scammers and liars and predators.
There are many lonely people out there. I am not unique in my quest for a partner. And,
I am not a freak or too disciplined or too strict or too sober. As if, huh! I am doing the absolutely
next best right thing for me: I choose and design MY own sobriety program, and I need to stay
vigilant with my program to stay alive.
6 In addition, I found that while I can be attractive, playful and funny, I can also be tough,
structured, too direct, and sometimes inflexible. One guy said I was “dismissive!” Whatever.
And while I learned a great deal, I only discovered this stuff when reviewing my experiences.
I was not so wise, circumspect, nor agile, when actually participating in the online dating
process. “Forgive me I am not graceful within the snapdecision world of online ‘dating.”—
written to TigardTed. Boy, I had to say that “forgive me” line a lot because I constantly changed
my mind after saying “No, I am not interested” or “Yes, I’ll meet you.” I learned, for me, “No is the
new Yes,” or conversely, “Yes is the new No.” Exhausting.
Ending the online dating profile was such a relief. No more checking the site, sending
notes, wondering, evaluating, choosing, deciding, etc. The insanity of online dating was over!
Thank God I can relax now. I skinned my knees, had to swallow some bitter reality pills, and
learned some harsh [Anonymous] truisms, but I survived! Barely. I am a bit wiser now, a bit
less eager for dates, a bit more skeptical of intentions and words, and a lot more compassionate
about the other lonely, fifty or sixtysomething singles looking for love. It is a scary dating world
out there, please be careful.
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”— Robert Frost
Two Dates A Week For Four Weeks
“When was the last time you asked a girl out?” my sponsor Marc challenged me.
“Well.. I mean.. you know.. I’ve gone out with girls,” I muttered back.
Marc pointed out that asking a girl to “hang out” or befriending a girl I have a crush on, then
hanging out and silently pining for her is not asking a girl out.
I was 25 years old, almost three years sober, and by then on my third sponsor. Jon, my first
sponsor, zeroed in on the fear I had about women, but excused my prudent actions (really
inaction) as being good and in line with his Christian sex ideal values (which I didn’t share). Jim,
my second sponsor, understood very well that I was terrified of romantic relationships with
women and that I’d have to change my actions if I wanted to be happy in that area. But as
understanding as Jim was, he never really challenged me to change.
Marc, however, was about to bust my balls about the issue.
“You resent every girl you’ve ever had a crush on and you resent them because you’re
expecting them to read your mind,” Marc told me. “When you don’t tell a girl you have feelings for
her and you don’t ask her if she will go on a date with you, you’re denying her the dignity to make
a decision and be honest with you. Your conduct with women you have feelings for is dishonest
and selfish!” The wording was probably different, but I still remember the message. And then
Marc gave me the challenge:
“I want you to ask out two girls a week for the next four weeks.”
WHAT?! What if I’m not sure if I like them? What if they have a boyfriend? What if they say
no and I have to see them again?! All the time?!
7 Marc didn’t care.
“You don’t have to marry any of them. Just any girl you’ve been thinking of, the next time you
see her, say something like, ‘I like you. Are you seeing anyone? If not, would you like to go on a
date?’ You’re just practicing asking. It doesn’t matter whether or not they say yes.”
I spent the next week in sort of a nonstop panic (a good sign that a spiritual breakthrough is
coming). I already knew exactly who I should ask out and I was indescribably terrified about
seeing any of them. One woman I basically avoided when I saw her several hundred feet away
on campus just so I could comfort myself by saying I didn’t have the opportunity. But within a
week or so, I was presented with an undeniable opportunity. It was a woman I had met before
and was very interested in! We ran into each other at a show, had a smashing time, then
afterward we were standing outside awkwardly, talking. Her friends moved away, sensing that
she needed her space to talk to me. The conversation was dragging a bit. It was almost painful.
It was obvious that I was supposed to ask her for her number. Finally I did!
I called her the next day and asked her out in an embarrassingly clear way:
“Just to be sure: I like you. Like, I’m not just asking to hang out. I’m asking you on a date.”
“Yeah, I get that..” she said.
We ended up dating for a couple weeks and having a great time! It didn’t work out between
her and I, ultimately, and it was hard for me to accept at the time (remember, I was coming from
a background of almost zero relationship experience), but we are still friends to this day. There is
no resentment. No hard feelings.
I didn’t even come close to satisfying my sponsor’s challenge of asking out two woman a
week for four weeks. Looking back, I’m not sure I even asked anyone else out. But because of
that exercise in humility, I’ve been able to forge healthy(er) romantic relationships with women
that do not rely on mindreading, coercion, manipulation, or necessitate being drunk out of my
mind just to communicate my feelings. I’ve been able to loosen up on the outcome, just take the
action that makes sense, and leave the results up to the Universe (and, of course, the woman
I’m asking out). Things certainly haven’t always “gone my way,” but they’ve gone a lot better
since I accepted help!
edited and submitted by Jennifer L.
“Alcoholism is a disease of murderous loneliness.”
“My most successful relationship? Between my Higher Power and I. Definitely.”
“Sex in AA. Hmmm. Yeah, it happens. But healthy relationships can happen, too. This
program works if you work it.”
“My sponsor once gave me some great advice: You know all that focus and energy you put into
your dating relationships? Take it and put it into your recovery efforts. Recovery may be a better
use of your time.”
“The heart is the toughest part of the body. Tenderness is in the hands.” — Carolyn Forchéy
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive
to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” ― Fred Rogers
Monthly Business Meetings
For details about monthly business meetings, contact the PAI Office at 5032238569. Or
send your questions or concerns to email@example.com.
Portland Area Intergroup (PAI): Business Meeting, 2
Monday of every month, 7:00 PM,
3123 NE 24
Ave. (St. Mary Magdalene Church), Portland.
Portland Deaf Access Committee: Monthly, 2nd Sunday of every month, 6:30, The Alano
Club, NW 24th & Kearney.
PAI CPC (Cooperating with the Professional Community)
PAI Web & Digital Committee: Quarterly meeting, next meeting: May 8th, 7:00pm,
Portland Central Office 825 NE 20th Ave Basement conference room.
PAI Public Information
PAI Treatment Facilities
PAI Bridging the Gap
Dist 9: 1
Wed, 6:30 PM, 24
and Kearney, Portland
Dist 10: Last Mon, 7:00 PM, 12945 Beaverdam Rd., West Side Service Cntr, Beaverton
Dist 11: Last Thu, 7:00 PM, “URS” Club, Portland
Dist 12: 1
Tue, 6:30 PM,
12×12 Club, 7035 NE Glisan, Portland
Dist 15: 1
Wed, 6:45 PM, 710 6
St., Oregon City
Dist 18: 1
Sat, 9:30 AM, 215 N 6
St., St. Helens
Dist 23: 1
Tue, 6:00 PM, Emmanuel Presbyterian, 19200 SW Willamette Dr., West Linn
Dist 24: 1
Thu, 6:15 PM, 2800 SE Harrison St., Portland
Dist 26: 2
Sun, 5:00 PM, St Charles Church, 5310 NE 42
Dist 27: 1
Mon, 7:00 PM, 11631 SE Linwood Ave., St. Paul’s Methodist, Milwaukie
Dist 31: 2
Tue, 7:00 PM, 937 NE Jackson School Rd., Hillsboro
Dist 34: 3
Sat, 5:00 PM, 485 Portland Ave., Gladstone
Dist 35: 2
th Sat, 7:00 PM, 18926 SW Shaw St., Suite A, Beaverton
Dist 36: 2
Thu, 6:00 PM, 2025 SW Vermont St., Portland
Dist 37: 2
Tue, 6:30 PM, 29775 SW Town Center Loop East, Wilsonville
We have several committee positions available. Portland Area Intergroup needs
your help. Working on a committee is excellent 12th Step service work. If you are
interested in being on any Portland Area Intergroup committee, send an email to
pdxaa.com with “COMMITTEE INTEREST” in the subject field. Or, just click on Service on
the Intergroup website. Intergroup committees carry the message of recovery to the
stillsuffering alcoholic. Please help yourself and others. Sign up. Thank you.
Cooperating with the Professional Community and Public Information: The two
committees are working together to bring the message of recovery to the public and to the
professional community — healthcare, clergy, legal, educators, social workers, and others.
For meeting details, send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org, Subject Line CPC or PI.
Bridging the Gap (BTG): provides a onetime temporary contact for people transitioning
from a treatment center to AA meetings. BTG meets the third Monday of each month at
6:30 PM at the Portland Intergroup Office basement, located at 825 NE 20th Ave, Suite
200, Portland. “We Bridge the Gap so alcoholics leaving treatment don’t have to walk
alone across that scary gap between the beginning of recovery in treatment and the
continued recovery in AA.” Please contact the PAI office via phone, 5032238569, or
email email@example.com, if you are interested.
Corrections: Our current focus is to carry the AA message to youths in the Multnomah
County Detention Center. We need many volunteers to help bring AA meetings to the
facility on a regular basis. Please contact the PAI office via phone, 5032238569 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org, if you are interested.
Website: The Website committee is looking for members. Please contact the the central
office via phone, 5032238569 or email WebServant@pdxaa.com, if you are interested.
Newsletter (Sobriety in Stumptown): The committee for the very publication you are
now reading is looking for members. Send an email of interest to email@example.com.
Events: The Events Committee needs committee members. Send an email to
Events@pdxaa.com for more information.
Submit your article, poem, or artwork to Sobriety in Stumptown. Deadline: 02/28/14
Send articles of 1000 words or fewer to: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
“Each group has but one primary purpose to carry its message to the alcoholic who still
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I
can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Reprinted with permission of AA World Services, Inc.