Rick has been a big part of my sobriety and has provided a great example of what it means to be a sober man and what it means to get well so that I can be of service to others regardless of who they are, where they are or whatever their current circumstances. Congratulations on 34 years, Rick!
Michael L.: 0:38
Welcome to the daily reflection podcast, a podcast where we provide inspiration through interviews with members of the recovery community. Today is January 21st. We've got a special guest, Rick C from Philadelphia, when a one year Rick keeps it real. And at times uses language that may not be appropriate for younger listeners. He's got a powerful story and he's been a major part of my recovery since I got sober. I really hope you enjoy the episode, Rick. Welcome to the podcast.
Rick C.: 1:09
Hi Mike. It's great to have you on the show. Thanks brother.
Michael L.: 1:13
Rick, would you help us, uh, get things started by reading the daily reflection for January 21st?
Rick C.: 1:19
Yes. Uh, the title is serving my brother. The member talks to the newcomer, not in a spirit of power, but in a spirit of humility and weakness and alcoholic . Alcoholics anonymous comes of age, page two 79, as the days pass in AIS God to guide by thoughts and the words that I speak and this labor of continuous participation in the fellowship, I have numerous opportunities to speak. So I frequently asked God to help me watch over my thoughts and my words that they may be the true and proper reflection of our program to focus my aspirations. Once again, seek his guidance to help me be truly kind and loving, helpful, and healing that always filled with humility and free from any trace of arrogance today, I may very well have to deal with disagreeable attitudes and utterances that typical stock and trade attitude of the still suffering alcoholic. If this should happen, I will take a moment to center myself in God's so that I will be able to respond from a perspective of composure, strength and sensibility.
Michael L.: 2:23
It's a special day. Is that why you chose this daily reflection?
Rick C.: 2:27
The reason I chose this is because since I've been coming to AA since my first meeting, probably my second day, I think I went to my first day, but you on a Sunday right out of the Karen foundation at chit-chat. And um, that Monday, I think I went to sunrise semester, which became my home group. And these people just, I don't know how, because I was not nice. Took a shine to me and asked me to start doing things like clean ashtrays, make coffee, help us put the chairs. And my response was always the same, go yourself . I ain't going in . It's always the same. Once they worked me over and start, like, I would say, I don't smoke, clean your own ashtray. Don't I don't drink coffee. You make your own coffee. I was a real idiot and I had a real anger problems, um, and a black soul. So they, once I gave into that, that, that really slow service call, things started to change doing something for other people and not knowing why I was doing it, just doing it because someone asked me to and saying, Oh, sure, no problem, you know, has made my life. Um, so bountiful, so, so abundant and rich because I've been doing it just about every day since I walked in the door and not making coffee, not, you know, that's the new guy's job now. Now it's more like, um, helping people get through the steps, you know? And actually it's even more bigger, Mike. It's like, it's bigger because now it's in, I am active in a community of Philadelphia, the city of Philadelphia in various communities in service. Like it's, you know, I brought it further out when you
Michael L.: 4:19
Sober, there's gotta be a level of desperation, uh, in order for you to feel like you have to do these things, what caused that level of desperation?
Rick C.: 4:28
Yeah. I'm not quite sure. I wasn't quite sure I was an alcoholic. Right. I was almost certain, I was a drug addict. I was doing 50 pills a day. Like I was, I was an animal. I was all mapped . That was my favorite drug. And I was getting high every day. So I w I didn't believe I was an alcoholic, but I'm going to AA. And I wasn't really quite sure that I was a drug addict, or even if I fit. But once I started th I don't know if it was desperation or, you know, like you hear a lot of people talk about the gift of desperation revolving around their sobriety. I would say that I was so broken that I was willing to do anything. I don't know if that's the definition of desperation, but that was more like, I hadn't, I did whatever I wanted for it . As long as I want it until I got to AA. When I got the AA, I knew I had to do something other than whatever I felt like doing. I grew up with the thought of I'm going to get mine destructive entitlement. There was a God, he never gave me nothing. I'm going to take whatever I want. And I get the AA. And they're asking me to, to, to, to do silly little things. And I was like, yeah, sure. Like voluntary. It's not like I had to go there. I didn't have to go there. And I would go there every day, right? This is not like it was a, it was a sentence. You know, it wasn't like I was doing a stint. I was there, but I am glad I was there doing that little bit of service and sharing at every meeting, which is also the greatest form of service in AA is show up, get your hand up and help somebody through either inspiration or your experience or through your strength or through a cross share, to come sideways that they don't know as comment . You know, there's a lot of different ways to do service, but it started with anybody with long-term sobriety would tell you it started with a pot of coffee. It's weird. It's just bizarre. It's I don't know if you use the word desperation. I don't know if that's the definition of it. It's really, I didn't know how to live. I didn't know how to make coffee. I had to learn how to make it . You know what I mean? That's pretty basic, right? It's very basic. You make coffee, you put water on, put some instant in a cup. It's liquid . It was not that person, bro. I was not, I was not that man .
Michael L.: 6:52
But in order for you to do these things, you had to feel some kind of pain. Right?
Rick C.: 6:57
Wow. I knew I had no idea what emotional wellbeing was because the only emotion I had was rage that was, or was anger and was only, it was only pushed to the side when I was rageful. So I knew that I had to get some type of you Millie some, some type of humility. And if taking direction from a total stranger who I sometimes didn't like was going to teach me a lesson about humility. I would do it. Does that make sense? Yeah. It makes sense. I'm not sure if that answered I'm um, you know, I'm evasive, Mike, you gotta really I'll move the ball. I will move the ball. That's all good.
Michael L.: 7:42
So how long after you started to come to meetings, did you start to feel some relief?
Rick C.: 7:50
I felt released the first meeting. I went to a meeting. It was called South street bar. None at the time it meant a yoga room. This is first meeting, right? This is 37 days after January 21st, 19 eight, the seven 37 days. I was away. I went to my first meeting in a little yoga room on South street where people were sitting on the floors on pillows. The room was a square. The perimeter was full. The interior perimeter was full. The, the interior of that interior was full. And I walked in a room late and sat right in the middle of the floor. And they were already talking, I don't know what to expect. And somewhere along the line, I started talking, I got, maybe I got picked. Maybe I raised my hand. Maybe I related to the topic, but I got picked and I had a major breakdown right in the middle of that room regarding being afraid. And I was crying my eyes out like a little baby. I was 26. I was crying my eyes out. And after that meeting and before we left that room, so many people touched me, physically touched me, not have been touched by anybody for many years. I was so rageful. I was a criminal. Um, and they told me it was okay. It's okay. You belong here. You know, don't let anybody else tell you, you don't belong here. You belong here. And, um, that kind of was like the beginning of this journey. Uh, I don't that I talk about it all the time. The gentle touch of a stranger can move a life forward. And it happened, the very first meeting had happened. You know, I related, I knew I was in the right place and you kept going. Yeah, man, I go, I, I go now more than I went. Like you hit platform, you hit, you hit, you know, you set goals. My goal was 90 days. Then it was a year and I got my year and my sponsor kept me real close. And then I got through the fourth step at a year and a half. Then I went to college. Then I went to law school or did I got married? And I went to law school. Then I had a kid . So every now and then between college and law school and working full time, a lost its priority. But I've always found my way back to a 7:15 AM meeting because nothing happens in the real world at seven 15, unless you're like a union worker. And I wasn't a union guy, which I was a restaurant worker, you know ? So I would go to seven, 15, every day. It started at sunrise was only three days a week. Then it was four days than it was five days. And it was seven days. Now it's seven days. And I didn't go all seven days. I go to all the place . I, you know, I just go to meetings because I like them now. And I look to help other people. I looked to help other people learn how to stay sober. There's really no magic to it. I went through the steps. I had a spiritual awakening as a result of all 12 steps. And in my job, my duty, because my life is so magnificent is to show other people how to get that if they want it . And you know, a lot of people don't want what I have. I sponsor people who want me to have happy marriage, healthy kids, the ability to share, honestly right where you are when you're struggling, people want that stuff. Some of them even want to learn how to share my anger. They want, they appreciate my anger because they don't even know how to express anger. I've gotten thank yous for that over the years, sharing is the most important part. Sharing is basically either, um, a cry for help or, but you know, if you've ever seen it, some people just like to hear themselves talk. I'm not that guy. You know what I mean? Those people are so annoying. Like sometimes I'm glad there's zoom cause I'll mute them. Um, I go to meetings to share honestly, exactly where I am. Exactly where I am. It doesn't matter what data week is. I shared at an anniversary meeting when I was 20 years sober and my life was, and I shared it at an anniversary meeting and an old timer told me you were supposed to tell a happy story. This is an anniversary. I was like, you. This is just where I am. I, I'm not looking to make friends here. I'm just telling you what it's like, you know right now, right. This minute I'm sober. Yeah. 20 years sober don't mean life stops happening, you know? Yeah.
Michael L.: 12:18
What do you, what do you tell folks that are experiencing real trouble in their life, real pain. Um, and they're trying to get sober.
Rick C.: 12:28
Yeah. Real pain. Not alcoholics. Well first you gotta find out if the person's an alcoholic or a problem drinker or, you know, no one can, if the person comes to me and tells me, I think I'm an alcohol, I'm not really sure, but I'm an alcohol. I think I'll might be an alcoholic . Then I say, well, why don't you go to meetings? Like as long as you feel like you can, why don't you try to do 90 meetings in 90 days? And if you miss a meeting, then you stop, stop and start over again and do 90 meetings in 90 days. And after 90 days, it feels like you don't belong here, then leave. No one's going to hold you to it. But if you find that there's another way of life, one that you've never tried. One that you never thought could help you after. You've tried everything after you try drinking dark liquor and white liquor and doing meth and not doing meth and not smoking crack and just doing a little blow or just maybe not shooting a dope, just snorting it or maybe not smoking the whole listen . How many times, if you've tried it, you have no off button. You probably belong here. If you substitute the player, if you suck, Oh, let's not even drink and drug. And we'll just substitute women gambling, right? Sex and gambling. I shouldn't say women. The sex again, don't have to be women or men. When I was drinking the drugs didn't really matter who was on the other side of the receiving of it. But it was really about trying to fill the hole in my soul. That was impossible to fill with booze, drugs, sex, and gambling, and AA could help you fill the soul, the whole and the soul. I'm still working on it. Like, listen, I may have 34 years, but I'm still working on the hole in the soul . It's got a lot smaller, right? It's probably the size of like a, like a nine 16th wing nut. You know what I mean? That whole, but when I came in, it was a gaping hole and everything was, was outside of my grasp. You know, now I could attain anything because I have a really wonderful spiritual foundation in this program. You come in expecting one thing and you get sober. You get that, that you'll expect that. But when your life becomes manageable for chunks of time, you know, that's, that's kinda what I tell. I don't know . I know every person is different.
Michael L.: 14:45
I related to what you said there, you mentioned that all the different things like we as, and addicts, we, we substitute. Right. Do you still do that today?
Rick C.: 14:56
Yeah. A hundred percent. Yeah. Amazon thinks I'm an addict. I'm pretty sure. Right now Amazon thinks I'm an addict ups, United States, postal service, U U S P S ups, FedEx, Amazon. I'm pretty sure they know I'm an addict because when I'm, but I don't necessarily buy stuff to fill the hole in my soul anymore. I buy something. I can afford it. But when I was buying, I can remember very vividly buying a suit. Knowing that when I, it, I would feel better about myself. It was really about reaching for things that made me feel better about myself, things outside of me that make me feel better, whatever it is, porn, you know, it used to be women. It used to be women while I was married and sober. It used to be, you know, anything to get me to feel better about myself, I would do except drink and drug. Um, do I do it as much? Do I chase it? No women definitely not gambling. I do. It's almost like a distraction, but I still know it's an escape. You know, I know that, but I don't know. I don't spend money. I don't have, that's just ridiculous. Right? Uh, booze and drugs. Forget about shopping. I could afford it, whatever I want really in life. Um, so I don't use that really as an escape, but I see, I see it all the time. Yeah. I mean, that's substitute. Not as much. None of us are perfect. None of us are perfect. Everybody's substituting something. So go, I used to substitute cigars, but now it's just a full-blown addiction that I, I tend to, it actually takes me to more meetings, you know, because I get to know guests who are on the way to the meeting and listen, bottom line is don't drink. You do whatever you want until you feel the same guilt, shame or remorse you did when you drank and then you'll stop doing it. Let's just do it. Enjoy it, take it as long as you want, do whatever you want to do. Just don't drink and drugs. And when the pain gets too great, you'll change. You'll change your behavior.
Michael L.: 16:56
So what, what part does spirituality play in your program today?
Rick C.: 17:00
Their spirituality and spiritual acts . And then there's a belief in God, right? So I don't think you need to believe in God to be spiritual. I don't think they're connected. I think that my spiritual program is directly linked to helping other people. And it used to be just people in the program. Now it's helping as many people as I can doing whatever it is that, you know, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, take them into Kensington, Kensington beach, you know, do some of that, you know, buying Christmas presents with the help of AA people and distributing them amongst families for their children at Christmas buying turkeys for Thanksgiving, because I got afford to buy turkeys that are not expensive. I don't do things. I do things because I was raised dirt, poor dirt, poor on food stamps and welfare by a single mom with no child support with three sons. I do things because it's the right thing to do. When someone is B is less fortunate than you. When someone has that same broken feeling that there's no one going to help me out of this or no one there for a Christmas present or no, one's going to help me get dinner. No one to rely on. I try to be the person people can rely on. Right? You say like the role, I think it's more of a role like a shepherd. Whereas I tell people, you know, and you talk to people our most valuable asset. And I've told you this many times is our time. Because the only thing certain we know is our time is going to run out and we're going to die. So if I could spend five minutes with a stranger over a cup of coffee or 15, 20 minutes with someone who needs help, I don't think people realize how powerful that is. I don't think people realize how. And I say this a lot, also getting in an elevator and holding the door open and saying good morning to someone how powerful that is. Like, you know, definitely this is ingrained in me by people that came before me that did it for me, that showed me that this isn't just about mentoring and a dragon . This is about growing a spiritual life that you could be so proud of. You know, I tell my wife all the time. I said, when I die, I want to, I don't, I don't want to honor those boring Catholic thing . I want you to blow up my face, drop it from like a big screen and roast me, you know, I wanna, I want to roast, I want people to say, ah, he was so crazy. Remember that time we were up in Kensington, like what the turkeys remember? He was like, listen, I do it. That really rallied the troops to a lot of it has to do with rallying. The troops and AA people are just waiting for opportunities to show up for other people, you know, but there's a lot of us been let down. Right? A lot of it's been let down by people w you know, staying sober will allow me the ability to show up for poor moms or single moms. And that's my mission. Um, I'm curious, why, why do you do all of this? Yeah. Um, I think the number one disease in America is, is not alcoholism, heart disease, diabetes, the number one disease in America, and then probably many countries in the world, but that I'm not familiar with. The number one disease is poverty. And, um, as a kid, I was, we were raised so poor, you know, single mom, no father, no child support three, three boys and a mom that was sick as a dog with heart disease, and eventually died of cancer when I was 17 and we had nothing, we had a shag rug over her sofa. We had a bathroom that was falling off into the backyard. We had a tub that had tiles missing everywhere. I had to sleep in a bed next to my mother's bed and a twin size children's bed where my feet hung over the end . This isn't about to say, so for me, this is about for me changing my life first and then changing other people's lives, just being an impact, whether it be someone in a program, whether it be somebody, somebody on the street, whether it, you know, I started, I had a real problem with this for a long time, and I judged people. So harshly, you know, you know, what are you, what are you talking about? What do you know about being without you had two parents who loved you, outta here, shut up. I used to judge people that had a healthy upbringing to me, because I think I would have never turned out to be the piece of. I turned out to be, if I had a loving mother and father and my father was abusive and he left and he beat the out of my mother and my mother died. That was my story. And that I had it changed this story. The story now is my father did the best he could. And he brought me into this world and my mother died because she was sick. She didn't die because she abandoned me like he did. It was, it was, I had to somehow get a piece of forgiveness and stop judging. So harshly other people that I believe that were either dumber than me or less fortunate to me are what ? Wait, 350 pounds. I would look at people and just think things that were like me and I stopped. I can't say I a hundred percent stopped, but I worked on judgment for awhile through the steps in the program, in the rooms with a sponsor. And I gotta be honest with you. I'm not perfect. I don't do it as much as I did. I do it hardly at all, because I think everybody has a square. My job is for people that are struggling, maintaining your little square is to help. No matter if it's AA, it doesn't matter if it's Kensington North Philly, West Philly. It doesn't matter if they're black, white, Asian. It doesn't matter if they speak English, don't speak English. Doesn't matter. None of it matters to me. I'm going to continue to put myself out there until I die, because that's how I feed my soul. That's what I learned in AA. You have to feed your soul. It's either I'm feeding my soul or my addiction is doing Rocky pushups on the steps waiting to pick me to off because it's still wants me dead. It's still, it's still wants me dead. That part I know. Or at least, least it wants me to withdraw from society, which is what it would. Do you ever feel tempted? Yeah. What are you kidding me all the time. Jesus Christ. Yeah, of course. Tempted . Tempted is this that I sit with the same five guys for 20 years, smoking cigars at Monday night football during football season, two of us are sober. One's sober 25, 26 years. I'm 34, almost 34 years. You know, and we're doing this for the last 15 years. So what I'm drink case of beer between them and probably start drinking bourbon at somewhere around a third quarter, right? We all smoke cigars. That's really the reason we hang out. Plus we love each other. Do I look at that bourbon and say, boy, it's freezing out. We're not be nice. It'd be nice. That'd be phenomenal. The first one, the first one would be good. Maybe the second one would be good, but I have never heard anybody come back after a relapse saying they had a really good time. And when I hear that, maybe it makes it a little bit easier for me to have a drink, but it ain't easy to have a drink when you've been around for a while . That's a real, it's, it's a, it's a temptation that I'm not willing to take because most people don't make it back or they die. Right? The ones who come back say what I was awful. It was good for about a minute. You know, that's about how long it will be. I was a fifth a day drinker and I wouldn't even get drunk. Come on. I would die, quit, or I would live, which would be even worse. That would be worse. I called a number of, am I going to live in to be 104 I'm 60, I've got 44 more years. I was a drunk during those 44 more years, I would very shortly after probably die. I've got heart disease, type one, diabetes, you know, booze. I, my body can't sustain alcohol. That makes it, it does. So you've been sober a long time. Rick, one of the difficult things I hear from people that have long-term sobriety is losing, you know, members of the fellowship. Have you experienced that? Ah . I I've been around so long. I've watched more people die of old age because they were around. It was really cool. It's really cool. That's how you get long-term sobriety. Just stay alive, you know? Um, yeah. I mean, Alex had, he was, he died. He was just about to have 50 years with two days before his anniversary. You know, those people change lives, man. I be dead without the people that were came before me. There's no doubt. They, they, they really, they made me a man. They helped me become a man, a man of honor, you know, you know, I give them all the credit, even my first sponsor, Phillip, who, who, who used shortly after my first year and died. I gave him a lot of credit for loving me. You know, I was not an easy person to love. I wanted none of that. So yeah, I think that there's still a lot of long timers. You know, they're not, I think the long timers now and not old, any amount of my friends, Jay has 37 years. He's 62. He's 60 years. He's 60 years old. He's 60 also. And he has 37 years. Got more time than me. And he's young, he's 60, you know, people are living longer. You know, that's what I'm calling a hundred for the year. I'm going to be, I'm going to die with 74 years, 75 years sober. That's the goal. Why is it people get one DUI and never have another drink again, this seriously disturbs my brain to think about. Now, back in the day, we didn't get DUIs . Back in the day we got driven home, we got slowed down kid. You know, that kind of, no one ever indicated that if you got a DUI, you might be an alcoholic. But I got it. Clearly the law changed and people are getting sober behind one DUI, one DUI, and they come to AA and it begins to change our whole life. It's different. You can't just put a toe in this program. You can't just, if you make it down to an AA meeting or walk into an AA room, 98% chance, you've got a problem with drugs and alcohol 98 . You didn't just get there because you just happened to think, well, let me just check it out. No one checks it out. I've only known one guy who said he came in to get added a ring, right? And he died with 46 years of sobriety and he was a legend. You know, Jim, the human being was a legend. You know, I came in because it wasn't working no more. I couldn't get drunk. I couldn't get high. I couldn't, I do massive amounts of alcohol and drugs. And I could not move off the feeling of each self pager . You got to jump in, you got to jump in and then someone's going to give you their phone number. I'm gonna call them. And then you gotta do what they suggest you to do. And then you gotta talk at, I talk at I, since the beginning, I, it used to be the hamster wheel when someone's talking. And I'm thinking about what I'm going to say. I got none of that. No more. I'm just, you got to talk about where you are. If you're in pain, talk about it. Someone else in the room is also in pain or has been through your pain or has touched your pain or will help you with your pay . But if you sit with it, you can get really sick in AA . You gotta be in yeah. How it works was written for a reason to tell it works for all of us, not how it works for Rick and Mike enough for not for, uh, who works. It works for all of us. All you gotta do is follow the script and no one does it . Perfect. Really? Have we seen a perfect of a person who, what is it, many of us explain what an order. I can't go through with it, but no, one's been able to maintain perfect adherence to these principles. We're not safe . We're shepherds. Saints are floating . We're on, we're on a rock, just shepherds man. Shepherds tell them stories. Some of them are true . And you know what the best part about AA is you hear tragicomedy in AA and you'll hear somebody share exactly what you went through and you'll go like, Oh, I thought you feel a sense of relief immediately. Cause you think you're all alone with your secret. No, one's done anything. No one someone else hasn't had done. Nobody's unique.
Michael L.: 29:29
I want to thank you for spending time with me and sharing your experience, strength and hope. Any last words for, folks listening in . So, you know, I honestly got to tell you that I,
Rick C.: 29:43
I don't know what real humility means. I have to tell you that. I honestly don't, I'm not searching for it. I'm not sober this long because of it. There's this person that I, I guess the entity or the person is a person that I believe in the most was Jesus Christ, right? Because I believe there's evidence of him. And I believe he walked among people and help people. And I think he did it with no expectation of anything in return. Like I've been taught. I could do that my whole life since I walked in AA, which was hard. If I could die walking in those types of shoes, then this has been a life worthless, I guess a tremendous life. The riches are spiritual. That's it? I don't leave it there. How about that? That's a nice English. Person's way to end the conversation. I think I'll leave it there.
Speaker 4: 32:09
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