Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Let me just tell you, if you are looking for someone to candy-coat their life to make it sound good, you are in the wrong place.  If you are looking for distant commentary on what others are doing wrong, picking on people, laughing at the expense of others, you are in the wrong place.

If you want to read about a woman who is staying sober, one day at a time in Alcoholics Anonymous, through the ups and downs of life, and trying to live by spiritual principles in a sometimes treacherous world, keep it right here.   As someone said at the meeting where I celebrated 24 years of continuous sobriety "if you don't want to know what Mary thinks, don't ask her."  I would extend that out to - if you don't want to read about what is going on with me, don't read this blog.

My life is not always a pretty little bowl of cherries.  Most of the time it is.  I am a person who is supporting myself through my own contributions.  I don't have a husband, anyone else (including Uncle Sam) who is supporting me, or an inheritance.  That means I work for a living.  Every single day.  I have a very challenging job.  Sometimes it is more difficult than others.  This is a difficult time.  I also have a very full plate of other activities.  Most of the time this does not feel burdensome, right now it does.  I have a deadline that I pray I meet on Friday.  After Friday things should be calmer.  

I have begun to think that I need to either retire (which I cannot afford to do, and losing 1% of my 401k yesterday didn't help) or find another job.  The challenging times at work have been getting a lot closer together.  My ability to handle them seems to be growing thin.   I am normally a person who is very very good at the big big challenges, not so good in the daily grind (I think this is an alcoholic trait).  In June 2007, there were several events at work that have set off a cascade of regulatory scrutiny, I expected a year of it, but it continues, and there is no end in sight.  The pressure is nearly unbearable.  I can handle this sporadically, but not constantly for over a year...

Heeding the advice of my sponsor, I left my homegroup in August.  If you don't know what the heartbreak of this is, keep coming back.  That group was family to me.  I have moved on and found another group, but this is a huge loss and I feel very sad about it.  

I am also mourning the loss of AA as I know it.  I look around and see very little evidence of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous as I thought it was.  I see something entirely different.  We used to care about each other.  We used to actually know each other.  We used to talk with each other.  We used to care.  We used to come to Alcoholics Anonymous voluntarily and be grateful to be there.  We used to hit the doors of AA after all else failed.  We used to be pretty washed up.  Now we are nice clean shiny people who happened to have a little bit of a drinking problem... and now we take anti-depressants and we are nice happy people who go to an occasional meeting.   And we sit there and expect to be entertained by the people sharing.  I have heard people actually say that AA is cheap entertainment, where else could you get so much for a buck or two contribution?  ha ha.  Very funny.  People's lives are on the line... I don't think it is funny.  

I have written this instead of running this morning - and I think it was probably a bad decision.  


indistinct said...

Seems like employers are the same everywhere. We've gone through 3 waves of cutbacks, with the employer figuring everyone who is left behind can just pick up the bits of what the laid off workers used to do. After the last cut backs, we were bewildered, wondering who were the lucky ones, those that kept a job or those that were let go. Now they've just announced another cut back. I find myself hoping for a package out of that place.

But as I'm discovering, what I want isn't always what's best for me.

Hang in there, it will get better or worse or stay the same.

I have listened to several members who shared how their lives improved after taking less paying jobs. How the stress eased up and helped life to become manageable. I keep remembering those words and wonder.

Take care


Mary Christine,
No, not a bad decision at all, at least in my small little book. You made a perfect decision to write this blog rather than run.

Candy-coating reads like denial to me. If life is sweet, it is candy and doesn't need coating.

If life is not so sweet, please don't candy-coat it for me because that may prevent me from facing life on life's terms, searching for a solution, praying of course, and moving on to a better situation. Inability to see and face reality was a big problem for me - led me into alcoholism - don't want to go back there, no way, no how.

As for AA, I pray and pray and keep showing up speaking the AA that I grew up with. I'm with you, trudging that road to happy destiny. I'm pretty sure we speak the same language.

I remember when the always changing, newer, and stricter regulations and stress of my 23 year job finally got to be too much and with the help, encouragement of my husband, I was able to make a change. (I waited way too long. I played superwoman longer than I should have, but luckily God never left my side.) He's right by your side too.

God bless you.

kel said...

I don't think it was a bad decision to post this, I think it was very honest and articulate and it was a great share. Hang in there.

Lou said...

MC, your stress is shouting here.I
left a hospital gig of 24 years last November.I could no longer take the hours, the call, the overtime, the people who think a hospital is a spa/hotel. I'm in a private dr office now. It was the best decision I've made in awhile. I don't know squat, but if you think you should leave, you probably should.
As for the rest..I'm a Lou come lately, but in my limited experience the program is still helping people immensely.

Not God said...

From where I sit your life IS a bowl of cherries. You have not had a drink in umpteen years. For an alcoholic like me that is a miracle of miracles. As my old sponsor would say, "Anything else?" We suffer from a disease of perspective ("....a seemingly hopeless state... page xiii). Full stop.

Syd said...

I know that it is getting close for me to get out of here. And I will in another 16 months. I'm looking forward to it. When it stops being something that I look forward to each day, then it's time to leave.

As for AA, I see less and less singleness of purpose. There is more focus on hand holding and not enough on going to any length to stay sober. Maybe AA has become like the rest of society--take the easy way, expect others to reward you for failure, whine a lot, get a quick fix. I don't know but I'm not much liking what I'm seeing in society in general. The times not only are changing but challenging.

Dharma Kelleher said...

Just get through the next 24 hours. And in that 24 hours, do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, whether it's a meeting, a run or meditation.

Today may not be ideal, but you have the opportunity to be grateful that just for today you are sober.

I love you, MC. You are not alone. Trust the process.

AlkySeltzer said...

Mary Christine, please reject this comment, if you deem it inappropriate, OK? Thanks!

BTW, 94% of working people travel each day to a job they do not like.

Mary, I read your entry today two times, and yearned to say, "Is it I, Lord?"

Fear, guilt, remorse, shame (Re: some of my comments and Emails the past three months) lead me to say, "Hey, maybe I better switch blog-eronees, this just ain't workin' out for me, and it's certainly of no benefit to others."

Since I cannot afford to return to my fearful, paranoiac state of 34 years ago, I decided to give your blog a third read. Thank GOD I did, and I must tell you, I agree with everything you say about AA in general.

After all this time, I'm tempted yet to jump on ANY slow-moving train, never even considering when or where it might be headed! (Is one of my many remaining character defects showing?)

This morning I started out with one of my best days EVAH! Yesterday God helped me put another BIG 'amend' successfully (change!) to rest. And then later today, I started 'seeing' my erroneous and sick, worthlessness-type, stinking thinking return, as I read your blog...(am I trying to lay 'blame' on another? No, No, NO! Mary, in my book YOU are as good and squeaky shiny as a gold ore mother lode.

I'd best stop here, before getting into the 'admiration' thing, before it gets sticky like syrup. But I hope you know "what I'm jes sayin'", Mary--and whoever else may read this. Thanks for awakening me from my pink cloud, before I "fall down, make sound like thunder, and go--BOOM!!
Love you all,

MEG in VA said...

After 41 years of working (and most of it was fun) I decided it was time to retire and have fun. I ended up declaring bankruptcy a few years ago but it wasn't the end of the world. I'm happier than ever, I do the same work for free a lot, plus I volunteer doing new stuff. Change is really scary sometimes but not changing is worse. And I'm still sober for going on 17 years. Today all I need to do is stay sober, one day at a time. Simplicity really works. Keep on doing the basics and you'll be OK.

Kathy Lynne said...

I'm glad you chose to write instead of run. Seems you needed it and I did too. We were just talking about this kind of thing this morning. One guy said, his goal today was to piss people off. As long as he didn't drink that was okay. I told him he failed. I don't have to buy into his stuff but I can accept and listen. And he has a right to say it. I like AA but then again I'm new to it. I don't know how it was but I know for me how it is.... is working. That's probably because I have such a great sponser. Anyway, really loved the line your supporting yourself through your own contributions. Hang in there.

Scott W said...

I count on you being there. And you are. And for that I am entirely grateful.

Banana Girl said...

MC: I am sad that you have lost the "family" you once knew in AA. I know the feeling. My home group has changed before my eyes, ears, and heart and there is nothing I can do to stop it. Probably a good thing considering my management skills of the past. However, every now and then something happens. God is still with us even though the little personalities do and say things that make it harder for Him to show us the way. Then He gets real loud through the soft voice of a troubled man who showed up on Sunday looking for help. He had been and is sober seven years and apologizing for it because he did it while incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. How do I know he did not commit the crime? He had been completely exonerated and freed from jail the day before. He came to us out of the blue. He sat and spoke and we all had to strain to hear him. His body language was that of a man still in jail. The change in his life he said was going to be hard. Lord, knows. How do you go from losing seven years and then function in society like nothing happened. But he said he knew he needed the fellowship not to keep from drinking but to keep from his anger; to deal with it, look at it, let it go to God. So dear friend, hang in, hang on. I am praying for your solace. And please don't leave this space or the rooms before the miracle happens. There have been too many days when you have been my miracle by example and I still hunger for that from you. J.

Anonymous said...

I have heard many people say they mourn loss of AA as they have known it. Please don't ever stop telling us new folks what it is was and should always be! You have inspired me!

Laura said...

Like Lou, I'm a newbie at this circle of life and I'm sure as things change they stay the same. But not always. You write about your life and I, for one, take everything you post very seriously. I've nearly lost 2 siblings and 1 son to the ravages of alcohol and also almost lost 1 son to addiction. There is nothing taken lightly or easy or glossy.

This life, lived in a way that pleases God is hard work and harder for some more than others.

Thank you again, as I've said before, for sharing your heart and teaching me many things. You keep me "in check" without even knowing it, with my responses to others, my compassion and my grasping of a disease I have only witnessed on the side of enablers.

I applaud and admire anyone walking your walk daily.

~Tyra~ said...

At my noon AA meeting we were discusing the troubles that come in everyday life and how important it is to share them with others to help ease the burden. So I think it was a good thing you shared what was on your mind today.

PATRICK said...

"Do Not Harden Your Heart in the Day of Trial"
Hebrews 3:7-19

Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as when they provoked me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers tried me by testing me, and saw my works for forty years. 10 "Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, 'they always go astray in their heart; and they did not know my ways'; 11 as I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest.'"

12 Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; 15 while it is said, "Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked me."

16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.

Have you hardened your heart (AA), Mary?


Lounge Daddy said...

"Let me just tell you, if you are looking for someone to candy-coat their life to make it sound good, you are in the wrong place."

A lot of people need some in-yur-face truth. Especially because there are far too many people that wanna candy-coat everything, or even avoid truth.

You had given me some real truth last year, and it helped quite a bit. :)

Pam said...

Ok listen to me little noodle head...things will get better soon. I know this for a fact but i can not reveal my sources.
We show up and fight the "this is how AA is supposed to be" fight. If no one joins us in the fight that's OK.
I see good things on the horizon for you Mary...good things.
I see little Mary/BIG GOD.
I see new ideas that are going to spring into your head and bring you joy.
Take two excedrin and call me in the morning.

wendy said...

hope your day went OK without a run and you are feeling better now.

Akannie said...

Thanks, MC...

Reality bites, sometimes. I'm with you about the changes in AA and it makes me crazy sometimes. I have to remember that God has a plan for me and for everyone that bumps into me. Hard to sort that out sometimes.
I've been criticized more than once for my hard line AA. I tell them all right off--I'm not your mother, I'm not your Higher Power, I'm not your PO. If you aren't willing to go to any lengths, don't waste my time, because frankly, I don't care what you do. If you wanna drink--feel free. If you wanna stop, then do as I do. I get pissed too...this isn't a game. It's life and death.

One of the hardest lessons I've learned in sobriety was WHEN to stop beating that dead horse. It's kinda like banging your head against a wall....it feels SO good when you stop.

Love and big sloppy smooches!

Shadow said...

wow, you sound overwhelmed. but you got it out. something like a mental workout. it also does good.

Trailboss said...

Oh Mary, I hate that you are feeling that way. Next time take the run if it makes you feel better.

indistinct said...

me again,

For some reason, your entry has been on my mind since I read it yesterday.

You wrote: "I am also mourning the loss of AA as I know it. I look around and see very little evidence of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous as I thought it was."

I'm hoping that you would take some time to speak on what has changed. It does seem that AA has become less effective over time and it would be helpful to hear an "old timers" view on that. So I guess I'm asking and hoping you'll be able to find some time in the next while.