Sunday, November 28, 2010

The View from a Bridge

Yesterday my running club took a little journey to a nearby mountain town. We ran (or in my case, walked) on trails. I set out to do 8 miles, but my buddies and I decided at two miles to turn around and head back. 4 miles at 8,000 feet altitude and up and down some serious hills, climbing on rocks and dodging roots and stray rocks, slippery sand, and other environmental hazards was quite adequate. And today my legs actually hurt from the effort.

I met a sponsee at a meeting this morning. It is nice to have these connections. It is nice to have a meeting to go to. It was particularly nice that I went and sat in my old seat at the meeting. I always sat in the same seat for many years, about five years ago a man decided he would sit there. So, I sat next to him. Before long, I realized that another woman wanted to sit with him, so I moved. I actually felt uncomfortable sitting there, as if I were intruding on their assigned seating. Five years later, those two seldom attend that meeting, but still no one will sit in those seats. That whole corner of the room remains empty, as if a silent shrine to their absence. So, I walked over this morning and sat in "his" seat. A moment later another of my friends moved from where he had been sitting and came and sat in "her" seat.

It reminds me of the story about how Dr. Bob had a seat at the meeting at Kings School in Akron. After his death, it sat empty, an eerie reminder of his passing. Eventually, a new guy came and sat in his chair, and everyone was relieved. No one said a word to the new fellow, it was natural that Dr. Bob's place would eventually be filled. They say nature abhors a vacuum.

We do just fill up those spaces. Thank God I get to be in one of them today. But I must remember that in Alcoholics Anonymous, none of us are that important individually, it is the whole that is important. The whole, that fills up spaces and doesn't allow voids.

It is good.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Morning After

A wonderful, wonderful Thanksgiving. The first I have spent at one of my children's homes. I loved to watch my daughter-in-law making dinner - she had a little recipe, printed from the internet, for each thing she made. She made some lovely food and I spared her my vast experience and expert advice. At one point, I sat on the sofa with the baby and actually caught a few minutes of a nap! This is very different from the meals I cook at home. It was nice. I am happy to be the older generation.

To watch my son with his daughter is the most amazing thing. I would never have imagined him as a caretaker to a tiny infant, but he is. So unlike his father! A generation ago, we still thought that women took care of babies and men were slightly effeminate if they took more than a passing interest in them. We gave lip service to being a new generation, with new ideas, but it was, at least in my life, lip service. I still took care of the children, alone. I will never forget one morning, getting my children ready to go on an outing somewhere. Three tiny children (twins and a brother two and a half years older), one mother. Their father's contribution to this effort? He went into the garage, into the car, and honked the horn -- to prompt me to put a move on it. Thank you.

I am suffering the lingering effects of the sedation I received at the dentist's office on Wednesday. I had no idea how powerful this medication would be. No Idea At All. My daughter picked me up after I was done at the dentist and drove me to the pharmacy to get some antibiotics. She brought me home and made me dinner. I discovered yesterday morning that I bit the hell out of my lip. I told her I was going to start my Thanksgiving baking. She urged me not to. I had no idea how out of it I was. No Idea At All. Thankfully I went to bed - at 6:00 p.m. I woke up at 10:30 and didn't know what day it was. It took me a minute to figure out if I had been to the dentist, if it was Thanksgiving, if I needed to get up and go to work. Yesterday I found out I had an entire phone conversation with my son on Weds. night of which I have absolutely no recollection. Yesterday I had feelings all day that were so similar to coming out of a blackout.

It was horrifying. Oh please Dear God, May I NEVER have to go through that again. I doubt I will have sedation at the dentist again - I do believe I made the right decision to have it on Weds. though. I guess if I need it again, I can make the decision then. No sense to make it now. But I do not like having a foggy head and a vague sense of unease about what I have been doing - who I have been talking to, etc. It has been a long time, and I don't care to repeat it.

It is now two days later, and I still don't feel exactly right. I am so very attached to feeling the way I feel - regardless of whether it is good or not. I know it is legitimate, not drug induced.

I am grateful for this and more things than I could begin to count.

I think I will see if I can get my daughter to go to the yarn shop with me today. That will be my contribution to the Black Friday economy. I just can't participate in this nonsense.

Happy Friday everyone. Thank you God I can be a sober woman today.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I know not all my readers are from the U.S., but Happy Thanksgiving anyway. It is such a wonderful holiday - imagine a national day of gratitude! I don't know if there is another group with so much gratitude as recovering alcoholics. Those who have narrowly escaped danger or disease with their lives tend to find each day a bit sweeter.

I have been up since 3:30, baking pies and making preparations for our dinner. This is the first year I will have Thanksgiving dinner at one of my children's. I am thrilled to be going to my son's family's home. Such a beautiful little family. Daddy, Mama, and baby. Although I already love my daughter in law, she managed to endear herself to me even more - she has asked me to teach her to make an apple pie today! So I will make other things at home and bring the makings for the apple pie to their house.

I had my dental work yesterday. All afternoon in the dental chair. But several teeth have been saved and for that I am grateful. And I am very very happy with my new dentist. Phew!

I downloaded the album "White Christmas" by Bing Crosby from iTunes this morning. I am listening to it now. I have owned this album in every media current since 1976.

I am getting weepy just thinking of all that I am grateful for today. If I were to make a list it would stretch far too long. And my face would be puffy all day from all the weeping it would bring on. So, suffice it to say, I am more grateful than words can say.... for the wonderful people in Alcoholics Anonymous who brought me an entirely new way of life and spiritual experience. I will get to go to an AA meeting this morning at 6:30, as I have for most of the Thanksgivings of my sobriety. Those are some really special meetings!

The woman experiencing this Thanksgiving is not even recognizable as the woman who experienced her last drunken Thanksgiving in 1983.

By the Grace of God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous....

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Preparing for Dental Work

I'm in my pajamas, getting ready for bed. I have a three hour dental procedure to endure tomorrow afternoon. I need to get to bed so that I can get up early and get to work and give a presentation at 11 o'clock and then run out of there and to the dentist.

I don't like it, I don't like having a toothache, which I have had for about a month. I don't want to go tomorrow.

But I am grateful that I am sober - what's that got to do with anything?
  • I can actually show up at my appointed time
  • I have dental insurance because I have a job (the same one for 16 and a half years!)
  • I have a credit card to pay the considerable sum of money the insurance won't cover
  • My daughter is giving me a ride to and from the dentist
  • Then I will have four days off work!!!
So, I will pray that I can focus on the good parts and not so much on the pain.

Take what you like...

And the rest of it to.

Where on earth did we get this "take what you like and leave the rest?"

OK, I think I will take the 1st step and maybe the 12th ... well at least the part about the spiritual awakening because then I can be some kind of guru ... and then I think I would like to carry this message (what message if you haven't done anything?) and I don't know what the principles are, so I don't think I will practice them. Well, except for the part where I have had a spiritual awakening and I can tell everyone about it. But all that other stuff about ego deflation and rigorous honesty? No, thanks.

That's what I would have taken if I was told I could slice and dice and take only the parts I wanted.

I have heard others say that this saying pertains to listening to people at meetings. Oh really? I think I will listen to the cute guy over there, he is hot! And maybe the lady who is "nice" to me. But that cranky ass old man who cusses and smokes - no thank you, he hasn't got a damn thing I want! And the fact that he has been sober 100 years, well, that doesn't matter one iota to me! I don't like what he says! And the newcomer? Well, they don't know anything, so I won't listen to them either.

Gee, this is great, I can pare it down to 2 steps and listening to 2 people whose message I like. I don't need to do those nasty steps where I face reality about myself and make amends. I don't need to listen to people who might be able to cast light into dark crannies of my soul.

And God? I don't need to worry about that antiquated issue either. Who needs to pray? That was in a couple of the steps I didn't like and therefore discarded.

And finally, staying sober? Well, that seemed like a good idea, but maybe not so much. I have learned so much, I think I can drink again. Because I don't think sobriety is something that is that much fun 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. It kind of hurts sometimes.

Forgive the sarcasm, I just can't believe the stuff that abounds out there.

For me, I will take what I like - and the rest of it too.
Because I want to stay sober.
I want a relationship with God -
and my "higher power" makes demands upon me.

All the steps are created equal - and I need to do them all.
Love and tolerance is our code.
I need to give it away in order to keep it.
It isn't fun all the time, but it is worthwhile. Sometimes it is just plain hard.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I was eleven years old...

On November 22, 1963, I was eleven years old. In sixth grade at Holy Family School. The election three years prior had been the first I had ever been old enough to take an interest in. The fact that one of the candidates was Roman Catholic probably had a lot to do with that as I attended a Catholic School. We rejoiced when JFK won the election. We loved him. We loved his beautiful wife and his beautiful young family.

On that afternoon (in the eastern time zone), an announcement came over the PA system. "The president has been shot, we will all now go in double file to the church to pray." We did. We all somberly filed out of the school and into the church. We prayed with all the earnestness of young children who want a different outcome than that which they know is coming. A while later, the priest came to the pulpit and told us the president had died. We all cried. I remember being terribly frightened. We didn't know who killed him at that point. It was terrifying to a young child to wonder what was going on. And the grief of not only losing someone, but losing him in such a brutal way. Back then we thought things like this didn't happen here - they happened elsewhere.

My family wasn't much for television. Ours wasn't in the living room. It was downstairs in a makeshift TV room. Definitely not a room you would want to spend a whole lot of time in. We didn't. But that weekend, we turned on the television set and sat transfixed watching this terrible theater unfold.

My mother kept crying "This is barbaric!" watching other people's grief. Close ups of the young widow's face beneath the veil. But we all still sat and watched.

On Sunday morning, leaving mass, we heard on the radio the killer had been killed himself.

Prior to that day, 47 years ago, I really thought that we lived in a charmed place where not many bad things happened. That notion was decimated in the days and years to follow this assassination.

Oh, I know most of you weren't born yet on that day. I know this news is so old that it isn't even commented on anymore. But it is forever burned into my memory. Just as 9/11 is seared into yours.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Living in the Solution

I've been to the second meeting this week where I have heard sort of a bimodal message. This morning the topic was Thanksgiving. A new guy wanted to talk about the fact that he would be with a bunch of drunks for the holiday but wasn't worried about it. Another new guy said he can go anywhere and do anything and stay sober - he learned this in rehab - which he has just been discharged from. Then there were people like me who shared experience about being careful, staying around sober people, having a phone always handy - loaded up with AA phone numbers - having my own way to leave any situation so that I am not stuck somewhere I am uncomfortable.

I know the big book says we can go places people think we shouldn't go. I also know that it contains a little test on pgs. 101-102. Do we have a good reason to go and are we on solid spiritual ground? These are questions I always ask myself before attending an event where there will be alcohol.

For the most part, I am just more comfortable without booze being around. I seldom have any good reason to go to a bar or other places where drinks are being served.

Does this mean I am afraid of booze? Nope. It means I have attended a few funerals of people who had long term sobriety at some point. I know that being sober for "x" number of years does not guarantee that I am going to have "x" more years and never drink again. My sobriety needs to be cared for today, just like it did years ago. I do not take it for granted. And I don't trifle with it.

So, this morning it is windy and cold outside. My non-alcoholic* daughter called a while ago and said in a very rough voice "what are you doing?" Schooled in listening skills learned in AA, I immediately asked her "what's wrong????" She is very sick, nausea, etc. She asked me to get her some crackers. I went to the grocery store and purchased two bags of things I thought would be helpful to someone who has been up all night vomiting. I used to have a great deal of experience with that malady - but it has been a long time, Thank God.

And thank God I can be available to my daughter today. It is a wonderful thing to realize that the people I love know they can depend upon me... because I am sober.

*how do I know she is non-alcoholic? When putting away the food I brought her this morning, I opened her refrigerator. I commented when I saw 4 beers. She said "oh yeah, I bought them when I moved in." She moved in January of this year. Freak!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Into Focus

I took this photo yesterday morning on my way to church. It is not a good photo, but it is a representation of a woman trying to take a photo while driving into a beautiful sunrise. The sunrise was absolutely spectacular. We have had many bright pink/red/orange sunrises and sunsets in the last few days. I enjoy a beautiful beginning and ending to a day.

Yesterday I went with my three children (who are all in their 30s) and one of their friends to see the new Harry Potter movie. The movie was very good, we all agreed it was the best of the Harry Potter movies, and we love us some Harry Potter. My son's wife has zero interest in HP, so she stayed at home with the baby and called us "the nerd herd" as we left the house for the movie. It was cute. We went to the 10:15 p.m. showing, which meant I didn't get to bed until nearly 2 a.m. I didn't manage to get up in time to meet my group for my run this morning - which was sad. It was one of my favorite routes.

However, as a mother of adult children, when my kids ask me to do something with them, I don't ask many questions, I just say "yes."

There was a big campaign 20 or so years ago - "Just say no." People in other programs with other problems than alcoholism sometimes need to learn to say no.

For this alcoholic, my lifetime's task is to learn how to say "yes." No is my default answer. I am hardwired for No. I need to be open to God's graces and say "YES" to life.

Yes God, I am ready to say "yes" again today.

Friday, November 19, 2010

1900 Posts - or metablogging - again.

Photo from my office window taken the other night. I thought the sky was so pretty.

I wasn't going to post today. I really have not much to say. I feel vaguely stupid for posting my life here for your approval or not. This happens from time to time.

Most bloggers really don't care - they just post what they want to post and care little about the response. Probably they are healthier than I am. I have had these conversations at great length with many - most of them have pulled the plug on their blogs since.

I have always looked at my blog as a dialog, not a monolog. I will admit that I have the floor for most of the dialog. But would I get on the phone and talk to myself? no. Would I stand at a podium in an empty hall? no.

So, why do I come here every day and put my life out here? I think I have a mission. But I could easily be misguided about that. Someone came by last week and blasted me for not having a clue about the 12th tradition kind of anonymity. Some of you came to my defense, and I thought that was nice. But I will admit the guy has a point (I am assuming the commenter was a man for some reason). This blog is within the letter of the law as far as 11th tradition anonymity. But when it comes to spiritual anonymity referenced in the 12th tradition, I think I am way off the mark. This blog is about me! me! me! And that is certainly not in keeping with the 12th tradition.

My mission here is to write about being "one sober alcoholic." That used to be my blog name, but then another came along and used a name so similar to mine that it confused even me. So I changed my name. But that is all I want to do. Just write about being sober, one day at a time, and what that looks like - the good, the bad, and the ugly sometimes. It has been helpful to people, mostly people who never leave a comment but will occasionally write me an e-mail. It has been a pleasure for me for the most part.

I am a student of the Bible - I have been studying proverbs. I wish I knew how many times the Proverbs tell us to keep our big mouths shut. I feel like I am not doing that very well. Here I am, flapping my jaws, proverbially speaking of course, into the wind. Read me! Read me! Read me! I will tell you all about me! me! me!

I have another, slightly more devious, mission. If you look on the internet for information about AA, what you will find is frightening. I know that there is the official website. I know that the big book and other literature is posted online. But if, like me, you are looking for personal experiences of people when making a decision about something, what you will find about AA is downright scary. There are people with agenda out there. And they are successful at getting the anti message front and center. I have written extensively over the last year or so about the fact that AA does work. Because it does and I think modern people who use google to find everything have a right to know that as well as all the information from our detractors.

When I looked for a new dentist I used google to find reviews of dentists. When I looked for a car, I used google - searching for phrases such as "my Rav 4 sucks" or "I love my Rav 4" - and believe me, I found a host of information. Not technical info, just stuff posted by people who are feeling something about their cars. I want to know stuff like that before I make a huge decision. When my Passat went to hell in a hand-basket, I googled that and found that those cars last only 50,000 miles - exactly what mine did. $30,000 for 50,000 miles - not such a good deal.

One of my relatives got sober a few years ago. Before he ever set foot in a meeting, he had read the big book - online. He found the information he needed on the internet. He has been sober ever since.

When I got sober, I called AA. Based on what I knew from my own life, I knew that AA worked. So, I called. Someone came and got me and took me to a meeting. The rest is history.

Over the years, more than a few people have read my blog before ever setting foot in a meeting. I don't know if that is good or not. Recently I have gone to the blogs of some people who have told me things like that. I was horrified to see that they are trying to get sober without AA or steps or giving up their old way of life. You cannot get sober by reading a blog folks. I never intended for anyone to get their information about AA from my blog. I just wanted a bit of a web presence for something positive about our beautiful program.

I really don't know where I am with this. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those posts that I remove later in the day. And I have spent a half hour writing it when I need to get out of here.

Thanks to the people I have come to love through this blog. I really really appreciate you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A new day

I am not sure of my place,
There is nothing for me to say.
Except by the Grace of God
It will be a new day.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Shoes

I went shopping with a friend from work yesterday. I bought some shoes with high, but sensible heels. I had to choose about a year ago whether I wanted to run or whether I wanted to wear high heels. The running won. So, these shoes shall be my trial run back into heels. We shall see. I think they are cute. This is not the best photo - I edited out a leg of the chair I was sitting on because I thought it looked odd. I am once again at loose ends about blogging so I thought I would do what I used to do - post photos of shoes, etc. I don't know why. I just do.

About running - there was an article about me and my marathon in our facility newsletter this month... complete with a photo of me and my marathon medal. A few people have stopped by my office to express amazement that a marathon is 26.2 miles! I guess people think that "marathon" just means "race," and is not any set number of miles. My daughter (who works in the same building) forwarded me an e-mail that someone sent her - about her mother. She said she had gotten at least four of them. In the e-mail she forwarded, a woman my age (who I know) expressed her amazement that I am out running marathons when other people my age are contemplating knee and hip replacements. Well, I don't have anything to say about that, except - why would people send that to my daughter? Not me?

Years ago, I made up my mind that if I had something positive to say, or heard something positive from someone else - I would pass that on to the person. I guess if you have a few people die suddenly, you realize that you don't know when you will get a chance. We tend to wait until "the moment is right" and sadly, most of the time, that moment never comes. So, I try to express love, appreciation, admiration, etc. in the moment. And if I hear something good, I try to pass that on as well.

In AA especially, I think it is important. We really never know what demons a person may be battling. We alcoholics are people who like to show up with a "brave face," and say everything is fine - when it isn't. (Of course, there are those too who love the emotithons and endless crises and tears and their attendant attention.) But it is always good to be kind.

Enough of that lecture!

So, I went to the new dentist yesterday. I felt like I was a visitor from the 19th Century. Dentistry has really changed - I didn't know that. The dentist was someone who might grate on someone else's nerves, but I loved him. He called me "honey" and patted my hand a lot. I remember when I was a young feminist - I would have stormed out of there accusing him of paternalism. These days, I am grateful that anyone might be old enough to get away with calling me "hon" and treating me like that. It wasn't insulting at all in that moment. He did speak to me like I am an intelligent adult between the reassuring pats on the hand. I have an appointment next week for a very expensive root canal. I think it will be OK. I will call the old dentist today and tell him that I have decided to try another dentist. That won't be fun, but I think I owe him that.

And now I owe my workplace a full day of work for a full day's pay. I better get to it.

I think I will stay sober today, and I hope you all will join me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Responsibility and Relationship

I purchased some solar Christmas lights yesterday. Of course, I couldn't wait to charge them up and see how they worked, so I put the little solar panels in my office window for the afternoon. I was shocked to see the lights come on when it was dark, or when they perceived darkness, such as when I stuffed them back in the shopping bag to bring them home. I was walking around with a lit up bag - it was kind of cute. When I got home, I put them on my kitchen counter, under a sky light - so they would charge again today. I was surprised to see they were still shining bright when I woke up this morning.

Today I am going to see a new dentist. I have been seeing the same dentist for 15 years. I am very attached to long term relationships, faithfulness, and consistency - I think these are very important things we learn in sobriety. The decision to see another dentist was very difficult for me.

I am in the middle of a huge project in my mouth and I came to realize last week that I have lost confidence in my dentist. Last week when I saw my dentist, the novocaine shot hurt so much - nerve shooting pain like lightening through my head - that I was still jumpy when he came at me with a drill. When he started drilling, I felt pain. I told him. He stopped for a moment, and then started again, I felt pain again. I jumped. He told me he could not work on me because it was not pain, it was my nervousness. He wanted me to take valium (a whole other subject I could write about and probably won't) and come back - we set an appointment for December.

In the meantime, I have got a tooth with an open drill hole in it and a toothache. Three weeks is a long time for either or both of those conditions. Yesterday I called around and did some internet research, picked a dentist, did some more research, including looking for actions against him on the state database. I found a man my age (I am sick of young, young, young people) who is nearby and has a website with testimonials from people who were formerly afraid of the dentist. There are photos of the office and it looks clean and bright and not frozen in the early '90s (like my other dentist's).

It made me sad to think that I did not used to be afraid of the dentist. I am now. My dentist of 15 years has hurt me and I have a bunch of crappy dental work in my head that I have paid a lot of money for. It is time to move on. It took me a l o o o o n n n g time to realize this.

It is important for me to face the reality of my relationships and take responsibility for myself. I don't have to dislike the old dentist, I think he is a very nice man who probably did nothing about keeping his skills once he got out of school. But I don't have to keep going to him. I am sad about it though.

If you are so inclined, please say a prayer for me, I am afraid. ( my prayer in the dental chair always starts by thanking God that I am able to see a dentist at all - there were years when I could not afford to. I am grateful for this.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sometimes it's just oatmeal

It's just Monday morning, I'm just having oatmeal for breakfast, and I am just going to work. There is nothing going on (that I am aware of - yet - anyway).

There might well have been a sentence in the big book that said "lack of drama, that was our dilemma." But there isn't. I have learned that lack of drama is a good thing. It took a while though.

In my drinking days, I thought life ought to be like a soap opera - where something exciting happens every single day. I was good at creating that excitement. Which made for a pretty unhappy life.

It took a while to learn that sometimes there is nothing much going on. And I am good with that.

Sometimes it's just oatmeal.

Think I will stay sober today anyway (by the Grace of God), and I hope you all do too.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday for fellowship, family, football (& pie)

Here's some jammies I am giving to my daughter-in-law for a birthday present. It is hard to know what to give someone you have only known for a year. I think jammies are pretty generic. How can you go wrong? Well, size is one way... but I think I got it right. She's a tiny thing, but she just had a baby, and who wants tight pajamas anyway?

I went to a meeting this morning and met an old friend for coffee. I have known her since day 1 in AA. Such a treasure to be able to have a friendship with someone who has known me since I was 32 years old, newly sober, crazy, and overwhelmed with three little kids.

Life has changed so much since then. But I feel like maybe I need to say that life didn't change by magic, or just by merit of not drinking. I really did have to do some things. The big book is pretty specific about the stuff that is necessary to do to stay sober. I have to live on a spiritual basis, and that means I behave in certain ways. I don't go around hating people for instance.

That doesn't mean that the people in my life are nicer or weller than the people in your life. It means that I have had to learn how to love them anyway. When I got sober, I had relationships with people in my family that were so deeply damaged - for instance, I hadn't spoken to one very important person for nearly 10 years. If you are to remain sober, you really can't behave like that. I prayed about it, I wrote about it, I became willing to do whatever I could to make it right and that relationship today is now one of the most important ones in my life. It wasn't easy, but it wasn't that damn hard either. She is still who she was. She still is angry about some stuff from my ancient history. She still acts certain ways towards me. I still can't spend months at a time with her. But I love her and she loves me. Thank God I didn't feel the need to hold onto that bitterness and hatred. I don't believe I could have survived it.

The friend I had coffee with this morning? A few years ago, I felt that she betrayed me so badly that I could never be her friend again. But I had to meditate on what it means to forgive, and thank God for that. I would have lost a dear friend. We all make mistakes - me included. I have made amends to her, she has made amends to me. End of story. Except that we get to be friends and love each other.

If you are seriously alcoholic, there will need to be massive changes in your life in order to stay sober. It takes a lot more than "keep coming back!!!!" it takes a change in nearly every single thing you do.

So, on this Sunday afternoon, I am cooking for a family dinner. My son, his wife, and daughter are coming over. They are bringing a friend - someone I have known since he was in high school with my son. We'll have lots of wonderful food and we'll laugh and enjoy each other's company.

These things may be gifts from God - I am always quick to point that out - but maybe I need to add that they are gifts that came with some strings attached.

The care and feeding of a spiritual life - life without resentment and hatred. The rewards of that so far outweigh the twisted pleasure we derive from perpetuating our ill feelings towards another.

Ok, enough of a lecture out of me.

Have a nice rest of your weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

And yet more fellowship...

My group invited me and another member, a friend, to go to this brunch this morning. I was looking forward to going to a brunch with my friend, but hadn't really given it much thought beyond that. As we arrived, I started thinking of people I might see there, and hoped they would be there.

When I walked into that room, it was like a dream, a sober fellowship dream. I saw people I didn't even know were alive or sober (let alone both together at the same time!) as well as people who have been favorites of mine for years. We got to sit at the same table with the man who took me to my first meeting. I got to see a man who was my boyfriend for many years... he won a centerpiece from his table, which he gave to me on his way out the door. It may not be pretty, but I will probably keep it forever, just because my dear old friend and old love gave it to me. I got to see so many people I love and have known for so long. It is such a comfort and a joy.

My friend turned to me at one point and asked me if I had ever been in a room so full of people so grateful to be alive. I hadn't thought about it that way, but when I did, I really stopped to ponder this. This room full of mostly older people - all happy and smiling - and somewhat boisterously greeting one another. Lots of hugs and kisses and warm, warm greetings. We are not only grateful to be alive ourselves, but we are grateful for each others' lives. And that is rare indeed!

Oh, it was a grand day.

Sometimes one or two people have gotten on my case for "bragging" about how long I have been sober. I don't think I do that. I seldom say how long it has been. I virtually never try to come off as someone with all the answers for anyone else. Therefore, on occasion, people used to come by and give me advice about how to stay sober for a day or a week - that is why I put my sobriety date in my header.

Sometimes I do talk about it though. Because sometimes I think it is important for people who are early in sobriety to hear about how much people who have been sober for a while value those memories and friendships. It seems to me that some of the newer people don't hang out as much as we did, and they are missing out on so much. We had so much fun - back then, and still now. Those relationships mean the world to me.

One time I was in a meeting with a new guy and a man celebrating 30 some years of sobriety. The 30 year guy said to the new guy "I envy you the journey." The new guy was dumbfounded because he envied the long term sobriety. But if you have long term sobriety, you have gotten it by long experience, really, most of it good. I wouldn't want to have missed a minute of it.

Please cherish each moment. Even if you think it sucks. It is a precious gift.

We get this life to live - each moment of it. Wow.

Thank you God.

Friday, November 12, 2010

November Morning

Some tomatoes that never came to their fruition. I guess I thought they looked poetic as I ran past the other morning. The blue bucket, the grey fence, the dead vegetation, the yellow tomatoes... I don't know.

It is cold this morning. I have to get to work. How splendid to work one day and have two more off. I have a great weekend planned. Lots of good stuff, lots of fellowship. Good stuff, good friends, good food (probably, I am not cooking though).

The winter session with my running group starts tomorrow (actually it started last week, but I couldn't join them last week due to illness). I am looking forward to seeing those friends too. I am surprised by how quickly I became very fond of several of those women.

Yesterday I met with a friend for lunch. It was nice to see him. I ordered up a big lunch and quickly realized I could not shovel it into my mouth. I had some dental work done the day before and could not open my mouth wide enough to get anything in. So, I got my lunch packed into a box and brought it home. It was still nice to visit with him. It is nice to visit with real alcoholics who have the strange mental twists that I understand - because I have them too.

But you know what? I don't have to drink. I haven't had to drink for a long time. Most of my friends don't drink either. We came to Alcoholics Anonymous and found an answer there. The answer involves a lot more than just going to meetings - please find a sponsor to find out what it is that is necessary. We did not turn into robots, without emotion, who never have another problem. We are real people, trying to live life to the best of our abilities. Sometimes that works well, sometimes it doesn't. But the amazing thing is this: For alcoholics to not drink - and more importantly, not WANT to drink - and live happy, productive lives, this is amazing. We take it for granted in AA, but it is indeed miraculous.

I think I shall take this little miracle out in the world today and see what I can do with it.

Gratefully, thanking God for it.

Let's not drink today, no matter what, OK?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Red for Blood

This morning I saw in Mary in Africa's Blog a wonderful photo from World War I - with poppies. Oh, maybe wonderful is a poor adjective for such a photo. When reading her blog I remembered that we used to wear little paper poppies, maybe for Memorial Day, which in the United States is dedicated to the remembrance of war dead. Maybe Veteran's Day. I don't know, I haven't seen one of those poppies for many years. They still do it in other parts of the world.

I am so grateful today that I get to pick up the phone and call my son, three miles down the road, and wish him a happy Veteran's Day. I get to wish his wife a happy Veteran's Day. I get to call my brother and thank him for what he left in Vietnam - and never got back. I get to post things on facebook to nieces and nephews and others. For others, I can say a prayer, but I can thank God that they aren't the prayers that are closely accompanied by tears. I will remember a cousin who never returned from WWII, but this does not break my heart, I never even knew him. Many mothers prayers are covered in tears today. I can say my heart is joined to yours, but I know I don't know your pain.

Also grateful that I got to go to a meeting this morning. I sat and wept as I listened to a man share. You know, for some of us (me included) this deal does not come easy. We do not get well over night. It takes decades. We get well by millimeters, not yards and miles. We measure our progress in tiny details. So, he was talking about some tiny progress that probably sounded like nothing to others, but I knew that he was talking about progress of earthquake proportion in his life. Oh, it is so beautiful to watch these things. It is so beautiful to meet these occasional kindred souls in AA meetings.

Grateful for a day off work in the middle of the week.

Bamboo knitting needles, a warm house on a snowy day, a good friend who has invited me to lunch, another who has invited me to dinner, sober life, no matter what.

It is good. I thank God for it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Collision of Two Seasons

That is an autumn leaf among the first snowflakes that had melted on the sidewalk. And me, I was the nutty observer. Kneeling on the sidewalk outside of Saks at the Cherry Creek Mall taking photos.

I need to be at a meeting in 45 minutes, and here I am, sitting in my jammies, drinking coffee.

I have not much of relevance to say today.

So I will say something of no relevance.

Is anyone trying to compromise ANYONE's security to PAY their bills? Honestly, it is becoming increasing difficult for me to pay my bills because of the increased security. I have payed most of my bills online for at least a decade. But now, the passwords have to be uber secure - and change frequently, so that it is not possible for a mortal mind to remember them. Today is trash day (something I have written about more times than a normal person would) and my trash is sitting at the curb, but it may not be picked up. I have been trying for over a week to pay my bill, but cannot figure out the combination of my "account number" and "password" to pay my frickin' bill. I will call this morning and ask them to please help me with this. And I think that is ridiculous. I am sure no one is trying to hack into my waste management account to pay my bill! (I understand a level of security on credit card accounts, but this is different!)

I think I will stay sober in spite of this, and I hope you all do too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Back to Basics

Out kneeling in the weeds, taking a picture of the sunrise with my iPhone. The sunrise caught my eye during my morning run. My first run since my marathon on October 17. I paused my garmin, got out my phone and crawled into the weeds for the finest vantage point of the (what I thought was) spectacular sunrise.

Oh, it felt so gooooooooooood to be out in the brisk morning air, doing what I do. Thanking God for it.

And now, sitting at my computer, trying to quickly write something, still in sweaty running gear, eating a bowl of muesli, need to get in the tub and get to work.

I feel like I am being reacquainted with an old friend I have missed - myself.

That marathon kicked the s*** out of me. I don't believe I will do that again.

My daughter is in the other room sleeping. Bless her little heart. Her little broken heart. I got so frustrated with her last night. She is 22 months sober and I fear some of her little brain cells are fried. She cannot sit still for one sentence or thought. I expressed my frustration. So, she told me a joke. And here it is:

How many people with ADD does it take to change a light bulb?

Do you want to take a bike ride?

Have a nice sober day.


Monday, November 08, 2010

More Fellowship

This morning I have read blogs without commenting. I felt like a thief, but I did it anyway. There are now only 3 or 4 blogs I read daily. Of those, only one person comments on my blog regularly (thank you Dave). I commented on his today. I wonder what will become of us. This morning I looked at one of the sober wonder blogs of a few years ago, with all the links on the sidebar. Of the scores of links, I think only Dave and I are still blogging. (Syd is also a faithful blogger and commenter, but his blog is an alanon blog, that is the reason for its exclusion here.) Blogger now includes "stats," which I am always a sucker for. It has a feature for your top posts. One of mine is the post from the International convention last summer. What a wonderful memory. And to read the comments is just wonderful. Do you know that the woman who sang "Amazing Grace" for us all actually left an amazingly graceful comment? The post was nothing, the comments were everything.

Fellowship. We can have it in blogland as well as in life. Really, we can. But not if you never say anything.

My daughter is in the process of moving back in with me. Her heart is breaking as she does this. The last thing on earth she wants to do is move back in with her mother. She is grateful for a sober mother who welcomes her, let me be quick to add, but she is a 31 year old who has been on her own since she was 18 and this does not feel good. Today, for the 1,329th time, she will get people to go with a truck to her b.f.'s house to get her stuff and move out. Hopefully this will be the last time. I wouldn't place any money on it though.

Yesterday one of her sober friends picked her up and brought her back here. When she came back, we all sat around and chatted. She is a young woman who is sober 6 years. It was so nice to just sit in the kitchen and talk. Three sober women. Two different generations, but all speaking the "language of the heart."

The language of the heart transcends all barriers. (Even reticence to post comments - get it?)

God Bless Us, every one.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Answering the Phones...

Last night my group got to answer the phones for the Denver area. And it was at my house. We got nine calls. I don't remember ever getting so many calls in one night. I got calls before other people even arrived! Most of them wanted only meeting information.

One woman wanted to know how much it cost to go to AA. She had looked for a meeting online and was going to go, but wanted to make sure she could afford it because she didn't have much money. I was so happy to tell her that AA didn't cost anything. That they would pass a basket during the meeting and she could put in a dollar or two if she had it, but she didn't need to.

Then I got to tell her that 26 years ago I needed to quit drinking and didn't have insurance or any money so I went to AA. I wasn't compelled to pay any money, only put a dollar in the basket - if I had it. I told her I am still sober today. And my daughter is now sober too.

You know, when you boil it down to a simple paragraph like that - it is just flat out amazing what we do in Alcoholics Anonymous.

I got a full dose of that last night.

Like the man who walked in... I didn't know him. I was standing in the kitchen talking with a sponsee and whispered to her that I had no idea who this guy was! She walked up to him and said "Hi, I'm J----!" He said, "Hi!, I'm _____" She came back into the kitchen and said "Mary, that's ___" So, I got to welcome him. He is a new guy. Bless his heart. He brought a bunch of very carefully prepared food that needed to be heated. And he got to sit and join in fellowship with some other folks who actually DID know who he is!

Oh, I just love it all.

It's a good life. A sober life. By the Grace of God.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Really, felllowship is better with pie...

Tonight there will be a gathering of my AA group at my house. There are crock pots a bubbling and pies cooling. There is a cooler on the deck with varieties of soda pop and ice. There are bottles of water in the fridge (something I won't normally buy because of the gross waste of plastic) and all manner of things that aren't usually in my house. It is happy. And it smells good.

I am now hoping to take a nap. I am not well at all. I was in bed all day yesterday. I could have been in bed all day today if not for this commitment. But I know if I catch a nap and get some down time I will be good to go tonight.

Once the first guest graces my door I will be a happy girl.

I love, love, love to see my friends sitting around my house.

Last night I called one of them to see if I could borrow a cooler. In our conversation I told him I was sick but was sure I could still bang out a couple of pies and a good meal - and added that it is truly a labor of love for me. He said he knew it was, and that I was a "good hostess." That blew me away. I don't think of myself as a good hostess, just a good cook. I am not good at all the things my mother wanted me to know, but we sure do have fun at my house. So, guess that is good.

I pray I will feel better by 5 p.m. If you would add a prayer, I am sure that wouldn't hurt... thanks.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday Morning

I have been sick and grumpy all week. Yesterday afternoon I spoke to my boss, we agreed that if I did not feel better today I would not come to work. I do not feel better, therefore, I am not going to work.

I had to pop over to my daughter's house early this morning to borrow her (larger than mine) crock pot. I stopped on my way home to take photos of the sunrise. I think I may have identified the cause of some of my grumpiness as I strolled around the top of the hill that I normally run 3 miles, mostly uphill, to get to. I have walked exactly 4 miles since my marathon on October 17. No running. No fast walking. Only 4 slow walking miles. My group starts back up tomorrow and I doubt I will be with them due to this cold. But I need to be a runner. It is a need, not a want.

To go back to something I vaguely referenced earlier this week, about the study about alcohol. I didn't read the study. I'm not even interested in the study. I was just writing about people in my life and in the blogs suddenly seeming to be taking more caution around alcohol and hearing in the background on CNN in my living room "Alcohol is the most dangerous drug!" I thought it was kind of ironic. Others have told me that the study actually reported that alcohol causes more damage to society as a whole, but other drugs, such as heroin, are more dangerous to individual users. Hmmm. I wonder.

My daughter is an alcoholic and was addicted to meth for many years. Somehow she was in a relationship with a former police officer for a few years. (I will be forever grateful to him because I know he saved her life many times, and he will forever need therapy to get over the damage done to him, I am sorry to him and everyone like him...) I will never forget the day he called me to tell me that she had taken his truck and wrecked it. She crashed the truck into a church, called him and yelled at him, and left the truck, left the scene of the accident, and he hadn't heard from her for a day. He was beside himself with worry about her, etc.

I will never forget what he said to me. He said that for many years he thought that if she just stopped shooting meth she would be OK. But she had stopped using meth and started drinking and he said he actually thought she was better off doing meth. He couldn't believe he was saying this. I could.

I am not trying to extrapolate this into a study, but I did not find his experience surprising. I have seen the effects of alcohol up close and personal for most of my life and it is devastating. I have also experienced the effects of others' drug addiction. I am not a stranger.

Okay. I am sick. But I can go back to bed.

And I just scrolled back up to my photo taken this morning... the color of the sky is unedited. What a gorgeous day.

I think I will stay sober today, thanks be to God.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Road Trips, Family, Blogs, Disclosure, and Domestic Violence...

I have three minutes, and these are the topics I would like to cover this morning. What are the odds? Well, I could limit myself to three minutes.... well, we are now down to 2... and get maybe the road trip covered. Or, I could make it 10 and see what we can cover. It is probably too much anyway, because I don't feel particularly great. And I fished around blogs this morning and ended up with a pounding heart. Not a good way to start a day.

My brother called on Monday night. Seems he and my sister-in-law were in the State visiting their son, my nephew, and his family. They wanted me to come down to visit some night this week. My first response was - 6 hours of driving for a dinner and 2 hour visit? Are you kidding me? How long have you known you were coming? And you are just letting me know now? And then the voice of something other came in and said - just go - it has been a couple of years since I have seen my brother, he is 72 years old, and this is no time to pick fights. I can drive. I got my daughter to go with me and we made it a mini-road trip.

It was so nice to see my family and sit around a big table laughing and eating. Unlike earlier times, there was no booze at the table, which was wonderful for more than one of us. We had a wonderful time. My niece's fiance was there from another town in another state for a minute, and I got to "meet" him. But he said he already knew me. Eeeesh. He remembers me from when he was a teenager and I was a young drunken scandalous woman in a small town. Those are uncomfortable moments I seldom face anymore. But it was long ago, and I just smiled and shook his hand. He is a nice man and I hope I will have years to show him the "new" me.

Mary in Africa wrote about the insane amount of disclosure that is on some blogs. I fear mine has been one of those. I have had to really dial it back. I hate that. I loved it when my blog was new and no one knew who I was. I was just an anonymous blogger. I could talk about "someone in a meeting" with gay abandon. Or "my daughter" or "my sister." Now I can talk about no one. I can't say anything. I can talk in vague generalities. There is a huge issue going on in my life that is effecting me profoundly that I cannot even mention here because someone I cannot trust reads my blog. If it were just me, I would talk about it, but it involves another person and I do not have the right to disclose anything about the other person. DAMMIT! I feel l like I have lost the blog because of this one reader and it really pisses me off!

OK, I have been at it for 12 minutes and the most powder keg issue is still at hand. Mr. Syd wrote a nice (would he ever do otherwise?) piece about domestic violence last night. The comments had my blood boiling. It is probably me, but they all seemed to do the typical "blame the victim" thing. "Well, we called the police, but SHE just went back... bla bla bla...." Let me just say, having been the victim of DV for a brief and astonishing period of my life, do not judge unless you have ever been on the receiving end of this deal. I never understood until I lived it. And I would never judge now. Never.

It is funny, when I recall being married to this man, a slightly effeminate man with a british accent, and a pear shaped body - the last person on earth you would ever suspect of being violent - or dangerous - it makes me frightened. And I don't blame him so much. I believe he was doing the best he could with what he had. It was woefully inadequate. WOEFULLY. And I had to leave. There was absolutely no choice in the matter.

But there was an entire social system in AA who knew what was going on and kept their mouths shut and acted like he was a nice guy and I was slightly nuts. And believe me, if you are being beaten, and having your bones broken, by the man you love, you will go at least slightly nuts. If you are a sociopath and doing this beating, you may still be a charming, funny guy who can crack up a whole room at an AA meeting, and therefore be liked. While your wife is sitting in the corner with a cast on her arm looking at little bit wacky.

Oh, yeah, I think I still have a few "issues" about this.

I don't think I needed to go here this morning.

I will try to get my mind to go somewhere else while I take a bath this morning.

God was able to keep me sober through that and I imagine he will be able to keep me sober today. Thank you God.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

November 3rd Stuff

My new quilt was on the front porch when I got home last night. I hurriedly unwrapped it and placed in on my bed (and wondered if it had bedbugs in it). After I came in and out of my room a few times, I wondered if I loved it as much I had hoped I would. It has a lot of brown in it, which is not a color I have in my home. I was an adult in the 70s, therefore I have been through the brown palate thoroughly and completely and don't care to return. In the catalog and online it seemed to be mainly greens and blues, and that is what I was in the market for. I may leave it on my bed for a day and then return it - it was quite expensive, I don't want to keep it if I don't love it.

My bed is so important to me - why?

Well, it became so in early sobriety for some reason. And last summer when I was going through some intense PTSD, it became moreso.

When I was beginning EMDR treatment for PTSD, I was asked to name a "safe" place. The only place that came to mind was my bedroom, specifically my bed. I thought it was a lame answer. I thought I should name a tropical beach with swaying palm trees and white sands underfeet. But my truth was that my safe place was my very own bed in my very own bedroom.

Later, when completing this session of extremely difficult remembering of traumatic events, I got to return to my "safe place" in my imagination in my therapist's office. I had tears of gratitude when I thought about the fact that my place was reality and that it was only a few miles away, not just in my imagination, but in my reality. Later that night, I returned to my very own bed. My very own safe place.

Through years of sobriety, some of them very difficult, I had created this place for myself. I had created this safety for myself. The rest of the world may be difficult but my home is not. And my bed is the place that is the most symbolic of the efforts I take to care for myself.

I know I must turn my thoughts to others most of the time, but I also need to do some self-care.

My bed is where I ask him in the morning for another day of sobriety, and thank him at night.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Election Day

I am having connectivity issues a home. I am also having connectivity issues with my iPhone. Is someone telling me something?

I got to vote this morning.

I am grateful to be a sober, responsible woman. The Grace of God is truly amazing.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Demon Alcohol

I cleaned house (literally) all weekend. By last night as I readied my tiny house for my visitors, I came back into the living area and I found it so glittering, it just made me happy. I had made caramel corn for my granddaughters, lit candles, set lights outdoors, and dug out my few Halloween decorations. It was nice.

Lately I have heard people express caution about alcohol - of all things! (Synchronicity! As I am writing this, I hear in the other room on CNN that a new study has deemed alcohol as the "worst drug.")

The big book says that an alcoholic who cannot face alcohol still has an alcoholic mind. That's great.

My experience is that 99.9% of the time I do not have an alcoholic mind. I think one could make the point that last week I had an alcoholic mind. I think it would have been a poor idea for me to have a beer in the fridge last week - I just might have reached for it. Maybe I wouldn't have too. But why take that risk?

Can I go to a bar if I have a good reason to go? Yes. I have. I would rather not though. It just isn't that much fun. I can go to parties where there is drinking - again, it isn't that much fun. I think if I spend too much time doing these things, I might eventually make the decision to take the action to join in the "fun."

I love socializing with my AA friends, but notice that the "higher bottom" drunks don't tend to socialize as much as the kind of people I got sober with. We really NEEDED each other. People who made a rational decision that they might be drinking too much and came to AA and hadn't lost their families and friends don't really NEED to socialize with a bunch of people they met in AA.

I am all over the place this morning, when I need to be in one place - my office. I better get ready to go there.

Grateful to be a sober, productive, member of my community today. (Being on my HOA board has some benefits too... the trick or treat parents could say "Hi Mary - kiddies, say Trick or Treat!" when they knocked on my door last night - that was fun!)

And please, if you are going to vote tomorrow, take the time to think about who and what you are voting for - and why. Voting is a grave responsibility. You have the future in your hands. It is not enough just to go vote. You need to know what you are voting for or against.

Those ads will be off the air in 2 days!!