Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year

I went back through my blog entries for 2009 to see if there were any highlights, lowlights, or great photos. Out of all the photos I have taken in the last year, and there have been plenty - some beautiful beaches and mountains, sunsets, roses, etc.... I love the photo of these sunflowers on the old fence the best of all.

I am grateful to have lived another year sober. I am grateful to have shared many sober moments with my daughter. I am grateful for sober friends who have inspired me. I am particularly grateful for sober friends who have challenged me.

One sober friend said something in October that rocked me and made me realize that I was being wrong-headed and stubborn. Thanks to that conversation, I was able to apologize to an old friend and we have reestablished a relationship that had ended 5 years ago. She wrote me an e-mail at Christmas telling me that one of the greatest gifts she received in 2009 was my friendship back. It just doesn't get any better than that. I have known her since I got sober, and her friendship is a treasure to me. Thank God.

Another sober friend invited me to join her and a group of folks who are running a 5K race tonight for New Years Eve. It should be fun. And for me, infinitely superior to trying to go out with "the gang" and have a good time - I am just not good at that. Of course, it is going to be so cold tonight that I HAD to go out and purchase a new outfit to wear so that I can keep warm. I never thought I would be able to do this at my age, I can't begin to express my gratitude for that. And I already have a head lamp so that I can actually see the path!

Yesterday was the end of the geriatric unit at the hospital. They bundled up the last patient and got her into a vehicle and out of there. Then they opened the doors to the unit wide. One of my friends called and literally said "come over and cry with us." And, you have to know that I did. When I walked into the building and saw the doors - which have always been locked and closely watched - wide open, and the hallway stretching out with no little people with walkers and wheelchairs littered about - well, I just cried. It is a terrible thing to see. No little assaultive delusional demented geriatric patients. Out of all the patients, I think they were my favorites. So many of them had good lives before the mental illness really debilitated them. No more. No more children, adolescents, or geriatric patients at my hospital. Just adults. All the closures (at least for now) are now complete. It should be a clean slate on Monday. Please God these last 4 months of crying on a daily basis are over.

This morning I went to the meeting and then out for breakfast. It was nice.

I am grateful for many things. Also sad about a lot which I am sure any reasonably astute reader can sense.

I am looking forward to 2010. I know it will be different. I know that different can be good. I have some goals for the next year. But for now, I am going to finish out this year on a high note. With a wonderful race, at a beautiful park (albeit in the dark), with some sober friends, with some warm and pretty clothes, in good health and reasonable happiness.

God has blessed us so abundantly.

Let's stay sober and safe out there, OK?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Twelve and Twelve

I went to a meeting this morning. On Tuesdays we read something from "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions." Today we read from the 4th step. Today It was perfect for me to reflect on instincts gone awry.

I want more. Sometimes I am keenly aware of this, sometimes it is something that is flying under the radar. But it seems to be always present. I want more. Lately I have been told a lot that I am not only not getting more but that I may be getting less. And I am trying to be a grown up about it. Grown up is not always my strong suit.

Oh, you may see a 58 year old on the outside, but inside there is a small child who wants all of the attention, all of the love, all of the toys, and all of the fun. At work I want all of the action in my office, unless the action is bad, and in that case, it should be elsewhere. But in any event, I want to be in-the-know of every little thing that is happening regardless of where it is occurring. Holy crap.

Most of the time actually I do pretty well with this stuff. I have just described the extreme of this tendency. And most of the time these days, thank God, I am not there.

So, as I prepare to gratefully go to bed tonight, for some reason I remembered a woman I heard speak in Canada a long time ago. She told a story about when she was young she told her mother a lie about an American sailor she met whose name was "Spud." For some reason, I thought that was hilarious some 20 years ago, and for some reason I remembered it tonight. Who knows where these memories come from or why they pop up seemingly randomly.

I am so grateful that my brain is full of sober memories. 25 years worth of sober memories. What a good deal that is.

I will get through tomorrow. Another going away lunch for another person who is going away. I am sure I will shed a few more tears. For some reason today a man at work decided to reminisce with me about a co-worker who suicided a year ago. We both cried about that. I think I am the cry magnet these days. If that is a service, I guess I am grateful I can do it. I don't think too many people could. But I will be glad when it is over.

And I am glad I can go to bed now and read a few more pages of The Brothers Karamazov before I drift off to dreamyland.

I sat down to write last night....

But just couldn't. Instead I got on the phone. Called my sponsor. Called some friends. Called an old boyfriend. Someone who would like to be a new boyfriend called me.

I haven't got the sense of ease and comfort that I normally have.

The hospital where I work is still on lock down. I have to pass an armed guard on my way in and out these days. The size of the hospital has decreased by approximately 50% in the last month. There are still several patients desperately in need of dispo who keep one unit open, but it will remain open for only two more days. Those patients will go somewhere regardless of whether it is a "good" or "bad" placement for them. And the staff will move along too. People I have worked with for over 15 years will just be gone on January 4.

There is a part of me that is so sick of this, I just want those people gone and out of my sight. I am so sick of the grieving. I am so sick of the survivor's guilt. I am so sick of crying with people. These changes were announced on September 4. This is a long damn time to draw something out. I am sure if I were the one who was losing my job it wouldn't seem like such a long time, but I just want this over with.

As a person who compulsively watches the news, and then carefully avoids political spillage here, I have to say, in the most neutral way I can - I am finding the news profoundly discouraging. And I think I am going to have to do what I did when my son was in Iraq and turn the channel to The Simpsons and other mindless entertainment - if they show that man's explosive laden underwear one more time.

On said news for months I have heard that the credit card companies were increasing rates and decreasing credit limits, so when I saw the envelope in the mail last night, I just said "oh no." And sure enough, my fave credit card's limit was decreased by $5,000. Now, I know, I don't need to have super high credit limits and this amount of money is not really a big deal, but it felt like a step backwards.

Which is precisely what I probably need to do.

Step backwards. Take a step back and think about what is really important. I certainly don't need more debt. I probably don't even need credit cards. I remember how free I felt when I had none. There are things that are important in life - and maybe for you money is one of them - but for me, money can never be one of them. It must be a servant, never my master.

I need to get going so that I can get out of here and get to a 6:30 meeting this morning. And then, I will go to work - and the good news there? There is plenty of parking! And I still have a job. Thank God.

And Thank God that I know that feelings aren't facts. I might feel like the world is ending, but that doesn't make it so. And... this too shall pass...

Sunday, December 27, 2009


I think I shall go to the tanning salon tomorrow. Bad, I know. But better than SAD. The lack of sunlight, the lack of outdoor exercise, the lack of available nutritional food, and the lack of the structure of work days has got me feeling less than great.

I like winter for a few months, and then I am done. Since winter seems to have arrived a couple of months early here this year, I am already done with it just as it is starting. I think I will have to do some tricky stuff to get through.

Tricky like like the tanning salon (not proven to be a substitute for real sunshine, but I swear it improves my mood). Tricky like maybe planning a quick trip to a place not incredibly expensive but warm. I may not be willing to fly, so it may have to be within driving distance. If my sponsor and her husband end up in Tucson for the winter as they probably will, that will make it an easy decision - I will go visit them. Tricky like maybe going out for a walk at lunchtime when I am at work if it is sunny. I can get the majority of my workouts in the gloom of the dark mornings on my treadmill, but I need some fresh air.

I made some phone calls this afternoon to some people I thought might need a word of encouragement or just to know that someone cares about how they are. That is what I have been taught to do as a member of AA.... When I am thinking of myself a lot it tends to make me very unhappy, but when I turn my thoughts to others, it tends to help me forget myself - if only for a moment.

Pulling out all stops to get through the next couple of months without gaining weight or getting terribly depressed.

Oh, and I plan on staying sober, and I hope you do too.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


There is a message in Alcoholics Anonymous.

That is the message that I hope my blog is ultimately about.

I write about my daily life. Sometimes that is really boring. Sometimes it is probably annoying. Sometimes it is inspirational. Every now and then I really write a good post. Most of the time I don't. But I write anyway. I think I just do that to show that life is not a soap opera. There is not action and excitement every day. Some days in sobriety not much is happening. And that is good.

I am a person who came to Alcoholics Anonymous in 1984 desperate to quit drinking. I followed a few ridiculously simple directions and the desire to drink vanished. I had a spiritual experience.

I do not want to drink anymore. I haven't wanted to drink for a very long time. I have not had a drink since that day in July 1984 when I got to AA.

I have found a new way of life. It is infinitely superior to my life as an active alcoholic. I am busy, I am active, I have a fulfilling life. I have relationships with people I love. I do not spend time thinking about alcohol.

But I think about being sober every single day. Because it is a wonderful thing. I believe it is a gift from God.

Sometimes I get a little bit cranky about seeing things that I think threaten Alcoholics Anonymous. This probably diminishes my usefulness. But I truly don't believe the answer is love and tolerance of things that threaten our unity. The first tradition is the first tradition. I don't think I am supposed to smile and act serene and superior while I am watching something valuable being trashed. But I can always be wrong.

I just had some time tonight to peruse some internet stuff.

And felt I had to say that I came to Alcoholics Anonymous to quit drinking, and found a program that enabled me to do that. I found a fellowship of others who also quit drinking. Not only did we quit drinking but we found an entirely new and wonderful way of life.

I think I would call that a successful program. It certainly is in my experience.

Does AA work? Yes. It works exceedingly well.

Saturday Morning

On the advice of my sponsor, I didn't go to the 6:30 meeting this morning. It is odd to be sitting here at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. But OK. I would rather be sitting here than sitting in the meeting wondering what to do about a 3 year old who is allowed to carry the 7th tradition basket around the room, give people without any money the evil eye, and allocate funds as she sees fit, while the members of the group smile indulgently and carefully edit what they are saying so that it doesn't offend the ears of a tiny little girl.

So, let's sit in an AA meeting and pretend there is a Santa Claus, shall we?

I alluded to this yesterday when I spoke of apologizing to my daughter for dragging her and her siblings to AA meetings when they were young. There were not many of them because I was not made to feel that this was a good idea and I thank God for that.

When I was sober about 8 or 9 years, I was visiting in the Idaho home of someone I deeply respected in Alcoholics Anonymous. I was still in my hero worship phase - he had been a delegate, he had first, second and third editions of the big book in his house, he had written a page of the "Daily Reflections" book, etc., etc., etc.... And he, this man I thought the world of, told me that he never brought his children around AA functions (including picnics, potlucks, etc.) when they were small. I was incredulous! Why? I demanded to know!

He astounded me when he said that "AA is not a safe place for children." And "It is not supposed to be a safe place for children." And "It is supposed to be a place for alcoholics." And he further elaborated that there may be people with all manner of horrible history in his group, and AA is the right place for them to be if they are alcoholics, but it doesn't make them safe for children to be around. He thought it was extremely naive to assume that because a person was sober that they had recovered from all their other problems. Given time, a person will need to, but is it fair to demand that an alcoholic be rendered white as snow in their first thirty days of sobriety because you don't feel like getting a babysitter? um, I don't think so.

I will pray for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.

And now I will get on my new treadmill and run some miles. YAY!

Friday, December 25, 2009

December Twenty-Fifth

I took that photo three years ago today while taking a run on a frigid snowy Christmas Day.... trying not to die from worry and missing my son who was in Iraq. He returned. We all made it through that year safe and sound. And another sober Christmas was in the books for me. It is, by far, one of my favorite photos. I bought a new camera in July and I do not like it at all. It couldn't take that photo if you double-dog-dared it to. (I gave away the old one)

This morning my daughter and I went to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous together. As we sat though the meeting, I realized that my daughter was sitting still. This is a medical miracle. That girl has done some serious damage to her neurological system, I never thought her bouncing, jerking, and ticcing would ever end. Seriously. So, on this Christmas morning, not only did I get to go to an AA meeting with my daughter, but I realized that the impossible has happened, and she is able to sit still for an hour. I cried with joy when I realized this.

And I got to apologize to her for the Christmas mornings of my early sobriety when I dragged her and her brother and sister to AA meetings because I was too selfish to realize that maybe my kids needed to be at home and not in an AA meeting where kids do not belong. She, her sister, and her brother grew to HATE AA meetings and it nearly ruined a later opportunity for her recovery and perhaps has ruined an opportunity for another person in my family who may (or may not) need to be in AA. Of all the regrets of my early sobriety, and there are many, the fact that I was so insane about going to meetings that I neglected my family is right at the top of the list. I wish someone had told me that my kids would some day grow up and I could never recapture their childhoods.

Last night I went to mass at 4:00 p.m. I normally go on Christmas morning as early as I can, and there isn't normally a huge crowd at that time, so I was unprepared for the crowds. I had to park in front of a dumpster - which I know isn't approved parking, but I didn't think the trash man was probably coming on Christmas Eve after 4 p.m. and I think that was a safe bet. I got to stand at the back of the church because it was so packed. This used to make me angry. I would think "who are these people and what are they doing in MY church?" And now I think "How wonderful! Standing Room Only in a place of worship! How wonderful that I have a body that is still able to stand! And that all those families can sit down and be together on Christmas Eve! " It was really wonderful.

And this morning is wonderful. Lovely, lovely.

We just ate a lovely breakfast (of course it was lovely - I cooked it!) of omelettes and a lovely wheat toast with melty butter, and will sit down and watch a movie at home before we head out to watch a movie at the theater. Then we will eat all of that decadent food - lobster and steak and baked potatoes and sour cream and little tiny pecan pies that I made yesterday. Oh, yeah, salad too.

Merry Christmas to those of you who observe Christmas. And to those of you who don't, I wish you a lovely December Twenty-Fifth.

I plan to stay sober today and I hope you all will join me.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

I just went back and looked at my Christmas posts from these last five years that I have been blogging. It is so odd to think that I have been doing this for so long. But it is a nice way to get a quick look back.

We got quite a snow fall with wind and very low temperatures yesterday. The roads are horribly icy. The sun came out this morning and it remains bitterly cold - which makes for a beautiful morning. Bright sunshine on pure white snow - oh, it is beautiful.

I drove through that to the meeting at 6:30 this morning. It was good to be there. It was a good meeting. The person who chaired it (who sometimes reads my blog - hi R.!) actually talked about steps! And putting them into action in your life!

Tonight I will pick up my daughter from her job and she will come and stay with me overnight. Tomorrow we will spend Christmas together in whatever way we want - likely we will go see the new Sherlock Holmes movie because I could stand to look at Robert Downey Jr. for a few hours. She would like to ignore the day as much as she can. It is very painful for her to be so far away from her children. The good news is that she is sober and can experience her first sober Christmas. I never thought I would live to see this day. And I am grateful.

I stopped on the way home from the meeting and bought two steaks, two lobster tails, salad, potatoes, etc., for a casual Christmas dinner for two tomorrow. This is very different from what normally happens here. But it is good.

I know the other bloggers are all happy and cheerful and I am bummer-woman today. I can't help it - I am who I am. I have been surrounded for the last 4 months by people who have lost or are soon to be losing their jobs. I have friends who are in the process of losing relatives to cancer. I see families separated and I remember how much that hurts. I know that holidays can seem to take a magnifying glass to these things and make them seem so much more painful and the holidays can particularly trip up alcoholics.

I seldom give unsolicited advice, but today I will give some, based on years of watching people come in and out of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous (I found that I posted this in 2005):
  • Go to meetings, you may find someone who really needs what only you have to offer.
  • Don't go anywhere you can't leave (be able to walk away or drive away, but don't come with someone else and be dependent upon them being able to leave at the moment you are uncomfortable.)
  • If you are at an event where alcohol is being served, have a glass, can, or cup in your hand at all times. That way you will not be offered a drink as often, and you will always know what is in your drink.
  • Get "prayed up" before you go anywhere that may be tempting, upsetting, or you may have expectations about.
  • Read page 101 of the big book, and really ask yourself the questions posed there, then follow the directions on page 102.
"Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed."
God Bless You. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Shadow of Poverty

I think the memory of poverty casts a shadow on the rest of your life. It may make you richer for the appreciation of small things, or it may make you miserly for the fear of losing things dear. All in one's perspective I guess.

The other day I went to my old yarn shop, on the other side of town. When I go to the one on "this" side of town, they know me as a woman who blows in, always in a hurry, and buys a ton of yarn apparently without regard to price - because God knows, I spend a lot of money on yarn.

On the "other" side of town, they have known me for probably close to 20 years. So, the older woman, who is now on oxygen, stayed to help me find some yarn for a last minute gift even though she was done with her shift and supposed to leave. I appreciated her help. We talked some about the good old days. I was astounded that she remembered the days when I had given up my automobile so that I could pay my child support. I would ride my bike to the yarn shop (and everywhere else too). She remembered when I could barely afford to purchase any yarn and they would take a post dated check from me and wait until the first of the month to cash it. She told me that she and the other owner worried about me terribly and how happy they were that I was able to pay my child support, get a decent job, get an education, graduate with honors, get my promotions, buy a house, etc., etc., etc. I don't sit around and remember these things consciously.

But I don't think I ever forget.

Tomorrow I am invited to a Christmas party with some work friends. I really do like these friends and I am looking forward to it. But the thing that has me stymied is the concept of a "gag gift." I can't think of anything that could be a bigger waste of time or energy. Why not get a real gift? Or no gift at all? Why waste time, money, gift wrap, energy, and life on a "gag?" I do not get it and I don't think I am ever going to get it. I don't think it is something that can be explained to a person who ever tried to figure out how to feed three kids with one egg. A person who was grateful for the healthy legs to pedal her $100. bicycle around town while others worried about me.

I will try, honest I will, but I don't expect to understand or do it well. I don't even want to.

Instead, I will stick five $20. bills in Christmas card for a woman at work to give to her daughter-in-law who is likely in her last days of cancer. I don't know what else to do and I know they need it. I understand that. Oh, I probably can't afford to do it, but I do all kinds of things I can't afford to do. And I am not telling you this to tell you how great I am. It is just that we all have something that we can give that is meaningful. And we ought to try to give that instead of trying to be clever or funny or look good.

Sorry, I still don't feel really great, and I think I am being a little bit heavy-handed here. So, forgive me please. I will be back to myself soon, I am sure.

Yesterday at the grocery store, I saw a woman honk at an old person backing out of a handicapped parking place and it made me cry. Why can't we just slow the hell down and be nice to each other?

We used to talk about these things in AA meetings. Giving to others without expecting anything in return. Giving something to another without getting found out. Smiling when we felt like cussing. These are the things that build a different character out of the selfish wreckage we bring to the table when we arrive at the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous. Oh, it is such good stuff.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A few of my favorite things...

Lou was kind enough to tag me to write about my favorite things. But I wanted to give a health update since my last post was this morning when I was trying to eat a graham cracker so that I could take 2 aspirin and go to work. I couldn't do either! I knew something was seriously wrong when I couldn't even force a cracker to be chewed up and swallowed. I couldn't take the aspirin. I couldn't get the headache, chills, nausea - and other digestive problems I won't mention - to go away. I ended up calling work and trying to tell them I would be in later... I was told to Please Stay Home. I have had both the seasonal and the H1N1 flu shots - and I have no respiratory symptoms. I don't know what the heck this is. Frankly, it feels just like a hangover and it is horrible. I cannot imagine doing this to myself on a daily basis which is precisely what I used to do. I was in bed most of the day - not even reading. Just sleeping. By this afternoon I felt well enough to get out of bed.

So my favorite things may be tainted by my not feeling really great, but I will give it my best shot.... In no particular order:

1. Getting into bed on a cool summer night - the first night of clean, white, freshly starched sheets, with the window open, the crickets making their racket and the breeze blowing through the cotton sheers.

2. Walking into an AA meeting, stopping for a moment before I walk in the door, to smell the coffee and listen to the sounds of my friends talking and laughing. It is a wonderful thing. I actually miss the smell of cigarettes which used to be an integral ingredient in an intoxicating scent.... the smell of an AA meeting, coffee, cigarette smoke, perfume, and body odor. Oh, it was good!

3. Roses. I love roses. I love the way they smell. I love the way they look. I love growing them. I love the way the rose hips look in the winter. I love purchasing roses in the winter and placing them on my table (see photo above). But there is nothing like getting my clippers out of my drawer and going outside in the summer and clipping roses I have planted and grown and bringing them indoors to enjoy.
4. Running. I am old and I am slow - beyond slow. But I have great endurance. I love to go out in any type of weather except for "hot" and just run. Sometimes when I head out the door my mind feels like a pile of tangled spaghetti, and by the time I get home - without any effort - it all makes sense and isn't tangled at all. My thinking is seldom troubled while I am running. It is free and unlabored.

5. Praying in my church during the times set aside for silent prayer. To sit or kneel with others in perfect silence, together, but separately, with a common goal of being closer to our Creator is a wonderful thing. It is a restoring peace. This is also when I light candles in the church for people. I love the thought of a big candle burning throughout the week, burning with a prayer for a person. That's probably a pretty specifically Catholic thing, but that is who I am.

I could go on and on, but I better go to bed instead so that I can go to work tomorrow. I have a presentation to write that normally takes me several days. I am hopeful that there will be many people missing from Medical Executive Committee on Wednesday and therefore it will be more low key than normal. But my hopes are not always my reality.

Oh - I am tagging Pammie, Scott, Daave, Ed G., and Any Edge. But as always with any alcoholic, if you don't feel like doing it, don't feel obligated. OK? Thanks. XXXOOO.


Last night I went to bed too sick to post anything, thinking I would wake today, fresh as a daisy, and would have something to write. However, today finds me sick as a dog. I am eating a graham cracker now, with a cup of coffee (maybe not the wisest choices), so that I can wash down two aspirin and maybe go back to bed for a minute. I have got to go to work this morning. I have a huge presentation to give on Weds. morning and I haven't written it yet.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A day of rest

I probably shouldn't even post this much of a picture of me, so maybe it will disappear later, but for now it is here... I just love this hat I knitted today. It is for a friend. I will give it to her on Monday. I have made a bunch of these this year. The first one was for me - and I loved it so much and loved making it so much, I just kept making them.

Aside from knitting a hat though, it has been just such a restful day. I went to a meeting early and then visited with a friend. Then I went to a movie at 11 a.m.! I didn't even want to see this movie, and ended up loving it! (Invictus - I would highly recommend it)

I feel like I have been running on overdrive for weeks and weeks and I am tired at a very deep level. I have tomorrow still to rest. I have some stuff to do, but it is good stuff - like going to church and making candy for gifts for people at work. Next week I will have some time off around Christmas. I will have time off around New Years. I think I can regroup a little bit.

The events that occurred yesterday at my daughter's graduation were so huge to me. I feel like I have been floating around all day today. It is nice.

And for all of you on the east coast, please stay safe - indoors if possible.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Mending Fences

Funny how it works. If we remain open to God's will for us, it doesn't come with GPS - as above. It doesn't work with a crowbar or bulldozer of self-will.

Some of my most meaningful amends have been the ones I couldn't make for whatever reason... the person was dead, or they wouldn't accept my amends, or I couldn't tell them what I did because they didn't know and I would hurt them by unloading my conscience on them. Etc. (Not because the amend might hurt me and therefore I opted not to make it.)

My ex-husband's current (for the last 20 years) wife is among the people I couldn't ever "win over" with any kind of "work". She just doesn't like me. She doesn't have to like me.

I went to my daughter's graduation today and walked into a huge arena - what are the odds that I would just happen to sit just behind this woman and my grandchildren? Well, I did. And when I realized it, my first thought was to quietly slip away. But instead, I tapped my oldest granddaughter on her shoulder and said "hi." The girls were delighted and squealed "NANA!" And she turned around and said "hi mary." I was able to smile as nice as I possibly can and said hi back. I took one of the kids, she kept the other. We watched the graduation together.

When it was all over, my daughter was shocked to see us sitting together. I told her to join my daughter and I would take a picture of them together. Then she took a picture of my daughter and I. Then some generous stranger told us to all stand together and he would be happy to take a picture of us all! The adults all looked like maybe we would get sick, but we did it anyway. I want a copy of that picture!

Oh, I am sure she still doesn't like me. But at least we spoke to each other. She has been unwilling to speak to me since I think 1997. It made my daughter happy.

These things really never end. Amends great and small. I thank God for the opportunities he places in my path. I cannot create them. I cannot make them happen. I have tried and have made huge fiascos.

But when I am open to God's will for me, oh, the wonderful things that happen! It is absolutely astounding!

Oh, and my daughter is pretty amazing too! I am so proud of her!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A graduation

My "normal" daughter's graduation is tomorrow. She is getting her master's degree. Or I guess I should say she has gotten her master's degree, and will pick up her diploma tomorrow. I will drive about 60 miles north to the University where the graduation will be held. I will try not to cry too much as I watch her walk across the platform in her regalia. I am very proud of this young woman.

Her step-mother will also be there. We will not be sitting together. Her step mother really does not like me and won't speak to me. I see that as her problem as I have tried over the years to mend that relationship. I can only mend my portion of that deal. The way she feels about me is none of my business. And she is welcome to hate me if it makes her feel any better. I don't hate her back and for that I am truly grateful.

I took the day off tomorrow. My knitting is not done and I need to have it done by about noon tomorrow. So I have tomorrow morning to get it done. I have absolutely no doubt that I can accomplish that - handily.

I will be happy to be away from the hospital as it has been on lock down for the last two days. A now former employee has "gone postal" and it is felt that there is a real risk of something catastrophic happening. It is kind of hard to concentrate with that going on.

"We can believe that God is in his heaven and He has a purpose for our lives, which will eventually work out as long as we try to live the way we believe He wants us to live. It has been said that we should 'wear the world like a loose garment.' That means that nothing should seriously upset us because we have a deep, abiding faith that God will always take care of us. To us that means not to be too upset by the surface wrongness of things, but to feel deeply secure in the fundamental goodness and purpose in the universe." - from the 24 hour book - July 16.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I know what I am

I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. That means I do not drink. The reason I mention this and the reason I care about this is because I am an alcoholic. For an alcoholic to not drink is a pretty big deal. If I were someone with some other problem, not drinking might not be such an issue, but to me, it is an life threatening issue. So, we have established that I am an alcoholic. I am also anonymous at the level of press, radio, and film. That level also includes the internet, because the internet is public. That means I do not use my full name or a full photo of my face. That makes me anonymous. Therefore, I am an Anonymous Alcoholic.

I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not a member of a "12 step program." I am not a member of a "self-help" program. I am a member of a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. Recover from alcoholism. This is no small goal. This is awesome and massive. And yet if you tell people that is what we are about, many will tell you that we shouldn't limit ourselves to that tiny little fraction of people - the fraction we can actually help.

Maybe the person who discovered the insulin treatment for diabetes should have gone around injecting everyone with it instead of just using it on diabetics. Why limit something so good like that? Surely it could have helped EVERYONE!

I was approached the other day about taking a meeting into a treatment facility. This facility treats all manner of people with all manner of problems. And I think that is wonderful. I was approached about bringing a message of hope to women who are being abused by their husbands, and people with problems with "drugs and alcohol" and need a "12 step program." I had to tell the person that I don't know anything about "12 step programs." I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is the one and only message I have to share in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. I am not going to bastardize a meeting to be "one size fits all." Because as we ladies know, "one size fits all" really means "one size fits no one."

Oh, you're going to love me for this, aren't you?

I probably wouldn't have such an attitude about the treatment industry if I hadn't had such a battle with them over my blog in the last 6 months or so. First one of them hijacked my entire blog and put it on their website. A website that said, among other things, that a person needed to be in a protected environment (that they could provide, for a fee) or they would "relapse." That is just SO WRONG. And now they have a new approach, every day or so, under the guise of a different name, they post some asinine comment, which links to some damn treatment center website. The other day, on my post about my friend Ron, was one of them. It was some inane comment about "working in drug and alcohol treatment, you see a lot of people die, it is a sad part of the business...." Yeah. It is a sad part of your lousy business. But my friend Ron died a natural death at the age of 70, after 37 years of continuous sobriety in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is one of the sad, but wonderful parts of being a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. We get to see people LIVE and LIVE WELL until they DIE a NATURAL DEATH at an OLD AGE.

I know what I am. I am a sober alcoholic. And I know I am grateful with every fiber of my being for the program of Alcoholics Anonymous which saved my life. I hope to God it is around for a while for other alcoholics who need it now and will need it later. But I do believe that if we keep bastardizing it, it will not last.

It's Wednesday Again

Daave gave me that ornament last year when I visited him in Houston. Isn't that cute?

I don't want to go to work today. I have major knitting to do and I am tired and my stomach hurts.

Last night I lost my purse. Some of you who have met me may have seen the small purse that I carry around. It holds my wallet, my iPod touch, a lipgloss, an eyebrow tweezer (because you never know when you are going to look in your rearview mirror and see a hair that has to GO - right now!) and a tiny hair clip in case my hair gets on my nerves and I want it out of my face. I am 99.9% sure I got it out of my car when I got home from work. I am 99.9% sure that I got it in the house.

But then, I got in the house and the grandchildren were here which I wasn't expecting... and I was holding in my hands my knitting bag (which is transparent) holding my granddaughter's Christmas present, and I freaked out and tried to shift it around so that she wouldn't see it and I quickly went into my bedroom to hide it.

So, when we were leaving for dinner, I went to find my purse and it was not here. And I was greatly insulted when my adult children were looking for it in the freezer, the refrigerator, and the trashcan. They explained that their father seems to misplace things in these places. Well, allrightythen.

The good news is: I had my cell phone outside of my purse because I would be FREAKING OUT without my phone. I had my car key. And I had stashed $25. in my jewelry box just in case my daughter needed it yesterday - she didn't. So, now I have $25. in cash. I only had $80 in my purse yesterday. My daytimer is in another bag, and it contains all of the phone numbers, etc. for the credit card companies so that I can call them should I need to. My checkbook was also in another bag, so I still have access to my checkbook - I never write checks anymore, but I think I might take it up - at least until I figure out what happened to my purse. My house keys are in my car. My work keys are on another keychain in my car. So most of the thing a woman would lose in a purse were not in my purse. That is an advantage to a small purse. But I think if it were a larger purse, I would know where it was. Because I do believe it is in this house, and this house is not that damn big.

My kids got me a garmin for my car for my birthday! Now, THAT is exciting! Now I can find my way around, but don't have ID or a credit card once I get there!

Sorry for this boring thing. I just needed to write it I guess. I have other things I would have written last night. But they would have been about stupid comments from treatment centers posing as people, or about taking meetings into treatment centers and how you have to compromise the message of Alcoholics Anonymous - and do you think that is OK? Or they would have been about when do you think it is time to cut loose a sponsee. But there is always tonight, and tomorrow, and the next day....

Hope you all have a nice one. And say a prayer for my purse if you feel like it, OK?
I opened my desk drawer when I got to work this morning and imagine the flood of feelings when I saw my little brown purse sitting there! Right behind the relief was the the almost immediate desperation to make up some kind of lie to tell so that I wouldn't have to tell the people I had already told that I had "lost" my purse - that I had actually not lost it at all. That little .01% of a doubt that I had taken it out of my car and into my home last night? Well, that was the truth. And now I can wait another 12 years or so until I walk into my bank again.
It was the weirdest thing to walk inside there this morning and tell them I wanted some money and didn't have any ID. Based on the fact that I could rattle off my account number and sign my name, they forked over some cash! How cool is that!
And now I would like to take my life at a more leisurely pace so that I am not always running around, not being mindful of what I am doing, and thinking I am "losing" things that are safe and sound somewhere that I don't know they are. Will that happen? Not likely, but I will make an effort.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twelve Fifteen Nineteen Fifty One

That is my date of birth.

That makes today my fifty-eighth birthday.

I have always loved my birthday. People wonder what it is like to have a birthday so close to Christmas and wonder if I feel somehow cheated. I have no idea what it is like to have a birthday any other time of the year and love the fact that the whole world gets all decked out in lights, tinsel, and shiny things for my birthday. Sometimes being incredibly self-centered does work for me!

There was a harmonic convergence of events that sort of threw me into a tail spin in the last 48 or so hours. Let's see: Ron's horrible memorial service. Take home point from that for me: I am so grateful that when I die, I will have a funeral mass with readings from the Bible instead of people talking about ME!

Yesterday was my assistant's last day on the job - after 28 years. In the massive lay offs, her job was abolished. I got to do her final evaluation - and when I said the word "final" to her, she burst into tears. I got to take her and a couple of other women out for lunch. It was so sad. I also got to thank her. Because when I was new there, she was someone who was so friendly and helpful to me. And I ended up being the one to tell her she lost her job and being the one to walk her out the door, collect her name badge and keys. Nice.

My sober daughter came over last night and we made some pizzelles. She cannot stay off the phone for more than 30 seconds at a stretch, so it is a challenge to do anything with her. But she is sober. And it is a long way from last year when I don't think I even knew where she was. With her, I always have to remind myself of how very crazy I was when I was newly sober and how very merciful God was and is. If I had to do this thing "right" to stay sober, I would have been screwed, and I would venture to say you would be too.

So, today... I believe my niece is still in labor - after 24 hours. I believe I will have a great nephew born on my birthday. There was a great niece born on this date a few years back - named Mary. I lit a candle for my niece at church last night. I pray all is well. I have not had an update since last night.

I will work today. My children are taking me out for dinner tonight. All three of them. Then they are going to assemble my treadmill, which has been sitting in a very huge box in my garage since last Wednesday.

And I pray that I will get over this feeling of dread. All is well. Celebrating another natal birthday sober. My 26th. Imagine that. The Grace of God. Amid my morning readings was this....

"I am reminded here of a rabbinical tale recorded by Elie Wiesel. He tells of Jehel, a little boy, who comes running into the room of his grandfather, the famous Rabbi Baruch. Big tears are rolling down his cheeks. And he cries, 'My friend has totally given up on me. He is very unfair and very mean to me.' 'Well, could you explain this a little more?' asks the master. 'Okay' responds the little boy. 'We were playing hide and seek. I was hiding so well that he could not find me. But then he simply gave up and went home. Isn't that mean?' The most exciting hiding place has lost its excitement because the other stops playing. The master caresses the boy's face. He himself now has tears in his eyes. And he says, 'Yes this is not nice. But look, it is the same way with God. He is in hiding, and we do not seek him. Just imagine! God is hiding, and we people do not even look for him.' In this little story a Christian is able to find the key to the ancient mystery of Christmas. God is in hiding. He waits for his creation to set out toward him, he waits for a new and willing Yes to come about, for love to arise as a new reality out of his creation. He waits for man." -- Benedictus, Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI, p. 378 (December 15)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Night Rant

Oh, maybe I have been building up to this for a couple of days. It kind of seems that way.

I went to my friend Ron's Memorial "Service" today. It was a meeting at my old homegroup. We went around the room and reminisced about Ron. Most of the folks were relatively new. Most of the folks talked about how Ron cussed. Oh me, oh my. Oh, Ron said the "F" word! He dropped the "F" Bomb! He said all those other words. Some people talked about how they couldn't get past that.

Some people talked about how he was a womanizer. Yep. That was my Ron. The younger women thought he was a cute little old man who was a bit of a "dirty old man." Oh, if they only knew! He was a virile, sexy man not that damn long ago.

Since when did AA become a puritanical society where no one can offend anyone with a four letter word? We all used to sit around smoking, drinking coffee, cussing up a storm, and staying sober, one day at a time. Oh yeah, and we went on twelve step calls, helped each other when we needed a helping hand and we knew where each other lived and what our last names were. Now we are "nice" people who leave directly after the Lord's prayer and have no idea who we are standing next to.

Oh for crying out loud. I don't know how this happened.

Isn't it nice that we are all so nice now. Poor Ron, sober 37 years and people can only talk about his vocabulary. He gratefully rendered prison service for almost all of his sobriety, but only one or two people in that room even knew that. He stayed sober through some of the most atrocious life circumstances I have ever heard of, and was always grateful and always willing to help another alcoholic, but he said the "f" word and I guess that negates every good work.

A few years ago, a nice older woman who is a friend of mine told me that she would never say that word in a meeting again. She said that once it was out of her mouth people stopped listening to her. I have found it to be true as well. It did not used to be like that.

Not that I care to listen to a whole lot of it, but it is disturbing to me that this wonderful man is only remembered for his colorful language when he was fully alive for 70 years and fully sober for 37 of those years. Thirty-Seven years.

God Bless You Ron Rupich. I love you. And I will forever.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Some books

That's the book shelf with most of my AA books (and some alanon too). Also a photo of my dad in 1941 - when he was 30 years old. I have some of my dad's AA books - a second edition big book, an old Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and an unfortunately titled "The AA Way of Life - a reader by Bill" later known as "As Bill Sees It". I have several third edition big books, and one fourth edition - on that shelf. I have other books elsewhere in the house - and some I can't find right now - like "AA Comes of Age," which I have been on a fruitless search for for about a month. (sorry, I am too tired to reconstruct that sentence.)

When I was sober about 5 years, I read every thing I could get my hands on about AA history and traditions. It is a good thing to do. Provided you don't get stuck there. It is very good to know why we do the things we do and why they are so important.

I am madly knitting for Christmas. I have an afghan to get done by Friday for my granddaughter who leaves on Saturday for her grandfather's (my ex-husband) second home near Yellowstone in Montana. They are all spending Christmas there. All the people in good graces with my ex and his wife. My son and his girlfriend, my "good" daughter, and the grandchildren.

My beautiful alcoholic daughter will be here in town, trying to get through her first sober Christmas - and get through it without her kids. I am so grateful that I get to be here to be with her in whatever way that ends up being. She is now working and when you are working in a restaurant, you work strange hours, so I think I probably won't see her that week until Christmas Day, and then we can figure out what we are going to do. It is virtually impossible to plan anything and I have other invitations I need to figure out what to do about. Tomorrow.

Who knew that sitting in your house knitting almost all day long could make a person tired? Well, I am tired. And I am going to bed. (I did go to a meeting this morning, then group conscience, then later met a friend at church and went to dinner with her, so it isn't like I did nothing but knit, but it feels like it right now.)

I am so grateful to be sober. I am so grateful that my phone has been ringing intermittently all day long. I am so grateful for sober friends. I am so grateful for relationships with my siblings that are happy. And I am super, super grateful that I got to talk with all three of my children today. And I will get to see them all on my birthday in a few days.... nice.

By the Grace of God.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shining Example or Hideous Warning

Which do I want to be?

Shining Example?


Hideous Warning?

Do I want to be an attraction? Or do I want to beat people over the head with whatever I think my "message" is, no matter how unattractive I am making it seem?

Do I only care to be right? Do I also care to be loving in the way I treat others? Am I willing to yield every now and then in order to live in peace with those I love and those I would like to love?

Oh, I know, there are those who are so convinced that they are right in all of their convictions that they should never yield, I can recommend some other blogs for you to read, you will never be happy here, go away, OK? In fact, I read the blog of one recently, his sponsor told him that if others didn't agree with him he should tell them "to go to hell because that is where they are going anyway." Wow. That is beyond horrible.

So, you might ask, what brought this on?

I have a new visitor. I have mostly been deleting his comments. I kept one yesterday. He is another expert, and authority. He has all the answers. He comes by my blog about once a week or so to tell me that God relieved him of his alcoholism. That God did for him what he could not do for himself. I don't think he reads my blog because if he did, he would see that I wouldn't disagree with him on that. Then he leaves a link to his little website selling all the books he has written about the history of AA and his slant on it. And his strange slant on AA and how we have all got it wrong.

Does this make me want to ask him questions because I "want what he has?" um, no.

It makes me delete his comments and wish he would go away.

I pray to God that I never get so insulated in my view that I think that I have all the answers for everybody.

I have my faith in God and it is very strong. I spend a great deal of my time and energy at my church and in Biblical School - but that is MY PATH. It does not have to be yours. You just have to have your path. I have to have mine, you have to have yours. That is how AA works. And frankly, I usually write this blog with my intended audience being a stray reader who may stumble across this blog wondering about the daily life of a sober alcoholic.

I know that Dr. Bob brought his Bible to meetings at the King School. I also know that the female alcoholics fried donuts in the kitchen with the wives while the menfolk had their meetings in the front rooms back in those days. And that all worked for them. A lot has changed.

So, when someone comes by randomly and drops little bombs of comments about finding Jesus, it really irritates me. 1. It is just totally inappropriate. 2. You are barking up the wrong tree, buddy.

And 3., as my former husband used to say, Alcoholism is no excuse for bad manners.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thursday Evening

I bought these little hand painted canvas things to hang to the left of my front door. I normally have a hand painted little wooden sled which says "let it snow" on it, but this year I wouldn't care to tempt fate and hang that thing, so I wanted to try something different. I thought those little canvas things were innocuous enough.

The days at work are getting very weird. Two of the three closing units have discharged their last patients, closed out their charts and changed their locks. Very very sad. One unit still has thirteen patients they have no idea where to place and 21 days to find a place for them. Very very sad. My assistant's last day is on Monday. I will give her her final evaluation and take her out for lunch and then collect her keys - and say goodbye for the last time - after 28 years. Holy crap. I can't change the outcome, but maybe I can soften the edges of a hard, hard day for somebody by being kind. I know that the kindness of a person can make all the difference in the world.

I know I have told this here before, but I think it bears repeating. I read this in an article in Vanity Fair in 2001 - which I wish I had kept. The article was about suicides - jumpers off the Golden Gate Bridge. One person left a note. It simply said "I am walking to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I will not jump."

I could write a book about that, but I am sure you get the point.

So, here is a smile, packed with love, for you all.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Finished One Present Today

I am knitting afghans for my granddaughters for Christmas presents this year. They love my wool afghans, so sometime in November I took them to my favorite yarn shop and let them pick out their own colors of wool for their presents. One down, one to go. It only took me about 12 days to get this one done (it is folded in half in the photo). I started the other one tonight.

It was lovely to have a day off today. It was 17 degrees fahrenheit below zero when I left the house to go to a meeting this morning. It really was a beautiful morning. So cold, so crisp, so brutal. There is no margin for error on a morning such as this. One little mistake could kill a person. There is something about this that appeals to me. Maybe it is my fancy studded snow tires that have given me a new sense of adventure. They make a world of difference, and make it possible for me to drive on snow and ice.

A sponsee wanted to meet with me this evening to discuss some important stuff and just at the time I was expecting her, she called and told me that her plumbing had frozen and she had water shooting everywhere - in her new multi million dollar house. Yikes. So I called my handyman friend and asked him what he thought I ought to do to prevent pipe freezing and I took his suggestions. I have cabinet doors open, etc. Hopefully I will be OK, and hopefully my sponsee will be able to get her home repaired without too much damage.

This morning the meeting topic was about getting through the holidays sober. I thought how odd it was that people in early sobriety would think that this is difficult. If they only knew how much easier it is to get through them sober. Getting through them drunk is the difficult thing! Oh how I never wish to do that again! But truly getting to experience Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years as a sober person is an experience not to be missed. Especially if you embrace the sober experience and don't try to straddle both worlds by trying to stay in the drunken world as a sober person. But to be sober with sober people and truly experiencing sober holidays is a wonderful, wonderful experience.

What a blessing it is to be sober.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Frosty Gratitude

I love when I put these weather maps on here and they change - so I have this to show how cold it is right now, but if you look at this next summer, it will say 85º or 105º or some other thing that looks crazy with this frigid December post.

I came off a little bit too strong yesterday and ended up regretting it (as I always do), so today perhaps a little grateful list:
  • I took a day of vacation tomorrow so that I will be home for the delivery of my new treadmill
  • I won't need to be out in the frosty cold morning
  • Although I may wish that I weighed less, I currently weigh less than most (or all?) of the finishers of The Biggest Loser (which I watched for the first time tonight)
  • Which means I never need to listen to some woman get in my face and yell at me and make me cry
  • If I ever need to go to the ER at 2 a.m., TMZ will likely not have cameras trained on the gurney entering the hospital
  • My boss smiled at me when I brought him my leave requests for tomorrow and Christmas Eve - I don't know why he gets a kick out of that
  • That although we have closed two hospital units in the last two business days, we do carry on
  • That I found someone to share planning a going away "party" for my assistant whose position was abolished - this is not something I was looking forward to doing - now I don't have to do it alone.
Well, I can see that I would just keep going and going and going, but mainly, I just need to go to bed. I have been up since 4 a.m. and I am tired. I am very extremely grateful for a warm bed on a cold night. And nice bloggers who will leave me comments. Thank you.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Trying to embrace my inner authority

I made a bunch of pizzelles over the weekend. They are quite delicious and people love them. I think I shall make a bunch more and give them as little gifts. At first the anise odor was enough to make me ill, but after it mellowed it was pleasant. They are pretty, and I have never made them before.

So, I made a point yesterday about not turning into an expert just because I have been sober for a length of time. But then it occurred to me today that I could use my longevity to make some points here.

I had a poser come by and say that he could do the steps whenever he felt like it, there was no hurry and no one could tell him when to do them. I was worried about him until I realized that the comment was not really from "mike," but from a treatment center, boasting of a low $400. a day rate.

I say, yeah "mike," you can do the steps whenever you feel like it, as long as you don't mind dying before you get done. If you are an alcoholic of the type the steps were intended, you don't have unlimited time in which to get them done. Your discomfort will cause you to either drink or get on with the steps. Maybe drinking again isn't a big deal to you, in that case, please have a drink. Believe it or not, we are not here to convince anyone that they need or want to quit drinking. We are here to help people who WANT to quit drinking. Until they want to quit, there is little or nothing we can do to help. The one thing we cannot provide is that desire.

And when I talk about being sober only by the grace of God, I always offend someone who has worked their "ass off" to stay sober. Well, believe it or not, I do understand. I too, "worked my ass off" in those first years. I did all that stuff I was supposed to do - and plenty I wasn't too. It was only later that I realized that the end product - the sober woman I had become was so much greater than the sum of the parts - the steps, the meetings, the "work." There was no earthly way I could have "worked" my way into becoming the person I had become. No matter how screwed up I may have still been, I was utterly transformed from the drunken woman I had been. After a decade or so, it seemed that a little bit of admitting, coming to believe, turning my life over, doing some writing, some talking, becoming ready, humbly asking, making lists, making amends, continuing to look, seeking, and carrying the message just didn't seem adequate to have produced the astounding changes. So, what possible explanation could there be? The only thing that makes sense to me is the grace of a loving God. And it makes a humble Mary Christine.

So maybe I should stop sharing about what it is really like to be me and start telling you all what you should be doing. Naaah. I just couldn't do that.

I am really tired and need to go to bed. Well, actually I am already in bed. I love my laptop. But I need to fold it up and lay my head down.

Tonight I went to mass and it amazed me to hear a prayer for "the knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out." It is weird how our language has infiltrated so much.

Oh! And I got studded snow tires! Yippeee!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Seniority = Credibility

Yesterday at a workshop, I was at a "roundtable" with a gentleman who kept using his "almost 24 years of sobriety" as a club, as a trump card, as an end to every argument. He had to always be right - because he had been sober for "almost 24 years." I finally found a gentle way to congratulate him and mention that I had celebrated 25 years of sobriety in July. And suddenly, he was able to listen to me. Then there were two voices at the table.

Now, I am not minimizing the value of sober experience. I am all for it. I think it is great. But I don't think it makes me always right and you always wrong. I don't think it means I should stop listening to you. And especially, I don't think it means that I have the answers and you have the questions.

I don't like to beat people over the head with how long I have been sober. I love what they do in certain areas of the country- where they state, as a matter of fact, their date of sobriety. Not to boast, just to say. I finally put my sobriety date in the header of my blog because I seldom come off as an expert or even a long-term-sober authority and it would annoy me when someone would come along and make the assumption that I was newly sober (because I don't spout all the answers all the time) and give me good advice in the comments about how to hang in there just for today.

But yesterday at that roundtable, there were two men who were really struggling and I thought they could have used an encouraging word. I kept wondering what it would feel like to be shut down because someone else had "nearly 24 years." I wonder if I would even value that 24 years. I wonder if I would even want it.

One man said (I had my doubts about the veracity of his claim) that he had taken 4 years to do his 4th step, based on the advice of his sponsor. He was now going to take a couple of years to do his 6th step. I was very worried about him. I would have to drink or commit suicide if I was going to spend a couple of years after the 4th step without getting to the 9th step.

Another man at the table was a man I have known for at least 15 years in AA, he was angry about "AA dogma" and I thought that probably wasn't a really good sign of his spiritual condition. Or maybe it was a response to the attitude at the table.

Couldn't we try to be kind to each other and share our experience, strength, and hope without being so proud about what we could never have accomplished without the grace of a loving God?

If I really believe that I am sober by the Grace of God, I wouldn't go around boasting about it. If I really believe that I have done a fabulous job of doing great "work" at getting and staying sober, I guess I can go around bragging about it. I don't believe I have that luxury.

I will thank God for his Grace and then try to pass that on.

Snowy Sunday Morning

It is snowing like crazy outside. I have another action packed day planned. I wish it weren't so, and maybe my wish will come true. What to do when there is so much good stuff going on in your life that you can't cram it all in - but you try? What a problem! To have too much wonderful stuff to do that you can't do it all!

Yesterday I spent a total of 5 hours sitting in AA chairs. It was good. I got to stand at an AA podium for a little while too. I got to eat AA food, drink AA coffee, and thankfully at the end of it all, turn down a piece of AA birthday cake. I hadn't planned on my daughter being at a workshop with me, but someone else invited her, and somehow his invitation had more appeal than my invitation, so there she was! What a treat!

Today I am supposed to meet one of my sponsees and some pals at our 6:30 a.m. meeting and then go to her house for an annual Christmas cookie making event. It should be fun. From there, I am supposed to be driving across town to meet another friend at a church we decided to go to last week when we were there for a funeral.

But a quick glance out the window tells me that I might just be staying indoors all day today because it is really snowing like crazy! And that would be just fine too.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Cussin' Ron

Passed away on December 2. He was sober for 36 years.

I wish I knew more about him. Like I don't know how old he was, but I suspect he was in his early 70s. I have even forgotten the land of his birth, but it was eastern European.

I just know him from sitting in meetings, at coffee, at potlucks, in restaurants, etc. over the years. He lived on the north side of town and I knew him from my old home group. Imagine my surprise when I had moved to the south side of town about 15 years ago and had gotten a new sponsor and was attending a party at her house and saw Ron walk in! They had sobered up together, she, her husband, and Ron, back in California.

He was "something else." He was not everyone's cup of tea. But he was my cup of tea - exactly.

I don't know if he ever composed a sentence without the word "fock" in it. He also used plenty of the kinds of profanities I refuse to use - sprinkled in with the "focks" were the g**damns (I just refuse to say that, sorry). But he was always so grateful to be sober, and that never changed. After his daughter killed herself in his house with his gun, that never changed. After his many divorces, that never changed. After his colossal business failures, that never changed. After his myriad health problems, that never changed. So, if you saw Ron, you knew he would say "I am just so focking grrrrateful to be sober! I luff this g**damn prrrogram!" I wish you could hear his growly voice and hear that thick accent. Oh, it was something to behold.

When I called my sponsor to tell her that he had passed, she cried like a baby. Then she told me to hold my relationships dear. Keep those people I sobered up with close. Those relationships mean more than words could ever express. And I am passing those words on to you.

Lots of Love to you this Saturday morning....

Friday, December 04, 2009

While I was writing...

Let's see, what happened...
I finished the baby blanket I was knitting:
The front is knitted, the back is flannel, and there is yarn woven through to hold it all together. It is all very cute and warm for a little baby who will be born in a few days in a very cold climate. I wrapped it and put it in the mail the other day and got separation anxiety as it left my hands. I wanted to tell the window clerk at the post office - WAIT! I hand knitted that! I even designed that thing myself! PLEASE make sure everyone takes good care of it!

My treadmill broke! My brand new treadmill just stopped working. The belt just stopped moving. I called Sears and they told me to bring it back - pronto! It was the 30th day after purchase and I had 30 days to bring it back, so I had that day. Thank God my son was home and was able to come over when I called him and asked him to come to my house, disassemble it and take it back to Sears. And they didn't have another one, so I ordered one online (a different one, from a different store)- which I haven't yet gotten. Darn it!

Last night a sponsee and I had dinner to celebrate her 14th AA birthday. She is someone who is so important to me. I will go to her birthday meeting tomorrow night. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for her and her sobriety.

On Wednesday an old friend died. I need to write about him. I also need to write about a memorial service I attended last Saturday. And the car accident I had on my way home from it.
But right now? I just need to get in the bathtub and get ready for my Friday. I am so grateful that I have a job to go to and I actually like it. I am grateful that my beautiful sober daughter is coming over tonight. And tomorrow I have so many things going on it is frightening! Did I mention that it is COLD?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Present Tense

But it isn't tense. Not at all.

Writing my drinking story was an amazing adventure for me. I have told my story many times before - but always within a time constraint - sometimes an hour, sometimes less. I have, of course, written inventory many times over the years, and that has its own structure. I have never sat down and chronologically done a narrative of my story. Not doing an inventory, but just a story. I left a lot out. I tried to just capture something of each year that would sum up the year. Some years I honestly could not remember anything other than a vague feeling, usually not a good one.

As the writing continued, I was left with an overwhelming sense, once again, of the wonder, of the gratitude, for the Grace of God. I think it is easy to see that of my own, I have not much ability. Some people like to pat themselves on the back for all the "work" they have done to get and stay sober. I am not one of those. I like to thank God for His awesome work. And then try to help others as a way of showing my gratitude.

I am now off to a 6:30 meeting, in the snow and 6 degree fahrenheit cold. Now, that is cold!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Happy Birthday Ed G.

My friend Ed G. is celebrating 26 years of continuous sobriety today. I think that is just stellar. If you are inclined to think something like 26 years without a drink is stellar, you might go over and pay his blog a visit, at Living a Principled Life.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


More misery for a few months... drinking, misery, drinking, misery, bla, bla, bla....

On June 15, 1984, our 9th wedding anniversary, my husband came home from work and told me he quit his job that day and we were moving to Denver. DENVER? I could think of no place I would rather NOT be. I thought Denver was the least charming city where I never wanted to live. I was at least as horrified as I had been when my father came home when I was 14 and told me we were moving to Chicago. Just as powerless - and angry.

By July 5, we had a U-Haul truck packed up and we drove across the mountains to move into a little house on a little lot in a little suburb of this little polluted city. Instead of a river and canada geese in my back yard, there was a fence, with another back yard and another house, and another front yard, a street, another house, back yard, front yard, street, etc., etc., ad infinitum. I thought I was going to die. It was all so tacky.

And yet... when I got to Denver, I looked at my neighbors and they seemed so different. They weren't drinking. I felt so exposed. I felt so obviously gross. And I knew it had to change.

For a few days, I was getting the phone book out in the morning and looking up Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't call though.

On July 23, 1984, there was nothing at all different. I picked up my husband from work because we only had one car. After work, we stopped for more beer. We ate dinner. We decided to go to the library. We loaded into the car and I headed north on Wadsworth to Broomfield. But for some reason the thought occurred to me that I was going to make an ass of myself and my children by showing up at the library drunk. That God alone knew what kind of scene might occur there. That I was endangering everyone's lives by driving drunk. I asked myself why I didn't do this when I was sober - and honestly I had a bolt of blue thought - "because I am never sober." I did not until that moment know that.

All of this was internal monologue... I continued driving. The library was closed. We continued driving north until we were in what was at that time a small town (and is now a large suburb). My husband and I were thrilled (THRILLED) to find a liquor store with a drive-through window! Just like the bars and liquor stores in New Mexico! Awesome! That is where I bought the last beer I would ever drink. We bought some beer and headed home.

When I got sober people used to say that if you couldn't remember your last drunk you probably hadn't had it. In my early sobriety, I was so afraid that my last drunk wouldn't qualify because it was so mundane. There was nothing dramatic or out of the ordinary about it. There was nothing at all about that night that told me that I was not going to drink again. I sat up after the family went to bed and drank beer and smoked cigarettes at the dining room table as I loved to do. I tossed my last beer can in the trash and went to bed at about midnight.

I woke up the next morning, sick as usual. Instead of having a drink, I got out the phone book again. Instead of putting it away, I actually dialed a number for AA. The first number didn't answer. And instead of giving up, I actually called the 2nd number! It was at an AA club, and the phone was answered by a 17 year old boy who was working at the coffee bar on his way to high school. When I started telling him my life story, he had the good sense to tell me he would have a woman call me back. And I thought that would be the end of it. But it wasn't.

Within a few minutes, a woman called me back. She listened to me for about an hour. She was just so perfect. This was THE only 12 step this woman ever did in her life. And it was absolutely flawless. After about an hour, like a salesman closing a deal, she asked me if I would go to a meeting with her that night. I tried making excuses, and she was able to steam roller her way through every one of them. Finally, I had to admit that I was much to sick to deal with her and I could think of something later and call her back, but she had definitely gotten the better of me. She did ask me to promise not to drink that day. "Oh sure" I said, as if that wasn't a big deal.

But as a couple of hours passed, I started shaking. And for some reason, I didn't want a drink to stop the shaking. I wanted to stop the insanity.

I believe that desire was a gift from God. There is no other earthly explanation.

I walked into my first meeting with a desire to not drink and a desire to live another way. I wanted that more than anything in the world. I was so grateful to the people who were willing to help me with that.

They told me to go to 90 meetings in 90 days, I went to 180. They told me to "read the big book as if your life depends upon it," and I had it read within my first 24 hours. They told me to "work" the steps, and I had the all "worked" within 6 months. They told me that if I had 24 hours of sobriety, I had something to share with someone who didn't and it was important for me to pass that on. They told me to make at least one AA contact every single day - face to face, or by phone - and I still do that to this day.

Nobody ever acted like I was doing them a big favor by getting or staying sober and I am so grateful for that. I feel that I have been given the biggest gift a person could ever be given and I hope to God I never stop being wildly grateful for it. Awestruck would be another word. Every single day.

Can you imagine being let out of the hell that I was living in for so long? I was let out of that! Can you imagine how grateful I am for that? Can you imagine how much I want to share that with others? How could I ever begrudge one thing about that? I never could!

Today I get to be a nearly 58 year old woman who has been sober for a little over 25 years. I have been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for all of that time. I have never left and I have never wavered in my commitment to the program or the fellowship. I sponsor a couple of women who I love and I suspect they love me too. My adult children come over and visit me of their own free will and we enjoy ourselves immensely. One of my adult children is now a newly sober woman herself. She is now sobering up with a lot of people I sobered up with and gets to hear stories from them about my early sobriety, thank God they are good ones (recently a man told her "The room always lit up when your mother walked into it, I guess you got that from her" Wow.) My grandchildren have never seen their "Nana" drink, and run to me with open arms when they see me. I own a pretty little house, with pretty little things that I really like in it. I have been employed at the same place for over 15 years and feel a sense of belonging there that is priceless to me. I was able to get my bachelor's and master's degrees from the University I always dreamed of attending. I was able to return to the church of my youth and am a part of my church. I am in the middle of my third year of a four year Biblical school, it is awesome. AND, in my sobriety, I was able to run my first race, the Bolder Boulder, 22 years ago, and have recently run 5 half marathons, and have participated in 6 triathlons. I hope to be able to run the real thing - a real 26.2 mile marathon in 2010. Oh, it just goes on and on... and on and on.... and on and on....

It sounds like boasting. But this is what I got when I admitted complete defeat. When I stopped trying to arrange life to suit myself. When I asked God to take over.

Every little thing, Every little thing. I am so grateful for today. When I go to bed tonight, I will look at my beautiful bed. I do really love my tiffany box blue flannel sheets, with the white embroidered pillowcases, the white duvet cover, etc., etc., but what I really love is that I can kneel down beside my bed and say my prayers. I can do my 10th step and ask God to help me with every little place where I am not doing my best. And then I can lay my head down in peace.

Because I am a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Sober by the Grace of God.