Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Thirty Years


Tomorrow I shall celebrate my 30th sober anniversary, my sober birthday.  Today, I somberly recall that it was thirty years ago today that I took my last drink of alcohol (please dear God).

A few years ago I could have probably told you how this might have happened to a humble drunk like me.  However, the years go by and I become less and less sure of everything.

I am only absolutely sure of one thing:

The Grace of a Loving God.

By the grace of God, I stumbled upon Alcoholics Anonymous, and there I was cared for by a bunch of others in the same boat as I.  Somehow we helped each other.  Oh, I know there are books written about how this happens, but it is a mystery to me.  We can break it down into steps and formulas, but it will forever remain a mystery and a miracle to me.

How else could the blind lead the blind, each of us getting to somewhere we never even knew existed?

We can talk about the intricacies of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous all day long, but without the Grace of God, it is all mechanics.   Oh, it is all quite necessary, but it is not the miracle.

Thank you dear Lord for these last thirty years of life, a full life, lived sober.  Thank you that my children do not remember me drunk.  Thank you that my grandchildren have never seen me drink.  Thank you that for the last thirty years I have been present in the lives of my family, and my friends.  Thank you that people trust me now.  Thank you that I can now be a worker among workers, a friend among friends, a neighbor among neighbors.

I will never stop thanking God for this incredible gift.
 


Sunday, August 25, 2013

I'm Back....

Sort of like in a scary movie.  She's back!

It's been so long, I had to go through an array of potential passwords until I arrived at the one that would even get me in!

In the last year or 14 months, whatever it's been since I've been here:  I have been through the worst depression of my life.  This is an oversimplification of course, but when I surrendered to it, it sort of went away.  Sound familiar?  It's not totally gone, because I always have an underlying depression, but it is at bay.

In April of this year, I surrendered to the fact that I had a horrifying job - and decided to retire.  I planned that for a week I think.  Then I got a phone call offering me a job I have wanted, back at the hospital where I worked for over 17 years, doing a job I am qualified to do and love.   How awesome is that?  I started in July.  Now it just seems normal.  I think about that 17 months on the other job now and it seems like a nightmare I had.  Over.

I was telling a friend from work about these experiences last week.  She said "Mary, you went through all of this and didn't have a drink???"  I never even thought about it until that moment.  No, I never had a drink.  I never thought of a drink.  This is the grace of God in action, because the grace of Mary would have me drunkety-drunk-drunk.

I was so depressed, I could not write this blog.  I was struggling to survive, I had no energy to give this.  I especially wanted to abandon it because of the creepazoid comments it garners.  They have always hurt me.  I know it is ridiculous, but that is who I am.  Of course, I still get them, because left unattended, this blog still gets about 50 hits a day.  It comes up in searches a lot.  In fact, over the last year, it has come up in searches I myself have done - when the last thing I wanted to read was more of ME!

Realizing I may have a few more words to write about Alcoholics Anonymous, sobriety, the higher power of AA, and the people of AA.  They are all taking a beating on the internet.  I read the critiques and think - yeah, you might have a point, but do you have a better idea?  Of course, they do.  We all had our better ideas, before we were on death's door and surrendered.  But the critics don't like that word either.  Surrender, that's for a bunch of losers.  Surrender is not that horrible for a hopeless alcoholic.

Can you imagine showing up at the oncology clinic, having been diagnosed with cancer, and leaving because:
  • the receptionist was snotty
  • the doctor is a hypocrite - his BMI may be >25!
  • there are a bunch of sick losers in the waiting room
  • Who are they to tell ME what to do?  
What about the sick groups?  Find. Another. One.  Start one of your own.  Maybe you could give it a try with an open mind?   Hint: if one person is running the group, run in the other direction, this always seems to be the first chapter in the story of a group gone badly wrong.

I have been driving 37 miles every Sunday morning to go to my home group, full of people I sobered up with, those sober longer, and those sober shorter.  It is a democratic group, there is no hierarchy of length of sobriety, or any other factors.  It is a loving group, but be prepared for someone to tell you you are full of shit if you are.  We tell the truth.  We do not sweet-talk drunks into their graves.

In the other groups around town, I hear them frequently say "we don't shoot our wounded."  No, we tell them to "keep coming back," offering no solution, and giving them permission to go out and drink as if there is a guarantee they won't die and will be able to come back.  We go to their funerals and cry, rather than hurt their feelings for five minutes by telling the truth.  That is not any kind of love I want!

I celebrated my 29th Anniversary at my home group on July 24.  In that group no one lionizes long-term-sobriety.  We are grateful for our own, and we are grateful for our friends'.  It is good.

Ok, I guess I had some more to say on this blog.  Not sure if I will keep it up as I did before, but maybe I will come by from time to time... not sure.


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Later

For now, this blog is not something I can continue.  I will not close the door on it, because I may be back.  If you have a drinking problem and need help, please call the number listed in your local phone book for Alcoholics Anonymous.  There are also some helpful links on my sidebar.

God bless you.
Mary Christine

Friday, May 18, 2012

Agape

One of my old friends just called.  I am trying to do one million things while on a break from "working at home," so I didn't answer the call.  And although it would have been nice to talk to him, I think he wouldn't have told me what he was able to say in a message.

He has been sick, I can tell he is trying to get out his last words.  He does this from time to time.  My father was very sickly and did this too.  They both have/had very serious illnesses that they keep/kept recovering from, which leads people to tire of their "dying" wishes.  But my father did die one day, and Larry will too.  Maybe it really is this time, I do not know.

Larry said "I want you to know that I have loved you all these years Mary.  I wanted to be with you, but loved you enough to back away from you so that you could have a whole man, not a half a man like me.  I have sat across the room all these years, all these years, and loved you.  I stopped everything so that you could have a whole man, not some old sumbitch like me who is falling apart all over the place.  So, thank you Father, for making Mary, and making her so useful, even when she doesn't know what is going on.  I love you Mary in a place where there's no space and time.  Hold your head up high and smile Mary because you are one of God's special angels."

This caused me to cry, and I am still crying.  It has been so long since I have heard a proclamation of love from a man.  I have known that Larry loves me, but it is nice to hear it.  I will hold this in my heart all day today.  I will call him back tonight or tomorrow.  But there is not a call back required.  He wanted to tell me this, not to get a reaction, but to tell me his heart.

If you are new to AA, you may think those people in meetings are just scenery, or annoying, but if you stick around and talk to people, you will form friendships that are unique and priceless.

Thank you God that I have had a friend like Larry.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

One Last Day this Week to Commute

I am in a whole new demo for junk mail.  Awesome

Don Juan comes to full bloom
Tomorrow I work from home and I am going to find a way to get a bike ride in and maybe a run.  Whatever I do, I won't have to wake up at 4:00 a.m. to get to work.

Yesterday I was in a small meeting with my boss and another woman, we were strategizing how to get unduplicated survey data for a population that is fluid and anonymous.  My boss said "I wonder what AA does, they must survey to find out if their program is effective."  And without hesitation, I said "They survey every three years, and use a random sample."  My boss is pretty cool, but she did look at me for a split second like "What???"

I am now running 20 minutes late, so I better get.

I hope you all stay sober today if that is your heart's desire.  It is mine.  I have prayed every day for this, and so far my prayers have been answered.  I'm grateful for that!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wednesday

This is my Chicago Peace rose.  It is slowly opening.  Very slowly.  I'm pretty sure it is going to be gorgeous.  My kids got it for me for Mothers Day a couple of years ago.

Yesterday was another day.  It reminded me of a day long ago.  I was sober about 9 years I think.

I was working as a temporary for Kelly.  They had sent me to a Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC) company for a week long assignment.  During the week I was there, I was told to dodge bill collectors, who were coming to the door - people would scramble like cock-roaches in the light when they showed up.  And I was to lie and say no one was there.  When I opened the mail I was shocked to see the long past due bills and the threats of legal action.  The people were not nice either.   At the end of the week, they called Kelly and asked if they could keep me for another couple of weeks.  Kelly called me to see if I was OK with that.  I told them I would call them back during my lunch break, which I did.  I told them I did not want to spend another week there and I had doubts they were going to pay Kelly for my time there.

My liaison at Kelly got straight on the phone with the person at the HVAC company and told them what I said.  Holy Crap.  When I got back from lunch, I heard whispering all over the place.  (I hate whispering in the workplace, I think it signifies that something has gone terribly wrong, or that it is a very sick environment.)  Then someone called me on speaker phone to tell me that I was not working out and I needed to finish the day, but my services were no longer needed.  As they were telling me this, someone in the room (and I heard on the speaker phone) said - "She was horrible!"  I spent a couple more hours there, some of the most poisoned hours I have ever spent.  The next day I had a long chat with my person at Kelly, telling her the predicament she had placed me in - and asked her if I was just supposed to stay somewhere I didn't like and fail to mention that they might never get paid.  "NO!" was what she said, but I feel her actions told me another story.   And just for giggles, I just googled the company and they are still alive and well, almost 20 years later - amazing!

So, back to 2012.  Yesterday I had to tell some people something they did not want to hear.  And I spent the day in their building.  There were closed doors and whispering.  I was not a popular girl.  Luckily, I had a lunch date with someone there who I have known for almost 18 years.  I told her they had complained that I was "difficult."  She said "Mary G." and "difficult" were two things she would NEVER put together.  I asked her to share that with some of her colleagues.

Through the day,  I remembered my experience at the HVAC company back in the day.   I remembered that I got through that day and would get through yesterday.  And I did.

When I got home, I got on my bike for some miles, got off it and immediately took off running.  If you have never done this, you ought to try it.  Running on rubber band legs.  Fun.  That's part of the story of the triathlon.

And now I need to go "suit up and show up" for another day.  Without God, I would have to hide under the covers of my bed.  But instead I will step out wearing the armor of God.

Let's all get to it, OK?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another Morning

I woke up sober, and happy to be so.  I am heading out of here about an hour and a half later than usual - to go to a meeting with my most difficult people.  My boss is coming too.  We are having coffee after the meeting, and then I will go back to the difficult place.  I have a lunch date with a woman I have known for almost 18 years.  I will be happy to sit down and share a meal with her.

Tonight I MUST get on my bike, ride many miles, and then get off it and run more miles.  I have a triathlon in less than four weeks  and my training has been virtually non-existent.  It will be painful.  I tried to get out of it, but was reminded that I talked my friend into registering with me and she will not let me off the hook.  OK.  I will do my best and live with the results - which may involve me being told I have not met the timeframes for the course and not being allowed to finish.  I have finished races last - and have come to accept that - but I have never been told I can't finish.  Some people think I am just being dramatic (such as my friend I talked into doing this race), but I have been in races with someone on a bicycle behind me, making sure I am going to finish by the deadline.  It is not pleasant.

In January 2012, I left my job of many years and set out on a new adventure.  I had no idea it was going to change every single aspect of my life.  But it has.  I think it is good to shake it up as you age because living by habit is not good for an old brain.  My poor brain is tired now, but it is getting plenty of exercise (unlike my body) and I think it is good for me.

I have a sponsee who has just started a new job and when she whines to me now, I tell her MY similar stories.  Oh what fun!

Going out into the world again today with nothing but faith.  If I had no faith, I could not leave this house.  It is terrifying out there!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Road

They say the road gets narrower as you go along in recovery.  I believe that.  I think people make the mistake of thinking the road gets broader, that the longer you stay sober, the more you can "get away" with.  I feel that at this point I can get away with nothing.  I pay dearly for any deviation from the straight and narrow - any dishonesty, any malice, you get the idea.  So far, I have never paid the price of a drink.  I pray I never do.

I am going back into the dragon's den this morning (funny - that's the name of a local AA club).  I have a presentation to make this afternoon.  I have not yet even planned it.  I thought I would do that this weekend, but this weekend I enjoyed my days off instead.  I'll figure it out today.

That's all.  I am just going to work.  Just riding on the bus.  Just living.

Another blessed sober day.  I will endeavor to show my gratitude to God by making the best of it.

I hope you all do too.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sorry for posting a daily photo of this Don Juan rose.  It is so beautiful, but I cannot get a good photo of it, so I keep trying!   Today is the third day of rain in a row.  I won't complain.  I have the heat blasting and the fireplace blazing.

I was up all night, just could not sleep.  Listened to John Irving's Last Night in Twisted River.  Amazed to find a description of a car accident on Berthoud Pass that was nearly identical to the one I was in.  Only thankfully, when the car in which I rode veered totally out of control at a great speed, it miraculously did not hit another car.  In the book, the jackass car hits another car, causing two fatalities.

Finally fell asleep at 4, and slept until 8.  What a luxury to wake to sunlight!  My daughter called and surprised me with good news.  We will all be together today.  She will be with her children.  I will be with my children and grandchildren.  There were years that were not like this.  I am grateful for this blessing but mindful of what a painful day this can be for many.

This is my 41st Mothers Day without my mother.  That is over two times the number of Mothers Days I spent with her.

I do wish I could see her and tell her I love her.

But I do get to spend the day with my kids and I will focus on that instead.

Thank God.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Day of Relative Rest

This morning I went out with my running club, and had a wonderful time with them.  After my run, I met a friend to have breakfast and go to a movie.  We saw "Dark Shadows" which was a little bit scary and a whole lot funny.  I love Johnny Depp, and I can't imagine anyone else in that role.

It was just so nice to be doing something that wasn't work, housekeeping, lawn care, or any other kind of work related.

I am now going to take a little nap before I need to get ready for mass.  On the way home I will stop at the store and choose some fruit for a pie for tomorrow.

My son has invited me to his house for Mothers Day.  I think this will be the first Mothers Day that I haven't hosted.  I am very excited about that.  And grateful.

I am just a sober woman today, just going about her business, appreciating a good day, and thanking God for it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

It's Friday Again

Last night I went with my running group for a wonderful trail run.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  The wildflowers and yucca are in bloom.  The air was alive with the music of crickets.  It was so good to hit the trails again.  I had forgotten how challenging it is.  3 miles was definitely enough for me last night!

Today I have another contentious meeting at 10:00 a.m.  I will just put one foot in front of the other and get through it.  And then I have a weekend.

I wanted to say something about yesterday's post.  I regret if I gave the impression that you need to have a prescribed horrible bottom to get to AA and successfully stay sober.  When I got sober, I considered myself a "high bottom," but after a few years, I came to believe that term was meaningless for myself.  On the day I got sober, I woke up in a nice house, with my husband and three kids.  I was a stay-at-home-mom, and had pretty much everything I wanted.  Except peace of mind, except the will to live, except the ability to go through a day without a drink.  I was so full of self-loathing that I couldn't bear to go through one more day.  This is what I call a bottom.  Not the amount I drank, or the circumstances of my life - but the inner despair.

The world feels like a dangerous place to me today.  I am sick of being sought out for discussions about current affairs.  I am a religious person.  That does not make me narrow minded, bigoted, or stupid.  It does not mean I have never thought about things.  It does not mean that I don't love people or that I refuse to understand their feelings.

As I said, I will put one foot in front of the other and get through the day.  By the grace of God I woke up sober today and plan to go to bed that way tonight.  And that, my friends, is nothing short of miraculous.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Thinking about Alcoholism

Chicago Peace Rose
As I got to know the man I dated for the last year, I realized that his drinking was very different than mine.  He is sober, he is glad he is sober, but he has many pleasant memories of drinking.  When we talked about St. Patrick's day, I told him that I went out in my early years of drinking but then stayed home.  I had no use for puking green beer and dealing with all the amateurs.  He said he had many St. Patrick's days that were really, really fun.  He talked about all the football games he went to and enjoyed while drinking.  At one of them, he was seated next to O.J. Simpson and his now deceased wife.  Those must have been some good seats!  He talked about parties and socializing.  I would think "Wow!  I did not have these experiences!"

He was 51 years old when he got sober.  A neighbor suggested to him that his drinking would ruin his relationship with his son, and he went immediately into treatment.  And has been sober since.  He still had a great career, great home, etc., etc.....

When I drank I never knew what would happen.  I might have a great time, but more likely I would get "too" drunk and make an ass of myself.  I would make passes at my friends' husbands, or the friends, co-workers or boss of my husband.  I would fall down and ruin  my clothes, rip my stockings, and embarrass others (myself? not so much).  When I was 20 years old, I got drunk at a Christmas party at my boss' house in very elegant Winnetka, Illinois.  The evening ended with me making snow angels on his lawn, and being unable to get up.  The next morning I got up and found my shoes all tangled up inside my panty hose, which were all in front of the refrigerator.  I went to work the next day having no idea that I had just pissed off nearly everyone I worked with.   I would spend days in bed after days of heavy drinking.  I could not get up to take care of my children.  I drank every day as well as the occasional binge.

My life continued to spin out of control.   Years of drunken stupidity.  Being ashamed.  Wanting to quit, being unable to.  When I was 32 years old, I was absolutely at the end of my rope.  I was a dying alcoholic.  I didn't know what was really wrong with me, I just knew I was suicidally depressed, and I drank too much.  Thank God I got to AA and was able to get sober and stay that way.  I wasn't looking a gift horse in the mouth because I was desperate.  I followed directions and did exactly what you all told me to do.  And I stayed sober.

He got sober in a treatment center and followed the aftercare plan to go to AA.  He goes every now and then.  His sponsor died last year and he never ever mentioned getting another one.  He does not sponsor anyone and refuses to.  I honestly think that might be working for him.  I am not sure because I saw some crappy behavior, but it isn't like I never display crappy behavior.  I am not one to call someone a dry drunk, I think it is a silly pejorative term that is ridiculous if you are the kind of drunk I am.  Any kind of sober is good.  A miracle really.

I have thought a lot about how different our AA experiences might be.  I was desperate.  I don't know what he was.  I don't know how you stay sober if you have such pleasant memories of drinking.  Why would you quit?  If I thought I could drink like a normal person, I would probably drink - like a pig - oh, and then I guess I wouldn't be a normal person.

I have done just a teense of research on "types of alcoholism."  Of course, there are articles about this.  One I found particularly interesting is on Web MD and describes 5 types of alcoholics:

  • Young adult subtype - 32% of alcoholics, they don't seek help (I wonder what happens to them, do they all die and never become older adults who still drink?)
  • Young antisocial subtype - 21%.  Many of them have Antisocial Personality Disorder, they also smoke cigarettes and pot.  (again - what happens to them?)
  • Functional subtype - 10%  They drink approximately every other day and suffer no real effects of the "alcoholism" in their lives.
  • Intermediate familial subtype 19% - 1/2 have close relatives who are alcoholic.  (What about the other half?)
  • Chronic severe subtype 9% - mostly men, highest divorce rate, frequently include illicit drugs (did they just wake up one day and decide to be middle aged men who drink like fish?)
There are other articles that suggest that alcoholism is a continuum starting with having a few drinks, which, if you are not careful, can turn into full blown alcoholism.  

I don't know where I would be in any of these descriptions.   I drank alcoholically from the first sip of booze at the age of 14.  I found my answer to life!  It was magical!  Almost every alcoholic I know has just about the same experience.  They never really drank normally, although they may have been able to hide it for years.  From the first drop of alcohol I drank, I found my solution, and that was a problem!

Our culture doesn't want anyone to drink (law enforcement and medical professionals).  And then it wants to push booze down your throat at every moment (social norms and advertising).  It is very confusing.  

But what I am wondering about specifically - the AA critics, are they people who can't buy the "desperation" feature of AA?  If you enjoyed drinking, how desperate would you be?  AA stresses reaching a bottom, although no one would ever endeavor to define someone else's bottom.  They're all different.   They type of bottom I have learned to be particularly suspicious of (after working with alcoholics for over 27 years) is the external bottom.  A DUI, an angry wife, sad eyed kids, whatever.  The kind of bottom I have learned to listen to is the waking up in the middle of night - or even morning, with a self-disgust so deep it is unbearable.  And that causes desperation and willingness.  

I believe those two things are absolutely essential to recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous.  That is not really appealing to someone who still has some of what I call "other ideas."  And that is fine, I think they should do all they can to drink normally or quit on their own.  But if you are desperate enough to submit to the ego deflation, confession, restitution, helpfulness to others, and necessity of belief in and dependence upon God that is the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, you will find recovery and a new life.  

That's what I am thinking about.  What do you all think?

If you don't need a new life, I would imagine it would be pretty difficult to submit to the program.  



Fragrant Cloud

It is hard to believe that this little dark red rosebud is soon to be a bright orange rose called Fragrant Cloud.  It is named that for a wonderful reason - it is really really strongly fragrant.  This is along the walkway to my front door, I love that visitors get to have a whiff of rose as they walk to my door.

Yesterday I was feeling ambitious about writing about my ponderings and observations about alcoholism. I didn't have to be anywhere until 8:30 yesterday.  Today is another thing entirely.  I have to be out of here in just over an hour, so I have no time to write this thing I intend to write.  I will try to do it tonight.

I will likely change my header and maybe my blog name - again.  I intend to express some opinions and with the header "I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous," I probably shouldn't do that.  I had a blog name I really liked at one time - "One Sober Alcoholic"  but someone came along and called himself something so similar that it confused me and everyone else so I changed the name to "Being Sober."  Well, all I ever wanted this blog to be is a daily writing by someone who is just One Sober Alcoholic.  Just one.  Not speaking for Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole.  But writing as one who has been blessed to be able to come to AA and get sober and stay that way.

But it's going to be a 12 hour work day, so I might not get to it tonight.  I have yet more problems at work.  I am telling you, this is hard on a person.

Yesterday I went to visit someone at my former workplace.  He is facing an unwelcome retirement.  He is my age and is dreading retirement.  I talked about how good it is for people of "our age" to step out of our comfort zones and do something different.  I told him how I left my comfort there and stepped out and am now mostly uncomfortable.  He laughed, but he knew what I meant.  I am so grateful I got the guts up to go visit him.  We had a love/hate relationship over the years - but the truth is, we HAD a relationship for over 17 years and I need to honor that.

OK, gots to go!  Say a quick prayer for your friend Mary Christine if you can.  Whatever is going on today, I have a new green jacket to wear and that can make a day pretty good!

Thanks to God.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

This is an actual rosebud in my actual garden in actual real time.  Well, sort of real time.  It was taken yesterday - not last year.  I should have actual roses in bloom within a few days.  I am sure they are loving the rain.

This morning I am heading over to a meeting with my biggest challenge people.  I am going to go in there knowing that I am the expert on our discussion - because I am.  They have intimidated me in the past and I am not going to allow that to happen today.  I can be kinder when I acknowledge my strength.  When I am feeling picked-upon, I feel not so kind.  They will likely pick on me because that is their nature.  That is their nature, not mine, and I do not have to respond in kind.  I can come from my own place of strength - and kindness.

I have been thinking a lot about alcoholism lately.  I think we in AA view it is one monolithic disease.  It seems the "professionals"  don't even call it alcoholism (they call it alcohol dependence), and see in it degrees and shades of grey.  They also have an abysmal record of bringing about even basic abstinence.  AA supposedly has a pretty low rate of recovery too, but I don't believe that.  We are anonymous which makes it terribly difficult to track us.  AA does a periodic survey (I think it is every four years), I know that I have not been surveyed since 1989.  I think their sample is flawed.  I could certainly be wrong about that.  But I do KNOW that I have not been included in any AA statistics since 1989, when I was five years sober.

Anyway, my point is, I would like to explore the topic of alcoholism in the next little while.  The reason this has come to mind is the fact that I am now tracking statistics for this (not being more clear because I do not want this blog to come up in any search), and also because of my former boyfriend.  When we talked, it was clear that we were two different kinds of alcoholics.

But I don't have time right now.  I am going to go "suit up and show up."  And pray for God's grace to get me through another day.


Monday, May 07, 2012

Pouring Rain on Monday Morning

It's a rainy Monday morning and I say "Perfect!"  That's just how it feels inside too.  I am glad to have a couple of raincoats and a couple of umbrellas - although I can only use one of each at a time.

Yesterday I failed to get excited about the flowers at the nursery.  I walked around and walked around.  Everything seemed unexciting and too expensive.  I usually get tons of petunias because I love the way they smell.  But I usually find vibrant colors.  No such thing yesterday.  Only anemic looking pinks and whites.  A few dark purples.  No neon pinks or bright bright red.  Nothing that I was willing to pay for.   On the way there I had told my neighbor that I was not buying geraniums this year because they tend to be pricey.  The ONLY thing I bought yesterday was $60. worth of geraniums.  They are the bright orange red that I love.  I filled up my planters on the back deck and the front porch with them.  I think they will be pretty.  If they lived through the cold night - I haven't checked yet.

I had a moment at the nursery.  My neighbor and I each walked around independently, and in the end, I could not find her.  I am so melancholy that the sight of couples coming straight from church, holding hands, while they looked for flowers for their houses. made me feel so sad.  I was in this state when I found my neighbor.  There she was, smiling to see me.  And I thought - why on earth do I NOT appreciate what I DO have instead of longing for what I DON'T have?  I have wonderful friends and family.  I need to focus on that.

And today I will focus on the fact that I have a job.  It is a good job.  I have probably the best boss I have ever had in my life.  I enjoy my co-workers.  I like the people on my floor.  I am working in a new process and people are very resistant to change.  I cannot take this personally, but I have.  Basically I have a job where I am dependent upon people who are not invested in the process to provide me the data to create a meaningful work product.  As Syd reminded me last week, GIGO, the old acronym for "Garbage in, garbage out."  Unfortunately, the garbage out is MY Product. And these people do not know me!  I do not have 17 years of history here to fall back on.  Thankfully, thus far, they trust me.  I hope I can maintain that trust while I am acting the fool, crying in offices, and having a melt-down.

Today I will endeavor to give it my best shot.  My goal for today is not to cry.  I will put my nose to the grindstone and not be needy.

I will do my level best to turn my thoughts to others.  Because when I focus on myself, it gets real ugly, real quick.    God can help me to do this if I ask.  I will ask.

And I will thank Him for another blessed day of sobriety.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Can't think of a title.

This year's roses are almost in bloom.  The peonies are about to pop.  Today is the day of my annual visit to the nursery with my next door neighbor.  She asked me last night if I would mind if we didn't go to the nursery, but somewhere much cheaper.  I told her that would be good for me too.  I feel like my income has vanished before my eyes.  Like sand slipping out of your hand.  Having pay cuts for the last four years while living in an inflated world is sad, scary, and discouraging.  I will be buying only a few plants this year.  But the things I really wanted in my yard are well-established now.  So, I will be OK with a meager purchase of annuals.

Yesterday was awesome.  Family fun.  My son has a large back yard, and the kids were able to run around and enjoy themselves.  We played lawn darts, barbecued, ate, talked, laughed and enjoyed each other.  My three children and three grandchildren were all together.  It was delightful.  My nephew is soon to leave for Japan.  I will miss having another family member in the state.

I cried through mass this morning and didn't have a handkerchief or kleenex with me.  I better start carrying them with me because I think this sudden tearfulness is not going away any time soon.  I cried in my boss' office three times last week - which for a woman of my age is something so verboten, I can't even imagine that I have done this.

Another neighbor loaned me her $4000. bicycle for my race.  Heartbreakingly, I cannot ride it.  It is too big for me.  I can barely clear the bar and when seated my feet do not reach the pedals.  I could adjust the seat, but the frame height is permanent, and my own height is going nowhere but down.  So sad.  But so nice to witness first hand such generosity.  I will return it to her today and start getting used to the idea that I have a triathlon in a month that I have not and likely will not train for.

I had planned a big bike ride today, but it is cold and windy and I am so tired.  I think I will call it a day to spend with my plants and my laundry.  And maybe a dreamy little nap this afternoon.

I am trusting God that I am going to get through this depression.  But I must say that for now, it really sucks.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Domestic Bliss

Oh, I guess for most people "domestic bliss" would mean a happy marriage, the pitter patter of little feet, etc.  I probably mostly realistically thought that at one time too.  But now I am 60 years old.  Divorced.  Grown kids.  - So in this age, I would call a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables "domestic bliss."  I am baking two pies, grilling vegetables, and making sauerkraut for our lunch today.

I have been so overwhelmed lately, my son very very kindly suggested that we have our get-together at his house today.  He has a big back yard, toys, a couple of big TVs with Wiis (sp?)  There will be seven adults, one teenage boy, two pre-teen girls, one eight year old girl, a six year old boy, and one tiny baby (well, she is 18 months old now).  This is awesome.

So, while my butter is chilling for the pie crust, I thought I would take a second to post something here.  I went to my old homegroup this morning - it was good to see everyone.  I haven't been there since I started my new job.  I was very relieved that my old friends think my new hairdo is awesome.  Doubt has set in after a couple of days - it is so high maintenance - but if it looks good I don't care.

I get to go be with family today.  That might sound ordinary to you, but I never take this for granted.  It is a blessing beyond measure.

Thank God I am sober, or my day would be extremely different than this "domestic bliss."

Friday, May 04, 2012

Into the Dangerous World

On Sunday I got out the sidewalk chalk so the little baby granddaughter and I could draw on my driveway and sidewalk.  I love writing on the sidewalk.  We used to do that when we were kids.  We would take a stone and etch a hopscotch board onto a driveway or sidewalk and play for hours.  Imagine, being entertained for hours by a simple stone and a flat surface!

It is such a shame that kids don't get to play anymore.  They are shuttered indoors, participating in activities designed by their mothers, fathers, and caretakers.  They frequently have their noses glued to an electronic device.  They are not allowed to get out in the sunshine without sunscreen.  Can't ride bikes without helmets.  Their adults manage the schedules of "play dates" and other commitments.

My kids grew up during the first phase of this new paradigm of raising kids.  They grew up in the era of the first "milk carton kids."  Yes, I was terrified by this.  But no, I did not allow it to change our behavior.  My daughters always had roller skates and entertained themselves for hours roller skating outdoors.  We moved around a lot and wherever we went, after a few months all the kids had roller skates.  It was delightful.  My son played army with his friends, and was always dressed in camo.  I think it is so hilarious that he has dressed exactly the same way for his entire life.

My alcoholic daughter went a little bit nuts when she was a teenager.  In fact, she went so nuts that she might be considered every parent's nightmare.  She spent most of her teens in hospitals, treatment centers, rehabs, and residential facilities for teenagers.  She would thrive under the structure imposed by these treatments.  However, the minute she was set free, she would go nuts again.  She learned nothing about making decisions.  I think now with 3.5 years of sobriety and at the age of 33, she is just beginning to learn to self-regulate.

Her twin sister apparently thrived in this dangerous environment I provided for them.  She is a successful young woman.

Somehow we all survived all the hazards we have faced.  I am so so so so so grateful to have grown up in the 50s and 60s and that I have the scars to prove it!

So, I shall step out into the dangerous world today.  I have a battle to face this morning.  I am so fortunate to have a boss who supports me.  I will need her support today.  After next Wednesday I will have approximately two weeks of relative peace.  I will get to go out and about and meet with people and work on real things.  I will get to sit down and actually think about my work instead of rushing to meet deadlines.  And then it will begin again....

I am grateful to be sober.  I am grateful for a loving God who always has my back.  I am grateful to be listening to birds singing this morning.  I am grateful that in a few minutes I will be walking the downtown streets that I love so.  This is my city.  The city where I got sober, and that will always make it HOME in my heart.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

I don't have time this morning to write anything meaningful.  Today I will need every drop of composure to get through all the volumes of corrections I need to make.  It is particularly frustrating because I used what other people gave me, and now they are sending e-mails (copied to every big shot they could think of) with lists of corrections.  Cool.

But I will just ride the bus to work and sit at my computer and make the corrections.  And sometime before tomorrow at 5:00, I will be done.

One little Excel cell at a time.  One graph at a time.  One Powerpoint slide at a time.

So, I shall get to it!

Imagine if I was drunk.  I would show up (maybe) at work this morning with booze on my breath and a hangover so bad I wouldn't be able to think.  Maybe I would think up some brilliant retaliation on these people.  Maybe I would just say "f--- it" and not do it.  But I don't have to behave that way today.  I get to choose what attitude I bring to work with me.  And when that is difficult (like every other day), I get to ask God to help me.  And he never lets me down.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

May Two

Right now I am sick to death of writing about alcoholism and AA.  I got a ridiculous comment on one of my old posts from some old guy who thinks he is the world's expert on AA, of course he needed to correct me about what I wrote about AA traditions.  With a link to his website where he SELLS books he wrote about AA.  Awesome.  He has come along every couple of months for the last 6.5 years, but yesterday it just really irritated me.  He boasts to me about his 26 years of continuous sobriety, as if that would end every argument - in his favor.  Well, if you want to play that way.... just sayin'.

Yesterday all of the buses were delayed by protests blocking city streets.  There was a large contingent of a union marching down the street.  And then the occupiers are staring to occupy a different park since they have been thrown out of the park they occupied last summer.   They were having a sleep-in on the street last night, so it should be an interesting commute today.

Today will be an 11 hour work day.   Yikes.  I think I am actually getting used to the pace and the intensity of the job.  I did my monthly product without wanting to kill myself this month.  Believe me, this is a huge leap forward.  I guess I shouldn't speak so soon, because it goes out for corrections today, and I will start on the corrections tomorrow.  Hopefully there will not be many.

I have an update on the woman I have been sponsoring and having such difficulty with.  She is normally hysterical, upset, and a little bit paranoid.   Last night she called from her mother's hospital room.  She told me her brother is going to prison.  She needs to repo a car from her sister-in-law, etc., etc., etc.  But after a minute or so, I realized that she sounded calm and composed.  I understand.  I wonder if it is an alcoholic trait to handle the bad times better than the good times.  I used to be this way.  I don't think I am anymore.  But I was always grateful that I didn't fall apart when I REALLY needed to be together.  I think she shares this trait.  And I am so grateful she can be there for her mother.  I am also grateful that I didn't fire her when I wanted to. I prayed about it and every time, I felt I was being led to hang in there with her.

So, that's it from me.

I am planning on staying sober today, with God's help, and I hope you do too!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Perspective




Yesterday I had two meetings, one of which I was dreading terribly.  The first meeting was at the hospital where I was employed for 17.5 years.  When I was walking down the hall, I saw my old boss and waved.  She did not wave back!  I was delighted because I realized that she didn't even recognize me with my new hairdo!  It happened a couple of times.  I went to my daughter's office, she wasn't there, but I walked in anyway.  She came in right behind me - she had seen "some lady" go straight into her office!  When she came in, she realized it was her mama!

Then I went to the meeting with four people I complained about to their bosses last week.  Needless to say, they were not exactly delighted to see me!  I prayed up a storm on my way in.  The meeting was uncomfortable - maybe one of the most uncomfortable hours I have ever endured - aside from being in labor, or getting a root canal.  But I lived through it and at the end, two women who have been rather hostile to me invited me to lunch with them!  We had a nice time, just eating and chatting like human beings instead of worker bees.

I left the restaurant feeling very relieved and happy.  I called my sponsor as I was driving home from work.  We somehow got on the subject of early sobriety and having overwhelming problems that our sponsors helped us deal with.  She talked about a $50. utility bill she couldn't pay.  She called her sponsor thinking she would loan her the money.  Instead, her sponsor told her to call the utility company and tell them she couldn't pay, and make an effort to work something out.  She was surprised and delighted when they were willing to take a smaller payment.  I had a similar experience in my first year of sobriety.  I couldn't make my car payment.  My sponsor told me to call them.  I thought "yeah, great, Bill W. could call his creditors back in the 1930s, but this is 1984, and I owe money to GMAC, they are not going to want to hear my tale of woe."  But I called them and imagine my surprise when they made payment arrangements with me!  GMAC!

Baby steps lead to great strides.  I had to walk into that meeting that terrified me yesterday - and I got to the other side of it.  I feel like I moved forward about 1,000 miles yesterday.

And going to my old workplace was extremely good for me.  I walked into the CEO's conference room and just sort of shuddered.  I had spent so many hours of my life in that room.  In the last few years, they just were not pleasant.  It was good to remember that.

So, I am stepping out in faith again today.  I know God will hold me in the palm of his hand as I trudge forward.  I am grateful.

I am also grateful for your kind comments yesterday.  I felt kind of bad when I got them because writing that I am going to stop blogging is not a thing to do unless I am really going to stop.  Yesterday I thought I would.  Today I feel like myself again.  

Monday, April 30, 2012

Expectations of Sobriety

I am sponsoring someone who reminds me of me when I was early in sobriety.  When I see her name show up on my phone, honestly I do not want to answer.  I know there will be hysterical crying, accounts of what happened - heavy on hyperbole, and the worst way to interpret every circumstance.  Yesterday she called and told me she had just had "the worst day in my life."  It is so hard to talk to someone who has these experiences on almost a daily basis.  But I recall being 6 to 9 years sober and going through an abusive marriage, and being hysterical half the time.  I thank God for the people who were willing to hang in there with me (there weren't many).

I frequently warn her against comparing her insides to others' outsides.  She thinks she is the only sober person who has difficulty.  She goes to a meeting where people tend to be financially very stable and affluent, well-educated, mostly happily married, and don't seem to be dealing with the wreckage she is.  I tell her that first of all, we don't know if that is really the truth about these folks - and it isn't our business to figure out if it is.  Secondly, it is not a good idea to compare.  Third, we all start on our recovery journey in a different place.  She is making her kind of progress, it just doesn't look like other people's progress.

I remember a time when someone told me that if I was an example of five years of sobriety, he would rather be drunk.  Well, he died drunk.  I didn't wish it on him though.  I have told people that maybe sometimes I am a good bad example.  There is a use for those too, you know.

Later I had a friend who would say "Sobriety for sobriety's sake sucks."  I would argue heartily with him on this point.  He thinks it is ironic because he thinks I am one of the finest examples of making the most of your sobriety.  Well, I didn't do that overnight.  And if I thought I had to have great accomplishments, money, happy relationships, and great healing all the way around to have my sobriety mean something, I couldn't have thought I was successfully sober in my first ten years.  Thank God I hung in there and worked a program and stayed sober.

I have often said that if I could have made a list of what I wanted from my sobriety when I was newly sober, I would have gravely short-changed myself.  But some of the things I cherish the most are completely intangible.  Being with my father as he was dying.  Being present at the birth of two of my grandchildren.  Being a trustworthy grandmother.  Going back to church, painting icons, graduating from Biblical School.... I could go on, but you get the drift.

Some of the accomplishments others value a lot are:   going back to college when I was 43, and having a master's degree by the time I was 50.  Getting a "good job" and keeping it for a long dang time.  Buying a house.  Buying new cars.  Etc.

But I still have the same brain.  By the grace of God most days today you would never know that I used to respond hysterically to nearly everything.  But I do still suffer from depression.  I take meticulous care of myself to try to keep that serpent at bay.  If I vary much from my life style I seem to open the door for it.  Changing jobs earlier this year seems to have done that.

The thing I would like to say is:  I am going through a depression. I know that I will get to the other side.  I have many tools in my toolbox.  I have faith that I am where I am supposed to be.  And I have remained sober.

That, to me, is a hopeful message.

And I am not sure I can continue to blog through this - I can't imagine why anyone would continue to read when I am a broken record every day.  I will pray about this.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More Changes

This is my "rescue icon," someone else worked on it and abandoned it.  She just walked away.  I have been tempted to do the same.  I have worked on this for many hours, and it is extremely difficult to undo what's been done.  I think St. John the Baptist deserves better than this, so I will continue to work on it.

Yesterday I got my hair cut.  My stylist has known me for a very long time - she used to cut it very short when I asked her to, but she doesn't any more.  It is short - but it is not VERY short.  I have long bangs, and enough hair over my ears to "tuck" it.  The back is very short.  It is super cute and I am so happy I did this.  I feel like I look about 10 years younger.  That long hair drags down my face - and gravity is doing a good enough job, it doesn't need any help!  I also dragged out my old horn rimmed glasses and feel like I have a whole new look.

Yesterday I decided to quit my running club.  I will continue to exercise, I know that.  But I don't want to pay so much money and have my weekends be so centered around my Saturday morning run.  I have too many priorities right now, I can easily eliminate this one.  I will serve out the time I have already paid for and then I will have Saturdays to myself again.  In truth, that will probably be July.  But that's OK.

I have my little baby here with me today.  She got upset earlier and held her arms out to me - the way she does her Mom and Dad.  I held her and began to cry myself.  Such a primordial thing.  Since the beginning of time babies have clung to their mamas, daddys, and grandmothers!  It is a beautiful thing to be part of that equation!  Now, THIS feeds my soul.

I have been chronicling these past few months my "little bit of a breakdown."  (That phrase comes from a song I can't remember right now.)  It is risky to put it on the internet, but I was taught to share my real experience, strength, and hope.  Not my delusional system about how great I am - like if I convince you I may convince myself.

So this is it.  I am still moving forward.  And amazingly enough, I have not had a drink.  If you are the type of alcoholic I am, you understand what a big deal that is.  And if you are looking for someone who is the picture of serenity and happiness every day - you will probably be terribly disappointed by my blog.

Here's another one of my quirks - I cannot stand the sound of cartoons.  I thought I could turn on a cartoon for my granddaughter while I wrote this, but it is making my so anxious I can't stand it.  I remember a scene from the movie "The Days of Wine and Roses," where the alcoholic woman is sitting in a chair, by herself, in the middle of the day - with a cigarette and a glass of booze - watching cartoons.  ugh!  I can't think of anything worse!

But that is NOT my story today.  I am sober.  My little baby holds her arms out to me and wraps them around my neck when I pick her up.  I will turn off these cartoons and play with baby girl.

God has been so good to me.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Frigid Saturday Morning

It is 31º outside this morning and I am nervous about my flowers.  And my sprinkler system which I turned on this week.  I planted gladioli a couple of weeks ago and there are already little shoots coming up.  I cannot wait to have my own glads growing in my own yard!  I love them!
I spent a couple of hours pulling weeds last night.  I don't much like doing that.  But I never bothered last year or the year before because all of my energies were going toward marathon training.

I have a couple of races coming up in June that I have essentially not trained for.  I will likely do them anyway.    I have an olympic distance triathlon on June 10 and a half marathon on June 23.  I could easily do a sprint distance tri, but I am registered for an olympic.  Crap.

Yesterday I popped into my hair stylist's salon at 6:30 a.m. on my way to work.  She was there, and I begged her to fit me in this weekend.  She was frowning, but she did it.  She has proms all day today, but will squeeze me in at 1:00.  I think by my forcing the issue, I have forced the issue of getting my hair cut short, since that is what I told her the emergency was.  I need to do it I think.  We'll see if I can.

I am meeting my running club in a matter of minutes.  I have totally lost my enthusiasm for this group.  I still love my coach, but I have a problem with one of the other members of our small group and it is affecting the whole experience for me.  She is the one who made the snarky comment to me earlier this year:  "Do you think I need to go to AA Mary?"  Having never told anyone in that group that I am in AA, I wonder why she concluded that I am in AA, and why that is an issue for her.  Well, I don't really wonder why it is an issue for her.  She also makes very profane remarks constantly, and although I have never said anything to her, I am certain that my facial expression does not hide my horror.  Everyone in the group DOES know I am Catholic.  I talk about it, and I also wear a gold cross and miraculous medal at all times, which pretty much SCREAMS "Catholic!!!"  I end up running alone and I don't know why I would pay $450. a year to do that.  So, I likely will not at the end of this session (in June).

Yesterday I ended up in my boss' office - crying.  Oh, horror of horrors!  When she responded by telling me how much they value me, she started crying too.  I just love this woman, and I think she feels the same way about me.  She talked to her boss about what is going on, and he went right up to the top of the org chart to address it.  I think things will be changing.  It will not help my relationships with my problem people, but I think having good relationships wasn't helping with the work. I cannot be dishonest in order to "get along."

It is a time of great change for me.  I feel like my whole life has been shaken up and left to resettle, like one of the old snow globes I used to love.  I think these changes needed to happen.  Change isn't always pleasant, it can be difficult.

The few weeks just before I got sober was a period of great change just like this.  The changes made me realize that I couldn't go on as I was.  I knew I had to stop drinking.  And believe me, this was a HUGE change!  Just thinking I needed to quit was an entirely new thought for me.

We will see where I end up as a result of all this stuff.  But I know it has made me realize that some things just have to change.

"There is God, our Father, who very simply says, 'I am waiting for you to do my will.'  The other authority is named John Barleycorn, and he says, 'You had better do God's will or I will kill you."  -- As Bill Sees It,  p. 319

Friday, April 27, 2012

One Day at a Time

It is Friday.  I am going to work.  I am driving so that I may get there super early.  If I leave home early enough, I can get to work in 20 to 30 minutes.  If I wait until after 7 a.m., it takes closer to 45 harried minutes.  If I take the bus from my house it takes 50 minutes.  If I drive to the Park n' Ride and take the bus from there, it takes 20 minutes - but it takes 10 minutes to drive to the PnR.  I run through this little decision flowchart every morning.  Yesterday I drove in early and it was good.

Then I met a friend for dinner at a fabulous vegetarian restaurant just a 20 minute walk away from my office.  We sat outside and watched a thunderstorm roll in.  The lightening was so close!  The restaurant lost its power and we had to wait for our check because their computer was not working.  It was lovely to see my friend.  It was lovely to sit outside and feel the first tentative drops of rain turn into a whirling, crackling storm.

Today I am hoping to wade through a bunch of data that is so disorganized and un-labeled, looks like they just took tables out of SPSS and plopped them into Excel - and somehow I will turn this into something meaningful.  At first, I thought this division was just having a harder time getting to where they needed to be.  Now I am wondering if they are being passive aggressive with their data - sending me what they know is shit because they don't like the process.  I went to a meeting of theirs last week where they spent 30 minutes out of an hour talking about how they don't have time to do this.  Really?  How 'bout you stop talking about it and just start doing it?

Yesterday when I opened the files they sent me I panicked.  My hands started perspiring and I felt like I was going to cry.  Today I will just plod through it.

I have learned to just take it one step, one second, one byte at a time in AA.  When I got to AA and heard the "one day at a time," I thought that was just a cheesy cliche.  And then I had that sweaty hands response to the idea of "never" drinking again.  Just then, the phrase "one day at a time" appeared like a thought balloon above my head and made perfectly good sense to me.

That is how I am getting through these days.  Sometimes I am doing behavior mod with myself and forcing myself to sit for an hour to work on a graph - and then I will go get a nice glass of ice water - after the allotted increment of work.  I like to think I pray a lot, but I think I am in closer touch with God in the last few months.  I pray a LOT!

One Day at a Time - I think I shall stay sober today and I hope you all do too.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dealing with Age


Google Images can certainly be instructive.  When searching for "old women" you get a selection of gross images.  "Funny" pictures.  Like the iconic old woman smoking a cigar... ha ha, very funny.  Women with no teeth - again, fricking hilarious.  After scrolling for pages, I finally got to Helen Mirren.  Who is gorgeous (and has admittedly had some "work" done).  And a couple of other real women.  But mostly, "old woman" seems to be a joke.  Nice.

When googling "old men," you are treated to a selection of photos of Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Tommy Lee Jones (who is so sexy), Pope Benedict, Clint Eastwood, a generic distinguished gentleman with a pipe... and then some old toothless men.

I have really never had an age crisis before.  I was thrilled to turn 30.  I was thrilled to turn 50.  I didn't really mind turning 60.  And then I started working with women who are all younger than my youngest children.  One of them was born the year I got sober.

I have never thought about my age so much.  It is a weird form of self-centeredness.  And it is not fun.

Yesterday I decided this long hair has got to go.  I might even stop coloring it.  I have decided that worse than being "old" is trying to look "young."  I hadn't thought of my hair that way, but I think I would be better with short hair.

I have had two good days at work in a row.  I have grown friendly with one of these young women.  She is a delightful young mother whose husband stays at home with baby.  He sends her pictures of him all day long (the baby).  She coos with delight.  It is very sweet.  She invited me to lunch yesterday and we talked about our new jobs.  It is good to hear someone else's perspective, especially when it aligns with mine!

Being on a 180º learning curve is probably good for me, but really challenging.  I am learning not only about my job, but about people, and myself.

Every day I start my day with a prayer that God gives me the strength to do his will.  I ask him to show me how I can be the person he would like me to be.  Every now and then, I get a glimpse of that.  I have had several days in a row that feel like I am finally getting to the other side.

And the two "terrible" weeks start today, so I better get out of here!

Let's all stay sober today, OK?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

When Daddy's Home...

When I saw my little grandbaby the other night, I was a teensy bit shocked!  She is a child transformed!  Her momma is out of state at a training, and her Daddy is back from Afghanistan and in charge.  Therefore, a normally neat, clean, and well-dressed baby is now running around the back yard in a diaper, shirt, and pink sparkly boots.  She has a cowboy hat on!  Her pacifier has reappeared - I hadn't seen it in probably a year.  In fairness to my son, she had a fever earlier in the day and was not feeling well - once she felt better, the paccie was gone.

When I saw the tenderness between them, my heart melted.  When he called her "Angel," my heart nearly burst.  That is what I always called my kids.  When I saw the joy in that household, I thought this is all I need.    I honestly don't know where my son learned to be so sweet to a little girl, but he did learn it, learn it well, and I am so pleased.  I am so glad this little girl will have the occasional opportunity to run around in a diaper, sparkly boots, and a cowboy hat.  ( I would have NEVER let my kids do that - they had to look neat at all times - probably to cover up their mother's chaos and insecurity.)

I was on the phone for much too long last night.  The world is buzzing about our friend who has gotten drunk.  I absolutely hate that this beautiful young woman who seemed to be so safely sober (as if!) has suffered such a fate.  But I also believe what Bill W. said in As Bill Sees It - "There is no waste in God's economy."  I believe this tragedy is a big wake-up call to a lot of people who probably needed a wake-up call and reality check.

Yesterday was actually a good day at work.  The bosses were gone, and my co-workers and I were talking and laughing.  None of us are used to working in cubicles, so we normally sit quietly and work. I guess we all felt free to open our mouths yesterday.  I have prayed for God's grace to allow me to like these women, and I believe he has answered my prayers.

Today at 5:00 starts my two hellish weeks at work.  Every month, there are two weeks of unrelenting work and deadlines, followed by two weeks of catching up on all the other stuff you couldn't even look at during the pressure weeks.  This has been an exercise in humility for me.  I don't much like exercises in humility.  But the rewards are always worth it.

I will pray to keep my thoughts on others today.  Because if I think about myself for more than 2 minutes, it turns into something pathological.  But God never lets me down, if I just seek him.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Boards and Baby

My son texted me just as I was getting off the bus tonight.  He wanted me to come over and watch tiny baby girl while he and his friend were putting up a new fence.  Of course I was delighted to do so.  And then he grilled steaks and I got to eat outdoors with my tiny baby girl, her daddy (my son), and my son's friend who I have known since he was in high school.  He is older than my son and it was truly weird to consider that he is now pushing 40.  My daughter in law has been out of state for a training and will return tomorrow.  How perfectly delightful to just sit around with my son, as if that is the most normal thing in the world!

Today at work I had some time, so I decided to walk to the downtown noon meeting.  I am so thrilled to report that it was a good meeting.  I liked the feel of the room.  I liked that I met a woman there, and we walked back to our offices together.  She is also named Mary and has been sober for 20 years.  She said there are a lot of people in that group sober between 20 and 30 years.  How wonderful to not feel like an old, freakish relic.

While I was watching the baby, one of my sponsees called 3 times within 10 minutes.  I had opted not to answer because I wanted to just be with the baby.  After the 3rd call, I listened to the voice mail.  She is out of her mind with upset because a member of our group has gone out.  I believe she was sober 6 years.  And if I had to bet money on who would drink again, I wouldn't have bet on her.  My heart is broken.   I hope she can come back and just get sober and stay that way.  I called my sponsee and we talked about it.   Bless her heart.  Both of them.

I am so grateful tonight to be part of a family.  And a fellowship.

I will go to bed sober tonight and wake up that way tomorrow.  Thanks to the Grace of God.

Back to it...

Brand new aspen leaves
I am heading out of here and into a new day.  It is a beautiful day.  Spring time in the Rockies is a real crap shoot - normally it is very snowy.  Today it is expected to be 81º, sunny, and gorgeous.  I am wearing a linen skirt and sandals to work.  Very happy about this.

My new job is a challenge on many fronts.  First, because of the hours.  Second, because of the grueling boringness and incredible number of hard deadlines.  Third, the work is not even what I am good at.  Fourth, and maybe the most bothersome thing, is that I am working in a department with four other people - ranging in age from 28 to 33.  This is my first ever age crisis.  I am older than their parents!

The thing I find so bothersome about this is that I have noticed that my communication is full of references that mean nothing to them.  One day I said something and my boss gave me a blank look and said "I don't understand the reference."  Another time I told a co-worker that I don't like the appearance of a report because to me it looks like "green bar,"  none of them even know what "green bar" is.  Why would they?  While I was getting reports on green bar, they were in pre-school.  Please understand, I don't want to be young - I just want to be able to communicate with my co-workers.

Here is what I need to focus on:  * I have a job.  *Some parts of it are very good. *I love my boss, and she likes me.  *I have been assured that it will evolve and not be so grueling and boring.  *I love where I am in the organization - I think I can truly affect how we do things and deliver services to "needy" people.

I just need to focus on the positive.  And move forward.

And mostly ask God to show me how I can be helpful.

"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.  I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.  Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding.  Amen."  -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 76

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning

Yesterday I talked to my daughter and told her I was not going to be going to the Sunday Morning AA meeting.  I just needed one whole weekend where I didn't have an alarm set.  Waking to an alarm at 4 or 4:30 seven days a week is just tiring.

So I woke up on my own - at 5!  Boiled some water, poured it over some coffee in my little french press in a travel mug.  Got to the pool in time to have a mile done by 7 a.m.  Came home and ate some steel cut oats with some wonderful Krema peanut butter - Thank you Lou - I did not know about Krema and had virtually eliminated p.b. out of my life due to the sugar content.  Now I can have p.b. & oatmeal on days when I have big workouts.  I am waiting until it warms up a little and then I am going on a bike ride.  I want it to be warm because I want to wear a sleeveless bike shirt (or maybe even one of my running dresses which have big pockets in the back, just like a bike shirt).  At this point in the spring, I do not want to deal with a farmer's tan.

The sun is shining, the trees have leaves on them, my lawn looks like someone actually takes care of it (the someone is actually my neighbor and not me!), it will be warm enough for a nice bike ride, and then this afternoon, I am going to do some power-chilling.  I am going to sit outside and read a book.  Really.  I am.  I have promised myself this.

For lunch, I will have cold salmon and a simple salad.

For dinner, I will make chicken in paper with rosemary and greek olives.

Did I ever mention (she asks rhetorically because she knows she didn't!) that last weekend I told my fella I didn't want to see him anymore?  That was hard to do - I really did like him and he allegedly liked me.  But he didn't really treat me like he liked me and it was increasingly hurting my feelings.  I always say that when the picture doesn't add up based on the info I have, I probably don't have all the information.  I don't know what was up with him, but his verbals did not match his non-verbals and I don't want to experience hurt feelings all the time.  I think he is just someone who is either dishonest or is not really in touch with how he feels.  If you get to be 62 years old like that, odds are, you are not changing any time soon.

I am sad about this, but not broken hearted.  Maybe neither one of us liked each other a whole lot, but "on paper" we really looked good!  Both: recovering alcoholics, practicing Roman Catholics, in huge agreement on social and political issues.  I thought we could have love of an "educational variety."  But I think I might have just learned that wonderful "love at first sight" and being unable to keep your hands off each other, and deciding to get married in the first week of dating - maybe that is healthier than I thought it was.  At least it is real - for a while.  I think I am meant to be alone.  I have certainly prayed about this and sought counsel about it.  And I am alone.  And really, I am OK with that.

I am SO looking forward to this day and all that it may bring.  Another day to ask God to help me do his will.  I think he always comes through.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday Morning

I talked with one of my old friends for a while last night on the phone.  She could tell how very frazzled I am.  It was 9:45, I was trying to fix something quick for dinner so that I could get to bed.  I told her I was tempted to just skip my running club this morning.  She encouraged me to do so.

I didn't wake up until it was light outside this morning!  It was fabulous.  And now I am slowly getting going.  I refuse to hurry to do anything today.  I am going to sit in on an icon class all day today.  It hurts me to go sit in a church basement when it is so glorious outside, but I will be glad once I am there.

Classic All-Cotton Slim Fit Supima® Oxford Dress ShirtLast night I got to see my old friend celebrate 29 years of sobriety.  He is someone so dear to me, first of all because he took me to my first meeting.  He was instrumental in my early sobriety as my first sponsor's boyfriend.  He was a hard-core tough-love (big on tough, and short on love) kind of guy back in the day.  I thought of that last night as he stood at the podium.  A grey haired, gentle voiced, still very handsome man - in his uniform - a blue Brooks Brothers oxford shirt, with heavy starch, a beautiful pair of tailored pants, shiny shoes, etc.  He has much the same story as I do with respect to our faith.  We cherish each other for that reason (and others).  Can you tell I have always been a little bit in love with him?  Well, I have and still am.

I ordered a book this week about introversion, and how this is a serious handicap in our society.  I have sat through meetings for the last three months and listened to people babble without answering questions.  I could see that they were "processing" the question and their answer while talking, and talking, and talking.  And I have come to the conclusion that this temperament is highly valued in our culture.  To me, it is a painful waste of time.  But these are very successful people and no one else seems to mind.

I am an introvert who feels comfortable sitting at my computer writing.  I have notebooks everywhere with my notes about everything.  This is how I "process."  I cannot sit in a huge meeting and come up with solutions.  I need to withdraw and work on it myself.  I can come back then with great solutions, but I cannot do it on the spot.  I believe that introverts have created much of what we value today - but we do not value this personality trait.  Blabbing endlessly and seemingly mindlessly is the way to go if you want to be seen as competent!  Look at US presidents and presidential candidates - glibly speaking, speaking, speaking and sounding good is apparently what we vote for.  - I only write about this here because I believe most bloggers are introverts and I think some of you will understand what I am talking of.

This is going to be a power weekend.  I am doing to do things to restore me.  I am utterly done-in by my job.  I almost brought my computer home this weekend but decided that would be foolhardy.

And that reminds me:  yesterday I arrived for a tour of a huge facility with a blister on my foot and no water.  I drink water constantly, so I was a bit panicked.  I told my boss that my failure to bring water was "foolhardy."  She looked at me and said "Who says that?  Foolhardy?"  I do.  I use strange and wonderful words all of the time - and the generational gap between us only exacerbates the weirdness of it all.  She finds me endlessly fascinating, in a good way.  And that is good.  She asked me the other day when I started being so "funny."  I told her I had always had a different way of looking at things and that has caused other people to see me as humorous - since early childhood.

Just like every good AA speaker says:  "I never felt like I fit in."  I know I am going to hear the story of my kind of alcoholic when the story starts like that.  I heard it last night.

Thank God we have each other, because no matter how well I am "blending" in the world, I still feel somewhat set apart.  It means the world to me to be with kindred souls in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Thank You God.

(P.S. I am going out with a pony tail and no make up today!  Woot! - I still have bright red fingernails though)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Watching it Unravel

That's a photo of a car accident I was in a few years ago.
In order to get up early enough to go swimming tomorrow morning I need to go to bed right now.  I also need to not be blogging in the morning.

So, for tonight, I can tell you for sure:

  • I am grateful to be sober
  • I am grateful my son is home
  • I am grateful I got to have lunch with my daughter today
  • I am grateful I have a soft bed and nice pillows
  • I am grateful I get to go to a meeting tomorrow to celebrate the 29th birthday of the man who took me to my first meeting.  I <3 him.
  • I am grateful my boss thinks I am funny and smart
  • I am also grateful she told me she realizes I have a whole "other" skill set than the girl geniuses I am working with.  And that her boss knows that too.  
  • I am grateful that hair can put in a clip or in a pony tail to get it out of my face and off my neck.
  • And for a treadmill when it is just too cold to go outside.
  • I am grateful that my manicure still looks pretty good after 2 weeks!
I'm going to bed.  

Sober.

I will wake up that way too.  And if you are a drunk like I am a drunk, no matter how I "feel," this is a good deal.  A miraculous deal.  Only by the Grace of God.  

Slogging through the week

Tulips, peonies, and dandylions.  The peonies are the only thing left from my house's former owner's garden.  My taste in gardens and hers were not very similar.  Those are the tulips I planted in the first weeks after moving here almost 11 years ago.

I am slogging through the week.  At a meeting at work yesterday a person I am coming to really admire said something like this:  "We are exactly where we should be in this process.  We are slogging through." Since this new process is what my new job is, it felt good to hear it described this way.  We are not skipping through it, we are slogging, and it is a tough slog.  Even the girl geniuses I work with are starting to have a tough time with it.  I am not happy that they are suffering, but I am glad I am not alone.

That phrase reminded me of the line in the big book that says we "trudge the road of happy destiny."  Not skip, not leap, not run.  We trudge.  Some days are happy, skippy, jumpy, and some days are a slow slog.

The real reward lies in trudging, slogging, through the tougher times.  We exercise our sobriety muscles.

There is something in "As Bill Sees It" about depression that I love.  I am three minutes past my time limit to write this, so I am not going to look it up right now.  But I will paraphrase.  We hold our face to the light, even though for the moment we do not see.

I am holding my face to the light.  Because I know that God is with me.