Sunday, January 31, 2010

Having Grown up in Youngstown, Ohio

It's a strange thing to know that the places of your youth now lie in ruins. When others casually express their belief in the permanence of things, I wish I had time to just kind of share with them my experience with permanence - it is fleeting.

I grew up in a steel town in eastern Ohio. The steel mills were a fixture, most families were composed of generations that had worked there. People complained about the steel companies and the smoke billowing into the sky. My father always said that when there was smoke coming out of the mills, it meant that families were eating. He was a product of the depression. I came to believe that the production of steel was a good thing and that men working and providing for their families was a good thing. Did I ever wonder if those days would end in my lifetime? Nope. But they did.

I am working at a hospital that is now in the process of down-sizing that has become so down-sized that it is down-right scary. I have watched with a broken heart as colleagues, staff who are "fixtures," have left. I have watched with a broken heart as units have closed and whole populations of patients have been left without a place to go. I have been absolutely amazed to see whole buildings left vacant and lifeless. Did I ever think this would happen in my lifetime? Nope. But it did.

So, (I bet most of you know where I am going with this...) when people casually say that AA will just magically survive into the future without any care or concern about its health or integrity I am incredulous. There is nothing in this world that is permanent. I sure would like to see the beautiful life saving program that is Alcoholics Anonymous survive to save future generations of alcoholics. But I fear that will not happen if we, the current membership, do not take some care to protect it. God has given us a great treasure and I think he expects us to care for it, not neglect and abuse it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Full Moon and Empty Garage

Almost anything sounds poetic in conjunction with "full moon," doesn't it?

Today I went to a meeting and to breakfast with a friend who was celebrating 12 years of sobriety. He is a wonderful young man who gives me hope in the future of Alcoholics Anonymous. He is serious about the program, about service, about steps, about helping others, about being humble, and he has been infinitely helpful to my daughter over the last year. Oh yes, I do love this man in a very special motherly way- even though he is only 10 years younger than I am.

When I got home from breakfast, the driver's side door of my car refused to shut. I looked at it and looked at it again. I tried to shut it and tried to shut it again, and it just bounced back open. I went next door to my neighbor who is an amateur mechanic... she assured me that it was nothing and invited me in to tell her about my trip. We spent about a half hour... then we came over to look at my car door - and she couldn't get it to close either.

I called the stinking Volkswagen dealer and they suggested I have the car towed. Well, I didn't want to pay for TWO tows in one week for a 5 year old car with 60,000 miles on it... so I rolled down the front and rear windows and bungee corded the door shut and drove it to the dealership - and felt quite elegant all the way. I thought it was an especially nice touch that I had to listen to a howling warning that my door was open the entire way.

I have lost my sense of humor where my car is concerned. That car has to go and go very soon. I wonder how much that car is going to cost me per day. They are keeping it over the weekend because they have to take the door apart, bla bla bla..... $$$$$.... bla bla bla..... $$$$$

I walked to church tonight. That was more of an adventure than I would have thought, but it was nice still.

Tomorrow I have a date with a m.a.n. to go to a movie. It will be good for me to escape from my phone and my family and my car and my books and my life for a little while. And go to the planet of Nava? Is that what that is - Avatar? (I bet I don't like this movie either.)

Tomorrow is another day and I will endeavor to enjoy it to the best of my ability. A nice man who looks a lot like Brett Favre is taking me to a movie. We will have fun.

I am grateful for the sober experience of living this way for some years... I know that no matter how I feel right now, it will be fine. The world will not end over a few stupid car repairs. But a string of me purchasing 7 new VWs (and 2 Audis) is OVER. Over. Finished.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Full Moon Friday Night

Tonight on my way home from work, I noticed a huge moon hanging in the sky and wanted to photograph it. I stopped at a park to walk around and see what I could do. On the way there, a man I adore phoned, so as I walked around the park, I described the scenes to him and sort of took him with me. It really was quite romantic.... in a limited way. Unfortunately, the mountains were to the west and the moon was to the east and the moon is always difficult to capture anyway. So I have photos I like, but none of them include that fabulous moon that was the whole reason for the trip to the park.

When I left the park I happened to call a sponsee who I discovered - after talking for quite a while about the great State of Colorado, the weather, our recent travels, politics, and books we are reading - that she is having a terrible time. We were able to talk about that. I was able to offer the suggestion that she is likely unable to fix her difficulties with her own abilities- those same abilities that got her into the difficulties. She is going to need the help of God. I had some practical suggestions for some daily activities that are likely to lead her to a greater reliance upon God and a lesser reliance upon herself. We will talk again tomorrow.

When I got home and had eaten dinner, I texted my daughter - and found that she was in the middle of a crisis at work. It seems that a customer complained about her to their corporate office. My daughter was freaked out earlier today because a 3 year old child had fallen in the restaurant and had suffered a head injury that was quite bloody and frightening. A customer came in just after that and was not impressed with my daughter's attention to detail in assembling her burrito! So she e-mailed a letter to the corporate office, and citing her considerable expertise as a bartender, detailed why my daughter is a meth addict - tattoos, jerky movements, inattention to the very important details of her burrito - and why she will no longer feel comfortable being a customer at the restaurant. So my daughter needs to get a physician to write a letter explaining why she will sometimes have involuntary movements as a person who shot meth for 16 years. My daughter volunteered to do a drug test on the spot... but that isn't what they wanted.

My daughter knows who this woman is - and I would like to find out who she is. I would like to have a little chat with her. I won't. But I would sure like to. They say hell hath no fury like a woman scorned... I say hell hath no fury like a woman whose sober daughter is being messed with. Imagine being the world's expert on who is and who is not using drugs because you are a bartender?

All I could tell my daughter was to remember that God will always take care of her. That her job would never be more important than her sobriety. If she needed to walk away from her job, she needed to walk away from her job. She is so much like me, I know she will not do that.
And now I need to do my prayer and meditation and go to bed. And I bet once I do that, I will have a different perspective.

Good night....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Night Blogging

You know, I just don't really like blogging at night. Sometimes when I have something I really really want to write about, I want to write at night when I have more time. But for the most part, I don't have any energy at night and it is a challenge to think of something to write about.

I most frequently think of things to snipe at, which I really don't want to do. Or I want to write about my day - which I think is just too boring.

So, instead of sniping, I will write about my day...

Today I said goodbye to (another) one of my colleagues. Years ago I hated her. I had to write inventory about her. I had to pray for her. I made her favorite cookies and wrapped them with a bow and brought them to her. I hand knit a blanket for her baby when she was pregnant. God never fails when we really put forth the effort, that resentment melted away and I came to love her.

Two weeks ago when she came into my office, closed the door, and told me she was leaving, tears spontaneously sprang to my eyes. And today I cried when I saw her office in disarray - her diplomas and awards and fancy schmancy this and that all off the wall and packed away now. One of the things packed away was a photo of her daughter wrapped in the blanket I knit. Her daughter is now in school, but then she was a baby. This photo has been in a place of prominence in her office for years.

Tomorrow my workplace will be a different place without her. It will be a much emptier place without her. I will miss her.

I am so grateful that God is able to change my puny little heart. I would have preferred to stay in hatred, but it was just too unpleasant. I knew that it would hurt ME, not her. So, I knew I had to take a few simple steps and pray that God would change my heart. And he did not let me down that time - or any other.

Without that, I would have missed the sadness today, but I would have missed years of a wonderful friend and colleague - I would have missed out terribly.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I started writing an ambitious post with all sorts of intellectual and complicated ideas loosely associated with sobriety and Alcoholics Anonymous, but you know what? I am still tired from my trip. I am sitting on my sofa and I am thrilled to be waiting for two things on the television - the State of the Union address and American Idol. I live for this stuff. I will try to write that other stuff later. But not tonight.

I will go back to work tomorrow. I am very happy about that. I will get to a meeting on my way to work. I am very happy about that.

Tomorrow is a sponsee's birthday. I am happy about that. She, however, will be on her way to, of all places, Iowa. I told her I could recommend a great mechanic in Nebraska if she needed one. (ha ha)

I am just grateful, grateful, grateful to be home.

And to think that I thought that turning my will and my life over to the care of God would mean that I would have nothing! Thank God that I was desperate enough to be willing to have "nothing" in exchange for the misery I had as a drunk. This "nothing" is certainly wonderful!

The Picture of Kindness

Yesterday morning, I was so delighted to head out of Kearney, Nebraska. It was just a little above 10 degrees, but the sun was shining, the wind had died down, and it looked like smooth sailing home. I got two miles down the road and the car started acting weird, the "check engine" light came on, and I knew I had to pull over immediately. Amazingly enough, there happened to be a rest area on my right, and I pulled into it.

The last time I had a car break down on an interstate highway, it was 20 years ago, and I had to get out of the car and start walking to the next town because I did not have a cellular phone. There was no such thing back then! Yesterday, I sat in my car, looked up the number of my warranty company in my daytimer, called them and let them refer me to a local auto repair shop, who referred me to a towing company... etc. I went inside the rest area when I started shivering because it was COLD.

The caretaker of the rest area asked me if I needed a place to sit down and got me a chair (in the photo above). I was able to sit in the sunshine and wait for the tow truck. I was astounded by the kindness of such a simple gesture.

It is amazing to me how very different it is to be in a small town in Nebraska dealing with a tow truck driver, a mechanic, a rest area man, etc. I really feel that my car could not have broken down in a better place.

This is the second time since July that my car has needed to be towed away. I am nearing $2,000. put into the car in the last 3 months.... a not even 5 year old car with 60,000 miles on it. I think it is time to face the fact that it is a money pit and I need a new car. It was my dream car. I always wanted a Volkswagen Passat. So, in 2005, I bought a new one, and planned on just driving it until I was an old lady. I reasoned the car would last far past 100,000 miles. I think I reasoned falsely. The very nice mechanic in Kearney Nebraska agreed that it would be a good idea to get rid of the car. Darn it.

So, the trip took longer than expected. It took a LOT more money than expected. AND I didn't even go to the funeral.

But the sweetest feeling in the world is to walk back into my home after an absence. When I say "home" I don't mean just my little 1533 square feet of it, but I mean my State, my rolling plains, my mountains, my city, my suburbs, and the lovely feeling of my ears popping as I headed back up into the foothills. But the best of all is to lay my head on my own pillow and sleep. Which I am going to do a lot of today.

I like to think there is a reason for everything. I don't know what the reason for this ill-fated trip was. It seems I was not meant to be there. I know I didn't charge off all full of self-will, but it became apparent on the second day that I could not continue. I don't know.

I am grateful to be home. I know that.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If you want to do something top-secret...

Do it in Iowa! Yesterday morning, I checked the Weather Channel, AccuWeather, CNN, local news, etc. for weather reports for Iowa. They all reported intermittent "flurries" throughout the day. So I headed out for a long drive from Nebraska to Iowa. I drove six hours through Nebraska and then got 30 miles into Iowa and realized I could go no further. I stopped for information and discovered that the state had issued the warning "travel not recommended" for most of the state's highways. It was a blizzard and the blizzard was expected to continue until 9 p.m. There were trucks jackknifed everywhere. Cars in ditches. Accidents. Near white-out conditions.

After driving 600 miles, I turned around and started heading home. I stopped and called my sister -- her flight was canceled out of New York, so she wasn't able to get there either. It seems we were not meant to be at that funeral.

We spent a fair amount of time on the phone yesterday talking about my father's death - seventeen years ago. This is something that was so divisive in my family that we really don't talk about it. We talked and talked and talked and cried. And I have to think that is good. Sometimes ancient history rears its head and I am glad we can talk about it.

I am glad I am not going to the funeral of the woman who caused so much trouble in my family. I learned to love her. I learned to not have resentment and hatred. I had to do these things if I were to be sober and live in peace. But you know what? I don't have to risk my life to attend her funeral and I am not going to. I will keep her in my prayers. And I will hope that she is in peace. Sincerely. But I do not need to be there.

Thank God I can go home.

I am actually looking forward to the rest of the drive. No matter how long it takes. I think the wind has actually died down. I have been driving through gusts of up to 50 mph for the last 2 days. I am feeling kind of battered and tired. But I have great peace as I head home.... home.... home... I am gratefully heading home.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back to the Road...

With my trusty blackberry by my side. I don't think I have ever been so grateful for an electronic device.

I have seldom ever not wanted to do anything quite as much as I don't want to hit the road today.

But tonight I will see my sister. By tomorrow evening the funeral will be over and I will be contemplating the drive home. Which will sound a lot better than the drive there. I think.

Please say a prayer for me.

Thank you so much.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

en route

I'm driving from Denver to eastern Iowa. This is not something anyone would ever want to do in late January. I guess it is something you do for a funeral.

Today it was so windy I was dodging tumbleweed all day and hoping not to dodge a huge truck as it blew over.

As it got dark, I decided that I really needed to stop and get a room and a big burger and watch some football. (and some wifi and my laptop)

I will hit it again tomorrow; I think I have about another 10 hours to drive. Of course, that estimate doesn't include snow. Which it is supposed to do tomorrow.

I so don't want to do this.

But it really doesn't matter if I want to or not. I will just keep putting one mile after another and do what I am supposed to be doing (I hope). I will see my sister tomorrow and that will be wonderful.

I really appreciate your nice thoughts today. They carried me through... really. Thank you.

The last time I was in Iowa was the day my father died. I have had many feelings that I had not expected. I sure do appreciate my cell phone and friends to call and who call me. I even had a friend who called me every time someone scored in the Colts / Jets game today. Yay for friends. And you. Thank you.

(And thank you Verizon, there really IS a map for that)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Death in the Family

Oh, it hits out of nowhere, doesn't it?

Like a sucker punch to the gut.

Don't worry about me, it is not one of my kids or anyone too terribly close.

But a relative.

And I need to go to Iowa.

And I don't know how right now.

This is hard.

Please don't pick on me anymore today.

The Cynic in Me

I went to a meeting this morning and saw a man raise his hand and say he was at his first AA meeting ever. After a while, he shared, because, he reasoned, we would all want to hear from the new man. He could have been a speaker at a great huge AA meeting. He honestly gave a brilliant narrative of the progression of the malady of alcoholism. He started with recalling a walk down a city sidewalk in 1955, at the side of his father, passing a barroom and smelling the beer and smoke and thinking it was the best thing he ever smelled. And the first drink later, and the later drinks, and the trouble, and the more trouble, and the trying to stop, etc. And he ended his beautiful, articulate share by saying "and my name is Dave, and I am an alcoholic."

The cynic in me had him pegged as some kind of phony before he clinched it with that closer. I managed to keep my mouth shut and not share my suspicions with anyone - that is SOME kind of progress. I wish I could progress all the way to not being suspicious of people's stories. I would rather be burned by people lying to me than always be thinking they are. But I have such a time honed b.s. meter. And this guy was full of it. Too much AA lingo. And that closing - which we don't even do here in Denver - they do it in other areas of the country, and a few people do it here, but not many. But I have not once ever heard a newcomer do it.

Even when I walked into the room, I noticed him. I thought of going over to introduce myself, but then someone else did, so I could just sit where I like and do what I wanted. Even then, I thought he was sizing up the room, were people welcoming him, etc. I hope we didn't let him down, truly I do hope we didn't. Because no matter what his story is, I am quite certain he is an alcoholic. No one can describe alcoholism the way he did without having lived it. Most people can't describe it that eloquently until they have been sober for a decade or two, because it takes that long for the fog to lift and the reality of the horror to become evident and real.

It reminded me of the time a few years ago when a man had started coming to our group. We had just lost a couple of members tragically. Our group was in collective grief and some of our members were in horrible personal tragedy. This guy comes along and says his wife and daughter were just killed in a car accident. I told my friend later that I thought that was a lie. She was horrified that I would sit in judgement of what someone said in an AA meeting as being true or false. I felt terrible about what an awful person I must be to have judged him. About a year later, we all found out that he never had a wife or daughter and there was no car accident. My friend asked me how I knew that... I don't know... he just sounded like he was full of s***. That's all.

So now I shall go and pray for this defect to be removed.

Friday, January 22, 2010


Lately I am realizing that it takes a certain level of trust to blog. It sounds very odd to say that because my audience is the internet - I have absolutely no control over who reads my blog. However, I do usually write to an intended audience. My intended audience is mostly my frequent readers - the other bloggers, my friends. But as I can see from my site meter, most of my readers are people who get here by searching for information about Alcoholics Anonymous or "how to quit drinking" or "do people stay sober" etc. I take that very seriously. I see my role as pointing them to their local Alcoholics Anonymous organization. I am happy if they can use my blog to read about the adventures and misadventures of one person who happens to be a member of AA. I think that no matter what is going on, no matter what I am writing about, my ultimate message is that a person can stay sober, one day at a time, by the Grace of God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, AA works.

Anyone who has known me for a while probably knows that I really love my job. Most people my age are counting down the days until retirement like a prisoner "X"ing off days on their calendars. I am trying to relish each day, I do not want to retire. I want to work as long as I possibly can. The last 5 months have been horrible at work. I feel that emotionally I am really feeling the fallout from 5 months of too much stress, too much grief, too much pain. Compound that with the fact that it is January, which I typically have a hard time with, and I am not really at my best right now.

So, what do I blog about - I don't want this to be a "dump" of all things unpleasant because I believe I have a responsibility not to do that. But I also take seriously a responsibility to be honest and not sugar coat things. I will not lie and say I feel great and happy, serene, peaceful, and content while I am sitting at my computer tearing my hair out.

Let's just say that I am facing a challenging time right now. Most of the time I am just fine. I try to do what I know to do. The most effective weapon against despair is "turning my thoughts to others," so I make an effort every day to do that. I know that God has led me through darker places in my life and that even though I do not feel his presence, it is here. To go any further to explain that would lead me down a road of my beliefs that are very specific to my religion and I don't do that on my blog either!

We bloggers have a pretty nice community. We generally treat each other with affection, care, and respect. There are always new additions and I think probably like at the gym, there are more newer ones at this time of the year. New sober bloggers generally tend to fall into two groups - those who are looking for answers and those who think they have the answers. All I want to do is share my experience, strength, and hope. I do not want others to come by and tell me what to do. It really irritates me. And when I go to your blog, I hope to read about your experience, strength, and hope. If your blog is a general treatise about being sober, and quotes all kinds of non-AA literature to support your opinions, I probably won't be back. If you are honestly sharing your experience, strength, and hope, you will find your blog on my sidebar and I will be back most every day.

I appreciate the risk that we take every day to share ourselves. We do get attacked. We learn to live through it. I have learned so much from my blogging friends. I appreciate you, that is what I want to say.

And if you are new to blogging, keep coming back.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This is the 1605th time I have sat down at my computer to post something on this blog. Sometimes I have been anxious to write about something in particular. Sometimes I have been happy to write something just to connect with my blogging friends. At other times I have just done it out of habit or commitment or something - but I do post every day.

Last night I just had not one thing to say. Oh, I could have complained about work. Or I could have told you how grateful I was for a good hairdresser and a lovely hair color and new cut. I could have written about American Idol because I love that show for some unfathomable reason. I could have written about a bunch of other things if people I know didn't read my blog.

This morning I was tempted to write about the fact that we in AA are living in the process or the hope of a spiritual experience - and then we try to quantify that. Believe me, no one likes to quantify things more than I, but this is something that cannot be reduced to formulas, recipes, or equations. But that is what most of us do. And every single time I write about this, which I have done more than once, it is misunderstood and then I wonder why I bother. Like a great AA speaker I heard once said "God created man in his image, and then we, unfortunately, returned the favor."

So, suffice it to say that it is a long dark January. My workplace is difficult. I am having some difficulty with a sponsee that puts me in a position where I am going to have to make a decision about the future of our relationship that I would rather not make.

I will now get on the treadmill and then "suit up and show up" for work. Hopefully today I will not have to retreat to my office to close the door and cry as I did yesterday. And to think that we all thought it would get better after the first of the year!

I have a deep and abiding faith that God has me just where I need to be and that I just need to have faith in that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Being Sober and Happy

(this is obviously an old photo - it has my favorite tablecloth... )

I am tired tonight and thought of writing about how hard I have worked today but thought of how uninteresting that is to read. So, not having any better ideas, I went to my site meter and looked at the last search that brought a reader to my blog. It was "being sober and happy." What a nice topic.

If you were going to make a judgment on this based on information found on the internet I guess you would decide that people are pretty miserable once they quit drinking. That is not my experience. It is not my personal experience and it is not my experience of knowing lots and lots of sober alcoholics. Of course, sometimes it is the case that a sober alcoholic is a grumpy angry surly individual, but I always wonder what they were like before they got sober - and I think they are the exception not the rule.

When I got sober, I was so happy to be relieved of the prison of living with active alcoholism, I felt like a hot air balloon, set free from the earth. I was so delighted to live in this new way. I was so delighted to not worry about getting drunk, and what I would do once I drank too much. I was not worried about who I would run into or who I would call in a drunken need to tell someone what a jackass they were or how much I loved them.... maybe both things simultaneously. To wake up every single morning feeling good was something that took me years to get used to. Each spring I would hear the arrival of the birds and wonder how I had never noticed this in my entire life previous to getting sober. I felt like a new woman, and I was a happy woman.

This is not to say that I had no problems, because I had plenty. But I also had the ability to make reasonable decisions for the first time in my adult life and behave responsibly.

Maybe if you are not done drinking being sober is torture. But if you have been through the hell of alcoholism, being set free from that is a blessing that is indescribable.

Tonight after work I stopped at a birthday party for a friend from work. They were all drinking. I was not. I always limit my exposure at these events... the first hour and no more. And as usually happens, with the first drink, they get that lovely glow that is the reason people drink alcohol - it is pleasant. But then some people leave and some people continue to drink. And what usually happens is that I end up having more fun than anyone, and sooner or later some genius realizes that I am drinking a diet pepsi. Tonight there was a policeman present, and he told me I was having too much fun with my diet pepsi, that I should have some booze so that I could tone it down. ha! If he only knew. And then it was time to go, and I happily drove away. Not guiltily looking in my rearview mirror for anything.

Being sober and happy? Yeah. It is possible. It is good. Because AA works.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tired of Seriousness

This is a wine bag I knitted - to donate to my biblical school. I was told to donate a bottle of wine and I refused - alcohol has caused enough damage in my life and the lives of others, I do not need to contribute one drop into this sea of misery. So I knitted a bag to fit around a bottle and placed a bottle of sparkling pear juice within... I shall donate it tonight. And I hate to be like this, but they better appreciate it. If it were a free-will offering, it would be different, but this is not my idea. The school costs enough that I am considering leaving it - to be asked to donate things on top of that makes me feel that I am in a place for wealthy people who might want to study the bible in their spare time. And that is not me.

This world seems so very grim right now. I can only handle so much. I had intended for this post to be light-hearted but I can see that I am failing at that - dismally.

For my long time readers, did you notice that my trusty table cloth is not present in the photo? That is because it got ruined the last time I had a large gathering at my house. A votive candle got knocked over and the dark green wax is all over the lace and I don't know how to get it out. It also got all over a jute rug under the table but a wonderful young man got down on his hands and knees and picked it all out.

I took a test this afternoon to be a census worker. Do you know that they are called "enumerators?" Cool. I got 100% on the test (and it was really hard!), so I have a feeling I will probably be offered a job. I thought I could do this part-time for a little while in addition to my full-time job. Do you know that many people applying for jobs as census workers cannot follow simple directions such as:
1. show up for the test at 1:40. The latest one showed up at 2:00 and was allowed in.
2. have two forms of ID - some didn't have it and wanted to argue about that.
3. complete the forms correctly the first time - only a small percentage were able to do that.

I am already tired and I have a class until 9 o'clock tonight. I get to go back to work tomorrow! YAY! Four days off is a long time and I am ready for some structure in my life. I get crabby and lazy when left to my own devices.

I am grateful that I am sober today. I am grateful that I have people in my life who will tell me when I am full of crap and way off track. I am grateful that I have a relationship with my higher power that makes huge demands on me. I am grateful to have a moral compass that might be the result of having been raised by parents who taught me those things... I don't know. But I am grateful for it.

And I am grateful for you. xxxooo, mc
update 8:58 p.m.: They LOVED the bottle bag thing and now I feel like a jerk for saying what I did. And we got out of class early! woo hoo!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

One Day at a Time

We are all staying sober, one day at a time. At least that is what we say. And then we quickly qualify it by adding just how many days / months / years / decades we have been sober. Don't get me wrong, I am a big believer in the value of sober experience. I am a big believer in the value of staying sober through thick and thin, year after year, no matter what.

Here's what I am not a big believer in: the danger of long term sobriety. Oh yes, I am sorry to tell you, there is danger in it. And like a lot of dangers, it is very seductive.

Lately I have noticed on my blog that people will come by and make disparaging remarks - always prefaced by "I have been sober for 19 years!" "I have been sober for nearly 23 years!" whatever amount of time. As if that length of time makes them right. It is the trump card, the end of every argument. I guess it works quite well with someone who is sober a couple of years. And I guess their reading comprehension is not really good, my header tells you my sobriety date. Playing their game, I guess I am right and they are wrong. But I don't play it that way.

I have heard the expression "the road gets narrower" and to me that means that the longer I stay sober the more I have to live by a prescribed set of spiritual principles. I cannot deviate from these. I will know right away when I do. I will be off the paved trail and on the rocky shoulder - ready to stumble and fall. I have heard others claim that "the road gets narrower" means that they need to judge others and only keep the most wonderful people in their life - to me it means the opposite.

So, here's the thing... I have been sober for 25 years. Oh, that's wonderful, you may say. And I would agree. It is a blessing. One I don't think I could have earned in a thousand lifetimes. I have a sponsor who will have been sober for 37 years on February 5. I can talk to her (now that her health has improved). Many people who have been sober for over 20 years no longer have sponsors. And they no longer have anyone who is willing to talk to them about how they are "really" doing. And not take their length of sobriety for an answer for how they are doing.

It is easy to believe that if I have gotten away with some aberrant behavior for the last 25 years that it just might be OK. But it might just be a matter of time before it is going to catch up to me, and with a vengeance.

We're all in this boat together. We ALL need to care about each other. Not just old timers caring about newcomers. But all of us watching out for each other.

A few years ago, I had a problem with a group and left it for a while. I talked with a member of the group and expressed my dismay that not one person from that group called me to see how I was. She was incredulous at the concept of someone calling someone who is sober over 20 years to see if they are OK. But why?

I guess I was fortunate when I got sober. I was around a bunch of people who didn't behave as if you reached a certain point in sobriety when you could no longer be questioned or worried about.

We are all in this together. We all are staying sober one day at a time. We do not get to a certain point when we are immune from needing to take care on a daily basis of this gift we have been so freely given.

When we rest on our laurels they get wrinkled.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My son called...

While I was at church tonight. And left a message, he has been notified that he has been deployed to Haiti. I am trying to be more altruistic about this. I told him to tell Uncle Sam that he can't go because his mom says he isn't allowed. If only. I am hopeful that a good night sleep will change my thinking. I know I should be happy that he is a wonderful young man who is capable of going to a place in such dire need and being actually able to help. I am grateful for that. But I am a mom and I am worried.

On Thursday I got yarn for a new project - to knit helmet liners for soldiers in Afghanistan. It is very cold there in the winter and a wool cap under a helmet is a welcome addition. And it doesn't hurt if it is hand knit. And I think it doesn't hurt if it is hand knit of a luscious wool yarn in the prettiest drab color you can find... see above.

The race today was awesome. 5 miles was definitely a stretch for me, but I beat my time for a race I did last year on the same course, so I am happy with that... and very sore. It was a lovely day for a run.

Oh, I just can't seem to get that knot out of my gut for this moment. I know I will because I lived through a year with my son in Iraq and I was not crazy most of that time. I just need to calm down and know that God is in charge and I am not.

He and his girlfriend (who is also in his unit and going to Haiti) are coming over for lunch tomorrow. Thanks be to God I can make a beautiful lunch for them.

I will never forget the meeting I attended a few years ago with a new woman in attendance. Her son had just returned from Iraq. She "celebrated" so much on the day of his return that she had a blackout and only knew that both her husband AND her son were no longer speaking to her. I cried while listening to her in the meeting because I don't know if I have ever heard a sadder thing in a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Because of AA, and the fact that AA works, my son knows he can call me on Saturday and plan on seeing me on Sunday - and that I will be the same person on Sunday that he talked to on Saturday - AND that there will be a good meal cooked in the meantime. He doesn't even need to think about that, he just knows it.

What could be better than that?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Furlough Day

You know, if you asked me if I wanted to take days off without pay, I would have said "no." Definitely not. But every time I get one of these days off, I sure do enjoy it. It is really nice to have a day off that isn't a holiday.

I guess the word "chillax" was banned this year, but I think I might have "chillax"ed today. Well, aside from watching CNN all day long - which is pretty tough right now. And knitting a wine bag - because I refused to donate a bottle of wine to something I was recruited to donate to... and told I would donate a bottle of wine. I refused. I told them I would donate something to contribute to their wine basket, but it would not be a bottle of wine. They looked at me like I just escaped from Mars. Too bad. I asked a friend what on earth I could donate for a wine basket that wasn't wine, and she suggested I knit a wine bag - it is pretty darn cute. I bought a bottle of sparkling pear juice so that I could fit it. I will donate that too. (I don't even drink fake wine.)

Tomorrow I am running a 5 mile race. It should be a nice day for a run.

I am so grateful for a warm house with an intact roof in the middle of civilization - with things like police and hospitals. Suddenly my couple of financial problems don't seem so big. They seem pretty darn minor. Well, heck, they ARE pretty darn minor.

Life is good. God has been so very good to me.

AA works.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Mother's Heart

Today I sat next to my daughter as she celebrated one year of sobriety. I don't know that my heart has ever been so full. We just got off the phone, she called to tell me how grateful she was that I came to the meeting and I tried to tell her how happy I was to be there. I could barely express it because I kept choking up with tears. She said that she was so glad that she was causing me tears of joy after all the years of all the tears of pain. Oh, I don't care about that anymore. It is gone.

I got to see some old friends which was great. It was wonderful to see the love they have for my daughter. It was wonderful to see that she is an integral part of that group. I am so grateful that she is there, because truly that is where she belongs.

But the thing that I never expected and caused me to cry when I first saw it was the young women. The women who are sober less than a year. The ones who were thanking my daughter for always being there for them. For always answering the phone. For the help she has been to them. I don't know why I wouldn't have expected that, but I just didn't. Here she is, celebrating a year, with a whole little group of women behind her to whom she has already been "passing it on". Wow.

My heart is so full. To think of the lives that we in Alcoholics Anonymous are entrusted with every day. Precious daughters, precious sons, precious husbands, precious wives.... what a grave responsibility and what happy stories sometimes result.

What a happy day in our family today.

And sadly, for the rest of our family, they don't even care. I tried to tell her twin sister the other day that her sister's year anniversary was coming up and she responded by "I'm not into that kind of thing." I told her "You're sure interested when things aren't going so well." End of conversation. Ok.

That is OK. For my daughter and I, we know. We know.

Easy way to text a donation to Red Cross for Haiti

Anyone with a mobile phone and an account with a major wireless carrier can text the phrase “Haiti” to the number 90999 and donate $10 to the Red Cross. That amount is charged to the donor’s cellphone bill. I thought perhaps this was a scam, but this website looked pretty official to me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to my Daughter

This is a photo, taken a couple of years ago when we bloggers used to post photos regularly, of my hand, my daughter's hand, and my two granddaughters hands. It is the only anonymous photo I have of my daughter - well, that is not exactly true. I have the photo of the tattoo she got on her wrist - "Mom" - oh dear Lord.

In a few short hours, my daughter will celebrate one blessed year of sobriety. A year ago today, she was on death's door, and no, I am not exaggerating. Her friends literally threw her out into a parking lot because they didn't want her to die in their house (nice friends, huh - it sure was not too hard for her to let go of them....) She was able to call someone who was able to come and get her even though he was sick to death of "rescuing" her - and he nursed her back to health one more (and please dear God, last) time.

On January 30, 2009, she found her way to what would become her home group. It is full of people I got sober with back in the 80s. Some of them knew her when she was a little girl. One of them, a 300 lb. fairly dangerous man named Tiny, used to babysit she and her siblings so I could get to meetings. (When she tells people this, they marvel - probably at the fact that her mother could have such poor judgment!) One of the people still at that group was my boyfriend for many, many years and has his own trouble child. We used to compare notes, and commiserate. For a while, his problem child was sober in the meeting and she and he would sit together and cause trouble. Oh dear, of all the things I thought would never happen. He is now in the process of cleaning up again.... I pray he gets sober.... I pray for all of us and our kids....

Tomorrow we start a new meeting at work, I have a key role in this meeting, and it goes from 10 to noon. I told my boss today that I have to leave at 11:15. I just don't care. I have to be at my daughter's birthday meeting. I will drive across town and see my daughter celebrate her first year of sobriety.

It has been a good year for her. It has been hard, it has been a struggle in many ways. But not a struggle to stay sober. She was done when she was done. And I understand that. I was done too. And when I asked God to relieve me of the desire to drink, it was gone. Then all I had to do is get to work to keep it gone. I believe this is what she has had to do as well.

It has been a thrilling year for me. Also a challenge to steer clear of her program. I believe she has a good sponsor and I know she has taken the steps. I know that she is actively involved in AA and doing the stuff that you are supposed to do. And I also know that it is none of my business.

I am just so incredibly grateful to have had this year with my daughter. No matter what the future holds or what the past has done.

One day in October, I took the light rail downtown alone. As I passed the sights along the way, I recalled a couple of trips my daughter and I had taken this past summer. As I recalled those moments, I had a startling realization. In the last year, I have had more of a history with my daughter than I have ever had in the 30 years of her life. Before she started drinking and using, she was so out of control, I couldn't enjoyably take her anywhere. Once she was about 14, she started running away from home and doing her thing and we never did anything together - but we were always close - if that makes any sense. Oh, I know it does to mothers, so I shan't explain anymore.

I am so very grateful as a mother for the last 365 days of my daughters life.

Thanks to the Grace of a loving God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous - and the wonderful people in it - that's you! Thank you. xoxoxox

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Acting Out

Yes, green toenails on a 58 year old woman. Well, no one will see them at this time of year. I am not exactly wearing sandals to work. They sure bring a smile to my face when I take off all the layers of clothing at the end of the day or in the morning when I swing them out from under the 400 various flannel sheets, blankets, duvets, coverlets, and other things placed on my bed each night to keep me warm.

I didn't go to the meeting I had planned today because I stayed too late at work. I am in the midst of some ugly stuff at work. But you all knew that. It is what I do. It has just never been quite this ugly.

I think I am ready to be homeless or pick onions or clean toilets or just do something else.

But as long as I am where I am, I will keep slogging along, doing the best I can, trying to be of service to God and my fellows until such a time as it is clear that I should be somewhere else.

"I fear only one thing, to keep my own will." St. Therese of Lisieux

Getting on the Treadmill

Could be a fitting analogy for life in January. Life in a particularly difficult January. I don't have to like it, I just have to do it.

So this morning as I feel I am scrambling to find reasons to not just crawl back into bed and just say "screw it" to everything, instead I will use every trick in the book to get through - I will put on my cutest running outfit - a wonderful white shirt with a tattoo pattern, a green skirt, my orange and silver shoes. There is a remote possibility that I will feel better after having run 3 miles on a treadmill.
Sweetest Tee Tattoo

Today I will call a sponsee who has been carefully avoiding me to find out what is going on. Normally I wouldn't do that. It is my belief that a sponsor is there to help you if you want the help, but is not there to chase you down or to be a psychic about how you are doing if you are not communicating. But today I will call her - because I need to.

I will go to my job and face whatever additional security they have implemented overnight without telling anyone. I will put a smile on my face and comply with whatever degradation or inconvenience is involved. I will not complain or point out that this is spending the money that we have just "saved" by closing units, laying off people, and cutting salaries. I also won't worry about the fact that this increased security is all out of proportion to the threat of one poor angry person.

Tonight I will go to a meeting I don't normally attend - because there are a gazillion newcomers there. Well, I used to go when I believed they were newcomers, but after attending for a year, I realized they were the same people, raising their hands month after month after month. Being smiled at and told "keep coming back!!!!" As if that would keep them sober. I ended up butting heads with several men (the meeting "elders") who didn't like me suggesting that perhaps if they actually did something (like getting a sponsor, doing some steps, and not drinking when they felt like it) they wouldn't have to raise their hands anymore - they thought I was being cruel. So I removed myself from that meeting. But I think I will insert myself tonight.

I remember one January prayer, it was 21 years ago. I was sober 4 years. I was absolutely at the end of my rope with everything and my prayer was simply "I'm ready." And, boy, did things happen after that! Maybe it is time for another one of those prayers. Because, truly, I am ready.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Does AA Work?

Yes. AA works. It works very well. Most of the successfully sober alcoholics are not writing books or making noise or causing trouble, so we don't hear about them. They are just getting on with living life. They have made amends for the wreckage they caused while they were drinking, and they are very busy making the best of the new life they have.

When I look at the phone list of my home group, it is evident that people come to AA and get and stay sober. I was going to do an analysis of the sobriety dates but decided to just skip that. Suffice it to say, there are a good many people who are sober there. There are a couple who have been sober for over 30 years. There are several of us who have been sober for over 20 years. There are many who have been sober between 10 and 20 years. And then there are those between one and 10 years - probably the majority. There are a few chronic "slippers" and it is my experience that when and if they do get sober, they will usually explain to you exactly why it is that they were not sober during the time that they were not sober. I have never heard anyone explain to me that it is because something about the program didn't work. It is always about something that they were not doing or were not willing to do.

Some do not get sober. Some do not stay sober. That is simply reality. But I have seldom seen someone who is actively a member of Alcoholics Anonymous get drunk. And that would be someone who is living by the principles which is a lot more than going to meetings. Meetings are nice but will not keep you sober. Get a sponsor to find out what it is that you need to be doing in addition to going to meetings... if all you do is go to meetings, likely all you will hear is "keep coming back!"

When I drive across town to my old homegroup, I see folks with grey hair and pot bellies who used to be cool cats and chicks with me in the 80s. They are now serenely happy sober retirees and grandparents.... that is a gross overgeneralization. But the point is, I can walk into that room and see a whole room full of people I have known in AA for well over 20 years. And most of them, including me, have been sober for all of that time. There are new people there too and there are lovingly cared for by the older members. (About a year ago, on a day that my daughter knew that she had to go to AA and didn't know where to go, she happened to arrive at a noon meeting in another group across town with a lot of my old peers and felt instantly like she had come home - that is now her homegroup and she has a sponsor who has taken her through the steps and has been sober ever since.)

I have known of some chicanery occurring in and around AA in my years in the fellowship. But honestly when I read of the stories of egregiously bad behavior that have been published recently, I do not recognize that organization as the AA I have known and loved for two and a half decades. It is my experience that a member will get out of line from time to time and will suffer either their own consequences and will change their behavior or people will confront the behavior if it is hurting others. In any event, it seldom goes very far or is tolerated for long.

And what should have been the preface to this post: I am writing this because recently I have been dismayed by the voluminous misinformation about AA that abounds on the internet. A couple of weeks ago, I did a google search for "Does AA work?" and was dismayed to see the horrible things that came up as a result of the search. I wondered - where is our information? There are approximately 2 million sober alcoholics - you would think that, even though we are an anonymous organization, there would be some general information that people who are alcoholic and ready to quit drinking can go to AA and get help to quit drinking and learn to live happy lives without alcohol. But no, there is all this other stuff. I exchanged e-mails with Ed G. who I have met as a result of this blog and is now one of my favorite people... we talked about writing about this specifically and he wrote about it today. I thought I better do it too.

I do know one thing, and that is that when I got sober I was desperate to quit drinking and I felt I had nowhere else to go. I had no insurance at the time, so the treatment centers were not anxious to help me. I called Alcoholics Anonymous and was greeted by a lovely, intelligent, elegant, soft-spoken, well-dressed woman who told me that an important part of her recovery was to help other alcoholics and she would be happy to talk with me! She had a history like mine and she understood me - and she was now sober! That was extremely good news to me then. I bet there are people who think that is extremely good news today. Alcoholism has not changed in 25 years. Our program has not changed in 25 years - or 75 years. AA worked then, and it works now.

I was desperate not to drink ever again and I found someone to help me to take the steps as written in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. As a result of that, I had a spiritual experience and my life changed. In order to keep that, I was told I had to pass it on. And as I sponsor other women, they then pass it on.

We have been entrusted with a life and death mission. That may sound like hyperbole, but if you have been in AA for a while, you know that it isn't. I thank God that I live in a time where there is a solution to my problem because 75 years isn't a long time in the history of the universe and prior to AA there were isolated cases of people having spiritual experiences and recovering from alcoholism, but not anything on the scale of the wholesale recovery that we now take for granted and some even sarcastically deride.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

So Many People

About an hour ago I sat down for the first time today. And then I got on the phone. I owe several more phone calls and they are going to have to wait until tomorrow. I made the phone calls today that couldn't wait until tomorrow.

This morning my daughter and I went to the 6:30 meeting. There was a young man there with a badly bruised face, including two black eyes, who raised his hand. He never once smiled during that meeting. Oh, it hurt to look at him. My daughter talked about being new (now that she will celebrate a year on Thursday) and erasing every single phone number in her phone and replacing them with the women in her AA group. Sitting one day on her front porch, smoking a cigarette and just punching in a number at random because she didn't know anyone... and just saying "hi, how are you?" and the voice on the other end asking "who is this?" the rest is history as this woman is now her sponsor. She has taken my darling daughter through all of the twelve steps using the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Praise God.

What a joy it is to have a sober daughter.

It seems that a lot of people have a lot of things going on right now. I am grateful that I am someone who can be called when there are things going on. I have been busy busy busy all day long.

And I also need to say that my blog is not a democracy. This is my blog. If you want to advertise something you need to take it elsewhere. Particularly if you have some agenda contrary to AA. I will no longer allow you to try to hijack some of my readers. I am going to be a lot more free with my delete button in the future.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Hazards of Success

Somebody came by today and dropped what I call a "turd" - a little comment that stinks up the place.

Every time he comes by he needs to tell me that he has been sober for nearly 24 years!!!!!!!!!!! And he has sponsored lots of men!!!!!!!!!!!! And they have called him and worked steps with him, and he has attended retreats and Bible studies with them, etc. In other words, I guess he must be the perfect AA.

He leaves a link to his website which is basically about how screwed up AA is and how Christianity is the only answer. This is a real problem for me as a Christian. I sure wish we wouldn't do that. It makes both AA and Christianity look bad - totally unnecessarily. They really are compatible, but we can't shove this down the throats of others. The steps are clear that people get to have the God of their understanding.

But he has been sober for "SO LONG" I am sure he feels entitled to do any darn thing he wants. And he is sure he is right. OK.

Why does he need to come by my blog every now and then and lecture me?

I don't need to tell you every single day:
  • I am sober for over 25 years.
  • I have been an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for all of that time.
  • I have sponsored women for nearly all of that time - and they probably number in the hundreds - but I find it offensive when others count them... that is ego feeding and gross.
  • I have been active in AA service for a number of years and then took seriously the suggestion of rotation.
  • I have never strayed. Honestly, I have never strayed.
  • But I know that this is not my doing. I know that.
I have utter and complete faith that God did for me what I absolutely could not do for myself. I believe that AA was inspired by God and it is a gift - I don't know why out of the millenia, He has chosen this time to allow us this incredible chance at recovery from alcoholism, but I thank Him for it every single day. And then I try to pass that on.

How you can get arrogance out of that constantly amazes me. But I see it almost every day. The puffed up chests, boasting about tenure of sobriety. Instead of humbly thanking God, they are bragging about it and talking about all the "work" they have done and all the thousands of poor unwashed drunks they have unselfishly helped.

If you have a full knowledge of your condition and you have an idea of what a blessing it is to be able to help another soul with this malady, I don't know how you could do anything other gladly render the service and then humbly thank God for the opportunity.

I am grateful, so very grateful, that I showed up on the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous, threw myself at your mercy, and you took me and lovingly cared for me and showed me how to stand up and stop crawling. You showed me how to start living like a self-respecting human being. Once my behavior improved, my feelings about myself improved exponentially. You told me on that first day to ask God for help and I did. I believe He answered my prayer that day and every day since. Almost 25 and a half years of Him answering my prayer for help.

And I can gladly pass that on.

Does AA work? Yes, it works. It works very well. I have not had a drink in all those years. The person I am today barely resembles the person who showed up a trembling mess 25 years ago. But can I pat myself on the back for that? no.

I am clear that I am sober by the Grace of a Loving God. Pride and Ego are my enemies. Leveling of pride is something that enables me to get and stay well. Humility is something hardwired into our program. It is necessary for the maintenance of a spiritual condition that is necessary for a peaceful and happy sobriety.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Here I am for another day

This little Santa potato head was my gift at that party I was griping about - with the gag gift - right before Christmas. Well, it was a "white elephant" gift exchange - which I have never ever done before. So I didn't understand it. I brought an ugly ass etched glass frame, complete with 80's bride pictures that came with the frame, that my daughter gave me for some mother's day or Christmas or birthday - back when she was using and I knew she had stolen it or gotten it dumpster diving. I hated to see it every time I ran across it in my closet. So, since they told me to bring something from home that I didn't want anymore, I knew that frame definitely qualified. ( I asked her and indeed, she got it dumpster diving.) When I got this little Santa, I was so happy, I held him to my bosom with the deepest love. I didn't know that someone else could take him away from me. And one of my co-workers did. But today she let me "babysit" him. Sometimes on the most dismal days it is the smallest things that bring the greatest joy.

I had my interview today. I walked into a conference room and they told me to sit at the head of the table, and then 9 (nine) people filed in and sat down and started barking questions at me. I used one of my favorite weapons in my arsenal when in such a stressful situation.... humor. I don't care if it was appropriate or not - I didn't know what else to do. And I don't think I want the job. And certainly they might not want me. When they asked me how my supervisor would describe me and I said "a nightmare" that might not have been the answer they were really looking for. They laughed, but I am sure they were not looking for a comedy routine. Oh well.

I won't go into the rest of the day at work because it was awful, which has become the new normal.

When I got home I got to go to a meeting of the HOA which I have been talked into becoming a member of again. I signed up in 2007 and hated it and stuck out my two year term, counting down the months until I could quit. I was gone 4 months - and when the president of the board called me last month and asked me to come back, I agreed. He is such a nice man and I kind of missed knowing all the ins and outs of the neighborhood and having the ability to impact what is going on. We shall see how long I will last this time.

And now my bed is calling me and asking me to come back for the evening. I am so tired. Tomorrow is Friday. This is the first five day week I have worked in a very long time and it feels kind of like a big deal.

I am grateful to be sober to experience all these things today. I get to do these things sober. I get to do these things without going "mental" because I learned this in AA. Because AA works.

And it works very well.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wednesday Night

Are there more geese around than there used to be? There seem to be. So many hungry people, and so many geese. hmmmm.....

I have a job interview tomorrow. Tonight I am whitening my teeth, doing my own manicure and facial, trying on suits, etc. I don't even want this job... I don't want to leave my current job. I applied for this one in the midst of the insecurities of the lay-offs - when I didn't know if I would have a job, so it seemed like a good idea at the time. Then there was a test involved because this job is heavily reliant on statistics. There were 5 questions. I could not answer 2 because I did not know how to do one function in SPSS. I explained that, but figured that out of 9 applicants, I would not make the top 3 - not answering 40% of the test! Imagine my shock when I was informed that I made the top 3. So, now I have an interview. And I want to just show up dressed like a slob, but I won't. (the last job I interviewed for, I was offered but decided I didn't want.)

Do you want to know something? I haven't worn high heels since September 30. On that day, I had a pair of particularly high ones on. High spiky sandals. I got out of my car in the morning and was greeted by such pain and limped so painfully that someone came along and helped me into the building. When I got into my office I put on a pair of running shoes I keep in my office. I have been afraid of wearing heels since then. I even bought a new pair of boots and they have little flat heels - and they are super cute.

And since it is snowing and arcticly (leave me alone blogger - it is a word if I say it is!) cold, I am going to wear my new boots with one of my suits which I will decide on tomorrow morning. Well, if I decide to wear my brown suit, I will not wear my black boots. But If I decide on any of my black suits, I will wear them, or one of my two green suits.

This is my way of avoiding talking about what is what is really on my mind. My sponsor is very ill. I have to trust God that no matter what happens we will all be OK. But I have a way I would prefer this to turn out. I can be grateful that I have this wonderful woman in my life who I love so much. And I know loves me right back.

I thought about her a great deal today. And thought about how I would call her one of the most loving people I know. 90% of the people who know her wouldn't agree with me. She is not democratically loving. She isn't a big tolerator. She is a big truth-teller, which doesn't make her particularly popular. We have that in common. She is not easy. But you know when she tells you she loves you she means it. You know when she tells you that you are wonderful, that is the truth. She is not saying things for any particular agenda. She is telling you the truth. These are the kinds of people I would prefer to surround myself with. There aren't many. She has been hard, but I would rather have someone hard who expects a lot from me. I don't want someone who wants to sell me short.

I better shut up and go to bed. After I lube up my hands and place them into gloves for the night.

I think I will stay sober for the rest of today - and likely tomorrow too. I hope you will too. AA works. It really does.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Still too tired...

No good reason to post this photo, but I took it, so therefore, I will post it... Love the tanning bed. I know it is wrong, but I am weak.

I am still too tired. I had a headache all day. I am trying to wait until 7 p.m. to go to bed. Is that ridiculous or what?!

I spoke with my sponsor this morning. She was home from the hospital, but may be going back. I wish I didn't know what I know about pathophysiology, I might be easily convinced that what she has is not a big problem. But having written up more than one death review of people who have died from this condition, I am not taking this lightly, and I know that she is not either. As we got off the phone today, we told each other our "I love you's" and we both said "good-bye." It felt odd. I got off the phone and cried. (Am I ever going to have a day when I don't write "I cried?") Some day I am sure I will. I am hopeful that her condition will resolve and I know that she is too.

The good news is - I have a sponsor I love. She loves me too. She has helped me for nearly 15 years. We have both stayed sober for all of that time. She is 11 years older than I am and sober 11 years longer than I.

I would say that is, all in all, very good news. AA works when a person follows a few simple directions. And what a wonderful thing it is.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Way too tired

I probably shouldn't try to write anything when I am this tired, but I will.

I was going to write more about sponsorship, but I am really too tired. I thought it was interesting that another blogger had a sponsor who was having her do all kinds of wacky psychotherapy kinds of things that had nothing to do with any kind of program - in other words, the sponsor was practicing some kind of medicine or voodoo without a license. Thank God our friend fired her, and got another sponsor.

The comments on her blog amazed me though. About "a better fit" and "being comfortable." What?

It is not about a better fit or being comfortable. It is about getting someone to help you to do the steps. Not an amateur practitioner of whatever. Just the steps.

In the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, we have "conference approved literature." People love to scoff at that term. It is easy to look down on it as if we are too narrow minded to read anything that doesn't have the AA seal of approval on it. That is hardly what this means. It is literature that is really AA. Not someone's opinion (like my blog for instance). It seems that about one in three alcoholics who stays sober for more than 14 months thinks they ought to write a book about it - and then as a result there are all those books written by people - likely now drunk. Full of their wonderful nonanonymous wisdom and sage advice.

In the wonderful last words that Dr. Bob ever said to Bill W....
"Remember, Bill, let's not louse this thing up. Let's keep it simple!' -- Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, p. 343

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Back to night posts

Back to the work-a-day-world tomorrow. I must be up long before dawn to get a work out in and then get to work on time and get a full day in. Then to biblical school until 9 p.m. Yikes. Mondays are long.

I found out today that my sponsor is in the hospital. That was rather shocking. When I got off the phone with her husband I cried. (well, really, I have a rather similar emotional response to everything - I cry). He said she is on the mend and would be discharged tomorrow or the next day and advised me not to call. She will call me when she gets home. She has never been in particularly good health since she has been my sponsor. When we first met, she told me she was "terminal," she had just gone through a horrible health incident and was not supposed to live. But live she did, and here she is all these years later. I don't suppose she would like me to say these things about her because she is beautiful and gorgeous and has the bearing of a queen. Truly, she does. The love I feel for this woman might be one of the purest things I have ever experienced in my life. It is just love. I would wish this for everyone. But I would hasten to add that it took me over 10 years of sobriety (and many sponsors) before I met her.

I thank God I didn't give up on the concept of sponsorship before I found the right one. My former husband used to say that "sponsorship is a principle not a personality." Much as I had to discard many of the things he said (particularly things about me!) I think this was a good one.

I will stop at church tomorrow night, and light as many candles as I can - without hogging. So many people I have promised to pray for.... I know that most of them don't even care about candles burning in a church, but I do. I love the thought of a candle burning with the intention of a prayer, it takes a whole week for that thing to burn down. I guess it is my upbringing that leads me to believe there is power in that.

And I will ask for your prayers too.

And thank you.

Sunday Morning

Last night was wonderful. There were so many people here it was awesome. People I have never seen at night watch before showed up at my front door, which was wonderful. There was enough food for 100 more people, most of which I packed out the door with people, but I forgot things - like three huge bags of chips sitting on my kitchen counter - how did I forget those??!?!? And those are a problem food for me - so they have to be out of here - today!

We got nine phone calls. One was a legitimate 12 step call. Two were probably close to 12 step calls. I got to talk with a drunk woman at about five minutes till 11 last night. She was crying. She said she would go to a meeting today. I hope she does. (She wouldn't give me any other information)

What a wonderful thing to answer your phone and have someone ask "is this AA?" and be able to respond "yes, it is!"

Two of the guys sat with me until 11 when the phone shift was over. We talked about the things AA members talk about. Once again the paradox - when we were finally defeated and could think of no better ideas, we were willing to try AA. And once we tried AA, we were admitted into a world of which we had never dreamed. AA worked. We, each of us, never drank again, and we each have lives that we never dreamed we could have. And wonderful friends to top it all off.

I have to get ready for church. I slept late and my whole schedule is off kilter. But in a good way.

I am grateful I get to spend another day sober and I hope you all will join me.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Second Day into the Year...

(The photo was taken yesterday on the campus where I work. I went into my office to get something and when I came back outside, I thought I could take some photos because it looked so pretty.)

I am madly preparing for an AA event to be held here at my house tonight. I am not mad, I am just working like mad. Happily working like mad. I guess I could say I am working like crazy, but I am not crazy either. So either way, I am just working a lot - not working my butt off either. I love to cook, I love to bake. I don't like to clean so much. People laugh when I say my house is a mess because it doesn't appear to be so, but I know it is. I know where there is dust - and quite a bit of it. And I know where things are hidden. Great quantities of things... like sacks of mail in my bedroom closet! Honestly, I get enough mail in one day to keep a recycling plant going. And this is AFTER I opt out of everything you can opt out of, including paper billing. So in December, I just didn't feel like dealing with every little piece of it, so I stashed it. I will deal with it later. But not today.

I love to have this event at my house. We answer the phones for the central office after hours. Usually in January there are a few calls. I hope there will be tonight. We get to visit and get a chance to know one another better, we get a chance to eat some good food, and we get a chance to help a still suffering alcoholic - or two, or three. It is a wonderful way to spend a Saturday evening.

I am so grateful to be a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous. How ironic it is that AA looks like the least appealing option when drinking becomes impossible - and yet, for me, and so many others, AA works and becomes something so much more than just a way to quit drinking. Yes, AA gave me the way to quit drinking, but it gave me so much more. I truly love my friends in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. To see them scattered all around my home is a pleasure that is indescribable.

"Many an alcoholic who entered there came away with an answer. He succumbed to that gay crowd inside, who laughed at their own misfortunes and understood his." -- Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 160.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Dawning of a New Decade

The contrarian in me wants to say that the new decade doesn't start until next year, but I really don't care when it starts, 2010 seems so much more sensible than 2011, and everyone else counts it this way, so I will too!

I am grateful to be starting a new decade. My third in sobriety. I entered the 90s at 5 years of sobriety - and they started out rather chaotic, and settled into happy, but maybe grim determination to clean up the wreckage of the past. I had massive debt - to child support, to social security, to regular old debtors. I paid them all. I went back to college. I started a job. Etc. You have all heard this story.

By the dawning of the 00s (how goony does that sound, what are we going to call this decade???) I was sober 15 years, was just about to get my bachelors degree, owned my first home, my daughter was pregnant with her first child, and life was good. It seemed that life held unlimited promise for me. I honestly felt that the sky was the limit. I thought I was limited only by my self-limiting thoughts and my willingness to work.


In this decade I have been humbled by world events that have impacted my financial situation which have impacted my plans for retirement. Plans! HA! Again! HA! I have been humbled by a body that seems to understand that it is aging even if my emotions do not. I have been humbled by my own career limitations. And I am clear they are innately my own. And as much as I am loathe to write about this, I have been humbled by a couple of disastrous romantic relationships that seemed to be of the "happily ever after" variety. (but instead turned into the "I will have to call the police if you don't leave here because you are frightening me" variety.)

The good news is - I think I may finally be "right sized" which is a major feat for an alcoholic. Most days are extremely peaceful for me. I have friends and family who I love and who love me back. I have no enemies. I came close to having a resentment in the last couple of weeks, but avoided it - I have no resentments.

So last night I got to run a 5K - which is a fabulous way to spend New Years Eve. Running around Washington Park with that humongous Blue Moon hanging in the sky was utterly fabulous. I was with friends who are actually good runners, so it was a trifle embarrassing to have them waiting at the finish line for so long for me in the cold. It was COLD. And ICY. And dinner afterwards was great. A great huge bison burger with chili pepper onion strings and horseradish sauce... yummmm.

I need to be in church in a few minutes, so I better get out of these jammies and out of here!

Happy New Year Everyone.

May it be filled with 365 amazing sober days for all of us.

Thank you so much for sharing this journey with me. XXXOOO, MC