My Greatest Fear

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My Greatest Fear

Postby Timothy3012 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:23 am

Looking like an idiot...

Ever since I was very young, I have always had a very extreme reaction to feeling embarrassed or humiliated. I remember being about 8 years old and realising that every time I was 'told-off' by an adult it would cause me to burst into tears. I hated this about myself and, even at that age, was trying to manage my emotions so it would look like I was just a 'normal' kid (whatever that is?!)...

I seem to have gotten mentally and emotionally stuck at about that age. I forced myself to stop crying when I felt embarrassed, so on the outside I would look 'normal.' Yet, on the inside, I still have that extreme emotional reaction of terror, anger and an inability to 'brush it off' and get on with life. In my days of active drinking, I would have times when I would be out in the world and something would happen that would cause this extreme reaction, I would push it down and keep it there; buried and hidden from the view of everyone else. Then I would start drinking the second I could and all those buried emotions would erupt in extreme behaviors; I sometimes turned violent towards others, sometimes I self-harmed, sometimes I would actively try to drink myself to death...

I am just under 12 months sober due to the program and fellowship of AA. While so many areas of my life have improved to the point that I barely recognise myself these days, this self-centered fear still can tyrannize me at times. I left the job I was in before AA got me sober, and am now retraining to be a carpenter. I have zero practical skills or experience in this but I needed to leave my old work because I had mastered the art of lying and manipulating in that job. I just had too many memories in it of the person I used to be. I love this new job so far, but because of my utter lack of skill I keep making really ridiculous mistakes and having these extreme emotional reactions. I get these types of thoughts, ''I should just quit now and leave, all I'm doing is making a fool of myself anyway; I should just go and kill myself because I'm clearly so useless and can't seem to learn anything!' I know, logically, that I am massively over-reacting, but it still 'feels' real to me when I'm in it.

I read this from page 6 of 'As Bill Sees It' and it is a perfect piece of wisdom for an alcoholic like me;

''All or Nothing? - Acceptance and faith are capable of producing 100% sobriety. In fact, they usually do; and they must, else we could have no life at all. But the moment we carry these attitudes into our emotional problems, we find that only relative results are possible. Nobody can, for example, become completely free from fear, anger, and pride.

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very GRADUAL PROGRESS, punctuated sometimes by heavy set-backs. Our old-time attitude of 'All or Nothing' will have to be abandoned.''

The amount I can identify with Bill Wilson's writings is incredible. How much I relate to the alcoholic's way of thinking is one of the things that helped to finally convince me that I am a 100%, text-book, garden-variety alcoholic. For me, what Bill is saying here is that even though my Step 1 can be practiced perfectly and the program can keep me sober from taking an alcoholic drink; with my MANY other emotional and mental problems I cannot, and need not, ever try to be perfect.

I always used to pride myself on being an all-or-nothing person. I would either do something to an obsessive degree and try to batter it into submission with my self-will, or I just wouldn't even try and would then tell people I had no interest in it anyway. Bill is saying that this attitude must be abandoned in us - particularly when it comes to my emotional sobriety. I can breathe such a sigh of relief knowing that I am not expected to be perfect. There are no demands for me to never make any mistakes now that I am sober. It sounds nuts, but I honestly always expected myself to be perfect, and then tormented myself because I could never achieve my own impossible standards.

Thanks to AA, I no longer need to live this way. I can accept that I am a flawed, sometimes extreme and weak human being who is in the hands of a God who will never leave or forsake me. I am under the care and protection of a Higher Power who can use my mistakes and imperfections so that I can relate to other alcoholics and let them know, in turn, that it IS OK to be flawed.

I'll leave it with this quote I came across recently which really resonates with me,

''We are all broken, that's how the light gets in.'' Ernest Hemmingway.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Cristy99 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:09 am

TIMOTHY:

Wow!! You described me to a "T"!! I have had a terrible time overcoming the fear of people not thinking I am perfect. I still struggle!!! When I worked the steps a second time with a new sponsor and was super thorough, it was revealed to me in my 4th step that my most prominent fear was that I couldn't control what others thought of me, this, I knew there were some who didn't think I was perfect!!!! =surprised =surprised :roll:

I COULD NOT STAND IT!!!!! I tried harder and harder to control what everyone thought until I was a nervous wreck all the time. I am smiling because I am realizing what an egotistical idiot I was...and still am sometimes!!! I'm so glad I am learning to laugh at myself!! Progress is slow, but I am working my tail off on this. I constantly talk to myself. Asking myself, "what are your motives for doing this,Cristy??? THINK!!!"

I have also learned that I went through a significant amount of relationship trauma as a child. Fear and it's effects were killing me. The anxiety was out of control...mostly rooted in this issue. You see, if I was not a perfect child, or even when I was perfect, the yelling, berating, and overall horror came into play. I was scared to death as a child!!! I HAD to be perfect or fly completely under the radar. This is true for so many. I started researching emotional sobriety because I know I am not emotionally sober. Some awesome member on this site posted a letter from Bill W. in a '50's edition of the Grapevine where he realizes that his depression at that time was rooted in his need for people's approval and praise. (Of course there was more, but that's the bit I related to most) I found a book that is not AA approved literature and I am not sure if I am allowed to name it on this site. It might get removed, but the name of it is "Emotional sobriety" by Tian Dayton. This book opened my eyes to so many things. She describes MY childhood perfectly and why I just totally freeze up out of fear at times. She explains all that happens in our minds psychologically and why these things affect us as adults. She also gives suggestions for self treatment. I am starting professional counseling tomorrow to get help in working through this stuff.

I have gotten so much more from AA that I ever dreamed I would. SO MUCH MORE!! But I want more. BB says use professional help where needed. This book by T. Dayton says I can recover from this stuff. I'm excited.

As usual I have rambled on too long!!! Thanks Timothy for the excellent topic!!!!
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Brock » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:46 am

I can relate to much of what Tim and Cristy have said, alcoholics do seem to be perfectionists, all or nothing types. I remember a quote “perfect is the enemy of good,” first heard it on TV, old Tom Selleck in Blue Bloods, but it's otherwise apparently well known.

And Bills early life was a lot like this, had to be the top man at everything, and our preoccupation with what others think about us, it's a recipe which leads to needing relief supplied by the bottle. And booze made me feel I was top dog alright, and even if others didn't realize that I didn't care, they were just too foolish to see it.

I am quite sure that most people do care what others think about them and do try to do things well, us alcoholics just seem to take these 'normal' human emotions to the extreme. It's ego ego ego, and since getting serious about AA and spiritual development, and reading on the subject, I am yet to find any spiritual writing, that does not point out ego as the biggest stumbling block to progress. My current favorite being Eckhart Tolle 'A New Earth,' available on Google pdf if we look, but usually an older copy with some typos. I find it a hard book to read and can only take bits at a time, and had to go over it a couple of times for it to start to sink in, still reading it and probably always will.

Thomas Merton and Richard Rohr also emphasize the problems our egos create, and with practice I see my own subsiding, I sometimes say, 'the less a person cares what others think about them the happier they are.' Easy to say hard to do, even our posts here, never met any other member in person probably never will, but still hoping they will like my post and think Brock is a great fellow, and probably most if not all who post have the same hopes. I believe this is fairly normal, otherwise we wouldn't try to write something sensible, but we must be careful we don't get tied up in wanting approval, like some do on face book and such.

By the way Cristy, yes we can put book titles and so on, the problem is links to find them, it's just that if a link is allowed to something useful, everybody decides that they have something useful, it gets out of hand, so links are only allowed for anything that includes aa.org. Some get around it by saying something like go to 'pdf Eckhart Tolle A New Earth(dot) com,' no problem once it's not a 'live' link.

Thanks for another nice topic Timothy, it's the stuff that keeps forums like this going.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Patsy© » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:13 pm

Thank you Timothy, what a wonderful share that you have passed on. I loved reading it :)
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Cristy99 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 1:21 pm

Thanks Brock. Good to know.

Regarding ego....I was thinking after I posted on this topic earlier today and I came to the conclusion that it SEEMS like my fear grew exponentially once I learned and started practicing what I could of humility. This link between the two is just a guess, but it feels like I got the little bit of bravery I had from my ego. Now that my ego has lessened, I'm afraid of my own shadow.

This too shall pass!! :roll:
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby JohnDaniels » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:35 am

Timothy,

Thank you for opening up here and for staring this topic. I understand your fear that you talked about and the way you eventually learned how to mask the fear or the appearance of fear. You mentioned your stuffing it down inside, having violent outbursts toward others and drinking. I have a deep understand of your experiences in what you are saying.
My biggest problem was fear and rage. Years ago when I lived up north I pulled into my driveway one day and caught a guy breaking into my house through my daughters bedroom window. I instantly went into rage mode, ran across the yard, grabbed the burglar and yanked him back out through the window. I threw him on the lawn and gave him a beating, then dragged him across the yard, over the sidewalk, over the street, threw him over the hood of his truck, well ... I just wanted to make a point here in all that. My point is if my fear had been any greater I might have killed him. I'm not that way now. My rage was based on fear.

When I got sober in AA I went through the 12 Steps. I read the "Big Book" cover to cover and the "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" several times until they were becoming so ingrained in my thoughts, it was a new life for me in the way I handled situations and my outlook. I liked the changes so much that I started reading anything I could get my hands on that dealt with personal development. I found a book that had just came out at that time called "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck. In my sobriety it's been one of the most helpful books in addition to the Big Book and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. The Road Less Traveled goes into detail about the very things you have talked about here, such as the way Human Evil causes a self righteous person to refuse to look at their own character defects and they way they demand perfection out of everyone else. Of course that's totally impossible and unrealistic and the Evil person refuses any kind of help. This syndrome the causes them to project their guilt onto their targeted victims. The person with this Evil syndrome can be of any age, children terrorizing other children, adults terrorizing children, husbands and wives terrorizing each other, and so on. They project their evils onto very specific targets/scapegoats while acting normal with everyone else.

Then the book goes into the healing of the targets/scapegoats. It goes into detail of the stages of healing from learning what love really is and how to love, learning faith, forgiving, spirituality. Then into building a healthy community that includes commitment, giving, becoming comfortable in our own skin.

I tell ya Timothy, I think you might want to take a look into this book as an important part of your growth and development. For me it's been a very worthwhile book to read and to help me grow.

I look forward to hearing more from you here.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby positrac » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:47 am

There are no demands for me to never make any mistakes now that I am sober. It sounds nuts, but I honestly always expected myself to be perfect, and then tormented myself because I could never achieve my own impossible standards.


Welcome to the club Tim! The old saying that if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck then it must be a duck.....

I left home at 11 and lived in a boys home and your post touched a few nerves because I remember those moments of trying to fit in in all areas and just coming up short. Odd ball out and it was my destiny at that time and it was a rough go. impossible standards are so hard to come to terms with and yet everyday I know I am subject to them and my choices will tell the outcome. Much of my character defects are the one's that happen when I am at my weakest and not really thinking and just going in auto mode! next thing I know I have bitten off more than I can handle and I realize I could of prevented that one...... lesson number????

My situational awareness and doing my scanning of risk assessments normally keep me in check and it is when I get lazy or tired is when I get jammed up.

Great replies all.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby RyanjSp » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:50 am

God bless you man during this time of change and growth. As you can see from replies your not the only alchy who has a severe allergic reaction (lol) to criticism etc.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby PaigeB » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:04 am

RyanjSp wrote:God bless you man during this time of change and growth. As you can see from replies your not the only alchy who has a severe allergic reaction (lol) to criticism etc.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Noels » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:19 pm

Timothy3012 wrote:Looking like an idiot...

Ever since I was very young, I have always had a very extreme reaction to feeling embarrassed or humiliated. I remember being about 8 years old and realising that every time I was 'told-off' by an adult it would cause me to burst into tears. I hated this about myself and, even at that age, was trying to manage my emotions so it would look like I was just a 'normal' kid (whatever that is?!)...

I seem to have gotten mentally and emotionally stuck at about that age. I forced myself to stop crying when I felt embarrassed, so on the outside I would look 'normal.' Yet, on the inside, I still have that extreme emotional reaction of terror, anger and an inability to 'brush it off' and get on with life. In my days of active drinking, I would have times when I would be out in the world and something would happen that would cause this extreme reaction, I would push it down and keep it there; buried and hidden from the view of everyone else. Then I would start drinking the second I could and all those buried emotions would erupt in extreme behaviors; I sometimes turned violent towards others, sometimes I self-harmed, sometimes I would actively try to drink myself to death...

I am just under 12 months sober due to the program and fellowship of AA. While so many areas of my life have improved to the point that I barely recognise myself these days, this self-centered fear still can tyrannize me at times. I left the job I was in before AA got me sober, and am now retraining to be a carpenter. I have zero practical skills or experience in this but I needed to leave my old work because I had mastered the art of lying and manipulating in that job. I just had too many memories in it of the person I used to be. I love this new job so far, but because of my utter lack of skill I keep making really ridiculous mistakes and having these extreme emotional reactions. I get these types of thoughts, ''I should just quit now and leave, all I'm doing is making a fool of myself anyway; I should just go and kill myself because I'm clearly so useless and can't seem to learn anything!' I know, logically, that I am massively over-reacting, but it still 'feels' real to me when I'm in it.

I read this from page 6 of 'As Bill Sees It' and it is a perfect piece of wisdom for an alcoholic like me;

''All or Nothing? - Acceptance and faith are capable of producing 100% sobriety. In fact, they usually do; and they must, else we could have no life at all. But the moment we carry these attitudes into our emotional problems, we find that only relative results are possible. Nobody can, for example, become completely free from fear, anger, and pride.

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very GRADUAL PROGRESS, punctuated sometimes by heavy set-backs. Our old-time attitude of 'All or Nothing' will have to be abandoned.''

The amount I can identify with Bill Wilson's writings is incredible. How much I relate to the alcoholic's way of thinking is one of the things that helped to finally convince me that I am a 100%, text-book, garden-variety alcoholic. For me, what Bill is saying here is that even though my Step 1 can be practiced perfectly and the program can keep me sober from taking an alcoholic drink; with my MANY other emotional and mental problems I cannot, and need not, ever try to be perfect.

I always used to pride myself on being an all-or-nothing person. I would either do something to an obsessive degree and try to batter it into submission with my self-will, or I just wouldn't even try and would then tell people I had no interest in it anyway. Bill is saying that this attitude must be abandoned in us - particularly when it comes to my emotional sobriety. I can breathe such a sigh of relief knowing that I am not expected to be perfect. There are no demands for me to never make any mistakes now that I am sober. It sounds nuts, but I honestly always expected myself to be perfect, and then tormented myself because I could never achieve my own impossible standards.

Thanks to AA, I no longer need to live this way. I can accept that I am a flawed, sometimes extreme and weak human being who is in the hands of a God who will never leave or forsake me. I am under the care and protection of a Higher Power who can use my mistakes and imperfections so that I can relate to other alcoholics and let them know, in turn, that it IS OK to be flawed.

I'll leave it with this quote I came across recently which really resonates with me,

''We are all broken, that's how the light gets in.'' Ernest Hemmingway.


Hi Timothy :D I've been following some of your posts and am very happy that you joined us and are actively participating on our forum. I relate to so many of your posts and shares. Thank you for sharing yourself with us
You have received some good responses from wise members with solid sobriety who clearly live our wonderful life-giving program on a daily basis
I particularly like your quote by Ernest Hemmingway. I've used that quote myself many times before. Not only with others but also with myself since in my experience not only alcoholics are 'broken '. People in general have a few 'cracks ' or was broken - many times not by their own ego but by the ego and behaviour of others. Luckily the same One who created us also heals us again - not by 'patching us up ' no, by restoring us to an even better ' us ' than before
Personally I feel and think the innocence and purity of an 8 year young mind beats any 'older ' mind since innocence , trust and pure belief /faith seems difficult to 'older minds ' to attain at times so I'm pretty sure not only your mind but you as a person is awesomely unique and perfect exactly as you are. Im sure if God wanted you or your mind to be any different He would have given you a 'different mind ' and made you a 'different you '?
In AA we believe that only The One who Made our Mind can Change or Heal /Fix our minds so being busy with the 12 step program is a good thing IF GOD THINKS He made a mistake in creating you exactly as you are right now - HE will rectify that I however do not believe that God make mistakes to begin with so I'd say you are perfect exactly as you are - perfect in your imperfection and imperfec in your perfection (my own little saying ). If that makes sense to you
What has helped me a lot coming to terms with my perfect imperfection at times is to accept that I think what I think and accept that I feel what I feel. Once I manage to do that it seems to not bother me as much and the thoughts or feelings of useless many times just go away for that moment
So yourre definitely in the right place. I get thoughts and feelings like yours many many times and I'm pretty sure we're not the only ones
So hang in there. Just work your program to the best of your ability while enjoying life and doing your personal best with the new job
We only 'fail ' if we stop trying and I can see you ain't a quitter
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby kdub720 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:47 pm

Geez, what a great post. This has gotten me through with out knowing it. ALL OR NOTHING. I had to give it my all or I would get nothing. I am used to this in life and in snowboarding. If I want to do a new trick or new jump, I have to give it all or end up with nothing. You can not half attack. I loved this post because it made me think of my own path and where I am now. How it took an all out effort. To give it half an effort would be to give Nothing. Great thinker for the afternoon.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Cristy99 » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:36 pm

KDUB720:

Thanks for sharing!!

Stay warm and be safe on that snow board!!

Xoxo
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Lali » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:31 pm

Timothy3012 wrote:Looking like an idiot...

Ever since I was very young, I have always had a very extreme reaction to feeling embarrassed or humiliated. I remember being about 8 years old and realising that every time I was 'told-off' by an adult it would cause me to burst into tears. I hated this about myself and, even at that age, was trying to manage my emotions so it would look like I was just a 'normal' kid (whatever that is?!)...

I seem to have gotten mentally and emotionally stuck at about that age. I forced myself to stop crying when I felt embarrassed, so on the outside I would look 'normal.' Yet, on the inside, I still have that extreme emotional reaction of terror, anger and an inability to 'brush it off' and get on with life. In my days of active drinking, I would have times when I would be out in the world and something would happen that would cause this extreme reaction, I would push it down and keep it there; buried and hidden from the view of everyone else. Then I would start drinking the second I could and all those buried emotions would erupt in extreme behaviors; I sometimes turned violent towards others, sometimes I self-harmed, sometimes I would actively try to drink myself to death...

I am just under 12 months sober due to the program and fellowship of AA. While so many areas of my life have improved to the point that I barely recognise myself these days, this self-centered fear still can tyrannize me at times. I left the job I was in before AA got me sober, and am now retraining to be a carpenter. I have zero practical skills or experience in this but I needed to leave my old work because I had mastered the art of lying and manipulating in that job. I just had too many memories in it of the person I used to be. I love this new job so far, but because of my utter lack of skill I keep making really ridiculous mistakes and having these extreme emotional reactions. I get these types of thoughts, ''I should just quit now and leave, all I'm doing is making a fool of myself anyway; I should just go and kill myself because I'm clearly so useless and can't seem to learn anything!' I know, logically, that I am massively over-reacting, but it still 'feels' real to me when I'm in it.

I read this from page 6 of 'As Bill Sees It' and it is a perfect piece of wisdom for an alcoholic like me;

''All or Nothing? - Acceptance and faith are capable of producing 100% sobriety. In fact, they usually do; and they must, else we could have no life at all. But the moment we carry these attitudes into our emotional problems, we find that only relative results are possible. Nobody can, for example, become completely free from fear, anger, and pride.

Hence, in this life we shall attain nothing like perfect humility and love. So we shall have to settle, respecting most of our problems, for a very GRADUAL PROGRESS, punctuated sometimes by heavy set-backs. Our old-time attitude of 'All or Nothing' will have to be abandoned.''

The amount I can identify with Bill Wilson's writings is incredible. How much I relate to the alcoholic's way of thinking is one of the things that helped to finally convince me that I am a 100%, text-book, garden-variety alcoholic. For me, what Bill is saying here is that even though my Step 1 can be practiced perfectly and the program can keep me sober from taking an alcoholic drink; with my MANY other emotional and mental problems I cannot, and need not, ever try to be perfect.

I always used to pride myself on being an all-or-nothing person. I would either do something to an obsessive degree and try to batter it into submission with my self-will, or I just wouldn't even try and would then tell people I had no interest in it anyway. Bill is saying that this attitude must be abandoned in us - particularly when it comes to my emotional sobriety. I can breathe such a sigh of relief knowing that I am not expected to be perfect. There are no demands for me to never make any mistakes now that I am sober. It sounds nuts, but I honestly always expected myself to be perfect, and then tormented myself because I could never achieve my own impossible standards.

Thanks to AA, I no longer need to live this way. I can accept that I am a flawed, sometimes extreme and weak human being who is in the hands of a God who will never leave or forsake me. I am under the care and protection of a Higher Power who can use my mistakes and imperfections so that I can relate to other alcoholics and let them know, in turn, that it IS OK to be flawed.
bu
I'll leave it with this quote I came across recently which really resonates with me,

''We are all broken, that's how the light gets in.'' Ernest Hemmingway.


I often hear of people who while being congratulated for doing a job well done, will laugh and say how it wasn't always so easy; that they had actually struggled while learning but persevered. For me, I found the things that I was good at were things I hadn't even thought of - things that just kinda fell in my lap and I had never given any thought to. Maybe that's the key - "I hadn't thought of" - didn't have a chance to hear those negative voices in my head telling me I could never do such a thing. Timothy, you may find that carpentry is not for you - or you may excel at it, but I guess my point is, we are all capable people but our strengths may lie in different areas from one another. I have to admit I'm a bit envious of friends and acquaintances who are nurses. I find myself thinking, "Hmmm, I'm as intelligent as this person. I could do that job" The truth is I could devote every waking hour to studying to be a nurse and still not be able to do the job. I'm okay with that now. I did find my niche and it was something that I enjoy doing which helps a lot!

Anyway, thank you for your honest posts, Timothy. I very much identify with the social anxiety issues you spoke of. I used to actually make notes before going into any one on one situation with another person - especially dates! HA! (Always made sure the date was in a bar so that my friends Jack D. and Jim B. and Jose Cuervo were always there to back me up.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Brock » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:38 pm

Lovely post from Lali, a one time regular who I haven't seen here for so long, good to see you, even though we used to argue with each other a bit, it was all in good AA spirit.
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Re: My Greatest Fear

Postby Lali » Wed Sep 06, 2017 12:50 pm

Thanks, Brock. Yeah, I'm gonna try to come around more. I missed everyone. Unfortunately, my lovely mother who I was caring for passed away in July so I have more time on my hands now.
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